The Knot

by Victor Wilt

THE KNOT

1

            Well, this is it my friends. The last step. We've been through many times together, but, I am afraid that all good things must come to an end.

            The rope is secured to a large hook in the ceiling. George steps up onto the oak stool which he normally uses for seating when eating his oatmeal in the morning. He is ready.

            The noose, oh so tight. Hours I spent working the perfect knot, and it has finally been assembled.

            George read. He examined. He created the knot of perfection. It's promise shall be fulfilled.

            Standing atop the stool, he slips the rope around his neck, pulling it tight, a perfectly adjusted leash. The chair leans. His right foot is first to leave the stool. George is inspired. The legs on the right side of the chair begin to rise. The exhilaration. The floor quietly speaks through a creaking sound as the left legs place a concentrated pressure into the wooden floorboards. And then my friends, the chair slips from beneath him.

            An everlasting moment of weightlessness takes hold, and George swims an ocean of images. The girl he'd always wished to have tried harder for, saying her goodbyes as she leaves him. Her pale face smiling beneath long black hair like silk. A goddess in a flowing black dress, fading into the distanceFriends long forgotten, faces chiseled in hate screaming endlessly And then with his father at a baseball game, only a small child. Sitting atop his father's shoulders, he watches as the pitcher winds up. He lets it go, and the batter swings. CRACK!

            His neck breaks with the sound of a rifle, and never again will there be movement in his arms or legs. However, the images of a past long forgotten quickly cease. Consciousness has not abandoned George quite yet.

            Jesus Christ! I am choking! Help me!

            He attempts to reach up and loosen the knot, but his arms lay limp, only moving in conjunction with the spasms of his body. He stares at the wooden baseboards, the pressure on his throat like nothing he'd ever have thought imaginable. The pain is a fire inside of him attempting to incinerate it's way through every pore of his flesh. Flashes of light begin to pulsate through his field of vision.

            You've got to be fucking kidding me! This is bullshit! How can I still be alive?! I am paralyzed and choking to death!! Help me!!

            He'd played out a similar version of this scenario many times leading up to stepping off of the stool. However, he could not have fathomed the panic induced by this complete and utter helplessness. He'd imagined that his neck may not break, resulting in death from asphyxiation, but a combination of the two never occurred to him. The horrible feeling of claustrophobia that was now accompanying his strangulation, was something so unpleasant that he never could have imagined the sensation.

            Oh fucking god please just let it end please god please oh fuck let the knot slip loose

            But George knew that the knot wouldn't fail. This knot was the epitome of perfection. Days spent tying, untying, over and over. To succeed, he knew that his knot could have no way of failing him.

            Oh god please just let me die! Let me see into the blackness!

            It felt as if his face was going to explode from the pressure, his chest a bomb set for detonation. Struggling and gasping he begs for breath and unconsciousness alike. The floorboards swim beneath him, the pores of the wood taunting him, asking him if he'd like to stand upon them. Blood begins to pour from his nose and ears as the pressure in his skull increases. He notices the floorboards fading from view, and the calm begins to set in.

            Oh thank you God, oh thank you, end this please I am so sorry, thank you God, oh thank you

            He no longer sees nor hears. Beautiful patterns are appearing before him. It is like the ocean, and he is a mere drop of water within it. He is it, and it is him. Beautiful colors never which could be described flowing through, around, within him, and he as well does the same.

            Heaven? God? So beautiful

            And then she, the girl in the black dress. Smiling she waves, beckoning him to come with her.

            This is heaven! Hold on, I'm coming!

            He begins to flow in her direction, when suddenly, he is aware of a barrier between them. He'd apparently been migrating through this etheric ocean very fast, now feeling as if he has just been in a very violent head-on accident.

            No, please, wait for me! Don't leave

            She continues off into the distance, motioning for him to come. As she fades to the darkest of black, he slips into the world of eternal slumber.

2

            No, it's horrible, why can't I go back to her!? I don't want to be here. Dark figures swarm around him like an army of locusts. They reach into him, removing what appears to be strands of white light. No! Please, just let me go. I don't want to be in hell! I was a good person!

            "WAIT!" a deep voice shouts from the haze.

            A very tall figure, made from the pure essence of all emptiness, migrates to directly before him.

            "We shall send you back as you wish. We'll see you again soon though, and you'll wish you hadn't made the choice to leave us." Immense pain begins to shoot through him, as if he once again has a physical self. All around him shines a bright white light, and the pain becomes his body. No longer can he move.

            Oh god no, please no, this can't be.

            Through the pain, he feels a wet stickiness on the side of his face. He opens his eyes, seeing nothing but darkness. Nausea comes in a wave, so he closes them. He lies contemplating where he'd now been relocated to. He is lying on a floor made of wood. It suddenly occurs to him that he desperately needs oxygen. He takes a painful breath, and the world of darkness begins to swim around him, resulting in a violent act of regurgitation. He attempts to move, and much to his dismay, finds it to be impossible. He will have to lie in this mess. The attempt had only succeeded in sending searing pains throughout the parts of his body he could feel.

            Oh God, please, I thought I had served you well, please remove me from this hell. I don't deserve to be here in hell with these beings. Please, save me.

            George again opens his eyes, and finds that what had previously been an impenetrable black sheet, has now begun to turn gray. He once again has to vomit, which burns as it creeps out of his throat. It runs from his mouth down the side of his face, coating his cheek, then his neck. George recognizes the thick coppery taste as a mixture of blood and phlegm. He tries to spit out what remains in his mouth, but it simply follows the vomit down the side of his face.

            Oh Jesus, I can't move. They've drugged me and left me here. Fuck, where am I?

            George opens his eyes, holding back the urge to heave, and catches a glimpse of something shiny a few feet away from him. He once again closes his eyes, taking in deep gasping breaths. This causes him incredible agony, however it gently subdues the nausea, and seems to help a bit with the thunder inside of his skull.

            Fuck, where could I be?! I was almost to her, and that bastard God rips me away from her to send me to this place? What is this, purgatory? What could I have done that was so bad as to require a decision in regards to where I belong in the afterlife?

3

            For some time he lays there motionless, every breath excruciating, yet, the most wonderful thing he'd ever remembered experiencing.

            God, I have to get back to her. All my life I waited for one more chance, and fucking God has to take it away from me.

            A tear began to form. Regret. It can drive a man to madness. The irrational thoughts of things that might have been. A part of existence is learning to live with and get through these things. However, for some, the fire inside cannot be extinguished. It will forever burn, triggered by coincidence and memory. Minute occurrences initiate the idea that it's all part of a great plan tailor made for yourself. A single word misinterpreted becomes a love story in the mind. However, most do not understand that they are the creators of their regret, fueled by their own irrational desires. And the miles and years fail in showing them the impossibility of that which they yearn for. Forever they shall live within and dwell on their dreams.

            George once again opens his eyes, now curious as to what that shining object he had seen might be. His vision is clearing considerably, and he strains to keep himself from vomiting as the room comes into focus. When it does, it is empty darkness that he begs for.

            He tries to scream, resulting in the most painful fit of coughing and vomiting that he'd ever experienced. He now understands perfectly well where he is and what that shiny object on the floor is.

            Covered in plaster from his small cabin's ceiling, lay a large chrome hook. It had apparently been ripped from the ceiling sometime during the frame of time he was unconscious. Attached to the end of the hook was a very familiar rope, which led past his face and back behind his neck. There it met with a large knot, which, as it had promised, had not unraveled.

            As the whole picture came into focus, panic began to set in, and still George tries to scream. For a few struggling moments he attempts to move himself. However, he understands that it is hopeless. He would never again move his legs or arms. Paralysis from a neck injury rarely ended in recovered use of the limbs. He now understood that the throbbing in his skull was also being enhanced by his shattered nose. It had been smashed into the floorboards after his fall from weightlessness.

            For some time, he simply lay with his eyes closed. Feeling the puke rising, he focuses on the beautiful place he'd only been allowed a glimpse of, and slips back into unconsciousness.

            I can still make it to her. She is waiting for me. I know that she wouldn't leave me here alone. I will find her, nothing can stop me

            He ran, calling her name

            But he quickly awakens to excruciating pains and another violent fit of regurgitation. There was not going to be another chance. He'd lost it long ago. She was gone. George keeps his eyes closed, not wanting to see the mess surrounding him any longer. There he lay, for a length of time unknown, lost in his tears.

            Oh well, fuck it. I'm back here, she's gone. Just like she's been gone for years. At least no one has seen me like this. I gotta get it together man. I need a doctor

            But reality doesn't pick favorites and rain down miracles. He wasn't going to get to a doctor. He was out in the woods, miles from any civilization. That was part of the plan. Do it out in the cabin, where no one will find you for years, if ever at all. It's not like there's anyone who would come looking for you. A peaceful exit from this world, on your own terms, in that place that is only yours.

            And with the realization that he was alone, exactly as he'd planned to be, he began to cry. A crying that will eventually evolve into panicked screaming.

            He was getting so thirsty.

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