Sunday, 30 January 2011

The Children of Disobedience - The Problem of Hell

Hello all : )

Imagine a world where the biblical concept of Hell is real. When you die, you are damned to a burning pit, cast into a lake of fire for all eternity.
St John told us that 'God is love', that he is compassionate and caring for his creation, but if this is true, how does the concept of Hell fit in to this? Surely if I have led a good life - been kind, charitable and humble I would deserve some reward in heaven? Do I deserve to be punished in the most horrible way possible for all eternity for not taking Sundays off and not accepting a man who lived thousands of years before my birth as my personal Saviour? Even still, if I have committed crimes in my life, surely the punishment is vastly out of proportion? Even if I sinned every minute of every day for my whole life, my life is finite, and so I can only commit a finite number of sins - so how can infinite punishment possibly be the actions of a just God?

So begins The problem of Hell.

This idea was the starting point for my novella 'The Children of Disobedience'. It follows our main character, Thomas, though his death, his journey through the bowels of Hell, and eventually his judgement at the hands of a higher power. This story will form part of a larger collection of stories which deal with the on-going debate about existence of God, which should hopefully be complete by this summer.
Part one of 'The Children of Disobedience' is below - please feel free to comment etc. and keep your eyes on the blog as I will be posting the subsequent parts in the following weeks.
Thanks for reading!

The Children of Disobedience - Part One

‘Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.’

- Ephesians 5:6


When he awoke it was dark – complete, all encompassing blackness. The sky (if it was even still there) was black and the sun had withdrawn. He didn’t feel right. He felt incomplete. As he patted himself down, he was certain that his body was there, but he felt somehow disconnected. The darkness enveloped him, suffocating him as he rose to his feet, waving his arms in front of himself, trying to work out the size of his enclosure. With the use of his eyes robbed from him, his other senses began to work overtime. Somewhere far in the distance he heard a low wail, like a wolf howling on a distant hilltop.

Suddenly, through the darkness there was a glint of light that was barely visible in front of him. As he edged closer, he strained to hear a barely audible whisper that was creeping through the black. Then he saw it again – a fleeting flash of sliver teeth through the vast charcoal emptiness.

‘Who is that?’ he asked, a rush of fear building in the pit of his stomach. ‘Who is that, out in the black? What is this place?’

There was no reply. Just the gentle hissing of incoherent whispering rippling through the air.

‘Show yourself, stranger,’ he pressed. ‘I know you’re there. I can feel you by my side. What is this dark prison? Why can’t I see?’

‘You will see once you are ready to open your eyes.’ The voice that replied was deep and shook him to his innards.

‘Who are you, faceless spectre? Why have you brought me here to this place? What do you intend for me?’

‘You brought yourself here.’ The booming voice spoke again. ‘Every decision you made, every road you travelled – they all brought you here.’

‘What is this pitch black eternity?’

‘It is just that – eternity.’

‘Have I died? Have I crossed over to the other place?’ As soon as those words crossed his lips, colours began to swim into view, and he blinked as a thousand shades of red and grey came bursting in to view. ‘I am beginning to see things… colours.’

‘Then you are ready.’

Slowly the colours began to turn into shapes, and as his eyes began to focus, he saw the world around him as he had never seen it before. Long ridges of blood red rock towered up on either side of him, winding down the sides of a long path that led downwards in to a deep dark unknown world. As he turned around, he saw his companion for the first time – a tall, shadowy cloaked figure who stood by his side, his silver teeth only just visible under his hood.

‘What manner of man are you,’ he asked, ‘that dwells in such an unforgiving place?’

‘I am no man.’

‘Then what are you? If you are not man, are you beast? What hides beneath those robes?’

‘I am neither man nor beast, alive nor dead. I am a member of the jury that will judge mankind.’

‘And me?’ he replied timidly. ‘Am I to be judged?’

‘All shall face judgement at the hands of their creator.’ The stranger’s voice shook him again.

As he looked despairingly towards his feet, he noticed something. On the right hand side of his stomach, there was a seeping crimson bloodstain, and he pulled his hand in, running his fingertips across the wound, and inspecting his stained fingers. Even though he could see and smell his own blood, and he could see the wound that cut deep in to his stomach, he felt no pain. He felt nothing. ‘I remember now,’ he said. ‘I was killed. I was shot in the stomach trying to defend my home. I have died – I have died and come to Satan’s lair.’

The cloaked stranger was silent, and he extended a long ash grey finger from the depths of his flowing cloak and pointed it in front of him, towards the man.

‘Shed your clothes,’ he growled in his deep, terrifying voice.

‘My clothes? But why?’

‘They serve no purpose in this place. Are you so ashamed of the man you are when you are stripped of your robes that you will not shed them? That was the sign of the very first disobedience.’

‘No man likes to be stripped of his clothes – exposed for all to see.’

‘Have you anything to hide?’ growled the stranger.

‘We all have our private shames.’

‘And they will be exposed. There will be no more secrets now. All that was hidden will be uncovered – every secret sin will be exposed. No man will hide from the truth in this place.’

And so he began to strip himself of his clothes, leaving them in a pile on the rocks next to where he stood.

‘Now you are unmasked,’ growled the stranger. ‘And all shall see the man that you really are.’

He stood naked and exposed before the stranger, still hiding his shame as best he could with his trembling hands. ‘What now? What is your intention, stranger?’

The cloaked stranger turned and slowly began to walk down the path in to the unknown. ‘Follow me.’

Slowly he began to follow his new companion, timidly trying to see past the long crimson ridges into the place to which they were heading. ‘What lies down that road?’ he piped quietly.

Suddenly the stranger stopped and turned around where he stood.

‘A dark place.’

* * * *

Some way down the path, he began to hear a noise coming from the dark distance. Long, low wails were drifting over the blood red crevasses and echoing through the thick, grey air. ‘Tell me stranger,’ he said, ‘what is that terrifying sound?’

‘That is the sound of darkness.’

‘Are we going into the darkness?’

‘Perhaps. But not now.’

And so they walked on in silence, listening to the hideous wailing that rose up from the distance. They followed the path down through the winding vein that was cut into the rock until they reached an opening, where the path widened and wound downwards towards a blood red river.

‘Is this the place I think it is?’ he asked timidly.

‘Where do you think we are?’ replied the stranger, looking straight ahead and continuing to move steadily.

‘Is this eternal damnation? Is this the place that was foretold in the holy books?’

The stranger stopped suddenly and glanced up for only a moment towards the endless grey clouds that hung overhead. ‘When Venus and his angels fell,’ he said, ‘this pit opened up to receive them.’

‘Have I fallen as they did?’

The stranger began to walk slowly again. ‘The pit isn’t closed. It remains open to beckon any man who does not watch his footsteps.’

‘So the holy texts were true.’

‘What reason have you to doubt the word of god?’


Soon they reached the bank of the red river, and as it gushed and swirled at his feet, he noticed something. Someway down the river, moored at its bank, sat a huge ship bobbing up and down with the river’s flow; its lifeless grey sails disappearing into the fog.

‘What is that ship in the distance?’ he asked.

‘That is the vessel that will guide you toward your final destination. Here is where you will wait for an audience with Venus.’

As he walked, two or three feet behind his companion towards the ship, he pointed towards the river. ‘The water,’ he asked, ‘why is it that colour?’

‘Because it isn’t water,’ growled his companion. ‘It is the blood and waste of the lost souls.’

Thirty feet or so from the ship, he noticed something on the riverbank. It was a man; he was gurgling in the black mud, grasping with all of his strength at the rocks by the river’s side, trying to pull himself up. The man was trying to speak – but he uttered only single, broken, incoherent words.

He jumped towards the riverbank and extended his hand towards the man. ‘Take my hand!’ he shouted. ‘I’ll help you out.’ He reached and reached but he could not make contact with the man.

The cloaked stranger watched from his side. ‘You cannot help him.’

‘I nearly have his hand!’

‘No one can save him. Not now; not for the rest of eternity. Only he could have done that. Leave the slothful glutton to his works.’

Still he tried to save the man, but each time he reached out his arm, he seemed to get further away. Finally, he realised that the stranger was right… he could not save him, so he gave up and left the man as he was instructed.

The stranger stopped as they began to walk up the gangplank towards the ship, and looked down at the man on the river bank. ‘He has found his fate,’ he said. ‘And it is a fate worthy of his sins. He decided upon a life of gluttony, now he must lie by the river bank for eternity and feast on rats and toads and snakes. He has found his fate just as you will find yours.’

Soon they reached the top of the gangplank and he looked out to see thousands of faces standing on the deck. They were crammed up as tightly as they could be packed. Thousands of fear stricken faces stared back at him and his companion, and the sound of weeping and wailing hit his ears like the crash of a cymbal.

‘Who are these wretched souls?’ he asked, his eyes and mouth hanging wide.

‘They are lost,’ growled the stranger, straining to be heard over horrifying wails. ‘They are seeking direction – and this is where they will find it.’

‘Tell me stranger… why are they so afraid?’

‘Why are you not?’

The cloaked stranger turned towards him and growled under his breath. ‘This is where we will part ways. You will wait aboard this ship until you are called – then we shall decide your final destination.’

‘But what shall I do until then? How long will it be until I am called? Tomorrow? Next week? In ten years time? You cannot leave me stranger!’

But his hooded companion had already begun to walk back down towards shore.

‘You will be called,’ he growled behind him.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

After the Revolution - Part 2

Well, it's Friday again, thank goodness! And with it comes the second instalment of my new novella, 'After the revolution'. A huge, huge thank you to all of you who took the time to read part one. If you need to catch up on the story, then check out my last post. Anyway, here's part two, which contains chapters two and three - Enjoy!


Alex didn’t talk much in the weeks following that evening. He spent most of his time sitting alone in his workshop, staring into space with a terrified look on his face. He would offer the most basic of pleasantries to his wife, good morning, good night and even the odd thank you, but that was all. When Annie would quiz him about what had happened that night, he would recoil and leave the room sheepishly. She tried to make small talk in an attempt to return to normality.
‘I see the beard’s become a permanent fixture, then.’
No reply.
‘I kind of like it,’ she said. ‘It’s kind of rugged. Wild.’
He turned his head only a quarter of an inch and make eye contact with her. He didn’t smile. He didn’t frown.
She recognised the look in his eyes. Beneath the obvious sadness and fear, she saw desperation. In that flash of light only a few nights ago, her husband had become a stranger.
‘You know you’re gonna have to talk to me sometime, Alex.’
He frowned, turning fully away from her.
‘I’m your wife. You’ve barely spoken three words all week.’ She ran her fingers through her red hair. ‘What the hell happened to you? I realise that you’re scared… but… but I can help you. But I can’t help you if you won’t let me help you, Alex.’
She sighed and turned away, before reconsidering. ‘Maybe you should go and see a doctor.’
‘I don’t need a doctor.’ He roared those five words with the most enthusiasm he had shown all week. ‘I just need… I just need…’ Tears began to well in his eyes.
‘What do you need, Alex?’
He paused before replying.
‘I just need… to be left alone.’

She wondered if he knew that she was crying in the kitchen. She wondered if he cared. What has happened to my husband? Where is the man I fell in love with?
Something happened to him. Could it be true? Could it really have worked? Tears rolled down her cheeks as she stared out of the kitchen window into the darkness. She pulled out a cigarette from a packet on the worktop and slid it between her lips. She had quit nearly three years ago, but in a teary bundle of nerves she had bought a packet that morning.
Where is my husband?

He had been staring at the same rivet for nearly an hour, now. He had inspected every shade of silver within it and mapped every detail of it. All he could do now was think. He knew he had to do something. He had to think of something.
He sat there hour after hour, day after day replaying what he had seen in his head. All the terrifying memories.

And it must have happened in the blink of an eye for her.


One Week Earlier

He opened the hatch at the bottom and climbed in, smiling to himself. Where will we be in fifty years? He pulled the hatch door closed until it clicked. Through the window he saw Annie turning round. She’s watching…
He set the controls. He was about to become the worlds first time traveller. This is the most historic mission ever embarked upon by mankind…
He tapped in the destination. February Twenty Seventh, two thousand and sixty. His ninety fifth birthday.
He was blinded by a flash of light and he snapped his eyes tightly shut.
It works.

Suddenly darkness. Darkness and silence. As he opened his eyes, he saw very little. Just a dark brick wall in front of him. He took a deep breath and sat up. Dust fell around the entrance to the machine as the hatch door slid open. The air outside was thick and oppressive, and he coughed as his feet met the ground. Closing the hatch door, he turned and looked around.
It works!
His machine sat at the end of a long room with row upon row of desks that stretched back. It’s a classroom. It looked like it hadn’t been used in years. He picked up a workbook from the desk next to him, which he assumed was the teacher’s desk, and looked at it.
‘Britain after the revolution.’
He placed it back and looked around.
Long cracks stretched up the wall, creeping along and parting at the broken window at the far end of the room. Like a giant wound, the window sat open, caved in, exposing the world beyond. As Alex looked out, his jaw fell wide open, and he scrambled to the other side of the room for a closer look. Out of the window, he saw his home. London. But it was very different to the city he had left five minutes ago.
Amber flashes intermittently lit up the skyline on the horizon, illuminating the twisted, burnt out shell of the city that used to be his home. In the flash after flash of explosions to the south, he saw that everything was in ruins. I have to get a closer look. I have to find out what happened.
He looked across at his machine, and then back outside. Ten minutes. Ten minutes, then it’s back to Annie.
He looked out again and began to climb up a pile of rubble and out of the classroom.

This is where Bernard spent the evenings, outside the old school, watching the bombs go off in distance. He would come out here most nights when the sun had sunk. There’ll be nothing left to bomb soon. The sky lit up in amber flashes on the horizon, followed by a roar, dulled only by the distance it had to travel to reach Bernard’s ears. He knew better than to be out and about on the streets after curfew, so he nestled himself into the ruins and prepared for the long, cold night ahead. Sometimes he would even find food up here – a mars bar or a packet of crisps, but tonight he was content to just rest and watch the orange blaze on the horizon.
Some way across the rubble, over by the classroom window, he heard something and instinctively ducked for cover. It’ll be them. It’ll be his men again. Bernard knew that the spot he had chosen wasn’t technically breaking curfew, but kept his head low just in case. Suddenly a figure raised its head out of the rubble. It wasn’t one of his men. He could tell that straight away. The figure didn’t move with enough purpose to be one of the POLA.
It was a man. One solitary man, looking around like a tourist at the sights. Bernard raised his head to get a better look and the man caught his eye.
‘Excuse me…’
Great. He’s spotted me. This is my camp.
‘Excuse me,’ said the man running across the debris towards him. ‘What’s going on across there?’
‘What does it look like?’ Idiot.
‘Where am I?’
Jesus Christ. ‘London… well, what’s left of it.’
‘London… but…’
Leave me alone. ‘I’m just trying to watch the fireworks in peace, mate.’
‘Fireworks? They’re bombing London!’
Where the hell has this guy been? ‘Welcome to the twenty first century, mate,’ said Bernard. ‘Everyone’s bombing everyone.’
The man looked out at the explosions in the sky in the distance. ‘Why?’
Bernard smiled and looked straight ahead. ‘Power. Strength. Freedom.’
‘Excuse me?’
Bernard actually laughed out loud. ‘Have you got amnesia, mate? Did one of those rocks fall on you and knock you out?’
‘N… no.’
‘Then how on earth could you have possibly missed the demise of the human race?’
Leave me alone. ‘This is my camp. Go find your own place to sleep.’
The man nodded uncomfortably and began to walk down towards the road. Bernard knew exactly what lay down that road. If he’s stupid enough to go down there, he deserves what’s coming to him.

Alex walked down to the road. His road; Lawson Street. He navigated his way across the loose rubble to the muted roar of the bombs in the distance. Everything was different. They had build a long since abandoned school where his workshop used to be, and the park across the road from his house, where Alex used to walk his dog, was now occupied by the crumbling, burnt out remains of an old warehouse. None of the houses on his street had survived; most of it looked like it had been rebuilt as industrial units before being bombed to the ground.
This was his home. In ruins.
From the brow of the hill that led down towards the city centre, Alex began to hear a rumbling sound, followed by the blinding flash of headlights appearing over the crest. A vehicle was hurtling towards him at high speed, ripping over any debris in its way.
Alex held his hand over his brow to shield his eyes from the blinding light and stepped back off the road. The vehicle, a black armoured four wheel drive, skidded to a halt two feel in front of him, and four men dressed in black with black capes leapt out brandishing weapons. One of the men pushed his gun into Alex’s ribcage.
‘Get in,’ he growled.
‘B… but…’
The dug the gun deep into Alex and gestured towards the vehicle. ‘I’m arresting you for violation of curfew. You know the rules, mate. Get in the car.’
With the cold steel of the barrel of a gun in his back as his motivation, Alex got into the vehicle with his hands raised, and just as quickly as it had come, the car tore off down the road again.

From his perch by the old school, Bernard watched as the POLA raced away with their latest victim.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

After the Revolution - Part 1

Hello to all - many thanks to those of you who took the time to read 'Brothers', your support is invaluable to me. Now the next thing... Over the course of the next ten weeks or so I will be posting a serialised version of my new novella 'After the Revolution', a story that follows Alex, a scientist who gets a terrifying glimpse of the future and sees what will become of his country. After the Revolution, Britain is a dictatorship at war, ruled by a man named Wilson who bullied his way into power thirty years ago and runs his country on three foundations. Power, Strength and Freedom.
How will Alex cope when he returns knowing what lies ahead? Can he change the future? Will he?

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out!


Present Day

They had been arguing just before it happened. About money - as usual. ‘These are tough times,’ she would persist. ‘How the hell can we afford to keep that bloody workshop running during a recession? It would be a different story if you ever actually designed anything useful after all the hours you spend tinkering about in there.’
That annoyed him, and she knew it. His workshop was his life.
‘You got how much from your father when he died? It was Thousands, Alex. And how much of it is left?’
He knew there was nothing left. So did she, but she liked to push the point during an argument.
‘That went towards my experiments…’ he would reply. ‘He was my father, and he left me the money to complete my life’s work!’
‘That was our future, Alex. That was our home, our retirement… everything. We could have started a family… had a life together! And what do we have to show for it?’ She scowled as she gestured towards the open door to Alex’s workshop. ‘Nothing but a load of junk.’ She stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her.
Alex let out a long sigh as he walked into his workshop. His wife had been so exited about his work in the beginning. It seemed that ever since they had gotten married, she no longer had the time to dream.
As he stepped through the door, he saw it there, looking down at him; the huge steel structure. She was right of course, he thought, as he looked up. It doesn’t work. Not yet.
‘How can you bear to keep going?’ his wife would ask him from time to time, pained by her husband’s fruitless labour. ‘You’re wasting your life; you’re wasting our life! You have tried a thousand times and you have failed a thousand times! When will you give up?’
Alex stood in his workshop and looked up at the fruit of a thousand failures, smiling to himself and thinking of his hero, Thomas Edison.
I haven’t failed a thousand times, he thought to himself. I’ve just successfully learned a thousand ways not to build a time machine.

His wife, Annie, sat stewing in the other room, seriously pondering the fate of her marriage. She was certain that he had a brilliant mind… if only he weren’t so bloody obsessive. She knew she loved him, and she knew that she wanted to be with him always… but something had to change. He was married to his work, not to her… and pretty soon the money would all run out. What then? This couldn’t go on… this, this fantasy.
He stood in the doorway and called over to her. As she turned around, she fully expected the puppy dog eyes and the entire sad apology routine. Things will get better… I can change!
What she saw was quite different. They had only parted ways fifteen minutes ago, but something had definitely happened. Alex wore a wide grin that stretched from ear to ear and his hands were trembling.
‘What is it, Alex?’
He took a long time to reply, so Annie continued.
‘I don’t have the energy for this anymore, Alex. Not anymore.’
‘I did it.’ He spoke only a little over a whisper.
‘You did what? What did you d-‘
‘It works.’
Alex began to chuckle and mutter under his breath. I’ve done it. I’ve finally done it!
‘You have to be kid-‘
‘Come and see it if you don’t believe me.’
Alex led his wife through to the workshop, where he stood, wide eyed, looking up at his creation.
As Annie looked up at it, her heart sank. Of course it doesn’t work. I couldn’t possibly work. She still felt sorry for him, though. Despite all the failed attempts, she still hadn’t developed a tolerance to feeling sorry for him.
‘Watch, Annie… watch,’ he chirped. ‘I saw it with my own eyes… I saw it!’
‘What did you see?’ replied Annie unenthusiastically.
‘This!’ Alex swung around, holding a gold watch in front of his face. ‘I sent this watch through time… just now. Look…’ he spoke in short, excited bursts. ‘See the time on the watch.’ He pointed to the watch face. ‘Eight thirty seven pm.’
Annie gave little reaction.
‘And look at the clock up there on the wall.’
Annie looked up. Eight thirty eight.
‘The watch has lost a minute!’
Annie was solemn. ‘Alex… I don’t have time for these games anymore.’
Alex’s face was not altered by his wife’s stony reaction. ‘These aren’t games. This is real… I saw it!’
‘I’m sorry, Alex. I have to go.’ Unimpressed, she began to walk back towards the door.’
‘Annie! Wait… Let me show you!’
He knew he had to prove it, so he opened the hatch at the bottom and climbed in, smiling to himself. Where will we be in fifty years?
Annie looked back over her shoulder when she heard the hatch closing. Surely not? Annie had seen first hand the state that things (living or otherwise) had been in when they came out of that hatch on previous trial runs. He’s mad.
‘Alex, don’t be an idiot!’ As she began to walk back across the room towards the machine, there was a deafening crash and an instant of blinding white light.
Annie stood, glued to the spot, her mouth wide and trembling with fear. Alex…
She slowly began to walk over to the machine, desperately trying to see into the hatch window. Then, when she got close enough to have an un-obscured view, she froze. Fear coursed through her in giant waves as she looked through the glass.
The hatch was empty.
‘Alex! Alex! Where are you!’ She began to sob and fell to her knees. Her husband was gone. Maybe he was right. Maybe it did work after all.
As she lay on the floor of her husband’s workshop sobbing into her hands, another mighty crash came out of nowhere, followed by another instant of blinding light. She slowly raised her head and looked up. Again?
Annie jumped back in terror as the hatch came sliding open, smoke pouring from underneath the machine.
She slowly edged back across the floor as a dark figure began to make its way out of the hatch. It was a man, but he bore no resemblance to the man who had climbed into the machine minutes ago. He was drawn, exhausted and limped out of the machine, pulling his right leg behind him. He wore a thick beard and a long scar down the side of his cheek, and he was holding something in his hand. A red scarf.
The man collapsed, trying his best to take deep exhausted breaths, shaking on the floor. Then as Annie looked a little closer, she recognised him.
‘A… Alex?’ She spoke a little over a whisper.
Her husband looked up at her from the ground through weary, terrified eyes.
‘Annie? Is that you, Annie? I… I’m back…’

‘…I’m back.’

Monday, 10 January 2011

Brothers - An Introduction

Hello all - I just wanted to give you a short introduction to the poem in my previous post (I realise I probably haven't done this in the correct order, but hey ho). I wrote Brothers as a way of exploring an issue that I am hugely interested in just now - the existence of god... or rather the non-existence of god. I just wanted to get down some of my concerns about blind faith and the poisoning effect that I believe comes with religion.

The poem follows two brothers, one theist and one atheist, who die and must weigh up the sins they have committed in their lifetimes. Please feel free to comment (positive or negative!). Let me know what you think about the issue - I'm always up for a debate!


If the poem is not below, you can find a link to it on the right hand side.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Brothers (Poetry)


In late July on sandy shores,
Where waves, bejewelled, sound out their roars
Two brothers and their sweethearts swim
As lovers do, when on a whim.

The ladies sat to bronze their skin
As brothers set out for a swim
The golden rays upon their backs
A time for fun, and to relax.

The elder of the brothers two,
Was of the clergy; his faith was true.
Upon the cross his life was laid
And by his book his sins repaid

His brother, five years less than he,
Believes what he can touch and see
He knows that faith should not be blind
He fears his death and knows his mind.

Their father named them as in the book,
The elder Peter, the younger Luke,
To set them on their holy path,
Which was trodden on by only half.

As happens oft when brothers play
They swam too far out of the bay,
The hauling waves had pulled them out
Towards the horizon and death, no doubt.

The waves clawed at their golden locks
And dragged them down towards the rocks
Into the silence of the murky deep
As mourning lovers watch and weep.

And just as they had shared a womb,
The brothers, too, would share their tomb.
For they swam too far out of the bay,
As happens oft when brothers play.


When they awoke, the sky was gone,
The sun no more, the sea withdrawn.
They stood on the road that leads to grace,
In a different kind of empty place.

Said Peter to his bother, Luke
‘Our time has come, and by the book
The waves crashed in and so the tide
Has brought us here, to the other side.’

And Peter knew his faith was strong,
He knew his life had done no wrong,
The time had come for him tell
Would it be Heaven? Could it be Hell?

‘In death,’ said Luke, ‘we find ourselves,
And was I wrong to not fear Hell?
I’ve lived my life as I saw fit
And my Judgement will my life befit.’

And so they walked on up the road,
To cast aside their weary loads,
And there find judgement from the one
Who guides the tides and sets the sun.

As Peter saw his brother’s face,
Walking towards the gates of grace,
His fate was out of his control
He thought: ‘God have mercy on my brother’s soul!’

For, a man who denies and rejects his faith
Cannot expect to be kept safe!
And when the hour of judgement comes
He’ll be marched away to Satan’s drums.


‘Some way up the road ahead,’
Peter, to his brother, said
‘I see a figure by a tree,
Playing guitar and singing sweetly.’

The music filled his brother’s ears
And nearly broke him down to tears
And looking up he spied the tree
And the lone guitarist singing sweetly.

They approached the figure, whose head was bowed,
And, said the elder, in a voice bold and loud
‘Are you the man who tends the gates?
Decider of paths, decider of fates?’

‘Are you the man whose name I took?
From holy tales from holy books?
Are you the man who has to say,
Who goes forth and who will stay?’

‘I doubt,’ said the figure, ‘If do we share a name.’
‘But I do choose your path as you rightly proclaim.
Sit by my feet as I play the guitar,
Then we shall see who you really are.’

As the figure looked up, to the brothers’ surprise,
She was a woman with beautiful deep green eyes.
They sat at her feet and bathed in her song,
But Peter felt sure that something was wrong.

‘You are not Saint Peter, who tends to the gates!
What makes you worthy to decide our fates?
Must he not judge us, and let us pass through,
If everything that I’ve learned be true?’

‘If everything you’ve learned is true,
Then I surely know much less than you!
But humour me, friends, and tell me, both,
The truth, as you are under oath.’


The elder brother spoke up first,
To clear his name and prove his worth.
He sat beneath the giant oak
And to the woman he softly spoke.

‘My father,’ he said, ‘was a man of the cloth;
He spun me his prayers like silk from a moth
And eagerly, I soaked them in,
Rejected the Devil, rejected my sins.’

‘I listened as the Lord would show me the path,
I felt His love and feared His wrath
I made no wrongful use of his name
No idols put my faith to shame.

I did not kill, nor did I steal, and I blessed the Sabbath day
I did not bear false witness or commit adultery
My life was as a slave to my Lord
I lived by His word and died by His sword.’

‘I sacrificed my own life in service to His grace,
I longed to walk beside Him and gaze upon His face.
I rejected those who lie with a man as one would with a woman
To do so is an abomination on all that makes us human.’

‘On their eyes,’ he said, ‘I took no pity,
And banished them from the Lord’s committee.
Stamped their sins out in their youth,
Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’

‘A missionary in a Godless land,
His grace to fill their waiting hands.
I fought for the truth about where we began
The Garden of Eden, the origin of man.’

‘I fought with the science that seeks to disprove
All of the mysterious ways that he moves.
If they did strike me, and as I am meek,
I would simply smile and turn the other cheek.’

The woman chuckled quietly,
As brother Peter made his plea.
‘Does my faith amuse you, friend?
Why do you laugh? What do you intend?’

‘Forgive me Peter, please go on,
I merely chuckled when musing upon
The obedience you gave and the guidance you seek,
Eye for eye, with turn of cheek.’

‘So, if I need to confess, I know not my sin
But it is no sin so reckless as to not let me in.’
Peter looked round, then, and turned to his brother
And pleaded a case for the second son of his mother.

‘Forgive my brother, for I confess,
His is one soul I could not bless.
He rejected the fold and being one of us,
Forgive him… for he knows not what he does.’


The younger brother had listened well
As Peter backed away from Hell
Until the woman looked up at last,
And asked, ‘Now, Luke, why should you pass?’

‘My Brother,’ said Luke, ‘is an honest man,
And no doubt the most faithful of all of God’s lambs
But when he confessed that I strayed from the fold
He did not convey all the reasons I hold.’

‘My faith is in nature, the birds and the bees
That which I can touch; that which I can see.
I believe, perhaps disgracefully, that faith should not be blind.
I lived to choose my destiny and master my own mind.’

‘To cheat my mind of logic, where there is no way to tell,
If we should become God’s servants or forever burn in Hell!
I chose to be free to decide myself what was right or wrong
Not be bullied into doing good by angels’ song.’

‘I did not kill, nor did I steal,
Nor under any idols kneel
I chose, as I did, to love my life
And not spend it trying to win a place in paradise.’

‘And if I am to believe in all that I’m told,
There was no greater bully than the God of old!
Heathens and children would die at his hands
Ask Abraham about his divine demands!’

‘I chose not the shackles of a deity’s laws,
I did not indulge any missionary’s cause.
I chose to be free from a life on my knees
Before an impossible God I could never have pleased.’

‘So, if I need to confess, then these are my sins,
But if my brother is right, you cannot let me in.
So please pass your judgement and please, make it swift.
Embrace the believer and set me adrift.’


The brothers sat in silence, now,
As the woman sat with furrowed brow
Weighing up what they had said
And pondering where to send the dead.

‘If, Brother Peter, your God does exist,
To walk at your side in eternal bliss,
And if his face you long to see,
All you need to do is gaze upon me.’

‘For he is a she; and she is me,
The creator of all the things that be,
You tell me that you spread my word,
And lived the life that I preferred.’

Said she to Peter, ‘Have we met before?
Have you ever come knocking, here at my door?’
Peter was stunned and replied, of course, ‘No.’
‘Then,’ she replied, ‘How do you know?’

‘How do you know what I deem to be right?
Have I ever given you a war to fight?
The word you have followed is the word of man,
And you followed along like a little lost lamb.’

‘But I read from the book that came from your pen!’
‘No,’ she replied. ‘They were the words of men.’
‘I followed the laws that you carved on the stone!’
‘…And you knelt before an empty throne.’

‘I am not displeased,’ she said unto him
‘That you wasted your life on a religious whim
It just seems to me you were made a slave
By a system from which you could have been saved.’

‘These answers,’ said she, ‘That you claim to know,
Only let your ignorance show!
Of up above or down below,
At least your brother admits what he does not know.’

‘Did not the Bible,’ said Peter, ‘descend from your quill?
Does not it preach of your own divine will?’
‘Mankind is free,’ she said, ‘to do as they choose,
I care not one jot if they win or they lose.’

‘What kind of God does not care for his lambs?’
‘The kind of God even I don’t understand.
I’m not the same as the God you perceive
I’m not the creator of your Adam and your Eve.’

Peter looked in her eyes and saw only truth.
‘Then my life was a lie since I was a youth…’
‘Why would I need obedience and servitude?
That is a truth that man concludes.’

‘Then tell me, master,’ Peter said,
‘What do you require instead?
If servants do not please your grace,
What would you have done in my place?’

‘I ask for nothing in return
And good or bad is not my concern
Without the darkness there is no light
And without peace there is no fight.’

‘I only ask that you shall live
And wonder at the gifts I give.
The shackles of a faith that’s blind
Hold you back and enslave mankind.’

‘Your brother, Luke, chose a different path,
He did not cower before mankind’s wrath.
He did not deny himself a chance to live well,
He was not enslaved by man’s fear of Hell.’

‘And so, by his will, his paradise is true,
And his questions asked more than I ever knew.
And Peter, your faith would burn hotter than Hell,
As you walked with your devil whilst under his spell.’

‘But look,’ said the woman, ‘it’s growing quite late,
And my patience grows weary for human debate.
Leave me now, and it ends as it was,
Before there was reason, before there was cause.’

‘As it always has been, you live and you die,
And not even I know the full reasons why.
So, goodnight friends for this is the end
Your path lies there, around the next bend.’