He was never loved until the day he died.
Cast into an alley by a dark, handsome woman who bade him no good, the man landed in a tangle of limbs and a fit of agony. Throat torn out, hand extended to stop the bleeding and leg possibly broken, he twisted and turned, clawing with one hand while holding his neck with the other to try and make it back out into the street.
With his life flowing free, it didn’t take long for him to die.
After he stopped struggling, he closed his eyes and imaged love and how it could be.
A four-letter word with all the connotations in the world, a man who struggled to crawl out of an alley died without ever experiencing what it was like to be held in the arms of another.
Not long after he stopped moving, the smell of blood brought the dogs in.
Snarling, barking, baring teeth at one another in a violent exhibit of dominance, one dog ripped at his neck while another went for his leg. Soon after, a feast commenced and the alley drank blood for the first time in years. They ripped most of him away, from the flesh of his arms to the clothes on his back, before departing, bellies full and faces covered in masks of blood.
When the dogs left, the bugs came next.
Flies—blow, household, fruit—flew in by the dozens, then the hundreds to bear the fruit of life. They buried their young in the places the dogs would not touch. His eyes, his nose, his ears, his mouth, below his torn fingernails and in the destroyed confines of his genitals and anus—anywhere and everywhere they could, they burrowed, securing places for the next generation.
When something died, that thing’s life didn’t matter anymore.
When death took hold of something, it wanted something else to live.
In the back alley of an old bar long since forgotten by those who cared, a man died and gave way for new life to be born.
Love, he sang.
Arm curled to his chest, boneless fingers touched a heart that no longer beat.
Men and women in suits and masks came the following day.
Scouring the area for hints and clues, some dusted walls, while others took pictures and wrote on their clipboards. Few touched him—even fewer wanted to be near him—but those that cared decided to help. They closed his eyes, covered his corpse, and lifted him with the care that a mother would with a child. They tended to his broken, mangled body, cradled it in the arms of a metal beast, and soothed his sorrows as those around him began to sigh.
Death, they whispered.
Eyes downturned, mouths set in confusion, hurt and sorrow, they began to clean the area as the beast started moving, toward a place of life, love, and death.
A woman took a knife and cut him open.
In life, some would’ve called the act torture, while others would have seen it as a thing of utmost beauty—a bond only few experienced. But in death—but in beautiful, solemn death—the act of cutting a person open could only be described as the truest of loves. One mounting the other, the other lying prone, they would create a rhythm many enjoyed but few ever experienced. Orgasms could be reached and bliss could be obtained, but never once would love be found.
In life, mindless acts of pleasure meant nothing more than pleasure.
In death, mindless acts of torture meant love.
As the woman cut him open, first revealing his chest, his stomach, then his abdominals, she poked and pried, twisted and cut, moved and removed, but never once did she hurt the real, physical him. She took his heart in her hands as though it were a diamond, a priceless artifact not meant to be touched by man, and she stroked his fingers as though he were dying, an old man confined to a bed with a worm digging its way through his mind. She did things that others couldn’t even begin to imagine.
How, some would ask, could you touch a man’s heart, or stroke his dead, skinless fingers? And how, others would wonder, would you do this with a simple, even mind?
Regardless, what others thought meant nothing.
She loved him for who he really was—a man, not something dead.
He slept in darkness while waiting for friends to come. In his bed of metal and chill, his hands lay prone, as if numb and comforted by his confines. A sheet covered his body to keep him warm and a nurse stood no more than three feet away, waiting for things and people to arrive.
In this home of death and decay, he felt more welcomed than he ever had in his entire life.
A part of him that could no longer move smiled.
That same part felt warmth.
They did nothing to cover the wounds that ravaged his body, nor did they display him in the utmost authority of funeral. They dressed him in the finest suit and gave him the whitest shoes, but never once did they offer to open his chest for others to see. His body, though mortal, looked nothing as such. He—a cadaver, a corpse—was no longer human in the eyes of normal men. Some saw it while others didn’t, but those that did knew a scope of human recognition unlike any other.
When they placed him in a coffin to put him to rest, when they set his hands over where his heart used to beat, they looked down at him, sighed, then closed their eyes.
Even those that didn’t know him cried.
He didn’t know why.
Rumbles, shakes, quakes—he hardly moved at all, even though his transport shook to and fro. A pillow comforted his head and a mattress secured his body, but nothing assured where he would be going. A part of him knew that he would soon leave the mortal world of love and light, but until then, he would not speak. Only after they buried him would he ever open his mouth.
He felt it when they closed his tomb and when the dirt began to spill. A concrete wall, the things that speak and those, the weak—he, dead, they, alive, ensured that he would not fade for the longest of times. While they did this, and while he began to settle in for the greatest, longest haul, he exhaled a breath of air from lips long since torn off.
Tomorrow, he thought.
Tomorrow, everything would be better.
Chill burrowed deep, but not deep enough.
Outside, silence ruled the world, while inside, darkness ruled his. Warmth surrounded his being as though his body still exuded such a thing. A fickle, funny thing, warmth, but it didn’t matter. Comforted inside his prison, he continued to wait for it to warm, for his barriers to come crashing down.
Tomorrow, maybe it would be warm.
Two days passed, yet nothing happened.
How would he know? How would he be able to sense when the things caved in and the monsters came in? How could he prepare? How could he defend himself?
Would it be better tomorrow?
Three, four, five, six; seven, eight, nine ten—eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen; days, weeks, months, years.
How long would it take for things to go back to normal?
How long would it take for memories of earth to return?
How long would it be until he felt damp, and how long would it be until he felt dusk?
Eternity—one word that meant everything.
After so long, how could he know anything anymore? The past, the present, the future—what did it mean when he had nothing to experience?
It meant nothing.
One long, jagged crack.
After so many years, the first crack in the eternal seal appeared. Created by creatures, things, and nature, it appeared on the side of the concrete slab and began to spread. First slowly, then more quickly as things started to change. Floods, quakes, natural movements so far below the earth that he couldn’t even begin to feel them—these things moved him in ways he couldn’t begin to understand.
Eventually, things he couldn’t understand would begin to free him.
A break so shallow it could hardly be seen opened in the concrete wall.
The first chill began to creep in, followed by the first bit of tiny things he’d only experienced a few times in his life.
Though no more than bones, something wanted to be with him.
How romantic could these things be?
Slowly, things began to love.
He loved them.
They loved him.
In his prison of concrete, wood and dirt, things made their way into the confines of what he once considered his prison. They began to free him—slowly at first, then more quickly. They ate the wood and the earth continued to destroy the metal, thereby exhibiting an act of kindness not displayed to him for years on end. These things, so small and fickle, crossed his bones and lived in his sockets.
His eyes gleamed with kindness, his mouth curled in smiles.
Finally, he thought. After all this time.
The passage of time proved to be the most important thing of all.
Unlike anything he had ever felt before, the feeling of finally returning to the earth could only be described as surreal. Like a star falling from the sky or a first kiss from a lover’s lips, his world faded, existing only as a dream which could not possibly be real. In this new, undiscovered world, he quickly found himself wanting to fade even deeper into it. His conscience begged for release, his thoughts yearned for freedom, and his body—his poor, dead body—longed to forever be gone; not in the stomachs of animals or in the minds of people, but unquestionably, truly gone.
Would he ever get this? Would he ever have the absolute feeling he longed for?
It didn’t matter, not anymore.
With his world slowly fading to black, what was left of the corpse settled down and began to die.
For the first time in his life, something had truly done an amorous thing.