by Andrew J. West
Fated IV: Final Moment is the fourth of five short stories inspired by existentialism collectively entitled, “Fated”. Each piece can be read as stand-alone or as part of the connected series. Catch the next issue of Eastlit for the final installment of the “Fated” series, Fated V: Wordless Being.
Fated IV: Final Moment
A sharp pain and I’m on the floor staring up, trying to breathe, trying to move, trying to get back on my feet, telling my legs to move, but getting no response—what’s happening to me?—the pain is gone as suddenly as it struck… replaced by a wave of morphine-like euphoria… but I’m restrained in a straightjacket with my legs tied together, no, I’m glued to the floor and held down by an unseen weight so great I can’t move a single muscle, not even bat an eyelid, just stare up at the white ceiling that starts to fade to black, blackness that begins at the edges of my field of vision, from the corners of the ceiling above, and closes in from all directions, a circular implosion of darkness as if the universe is retreating or collapsing back to the beginning, back to the singularity before the Big Bang, a power of nature so immense and overwhelming it’s impossible to stop… a darkness that just keeps relentlessly surging inward, consuming everything in its path, even light itself—I thought it was light that obliterated darkness, not the other way around, or is the world coming to an end, or is this happening only to me?—suddenly I see a face: it’s my life partner, hovering over me crying, shouting something at me, mouthing my name and then “I love you, I love you” but I can’t hear and can’t respond, only watch on helplessly as the blackness accelerates, completely blanketing the familiar face that had smiled at me every day for the last decades of my life, erasing the beautiful eyes that had long-gazed into mine, leaving me with nothing, nothing at all… I can no longer see, just as I can’t hear, feel, smell or taste anything, as though the world that had enveloped me and embraced me throughout life is abruptly gone, swallowed by a dark sun, a black hole from which there can be no escape, from which not even light itself can escape, pulling me towards it, pulling me as irresistibly as it had the light that’s now gone—I’m terrified and try to fight the emptiness, to resist it with all my might, turning inwards to grasp at the memories that document my life and make me who I am, moving backwards through my subjective perceptions from this day to my happy childhood, reliving each and every memory of love and hate, happiness and suffering, toil and rest, excitement and mundanity, but leaving no time to regret the things I could have done but didn’t do, as the memories are erased one-by-one by the darkness, evaporating just as heated liquid volatilises into vapour, diffusing into nothingness, dissipating as though they never happened, until reaching the earliest memory of being a very young child standing with my parents watching a lightning storm on the front porch of the house I grew up in, then that too is absorbed by the blackness, leaving nothing left of who I was… I’d been fighting what’s happening to me every inch of the way, struggling in fear against this power far greater than my insignificant self… until realising I have no choice but to simply let my life go, to simply let what is happening to me happen: and having seen my now nameless life replayed before me, it is as incomprehensible as it was when I’d lived it, but it is only now—at its very end—that it can assume any meaning… that the sum of arbitrary things that were and happened in life were not me—all the things I’d done, all the people I’d known, all the places I’d been, all the emotions I’d felt—they weren’t me… my body wasn’t me and neither was my mind… I am not I… but the finite reunited with the infinite, a transcendent essence as profoundly incomprehensible as the incomprehensibleness and absolute emptiness of this final moment.
- Part 1 can be read in Eastlit August 2016.
- Part 2 can be read in Eastlit September 2016.
- Part 3 can be read in Eastlit October 2016.
Part 5 will be in Eastlit December 2016.
Editor’s Note on Fated IV: Final Moment:
Fated IV: Final Moment is not Andrew J. West’s first work to appear in Eastlit. His previous published pieces are:
- The Mansion was published in the June 2013 issue of Eastlit,
- Art of Evil appeared in the August 2013 issue
- The Puppet Tree was published in the October 2013 issue.
- The Student featured in the December 2103 issue.
- Self Portrait appeared in Eastlit February 2014.
- Three Worlds, the online photo-poetry exhibition was in Eastlit April 2014.
- Perfect Present was in Eastlit June 2014.
- City of Clay featured in Eastlit September 2014.
- Great Goddess was published in Eastlit December 2014.
You can also read the Eastlit Andrew J West interview.