It was some year, in some period that we know when this event happened, yet time, as always, was so unimportant. Achlys was asleep when he received the knock on his door. It was sometime in the middle of the night, nothing relevant to the story. As he fumbled with his consciousness, he slowly came to. He peered over the edge of darkness from his bed, and stealthily avoided his wife’s warm body to put on his slippers.
Achlys was a strange man. He loved fashion, to the point of unhealthy obsession. So, when he woke up, he refused to go down in his coffee-stained robe. He was quite simply, much too disorganized. He peered into his closet, organized in rows, with suits, T-shirts, scarves, anything you can imagine. It again, doesn’t pertain to the story. Achlys thought himself a very clever man upon choosing the suit. He was soon enumerated heat to toe in his formal garb, and went downstairs, with a slow affirmative gait that showed pride in his organization and formality.
When opened that crimson-stained door, covered by ivory, and filled with the honor of his family line, he felt nothing but pure abhorrence. For before him, stood a man that he had shared drinks with, friends, lovers, desperation, alcoholism, everything. He was an Old Friend. “What are you doing here, Old Friend?”, asked in a slosh of terror and inquisitive delight. “Don’t you miss me, Achlys?” the Friend asked in his usual somber, lonely tone. “Of course, it’s just…”. The Friend understood, he had been here a million times. Sometimes Achlys had to escape reality, to let the memories flood. The Friend knew it was essential to his Process. “Come talk to me when you’re ready,” the Friend told Achlys, and placed his grizzled old hand on his shoulder as a means of assurance. And with that, the Friend walked off into his kitchen, with that same slow miserable old limp that Achlys had once owned.
Achlys stared into the stars. They were so beautiful tonight. How fitting. Achlys had always appreciated irony. So, as he did every night, after kissing his wife and kid’s goodnight, he turned from the doorframe. But this time, it was different. There were no kisses. Achlys headed not for those old wooden stairs, but that poorly lit kitchen, that had existed for centuries. A funny thing happened to Achlys as he walked into his kitchen. His leg stiffened. He wasn’t paralyzed, or in pain, just discomfort. It was so odd.
When Achlys entered the kitchen, the Friend smiled with those old gnarled, hueing, teeth. “So, I suppose you know why I’m here.”, said the Friend in his monotone voice. “Yes, I do.” Achlys replied in the same unfaltering tone. “But before we come to the End, I have questions to ask and something to show you.”, said the friend. “Why did you ever eat those evil fruits?” Achlys thought for a while, then said, “They-they said I needed to keep you away.” “Aw yes, the Fruit of the Devil always keeps angels away. But why would you accept it, knowing me, knowing how I care for you, how I have always been here for you?”, replied the Friend. Again, Achlys stammered nervously, “They-they told me I had too…” and then faltered, drifting off again.
About five minutes later, Achlys came back from that deep place in his mind. “What is it you wanted to show me?” he asked the Friend, in a replenished tone. “Here,” the Friend said, and passed him a set of pictures. Achlys sorted them, through date and number of people. Throughout those small, colored squares were images of his other friends. Of course, none them were as kind as his one and only Friend, but they were satisfactory. They were all smiling, so happy, at bars, parties, even college lectures, all doubly pleased at each other’s presence. It was funny, Achlys simply tolerated their existence, yet he felt so empty upon seeing all these events to which he had not been invited. He suddenly wanted to go to the End, now. “Are you ready?” his one good old Friend asked him, to which Achlys responded in a simple silent nod.
And with that, the pair walked shoulder, to shoulder, through the woods in his backyard. They laughed, pointing out the strange shapes created by the old maple trees, or stared in wonder at the towering willows that were alluded to weep. They walked until they reached that clearing where Achlys had been beaten at a young age.
And then, the Friend pulled out an object. It was an object. I cannot tell you the physical characteristics of this object, or how it makes you feel, or even its presence. But I can tell you one thing. It contained the abyss. Suddenly, Achlys felt tension fill his body like holiness in a Seraphim’s wings. He suddenly put all his will into this not failing. The Cruel Man in the Sky had made his Process fail so many other times. At least, that’s what his Friend had told him. But Achlys knew, he just knew, it wouldn’t fail. Achlys stared into the abyss, and it stared into him. “Come on, you can do it.” the Friend said, rippling with enthusiasm. “Let’s finish what we started twenty-five years ago. Find your peace.” And so, that young man, Achlys, limped off into the abyss, never to return, and leaving our plane of existence forever. Then there was nothing but the Friend.
And with that, the Friend walked away. It might seem that a creature, born from hatred, fear, and misery, that demon, that had existed since the dawn of humanity would not stand there and relish in his victory over the light. But he, as all creatures do, had duties to perform. He still needed to visit three more people tonight.