If you cannot tell who crossed your path – a man or a god – look into their eyes. In a world of Nature where all is saved, only Man bares death in their eyes.

I had been walking for what felt like years. I could remember where I came from only in my dreams

and, when awake, I was kept oblivious by burning pains in my joins and my lower back. The landscape around me hadn’t change much since I started my journey – yellow grass on yellow earth, a few low trees and an empty sky. The air was heavy from the dust I lifted from the ground.

I kept walking, ignoring the tension in my neck, guided by a vision I had had in one of these moments of madness when Truth shows itself unveiled. I hadn’t slept properly since. A messenger called out in

the desert, and a migraine lured the back of my skull with hungry eyes. I greeted them both with a faint smile. I hadn’t seen a soul in days, and I could not tell if the few I had encountered were akin to me or knew the fate of all things already. On my left, a dog answered to a crow resting on a branch that the

moon might not set for another while. I raised my eyes and noticed a faint circle far above the hills, forming a perfect triangle with its summits. I remembered the words of my mother and concluded that

I must be getting close.

The following night, the dust around me started to glow like water in the dusk: a hundred snakes looking at me with twice as many eyes, surrounding me, whispering in a tongue that only the dead can understand. I was afraid; I knew that the slightest change in the atmosphere could disrupt them and

signify my death. Thinking of one’s death as the righteous outcome of anger, what an earthly logic, I thought.

I kept walking.

Out of people to tempt, the serpents died, eventually. The sky darkened with time. Above my head,

between my hands, now every breeze was like the thought of a deity. I inhaled in an unintentional act of divination and thought about those who lost their senses trying to find the voice of God. With age, I had learnt that it was undecipherable. The red rope, however divine, was forever too tangled in the saturated threads of possibilities. From the books, I had learnt that anyone could belong to his narrative, that is to say, no one really: Gordian knots, insignificant, big only through what we are not.

Again, the words of my father resonated in my head: “one can tell how old a man is by how many dreams he buried”. By that metric, I was old. I had survived a few revelations and attended funerals at even intervals – too many to count, yet not enough to stop searching. After years of saturated noise and meaningless days, I had found what every man wishes for in the secret of their heart; not a compassionate God but a merciless demiurge, the thing against which all fails.

I was taken out of my mental peregrination when I stumbled on a small, round object. A short metallic sound rose from the collision and I felt a cold fluid pouring down below my right knee almost immediately. Disorientated, I bowed down to investigate and maybe forgive the culprit of my wound.

In the dark, I deciphered the shape of a small, shinning chalice, not bigger than the size of my palm.

Despite being almost empty, its opaque content kept flooding out of its golden mouth, percolating the soil with a threatening murmur. This shouldn’t be here, I thought.

The gap between that night and the following morning was immense. The light of dawn stretched infinitely, as if waiting for a particular occurrence to fully come about. The crow, the dog, the snakes, the moon and the chalice were long gone – above the barren earth, a conic peak of basalt casted an eternal shadow, cradling in its guts the land where men and ideas conflate. This is where I saw it. At the edge of the monumental structure of black igneous rocks, a large iconostasis rose like a throne in the break of day, threatening the ambient darkness with its pavilions of gold. After years, I had arrived.

After innumerable nights and days of solitude, I had come back.

I stopped walking. Staring at the wall of icons that I could now almost touch, I cast in my mind what manner of salutation this should be. In front of the second door to the right, I saw the remains of heads that had fallen despite the wisdom of their tales and cried. I knew no rite could save me here. Eventually, I collapsed in a tormented sleep, less than nothing in front of the great divide.

In my torpor, the devouring pain in my skull cleared. I could see every icon better even than with my bare eyes. The fear too, was gone. I took time to observe each panel in great detail: In the middle, four kings were standing each holding a cup in their right hand – all, apart from one. On the sides, a fair

lady and a young man dressed in rich ceremonial clothing, glancing at each other. Further to the right, a tired prophet wearing both wings and rags, holding a crudely made cross and emaciated laws. The mirror panel to the left was empty. Moving outwards from the centre, the two cardinal doors were standing tall, protected by two princes with illustrious names and strength. Lifting my head up, I saw innumerable patriarchs painted in gold and blue, opened arms, a table covered in pheasants, honey and pears, a woman clothed with suns, fire and flames, each covering hundreds of celestial bodies by obscuring fragments of the sky. I stood back and waited.

I waited for the morning star in front of the iconostasis. This immense wall of gold is the last place in the world where God and Man can meet, a sacramental divide built not to separate but allow the encounter between both kingdoms. Terrified and in awe, I pushed the middle panel, letting the air go from my chest as I applied gradual pressure with my palm onto the wood.

Nothing happened. Again, I tried to open the door. I waited. Having forgotten how to pray, I tried calling. I had lost the count of days when I called “how long”. I waited for voices, and then waited for thunder. I waited, unworthy in front of the seven doors, barely able to stand. After innumerable tears,

I realised that the only moment left in my life was its last. In desperation, I asked for the mountains and rocks to fall on me. I asked for the rivers to rise and the sea to become blood, for the serpents to come back and bite my tongue. I did not want to die in peace; I asked to be stoned with jasper and sapphire, to be stomped and devoured.

When I died, the woman clothed with the sun stood up and rose. With my eyes, the doors of Heaven shut close.

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.”

This is a symbolic novel inspired by Borges, Latin American writers, and the Bible, ( specifically on the New Testament) with a focus on the descriptive, natural depiction of religious emblems.

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