Pale Horse Riders: Chapter 5
“Just step off right here...right onto the bank,” Gabrielle said some time later.
Lazlo honestly had no idea if he had just spent minutes or years on the longboat ferried by Charon, crossing the river Styx. In the Underworld, time seemed to be of no consequence.
“Thanks, man,” Lazlo said to Charon as he disembarked. The robed figure was as silent as ever, but the skull-like head bowed ever so slightly. Then, with a lurch, Lazlo stepped off the boat and onto solid ground.
He was now in the Underworld proper, on the way to Death’s door. Others walked among them, and Lazlo knew immediately that they were the spirits that populated this domain. Some would turn and gaze at he and Gabrielle with seeming interest, but most remained oblivious to their presence. They were, after all, only two other souls in a sea of many.
“Now what do we do?” he asked the Lady, in an uncharacteristically quiet voice. Something about the place commanded silence, as though any sound was a desecration.
“Now, we journey to the dwelling of Death,” Gabrielle replied. “I daresay he will be expecting us; nothing happens in this realm of which he is not aware.” She took Lazlo’s hand again and the two of them began to wend their way through the marshy ground, among the wandering spirits. Soon, a chill wind began to blow, rattling skeletal branches of several rotting trees that dotted the landscape. The desolation was heartbreaking.
“This place is terrible!” Lazlo exclaimed presently, appalled at the devastation surrounding him. “Whatever happened to Heaven? Surely this isn’t... all there is... Is it?”
“No, this isn’t your Heaven.” the Lady said with a bemused expression. “Neither is it your Hell, your Summerland, your Valhalla, or your Purgatory, for that matter. This is the realm of Thanatos, who you know as the Grim Reaper, where all the souls are brought and sorted. From here they will make their final journey, be it ascension, or not...” She looked around her, sighing. “Some shades remain here for many millennia until there is ample opportunity for them to be catalogued. Others...not so long. Perhaps that is the difference between living an exemplary life and one that is... otherwise...”
More spirits walked past them without speaking, and Lazlo shivered.
He knew he was the same as one of them, but he didn’t feel as though that were so. These souls belonged here. Their bodies were buried in the earth and dust of the mortal world.
His body was still sprawled on the banks of the River Styx, and he was not at rest.
Not at all.
To Be Continued…