Once, in the far north, there was a witch of vast primordial power who shared a dream with a human. Together, they built a magnificent city at the edge of the tundra, whose light became a beacon to all humanity. Craft and knowledge crystallized in the utopia birthed by the witch and human’s covenant, but a day came on which the covenant was broken, and the city was destroyed by the armies of man, its people massacred. With the dream shattered, the witch returned to her city’s ruins and sequestered herself among the graves for time uncounted, slowly passing from human memory in all but the sparse myths shared among the races of men. There she waited, bound to the ashes of the once-great city.…
Janice had considered the possibility of life after death from an early age. Raised a Catholic, she had examined the concept of heaven and hell and, with a child’s logic, found it implausible. Heaven, as it was described to her in church and in the religious classes following mass, seemed no heaven at all. The thought of an eternity of lyres and singing the Lord’s praises filled her with a lethargic ennui. As for hell, its basis as a world of pain and suffering didn’t ring true for her: how did one inflict mortal harm upon an immortal and, indeed, immaterial soul? Surely the loss of the corporeal body meant a corresponding forfeiting of bodily woes?
So Janice sat in the pews of her small suburban church watching the rapturous belief of Father Reilley as he spoke of the afterlife that all good Catholics would enjoy while the fans spun lazily on the high ceiling and the third light from the altar flickered almost when Janice willed it to. In this way, religion died for Janice.
Accordingly, Janice spent many an evening lying in her bed, staring into the darkness above her, trying to stretch it into oblivion, into eternity. Sometimes she would try to morph the darkness into the belief in the afterlife that had been handed to her, but even the wobbling shadows of her imagination could not subdue her skepticism. Always, she would close her eyes and, listening to the buzz of silence, imagine instead what not existing might be like, seeking out the memory of the time before she was born.