A single die lay on the ground at my feet; six-sided, white, and dotted. It was almost unnoticeable in the bright sun of midday amidst the concrete, yet I did take notice, and stopped to pick it up. Upon first touch, time slowed for just a moment, or so it seemed; quite like a head rush after standing too fast. The die seemed heavier than it should have, or maybe it was the heat wearing on me. Perhaps I was light-headed; the sun did hate me so, and I so hated it in return. Its great heat had drained all of whatever vigor I had once possessed, and I longed to arrive at my destination and be rid of the foul scathing beast. I thought it best to drop the die and be on my way.
Even before I had raised upright, there was no mistaking the difference in color. Was this the beginning of a migraine? Hues of all variety faintly danced in my vision, mingling with flashes and dots of pure white. I steadied myself and thought it best to get away from the great ball of torture in the sky before I really did faint, and so I looked for shade. I spotted a small alcove in front of a building just to my right, and there I sat on the ground.
I sat for a time that I do not know. My legs were stretched out before me and my arms were splayed out at my sides, and I was leaning against something solid. And, in my right hand, with palm turned upward and open, I saw the die. I could have sworn I had dropped it. It became apparent to me that I was far too weak to move even my fingers, and so I sat in petrified nothingness unable to take my eyes away from the die.
Some eternity later, I began to feel emotion in my state of petrification. It began as what I can only describe as calm euphoria. Nothing mattered and everything mattered. Everything was perfect and also imperfect. Everything was light and dark at the same time. This turned into a sort of joy and that joy turned into a sort of pleasure. It was like I had taken all the good drugs in the world at once and I was delightfully overdosing on my own death.
This would not last. All emotions came and went over my eternity. Pain, sorrow, anticipation, fear, surprise, jealousy, rage, love, pity, shame, and so many others became my reality, all at once and individually. I saw and felt things I had never before. Two lovers high on some unknown drug in passionate bliss. A young boy beaten and raped by his father while strapped to a saw horse. Four passengers in mid crash, their pain and vacuity at the moment of their deaths. A loyal dog’s joy and excitement as its owner returned home after a week away. So many church worshipers singing in unison. An entire crowd of parents and students at a graduation ceremony. A cancer patient’s pain and despair. I felt all of these things and so many others. After a time, I could not distinguish them. The sensory overload was too much to bear.
A soft voice whispered, “Roll.”
A distraction from my state. “What?”
Louder it said, “Roll.”
“But I cannot even move. I cannot even see any longer. I can no longer feel my body.”
The voice became wholly feminine and soothing, and still, it said, “Roll.”
“I do not know how.”
The voice became louder. “Roll.”
I said nothing.
The voice turned into a mix of masculinity and femininity and said again, “Roll.”
“I do not understand.”
Louder still, “Roll.”
The sensory overload faded a bit and I became aware of my body once more. Was the die still in my hand?
The die was, in fact, still in my hand.
The voice became angrier. “Roll.”
I was becoming aware of my own emotions again. “To what end?” I asked.
“What if I refuse?”
Even louder still, the voice boomed, “Roll!”
“I don’t think I want to.”
The voice became demonic in tone and drowned out all sensory overload. There was only the voice. “Roll!”
I closed my fist around the die.
I refused to respond.
The presence of the voice suddenly faded away. I felt the sun again. I felt peace. I felt relief. I felt quiet. Though I still could not see. I did not attempt to move again for some time.
Slowly, the sun became hotter and brighter. And, was it getting closer? I tried to move only to find myself paralyzed once more. The heat gradually became unbearable. I began to hear footsteps.
My emotional void began to fill with fear and I struggled to move, but it was no use. I could hear faint breathing in the distance. More heat.
The heat was too much. I could feel malice and rage in whatever was approaching. The breathing became louder.
I could not move! Fear had overtaken all emotion. I could feel my body straining against the paralysis. I could not move!
It was as if the entire swarm of negative emotion I experienced before had converged on the approaching beast. Still, it approached!
The breathing became raspy and harsh. The beast’s animosity knew no bounds. The beast was close now. So close! I struggled and struggled against my immobility. I began to despair. It comes!
I was burning! There was so much pain! The beast was at my face then! Its foul breath burning my cheek even more so than the rest of my body. It felt as if my very soul was on fire. I could feel its intent. So much unbridled rage encompassed its entire being and I knew I would never not burn again. I would burn for eternity. And then it spoke with an evil voice in my burning ear.
“You should have rolled.”