It comes again this 9/11, and I turn away my usual thoughts from death instead to Hell.
Six years. Then that morning there, they came. They fell upon us. They come at us still.
Who? Yes, some Muslims killed our own on 9/11/01. Yes, some still try, a few succeed; but the creatures who come, not the primitives, they are our own.
Six years ago I woke at 6:00 a.m. under a bank of lights blazing, the intercom blaring, the rush of men to their duties. I lagged behind them, more than a couple of years then past that I’d seen my friends, my reason for the return and my place among the milling, my reason for returning to the land of Peace and Plenty, Order and Good Government, to see my friends. Two years past of struggle and travail and outright war had passed pleasantly, but it had to halt and I had to meet my mates if only for a shortest while. Mulling meeting my friends, I woke. I awoke. I woke up. The radio voice shouted. I heard the shouting of thousands dead at the New York City World Trade Center Tower, a loaded passenger jet having crashed into it. Thousands dead.
I heard it. I heard the voices say it. I heard it and I couldn’t grasp it. I sat in front of the television with a dozen others and watched the tower burn.
Then the other tower. I saw men jump. I saw women fall. I watched. I saw. I saw the fall. I saw both towers fall.
I bought a radio, one with ear phones, and I listened to Canadians call in to the national radio station to say, to express, to express their—delight. Over and over and over Canadians gloated. Not all. Most. The creatures came out into the darkness. I felt….
Canada. It’s such a lovely place, and the people there are all so polite! They’re really nice. They even queue like the English. I sat on the steps of the public library with my earphones in listening to the creatures calling, coming on one after another, calling, saying :The Americans deserved it….” I felt.
“It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters.
I sat on the steps at the library listening hour after hour to Canadians gloating. I saw Canadians, arms carrying packages and lattes, Canadians going to and fro, Canadians gloating, going, shopping.
“No, no, no, my child: do not pray. If you do, you will throw away the main advantage of this place. Written over the gate here are the words ‘Leave every hope behind, ye who enter.’ Only think what a relief that is! A form of moral responsibility. Here there is no hope, and consequently no duty, no work, nothing to be gained by praying, nothing to be lost by doing what you like. Hell, in short, is a place where you have nothing to do but amuse yourself.” G.B. Shaw, Man and Superman.
I closed my eyes to Canadians and sat on stone steps. Those few I love were away that day and I was alone to sit with mey memories of war and to clutch my plane ticket to far away. I sat rocking on cold stone steps surrounded by Canadians. I closed my eyes, and I saw Our Own falling.
Canada, the land of the merciful, the compassionate. “How have you fallen from Heaven, bright morning star; felled to the Earth, sprawling helpless across the nations! You thought in your own mind, ‘I will scale the Heavens….’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the abyss.” Isaiah, 14:12.
Canadians. They didn’t kill anyone 9/11. I’d left the wars till I went back to war. That day I sat amidst the dead so deep I have never seen so much death before. Canada.
I watched my watch, waiting for the time of my departure. I would fly. Fly far. War waited. I waited. Clock. Ticked. Slow. And Canadians gloating gloated. Our own fell. I sat.
Canadians swarmed around me as I sat: “Root cause, root cause, root cause.” Root, ‘cause they gloat. They fell.
Canada, so righteous, so nice. “Your beauty made you arrogant, you misused your wisdom to increase your dignity. I flung you to the ground, I left you there, a sight for kings to see. So great was your sin in your wickedness that you desecrated your sanctuaries. So I kindled a fire within you. I left you as ashes on the ground for all to see. All among nations who knew you were aghast: you came to a fearful end and shall be no more forever.” Ezekiel, 28:17.
Hollow men of the Hollow Land, hollow be your names. Yea, though you walk through the Shadow of the Valley of Death, you gloat at the pain of others, arrogant and stupid, smug and self-righteous.
I remember my friends, those who draw me here. Even the mire crawling with dull-eyed beasts with sticks has its unfathomable pools deep and filled with love and beauty. I know the Wells, I know the Fall.
I fled and I returned, returned for the time the Hollow Men at Ragnarok.
I heard the call and I returned.
With every fall I hear the thump. I hear the thump with every fall. I hear the thump of the fall. The thump of falling, the thump of feet, the thump of boots, the thump of spears upon the stones, the thump of hilts on targes. The thump for every jump. For every fall there is a thump: Of boots on boards, of spears on stones, of hilts on sheilds, of the echo, of the coming, the thump of blood-Berzerker beating.
Six. A dozen. A century. Our own.
Today is not for Death. Today for Hell! Come Hell! Come Ragnarok!