Tempus Fugit, Mors Venit
by Anthony Lund
Chapter 1 - Here And Now
I walk along the cobbled street with
dead leaves crackling under my hard sole
as the wind blows up storms of debris
that try to blind my sight.
There are others here around me,
walking and talking in muted speech,
lost in shadows that only I can see
either in darkness or in light.
I am the one they all fail to see.
They pass by without a second glance.
Why would they look in my direction
when they would not recognise me.
For I am the man without a face.
No beating heart, no pulse, no breath
I am the man they all know and fear
but they do not recognise me.
The old town never changes here.
The haunted alleys and dim-lit taverns,
always the same whenever I pass by,
always full of the same skeletons in skin.
I hear the sounds though a velvet veil,
the sounds of life slowly ticking away,
the sounds of life desperately trying to survive
while it knows it cannot ever win
From the windows of homes
to the bums beneath bridges huddled around fires,
their eyes seek but they never find.
If they could they still wouldn’t recognise me.
Only once in their lives
do they look me straight in the eyes.
Yet for all they do, and although they then see
they always fail to recognise me
I sit upon a wooden bench
to rest my bones awhile in the dark sun,
watching ghostly faced children playing on a grassy knoll,
their eyes sunken as I see them always.
I see no colour only variations of black
and I see no flesh upon their bones at all.
I see only what will lie in a casket in the ground
after each individuals end of days.
For me there is no ending,
only a road that flows on through your world.
It’s true colour would likely be that of blood
if you could only recognise me.
Yet there could be a day, near or far,
when the impossible task with be done.
You will see me coming and make use of your time
when you finally recognise me.
Chapter 2 - Prelude To The Tale
My bones they ache, but I do not feel,
for life is not now mine to own
unless you believe that to exist forever
is a blessing and not a curse.
And the work I do would pain my heart
if one did beat within my open chest
and through my empty eyes I see
that to have a soul would also be worse.
You may question how I came to be,
what demon dreamt me into being,
as I myself have pondered in time
as I eternally walk the Earth.
The story I will tell you, one and all,
for you to know the life I don’t live.
Though I do not tout for pity or hate,
I just wish to bestow knowledge of worth.
For now though I must leave a moment
for my duty calls me, to which I am bound.
For only once have I had a choice to make
and the consequences were clear to see.
Please rest your ears for a short while
turn away from where you think I am.
Be glad it is not you I am being called to,
be glad you do not recognise me.
Chapter 3 - The Garden
My story begins at the dawn of man,
where the records are unclear at best.
When the tales of the Bible meet those that belong
to the scientists who believe in evolution.
Every religion has its questions and doubts
whether we were created from fire or flesh.
I will tell you now of what I know
and you may within my tale find your solution.
You see I was the first to walk the land
without hair, and with the power of speech.
In the Garden of Eden my tender feet did tread
and Adam was my given name.
Now the story of creation is both true and false
as from primate I did evolve into man,
but the voice of God did instruct my hand
and to my lover He did the same.
Only two of us He did touch with His finger,
his plan brilliant and clear to see.
That He wanted to create a new species of life
to develop His world beyond grass and sky.
He wanted this new breed called man
to gain knowledge to build and to burn,
to think and speak in a way that would change
as the centuries and millennia rolled by.
I’m sure you recall the tale of the snake,
the serpent of often dubious intention.
He did indeed exist and tempt us to eat the fruit
and through him my fate came to be.
By that time I had children to continue our growth,
though more of their story I will later tell,
so no mercy was shown when I succumbed to the beast
and took a bite of the apple forbidden to me.
The voice of my creator did shake the land
and his hand above me it did appear.
With an ancient command spoken from His tongue
the flesh from my bones did begin to tear.
The indescribable agony that tore me apart
was the last pain I would ever feel as a man,
and as I fell to the floor in pool of blood and gore,
my eyes were ripped out to leave an eternal stare.
Unseen hands groped inside my body,
claws piercing muscle and organs at will.
I was not able to defend myself against them
as my intestines were spilt on the floor.
My heart was squeezed with cruel callous hands
and the immense pain brought a violent spasm
until the chambers collapsed. My life came to an end
and I lost my soul and my life forever more.
Then the pain was gone and I was left
as a frame of bones upon crimson grass I could not feel.
The senses I had known, sight, sound, smell, touch and taste
had departed with my flesh and been replaced
by two new ones that chilled my bones,
changed my vision to shades of death
and gave me the smells of decay that filled my skull
and would never from memory be erased.
Then the voice of God spoke to me
with words that seemed to come from in my head.
‘This is your curse until the end of existence,
the burden you will carry for your crime.
You will walk this earth through thousands of years
with nothing but the power of Death at your fingers.
Now you must take your first victim right here
for to start your task I can see no better time’
I rose to my feet, naked bones, nothing more,
and turned to face my love, Eve, with no emotion
as tears streamed from her eyes and dripped from her chin,
while she knew she stared Death in the face.
I reached out a hand and touched her breast
to stop her heart so she fell where she stood.
She was the first of an infinitum of lives
that would be taken by me without trace
I was banished from the Garden as is only right
for a murderer cannot be granted such luxury.
I left behind my love, my children and my faith
to walk in the darkness that only I could see.
At the Gates of the Garden I saw my face,
a hollow shadow on the shining silver post,
and that was when I saw for the very first time
that no-one – not even I – could recognize me.
Chapter 4 - The Price
I lived in exile for many years
after first using the touch of death which was mine,
with only the price and purpose that I knew
would be mine forever in time.
For those years of exile removed
from me the last human thoughts I possessed
and replaced them with nothing and an emptiness
that filled the hollow carcass of mine.
I could measure the days and nights
but found no reason to gage their passing.
I was never going to die so I did not need to worry
of how I would use what remained for me.
I felt neither heat of the day, nor cold of night,
did not know the touch of the desert sand
and could not taste the waters that ran so clear.
apart from my curse I had no reason to be.
That curse did come to be just that
when I was finally required to use my touch again
to end the so short life of a mortal man
and I retread my steps back to the Garden’s Gate.
Some things remain mysteries in our eyes,
like how I always knew who I had been sent to find
and when my dark gaze fell upon my eldest son
any thoughts of saving my soul began to dissipate.
The sons and daughters of Adam and Eve
were doomed to die one day as they all knew.
I had never thought it would be by my own hand
their last breaths from their bodies would be claimed.
That was the lesson I learned well and fast,
that Death waits for all men through their lives.
No matter what others see take that life
the price I pay is I am always to blame.
Chapter 5 - The Long Road Of Time
So my journey as the Death of men
began with my love and my son then when on
through the early years when the race was young,
when humans were fresh and new.
I froze the blood of the first civilizations,
closed their hearts in their chests as they stood.
I saw Noah’s demise after he survived the flood of God
and the others who died in the waters deep and blue.
In the new world that came next
I travelled on until my time once again came.
I took the lives of man, woman and child
as their images came into my eyes.
Prophets and Kings were no different,
no different than the paupers and the beggars.
Even the Son of God, yes Christ himself
found, for a short while, that every man dies.
On down the long road I wandered,
my fleshless feet walking on sand, stone and dirt.
Through hundreds of years in floating black robes,
alone but for the souls of the departed.
Their haunting cries belong to only me,
their sorrow and pain mine for eternity
and although I do not feel I still know too well
of those left behind in their wake broken hearted.
Pontius Pilate and William the First.
Marco Polo, Columbus and Henry VII to name a few
all fell to the power of my deadly hand,
Their power in life meaning nothing to Death.
Leaders Lincoln, Hitler and Churchill.
Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach of the music world.
The victims of Jack The Ripper too did die
slain like the tragic character of Macbeth.
My way now goes on and on,
millennia have passed me by without a glance
as I have taken innocent lives like roses from a bush.
From newborn babies to a Princess so sublime
I have watched the pain I cause
through this darkness I exist within;
unable to feel, unable to love as the people do.
Only able to move on along the long road of time.
Chapter 6 - Reflections
So there you are, you know my tale
from gruesome beginning to the lonesome end.
I’m not sure what you think of me now
or if you even heard anything of what I’ve said.
I would like to say I do not blame you
if you feel sorry for me, hate me or are unsure
of what you should feel for this creature,
this monster of creation that will render you dead.
All I ask is do not fear that I may come
and steal your life as you slumber at night,
for there is a much worse fate that could wait for you
than to die by my treacherous hand.
I’m sure you’ll agree that the fate which is mine
is quite fittingly a fate worse than death.
To walk through time with infinite souls in tow
without emotion that other men can command.
But as I have said do not waste your pity
on such a wretched abomination of God as I.
I do not feel it, cannot thank you for it
and in the end by my finger you will still pass on.
I would say I am glad that I do not feel
but the emotion of joy also passes me by.
At least I do not suffer the hurt felt by those left behind
when they find their lovers and friends have gone.
My one regret, if I could have one that is,
was the death of my one true love, Eve.
Back then in the Garden I was a complete man,
I had everything right there before me.
I have asked myself many times why
I had to be cursed with this affliction of immortality,
To travel on and on the long road to the end of time,
To go unseen by people who do not recognize me.
I will leave you now for my journey goes on
and will do long after everyone around me is dead.
I do not know when your time will come just yet
but I guarantee I will be there to see you go.
So be grateful of the time you have here
for your greatest gift is that it is relatively short.
Eternal life is not always what it seems
and I have realized it moves agonizingly slow.
I walk along the cobbled street,
just the shadow of a man once called Adam.
Death is my name until the end of the race of man
when what will become of me I cannot foresee.
I have hoped many times that at end of days
God will finally rest my bones in the ground,
but the other souls of the departed will not let me rest
as I know they are all sure to recognize me.