KRISTOV is my name. Once there was the time that I believed only in what I could see or hear, nothing more. I believed in life and death. There was no God, no devils, no angels or demons, only men with such ideas. Indeed, ideas can be powerful, but to me, one of no faith, they meant nothing.

MY BELIEFS, as they were, suffered a fatal blow on my twentieth birthday, for it was on that day that I walked through the Garden. On that day, I was reborn into a new individual. True, twenty years earlier my flesh saw the world, but my soul lay stagnant in the crevices of humanity.

I FELT anticipation and bewilderment each step through the Garden. I saw many a strange and wonderful creature in harmony with nature. Then, I saw cruelty and felt pain. Evil surrounded me, tempted and teased me. I called out for help, but no one answered. I yelled many times, until my chest ached, but still no answer.

SCREAMS and moans filled my ears in a quick and boisterous ringing. I looked around to see a boy. And yet, he was no boy – little horns protruded out of his forehead, with hairy and gaunt legs, cloven and split feet, and bloodred skin saw to that. No, he was no boy. He looked at me smiling, his thin lips stretched across sharp, jagged teeth. He lunged at me; I couldn’t move. His hands became claws that ripped the flesh from my bones. Yet, I didn’t die. Blood spewed from open wounds; they were of no consequence. Soon, I began thinking that the little demon would feast the entire night. I was sadly wrong; he was only the first of the multitude of spectres, daemons, devils, and demons that tore and ate my flesh that night.

DARK and gloomy the Garden had become, and stayed so for the next fortnight. The evil was unrelenting and terrifying. I could not understand how, or even why, this was happening to me. I did not believe in unlife or undeath which must have been my state of existence. I wasn’t living – strips of flesh hanging from my battered bones saw to that. I wasn’t dead – I was aware and my mind filled with thought. How could have I existed as something that I did not believe in? Why?

IDEAS sprang into my head; ideas I’ve never before conceived. The creatures of dark evil must be demons and devils. Was that my soul they tore away while my body lay elsewhere? If these creatures are evil, where is the good hiding itself? Is there a God? or is God just the collective of all good spirits. Whatever form is true, I choose that latter. At that instant, the trickling blood stopped. A feeling of warmth emanated from my chest, soothing and calming my anxieties. I looked to the wounds that began closing, flesh adding itself each time I inhaled.

COMPLETE now, in form and spirit, I was free to move. Light began showing through the canopy of trees. Strength and courage coursed through my veins. God now exists for me – in me. I easily defeated the demons not scorched by the purifying light. Once again the Garden was a beautiful place, free of fear and evil. Every night I sleep, I walk through the Garden in my wandering dreams.

© 1990 David Carroll. All Rights Reserved.