It was one of those days where the sunlight hit everything with just the right grace that you knew there was something so much bigger than you. The light reflected off the coy pond, showering the surface with shimmering particles, beckoning my attention. The stone path leading to The Darius’ room had settled in both sunlight and shadows, geometric shapes hovering over each stone. This was the backyard, what we called Freedom Park. Miles and I sat on a wood bench.
“The Darius speaks about the great enlightenment and what he calls The Light. In meditation he leads us through visualizations. We know there are many on the outside that belong here. In these visualizations, we bring them home. Every person that is here today has manifested from these visions including you.” Miles said this with a smile and a light in his eyes but further into the depth of his gaze, a trouble lived. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that anguished stare all too well from my life on the outside.
“So, how are you adjusting to Freedom House?” Miles asked.
“I have never been part of something so important, so meaningful. I really feel like people care about me here. It’s almost too good to be true but I know it is true and it’s the best thing that has happened to me. My life before this was just shit. I hated myself and now I’m learning to love myself and love others. I can’t thank you enough for bringing me here.”
Miles stared down at the ground. His expression drastically changed from a gentle smile to one of concern. He wanted to say something, but an unknowable force stopped him. So, I said something.
“What about you? How long have you been here anyways?”
“Too long that I don’t remember a life without this place. I have chosen not to remember. Things are pretty perfect here, but you know what they say, nothing is ever really perfect.” He forced a smile.
“What do you mean? Don’t you love it here? I can’t imagine a life without Freedom House.”
“Of course I love it here. Who doesn’t? We should really get back. Afternoon meditation will start soon. I’ll meet you inside.”
Miles quickly got up and began to walk back to Freedom House but after a few steps he stopped and looked back at me. “Ivy, you are beautiful no matter where you are. If you ever need anything you can always come to me. Just remember that, always come to me.”
He disappeared into the house. I didn’t understand then the fears that lived inside Miles. I wanted to find out, but I also knew I wanted to stay at Freedom House forever so a part of me didn’t want to know. I stood up and began to follow Miles’ path but was stopped dead in my tracks when I heard a screeching noise that was so piercing, my hands gave shelter to my ears. I looked over and saw Penelope, in her white apron and underwear, slaughtering one of the pigs. Her fingers were in the pig’s snout as she slit its throat. Streams of blood poured down the pig’s pink skin, seeping into each crevice and wrinkle. Penelope’s bare feet were sinking into the mud and blood soaked her toes, staining them red. She caught my stare, stood up straight, blood dripped down her hand as she held the knife to her side. She cocked her head to one side and smiled.
Every day at 1:30 we all gathered in the living space for meditation and The Darius’ teachings. We each lit a tea light candle and placed them around the room. There were about fifty of us and fifty candles lighting our way to freedom. The Darius wore all white silk during meditation. We were all to be seated on the floor, legs crossed, before his arrival. The Darius walked slowly into the living space, stopped at the entrance and intently stared at each of us. He walked to the middle of the room and stood there.
“Thank you for allowing me to be part of your journey and making Freedom House a place of compassion and love. You are each very special in the Journey to Freedom and together we will change the world.”
When The Darius spoke, the hope in our eyes shined so bright and the dreams in our hearts were possible through him. We just wanted to serve him because he believed in us.
“Meditation is essential to purifying our bodies and minds. Through meditation we can transcend anything, love and pain. Keep your focus on me and you will transcend. Take a deep breath, slowly at first. Take in every worry as you inhale. Now, slowly exhale through your mouth, letting your worries leave your body. Think of someone who has hurt you on the outside. Think of what they look like and what they did to you. Now, breathe in slowly. When you exhale, visualize sending that person a light so bright and a love so strong, like a mother gives to her baby.”
I sat staring at The Darius, following his every instruction but I didn’t know the light and love that a mother could give. I did know that The Darius gave me these things and that I could give these to others. I imagined my mother and thought about the time she slapped me across the face full force because I asked to go to a friend’s house. She was so angry that I would ever consider leaving, the way my dad did. I pictured myself reaching my arms up to the sky and pushing light out of my fingertips to surround her. I imagined all the love in the world piercing her heart. I imagined her happy and loving. In that moment, a heavy pain was lifted out of me and for the first time I didn’t feel anger towards her, I felt sympathy.
“Now we will move into our next meditation. Pain is just an illusion, something we are taught to avoid our entire lives. However, pain is unavoidable. We must embrace it and learn to transcend it, or we will not be able to help others and change the world. Let’s begin.”
I turned to Miles and he wrapped his hands around my delicate, tiny neck and slowly began squeezing, his grip gradually getting tighter. My breath disappeared into myself and my body stiffened. The Darius walked around looking down at each of us, nodding his head in approval and wearing a smile.
-Written by Sterp
All Rights Reserved
I am Sterp. I write horror fiction and have a very unhealthy obsession with disturbing narratives. As long as they make me lose sleep then I'm happy. Fun fact: I am also a Buddhist.