© Copyright 2007 - Darkraptor1 - Used by permission
Storycodes: M+/f; mum; wrapped; entombed; buried; afterlife; nc; X
When Solene found herself lying on a table, her body wrapped head to toe in bandages, and her eyes about to be wrapped over… that was when she really began to panic. Considering what was coming for her, it was to be expected. After all, being buried alive would be enough to ruin anyone's day. For Solene, it was no different. To an observer, the question would no doubt be why she was being wrapped up head to toe in body wrappings similar to that of ancient Egyptian mummies.
The answer was quite simple actually. Solene had been convicted of a crime in her little mountain village somewhere in Europe. In that village, time had seemingly passed by without affecting it whatsoever. The region's past was simple: It had been a place where ancient Egypt Kalpen explorers had gone when exploring the land beyond their borders. When they got stranded during a rather intense blizzard, they had no choice but to stay and as a result, they had started their own little community that followed the laws of Egypt, complete with worship and the appropriate punishments dealt out to criminals.
What was Solene's crime? She had stolen a goat from one of the village farmers for its milk and its meat. It had been a poor season for food and some were desperate enough to steal in order to survive. While such a crime was normally treated with having one's hand cut off, the elders had decided that Solene needed to be made into an example for the others. Therefore, when taken before them, it was decreed that she was to be mummified and entombed, buried alive. And because Solene still followed the religion of her elders, she knew that such a sentence meant she would never find rest, for her body would decay and waste away, leaving her spirit without a home.
That was why she was screaming when they took her into one of the embalming caves, tore her clothes off, strapped her to a table, and began to wrap her naked body up in bandages. All the limbs separately, then together, then bound into one solid form. Close to a mile of bandages were used to bind the prisoner, making it impossible for movement or a possibility of escape. And when they reached Solene's eyes, they were the only things remaining, for the rest of her body had been wrapped and sealed.
When the wadded up bandages were placed on her eyes, forcing them closed, and when more bandages were wrapped over, ensuring that Solene's eyes would remain closed…that was when she really screamed. Or at least tried too, for the bandages stuffed into her mouth (and even slightly into her throat) made it impossible for little more then muffled squeaks to escape from the prison of cloth that now bound her utterly.
Three more layers of bandages were wrapped around Solene's form, completely covering all skin and hair, sealing the helpless woman in even more until it was impossible to wiggle. With the bandages in her mouth and throat, it was extremely difficult to breathe, impossible to hear, and neigh impossible to move. But at last, the final layer was applied and glued into place, turning Solene, who had only been walking around a day earlier…into a fully wrapped and mummified object.
The sentence was carried out moments later when her mummified body was placed into its coffin, a very simple and plain wooden box carved from low quality wood in the forests surrounding the village. She would not have an elegant casket that most citizens got for their burials. Then again, almost none of them were criminals, and almost none of them were buried alive. The coffin lid was placed on and nailed shut, sealing Solene inside for eternity. The elders were on hand to watch the proceedings. The frantic weeping and mewling that could be heard from inside the coffin was ignored. "You're a criminal" one of the elders standing next to the coffin taunted. "You'll never repent."
With the coffin prepared, the only thing left to do was take Solene to her final resting place, the only place where her kind, criminals, were buried and entombed. It was a deep series of caves located at the very base of a mountain near the village, accessed through a series of long and winding stone tunnels. Though the normal population of the village was not allowed inside, they were taken to watch as a mummified Solene and her coffin were carried inside, past the heavy granite gate that had been rolled aside, an event that happed very, very rarely. The crowd was to watch this procession, this burial of the living, so that they would know what could happen if they so chose to follow a life of crime.
The coffin was carried deep, deep, deep into the mountain, towards a bare spot of ground close to a mile under the earth. There a grave was dug, six feet deep. The attendants took the coffin and lowered it in. No prayers were said as dirt and mud was tossed upon the coffin until it was covered completely. The one elder who had come down to ensure that the sentence was carried out said nothing, gave only a slight nod to the gravediggers and the guards, giving them permission to leave. A final covering of the grave, and a large stone rolled on top of it gave a sign that someone had been entombed there, who was now lying six feet below, still alive.
A few moments later the party left, leaving Solene mummified and buried a mile and six feet below the surface of the earth.
Inside her coffin, Solene was, understandably, panicking. Death was going to come for her very quickly, perhaps an hour or so at the most. As with almost all people, she was terrified of death, yet Solene had also the distinction of being very claustrophobic. Thus, her confinement and internment served only to push her panic and terror even further.
She screamed, completely ignoring the bandages that bound her mouth. Solene didn't care. All she could think of was trying to find an outlet for her fear, for the darkness that she was now doomed to see forever more. But mostly, it was the fear of knowing that when she died, she would never find peace, never find rest, for her body would quickly decompose into nothing, leaving her spirit without a home.
There was a great amount of wiggling (the result of trying to kick and thrash) from the mummy, from that super tight wrappings that held her legs and arms together. Blind panic overtook Solene's system, overloading her mind, plunging her into complete and total fear and desperation. It wasn't long until the air in the coffin was completely used up, sucked into lungs fighting to feed the mummified body with oxygen.
And when that happened…it was only a matter of minutes before Solene died. Perhaps on some level she realized that, maybe even welcomed it as a release from the fear and the panic. But for the most part, she only knew that her lungs were now on fire, that she was finding it harder and harder to breathe.
The mummy began to wiggle and roll even more, blind animal instincts taking over. Though no one was there to witness it, the mummified body put up an incredible fight, struggling for all it was worth, yet unable to move more then outside a wiggle. It went on for close to a minute. Then…it slowly quieted down. And a few moments later, the mummy was completely still.
"Oh, who's that?"
"Feels like another one I'm afraid."
"How long before she wakes up?"
"I don't know. How long was it before you woke up Zet?"
"How should I know?"
"Well...if my thesis is correct, she will experience a momentary lapse of consciousness before awakening."
"Thank you Kalpen."
"You are quite welcome. Will you need anything else?"
"Then I shall resume my meditation."
There had been the horrible sensation of not being able to breathe, Solene remembered that much. Then the feeling of fire in her chest…and then nothing. She had felt nothing at all. That had been a wonderful, wonderful relief, for with that the feeling of panic and terror had left, and all Solene had been aware of was a feeling of nothingness...of peace. But now those voices were surrounding her, forcing her out of that feeling of peace. It irritated her.
"Will you all stop it!?" She shouted angrily, furious that that wonderful peace was now shattered. It took a few moments for Solene to suddenly realize that she was speaking. That shouldn't have been possible, for the bandages in her mouth had stopped all coherent speech, all forms of verbal communication save grunting.
"Oh, she's awake!"
"Really? That's much faster then expected."
"What's going on?!" Solene called out, suddenly feeling horribly confused. "Where am I?"
"What's your name?"
"What?!" The soft female voice seemed to chuckle.
"I said, what's your name?" Solene had no idea why her name was suddenly important, or whoever these people were would want to know.
"Solene, okay? It's Solene! Who the hell are you?!"
"My name is Mamoan."
"Okay Mamoan, now tell me what's going on!"
"Oh dear…how do you think she'll react?"
"I don’t know…probably best to just get it over with."
"Hang on, I'll tell her." Starting to feel terrified, Solene wondered if she was having hallucinations just before she died.
"What the hell are you talking about?!" She screamed as loudly as she could. There was a sudden silence before Mamoan's voice answered.
"You're dead dear. You've died."
"No, that can't be!" Solene said, refusing to believe what she was hearing. Despite the fact that she knew what horrors awaited her, this couldn't possibly be what it was like when one dies. "That can't be true!" The voices were silent. "It can't be!"
"Solene, I know you're scared, but don't worry. Fear and denial are common feelings when you realize you're dead."
"I'M NOT DEAD!" Solene screamed. "I’M NOT DEAD!"
"If you're not dead…" Another voice said, "…Then can you explain what is happening right now?" A few moments of thought ensured, with produced two results. One, she was hallucinating from a lack of oxygen, or two, she had fallen unconscious and was now dreaming this whole thing. The hallucination felt more likely.
"You're all not real." Was Solene's reply. "You all don't exist. You're simply hallucinations."
"Oh, she's a tough one."
"Solene, if you're here, talking with us, then there's only one explanation. You've been buried alive. Furthermore, talking with us is a sure sign that you're dead."
"Look, I don't know who you are," Solene hissed. "But I am getting damn tired of talking to you! Now go away!" There was a feeling of a shrug, then the voices promptly vanished and as she had wished, Solene was now alone to her thoughts, of which there were now many. She was thinking about how if this was a hallucination, why did it feel so real? Why did she feel more alive, more real then she could ever recall?
Testing her bonds, Solene tried wiggling. She could manage a slight wiggle. Sadly, in this hallucination the bandages still existed, were still wrapped around her. That was very irritating.
"You decided to talk yet?"
"I thought I said go away!" Solene snapped to the unseen voice.
"Oh, I figured I'd better start talking. After a while, you get so bored and so lonely with nobody to talk to." For a moment Solene thought of telling this male voice to beat it and leave her alone…but there was something in his words that struck her, mostly the part about being lonely…which meant being alone. She sighed. Talking to a hallucination was probably only going to feed it, but she decided to go ahead anyway.
"What do you mean?" She asked wearily.
"Ah, so you want to talk!"
"No, I asked you what you meant."
"Oh, that! Well, after you die, you find yourself in the darkness and you're all alone with nobody else around you. You expect to be sent towards the afterlife, but to your shock, you still can't move, that is, you're still wrapped up like when you were buried. You try to escape, but can't. You know you're dead, but you don't know why you can't move, so you stay here. And the next thing you notice, it seems like there's no time, like it doesn't exist, as if you're stuck in one moment that is just stretching on forever."
"Do you normally talk like this?"
"Hm? Oh, no I don't. But I though I'd give you a heads up on what to expect. You're the twentieth person we've gotten down here."
"Oh please don't tell me that there are nineteen more of you out there."
"Yes, there are. Or rather, three actually."
"Wait a minute." Solene said. "Who said three?"
"I did." Said a calm male voice.
"Well…wait, if there were originally tw…oh shit I'm talking to my hallucinations again! I can't believe I’m getting into this!"
"How long do they normally go like this?" Someone asked tiredly.
"I cannot say. If I recall, it took most of you quite some time to accept that you were dead."
"STOP SAYING THAT!" Solene screamed as loudly, as ear-piercingly loud as she could manage. "STOP IT, STOP IT, STOP IT!!!" There was a sudden silence around her of which she was very relieved. "NOW ARE YOU GOING TO GO AWAY OR WHAT?!?!"
"I'm sorry Solene, but we can't leave. Believe me, we would if we could."
"What's stopping you?"
"Yes. Or to be more specific, the bandages that are wrapped around our bodies."
"Wait a minute." Solene said suspiciously. "If you're dead, you don't have a body."
"A physical one yes, but we have spiritual bodies."
"Then why the hell are you still wrapped up?"
"That is a puzzle we have pondered for quite some time…"
"Yes indeed we have!"
"…but the conclusion we have come to is that the wrappings that mummified us in life have somehow crossed over with us, binding us in the spirit world." When there was no reply, the speaker ventured again. "Solene?" Solene was lost in thought, contemplating what she had just heard. If she was (and that was an incredibly long shot) dead…and if what this man was saying was true…then she was a spirit bound and wrapped as she had been in the final hour of life.
Solene struggled again, fighting the bandages that bound her. They did not give, did not permit her movement outside of a wiggle. She was able to determine that she was still in a coffin, for her mummified feet bumped into a wood wall. What was worse however, was that the bandages that now thoughouly encased her and covered her body were exceptionally tight, perhaps even more so then when she was first wrapped.
"If you're wrapped up…" she asked the main voice. "Then I assume your mouth is filled, right?"
"That is correct."
"Your mouth is filled with bandages, making it impossible to talk?"
"Yes, that is correct."
"Okay…then how the hell are you talking?"
"Telepathy." Came the answer. "Communication between minds, for that is one thing our wrappings cannot bind."
Wrapped…dead…in a box…mummified…she was dead…no, no, that couldn't be true…Solene's mind was beginning to swirl with thoughts, horrible, horrible thoughts. If she was dead, which was starting to become more and more obvious…and if she was still wrapped up as a mummy…then was she going to stay this way…
"How long has it been?"
"Since what Zet?"
"Since Solene talked?"
"You know that's a pointless question."
"Yeah, I know. But you know what I'm talking about, right?"
"Yes, I do. If I had to venture a wild guess, it has probably been an earth week since Solene talked to us."
"What do you think is happening?"
"Most likely trying to think things through, getting over the shock. Thinking deep thoughts."
"Most likely she's panicked."
"What? I'm just saying…"
"We all break down at one point Zet," the voice said. "But she is lucky. She has us to be with her."
"If I could…I'd get right up next to her! Yeah, hug her and all!"
"Isn't that what caused you to be wrapped and buried?"
"Yeah, yeah…getting frisky with the king's daughter and all, but boy was she HOT!"
Unknown to all the parties, Solene was listening to what they were saying, but she made no movement to talk to them or even try to communicate. She had indeed had a breakdown, a moment where a bound soul realizes that it may very well be bound and entombed for eternity, lost to the darkness and the depths. There had been crying at that, as well as silent, horrible screams…
…and then after that…there was simply silence as she fell into shock. And all the while she lay in her coffin, mummified and wrapped, almost certainly for the rest of time.
"Do you think we should call out to her?" Mamoan asked. "See how she is?"
"Maybe she found a way out!" Zet said hopefully.
"Perhaps." This one voice was clearly the most dominant of all the voices. "It is worth a try. Solene? Are you there?" Solene didn't answer. She just lay there in the coffin, eyes closed, tears dripping out of them, realizing that she was never going to see her dead parents, her dead friends ever again…ever, ever, ever again…
"Solene, if you are there, please let us know. We want to talk to you."
Silence. The main voice sighed. "Solene…talking helps. It really does. If you want to tell us how you feel, we'll be here to listen."
"I don't feel like talking." She said quietly. If this main voice was surprised or delighted by Solene speaking, he didn't say so.
"Very well." His voice, as well as the others, began to melt into the total darkness that surrounded them. Within a few moments it was gone, vanished, but there was the feeling that the spirit whom the voice belonged to was close by if she needed to speak.
As it turned out…she did want to talk. About a great many things.
"Yes Solene?" The voice came back instantly.
"If we're spirits…" she said quietly, almost at a whisper. "And we can't escape…does that mean that we'll be here…"
"Forever? For all eternity?" Solene didn't say yes, but it was clear that was what she was going to ask. "I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that question."
"Really?" That surprised Solene. "But I thought that with you being the leader and all…"
"I'm not the leader."
"I'm not the leader. My name is Kalpen, but I am not the leader of us."
"He's just the one who has been here the longest." Mamoan said.
"What year is it on the outside Solene? When did you die?"
"I'm…I'm not sure." Solene shifted slightly in her coffin, trying to think. "Sometime around the year six thousand four three."
"Hmm…then it's been approximately five and a half thousand years since I was buried."
"What?" Solene said in surprise.
"Yes, it's been that long. Doesn't really feel like it."
"What do you mean?"
"Well…it feels like I died only a few moments ago. As far as we have been able to figure out, time in the spiritual world is like a single moment stretched out to infinity. If I have been down here for five and a half thousand years, it only feels like a few minutes that never end."
"But…that can't be!" Solene said. "This…this can't be happening! You're supposed to be judged by Osiris after death…"
"We don't know if that's true or not." Mamoan said. "All we know is that we're all wrapped, buried, and cannot escape from our tombs."
"But…but if that's true…" a stammering Solene said. "Then that means we might be here for…for…" she stammered a few moments, unable to say it. But finally, she got it out. "We might be here for eternity!" There was silence from the others, before Kalpen spoke.
"Then it appears so."
"You get used to it." Kalpen reassured her. "After a while, you get used to being wrapped, even if it means you will be literally wrapped up for eternity. You get used to the coffin, to the confined space, not being able to move…eventually you just accept it."
"This can't be happening…" Solene whimpered again, feeling her psyche begin the process of breaking down, slowly falling apart at realizing that she would spend the rest of eternity as a mummy, never to be released.
"The worst part is," Zet chimed in. "Is that there's no sex! You get excited, but can't do anything about it!" There was the sound of some wiggling and the sound of bandages being rubbed against a wooden coffin. "You can't move your damn arms!" More struggling, but the wrappings that confined Zet still held his arms in place behind his back. "And you get some hellishly sore arms too. How are your arms placed?"
Solene didn't answer.
"Oh come on, where are they?"
"On the side okay, does it matter?!"
"Well, you never know. Can you stretch and reach your crotch?"
"If she was mummified like us, they wrapped her crotch and made it impossible to reach."
"Oh yeah…" Some grumbling. "Damn system. If I ever get out of here, I'll find those guys who wrapped me and make 'em see how THEY like being wrapped up like this for a few thousand years!"
"In that case, you would want the judges." Mamoan pointed out.
"Yeah, I'd get them too!" Solene listened, but suddenly found herself not interested in the slightest in what the other spirits around her were talking about.
"How many are here?" She asked.
"Well, roughly fifty by our last count." Kalpen said.
"But if there are fifty…then why are only you and a few of the others talking?"
"That's a mystery we've been puzzling over for quite some time." Kalpen replied. "One by one, the others grew silent and never spoke anymore. We're not even sure if they are still here…wherever here is anyway."
"Did they leave?"
"We don't know. If they have, we don't know about it. Either that, or they have been meditating for centuries in earth time."
"But they must have gotten out." Solene said, thinking furiously. "I mean, it would be unbelievably cruel to keep us here for eternity!"
"You forget Solene," Mamoan's voice said sadly, "That we are criminals. We all broke the laws, usually the worst of them, and were buried for them. The gods do not smile upon criminals." She sounded resigned to the idea, but Solene wasn't.
"It's just not fair! We can't stay wrapped up as mummies forever!"
"Perhaps that's not such a bad thing."
"What? Are you nuts?"
"It can be good or bad, depending on your point of view." Kalpen said. "You can spend eternity believing that you are entombed as a punishment that will never be lifted…or you can use it as an opportunity to find peace within yourself. That is what I have been doing for the past few thousand years."
"And has it worked?" Solene asked, a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
"Actually, it has. Not being able to move one's body allows one to focus within, on seeking peace within yourself."
"And tell me…are you at peace with being a mummy for eternity?" The notion of this meditation crap was beginning to tick Solene off. The answer however, was immediate.
"For the most part, yes."
"Ah, so you're not."
"There are moments where…" a hesitation. "…where I do wish I could move on to whatever is beyond. But I have not yet discovered how to do so."
"Well maybe you should spend more time focusing on how to do that rather then accepting all this!" Feeling a small spark of determination coursing through her, Solene squirmed inside her wrappings, defying its unyielding hold on her. "I'm not going to spend the rest of eternity as a mummy!"
"There actually may be a way out, you know!" Zet said.
"What?" Solene instantly focused on the man's voice. "How?"
"Well, it's just something I thought of one day. Maybe the earth will one day be destroyed or something, and we'll be able to get out of here then!"
"Hmm…that is a possibility." Kalpen conceded. "If the earth that entombs us is destroyed…then yes, I see how it's possible. Of course…"
"There is the danger that we as spirits shall still remain wrapped. If that is the case…then I fear that we may drift through the cosmos for eternity, unable to escape our wrappings."
"Damnit!" Zet hissed. "Damnit!"
"There just has to be some way out of here." Solene said again, trying to think. "There must be. Every system, every prison has a way out."
"Solene dear…perhaps it's just best that you try to adapt to your new life."
"And give up? Never!"
"Solene, listen to me." Mamoan's voice was growing stern and focused, its motherly tone growing harsher. "I've listened to other souls who did what you're doing and I've listened to them go mad after years and years of failure, only to realize in the end that there is no way out."
"I am not giving up!" Solene declared. "You can tell me anything you want, but I'm not giving up! I'm not going to spend eternity here!" She tried to thrash in her cocoon, spurred on by her defKalpence of fate. "I am not going to give up! No matter how long it takes, I am finding a way out of here!"
The others were silent for a few moments before Kalpen finally spoke. "I hope that you succeed Solene."
For the longest period of time, Solene pondered, thought, and theorized about possible ways out of this spiritual tomb, thought of ways to escape her cocoon and to become a human again (well, in spirit), to stop being a mummy. That was all she could think of. Escape…freedom.
But despite all her thinking and pondering…there was no answer as to how to escape from this tomb, from this place of imprisonment. No amount of pleading with the gods to release her worked. It was as if the gods had turned a blind eye to her pleas and prayers. Nothing, absolutely nothing seemed to work. At one point Solene attempted to chew through the bandages in her mouth, but no amount of chewing or biting could tear through them. They seemed indestructible, built to last forever, for eternity even.
It was at that point that Solene began to realize that perhaps there was no real way out of here. Mamoan's words about other souls going mad stuck with her, ever gnawing away at the back of her mind.
It took another very long period of time when Solene began to realize that there was no way out, and if she wanted to keep her sanity, she would be best off just dropping this whole quest.
"Ah, you're still with us."
"Were you hoping that I'd be gone?" She asked bitterly.
"Well…yes and no really. I have come to enjoy your company down here, even with the incredibly long period where you've been silent. Did you come up with anything?" There was no answer for the longest time.
"Tell me…Kalpen." She finally said in a quite tone of voice. "Spending eternity like this…all wrapped up…how do you cope?" Kalpen waited a few moments to respond, realizing that she was saying in a polite way that she had lost all hope of escaping. Talking to a spirit who had reached that stage was a very delicate manner.
"Eventually…" he said. "You begin to accept that this is what will be, no matter how horrible it is. And if you work at it, eventually you will become patient long enough to see what will happen if this planet is destroyed, even if that is trillions of years until that happens. And with that infinite patience…you will find peace in waiting. Perhaps that's a gift to help us bear this eternal situation…infinite patience and infinite peace." Solene pondered the answer…
Spending eternity as a mummy was not a pleasant fate. But if she was going to keep her sanity…then she was going to have to accept the simple fact that she, Solene, was going to be a mummy for the rest of eternity, never to escape, never to leave this coffin or this tomb. This was her afterlife.
It was a grim thought.
"I know it will be hard Solene. But you will eventually just have to accept this. When I was alive and walking on earth, I learned that when you accept whatever life throws your way…things usually get better."
"I don't want to be here." She muttered.
"I know…" Kalpen said quietly. "Believe me…" There was the sound of him shifting in his own wrappings. "I know."
There was a very long time where all parties in this dark limbo were silent, left alone to their various thoughts and their own little worlds. Kalpen meditated, withdrawing deep inside himself. Mamoan thought of the love she had left behind on earth, the memory of which made her cry. Zet…Zet simply worked at his eternal hobby of trying to shift his arms from a behind the back arm bar to over the chest where he could rub his crotch and try to get an orgasm. He had been working on it for several centuries without even managing to shift his arms even an inch. He kept working on it though, having little else to do other then remember what it was like to lie with a woman and take her by force.
Solene…Solene was the one who had the hardest time mentally. She didn't even try to wiggle in her wrappings, in the bandages that now held her for eternity. Her thoughts were the saddest, the most mournful as she thought of all she had left behind, of all that she would never see…of all the things she would never be able to experience or do.
More then once she broke down and cried, her wrappings doing her a favor and absorbing the tears that leaked into them.
But after all the tears were used up, after all the grief had been allowed to pour out, Solene slowly came to the grim conclusion that she had tried to avoid for however long she had been down here (it truly did feel like a long moment stretched out to eternity). She was never getting out. She had committed a crime and now she was being punished. Perhaps it was best to stop fighting and just accept it…accept the fact that she was to be a mummy for eternity.
If, Solene realized, she was going to get to that state of mind Kalpen had described…then perhaps it was best to work towards it. Sighing, not really feeling like it but knowing that she had to do it if she was going to find any measure of peace, Solene turned her attention to the bandages that encircled her head and gripped it tightly. They were just as tight as the day she had been buried, and would remain that way forever.
"I accept you." She said quietly. "You're going to wrap me forever, and I accept that."
The bandages of course, did not reply. They were simply inanimate objects that were wound around her. But a warmth went through Solene's body. The temperature in this spiritual limbo was just about perfect with no heat or cold, so the warmth that gently went through her was actually quite a shock. It was like she was lifting off a huge weight from her shoulders (metaphorically speaking).
It felt quite good.
Next, Solene turned her attention to other matters. The earth…the sun…her parents. Knowing that she would never see any of them again was a much harder loss then knowing that she was going to spend eternity mummified like this. Saying goodbye to them, especially her parents, was much, much harder. "Goodbye." Was the only word she could find herself to whimper, and every letter felt like a great drop of sadness falling on her.
But again, upon accepting that she was never going to see them again…Solene felt a warmth going through her. Cutting these ties, the chains that bound her to the earth…it was like she was growing lighter. Not enough to escape her wrappings or the coffin, but enough that she actually did feel better.
"You're letting go, aren't you?"
"Letting go of everything. I could feel the warm energy near you."
"Did you do this once Kalpen?"
"Yes…a long time ago. I had to say goodbye to my family, my friends, everyone else who I cared about. It wasn't easy…but it has helped."
"I know…but it's just so hard."
"You've started moving in the right direction Solene."
Solene was quiet.
Eventually there came a time where Solene just finally accepted her situation. With that, she slowly settled down into a very long state of nothingness…of letting herself just empty and be still. Perhaps meditating to ponder the meaning of peace in this dark void.
It took six hundred earth years, but eventually Solene reached that state of peace that Kalpen had described. She was at peace with her fate, with her eternal existence.
The mummy that had been Solene was content.
Approximately seven hundred years after Solene had been buried, Kalpen came out of one of his meditation sessions, slowly opening himself back up to his situation. Still wrapped, still mummified, still buried and locked into his coffin like everyone else. Though he had long gotten used to the feelings, Kalpen pondered and felt how the bandages were against his skin as they confined his spiritual body. He pondered how they could be indestructible and so strong. Perhaps, with a few more million years of thought, he would find the answer.
The desire for talk came to him, so he reached out and called to Solene. "Solene?"
"How are you now?"
"Oh…the same." She said quietly, dreamily. "Yourself?"
"I have pondered the nature of existence for quite some time. And you?"
"I was pondering my life, what I would do if I had the chance to go through it again."
"Many times I have pondered the same question."
"What would I do? Probably be nicer to everyone, do more good. I mean, I thought about how I lived and I know I did pretty well. I was nice and all, but I think there could always be more."
"Have you pondered escaping this realm?" A moment of silence.
"Not really. The only thing I've thought about is…well…I just can't believe I've ended up here. I mean, when I was alive, I just wanted to get along with everyone. I even felt sorry for the criminals who were sent away, exiled…or buried like us. I just felt so sorry for them. Wished they would…"
Suddenly, Solene went silent.
Solene didn't answer…at least, not right away. Thoughts were starting to course through her mind like lightning. She remembered back to the day…back to the day when she had been mummified…when she had been placed into her coffin. She had frantically struggled against the wrappings, banged around in her coffin even as she had heard the nails being pounded in, knowing that they were never going to come off, Solene had heard a voice from outside her coffin. She hadn't recognized it at the time, but she recognized it now. It had been one of the elders.
He had said, "You're a criminal. You'll never repent."
"I've got it!" She practically shouted, tremendously excited. "I've got it!"
"Hey, what's going on?" Zet asked from a distance.
"I know how to get out of here! I know how to get out!"
"Kalpen, what was your crime when you were alive?" There was a silence from the one who had been mummified and buried the longest.
"In life I was a priest. But then one day I saw some peasants sneaking into the innermost holy sanctuary of the temple, where only priests are allowed. I grew furious and killed them."
"Zet, you said you had sex with the king's daughter, right?"
"And Mamoan? What did you do?"
"Well…" Mamoan's voice hesitated, wavered. "I…I don't want to talk about it."
"But what did you do? Please tell me, you have to if this is going to work!"
"Well…okay…I was married. I came home one night and saw my husband having sex with another woman. I just grew so angry that I took the family axe and killed them both."
"Okay now all of you…are you sorry for what you did?"
There was a silence from the others.
"Then that's it!" Solene said triumphantly. "Before I was buried, I heard a priest tell me that because I'm a criminal, I'll never repent. That's how you get out of here! You have to repent for what you did!"
There was another silence from the others who were mummified. It was a long silence…but it began to break with the sounds of curious and excited murmurs. "Don't you get it?" Solene asked, unable to contain her excitement. "We're all down here because we haven't repented for what we did! Do that, and we get out of here!"
Mamoan was the first to break the silence. "But…how?"
"That elder…only the elders know all these spiritual things. If he was saying that, he was taunting me. And perhaps that's why people can't get out of here…because they don't repent!"
"But…he betrayed me!" Mamoan whispered from her coffin. "He betrayed me!"
"But it was wrong to murder him. It's always wrong to murder someone you love." Again, silence.
"I…I did love him….no, I do love him. But it hurt so much!"
"Can't you at least try to let it go? I'm sure he would forgive you." There was silence from Mamoan for several moments and for Solene, she thought that the woman was not going to do anything out of fear, shame, or some other reason. But then there was a sound coming from her direction…
…it sounded like a whisper of apology to an unseen witness.
There was a sudden feeling of indescribable warmth and a sensation that was very unfamiliar to the inhabitants of the realm. It was joy.
"Mamoan?" Kalpen called out. "Mamoan?" There was no answer…and there was no feeling that Mamoan was nearby. "She always responds…"
"Then she must have…" Solene murmured.
"Left?" Zet suggested.
"It looks like it."
"Sweet! Now we can get out of here! I mean, if she's gone, then that means that Solene must be right and that we can get out of here and leave this damn place and I can go get my revenge!"
"Only if you are truly repentant." An excited sounding Kalpen said. "Otherwise, it appears that you will have to stay here."
It took a very, very long time, but slowly, one by one, the individuals remaining in the dark limbo began to vanish. Although none could see them, one could hear when they left, as well as feel the warmth eminated by their departure. Even Zet, with his flamboyant personality, eventually managed to realize that it was wrong for raping the king's daughter, and he too left (but swearing that he was still going to have a long talk with whomever designed this system).
Eventually…only Kalpen and Solene remained.
"Well…I believe it is time for us to leave Solene." Kalpen said, sounding more excited then he had since Solene had first come down here. "Are you ready to go?"
"No?" A gasp from the mummified priest. "But…you, out of all of us, seemed the most eager to leave this place."
"Yes…but I've been thinking Kalpen. I've been here the shortest and I still don’t feel sorry for taking that goat. I was very hungry and needed to eat. I had to do what I had to do to survive, and I don't regret that. And if I'm not repentant, then I won't be able to leave this place."
"Look Kalpen, I'm going to need some time to think about this. I'll be ready one day…metaphorically speaking mind you…but it's not now. I'm going to have to stay here a while more. And besides…" She tried to shrug, momentarily forgetting that she was still wrapped. "…once you get used to being mummified, it's actually not so bad. I like the peace and quiet here too. And besides…more people are going to be sent here, I'm sure of it. Maybe if I stay…I can pass along how to get out, so that everyone who's going to come will know." For once…Kalpen was speechless, unable to say anything, and it wasn't due to the bandages stuffed into his mouth and throat.
"Solene…I'm…I'm speechless really. I don't know how to reply to that." Solene smiled.
"Well, you probably want to get going I'm sure. After all, you've been here the longest, right?"
"Yes…but I don't feel right leaving you here."
"I'll be along…someday. And besides, I've discovered that Zet was right about one thing."
"What was that?" Another smile from Solene.
"That being wrapped up is actually quite a turn on. Not being able to do anything about it is even better. Do you suppose whatever lies beyond will let us be wrapped up if we want it?"
"I suppose the only way to find out is to go there yourself."
"Then I hope I can. Interesting how I used to dread being mummified…now I like it."
It was Kalpen's turn to smile. For a few moments he did so…then went quiet, thinking. "Well…I guess this is it then." He said. "After thinking about it…I do feel bad for killing those two peasants over a silly law. Hopefully…they will forgive me." There was a building sense of warmth from Kalpen's position in limbo.
"I guess the only way to find out…" Solene said. "Is to go yourself and ask."
Solene had the briefest sensation of a very large smile from Kalpen…and then there was an intense feeling of warmth, and he was gone, finally going to where he should have gone centuries earlier. Solene was now alone, the only mummified criminal in this limbo, locked into her prison of wood and bandages.
But as Kalpen had said…after a while, it wasn't too bad. She could use the time to think…to ponder a great many things. She started to settle down, wiggling to try and get more comfortable. A prison this may be, but at least she could be comfortable in it.
There was a sudden sense of panic and fear nearby, startling Solene in it's unexpectedness. It felt like someone…was dying. "Hello?" She called out mentally. "Anyone out there?" There was no answer, only a continuing stream of fear and panic, of a life force slowly sipping away.
"Hmm…I wonder if someone else is being buried." Solene wondered. A few moments later the panic and fear ceased, and there was the feeling of someone slipping down next to Solene. She was somehow able to sense a wooden box, as well as an individual inside, wrapped and bound in bandages. Ah…so someone had been buried alive like she had…how long ago was it? She couldn't remember. "Hello?" She called out again. "Is there someone there?" It took a few moments before there was a brief, startled reply.
"Who…who's that?" It was a male's voice. "Where am I?! What's going on?! Why…why…why can't I move?!?!"
Though the man sounded like he was panicking, close to breaking down in fear…Solene simply smiled as she realized that this was how she had first come here to limbo. The same panicked, frightened soul who didn't realize he (or she) no longer had a physical body, or that they had entered this prison. But now…she had the knowledge of how to get out, along with the state of mind an individual had to be in to be released. "I may be a very long time away from getting out." Solene thought. "But…maybe I can pass the time helping others get out."
"Hello?!" The man's voice called out, sounding terribly frightened and lonely. "Hello? Was there someone there? Please come back!"
Solene smiled again. Being a believer in that things eventually worked out for the better, she decided that it was time to start down that road of being good, just as she had always tried to be. "Don't be afraid." She said soothingly. "Everything's going to be okay. I'm here to help."
Though she had a long imprisonment time ahead, along with an equal amount of time sentenced as a mummy…at least she wouldn't be lonely.