“Freedom’s Gate” just took one of the runner-up spots in the July WeBook Monthly Challenge!
This story was inspired by the July theme of freedom. In my infinite weirdness, I took the theme in a strange direction and wrote my take on the last few moments of the Heaven’s Gate cult.
I Hope You Enjoy It
A very special thanks goes out to all of the WeBook members who helped me write and shape this story!
The light in the sky had grown steadily brighter each night over the last month, gradually changing from just another pin-prick of light in the night sky to a teardrop shaped star that burned bright enough to be seen during the day. It was the last of many signs telling us that our period of learning and preparation was nearly over. The Gate would open soon, and we would all be free.
“The time is near,” I told the gathering before me. Forty-two believers watched on and hung on my every word, as they had for many years now, buried deep under the veil of blind faith and the undeniable knowledge of my teachings. Many had come and gone, but that was the process needed to weed out the non-believers and would-be infiltrators. It was the only way that I could educate them and assemble the right crew. It had been a long road, nearly twenty years in all, but we were approaching our goal. Our time in this classroom was nearly over. This was The Last Call: They were almost here. “Soon, the gate will be open, and only we will be allowed to step through!” I told them.
We needed the proper attire, as well as the mindset, to be allowed passage. In addition, the trip to freedom wasn’t free. There would be a toll. I had recounted the event time and again, countless times, so much so that it was now an ingrained mantra I could recite without thinking. In these last days we had two areas of focus: spread the word of the Offering to others and prepare ourselves for the journey, both mentally and physically. The ship would come, our restraints would be shed and true freedom would be had by all of us.
“There will be no more intolerance, persecution or judgment. Social status and personal needs will melt away, and we will join a communal harmony as we travel through the expanse of the universe on our destined new journey. No longer will we be bound to this planet and the restrictions of these primitive vehicles! We will evolve into a new type of being, one that is beyond human!”
“The Next Level is near!” I exclaimed, raising my arms above my head, “Freedom will only be offered once, and those who choose to deny that offering will be left behind, where they will truly die.”
The group looked on intently, as murmurs of agreement and appreciation meandered through the gathering. “We have studied, and we have prepared,” I paused for emphasis, “We have suffered and we have sacrificed, and now it is time! We’ve done all that we can while restrained by these vehicles, whose tiny computers would explode with just a few words from the Next Level. Today, we have the chance to willfully evacuate those bonds, on our own terms, and join the Others in the Kingdom of Freedom!”
As I spoke, brothers and sisters assembled the table and arranged the bowl of purple liquid, along with an overabundance of plastic cups before me, just below the tiny stage from which I preached. The scene was fitting; the two pyramid-shaped stacks of red cups on either side of the swirling bowl of liquid, shadowed by members in their dark, silky robes and clean white running shoes, resembled an altar.
“Do not fret for those we shall leave behind. We have done our part. We have told of the Offering, many times at our own peril. It is a matter of choice, and they have made their choice to turn against the Next Level. Mankind gets but one chance to achieve a higher state of existence. Only once will They offer us positions as crew members, and take us into immortality and real freedom. We have prepared ourselves for the transition, all we can do for the others now is to leave behind the message and instructions.”
Some of the brothers and sisters moved forward and began scooping out servings of the purple liquid and handing the cups to the others waiting behind them. Once all had been served, I was presented with my own. I looked down into the cup where a thin, white swirl danced like a faint pinwheel atop the darker liquid below. I looked back out onto the gathering to see that every single person was doing exactly the same thing. Some peered out from beneath hoods, while other faces glowed in exposed contrast, but all stared intently into their cups.
“Let us take the final step, as They are close enough now and ready to receive us,” I told the group, and gulped a large drink from my cup, then raised it high in the air while I watched to ensure each and every person sampled the mixture. “Let us rise up and board, where finally, we will truly be free!” I told them.
Some began to move into the adjacent rooms and onto their respective bunk beds to settle in for the trip. We would soon begin boarding one of two spacecraft trailing behind the comet burning through the night sky. They hid in the dust of its tail and streaked along behind it, bringing us the one and only chance to join them, as equals.
My vision began to blur, but I could see others stumbling about, as some dropped to sit or lay where they had been standing. Some sat and held hands, eventually slumping against each other. Others chose to sit alone. I stooped over and eased my body to the floor, just as a slight pang of guilt and uncertainty slipped into the remains of my consciousness. I thought about the others joining me and the ridicule and slander that would follow their transition. My mind drifted, but it still maintained enough of its faculties to reason back at me, “Well, I can’t die by myself… That would just make me some kind of lunatic or something…”
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