Ricardo Ortiz


Ricardo Ortiz

I sat in the chair, restrained and left alone for my thoughts to devour me whole. The chair was beautifully uncarved, a masterpiece of nature left unmarred by human hands, yet still uncomfortable enough for a prisoner like me to hate it. It felt like days had gone by sitting in this chair, awaiting my fate, arms and legs bruised from the cuffs that dug into my flesh. My mind was racing, yet muddled, confined by the boundaries that They have placed on my thoughts. Memories repeating, left in a loop for me to regret for the rest of eternity. “Prisoner 339264. Rise for your Arbiter.” The loud hollow voice filled the room and the cuffs released me from their clutches, as I stood for someone who I am to respect, yet have never met. The Arbiter entered through the large steel doors previously hidden by the shadows and motioned for me to take my seat. I hesitantly sat back down, as the Arbiter flooded the room with his voice, “You may not know why you are here. And that is why I have been appointed to you. As a reminder, and as a final decision as to what is to happen to you.” He moved towards the pulpit, and laid out his documents for inspection.

“What you have done is nothing new, a case like yours comes along thousands of times every year, from insignificant, pitiful people like yourself, to more tragic, meaningful people like that American that smelled vaguely of adolescent character, and that famous writer who was found in his house holding his favorite shotgun. But you are lower than them. Theirs was understandable, but not yours, you had everything lined up for you. Presented on a platter to choose for your own liking. You left children, both legitimate and illegitimate, in your wake. Open your mouth, what do you have to say for yourself?” My mouth was parched, and my throat was in a knot. “Who are you?” I finally asked. “Me? I am your judge.” He came around the pulpit, walking towards me as the cuffs restrained me once again. “Your Fate, your King Minos. I am Your Arbiter. That is all you need to know.” I searched my mind for why I was here; one of the vague memories that have been placed off limits, torturing me with its escape. As he walked back, I gathered the nerve to finally ask the question that has been prying at my psyche. “Where am I, and what am I on trial for? I have a right to know!” “YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS HERE! You lost all rights when your cowardice came over you, and you took your own life, leaving behind your wife, children, siblings, everything! You gave it all up, and for what? Nothing! And look where has brought you. In front of me.” An evil grin spread like the plague across his face. “I have the pleasure of deciding how you spend the rest of eternity.”

Shaken, my heart began to race. I didn’t know what he was talking about. “What do you mean? I do not remember having any children! I cannot even remember what brought me to this horrid place. Explain!” His eyes glared at me, and for once in a long time I felt intimidated. Genuinely afraid of his sick twisted face. Mocking me with his furrowed brow. His voice became eerily soft “There are things that cannot be explained at this moment, what I can say is that you are in limbo. This is where everyone passes as they wait for their judgment. You are here because you have taken your life, and left a wife and a mistress to raise your children.” Distant memories suddenly became a realization, Carmen’s beautiful smile, My daughters letters as she learned Spanish abroad, Hector’s diligence. I remembered. “People like you cause rifts in The Writing. The only thing that cannot be accounted for, you humans have managed to exploit and cause panic not only in your dimension, but here as well.” I finally understood what was happening, it sunk in. “Why did I do it?” I asked. The Arbiter replied quickly “None of us know, it is the only thing that has escapes us seven for all of eternity. We have seen people do it for pride, out of fear, anger, even curiosity.”

Seven? “Are you the only Arbiter? If not why are you the one judging me?” His face twisted with a curious look, as though he was surprised, yet elated that I wanted to know about him and the Others. “As I said before, there are seven of Us. We reign over your dimension and through a combination of us, we form every human being as their characteristics, or “Feelings”. Some people reflect some characteristics more than others. We make them Unique.” “And as to the reason why I am being judged in front of you?” I beckoned for an answer. “Simple, out of the seven of us, I was the one most inflicted by your final moments. More people felt my presence because of you. And that angers me. Why should a human as incompetent as yourself be able to send shock waves to dozens that I myself am not able to feel?” His piercing eyes became soft and glazed over. He turned away from me, snatching the files from the pulpit and briskly flipped through them. “So what am I to do?! I’m sorry that I offended you, but there must be something I can do to redeem myself!” The outcome of angering this entity could not be good.

“What you have done is irrevocable and irreconcilable. The verdict has been decided. You will return to Earth as your daughter’s son. You will be stripped of a father at a young age as you have stripped yourself from your children. You will raise yourself and your siblings, as you left your oldest son to do so without a father. Left to fend for yourself in the tidal wave that you, yourself, have caused in your past life.” I squirmed in my seat at the thought of being sent back to that dreadful place. “NO! You cant send me back there.” I wasn’t even sure what I was afraid of. “There is nothing more that I can do, I have judged according to the Laws. You have done the crime. You must now suffer the repercussions.” And with that he faded back into the shadowy corner. As the door closed softly behind him, my cuffs became undone. Rubbing my sore wrists, I began wondering what I should do now. When would my punishment begin. And if there is still a way to get around it. The voice boomed once again, “Prisoner 339264. You have been tried and judged. You know your fate.” And with that a dark fear consumed, and pushed me towards a light into a realm so bright, cold and intimidating, it is a wonder how anyone could find comfort in this unrelenting place.