Evan Quinlan

Archive for the ‘Mysticism’ Category

The Clincher

In Drabbles, Fiction, Mysticism, Short Stories on June 16, 2019 at 2:04 pm

They built a computer which, existing partly inside and partly outside the known universe, could accurately answer any question about the known universe and itself (and do so quickly, since the outside part was unconstrained by time).

Those who won the bid to ask questions first were wayward priests seeking to discover the forbidden answers—ones the truly faithful would never seek.

“Is there a god?” The first asked nervously.


The priest rejoiced.

“Is there only one god?” The second asked hopefully.


That priest rejoiced.

“Oh no…” muttered the third priest despairingly, then asked: “…Are you a god?”

The Gatekeeper’s Eye

In Fiction, Mysticism, Short Stories on July 9, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Sigil of Baphomet


My family refused to speak to me about my grandfather.  He worshiped the devil—that much I’d gleaned from half-muttered sentences cut short in my presence—but my attempts to learn more met with firm reprobation and ultimately only my wild, untempered imaginings of what deplorable secrets my family kept from me remained.

Once, mildly intoxicated, my father spoke too loudly about my grandfather to some inquiring guests: obsessed with “seeing himself in Hell,” the old man left behind an impossible artifact which, years later, revealed an even more horrifying truth.

Now I hold that truth in my hands.

I gaze into a mirror pried from an old, locked chest in the attic.  A face, familiar but disfigured and screaming in silent torment, gazes back.

My grandfather didn’t see himself in Hell; he saw his grandson.


Some define art as expression of the imagination. I define it as the expression of ignorance. So often we label as “art” or “beauty” only things we cannot fully understand.

It follows that in seeking the impossible my grandfather trafficked with art dealers. What he found—a mirror with a jet-black surface looted from a shipwreck—has now made me a rich man. Scholars pay exorbitant sums to study what, once my grandfather activated it, transformed from a mirror into a window to my soul’s private Hell.

Swirling chardonnay, I watch my soul torn apart by demonic shapes again and again.
Every man must define “art” for himself. Empty, the window was art: beautiful; unknowable. Now it reveals too much; it divulges my eternal fate; un-unknowable.

What, then, is the opposite of art?


“It makes sense,” I replied. “Eternity is timeless. It follows that a soul condemned for eternity suffers even concurrently to its earthly life.”

“Astounding,” my guest breathed.

We gazed into an ornately framed pane resting on my mantle which, to the astonishment of the world, looked into my own private chamber in Hell.

My soul’s mangled body, encumbered by thick chains, struggled oddly.

“Is it trying to communicate?” asked my guest.

“I don’t think it can see us.”

I knew it could.

“You’re so calm.”

“What can I do? My fate’s decided.”

Yes, my soul was pointing…

…Pointing to my guest.

Then I understood.  My soul’s message was that my guest was the man who would send me to Hell.

I smiled at the mirror reassuringly.  Fate, it seemed, was not decided after all.


Television makes killing look easy.  “Just shoot him!” you might shout at the hero.  But murder entails consequence and conviction easily gives way to doubt.

(I’ve disemboweled six mannequins.)

Most people think killing is easiest if rationalized or justified.  But pulling a trigger or pushing a knife into flesh… these are not rational acts.

(I’ve attended six state executions.)

Human beings rely on experience; we’re memory machines. The simple trick, as with anything, is practice.

(I’ve strangled six cats.)

But as I disembowel this corpse I find myself rationalizing anyway. Was it truly self-defense? The man had done nothing to me… but he would have if given the chance. I was in a unique position to know that.

Well, I would have an entire lifetime, now, to practice rationalizing. And practice does make perfect.


The Father of Lies is named so because sins are miscommunications between the mind and soul.

Upon my mantle sits a black mirror.

I returned home, clothes splattered with another man’s blood, only to find that the mirror no longer showed, as it once did, my soul languishing in Hell.  My heart leaped.  Had I, by killing my future killer, avoided damnation—escaped being sent to my account, like the elder Hamlet, with all my imperfections on my head?

For a long time I thought so.  Now… I understand the truth.

Swirling chardonnay, I gaze into the mirror at the reflection that is still the image of my condemned soul.  It stands, as I do, within the confines of a lush apartment, doomed to an eternity in Hell for the murder of an innocent man.


In Fiction, Mysticism, Short Stories on May 5, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Diarmuid’s heart raced.  He squeezed between two boulders that leaned against each other, stepping just deep enough that the sharp, upper tusks of the wild boar raging on the other side of the opening fell an inch short of contact.  Still not trusting his luck, Diarmuid squeezed even farther into the crevasse until he emerged in a small dark enclave.  Would the boar find another way in?

“Have you killed it yet?” said a voice.  Diarmuid spun around to see a delicate—beautiful, in fact—young man crouching by a ray of light.  He was carving stone arrow heads; a pile of finished pieces lay beside him.

“N—no,” stuttered Diarmuid; he hadn’t expected to find anyone else here.  “I haven’t.”

“I have,” said the youth.  He smiled a lovely smile.

“But it’s still alive,” Diarmuid said, pointing absently the way he’d come.

“I know.  It comes back.  It always comes back.”

Diarmuid cocked his head, puzzled, but the young man said nothing else.

“I thought this would be heaven,” Diarmuid said.  “I remember dying.  A boar—like that one, only—it was a hunting accident—and now it’s still here—still… still coming after me…”  He trailed off.

“And what did you expect to find after death?” the young man asked.

“Not this,” Diarmuid said.  “Women, maybe.  Well, not women,” he corrected.  “Peace, maybe.  Everlasting silence.  Or bliss.  Or even boredom.  But not the boar.”

The youth finished carving the arrowhead and placed it in the pile beside him.

“I thought the same thing,” he said, “when I first got here.  “Why have I died only to face this animal again?  Yes, it killed me, too.  I thought I would awake by the hateful river or perhaps the Elysian Fields.  But this is much better.”

“How is this better?” Diarmuid asked.  “You said we can’t kill the boar.”

“No,” said the young man, “I said we can kill it, over… and over… and over again.  We have eternity to learn how.  And that, my fellow, makes us a thousand times more fortunate than the living.”

Inspiration here and here.

A Zombie Parable

In Drabbles, Fiction, Mysticism, Short Stories on January 25, 2011 at 4:18 pm

A woman fleeing from a zombie found herself on the roof of a skyscraper.  She climbed over the rail and shimmied away from the zombie on a flagpole jutting from the building’s edge.  Hundreds of feet below, a shifting mass of shapes howled with hunger and rage.

Two decaying, zombified pigeons, one white, one black, landed on the flagpole from which she hung and began to peck at her fingers.  She looked straight ahead and saw herself reflected in the tower’s glass exterior.  Behind her, a golden sunrise peeked over the city’s silhouetted skyline.

That sunrise is very beautiful, she thought.

Two Shades of Folly

In Haiku, Mysticism on January 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Fools are binary:
One loves all things in the world
And one loves nothing.