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Quick Mercy

"The quality of mercy is not strain'd.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath."
-- William Shakespeare, 'The Merchant of Venice'


When you wake up, you forget your dreams about dying quickly. They aren't nightmares, exactly: quickness is mercy, and mercy is all the things about God that you never really thought about until everything was happening so quickly and you were praying and it was too late, too late.

You really did think it was Babylonian. No one cared.

Some of the dreams are angry. You're running down dark streets with something horrible chasing you; you scream for help and no one cares. And you could save the world, in your dream; you could cure diseases, you could make credit-card-debt disappear, you could turn garbage into gold, you could be a hero over and over again. Still no one cares. So there's a little splash of angry satisfaction as the horrible thing catches you and you die after a choked-off scream--serves them right, serves them right, to lose you and lose all hope with you.

Only a little splash, though. You die quickly, remember? That's the important part.

The other kind of dream comes when you've retched and sobbed until you've cried yourself to sleep, long into the night. You're still running down dark streets in this dream; the horrible dark thing still chases you. Still--still no one cares. And you deserve it. You are nothing and no one. You have done horrible things and not minded. You are a nameless blank face on the edge of a crowd. You are lost and useless and alone, and there is nothing in you or about you that makes you worthy of existence. No one noticed you in passing; the earth itself will not cover your grave when you're gone. You run with black hopeless tears streaming down your face into your mouth. It's the worst dream of all, because you know it is the truth.

But sweet God, you still die quickly.

These are only dreams, because the nightmare is out there riding after you, horrible and black and familiar, with righteous unholy vengeance in her eyes. Or maybe she isn't. Maybe it's stopped. You don't know. You will never know. In your dreams, you never stop running until that last choked-off scream.

You dream of dying quickly. You lay there with your eyes closed against the darkness between waking and sleeping, and before you forget, you pray to God's mercy that dreams come true.

Jonathan. Credit Card. Alive.

Man! challenge in a can Man!