Heaven’s Return by Jason Lairamore

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Heaven's Return by Jason Lairamore
Illustration by Sue Babcock

Warsh’s eyes were grey and when full moonlight hit them straight, they were white. Rogney had never seen the like. Course’, Warsh was older than the Blackwater and had been around last time Heaven passed by.

“Elder Warsh, you seen it. What’s it like?” Only Warsh was still alive of those that had chosen to witness Heaven.

“Run along, young man.” Warsh pursed his thin black lips, shook his narrow, grey head, and ran an old, wrinkled hand through his silver hair. “It’s not meant for us. Go into the caves to the broken ships and fight temptation with the others. No good comes after.”

Rogney eyed the graying timbers of Warsh’s airy cabin. White light seeped through like prison bars. “I’m not afraid of after. It’s worth it to see Heaven.”

Warsh waved a dismissive hand and turned to the cabin’s window that faced the sea. Silvery waves rolled on black waters up to the white and gray beach. Up above, a full moon shone with bright, bleached light.

“There’s no word you’d understand,” Warsh said. “Go to the caves. Do as your betters bid.”

“You didn’t.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“So why should I?”

Warsh struck a match and set the brittle wood of his cabin walls on fire then turned back to Rogney.

“So you don’t end up like me.”

“What are you doing?”

“Go away.”

“But …”

“I won’t see it again. I won’t.”


Grey smoke filled the small cabin quickly. Warsh waited for the boy to stop his ranting and just leave, then he shut the flimsy door. He breathed deep the acrid air, coughed, did it again, and coughed more. He got lightheaded and almost fell but managed to wedge himself upright in a corner long enough for …


“Crazy old man,” Rogney said as he watched the cabin burn hot and bright in the moonlight.

Then Heaven came. He could see it just starting to near, a star a little bigger than the others. It wouldn’t be long now. He scampered around the nearly burnt cabin a time or two and checked again. Bigger. A few others, people like him that wanted to see Heaven, gathered around Old Warsh’s burning cabin and danced and laughed.

Heaven was a color not white, something softer. His heart ached. He slapped his fellows on their backs and chuckled and pointed. Heaven had a tale that wasn’t white either. Looking at it, he knew he had made the right choice. This couldn’t be wrong. It felt too right. This was how it was supposed to be.

Heaven got bigger. The moon disappeared and the sky changed color. Everything changed. The air sharpened. The ocean wasn’t black. The beach wasn’t white and gray. Nothing was soft and fuzzy. His fellows’ skin each bore different shades. Their hair was different. Even their eyes were different colors.

The flames surrounding the cabin were the color of Heaven riding high. His fellows peeled away one by one, all running, all trying to get away, to hide from the wicked, stark sharpness of it all. He stayed. He’d told Warsh he wasn’t afraid and even if he was now he wasn’t going to go running and screaming into the woods like the others. He stayed and saw it all. Heaven arced around fast overhead. He looked at everything he could.

Then it faded away. Just like that, almost between blinks. The Moon was back. Heaven was a big star fading away. The Blackwaters were black once more. The sky was grayish-black again. He fell to his knees next to the white coals of Warsh’s fire. His eyes ached from staring. He already missed the colors. Their memory ran like vivid images behind his eyes. He started to cry. He cried and he cried and he could not stop.


BIO:  Jason Lairamore is a writer of science fiction, fantasy, and horror who lives in Oklahoma with his beautiful wife and their three monstrously marvelous children. His work is both featured and forthcoming in over 40 publications to include Sci Phi Journal, Perihelion Science Fiction, Stupefying Stories and Third Flatiron publications to name a few.