Some people just ain’t made for the world. Can’t fucking take it. Can’t deal with Momma and Dadda and school teaching you nothing and a fucking job with some motherfucking boss going blah blah blah and bills and neighbors and some...

An excerpt from The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, ©2011 James Frey


ome people just ain’t made for the world. Can’t fucking take it. Can’t deal with Momma and Dadda and school teaching you nothing and a fucking job with some motherfucking boss going blah blah blah and bills and neighbors and some kind of bullshit church and having a good credit score and a mortgage and getting married with kids and some kind of mysterious motherfucking retirement plan that don’t ever let you do nothing but put more in and get none back. Lotta people ain’t made for it. They the people you see on the streets, in dirty clothes, talking to themselves, screaming on the corner like they demonized, mumbling and crying, they the ones in your family and your town you always scared of and feeling sorry for and making excuses about, the ones you don’t even thinks is fucking human. They is, they just ain’t made like the rest of you and they can’t deal with it so they go to drinking and getting fucking high and being criminal and getting locked-the-fuck-up and just saying who gives a fuck to all of it. People be thinking they’re crazy and be needing some kind of fucking help, but the help ain’t nothing ’cause a motherfucking soup kitchen or some kind of shelter that can’t hold enough or a nuthouse where we get beat or some charity that’s really about motherfuckers’ friends knowing how good they is and how much they care ain’t nothing but bullshit. And don’t even bring up that made-up motherfucker people be calling God, ’cause that motherfucker don’t even exist, and don’t be bringing up all these so-called houses of God, ’cause they more about killing and hating than they is about helping and loving. Sorry to break the motherfucking news if you ain’t heard it, but that’s it motherfucker, that’s the fucking news.

I been living underground for a long-ass motherfucking time. Living underneath New York fucking City, where there’s tunnels, and there’s tunnels underneath the tunnels, and there’s some more fucking tunnels under those tunnels. Some of ’em empty, some still got trains rolling through ’em, some of ’em gots the subways and some of ’em gots peoples. And then there’s some so dark, so goddamn dark, darker than the darkest night, and blacker than what you see when your eyes closed, that most peoples, even underground peoples, won’t go into ’em. And those are the tunnels where miracles happen, where people like Yahya and Ben go and come back something different, where motherfuckers who got the gift go and in the blackness they see. I know it be sounding crazy, but the ones with gifts got to go into blackness, ’cause that’s where they learn to see.

I was born in New Haven, Connecticut. My daddy was a respectable motherfucker who had him a college degree and worked his ass off as a bank teller. My momma finished high school and spent her life being his bitch. He wasn’t never around when I was growing up, saying he was always working to get promoted and going out with clients and his boss. When he was around, he was drinking and yelling and ignoring me and my two sisters and telling my momma she wasn’t pretty enough or skinny enough or dressing well enough or getting them invited to the right parties with the right people and every now and then if she talked back to him he’d hit her in the fucking face. He didn’t think nothing about me ’cept that I was a piece of shit, which was fine with me ’cause I didn’t think nothing about him ’cept he was a piece of shit too. They sent me to all sorts of different schools, thinking the better name or more of ’em would make a difference, but it didn’t make nothing ’cept them real pissed. When I was seventeen, I left ’em for good. Just walked the fuck away. I was figuring I’d do fine on my own, and even if I didn’t, I’d rather be doing real bad my own way than be an asshole doing what other people thought I should be doing. I convinced myself I was breaking out in the name of some kind of fucking freedom. I hadn’t learned yet that everybody’s locked up some way or another. That’s how life is; we’re all imprisoned by something.

I lived in a park for a while. Lived in a cardboard box. Lived under a highway. Got my ass beat and got robbed and got addicted and got locked up a few times and got raped more than once or twice. Learned what I already knew, that the world is an ugly motherfucking place where people’ll spit on you and fuck you up before they’ll be good to you. I found my way into the tunnels just wanting to get the fuck away, lived like a fucking rat, scrounging for food, eating fucking garbage, taking what other people didn’t want and using it to survive. First time down was for three years. Just by myself. Living by the trains that went to Long Island. Had a sleeping bag and flashlight and a baseball bat. Then I got busted for being in a fight with a knife over some pizza in a dumpster and had some crack in my pocket and got sent upstate for three years. Got out and came back to my tunnel and found some other motherfucker in my sleeping bag and wasn’t in no mood for fighting after fighting the whole time in prison and went further down and found me an old electrical closet on an abandoned IRT track and stayed there for three years. I got back on the rock and drinking again and spent my days begging and going through dumpsters trying to find some shit to sell. One day I came back from up top and I had me a couple nice rocks and a bottle of wine and I see two motherfuckers sitting on the ground outside my closet. They wasn’t in uniforms and they definitely wasn’t working with the MTA or Amtrak, so I figured it was some undercover pig motherfuckers coming to drag me back to prison ’cause I didn’t never go see my parole officer, and I think about running away but figure they’d shoot me or some shit like they always do to poor supposedly crazy homeless motherfuckers.

So I just walked over to ’em and asked them what the fuck was up and when I was close I could see for sure they wasn’t no fucking cops ’cause they had these scars that was identical and looked like someone had put two long slices on each of their arms and they said some motherfucker named Yahya wanted to see me. I asked them who the fuck Yahya was and where Yahya was at and they said they would show me. And that’s what they did. They fucking took me down into the blackness and showed me.


I was there on that first day we saw Ben. We was just sitting having some dinner and most of us was there, sitting at these tables eating some macaroni and motherfucking cheese. At that point I’d been with Yahya for almost ten years, and it had taken a long fucking time, lots of hard-ass work and patience, but we had everything dialed up just fucking right: electricity hijacked from the city power lines, water hijacked from the city water pipes, a tunnel that hadn’t been used since the eighteen fucking hundreds that was blocked at both ends, holes that we could close that was going up to other tunnels in four different places, and one passage that went straight into an alley on the Lower East Side that we could lock the fuck up to keep people out. We had built little shelters for everyone out of scraps of wood and siding that people up top threw away. We had pots and pans and sheets and towels and beds and old tape players for music and radios for when the bad news started coming and we had thousands and thousands of batteries. We had enough canned and boxed food to keep us going for a year, and that was if we didn’t start eating any of the rats or the other fucking animals that was living in the tunnels, which could keep us going for just about forever. And we had us a stockpile of weapons. Everything from old medieval-like shit, fucking swords and spears and shields we made out of scrap metal, to new-school shit like nine millimeters and assault rifles and tasers and mace. There was other tunnels that had peoples living in ’em, and there was other groups that had organized into some kind of community or something, but none like us. We was a movement, a fucking army, with a philosophy and a motherfucking plan. We was ready for what’s coming. For what is going to befall humanity. We was prepared to survive when everybody else is gonna fucking die.

Yahya’d been telling us for a couple weeks he’d been having dreams about someone coming to see us. Yahya was a prophet, an old-school holy man, like fucking Moses or Muhammad or some other motherfucker from the old books, so when he was telling us he was having dreams or visions we took that shit seriously. Yahya had been in the tunnels for thirty-three years. Came down when he was fourteen years old, living in some foster-care fucking nightmare, getting beat by the other kids and raped by the man who was supposed to be caring for him. He got fed-the-fuck-up one day and lit the house they was living in on fire. The other kids got out but the man burned to a fucking crisp, just like his ass deserved, and as soon as he’d dropped the fucking match, Yahya walked into the nearest subway and hopped the fucking turnstile and walked off the platform and into the tunnels. He figured out how to live without being above, eating discarded food from the garbage cans of subway stations, finding clothes that people be leaving behind on accident, getting water from bathrooms at the big stations. He kept going down further and further, finding his own motherfucking way, like all the prophets and the great peoples of the world find their own fucking way, and eventually he found our tunnel we living in now, pristine and unopened for almost a hundred fucking years, and he lived in it alone for ten years, till he started building our society. He only been coming out one day a year for the whole time, just the day of the anniversary of the fire. He come out and he read a newspaper and he walk around the city and look at the shit going down, which ain’t never any good, and been getting worse and worse every goddamn year.

So he’d been telling us ’bout his dream, that some motherfucker was going to find us, a man who’d wandered the world, suffered shit none of us could ever imagine, knew shit that none of us could ever imagine, that his arriving was a sign that the end was coming, the final motherfucking sign. And there we were, eating our macaroni and listening to Yahya preach, and this motherfucker comes walking out the darkness, skinny as fuck, white as paper, scars all over the fucking place, scars that made the scars we had, the scars Yahya cut into our arms as a sign that our life above was dead and we was in the tunnels for life, this motherfucker had scars made those scars look like little band-aid booboos I used to get when I was a four-year-old shithead. Yahya, who preached every night at dinner, just stopped, stared. If he hadn’t been having his dreams he’d a pro’ly killed the motherfucker. But he knew, knew he was coming, and knew who he was, knew why he was walking the face of the fucking earth, and Ben just came strolling up, not saying a word, just looking unhuman, but not scary like a monster or shit, but unhuman ’cause it looked like he was glowing, like there was some kinda light coming out of him or something. He came to the table, asked if he could sit down, and Yahya nodded. We was all shocked and I personally was scared, scared of the motherfucker who could silence Yahya. So he sat down at the end of the table, looked at Yahya, and asked him, real polite and shit, if he would continue preaching. Yahya smiled, and he was not the kind of motherfucker who smiled very often, and said yes. And then he continued fucking preaching. And I remember that sermon ’cause of Ben joining us. Was about the governments of the world leading everyone towards death, disaster, ruin, and apocalypse. And how God and Jesus and the rest of the motherfuckers and the dumbass prophecies in the Bible had nothing to do with it. It was the greed and folly of the men who was running the world. Their belief in silly religions that preach murder and hate and division. Their need to control other people who’s different from them and kill them if they don’t bend to some motherfucker’s will. That’s what’s gonna end it all, some dumbass war over religion and money, and that’s who’s gonna end it all, the motherfuckers who believe and hold the purse strings.

Ben settled right the fuck in. He took a job like everyone had a fucking job. Most of us went up top to either beg for money that we used for buying weapons and long-term supplies or look through the garbage for food and building materials and shit we could use down below. Some of us took care of our business in the tunnel, working on the electric or the water, managing supplies, doing maintenance, cleaning the place the fuck up. The worst job was cleaning the area around the toilets, two deep holes that went into a tunnel down below us. We had built little outhouses ’round the holes, and peoples tried being hygienic and shit, but it was still nasty, still a place where peoples pissed and took shits and it smelled fucking bad. Ben became the toilet man, cleaning and stocking the paper and dumping a bucketful of water down the hole to make some of that foul shit go away. When he wasn’t working there, he’d help whoever else was needing help, doing whatever they was needing doing. When we was eating, he’d always sit at the end of the table, and he didn’t hardly eat nothing. Maybe two, three bites of rice or pasta, maybe an apple or an orange or half a banana, one glass of water, and that’d be it for the whole fucking day. And when we was sleeping, we all went into our shelters, some of ’em being pretty fucking nice, with mattresses and TVs and more than one room, and some of ’em being more the simple way, with maybe a sleeping bag or some blankets. Ben would sleep on the ground at one of the dark ends of the tunnel, all by himself, nothing but his clothes, ’cept when it got real fucking cold, then he used this thin-ass blanket that wouldn’t keep a fucking cockroach warm. And he didn’t hardly ever talk. If you asked him a question, he’d either nod or shake his head or smile. If it was needing more words, or was a more complicated kinda thing, he would always say just what he needed as quick as possible and then shut up. And with the way he looked, he was making all of us think he wasn’t a person, not a real person at least, he was something fucking else beyond, something that wasn’t like the rest of us, not even like Yahya.



After a week after he was being with us, his seizures started happening. One lunchtime he just fell backwards from the table and his body went fucking haywire. He was shaking and rolling ’round and had shit coming out his mouth and was grunting like a goddamn dog. Peoples got up to help him but Yahya said leave him be, the man is doing what the man needs to do. So peoples left his ass alone. And the first time it lasted something like two minutes. When it was over we just left him alone, and at a certain point he came back awake and sat back down at the table like nothing fucking happened. Twenty minutes later it happened again. He just fell back and freaked-the-fuck-out. One of us was a doctor before he became a crackhead and ended up in the tunnels, where Yahya found him and saved him, and he was saying we couldn’t just leave Ben alone, but Yahya kept saying this is what the man needs to do. And it was one of Yahya’s beliefs, one of the tenets of our fucking society: A man does what he needs to do, he lives his life how he wants to live it, other people ain’t got no fucking right to impose. So even though we was all scared, and we be seeing that the seizures were fucking his ass up, we left him alone. He was doing what he needed to do.

In our world, our society, our civilization, our culture, and I ain’t talking ’bout yours, the one above the fucking ground, I’m talking about our nation, the one in the fucking tunnel, the underground empire, in that subterranean realm, there was rules. If you got brought down, if you got found by Yahya and chosen, you learned the fucking rules, and you lived by them, and if you became part of us, you was saved. Yahya believed the end of the motherfucking world was coming, and he was right, because it sure as fuck is, and it is coming soon. If he found you, you was one of the ones who couldn’t live above, who wasn’t cut the fuck out for it, and he believed you was capable of living below, and he believed you’d be capable of fighting. You’d get brought down, fucking blindfolded and shit so you wouldn’t know where you was, most of us was addicted so we’d get taken the fuck off whatever the shit was, and we was indoctrinated. You had to work, fucking contribute. You had to submit your will to the good of the community. You could drink, use, fuck, gamble, read, play chess, cook, write, paint, build, do whatever the fuck you want, but there was no addiction, whatever you was doing had to be under control. You had to live and let live, but not like motherfuckers up top say that, you had to do it for reals. There was no stealing, no fighting, no judging, no hating. There was no God, no worship, no time wasting on made-up shit. You had to renunciate the fucking world, free yourself from the bullshit of it, accept that at some point there was gonna be nothing but what existed in the tunnel. And you had to be willing to die for that. And once you was fucking cool with all that, and was ready to make the commitment, you was fucking saved. And when you was saved, you was scarred. Yahya would cut you, two long gashes along each of your arms, symbolizing your death above and your birth below. And when the blood flowed, when you lifted your arms and it started running down your cheeks, your neck, when you could taste it, when you could feel it in your fucking shoes, you was free. Never going fucking back ’cept to get shit to live below. Never accepting their rules or expectations or so-called morals and so-called fucking standards ever fucking again. When the blood flowed, you was free.

When Ben came, there was thirty-two of us. It had been that way for two years. Even though Yahya had prophesized his coming, Ben had to follow the same rules as the rest of us, had to become one of us if he wanted to stay. His seizures made shit a little more complicated, ’cause he couldn’t be doing most of the normal kind of shit the rest of us was doing. And who he was, why he was walking the motherfucking face of the earth, the gifts he was given or acquired or whatever you want to believe, though I know what I believe, that made shit more complicated too. Not every day a motherfucker like him comes strolling into the motherfucking lunch line. But he didn’t seem to care. Yahya moved him to sweeping and garbage, which was sweeping the fucking grounds and taking the garbage out, which meant taking it to another tunnel that was also empty, ’cept for the fact we’d been dumping shit in it for years. When Ben would have a seizure, he’d just sit down and let it happen. Though Yahya noticed it the first time, the rest of us started seeing how Ben would go to another place right before those fucking things would blast him. His eyes would be real still, like he was looking at shit no one else could see or had ever seen or would ever see. It would only be a second, maybe, or two or three, but somehow, those seconds seemed like forever. When someone asked Yahya what was happening, he said the man was speaking to God, seeing through to the eternal. Someone else asked how he was talking to God, if God don’t exist? Yahya said God don’t exist like people on this planet believe he exist, some big powerful all-knowing motherfucker sitting on a chair giving a shit about what’s happening here on earth and planning our individual destinies, that’s just stupid bullshit, but there was answers we didn’t have, things we didn’t know, things beyond the little minds of little men who was stupid enough to think that in the entire universe, infinite beyond human comprehension in size and energy and dimension, we was the only motherfuckers around, and that all the stupid little shit we did and fucking worried about mattered in some kinda way. Ben went to those places, those infinite places, and understood ’em, even though he couldn’t or wouldn’t talk about what the fuck it was he was seeing and feeling and experiencing.

The seizures got worse and fucking worse and fucking worse, and longer and fucking longer and fucking longer. They would last ten, fifteen, twenty minutes. Started lasting thirty minutes, lasting an hour, lasting three or four hours, shaking and convulsing and spitting up and grunting, you could see it hurting him while it was happening, and you could see him being in so much pain when it ended that he could hardly move. The crackhead doctor said Ben was experiencing some shit called status epilepticus, a state of persistent seizure, and that he could be dying from it, that he would be dying from if it we didn’t get him out to a proper hospital. But Yahya said leave him, that man is not going to die, at least not down here. Then he had him a seizure that lasted for a day, twenty-four fucking hours straight. It was scaring everyone and making us think Yahya was wrong, that Ben was gonna fucking die. On and on and on and on. Worse than we had ever seen. Don’t know how anyone could live through it or be surviving something like that. And even if you could be living through it, how you wouldn’t be fucking insane from the pain, just crazy outta your mind from the physical fucking pain. When it stopped, he just lie there, on his blanket, on the floor of the tunnel. Slept for like another two days. We was always going over to check him, make sure he was still breathing, and he always was, but it was real light, and you had to be looking real close to see it. When he waked up, we was all sitting around after dinner. Yahya had given us a fierce preaching, along the lines of his typical but real inspired, saying the world above us was dying, that greed corruption hate and intolerance was gonna lead to a war that would destroy it all, that the war was coming soon, that we got to renounce that world and prepare to survive, that we got to love each other and let each other live, and help each other live, and respect each other. Don’t matter where we from or what we had before, don’t matter our color or our religion, that nothing matter but living, and letting live, and loving. After he was done we got to listening to some old-timey jazz on the cassette deck, some of us having cocktails, some of us smoking some fine-ass weed, some of us dancing, mens together, mens and ladies together, just ladies, all of them cool down here, sharing their love and spreading their love however the fuck they want, nobody judging them. Ben joined all the peoples dancing, probably about twenty of us. Nobody saw him walk up, one second he wasn’t there, the next second he was. And he was moving real slow, slow and in perfect rhythm, like he was part of the music, another instrument to it or some shit, tied directly into it. His eyes was closed, and he hadn’t fucking eaten in so long, his skin was even whiter than normal, almost fucking translucent. His eyes was closed and he started moving to each person or couple, and he touched them, held them, moved with them, slowed them down so they was feeling the music same way he was, he was holding their hands, holding their faces in his hands, pulling them close so their bodies was real tight with his, and he was kissing them, men and women both, slowly and deeply kissing them, and you could see in their faces, in their bodies, that none of them had ever been feeling anything like it, nothing as pure, as sexual, as ecstatic, as fucking sweet and beautiful, and it was like he was fucking them, fucking them like they hadn’t never been fucked before, even though he was just touching, kissing, moving, moving real slow, real real slow, he was fucking all of ’em. And those he wasn’t with, who wasn’t dancing, we was watching, and we was as turned on as the peoples he was touching, he was fucking. When I was a boy living in a world in my head to escape the world I was living in for real, I used to dream I’d be able to do anything I wanted to people and whatever I did they loved me, just loved and let me be free from all the shit in the world that I hated and that hated me. When I was older, I stopped dreaming that type of dreaming ’cause I realized that kind of shit just wasn’t real or possible or ever going to be happening. But then I saw Ben, and I believed it was possible, that fucking anything was possible, because I saw it and felt and knew it and believed it and even though it didn’t look real or feel real it was the realest thing I ever knew, that I ever saw on this fucking hellhole of an earth. That love was the realest motherfucking thing any of us ever saw. When he had been with everyone dancing, Ben stepped away and walked towards Yahya, who had been watching and feeling and believing too, sitting at the head of the table where he was always sitting, and Ben kneeled before him and offered his arms. Yahya always had his knife on him, or near him, and he picked it up and he took Ben’s arms and he made the cuts. Normally takes longer, a year or so before you get them, and only when Yahya decides, but not with Ben. His blood flowed and he lifted his arms and the blood streamed down all over him. When he was covered and his clothes were soaked, and the ground beneath him, he stepped forward and kissed Yahya. I hadn’t never seen anyone kiss Yahya before, or even touch him, not outside of his room, which was the only place he did things with peoples, and only women. And Ben kissed him for a long time, and when he pulled away, Yahya’s eyes was closed and he was breathing real slow and heavy, and he was looking like he couldn’t move, like he was fucking paralyzed. And Ben just stepped away and turned and walked into the darkness.


It was a long time before anyone moved. And when we was moving again, we just went silently, not one fucking word outta anyone, back to our shelters, where most of us just laid there in our sleeping places and thought about Ben. Next morning we expected to see him, having breakfast or being in his sleeping area, but he wasn’t nowhere around. Peoples started talking ’bout where he might be at, when Yahya tell us he gone, that he had him another vision last night, that Ben had gone into the tunnels, where he got some things that he need to do on his own, some fights he needs to be fighting on his own. Yahya say let him go, let him do what he needs to do, when he be finished with it, he’ll be coming back.

A week went by and he didn’t come back. Another week and still nothing. Peoples started getting worried a little bit. I started wandering the tunnels, looking for places I hadn’t never been, places further down, places that got the true darkness, the black that don’t ever see no light. I was thinking even though Yahya be having his vision, and even though Ben obviously got something special about him, he still a man, still flesh and fucking blood, still got him a heart that does its beating. And being a man, he vulnerable, and he wandering around somewhere with big-ass motherfucking gashes in his arms and some kind of medical condition that fucks him up worse than I ever seen. So I went looking for him, and looking for the places that are hidden, that ain’t supposed to be found, the places where I say before that the magic happens, where in the darkness you learn to see.

After four or five days looking, walking through subway tunnels, trains blasting by me just a couple inches away, walking through Amtrak and LIRR tunnels, walking through PATH tunnels, walking through abandoned tunnels, the old IRT, tunnels that got started and never finished, just empty fucking holes, I come across a door in the lower tunnels beneath City Hall. Normally I don’t bother with the fucking doors, ’cause they all be locked and breaking the locks just draw attention that don’t nobody be needing, but something ’bout this door draw me in. I checked it and it was open, so I look inside and there’s a hole with this ladder going straight down, though I can’t fucking see where it’s going or how far or where it ends. Ain’t nothing wrong with looking in life, looking for new things and places and feelings and beliefs, ain’t nothing wrong at all, so I start climbing down, looking to see what I find. I go down and it’s black and fucking silent and even though I’d been living down there a long time at that point, I was real scared, my heart thudding all fast and shit, taking short breaths, wondering if something gonna come out and get me, some fucking monster or something, or if I’m gonna fucking fall and break my damn neck. I was being real scared.

My foot hit ground and I could feel it wet and slippery, which was telling me I must be somewhere in the fucking sewers, which all of us stayed the fuck out of because they was full of rats and disease and lots of other shit no man don’t want to spend time in or around. I started climbing right back up but as my foot start rising I heard me something that was sounding like a scream. I stopped and stood listening for more screaming and I heard another fucking scream almost right away. I got down and started walking towards where I was hearing it, stepping real careful and moving real slow because I couldn’t see nothing. Even though my eyes was real adjusted, I couldn’t fucking see nothing.

Took me a long time to go a couple hundred yards down that tunnel, long-ass time. All the while I was hearing those screams, and the closer I was getting to ’em, I was knowing it was Ben, ’cause it was sounding like some of the noises I heard him making during his seizures. When I was real close I started hearing trickling water and started knowing that the screams is coming from below me, and that the water be running down somewheres. My eyes had adjusted and I saw a few steps ahead there was a huge hole, like some kind of fucking sinkhole or giant pothole that happens in New York once or twice a year, and Ben must be down in that hole, maybe hurt, and can’t get himself out. I was about to call out to him, tell him I was here and gonna help him, when I hear him start talking, talking real slow and deliberate, like he having a conversation with someone. So I slide to the edge of the hole and look down, and he be right there, maybe fifteen, twenty feet down in some other fucking sewer tunnel, and he just sitting on the ground like he Buddha, and I swear on my fucking life his skin was glowing, and his arms was already healed, the scars just blending in with the rest of his scars, and he was talking to the empty air right in front of him, and if I didn’t know him, and know how Yahya felt about him, I’d a done thought he was plumb fucking crazy out his mind.


I lied there and watched him. I was nervous he was gonna see me, so I only just peeked over the edge of that hole. I could hear him saying shit like yes or no, yes or no, over and over again, saying why, saying how, saying no, I will not, I will not. He talked for like an hour or two hours and then I see him get real still and I know what that means and he starts seizuring, worse than I ever seen before, his body literally coming up off the ground, he convulsing so fucking hard. And the noises he was making scared me, sounded like something I can only imagine hearing down in Hell, if there is one. And something felt wrong, like there was something else in there with him. Something dark and evil and old as the fucking sky, something with power that was beyond power, that was fucking so deep and black it was beyond power, and it made me shake and made the hair all over my body stick up and made me piss myself, right there I fucking pissed all over myself. Whatever it was, if it was anything at all, it scared me so fucking much I turned and got the fuck outta there fast as I fucking could.

I started going back to see Ben whenever I could. Didn’t tell no one I had found him or knew where he was at. Most of the time he’d be in seizures, and they always bad. When he wasn’t, he’d be talking or sometimes screaming, screaming into the blackness, screaming into the motherfucking abyss. Sometimes I’d go down and I’d feel that thing, that mean-ass evil fucking presence, and I’d turn and get the fuck out right away. Other times it’d come while I was there. Only once or twice it didn’t come at all, and those was times when Ben was screaming, like he was keeping it at bay or some shit, like the sound of his scream had some fucking righteous power.

He was down there two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, six weeks. Down in that fucking nasty hole by himself. Far as I could see he never ate nothing, never drank nothing, never slept, never fucking left. And while he shoulda got sick or fucking died from fucking starving, it didn’t happen. If anything I was seeing the opposite. He was seeming stronger, still skinny as fuck, but stronger. And it was looking like he could somehow be controlling the seizures. Like he could make himself go in and out of ’em when he wanted to go in and out of ’em. I’d hear him ask a question or say something, some heavy-ass shit like what happened before the Big Bang, or who were they, why were they, answer the problem of quantum gravity, can we unify the four fundamental forces.

After he asked, he’d close his eyes and take a breath and open his eyes and be in that place, that place like eternity, and then he’d seize. And for the entire last week I went to see him, the seventh week he was in that foul fucking hole, he was seizing. And the entire time, that presence was with him, stronger, seeming somehow active, like it would ebb and flow, attack and retreat, made me wet my fucking pants every goddamn time, scared me to fucking death. At the end of the week, I went down and he was gone. Made me real fucking worried, scared something had happened, that the fucking evil had somehow got him. I went right back to our tunnel, was gonna get Yahya and take him back and tell him what I’d seen and what I’d been doing with myself and Ben and tell him we needed to find him and help. I went back as fast as I fucking could, ran in the darkness, ran from the darkness. And when I got back, Ben was there, with Yahya, looking just fine, like he’d never left, actually looking better than I’d ever seen him, skinny and shit, but glowing like some kind of fluorescent fucking lightbulb, even though I knew he hadn’t had nothing to eat or drink in seven motherfucking weeks. He was back. And just like Yahya had seen in his visions, the end was near. The end was fucking near.