The saints of the shadow bible haunt me.  A lifetime of misdeeds and malfeasance leave them inhabiting the cave behind my eyes.  They stalk me by day but especially at night – each blink a flicker of what is to come, each sleep merely a theatre to show endless images of suffering and cruel laughter.  Their naked screams clink from ice cubes slowly melting into burning liquor.  The irony of fire and ice anaesthetic bringing the disease before it numbs is not lost on me.  Night after night I have tried to drown them in vodka, whiskey, gin and more, but nothing will stop them.  Indeed, the alcohol loosens my mind and makes the transition so much easier.  So I let them come.  I open the doors of my mind, settle in the battered and worn armchair, close my eyes, and watch the parade.  Behind my eyes, the desperate and the despicable dance, march, trudge and crawl through my mind.  They skitter and scuttle and spread filth as they go.  They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and so it is.  As my familiarity with the deeds of a long and rotten life grows, so does my contempt for the body that houses and feeds the mind.  The saints show me, one by one, what they are.  One by one, I acknowledge the time I spent in my devotions to them, and the pieces of my soul that they own.  The saints of lust, of anger, of greed and of fear.  The saints of power and control, the saints of nefarious cunning and selfish gain.  All laugh at my pitiful attempts to own and slay them for they know, far better than I ever will, what I am, what I have been, and what I always will be.  They squeeze my soul as they hold it in their withered hands.  As they shred it night after night in unending litany of revulsion and disgust.  They shred my soul and then hang the wisps and tatters of it all over the gaudy gains of a life badly spent.

‘This is what your soul has bought,’ they whisper to me.  ‘This is what you sold your own life and so many others to obtain.  Are you not proud?  Do you not gloat over your legacy of pain and shattering?’

I am not proud.  Nor do I gloat.  Not any more.  Now I have an old man’s knowledge of what is truly valuable, I realise I have nothing.  Nothing but the saints of the shadow bible, singing me to my last sleep with their shrieking lullaby.