to melt the shackle

it wasn’t morning yet but he woke up to the sounds of cheering and applause He looked around and saw shadowy figures with elongated faces and bright, white eyes staring at him “Congratulations, they said. You have awakened.” “What in the hell?” he said, looking around startled. “Who are you?” “The messengers,” replied the shadows. “We are very pleased to announce that you may collect your prize whenever you are ready. You’ve earned it.” “What? What did I do?” “You awakened. In a world of sleepers you woke up and are therefore eligible for ascension. You might follow us through the hole in the ceiling whenever you are ready. All that’s left to do here is to melt the shackle.” “What?” he said Then one of the shadows have him a small bottle that smelled strongly of gasoline and a box of matches The other shadows pointed to his desk, to all the papers stacked on it and under it and all around it “Those are my poems,” he said “Indeed. They represent everything that keeps you tied to this world. Your shackle. Burn your shackle and melt it away so you can ascend and take flight. The time has come.” “I worked all my life to write those poems,” he said “Yes, you did. But now that you are awake you see that they’re all in vain. For nothing is real on this plane. It’s all a dream, of course. You have designed it pretty nice. A simple dream spent entirely in the confines of a narrow room with low ceiling. Drinking and smoking and writing all day long and late into the night. It’s a beautiful dream. No family, no friends, no communication with the outside world, and no desire for any. You’ve thus taken a shortcut to awakening, but it’s by no means illegal. You’re still eligible for ascension. So, whenever you’re ready, we are.” He watched the shadows The shadows watched him He reached out for the gasoline and matches, looked over to the desk and the stacks of paper Looked for a long time Closed his eyes and went back to sleep The shadows were gone by the morning but they left the gasoline and matches behind He got out of bed went to the desk by the window opened the blinds and started writing another poem

to melt the shackle
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