They failed to stop the fatal hemorrhaging after the massive aneurysm in the brain had burst after his latest stroke. Would they all be executed by firing squad—first dragged off to KGB torture chambers where unspeakable things would be done to them by sadists-- if their patient expired under their care?
Just as another bloody, power-hungry tyrant, Herod the Great, had done on his deathbed, Djugashvilli had been known to make such orders in case anyone mishandled him under the knife, so they had no reason not to expect such a fate for themselves. If they had any doubt about clemency regarding subjects under his power, an order lay on his desk, ready for his signature, that would put to death every Jew within the Soviet Empire.
What had they done to harm him? Absolutely nothing, of course! The Red Bear had put to death, routinely, his best friends, relatives, and long-time communist colleagues for absolutely nothing. He hadn't had his daughter Svetlana killed for disagreeing with him to the point of distancing herself, but that was no sign he hadn't seriously considered snuffing her too. Innocence was sufficient in Djugashvilli’s eyes to condemn them as “enemies of the state.”—since innocence ignited his suspicion far more than active conspiracy or rebellion.
Thus he had degenerated as a human being after seizing absolute power. Some who knew him well thought he had grown so paranoid that it was even possible he suspected infants in the nursery of concocting plans to assassinate him as soon as they learnt to walk!
Even as their dreaded master’s life ebbed away rumors were flying fast and furious across Moscow, and from Moscow to the far corners of the realm, as well as streaking to capitals all over the world, from embassies to the heads of state in all the leading countries, particularly in Britain, France, and the U.S.
Even when all life was gone, the doctors labored on, reluctant to inform the generals and government and secret service officials that the great leader was no more. But a hour passed after there was no more pulse, and death could not be disguised any longer. Exhausted, the doctors informed the KGB and the Communist Party heads took charge, ordering all personnel out, including the doctors and nurses after first committing them to “protective custody.”
Who would rule in Djugashvill’s place? Was it to be whoever was strongest, as in Alexander’s case once upon a time? It seemed so, for Djugashvilli had no son to take up his fallen reins of power. His wife and grown daughter Svetlana? Djugashvilli had excluded both from politics, so they knew nothing of the business and could call on nobody of importance to support their bid for power.
Therefore, it was unthinkable to turn to his family for the new leader, not that they would have stood a chance against any of the serious contenders in the Party, who cared nothing about the Djugashvilli name (once their master was dead) and dynastic pretensions.
Only outside the Soviet borders were there people who wanted to see Djugashvilli live forever. In fact, these people acted as if he had never died. In decades to come, Djugashvilli became more popular than ever with such people. They resided in free, democratic countries like Britain and the United States, yet they hated the idea of freedom enjoyed by the masses.
They much preferred socialism, and if they could manage it, a rigidly state-controlled police state such as Djugashvilli’s. His faithful disciples, devoted to what they believed had been a “workers’ paradise” in the Soviet Empire, they recruited many others to support the cause of socialism in their societies, and used their influence and wealth to slice away liberties, bit by bit, and put in their place a bigger and bigger government that reached into every aspect of the lives of the citizens. Ulyanov, brilliantly classifying the type, had called them “useful idiots.”
Thus, the cult of Djugashvilli lived on, to bear bitter fruit for decades to come, while the man who was most responsible for cultivating and spreading the bramble of socialism and communist imperialism across the world was forced to face certain, inescapable consequences.
Far from the corridors of power in the Kremlin, where an intense struggle for the throne was building to a climax in a matter of hours between Nikita Krushchev and his powerful rivals, the soul of the dead man—which was not supposed to exist, according to Marx and Engels’ atheistic and materialistic philosophy—struggled in its bonds where he was being held, deep, deep within the earth.
Some souls are so hated they cannot be put with the multitudes, lest they be torn apart before they can be judged and cast into the lake of fire. Djugashvilli was one of these, who were installed in private cells along with the demons they had unwittingly served all their lives.
Every demon that had been his master, together with new ones, roosted on him like carrion birds or swarmed over his body as scorpions and spiders would do, stinging him with the most foul language and jeering accusations. Invasive and shameless, they crawled in and out of his body orifices, and he was helpless to fight them all off.
“Sadist, you tortured and killed millions and millions of innocent people for us, and you loved doing it! Now we have you, you wretched little mouse dropping, in our complete power!” they cried in his ears. “How do you like that, Generalissimo?”
How they loved ridiculing that title of his.
In unbearable torment, he did not know what to do. What were these hideous things stinging and abusing every part of his body? Why was he in bonds—was he any man’s slave, who had enslaved millions with a stroke of the pen? He could not believe the wretched state he was in, but struggle as he might, he could not break free.
In the dark, hellish cell the Bear suffered the tortures of the damned, even while he, still holding on to Marxist ideology, denied his own existence after death.
Finally, after seemingly endless nights of unspeakable terror and pain, the condemned found he hadn’t but only tasted hell’s spite. His cell door was thrown open and the most frightful looking beasts with men’s hands and feet and legs and hairy rats’ tails, came in, roaring with laughter at him and covering him with their foul stench as they leaped on him and committed atrocities upon his body orifices with enormous, orange-glowing sex parts. One after another raped him, then beat him, then raped him, then beat him…it was seemingly endless, while he screamed with unrelenting pain and terror. When they finished amusing themselves, they dragged his bloody, foul carcass out of the cell and he was given into the charge of two white-robed beings, tall men who looked to be more than a sazhen, from whose brightness the sadistic sex-fiends shrank away as quick as they could after delivering up Djugashvilli.
Somehow the soul of Djugashvilli sensed judgment in the presence of the bright, winged men, and the thought was more terrifying than remaining where he was forever.
“Who are you?” the Bear cried when he finally quit screaming. “I am not going with you until I know where you are taking me. I am the leader of the Soviets! How dare you touch my person! I command you—“
His protests did no good whatsoever. The shining, winged men took his arms and led him like a helpless child out of the prison-house in the earth. They stepped into a column of light shining down like a torch into the depths, taking him with them, and in a moment Djugashvilli found himself flying through immense spaces, higher and higher, while he sensed the earth had been left far behind.
Then they stopped in a bright place, a tunnel opening from the chamber into what Djugashvilli could see was an entire world of some kind. It was so bright it blinded him. Shielding his eyes with his hands, he tried to pull back.
“Where am I? What are you doing with me?”
This time the winged men paused. “Joseph, you are to be judged now, it is your time,” one said.
Djugashville looked and saw the look of unutterable pity in the angel’s eyes and he shrank back. “No!” he cried. “I can only be judged by the Supreme Soviet Council, of which I am chairman for life! You have no right of law over me! I am a Soviet citizen! I do not recognize any other authority!”
“God reigns over all heaven and earth,” the angel reminded him. “He is judge over the living and the dead. He alone has power and authority to judge the quick and the dead.”
“But there is no God!” the diehard atheist protested. “Only the material universe exists! Marx states in DAS CAPITAL, that religion is the opium of the people!”
The angels stepped back as a great light appeared in the distance and began moving toward them. The brightness was unendurable to Djugashvilli, dark as he was in his soul, with a heart blacker than ebony in his breast. He fell to the floor of the chamber, and in agony tried to crawl away from the Light into a corner if he could find one.
The Light came and stood in the chamber, and Djugashvilli and the Lamb of God met.
Nothing really needed to be said. What passed between them was contained in a single look by the Lamb, followed by the guilty soul’s recoil.
“Look upon Me whom you have persecuted all your days, “ the Lamb’s look plainly said to Joseph Djugashvilli. “I came that you might have life and be forgiven, but you hated me and despised the truth.”
“No!” was the instant response of one who had killed uncountable Christians in hideous ways, by starvation, death camps, KGB torture chambers, firing squads. It could not be even described in books that he had sanctioned to be done to Christians, from the youngest to the oldest, to the virgin as well as to the married woman, to the saintly aged as well as to the small child. There was nothing good and innocent that he had not chosen to violate and destroy.
“No!” was the response of the one who died before he could sign the death warrant for the millions of Jews under his power. A Power greater than his own strength raised Djugashvilli to his feet, despite his fighting against it with all his might.
“I have heard the prayers of My servants, and I have saved My people from your sword,” said the great Being in the light. “You will be taken to the place of judgment that is reserved for liars, murderers, the unclean, fornicators, and blasphemers.”
“How dare you include me as one of them! I am a political animal, not a moralist! You presume to be my judge? What are you talking about? I am a good man, beloved of my Soviet people! If any wrong-doing did occur, that treacherous old snake in my bosum, Beria, gave me false counsel and is wholly responsible for any wrong done during my administration. Ask my daughter Svetlana! I’ve never done any of those things you accuse me of! Vladimir Ulyanov killed millions of kulaks—but I tried to save the peasants from his hands! And Churchill, he’s responsible for Gallipoli and Coventry, an incompetent, and a murderer if there ever was one! And Roosevelt, he’s a hypocrite and an adulterer! For years he kept a mistress while he was married to Eleanor! I’ve got thick files on them both. He’s the real cause for the war with the Japanese! And Trotsky, he--”
The Light moved closer to Djugashvilli, and though he could not bear it and tried to pull away, he could not move. The Being stretched forth hands to him as if longing to touch and save him, and in the wrists Djugashvilli saw holes where huge nails had been driven through.
Djugashvilli lunged forward, but he could not move. He wanted to do something to this crucified one, kill him if he could, but he could not touch Him ever again.
Instead he found his lips stammering, “You are the Holy Christ, the King of the Jews, the Son of the Living God!” Over and over, he confessed it with his own mouth.
At the same time his knees gave way and he found himself kneeling before the crucified one he despised and hated. Rendered powerless, all he wanted was to escape, but there was light all around. Where could he run and hide? Where?
There was, he found, no place of escape for the Bear. He was taken from the private meeting as quickly as he had been brought in.
Led away by a chain held by two angels he was taken through long corridors that finally opened on a great valley set between mountains. Released into a line of humanity that wended its way slowly toward the head of the valley, Djugashvilli walked along. There was no escape for him, he saw. The sides of the mountains were too steep, and set on them were sword-armed guards to see that no one climbed out of the valley of judgment.
It took a long time, how long he could not tell since there was neither day nor night in that place, and certainly no wrist watches, before he neared the end of the valley where a great white throne soared skywards.
Before he could reach the throne, however, and see whom or what was seated upon it, he was recognized by thousands, even hundreds of thousands. No longer shielded by the walls of a private cell, he was dragged out of the line and was buried under crowds of people that leaped upon him to tear him apart. Time after time this happened. He was tormented and tortured as thoroughly as the KGB experts could do it, but they could not liquidate him even though he was bitten, beaten, his hair torn out by the roots, his whole body mauled and assaulted in the most vile ways..
“Butcher! You killed me, my whole family, and our entire village!” he heard someone scream in Ukrainian in his ears, even naming the village and the victims one by one, before his ears were bitten off.
“There’s the monster from hell who burned our villages and drove us out into the open in winter, where we and our little ones froze to death!” others cried. “Countrymen, let’s pay him back!”
After he was set upon by one group, he was given no respite, for he was immediately turned over to another group that had recognized him as their murderer.
In this way he made slow, agonizing progress, but eventually he found himself standing before the Throne.
He looked up and tried to make out the features of the shining, white-robed Being sitting upon it, but a mist covered the Judge’s features.
What was clear was that he was being sentenced-—for he had already been judged in his meeting with the Lamb. Now his sentencing was about to take place. But first he was shown what he had done in his lifetime.
He was not alone in this final moment. Millions upon millions of people, slain by his decrees, also stood there as his life was shown to him in its entirety, from birth to death. He watched every moment of it flash before him as it was portrayed upon the sides of a tall pillar. He could not deny what he was shown—it was himself and none other who was being depicted. At the same time, he knew he was guilty of all the crimes he had committed. Here there was no chance of evading his guilt, the light was so searching and pure and holy.
Against such light he looked to his own eyes as the most vile, dark blot. If there could be any doubt, a second witness, books, were opened by recording angels, detailing his crimes.
As the angels read the crimes of Djugashvilli and their places and dates, the perpetrator could not deny that the accounts were perfect in every detail. He also saw the souls of those he had slain by decree rise up.
They pressed in their tens of millions toward him on every side. He recognized the faces too, of literally thousands—-unmistakable to him because so many had been his colleagues and comrades until he grew suspicious of their allegiance to him and had them arrested, tried, and executed.
No words came to him, for he had no words left to defend himself with as the masses testified against him, one after the other. How long this took, the accused could not tell, but not one victim was left out.
As the last victim finished his testimony, the crowd began to roar at him from all sides. They would have set upon him once again with fury but the angels restrained them with firey swords.
“In the presence of two witnesses, and My Own, you are condemned to eternal death,” the Judge declared. “Depart from Me! You are to be cast into the place of punishment with the devil and his angels, together with the worm that will never die.”
That was all the Judge said to him, and Djugashvilli looked around for anyone to speak for him, but there was no one who would. He knew he had given favors to thousands who supported him in his climb to power, but where were they in his moment of dire need? Not one would speak one good word for h im. All present screamed obscenities, curses, death and hell upon him.
The effect upon him was to take all strength from his body. He felt as if he doused with fire, as the condemnation of untold millions fell upon him. Yet that seemed a light thing compared to what would soon befall him.
First, for a brief moment, the veiling mist parted from before the face of the Judge. In that moment the condemned man saw the Judge’s face clearly—and partially recognized it. Was it not the face of the shining Jew who had come wearing a Jewish prayer shawl to met him and then showed him his scars?
The great founders of the socialist movement, Marx and Engels, had been badly mistaken, he saw, as things reached this pass, that the crucified one stood forth to condemn him. What was he to do against him? He found himself completely in the power of this Jewish Lamb-Judge and his officers. And everyone around him wanted his death and punishment.
“Yes, indeed, I sought to liquidate these wretches, these Jews,” he thought desperately, forgetting that Marx himself was a Jew. “And now one of them is judging me! Who can he be?”
At that moment his knees buckled and he again found himself kneeling and his mouth confessing: “Jesus is the Christ, the King of the Jews, and the Son of the Living God!”
Christ? Not the Christ! Christ was a Jew? Why hadn’t he known that? Christians weren’t Jewish, he had always thought. Everybody knew Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah and couldn’t be Christians. And so he had not grasped the fact of the Jewishness of Christ. For him Christ had always figured as the primary icon, with Mary, of Eastern Orthodoxy. It had always seemed an embarrassing sort of bad manners—something like showing one’s soiled underwear in public—to point out Christ’s Jewish blood. One simply didn’t—in an atheistic and advanced society—mention such primitive myths anyway to other people. After all, religion was an anachronistic oppression over the people and needed to purged from the state with all possible rigor.
The Truth now began to burn him with white-hot intensity. It was like he was covered with flaming oil as he stood in all his blood-guiltiness. His own conscience assailed him. “Imagine a man who tried to crucify again the Savior, Who is a Jew, by killing all His people! Imagine such a crime! Could there be any greater! Yet you, Joseph Djugashvilli, are that man!”
“You are the man!” his conscience cried, growing loud as thunder. “You are the guilty man!”
Though he could not hope, he did not want punishment if he could possibly avoid it. He crawled on the ground, pleading for mercy, as he reached his hands out to the people around him. He cried that he was the supreme leader of the Soviet people, but he could get no one to listen, for no such thing was recognized in that place, just as no czar, no politburo chairman, no president, no mufti, no pope, no patriarch, no emperor, no king was recognized before the throne of the Crucified One.
It then happened that the ground beneath him gave way as he pled in vain for help. Unable to get a handhold to stop his descent, he found himself sliding toward the end of a chasm that opened up beneath him. How many hundreds of feet he fell into the chasm he could not tell, but it was a long way, his terror increasing with every moment. He finally reached the dreadful, deep chasm’s end and then glimpsed something more awesome, a vast canopy of cloud spread beneath him like a pavement, pouring out of something vast and slowly turning beneath.
What world was this? Where was he going? What lay beneath the cloud?
It took only a few seconds for him to reach the cloud. He plummeted into the thick smoke and for the first time smelled the odor of brimstone mixed with burning flesh.
Then a moment or two later the cloud layer thinned and he saw what lay beneath.
Nothing he had ever seen or imagined in life had prepared him for such a sight. Image of frozen faces, all screaming, shone in the millions like scales on a fish’s back, all turning in a slow circuit! What was it?
He found out by falling into it. His own face was captured forever, imprinted on the spinning rim of the anteroom to hell. Falling, and feeling mutliple atmospheres of pressure compressing him into a single, dense atom—he kept falling still. Someone he could see even in this state, and a worse sight came to view: the bottom and what lay upon it.
Mountains of flame leaped higher and higher, reaching toward the unutterably black, starless expanses that turned round him. Slowly, the flames collapsed back down, and then they began once again to ascend, in scale and violence beyond all the Andes and Himalayas and volcanoes of earth. Vast cauldron with seemingly no bounds, tossed with perpetual storms, the lake of fire opened its mouth to receive the tiny, screaming human soul once known as Joseph Djugashvilli.
Why had he been so obtuse as to persecute Christ, who turned out to be a Jew as well as the Supreme Judge of the Universe? Why? How could he have been so stupid?
Millions had followed Djugashvilli during his lifetime, seeking something from him, and now they were joining him in that place. But it did not matter that he had company. The agony was too great for any soul to be concerned about another. Alas, too great! Burning amidst the mountainous waves of flame, each soul writhed in its own hellish pain. And the worms of hell feasted on each soul—they too were undying.
Convulsing in the sheer agony of it, unable to cry out, the lost souls suffered a greater pain—heaven’s windows had shut against them and would never, never open. God had turned away his Face from them—they were utterly, forever forgotten and forsaken. Against all His wishes, they had chosen this place in which to spend eternity away from Him, where hate, lust, fear, regret, and terror preyed ceaselessly upon them.
Dark spirits, they came like packs of wolves, leaping and springing through the flames upon the helpless lost souls. The devil Terror leaped upon Djugashvilli. The devil Lust leaped upon him. The devil Fear leaped upon him. The devil Hate leaped upon him. More hurtful than fire, they pounced on him and savaged him amidst the flames, which were torment enough. They tore him with teeth like boars’ tusks, clawed him with claws like jaguars and lions.
He tried to escape each time it happened, but where could he run? They were always much faster and caught him.
Always, at some point, he would think, “Doesn’t heaven care what is happening to me?” Then he would cast a glance upwards if he could get free for a moment from whatever fiend was mauling him—-and all he would see was boundless expanses of dark space. How his soul recoiled at the sight! There was no way out! No escape possible! No end to his torture! No end!
It was then that the devil Terror always drove its teeth, fangs, and claws into him—so deeply, so cruelly, that he was pierced all the way through, so that he dangled in the devil’s grasp even while he was being burned by the most excruciating flames and consumed internally by maggots.
Terror would not let him go, unless he worshiped Terror and the other devils. So he worshiped them. Only then did they lose interest in him and go speeding off to seize other souls while he shrank back into the waves of flame, hoping in vain that the devils wouldn’t return—-though he knew they would.
Food of worms, prey of devils, straw in the flames, all this was Djugashvilli’s state of second death. But the worst torment was not these but the sight of the endless, black, spinning expanses toward which the towering flames licked ceaselessly. Why? It was up there at an incalculable distance the condemned souls knew they had once stood before the Judge, before they were cast from the Judgment Hall into the pit containing the fiery lake—there was the direction of lost heaven, but they all knew the doors were shut forever, and even if somehow they could climb the pit, they had rejected heaven and chosen hell.
“Woe is me! I have chosen this!” each and every lost soul cried amidst the flames. But the acknowledgement did no good, since they had chosen a place without love, without mercy, without rest. An eternal punishment was their choice, and the sentence was carried out: damnation forever. No ruin on earth could equal their ruin-—no words describe their pain and despair. The Lord their Creator had moved heaven and earth to save them from such a fate, but they would not listen—preferring to perish rather than accept the joys of salvation.
The Devil himself, Satan, was cast in the Pit and the lake of fire to suffer with all the rest. Dethroned when all authority was taken from him, he was preyed upon by his own devils, who had always hated him passionately since they were deceived by him and cast from heaven by Michael and his armies. Now, endlessly, they tormented him. The devil Pride, especially, was most hurtful to him. That devil never let him go, but stabbed him continually with huge, crab-like feet that shot burning venom into him. Bound together, they tumbled in the blast furnace-like flames. Afflicted in this way, Satan could gain no satisfaction from deceiving and damning so many souls as the lake of fire contained.
He too cried, “Woe, woe, woe! I have chosen this!”
Even when finally a diamond has crumbled there hasn’t been time for one moment of hell to pass.
No water, no air either at the bottom of the black hole! Not one breath of air to breathe! The flames burned without air, feeding on brimstone and flesh.
Always gasping, but never able to get a particle of air, the lost souls suffered their torments.
No one to pray for them. No one to care. Forgotten. Forsaken. Except for the devils, utterly alone!
If there was a soul who had been the noted New England philosopher and lecturer, Ralph Waldo Emerson—it could not be recognized as him. He was compressed and reduced to sheer anonymity and absolute agony. If another beyond him had been Napoleon Bonaparte—who could know it? And who could care?
Hell could not know fellowship, even the fellowship of shared misery—for the abandonment, the lostness, the misery were all too great and crushing. No one could reach another through the flames, even if they could have wanted. Why touch a thing as tormented and hopeless as your own being? Why touch anything as damned and vile as yourself? The stench, the death, the sin, the maggot, the fire—they reigned. Everyone served them.
Lost was lost, even to thinking human thoughts. Terror, Pain, Remorse—these were the only thoughts. It was Hell herself thinking her dark, terrible thoughts of death, ruin, and damnation. Endless cycles of these thoughts turned round and round in the flames, never achieving anything. Human souls who had never entertained God’s thoughts were condemned to their own paltry stock, which soon, unbelievably soon, perished in the circle of flames and darkness—no matter how bright and substantial they had seemed in life!
The flames did not care if you had been one the most influential theologians in the 20th century. They did not care if you had been the rage of Parisian comedy dance halls in the late 19th century. They did not care if you had triumphed over the mighty Romans, beating their armies, one after the other, on their own home soil. Everything the lost souls had achieve and thought was now revealed as the ridiculous and fleeting tissue of folly, and folly itself was burned up, leaving only the bitter ash that covered the floor of the lake. It did not matter how brilliant and beautiful it had seemed on earth—it had led to hell, had it not? It had led to death, not life. So it was revealed as folly, and folly was burned.
What was this thing that is wailing, turning every which way its hell-inflamed eye sockets full of wriggling maggots? Who in this place cares that it was Jezebel of the painted eyes?
All the religions, all the philosophies, all the arts, all the noteworthy deeds, all the battles won, all the territories subjugated or destroyed, all the cities captured, laid waste, and their inhabitants slain and their heads piled in pyramids, all the noble plans and astonishing inventions—-folly! Whatever could be done without God, and particularly without Christ—-folly!
Folly was burned and hell thought her dark thoughts, so nothing was learned and no wisdom gained. Hell itself was burned, along with death. The flames spared nothing but despair and guilt and pain.
And round the lake of fire continued to turn the jarring, discordant, dys-symphony, the darkness of eternal abandonment that was the Bottomless Pit itself. What was abominable was contained and burned, just as it should be-—in a lake of everlasting fire that burned suspended for all eternity inside a black and ever-churning hole of negation and non-being.
The Abyss, the Pit itself, was forgotten—-for it had nothing to give of itself that was life, just as a rotting corpse feeds worms but cannot bring forth a human life. It flamed back down upon itself, and even its stench was self-consumed—the canopy of cloud, was pulled back into the yawning mouth and consumed.
With no change possible, continually turning and burning, the lake at the bottom of the black hole knew only its self-devouring state.
And there it all goes like the most foul sewage down a cloacus maximus—the Pit and the Lake containing hell and death-—fleeing from the last glimmers of the Light. It is receding into the darkness of darkness!—forever lost to view.