Time between entries...2007-2013! Nothing will prepare you for this...NOTHING i tell you!!
|Once upon a time, many years ago, before fire was invented and when the sun rose in the North, there lived a small malnourished boy. He was. And his name was. Everything at that time was. We know it was, or existed, for one reason only; word of mouth, stories.
Now in our day, all that was then, is gone. It doesn't exist - not in the same way anyway.
Well, I get sidetracked easily at my age lad, but listen good, because no one has heard this story before tonight. And I'm telling you right here and now, so that you might pass it on. Pass it on to your son, and he'll show the same favour for his. So far, there has always been a son. And if there wasn't they'd pass it on to another who is suited to carry the quest, continue the legend.
Your mouth, boy, has never given more than strange musical trills, never possessed a tongue that could speak in ways we understand. This has always puzzled me. But I know you'll find a way to overcome, just like you have with all your other apparent weaknesses that are the very things that will make you strong. Oh you'll need strength. Need it like a mountain range of stone.
As we both sit here, surrounded by the sighing trees rising up from the camp fire into the cathedral of darkness, I can already hear the muttering and whispering footsteps of my fate approaching.
There is not much time to tell you son; my chest rattles even with these few words.
And Oh. How it bears heavily on my weary heart and my bones grate together with urgency. Leave the stick be and hold your tongue's mewling for just a while my boy.
Once upon a time, as I said, there lived a young man, much like you, about your age too, but he could walk. He didn't have twisted legs like you. And he could see out of both eyes.
It was a dark night a bit like this one, and this boy who we'll call Sand was hungry. He lived with his Ma and Pa far away in the forests. They were poor folks, his Pa being a woodcutter and watchman over the village, keeper of the hour glass.
There wasn't that many people living there, just a few, and most folks just minded their own selves and there wasn't any trouble to be had.
But that night, Sand became more hungry than usual, and he set out from their forest cabin to go huntin’ some. He walked away into the night along tracks he knew, until he came to the edge of a clearing that opened out onto the hillside and, further on, a lake.
Sand was tired and hungry and he lay down near a stream and sleep came upon him.
Back in those days folks slept differently than we do. You know how bears can sleep for a long time in the right season son?
So Sand sank into a deep sleep right there on the soft grass in the nighttime. He wasn’t sure how long he slept for, it can’t have been much more than an hour or so because the false dawn hadn’t come yet.
There was a loud clap of thunder and Sand awoke with a start, jumping up and staring around in fright. The ground was shaking, trees groaning their limbs against one another. Leaves and sticks were falling down and rocks began moving around and rolling down the slope a little. There were flashes of lightning across the ridge.
He looked up at a terrible sight that was impossible, but he saw it. The sky was moving. It split in two; the blueness of the day lit sky was rent. In the wound was the night of darkness. It spilled out of the crack in the heavens, pouring like old blood. It was as ink, flowing down from above, spreading from one side of the sky to the other; changed to a mist.
Sand began to shake and jerk around, then he ran with no direction, his legs moving of their own will, his eyes covered in shiny terror, blind.
What was that son? Did you ask me what happened with your noises? Why should i ramble so, when I haven’t time to tell you the half of it. I'm so tired I must have paused a while in the telling, well then ...
...the sky came crashing down onto the forest, the trees igniting with roaring flames into clouds of ash and steam rising from the lake, carrying sparks up into the dark hole of emptiness above. There were no stars and no moon. They had vanished.
The ground came up to meet his face, and Sandy felt the whole ground move around him, wind on his face, and he clung to the dirt, his fingers digging into the soil trying to grip. He was going to fall off the land. And into the darkness that wasn’t above anymore. It was below. He held on with a death grip, looking down with craning neck at the gaping space of nothingness.
Then he awoke, with the sun streaming down, birds winging across a sky so blue that he gazed for a while at the sight. Was it a dream, lingering in his head, but the grass was so green, the clouds so white, he could smell the fragrance of the forest and the soil.
As he got to his feet and looked down at his leather foot coverings, something caught his eye, and he stooped, peering under his moccasins.
There was soot smudged there. Fresh charcoal of deepest black was crumbled on the ground under his feet. And his tunic was singed.
His parents found him wandering the next day, on a little used track near the river. He was starving and didn’t make much sense until back at the cabin, when he'd eaten and sat for a time. At first they couldn’t reason with him but then the tale he told made them stop and listen.
Because the same thing had happened to his Pa when he was a boy.
Son, I'm not sure what to tell you about Sand except to say that I've had the same sight myself that he had. What I do know is that a few generations after Sand, the sun changed its place in the sky. And there was a very great upheaval of the land. Mountains came down and rivers spread their waters into new valleys.
There has been 400 generations since Sand's Pa. You, my son are the 400th one.
I do not know the meaning of it but Sand passed on something he used to hear in his head many, many times after that terrible night. He heard the words 400. He heard a warning to be ready for the sky to close in and space to take its place.
Emptiness will come my son. You must go, rush away from this forest. Take your place in the world of this time, and warn the people of what is to come. This is what I think you should do. And choose wisely your company lad. These are times of grief in the land. Much darkness surrounds us and there be few you can trust.
Go while you may, my special boy, already the time is at the end for me. My breath has narrowed and grown dim as the camp fire, and I can see the glowing eyes of the wolves nearby, as surely as the eyes of death waiting to claim me before sunrise.
Go my son. Go east in the direction of the present rising of the sun, towards the dawning of this era. Ride into that dawn and make your way to the villages, the large towns, and every people. Find the woman who will have your son. I hold hope that you understand my words, words from a father to his only living kin, and that you know with my last breath I tell you...I love you.
And may he live. I fear this may not be.
Nobody was sure, but most agreed that at least three hundred years had passed since the last WIPE. There had possibly been a previous, similar incident in distant, scant remnants of human history, a period supposedly known as The Dark Ages.
"Your grandparents lost their memory in the last cleanse, Boy-child."
His auburn haired sister gazed at his face that flickered in blotches of candle light. Outside the cabin a restless change in the weather was confirmed by the rising wind. Winter was coming early this time cycle.
The company of his only sibling, sitting on his bed, talking of times past, had become a comforting routine while their parents were away.
Every few months, their dwindling supplies forced a long journey across the forest trails to a co-operative where the produce of farmer and foundry could be traded. Their barter currency encompassed anything transportable that the Co-Op didn't have in abundance.
"But, Gerda, what were these cleansings really like?" His young voice was of girls pitch and sweet of tone.
"Some still say it was a deliberate inoculation by the leaders of each time. Like a virus spreading or chemical mixed in the water supply."
"What...what is inoculatia? Why don't we have cleanings? I want a cleansing!" The boy's demand was petulant, but his eyes twinkled. He knew very well what a cleansing consisted of and that every human in existence these days, dreaded the very thought of a cleansing, a WIPE.
"Wedge!" Gerda scolded him gently by the only name he possessed. "Wedge, you don't understand! Don't jest about such a thing. It's inoculation, not inoculatia."
"One of my ancestral Grandmothers that lived before the last WIPE escaped the infection. She retained memories. She told all of us, through stories passed down, many details, of how life was before that apocalypse."
Gerda paused, her eyes unfocused, and then roused to relate more of her memories. Word of mouth, and Wedge, was the only way to pass on a warning to the next generation. She also knew, from the legends passed on to her, that there had once been an ancestor, Wedge's Grandfather of how many Greats no one knew.
That man had tried to warn many people, travelled all over the known land mass, crying his anxiety to anyone who would listen. But his efforts had been in mostly in vain. He couldn't speak, only make noises.
The personal sacrifice to himself was high, even to traverse the countries.Because he couldn't walk far. His legs were twisted.
He was most unattractive in feature and form, his face hideous to behold. It was even said that he was the four hundredth one, the signifying number of the years spanning each WIPE.
Even so, although warned, people didn't believe, and took no heed. And when that cringing horror came upon them from the deep channels of incomprehensible space, somewhere beyond their skies, beyond the stars, no one was prepared.
But there was some glimmer of hope for future generations, a tiny few survived with their memories intact, a specific set of people.
Then in the next WIPE, even those were not exempt from the cursed nothingness, the invasion of their identity, roots and ancestral lore. There was only one left in this day, who would escape the next cleansing. A boy, who now squirmed in frustration at the limitations of youth, chafed at his sister's motherly superiority, and waited for the day he could escape to the world beyond the Co-Op, the furthest he'd every travelled in his life.
"Yes, all the people of the earth have had their collective memory wiped at certain times in human history. No one really knows why or what causes this terrible thing. It's...well, it's almost as if it resets the clock, brings a new peace to humankind, something that would be impossible without the wars, squabbles, disasters, genocides, and mistakes of the past utterly forgotten."
"Yes, Wedge. But you...you are a direct descendant. She was your Great, Great Grandmother, who remained unaffected by the WIPE in the early two thousands. They estimate that it happened about 2014, but of course, nobody knows for sure.
There is some information that survives even the most meticulous WIPE. And we do know, from recently learned genetic research, is that you won't be affected at all by the next WIPE."
"Gerda, why is that? How do you, how do they know for sure? I don’t want to remember! I don’t want to be the only one!"
"Because, Wedge, my brother-child, you have dark skin. The WIPE never affected those people. And this is why, in legends of centuries past, dark skinned people were taken for slaves."
"They remembered everything!"
Gerda smiled gently as she tucked the woollen covers around Wedge’s form, his eyes already closed in the guiltless sleep of the innocent.
As a flute-like warbling moan of icy wind searched among the cabins exposed roof timbers that jutted into the darkness outside, searching for any tiny chink of vulnerability in the strong walls that defended those fragile lives within, the auburn haired female who was almost of child baring age, shivered.
She gazed at the blackness of the daubed wall only an arms length from her face, but saw the laughing faces of their parents. Parent's who even now, were being clubbed to death, on the side of an indifferent forest trail, their meagre belongings and goods to be traded wrenched from their hard working, hunched over spines.
The gang of hooded, two legged animals had the physique and DNA of men, but would never be worthy of the definition.
They plundered anything of worth, from the skin carrier sheaves, belonging to the innocent victims, and fled their sorry carcasses back into the shrouds of conifers, the forest appearing to take their part in the confrontation, hiding their ill deeds...this time.
The bandits left behind two naked, hacked and pitiful bodies, fresh blood pooling on the snow from shockingly white skin, disturbed drifts where feet had kicked, hands had scrabbled, their last quivering, living reflex. Their spirits abandoned the bodies that a short time before, had so lovingly protected and housed them.
In a far distant log cabin, now snowbound, Gerda and Wedge waited in vain.
No spirits were able to communicate the loss, no matter how much they might yearn to speak to their loved ones.
Gerda with the fire coloured hair and her brother, he of the dark skin, these siblings were now on their own.