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Rated: E · Fiction · Fantasy · #1741257
The story of Hope and The Everwarm- the dagger that fated men to forever slay one another.
Chapter 1

Hope gripped her steering wheel with a heavy sigh as she turned onto a long , lonely road.  The road cut through a thick, black forest which stood silently on either side.  This forest had an aloof air about it, taking note of the rare traveller as they passed, yet wholly indifferent to the affair.  Not that the modern traveller paid any heed, for wood of this density and magnitude was now a scarcity, and most were content to pass by this unfamiliar sphere of existence and cling to their road without the scrutiny of that which might discomfort them.  People had forsaken the shelter of the forest centuries ago -- indeed, for now there were little of forests for any creature to dwell -- and few knew its peaceful and eerie stillness of audible silence.  Yet even their self-made dwellings and practical structures were not wholly independent of their forgotten world, for the materials necessary for the assembly of these developments were borrowed heavily from the naturally occurring resources of the earth; that which can only be found and molded into alternate forms by the clever crafts of mankind, but never recreated save by the natural processes in the life of the world. 

The people of that time resided intimately with the sum of many generations of ever groundbreaking discovery and invention.  It had been many, many centuries since the last thought of primitive danger raced through the mind of a man.  The concern for survival had long ago been traded for the concern for pleasure.  Beasts which once devoured the man were now displayed for the indulgence of the eyes, either slain by a superior weapon molded by the mind of another and the corpse modified to defy decay, or behind enclosures where they are maintained and cared for to live as a spectacle for the passerby to halt and grin at them for awhile.  The surpassing intellect of the human which was once the only thread by which the species could cling to a continued existence in the world -- for their natural strength and resources of their naked bodies were far inferior to the hungry beasts which slew them with little ado and the weathers of the world devoured their unarmored flesh -- had been woven by many fingers into a glorious quilt of unimaginable miracles, each one more spectacular than the last, and by the diligence and dexterity of humankind the impossible over time came into being. The people wrapped themselves in its coziness, ever-weaving, and its warmth shielded them from the cold ways of the wild world.  Unthreatened, their species prospered, and knew pleasures of life no other creature could fathom -- save their pet companions, which they welcomed under the quilt and were free from peril, perhaps these had an inkling, -- and defied the inferiority of their bodily creation.1 

Men no longer spent their days fleeing in the bushes, they rather passed the light of the sun performing assigned specialized tasks unique to the individual according to their choice or misfortune, all too numerous and infinitely variable to address.  Yet the vast majority of their endeavors aided, however minutely, in the maintenance of the alternative -- and exceedingly complex -- existence molded by the minds and thumbs of many generations of supplementing cleverness.  This invented life, though indeed prosperous and wondrous, required constant care and nurturing.  The vast and often beautiful structures of modern humankind stood taller than all trees, yet to remain standing they fed from the labors of those who crafted them rather than gathering their nutrition from the sun or drinking from the waters of the earth.  Often, in fact, the natural forces and affairs of the world that gave life to its dwellers often brought ruin and threatened death to the handiwork of the modern people of the earth. 

Indeed, though the people had thwarted the life of peril in the wilderness and even conquered many diseases and maladies that sought to claim them, they had not the power over the will of the earth.  This they knew, but often forgot.  It was when the ground beneath them cracked and shook their dwellings apart, or winds tore their possessions and tossed them about in pieces, or the sea rose and stole their works away into the deep, or great and unbridled flames devoured their labors to ash, that they remembered that they were but skilled tenants living on lands of invisible lords whose dominion could never be overthrown.  Then they would bow their heads in humility and pick up the pieces which had been their pride and lend a less fortunate fellow their services if they so desired. 

But the people of this time wished not to harness the earth, for often it was their intent to solve its mysteries and to understand its mechanisms.  This curiosity had brought them much knowledge, and lengthened their life, and made them more comfortable, yet their enthusiasm at times rendered them hasty and careless, and their folly brought injury to the earth, the very object of their wonder.2  As their ambitions grew more fantastic, the consequences of such foolishness grew more dire.

And so, their prosperity was bought with more than labor and genius, but also with unforeseen complexities and chores alien to the natural world.  In the modern world where meals were certain, people increasingly filled their hours with busy errands and committed their services to others.  For it came to be believed amongst them that to be busy was to be of importance, and to be ever-working was to appear valuable.  Their handiworks had allowed for the instant exchange of information from anywhere to the furthest corners of the world, and they had become accustomed to haste.  They bustled and hurried from one activity to another, and moved swiftly in spite of the invisible heaviness of their innumerable obligations.  It came to pass that their habitual impatience hindered the pleasures of life that had come into existence by the collaborative ingenuity of the many hands of past and present weaving the glorious quilt.  Their creations had given them the luxury of full bellies and clean bodies, yet meals and bathing had become gross inconveniences, time and attention stolen from their undertakings.  Their intelligence fashioned them the ability to speak to one another in many beautiful tongues, and tell tales of love and death and courage and suffering, yet they surrendered not a moment to listen to the voice of another, nor did they tell tales of their own or even think of them anymore.  Even books, capsules of creativity which preserved the voices of the long passed and connected the dead and the living with stories of the human experience, began to diminish. In fact, if they read anything at all, they read concise and flat sentences of function and necessity and of little beauty.  Leisure, though they secretly pined for it in their hearts, was indulged sparingly, for epochs of inactivity were considered with mild scorn and secret envy.  Only when they grew old and had worn themselves away and felt the weariness of their haste were they pardoned for peaceful and directionless idleness.  Only when they grew old were their lives returned to them to act as they absolutely pleased and all their living moments at last were their own. 

Adults in their earliest years were scrutinized most heavily, for leisure at the cusp of independence was a symptom of immaturity.  An exasperated mother might say, “Why don’t you go and make something of yourself?” for that was the vernacular expression.  Those that did not suffocate their lives in business and obligation were deemed “good-for-nothing,” and silently shunned. 

The thought of this particular observation summoned Hope’s sigh as she turned on the long, lonely road previously mentioned.  Though she was just beginning her travels on this particular road, she had long been lonely as she journeyed on her own road.  Hope’s reluctant intention was to return to another spring semester at college after her winter break.  Yet truly, this was not her wish.  She yearned not to return to haste and hurry.  Though she relished the activity of advanced learning and study, and valued her knowledge highly, she cared not for the perpetual anxiety of forced urgency.  She often excelled in her studies, but could never perceive the purpose for all the rush, and her spirits darkened.  She longed for the freedom to savor her youth, for every second of it to be her own, and to go where she will. 

Often as she scurried from class to class she had wondered if her fellow students dashing past felt the same despair.  To study the collective knowledge of innumerable researchers, scientists, scholars, and scribes gathered over centuries and geographies only to suffocate from an existence so fraught.  To live so laden that but one more errand would tip her over the edge of the abyss and she lie broken at its depths.  Such thoughts were tragedies to her, and she shuddered in her driver’s seat. 

She loathed the guilt of long, savored meals and spending evenings with others, and believed such feelings to be something most perverse.  For she purchased these indulgences dearly, as she desperately dashed about the next day, frantic to accomplish two days’ worth of chores in but one.  Why should she pay for the pleasure of one day with the certain misery of the next?  Why should such joys in life need be purchased at all?

She often had fantasies of going away to an unknown end without a word; disappearing into the night, never to be heard from again, never to return.  She would venture ever into the unfamiliar, where she was a stranger and knew only strangers, where unforeseen experiences awaited her.  The longing to utterly forsake the habitual haste of her current existence enchanted her.  She wondered at whether her desires were an indication of courage or cowardice, but shrugged, for either notion did not diminish her wanderlust. 

But her musings trailed back to an earlier strain.  Was her longing to be free indeed an indication of inability to function as an adult?  Could she be really “good-for-nothing”?  Was withholding her services from others in order to own her time an act of supreme selfishness unforgivable?  Was she miserable with the common and expected way of living because she remained a child, immature and not yet equipped to live in the world?

Her doubts were interrupted by the most curious thing she ever saw, and for a brief bewildered moment she knew absolutely not what to make of it.  Her eyes perceived movement on her left side, and she peered curiously at the edge of the trees.  A second later, a nude man came madly careening out of the wood.  Wild and desperate and quick he ran, wearing an expression of fright unsettling for Hope to look upon.  His panic disturbed her, he seemed to  come out of a place unreal.  She noted that he gestured about awkwardly, and he ran not fully upright.  He hobbled speedily hunched over with his head half-bowed, and he leaned to his left side.  Then to her horror Hope noticed trails of blood streaming down his hips and dripping from his knees.

For an ever-so-brief instant she the sudden urge to stomp on the gas pedal and speed away arrested her, but she became immediately disgusted at this, and pulled her car over to an abrupt halt without further thought.  She leapt from her car and dashed to him, for now haste troubled her not. 

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