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Reflections at night when the dark is good and we see farther. A short meditation.
Brief Tales on a Whim.
Meditations on the 60th Anniversary of Hiroshima What would the end of the world entail? Do we boast that we can imagine such a thing?
3 short stories. $3
In the apprenticeship period hopes are high.
The manuscripts are under $8.
RIPE STORIES AND FRAGMENTS
We smelled and tasted nothing but the ozone that rose off twisted metal and melting iron. We were sick, sick to the pit of our stomachs with the blackened feeling that bent everyone toward the ground. We were without humor. We gathered together around the ruins and argued without heart about what had happened. We all had opinions. We were all stupefied by some natural law still operating in the offal of doom. Suddenly I rose and announced that we were to leave, leave and start again. I had no enthusiasm but realizing my destiny I had no choice and watched them pick their knapsacks, utensils and meager belongings from the gound. We began a climb up a slope, leading to the great mountain. The air became pure. We breathed once again and felt joy for the first time in a long time.
We knew there were others. We didn't know where they were or if they were, even, "good." After all, it was explained, "those who we haven't found as yet may be those who started the nightmare in the first place." And for all their explanations of why they did what they did, they were always dreaming up the next scheme to destroy things. And if we met them what would we do?
We would test them. "If they viewed us as heroic or substantial that would be one thing. If they ripped us, ridiculed our escape as chicken or somehow less than what humans should do, we'd think something else." They left it an open question. It was out of their hands. They hadn't met anyone and for all they knew every living creature was dead. Perhaps all around the world was nothing but death and burning.
It was only later that we realized we were in a fortunate position, especially if we were the only ones left. We began to realize that with a certain oppression lifted from us we could be exactly who we were meant to be. And because our spirits weren't in constant competition with objects and scurrying-around-humanity we could live with a delightful variety rarely experienced on Earth.
It took a long time to get to this point because no one could leap up and out with joy at the fact that everything and everyone they knew was gone and dead. And then, almost at once, they dedicated their energies to everything and everyone gone and not alive and tremendous energy surged through them with such power that they immediately trusted each other and themselves.
That was the beginning of it of course. It wasn't a movie we were in. There were no cameras. We treated it like a dream so there was no pain really, even though life at every step was arduous. The painless state was such that each movement was graceful and quicker. Every gesture seemed meaningful as though we were the soldiers on a victorious battlefield where the dead still lay where they fell. It was as though we had been awakened to a new world we had never seen, even though it was the same old world. We stammered at first and pointed. Then gave names to the objects that already had names. We gave them the exact same names but we did it with authority as if now the names were real and would stick. When we lay down to sleep we were full of strange sounds as if we were entering a new territory, as if we were vulnerable for the first time. It rose out of us to a crescendo and mimicked all the animals we were familiar with. Then utter silence. And we woke for the first time out of an endless dream. And eliminated with curiosity and laughter. And someone said, "I am hungry," but we didn't know how to catch any food. We admitted to our faults, our limitations and went into a profound mourning for our lack of knowledge, even the simplest knowledge.
It was the idiot who never said anything who had a vision of catching food. He set out his dream and when he was finished we acted the dream out and killed a few small animals. We told the idiot, "keep dreaming and tell us what you come up with." And for seven nights he related dreams that led us to the "doing of things" that had proven difficult. He even told the dream of a pregnant woman and how she gave birth in the stream. An so it was. One guy got jealous of the idiot and tried to do him in but we stopped it just in time. We gave the idiot a special place and he was very happy until he realized he had to come up with a significant dream every night. I knew he made a few of them up, elaborated some of them but that was cool because the results were productive. We survived and started our next round of memories and a lot of what we thought was lost came back.
After a time we forgot about that time and lived as if tomorrow never existed and found what we needed right in front of us. It was literally a matter of thinking it was so and "poof" there it was.
Our thoughts always came back to the events leading up to the catastrophe. The idiot told us we should remember through as many generations as we could back to the earliest time possible. Only a few could do this. They would lay out sticks and every stick represented a generation.
And every generation stepped forward and played itself out, dressed up in its snazy clothing and weird hair styles. Some sticks were shorter than others. Then they would conjure a personification of the generation by the memory they had of it or some aspect of their brain that contained that information. A few got talented enough to have different personifications to "talk" to each other or reach out and shake hands across the generations. There was no talking of course, everything was done in a delightful telepathy.
The generations always provided clues to our dilemma. "It was there from the seed," one commented. Sometime the seed was hidden out of fear or shame, other times it was out front and center, umabiguous and throbbing with potential.
The generations paraded around until they finally disappeared into the woods. We had had our fill of them and even though they were fascinating, in the end they were of little use. "They are a reminder that we must continue, that we must fill out our part in this play of generations." So my old pal and fellow skeptic told me. I took it that way and smoked my cigar and looked over the meadow we were in, encircled by the woods.
A few of the survivors were stirring now from their crude huts made from tree branches, lean-to's would be an apt description. Most of us slept out in the open and kept a fire going to provide some heat and ward off wild animals. My thoughts always wandered off to the loss of humans the planet had suffered. During the day I saw it as a great advantage and we all had fun jumping around and gesticulating and exposing ourselves and shitting right out in the open because there was no one left to judge us. There was no one around to make us clean up our acts. Theorically we could roam the whole globe doing whatever we wanted to. We could use the left over technology for our benefit. It was this propect of using the world of gone-humanity that prompted one to say, "We should get going and head in a direction and find a city. In the first city we find we'll ransack it for all useable items and ensure our survival." We all agreed that was a sound place. The idiot boy was silent and faced away from us looking into the woods. Something displeased him but I didn't want to bother him.
At night there was a ritual mourning and wailing for lost friends and family that were no longer on Earth. Such sorrow in dead men and women! And I called them dead because we had no future, no matter the great ability we still had of making up stories to convince us that "it was ok." After the wailing they would get down in the dirt and grass and depict or personify those very relatives and freinds that were no longer with us. Some built figures out of grass and bent them to indicate motion. Others took sticks and carved out faces in the grass and dirt, would huddle over the drawings and try to make the reproduction as precise as possble. It was amazing what some were able to do.
During the day we walked toward the horizon hoping to run into an urban center where we could scavange what was left. "Even a pan or a few plates," someone said casuaully was we walked, sometimes in singlr file, at times disorderly and spread out no one seeming to belong to the group at all. I used to name them in idle moments when the sun was fetching high in the sky and it felt like outings I took as a kid, with my parents and brothers, up into hills where the old collapsed house was populated by thousands of bees. We could hear the distintegrated house from a distance and when we reached it stood off to the side just to watch the magnificanet bees swirling around various parts of the downed house. I felt transported for some reason. I felt this sharp slide in my brain and it made me refocus so I would intently aware of the bees and that they posed a threat of some sort, even from a distaince. We would leave the bee house and find a nice spot for a lunch and spread the blanket. My brothers and I would run up and down the path with my mother whooping encouragement. So I was in a state and started to name the people. "Mumble Man," "Flippant Guy", "The Wanderer", "Sexed Up Guy", "Scairdy Cat Woman", "Stinky", "Mr. Uncle" and so on. I would laugh to myself and make sure I would never make the names public. I also entertained odd questions such as, "Is it ok to have fun when the world ends?" or, "Who owns a dead Earth?"
One night a radiant moon suddenly appeared above us. For the first time I can ever remember, the moon looked alive, it had a soul. I could see right through it. It suddenly became an object of desire, I felt I needed to get there, stand on it, revel in it and actually live on it. My mind became crazed with notions of how to get there without a rocket and all the support necessary for such a thing. That night, I swear, I left my body and zoomed up to the moon and walked around. I can remember looking back on Earth with such longing, such sadness it was overwhelming. I told myself to wake up and struggled to open my eyes only to be starting up at the Moon. Now it was an object, it was away from me, I felt alienated from it. Oddly though I still felt it was my destiny to go there.
Perhaps it was dark irony but I realized one day that with the whole globe empty, apparently, of human beings and all that they produce from themselves, still, there was very little privacy. For one, I had admitted to two of my companions my odd desire to get to the Moon. "The Moon is a destination," I explained. They laughed. "The Moon? You have the whole Earth at your feet!" And they drifted off looking back at me as if I were a bad joke. I felt stripped of some quintessense at that moment and felt hate toward the two. I promised myself not to be so fast and loose with thoughts even in the limited group I was wandering around with.
The irony was that I had, over a period of time, tried to undo the influence of various doom scenarios I was exposed to as a young guy. Everywhere I turned was doom, the end of everything, the dropping of the sword of Damocles on all one knew and loved. As I got older I began to understand the con involved and began to distrust doom calling. I resisted the doom scenario, applied a bit of logic and found anchors that took me back to the center of myself. And when I saw a person spouting doom or reading a book on doom I laughed to myself, "another sucker, another victim of the con."
And then this thing happened. There were prophets on the Earth that were treated as entertainers. No one took much of anything seriously. All could be conquered by money and/or technology. So it just happened and caught everyone in a strange moment. I couldn't know everything but I was hoping the adventure we had embarked on would lead to some answer or some inkling of what happened.
We continued on our adventure, past beautiful lakes and woods, into the mountain passes pioneers had made famous, along anonymous rivers that did what all rivers did, vitalize the sense of things. Sometimes we walked in complete silence, other times there was a break out of laughter and childish giggles. We finally came to a small town with its general store, a bar, a gas station and little else. There was no one around. There were no bodies. We looked earnestly and I think we were desperate to find some evidence of the great catastrophe but there was nothing. We found two cars parked in front of the general store but no one was inside.
We found plenty of supplies however. People searched throughout the town and when a big whoop went up people came running.
It took many months walking through valleys and over mountain passes for the despair to kick in. We survivors had had it. Rather than revelling in the idea that the "Earth was now ours," we despaired at all that had been lost and the awful burden put on our shoulders to "keep the damn thing going." As my friend Jake put it, "If it ain't going on it's down the forever hole. Nothing escapes the forever hole." The thought didn't create despair in myself. My brain became more acute, more intense in understanding where we were and how we were going to survive. After all, small bands of humans had roamed the planet for hundreds of thousands of years. They had survived. We were no different. But just as soon as I had that thought another one popped into my head. "What about the first band of humans? How did they survive?"
We had to decide between the "forever hole" or the first gestures of a new beginning. And those who said we needed a few laws to lay down to prevent a disaster from occuring in the future were right. And I was to undestand that all that had carried human beings to that point had absolutely failed, seeing that everything and everyone was gone. I laughed as I imagined a hireling coming to me and asking, "what now Sire?" There was so much to edit out of the proposition that human beings start again, at the seed, and move forward as before. The first law? "Make no tool beyond its first use."
to be comtinued
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