Category Archives: Death

Earth is a Forced Labour and Death Camp

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

It may well be that prior to the advent of capitalism and prior to the establishment of the patriarchy that formed a global civilization, planet earth was as good a place as any on which to exist. Note that I am not saying “live on” or “survive on” but exist. To live means to have a purpose. To survive means to cling to life in the hope that it will give or provide purpose on the long run.

Only problem with that was, there was no long run and purpose seldom manifested in any meaningful sense. Those who gave themselves purpose without serving the Matrix, that is, the patriarchy and it’s exploitative, brutal methods soon found themselves hounded, hunted down, and when captured, “crucified” for attempting to bring about a change of methods to life on earth, that is, to man’s type of life, if it can be called that.

Based on my observation, I have come to the inevitable conclusion that man’s earth as defined by his capitalistic patriarchy is in essence nothing more nor less than a forced labour and death camp.

Do I really need to elaborate on that observation and conclusion or is this enough of a reminder that all of the greatest manifestations of social evil extant in this civilization can be laid at the feet of its “camp kommandants” who give themselves the titles of CEO’s, presidents, kings, queens, judges, professors emeritus, generals, policemen,emirs, investment bankers, popes, priests and preachers… any one who by some sort of decree holds the power of life and death over a subservient multitude.

Any member of the untitled multitude who decides to treat the elites in the same manner as it treats the multitude is immediately declared enemy of the people and put on a most wanted list to be eliminated. The rulers of the forced labour and death camp can kill any number of ‘the masses’ with impunity but the same does not apply in reverse.

The masses, trapped in this web of deceit and death learned long ago that to challenge and perhaps even dethrone the elitist apparatus was a very painful and bloody process that in the end only replaced one set of “kommandants” with another and surprise, surprise, that new set arose from the very forces that set out to upset and destroy the status quo. In other words, there is no way out of the camp except by dying.

And even then, that is not the end of it…

The Last Battle – by Chris Hedges

Due to WordPress’ ongoing snafu condition, I was unable to access the following in the usual way so I cannot use the “Reblog” button. Instead I’ve copied the article and pasted it here, in its entirety, with proper credits and links, I hope.  And how would I title this article if I had written it? How about the very first line from Canada’s national anthem?

“Oh Canada, our home and native land…”  …and while you are reading I’ll go and throw up.

DEEP GREEN: ‘Recovery of the Sacred’, The Last Battle – By Chris Hedges

by The Smoking Man

Source – truthdig.com

“…The Cree have been under relentless assault since the arrival of the European colonialists in the 1500s. Now the 500 inhabitants of the Cree reserve, where many live in small, boxy prefabricated houses, are victims of a new iteration of colonial exploitation, one centered on the extraction of oil from the vast Alberta tar sands. This atrocity presages the destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for life. If the Cree do not stop the exploiters this time, they, along with the exploiters, will die”

The Last Battle – By Chris Hedges

THE BEAVER LAKE CREE NATION, Treaty No. 6 Area, Canada. I am driving down a rutted dirt road with Eric Lameman, a member of the Cree nation.

“Over there,” he says, pointing out where he was born in a tent 61 years ago.

We stop the car and look toward a wooded grove.

“That’s the mass grave,” he says softly, indicating a clearing where dozens of Cree who died in a smallpox epidemic over a century ago are buried.

The Cree have been under relentless assault since the arrival of the European colonialists in the 1500s. Now the 500 inhabitants of the Cree reserve, where many live in small, boxy prefabricated houses, are victims of a new iteration of colonial exploitation, one centered on the extraction of oil from the vast Alberta tar sands. This atrocity presages the destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for life. If the Cree do not stop the exploiters this time, they, along with the exploiters, will die.

The reserve is surrounded by the tar sands, one of the largest concentrations of crude oil in the world. The sands produce 98% of Canada’s oil and are the United States’ largest source of imported oil. This oil, among the dirtiest fossil fuels on earth, is a leading cause of atmospheric pollution, releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. The production and consumption of one barrel of tar sands crude oil release 17% more carbon dioxide than production and consumption of a standard barrel of oil.

Tar sands oil is a thick, mucky, clay-like substance that is infused with a hydrocarbon called bitumen. The oil around Beaver Lake is extracted by a process known as steam-assisted gravity drainage, which occurs under the earth and is similar to fracking. Farther north, extraction is done by strip-mining the remote boreal forest of Alberta, 2 million acres of which have already been destroyed. The destruction of vast forests, sold to timber companies, and the scraping away of the topsoil have left behind poisoned wastelands. This industrial operation, perhaps the largest such project in the world, is rapidly accelerating the release of the carbon emissions that will, if left unchecked, soon render the planet uninhabitable for humans. The oil is transported thousands of miles to refineries as far away as Houston through pipelines and in tractor-trailer trucks or railroad cars. More than a hundred climate scientists have called for a moratorium on the extraction of tar sands oil. Former NASA scientist James Hansen has warned that if the tar sands oil is fully exploited, it will be “game over for the planet.” He has also called for the CEOs of fossil fuel companies to be tried for high crimes against humanity.

It is hard, until you come here, to grasp the scale of the tar sands exploitation. Surrounding Beaver Lake are well over 35,000 oil and natural gas wells and thousands of miles of pipelines, access roads and seismic lines. (The region also contains the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, which has appropriated huge tracts of traditional territory from the native inhabitants to test weapons.) Giant processing plants, along with gargantuan extraction machines, including bucket wheelers that are over half a mile long and draglines that are several stories high, ravage hundreds of thousands of acres. These stygian centers of death belch sulfurous fumes, nonstop, and send fiery flares into the murky sky. The air has a metallic taste. Outside the processing centers, there are vast toxic lakes known as tailings ponds, filled with billions of gallons of water and chemicals related to the oil extraction, including mercury and other heavy metals, carcinogenic hydrocarbons, arsenic and strychnine. The sludge from the tailings ponds is leaching into the Athabasca River, which flows into the Mackenzie, the largest river system in Canada. Nothing here, by the end, will support life. The migrating birds that alight at the tailings ponds die in huge numbers. So many birds have been killed that the Canadian government has ordered extraction companies to use noise cannons at some of the sites to scare away arriving flocks. Around these hellish lakes, there is a steady boom-boom-boom from the explosive devices.

The water in much of northern Alberta is no longer safe for human consumption. Drinking water has to be trucked in for the Beaver Lake reserve.

Streams of buses ferry workers, almost all of them men, up and down the roads, night and day. Tens of thousands from across Canada have come to work in the tar sands operations. Many live in Fort McMurray, about 180 miles from Beaver Lake, and work punishing 12-hour shifts for three weeks at a time before having a week off.

The Cree, the Dene and other tribes that live amid the environmental carnage and whose ancestral lands have been appropriated by the government to extract the tar sands oil suffer astronomical rates of respiratory and other illnesses. Cancer rates are 30% higher than in the rest of Alberta, according to the Alberta Cancer Board, which was disbanded soon after releasing this information in 2008.

When he was a child, Eric Lameman was taken from his parents by the government, a common practice a few decades ago, and sent to an Indian boarding school where beatings were routine, speaking Cree or any of the other indigenous languages was forbidden and native religious and cultural practices were outlawed. He says the forced severance from his family and his community, along with the banning of his traditions, was psychologically devastating. He remembers his father and other Cree elders on the reserve performing religious rituals in secret. He would sneak to the woods to watch them as, risking arrest, they clung to their beliefs and spiritual practices.

Lameman defied the efforts to wipe out his identity and his culture, which he nurtured in spite of the attempts to eradicate them. And he says it is only his Cree roots that keep him whole and make it possible for him to endure. He suffered extreme poverty. He also had periods of addiction and even episodes of violence. It is hard to avoid personal disintegration when the dominant culture seeks to eradicate your being. Canada’s indigenous people represent 4 percent of the population, but they make up more than a quarter of the inmates in the nation’s federal prisons. Lameman’s wife left him and their young children. She died from alcoholism on the streets of Calgary. He worked as a heavy machine operator in the tar sands. He quit when he realized the land he was despoiling would never recover and he began to get sick. He survives now on welfare.

We are back in his small house, seated in the tiny kitchen. His daughter Crystal Lameman, an internationally known indigenous rights activist, heats juniper in an iron skillet until fumes of the pungent herb drift upward. We cup our hands and pull the smoke into our nostrils. The Cree and others say “smudging” cleanses negative energy, helps bring clarity and vision, and centers those exposed to the scent. We sit quietly.

The more the Cree recover their traditions to defy the capitalist mantra of hoarding, profit, exploitation, self-promotion and commodification of human beings and the earth, the more their life has an intrinsic value rather than a monetary value. This recovery is the antidote to despair. It grounds the Cree spiritually. It permits transcendence. It at once estranges them from reality and brings them closer to it. Resistance is not only about challenging the extraction companies in court, as the Cree have done in trying to block the tar sands industry and the pipelines from their traditional land; it is about holding fast to another orientation to reality, one that we all must adopt if we are to survive as a species. It is about the recovery of the sacred. The white exploiters seek not only to steal the land and natural resources and commit genocide against indigenous communities but to wipe out this competing ethic.

“I need my people,” Eric Lameman says. “I need the ones that know our history, our language, our spiritual practices and our culture. I rely on them to pass it on to me so I can pass it on.”

The exploiters have sought to corrupt the Cree and bastardize their traditions. Extraction companies have paid off some tribal leaders to support pipelines or surrender tribal territory to oil development. The companies use the quislings to mount propaganda campaigns in favor of extraction, to divide and weaken indigenous communities and to attempt to discredit leaders such as Crystal. The federal government last year staged a Cree religious ceremony, complete with honor songs and drums, to bless the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and Canada’s $4.5 billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, developments that mean death for the Cree people.

“This is what they call reconciliation,” Eric says bitterly.

“It’s cultural appropriation,” Crystal says. “ ‘Reconciliation’ is a bullshit word. Reconciling with whom? Reconciling what? Reconciling us with the current colonial systems of exploitation? Until they dismantle the structures of exploitation there can be no reconciliation.”
The man camps of tens of thousands of tar sands workers fuel the prostitution industry. Indigenous girls and women, living in squalor and poverty, are lured by the seemingly easy and fast money. Their sexual degradation soon leads to addictions to blunt the pain. This too is a legacy of colonialism. Canada began as a military and commercial outpost of Britain. The Hudson’s Bay Company did not permit European women to immigrate to Canada. Brothels, populated by prostituted indigenous girls and women, were established alongside the military forts and trading posts. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police issued a report in 2015 that found that indigenous, or First Nations, women, who constitute 4.3% of Canada’s female population, are four times more likely to go missing or be murdered than other Canadian women. They are 16% of female murder victims and are the objects of 11% of missing person’s cases involving women.

“I was on a panel in Vancouver,” Crystal Lameman says. “I used the word ‘prostitution.’ A trans person got up and told me to use the term ‘sex work,’ saying it was a choice. Impoverished and vulnerable indigenous girls and women do not choose to be prostitutes. They are forced into that world. Girls are conditioned for this from familial disintegration and sexual abuse. … Sexual abuse, a common experience for girls in residential schools and the foster care system, is another one of the legacies of colonialism.”
The infusion of workers with disposable incomes has also seen an explosion in drugs in northern Alberta such as crack cocaine and crystal meth, and with the drugs has come a rash of suicides among the native population. Suicide and non-suicidal intentional self-injuries are the leading causes of death for First Nations people under the age of 44 in Canada. Young indigenous males are 10 times more likely to kill themselves than other Canadians. Young indigenous females are 21 times more likely to commit suicide. Beaver Lake has not been spared, losing seven people to suicide in a 12-month period in 2014 and 2015. All of them were under the age of 44, and all were drug addicts or alcoholics.

“There are two roads into Fort McMurray,” Crystal says. “There’s Highway 63 and Highway 881, which runs through here. This is one of the stops for the drugs. The traffickers say, ‘Well, there’s a little town, we’ll stop there and drop drugs there too. A lot of the drug runners are from small towns, from these communities. It is a quick way to make money.”

“Our community used to be safe,” she says. “We left the doors unlocked, even when we slept. We would leave our vehicles running. Nobody worried.”

“It’s dangerous now,” she goes on, speaking of the rash of robberies by addicts. She adds, “You can’t get into altercations. It’s the drugs. They affect people’s mental health. People live in fear.”

The resurrection of the old ceremonial practices such as the annual sun dance, along with the traditional medicine camp, harvesting camps and sweat lodges, is about another way of being, one that honors the interconnectedness of all living beings, including the earth on which we depend for life.

“We are seeing the effects,” Crystal says. “Our cultural practices and language embody a belief system that is the opposite of capitalism and globalization, the lust for money and material wealth.”

“I used to think globally,” she says. “I was in D.C. on the front lines. I was in the climate march in New York. I was everywhere. I traveled internationally. I was at every rally. But I wasn’t here, at home, doing the real work. It’s easier being out there, instead of being in our community. Yes, there is this big black cloud, but there is also another, beautiful side. The women in the community are bringing the ceremonies back. The more we return to the land, the closer we are to achieving holistic wellness. My community is not in despair. We are doing our diligence to be well again. I think about my dad. My dad was one of those people he’s talking about [when he says] ‘I had friends that I can’t trust now because they’re not well because of the drugs.’ My dad was one of those in despair. But he has come back to us and to himself.”

Chris Hedges, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

https://www.truthdig.com/author/chris_hedges/

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #45


This I must share here: my experiences on Old Earth taught me well as regards those we are forced to call ‘They’ in referring to ‘Powers’ we know exist but cannot identify because they are chameleonic in nature and use humans to camouflage their evil works.  We’ve always known ‘They’ exist and have power of life and death over us, never mind how many legal ‘rights’ or safeguards we are given under the law.  Whenever we choose right over wrong in their viewpoint and according to their arbitrary rules we are targeted as the enemy; terrorists, subversives, spies and in many cases we forfeit our lives to them.  So, let me emphasize that ‘They’ are very real to me. 

I must sleep now.

[end blog post #44]


[begin blog post #45]

Chapter 21 – The Inquisition: Warmo’s Dungeon

They come.  It is still dark when the alarms sound and we are ushered out of our cages to stand in the cold pre-dawn air shivering.  What device do they have to warn them of illegal exits without the alarms being set off? Recording heat sensors?  Satellites?  Albaral?  How did they already know Deirdre, or someone, was missing?  Well, I guess it really doesn’t matter now.

They make everybody line up in the training yard.  The kitchens and all other areas are shut tight.  No one moves or makes a sound.  In the back I hear harsh voices shouting commands.  Men in uniforms I’ve never seen come among us and begin to grab individuals.  There are muted gasps of fear.  One woman is hit viciously in the face and stumbles to the stones where she is stabbed to death, her body dragged to the middle of the compound and left.  I am one of those grabbed and chained with a dozen others.  Several guards are stripped naked and chained also.  There is cursing and a guard falls to the ground, also stabbed.  His body is dragged beside the woman’s. 

We are led away to the east of the large open area, down a dark tunnel, damp and reeking of mold and of something else rotting away somewhere among this stone labyrinth.  I walk through what I can only describe as slime, trying to keep my footing while helping the woman behind me by making her lean on me.  We emerge into a place of absolute terror. 

In the weak light from embrasures high in the wet stone walls we see dead and dying bodies hanging by wrists on poles or impaled on rusty steel pikes planted in holes in the floor.  We smell decomposing meat and retch helplessly, continually.  Fortunately our guards just shove us in there and leave, closing the steel grate behind us.  So no one is additionally punished for the time being.  We just stare at the dead and the barely moving dying, most being women and some young children.  Some still moan but most are past trying.  Is this what’s in store for all of us?  We must assume so.  What else are we supposed to think?  The woman behind me begs me to kill her. 

“Please, I die now.  I fight yes, but this not possible to take.  Please you hit me with steel shackle, please or you strangle with chain.  You very strong.  I beg, I beg!”  Her throaty cries bring tears to my eyes.  Yes I could do it.  But what little chance any of us have to escape this would then be forfeit.  So I try to console her using their common language.

“Just frighten, see?  You know nothing, so what they do?  Nothing can do.  Don’t be afraid.  Just bad dream.  Do nothing.  Say nothing.  Know nothing.  Repeat teaching against bad fear – now!

Do I believe my own words?  No, of course not.  On this world, anything and everything is possible.  If they are eager to draw fresh blood and hear fresh voices raised in pure agony, and it’s a safe bet to say they always are, we will all go through the torture and all die here, impaled on these pikes or hanging from the poles.  I ready myself for this inevitable conclusion.

And suddenly I want to laugh.  Such an incredible weight is lifted off my heart.  If they have gone to so much trouble to “investigate” Deirdre’s escape then obviously they don’t have her!  She’s truly gone and free from their grasp.  Yes!  I know this now.  So go ahead and do your worst.  I don’t care now.  I’ve done what I set out to do and it cannot be reversed.  She is safe from you, monsters.  Now you have to deal with me, just me.  I am truly alone again.  I conveniently forget the doctor and his “underground” at this moment.  I forget these others, these innocents chained with me.  I cannot handle any new responsibility.  There is only me here, now, in this horror.  And if I’m to beat the odds now I can only do it alone.

After what seems an eternity the steel grate is opened and we are dragged out, walked down a taller, drier corridor and into another room from which screams, howls and heart rending cries emerge.  Ah yes, this is where they do their real work.  We are unchained individually and each of about twelve of us is assigned a handler.  I’m walked to a vertical black metal pole and pulled tight against it.  Four arms extend from it with shackles on the ends.  My wrists and ankles are put inside the shackles and the arms are extended mechanically until my arms are stretched as on a cross and my legs gradually pulled open and stretched also until I’m ready to scream from the tension on my bones and muscles.  But they know just when to stop. 

So it begins.  Slowly the “pole” begins to tilt back taking me with it until I’m lying horizontally with my head hanging down without any support.  I feel hands over my skin, feeling me everywhere.  A man rapes me, then several take their turn.  I can’t see anything, just feel.  I scream when something sharp or hot cuts or enters my left thigh.  The pole arms begin to pull at me again.  I scream more.  Something is attached to my right nipple.  I am electrically shocked, then the same treatment is administered inside my vagina.  I pass out only to be revived with a needle.  I begin to hallucinate.

In my hallucination I hear the doctor.

“If  she knows something, I’ll find out.  Let me administer the rest and ask the questions.  The others are useless to us now.  Return them to their compound.  We can’t afford to lose all that money and compensate their owners.  This is a stupid move.  We want to know where the girl was taken to; who helped her escape.  I tell you, destroying all those fighters is a mistake.  It was a mistake to kill those two in the compound.  This is not how it’s done.  I have the inductor here.  So back away.  Do as I say.”

The pull on my legs and arms eases a bit and the pole returns to an almost upright position.  I am still unfocused and sick from the drug.  I can’t hold my head up and it keeps bobbing.  The image of the doctor floats before my eyes and I don’t know what to think at all.  The other ghosts fade out of my line of vision and the doctor leans closer.  Yes, it’s him alright.  ‘What are you doing here’ I want to ask but cannot.  My voice is frozen in my throat.  I have nothing to say.  I’m brain dead and they are going to realize this soon enough and finish me off.  That’s all.

“Can you hear me?”  It’s definitely the doctor’s voice.

“Yes, I think so.”  The croak I hear cannot be my own.

“I’m trying to save your life.  The inductor I hold is dysfunctional.  After I connect it, you are going to go through excruciating pain, even if you have to pretend doing so, and don’t let up until you make yourself sick and pass out, do you hear me?  Anyone can do that if they want to.  Piss and shit yourself, but do it.  It has to look real or you’re going to be worse off than dead because I won’t be able to help you if my trick is discovered.”

“Argggggggggggh”  is all I manage to answer, still in shock from the torture pangs and woozy from the drug.  He attaches electrodes to my head with a metal band he tightens with a screw so it won’t come off.  Then he stretches my arms and legs again until the same excruciating pain returns, only worse even and I begin to scream.  He twists a dial on his inductor and indeed I feel nothing.  But I continue to scream and writhe in pain, following his advice.  Yes, my body relieves itself from the ordeal and finally I do pass out as he adds more tension to the arms of the device in a desperate attempt to fake the inductor torture.  I don’t think that the use of the neuro-inductor  would have made much difference at that point.  In my warring, twisted thoughts I wonder how much of this he too is enjoying…

When I come to I’m still attached to the pole.  I feel as if I’ve been broken in several separate pieces that will never be put together.  I’m just pieces of a human body, arms and legs disjointed.  Nothing is connected.  I hear something.  An argument going on.  The doctor and another person are discussing the effects of the torture.

“She knows nothing.  She was tricked by somebody to walk out of her cage, a trainer she says.  She never saw him before and it was dark.  What gora refuses an order from a man?  He made her walk to the wall, then back to her cage, leaving it unlocked.  That’s what we know.  It is enough that one gora and one guard are dead.  Let them be the guilty parties.  If you want more evidence, I suggest you send your hunters out into the south desert.  That’s where they always go.” 

“She was her lover.  She’d be the one to help her escape.”  The voice is deep, assured.  There is the sense of the predator in it, one who has a special victim in his claws and wants to gloat every moment his captive remains alive to be toyed with.

That sounds like the doctor’s voice again:  “You are so wrong!  If they had planned to escape, why did she not go with the other, you tell me that.  Is she so happy here that she couldn’t take an opportunity to run away when it would have appeared such a sure thing and her lover was going?  Lovers don’t leave each other that way.  Think.  We’re being made fools of right now and all you can think of is torturing another body.  I warn you Warmo, your inquisition methods are making some nervous.  There is talk in some quarters of doing an investigation of your facilities.  How do you feel about that?”

“Threats, Bal?”

“No, a bargain Warmo.  Just a bargain.  I have a good deal of money invested in this fighter and I’m damned if I’ll let you destroy such a good killing machine.  You’re a fool.  You know the King is her owner.  Unless you can prove beyond any doubt that she is involved in this escape, do you think the King is just going to forget you killed his personal fighter just for some sick satisfaction of yours?”

 I hear his sardonic laughter and can imagine the sneer of contempt in him.  “Help yourself, take her.  She can’t ever fight again so she’s as good as dead – that device has seen to that even if your neuro-inductor hasn’t.  Wrists and ankles crushed, that’s what it does Bal.  Neat machine, one of my favourites.  And I may yet get her back here for additional questioning.  Remember this, I don’t forget those who push me Bal.”

“Threats, Warmo?”

“Fuck you, doctor Echinoza.” 

So much venom that even in my confused state and the excruciating pain shooting through my body I can feel the hate in my guts.  This Warmo does not torture for results but purely for ultimate sadistic pleasure.  He would have been a perfect member of House Harkonnen. (Harkonnen is a reference to characters in the Dune series by Frank Herbert)

Perhaps more to the point, a death camp Kommandant under Hitler’s SS guard, C-20, Old Earth history. 

Funny what you remember when you want to connect the dots of your lives and truly know yourself, especially when your body is under maximum stress.  ‘Oh, the green, green grass of home…’ “aaaahhhhhh…”  Still not my voice.  Some poor girl in a torture dungeon, hurting, and I should feel sorry for her but I can’t: I must pretend to myself that I’m dead.  The dead don’t talk and they don’t feel pain.

My head falls back and I almost choke.  I scream an obscenity as I’m racked by another spasm.  Obscene pain beyond the meaning of the word. 

Another eternity and the doctor comes over and releases the mechanism that holds my wrists and ankles and keeps me from falling as I try to put my weight on my feet.  I cannot walk at all.  So he throws my limp form over his broad shoulders and carries me out through tunnels that seem to go on forever; that in my mind I want to go on forever. 

It feels so good to be dead; to be in a place where no one can ever hurt you; to be carried to your final rest by someone who cares for you.  Death by torture has a way of changing your perspective on life.  I think it has made me soft.

[end blog post # 45]

I Am Shallaya

(I must have done something “wrong” when I posted this poem yesterday as my comment section disappeared.  Therefore and all the rest, I’m re-posting it without the links to  “the Cafe Philos poetry prompt” to see if the comment section shows up again.)

               I Am Shallaya

[remembrances of a      ~burning woman~ ]
                as told by Sha’Tara

Spring steel: that was the Word.
I arched my back to feel it.
‘Yes,’ I whispered to the damp stone walls
Encompassing me, imprisoning me,
Spring steel:
That’s what I must be, it’s what I am.

Let them come for me now, I am ready.

They came then, as I knew they would.
They came, two by two at first,
To lie dead and bleeding on the stone.
It wasn’t what they had expected
As they leered at my naked body.

I stood waiting for the denouement:
There was a commotion in the hall
The clank of halberds and swords,
The yell of commands, curses, questions,

Confused calls echoed in the dungeons:
I discovered something else, a new power
The Spirit had left with me: dark sight.
With my mind I extinguished their torches.

They were sightless in the hallway;
Smelled the blood of their fallen comrades
Never thinking I could have done such.
I smelled their fear then, that of retribution
From their superstitions, the dreaded unknown.

I spoke for the first time since captured:
Five days it was I had been stripped, mocked,
And thrown in the dungeon for future sport.
Five days and I found my voice again,
But not the one I’d used to plead with!

‘You will all die,’ I said, growling
As the power beast rose in my throat,
As the spring steel twanged in my back
As I came out slowly, tearing out the steel door
As if made but of straw wattles.

I could see them, they not me!
Pathetic, I thought, as I touched one:
He peed himself, dropped his weapon,
Begged for mercy, as each one did,
Gurgled, as I ripped his throat out,
A fitting end for such cowards.

I found a young one about my size:
Took his clothes, tunic, armour,
Walked out openly, thought a guard
Until challenged at the main gate.

I recognized some of the gate watch:
They had leered and laughed as I was paraded
Naked for their benefit.

‘I am Shallaya the witch,’ I said
Matter of fact and simply intoned
With a normal woman’s voice.

Their eyes grew big, they made their move
And I mine: five men became five bodies.

I turned and cursed their battlements then,
And watched as they collapsed.
I cursed their gate and walked on through.
I cursed their drawbridge. It collapsed
Like a rotten log into the stagnant moat
And what a stench arose from that!

I walked away not even looking back
As the people fled screaming
As mice from a burning barn.

“You did that well” said the Grimmer
As he floated beside me, grinning stupidly.

‘I passed my test, then?’ I asked of him.

“I’m not supposed to tell, but of course
Yes, you passed your test. You are Power.
You are Witch. They await you
To give you your power staff.”

‘Thank you, Grimmer, for the gift.’
And I pointed back to the dying castle.
He laughed and disappeared.

With such power, how did we lose?
How did we not see the Patriarchy coming?
Though nobody now, I remain Witch.
I am Shallaya, and I still ask the Question

And it will never, ever, be over.
That I have sworn upon my staff
The day they burned it, and my body.

Cafe Philos Poetry Prompt

The following is for Paul Sunstone’s Cafe Philos Poetry prompt, see link here:

The Café Philos Poetry Prompt For Them That Be Wild Things (March 31, 2019)

                 I Am Shallaya

[remembrances of a      ~burning woman~ ]
                as told by Sha’Tara

Spring steel: that was the Word.
I arched my back to feel it.
‘Yes,’ I whispered to the damp stone walls
Encompassing me, imprisoning me,
Spring steel:
That’s what I must be, it’s what I am.

Let them come for me now, I am ready.

They came then, as I knew they would.
They came, two by two at first,
To lie dead and bleeding on the stone.
It wasn’t what they had expected
As they leered at my naked body.

I stood waiting for the denouement:
There was a commotion in the hall
The clank of halberds and swords,
The yell of commands, curses, questions,

Confused calls echoed in the dungeons:
I discovered something else, a new power
The Spirit had left with me: dark sight.
With my mind I extinguished their torches.

They were sightless in the hallway;
Smelled the blood of their fallen comrades
Never thinking I could have done such.
I smelled their fear then, that of retribution
From their superstitions, the dreaded unknown.

I spoke for the first time since captured:
Five days it was I had been stripped, mocked,
And thrown in the dungeon for future sport.
Five days and I found my voice again,
But not the one I’d used to plead with!

‘You will all die,’ I said, growling
As the power beast rose in my throat,
As the spring steel twanged in my back
As I came out slowly, tearing out the steel door
As if made but of straw wattles.

I could see them, they not me!
Pathetic, I thought, as I touched one:
He peed himself, dropped his weapon,
Begged for mercy, as each one did,
Gurgled, as I ripped his throat out,
A fitting end for such cowards.

I found a young one about my size:
Took his clothes, tunic, armour,
Walked out openly, thought a guard
Until challenged at the main gate.

I recognized some of the gate watch:
They had leered and laughed as I was paraded
Naked for their benefit.

‘I am Shallaya the witch,’ I said
Matter of fact and simply intoned
With a normal woman’s voice.

Their eyes grew big, they made their move
And I mine: five men became five bodies.

I turned and cursed their battlements then,
And watched as they collapsed.
I cursed their gate and walked on through.
I cursed their drawbridge. It collapsed
Like a rotten log into the stagnant moat
And what a stench arose from that!

I walked away not even looking back
As the people fled screaming
As mice from a burning barn.

“You did that well” said the Grimmer
As he floated beside me, grinning stupidly.

‘I passed my test, then?’ I asked of him.

“I’m not supposed to tell, but of course
Yes, you passed your test. You are Power.
You are Witch. They await you
To give you your power staff.”

‘Thank you, Grimmer, for the gift.’
And I pointed back to the dying castle.
He laughed and disappeared.

With such power, how did we lose?
How did we not see the Patriarchy coming?
Though nobody now, I remain Witch.
I am Shallaya, and I still ask the Question

And it will never, ever, be over.
That I have sworn upon my staff
The day they burned it, and my body.

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #42

(continuing with the Manifesto… )

By mid-morning the twins return.  One has a long slash on her left arm which she holds as blood drips from the fingers of the limp hand hanging down.  The other woman is limping, but they have returned from their first fight and there is a look of triumph on their faces.  They have done what they swore to do and thought they’d never get the chance.  Two men died to pay for whatever horror other men did to these women.  They will survive their wounds and will go on to kill many more.  Their hate will never abate, that I know.  They have become killers of men.  They will never be anything less or more than that, until they are killed in turn.  By permission now long granted I escort and turn them in to the medics’ rooms for patching up and brief observation, the costs of such medical treatments having been paid by their owners.  Deirdre accompanies me and is permitted to attend to their wounds, thus leaving the medics to just sit and watch, doing nothing.

Expensive fighting animals taken to the vet after the fight: it is the way of it.

[end blog post #41]
______________________

[begin blog post #42]

I retrieve their weapons from the handlers and as I clean the long sword and bloodied axe, I shudder again. 

Such waste!  Such terrible waste.  No wonder this world is dying.  The black hole my friend the doctor is looking for – look no farther than into the heart of every person on this world.  Look at the blackness there.  That’s your problem, doc!  That and whatever Force is pushing the buttons of Malefactus.  That outside Force you won’t consider to exist.  You bastards who control this world from the spy-moon of Albaral, I’ll find you and expose you yet, I swear it!

‘And when are you going to get Deirdre out of this hell-hole, doc my very good friend?’  I my mind and heart I exude sarcasm and bile.

My thoughts jump naturally to Deirdre and Balomo.  I have to have someone to beat up on in my head at this moment, or I feel I’ll go stark raving mad, make a mad rush into the arena where the organized killing is still going on for the entertainment of thousands of brain-dead boneheads, and “go postal” as they used to say on Old Earth.

I grab the weapons tightly, one in each hand and walk down to the forge to have their cutting edges re-done, hissing my anger between my teeth, imaging this entire stone “fort” blowing itself to dust and joining the rest of the growing desert.  The blacksmith approaches me with his expectant erection and I make a gesture that says: ‘now would definitely be a good time to practice abstinence.’  Fortunately for both of us he understands and laughs his hearty old pirate’s laugh.  He won’t go without.  Some other girl will be available to him shortly.

On the way back I’m greeted silently by a Cydroid disguised as a handler.  As he pretends to escort me he whispers, more into my mind than ear, lips never moving:

“We have secured permission to take your friend to Koron as a special case study, not as a refugee.  You will have to perform your end of the bargain, covering for us, and her.  Are you ready and willing to do so?”

“I have been ready for over a year!  Yes, do it.  When is it happening?”

“Two days.  Dark night of clouds forecast.  The “King” has arranged to have many of the usual complement of guards busy at the court for his personal “protection” while we take her through the gates and alarmed sectors.  You will follow us until we cross the walk bridge across the moat and you will wander away along the water’s edge, then walk in and swim to the other side to make imprints there.  Then return immediately before the alarms are reset and the doors close.  You will have twenty three minutes.  Can you calculate that without chrono?”

“I’ll be swift, never fear.  I’m ready.”

“You cannot speak of this to the Cholradil, you understand?  She will be sedated when we take her.  There is no other way.  You will not say goodbye to her even though you won’t see her again.  You must not let her know something is going on.  Use anger to cover your feelings.  That works for us.  And above all, you must trust us to do what we promise to do.  You must never worry about her safety.  In time, the doctor will let you know how we fared and how she is doing and adapting.”

“You sound so confident… I wish I could be as much.”

“Be.  You must.”

“Thank you so much, sir.”

But he walks away as if he did not hear me.  I know he did.  It’s not their way to bandy or accept thanks, praise or blame.  They do what they program themselves to do until it is done or they reprogram themselves.  Now my mind fills itself with the risks of this enterprise.  Yes, the false king is on our side, of course, but he is only a figurehead in the whole gamut of Malefactus politics and economics.  His word is law only because some greater Force upholds it.  The position of King is used to control the people only.  But the real government of Malefactus resembles more the organization of a secret society.  Its ruling aristocracy is but a front.  There is a tight-knit secret oligarchy pulling the strings on this world.  Who are they and what do they want?

The questioning that will arise from Deirdre’s disappearance will not come from the courts, but from the dark, dreaded official inquisition.  Even the King is subject to the Force that instituted the inquisition.  This much I learned from Bal.  I know now that my greatest trial on Malefactus has begun and won’t end even long after she is gone, if I survive that long.  How much will I feature in their investigations?  What will it cost me?  How much do I love you Deirdre?  Never enough, I know, but in this just enough to see you off this world.  The rest is the rest.  

I step lively back to the training, involving myself in a bunch of details I’d let slip.  I upbraid a couple of fighters for sloppiness, striking one hard on the side of the head to demonstrate how easily one dies.  She flinches and rubs her head and I hit her again on her unprotected side.  She goes down and I jump on top of her, ready to spit her.  There is a look of pure terror in her eyes.

I step off of her and growl for her to stand.    

“Pick up your ‘fucking’ staff and fight me, damn you.  Fight me! You call yourself a gladiator?  You’re nothing but ‘pess.’”  (In our world the term means a combination of excretion of piss and sweat.  It is always used insultingly.) 

And I drive her hard until her fear changes to anger and she begins to return the blows in earnest.  Too late, of course, but an improvement.  Maybe she will last more than a couple of bouts if her challengers are drugged, or certifiable idiots.  We do get those.  Some people get lucky.  Will this one?

“Is there something wrong with your head?” I ask her.

“No sir!”  protocol – if I’m trainer, I have to be ‘sir.’

“Well if you’re not stupid, is it laziness?  Do you want to die on your first round?”

“No sir.”

“Then FIGHT!  Attack me, not to tickle me, but to KILL ME!

I say it so loud the sounds echo against the great walls and everyone stops to listen.  Trainers come running to me and I take a stance of humility.

“What is going on here?”

“Something new, sirs.  I have discovered that certain words help people respond to attack.  Perhaps we could be permitted to test my idea?”

“It will be taken into consideration.  One more outburst and it’s a flogging – for both of you.”

“I’m sorry sirs.  No more outbursts.”  And I watch them return to their brew and dice.  In this instance the threat would not be carried out but protocol was served.  They did their job.

I turn viciously to the trainee and use the ‘high’ language, not their pidgin.

“Do you understand now, girl?  You have some power you can use.  I just demonstrated how easily you can die, one from weapons in the arena, the other by violating rules.  The only reason we are not being flogged to death at this very moment is because of who I am, do you realize that?  I put your life in danger because I seek to save your life.  You owe me this: to listen carefully and to throw yourself body and mind into our training.  There is nothing else here for you.  No escape.  No miracles.  No fairy tales.  You will fight to the death every time you enter that arena. 

“Turn around.”  She obeys immediately.  I read her brand for her ‘age.’

“You have approximately one year left to prepare for these ordeals.  They will not end until you are killed. 

“If you do not wish to survive, tell me now and we won’t waste time I can best spend on those who wish to live longer.  You will go into your first fight and you will be tortured to death, not killed outright.  They will soon realize you don’t know how to attack, or even defend yourself.  And they will toy with you, disgrace and dishonour you and you will make the status of all women on this world even less than it is because of your lack of courage.

“We don’t fight only for ourselves.  We fight for all the women on this world.  The others only suffer and have no means to fight back but we do!  We are the gladiators!  We have weapons and we can learn how to use them.  It’s how we make our way.  You girl are not just one girl; you are all of us when you fight them.  Are we then all lazy, stupid, or cowards, as they like to think?  Or will you show them something different? 

“Every one of you youngsters has the potential to be the greatest female fighter ever to enter the arena.  Everyone.  All you need to do is find the key that opens the door to that new idea and believe you can do it.  Realize that if you can think it, you can do it.  Just follow through with nothing to look back on, nothing to lose.  This world hangs by a thread and the end of that thread is just within your grasp.  There is only one thread.  The men want to cut it.  You are the one called to prevent this from happening.  You get me?”

Does she ‘get’ me?  I fear not in the least.  There is yet no understanding of philosophy, of any sort of personal power one can tap into from within.  With these poor people, everything is physical and external.  If you have a weapon; if you are given permission; if you are challenged; if you are allowed; if you are physically able – you can fight against a man and maybe kill that man before he kills you.  But you gain nothing by it.  You just live to fight another day, that’s all.  You cannot improve yourself in any way. 

It is the way of it. 

And I’m sick to death of hearing that damned expression that says it all for all of us.  How can I communicate abstract ideas to these people?  They express white noise for thoughts and they have the limited vocabulary of a three year old Earthian child, exceptions noted.

[end blog post #42]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #41

(Busy times and I realize I’ve fallen behind in posting… sorry!)

By her branding she is now fifteen years old.  She has maybe one more year before she must enter the arena and I still have no idea what criteria they use to decide when a new trainee makes her debut in the arena as an official fighter.  The way it looks, unless someone notices her and buys her out of this place into concubinage or the sex trade – not much of an improvement from what I’ve heard from the two “demoted” concubines I’m in the process of training for the arena – Deirdre is doomed to die within the year. 

I cannot let that happen.

[end blog post #40
__________________________________________________
[begin blog post #41]

Chapter 18 – Trainer, warrior and worrier

I’m leaving the physical aspects relating to this world’s malaise to the Koronese and their Cydroids for the time being.  I’ve been involved in too many physical “rescues” in other lives, other worlds, to hold much hope that we can help this world in such a way.  What is needed here is sentience probing.  Deep exploration of mind pathways. 

Logically, it begins with a withdrawal, or better put, a removal.  One woman escapes in physical form and without trace.  Thus we create a crack in this stultified structure.

Now have your laugh at me: if that isn’t a physical rescue! Life is fascinating, not because of how much in it ‘fits’ somehow, but in endless contradictions!  So, let us proceed in contradictions up to our proverbial armpits, vowing to do thus, doing that instead, to arrive at this!

Deirdre is the one who makes it possible for me to communicate with the ever-changing kitchen slave Cydroid.  She takes our messages back and forth, fully aware the discussion is about her.  She understands I want her to leave Malefactus and why.  She sees the need of it, yet does not want to entertain the thought of leaving me.  Nor does she want to hope such a miraculous avenue of escape could be possible.  No one escapes Malefactus, she would say.  ‘It is the way of it.’

One of the female Cydroids answers my questions with much detail and demonstrates definite concern for the empath, coupled with professional interest.  According to Deirdre, she wants to be the one to bring the Cholradil to her home world and perform the preliminary studies of Deirdre’s strange characteristics.  She even cancels the two-day shift change to remain in the kitchens in order to probe Deirdre’s mind.  On Koron this Cydroid holds degrees in psychology and philosophy. 

Convincing others is more difficult.  Time, I insist, is of the essence.  How long will they procrastinate?  Until she is killed?  She cannot survive even one encounter in the arena, that we all agree on.

Bal is concerned, certainly.  But Koron is a problem.  They don’t want another denizen of Malefactus on their world.  Their laws currently forbid entry of off-world refugees for whatever reason.  My hopes for Deirdre are heading into bureaucratic red tape.  I want to get angry; steal the stealth craft and take Deirdre with me — anywhere.  Certainly I can find the memory in my mind from our wild days at the controls of jump scouts and crewing on attack ships.

Certainly I remember. 

A mad adrenalin rush comes to my head as I consider that kind of move. 

The pure ‘shamelessly physical’ engagement as your right hand grips and pushes the thrusters stick; hair literally standing on end and spine tingling from the effects of the electro-magnetic containment force-field of the fusion drive as it now comes out of “hibernation” into a roaring full-blown mini sun-flare blasting  the ship forth from its holding surface. 

The breathless rush into free space, the stomach-churning pull of multi-g force sensed even through the containment fields, pushing the body into the padding; the rumbling and shaking as the drive kicks into max while on screen the world you’ve just launched from dwindles to a speck, then to nothing in darkened skies. 

Left hand poised, tense, fingers splayed, hovering over the weapons’ console waiting for the tell-tale orange or red blip of an enemy ship appearing on screen; for the chase to begin long before your ship has a chance to engage its cloaking mirror and deflector shields.  Lifetimes lived in endless moments.

Oh yes, let’s do it!’

I’m not rational.  Love, what a terrible and stupid thing to be involved in. 

I try to move out of it.

When none of it matters, it will all be yours.’  Ah yes, truth that I don’t want to hear at this moment, yet is the only comfort I can receive.  I must cling to these remnants, these shreds that kept me reasonably sane in other incarnations.  I know so much, too much, I think.  Else, I’ve gotten messed up in my feelings.  The tail is wagging the dog these days, no doubt of this. 

Meanwhile life continues, Malefactus style.  We train to kill, we kill.  We get killed.  We are replaced, train some more and kill more.  Each day, more bodies of dead women are carried out to the hearse as I call it now.  Many die in their cages, finding ways to terminate their hopeless lives.  Owners get upset at their losses in entertainment and money.  We are driven to perform more.  New recruits arrive to replace the dead.  I see more blood each day.  I smell more of the piss and sweat at night even though I should be used to it by now.

It’s war with the only difference that the losers can never be allowed to win. 

I want it to end and it doesn’t.  It’s the way of it. 

I’ve finished the training of the two concubines.  They are passable fighters.  Angry and bitter but not careless.  They know the score of the survival game.  but they possess an insatiable need to avenge themselves on men.  I know they can kill.  They work well together.  That’s how we mostly trained – two on one.  I am trying something new: team work.  Like the two men I fought long ago, but that wasn’t team work.  This is.  They fight as one, each covering the other, aware of every aspect of their moves, how one affects the other.  They came from the same crèche and I wonder if they are twins.  They don’t understand what I mean, so I can only assume they are.  They are not empathic – I’m grateful for that! – but they possess an instinctive awareness of each other’s presence even under stress conditions and rapid movement.  This could work to their advantage, prolong their lives, if I can get the concept approved.

More bureaucratic delays.  My ‘girls’ are ready for the arena, but only as a team.  I explain the concept to a couple of handlers.  They shrug, then reluctantly take the idea to their overseer.  For two weeks, the answer is no.  Then it changes to “maybe” when I involve another group of trainers.  Competition between trainer teams I learned to use long ago.  If they approve my idea and it pays off, those who do the approval get the tips and bribe money.  Finally the concept is approved.  The “Concubines” will fight as a team, never as one, at least not until one of them is killed. 

A new style of fighting, guaranteed to up the antes, is carefully leaked out of the training compound into the streets of Hyrete.  Those who possess ‘the secret’ can sell it.  

We train in earnest now, knowing to concentrate on the team work.  I introduce another “revolutionary” idea: let it be different weapons for each member of the team.  It is approved.  We still cannot choose our weapons – that’s another thing I am working on slowly – but the challenger (if only one) must indicate which two weapons or set of weapons he wishes to engage the “Concubines” (now their official handle and fighting title) with.  If two challengers, each picks a different weapon and we match the choice.

The day before the fight, as late as they could leave it, two challengers come to the training ground and after watching the twins as I refer to them, decide on their weapons.  One is the regular two-handed long blade sword and the other, the axe.  It doesn’t surprise me they would choose such unwieldy weapons for themselves.  The “Concubines” are of slight build and short even for people of this world.  I ask the girls how they feel about the choice.  “We fight” they say in a low, throaty tone aimed for my ears only.  They say it in unison and with deadly intent.   

That’s it.  “We fight” which means, “we kill.”  Whatever they lack in size I know they’ll more than make up in speed, skill and focused hatred.  These two are driven to kill men.  Whatever was done to them, and only they and their abusers can know for they’ll never tell, they are going to make someone pay.  I almost pity their challengers.  Despite the many injunctions against demonstrating open affection I approach my charges to salute them, then hug them quickly.  The trainers frown but let it pass.  I’m still the Wild Desert Beast after all, approaching an all-time record for kills and survival in the arena.  They don’t know about the auto-medic and the stim, of course.  Ah well, as I was taught long ago, “What the eyes don’t see the heart doesn’t grieve.”  This can be the very last place in the universe where any of us would worry about decorum or honour.  Stealth, trickery, lies, deception, hate, greed – these are the values of this society.

I bring out the weapons and hold them for the twins to choose.  They decide which one will use the sword and which one the axe.  I place them in the special bundles to be taken to the arena in the morning where they are usually, not always, inspected by two officials from the Arena Fighter Council.  The twins turn for their cages, only this time I’ve managed to get them assigned to the same one.  They are thankful, I know.  And it is then, while I have time to think before I eat my own evening meal, that my heart constricts terribly for the two women.  I always assume it is easier for me to fight than for any of the others; the dangers to them are always magnified in my mind.  I cry those “illegal” tears and this time I don’t care who sees or who questions.  I’m ready to punch out or drop kick the first trainer who objects to my current mood.  I’m furious and to make matters worse, Deirdre comes to serve me the food.  And she knows.  She can see it all.  There are tears in her eyes too.  She leans on my shoulder as she hands me my bowl.   

Tonight we will not share our usual pleasure.  We will not exchange our exclusive type of loving.  We will sit side by side and let our hearts move with our sorrows.  It will be a night of vigil and searching.  We will let our minds work through their inexhaustible problems.  Tonight we will take in the entire compound of women and bring them all within our empathy and compassion.  We will cry for them and with them.  We will take the twins’ hatred and accept it as part of the gift of life here.  Tonight, through self-denial we will practice being “avatars” as I understand the concept and have taught it to Deirdre. 

Morning comes and I have not slept, using a technique learned on Altaria for remaining awake without effort.  Deirdre has succumbed and is leaning into my lap.  I wake her in time to see the twins being taken out.  We make no sound, no move. 

It is the way of it.

By mid-morning the twins return.  One has a long slash on her left arm which she holds as blood drips from the fingers of the limp hand hanging down.  The other woman is limping, but they have returned from their first fight and there is a look of triumph on their faces.  They have done what they swore to do and thought they’d never get the chance.  Two men died to pay for whatever horror other men did to these women.  They will survive their wounds and will go on to kill many more.  Their hate will never abate, that I know.  They have become killers of men.  They will never be anything less or more than that, until they are killed in turn.  By permission now long granted I escort and turn them in to the medics’ rooms for patching up and brief observation, the costs of such medical treatments having been paid by their owners.  Deirdre accompanies me and is permitted to attend to their wounds, thus leaving the medics to just sit and watch, doing nothing.

Expensive fighting animals taken to the vet after the fight: it is the way of it.

[end blog post #41]