Category Archives: Innocence

Gimpy

(A short story, by Sha’Tara)

I was starting my third grade year when I got to know a scrawny first grade little kid with large beautiful brown eyes everyone called “Gimp” or “Gimpy.” I just want to quickly write up how it was we actually met, I mean to talk to each other.

It was lunch time and most of the kids who didn’t go home for lunch gathered in one large room of multi-purpose usage. There were tables and benches and the odd older desk too for those who liked to sit alone and perhaps read, or draw. Remember that was a while ago, even transistor radios didn’t exist then!

I had picked one of the old desks because I wanted to continue reading a book I’d just got my hands on: Treasure Island. It promised well right from the beginning and I was eager to find out if Jim would get to go sailing.

I had opened my lunch kit and was inspecting my food when there was a bit of a commotion. A scrawny kid was being called names and laughed at. One of those at the ‘bully’ table called the kid over, dangled a chocolate bar in a wrapper in front of him, then threw it down the aisle. The kid raced after it, got it, tore open the wrapper to find that it had been stuffed with dirt.

Amidst the jeers and laughter, I looked at that kid’s sad, confused and disappointed face. He saw me looking at him and realized I wasn’t of those making fun of him. He carefully put the chocolate wrapper still filled with dirt into the garbage can and limped over to my desk. He stood there and I saw his eyes grow even bigger as he eyed my lunch.

I may have been only eight years old but I came from a large family and I knew a hungry look on a kid’s face when I saw one. I asked him to come over and sit beside me, then I offered him half of everything I had packed for myself. The kid ate every crumb and I realized that he was starving. So I gave him more and kept less. I felt, I dunno, something warm and good and powerful rising inside me as I watched him devour my lunch. I didn’t even feel hungry anymore.

We became friends, and I think he sort of adopted me as a big sister. So I decided to help him with his school work as well. He was, from my point of view, terribly slow. Obviously he’d never been shown how to read, write or even do simple arithmetic at home before coming to school. In fact, when I asked him his age, he reluctantly admitted he was also eight years old. He looked no more than five.

“How come you didn’t come to school when you were six like the rest of us then?”

“My mom said it was too much bother and she couldn’t afford to buy me new clothes, that school was useless anyway. So I stayed home and on the street until a lady called a social worker came to see my mom and after she got some clothes for me, I came to school. Is school really useless, Deena?”

“No it isn’t, Gimpy. School is like being on a holiday where you get to practice your imagination, you get to learn things only adults would normally know, and when you know how to read, oh boy, all those books, all those amazing stories you can make your own, like you can accompany those people in the stories, become one of them, play along, have endless adventures.”

“Why doesn’t my mom know this?”

I had no answer but to admit I didn’t know. My own parents loved reading all sorts of stuff and they made sure we would not be kept in the dark. I had learned about measurements from reading labels on cans and bottles. I had already tried some recipes printed on the back of cereal boxes. I knew how to tell the difference between several ‘medicines’ stored in the bathroom medicine cabinet, as well as those stored in the milk house to be used for the cows, pigs or chickens.

A couple of weeks after I had gotten to know Gimpy I had to miss a day of school. After school Gimpy came to my house crying, his jacket torn and with a terrible black eye and split lip. My heart raced when I saw that. Even more so when he told me that the bullies had assaulted him at afternoon recess and beaten him severely.

“What about Sister Blanche? Didn’t she see what was going on, or heard anything?”

“I dunno. She watched, didn’t do nothin’.”

“Did nothing… Oh, never mind, let me fix you up as best we can and we’ll deal with this tomorrow.”

As I remember that day, so many years ago now, it wasn’t one of my best days. I wanted to be a truly good person. I never wanted to get into any kind of trouble and certainly did not want to get involved in a fight with other kids, particularly bullies. But I knew I still had to confront them. After all they had assaulted my ‘little brother’ and this was a blood thing from my point of view.

I kind of started it wrong the next morning when I waylaid the chief trouble maker who had assaulted Gimpy with, “Hey chicken shit, are you so scared to take on someone your own size you gotta beat up a little kid?” And I walked right up to him, sticking my face practically in his. “That’s unfinished business you left yesterday and I’m here to make sure it is finished so you’ll know not to mess with us.”

That was the trigger. He threw down his books and came at me. Now I may have been a girl but my dad had taught me a few fighting tricks of his own, some of which he had warned me never to talk about or brag about. He taught me about men’s particular weakness down there between their legs and I saw my chance to test that particular move. Needless to say it worked like a charm. When the others saw their leader down on the ground moaning and crying, they not only backed off, they ran.

I suppose that would have been that except a sister of those bullies went to tattle to Sister Blanche who immediately stepped over to us, grabbed me by the arm, pinching as hard as she could and made me stand by the blackboard in front of the whole class. When all were settled she ordered me to bend over her desk and she certainly didn’t hold back on the strap. When I yelled that “they” had started it, I got more, so much I couldn’t sit straight the rest of that day.

I didn’t cry and swore I’d get even, not on the bullies, I knew they’d stay away from me and Gimpy from now on, oh no, my aim was Sister Blanche. Whatever was her problem I’d make her pay. And I did, though not in any way I had thought possible if quite impractical. What I needed was something practical, and that’s what I got, from a very practical source: my mother.

After school (and after I managed to give the evil eye to Sister Blanche) I took Gimpy home so I could do a bit of sewing on his clothes, and put more salve on his shiner – that left eye was almost shut by then. It happened that mom had come in from the fields and of course wanted to know the story behind the black eye. So I told her, and Gimpy haltingly told his own version, without embellishments, including my punishment at school.

I should tell you, my mom has a fiery temper. She doesn’t “take any shit” as dad would often, and proudly say and she’d tell him to “shush George.” She didn’t say anything but I knew that she was brewing something up; I heard her and dad talking later that night.

Chores done, lunches made and time to head for school and here’s mom, in her Sunday best outfit, holding the door open, then walking with me to school.

“What’s going on, mom?” I asked and got the predictable answer,

“You’ll see.” And that was it. She went in with me and stood at the back of the room until the kids were settled at their desks then walked up to Sister Blanche and stated, loudly and clearly, “I want to have a talk with you, Sister. Now, and no excuses. Either right here in front of your class, or find us an office to talk in. Just know that I’m in no mood for games, savvy?”

I liked that “savvy” the way she said it. It was like reading a novel. I was so proud of her at that moment I swore to myself that I would become just like that some day. Anyway, Sister gave the class a reading assignment, put an older girl in charge and she and my mom left the room.

Sister Blanche came back a while later and let me tell you that if looks could kill, I’d have been six feet under and Sister Blanche in prison for life! I didn’t feel uncomfortable though. I gave her the same look right back, you know the kind when you feel that palpitation in your eyelids? The danger look full of hate and anger? It was at that moment that I realized Sister Blanche was just as much of a bully as those who had beaten up Gimpy. I grew up a lot that day!

That had been a Thursday and when Saturday morning was well engaged mom told me to get dressed, that we were going to see Gimpy’s mom. I was surprised but not terribly. Mom did things like that. If she had her mind on doing something it got done, (case closed as I liked to add for myself). That was mom.

When we got there, we had to bang heavily on the door to get an answer. Gimpy’s mom (who seemed too young to be a mom by my standards) stood there, holding on to the door, bleary eyed and her hair a total mess. She didn’t smell clean either.

“Where’s Gimpy?” asked mom.

“I dunno. It’s Saturday, innit? He’s probably roaming the streets looking for stuff.”

“You mean looking for something to eat, don’t you Violet?”

“I feed him. I got food here.”

“Yeah? Let’s see what you have that your kid could eat and live off of then.”

“Not today, I just cleaned out the fridge yesterday. I was going to go shopping today.”

“But you spent the money on booze, didn’t you, Violet? Look Vi, it’s none of my business what you do with your own life, OK? But the whole village is talking – not that those hypocrites are any better – but you’re going to lose your boy sooner than later. My daughter here has been seeing to getting Gimpy food at school, but that’s not enough. We could do more, but where would be your responsibility? By the way, I need to know your kid’s real name, Vi. What is it?”

“It’s Vidal. Don’t say I told you, and please, oh please, don’t call him that, he just hates it.”

“I don’t blame him. OK, at least I know. Now is not the time but later this afternoon I want you to come over to our house for tea, and I want for you and me to have a very, very serious talk, OK? You were a good girl not so long ago Vi. You babysat my kids and did a great job. It’s never too late to get back on track. If you don’t, Gimpy will be taken away from you and there won’t be anything any of us can do. Deena and Gimpy are very good friends and I’d hate to see them separated. Promise you’ll come?”

“I promise I’ll come Mrs. Bennett, I promise.”

“Good. I have a few dollars here for you to buy some decent groceries. Do something good for your boy, it’s high time to make him proud of you just as my kids are proud of me, if that makes any sense. Go shopping, hold your head high and ignore the snotty noses. Right now you have one thing in your favour as far as I’m concerned: you’re not a pew warming hypocrite. Not much but it’s something to go on. See you later.”

We walked home together, mom and I, and I held her hand as if she’d been royalty and I’d just been adopted. That kind of pride. And she taught me a new word. She said, “there’s a name for people like Sister Blanche and that’s a bigot. She thinks Gimpy’s mom is a bad sinner because she doesn’t go to church and she ‘entertains’ on her own. That’s why she didn’t help Gimp. You don’t ever want to be like that Sister Blanche.”

That was my mom. That was the shining light of humanity I swore to myself I would learn from, and I did. My mom didn’t actually die, she just moved inside me where I had left a big part of my heart for her to live in. She is there still.

I need to finish this, so here goes. Violet, that is, Mrs. Atkinson did choose to become responsible and raised her boy properly from there on. Gimpy became Doctor Vidal Atkinson, now retired. Sister Blanche was transferred halfway through that school year – she was not regretted by anyone, and isn’t it sad to not realize when one’s character is faulty and needs changing? The ‘bullies’ grew up and did change their characters… I even dated a couple of them and we had some pretty wild times. When my dad was dying, his last words were, “Don’t take any shit, Jane” as mom sat by his bedside crying and saying, “It’s so hard all of a sudden Todd. You were my life, my whole life. What will I do now?” But he passed on without an answer for her, or me.

And me? Well I’m still Deena Bennett and I’ve been sort of a writer of stories and tales and of the stuff that any observing person can see. Some of us just know how to put it in words so that others can also remember. Have I been successful? That depends. I was there for Gimpy and how many lives did he save as a good doctor? I grew a heart big enough to accommodate my mom and I and quite a few Violet type strays over the years. I never had to beg for anything.

 

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #55

(I’m really falling behind in following up on posting the “Manifesto” and sorry about that, I know it makes it difficult to follow the story through these gaps. I’ll try to get back on track, but no promise as long as work keeps interfering with my life… dang it all!)

The process:  Access, study, feel, understand, delete.  Yeah, I should have been a Cydroid.  For it is one of our truisms that we, human and Avatari alike, cannot delete our past; cannot disown it.  We can but dis-empower or empower it according to our present need and understanding.

And in my sleep I dream of the constant we call “evil” but it is a sweet dream, not a nightmare.

[end blog post #54]
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[begin blog post #55]

From chronicler Michele Dellman, T’Sing Tarleyn historian for the Supremacy.

Galactic date-year 67,854, classic date-year [?] (Not available at this time to this reporter due to the amount of chaos resulting from the attacks upon, and subsequent destruction of the fortified city of Hyrete)

The following was put together from antique memcorder cards found in the medical facility that served the Hyrete arena where the female gladiators, or fighters as they were called, were kept in a massive arrangement of cages behind stone walls twenty or more meters high and several meters thick, protected by an actual moat and a most sophisticated array of alarm systems. 

The following set was not written by the historical figure called An’Tierra but by someone with access to a computer linked to an off-world ship that transcribed her thoughts, probably while she was under sedation and receiving secret and illegal medical treatment in an old auto-medic mentioned by her but subsequently never found.  An educated guess here is that the transcriber was one of the Echinoza Cydroids purportedly from another mythical world called Koron.

These are but copies of long-lost originals. Note that she refers to herself as “Al’Tara” – name of a pseudo-historical figure on Old Earth that appears under other names in annals of the Supremacy pre-and post-dating the Melkiar wars.  The name “Al’Tara” was, it is said, her name as an Altarian, that is, as a human being [or one of the mythical Avatari?] from the ‘lost’ or “hidden” world of Altaria. 

‘I’ve seen many things in my travels as Al’Tara.  Wonders and horrors.  I’ve easily accepted the wonders, yes, and marvelled.  I’ve also accepted the natural horrors; movements in the chaos side of space/time giving rise to massive destruction of entire worlds.  I’ve faced the possible extinction of entire galaxies and all the riches and life they hold.  I’ve participated in many rescue attempts, some successful, most not.  I rejoiced at our successes and accepted our failures.   

During my many passages upon Old Earth, or Túat Har, I observed natural predators, from viruses to large mammals and even plants.  And not long ago I was a participant in the Melkiar wars.  I even encountered some of their robotic life forms.  Probed them to discover they had been uniquely programmed to kill, but without malice or intent to hurt.  Predators kill to perpetuate their species.  The Melkiars only destroyed that which they were designed to consider inimical concepts to their nature.

But never, never have I been able to accept, let alone comprehend, evil.  Evil is not that which destroys or even kills.  Evil, as I have observed it, is that which causes pain and hurt to others with intent based in sentient malevolence.  Evil is that which is done with malice aforethought.  It is planned to produce pain in another so that the perpetrator will feel a surge of sadistic pleasure by inflicting the pain. It’s ultimate purpose is to destroy the will of its victims, to crush them until nothing remains. That is how I describe evil.

The perpetrator of evil, the true sadist, needs to actually perform the pain-inducing act upon another, always helpless, victim; never on someone who has a chance of fighting back.  The true sadist never takes a chance on getting hurt.  If his victim manages to inflict pain on him, this reduces his level of pleasure and correspondingly increases his level of anger and hate towards the victim. 

Malefactus – I must explain why I call it that.  A malefactor is an evil doer; a law breaker.  But here you find a specific law-breaker, speaking of course of that one and only law written in, and for, the entire cosmos, or wherever life may be found, the law that says we must all care; all protect the innocent and the weak in order to strengthen them.  We must “love” the other in our power not as ourselves, but more, much more, than ourselves – beyond anything we would do for ourselves! We must develop and practice compassion to the highest level possible within our understanding.

On Malefactus, the perpetrator; the law breaker; the malefactor; is male.  The male factor of T’Sing Tarleyn, the “World of Man” is an utterly evil mindset.  The male ISSA beings here cannot apparently help themselves, true, but they also do not wish to do so.  They enjoy being what they are; doing what they do.  Their social mores are predicated upon the total oppression of the female.  Their economy such as it is, being but a caricature of a true economy is totally dependent on active misogyny.  Their judicial system ensconces it, preventing anyone from avoiding it.  As for their religious system, I have not, as yet, discovered if they have one and if they do, how it relates to that particular rampant evil that rules T’Sing Tarleyn.

Regarding the men, I cannot have a real conversation with any of them so it is dangerous to draw any solid conclusion about their state of mind.  They are pseudo-human, therefore they have to be consciously aware of the law at some level. They are not mindless predators but perpetrators of evil behaviour.   Much in the way the people of Old Earth were also aware of it.  Yet they live as if it did not exist for them.  But I wonder, aren’t there some throw-back types among them that actually “fall in love” with a female?  Some who would want to protect her, hide her, find her a safe haven somewhere, even if it cost him his life?  Is there no physical love except among the women? 

I have seen no open demonstration of homosexuality and that seems strange on such a world.  But then should it be, if males simply cannot love at all?  If all they can do is “fuck” and all they know is that it is done with females and then only in the form of “hate rape” resulting in violence done to her? 

There is another aspect of evil I still fail to understand.  I believe that humans are all equipped to “see” beauty with some variations, but within a general unifying whole.  We are also equally equipped to see ugliness, also with variations but with a general similarity.  Outside of this awareness are what I refer to as the exceptions.  Those who have the concepts turned around in their minds and hearts.  Some, because they are sick but some because they are simply put, evil.  On some worlds, these “exceptions” do not prove the rule, they are the rule.

Evil loves to mar and destroy beauty.  From defacement of buildings with graffiti to smashing windows, polluting and destroying the natural environment, mistreating animals, including in this all hunting and fishing done for sport, beating and raping women, oppressing children, oppressing and enslaving those who are helpless and without protection.  Take it in any order, it all comes down to the same thing.  Destruction of that which exhibits beauty gives evil types psychopathic pleasure.  What kind of force drives ISSA beings to find pleasure in marring that which is beautiful? 

Evil: I have no other answer.  None of the answers I’ve heard, read about or considered, answer the question in a more understandable fashion.

So, how do I understand Malefactus, a world where the only pleasure experienced seems to be in causing the maximum of pain to helpless victims?  Since I’ve been here in these cages, the training compound, and the bloody arena, I’ve met – yes, and befriended – hundreds of young girls who did not survive their first time in the arena and women who succumbed to their opponents.  I’ve seen them viciously beaten, raped, tortured.  I’ve heard them scream for mercy and watched them being killed without qualm on the part of the male perpetrators. 

I’ve seen them dismembered for their body parts and have helped pick up the mangled bloody corpses and torsos.  I’ve taken them in my arms, their blood covering my body as I carried them and placed them as gently as I could upon the putrefaction-covered auto-driven flat decked ‘haulers’ and which in my heart I reverently call hearses, thus giving a moment of human acknowledgment to the dead martyrs whose bodies are taken away I know not exactly where though I suspect it is to the outer desert sands for vultures to feed upon.

In the worlds of true humans and even in the worlds of pseudo-humans such as Old Earth I have seen much beauty.  But never have I seen anything to compare to the combination of natural beauty and intelligence seen, first in a child and second, in a young human female.  It surpasses all.  Somehow that is the particular beauty that the evil of misogyny lurking in the pseudo-human heart targets before all else. 

I will not close my eyes to this terrible legacy life has somehow, either naturally or by some horrible mistake, bestowed upon all of us.  I will continue to look into this concept of evil for an answer.  What is the motivation behind this force?  Is it lust?  Hate?  Fear? Does evil begin with one and end with the other, and if so, in what direction does it flow?  Do you begin with a heart full of vices and by indulging some, or all, end up evil?  Are we what we do, or what we become as we act in accordance with what we discover ourselves to be?  This may seem like a chicken and egg conundrum, but that has already been solved.  In timeless reality, the “chicken” can indeed lay the egg from which it is hatched.  There is no beginning and no ending, only questions and answers that we use as “artificial” points of reference (called beginnings and endings) by which we define infinity.

I’m a philosopher by experience but also because I am a natural-born Altarian.  We are doers, of course, but not exactly fools who rush in where angels fear to tread.  Before we act we seek to know.  Of course it is not always possible to know, since knowledge emanates from a blend of experience and information.  So we act on what we’ve studied and already know from experience and attempt to move forward.  Thus we are more than what we do; we do not necessarily act according to what we are – that is, what we have become.  We do not allow nature or programming to box us in so easily.  As the doctor pointed out, we have a devious mind developed for one purpose: to thread its way unerringly through the labyrinth of life. That labyrinth takes us, of necessity, through the darkest paths of hell — through the experience of evil.

[end blog post #55

Compassion and Empathy versus Chaos and Violence

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

One day, never mind the season, in a fit of pure madness you say to yourself, I want to become an empathetic being. Do you consider the consequences of such a desire should you proceed upon that path? No, because in the very beginning you naively assume that being empathetic is just plunging deeper into that wonderful feeling people call love.

So there you have it: you are going to become a more loving person and naturally, you will feel great about yourself and naturally everybody you know will come to love you more and more the deeper you struggle up that golden path… or is it down that rabbit hole.

Young people who want to choose a path of “goodness” are very naive. I can attest to that. This world isn’t programmed to accommodate goodness although much is alluded to it and those who by some miracle of whatever, walk that path come hell or high water are often considered heroes if they are considered at all. Usually though, they are considered fools, dreamers and conspiracy theorists. I can add, they are also considered pains in the royal social ass and untrustworthy, i.e., they have a tendency to get off the social bandwagon at the most inconvenient places, often where the scapegoated targets of the bandwagon riders happen to be hiding and surviving, to give help and support instead of sticks and stones.

Becoming empathetic is a great inconvenience which leads one to self-sacrifice (oh, shudder!) and sometimes to persecution and martyrdom – things that give great feelings of courage while reading dramatic fiction but are rather dreadful to experience in real life. What the naive youth does not know is that becoming empathetic means living a compassionate life, not a loving life. It’s not only a very lonely path that demands untold forms of constant bits of self-sacrifice but detachment from serious personal relationships as well. I think we can agree that youth does not lend itself well to taking such measures. There are expectations, both natural/physical and social that mitigate against walking the em-path!

Is this short essay another of my reminders that compassion/empathy is not at all the same as loving? Unequivocally, yes. These are not the same thing though recently I have made allowances (how grand of me to do so!) for love to ride along with compassion/empathy if in the last wagon on the train, basically along with all other baggage that would have been better left on the platform before boarding.

Compassion (which is necessary to understand the pain caused by the empathetic life in a violent world) is doing with feelings coming as a consequence of one’s acts. Love is feeling with doing coming as a consequence of one’s feelings. It doesn’t take a genius, or a degree in philosophy to recognize which one will give lasting, meaningful results.

If one’s actions determine the direction one’s life is taking, that can be guaged long-term. I call that purpose. If one’s feelings determine the direction one’s life is taking, there is no possibility of ever knowing where one will end up. I call that chaos.

What made me choose to develop an empathetic way of life through living compassion is, I do not like chaos. To paraphrase myself from a recent comment, living compassion in a violent world is like carving a homestead in the wilderness.

Nature ‘lovers’ who rely on their feelings to interact with nature will not see ‘nature’ as chaos. Raised on a real homestead in a real wilderness of northern Canada in the 1950’s has given me a real sense of chaos versus the kind of order our type of life requires to survive. We are not wild animals integrated with nature – we never have been and never will be. We require some sort of order out of chaos to survive and live normal lives.

Compassion which gives life to empathy, is order within gross man-made chaos. Compassion is the ultimate enemy of violence. The spirit of violence which I call ‘evil’ cannot share space with the spirit of compassion. Anyone who seeks to become, or thinks of herself as compassionate can easily know if that is a belief, or if it is true: if she harbours any residual desire within her mind for an outcome achieved through violence, compassion has not nested there yet.

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #54

Wow… as Bob Crachit would say, “I am behind my time…” Indeed life has been crazier than usual and apart from a bit of blogging comments, I’ve had little time for the blog and particularly for the Manifesto.  But, here’s blog post #54, and more to come.


… As a true T’Sing Tarleynan female would answer she replies, “What I think no matter.  Men, they decide.  Woman think?  That is waste.  Eat, sleep, make love, train to fight and kill.  That is fighter woman do.  Think waste energy; mix up in head.  Make weak, stupid.  I be strong soon, strong and fast.  I train good.  I live long.  Maybe you like me, you take me.  Hold me, make love.  Be lover, be friend.  Be family to me.  I train with you, huh?”  She pinches my muscles on my tight stomach.  “You like old skin, strongest of fighter woman they say.  Desert Beast, huh?  Proud I be slave to you.  Teach me strength you do.  I fight for you.”

[end blog post #53]
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[begin blog post #54]

Chapter 25 – Measuring Times by my Losses

And so begins another episode.  Seems I’m now measuring my times by my losses.  While I remain awake, having now cradled this new child between my legs and in my arms and lulled her to sleep, I keep thinking of Deirdre.  I feel my emptiness and the suffering of my heart is worse than what I suffered in the dungeons of the inquisition.  Especially do I rue the fact I could not say goodbye.  That hurts more than anything.  Did she suspect during those last hours?  She would have known something was going on.  She would have felt it, sensed it.  She would also have known that the discovery of it would cause us great pain and thus would have kept silent. 

‘Ah, Deirdre.  Soon you will wake up on a world I hope is beautiful to behold.  A world that will cause you much less pain than this one.  I would have invited you to find your way to Altaria, as I did for Tiegli, but that would have been a violation of my “contract” with the Koronese.  They saved you because they need you, girl.  They hope to discover the source of your miraculous empathic nature.  Perhaps they can isolate those genes and clone truly empathic Cydroids?  Perhaps a child from a Koronese father who will have your strange nature? Please help them, Deirdre, for to that it seems you were called.  For that we met and your physical life was saved.  Take care.  I shall love you forever…’

Tiki turns and sighs.  I look at the small sleeping girl-woman in the pale light of Albaral.  I vow not to become attached to this one.  And how am I going to go about avoiding that?  I’m not made that way here.  Something’s changed from the mind I had during the Melkiar wars.  The very paucity of love here has made me want to become pure love to these children.  Looks like I’m heading for another compromise that is going to peel another layer of protection from my heart and make me bleed internally even more than externally.

“Teach me strength you do.”  she said without any doubt I could do so.  Damn right I will ‘teach you strength.’  I will make you like the rock of this place.  I will give you all you need to be as happy as any child can be in such circumstances.  I will give you all the advice and training I’m capable of.  I’ll make you into a superb T’Sing Tarleynan fighting machine – the best of their own they’ve ever seen, though I’m certain not a one of them will be able to appreciate your talents or skills  All you will remain for them is someone, no not someone, but a thing, to perform indignities upon, to damage, defeat, destroy and finally, to kill.’

Maybe, now that my mind is clearer, I will find a way to give this being a “soul” – a mind implant, a gift of some long-forgotten goddess that will change her into a born-again human.  As long as I’m measuring my times here by my losses, I can afford to lose another dream.  I can dream, no one can take that away from me.

And in this dream I must also discover, not the nature of evil, but the final path to its source from which it can be defeated.  Evil, you are my ultimate enemy. 

When Tiki sleeps peacefully against me and the ache of losing Deirdre has dulled to a tolerably manageable level I will perform this exercise.  I will exorcise from myself the power of that dormant monster; of all the evil that ever touched me, that I have touched and that I have worked with.  I will remember the feelings that it gave me. That horror that I buried deep in my subconscious so long ago, the parts of it that thrilled me when I refused to consider alternatives;  those I killed in turn after they had killed all that I loved.  That source of evil within myself I will expose to the light of what I have become in this place.  Thus I will bring forth the rest of the knowledge I need to complete my task here, by “faith” in life and by example for others. 

The process:  Access, study, feel, understand, delete.  Yeah, I should have been a Cydroid.  For it is one of our truisms that we, human and Avatari alike, cannot delete our past; cannot disown it.  We can but dis-empower or empower it according to our present need and understanding.

And in my sleep I dream of the constant we call “evil” but it is a sweet dream, not a nightmare.

[end blog post #54]

The House at the Crossroads of the World

[a short story by    ~burning woman~    as told by Sha’Tara]

As I sat by the River one day and pondered the state of the world I had a thought: I will build myself a home at the crossroads of the world. So I did.

My home had a good roof but it had no walls, just posts holding it up. I planted ivy, honeysuckle, clematis and sweetpeas by each post and they grew swiftly and beautifully. I was very pleased.

First a family of refugees passed by and they came in to rest, drink of the cool, clean water and eat from the garden I had planted. Sated and after a good sleep their children ran out and played in the fields. Their laughter filled the air and more birds sang.

A couple of starving, ragged men came by and asked if they could stay for a while. I smiled and said, ‘Look, no walls, anyone is welcome here.’ They were gays who had been persecuted and escaped with only their lives and the clothes on their backs. Soon they were playing with the children and entertaining them with tales and magic tricks.

A group of migrant workers heading north came by and also partook of this unexpected hospitality. They were earth people and soon they had my garden cleaned and explained about plant symbiosis. I could grow much more food if I did it right. I learned much from them in that too short a time.

Some young girls came running, crying, and stopped at the house. I invited them in and they shyly came, sat down and explained they had escaped from a van filled with sex slaves bound for the black market. They got washed in the creek, ate and slept together in a corner of the house.

The honeysuckle was in full bloom and its sweet smell filled the house. In the dark we sat in the house and sang, each her or his own songs and everyone listened in awe. It was so good to find each other here and not worry about any difference.

It was too good, actually. They had watched the comings and goings to and from the house and in that country the government and its propaganda press declared that it was a terrorist training center. So they sent the drones.

We are all dead now. I am dead too but since I am mind and not matter I am made of memories. This story is a memory, and it is real.

There is no longer a house at the crossroads of the world though there are walls everywhere and for that reason the world is dying.

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #53

(…that goes on, this goes on… another short episode from Antierra’s life – and I did not forget to add a title to the blog post this time. Gets confusing when I don’t number them and if I don’t get better at blogging from a cell phone, I’d better remember to drag my combination laptop/tablet Asus computer wherever I go! The problem with that is, it only works where there’s WIFI whereas the cell phone works anywhere there’s phone coverage. Decisions, decisions…)
________________________________________
Two days before the deadline, the doctor calls the handler office for two escorts to return me to my normal life.  As a sign that I’m just another female gladiator slave the doctor pushes me out his door to stand naked and await my escorts.  As I expected, they examine me, then take me to the wash troughs where they dump cold water on me.  Then the feeding and since it’s late in the day, I’m led into a cage.  To my shock and surprise I see a young trainee there.

“Deirdre!”  I almost shout.  I bite my lip to keep from crying out with the double pain of thinking they found her and brought her back to certain death,  then realizing it isn’t Deirdre, of course – Cydroids never lie – but another young woman likely recently arrived into our killing fields.

[end blog post #52]
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[begin blog post #53]

She is a typical T’Sing Tarleynan, small, stocky, with short fingers and stubby toes.  Her hair is almost black, cut rough and short.  She has a thin-lipped smile that reveals pointy, gapped teeth.  She makes no move towards me as I lie down on one side of the cage.  She just watches, her black eyes glinting in the pale light, as if waiting for a signal from me as to what I want from her.  I motion for her to move beside me and she does quickly and quietly.  Waits again. 

I whisper, “Can you talk?”

“Yes master, I talk good.”

“Here in the cage I’d rather you don’t call me that.” 

“Yes m… yes.  I call you something?”

“Call me Anti.”

“What it means, Anti?”

“It means I fighter and now family for you.”  And for some reason not yet clear to me, I suddenly decide to imitate the paucity of words in her language – to make myself more like her and the others in the compound.  I get the impression that I need to lower my standards even more to be accepted, if not understood.  Better late than never. 

“Ah good.  And what I be called by you, please?”

“You Tiki.  Little mongoose.”

“What be… mongoose?”

“Little animal from an old world.  It kills snakes.  You know snakes?”

“Oh yes, in desert and in grass prairies?  Many snakes.  Dangerous.  The black people, they tell stories of big snakes to take a man, crush and eat whole.  Is mongoose so strong?”

“Yes Tiki.  Mongoose is small but fast and strong. Kills poison snake called cobra that has big head with marks and small body.”

“There are those here…”

“Yes and they be called men…”  I do not hide the bitterness of my statement from her but this is not Deirdre.  Such subtleties are lost to her, as to most women I have met.

“Oh!  You mean I mongoose, kill cobra men?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean.  When you are trained you kill men, many men.  They fear you then.  Fear your power of woman.”

“I like you telling of my power Anti.  I come here three days and they burn my number under old one, see?” She shows me her fresh brand and I remember the pain of it in my own buttock, and the shame to go with it too.  “And I feel so scared and small.  No friends.  No one to care.  The men, they have sex with me, many men.  They hurt me so much, aiiee!  They, you say, torture me, make me cry down there in a room behind great stone doors.” 

She points in some vague direction I locate as north-east.  “They put metal string inside me and make me burn – terrible pain, terrible.  Now they give me to you.  Say you lose your lover – she dead they say, yes?  Maybe I be her now for you?”  She touches me lightly on the thigh and I feel her shaking remembering her pain.

“Yes Tiki, she dead.  She run away and not come back.  I too now all alone and very sad.  Like you.  Like you they take me in torture room under walls, deep under the ground.”  And I point down to make her understand my meaning of ‘down.’  “They hurt me and make me scream – so much pain, Tiki.  All of us here, so much pain we endure.  What you think, we should all have so much pain always, from men, huh?”

As a true T’Sing Tarleynan female would answer she replies, “What I think no matter.  Men, they decide.  Woman think?  That is waste.  Eat, sleep, make love, train to fight and kill.  That is fighter woman do.  Think waste energy; mix up in head.  Make weak, stupid.  I be strong soon, strong and fast.  I train good.  I live long.  Maybe you like me, you take me.  Hold me, make love.  Be lover, be friend.  Be family to me.  I train with you, huh?”  She pinches my muscles on my tight stomach.  “You like old skin, strongest of fighter woman they say.  Desert Beast, huh?  Proud I be slave to you.  Teach me strength you do.  I fight for you.”

[end blog post #53]

The Question never Asked

[a poem by   ~burning woman~   written by Sha’Tara]

Is there meaning to believe in?
I’ve done all I could to absorb this world,
to understand people, no, not just
people, but this world’s life.
I’ve seen and felt its endless struggle,
its romance with beauty and with horror.
So much drama but never an answer
to the eternal question.
You may ask, ask, and ask; you may
shed tears of raw pain, of sorrow, of anger
and the world is awash in mute noise.

I’ve seen cats fight and children die in war,
heard and read the boasting, seen the posturing
over beads, trinkets and ticker-tape money
and walked streets I thought were painted red
but it was always the blood of innocents,
no thin red line but a widening swath
leading to a pile of skulls and scattered bones.

Rats ran away as I came near as if I’d been more
than a nameless ghost in an endless dream.

I can see, I can hear, I can smell and
I can feel. As if that could ever be enough!
I have observed, weighed my thoughts
to realize they were too heavy to bear;
looked in a mirror to watch myself age
as in a time-lapse scene
from angst of birth to relief of death,
its in-betweens sprinkled with flashes of joy
stolen from the ever-dying landscape.

And all I ever wanted was to ask
the one question never asked before;
the one question no one ever dared ask
or no one ever thought to ask: the
one that answers all others – how
presumptuous to believe I could
formulate such a thing, that I
could discover the meaning of life or,
if you will: the meaning of meaning.