Category Archives: Innocence

Dogville Revisited

[a rant by   ~burning woman~   ]

The 2003 psychological thriller Dogville depicts a bigoted community that accepts to harbour a fugitive from the mob but decides she would have to pay a price. The movie goes on to demonstrate how the price she must pay keeps going up, so high that in the end she is near death when her pursuers finally find her. Then comes the interesting twist as Grace’s terrible secret is revealed.

What is planet earth, in particular the “First World” but a Dogville? The only people who “have” are those who find the means to exploit those who have less, or have nothing except the land they live on, unless it’s their bodies that can be sold for slave labour, prostitution, whatever makes a profit. It’s no secret that we of the West are the “haves” and that the rest of the world has been paying an ever-higher price to us just to stay alive while we maintain our consumer lifestyles. So far, no exaggeration. But there is more, much more.

It isn’t enough that the poor are disenfranchised, dispossessed, persecuted and murdered in their own lands. If they manage to escape they must then become the scapegoats through which the self-righteous Dogvillians can continue to justify their enslavement, thefts of resources, rapes and open murdering rampages. After having been forced from their lands, no matter where they go, they will face resentment, hate, be ostracized, reviled, endlessly exploited and as just happened in New Zealand, massacred.

So one Dogvillian decides to be less hypocritical, more open than the rest, and turns his guns on helpless people in a mosque and all hell breaks loose. Yet two days before the massacre in Christchurch, US artillery massacred 50 civilians in the village of Baghouz, and quote: “On Monday, US warplanes attacked Baghouz, killing at least 50 people. Details on what the intended target was is unclear, but the reports suggest that the dead were mostly women and children… In the past few months, US airstrikes backing the SDF offensive have killed hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians. With thousands of civilians still believed to be in Baghouz, the US strikes are undermining the SDF’s effort to convince them to leave, by showing that those who try to leave may be targeted.” (End quote) (https://talesfromtheloublog.wordpress.com/2019/03/13/us-airstrikes-kill-at-least-50-mostly-civilians-in-eastern-syria/

My point here is very simple: where are the screaming headlines, the heads of state standing at their podiums, the social media erupting with indignant cries against war crimes and institutionalized mass murder in Syria? All I heard was dead silence, and that happened just a few days before Christchurch. Well, that, plus it’s been happening for years, witness the refugee crisis. Where is your outcry over those murders?

So my question is simple: why is it totally acceptable to murder women and children in an undeclared hence “unofficial” war but it suddenly become opprobrious if the same or lesser crimes are committed by individuals? Who is the greatest criminal here? On one hand a malcontent, or a few of them, gun down some people in a building, or an arena. On the other hand, all members of any self-styled democracy are in agreement with the massacre of innocent civilians in places where the killer, the aggressor, has no business being. One massacre is widely and openly deplored while a greater massacre lasting years is not just tolerated but openly funded, justified, rationalized and everybody sleeps soundly knowing the bombs are falling like rain “where they should.” Western hypocrisy astounds me.

I’ll tell you this, people of the Warmongering West: Grace, the helpless dispossessed being exploited and murdered by you as willing participants and cheering spectators in these hunger games have a terrible secret. You’re all about to find out what that is. Maybe it’s time to watch the movie Dogville again. You might see many faces you recognize.

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #19

[begin blog post #19]

The doctor is not seeing me anymore and when I receive a particularly large wound, she pinches it closed with her long skinny fingers or her mouth in turn, doing so for hours at a time, refusing to let me stir.  I’m sure she saves my life on a couple of occasions by stemming flowing blood from cut arteries.  She always has her braided straw ropes which she makes during the night and hides in the straw bedding, ready to use as tourniquets. 

She is a totally amazing creature, yet seemingly unaware of her special skills, talents and gifts.  She is human, I know, yet she is more, something intangible that motivates her, pushing her to be what she is.   

It is during those long, quiet times when I’m recovering and she sits by me that I tell her stories and build alternate and future lives in her mind.  I speak to her of other worlds where people are not like they are on T’Sing Tarleyn.  I try to explain space travel that allows one to jump instantly between worlds so far apart that it would take several lifetimes of one person to reach, even if he were travelling as fast as a beam of light.  I relate some aspects of my remembered past lives in order to broaden the field of her understanding for I have learned by attempts to interact with most of the people here that beyond their immediate concern for this life, awareness drops into a void.  For them there is nothing beyond death. 

She puzzles deeply over the confusing quality of the lives of the people of Túat Har, of the simplicity of life in the silence of Parnako where the people there communicate exclusively by telepathy; and the fullness of the joy experienced by those who spend time on my “home world” of Altaria.  She asks many questions for which there are no answers, simply because in the living of the questions, she, and only she, can find the answers.  Just as I have to find mine.  I also attempt to explain that aspect of life to her.

How incredibly receptive – and consequently dangerous to herself – she is!  She wants to believe everything I tell her and this frightens me so for I am helpless to protect her from the unknowns her new-found knowledge may bring upon her.  Yet there is no fear at all in her, although she has exposed so much of it in me! 

I fear her utter, totally unconditional love for me, following the dreadful emptiness of her previous life may have made her a bit mad.  And again, I’m probably as wrong as can be in that respect.  The quality of her is such that whenever I think I’ve got her pegged to a certain understanding, or pattern of thought, she moves beyond it, out of my mind’s grasp.

For a while as I got to know her I thought it was simple innocence that made her at the same time utterly one with me and inscrutably fluid to escape any template I made of her mind.  But there are no innocents on Malefactus.  These children raised in crèches know all that is to befall them when they are taken from their questionable childhood safety and sold “into the trade” as slaves.  They are told everything, often even elaborated upon deliberately to frighten them. 

Sometimes in the telling, their bleak future is made even worse than what I’ve described so far.  The viciousness and malice of this society possesses few bounds.  The weak, in whatever form found, have but one purpose: to be exploited and oppressed to the utmost; the very marrow of their lives sucked from them.  So far I have found no redeemable moral values here.  Everything is set up to be cut and dry.  Those who have power will do whatever it takes to keep it, or augment it.  Those who have none, even the little they may think they have will be ripped from their minds, their hearts, their bodies by the most shameless, heartless and cruel ways that can be devised by minds sold into the concept of evil.  Along with her strange nature my young friend shows many signs of having been thus mentally and physically abused.  There is a dark, despairing side to her I can feel in her unguarded moments. 

So I love her all the more.  Weeks somehow stretch into months, months become the dreadful year taking her closer to the arena. 

Basically there seem to be little discernable change of seasons in this part of T’Sing Tarleyn.  Yearly temperatures vary little, except by changes in the weather.  Because it is a dry and sandy world it loses much of its heat during the night and the mornings are always cold.  The days are hot and dry, evenings cool, if the sky is cloudless. 

If it is the rainy season, the mornings are not as cold – but the wet and humidity on our bare skins makes it more miserable to bear while we eat (always in the open, regardless of the weather), train or repair our weapons and armour.  The only times we are permitted indoors apart from our sleeping and holding cages is when we are being used for sex and occasionally when we are being treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries from the fights.  If the injury is life-threatening is it cheaper for our owners to buy a replacement fighter and let us die than attempt “repairs.”  More often than not a badly injured fighter, even if she has killed her opponent, is killed by her handlers in the arena, thus giving the crowd a moment of temporary satisfaction. 

During this strange and very emotional time I watch her grow.  She has a full growth of pubic hair now and her breasts are filling out.  I notice the men looking her over more and more.  I try to warn her about what they are about to do to her.  She smiles at me as if I’d lost my mind.  “I know that!” she whispers.  “Are you jealous?” 

“No sweet one, I’m not jealous – yes, I am jealous, damn you!”  She smiles mischievously, “Mostly I’m scared for you that you may do something unacceptable and be punished.  I want you to be everything they want you to be, to fit in, no matter what they say or do.  Whatever you and I are together, we are not when separated.  Keep those lives separate and never forget you are a fighter slave and not my child-lover.”

“Am I really your child-lover?”  Her tone is reproachful and I’m stung to the quick by it.  “You’ve never made love to me.  I watch the others and I’ve been waiting.  Is there something wrong with me?  Don’t you love me?”

Oh the pain those words carry!  Oh please, I don’t want to hear that!  Again I realize I’ve thoroughly messed up with another when I was so convinced I was being kind and understanding.  Is there no way to “do the right thing” on this stupid world?  Or am I such a fool?

“Sweet, I love you more than I can tell or show.  I just thought you should be the one to, you know, make the first move.  You give me so much all the time, I was afraid to take something from you, you may not have been ready or willing to share with me.”

She leans over to me, puts her head on my shoulder and whispers, “You crazy old woman!  If you love me and you’re the oldest, you take me.  That’s how it’s done.  I cannot do it first – that would be wrong and punishable.  When I was put in your cage, I became your bond slave for as long as either one of us lives or you reject me for another.  But you would have known that, wouldn’t you?”

Old woman she calls me.  Old?  I’m maybe seven years older than when I arrived here!  Thirty two classic (Old Earth) years?  Or is this world so twisted that even time moves in some terribly debilitating way, aging some and not others?  No, it’s not time, it’s the way we are treated.  We are all old women the moment we enter the arena.  When youth is forced to kill to defend or avenge; when it is forced to die, it is no longer youth.  It becomes a ghost that wears an aging death mask.

Professional gladiators are at the prime of their lives on their first fight, usually at around sixteen years of age.  From then on, they age quickly, if they live to age at all.  I’m well past my prime now…  Even the trainers are no longer that interested in taking me for sex in their barracks.  Younger ones have taken my place. 

“Make love to me!” she says, “before the men take me.  I want you first.  Here.”  She digs into the straw and pulls up an implement that could pass, in shape and size, for an erect penis.  “Break my skin, please.  I don’t want them to have it.  It’s what we do where I come from but they took me before it was done.  So I have been waiting for my lover; for you to do it.”

What can I say?  I’m beyond amazed at her candour and offer of herself to me.  then I have an idea.  “Sweet, if I be the one to break your skin, I want to take your blood, mix it with mine – I’ll open that fresh wound on my left arm here,” (she knows exactly which one it is and winces) “and I will mix our blood in my hands and baptize you as I promised I would.”

Her large eyes light up with a glow.  “Yes, do it!”

And so we mix our blood together and with the few drops that I can keep in my hand, I sprinkle her forehead as she holds her head reverently backward as I had instructed her to do – a ritual so she could have something to remember later.  I smear the rest of the blood in her hair and hold on to her tightly.  We both cry.

[end blog post #19]

The Accused

(I may have posted this story before, I cannot remember and it doesn’t matter, it’s a question of conscience, feelings, and a particular burning remembrance in my heart.)

The Accused

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

A black hood is pulled over her head and tied around her neck.

She is propelled into the interrogation room down a flight of four cement steps to fall blindly against a metal table leg.

Grabbed from behind, she is roughly pulled up and her wrists shackled to a bar above her head.

Through the torn blouse and knee length skirt her flesh shows deep bruising and bloody cuts.

She hangs motionless .  Silent.

The interrogator’s voice is harsh, cutting,

“You are accused of treason.  How do you plead?”

No answer.

“You must answer me.”

No answer.

“Make her talk.”

Torture.  Moans.  Gagging.  A scream escapes the hooded prisoner’s lips.

“Stop!”

Silence, except for the prisoner’s halting breathing and low moans.

“Are you a traitor to the state?”

No answer.

“Again I ask: Are you a traitor?”

A sigh but no answer.

“Make her talk.”

More torture.  More screams.  No pleading for mercy.

They tie her ankles to keep her from kicking.
Blood drips down her legs and bare feet;
falls to pool on the cement floor that has accumulated same on many previous occasions.

“Stop!”

“You are accused of sedition against the State.  How do you plead?”

Short gasps, moaning.  No audible word.

“Answer me!”

A high-pitched moan, no verbal answer.

“Make her talk!”

Scream!  Scream!  Long, piercing blood-curdling scream… loud moan and silence.

“Stop!”

The interrogator stands up from his chair and walks around to face the woman.  He looks at her bleeding and shaking form for several seconds.  He unties the hood and pulls it from her head.

“Oh God, no! … NO!  This cannot be happening!”

“Father,”  whispers the girl through her broken face, “you assured me you never tortured prisoners.  I had to know if you were lying to me.  At least I am not dying in ignorance.  I forgive you…”

Her head drops forward.

“Get an ambulance here — now!  Unshackle her, lay her on the table, get blankets, get water, cloths, move!”

From the shadows the attending physician comes forward, checks the prisoner’s pulse and the severity of her wounds and pronounces a physician’s most dreaded words:  “She is dead sir.”

“La Danseuse”

*You’ve read it in English as “An Unending Story” and now I offer it in the original French. I know that some of you will probably appreciate it more in this format. *

UNE HISTOIRE D’AMOUR À L’INFINI
                  [de Sha’Tara]

Ecoutez-moi bien, je vais vous raconter une histoire à l’infini. Cest une histoire d’amour, bien sûr, mais c’est beacoup plus. C’est une histoire de vie sans fin.

Je l’ai vue un soir dans un cabaret. Elle dansait éperdument, apparament sans aucun souci. Je me suis assis aussi proche que possible du plancher de danse et, comme tous les autres homme dans cet établissement, je me suis laissé ensorceler par ses mouvements.

Comme elle était belle, je vous l’assure. Quand elle passait ses grands yeux bleus-verts sur moi, je voyais une forêt vierge et un grand océan qui s’étandait à l’infini comme le désir de mon coeur. Elle dansait avec une camarade, et finalement, seule. 

C’est alors que je prends mon courage et je m’invite à danser avec elle.

Elle m’accepte, et tout change: nous devenons amoureux. On vit ensemble après seulement un mois, et on ne peut s’imaginer vivre séparément. Tous les weekends, on va danser, elle aime tellement ça, la danse. “Je me sens si libre quand je danse.” Elle continue, naturellement, à attirer les hommes et elle danse librement avec ceux qui lui demande permission.

Suis-je jaloux? Certainement, c’est naturel, mais pas nécessaire. Après tout, elle m’aime. Elle n’a qu’à me le chuchoter dans l’oreille et je n’ai aucune raison de la douter. Elle est si bonne pour moi, et quand on marche tous les deux le soir, sous les lumières de notre ville, on est heureux, complètement.

Et puis le désastre: le cancer au genoux droit. Il faut qu’on lui enlève presque toute la jambe. Pour quelque temps, elle pleure. Puis elle accepte. “Je ne peux plus danser, je vais chanter,” elle me dit. Alors elle chante, dans notre apartement, dans la rue même, et puis elle fait du karaoke dans les cabarets. Et on s’aime, peut-être plus que jamais auparavant. Je l’adore cette fille, cette femme si incroyable.

Mais le cancer ne s’arrête pas. Elle perd un sein. Elle est dévastée pendant quelque temps et il n’y a plus de chansons. Mais un soir, elle me donne un de ses sourires  d’auparavant et demande que je la pousse dans sa chaise roulante dans la rue en      allant à notre restaurant favori. Alors que je pousse elle jase et fait des commentaires sur les couleurs, sur les sons, sur les craquements du trottoire qui font sauter la chaise roulante. Elle rit, et je trouve le courage de rire avec elle et pour ce moment la terreur du cancer nous laisse en paix. Elle mange comme un oiseau en ces jours. Elle maigrit toujours…

Finalement, le coup de grâce: cancer dans la gorge et elle perd sa voix et doit rester à l’hôpital.

Ce sont les derniers jours, j’en suis certain. Elle lève la main faiblement et j’approche mon oreille de sa bouche. Elle soupire et me chuchotte ceci: “Écoute-moi bien, mon cher Paul. Je te quitte mais je ne regrette bien. Je suis désolée, mais c’est seulement pour quelque temps. Pour nous, ce n’est pas finit. Écoute, tu n’e resteras pas seul.” 

Promets-moi que tu retourneras à notre cabaret. Là, attends encore la danseuse. Demande-lui si tu peux danser avec elle et quand elle sourit et te dis ‘oui’ danse, danse avec elle come un fou! Car tu vois, c’est moi qui sera là, dans son corps et dans son coeur. Je reviendrai, ne t’en fais pas, je ne te laisse que pour un moment.’ 

Et comme ça, elle est partie.

Vous voulez savoir comment elle finit, cette histoire? Vous voyez, je la croiyais complètement quand elle m’a dit qu’elle reviendrait. Je suis retourné à notre cabaret. Je me suis assis tout près du plancher de danse. J’ai pris une bière ou deux en attendant, jour après jour. Environ deux semaines d’attente et la danseuse est venue. 

Et tout a recommencé. 

Whatever is Needed of Me

[short story, by Sha’Tara]
 
She knows the end has come.  Abandoning her crude, water-logged dugout canoe to float away with other logs down the muddy stream, she runs up a sandy,  wet grass-covered bank to the willow line.  There she stands quietly, looking in the stagnant waters of a woodland pond, the rusty grasses now barely standing and at the raspy curling leaves from dying trees all around.  The breeze carries the smell of death, the stench of a dying god somewhere beyond the hills where lie the remains of a city.
 
Taking a deep breath she casts off the rest of her ragged clothing and raising her arms to the rust-colored skies she cries out, “Whatever is needed of me I am willing to give.”
 
At the sound of her voice, or at the power of her words, the waters of the pond stir and rise in a dirty waterspout.  Several of the dying trees twist and turn to each other and morph into a dark form.  The spout and the dark entity merge and there, in front of the naked young human stands an enormous man, or rather a nature-being morphed to resemble a human male.  He changes his size until he stands only some two feet taller than the trembling girl.  The ground shakes as he walks to her.
 
In a voice that echoes far away across the river and into the hills he says, “Who awakens the Woda entering the great sleep of the world?” 
 
The silence following his words is even more deafening to the girl.  Yet she replies boldly, “It is I who calls.  I wish to continue. I do not choose for this to be the end.”
 
The nature giant moves closer to her and he pierces her with his eyes.  She does not flinch but waits, lowering her arms but raising her head, bringing her firm breasts up for him to look upon.  He reaches for her and embraces her.  She gasps as he takes her and feels herself being filled with new life.  Instantly she knows she is carrying his child, their child.  She offered, she accepts, she waits for him to explain.
 
“You now possess the redeemer body and within you are two beings: a man and a woman.  To these twins you will give birth and you shall care for them until they are of age to look after themselves, after which you shall be free again.  During this time of gestation and rearing you belong to us, to this world and to them.  You must remember this.”
 
He touches her nipples and again she feels that current of new life coursing through her. 
 
He speaks again: “I have given you the power to bring forth the sacred milk of the goddess.  Your breasts will never run dry as long as you feed the twins.  To the boy-man you must give your left breast and to the girl-woman your right.  Know now and always remember that these beings are not as you would think, brother and sister, but the parents of a new species of Earth humans.  Now go.  Do not return to your kind for they will sense this new life in you and in fear they will kill you and your unborn.  Go into the mountains, into the setting sun.  There you will find caves to live in.  Find water flowing from within the stones and it will be pure for you.  Food you will gather from the green things that grow around you.  Fear not.  You offered freely and without conditions.  This means you are a powerful woman of Earth.  We would not have listened to anyone else.  Now go.”
 
Though she senses it is hopeless to ask, she does anyway: “Will you not come with me and help me?  Shall I live alone in the mountains and among the rocks and give birth without help?  How can I possibly do this?  I am on the wrong side of the river.  How do I escape to the mountains?  And why can I not remember my name?”
 
“We are leaving; you chose to remain.  So we gave you the gift of continuing life in response to your offer.  Be thankful.  In your many lives here you learned how to do all the things now required of you.  Just remember.  The river you must swim as you have watched deer and coyote swim it for many years.  You know this.  Rocks you know how to climb.  Green things you understand.  Giving birth alone you have done.  You have no name because in accepting our gift to you, you became “Other.”  You are Mother and Redeemer.  Only when they give you a new name will you have a name.  Or when you are free of them you can return to your own names.
 
“Banish your fear as you cast off your ragged clothes, it is an old, useless shadow.  During this time do not seek company of anyone for any company that joins with you will die in your arms, adding to your burden and your sorrow.  You cannot help any of them except by completing this journey.
 
The rumbling of his final words were to her as the noise of a waterfall: “Remember this: at the end of this journey you shall find bliss.”

Armageddon: of Plots and Counter-plots

[a short story by Sha’Tara ]

“Mr. Chairman, there is one item remaining on this year’s agenda which I think should be considered before we adjourn for another century.”

The heavy-set, red-robed man at the head of the table nods imperceptibly and looks over the table with an undisguised bored expression.

“Very well, get on with it then.”

“Gentlemen, we are in the business of publishing best sellers on contract and I have here the contract for Yahu regarding the Earthian trilogy. It appears he hasn’t written a best seller in over 2000 years of his Earth time. We’ve made several inquiries about his intentions lately but without results. I have taken the liberty of having him present himself here today to explain why he has failed to fulfil his end of the agreement with this House and what he intends to do about it.”

The portly red-robed chairman nods in agreement. “Send him in, send him in.” He waves at the massive door in the side of the meeting chamber.

The door opens and a gnomish gray-robed shifty-eyed character with long white hair and beard enters and smiles at the gathering. No one greets him but the secretary who ushers him to a chair.

“Are you the same Yahu who claimed in his book to be the God of Earth?”

“That I most certainly am,” replies the wizened character with a quavering voice. “I Am that I Am.”

“Yeah well, so you say. Some 5000 Earth years ago you entered into a contract with us to write a trilogy about the creation, fall and termination of some world in your sector. We gave you the advance in power to manifest the ingredients required of your books. You delivered a very lengthy and repetitive but fortunately very violent Part One that contained enough murder, greed, sexual perversion, racism, slavery, misogyny and genocidal mania to easily rise to the top of our best seller list for over a thousand years.

Then you sent us a stultified Part Two in a very abridged and staid format that would have gotten nowhere had our editors not insisted it be tied to and weaved into Part One.

For Part Three you gave us a brief synopsis entitled “Revelation” but we are still waiting for that denouement. No action and no revelation. You are in breach of contract with this great Galactic Publishing house. Have you given thought as to how you are going to fulfil your agreements with us or do we need to bring legal action to recoup our losses?”

The wizened character stands up and wipes his brow with his over-sized sleeve. His voice quavers even more now.

“Please, don’t be so hasty!  Yes, I realize I made you all wait a bit long for the third part but it’s been very tough making this ending plausible. I mean, it was easy enough imaging the critters, evil spirit dudes and violent multitudes I mentioned in my blurb. Also you should know that I was rather busy at the time and I had a trainee write that part. I should have read it before it was sent to you but I was too absorbed observing (and abetting) some spectacular developments in an old empire of the time. I had several contracts to complete lesser books on that affair, which do not legally enter this discussion.

“To make a long story short – I don’t want to bore our illustrious chairman – I’ve taken steps to activate that Part Three on Earth. I’m sure that with our current developments of weapons of mass destruction, the fears around new diseases, global warming, overpopulation, wars over depleted resources and the utter, almost incredible, ignorance and overt incompetence of most of that world’s leadership, that a plausible scenario can be set in motion to satisfy the requirements my agents signed with your firm. Not only will there be a book but all of the action will be on video and made available to publish as a mini-series which shall appropriately be entitled “Armageddon.” I can assure this august assembly that our work won’t fail to entertain even the most blasé of your readers. It is guaranteed to be a box-office winner. You’ll be able to buy entire planets with your profits, gentlemen, you have my Word on that.

“What exactly are we talking about here, you’re wondering? Imagine: the total destruction of an entire world, its satellite and its “heaven” in real time. Imagine this: global war, famines, infectious diseases. Rampaging armies of mercenaries raping, looting, burning and killing unarmed innocents by the millions, year in, year out for as long as there remains life to destroy. Religious bigotry running rampant. Total lawlessness, or as they put it there, the law of the jungle in spades. Billions dead and dying of causes yet unknown. A sun going super-nova and a moon melting down upon a planet. My guarantee to you gentlemen is this: there will be no special effects. Everything the videos and accompanying best seller depict will be exactly as it unfolds. You will see it in real time, exactly as it happens. That, gentlemen, is the script I and my trusty group of shadow-writers, technicians and engineers, have been working on for 2000 Earthian years. You will find it was well worth the costs and the wait.

“How can you be so certain of the denouement, Yehu? That’s a mighty big set-up, even for one like yourself. Intelligent creatures possess a mind of their own.”

“Gentlemen, do not, ever, make the mistake of ignoring the Earthian mind’s predictability. I programmed them, remember? They will respond on cue, make no mistake. I repeat, make no mistake about that. They will believe, they will kill and they will die, heroes and martyrs in their own minds even while committing the most atrocious of crimes. We have already begun to trigger their atavism in that respect and the results exceed expectations. This is win-win.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to stir the pot some more. I must return to a current political seat of power called “The White House” where the ignoramus’s in charge actually believe they worship me. I need to get their sensibilities inflamed to expand that war in the Middle East (don’t worry about these locations, they mean nothing to the actual story, just collateral damage to help us set the scene) and bring the Powers of the West ever closer to a final confrontation with the Powers of the East. You want a Revelation? I’ll give you the mother of all Revelations! I’m bringing you Armageddon!”

He departs with a flourish. He knows his Earthian humans and there is not a doubt in his mind at that point that he will create his masterpiece from the destruction of Earth. It had always been his plan to complete his trilogy thus but he had been stymied by those who claimed he was plagiarizing them and forced to put the work on hold time and again. But those who stood in his way, he had finally triumphed over: the Communists; the Socialists; the Anarchists; Atheists and Pagans and assorted others. Hardly anyone published them or read them any more. Even the new high priests of Science were beginning to “see his hand” in the movement of sub-atomic particles even if they didn’t use his name… yet. And now with his ironclad under the table agreement with his once avowed enemy, Mammon, (Capitalism for the uninitiated) the timing couldn’t be better.

The scales had tipped once more. The people clamoured for his kind of entertainment, even if it meant he’d be using their blood to write the grand finale. The sweet irony! Oh, how he hated the stinking, short-lived whining creatures. Prayers! Prayers for parking spaces and hangnails! Prayers for sick dogs, dead budgies and weeds in the lawn. Prayers for deliverance and salvation: well that last part was his own fault, he’d unintentionally, in a fit of anger, brought that on himself with a promise which he had then used to write Part Two of his trilogy. Live and learn hey, unlike the creatures he was about to annihilate in long, drawn-out bloodshed! They won’t learn, not ever, he’d made sure of that.

“Kill them all: God will know those who are his!”

“Damn, I just LOVE that line!” He says under his breath with his best sardonic smile as he settles back in his containment field for his trip to Earth, all but rubbing his hands in anticipation and glee.

Denos

[a short story,   by Sha’Tara]

In the Imperium, all the way back to the “old planet” (Earth as some still call it) the Princedom, or Kingdom, or world, or planet, whichever happens to be the most convenient political handle of the times, of Denos is known for a single product: it’s agricultural output in terms of crops. Cereals grow on Denos as if the whole planet had been designed but for the purpose of growing them. Well, not too surprising as in many ways Denos resembles the Great Plains of the Americas of Earth, or the Steppes of the new Russian Empire. There are no mountains on Denos, just plains cut through by hungry rivers inhabiting deep canyons. The rivers feed large fresh water lakes which in turn feed massive cloud banks that endlessly circle the world and feed storms. There are no seas or salt deposits. Whatever salt is required for the health of Denos’ 1.5 million inhabitants has to be imported. All Denosians of necessity are vegans: there are no animals and no predators on the planet and what there is of insect life exists within the soils and takes care of its own balancing.

Why would people choose such a bleak world to establish a human civilization upon, one could well wonder. The obvious, of course, is that Delos did not pose any problem as there was no sentient life the first humans and their sensors could detect. The main point however was caused by the diaspora from the old planet. Overpopulation, despite Draconian laws to control births, led to other even more repressive forms of population control by the Hegemon, the global dictatorship under which all nations fell and to which all owed fealty. Gulags, prison camps, culling of undesirables and the encouragement of genocide had contributed to rebel forces of scientists, engineers, farmers, doctors and teachers to form underground associations and deep under the Ural mountains and some parts of the Rockies under what had been known as the state of Colorado, beyond the reach of the Hegemon police, laboratories and plants were built and from these came the first real manned space craft to shoot out beyond the solar system to discover new worlds where humanity could once again seek the freedom to express itself as it chose. As the Hegemon weakened and broke apart to become the Imperium, the diaspora was legitimized and hundreds of thousands of Earthians headed out into space. Thus one ship came upon Denos and the spacers discovered its potential. Permanent settlements were established.

It is winter now in the Western hemisphere. The plains, devoid of crops, stand out stark, grey and sere. Today a steady easterly wind blows through the stubble. In a field that stretches to beyond the horizon, sheltered by a massive combine being drained and serviced, to remain in the field until needed again for the next harvest, three men, or rather if one looks closer, a man, a woman and a youth who could be either male or female, are clustered by one of the giant back wheels of the machine. The man is smoking a kind of odd looking pipe; the woman and youth are sharing a meal packed in a bucket. Their break over, the three return to inspection, draining of fluids and cleaning of various parts of the combine. It seems obvious they are taking their task very seriously.

As they are intent upon their work a dark grey bank of clouds is rising from the north and spreading over the land. The sun disappears in the clouds and the youth calls out to the others, warning them, or asking them, about something. Both adults stretch themselves to stand looking upon the coming storm. The wind turns into a gale in a tween (the equivalent of 20 minutes on the old planet) and the three humans hunker down on the opposite side, using the big machine as temporary shelter. Their low-lying, mostly below ground shelter, or home, lies a good league away and they know there is no walking in this “norther”. It would pick them up and throw them about like ball weeds (imagine a tumbleweed, only three times the size) should they risk the open.

The howling of the wind over and around the combine becomes deafening. Dry lightning crackles, throwing lurid streaks of reddish glow over the flats, here and there igniting fires that flare, then die as fast as they are lit. Now one can understand why there are no trees either in Denos: the fierce winds would reduce any tree to kindling in minutes.

The woman yells over the noise, “What if it hits the fuel tanks, Jord?” The man shakes his head as if to say, don’t even think about it. In a lull from the violence and noise of the storm, the youth suggests they just ride the combine to their home and return it to the field once the storm is over.

“You know the law as does everyone, Keela. We are not permitted to use County resources for personal use. We cannot use the machine, not even if we had the mayor’s permission.”

“We will die here if we do nothing, dad… mom? I promise to drive the machine back to the field as soon as the wind dies down!”

They discuss the risks, which seem small, that they would be spotted with the machine. In a moment they are aboard and driving to their home as the storm redoubles its strength as if intent on blowing the combine over.

Sometimes in the early morning the storm finally dies down. Keela dresses and goes outside to drive the monster back to the field only to encounter five members of the local Guardia, two inspecting the machine and three coming towards her and the house. Keela’s fear causes her to fall to the ground to be picked up, manacled and thrown in the back of another machine. Soon she is joined by both her mother and father.

There is a trial, of course, let it not be said that these people have no understanding of justice, or that they do not have a proper system to administer such. Images are shown of the combine dwarfing the abode of the Tanners. They are read the law, at which point Mrs. Tanner begs for her daughter to be spared. “She had nothing to do with this, it was Jord and I who made the decision to use the machine to save our lives, please!”

The presiding “judge” sneers as he turns to the three member “jury” and says, “The evidence shows otherwise. The youth was observed and arrested as she went to the machine, thus she is as culpable of theft as her parents. Our guilty verdict applies to all three.”

“God, no! She is only fourteen. Have some mercy!”

“Sentence for theft of County equipment and resources: death by firing squad, to be carried out immediately. This hearing is closed.”

So, under a bright and calm day, near the flag pole where a red and black flag proclaiming a free Denos moves languidly, the three are executed and their bodies hung on poles as a warning to others. They will hang there until the winds of Free Denos tear off their flesh and scatters their bones to disappear in the soil.

By decree, the Tanners’ home and significant properties will be added to the County’s growing number of lands reclaimed from “criminals.” There are no prisons, on Denos.