Category Archives: Short Story

A Rhetorical Question

Short story by Sha’Tara

“Don’t mean to pry but that’s three buses you let go by. You look at them, stare inside then you sit down again.”

“Yes, you’re right. I wanted to ride around town but I really have no clue about these buses. I don’t even know how to pay to ride.”

“Oh! My name is Amelia. How come you know nothing about city bus transit?”

“My name is Ben, pleased to meet you. I just came in on a train down from Slago.”

“Slago? What’s a Slago?”

“It’s actually a place no one’s heard of unless they live in Slago, with the possible exception of some lowly clerk in the revenue service.”

“Slago… that’s some name for a town.”

“Slago’s not a town Mel. It’s an abandoned gopher hole in the middle of a forest, half of which is dead due to a wild fire two summers ago.”

“You called me Mel. Why is it that everybody when they hear my name, they have to call me Mel?”

“You don’t like it?”

“I don’t give a damn, really. It was a rhetorical question. You do know about those?”

“Rhetorical question? I’ll ask you one: can you introduce me to these labyrinthine buses if I buy you dinner, or are you working today, or otherwise engaged?”

“That is not a rhetorical question; it begs a few answers.”

“So I don’t know what a rhetorical question is. Do you have any answers for me?”
“Sure, OK. No, I’m not working today, I was going to do some shopping. I can explain some bus basics, get you started. It’s not rocket science. Think: if the bozos you bump into on the sidewalks can do it, hey! And yes, I’ll accept your dinner invitation. Do I get to pick the restaurant?”

“You’ll have to, I don’t know anything about this city.”

How was I to know that a simple conversation in a bus stop would deliver a fun day, a great dinner, a whirlwind romance, two children, a house with an unaffordable mortgage, a philandering, abusive drinking husband and a bitter divorce eleven years later? How’s that for a rhetorical question.

The Gathering

(A simple story with some questions at the end…)

[short story… by  ~burning woman~  ]

The Ancient surveyed the group with his mind.  “I see we are all gathered – let us proceed.  Agenda, please.” 

Orija closes her eyes and intones: “This Great Gathering, ninth of a series of ten, is called to decide the fate of the Sol system in which lies a planet called Earth which has been of concerns to Gathering for some years now. This meeting will address those aspects that lie within our jurisdiction.”

“Very well.  Please begin.  I recognize Volarian Mosl as the first delegate.”

 “The Volarians are, hm, quite uncomfortable with the energies emanating from the Sol planet called Earth.  Without going into details already well known to this august body, we propose a terminal solution before the discomfort spreads further.  It is known to us that some Belgelians have offered limited space folding capabilities to a segment of Earthian humans who claim descent from those known to us as the Nibiruans.  As a result we have been forced to strengthen our shields against the possibility of a sudden eruption of Earth humans — whom we consider to be corrupted beyond redemption –within our space.  The situation among my people is volatile as we have not had to deal with outer world aggression in long ages.  Even our oldest mages cannot remember the days of war.  We are asking, once more, that this Gathering do something definitive to resolve this issue.  We do not wish to wait for another Gathering.  If nothing is done now, our space guild will take action as it sees fit to protect both our space and our trade routes.”

“Thank you Volarian Mosl.  Your position is clear to us.  Who else wishes to express thoughts on the Earthian problem?”

 “I, Jessik, ambassador for the autarch of Narssis wish to express our thoughts on the matter?”

 “Yes, ambassador Jessik, you may speak freely.”

 “Thank you.  I have a question to pose to the gathering.  Regarding the Earthian humans, as a species evolved on only one world, with limited intervention from outer world peoples, can it be said here, before this august gathering, that over the time we have watched them, they have been freely given all the necessary information needed to move in a direction,  or should I say, to develop in a way consistent with that of the rest of the Galactic family?  Can any Earthian claim that we, in some way, failed to give them all the necessary support to develop their minds and their hearts in accord with the Galactic aim of cooperation and mutual support for the sake of life?

 “This is of paramount importance to us Narssisians as adjudicators of the Galactic Code.  Should Earthians discover the workings within the Galaxy once they leave their planet, they may be instructed by some to put in a planetary claim that critical information was withheld from them and  further claim that whatever crime they could to be charged with, such as genocide or planeticide, would not apply since they were ignorant of the basic requirements of the Galactic code?”

 “The question has been heard and entered.  Would the Angels respond to ambassador Jessik’s question?”

“We are the Angels of Aglamar” responds in perfect unison a chorus of voices from unseen entities scattered throughout the Gathering, “and we will respond to the question truthfully. 

 “Since the beginning, the Earthian human species has been observed, guided, taught and shepherded by the very best of our specially trained Guardians.  Many went and lived on the Sol planet Earth as teachers.  It was not unexpected that the earlier Guardians would be treated unfairly and unkindly by the fearful, hate-filled creatures.  It was however quite unheard of that this treatment would continue and intensify.  After waves of persecution of those who heard and obeyed the teachings of the Guardians, it was decided not to send any more.  We chose instead to contact Earthians through the use of thought forms, awakening empathy in some of them.  It was our thought that Earthians would be more likely to listen to their own.  But again experience gained on other worlds failed us here.  They did not listen.  They have grown increasingly belligerent with the development of their modern technical skills.

“They used the knowledge brought to them to develop an inhuman form of technology that has rendered them insensitive and brutish.  What limited knowledge of the good we sowed among them over the millennia was apparently and for all practical purposes, lost, or deliberately discarded.  Few there are of Earth who today understand even a little of what life is about and we have plans with the Galactic Space Guild to attempt a rescue of this remnant. 

 As Angel Guardians, it is our intent at this juncture to withdraw ourselves from any further involvement with that species of humanity.  Sadly we conclude they are lost.  We regret to so inform the Gathering.”

“Ah, thank you Angel Guardians of Aglamar.  The darkness of sorrow clouds our thoughts on this matter.  Do we wish to continue this Gathering?”

 “Representative Weill-Straat from Qobel.”

 “Yes, representative.”

 “Qobel resents the implication that Earth is of no value.  We have put much energy to develop a plan for adding Earth to our interplanetary trade franchises.  Qobellian trade ships are orbiting the planet, out of the range of their scanners and shielded, of course,  awaiting the results of several delegations sent secretly to many of the greater Earthian trading houses which they call Banks and Corporations.  As always we are advocates of free choice, therefore free trade. 

“We believe that the Earthians are uniquely adapted to engage fully in interplanetary trade and understand its function better even than some Qobellians, to our shame.  There is a native trait in the Earthians that renders them immune to any suffering their trading may bring to life, including the life of members of their own species.  They understand the value of trade and the necessity of sacrifice to further its reach.  In fact, one of their most admirable traits is their willingness to sacrifice any number of lives for the benefit of trade and to go to war to protect and enhance trade on their world.  To us, the Earthians demonstrate the only hope for further advancement of civilization as we have developed it on Qobel. The wish of Qobel therefore is that we be given a free hand to fully interact with Earthian trading houses.”

 “Thank you, representative Qobel.  Is there anyone else here who wishes to address this issue?”

 “Yes, I would please.  My name is Lisa Echabar.  I am, huh, was, from Earth.”

 “Lisa Echabar from Earth.  You may address the Gathering.”

 “I had wished to say something profound on behalf of my world but after listening to the delegates, I am afraid my voice will seem rather small, frail and distant.  Perhaps even confused.  Yes, I am confused.  I wish to speak for Earth but everything said here about the people is, sadly, quite correct.  They have been given all the knowledge needed to live up to the demands of the Galactic code.  I know because my tribe lived according to the code and we were happy and healthy for long years.  It was because of our adherence to the code that my tribe was enslaved and finally destroyed.  Earth was an abundant planet under the rule of the code.  No one ever needed to go without either food or shelter.  It was known, and it is known, even to the technos, that peace is better than war – but never quite as profitable.  It was, and is, known to all that health is better than disease, but also not as profitable.  It was, and is, known that cooperation is superior to aggression, but again, not as profitable. 

“I have a complaint to voice at this Gathering and that is, when the predator/prey concept was surreptitiously introduced to Earth, where were the Angel Guardians then?  Did you not know that such a concept would bring horror upon a world designed originally to be a simple paradise of loving interaction between all the species of life upon it?  Or did you know but choose to do nothing to prevent this deadly poison from being brought to us? 

“I will tell you what happened to my world and to my people.  Both were given free will and free choice much sooner than they were able to understand their implications and responsibilities. The freedom came before the knowledge was given.  So it turned to lust and degradation.  When the knowledge was finally introduced, it was too late.  The poison was burning in every heart and every mind.  Only those scattered in small tribes in deserts, mountains or small islands on the seas escaped for a time.  But it came to them also, and when it did, they died by the millions.  I myself was a victim of the technos. 

“Perhaps it is not entirely the Earthians’ fault that they are as they are.  Perhaps they are not redeemable, and certainly this Gathering cannot pay heed to Belgelian and Qobel desires to take advantage of their inhuman trait, their lack of empathy and their innate greed.  Better to let them destroy themselves and cause their planet to simply go to sleep under them, holding back her seasonal bounties until all surface life is gone.  Perhaps that would be the most compassionate thing to do. 

“To bring them out of their world at their current state of understanding would be to plunge the galaxy in endless wars.  To allow them to proliferate more would be to increase the level of suffering the many must endure to support the luxuries of the few.  There is no balance on Earth.  What love there is, if it can be called that, is of a sexual and predatory nature. 

“Since those of us who were willing to demonstrate a better way; who would have made a difference, are not wanted on Earth and since the Angel Guardians have decided to abandon their efforts on behalf of those who were once my people – but are no longer – I don’t know what else to say.  I am not condemning; I am not accepting.  I am simply stating.  Please understand I do not seek redress  or justice for myself in this.  I only wished to share my awareness and experience.  May this Gathering act wisely in this grave matter.”

“Thank you, Lisa Echabar, ambassador for Earth.  Your thoughts are felt and understood by the Gathering. A vote to decide the fate of planet Earth and its life will be taken by authorized representatives of the council at the next, and last, Gathering.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Earth humanity, known as Homo Sapiens is a very ignorant and smug species.  That such as the above could actually be taking place, seems of no consequence here.  That the planet itself is showing signs of serious stress and possible environmental collapse is of little consequence. What matters is business as usual, let the consequences be borne by others.  That over 30,000 innocents die each day of preventable causes is acceptable collateral damage for the sake of free trade.  “The spice must flow” as the spacing guild navigators are fond of saying in Frank Herbert’s Dune novels.  Whatever the cost, resources must flow to the factories, and the goods must flow to the stores and from thence, to the homes to be turned into garbage and effluent.  That such garbage and effluent require the living sacrifice of 30,000 innocents – mostly babies and young children – each and every day, is cool; not a shocking revelation but just more “so what, there’s too many people on the planet anyway;” crass justification for the piratical profit from imposition of sanctions and maintenance of deadly endless wars.

Do we possess the knowledge to make our world into a paradise but simply refuse to do so?  Are we without empathy for those who suffer and die because of a system we support for our selfish ends?  Are we doomed; an irredeemable, violent, vicious, mindless species?  Is there no longer any choice, or are we unwilling to pay the price required for change? 

And what is that price?  What does life demand of us?  Of me? 

Now, who’s going to be the first to tell me to get into the spirit of Christmas?

 

Is it worth it?

 [a short story by Sha’Tara]
(I’ve probably posted this story in the past but I feel like it’s time to run it again since I’m having some discussions on the subject of empathy…)
________________________

        Lanky Andy, Andrew Larkin, walked into “The Odyssey” restaurant at exactly 1800 hours.  He allowed his transitioning photochromic lenses to clear enough so he could scan the seats.  Eddie, Edward Aberhart, his friend, was seated in a booth halfway down the window aisle, facing the entrance door.  He waved at Andy.

        “Jees… Jesus Eddie, you look like shit. What’s up?  What’s with the ‘I need to see you right away, like today!’ call?”

        “It’s like this Andy.  I’m at the end of my rope. I’ve been thinking about things for years now and it’s turned into a bloody nightmare.  I keep asking myself, ‘Is is worth it?  What am I doing here?  What’s the point of anything, anything at all.’ and nothing seems right, feels right, tastes right.”

        “What does Linda have to say about your, um, nightmare?”
        “Linda’s gone.  She packed up, went back to her family down south.  I haven’t spoken to her since she left, that’d be about two months ago.  Just packed up while I went uptown, loaded up the car, took Jessie with her and left me a note on the kitchen table: ‘I’m going to stay with mom for a bit until I can get a job at the hospital down there.  I know a doctor, I’ve got excellent references as an ER nurse, I’ll get a job.  Please, don’t call me, don’t call mom, just vanish from our lives.  If you follow, I’ll get an injunction based on emotional abuse.  I don’t care what you do Eddie, just disappear from my life; from our lives.  You’ve become creepy, sick, but not something I can do anything about.  I won’t let you drag us into your nightmare.  Goodbye Eddie.’ and that’s it.”
        “Well, nothing like a cheery get together to get things rolling.”
        A busty, dark “Greek” looking waitress came by, took their orders and said their drinks would be right up. 
        ‘I sure hope so’ thought Andy.  ‘I need a drink, the kind that helps you put your thoughts together, then wipes them out so you can enjoy life again, if only for a day.’
        Although the place was three quarters full, it being Saturday evening after all, the drinks miraculously showed up within three minutes.  Eddie fingered the cold condensation on the outside of his glass.  He didn’t pick it up, didn’t drink, just stared as if he was reading a message.  Andy sipped on his, smacked his lips then swallowed the entire glass, waving at a waitress for a refill.
        “All right, goddamn it Eddie, you got me here.  Don’t tell me you’re just going through another of your emotional bullshit phases.  I had enough of that shit with you in college.  Let’s cut to the chase, what’s eating you?”
        “I’m really sorry Andy but my life sucks.  I hate teaching and I don’t believe anything the curriculum makes me teach the kids so I can’t really motivate them.  Well, how could I?  I can’t motivate myself any longer.
        “You know I used to attend the Pentecostal church.  I thought I had some sort of relationship with God.  It felt good, right, proper and my life made sense.  I joined the Lions’ Club to be of service in the community and that reinforced my belief that life had purpose.  I married Linda and I was sure I really loved her.  Jessie’s birth, now that was some celebration after all the scare that she would be abnormal – nothing wrong with that kid.  I had it all and then it all went away.  I mean it, Andy: it just evaporated.  Like I fell in some big black bottomless hole.  That’s where I’m talking to you from: a black pit of despair, falling with nothing to hang on to.  Can you accept that?  I’m not asking you to understand, just accept this is how it is.”
        “Do you want me to lie to you?”
        “No.”
        “OK then, I can’t – no, let me put it more clearly for you: I won’t accept it.  I’m a rational person, Eddie.  If something fucks up upstairs, it’s up to me to go up there and straighten it up.  There’s no Chimera up there that’s going to take over and fuck up my life – not before now, not now, and not ever in the future.  I wouldn’t let it happen.  That’s my answer to your asking me to accept your current state of mind: I don’t because if I did, then I’d have to try to understand it next – and I’m simply not going there.  I don’t play mind games Eddie.  My own life is controlled; some people say I’m as hard as a rock, well fine, that to me is high praise.  That’s why you stuck with me through college too, you needed that hardness to put grit into your own mush, Eddie.
        “What the fuck, man.  You are the one who got Linda, you whiny wimp of an excuse for a man.  She went for you because she felt sorry for you most of the time.  But I was the one who loved her Eddie.  How often I imagined what we could have done as a couple, as a team.  A doctor and a nurse, and I would have pushed her to get her medical degree too.  We would have been all over the world, helping people, I mean really helping.  A team on fire.  Fuck you Eddie, you miserable excuse for a human being.  I feel so sorry for you right now I want to punch in that baby face of yours.  Goddam it, I don’t believe this.”
        “Why have you never told me of your feelings for Linda until now?  I didn’t know, honest.”
        “Of course you didn’t know, you self-absorbed little shit.  All that’s ever really mattered to you was you and your precious feelings.  ‘I joined the Lions’ club to be of service to the community.’  Such a crock.  You joined to find support for your insecurities – tell me honestly that isn’t true.”
        “Ah hell Andy, I didn’t call you here for you to beat up on me.  I’m down, Andy.  I can’t take this.  Is this fun for you, crushing what’s left of a total loser?”
        “OK, OK, I’ll back off if you’ll level with me and tell me what’s really the problem.  What’s the cause of your black pit of despair, Eddie?  What’s this Gremlin you’ve got on your back that you can’t shake off this time?”
        “The honest truth, Andy: the world, and my life in it.  Have you followed the news lately?  With all the crap that’s going on and that keeps arising all over, is it really worth it?  Is there some point to it?  The world’s in a shambles, what am I supposed to do?  Ignore it?  Carry on like what’s her name, Pollyanna?
        “I wake up in the middle of the night and I have visions, terrible visions, of things happening to thousands of people, horrible things.  And I feel guilty about it all, I can’t help myself, and the guilt won’t go away.  It’s like everything bad that happens is my fault.  I’m responsible somehow, as if I were a puppet and I was being played, forced to watch; forced to link my lifestyle to the problems of other people.  If I enjoy something, they go without.  If I eat, they starve.  If I have a house to live in, they are homeless.  If I have rights, they are enslaved.  If I’m free, they are in prison.  I’m cursed, Andy; I’m the other side of the coin.”
        As their food was being served, Andy didn’t answer.  He moved some plates around, ordered another drink, looked up at Eddie and said, “Ed, drink your fucking drink, right now.”
        The waitress looked up, a shocked look on her face.  “Sorry, that’s between my friend and I here.  Please bring him another drink, he’s going to need it.”
        The waitress almost scampered away.  Andy started eating and felt ravenous.  He swallowed, then started to laugh.  Not so loud as to cause embarrassment but so Eddie would hear it and stare at him.
        “You find something amusing, Andy?” Eddie put his empty glass down, looked into Andy’s eyes.
        “Yeah, you.”
        “My problems are amusing to you?  I thought doctors were supposed to be empathetic.”
        “Some are but it’s definitely not a trade requirement.  If it was most of us would be out of work tomorrow.  But this has nothing to do with me being a doctor, or you a high school teacher.  We’ve been dancing around a much more serious business called life.  You asked me, is it worth it?  Before I answer that, give me a rational alternative to what you call life.”
     “That’s a nuts question.  How can there be a rational alternative to life?”
        “Ah, got you there haven’t I?”
        “I don’t have any answer for you.  Are you talking about an alternative to life?  How can there be such a thing?”
        “Have you heard of NDE’s or near death experiences that some people claim to have had?”
        “Vaguely.  Here and there.  There’s no proof of such a thing actually happening. Just the brain reacting in a crisis when life is on the line.”
        “Exactly!”  Andy drank some more and it seemed his drinks were tasting better each time.  So did the food.  “Got to congratulate you, Eddie, this is one hell of a fine restaurant.  Not fancy, but you can’t beat this food, or the drinks either.  Don’t know when I’ve enjoyed myself more at a meal.  Go ahead, dig in, dig in.  This is fantastic!”
        “What do you mean, ‘Exactly’?”
        “Mmmm… what?”
        “I said there was no proof that NDE’s are real experiences and you said, ‘Exactly.'”
        “And I meant every word!”  Andy laughed at the puzzled expression in his friend’s face and noticed that outside, the world had gone dark except for street lights and the lampshades over the booths made new shadows.
        “Ease up on the drinks, Andy, you’re losing it.”
        “Actually I’m getting it, Eddie.”
        “Care to explain?”  He took a serious drink and suddenly felt himself unwind.  As if something good was going to happen.  Imagine that: nothing good had seemed to happen for ages.  He knew it wasn’t the drink, nor the food.  Anticipation. He actually felt it.
        “I never realized it until now,” said Andy.  “About you, I mean.  I always thought you were somewhat of a sissy, a wimp you know, going around feeling sorry for yourself, bringing people into your circle to empathize with you.  But that wasn’t it at all.  You were just confused, selling yourself short, unaware of your own nature, thus unable to take advantage of it.”  He seemed to look at Eddie with some sort of awe.  “I never knew; never suspected even.”
        “Would you tell me what you’re going on about, Andy?  You’re confusing me and I think you’ve had too much to drink.”
        “Oh just wait.  I haven’t had half enough.  I’ve been a fool, Eddie, a complete idiot.  I’m the one who’s been totally self-centered and blind.  You know what you are, buddy?”
        “Hey, this is getting scary.  What am I?  Some sort of Reptilian alien?”  Eddie smiled, ate some, enjoyed it.  “You going to keep me in suspense?”
        “No.  I’ve got it.  You, my very dear friend and pain in the ass, are an empath.  A real, honest to God empath.  That’s what explains your angst, you visions, your despair; your deep questioning of the purpose of life. You feel it man, you feel it all and you have never learned how to deal with it.  You’re supposed the “channel” this stuff, not keep it bottled up.  It’s not about you, it’s about this world, and how life evolves or adapts itself within.  That life needs to communicate; to give itself messages and in human terms, those messages are carried by empaths.
        “When I said, “exactly” I meant it: it’s all based on empathy.  There’s no need of proof once you pass a certain point, or reach a certain level of evolution – it just is.  I’m a surgeon and I know a bit about NDE’s.  I’ve had talks with quite a few patients who, after thanking me for saving their life, went on to describe their experiences under anaesthesia when they experienced clinical death.  I was interested but never convinced beyond what you said: brain reaction.
        “But it wasn’t that, don’t you see?  These NDE people are empaths!  They crossed over and came back because their nature provided the bridge between the physical world of their body and the spirit, or mental, world inhabited by their consciousness.  I remember talking about this with Linda.  She didn’t make the connection between NDE’ers and empathy, but she accepted the experience as very real.  Goddam Eddie, she was right!  I just needed to see the connecting thread and you just showed it to me.  Your angst is your connection to others, Eddie.  You’re not cursed, you are blessed, old friend.”
        “If that’s the case, shouldn’t it have made me selfless and compassionate instead of the loser wimp you see before you?”
        “No, I see it now, that’s not how it works.  You needed teachers and you didn’t get them – luck of the draw I suppose.  You needed to be taught self-empowerment and self-reliance.  That’s where the rubber hits the road I bet.  That’s where it comes together and changes you completely.  Think about it, Eddie.  Think about it long and seriously.  While you’re on top of that, teach yourself about channelling – pass it on, don’t keep it in.  You’re watching the movie, you’re not in the story being chased by those demons, though they are real.  You can sense them but they don’t know you exist.  That’s your key and your power.  You can exert influence upon the stories in your mind if you learn how to transmute the information then upload it in its changed form.  I read about this stuff; it’s amazing I never got it until now.  You: you’re the key.  You’re the Avatar.  You’re the one making it happen now, right now, while you’re outside of yourself.
        “Is that my alternative to life?”
        “Yes.  You see, there isn’t just one form of life, there are infinite types of life.  People like yourself, well, they can slip in and out of any form they choose.  You have the power to do that and that’s how you survive in worlds given over to violence like this one.  You don’t stay in the line of fire, you duck, you live to fight another day.  But you’re always on the front lines regardless of where you go in your mind.”
        “You missed your calling, you should have been a preacher.  I’m sold.  Just hoping it isn’t the drinks talking, or feeling.”
        “It isn’t the drinks.  This is like a revelation.  I’m sold too.  I’m no empath, I know that, but you know who else is?”
        “Linda!”
        “You bet, Linda.  And I’m going after her.  I love her; I’ve always loved her and I’m going to make it up to her for not pushing my way between the two of you.  Got that?”
        “Yes, I got that.  It’s how it’s got to be.”  He hesitated for a moment, then added,   “I know you’ll be good for her, and you’ll take good care of Jessie.  Let me know when you guys are married, or settled.  I’d like to visit.”
        “I’ll do that.  No, I mean we’ll do that.”

The Weaver of Peace

[I have known for many years that I would never be an author, nor think of myself as a writer. Actually, I am a story teller, that’s in. The following is another tale of Al’Tara’s universal wanderings as the Avatar of Compassion. Al’Tara is my cosmic alter ego until such time as I “graduate” to that position, that is.   Sha’Tara]

The Weaver of Peace
{a short story, by   ~burning woman~  }

I had heard of a particular human person on a world we call Harmony. If I were to write it the way the locals say it, it would sound like a line of ZZZZZ’s… but never mind that. I was in the neighbourhood, so to speak, just a few hundred light years away and between assignments I decided to meet this human person.

I was quite unprepared for what I saw when I met “Alice” as I shall call her. She was perhaps twenty Earth years of age and certainly the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, if one stretches the word to the upper limits of its meaning.

I introduced myself as the avatar Al’Tara but she already knew of me and was pleased to meet me personally. In the grand scheme of things people like me do not have much free time so I asked Alice to tell me her story, explaining that what I’d heard left much to be desired.

I noticed (and felt) a great sadness emanating from her as she began.

“I was born one of those women to become a magnet for love and when I was fifteen I fell in love with a particular man. All men automatically “fell in love” with me but I managed to keep myself for that particular lover. Our attraction was beyond anything I could ever imagine. From the moment I met him, my heart only beat for him.

Then the unthinkable, in my way of thinking, happened: I discovered that he was cheating on me with a friend of mine. I went into a blind rage, then planned my revenge. Eventually I killed them both.”

“And what was your punishment?” I asked as innocently as possible, already knowing the answer.

“They didn’t punish me. The verdict from a judge and the families of those I killed was that I should live with my endless awareness of my guilt. They knew I had re-incarnated on their world from a past life on a world called Earth and they made allowances for my errant behaviour. ‘She hasn’t had time to lose the effects of her many lives on that world where her behaviour is considered normal. We must give her time to evolve to understand the two sides of love.’

“What did they mean by that, then?” I asked, again knowing the answer but eager to see if she understood.

“Love, and I understand this now, has two faces: one is jealous, the other is self-sacrificing.”

I saw tears pooling in her lovely dark eyes and flowing down her cheeks but made no comment on that. Instead I asked, “How old were you when you killed your lover?”

“I was seventeen then. I am twenty one now.”

“Your story has spread and when I heard it, I wanted to know how you have proceeded since that time, and how your understanding of love may have changed. You said it has a jealous face, which you’ve certainly experienced, and a self-sacrificing face. You say you understand this now, so what have you done to wear this self-sacrificing face?”

“I’ve made a decision that will give me that face. There is a primitive world recently discovered by the Supremacy that is ruled by what they call tribalism.  The people there are forever fighting feuds, duels and wars, committing genocides, enslaving each other and using women as war booty. It’s a free-for-all kind of place and if things continue as they are, it is believed that the inhabitants are going to destroy themselves. If they gain access to technology, the rate of attrition will rise exponentially.

“There has been discussions between representatives of the Supremacy and the more powerful war lords. They have an ancient law that if an individual gives himself up voluntarily and without any hesitation as a living sacrifice, the act, upon consummation, would force a hundred year truce. You know what my decision is don’t you, Avatar Al’Tara. I have decided to be their Weaver of Peace.”

“Please just call me Al’Tara, or Tara, we do not hold to titles. Yes, I understand that you wish to be this volunteer blood sacrifice to bring a hundred year peace to an entire world. Why do you feel this is for you?”

“Tara, you must know the weight of guilt I have been living under! Add to that, men still desire me and seek me, even knowing my story, and I cannot reciprocate. I’ve still only experienced but the one side of love. I need to complete my face. Consider also that I have so much to lose. I have physical beauty, youth and perfect health. Despite my horrible crime I am universally desired and lack for nothing. My sacrifice will be utter, complete.”

“Because these primitive War Lords, so-called, will not be able to barter for your sexual favours, and many of them will not want the truce you will be forcing upon them, they will pour their hate on you as their “Dedicated” and will insist that you suffer the pains of hell.  They will torture you in the most terrible ways before they allow you to die. You do know that?”

“Yes… yes, I do know that. It’s the price I must pay to earn the love this world has shown me and would give me if it could. I only need to move forward, neither fainting nor turning back.”

“You are a brave woman, Alice. Your commitment to your salutary purpose is honourable. Let me touch your mind and give you something to help you through your ordeal.”

“I wish for nothing. I was offered special surgery to deaden the pain but refused. I cannot accept.”

“This isn’t about deadening or lessening your pain; it’s to give you constancy and focus during your trial. What I give you will enhance your experience. Furthermore, if you ever dreamed of becoming an Avatar, I’m offering you a rare shortcut. I also offer to accompany you and to be there to ease your mind and guide your spirit when you leave you body. I know no one is allowed to accompany you but I will be invisible to all but you. I will stay with you and touch you but without distracting you from your purpose. Accept?”

“Oh, Tara! Now I know I can do this. Thank you.”

PS: I wanted to add a YouTube link to Kate Price’s “Weaver of Peace” which is my favourite Kate Price ballad. I couldn’t find any YouTube links for Kate Price, but here’s the link to the lyrics:

http://www.songlyrics.com/kate-price/peaceweaver-lyrics/

Sally Urquart

[a short story –  by Sha’Tara]

The law required that the local council call a public meeting, so they did, on a Wednesday evening, for 7:00 PM. It being the middle of the week, “they” knew that many commuters would be unable to attend and that was the point, wasn’t it. Me and my political group of “Greenies” as we were labelled attended, of course, and tried to get as many of our supporters as we could to oppose the proposed development of a new strip mall that included an anchor super market from a major multinational food distribution and retail corporate group. We didn’t need another food store, we already had two perfectly adequate ones. But it’s the old story, isn’t it. Money talks, bullshit walks.

The meeting got underway and despite some heated interruptions and cries of “lies, lies!” the presentation by two corporate shills was concluded and the meeting opened to questions. The questions and borderline speeches came hard and fast. A couple of angry residents were forcefully expelled but the mood did not relax.

After most of the participants had had their say and were summarily cut off from further discussion, that’s when she came forth. A pleasant looking young woman I had never seen, wearing a simple blue sweat shirt and faded jeans, in sandals yet imposing enough in height: she must have been close to six feet if an inch. Her long dark hair was tied back with a scarf. She wore no makeup and her fingers, when she took the mike, showed her to be a worker of the soil. She had a good tan too, and it was of the honest kind: from the sun, obviously. From where I sat I couldn’t tell the colour of her eyes but they were piercing.

She held a brown envelope in her left hand which she placed on the podium and she addressed the meeting in a very soft and gentle voice that forced everyone to listen intently in order to hear. As a hopeful politician, there’s a trick I would have to learn. She greeted “Mr. Mayor” by name, as well as the six council members, one having recused himself due to known conflict of interest in the matter. To the rest of us she said, “Hi neighbours, my name is Sally Urquart and I realize most of you don’t know me but I live here too and I have an interest in this community, and the well-being of its children. I am not here to oppose the development being discussed because I don’t have to. It isn’t going to happen.”

You could have heard a pin drop. “Mr. Mayor” had his mouth open but no sound came. I was on the edge of my seat.

She continued, “I have here some documents that indict your mayor and three of “his” councillors sitting before you. These documents, of which these are but copies, are now filed with the Crown attorney but I was given the opportunity to bring my discoveries to this meeting so you would all know; so the local paper, represented here by Jim Leeson, reporter, could have the goods firsthand.

“Your mayor is facing charges of high level corruption for accepting bribes from the main anchor of the proposed strip mall, Food Source, and for openly lying about his involvement in this matter to the electorate, that is you people here, and the rest of this community. As for the other three councillors whom I need not name, they shared in the mayor’s bribe money and future interest in the venture’s profit.

“Food Source, on a plea bargain, has already admitted to the bribes and additionally to being in violation of provincial law by knowingly attempting to develop prime agricultural land currently in protected agricultural land reserves. I have little more to add except to say that your mayor and three councillors here present are now under arrest.”

At that moment four RCMP officers came in the hall and took charge of the individuals, reading them their rights and taking them out a side door though not in handcuffs which many of us would have liked to see. ‘Good riddance,’ I thought. Then I looked for Sally but she had disappeared, along with her brown envelope.

It took a bit of digging but we found out that she had been an attorney for the Crown, had resigned for personal reasons, then had accepted a temporary assignment on behalf of the Crown to investigate the Food Source strip mall affair and the town of Green Oaks’ council. During her investigative work she had quietly bought a one acre parcel of land with a few dilapidated out buildings, had moved a mobile home on it and begun her work of clearing the land and doing some serious gardening.

At our next meeting we decided we had to have “Sally” on our executive. We needed her savvy, her poise and her so seductive voice. We had to send a delegation to her and find out how we could persuade her to join with us. It was agreed that myself and my side kick, photographer, recorder, documentary maker, Phil Tompkins would be the delegation.

We found Sally at the back of her property, clearing blackberries and replacing fence posts. She looked much as she had at the town meeting, except for the added wide-brimmed Aussie hat and boots. She greeted us with an open smile, offered to go to the trailer and make coffee, which we declined because it would have interrupted everything. Without beating around the bush I told her what we had to offer her if she would join our organization. She would be our nominee for the next provincial election which was in less than two years’ time. She accepted the introductory parphernalia we offered her, accepted that Phil video’d our conversation. She was never one lost for words and I admired her even more on that day.

“Would you like some time to think this over, Sally? Maybe I could come back in a couple of days or so?” She made it easy to talk to her and us being of approximately the same age made our interaction ever smoother.

“Oh, that’s very kind of you, but I’ve always been one to make quick judgment calls and decisions. Your proposal is persona non grata here, I’m afraid. The moment you join an organization your personal life ends and you become an adjunct of other people’s thoughts, decisions and choices. When I became an attorney I was under the delusion that I could be an independent; that I could pick my cases and handle them the way I felt was right. That didn’t happen, was never going to happen, so I resigned as Crown counsel. Now I am an independent. I take pro bono or quasi pro bono cases entirely on my own, and my investigations which I prefer to court room presentations, pay the bills.”

Then she pointed around at her property. “This though is who I am. This acre of land, such as it is, is my real world. I live here. I share it with the beasties, the trees, the plants, the sun, wind, rain and snow and whomever comes to visit and doesn’t mean to stay. This is my universe.

“I can understand your group wanting to use me – yes that is the proper term – because of certain skills I possess and because of my self-possession but if I acquiesced, I would lose the very things that make me what I am. I’m not for sale. If you need some information dug up, if you even run into legal problems then come to me and I’ll do what I do best: I’ll unravel the ball of twine for you until you learn to do it for yourselves. Do you have an investigator in your group? An attorney of sorts? If not, get them. If you’re going to play this game you have to play with a full deck and a not few cards up your sleeves. That’s how the other side does it. That’s all I have to say. I rest my case.” She smiled again, leaning gently on her long-handled brush cutter.

Now here I am, Jenny Derksen, on my own little parcel of land outside a different town. Yes, some years ago I aspired to become a politician. When Sally Urquart turned down my appeal, I listened to what she had to say and after I narrowly lost my very first attempt at becoming an MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly for those not familiar with Canadian political terminology) I began to listen once again to Sally’s words. Joiners can never be their own person and I had seen more and more of that as I struggled with our own growing bureaucracy. I was becoming less of a human being and more of something that endlessly needed to be shaped, goaded, driven, counselled, trimmed, managed. One night it came to me and I literally threw up realizing what was happening. There and then I quit, walked away. I was an elementary school teacher and I could do quite well on my salary. I didn’t want the limelight, I wanted to be me and certainly the bureaucracy of the education system was already more than I could take. I didn’t need the added burden of politics that benefited higher and higher up opportunists. I could teach “my children” and one of them might even be the next Greta Thunberg. Ah! Dare to dream!

Oh yes, I wear a worn sweatshirt and faded jeans most times at home, as well as a wide brimmed Aussie hat, boots optional, and I remain unmarried though not without many good offers and opportunities. When some of “my children” come to visit, we work or play in the back gardens or if it rains, we go inside and bake, or I teach them how to sew or we play games – rule #1: no cell phones, no tablets, no TV.

I did learn some important lessons from Sally. Did we become friends? No, that wasn’t necessary. In the few moments we interacted we got all we would ever need from each other. She taught me to become a self empowered person, the greatest “gift” anyone can give another.

We the People: a Grim Fairytale

[a short story by  ~ burning woman~ ]

Once upon a time (well, that is the usual opening for a fairy tale, is it not?) there was an empire that covered an entire world. It was not a peaceful empire, in fact it was terribly dysfunctional. However, the kings and other rulers of the various kingdoms, duchies and quaint inventions called “nations” liked it that way.

There were endless wars which greatly benefited the elites and allowed the peasants and serfs or citizens to pretend at being “somebodies” by fighting and killing each other on a regular basis. For that world such behaviour was considered entirely normal. People who thought otherwise and who refused to fight and kill their neighbours were classed as traitors and in some periods, were executed, in others simply jailed. One thing for sure, at all times they were mocked and called cowards.

Such conditions are conducive to bringing forth cowardly and corrupt leadership and at times some group of people would overthrow such leaders and change the status of their land from, say, a kingdom or a colony to, say, a democracy. None of them actually understood what a democracy was since there had never been any to learn from, but they made it up as they went along and lo and behold, before they knew what had happened, their “democracy” had become a totalitarian regime quite identical to what their history books told them of the times before their revolution.

But, they cried, how can this be when it is “We the People” who decide how things should be run? So they talked, loud and vociferously about the role that “We the People” played in this drama and why things had turned on them. They blamed one-another for failing to vote, or for supporting the wrong party and those who were blamed, blamed right back. They blamed the politicians, well, of course! They blamed their elites, just as their forebears did. The problem was that now the elites operated with impunity within the democracy that “We the People” had presumably set up precisely to prevent such a thing from happening.

As things heated up, there even began talk of another revolution. It was a lot of angry talk and no one really knew how to bring about a revolution. It seemed that would require much organization and really, no one was up to jump starting such an irrevocable step. They needed the support of “We the People.”

In keeping with the propaganda relating to the previous revolution, it seemed logical that once again it would be “We the People” who would have to rise up, overthrow the entire corrupt system of religion, government and finance/business, and establish a new system. That made sense, so those with the loudest voices decided to bring “We the People” together.

And children, that is when those who wanted a revolution discovered that “We the People” was a complete chimera. There was no such thing as “We the People.” The idea that a majority core group held the real power of the democracy had always been pure propaganda by the two-party system of government so that the people would continue to believe that at the heart of it a legitimate, patriotic, educated, aware watchdog group of citizens kept tab on its government and had a tight leash on its politicians.

It was a terrible blow to the ego of those who would stop the corruption to discover that there had never been a “We the People” force in the land but exactly the opposite: a ragtag collection of people who distrusted one-another and often hated one-another for being of the wrong skin colour, or from the wrong ethnic background, economic level or religion. Instead of unity, they saw mass shootings and mass incarcerations of innocent individuals. They saw greed, hubris, abuse, violations of every known human rights and widespread destruction of the environment. They also saw that the masses, those who should have been “We the People,” identified with these destructive ways and participated in them, often with gusto while supporting and defending their blatantly corrupt leadership.

“Sadly children, they did not live happily ever after.”

“What happened to that world teacher?” asked a small boy.

“As to be expected, it destroyed itself and all the people on it died.”

“Oh!” echoed the children in horror.

“But it’s only a fairy tale, isn’t it?” Ventured an older girl in the back row.

“Well… no, it’s not really a fairy tale at all.”

“Life Aboard Ship”

[a short story, by Sha’Tara]

Star date: 190623-I haven’t spent as much time on this as I would have liked to but I am choosing to post now rather than wait two weeks when I return from an “Island” job. There is no internet where I’ll be working, though I will be doing some limited blogging on my cell phone. “Enjoy” this bleak story – it is what my heart is showing me these days.
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“Maybe what I really need is sleep, he said to himself. A sort of twilight of living, with only the background sound of Beethoven audible. All the rest a blur.

No, he decided; I want to be! I want to act and accomplish something. And every year it becomes more necessary. Every year, too, it slips further and further away.” (A Maze of Death – Philip K. Dick)

I awoke, as does everyone sooner or later, aboard a strange craft, a ship that sailed through emptiness, bound for nowhere; a ship that would never find a port of call or ever crash on any shore. I knew this long ago, although no one ever spoke of it. In the daytime, the closest non-ship entity one could see was, of course, the sun. At night, if one happened to be on deck, one could see the stars out there, forever out of reach, the ship never getting any closer to any one of them. Sometimes one could see the moon, and although much closer than any star, or sun, it too remained aloof, at an unreachable distance.

One did not board the Ship, one was born on it and was automatically made a member of the crew. Everyone on board was crew, no exceptions. What you did as crew was determined by others and their perceived, claimed or stated needs.

Since Ship itself was quite automated, there really was nothing to do as far as sailing it. So crew served crew until that was the only thing that anyone knew how to do. The more people were born on Ship, the more it all became self-serving, with those who became leaders demanding more from their underlings. Of course the underlings had to find ways to please their masters so they learned to delve down into Ship to find resources that could be made into objects that would please or titillate the masters. Most of us became resource extractors, all to stay alive, some to seek promotions.

I don’t know the exact day, but an idea came to me: what was the point of all that? Who were we all, why were we on Ship and where were we going? I stopped my drilling, much to the annoyance of my partner, and sat down to think about this.

Where did I come from? Nowhere. Where was I going? Nowhere. What was then the point of my existence? There was none. Even if I found the strength and motivation to fulfill and surpass my quota of diamonds; even if I finally got a promotion, I would be old and near death by then. What could I expect then? Nothing. I would cease and my body would be thrown overboard, as all were except for the Captains and other rich and powerful who had themselves encased in crystal caskets and buried with much pomp and ceremony down the empty shafts of what had been our most productive mines. The shafts were then sealed and commemorative plaques put on the entrances. I leave the question with you: how much better off were these rich dead than the dead flung overboard?

Although I would become one of the outcasts, I left the mine and went up on deck to feel the noonday sun and the wind; to hear the waves beat against the hull and listen to the endless sounds of people everywhere talking, laughing, crying, cursing, praying, cheering and some even singing. These people were, in a sense, alive, but what is life without purpose except to satisfy the immediate, to seek a bit more pleasure or to avoid punishment for any and all reasons? It seemed to me that they were simply going through the motions of something they believed in, not as happening now, but as some sort of hope that it would happen by and by.

I do not need to tell you that there were many varieties of official and quasi-official beliefs aboard Ship that most people adhered to. The gist of those beliefs was that one’s soul would go to another ship once separated from one’s dead body and life would be vastly improved in that new place. The new masters would be benign and merciful… of course.

I asked myself why people believed such things when no one could furnish any evidence of their truthfulness? There was a simple enough answer: why not, when life on Ship was general misery and pointlessness and there was nothing better to believe in? If nothing came of it after one’s death, one would be none the wiser. Meantime this bit of hope made life’s tenuousness, fear and misery a bit easier to bear. It was a simple mechanism grossly exploited, of course, by those who pretended to know about life after death. 

Without dependents being an outcast is not as bad as it sounds. You can use your skills to help others and be paid back in food, clothes and temporary shelter. Survival is not difficult when one has been toughened in mining for diamonds deep in the lower bowels of Ship. On deck at least there is a pretense of freedom; there is fresh air, water can be skimmed from water barrels, left-overs and discards can be looked through before they are incinerated or recycled.

Thus I lived the later years of my life and thus I discovered a new ‘connection’ to Ship. It came to me gradually that Ship was talking to me, had always been talking to me but the people noise had blocked Ship’s communications from my mind. Now that I had more freedom I could, and did, move away from people whenever possible and in relative quiet I heard Ship.

I hadn’t known that Ship was aware of what the people were doing on board and in particular, how they were damaging Ship by their greedy delving for ever more esoteric ‘resources’ below deck and down, down, into its deepest accessible bowels. Ship’s voice was sad.

‘You are killing me,’ she said to me in an old woman’s voice, ‘and when I die, you will all die too. That should be obvious to as intelligent a race as yours but somehow your lack of purpose has deadened your understanding of cause and effect. Where are your logicians? Where you philosophers? Where is your empathy? When those things die, you die. No intelligent, sentient and self aware species can guide itself without logic, philosophy and empathy.’

What happens now, Ship?’

‘Like you I am going to die. My lifeless hulk will continue to haunt this orbit for millions of your years. Perhaps, in time beyond time I will return and bring it back to life again so I can be another ark. Perhaps.’

‘Everything, everyone, on board will die then?’

‘Yes, everything.’