Hic Sunt Deos

Here Be Gods

Page 2 of 3

The Family Curse

When I was a young man, my uncle summoned me, much as I have summoned you today. I went to my uncle, for I was his favorite, indeed I was the only member of the family he spoke with at the time. I found him in the care of nurses, for his health was failing him rapidly. I was conducted into his presence and sat beside him that I might comfort him as he faced the inevitable. He had a crazed look about him, as if he were a man hunted, haunted, hounded by some rapacious and ravenous specter of the past. It was a look I was all too familiar with. Yet, I sat, silently, as he stared frightfully about, looking every which way for some menacing mirage that was all too real to his addled mind. He muttered every now and then, words of nonsense and words of curse, both as meaningless to me as they were purposeful to him. Perhaps they were some form of ward against the coming darkness, some manner of staving off that which all men must meet. However, I knew this was not the truth of it. No, his demons were not of his destiny, but of his antiquity, his madness a malicious and avaricious malady that had grown throughout his life until the man before me had been reduced to grasping at the folds of his robe and the arms of the chair in which he sat, seeking refuge in ephemeral reality from the ethereal nightmare that had been his beleaguered life.

 

While I watched, entranced, his face contorted through fears and emotions as he wrestled with his fading consciousness in order to bring forth some manner of words as to why he had summoned me. At long last, he was able to triumph over his diminishing faculties and while staring deep into my eyes he spoke in a voice both weary and frenzied, “Beware, your father! He is plotting against you even now!”

 

My shock at this pronouncement must not have been evident, or he was no longer capable of discerning such, as a smile of contentment struggled onto his lips as the rest of his visage was a war of other conflicting emotions. However, I could not let it rest at that. I loved my uncle dearly, I was the only one who had loved him in his later years as he descended into his madness. It was not in my nature to hate, but more than that, I pitied the man, for I knew what ailed him, and I feared it. I had to try, one final time, to reason with him, to try to unravel the perplexing animosity he held for our family, and my dear father in particular. Reaching out, I took up his feeble sweaty hand, stealing myself against the chill of his skin, and held it firmly as he instinctively jerked back. The contact had crystallized his face momentarily into a terrible countenance of horror, but that passed as his fond memories of me regained control of his dwindling sensibilities. I spoke, and his gaze snapped from my hand on his to my face. “Dear uncle, why do you say these things about my father, who has ever treated me, and you, with the utmost compassion? What makes you pronounce these heinous charges against your own blood?”

 

Anger now gripped him, and he snarled at me, not in hostility or contempt, but in frustration, as he always did when I rejected his guidance, and he launched fervently into an impassioned diatribe of all the past sins and wrongdoings of his loving sibling, many of them imagined, and most of the rest hyperbolic confoundments of minor slights long forgotten by all but him. He detailed, as he always did, in ever more elaborate invectives, how every possible misfortune was ultimately the consequence of some intricate machination of my father, or occasionally my brothers or some other more distant member of the family. He delved bitterly into long bygone family history of relations long since departed, many before my own time, and how most or all of them had long been plotting against him. I had heard it all before, far too often in fact, which is why I was able to recognize his usual harangue, his tiresome denunciations and accusations against kith and kin, from the babbling sounds that dribbled from his slackening mouth, his words rapidly degrading into a series of zealous noises that few could hope to comprehend. As his capacity for speech deserted him, his animosity swelled, and in the end, as the light faded from his eyes, the malice never left them, and his lifeless husk held fast the hatred which had so defined his sorrowful existence. In the end his demons had consumed him, his animus giving life to naught but antagonism and petty jealousies that had plagued our family incessantly for the majority of his life.

 

You may ask, as well you should, why did I hold such fondness for a man such as this, a man so animated with antipathy toward all others I held dear? I could not help but consider him with sympathy and compassion, for he held the family curse. In the depths of his delusions, he had long ago given leave to reason, he had long since surrendered to paranoia. You see, my father, whom I loved, had died decades before my uncle, yet still the surviving brother blamed the other for every ill that befell him. Indeed, eventually my uncle stopped believing my father was dead, and suspected his hand in every action against him, saw him around every corner, bedeviling his every enterprise. It mattered not what was real, it mattered little how many times I tried to convince him of the truth, all that mattered was his deep seated animosity toward his sibling, and his twisted logic that set all of his ills at the feet of his supposed adversary, and by extension all of the rest of his family, save me.

 

Yes, this was a family curse. My ancestors have struggled time and again with a particular family member, always male, who turns to this poisonous madness as his life progresses, a madness that turns that man into the bitterest of enemies toward almost all of his family, but always in particular against his brother, always his brother most of all. Again and again, throughout the ages, the madness seizes upon the hapless fellow, and he descends into obsession and specious judgment. The family is helpless to prevent it, try as they might, and some diligently attempted to forestall their beloved sons from spiraling into neurosis. Yet, without fail, it recurs again and again, every second generation. My uncle was the last. The next would be of your generation.

 

You see now, why I called you here, why I am telling you of our family curse. No, it is not what you think. It is not your brother who is falling prey to the madness. No, I’m afraid it is you. I know, you think it is your brother, and in the coming years, you will think everything is because of your brother, but it is not, and it never will be. It pains me beyond what mere words can convey to have to tell you, my dear nephew, that you are doomed to fall into an inescapable insanity, one in which you will fear and hate all those you love so dearly. I have seen the signs already, and they are unmistakable. Even now, I can see the apprehension in your eyes, the doubt and the paranoia starting to take hold. You are questioning, now, every word I tell you, as your mind tries to excuse all of the symptoms you yourself have noticed recently, as you try to explain to yourself how none of these are your fault, and all your suspicions about yourself are unfounded while all your fears about us are true.

 

There is no escape, I am sad to say, and even now my warning is too late. I should have told you long ago. But even then, would it have helped? Could this have been abated if you had known before the malady had manifested? I do not know, nor can we ever know. No, I’m afraid it is far too late, my warning far too little, and your future far too predictable. Farewell, dear nephew. Please try to remember me fondly, even as the mania sets in. Please try to recall that I tried to stave off your fate, as vain as my attempt was. Farewell, and may you know happiness in the next life, if not in this.

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The Garden of My Mind

Within the garden of my mind,
There are many trees you’ll find.
Some bear fruit, and some do not.
Those that don’t die and rot,
And are replaced by those that do,
So those that don’t are far and few.

And even those that do not bear,
Even these trees do their share,
For in their mighty boughs up high,
There are myriad lives you’ll spy.

Darting about, fast and fleet,
Tiny hands and tiny feet,
Dancing just out of sight,
Stealing dreams for spite,
Little lives, little thieves,
Slipping fruit up their sleeves.

In the garden of my mind,
Fruits of fancy flourish,
ripen, and fall, baskets fill,
Until I discard my very will.

But the little men of the trees,
Laugh and dance amongst the leaves,
Tipping baskets, Picking fruits,
Shaking trees, uncovering roots.
So much fruit is lost this way,
But the little men continue play.

Again fancy frolics forth,
Freeing fortified finites,
Breezily blowing baser ideals,
Into the garden’s heights.

There, clouds of dreams foment and foam,
Pouring torrents of terror into the trees,
Giving fright to the little men,
Frightened fancy turns and flees.

In the nightmare of the storm,
Fear and doubt now take form,
Fruit is smashed and trees are torn,
Baskets and little men alike forlorn.
All about is laid to ill,
Until the storm spends its will.

And the little flowers of imagination,
Broken at the stem,
Laced in a garland,
And thrown away on a whim.

Storms arise and storms dispel,
Some trees stand and others fell,
And in their place new trees arise,
A dozen sprout for each that dies.

Within the garden of my mind,
There are many trees you’ll find.
Some are old and some are new,
Some are dead and some are true.
But old dead trees come to ground,
And rot away till naught is found.

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The Words in the Wind

The man pulled himself up to the top, looked around, and did not care for what he saw.

He saw a world trying to hurry and rush, who knows where other than its own eventual end. He saw what others all saw, but refused to acknowledge the inevitability of it all. Misery was there, hand in hand with apathy and ego. No life seemed to matter, life itself seemed not to matter. There was a lot of energy here, but little purpose to it all.

Sighing, he settled down to meditate on what he saw, hoping to find a solution to the mystery of life. What was the point of it all, what was the plan, was their a plan? The man pondered these questions and all of the myriad questions that sprang forth wherever his ponderings led him. Age crept up upon him like the evening shadows, caressing first his skin, then settling in deep to chill his bones, and yet still he pondered the questions of life. As the sun set on his life, the shadows of age became more rapacious, springing up suddenly and seizing him in a cold dark grip, squeezing the very last drops of his youth out of him. Ravenous, age drank all the life that spilled out, lapping up every drop like sweet honey.

Finally, the last drops fell out of him. Age had consumed his very flesh, which now fell fully lifeless, hollow, sallow, and wrinkled to the ground, there to shatter into dust and blow away on the strong winds of time. At last, there was no longer any trace of the man, and the very memory of him was forgotten by those still rushing around in the world below.

And yet, as his lifeless husk fell to meet the ground, there could be seen on the face of the man, a serene smile. He had thought of a solution before he passed. He had solved the mystery of life. Every so often, if you close your eyes and listen right, you can hear his ashes whisper it in the winds of time, laughing softly.

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The Shattered Ones

In the minds of the shattered ones, there is not but despair. In the halls of the shattered ones, there is not that still care. At the behest of the sacred ones, the shattered ones do stay. With the thoughts of the sacred ones, the shattered ones do say,
“If you go upon the road the darkened ones did tread, the light of the darkened ones, around your feet will spread. The lives of the darkened ones, ended so long ago, amongst the path you tread upon, and amongst your feet do flow.”

In the morn of the lightened ones, the shattered ones do sing. In the dusk of the lightened ones, the shattered ones do bring, to the halls of the shattered ones, all the things they lose. With the will of the sacred ones, the shattered ones refuse, those that seek the sacred ones, gifts of wealth to bring. In the morn of the lightened ones, the shattered ones do sing,
“Whilst you go upon the road, the darkened ones do wait. Watch out for the darkened ones, their teeth do gnash and grate. Run away from the darkened ones, their claws do snatch and tear. Your flesh for darkened ones, in their claws will snare.”

In the halls of the shattered ones, the winds do twist and claw. In the minds of the sacred ones, all thought is made law. In the ways of the shattered ones, all but not is true. In the dance of the shattered ones, there is not but all to do. To the lands of the lightened ones, the shattered ones can go. In the lands of the lightened ones, the shattered ones will show, to the sacred and the lightened ones, the things that will entrance, the dancing of the shattered ones, and thoughts they left to chance. As they dance the dance of the shattered ones, the shattered ones will pray, and in their prayers to the sacred ones, the shattered ones will say,
“On the road of the darkened ones, protect those who tread, protect them from the darkened ones, else they will be dead. Guide them to the end of times, the times that never end, that they may see the lightened ones, and finally comprehend, the will of the sacred ones, hidden from all but few, that life is but one long dance, all but a few steps true.”

In the halls of the shattered ones, many are the lost. In the halls of the shattered ones, few know the cost.

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Heather, Missed

I’d miss your witty conversation, if you’d ever bother to call.
I’d miss your comforting company, if you’d comfort me at all.
I’d miss your ideas and insights, if you’d ever stop to think.
I’d miss your sober celebrations, if you’d put down your drink.
I’d miss your gift to listen, if you’d ever let me speak.
I’d miss your self confidence, if you’d stop saying you’re a freak.
I’d miss your humble aspirations, if you’d turn the mirror away.
I’d miss your permanence and presence, if you’d ever stay.
I’d miss your praise and admiration, if you’d meant a word you said.
I’d miss your drive and determination, if only they weren’t dead.
I’d miss your joy and happiness, if ever did exist.
I’d miss your being with me, if only you’d be missed.

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A Leaf Floated Slowly

A leaf floated slowly, twisting, spiraling ever so slowly, dancing on the wind. Finally, it settled, next to the sole of a black shoe. A shoe, worn to match an ebon ensemble, worn, to signify sorrow. A guest, a friend, invited to mourn the passing of a life. The loss of a father.

The priest, the only one in white, intoned holy blessings to the Father, as the widow wept. The guests, some friends, others, fellow workers, stood in silent testimony to the departed one.

Only one stood apart. Alone in his grief, alone always, the son awaited the end of it all. He listened half-heartedly, as the holy man droned on, not hearing the words, or his mother’s grief. Lost in himself, he looked on, dry-eyed, as his father was painstakingly lowered into the waiting earth. He watched as the coffin disappeared forever into its final showcase.

It was beautiful; a pale white, embossed roses lining its rim, polished silver handles, a pair of doves carved into the top. It was magnificent. It had cost. The son smiled slowly, enjoying the irony. A bitter, cruel man, never very pretty, in soul or face, had wished to be buried in a work of art. No worry, they were rich. They knew it; with limos for every guest, tuxedos too, flowers by the hundred, expensive chapel, expensive priest. No, there was no want for luxury, but it would not buy a tear from the son. He felt no loss today, only joy.

The son moved to his mother, to comfort her in her anguish. The funeral ended, all left. The gravediggers set to work, covering another plot. Another grave, another stiff. Just one more satisfied customer.

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Benediction for Wallace

May your path know little sadness, and much joy, may your wanderings be as interesting as your destinations, may you know good people as well as you can, may you be good people to know as well as you can. May your days be many and long even if they are few and short, may your regrets fall away like so many bad dreams to be replaced by serenities and epiphanies. May your love know no bounds and your anger know no target. May you live in interesting times and may you die at peace with all.

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A Word

In the waning years of the galactic Empire of Man, in a remote archival station on a distant mining planet, a young bureaucrat, twelfth level, rediscovered a word. A single word of power and importance such that it had been removed with great passion by fire and death from human memory over the course of several millennia.

When the great and bloated departments of the Government of Man decayed from within and broke into more primitive forms of tribalistic territorialism, when the Empire ever more irreversibly cascaded from de facto to de jure then through nomine tenus, finally coming to rest in memoriam, the young bureaucrat, twelfth level, learned the word. Spreading it to others he knew and trusted, he soon encountered resistance to its very existence. This did not deter him, as the resistance was sparse and unorganized, as those offering it were much more thoroughly occupied trying to not lose their heads in the midst of the empire’s collapse.

As such, the ranks of the adherents to the word of power quickly swelled, as they latched onto what appeared to be a growing movement of strength in the face of looming chaos and hardship. Many of these new recruits had little understanding of the true meaning of the word, having never encountered it or its fruits in their short lifetimes. Thus lacking a reference to guide them, they often engaged in actions in direct opposition to the true meaning of the word. Yet, even these well-intentioned fumblings added to the power of the word, as their actions served to draw more attention to the word and thus bolstered their numbers against the now strengthening resistance to its return to the course of human events. This resistance was most readily embraced by those who had most directly benefited from the old order, as well as those factions rising up to take its place.

Violence inevitably broke out between these two sides, and the young discoverer perished while championing the word to his followers. The passion with which these same disciples struck back shocked any who observed it. Simple brutality and skirmishes escalated almost instantly into pitched warfare, as both sides elected martyrs and heroes from amongst their own ranks and those of their opponents. Soon, those factions previously not aligned with either side found themselves swept along into the heightening conflict, as the forces of the word and the forces who wished the word had remained forgotten turned world after world into a battlefield on which they tried their best to obliterate their enemies.

As their vague causes turned into far more single-minded crusades, logic and wisdom fled before the unforgiving warzone, seamlessly replaced by fanatical devotion and sacrifice. Those that dared question the intent of their leaders suffered for their lack of faith in manners designed to dissuade others from following suite. Even the higher orders of those who followed the word with blind loyalty dared not speculate on the actual meaning of the word itself, as to do so would be to challenge the now certain interpretation of the word as a weapon uniting them against their foes. So it was that the intent of the word was lost in the swelling wave of its standard bearers.

Eventually, many centuries of bloodshed and destruction later, with their grand civilization, that had taken millenia to build up, in ruins about them, finally those few who remained who were capable of research began investigating this cursed word, disregarding the still not inconsiderable danger this presented to their persons. Against the condemnation of the established priesthood of the word, these rogue scholars presented their findings to the galaxy. The uproar of anger against those who had so fervently co-opted the word for the exact opposite of its defined purpose made short work of the remaining forces of the word. The equally exhausted opposition forces stood little chance of resisting the populist groundswell of the common people, who had tired of both factions long ago as their loved ones died for causes that ultimately meant nothing and served no purpose other than to kill the opposing side.

While this final tumultuous upheaval against the dying movements which had drug mankind back down into destitution ran its course, smaller regional governments began to form, applying the word in its true form to their governance, finding success as they did so. Peace returned as the word of power finally took hold. Mankind recovered gradually, rebuilding what the oppressive empire had so methodically erected before, this time in more gentle and natural forms. And so it was that a word so long obliterated from human memory realized its power to alleviate misery and ignorance wherever it was spoken with understanding and without fear of the consequences.

Once again mankind embraced the word ‘freedom’.

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Thoughts on Mortality

There is an underlying need in the human psychosis to feel needed or important. Unlike the animals we cohabitate this planet with, we as conscious beings need a motivation to exist beyond those provided by base instinct.

Let me take a moment as an aside to address the inevitable criticism of my classifying animals as non-conscious beings. Find me an animal that actually commits suicide, outside of staged Disney nature films, and I will believe that it is possible for animals to be as self aware as humans.

In fact, this driving need to be self important, or at least necessary, is the underlying reason why most suicide exists, or rather when this is lacking in the humans that then subsequently engage in the act. Despair sets in when true perspective as to our respective place and function in the universe is realized. The easiest way to crush a child’s hopes and dreams is to make that child aware of how little in the end those dreams matter and how little hope they have of ever achieving them.

This is the crux upon which all religions exist. These spiritual mythos were specifically invented to give a grander unified dream, and thus motivating force to mankind in this otherwise harsh and meaningless reality. If my actions and life’s work in the end mean nothing in the grand scope of emotionless galactic balls of gas and fire, which even in their fantastical scope are finite and without grander meaning, then why should I embark on any of them? What point does the common man have of conducting his life beyond the satiating of his own baser desires and instincts if his entire being is for not when he dies?

This leads to a quest for immortality, an extension by action or genetic legacy which will impart some manner of grander meaning upon the mediocre occurrence that he is. Even this is attacked by the knowledge that in the future this world, the solar system, and even the universe itself will eventually cease to exist, giving a finality of futility to everything that ever was and ever will be. This particular dose of practicality is a hard one to accept even for the most pragmatic, much less the rest of humanity. Thus it is, when such contemplations overwhelm many, they adopt a nihilistic rather than humanistic viewpoint and rightly deduce that if nothing ever matters then their own selfish death will be one more thing that does not really matter at all.

Personally, I would rather embark on a quixotic quest for actual immortality, or the closest I can achieve, in my own person than abandon this innately interesting life. While I may not succeed in staving off death indefinitely, I will nonetheless attempt just that until I am dragged kicking and screaming into oblivion, or whatever the unknown that is death actually holds.

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A Brief History of Thought – A Short Story

When the world first asked, “Why?”, it was barely in its inception, newly wrought from the flames of creation. Yet even then men stood up and inquired amongst them, “For what purpose are we here? If all eventually fades, why do we be?” It was from this first thought that myriad lines of questioning arose to confound each other and divide mankind into many divergent camps, all despite the driving central question being the same throughout. It was not enough for any that they had found an answer they believed in, they felt it necessary to prove the others wrong, or at least vulnerable to steel.

Into this maelstrom of bickering ideologies, a few attempted to extricate themselves of the issue entirely by asking “How did we come into being? The why will be answered by the how, surely.” These dedicated themselves to observation and reasoning, and yet even these, once they had reached conclusions in their varied methodologies, decided that the others were wholly inept and had to be ridiculed or even persecuted for this. The argument was born, which in turn spawned more than enough stupidity to reverse all of the previously achieved observations and reasoning.

From this stupidity, many emerged wondering, “When and Where are we then? Surely these must be relevant to the other questions!” Which of course, they were not. The less said of these people the better.

Finally, from the chaos of human reasoning arose those who finally realized the central question of their existence. These chose finally to question, “What are we? What makes us able to ask these other confrontational and unsolvable questions? What are we that we can make war on each other over concepts and theories?” These did much thinking and pondering on this subject. There was, of course, only one probable conclusion that they could come to, and this in itself answered the other questions entirely, if not entirely satisfactorily for the others. The answer, you see, was “We are an anomaly.”

With that, the others set upon the ‘What’s and committed many a justifiable anomaly.

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