Valley of Josaphat
To my wife.
Time is a perfect teacher. It kills its own disciples. It reveals secrets. It uncovers lies. It teaches humility. It fills with pride. It brings the truth closer. It moves the truth away. It soothes pain. It kills joy. It is light. It is darkness. According to the disciple’s will (or in spite of that will) it speeds or slows its pace. Man has a best friend in it. Man has a worst enemy in it. It is the reward. It is the punishment. It is life. It is death. It is plenitude and absence. It is.
Time is a perfect teacher
Mao Wang Li „The book of truths”
TIME OF IRAE
He dies and above his head ravages a soundless tornado. Somewhere (when), (perhaps now) a green-blue sky hurls with fury above the hills. Every atom of air oscillates, moved by the energy of the momentum. Time wraps itself around space vectors creating abstract, absurd universes. Words that usually describe reality lose their power and right of existence. Only the valley remains at peace. Forcefields are providing relative quiescence.
He lies on his back. Every particle of his body oscillates, set in motion by the sound Tohu Wabohu bell. Memories, those real and those delusional, passions, dreams and plans… all become among the raging storm.
A dying man smiles internally and his right foot loses contours for a moment
In silence and darkness it dwells. In his steel magnitude, beset with antennas, he engulfs thousands of beings smaller and frailer than him, allowing them to live inside. Though dead, he needs life to care for him, provide fuel, correct course, repair malfunctions; and also, from time to time, to reveal to the Universe his name.
In the vastness of one of many corridors, two voices stand out the omnipresent hum. It’s a common thing, yet still… One of them, high pitched, nearly woman-like, though belonging to a man exclaims loudly.
‘This is unheard of! In two hundred and sixty years on five thousand three hundred and twenty two worlds there has been no single case of rebellion and those… those… peasants dare to raise their hands to us?’
‘What would you have us do then?’ the other voice also belongs to a man, but is calmer, with a deep, warm timbre.
‘Crush them. Stomp them into the dust before they infect the others’ for a moment they walk in silence and the only sound present in one of a many thousands of corridors is that of a steady footsteps.
‘Very well, consider this problem solved.’
A silent grunt is all that comes as a reply. The voices and footsteps fade away allowing the emptiness to be filled by an everlasting noise. Noise that defines the borders of an artificial world, beyond which there is only void and billions of stars. Enclave of sound in the universe of silence rushes ahead swallowing time and space.
AWAITING FOR MIRACLE
Septimus Dractus, the high priest of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Last Days Out of the House of Solitude, nods his head, deep in thought. Before him, on a marble pedestal lies an object shrouded in a black pall. On both sides in small niches along the walls, candles are burning, casting dim, flickering light over the stony floor. To his right, a little behind, head bowed in humility stands the Great Architect.
‘Is everything ready?’ the priest’s voice echoes off the walls of the great hall.
‘Yes’ the Great Architect speaks quietly, almost whispering.
‘Good. The Lord’s emissaries will arrive soon’ the priest’s eyes raise towards the shadows that engulf the high ceiling. ‘You have completed your task, the reward shall be yours.’
‘For the glory of our Lord…’
‘And the salvation of his faithful’ finishes the priest. ‘Go in peace.’
The Great Architect kisses a simple ring on high priest’s hand and leaves. Dractus puts out some of the candles, sits on the floor and starts the prayers. His voice echoes endlessly in the great temple. The day of Wrath is near.
AND IN THE MEAN TIME…
Somewhere (when), (perhaps now) green-blue sky hurls in fury over the hills. The man smiles again, this time physically and his face changes for a fraction of a second, into a shapeless mass.
BAPTISM OF FIRE
The wind buffets a great feoff of grass. Sharp summer sun shines above; it’s hot, though one would think the wind would ease the heat. Blue sky is a painful reminder of Earth. Clouds move lazily, now and again hiding stars that remain visible even during the day.
‘On my command, three, two, one…’
The meadow suddenly comes to life. Golden-yellow grass parts quickly. Here and there crouched figures rush forward. When they reach the end of the meadow they stop. Everything is done in silence.
A little below, in a valley among a thicket of fruit trees without name, lays a settlement. Low, single-storied buildings blend into the landscape. Philip gives an order and Tigers move ahead.
Fast and smooth they run through the open space that separates them from the orchards cover. Three snipers take positions. Energy charges speed forward and three men picking up fruit fall to the ground. A cry breaks the silence surrounding the settlement.
‘We’re under attack!’
A few farmers pick up weapons. Streams of unstable energy blast from the nozzles of the defenders. One of the firing men narrowly misses a charging Tiger. The air fills with a smell of burned fur. Eighteen microseconds later the shooter turns into a puddle of hot plasma.
After a couple more minutes the fighting is done. Few Tigers take their positions as guards, it’s time to eat. Two soldiers start a campfire. The three men who died first will serve as dinner. Fruits are tasty but they are no supplement to meat.
Phillip awakes his symbiote and contacts his superior. Next target is a town in another valley. He smiles. So far everything progresses perfectly. The rebels fight ferociously but, armed with primitively mutated farming tools, they stand no chance of victory.
Dusk is drawing in. Phillip flinches at the thought of spending the night in green, semi-live buildings. He misses the constancy of steel inside the Prometheus and the feeling of safety and peace provided by cocoons. He finishes his meal and, even though it’s still quite bright, prepares for sleep. Guessing his intention, a wall and a piece of flooring mutate their cellular structure into a comfortable, springy couch. Phillip falls asleep while still moving towards it. Ingrown symbiote hum sweet songs of blood and glory.
A loud wiz breaks the dawn silence. It takes possession over the hill and a few nearby fields and continues for six more seconds and then dissipates. Up and down, up and down. A spider-like shape that glistens metallically with red and silver, sways for a moment longer and then the motion is no more. Silence owns the hills again and the shape hides away thin legs that are its support columns. Bright sun caresses the grass and reflects through the dewdrops, illuminating the energy shields.
The shape’s abdomen breaks in two and a few stocky humans jump out from the darkness.
One of them, a woman, turns to the front end of the transporter, wakes her symbiote – a synthetic organism ingrown in to her body at DNA level – from sleep. It stretches a tentacle and for a brief moment touches the hull of the vehicle. Commander Izis listens to the data stream from the transporter and then instructs it to return to Prometheus.
The symbiote retracts its tentacle. The transporter stretches out its support columns making it look spidery again. Up and down, up and down. The vehicle moves faster and faster. There is a loud wiz and then it’s gone.
Personal energy shields activate and the landscape disintegrates. Now, a green-blue storm rages above the hill in silence.
Izis instructs her symbiote to contact her superiors. The symbiote sends maps, images, descriptions and coordinates of the meeting point with a group of Tigers directly to her brain. The woman asks the symbiote to pass on her best wishes and summons back her troops scouting the area.
‘It’s time to go’ she sends through the symbiote.
From a hip pocket she takes a small vial of liquid and touches it to the implant. The dose quickly stimulates the symbiote and the change begins. One or two blood vessels in the brain burst causing bleeding. The symbiote moves his tentacles and repairs the damage. Somewhere inside her brain and at the same moment outside it, sounds a quiet note, finally. Features of her subordinate soldiers seem to be smeared in outlines. The human eye cannot follow the speed of mutations. Approximately one minute and forty seconds later it’s all done. Humans, set in trance, give the symbiotes domination over the consciousness.
Slithering quickly down the hill, a team of Snakes moves east.
The voltage in the emitters drops slightly, the shield weavers under the pressure from rampart time-space and a man loses consciousness.
Pain, only pain and pain that tastes like sea water.
DEUS EX MACHINAE
‘Great in Lord, listen’ the voice of Septimus Dractus, the highest priest of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Last Days out of the House of Solitude thunders, forced into the alcoves of the great temple by the amplifying apparatus. Candles burn in small niches, their light crawling the faces of the gathered crowd. Thick, tangled shadows enfold the ceiling. ‘Listen. The day of wrath is near and the Lord’s will is ours.’
‘Brothers’ the priest’s voice gains warmer tones ‘the task given to us by Merciful-in-Anger, is difficult. But He-Who-Loves-Freedom does not leave his faithful alone in the hour of need. He has sent us this creature to our aid’ the black pall falls from the object lying on a marble pedestal. The object is ovoid with white and golden veins pulsating on its black surface giving the impression of life. A murmur of excitation runs through the crowd.
‘This is our hope. This is the tool of victory. This is the incarnated will of our Just Lord. Brothers in Lord, let us embrace it into our community. Let us unite with it. Let it become one of us.’ his voice thunders causing the stone walls of the cathedral to tremble. A singer intones an uplifting chant and the crowd joins in drowning out the accompaniment of organ. An acolyte approaches Dractus and offers three small flasks. One contains water, symbolising the Saviour’s sweat, second wine, a symbol of holy blood and third is filled with turquoise gel symbolising holy flesh.
The chanting stops. Septimus pours the contents of the flasks, one by one into a golden chalice, mixes the liquids and anoints the shape with them.
‘I baptise you Tochu Wabochu in the names of fathers, sons and holy spirits. In the name of our Lord, whose tool you have become. First-And-Last come down to us, bestow your strength and wisdom, breathe your aura into it.’
As the ceremony continues, the white and gold veins shine stronger. Their light surpasses that of the candles, it brightens the alcoves, even the dark shadows enshrouding the ceiling part lazily.
‘He who has faith in Lord, shall not perish. Let us rejoice because the Lord has sent his spirit to fill this creature and all of us. Prepare, brothers, because tonight we will be in the Kingdom of Mercy. Let us be worthy of this honour. Let us show our faith.
The crowd sways, filled with a desire to act upon the preacher’s words.
– Great in Lord, go now to your posts – Dractus’ voice sounds in the alcoves – May the Lord guides you.
Excited faithful leave the temple. Near the exit, a young priest gives out weapons.
A three-storey yellow-blue building crumbles down with a thump. The lack of wind causes the dirt to stay afloat, mixing with the smell of blood, turning it into clouds that persistently stick to everything around. Ragged bodies lay across the city streets giving off a strong stench. Water from a broken fountain spills straight on to the blooded pavements. Temple towers of the cult of Jesus Christ of the Last Days out of House of Solitude collapsed, burying the choir and presbytery.
In the main square, by the broken fountain camps a team of Tigers. One of the soldiers relieved from guard duty applies a dose of stimulate and undergoes a reverted mutation. Stripy fur, four inches long fangs and a thick, strong tail – all disappear. The man approaches the commander who gives him a body of a young woman. He takes it and leaves towards the ruins to satisfy his lust and hunger.
Commander Philip wakes up his symbiote, connects with superior officer and relays the view of the city of Har-Magedon.
At the top of one of the russet-brown hills a silhouette appears. Despite the clouds of filthy smoke that rape the highland air, it’s perfectly visible.
Septimus Dractus stands precariously, holding a black pall. Blood from a cut forehead drips down to his left eye. His faithful have succeeded in the task bestowed on them by the Lord. Now he has to complete the will of the Highest. He raises his bruised, bloody hand up and starts the Ritual of the Ending.
Everything in the valley freezes. Tigers leave their activities and look to the hill. Wind that has just started to blow the dust from place to place, dies down. Lips unaccustomed to silence, stop and ears humbly listen to the priest’s voice.
‘Lord, you see our hearts, their righteousness and ignobility. The soil we walk today is not the one you have created. Its virtue has died. Let it be then born again, according to your will.’
‘And it is written that the Lord will send twelve of his minions to pass judgement in his name. And when the twelve complete the will of the Almighty, they will gather in a place called Har-Magedon. And the last faithful will ring the bells so that the land will be tochu wabohu again.’
Dractus rips the pall off and casts the object high in the air. It starts to spin, its white and gold veins pulsating sporadically. One of the Tigers snaps out of the trance and switches on the forcefield emitters. As the shields widen and swell, the sky loses its blue colour and the ground ripples spasmodically.
The eyes of Septimus Dractus, hight priest of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Last Days out of the House of Solitude are still full of faith and joy, when the blast disperses his body into atoms.
TIME OF HOPE
He wakes up after some time and looks around. His vision is limited by the inability to move. Just above the hills on a whirling surface of the green-blue sky he sees a brighter tone. A purple glow slowly starts to fill the firmament. Dawn is near.
Phillips heart starts to race as his symbiote reminds him of a team of Snakes that was scheduled to meet his Tigers this morning. He observes the sky with new hope. Suddenly (now) (perhaps not) a silvery-red smear appears across the face of now purple-blue heavens.
He decides to fight. He wants to live even though he knows his rescue may prove impossible. Against the logic that dictates he should and will die, he wants to live to avenge his Tigers. He wants to burn and kill for the judgement they have been given.
His left leg loses shape for few seconds and floods over the yellow grass. Phillip clenches his teeth and focuses on returning it to its previous form. Then he closes his eyes, rids his mind of all thoughts and tries to sink in an imaginary see of calmness. He knows he has a long morning ahead.
Somewhere (when) (now) a green-blue sky hurls above the hills with fury…