Father and Mother

Mother/Father

On worlds of their own making, trapped in exiles of their own devising, Mother Eve and Father Adam waited for their favored sons—the usurper and the fallen—to visit seeking counsel on the war to come. They sensed it. The multiverse teetered on destruction’s edge. Both smelled iron on the wind. They tasted the blood to be shed. So the parents waited and plotted, each scheming how to ensure their boy emerged king and victor.

Mother Eve strode through a garden paradise. Winds, with her gentle coaxing, bent the tall grasses away from her face as she approached. Hair dark and tightly curled, eyes green and open, she frowned at her florescent surroundings. Hers was a world rife with life:

Silver-barked birches ringed her path, snickering as their branches bowed low beneath a wealth of leaves, cardinals and red-breasted bluebirds. They laughed and leaked sap reeking of sex and rot. An army of chittering beasts scattered at play about her feet. Each another experiment, a new lifeform teased from the depths of her cauldron. There were creatures with a dozen hairy limbs. Others dragged themselves along the ground with probosces of varying lengths. Still others with small mouths frozen in grim, toothy grins traveled by hopping through the air, hovering ever so briefly before landing and leaping again. Breathing music, anthropoid notes bathed in golden light swam in the air around her, singing praises of the Mother, of Eve.

Her world was an oasis locked in desert black. Every creature she birthed there worshipped and adored her. She was the mother of all.

Watching the sun as it set below the horizon, she blinked. Instead of continuing its descent, it began to rise once more, trekking from west to east. As long as she lived, and this world remained her home, it would never knew night. She was God, or one of them. Evoking the impossible was a matter of will, the rules of physics were ones she wrote, along with the beloved Father.

She stood, and waited for her son—Aible, the fallen—to arrive. She waited and thought of Adam, Husband and Father, and wondered if he too had plans for the war to come.

Father Adam dug through the silt at the Ocean’s bottom, digging in the black was all he knew. He felt the crushing pressure of the coursing torrent that stretched for miles above his head. He heard the beating hearts at the core of the world that was his own, the prison he created. With single-minded purpose he scratched through the crust, reaching for… for… whatever he sought he no longer remembered.

World-eaters. My perverted children.

The words held no meaning for him now, so many eons had passed since he set himself to this task. All he remembered was the hunger burning inside him, a hunger for vengeance. Vengeance against the Mother.

Eve! Alone on his desolate ocean world, he bellowed. All was silence, even his mighty yell squelched by the roaring sea. No light, if even there was sun on this planet that held him, penetrated the depths of his hell. He dug in darkness, penetrating the thick mud with bleeding, raw hands, and drew closer and closer to the hearts, the siren beats echoing from his world’s center. All he knew was when he reached them he would be freed; all he remembered was that his son, Cayne, came to call on him. His son would surface and seek his wisdom.

He needed to be ready.

Mother Eve stood in the light, with her eyes pointed unflinchingly at the sun. Father Adam languished in the black, with his arms elbow deep in muck and in mire. She bubbled fresh life from her cauldron-womb. He dug towards Death and his servants who bore it. In the recesses of their minds, these vestigial Divinities worked and plotted. Like all parents they waited for their children to call.

They waited for their sons, for their lives to find purpose once again.

November

Each year, as gray November fades in frost, two children dance on a lake's cracked ice. The fissures spread beneath their feet, frozen water's skein. The cold cannot touch them; it penetrates no deeper than their grief. They are warmed by the small comfort that, for them, things cannot get any worse.

They, who have lost so much, dare Fate to take its full.

The leaves crinkle beneath their feet. They slide through the fog, two ships sinking. Unnamed goes their mourning, but not unremembered. Here, at the site of the end, they pay their penitent respects.

She loved this time of year, their Mother. When mists descend upon their cabin. They skated with her then and not alone. The thrill a distraction from their empty stomachs, their empty days. Their lives were meager, but carefree.

Their father they didn't know well enough to say what he loved. He was but a menace distant in the mist, until one year he whirled with the fog back into their home. A haunting dervish. They knew then only what they saw. Only that he contained no temperance. No kindness, nor mercy. What he desired he took: Mother. Again and again was she his plunder.

Grey November came. Where in happier times she took them to skate the edge of death. She fled his clutches. He gave chase.

They danced towards the lake.

Across its cracking surface she ran, daring Father to tempt Fate. He remained on its edge, raging. The children too watched from the shore. She slowed and turned to them, her beloveds. In her smile sat a sad goodbye. The ice ruptured, yawning into a maw. Their lake, their autumnal refuge, consumed her whole.

Father left them, orphans, on the shore. He left, as wroth and loathsome a mystery as they had ever known. Like life itself, they supposed.

And so they live alone in the cabin their Mother built, each year traveling to the lake where her memory perseveres. They dance as she did, only this time they dance alone. The sole distractions they possess are each other's company. Each year the ritual brings less solace, and more silence, more sadness.

There they dream of family; they dream of their meager paradise lost years ago. They dream Mother watches them from below, frozen, wearing her sad smile. There they dream that the autumn ice isn't strong enough for their hearts, oh so heavy. They dream that down, down, they crash.

...into the deadly, icy blue.

Ye Who Languish

With a whispered prayer and a flourish, I slide the keen edge of the blade across my son's throat. I imagine the old wizened man standing behind me, a looking of approving manic glee at the blood sacrifice. He licks his lips hungrily, red eyes focused on the brackish pool that our lives are drowning in.

You must do this… He whispered, again and again in my dreams. You must. *I* demand it.

In my dreams, he hands me the knife. The same images flash before me. The knife at my child's throat. His wordless protest. His death, and then… my own.

His blood drenches my tunic, and sorrow flows as freely from the wound I made in myself as it does the line in my boy's neck. "Sorry," I whisper again and again as he slowly stops kicking and goes still. "God demanded it. How can I deny him the same sacrifice he would offer for us?"

He offers me no reply, only a reproachful blank gaze and silence.

…Silence…

"What have I done? Oh God, what have you made me do?"

God? The voice again, emanating from the ground, accompanied by the scent of flesh gone foul. She is gone from this place, my son. The old man claws his way free from the Earth before us, before the altar of gore and bone and loss that we have built in his name.

The knife drops from my nerveless fingers.

"You… you are not."

No. He hisses the word right into my brain.

"You… you are-"

Yesss… I am he. The light made darkness. The love gone awry. The righteous become foul. And you… you are mine.

"But what about-"

God? She abandoned this place long ago. She abandoned you to hopelessness, ye who languish here.

He moves like smoke, wreaths around us. My dead son and I. The knife dangles in his loose formless grasp. Dangles before me like an offering. Like the offering I made to him dangles limp in my arms.

"My son, my son…" I whisper.

She sacrificed you, our son, in the name of the new world she would create. You are her offering to me. I yield no sacrifices. I am the one who accepts them. The knife hovers from his ethereal fingers into mine.

You know what to do.

My dreams, of black stares, of death, flash before me. My son's blank stare. My own. Our blood mixing in the dirt between us. To the mud that makes life, all life must return.

Trembling, with a whispered prayer and sobbing flourish, I slide the knife, its edge keen and still red and still slick, across my own throat.

For you… Father.