the death of man

Words Above All

Father Lawrence ignored the ink for as long as he could, the siren song of authorship. He tried to deny the call, but papyrus' sweet scent beckoned in his dreams. Words… he could never forget the words.

Alas, every man has lusts from which he cannot abstain.

And so, as all do in time, he succumbed to his wants. In the desert, the dark, where language was forgotten, he scribbled. He dreamed. Had his kin known, had they still possessed the faculty for it, they would have named him 'heretic'.

To create was a sin of times past, when Man's creation led us to the precipice of our end. Where all our ingenuity led us to a barren irradiated land, where nothing awaited us but dust.

Still, in Lawrence were words demanding escape, and escape they did. A magnificent tableau of long lost imagery, of passions buried in the skulls of dead men. He wrote of art and music, a dull echo of memories from his youth. He wrote of loves and wants lost to the simians that wandered the dying planet, idling away their lives as the Reaper's clutches crept ever closer.

And as the world devolved, he remembered. As literature subsided, his words endured. Though he wrote alone, legends of his endeavour spread. In the brains of the 'righteous' a notion of his danger grew, subvocal but violent, inelegant but deadly.

They came to his hovel, deep in Desert Earth. They bore pitchforks and fire and dreams of destruction.

Murder approached with wordless cries and anger. In clenched hairy fists and furrowed brows. They scrabbled in the dark, banged against his door and bellowed. Fear clenched Lawrence's heart. Visions of the pain that awaited him trembled his hand that sketched and wrote of a time that passed men by. Yet still the Father continued on.

Brigands rushed in. Their flames torched his flesh, razed his home, rendered his many manuscripts into kindling.  The lettered Father burned. As Lawrence turned to ash, he scrawled on his walls in his own blood and crumbling bone, in brackish red letters that turned black as he fell.

"WORDS ABOVE ALL, WORDS ABOVE ALL, WORDS ABOVE A-"

            In the smoky ruin, more than life was lost. All that made us once human was gone. Our words, our language, our thought, nothing withstood the blaze.

            Nothing, not even these words, remained.

Age of the Oaks

Several epochs after the age of Men, Earth bristled with flora. Each continent a forest stretching from sea to shining sea. The scorch marks left from when we were burned from its surface covered by a verdant floor of grasses and lichens, moss wrapped 'round the skeletal, teetering remains of buildings long collapsed, their foundations, once solid now soft as loam, as fertile a fertilizer as peat in a bog.

Earth's masters now were the trees.

Unfettered growth for tens of thousands of years left them towering high above the few creatures that remain, skulking in the darkness, eking out invertebrate existences down in the detritus, a layer of debris dozens of feet deep. The stuff of potent life, borne on the bodies of those long gone: intelligent upright creatures and the poor Animalia kingdom they conquered and ultimately dragged into extinction's depths with them. Still their dreams were remembered, perhaps something of what the trees absorbed through their roots recalled their yearning. The oil compressed from the rotten flesh of man boosted them through the mesosphere and towards the black.

Some day, some day… their sap-slow thoughts conjured an image of stars, and the home their branches might make among them. Warmed by symbiosis with the formerly living's brackish blood they reclaimed, they climbed… and climbed toward the absolute cold. Somehow they knew, to the extent their brainless selves could know, the millions of years long journey would be well worth the cold. That somewhere out there was life worth seeking. That the sacrifice of men, once their masters, now merely fuel, would not have been in vain.

They would find those creatures of flame, borne to Earth in pestilent ships of hide and pus. Whether they would thank them or destroy them in kind they knew not. The silent whispering of Man's ghost, the birthplace of all violent ideas, slumbered still deep in their timbers.