The Historians

The Historian writes in his book with a blood-red pen, etching events that never happened into existence, erasing his many bloody misdeeds from the memory of the world. He stretches to shake away the pain of old age, the weight of many years witnessing the worst come to pass, helpless to prevent it, his only duty to change how those who suffered remember.

"It's cleaner this way," He explains, before dreaming of horrors only he can recall. Of smoke and of blood. At night, he shivers, steeped in the terrors of lives so remote from his own, lives he controls with the deft touch of a surgeon

"There can be forgiveness without forgetting," He says, the mantra meant as much for his apprentice as for himself. The boy watches his mentor scribble a new truth. Choosing what to include, what to change and what to elide entirely. “And that’s where we come in.”

The boy wonders at his own foggy past, what he has been written to forget. He looks around the ascetic room, a mat, a desk bearing parchment, pen ink and paper, a pool of water at its feet which reflected not the ceiling, but the Historian’s world, or star, or void. He struggles to remember, fruitlessly, who he was before this burden was thrust upon him. But there is only emptiness, a hole in his heart hollowed for the pain which will become his burden.

It is the same for all the apprentices. One day they wake in a giant dormitory, sleeping beneath a high glass ceiling, illuminated by permanent starlight. They remember nothing from before, not names, not families. Nothing. They look around, looking at each other in wordless fear, dressed in the robes of the clergy of Historians.

Their stewards, imposing and inaccessible, tell them only: "This is your life now."

Each is led down a long hallway. Each is assigned a historian, an aged man or woman or other, tasked with watching a small corner of the universe. Many spend every day staring onto planets bereft of life. Either unable to bear it, or it has yet to come, or it has already effaced all trace of itself from history. Each morning they wake; they bathe; they struggle through the fog of children robbed of youth and self, and they are forced to watch the watchers. Some are lucky and see only blackness, or the leftovers of violent death; some are cursed to see civilization on its making or its unmaking.

They learn there is only one universal truth: no more violent thing than life exists. In every form it consumes itself to endure, accruing sin after sin. And that the only way life forgives itself is by forgetting. And that no memory can be unmade.

Therefore... the Historians.

"It is our job to remember," They lecture their young charges. "To witness, and to choose."

"Choose what?"

"Choose what memories we think the living can bear, what they cannot. We choose what to erase, to improve. What to take upon ourselves so only our nights are disturbed."

"How long?"

"How long what, my child?"

"How long must we do this?"

Every Historian is asked this question, has asked this question and is ready with the same response.

"Until you are ready to assume our awful responsibility. Until you are ready to keep the universe spinning."

So they watch the watchers, witness their witnessing, absorb their choices, see the universe bend its truth to their pens. And one day, after they internalize the rhythms that keep their corner of existence churning forward without collapse...

...they wake in a Historian's bed.

They look down at their hands, see their decrepitude and wonder if they aged in a night. Or if their mentor's last act was to elide the lives they lived, leaving behind only wisdom.

They look up. A child enters their empty room. Seeing the youths' confusion, they smile:

"It's cleaner this way."

Creation Myths: The Dreamscape

All began with the eternal and ubiquitous Id. A sea of life churning in the void. In that sea Androgiin swam alone. Androgiin, Ego and First Consciousness, the Builder, saw the nothingness that was the Id and the glory that might be. There Androgiin decided: they would give all for the world that is.

Let it begin again. The Builder proclaimed. And so began dancing. Androgiin whirled, a dervish through tenebrous emptiness, its steps a blueprint, its self the stock of creation.

From twinkling eyes that saw and sacrificed swelled the heavens, the sun and blinding stars.

From a body that nurtured and died grew the earth, an expanse of high mountains, deep valleys and endless desert.

From a mouth forever lapsed into silence whispered the wind, followed by a procession of howling storms. From its tears came the rain, filling basins that became the lakes, seas, and the boundless ocean.

From begetting loins, castrated and cast about the cosmos, sprouted flora and sprung fauna of every stripe. Birds to cloud the skies, creatures to leap through forest and field

From a mind that gazed at the deep and wondered, then forgot itself as it dispersed, came awareness, the seed of humankind and of Gods.

From a soul that yearned came the Dreamscape. The demesne of the Id, the Dreamscape floated above, behind, and just beyond the realm Androgiin created, flitting always out of sight, trembling with power. Here lay tamed a limitless potential.

And from its self, the many aspects of One, came children most prized—five faces of the Eternal: Angaama, paragon of justice, wise Wysheid the teacher, Alur, ardent and carnal,  Jev, the avatar of destruction, and Eleazar, the smiling fool, one of tricks, of shadows.

With all parts given to this new beginning, Androgiin faded, subliming into all it had made. What little that remained drifted to the corners of existence, no more than bits and pieces of the once glorious Ego. As it diffused, the Gods wept and beat their breasts, terrified babes in the wilderness. They were young, powerful being who could not countenance being left alone.

Father/Mother, Mother/Father!

My children…

Why do you leave us?

Leave you? Look at yourselves, at Creation. Every bit of every thing is me. Do not think of me as gone, but transformed.

Naked, still on their knees, damp tears dripping down their cheeks, the Gods were not satisfied. Most wounded of all was Eleazar, the God of Tricks. He who was born his face draped in permanent shadow, a wide smile etched like a scar from cheek to cheek and two large eyes—small black irises swimming in seas of white.

Why make us at all?" He muttered. "What are we for?

Androgiin's reply echoed from the world itself, from frosted mountaintops and streams hushing through nascent forests, from the stars above and cyclones rumbling across a newborn Earth, from creatures tottering out on unsure legs and blinking at the bright rays of a neonate sun.

You are stewards. Guide this crafted Ego with passion, wisdom, fervor, righteousness… humor. Protect them from the Id that is their baser nature.

Stay with us! Show us the path. Came their pained reply.

I am. Have been. Will always be of and with you. Remember that my children. Remember…

And with that, The Builder lapsed into silence and was no more. The Newborn Gods were left alone on their freshly molded world. Only Eleazar heard the quiet voice, whispering in his ear as they began to wander a still soft Earth.

Remember, one day the time will come. I will return.


End And Beginning

                Picture the unfathomable darkness of the nowhere the universe has become. A black the pitch of moonless night, but instead of centered in the sky, it is everywhere. The whole of existence collapses in on itself, the crunch of entropy come to bear on a limitless expanse once filled with vibrance, with color. Now all is sublimed in frigid emptiness, and silence. God casts his canvas in shadow. No hint of the paint beneath remains. Nothing breaths, nothing moves, and nothing lives.

                Nothing, except for…

                One bright light in the corner of the frame. Glowing, burning, it dwindles, recedes, fades, then gathers itself again and fights to expand against the tide of absolute zero. Here lies the everything that once spread over several billion light-years, now smaller than an atom, barely a quark of light left to battle against nightfall. Listen closely, and inside it you hear the ghosts of those the universe once contained. A cacophonous song, a dirge, a chorus in a million different languages. Here is voiced the anguish, the joy, the relief that their struggles have come to an end, the sadness that so too has passed their time with loved ones. So many things left unsaid, so many sentiments impossible to vocalize. And all that remains is light.

                Were there any observer to peer into the light, to listen to its song, they might entertain its visions. That of a blue-green world circling around a yellow star. First it sings of its creation, burning dust and effluence cooling and coalescing around an iron-nickel core. It sings of the rain clouds, of the water that patters against the still-soft surface, filling its dimples as oceans. Life sludges forth from its oceans, first mindless protozoa. Eukaryotes with no sense of place swim and crawl of microscopic flagella. Those develop into primitive plant-life, into the first animals that, on some small level, perceive their own existence. Reptilian creatures, increasingly mobile mammals, love and destruction follow. A song that burns as brightly as it ends, with a pockmarked and radioactive surface. Lifeless, yet the planet still turns.

                The light also sings of an endless stretch of stars, of nebulae wherein hide creatures sized on an interstellar scale. They swim through space-dust, subsiding on ice and on the stars themselves. They speak to each other in burst of radiation, penetrating the void’s gloom on aquiline paths. Brilliant lights cast by celestial beasts. In the collision of these lights, more such creatures are born. Star orcas crafted of molten rock, organic comets obscured by dust clouds lightyears thick.

                The light sings of life beyond imagining. Invisible minds constructed of song and scent. A network of intelligence that extends through the universe. One heart, several souls, they dream of connection and thus seek the known reality for like beings. But they are alone. As were we all.

                Across the quark that possesses all these memories passes an invisible hand, stoking the fire. The only presence that burns still in a universe gone fallow. A voice, from nowhere, from everywhere, from here and from beyond, whispers into the light, reminding it of a once glorious purpose.

                What was… will be.

                And the light, in fits and starts, continues to grow.

The Quiet King of the Universe

At night the man dreams of the stars. Not in the sky above, but beneath his feet. Glittering granules of sand caught in still cooling obsidian. He dreams of magnificent, impossible beings, bathing him in silent adulation.

He never speaks, this homeless man. Fellow travelers, fellow men who are lost and forgotten, in lieu of a name, call him Stargazer or The Quiet King of the Universe.

How he spends his days: wandering the Earth his eyes constantly skyward. He wonders about dreams where he drifts in the heavens. Are they of a life to come, or one that was? He waits in a liminal state, listless and just on the edge of becoming. He waits, stuck in-between. He waits for the calling, waits for them to pull him out of his life and up into the night.

Even in the day, and in the sun, the blue skies, the clouds, do not fool him. Beyond he can see it is always black. An igneous matte that calms him, calls to him. Even when he sleeps in the rain, drops pattering on the hull of his aluminum lean-to. He can see through the metal and through the darkness, through to the stars that call him home.

And still he waits.

One evening the wait ends. Bright lights shake him from reverie, dreams of standing above the stars. Lights pull him from his hovel. Up, up... Opening his eyes, he is hemmed in by impossible creatures who exist only on the edge of imagining. In a translucent craft in the midst of the stars. He is one with the night sky, one he has watched each day since he was a young man.

He is home once more.

They do not speak, neither does he. After a fashion they bow, one by one, inclining heads or probosces, bending knee or tentacle, even the living shadows sink towards the starry floor in supplication. Quietly, they rejoice. For he has returned; their lord has ascended: the Quiet King of the Universe.

Adrift in the dark, the Quiet King dreams of stars. Not on the floor beneath, but above his head. A night sky. A ceiling coated in pitch and diamond. He dreams of a life that was-

-or is yet to be.