the Old One tells of the Planetary Extinction Event (PEE)

Around a defiant fire, huddled the last Remnants still loyal to the Imperium, survivors of the Barbarian invasion, gritty farmers and artisans with pain in their hearts and tin in their eyes. They had fled, yes, when the Barbarian hordes had swept down from the icy Hills and icy Fjords and raped the women and eaten their muffins. But they had fled with courage, these were Remnants with guts. They had taken to the Hills (recently vacated by the Barbarians, luckily) vowing vengeance and swearing allegiance to the Imperior forevermore.

Pretending to ignore the night gathering close around them, they turned their shiny sweaty faces toward the Old One---a personage of indeterminate gender and wizened frame---a nut brown Guru if you will, zur frail loin cloth wafting stealthily on an inner breeze.

Not too far away, but far enough considering the blackness of the night and the evil that lurked, shambled a stumbling person, a Seeker. Lost in the dark hooting wilderness, he didn’t know what he was doing there, couldn’t remember how he had arrived there, but one thing was for sure, it was cold. Ze shambled wearily over the snow-covered plain, zur bare feet numb, frostbite blackening zer toes. Wanting to die, needing to die, but ze kept going, driven by the primeaval, elemental need to Seek. Seek What? Doesn't matter. Shaddup.

Clustered around a not-too-distant campfire, fiercely the Remnants listened to the Guru’s high pitched hoarse and mournful wheeze as ze sought to lift their spirits as he told the tale, the Old Tale, that had been told to him by his brown father, who had heard it of his gnarled and aged father before him, he who heard it had of his creased and wizened father before him.

Thus spake the Guru:

“My poor benighted Remants,” quoth he, “ye have fled Hausmarten and his hordes like fleas from a drowning dog, as ye Forefathers and ye Fourmothers before ye. But of the fleeing of thy Forefathers, yea and thy Fourmothers, and their Eightmothers before them, ye reckest not, ye heedeth not, remembereth naught…

“My poor and woeful band of sorrows, my pusillanimous peons, of the Great Beginning I will speak…know this my brutish brethren, this is not the Home we had, once, generations ago, among the stars, glistening like an emerald in the vast promise of space.”

The Guru paused to take a deep breath, the phlegmy rattle a warning bark to the countless enemies lurking in the sea of night encircling the campfire.

“Of what do you speak, o Guru?” confusions flapped in their shining little faces. They knew not of whonce he spake, this gnarled and holy has-been.

“Of the freakin’ end of the world you fools, you sad and sorry Remnants of a long forgotten glory. Of the time when our species came to this pissy planet from another planet, far far away…”

“Forgive us worthy guru, creased beyond speaking, but we still don’t get it…” one pouting warrior-Remnant ventured timorously, “you mean the end of this world, or the end of some other world? Sorry for aksing.”

The very wolves howled at the temerity of the question. The very air seemed to take on the scent of disobedience and ingratitude—a yellow bored smell, redolent of anchovies and cat puke.

“I speak of the Great Ending!” wheezed the Nut-brown quaveringly, his aged lungs complaining of the unaccustomed labour, his dug-like teats flapping crossly on a brown and gnarly frame. But of the Greatest Ending he spake naught, fearing his words would sow confusion and fear among the wimpish Remnants.

No stars sparkled above. The black shroud of night lay impenetrable and heavy on the land. In the breath of a feeble wind wafted the stench of rotting algae from the dead river beyond. On all sides loomed the dark ruins of the Lost City.

“Gather round me, People,” spake the Guru, “and I will tell you of the end, of the burning of the sky and the rising of the waters.”

Seemingly unmindful of the emptiness gnawing their bellies, the children found their places close to the campfire, their mothers close beside. The unpartnered men settled on the outside of the circle. The faces of the Remnants glistened in the firelight while fear bloomed within their souls to hear the song of the wolves grow louder.

Shivering in the biting cold, the old one cleared his wattled throat, and began to speak. His voice was silvery, brittle, thin---the words swallowed by the night almost before they could be heard.

“I will tell you of a time when, all labour done, all essence derived, the Winged Dragon of Ra loomed dreadful in the sky. The very world wast slain”, the Guru quoth, “like leeches, like squealing piglets, like ravening wolves we feasted on the dying corpse of Gaia, greedily sucking her riches dry, till all wast consumed, her vast bounty eradicated, and then we fought amongst ourselves for the remains, brother raising hand against brother, sister scratching eyes out of sister, sibling against sibling, parents brutalising their offspring, children cannibalising their progenitors, …as was prophesised, as was foreseen, as was foresawn, as was foresworn, as was see-sawn, as was prognosticated… Armageddon… the War to end all Wars... the Doom of Humankind…”

The Old One cleared his creased and crusty throat, and feebly spat his phlegm toward the campfire, but the trajectory was all wrong and the gob fell short of its intended target, alighting instead in several wobbly sub-gobs upon the gnarled one’s chest and loincloth, where they wobbled and glistened in the firelight while the song of the wolves grew louder and the fear of the Remnants bloomed within their souls.

“Gather closer friends, my pale and putrid people,” continued the Guru wearily, “and I will relate the sad and sorry saga of the Great Ending, and the Burning of the Sky. I will tell thee of the War of Worlds, and of the Great Pee, the Planetary Extinction Event

…when all was lost, and the last ships were blasting out of their silos in the antarctic, an old one… older even than I who sit before you…” conceded the well-oiled nut-brown Shaman “…took me to one side, to a small bubble of calm, away from the hysterical screaming multitudes which had invaded the spaceport. Ze fixed me with an unholy gaze, and spake these words to me, upon that frightful day:

“'Know this, on behalf of all thy siblings, nut-brown, the Earth is done, at your hand. Ye have murdered your mother. Ye have consumed her flesh utterly. Ye have befouled the open and the secret places, ye have unravelled the secret knowledge. Know this, people of Earth, you and all your works are done, your civilisation old and spent. Ye are become corrupt and cynical. Your habitations and your cities are stews of vice and crime. You have desecrated the secret knowledge. Those layers of mysteries upon mysteries… piled up over aeons of quiet accumulation… alchemical, archaeological, spiritual, mystical, anthropological, biochemical... all lost…'"

Some small but yet untrod distance away from the Tribe’s encampment, the Seeker still couldn’t remember how he had arrived in this place. He continued shambling wearily over the snow-covered plain, his bare feet numb, frostbite blackening his toes. Seeking... Seeking...

Suddenly the Guru stopped his terrible tale in mid-sentence, the very words choked in his wattled throat, the very eyes boggled in his bald and wrinkled head to see a stumbling shambling clot, a Seeker, come stumbling from the darkness into the light…

“Not you again!” groaned the nut-brown as the Seeker came shambling into view…

“We have escaped the Dogs of Death!” exclaimed the Seeker, falling into the campfire stupidly.

Copyright © S R Schwarz 2007. All rights reserved.

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