Saturday, December 03, 2005

"Notes from the End of the World": #2

"How the World Was Made"

In the hut it was warm, and everything was suffused with a yellow light. The thick iron walls almost obscured the whining of the wind, and the coarse, brightly-coloured curtains were shut tight in front of the single window. In the corner, a man put his child to bed.
“Daddy, tell me a story?” keens the infant, wriggling amongst its meagre blankets.
“Of course, little one. What is it tonight? Yes. Tonight I’ll tell you all about how the world was made”
The child blinked and smiled, looking forward to the tale.

“Once, a long time ago, there were a lot of States and Principalities (even more than there are now), and they were all joined together in a great big round ball. The people who lived on the ball could walk to wherever they wanted to go, or if they had to go over one of the enormous pools of water that were all over the place, they got in a boat or swam. Everyone who lived on the ball had enough air to breathe and land to live on, but they didn’t all get on very well. There were two very big States that didn’t get on at all. In fact, they hated each other. They were always at war, and had been for an awfully long time (nearly as long as your Daddy has been around, you know), but they didn’t fight each other at all, except in secret, in small countries far away.”

“Why was that, Daddy?”

“Well, they had special weapons. These were called New Clear weapons, because they were all shiny and clean. But they were very dangerous, and if even one of the big States attacked the other, everyone on the big ball would have been very poorly indeed.”

“So what did they do?”

“They waited, and tried to sort things out, but they just didn’t get on very well, so they didn’t get very far. Then, one day, a terrible thing happened. One of the men looking after the New Clear weapons fell asleep, and one of them escaped from the field were they had been put out to graze. It escaped and flew into the sky, but then it got tired and fell down on a city called Leads. Then both the leaders of both the big States got very cross with each other, and decided that the other one had done it deliberately. So they both went down to the pens where they kept all the other New Clear weapons, took a big pair of scissors each, and cut the leashes that held them to the ground. They all flew into the air, and were all ready to fall down on everyone and squash them flat.”

“Then what happened, Daddy?” The child was wide-eyed.

“Well, darling, at that time there was a big man who lived in the sky and looked after people-“

“A bit like you, Daddy?”

The man smiled “Just a little bit, yes. And his name was Jehovah. He had made the round world and all the people on it, and he had said a long time ago that when the end of the world came, he would take all the people who had believed in him, and carry them up to live with him where they wouldn’t be hurt. So just as all the New Clear weapons were falling, he gathered up all the people who had been especially good and listened to what he had said. All over the ball, people rose into the air, and started floating towards the sky, where a big beardy face (A bit like mine, yes) had appeared in a lovely yellow light. Unfortunately for Jehovah, the New Clear weapons got caught up too, and they were carried up to be with Jehovah as well. Now, all the people who hadn’t been lifted up were very relieved, not only that some of their more irritating neighbours had disappeared, but that they also weren’t going to be squashed flat or blown into little bits”

“Like toes!” exclaimed the child, and bounced up and down on the bed.

“Much like toes, yes.” replied her father. “Now, everything was quiet for a week or so, and the people went back to their lives, but a bit more cheerfully now they knew there were no more New Clear weapons left to squish them. After a week, though, the sky went red, and a big beardy face appeared again, only to disappear into lots of little bits. Then a huge crack appeared in the clouds (don’t worry about those, my love, they were only things we had in the old days) and a nasty light shone out. Then there was a deafening boom, and the earth broke.”

“Now, you’ve heard the old folk songs Daddy sometimes sings about how all the hills in Old Europe were just giants that had fallen asleep for so long that the grass had grown over them, and the people who had forgotten all about them walked around on their backs? (The child nodded vigourously) Well, that turned out to be true! Almost all the earth and stones the big ball was made of got washed away into space by Jehovah exploding –don’t worry too much about him, dear, he wasn’t a very nice man after all – and so all that was left were the old, magic things that were buried in the ground. All the cauldrons and pots and giants and dragons left over from the Olden Days, all floating about. Now, for some reason, quite a lot of the people were all right (although quite a lot of them drifted away into space, or went stark raving bonkers, too), and because some of the giants and things were very big, and all the air that had been around the big ball tended to stick to them, they were able to live on top of them and build their houses out of the bits of rubbish they found floating about. After a while, the people got more organised and started roping together some of the larger relics to make States, and building around some of the smaller ones to make Principalities. And that was how the world was made.”

The child was already asleep. The man stood up, tucked his daughter more snugly into her little wooden bed, and padded over to the little window in the opposite wall. He looked out at the huge floating human figures outside, peppered with little huts and towers of wood and metal and found stone, and at the stars above, and beneath, and all around, and at the blackness behind them. His thoughts were predictable, and concentrated on the past. Behind his back and his clasped hands, the infant slept undisturbed.

(This may be one of the first chapters of a possible project in which I attempt to syncretise everything I find interesting in a coherent imaginary cosmo-political entity. Or not, depending)

2 Comments:

At 11:15 pm, Blogger Sable X. Veins said...

Intriguing post-apocalyptic reiteration of creation mythology. "More, please."

 
At 11:26 pm, Blogger Withiel said...

Why thank you. I will post another bit later, but it's only tangentially related. Still fun, though, and I'm close to completing the first Waterloo Sugar section...

 

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