EDGE Blogs :: Kilian Melloy

A City of the Plains

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday December 22, 2014

WE, O Lord Caretaker, Dabriel and Samael, did complete our descent to the Earth in the morning. Lo, we arrived in desolate America, in a flat place with sizeable cities dotting the land sparsely.

And we did set out as commanded by You, The Father, as Your messengers; and to survey on Your behalf the common condition of the men of the Earth; and to so measure we did undertake to travel among the men of the Earth, and so did tread the streets of the city of the plain; and we did take note of the city's boastful piety. The spires of the churches pierced the sky all around the city center, and the denizens thereto sported golden emblems in the shape of a cross which, as Dabriel the archivist and historian remarked, had been, some thousands of years prior, a device of torture and execution.

And this cross was used as a implement for the death of The Son, was it not, queried Samael, and Dabriel beheld that Samael did have the color of rage already upon him.

"These were a people most savage and unkind," Dabriel recounted, as we, Your agents O Lord Caretaker, having assumed the shape of men, trod the city's streets. And those streets did live with light, being formed of glass; and across the glass flashed legends and glyphs that scrolled and altered. The wares of the vendors were therein impressed in light, which shifted to new sigils and signs before the eyes, and the city's vehicles moved themselves across the quiet, sparkling thoroughfares. Even now a scarlet band of two cubits width appeared, stretched from one side of the street to the other, and the vehicles purred to a halt; and even again, the color changed to green, and gleaming conveyances proceeded with silent speed.

Alongside the scarlet band that barred the progress of the vehicles there moved the glowing white glyph of a human figure. We two message-bearers followed the spectral shape, which guided us to the safety of the other footpath before the scarlet band holding the chariots at bay vanished. Then a green band did appear in its place and the waiting vehicles lurched forward and sped away.

"Are these men not made to move upon the Earth at the pace of their own feet?" wondered Samael, always watching for those things that The Father might deem offensive.

"Such it was in generations past," said Dabriel unto him; "but no longer for a century and more. Now men do not make use of their feet but recline in clasp of their chariots; and their chariots, guided not by men's own hands but by their thinking proxies, pluck them through the air from place to place, for look and marvel at how their conveyances ride not on wheels but upon the air itself!"

And it was so; and Samael took note, how the chariots of men glode through the air on nothing but vapor, settling to rest on the ground only when arriving and when the men riding within disembarked.

"Do they, by this means, stave off famine?" wondered Samael. "Or make haste through the day and so outpace fatigue, or undertake great labors even when the sun grows hot in midday?"

"They know not famine," Dabriel assured his celestial brother, "but neither do they know the wheat and other grasses of The Father; nor the fish of the oceans, a third of which are as wormwood and where no life longer dwells; nor the freshwater streams, a third of which run bitter and slay those who drink from them; nor do they till the soil, for one third of the Earth is poisoned by toxic residue, so that only the lowly among animals and the noxious among plants thrive there; but instead they subsist upon two or three adulterated barleys and the fruit of the sugar-plant, and from the oceans they draw the mosses, and from the forests they draw locusts. Upon these do they feast."

And as Dabriel spoke, we two walked near a man who lay unattended, gasping his last, dying from hunger; and Samael, pointing to the man, asked, "Do they not also feed their hungry brethren?"

"No," Dabriel responded, but the answer to this was demonstrated as a group of young laughing men strolled by the gasping beggar and, with oaths and wild merriment, they did mock and berate him as he lay there whimpering; and with shod feet they did kick him, and with a stick they did pummel his frail bones.

And seeing we two message-bearers observe them, the men approached us, saying, "Why have you intruded upon this city, which is a city of men? And why have you come here, and what judgment does your look impart?"

And we two celestial visitors did raise our hands in warning, and spoke unto the men, saying, "We come here, to this city on the plains, by leave of our master, The Father; and he does require of us that we observe you in your daily condition and measure your deeds and tempers, so as to find whether you are wanting in hospitality, and generosity, and loving-kindness."

And the men, laughing, did produce more sticks; and with these they did proceed to beat and berate us, the message-bearers of The Father, and to cry out lewd threats and descriptions of the violations they would perform upon our assumed bodies. And as these loathsome utterances were in full volley and the blows from the sticks the men wielded rained down upon us, we Your messengers noted that the city's denizens scarce looked nor raised a voice in reproach; and we said to one another, "Look, how these here in the city do nothing to protect those whom the marauders do beset!" And we two did raise our hands and with light did burn and punish those men who had beset us.

And the crowd of men with cries of wonderment and suffering withdrew a little way; and then they did produce further weapons, which did hurtle projectiles toward us, the two agents of the Lord; and we message-bearers, hands outstretched, did cause those projectiles to erupt into sudden flame, which did consume also the weapons and the hands of the men that grasped them, so that the men fell about themselves crying out and gasping, their arms now ended in blackened stumps.

And we, the agents of the Lord, did continue through the streets of the city and on every road they observed only the same privation of those cast aside to starve, and the same brutality from those who made sport with the hungry and the ragged; and from the others of the city whose gleaming chariots rushed by, no reproach nor assistance.

This and worse we, the agents of the Lord, observed: Women caught on the streets alone were pursued, then assaulted, their garments rent and their bodies suffering intrusion; and men who walked together companionably, they also were pursued by assailants and their bodies demeaned; and when we two message-bearers, our assumed bodies suffering thirst, found a public house where we might ask for water, we were rebuffed, and told that hospitality there was granted those whose money-bags were heavy with coin. But to those who had no coins upon them, there should be no offering, nor attendance to their need; and we, the agents of You, O Lord, were driven from the public houses and through the streets, and keepers of law did upbraid us.

And circled all around were the spires of the houses built to the worship of the Lord; and from those spires there emanated sweetest music, and the striking of clock-bells that sounded the hours of the day; but these houses of worship, when we, the two agents of You to whom such edifices had been erected, did seek to retreat there, we were barred against entry; and we, your messengers, looked toward the sky, now darkened with evening, and called out, "Oh Father, we have done as you commanded, and we would have returned on the morrow as you required us; only, there is no shelter for us here, and as the light fades from this day we fear the savage night; for what the men of Earth do inflict and allow to be inflicted by the propriety of day, they will permit abominations six fold so grievous by darkness of night!" And You, O Lord Caretaker, hearing us, assumed his agents once again to the heavens.

"Sodhom-rha," The Father said, as his messengers related their report. In his own language, the word meant "Inhospitible." Then: "Gemhor-rha," The Father said, as their story concluded. The word meant "Intransigent."

The Father stood silent with wrath, and The Son stood by him. The Son was of the same flesh and essence of The Father, since they belonged to a hermaphroditic species that had long plied the galaxy, seeding life, nourishing and guiding its development wherever a clement world could be found or, if need be, terraformed.

This Earth that had cost so much time and attention across billions of years, this Earth that had been chosen for the gift of life, had yielded disappointment again and again since the emergence of the hominids that now dominated and destroyed it. The Father's thoughts seethed about him, waves of his displeasure palpable in the air.

The two agents of The Lord Guardian Caretaker of Galactic Circuit 3147, Samael and Dabriel, departed his presence.

"You did hear the report, did you not, my son?" asked The Father. "Should I not pluck up from the Earth the men that devour its garden and murder its living mantel?"

Like a gardener, The Father moved from field to field, each field about the galaxy a world fertile with the life he had planted there. He passed the aeons of his endless life nourishing and correcting those worlds, his Son observant by his side. So did The Son carry out his term of six thousand years' apprenticeship; and at this very world two millennia before he had challenged his Father, who grew angry to see the men of Earth resisting maturity and constructive occupation, and The Son had pleaded with his wrathful father to bring a message of compassion to the men of Earth, for his father's stringent hand had produced no lasting correction among them.

"And now you see, my son," The Father spoke, his words angry as they ever were when he tended to the Earth in recent aeons, "these men are hardly worth the word, for 'man' denotes reason, and discipline, and community; but these, who are hardly fit to be called men, betray one another every moment and every day. Your lessons are still recited among these men, but not understood; the words of the Father and the words of the Son alike are uttered but no sense of those words is conveyed. Perhaps I should never have gifted them with cognizance, as so many have upbraided me for doing."

"Knowledge is hard for them," the Son agreed. "Knowledge of self, of time, of mortality... knowledge of the world, which is complex even though their minds are simple. They dwell in twilight. But that also means they possess promise, and light may yet dawn within them. Ever are there those among them who comprehend. Should not their world be spared, and their numbers, for those few among them who might yet lift them from their darkness and confusion?"

"No," the Father replied to him; "I shall strike them down and put an end to their mischief and their suffering."

But The Son prevailed once more upon his Father's sentiments, saying, "Let your hand be heavy upon them, and let their cities fall; but for this moment, let only the city where your agents were met harshly feel your might, that the men of Earth may be reminded of more than words. Let them recall also your power and heed your will, that my entreaties may guide them softly away from the need for such harsh punishments."

"And you say this even though they did torment and crucify the flesh avatar we prepared, at great cost of time and resources?" The Father replied. "An avatar we deployed and ministered for more than thirty local years, delaying our attention from other worlds also in need of our attention?"

"As I am drawn of your own flesh and essence, yes, I ask your mercy toward them even though they may be undeserving," The Son replied. "The process of evolution is gradual, and what has not changed in two millennia may yet change in two hundred thousand years."

"Then I will punish only the city that welcomed my agents so shabbily," The Father decreed, "and let they who were there recite this day's events for generations to come!"

And The Father commanded that the plasma emitters of the great starship be readied, and he smote the city on the plain with lighting more intense than that of any planetary storm...

***

The smoke hung heavy in the air, and the city's structures were blackened heaps. What few resources the remaining skeleton of the federal government could send had already arrived; there was meager assistance in the efforts of the city's people to clear rubble, tend the wounded, and bury the dead.

Phyllis Gallagher had spent four days trapped in the rubble of her apartment building. She had lived there for years, scarcely venturing outside, supported by her four sons; now she had heard nothing from any of her sons, three of whom lived in other cities. The communications grid had still not been restored and no one's PCDs were online: Only the feds had active communications. Her fourth son was somewhere in the ruins, presumably with his family. She wondered if he were dead.

Looking around her, Phyllis wondered how such a thing could have happened. Lighting of such intensity was unheard of... and certainly not a storm that focused on a city with pinpoint accuracy and pummeled its buildings and infrastructure for nearly three hours, all from a cloudless evening sky!

It was either the deadly testing phase of a sinister government project or else...

Or else...

Phyllis rose, her pallor suddenly warmed to a radiant flush. Her eyes sparkled with madness and purpose. "It was God the Almighty," she cried, the silver thermal blanket slipping from around her shoulders. Startled, the emergency volunteers working around her looked up.

"It was the judgment of God Almighty that brought this city down!" Phyllis repeated. "And there was only one reason for it -- one reason why a city full of so many pious, gentle people was struck down. It was the faggots! The goddamned faggots!"

Phyllis was only repeating prejudices she had heard her grandfather and uncles express many decades earlier, in her girlhood. But the horror stories they told with such grim satisfaction about the destructive power of a god offended at people's sex lives had remained in her subconscious until now, with the city in ruins around her, those same stories provided a modicum of sense by which to reconstruct her understanding of the world... and her place within it.

Two survivors, hearing her words, exchanged glances. "And immigrants!" one of them cried. "Terrorists who come to our city to destroy us! We seen them ourselves yesterday. They din't even speak English too good. And they had some kinda laser rifle or something. Burnt the hands offa three guys!"

Ripples of alarm and outrage stirred in the gathering crowd, who moments before had been numb with shock. Now their rage sparked and warmed.

"Listen to me!" Phyllis proclaimed, her bony finger, crooked with arthritis, pointing at one burly worker and then another. They stood rapt, dust covering their Day-Glo vests and hard hats. "I will tell you the words of God Almighty! I will tell you why he struck us down despite our devotion to His laws! I will tell you why He allowed terrorist followers of false gods to carry out their plot against us. It was because we did not honor all of His laws and commandments, and suffered in our midst the dwelling of sorcerers -- and witches -- and bann sidh -- and succubi -- and faggots!" Phyllis hardly even knew what some of those words meant, but they welled up from her subconscious, a parade of monsters that must, simply must, have been the reason for all this terror.

It didn't matter what the words meant. They really all meant the same thing, after all: Others. Those who thought differently, felt differently, saw differently, lived differently. Ordinary people could not have so provoked the gods... or God. The men standing around her began to nod their understanding. Yes! There was no other explanation. And now they had been warned in direst fashion: The only redemption that was possible must be bought with the blood of those others who so offended God! And the men around Phyllis began to grumble, then to yell, then to wrest from the rubble twisted sharp metal fragments to use as weapons... And they set out through the shattered HardGlas streets, to add more blood to the great red pools, to smite in turn, and kill...

And The Father, already racing away to the next world on his great circuit, would never have comprehended nor appreciated sentiments of hatred rooted in questions of sexuality, being as He was a hermaphrodite. But The Son, though being Lord drawn directly from Lord, and Life proceeding directly from Life, had inhabited the flesh avatar of a man, and had some grasp of their lust and hatred; and neither Father nor Son would not have been surprised to see their words twisted and turned into a message of hatred yet again.

But even the Son might have been dejected to see this latest lesson perverted into a fresh excuse for wordless primate rage. And even the Son, in a few thousand years when the ship of the Lord Caretaker returned, might have counseled Man's eradication... were Man not committed already to self-destruction long before that return.

The one question being: How long would The Lord Caretaker have to linger over the Earth next time to repair the damage Man had done? Or -- after six episodes of planetary mass extinction -- would The Lord Caretaker simply shun this world, leaving fallow a field where reasoned life refused to take root?

×

Related Story

Third Medium

Read More »
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.