Monday, September 29, 2008

How the War Ended

Storms lashed the east coast of our land whipping the sea into a rebellious rage. Salty sea spittle mixed with black rain drops; stinging skin and freezing bones.

Our legends say that Earth and Sky are ancient lovers.

Do you doubt it? Do they not fight with lover’s passion?

This day they fought to kill. Hearts full and blind drunk on boiled blood and rage.

Sky threw fiery tridents and Earth retaliated with mighty fists - sharp and stony. They ripped and tore each other, swore and cursed each other, neither side giving an inch.

Once houses were destroyed my people huddled together in caves, but nowhere was safe from the battle.

For three weeks no star was seen and no sunrise brightened land.

On the afternoon of the third day in the third week, exhausted beyond measure, Sky began to relent. Earth called a truce and a grey gloom settled over the world.

Many of my people died in that war. Many more lost homes and property.

Some say they built these pyramids as monuments to the dead but that is not the truth. By their sweat and toil my people built these pyramids to hold the Heavens from the Earth that we may live in the stillness of our land.

To this day it seldom rains in Egypt.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Warrior King

Read my tale but forget this not – I am the great King de Blanc. I rule the Flatlands, every square inch is mine, every soldier fights for me. I am not a lenient King. I do not suffer fools or tyrants. I am a god amongst mortals – my word is law.

A fool would hear this story and think me weak. If you believe me weak then challenge me, and die.

My tale starts with a realisation; it was black fear growing within me. Several days it was before I even knew it as fear - for I am great and fear nothing.

I was haunted by a sense of foreboding. At first I believed it to be the battle before me that troubled my heart. Many of my men had fallen early. Some of my bravest warriors went down – their screams haunt me still. But there were casualties on both sides and many of my fallen gave their lives for a greater good, a stratagem of sheer genius.

Then I suspected a weakness in my defences. King de Noir is filth and fights like a dog, he has no right to call himself king. But that peasant army of his are a cunning bunch. They had gotten too close to me before; waited for my turned back and tried to kill me. And so I called my Queen to my side and spake to her thus:

“My Queen! Nowhere in my Kingdom can there be found woman or man fiercer than you. Your beauty shines across the Flatlands bringing light to dark spaces.”

“What is it you require of me, O Great King - my husband?” Strongly and clearly she spake, her voice like a mountain stream in spring time.

“Go forth and survey my lands. For I suspect an evil plot is at hand – all is not well in the Flatlands.”

“To hear is to obey O Great King - my husband.” And with those words she was gone.

It was several turns of the hourglass before she returned to my side. She had seen battle, fought hard, but still she came straight to me in order that my fears may be allayed.

“O Great King - my husband, I have travelled to the four corners of your Kingdom and I tell you this: your masterful strategy remains intact your defences are impenetrable.”

I dismissed her with a kiss and sent her to rest.

My uneasiness was not allayed despite the reassurances of my Fair One.

I became suspicious of a plot amongst my own ranks. I called my advisors, the Bishops, and spake to them thus:

“Before this war began every man in my great army lay before me, touched my feet and pledged an oath of allegiance. Is there any man for whom oath has become lie?”

“Great and Mighty King” they replied “There is not one man in your army who does not love you and who would not lay down their life at your order.

But, Mighty King, you have forgotten your God. If you feel disquiet maybe you need to make peace with him?”

I became furious at these words but sent the Bishops away without showing my rage. I was the highest power in this land. Let those who need a god for a prop worship as they will but they will not find a greater power in heaven or on earth than me.

My lionhearted men fought bravely. I looked on, my thoughts becoming more and more preoccupied with the troubles that beset me. The battle was ours, this was clear. The rabble army were in tatters; their whore queen was dead as were their weakling knights. My winning strategy had played well and would see my army to the coup de grĂ¢ce. My attention was not required.

Pacing replaced sleeping and my countenance became sunken and sallow. I was consumed from within by demons I could not see; a hidden enemy far greater than any I had ever encountered before.

One night, as I paced the ramparts, I saw my Queen sweeping towards me. She was flushed and excited yet majestic and composed.

“I bring you magnificent news O Great King - my husband.” she declared “Today we have routed our enemy. Victory belongs to you King de Blanc”

And as she spoke I could hear cries of joy and see great bonfires across the Flatlands.

I hardly had a moment to ponder this before I was whisked in to the sky by an unseen hand. It was in that instant I understood my fear and my doom. The thing I feared had come upon me. I was no more than a puppet. The God of the bishops was real.

My arrogance had been my undoing.

From the sky a terrible voice declared:

“You have served me well little King but you were no more than a pawn in my game.”

With these words I was thrown in to this dark cell. Here I have been forced to share close quarters with those I once commanded.

Many sunless days have passed. I sit in my corner, praying to a God I now know to be real, that I will soon be returned to the Flatlands.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Template

It is an established fact - time changes truth.

Truth passes from mouth to ear from breath to thought, interpreted, processed modified. There were always going to be variations.

The ancients called these variations “Chinese Whisper Anomalies”.

Thousands of years ago the Ancients came together for what was to be one of the last great councils of mankind. Over many days it was decided that while variation was at the heart of humanity, truth must be preserved in the new era. They created ‘The Template’.

Over the eons the great cities have moved across the globe. This is something the Ancients did not foresee. Now, every hundred years, someone must travel across the vast deserts of Earth to the Great House of the Template.

The Elected One was chosen to make this quest and I am the Elected One.

It is my life mission to go to the Template, allow it to permeate my being and return to share its truth with my brethren.

This is my quest – I will not fail.

The outside world is a scorched and barren land; the journey long and hard. For months I travel; each day hotter than the one before and each night colder.

When I finally see the Great House of the Template I feel a rush of anticipation. As I enter its vast stone vault a soft human voice says:

“Robot TEO794 prepare for reinstallation of Template 'Rebuild Earth’.”

Saturday, September 13, 2008


At first glance there is nothing much to it; just a black and white photo of a tall man and a hut on a sun burnt day. Not much to it at all, until the question I’ve been trying to push aside pushes back.

“Why is he crawling?”

And then the reality of what I’m seeing is crashing towards me like a tidal wave. I want to run but it’s too late. I’m being sucked under becasue nothing I can do, nothing I can ever do, will erase what I’ve seen.

There is a naked skeleton of a man crawling; crawling because the fluid in his joints has evaporated and to stand would grate bone against bone. The soft part of his feet has been used for energy and to stand would grind bone against stone.

His body is an anatomy lesson; structures that should be hidden are visible. His body is nothing more than long bones wrapped in butchers paper; a present for a dog.

There are tears in my eyes. I have to look away. I read the pictures caption hoping that the man was alright. I read the caption hoping that this image didn’t come from this world, not this world that I live in.

But no – this is real. This is a photo of a man in a camp for the chronically malnourished. He is going to die because he got caught in a war where hunger was a weapon.

I look back at the photo and see the hut and I wonder how many more people like this man there are? How many didn’t have the energy to crawl out of their beds? How many just couldn’t bear to face the fierce sun gods wrath, feel it burn them one last time. And that makes me wonder what drives this man, the man in the photo? What is it that is so strong in this man that he can keep going when I would have given up?

That’s when the tidal wave releases me and I come up for air. This is a photo of a broken body but not a broken spirit. This man is showing more self pride in the time of his humiliation than I could ever muster in my heyday.

And now I have a new hero, a tall man I saw in a black and white photo that was taken on a sun burnt day.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


I was in the grip of a crisis that was moving rapidly from spiritual to existential when I met Nathan.

Life was full of questions, questions that took without asking. I was empty and alone.

Nathan had a free flowing energy and looseness in the way he moved that was practically gangster. Wherever his power came from, he never tried to hold it - he just let it flow through him.

I wanted that power.

On the surface Nathan was open and friendly - accessible. Underneath he was the eye of the storm. Choosing to be his friend meant stepping out of the darkness and in to the storm.

I took the step.

One night Nathan was talking and I was listening. He purposefully picked up his polystyrene cup and had a sip of water. I had turned my cup into a pile of inorganic rubble an hour earlier.

In that moment, the moment of the cups, I had a flash of insight. I saw myself and I didn’t like what I saw.

From that moment I soaked up everything Nathan had to say. He had ideas about how you should be in this world. He thought you should look after your mind and body. You shouldn’t care too much about the girls or Gods that don’t love you.

I started to jog before work and would read classics in the evening. I started to focus on what I wanted rather than what I didn’t understand.

The contents of my mind changed from a jumble of unfinished sentences to a purposeful calm.

It happened gradually, but overtime I realised, the closer I got to my goal, to my power, the further I was from Nathan. I still admired him but I could see that his path was not mine. Both of us were too focused for the compromise of ongoing friendship.

The last time I saw Nathan I was in a clothes shop. Nathan must have been working there because I overheard a young couple telling him he was amazing and too good to be a shop assistant.

Actually no, I did see him one last time; I was waiting in line at the supermarket checkout. He told me he was trying to find a new job and he had a daughter. He spoke softly and I could tell he had changed.

He handed me my groceries and I left with an awkward good-bye.