Categories
Ancient Past creative writing Earth fiction women writing

ˌɪmɔːˈtælɪti dʌŋ mɑːsk

Summary
ˈhɜːkjʊliːz kliːnz ði ɔːˈʤi(ː)ən ˈsteɪblz baɪ fɜːst ˈgɛtɪŋ ˈfɑːməz frɒm ɔːl ˈəʊvə griːs tuː klɪər aʊt ðə kaʊ dʌŋˈɑːftə ˈwɜːkɪŋ ɒn ə fjuː ˈprɒdʌkt aɪˈdɪəz wɪð tuː ˈmɑːkɪtɪŋ kənˈsʌltəntshiː ɪˈvɛnʧəli dɪˈsaɪdz tuː bɜːn daʊn ðə ˈsteɪblz

After the last of the farmers’ carts had left, Heracles summoned Themis to thank her. She had told him what to say to convince every farmer in Greece to use immortal bovine dung to improve soil quality and guarantee bountiful yields, even in times of drought. The best part? The dung was free, as long as they scooped it out of the stables themselves.

Kisshoutennyo, one of Lakshmi’s cousins, was visiting with Themis. She appeared when Heracles said he still had a decade’s worth of dung to clear out. She offered a solution. “Let’s do a night cream called, ‘Kissho Immortality Dung Mask.’”

“Who the $#!+ will use face cream made of $#!+?” asked a bewildered Heracles.

“Everyone,” replied Kisshoutennyo, not quite understanding what the problem was. “Ten minutes of this is going to snatch your face.”

“Are you seeing my office, though?” whined Heracles.

“Relax,” said Kisshoutennyo, “because I will help. But give me a second … Be right back.”

While they waited, Themis suggested mixing extra virgin olive oil (lamp fuel) and immortal bovine colostrum into the dung. These ingredients would prevent the cream from drying out. Two days later, the churning was turning into a new labour, and Heracles was not happy. They were well past the deadline and they had no packaging ready.

“I should have thought of packaging first,” Themis said. Then she got an idea. “Do you realise that we can use this mixture to make soap? No packaging necessary.”

“How?” asked Heracles.

“We have colostrum, which has water; olive oil, which is fat; and dung has lots of salt.”

Heracles’ eyes glazed over. He was, after all, just a guy with muscles who did stuff.

“We need a cauldron and some fire,” continued Themis.

Pointing to an urn containing lamp fuel, Heracles suggested, “Like, why don’t we use that and burn all the $#!+ in here?”

“That works better,” agreed Themis. By now, the noxious gasses in the stables were making her loopy. In spite of this, she put the cows out to pasture, and Heracles set the stables ablaze.

And as they chuckled to themselves, Kisshoutennyo appeared.

“Oooh, you’re done already?” she exclaimed. “You’re so hardworking.”

Themis glowered at her friend, flaring her nostrils. This prompted Heracles to stand between them.

Categories
Ancient Past creative writing fiction Her Dark Arts science fiction women

Pandora

Sorry, faux feminist, no Cliff's Notes to help you decipher this one

Pandora stretched herself out on a parapet of black stones, under a pleasant copper sun. She was still dripping wet after bathing in the filtered streams of the lake. She felt safe, as her guardian was scanning the surrounding woods. He was cautious and ready.

Her facial muscles tightened, drawing her lips into a wide grin. She couldn’t feel them, but infrared radiation from the stones had already coaxed her cells back to optimal function. She had outlived the great grandchildren of her childhood playmates. Yet, her stunning features and sensual vitality suggested she was frolicking past her nineteenth summer.

She knew how to get along with the young ones. Honeybees had taught her that for healing, she could use venom and propolis. For nourishment, pollen. And for restful sleep, nectar. She’d spent years practising her craft.

“Yay, cat,” she said now, gathering up some of the stones. “That’ll have us for a bit.”

This was to be their last visit. A new settlement had welcomed her to stay. Pandora planned to age gracefully there. With the stones she would bring the young ones time. Time that was still firmly on her side.

🐝

Notes: Best wishes for healing in November. In this story, I present Pandora as a nomad and the world’s first naturopath, who created the myth to protect her anti-aging secret.

Photo: “Morning Beauty,” Alek Alexeyeva by Sølve Sundsbø (2009) for Vogue via Fashion Gone Rogue.

Categories
Ancient Past creative writing fiction

S-s-s-saigon!

Empress Tikki gave her minders the side-eye. They were waving at the scantily clad women dancing in the hall. The Ambassador was seated next to her, outlining his plan to bring animals to the country instead of an embassy. She was only half listening.

It was a terrible idea. Animals aren’t valuable hostages. They don’t bring jobs to the local economy. The Empress fluttered her eyelids. The Ambassador thought she was impressed. She was, in fact, signalling the kitchen.

Someone brought out a bowl of soup garnished with roasted chili peppers. “Fragrant, warming spices,” she said, taking a sip. “Astringent herbs improve the circulation, Excellency.” She handed him the bowl.

The Ambassador had blundered into a dangerous valley and was now trapped in a bog. Moments later, he was in floods of tears but was obliged to keep sipping. Empress Tikki asked one question to end the discussion. “What will you name your residence, Excellency?” He was in death throes but managed to sneeze out a response: “Eh… Eh… It… Eh… S-s-s-saigon!!!”

Saigon | SB

Photo credit:
SHXPIR for Harper’s Bazaar China.

Categories
Ancient Past creative writing fiction poetry

Empress Tikki

Shxpir for Harper's Bazaar ChinaThe actuary’s gaunt face presented harshly against the hush of apprehension that gripped the room. The Empress veiled herself with a blank expression. When no one was looking, she released a slow eye roll.

Etiquette dictated that she not show scorn or deference. Today was particularly challenging. On the eve of expansion, the actuary stopped to raise a challenge. He had discovered two spots on a six inch map. The surveyors looked confused. But they quietly agreed that this was a democracy, and let him have his say.

Trailing off the table were yards of hemp scroll. Empress Tikki wanted to wrap it around his neck. “One more passage and then we’re whole, one last signing is the end I’m told…”

Shadowed by nervous ministers, the actuary started clearing his throat. The metallic timbre induced, in the Empress, a maddening primal scream. “Be impermanent in this please, do not drag it out another note…”

♫ Gffmh-gmffh gffmh-gmffmh gffmh-gmffh fhmm
hmmfh fmmgh fhmm hmmfh gffmh-hhhmm ♫

“Pray the deities, restore my soul,” muttered the Empress, “we are held hostage by a mating goat.” She flashed a smile to restore decorum. The actuary had until sunrise to interrogate the two moth stains.


Empress Tikki | SB

Photo credit: SHXPIR for Harper’s Bazaar China, 2014. Musical inspiration:  Habanera from Carmen by Georges Bizet.

Categories
Ancient Past creative writing fiction

Midas

Golden sculpture of a woman

The King touched his daughter’s hair again, in his usual way, to reassure her. She became more radiant each time he did. That morning, five thousand suitors had laid siege to their home in Phrygia. It was the Princess’ eighteenth birthday.

The Princess spent her days veiled and curtained in ornate suites. She swam in a heated pool and tended to a greenhouse garden populated by Earth’s rarest flowers. But she was all alone. Women had been banished from court for fear they would harm her. Men, for fear they’d seduce her.

In response to her pleas, her father offered a cold warning about evil in the world. “My dear, you are afflicted with indescribable beauty. Learn to love the lonely hours.”

Later that night, the crowds were still chanting her name. All the palace guards were stationed at the outer gates. Advisors suggested moving the Princess to a safer location. But no amount of persuasion would change the King’s mind.

Sensing she was not being watched, the Princess slipped out of her room and ducked into a cupboard. Through the service corridors she ran, finally reaching an exit door. It was almost dawn.

As she hurried to the clearing, she tripped, fell and hit her head on a stone. She lost consciousness and slowly bled on some leaves. When she woke, she felt very heavy but managed to look down at her legs. She could see that they had changed into beautiful golden casts.

 

Midas | SB

Image credit: Sculpture via pictography

Categories
Ancient Past fiction poetry

All Hallows’ on the Styx

Bast sings a melody
for the
Sphinx
Elbows to the chest
we’re on the
Styx
Oars to the moon
night’s old as fire
turning
not returning
in the winding gyre

Steer to the left
Souls bare all pain
Face to the knee go Zael and Cain
slouching off to Bethlehem
filled with guilt
Roll to the right
you’re on the Styx!

Chant with the Lion
Cramps this cold
Eyes on the Lion
Pull and hold
Reach for the Lion
Push and fold
Elbows to the chest
Pull and hold!

(/▽\*)。o○♡

All Hallows’ on the Styx | SB
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!
(Stay out of the Styx)


Categories
Ancient Past poetry

Across the way from Stabiae

October 22, AD 79 Tempus matutinus
Days before I turn to dust,
I embrace heaven in the doorway
and thrust my arms wide to touch the frame.

October 23, AD 79 Meridies
Rumbles drill; they ring closer still.
My part in it, I know not force.
I’m poet, philosopher, lector, and scribe.
One day they will see that …

October 24, AD 79 Opacare
Wide rules I use for rhyme and verse.
My mind is adrift…
One’s blessings are now cursed. 
Black days are rumbling:
(I am not the first; my ancestors’ chronicles
live in rhyme and verse).
Heaven intones in one flash burst
across the way from Stabiae.

[+]

MMXV.VIII.XXIII. Photo credit: “Garden in Pompeii” by Pieter BiesemansOriginally published on August 23, 2015. it was revealed that the eruption took place on October 24, 79, and not in August, as previously believed, so I updated the poem to reflect this information.

Categories
Ancient Past Earth Her Dark Arts

Si me deseas

Rol
¿Cómo estás?

Sol
Muy bien, gracias. ¿Y tú?

Rol
Ha pasado demasiado tiempo.

Sol
Sí, eso es cierto. Pero mi hijo tuvo fiebre. Mi esposa y yo teníamos que traerle al boticario.

Rol
Lo lamento. ¿Está bien, tu hijo, ahora?

Sol
Sí. Por favor no me mires así.

Rol
¿Cómo?

Sol
Como si estuvieras a punto de devorarme.

Rol
Deseo lamerte la cara. Lentamente. Y después, tengo ganas de tocarte profundamente.

Sol
Por favor, debemos preparar por el Consejo.

Rol
¿Me deseas? Déjame acariciarte.

Sol
Sí, te deseo, pero hoy, no puedo.

Rol
¿Qué pasó? El otro día estuvimos en la pasión del fuego.

Sol
Tú solamente tienes ganas de beber de mi sangre.

Rol
No, no, no.

Sol
¡No me mientas!

Rol
Por favor, mi amor. Pueden oírnos. Tú me dijiste que a tí …

Sol
¡Basta ya!

Rol
Bueno. Podemos discontinuar, pero hazme el favor de creer que te quiero. Ven acá. Voy a besarte. Te he esperado desesperadamente. Déjame meter la lengua en tu boca.

Sol
Rol, por favor…

Rol
Ven acá.

Categories
Ancient Past Earth Her Dark Arts

The Pool

“The future is open and we are writing it moment to moment.”
Pema Chödrön, Buddhist nun, teacher and author

<< What if I asked you not to return home right now?

Lim
Who…?

<< If I made myself visible, you would go blind from the sheer stress on your visual cortex. The surge of energy would obliterate your neural pathways.

Lim
I can hear you. I can’t understand you. What language are you speaking?

<< I know. Hmmm… My brother and I are playing a game. He said that if I asked nicely, you would swim around for three more hours. He’s said I’m full of scorn for your species. I’m trying to reform.

Lim
Fraum? This is a trick. Pom!!! Stop. Come out.

<< He’s left you behind. He hasn’t gone to a better place, though. Well, not yet, at any rate.

Lim
First of all, I can’t see who is talking.

<< Please don’t go home now or else you will surely be killed.

Lim
Nonsense. No one can see the future. The Feast is over, Pom. No more festival tricks. Come out now.

<< You’re right. No one can see the future because there isn’t just one. We precisely calculate and see outcomes, in what you call the future, on any given string of intent.

Lim
String up in tent? That’s stupid! You’re stupid. Go away.

<< So be it. Ingracious beast.

The female twin pulls back to mull the situation over with her brother.

> You did not try hard enough.

<< His helical proteins fail to synchronise with this biosphere’s regenerative frequencies. That is consistent with his passive attempt at self erasure by swimming in that bottomless pool. Appropriate and amusing. I think we’ve made our point.

> His is not a significant loss. The data contained in his proteins do not contribute to evolutionary gains nor does it appear at any further point in the alternate timelines.

<< Good riddance. Let us leave him be.

Categories
Ancient Past Earth health

Scorpia

Memphis
The Apothecary and Entomologia in cooperation with the Bank of Commerce present a definitive plan for controlling the lice problem, Highness. We believe it a most effective solution.

Cleo
Owwww! Hades!!!!!!

Neferati
That hurt you so. That’s the last of it. Let me add this spearmint and chamomile salve. Press down to stop the bleeding.

Cleo
The torture.

Neferati
There you are. Now put your knees down.

Cleo
What have you come up with, sirs?

Memphis
Scorpions.

Cleo
Venom? You’re not putting that on my skin. Use Nefe.

Ari
Highness, we present them and their insatiable appetite for lice.

Cleo
Hmmm. You want me to ask citizens to let scorpions run around in their homes?

Memphis
Highness. It is a means to an end. We present a solution if they help us.

Plymouth
Let me explain. We present a specially bred venomless scorpion. These scorpions will live in the homes of our citizens and eat their lice.

Memphis
It’s the Cardashian Cluster, Highness. They regularly visit from east Europa with beautifully woven rugs. The demand has never been higher, regardless of the infestation.

Cleo
Can’t we just ban their rugs? Persians make better quality products.

Ari
The merchants will never agree to it. The Cardashian rugs are affordable and aristocrats change their decor three times a year.

Plymouth
The market forces us, Highness.

Cleo
All right. I’m listening. Nefe, can you depilate my armpits while I’m distracted by these politicos?

Neferati
With pleasure.

Memphis
Highness, I present, “The Scorpion King.”

Cleo
It’s … big.

Memphis
This is a wax likeness. They’ll be this size so they can be tethered with hemp string and returned to cages after feeding. See the opening at the tail, there?

Cleo
How does this help …? Ahhhhh!!! Nefe, why?!!!! May I die now.

Neferati
Oops. Other arm.

Ari
We present “The Scorpia.” It’s a …

Memphis
Move around to her other side.

Ari
… a new tax system. Citizens will display this waxed Scorpia seal on their doors to certify they have lice free homes. Monthly inspections and renewal fees apply.

Plymouth
We believe the new system will foster good neighbourly relations and give birth to a new business elite.

Cleo
What do we need the money for?

Memphis
To purchase goodwill from Roman aristocrats and scholars, of course. They already say Alexandria has no control over parasites. We recently learned that knowledge of this unfortunate infestation has been added to the Roman curricula. Young aristocrats will grow up thinking we are a lice infested State.

Cleo
I like it and mostly because the pain from this regular waxing of my body hair is ageing me. Be dismissed.

Memphis, Ari and Plymouth
Highness.

Notes: In this story, Cleopatra is getting a beauty treatment while attending to matters of state. Image courtesy: The Smithsonian Magazine, “Rehabilitating Cleopatra.”

Categories
Ancient Past Earth Her Dark Arts

Shelter, or the long stay

Röben
Shelter. It’s what we need most urgently now. I had this awful dream last night. I was drifting apart from you on a sea of sand, as a very old man. I grasped at air, and felt a great sense of despair at having nothing to stand on.

The counsellors have met in Röben’s tent on the second night of the full moon to eat a hot stew of fatted calf meat. It had been roasting in the sun all day in a ceramic crock pot. One of the men, Lvi, had found a course translucent blue grain in a dry pit. He had grabbed a handful and sniffed it, but it had no smell.

After eating the midday meal of millet with his fingers, he noticed that the taste was different. He licked his palm and it, too, tasted different. He went back for a small sackful of the thing and as he was presenting this evening’s meal, he gave each counsellor a small portion of the grain on the side of his plate. They weren’t sure what to do with it.

Röben suggested touching a little to the fingers and then touching the meat. Ysåk suggested swirling it all over the meat. That was unbearable, and so he wasted a serving. That caused a bit of grumbling. Ekob, however, thought it would work better to rub a little on the teeth and under the tongue and then savour the tender goodness of the veal with the juices from the mouth.

Röben
Alright, alright. Let’s be done with this. The bullock has served us his fattest youth and we gather now to enjoy his gift. Blessings on our meal.

All
Blessings.

Lvi
I think we should add the millet to the stew, just for various.

Lvi was already thinking about their next meal.

Ekob
Various?!

Ysåk
Various? Various is a word for bullocks. Big bullock, small bullock. Not so big bullock. New bullock, old bullock.

Cackles of dry hysterical laughter shook the tent canvas.

Lvi
No, I’m just trying to…

Benjamin
Shut up, this is a hallowed gathering.

Röben
Brethren, we must discuss the future of our tribe. I think that all we have are the children our wives bear us, these metal plates, these adornments, the ropes that tie our tents down on those pillars. We must be long in our stay.

Esai
You mean, make one dwelling place?

Ysåk
Yes, brother! I have the same feeling, but how can we all fit in the same tent?

Simeon is stunned at the sudden opening for ideas and speaks up.

Simeon
I have an idea. Can we prepare for a new home by charting the heavens in one location and observing the changes over the land?

Ysåk
Hmmm. Children play that game.

Simeon
The point being that we need to know where is best for our families to be long in our stay.

Röben
Hmm, hmm, hmmm.

A long awkward paused ensued. The odourless substance had altered the taste of their veal stew. Some of the men were licking their fingers.

Ysåk
Where can we get more of this, ahhhh… clear sand?”

Lvi
Ah! The cook has his secrets, brethren!

One of the brothers scraped off the rest of the clear sand from his plate and into a small piece of hemp cloth he’d produced for his shoulder bag.

Benjamin
For the wife. And children.

The others followed suit. Ysåk looked around desperately at the others. He’d run out. Lvi shook his head as if to say…

Lvi
(Sorry, none left)

Röben tried to continue through the excitement.

Röben
I think brother Simeon has made a good point. We should do a survey to prepare for a big change such as this one. May I add that we should split up into units? Man, woman, children together in one unit. Not separated.

Esai
Then what?

Röben
We choose one area but stay close enough to each other to meet for our moon meal.

Esai
How long do we separate for?

Ekob
How many full moons?

Röben
Simeon, your wife is with child. Let’s decide what to do when your newborn grows to the height of a reed or loses his first teeth.

Ekob
What are we looking for in the heavens and on the land?

Röben
We’re noting down everything we see, smell, touch, hear. The earth under our feet, and the wind in our ears. Simeon can make a graphic of what we don’t know a word for.

Simeon sees the opportunity, and takes it.

Simeon
Brothers, papyrus is needed. I don’t know how long my reserves will last.

Benjamin
True, but you don’t use so much at the moment.

Simeon
That’s right. We need to make more. Might I start by teaching our sons to help us to protect the trade? The trade of making papyrus? By making more papyrus.

More cackles.

Ekob
For variety? There’s more papyrus here than you can use. How do we make more? They just grow out there in the swamp.

Simeon
Not variety, but continuity. We can make sure we never run out of the plant. I have some ideas.

Benjamin
Let the girls and women do it. They need an industry.

Simeon
I will show you all the glyphs first but can we also teach our youngest to inscribe and interpret the glyphs? Maybe, gather them under one tent after sunrise on days when millet is not planted or harvested. All of the youngest children can live here with us in a tent, tended to by the older mothers. Among our brethren, I can teach Lvi first.

Ysåk
Yeah, make him write where we can find his eatable sand.

More cackles.

Röben
Lvi cannot run or trek like the rest of us. This should be his industry. He will teach our youngest to inscribe and interpret glyphs. We don’t have words for everything we want to say right now, but we can find them or even make them.

Esai
Like Lvi’s stews?!

More cackles.

Röben
First things first. We create a legacy by learning these symbols and we all inscribe what we know about the stars. Then we put them all together under one tent so we are saying the same thing. We’re going to need a shelter for the papyruses that won’t be blown away by sand storms.

Esai
Or the water.

Röben
Exactly. Shelter. It’s what we urgently need right now. Simeon, please take charge of this project.

Categories
Ancient Past Earth Her Dark Arts

A Book of Days

Simeon
A tax. What is a tax?

Simeon looked at the space where the male twin would be standing if he were visible to the naked eye. The twins’ voices are heard at a loud volume in an untouchable space behind his head. Simeon’s right shoulder is dragging downwards. He clenches at papyrus sheets as the full power of their thoughts activate receptors in his cerebral cortex.

> A tax is completely inconsequential in itself, but symbolically, it keeps people from easily and without obstruction, relocating to new settlements with the wealth, knowledge, goods, and services they’ve generated in your community.

<< You need a strategy for keeping your community members in. Outsiders should have higher living costs if they stay for a short time, and community members should not be able to maintain a separate living arrangement outside without incurring significant losses here.

Simeon’s hands drop on a pillow. The stress of the present exchange leaves him out of breath. Crumpled transcripts fall to the floor.

Simeon
Do you see what’s in front of me? You say many things, but its hard to understand any of it. How can I create this tax? How do we make sure everyone will cooperate?

<< Offer something in return. It’s quite simple. A sense of community, stability and privilege will ensure loyalty to the community as a unit. This sense of community ensures that newcomers must prove they are qualified to become a part of the system.

Simeon
I’m not sure I can sell “loyalty” or “community”. Shouldn’t people be able to go about as they please?

> They are indeed free, but how can you collect taxes if that’s true?

Simeon
Exactly. Why do we need to collect taxes at all?

<< It’s just a strategy for keeping a stable society. It’s what we’ve said before.

> I have modified the idea. Why don’t we put a value on the land. How much is one length worth?

<< No, before that, let’s measure the land space. How many lengths are contained in it? Then attach that value to the most basic measure of wealth that everyone is accustomed to.

Simeon
Goats, cows?

<< Copper, it’s difficult to mine. You can just breed goats.

> I have an even better idea of what will ensure future collection of taxes.

<< I am rapt.

> Good. We collect time and labour, and build things using materials that are long lasting and difficult to destroy. They don’t easily erode over time.

<< So the wealth is preserved in the infrastructure, and built into the land.

Simeon
We like moving around. Stability doesn’t appeal to our tribe.

<< You have to try it first.

Simeon
What would we build anyway?

> First let’s start with your stars.

Simeon
The stars?

> Yes, your children use the skies to chart a course across the desert during the year, do you not?

Simeon
Yes.

> So, build something using the earth as material, to capture the light of the sun over the course of a day.

Simeon
Hmmm. I’m … mystified here.

<< What my brother is saying, is that you should try to capture the movement of the sun across the sky in one day. Use that as your measurement to make decisions.

> Yes. Using this writing system we have taught you to record the position of the stars in the night sky every day. Use this collection of records to explore the patterns and cycles you already know.

Simeon
I understand what you’re trying to do but that’s too much work for me, I’m just one man.

> Ah, now you’ll need another building.

Simeon
For what?

> To teach people to create records of the observations. For future use, of course. And then we need another building in which to place these records.

Simeon
Hold on a minute. How many people do we teach?

<< Show the youngest ones first how to use the glyphs we’ve taught you. Then ask them to record the charting of the stars. The adolescents will learn how to create material for recording and storing your records. Another group will make the tools for inscribing glyphs. Just small units of three, for each task, are enough for now.

Simeon
But there is only a small amount of papyrus. And where do we find tools for writing?

> First, cultivate the papyrus yourselves.

Simeon
Cotivate?

<< Cultivate. Farm.

Simeon
These .. and many words you use don’t exist in our language.

<< Cultivate: Make more of the papyrus by growing the shoots in an area just for that purpose. Farm: collect the leaves at harvest.

Simeon
Uh, huh. Farm. What do we call the ‘teach’ building?

> A college.

Simeon
So we’re doing all of this to build a college?

<< No, we’re building a college so children can be taught how to create records of the sun’s movement. We’re doing that to keep your tribe in the same place. If we do that, we can collect taxes at last.

> But to start, you must convince your peers that this particular territory provides a good, long stay. One thing at a time.

Simeon
Where do you find your ideas?

<< We calculate. We’re very good at it. Just try it our way.

Simeon
It won’t work. It’s many ideas all together.

<< There’s a word for that: It is “complex.” We’ll make sure the idea is welcomed. Pay attention to what’s happening around you and make sure to grasp the opportunities presented. Brother, let’s be away before he says something again.

Categories
Ancient Past Earth Her Dark Arts

The Boy

The twins stare intently at the lonely boy sitting crossed-legged at the edge of the savannah. He’s passing time by observing empty space. Air is aqueous. The boy will sit there, as he does every day, until darkness falls. His eyes are large. Gelatinous layers of mucous slide around on his corneas. His irises radiate an iridescent hue of violet. His heavy lidded, deep-set eyes have double rows of thick, long, rose-coloured lashes that curl upwards and away from his face. They keep water from condensing in his eyes and obscuring his vision. His skin is a pulpy, greenish, translucent nougat. 

The twins telegraph their thoughts to each other.

> At this point in their timeline, a body on land needs gills to filter nitrogen from wet air. Based on their physiology, we assume that it is converted to an aqueous solution of nitric acid, which functions as battery acid for mitochondria.

<< Why are we interested in him? He is sitting there waiting for nothing to happen.

The twins pull back to mull things over.

> The boundaries for them are perceptual. They see, hear, touch and taste. These perceptions only serve to help them identify members of their own species in order to reproduce.

<< Beyond that, they’re oblivious to existence itself. They are not yet sentient.

> Does a mind need speech or language to have thoughts? They think in images, familiar ones. Therefore, to communicate with them, we must use familiar images in unfamiliar situations, highlighting the contrasts.

<< It’s a futile task, interfering with them. Just look at them stumbling around without purpose. They’ll become a vile and stubborn race, trusting only these limited perceptions. I am disinterested!

> Time is spherical from our perspective. So we can show the outcome of a course of action on a unique string of intent. Let a familiar image signal propositional intent. We need only show how their present actions will move them away from or toward a beneficial or detrimental outcome.

<< What about the Deluge caused by the fallout of this new asteroid’s explosion into orbit? These beings don’t know precipitation, nor have they seen their precious orb illuminated in the night sky. Perhaps you can encourage the boy to move to high ground. If he is receptive, he will survive to see the asteroid as it settles into its permanent space. If that happens, I will accept that our interference at key points in the newly created timeline will not be in vain.

> M’aal Arch, we have the perfect opportunity to test your ideas about them.

<< Agreed. We will interfere with the boy.

Categories
Ancient Past Earth Her Dark Arts

Ísland

Hinrik
What’s his name?

Stefán
I do not know sir. I do not know. He was there and not there.

Sverrir
My skin crawls.

Stefán
My bullocks are now nine-and-ten, sir. I had two score on the morning of the day he spoke. When his utterances were finished, my workman rushed in to say one bullock had died in the stable.

Sverrir
Vile youth!

Hallbjörn
Bring the salted haddock. More ale! These berries are frozen.

Luc
Úff!

Brog
Why don’t you ever duck?

Vilhjálmur
Where did he come from?

Stefán
He just was there. He was there. Like that.

Sverrir
Stop repeating yourself. Did you touch him?

Stefán
No.

Egill
You were asleep.

Stefán
No.

Hilmar
How do you know that? When I’m asleep, my wife is beautiful, soft and light. She comes to me with my mistress. And it certainly feels that way when I wake up.

Haraldur
Aye, aye! Skál!

Vilhjálmur, Haraldur, Hinrik
Skál!

Hilmar
And he specifically showed you these markings?

Sverrir
How do you know them? You are not a longshoreman. You have not steered a longboat. You’re a harvester. A farmer, a husband of cows.

Hallbjörn
This berry ale is not full with ferment. Bring me that leather flask.

Stefán
Well, I drew them, sir. He guided my hand.

Einar
How?

Stefán
I don’t know. My hand moved but it was not my hand. It was his hand.

Haraldur
So you touched him.

Stefán
No.

Einar
He touched you.

Stefán
Nei!

Vilhjálmur
We are not understanding you.

Sverrir
My Lord, this man is clearly frost frozen witless. He must not waste this council’s precious time.

Hallbjörn
Let every man have his say.

Stefán
Thank you, my Lord. He said I am to tell my Lord that the journey north is to be postponed until mid spring. There are fires all around, fired earth moving on the sea. We are to bury the longboats in the longhouses, take shelter in a settlement near the warm earth springs, where we keep seeds for the harvest. We are to stay away from these homes. Here. It is now, he said. Réttur nú. The water under the land will rise and warm us, there’ll be no need for inside fires.

Sverrir
Madness. How can that be?!!! The waters do not respond to the beck and call of men.

Hallbjörn
Perhaps this will settle the matter. Luc, Brog! Take him to his house and watch over him in turns. Make sure you bear witness to his friend’s return.

Stefán
I don’t know when he will return.

Sverrir
Halt your puerile muttering! We must have an affidavit. Do not squirm away from accounting for this council’s patience. Be off with you!

Hinrik
What was that sound?

Sverrir
It’s the table, you miserable goat.

Hilmar
The ground is shaking.

Sverrir
Do not give meaning to that low creature’s hysterical invention.

Hallbjörn
The shaking will stop momentarily.