|The Serpent Forgotten
Author: Capritarius - Bird of Passage PM
I know it seems out of character for me, but hey, whatever. It's a story about the beginning of the world, I guess you could sayRated: Fiction K+ - English - Spiritual/Fantasy - Words: 2,518 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 03-22-08 - Status: Complete - id: 2492719
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Serpent Forgotten
Thousands of years ago, in a golden time preceding the great floods that have so shaped the world, the Earth was covered in great abundance, with silver rivers singing beneath a sapphire sky, and the forests and plains were as full of life as the milk of gods. Happiness and prosperity was not an ideal, but a reality, and acceptance of such a simple truth was enough to sustain a man for the rest of his life.
In this bright world, however, still there existed resentment, shared as if it were a stew between Sadness and Anger. The two were bonded by a mutual exile from the Happy World. There were none of that lighted world that would not shun the pair, and so, joined by banishment, they wandered the World together, seeking a solace that was not forthcoming. Eventually, they came to know the futility of their quest, and so they in turn abandoned that world and retreated into the only dead lands in all the World, the Desert that Lady Earth wore as if a sash, and that encircled her as a noose around the neck of God.
The two had wandered for many years, and hunger was beginning to set in, for they had no happiness to sustain them, as the people of the Lighted World did. And so they were forced to sustain themselves upon thin, stale bread, which brought neither adequate sustenance nor happiness, and was eaten as much for self-torture as out of necessity, which were quite alike in the bitter Desert.
Came the day that Sadness turned to Anger and moaned in his mournful tone "We have partook of nothing but thin, stale bread for time immemorial, and my thirst is as glass in my throat, tearing at my tongue until I fear it shall fork, as a serpent's.
Anger was not very accommodating at the best of times, and certainly he wasn't but one notch short of obscenely vile when on a nigh empty stomach, and so responded in kind. "Pah! Say no more, or I shall leave you here to dry underneath the sun! Quit your whining, for so too have I suffered, and suffered more than you, and I am of right conscience, if I were to gut you like a fish and feast on your sad, shriveled heart!"
But Anger was lying, and they both knew it. They depended more upon each other than bread to sustain them, for without one the other was faded, and indeed what is sorrow without rage, and rage without sorrow? What is a beginning without an end, and an end without a beginning?
Now, it came to be that following behind the two wanderers was a small black Serpent, who had also been banished from the Lighted World on charges of indecent exposure. The People of the Lighted World had claimed that it was treachery and sin to go without jerkin and pants, and to slither about for all to see the Serpent's extremities.
Now, this was not at all fair to the Serpent, and he had said so: What use had he for jerkin and pants, without limbs to hang them upon? How don he the shackles of civilization without the means? He pointed out, too, that as a Serpent his only extremity was his own tail, and he would not cover that for the life of him.
This had excited the Lighted People beyond reason. "We care not of your tale," said they. "We have yarns enough and good ones too, of Happiness and Wealth and all things Good! So enlightened are we, that we have concluded that your claim to lack of limbs is but excuses, for one can always wear jerkin and pants if only one tries! You must think positively!"
Serpent was by this time thoroughly confused, and said so: "I am simply thinking logically, as one of your own men of science might-"
"But so too do our men of science wear PANTS, you see?" The Lighted People had countered. "Darest thee compare yourself to those so high above?"
Eventually, the Serpent concluded that if the Lighted People were to behave thus, then he would rather have nothing to do with it, and so had accepted their banishment, and fled to the Desert. He had been lonely for some time, for the Desert was utterly barren, and thus he was surprised and heartened to see two weary wanderers, just as he was, and so he had followed behind.
Yet the Serpent did not come any closer to Sadness and Anger, for it was frightened by what they might say. Would they too shun and banish the Serpent? The Serpent did not think he could bear it. And so he trailed behind, far enough not to be seen, but close enough to see. He contented himself to daydream of traveling beside them, as an equal, and to be joined in amiable camaraderie, instead of being trod upon and beat out of doors with brooms. Besides, even if the Serpent had come up to Sadness and Anger, he would not be able to speak: so long had he gone without speaking to others that his once whole tongue had split in two, and hindered his voice.
Sadness and Anger continued on, unaware of their silent follower, and they suffered greatly from the lack of food. They dreamed of fine baked breads and roast meats and rice pudding, and so lapsed into a sort of silence, each sunken in their own pools of self-contentment. They preferred not to let their heads break the surface, as the pools were fragile and would drain were the plates of reality to shift underneath them, fallen into a dark chasm until all Hope was gone. They had searched for her for a long time, and were forced to make due with this false Hope of their own creating.
Suddenly, the dried and wearied desert sky was torn asunder, and great clouds like mushrooms festered in the wounds caused as it were, and from them they dropped spores of rain in droves, as if to conquer the World for their own. Without shelter, Sadness and Anger were forced to sit and wallow in their own saturated clothing, the last ties they had to Civilization. Water dripped incessantly down their sullen faces, and occasionally one of them would glare up at the sky, only to have lancing rain poke him in the eye for his troubles.
The Serpent faired reasonably better. Unburdened by limbs, he wriggled beneath the sand, head poking out to look upon the wanderers. He was invisible in this blasting rain, and thus they took no notice of him. The world became utterly gray and dark, murky as the mushroom clouds unloading their screaming charges onto the Bitter Desert.
Suddenly, a small white spark appeared off in the distance, piercing the grayness as a needle through cloth. The wanderers and the Serpent watched as the light grew steadily larger, approaching them, and for a moment all three forgot their troubles to watch as the beautiful light came forth. The white spark became a yellowish glow, and finally a golden orb of light, like a transparent sun, moving towards them. The space within the bubble was dry, and warm, and light, and they saw within the bubble a blinding figure, clad in dazzling gold.
Finally the figure in the bubble stopped before them, and they were able to perceive a woman standing within, tranquil and happy within her bubble of protection. She looked on them as one might look upon an old friend one hasn't seen in a long time. The three wanderers gazed upon her with blatant awe, their wonder like a light of their own, and the four lights gathered in the rainy desert, and the bubble encircled them all, and suddenly they were warm and dry, and the rain seemed to cast a blind eye on them, as if the light had poked the storm in the eyes for even trying, returning a favour.
Anger, always the quicker to respond, and also the rasher and more impatient one, spoke first. "Are you Hope?" He asked.
The woman smiled. "No, I am not Hope."
And then Sorrow spoke, and one could here the hope of release from their sandy prison riding on the currents of his voice. "But you kindle the fires of hope within us, the banished, as surely only Hope can do?"
The woman shook her head, still smiling. Her smile was a beautiful thing to behold, as if all the happiness of the Lighted World had coalesced into those two curved lips. "Hope exists everywhere, if you can find it."
Anger was confused. "You speak in riddles. You are not hope, yet you bring hope for a better future, what can you be?"
The woman laughed, a sound that seemed to drown out the rain with its purity. "My name is Hate, and I am the cause of all of Life's suffering."
This resounding proclamation stunned the three travelers, and for a moment Sadness and Anger were speechless. The rain's drone returned, and in their bubble the three were aware of its muted tones, as a mosquito, whispering a warning in your ear, only to be batted away as an annoyance.
Sadness spoke again. "Why have you come here?"
Hate cocked her head at the question, raising an eyebrow as if baffled by the question's silliness. "I am here to make an offer."
And from the folds of her golden clothes she took a small fruit not unlike a cherry, except this fruit shone with a sun-like brilliance, and the aroma it gave off transcended mortal senses.
"I carry here the fruit of Life, and Love, and Happiness. For a price, it is yours, and you will be able to join the Lighted World and become as them, Joyful and Delighted to be Alive, with not a worry or a care."
The Serpent, hiding in his hole, widened his eyes. He had read of such fruits in the libraries of the Lighted World before his banishment, and he knew that wherever they went fantastical things, both Good and Evil, were sure to follow.
Anger narrowed his eyes. "How do we know this is no trick? That you do not seek to poison us? You are Hate, after all."
Hate's face became as sorrow, and she said "For Ever have people looked upon Hate with disgust, for I bring the World's Suffering with me, and with it all people are subjugated. Yet without Suffering there is no Hope, there is no Future. If not for me, the world would be as this desert. I am the beginning and end of all things. Thus, to drive me out because of suspicion would be to drive out Hope of a better life."
She raised the fruit again. "I offer you this in Hopes of making the world a better place, one lost wanderer at a time. There are two fruits. One for each of you. Both of you will know Happiness beyond your wildest dreams, if only you find the Courage to take it."
Sadness and Anger were exhilarated, the hope they felt filled their being and they became ecstatic. This was what they had been searching for, an End to their Quest, a chance to claim back what was theirs by right of birth: Happiness in Life. They eagerly held out their hands for the Fruit of Life.
But the Serpent had been listening closely, and he was alarmed. Hate, he felt, should not so easily be trusted. And he knew that to eat those fruits was to taste the suffering of all the world: he had understood what Hate had let slip. By eating those fruits, Sadness and Anger, would not gain Happiness. They would gain Suffering, which would open the door to Hope and Happiness. But only if they survived. And the Serpent knew that after all their hardships, Sadness and Anger were not ready to embrace all the World's Suffering. The Trial by Fire would destroy them.
And so, in an effort to save them, the Serpent lunged from his hiding hole and plunged his needle-teeth into Hate's ankle. He let his poison flow into her blood as Hates' eyes widened and she let loose a scream that shook all the rain from the clouds and caused them to flee, a scream that shook the sun itself up in its aerie, and the world collapsed into darkness. In the following panic, as Hate lay dying, the Serpent ate both of the Fruits himself, so as to save the World from their temptation.
Fire and ice and light and darkness assailed the Serpent, as he ingested the World's Suffering twice over. Yet through all the pain and suffering, the Serpent held onto the Hope that perhaps he would not die, he would survive and be loved and praised for his sacrifice. And as he lay writhing upon the Desert floor, kicking up sand, Hate's body dissolved until only bones remained, and the dust of her flesh encircled the World under cover of darkness.
When Serpent awoke, he found the World cloaked in a sort of half-light. He looked up to find towering over him the glowering faces of Sadness and Anger. Without waiting for him to fully recover they launched into hateful tirades.
"Who are you to take salvation from our hands? To steal it for yourself? To take all our hopes and dreams and to crush them in your fangs? To poison all that we held dear and all that we might have had? To destroy the world's happiness? Hate has died, and she has spread across the World, coursing through both the bitter Desert and the Lighted World. Now Hate runs through the veins of all the living, and rises as vapour from the bodies of the dead, and the World has descended into darkness from her power! The Lighted World is gone, the bitter Desert is gone, and all is a gray half-life. You have poisoned the world. You have made it thus. Just as hope was everywhere, so too is Hate everywhere."
The Serpent was shocked, and hurt by their Hate. He had saved the World, did no one see? Tears like rain blossomed in his eyes and fell to the cold desert floor. Yet he still hoped that one person in all the Hateful World would understand his sacrifice. And all the world's crushing hate squeezed the life from his body and he died, his body wasting away as Hate's had done, and the spark of Hope rising from his heart. The spark rose into the sky and became the new sun, and Light pierced the Half-light, but only just.
"I did not poison the world," the Serpent, now the Sun, thought. "I have healed her, and her children, and all of Lifes' Children to come."