I sit, flipping a coin, thumbnail to thumbnail, in the moonlight. As it arcs through the air it leaves a slime-trail of winking dew, points straight to where it will land and so I can catch it—again, over again, a hundred times over; it is a game I play with probability, forcing some bastards to lose important coin-tosses: their lives, their wives, a bet, a pound of frozen sardines—and as I sit I think on the nature of reliability as it relates to people and prophets.

I think upon the concept of hearsay as it applies to my speech because if I speak and my words are from a god then surely I cannot produce hearsay, only a first-tier source of knowledge, not even a communication at all but rather an index, like smoke from a fire—my existence points to gods and at the other end, the truth—so my words, an arrow with two heads, creating an indisputable immaterial link between gods and the truth; my words are therefore never hearsay only fact, except: I am not actually a god. I am not a manifestation, only an avatar, thus—prophets display aspects of holiness; you cannot know which of a prophet's words are fact. Some of my words index the truth—Revelations—most do not.

Suppose you have a simple machine that produces random fortunes: "Yes", "No", "Are you kidding me" and so on, and even though the machine's success rate will necessarily be a certain percent you cannot trust its fortunes just as you cannot trust a stopped clock—old adage that it displays the correct time twice every day, you see?—prophets are about meta-knowledge. When and what kind of words are indices to the truth? Because the gods won't ever say; they expect you to know what sort of thing they have in mind (this is what religion is for, yes?). So meta-knowledge cannot come from the outside, the congregation, because then a person might point to a string of words and say This is the truth and another could point to another string of words and say This is the word of Al R-LL-YH. No good having a direct message from god without the user manual.

But having a prophet is better than having no direct access to the gods at all, surely?—if the prophet cannot distinguish between words and prophecy, the prophet is a stopped clock. So being a prophet is about the meta-knowledge the prophet has about the prophet's own prophecy, the faith his congregation has in this meta-knowledge. Anyone can claim faith in himself to a believing congregation. Prophecy is full of charlatans.


1 But I, Valeriu, am a Saint.

2 This is different from prophecy.

3 There are no charlatans in Sainthood.

4 By consecrated ink are we bodily transformed.

5 Into what, I don't know. Something.

6 Or Other.

7 From a flock of prophets are born Saintly freaks.

8 I quote Saint Eugen: "You will know a Saint by zeu transformation. In the meantime you must make do with prophets. Sorry!"

My Revelations are focused on error, the interlocking machine of right-ness demanded by whats-her-name. I guess I was born because she got sick of humanity's bad taste. The coin, an artwork in miniature, a thing of near-perfection because it is a symbol in the flesh that can be touched and felt and gnawed upon if you are really in earnest, is something that used to stand for money when it was quicker to transfer an object than it was a concept—I like playing with such things: concepts solidified, they are much less ugly than most other objects—it is easier to track in the air, I can place it exactly, it balances on my nail as though glued.

But if you gather them together, the speck of an idea, the little blip of ugliness, they congeal, slide together—are magnified: the concept of money itself is put into question and all the faults that might be ironed out by economists appear to me as a landslide of sludge, a primordial ooze of error. I visited a museum-maintained bank vault once, through curiosity; I projectile vomited over priceless antique doubloons, solid gold—hilarious in retrospect. I designed ink of a puking pirate to commemorate the occasion for the monk who had to clean up my mess.

I'm sitting on the stones outside Fitnah's bedroom. It's 3 am. Her dreams puff out from under the door, clouds of static, unreadable. The neighbouring room houses a light banker I must mentor for another week; his dreams are like semen: white, glutinous, taste of rotting seaweed. I advise him on his investment portfolio for his private banking customers; they'll be happy, for the most part—perhaps he asked some of the wrong questions; banking is not always about harmony—alas that I'm not qualified to remark on anything else, such as: are you sure you wanna invest in a sweat shop? Long-term it might not look good for that client, oh, no, of course it's your business—the accounts are as harmonious as I can make them, until the markets change. It is coincidentally good business for whichever monastery with me-in-residence that the markets change frequently.

I breathe in her dreams, through the nose and mouth—like living stars—metallic and staticky. Where they cross the path of the coin, where I expected interference, there is none. There is harmony between them. I don't understand this, so I keep flipping the coin across the flight path of her signals—I expect to see some fizz, sparkle, reaction something of some kind but there is none.

It seems godly order/beauty has some relationship with Fitnah's something I can't recognize, like perhaps in the same way infinity is related to one and one and one and one and one and one and one ad infinitum? Yes. Which explains nothing to me, but I am fascinated and even though I can't tie it together I must sit here and think. I hardly sleep anyway because Ralalayh tends to give me disgusting dreams just because it's fun. We tease each other, I don't know, I suppose gods have a strange sense of humour?

And I decide: I will take her with me. I will make her an apprentice. She, the religious, the obedient, she cannot refuse.

An aside: I will be obsessed with Fitnah for a certain number of heavenly cycles, I am sure, which will be annotated somewhere if anyone is interested—the lives of Saints are closely documented; we are messengers from the great beyond; we are copied to reams of paper; a Saint's life is measured in forest acreage and consecrated ink. If anyone is missing so much as a minute by the end the monastery suffers hideous amounts of loss that can't be recouped, absolutely hideous—anyway, and as I will be obsessed with Fitnah it will go down in history and she will never be able to escape—she will be a sidekick, a footnote, for always—and then cease to exist when I am done with her.

Eternal Rlalyeh has a long memory that reaches its many-jointed fingers down through history because there is something to be said for having real, provable gods, yes? i.e. that your side always wins and thus gets to spread its memetic seed all over the subsequent generations—pornographic imagery, as in real religious texts: marginalia are fascinating—sticky soup of sexual perversion and violent glee.

Saints don't concern ourselves with you often—this might puzzle you—well, because I say 'Fitnah' like she is a person. She is not. Imagine a new flower has appeared on the edge of your world—as you are a young child, your world perhaps extends to the corner shops, the parentally-approved aisles of the supermarket, also those locales which are verboten such as the BMX park and the midnight show because nobody was ever an honest child—and this flower can be a book with a florid cover, or new ink you got for your birthday, a song, a real flower that you find in second cousin's garden, red and rubbery; do you examine it all over, commit it to memory—at least let us say, explore it to the depth which serves to satisfy your curiosity? As a child, squatting on the earth, I played with dry butterflies, watching my hands create further and further disgust and dischord in something that was never perfect to begin with even before it broke and died—until I had iridescent blue butterfly dust worked into my skin.

I will have my toy. I will have my toy.