Chapter One – The Antediluvian Somnambulist
15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
In those early days, there was no good and no evil, there was simply what was and what was not. I was Lushaka, THE Aut'strii, not the "first", simply "the". Manifest of the Lord Dau'lush in his world and messenger to his people. I took forms unique to all these people but no matter the metamorphosis, I was always of his likeness.
In those early days, the Lord would walk beside me in his gardens. I was his agent in the world and in this place, we could speak candidly to one another apart from the rest of creation. He would express to me his concerns, his worries, and his insecurities. He told me how, in creation prior, he gave the people control over what they felt and how they could live. Yet he could not satisfy them.
In those early days, he tried to limit his contact with them, the created, but he always had a goal in mind them. Sometimes he would express impatience, other times disgust. He would tell me that, though it pained him, he would start anew if his creation displeased him. To cement his trust, he showed me his deepest secret.
I had a chapel in the world, it always seemed to be nearby (no matter where I went), and deep in the basement of the chapel there was a shrine, a phylactery. This was a dingy place I probably would never had seen or found had it not been brought to my attention. To all appearances, a dank driftwood-flanked cupboard. He implored me, in all earnestness, to stay away from this place and to not even think of it.
"Why allow such a place to exist?" I asked.
"Sometimes such places must exist," He responded.
I must confess I did not find such a response becoming of my creator. Regardless, he WAS my creator, so I obligated to cease this question, turning to another. "May I touch it?" I inquired.
"No!" He commanded, "You mustn't see it, you mustn't touch it, you mustn't think it!"
He lifted a hand towards me and bloodlessly extracted a rib from my torso. "Lushaka, beautiful Lushaka whom I have blessed above all other women," He pronounced, "Know this: I have created you by saying, 'Be'. Uncreating you, I say, simply, 'cease."
The Lord placed the rib inside the Phylactery as a warning. That should have been the end of it. Except it was not. During my days, I preached and endorsed the will of Dau'lush to his people. But by night, my mind always returned to the Phylactery. I always reached out to touch it but I darest not.
One day (I believe it was a feast day), my curiosity clouded my thoughts. Noting this, The Lord came to me and presented me with a drawing. It was the kind of sketch one might expect from a child. Although this was the norm. "I have noticed you have been distracted," he noted, "Perhaps it is not good that you are alone."
"This is Bauldier, the second of Aut'strii," he continued.
It was a brindle-furred batty thing with a frilled skull, an unagi face, two tails, three nostrils, four wings, seven dorsal sable horns, and two icy stalactite horns of the nose. His drawings always reminded me of his earlier creations: the Martians, whom I never met. Although my disgust was rank, so was my devotion. I did not wish a fate similar to those past to befall anything which existed, even in potentiality. My mind paused to consider my words, "Simply do as you will," I half-muttered as though speaking to a child.
The Lord nodded and accepted my words. A likeness of Bauldier came into being, fully real and actual in all respects spare one: it was not alive. "One who knows his limits and to keep balance in morality and all things," he said, "Bauldier, second of Aut'strii. Is it not good?"
There was something nightmarish about the androgynous entity before me. I did not wish to go against my Lord's desire, but I wished to prove myself worthy. My honesty won the day, "its okay," I said sheepishly.
Dau'lush gawked at me and I could feel his frustration, the kind an artist feels when his efforts go unnoticed. Yet there went that spark. That childish pettiness. Someone who could do no wrong. Until he did. If the slightest imperfection was found in the work, then the artist was forever haunted. Dau'lush snatched the parchment from my hand and tore it in two. The likeness of Bauldier faded from sight as the parchment baring his head blew to the heavens and the piece baring his body fell to the earth.
Night to night, my doubt grew and, day by day, my cynicism over Dau'lush grew. I certainly wished to serve him. Ultimately, my piety came not from a desire to obey the Lord but because I feared him, and I feared what my dissidence might bring to his people. Wanderings in my dreams always returned me to the Phylactery, that simple sacred sinful shrine which masqueraded itself in my bleak basement.
In my dreams, I usually kept to myself. I did not interact. I simply could be. I was not Lushaka, the Aut'strii of Dau'lush. I was Lushaka. I could be whomever I wanted. But my loyalty kept my options limited.
On the night where it began, I found a Stranger in my basement. In the dim, I could not quite distinguish his features. I asked him why he was there, and he explained that he was lost. I led him to the stairs and offered him a cup of water. Resting him on my shoulder, he was very tired. "They always told me the first time was…unlikable to any prior experience, sickening and refreshing," he muttered. I ascended the stairs and presented him to the moonslight.
In times past, the Lord had taught me the names of each of his animals. Here was a something that I did not know. Certainly, I did not dispute there were things I did not know for I only knew as my Lord had instructed me. Yet it was not in his character to not tell me something like this. The Stranger's features were difficult to discern in the moonslight, but something about his form did not lend itself to anything I recognized. His smell, I also had trouble pinpointing.
The Stranger thanked me for helping him to the surface but informed me that this was incorrect. I asked him, "How so?"
"This is not right," he repeated, "There are not two moons."
"My friend," I said, "There must be two moons. One moon could not balance the sun."
"You are pulling my claw," he chuckled.
"I do not wish to call you a liar," she said, "But you are speaking nonsense, are you intoxicated?"
"Intoxicated?" He said, "My friend, we are dreaming. I have spent my dream stuck in your cellar, how could I possibly have gotten intoxicated?"
"I suppose you are right," I conceded.
"This town. These alleyways. These forests. Those weird green blades along the lawn," he mused, "These are foreign to me."
"You mean the grass? Are you not a construct of Dau'lush?" I whispered.
"What is a Da-losh?" he asked.
His heresy was sparkling yet I could tell he was not disingenuous. "What world is this?"
"The world," I said.
"No, no, no," he said, "What dimension?"
"THE dimension," I said, "There are no others."
"There are certainly plenty of dimensions," he said, rolling his eyes, "A stream of dimensions. Beginning and endless."
"Where are you from then?" I asked.
"I am from the Island of Clouds," he said.
"Show me," I impulsively responded.
He leapt from my shoulder and led me back down, he hovered about the Phylactery. "Hmmm," he noted, "This must be it, the portance between worlds. I guess I did not think of it with those doors shut."
With a grip of mighty clawed hands, he pulled the doors open, at first roughly but then gently. "There is nothing there," I said.
"Everything is nothing," He said, "But thinking makes it so. So, too does the portal need conscience, or life, to activate."
He reached past my rib without much hesitation. A green whirlwind extracted itself from behind my rib. The Stranger was gone as suddenly as he came. I paused a moment to think. I looked into my rib and my rib into me, the bond of death between me and whatever lay on the other side of that portal. My curiosity succeeded and I reached into the Phylactery, past my rib.
All at once, my mind and my soul were pulled inside. Emerald vortices and half-drowned bells of infrared timbre consumed me. Bending, blending, and blurring. Inside, outside, here, and beyond. Icky, beautiful, transcendent, and imminent. Surely, the feeling of everythingness. Blindness and omniscience. Ignorant puddles and lending themselves to manifestations of vainglorious sunlight.
The sunlight was blinding to me and as I stood upon on the dirt ground, I fell flat into the fern beds. The world came to black and, in that dream, I lost consciousness.