Archive for the ‘Post-Apocalyptic’ Category

1 EXODUS 2

Posted: August 23, 2011 in Post-Apocalyptic, SciFi

As morning dawned in its usual blood red but diffused light, the girl-children stretched themselves from their hard beds in the cave and moved out one-by-one through the entrance of the cave and sat down to look out over the Red Valley.

The shadows rolled back slowly as the invisible sun rose behind the Red Cloud. Down below them, they could discern the villages from which they had been selected.

There were three villages, one was established along the water-way created by the Ancients, while one was situated on the lower slopes of a mountain called KRAT which was shaped in the form of a massive plateau which rose to one side with a small peak at its highest point, a distance away from the other villages but substantially closer to the cave of the Red Priestess. The mountain was considered to be sacred by the inhabitants of the valley. The last village was situated in the valley itself on a flattish hilltop, guarding the entrance to the valley.

Three of the young girls came from the largest of the villages on the slopes of KRAT. This village was called the City of the Jesuits. The so-called ‘city’ with a population of roughly 650 persons was a drab place built mostly in a haphazard fashion over the last 70 or so years.

The Jesuits were very frugal and did not believe in spending too much time with productive enterprises as they believed this would reflect a bias towards things of the flesh. They concentrated on the arts and rewriting and illustration of the Holy Jesuit Bible which now consisted of three testaments, i.e. the Old Judaic Testament; the Testament of the Ancients which depicted the life of Jesus Christ and the New Testament which depicted the so-called Era of Tribulation after the Great Flood, God’s wrath upon mankind and the long awaited second coming of the Lord Jesus.

The New Testament was in a process of development and some of the priests had developed techniques to illustrate the era according to tradition and legend. It was a fascinating document, part history, part legend and mysticism and filled with predictions similar to those contained in Revelation of the Testament of the Ancients. Much of it had been written by an Ancient who was only known by the letter ‘A’. The testament was also a work of art, illustrated in brilliant detail and colour.

The Order of Jesus, as it was known, had also produced a Constitution which lay down the laws and rules of the village. The main writer of the Constitution had been one of the Ancients whom the Order had allocated holy status as Saint John I. The final work and rounding off of the Constitution had been done by another holy Ancient, Saint Alistair who had died only 50 years before. He was known to have had special powers and was considered the patron saint of the Order.

For food, the Jesuits produced maize, barley and millet as well as wine from the wild berries harvested from the forests. This wine was popular with the other villagers and generated trade for the Jesuits. In addition they had become specialists in the production of paper from a locally harvested type of papyrus reed which they used to record their calendars, life experiences and history.

Neither of the other two villages had a similar set of laws, nor did they abide by the laws of the Jesuits. Their laws were pragmatic and based on democratic decisions of the elders. However, they used the paper produced by the Jesuits in a variety of ways such as the schooling of their young and to develop a register of villagers and basic bookkeeping systems. Trade between the villages was based on bartering their skills and produce. Money was an unknown commodity.

The highest authority among the Jesuits is vested in the general Convocation which is constituted by all the males over the age of 16 years as measured by the annual bird migrations. The general Convocation elects the Head Priest or Vicar General, and which, for certain grave causes, can also depose him. This body could also (although there had never yet been an occasion for so doing) add new clauses to their Constitution and abrogate old ones. Usually the Convocation is convened on the occasion of the death of a Vicar General to elect a successor or to make provision for the government and welfare of the general Jesuit Society.

The current Vicar General had been elected two Stones ago and was known for his strict interpretation of the Constitution of the Order. He was quite old and did not tolerate deviation from the constitution of the village and was even less accommodating when it came to the Jesuit laws as laid down by the Holy Bible and the Order of Jesus as established by St Ignatius of the Ancient World.

The second village was situated next to a small lake along River Esme and was called New London. The lake was fed by a small stream which flowed from the slopes of a slumbering volcano which they had named Brutus. Due to the lake’s proximity to the volcano, its waters were brackish, non-potable and quite warm. In winter the steam would rise in thick clouds from the lake’s surface. It was also rumoured that the warm waters supplied the villagers with warm baths which the Jesuits called Satan’s Sulphur baths. Esme’s river in turn provided the villagers with their fresh water. It originated on KRAT about two days walk from the village. The village was very small with a population of about only 130 persons.

The New Londoners were of an entirely different disposition to the Jesuits. They had rejected any form of religion or worship in the context of mysticism and adhered to what they called Rationalism. They embraced a philosophy that stated that control or influences by any outside deity or force over the doings of man, was illogical and nonsensical.

They believed in the power of the individual and the development of the intellect of their people. It was therefore no accident that their inhabitants were the most productive and creative and that they had developed a schooling system which taught reasoning which developed the critical consciousness of the young.

New Londoners encouraged debate and argument and when a new theory or philosophy was developed, it was scrutinized by the elders as well as the general populace. This gave rise to many late night discussions and arguments. Only one rule applied; every person had the right to be heard and no one was allowed to disrespect it. The school of the village encouraged development and learning in the hard sciences as well as in philosophy, which included the search for answers to universal dilemmas such as the origin of man or the purpose of life.

An interesting characteristic of the village was that it had the highest population growth rate although it was the smallest. This was mainly due to the pragmatic healthcare they practiced and the development of medicines and herbal cures for which they had become known. The village was also clean, with a water-borne sewage system and maturation ponds, something the citizens of the other two villages had scoffed at. Disease had been minimised and the villagers’ life expectancy was substantially higher than the other two villages. However, no-one except the New Londoners themselves, were aware of this.

The Rationalist philosophy was anathema to the Jesuits who believed that faith was the only valid criterion and that a questioning mind was a threat to their religion and value systems. They considered the New Londoner’s lack of faith to be fundamentally evil.

Leadership among the New Londoners was a loose arrangement. They established a system whereby debate and discussion was held in a central venue; usually the village’s central square or in inclement weather, in the small town hall. Everybody was welcome. Leaders were chosen for their skills rather than for political expediency. This had the effect that idiosyncratic leaders would emerge due to his or her ability to launch and manage a particular project such as their sewage treatment system while another leader would emerge to design and build their homes.

Decisions, which could have an impact on the villagers’ lives as a collective, were taken by popular vote and required a two-thirds majority of all villagers. Their system never created any conflict of interest in their small community. A unique feature of this was that female leaders often emerged where their skills were required. Indeed this was encouraged.

The third village in Red Valley was called Caesarea and was situated on a shallow hill-top. The Caesareans numbered some 320 persons and their village was a well fortified establishment which had a commanding view of the Red Valley. The men-folk of the village were renowned for their hunting and tracking prowess. They had trekked far and wide and possessed a good understanding of the valley itself while some brave souls had ventured beyond the Great Divide which cut the Red Valley off from the outer world. One of their more creative citizens had even drawn a beautiful map of the valley which extended to the mountains of the Great Divide.

The Caesareans were fundamentalists with a totally different world view to either the Jesuits or the New Londoners. Their belief system did not accept the separation of body and soul or of spirit from matter. As such, it is based upon the belief that personalised souls are found in animals, plants, and other material objects and that these souls or spirits governed their existence. These spirits are considered to be very similar to persons.

From their belief in the survival of the dead in spiritual form, arose the practice of offering food, the lighting of fires at the grave, at first, maybe as an act of friendship or filial piety, but later as an act of ancestral worship. The simple offering of food or the shedding of blood at the grave developed into an elaborate system of sacrifice. The desire to provide the dead with comforts in the future life also led the Caesareans to sacrifice animals to the deities of their choice. The Jesuits suspected that the Caesareans ritually sacrificed humans but they had been unable to confirm this.

Crimes were dealt with in Caesarea with equal and swift retribution. Punishment ranged from death by hanging for murder or rape; theft, with the severance of limbs while social crimes, which included drunkenness, dishonesty, foul language and behaviour as well as infidelity, was punished with incarceration and in severe cases, banishment from the village.

In their view, the soul of a victim of crime may return to avenge its death by helping to discover the murderer, or to wreak vengeance for itself. There is a widespread belief that those who die a violent death become malignant spirits and endanger the lives of those who come near a haunted spot. This was the basic reason why the Holy Place on KRAT’s summit was a much feared place for the Caesareans.

They resorted to magical or religious rites to repel spiritual threats and practiced magic and witchcraft, utilising ancient runes that were handed down to them from the Ancients. Much of it was based the notion that all sentient beings had a spirit and that you could receive guidance and advice from these spirits. In calling up the spirits, the Caesareans invoked a variety of rituals depending upon their needs. One such spirit was Zyndileka who protected them from the terrors of the dark earth and from eruptions of volcanoes, which was something which they had had several experiences of. Another powerful spirit was called Mu. This spirit gave them protection against disease and hunger.

Caesareans were of a darker complexion than the citizens of the other two villages, although births of the Chosen Ones, those of flame-red hair and blue eyes, whilst rare, still occurred.

 

The old woman was nowhere to be seen. She had left the cave during the dark hours when only the Lost Ones moved around. The children were getting hungry and started to scrounge around the cave for a morsel to eat. With a squeal one of the girls trapped a rat and quickly dispatched it. Another found the remains of the old woman’s meal of the previous day, and after burning the hair off the now dead rat, the children all sat down to enjoy their meagre haul. Water was found in a skin bag fashioned by one of the girls’ fathers from Caesarea and which he had given the old woman some time ago.

As they ate, it started getting hot outside. They heard a scuffling noise. The old woman entered the cave and after adjusting her eyes to the gloom of the cave saw the children eating.

“Who said you could eat my food?” she screeched at them, clipping the nearest child on the back of her head. The children immediately scattered into the far reaches of the cave to avoid her. Seeing that a fresh rat had been killed, she quickly calmed down and proceeded to devour what was left of it. The blood of the half-cooked animal coursed down her chin as she watched the children like a hawk.

After washing her hands and face, she called out to the girls.

“Come now, you are here to learn and let that be your first lesson. No-one is allowed to eat before I eat. For the next three days you are not allowed to eat anything at all. You will be given water and only water to drink. We must purify your bodies before you are able to learn the secrets of the Ancient World and ensure that your minds are cleansed of the stupidity of youth. This will be your task. Now get to work and clean up the cave. Each one of you will have to create your own private space which will screen you from the eyes of the Evil Ones who live in the deepest parts of the cave.”

At this the children ran to her screaming in fright, without any thought of her recent attack on them.

“Please, I want to go back home,” cried the youngest of the little girls. “I am scared, and I want my mother.”

“I understand your fear child, but now I am your mother, your father, your teacher and your soul. This is where you will stay until the blood flows, then you will return to the places you came from to prepare for our return to the New World. You are the new age leaders and must learn all the messages from our ancestors to prepare the generations for what will be expected of them and for the exodus from this earth as you know it.”