Perhaps I should briefly introduce this short story. It is, as are most essays, stories and thoughts originating from ~burning woman~ a parable. It is a form of reverse prophecy and a warning. The story itself is from a real time and place. It is not the product of imagination, though most readers will likely take it as such. Some of us just awaken to remembrances, and some of us learn to write those down, however difficult it is to do so. Some may wonder why it should be difficult. It is because these stories do not fit within the official version of reality. It is ever more so because such stories inevitably re-awaken the feelings associated with these events.
[from the mind of ~burning woman~ Sha’Tara]
My name is Talane. A am 23 years old today. I have been married to my Duke since I was 15. I have no children so he has no heir. I come of the small freeborn caste of architects and metal workers and lived all my life here, in the county of Baran. Most of the people on this world which we call Jilovi (pronounced with a soft “j” more like “Shi’Low’Vee”) are slaves, or are owned one way or another by the nobility. Needless to say, the nobility classes are varied and form a large group.
As I awake this day, my slave woman comes to me, bows, and shows me tears in her eyes. I ask her the news.
“The Duke, your husband, has been caught in the act of adultery with a noble woman. There has been a duel. Your husband was killed and the other woman has already been stoned to death, my lady.”
I rise shaking. I know what that means. I quickly throw a dress on and within moments, heavy steps echo in the hallway and my door is swung open. Six men-at-arms grab me, tie my wrists and ankles and carry me outside and throw me in a wooden wagon pulled by four horses. Immediately, the wagon starts rolling, the men-at-arms riding two on each side and two at the back.
All day the wagon rolls. I am sore, thirsty and hungry but no one looks to see how I am faring. Night comes but after a change of horses, the wagon rolls on. My whole body is now bruised from the jolting and I cannot sit or move to a more comfortable position. I hear two men-at-arms talking: “Can’t understand why they won’t let us have her. A shame to waste that soft flesh. They’re only going to kill her in the morning.”
I shudder. Despite my pain, I am confused. I cannot seem to place my feelings. What should I be feeling? For my husband who cheated on me? For not being able to give him an heir? Should I feel sorry for myself? What will happen to me? For it seems obvious we are making haste to the court of the great king for a judgement. My husband was rich and had much property. Will that go for me, or against me? But the talk of the soldiers has gone in my heart like a knife. I cannot forget those terrible words.
As the sun comes up, the wagon arrives at the court. I am pulled out and my ankles are freed so I can limp over to stand in front of the dais where the king, a mere youth of about 18 years, looks down on me with a sneer. At his right stands a nobleman of dark features. He leans on the drawn sword in his hand, blood still coating the dark, evil looking blade. He stares at me with absolute hatred.
The king orders me to kneel and I would have fallen had I not been held. As I kneel, he pronounces my sentence – death by stoning for the sin of my husband. Then he spits on me and turns to the dark one and says: “The woman is now free. You may have her as slave, or as wife to replace yours.”
The dark one addresses the king and loud enough for the gathering to hear, says: “I do not want her for a wife. I resent dearly I had to kill her husband in a duel so he escaped just punishment. I also demand extra punishment for this woman for not giving son and heir as was her duty. I would have the son stoned to death in place of the husband, but since there is none, I want her to receive the maximum penalty – I want her to get the third circle stoning. I want her to die for the husband, to die for the son and to die for herself. Also, I demand that all properties belonging to the husband – whose name I shall no longer pronounce – and any that may belong to her – be forfeited to me as the wronged party.”
I hear some low talk, then the words: “So shall it be. Take her to the post.”
They drag me to a stake in the center of the court yard. They lift me up to slip my numbed and blue wrists over the top of the pole and the rope catches on a hook at the back of it, leaving me barely able to touch the ground with my toes. Already the pain is unbearable — yet little do I know what pain can become! Over to my left, I see a pile of bodies in the grass and I notice the ground around the pole is un-naturally dark: dried or drying blood.
In front of me sit twelve women in black dresses, barefooted, bareheaded, their long black hair tied in tight tails. These are the ones appointed for the task of stoning. If a woman is being stoned, men can only watch. Each woman gets up and goes to a bucket to pick up a stone. There are three buckets, each with a different size of stone in it. As there are three semi-circles from which the stones are thrown. If a quick and merciful death is ordered, the largest stones are used and thrown from the closest distance. If the most excruciating and painful torture is exacted, the smallest stones are used, thrown from the farthest distance – that being the third circle stoning.
At the signal from the king, it begins. At first I scream and I try to dodge the stones, to no avail. The women are well trained. No stone hits my face or any place where I might lose consciousness. They stone my feet and legs, my abdomen, my arms, shoulders, groin, hips… but not my face.
I had never seen a stoning ritual. For that I am grateful or I would have attempted the impossible on the ride to the city had I any idea what I was to suffer there. Each woman throws her stone, then waits for the other until all twelve stones have hit. Then they come to pick up the fallen stones, and each woman spits on me each time she comes near to collect her projectile. I can see their hands turning red from handling the bloodied stones.
At first I try to look in their eyes to find some mercy, some degree of compassion. But there is none. Gradually, the pain becomes so intense I cannot focus on anything else. Eventually I can no longer scream. My throat is parched. I see blood running out of the tears in my dress, turning it red, then running down and over my broken and blackened feet. It seems to be from someone else. Then the pain lessens. I know I stop moving. I hear the women yell wildly and now the stones hit my face. I feel the bones in my nose break. My lips crack and my teeth come loose. Then my eyes are hit and there is blackness. Soon, merciful blackness. I no longer feel the stones, nor hear the jeering of the spectators or the maddened yells of the women executioners.
Suddenly, as if by magic, I walk away from that place. There is soft light all around me. I see the women still throwing stones at the body on the stake, but it is no longer me. I walk and rise over them. I see the grounds, the gold and silver domes of the city’s castles and palaces. I see regiments of foot and mounted soldiers outside the great gates and the horses tethered in the fields. I see the brown meandering river, then the dark green, soft looking forest is below me. Now I am walking above the clouds and turning, I get my last glimpse of Jilovi, a pretty silver ball in the dark sky.
Then they meet me. I recognize them. They take me home.
Addendum: Later, as time is reckoned, an astronomer is guiding her class into complicated planetary motion measurements. She asks them to look at their screens and tell her what they see. One of her brightest students exclaims: “I see a perturbation here, between these two planets. It’s as if there once was a planet of medium size there, but it has vanished!”
The astronomer puts her screen down and replies: “You are correct. A long time ago, as we reckon time, there was another planet in that system. I can vouch for that, for I lived there once. It was called Jilovi, in the language of those people.”
“What happened to it?”
“It was destroyed by the people themselves. They inherited foreign and banned technology which they used without a care about the results. Eventually, they made terrible weapons to fight their internal wars. They took those weapons into their skies and rained them upon their world. The combined effect of the detonations and penetrations shattered the planet.”
“Did any of these people survive, somewhere?”
“Yes, a few did. The great explosions and wars on that world attracted a robot-driven emergency rescue ship programmed to bring relief or pick up survivors in instances where humans could not do so. The ship sent its shuttles and scouts to the surface of Jilovi before it broke up and rescued some of the survivors. Unfortunately, the Jilovians never learned the great lesson all intelligent and sentient life must learn – the lesson of compassion. They took over the robot ship and re-named it “Nibiru”. They called themselves “gods” and have entered the historical records of this galaxy as the Anunnaki.
With their ship they entered another solar system and eventually sowed some of their own kind on a class three planet their descendants now call “Earth”.”
“This “Earth” — would it be a nice place to visit now?”
“I am sorry to tell you this, my sweet Dal – but no. Earth became another “Jilovi” It is now on its last years. The Earthians have multiplied in numbers beyond the capabilities of their natural environment to support. To forestall disaster, they have thrown all of their efforts into greater technology and computerization. They have no understanding of what all of us know, and perhaps take a bit too much for granted: that life is a sacred gift and can only exist in balance.” “But you say these are intelligent beings? People? Human? I cannot understand this, Talane.” “No you cannot now. But you will.”