Category Archives: Quest

The Antierra Manifesto – Blog post #10

[begin blog post #10]

Chapter 6 – Life in the Cages

“We cannot conquer fate and necessity, yet we can yield to them in such a  manner as to be greater than if we could.” (Walter S. Landor) 

I feel the most terrible ache in my heart.  I remember a time in a past life when I was taken from my home, accused of witchcraft.  My twelve year old son was taken from me and I was kept in a dungeon and I knew I’d never see him again.  I would never leave that place until, after an endless series of indignities were performed upon me, I was formally condemned for practising witchcraft by using herbs considered to have Satanic properties and I was hanged, my executors claiming compassion in my case by deciding not to burn me alive as was the current practice.  They said my healing arts had been of value to the village before I began consorting with demons and performing the black arts.  Men have never been short of excuses for “punishing” women, even in so-called modern, civilized societies.  But the greatest pain they cause women is not physical, it’s psychological.  The continual put-down of her knowledge, natural skills and abilities; of her intuition and innate compassion. 

That sort of pain is what I’m speaking of: emptiness of heart and an atavistic fear rolled together like some choking fog that will never lift until perhaps after you are dead.  And even then… who really knows?  Now imagine my temporary despair, that I, Antierra, who promised a better life to Tiegli, would lower herself to doubt her own knowing?  Who better than I can know of the future of a certainty?  But shock does strange and terrible things to one’s thought pattern.  I feel as if my mind is unravelling as it feeds from the poisoned mind sewers of Malefactus.

Tiegli is gone and I haven’t seen the doctor in many days.  My arm still does not feel right but the tingling of the wound tells me it is healing.  There will be an ugly white welt there, but that seems a small thing now.  I wonder how I can get near the other women who all seem to be avoiding me.  Something about me frightens them.  It could be any number of things.  The superstition about my status as the reincarnation of their Desert Beast and my ‘natural’ skill with their basic weapons.  My size.  The colour of my eyes.  But mostly, I think, the way I talk.  Can I ever learn to speak in their pidgin?  Would that make a difference?

This morning I wake up to a low cry followed by a steady wailing in a cage close to mine.  In the early light I see a young girl sitting up holding the body of another and rocking it.  Soon all the women are keening along and to my surprise I am too.  The heavy blanket of death touches us all.  The one they called “The Brute” – the dark-skinned woman Tiegli pointed out to me who’d been captured in the deep south beyond the desert has killed herself in the night and her cage-mate has awakened to her cold body against her.  The dead woman had managed to find, hide and bring a sharp piece of broken flagstone into her cage.  She inserted it in her own jugular and bled to death.

The wailing brings several handlers, trainers and a dozen guards armed with lasguns.  A shrill whistle silences the women and the first row of twenty cages are opened and we are led outside to stand in the cold dawn.  The Brute’s mate and another nearby are made to carry the body outside to a door in the far wall.  A carrier awaits and the body is dumped in the open back.  It leaves and the door is locked.

Perhaps I should describe these strange conveyances they call carriages (if equipped to carry people or carriers if for handling supplies.  Basically they could be compared to cars or pickup trucks of Old Earth except they use a directional anti-grav force field instead of wheels, are totally silent and are usually, not always, operated by remote control or pre-programmed to run a set course.  I cannot get near enough to one to study it and tell but I sense they are, again using Old Earth observations, of a very light alloy material that appears to be metallic.  They do not carry as much of a load as did the old polluters of Earth.  They also appear to be quite slow, at least the ones I’ve seen.  Maybe there are great roads somewhere and they move faster, or maybe they have some that can rise much higher above the landscape and run “as the crow flies.” 

So much I do not know, and so much I thought would be of no consequence to me may turn out to contain crucial knowledge in the future.  Expect the unexpected!  I must approach the other women, or perhaps if I see him again, seduce the doctor to talk to me and tell me of things beyond the obvious here.  A tall order that can get me killed and nothing gained, maybe, but I need to know more.  Despite the fear of the moment, my mind reels with thoughts around Malefactus’ strange mix of technology.  They seem to be a very primitive people, social mores and practices resembling those of medieval Old Earth. 

Yet their “castles” are equipped with auto-lifts and automatic doors, and draw-bridges weighing tens of tons operate on hydraulic energy run by computerized remotes.  They have laser weapons and sophisticated fabrics.  Also they seem to have endless time and energy to engage their depraved ways, apparently having no need to concern themselves with provision of food stuffs or materials for armour or weaponry, even though, technically they are a world constantly at war with the enemy, the Estáani.  I know that much of the labour is provided by a great river of slaves, not all of them women as my research had so emphatically indicated.  Many males slave as beasts of burden and castrated ones (eunuchs) look after young males and females in crèches and sorting wards.  Where do these male slaves come from?  How do they become slaves?

A light but painful flick of a whip on my buttocks shocks me out of my reverie.  We are told to return to our cages and clean them out.  We grab wooden pitchforks stacked in a barrel against the wall by our entrance and begin the task of raking and piling the old straw bedding which we roll into sheaves and carry to a rock pit where it is burned.  A fresh pile of straw is brought in, also by carrier, and we make fresh bedding in our cages.  After we wash and eat we are returned to our cages, locked in and the next row goes through the same procedure.  No one makes a sound and I have a deep sense of foreboding while this apparently normal effort proceeds.

After these chores are complete we are once more taken out, all of us together, and made to stand in a large circle around the steel post I’d spent a night chained to.  The young trainee who had wailed at the discovery of her friend’s death is dragged out from the group and chained to the post, her hands raised above her head and the wrist chain affixed to a hook.  She appears beyond petrified, wild eyed and mouth agape, beyond the power even to scream.  Two trainers throw ice cold water on her and two handlers proceed to flog her.  She is allowed the freedom of her legs, probably to make the flogging more interesting for the men. 

As she brings her legs up for instinctive protection the long whips wrap around them and as the handlers pull their whips free, her body slams against the post over and over, leaving their bloody marks on the thin white-skinned legs.  Now she screams and her cries are non-stop and beyond heart-rending.  Her blood splatters everywhere.  The terrible whips tear into her skin and rip it into shreds and finally she stops screaming, then stops moaning.  Only then do they quit.  When they see she no longer moves they leave her hanging there, her body shredded beyond recognition, her blood still dripping down onto the paving stones. 

Some dark energy beast inside me wants to pounce on these men and tear them apart as if I had fangs and claws.  I throw up and immediately two trainers come over to me and look me over.  Something stops them from administering the same treatment to me – what?  What protects me at that moment when they know my feelings towards them?  All I see beyond the totally irrational hate is an even deeper fear.  What kind of Power drives these men?

[end blog post #10]

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Forget Everything you know, or Think you know

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

I don’t make new year’s resolutions, that’s usually a given, but some years end in such a state, or condition, that they require some serious re-thinking.  For me that has meant two things: this would be a year of living frugally (yes, there’s always room to do some trimming, but it’s mostly about distancing myself from consumerism and banksterism) and of spending more time searching for better answers to the serious questions of life.

So I started with blogging by deciding I’d post an entire novel bit by bit, or blog post by blog post.  I’m not sure yet how many posts there are going to be, but my goal is to put one up ever two days. I thought that would be enough, not too much.

The reason to do this is less about the novel, more about a change of pace.  I’m going back to some of my original ‘teachings’ that warned me to eschew politics so you’ll see much less of that.  What I will probably do with those in-between days will be to post some ideas; some thoughts; on how the world of man (in particular) looks to me without being framed in politics, economics or religion. 

“Forget everything you know, or think you know,” is a good quote to start the way, followed by “Everything in the universe is created by our own mind. Our mind is the source of all phenomena. Form, sound, smell, taste, and tactile perception such as hot and cold, hard and soft—these are all creations of our mind. They do not exist as we usually think they do. Our consciousness is like an artist, painting every phenomenon into being. Once you have attained the state of the realm of no materiality, you will have succeeded. The realm of non materiality is the state in which we see that no phenomenon exists outside of our own mind.”

Do I agree with that? Not really, and it depends on which side of the great divide we are on, and even then, it depends on how we feel about it all.  When I was writing the novel, “The Antierra Manifesto” I was trancing much of it. I wasn’t so much putting a book together as I was remembering a slice of my own history. In other words, I was experiencing it knowing it was something I had been, and would be, involved in.  I was traveling back and forth from the future back into this present, aware that all of it was an aspect of me.

Now then, if everything in the universe is created by our own mind, who in her right mind would have ever created such a world as “Malefactus” (T’Sing Tarleyn)? Not me certainly.  Would such a place be attractive to some people? If yes, then here’s the interesting question: if I did not create such a hell, then somebody else did, either when my back was turned, or there was nothing I could do to prevent it at the time and having discovered it I’m stuck with it.

Here then is my conundrum: Does it matter that our mind is the source of all phenomena if it still manifests as one great big whole and each one of us is a puny helpless nothing in its midst, throwing our personal efforts in the works with as much effect as say, a gnat that crawled aboard a nuclear submarine will have on its guidance system?  

I see things that are glaringly wrong, but only so to me, and perhaps some victims of a particularly abusive system, but the problem is I am not the one who is creating the system and I cannot undo it. Point: it is most emphatically not in my mind!

So I’m told to enter into a state of immateriality where nothing exists outside of my own mind.  Oh sure, all well and good, but I’m still that same mind face to face with an abusive system.  I cannot take that system, bring it into my own mind and vanish it!

My conclusion at this point is that reaching a point of immateriality is only going to make materiality all the more poignant and strident because I will be observing it from a state of mind.  As a compassionate being I will be just as involved in the material inasmuch as I feel all of the life within it.  It will keep calling me back, whether I can do anything to help anyone, or just sit and cry… or laugh, or until I have learned how to return into the material and dance and die with it.  

This much I have learned.  If we choose to activate our compassion mode then we will live through infinity but it will not be to disappear from the material since that is after all what gives us the only reason we can come up with for existing as human beings. Our compassion will keep bringing us back to our material worlds but each time we will learn to approach them with greater, more meaningful joy and sorrow. 

When I was Nineteen

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~ ]

“When I was nineteen,” she said, “I thought about committing suicide.
Everything seemed cut and dried.  Art and music were fine, but could they
explain anything?  Could they tell me why I was alive or what the world was
all about?  I didn’t think so.  And ever since, I’ve lived a compromise: I
wouldn’t try to kill myself, because there was always a chance something
would happen to explain everything.”  (Songs of Earth and Power – Greg Bear)

It is the end of another year, my seventy-second year, which isn’t bad considering I’d set my “best before” termination year at fifty. It seemed reasonable at the time, what could I possibly accomplish of anything worthwhile past fifty in a society that worships (fake) youth and gobbles its world as if it is a melting chocolate ice cream?

“When I was nineteen,” she said, “I thought about committing suicide.” So did I, definitely, but my reasoning was much more pathetic: my lover dumped me. It wasn’t the first time and it certainly wouldn’t be the last, but each one brought its own degree of particular inescapable hurt.  It would be many years later, having survived (dig the maudlin self pity!) the many losses, that I realized these experiences in an otherwise sated and bloated consumerist society was how I manipulated reality to grow a bigger heart.

I began to sense that my personal pain was but one of endless extensions of this world’s pain. I began to look at ways I could use that sorrowful “me” to become a part of the rest; to make sorrow my bed partner. I learned to cry in the night and though the tears were mine, gradually they were no longer for me.

Unlike Greg Bear’s heroine in “Songs of Earth and Power” however, I did not hang around for the chance that something would happen to explain everything. I used my awareness as a key to that explanation. Since I am my awareness, my own mind, I would be the key that would open the door and allow the “something that would explain everything” to come into my life and claim me as its lover. Once more, I fell in love, this time with a very dangerous character, an actual terrorist, someone for whom there would be no secrets, the ultimate WikiLeaks.

If I desired to know, all I needed was ask and he took me upon secret paths, through mined fields, under electrified fences of razor wire, into secure, severely guarded places where explanations were taking place.  He made me listen in and I discovered that official secrets were constantly being made up with all seriousness.

The first time I saw this, I wanted to laugh out loud. Only my dangerous lover’s hand over my mouth saved me. We would leave those places, return to city traffic, lights, pedestrians, noises, smells and facades of endless body accomodations, find our own and talk through nights that became ever shorter.

“There is nothing new under the sun” he’d quote from Eclesiastes.

“But I still don’t understand” I protested. “How can there be secrets, then? How do we not know everything?”

“I will not lie to you. The truth is, there are no secrets. You’re a victim of gross mis-direction, all of the time. That is the System, how it controls you, makes you fear; makes you hope. Then it dashes your hopes, deliberately, and starts the whole thing all over again. Each time you are left drained, like losing a lover, and while you are in this heart-mind weakened state you are taken by something else, on the rebound. You don’t want to let go of that last thread of hope and the next lie weaves itself into your dying hope and pulls more out of you. This goes on until you die. Nothing is ever explained because there is nothing to explain – that’s the realization that made you want to laugh when in the vault of secrets: there are no secrets, just manufactured lies.”

“So, if I choose knowledge, what should I do?”

“Use your key. Use you. You are your own source of all the knowledge that exists; all you need do is free your mind. Trust your imagination and go along for the ride.”

“How will I know where I am going?”

“You won’t; you can’t. If you did, that would be another false path, another lie. Where is the freedom in following an already existing path? Obviously it wouldn’t be yours and if you can see it, someone designed it as a trap for you, to seduce you once again upon a way that isn’t yours and will prove disempowering and end in loss, again.”

“Why do the great teachers ask us to follow them? Their teachings?”

“Because they are lovers, not great teachers and their teachings are powerless to change anything.  Because they want you for themselves and have no intention of ever giving you anything of themselves.  Because they are liars.”

“So, no great teachers, and I know everything?”

“Yes, potentially. You need to trust yourself; believe in yourself. You need to realize you were meant to walk this path alone. In fact, there is no path, just endless choices, the best ones seemingly impossible but remember this: nothing is impossible.”

“What happens now?”

“Now I will leave you because you no longer need me. You are equipped to live your life as a self-empowered being. You not only possess the key to all knowledge, you are that key. Much of that knowledge does not pertain to this, your reality, so you must learn to choose wisely, what you keep in your pockets, in your pack, and what you leave behind for the time being.”

“I am scared to be so alone!”

“Fear is the mind killer. I will not fear, I will face my fear… do you remember that? You learned it because you already knew you would need it. Now is the time. You walk alone, you never look back, you never doubt yourself.  Goodbye, lover.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Novel – The Antierra Manifesto

I’ve decided to spend more of my time working on my novels and short stories, perhaps with a view to publishing eventually. I’ve held back long enough and who knows but some people may actually like to read these oft-mentioned “novels” never seen on the blog.  So from here on, until it is completely blogged, I will post two sections of “The Antierra Manifesto” per week right here, beginning today.  I’ll begin by posting an average of 4-5 pages in each post.

Since it is a novel, I break one of the blog rules and post as a copyright.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t copy and paste into your own computers to read at leisure, or to collect and read as one complete novel. In fact I would encourage you to do that as it will make more sense that way.

Fair warning: this is extreme adult content, with blatant sexuality and much violence, in fact the novel is about violence.  However, none of that is intended to titillate or to provide gratuitous pleasure.  The nature of the material will render point quite self-explanatory as you follow through.

The novel itself is the framework upon which hangs a philosophy I have pursued and studied over many years to do with explaining and exposing a particular type of unexplainable violence we are subject to on this world, are exposed to and often, are the perpetrators of same.  Someone had to look deeper and further than others have done, even with their “technical” research and their attendant degrees.  In this novel, I am daring to do that.

What hubris, you might say.  Perhaps, but hubris can have other uses than to gain power or enrich oneself therewith.  It can be turned into moral courage, daring to be called a fool and a charlatan.  Ideas are dangerous things which the system fears above all else and expressing strong ideas not vetted by the system or society in general can result in vociferous criticism.

I will close this introduction with an oft-repeated comment from one of my bosses at Coca Cola when asked how he felt about less than favourable media mentions regarding the company’s methods, involvements or products.  “All publicity is good publicity.”  I am not sure I agree with that but it’s one way of looking at it.  So, this is publicity.

Coming next: our feature presentation:

T’Sing Tarleyn

(The Antierra Manifesto)

© 2007-02-12    By Sha’Tara

Introduction

“I’m fascinated by concepts of other realities, other ways of doing things.  Nothing is fixed, nothing sacred, nothing metaphysically determined — it’s all contingent on process and evolution.  That’s perfect.  It means we might be able to understand, if we can just relax and shed our preconceptions.”(from Moving Mars – Greg Bear)

Note: I have chosen to capitalize the words “Earth,” “Galaxy” and “Universe” simply to indicate that from my perspective these are not just objects but very much living beings as you and me think of ourselves.  When you learn the truth of this you will find it much easier to relate to the greater concepts of nature or creation.  Your understanding and empathy will be greatly enhanced thereby.

My name, as you will discover herein is Al’Tara.  It is I, rather than my other-self or alter-ego An’Tierra (var. Antierra) who is addressing you now.  Although the story is mostly told in the first person by Antierra, it is I who caused the following to be recorded.  This was done not just to satisfy the needs of those who, of necessity, must keep records of Galactic history for posterity but in order to express to you, people of Earth, how much I have desired to help you see yourselves as part of our greater Galactic and Universal human movement among the stars.  It was, and remains, my hope these stories can help you take the jump, evolve, beyond your rather narrow-minded solitary human grouping that believes it is locked down upon a small planet ‘somewhere’ without any location corresponding to the rest of us.  A pseudo-human grouping which for the most part still thinks of itself as alone of its kind in the cosmos. (Exceptions from among your species, noted.)

Let me reiterate that over the millennia that I chose to interact with you as one of you, you gave me much even by how much you took from me.  You taught me to ‘love’ because you forced me to grind out the meaning of love from the manifold perversions of it I discovered on your world.  When I would ask you to define love as you understood it to mean, what did you give me?  If you went so far as to describe love as compassionate interaction with empathy, how often did your actions match your words?  I must tell you now that I spent many long and dark Earth nights crying over you and your world, for I could, even then, foresee what would happen as you short-sightedly and perversely continued to pursue your predatory mindset, exploiting every aspect of your world for short-lived profit or pleasure.  I remain convinced that even then you knew better but were not willing, as a species, as an intelligent and sentient collective, to take the low road of humility and self-sacrifice that would have freed you from the subsequent nightmares you brought upon yourselves.

The following story relates back to a time when I was among you and basically masqueraded as one of you so as to come to know you and attempt to understand what you are all about.  That time in your reckoning spans many of my lives on Earth – from millennia BCE to your 21st century CE or AD as some prefer to say.  I use the simpler indicator C-21.  The following story itself takes place some three hundred years into the future from that time.  I mention this here to help you get a start on the chronology of the following events.

It is difficult (for me) to engage this tale knowing how unreceptive you are to what you do not think you can ever understand and equally unresponsive to thoughts of alternate realities you do not believe are possible.  Knowing also that some will see this as just more workings of a dark mind experimenting with evil energies; as fictitious drama couched in a classical horror theme.  Everyone who reads the following will have a different reason for doing so, and likely a different reaction to it.  That is, of course, how it should be and it will not change how I feel about you in this ‘now’ time, my time, a time beyond the events in the following story.  Although I speak of my past, for you this remains one of your possible, if most likely, future.

However this is received, it must be told, if only to ease my longing to share something deep, terrible and in some latent way very beautiful, with you.  If you do read the following, keep in mind these things: these are events from my past, a past that remains concealed in your future.  The future I express need not be yours exactly as it is expressed, though from my viewpoint I know the outcome of these tales will greatly affect your world, regardless of which path your collective race chooses to take into its own future.  The future I express here is from another world, certainly, but one whose ways directly impact your own this very day – the day that finds you reading this material.

If you find what you read here unpleasant have the courage to look at your own history with the eyes of awareness and ponder your own experiences in that history.

Try to remember these very basic points:

— Your current history as seen mainly from the viewpoint of your media headlines, or what you call “infotainment”  and more recently, “fake news.”

— Your religious power groupings and frequent inquisitions to force individuals into specific group beliefs thus violating their inalienable freedom of choice.

— Your countless wars of conquest, exploitation and oppression which have been a permanent part of your history, continue to be so and will increase in scope in the foreseeable future (beyond C-21 and to the end of C-24).

— Your pogroms, purges and death camps against those who disagreed with you or were “unlucky” enough to be of a different Earthian race from yours.

— Your refugee camps created by power-mongering and systematic global injustice.

— Your male-dominated top-down religious, financial and political (social) systems that account all the powerless, of human and nature, as “resources” – meaning exploitable in some way or other.

Above all, remember if you can how many innocents died of preventable causes on your world of Earth while you did nothing to prevent it, either because you did not care or because you thought there was nothing you could do to change things.

A challenge by which you may determine how close you are to becoming truly human: remember how many times, and in how many ways, you personally and consciously opposed the above methods, risked your life to attempt making change or at the very least maintained a clear and present awareness in your heart of those made to suffer so the System and those who support it could extract profits, pleasures and power from this global oppression.

This is not a guilt trip.  All of us must walk that path of “remembrance” and deal with the memories thus awakened.  For it is a truism that all spiritual awakening is triggered from remembering the past, all of it, as far back as you have lives on or in these worlds.  Remembering is what frees you from the patterns of your past and allows you to continue on your path of spiritual and mental evolution, a path you chose aeons ago as did I, as did all of us or we would not be able to communicate at all.

Remember that as you read Antierra’s story which is one of my many personal histories in this Galaxy and sometimes beyond.  While you read it, think of it as your story, a vision that takes you into a future you have caused to be by how you express your life today.

What are myths, fantasies, futuristic science fiction, tales of heroes, of avatars, sorceresses and wizards but the bringing to the fore of that which “we do not speak of” in our lives?  Are we not all the heroes and villains of our own tales?  I offer the following to you as a challenge to the dawning of your greater human intellect, an intellect that as you will discover in your near future, knows no bounds, recognizes no imposed boundaries and can apply itself equally to the doing of evil or of good.

Together we are what is becoming ‘humanity’ and however we accept this truism, we are the ones who were custom designed from before time to travel time’s pathways and continue on beyond time, to replace the great gods we once worshipped as external to ourselves.  As we spread our “final frontier spacer wings” beyond the galaxy that gave us birth we become ISSA[1] beings.

We are now Source for that which calls itself New Life.  For lack of a better term, we are the creators of this time.  This is not something to take lightly, nor should it frighten us.  It is the inevitable effect of our mental and spiritual evolution.  We, collectively and individually, made ourselves into this.  There is no turning back for the ‘old farm’ (euphemism for what I will call Old Earth or “Túat Har” in my Altarian tongue) has been subdivided and become a city.  In the far-flung future just at the edge of my vision the city has become a space-faring seedship.  There is no more ploughing for ‘farm boy’ and no more fashion shows for ‘city girl.’  We outgrow our mindless toil and irresponsible foolishness.  We move on.  The Final Frontier beckons.  As far as those of us who have travelled into the far future, to the edge of the “13th Floor” we can only say it appears as if it always and ever beckons.

[1] ISSA: Acronym for Intelligent, Sentient, Self Aware

[end blog post #1]

The Accused

(I may have posted this story before, I cannot remember and it doesn’t matter, it’s a question of conscience, feelings, and a particular burning remembrance in my heart.)

The Accused

                                   [a short story from  ~ burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

A black hood is pulled over her head and tied around her neck.

She is propelled into the interrogation room down a flight of four cement steps to fall blindly against a metal table leg.

Grabbed from behind, she is roughly pulled up and her wrists shackled to a bar above her head.

Through the torn blouse and knee length skirt her flesh shows deep bruising and bloody cuts.

She hangs motionless .  Silent.

The interrogator’s voice is harsh, cutting,

“You are accused of treason.  How do you plead?”

No answer.

“You must answer me.”

No answer.

“Make her talk.”

Torture.  Moans.  Gagging.  A scream escapes the hooded prisoner’s lips.

“Stop!”

Silence, except for the prisoner’s halting breathing and low moans.

“Are you a traitor to the state?”

No answer.

“Again I ask: Are you a traitor?”

A sigh but no answer.

“Make her talk.”

More torture.  More screams.  No pleading for mercy.

They tie her ankles to keep her from kicking.
Blood drips down her legs and bare feet;
falls to pool on the cement floor that has accumulated same on many previous occasions.

“Stop!”

“You are accused of sedition against the State.  How do you plead?”

Short gasps, moaning.  No audible word.

“Answer me!”

A high-pitched moan, no verbal answer.

“Make her talk!”

Scream!  Scream!  Long, piercing blood-curdling scream… loud moan and silence.

“Stop!”

The interrogator stands up from his chair and walks around to face the woman.  He looks at her bleeding and shaking form for several seconds.  He unties the hood and pulls it from her head.

“Oh God, no! … NO!  This cannot be happening!”

“Father,”  whispers the girl through her broken face, “you assured me you never tortured prisoners.  I had to know if you were lying to me.  At least I am not dying in ignorance.  I forgive you…”

Her head drops forward.

“Get an ambulance here — now!  Unshackle her, lay her on the table, get blankets, get water, cloths, move!”

From the shadows the attending physician comes forward, checks the prisoner’s pulse and the severity of her wounds and pronounces a physician’s most dreaded words:  “She is dead sir.”

“La Danseuse”

*You’ve read it in English as “An Unending Story” and now I offer it in the original French. I know that some of you will probably appreciate it more in this format. *

UNE HISTOIRE D’AMOUR À L’INFINI
                  [de Sha’Tara]

Ecoutez-moi bien, je vais vous raconter une histoire à l’infini. Cest une histoire d’amour, bien sûr, mais c’est beacoup plus. C’est une histoire de vie sans fin.

Je l’ai vue un soir dans un cabaret. Elle dansait éperdument, apparament sans aucun souci. Je me suis assis aussi proche que possible du plancher de danse et, comme tous les autres homme dans cet établissement, je me suis laissé ensorceler par ses mouvements.

Comme elle était belle, je vous l’assure. Quand elle passait ses grands yeux bleus-verts sur moi, je voyais une forêt vierge et un grand océan qui s’étandait à l’infini comme le désir de mon coeur. Elle dansait avec une camarade, et finalement, seule. 

C’est alors que je prends mon courage et je m’invite à danser avec elle.

Elle m’accepte, et tout change: nous devenons amoureux. On vit ensemble après seulement un mois, et on ne peut s’imaginer vivre séparément. Tous les weekends, on va danser, elle aime tellement ça, la danse. “Je me sens si libre quand je danse.” Elle continue, naturellement, à attirer les hommes et elle danse librement avec ceux qui lui demande permission.

Suis-je jaloux? Certainement, c’est naturel, mais pas nécessaire. Après tout, elle m’aime. Elle n’a qu’à me le chuchoter dans l’oreille et je n’ai aucune raison de la douter. Elle est si bonne pour moi, et quand on marche tous les deux le soir, sous les lumières de notre ville, on est heureux, complètement.

Et puis le désastre: le cancer au genoux droit. Il faut qu’on lui enlève presque toute la jambe. Pour quelque temps, elle pleure. Puis elle accepte. “Je ne peux plus danser, je vais chanter,” elle me dit. Alors elle chante, dans notre apartement, dans la rue même, et puis elle fait du karaoke dans les cabarets. Et on s’aime, peut-être plus que jamais auparavant. Je l’adore cette fille, cette femme si incroyable.

Mais le cancer ne s’arrête pas. Elle perd un sein. Elle est dévastée pendant quelque temps et il n’y a plus de chansons. Mais un soir, elle me donne un de ses sourires  d’auparavant et demande que je la pousse dans sa chaise roulante dans la rue en      allant à notre restaurant favori. Alors que je pousse elle jase et fait des commentaires sur les couleurs, sur les sons, sur les craquements du trottoire qui font sauter la chaise roulante. Elle rit, et je trouve le courage de rire avec elle et pour ce moment la terreur du cancer nous laisse en paix. Elle mange comme un oiseau en ces jours. Elle maigrit toujours…

Finalement, le coup de grâce: cancer dans la gorge et elle perd sa voix et doit rester à l’hôpital.

Ce sont les derniers jours, j’en suis certain. Elle lève la main faiblement et j’approche mon oreille de sa bouche. Elle soupire et me chuchotte ceci: “Écoute-moi bien, mon cher Paul. Je te quitte mais je ne regrette bien. Je suis désolée, mais c’est seulement pour quelque temps. Pour nous, ce n’est pas finit. Écoute, tu n’e resteras pas seul.” 

Promets-moi que tu retourneras à notre cabaret. Là, attends encore la danseuse. Demande-lui si tu peux danser avec elle et quand elle sourit et te dis ‘oui’ danse, danse avec elle come un fou! Car tu vois, c’est moi qui sera là, dans son corps et dans son coeur. Je reviendrai, ne t’en fais pas, je ne te laisse que pour un moment.’ 

Et comme ça, elle est partie.

Vous voulez savoir comment elle finit, cette histoire? Vous voyez, je la croiyais complètement quand elle m’a dit qu’elle reviendrait. Je suis retourné à notre cabaret. Je me suis assis tout près du plancher de danse. J’ai pris une bière ou deux en attendant, jour après jour. Environ deux semaines d’attente et la danseuse est venue. 

Et tout a recommencé. 

The Tale of King Demarth

A short story,  by Sha’Tara

The old woman looked intently at the young girl at her knee as she sat by the smoldering fire of the hearth. Outside the wind blew and scraped branches against the stone of the cottage.

“Did I ever tell you the story of King Demarth of Ulmn?”

“No, you have not.”

“It is a very good story. Now I have to think for a minute or two, just to remember some of the details. You see, it’s an old story, handed down many generations in our family. So many generations…” she goes silent and sighs.

“Yes, now I can begin:

“Once upon a time, in a land far away there was a king called Demarth who lived in a mighty castle. He had many men-at-arms and over the years his father and he conquered the surrounding kingdoms and added them to their domain called Ulmn.

The king, therefore, becamd powerful and very rich. He was also a man who loved adventure. Often he’d go out into the countryside with only a couple of retainers, and sometimes he’d even go alone.

On one of his lonely rides one day he strayed farther than usual and found himself in a strange part of the land. He was no longer certain if this part belonged to his kingdom or not. As he pondered which way to go, his horse, a tall black war-horse, snorted and angled his ears forward toward what looked like an orchard. The king urged the horse forward and was suddenly hit in the head with a well-aimed green apple.

“Ho,” he cried. “Who is it dares to throw apples at the king?”

A young woman climbed down from a loaded apple tree and stared at the king and his horse. Then she slipped to her knees and bent her head.

“My lord – I thought thieves were in our land again. I have grievously offended you, take my life.”

The king bade her rise and he looked her over. She was indeed very beautiful, though dressed almost in rags and her red hair was unkempt and wild about her head.

“What is your name, girl?”

“Alnya” my lord, she replied.

“Do you have parents?” he asked her.

“My father was killed in the king’s wars before I was born. My mother lives in our cottage. I have two brothers much older than I. They work in the fields.”

“Take me to your mother, then – how far is it?”

“About a mile, my lord.”

He brought the great war horse near her, grabbed her and swept her in front of him on the horse. She gasped as they galloped to the cottage. Once there, the king asked for water, drank, then gave the peasant woman a purse filled with gold coins in exchange for her hospitality and her daughter to take back to the castle.

For you see the king had fallen madly in love with the beautiful and daring peasant girl and had decided to make her his bride. This he confided to her as they rode back to the castle beyond the great stone wall. She wept at the news but he did not understand nor did he enquire of the reason. Tears are affairs of women he’d been taught – best left alone.

I won’t bore you with the details of making this peasant girl into a courtesan, but she learned fast. She had her brothers brought to the castle to train for knighthood, and her mother came to live there as well. The farm was rented and kept in the family by the king’s law.

The gist of the story, my girl, is that Alnya had a lover before she met the king. She tried to forget him but one day he came even to the castle looking for her. They saw each other and she contrived to meet him. They swore love to each other and she promised to find a way to be reunited with him. Then she made him leave so that, should things turn sour, he would not be discovered. Despite their love, great was the fear in each of them.

Alnya decided to risk all. She went to the king and declared that she had a lover and wanted to return to him to be married to him, despite the certainty of poverty, or worse.

The king became very angry. You see, he too loved Alnya. And he had the power of his law to force her to marry him. He could even have the peasant lover thrown into his dungeons for life, or killed. He ordered Alnya away to her chambers and took his great horse out for a ride.

As he rode, he made a point of noticing everything that moved. The birds, animals and the people at their work or children at play. He stopped on a high, bare hill, dismounted and thought about his situation. His anger was abated now. He watched an eagle soaring high in the sky, then come down, lower and lower, suddenly swooping into tall grass and coming back up with a rodent in its talons.

How like that eagle I am, thought the mighty king. How easy it is for me, so high, to pounce down and just take what I want. Perhaps too easy. Perhaps I must suffer shame and defeat again, as I did when my wife the queen died in childbirth and I was left alone. Perhaps the happiness of others is of more importance to the mighty than their own. What is our purpose but to ensure the weaker are protected from injustice as well as from physical harm? How much the more from any injustice I myself would inflict upon them?

The great king mounted his horse and rode through the forest in silence, coming upon Alnya’s village. He enquired after a young apprentice smith he was interested in for the castle forge, so he said. He found the boy at the forge, working the bellows.

“Ah, my lord the king,” said the smith. “Please come in. Is there something wrong with your horse, a loose or missing shoe perhaps?”

“No my good man,” said the king. “I wish a word with your apprentice, Garthain.”

So the king walked a ways with Garthain, Alnya’s lover. Suddenly the king turned upon Garthain and pulling his long double handed knight’s sword from its diamond-studded sheath, said, “Kneel, knave, for you crave the king’s own betrothed and I must challenge you.”

Trembling, the young man kneeled. But he looked the king in the eyes and said, “I love Alnya. I always have. We were lovers when you took her away. You took my heart and desire to live when you took her then. So take that sword in your hand and strike me dead. May my head be the trophy you bring to her wedding bed.”

The king help up the sword and brought it down… gently upon Garthain’s shoulder.

“I knight thee in the name of God and the Kingdom. If it suits you now, find a horse and ride back with me to the castle. Indeed there will be a wedding this week, and indeed it will be that of the fair Alnya. But let it be said by all that she marries, not of duress or fear, but of love. When you are married, you may choose to live here in the village – with my blessings and gold for help, or you may join my knights at the castle, though I warn you it is a harsh life there.”

And so it came to pass that the king rose to be mighty and had peace in his land for as long as he lived. And though he did not have a love of his own, he had the love of an entire kingdom, to his dying day, and he was mourned greatly for he had been the best king anyone had ever known.

And thus, it was said long ago, should all the mighty behave towards those over whom they reign or rule.

And now this story is yours and in turn you must tell it to your children. Do not forget it, ever.