A short story by Sha`Tara, local writer and friend.
My Last Confession
[a short story – by Sha'Tara]
Consider this as my last confession to you, my friend.
Alex Cole (not his real name), known as Axle to his "underground" is (perhaps I should get out of denial just long enough to write "was" here) a free lance journalist, photographer, writer. He was well-known, but not now, and you won't find his website—he doesn't have one. "I have a serious problem," he said to me one day, "I am a conscience in a human body," and smiled that peculiar smile. Well, these are not the best of times to carry a conscience, are they, especially less so if your are handy with words in several languages and possess a flair for digital photography.
I "interviewed" Axle some time back, I won't say exactly when, certainly not where. He's very good at walking among us unseen, but still the sharks are always prowling and I would not want to make it easy for them should he still be among us. Me they can have. I'm the lucky one: my condition is terminal, so you might say I have little or nothing to lose.
I'm very tired right now, and I can't stay focused for very long so I won't drag this out. I just need to let you know, Father Takomo, what my friend Axle told me. You be the judge of the truth of it. At the very least you know that in my condition, and due to the faith I have diligently kept all these years since our time together in seminary, I am not lying to you: there would be no upside in it for me.
I had been looking for Axle for months when finally a member of his "underground" brought us together after verifying my credentials and my medical condition. We met, perhaps fittingly, in a dungeon in one of those old castles you find almost anywhere in Europe (only this wasn't in Europe, if you get my drift). We shared a couple of loaves of fresh bread and a bottle of red wine in memory of our parents who fought the Nazis in the Resistance and survived torture at the hands of Gestapo and SS sympathizers. He smiled a lot and seemed quite at peace with himself, with the world.
"Why did you quit?" I asked.
"Oh, you know. I couldn't get printed anywhere. My old employers have all sold out, some for the money and prestige, some just to keep their jobs and a few just to protect their families. What good would it have done to insist on handing them the truth? I'd be dead now. Lots of alternate Internet news blogs carry my stories under many different names and that's good enough. I have to think of Marilyn and Joseph." (Again, not real names.)
"Who?" I asked, knowing he had no family left in the world.
"My wife and her son. She's half my age and deserves a chance at some good life after what she went through. I rescued them from what can only be called a death camp in Central Asia. I can't have them connected to my history."
"I understand. But still, I'd like to have something of yours, you know, to take with me. We haven't crossed paths in over fifteen years. Apart from the people in your life now, what have you come across? You were always the one to literally fall into stories no one else seemed to be aware of. It was like some kind of sixth sense with you, to find the unexpected, and especially that which those in power desperately wanted kept hidden."
"There is something. You don't have to believe it, of course. But you know my reputation, so do with it as you see fit. If God, or whomever you believe in, gives you the extra days and you can write it up, go ahead. One condition, of course, you cannot tie it to me. Not even to one of my assumed names. Nor can this story have a particular, recognizable, location. Acceptable?"
"It will be difficult to convince anyone of the truth of it, but acceptable of course, should my energy hold long enough."
"That's fine. This is the story: three months and three days ago, I was out walking. Alone. Without revealing too much, I can say it was early morning and the fog was just lifting. It would be a cool but sunny day and I was going to enjoy myself. I came to one of those old places where people used to leave gifts, you know, a kind of shrine. I sat on the end of a worn stone bench and watched the fog thinning. As the sun pierced through the valley before me turned golden. I lost myself in the effect and began to remember.
"Why those particular events and scenes became obvious later on but not then. I remembered, with graphic vividness, times when I covered demonstrations against various and varied oppressive regimes and forces. I remembered the colors, chants, cries, songs and the thousands of bodies, mostly of younger people, women and children. I remembered the few times when such protests seemed successful, and the many times when it all ended up in what seemed to me pointless violence, bloodshed and even massacres. I remembered the bodies lying on the streets and the cries and screams of the wounded. That wasn't so long ago either, I thought to myself.
"Then something happened as I sat there. First, it seemed that I was walking among countless throngs of people in what seemed to be an endless city. People crowded everywhere, seeking enjoyment in public places, or entertainment in theaters, stadiums, arenas. Other crowds moved in and out of shopping centers and super stores, like slow moving current. I could see days and nights go by but the movement of human bodies was ceaseless. As many people moved in night time as in day time.
"I was still walking, but it was more like floating or flying. I could see the valley, then a town, a city, the sea, the ocean, the world. I saw roads and highways, but no cars on them. When I concentrated on looking at the cities, I could see the buildings were in terrible disrepair, many collapsed. There were people here and there, but by our standards, very few indeed. I even saw horse buggies and large carts made from truck boxes being pulled by oxen. Some of the towns I saw were burning, as were fields and forests. I saw scattered people running and thought I heard screams. The air was thick with choking smoke where the wind did not blow. I saw rivers filled with debris and sagging or crashed bridges. Bodies floated among the debris and the waters in the more stagnant places were a reddish brown—from mud or blood? I could not tell, but suspected.
"Then I was sitting on that stone bench again but no longer alone. A blond, blue-eyed, very tall and slim man was standing beside me. He did not sit down. I guessed his age at around forty. He seemed to me quite at home there, except for his hair which reached down to the middle of his back. And he wore a strikingly bright white shirt with puffy sleeves, and satiny black pants resembling tights. And he was barefoot.
"While surveying the valley below and without turning to me he spoke in a deep baritone voice, wasting no words in pleasantries. His words, here, verbatim."
'Most of the people you have encountered in your short life will be dead before you are. The crowds you saw in the vision will be decimated very soon. I thought you'd like to get confirmation of your suspicions. Yes, friend, there is an intelligence that guides the destiny of this world, as there is of a great number of worlds where the resident sentient life does not take responsibility for itself or for its world. This planet's resident guiding intelligence is of the kind you would label psychopathic. I speak of that force variously labeled as Satan, the Devil, the Power of Darkness and more recently, the System. Emotion-filled terms, certainly, but with a great deal of truth to them.
'Well, you know the history of your world as well as any, more than most, so I won't go into redundant details. Because they are tuned to the guiding Force of this world, your people are, by nature, sociopathic, despite all the claims to the contrary—and there are many such claims. They have never learned to get along with one another. Your race is, to us, the very worst example of any predator that we know: it does not know restraint and is bent on using up all the resources of its only world in order to please and sate its innate desires, which are bluntly put, utterly evil. And that of course, spells the end, any way you cut it.
'The main problem with your race is its refusal to take individual responsibility for itself, and for that which it has deceived, overrun, captured and taken power over. It possesses, and is driven by, an insatiable greed and an equally unquenchable lust. Those vices have rendered it quite mindless.
'So the cumulative effects of that greed, lust, and accompanying lack of empathy are about to cusp. Oh, perhaps not today, or even this year, or even in ten years. But this is Earth time, not our time. To us, one of your "years" would not amount to even one of our "minutes" – that is if we measured time, which we need not do. So, in actual fact, the demise of your race is imminent and your leaders, from their places of power and control, are leading the crazy race (take that both ways) to extinction. Their madness is driving them and you, to self-destruction.
'But fear not, it will not be an extinction but a serious culling. During the following few hundreds of your little years, through great suffering and tribulation, your best minds with the strongest bodies will survive and slowly move to the fore. They will draw others of like mind and heart to themselves, though they will refuse to be considered as leaders. They will form partnerships, not only with their own kind, but with remaining life-forms on the planet. The horror of their sufferings will teach them empathy and they will speak in ways that animals, birds, fish and plants can understand and share in accumulated wisdom. The wall of separation between humans and other life will be broken down in those times.
'Oh, and there is more. We will then return to this world; we who created it with its original sentience. Not in force, mind you, and not to control, but to guide and help. We will provide some technology, but nothing resembling what you have now. This technology will be as alive as you and I and will not be subject to use and abuse, nor to tampering. It will serve you of its own free will and you will understand fully that your part will be to serve "it" and help it grow in self-realization. So your race will become a teaching race. We will help you in your remembrances of all the terrible things you did which resulted in all the terrible things that sought to destroy you. The more advanced among you in those days will be as angels upon this world. They will heal until all the hurt is gone, and they will encourage all."
I wanted desperately to ask one question: what happens to this evil guiding force that now rules and ruins this world? ... but he touched the top of my head with his open palm, said "Remember" and vanished.
"I don't know who he was, or should I say "is" because I believe this being to be of those eternals we have long believed in and hoped to encounter. But what I do know, my friend, is that his words rang true , true r than any words or even any natural sounds my ears have ever recorded. That is what I would convey to you: the truth of those words. We are in for rough times ahead and it will seem that all is lost for us all, but we will (some will) come through the tribulations and the testing and we shall carry on, the better after our current madness is expunged from our hearts."
After that brief meeting we parted, and I knew we would not see each other again in this life.
I know you have an open mind on many subjects, Father Takomo, but as I said, this is a confession, though I cannot ask for forgiveness, because I believe Axle. His words entered my heart/mind as if they were the very words of God himself. His truth is now my truth, and if I come across as having accepted some terrible heresy, then so be it. Further to this Father, to put more nails in my coffin, I also know beyond a doubt that I shall return to this world in the not too distant future and I shall participate in that rebuilding Axle's vision spoke of. How do I know this with such certainty? It isn't faith, Father, but a coming face to face, mind to mind, with Truth. It is not something I need to believe in, it is something I cannot help believing and accepting.
Truth, Father, is like the universal solvent. It goes on eating and eating all that is not of Itself. And in this eating of what is not Truth, I become the observer of its mining effects upon my surroundings. Here is one more observation: that Alex Cole was never one of us, but one of "Them"—of those who will return. The vision he saw, the being who revealed the future to him, was himself on another plane of awareness. And I think that he realized this before he spoke to me, but his innate humility kept him from just saying it. To know the Truth is to be set free, and Father, I feel more free at this moment than I have ever felt. I feel that I am entering the state known to mystics as that of ecstasy.
Your friend (if you allow that I still call myself such)