Chapter VII: Vestiges

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There is no need, and yet we began to walk.  It seems appropriate after such a heavy debate, to move while the mind tries to resettle.  Only, for each step that I take, the canvas around us fills with those echoes of my past lives, painted in bleeding watercolors that fade quickly in our wake.  Their voices as subtle as a light breeze.  I can’t sort out the way in which the compilation of new discoveries have shaken me.  And my companion’s choice words, seems too scientific an approach, too detached to believe that some ‘thing’ had simply imagined us into existence.

“It’s the root of every creation theory,” He remarks.  “Can gods be classified as human?  Every pantheon claims to have gods wielding the same kind of power, drawing on nothing more than their ability to create in order to bring whatever they desire or need into existence. What is so scientific about that?”

“I keep seeing the end of the movie, Men in Black, when the aliens are playing a round of Boss Out and our galaxy is nothing more than the space contained inside of a single marble.  Small.  Insignificant and completely at the mercy of a game that is thirty-percent skill and seventy-percent chance!  Expendable,” I try to explain, no longer crying with tears, but with the devastating fear of it being possible.  “It’s too horrible.”

My companion shakes his head.  “You’ve misunderstood it.”

Yet, he doesn’t elaborate.  At least, not then.

The emptiness before us takes on shapes, colors and a lot of depth.  The unexpected change causes us to stop, and our next expulsions of breath emerge as white puffs of steam in the freezing, night air that cannot touch us.  We’re on the shoulder of a wide, muddy road running horizontally across our path to disappear around a sharp corner to the left.  To the right, it vanishes in a switchback too distant to see.  Car and truck tracks.  Wheels, horses and possibly caribou have made the crisscrossing patterns of ruts where the slush ices over dank mud too wet to be fertile, too black to be just earth.

All behind us, a small village spreads far and wide to the main crossroads, where a wolf killed a boy once out of self-defense and another boy began to see the underlying hypocrisies of humanity.  But my eyes have remained fixated ahead.  I stare, like a child come face-to-face with the monster under her bed, into the intensely dark shadows of the ancient forest resting along the snowy embankment lining the opposite side of the road.  I can almost hear the faint, deep whispers of growls, see the lingering glint of reflective eyes.

Suddenly, I shake my head and take a step back, crunching snow, our surroundings becoming too real.  “We can’t be here!”

“You brought us here,” My companion points out soberly.  “The questions is, why?”

“I don’t know.  I don’t even know how it’s possible, but this isn’t a place for life!” I stammer, peering all around now.  “For contemplating miraculous creation!  This is the birthplace of fairytales so dark they would make Jacob and Wilhelm piss their pants.  This is her territory.”

“Baba yaga.”

“Don’t say her name!” I choke on the freezing air, my gaze whirling, almost expecting to see the nightmarish woman emerging from the dark silence.  “There’s a reason why she was never included to begin with.”

“There should be wolves,” My companion notes calmly, and for the first time I wonder if he is the product of any kind of heaven at all, or from some kind of hell, plucking the knowledge from my thoughts to taunt me with.

“They’re gone,” I whisper.  “The house is empty.  Even the Brownies have left.”

My thoughts provide the proof, transporting us into the depths of a thousand year old forest, before the abandoned house with its tempting charm.  The windows have gone dark, edged in frost.  No smoke rises from the chimney to beckon the innocent passerby.  It’s just an old French cottage stuck in the Slavic wilderness now, with no hope of escaping.

“You’re still looking for the path you feel is right,” My companion comments.  “Are you trying to get to where you gathered all of the gods together?”

“No,” I answer softly, thinking on that place with the kind of love that almost feels obligated to murder it, because of it, as if that’s some kind of mercy.  “I don’t know why we’re here.  This was one of my darkest creations.  These warped tales of myths, lore and histories better left alone.”

“The Red still waits inside.”

Turning, I use my hands to hide my eyes from these vestiges of things clinging too tightly to my bones.  These things from a life that had just ended, or had yet to end, or was still waiting to begin.  I knew nothing anymore.  I was beginning to wonder if I ever had.  Yet these things born from my own blood and brains only seemed to add weight to my companion’s theories.  That things created remain in existence until everything finally ends.

“Created with purpose,” And his words carry through a Russia that is not any actual Russia, but a lifeless country immortalized only because it had been so horribly painful, exhausting and terrifying to write.

“I never should have created this place.  Or the place the Red waits to take its next victim,” I state passionately.  “Maybe, we never should have been created, either.  Not to this end.  Not to be the incessant ghosts haunting our creator for all eternity.”

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