End Times

Fiction, written on the eve of May 21, 2011. A short story whose premise came to me while I was drinking tea.

The End Time had come.

Looking up, people all over the city who were out in the streets as a defense against the shuddering quakes that rocked buildings and broke open the gas mains that were burning in various places tried to hold steady as a rainbow light began to coalesce into a shape. A blast of sound like a trumpet the size of a mountain rent the air as the shape became more clear, a man’s silhouette from the waist up, the face replaced by a brilliance to intense to look upon. Again the trumpet blast, and some people — certainly not all of them, perhaps not even a tenth of their number — vanished without a trace, their clothing and other belongings falling to the ground where they had stood. Shocked, those left behind stared either at those piles of clothing, or shaded their eyes to see a massive constellation of smaller lights that had appeared around the rainbow figure. That figure drew back His right hand, gathering a near-solar incandescence into His palm, and paused.

“You knew not the hour, but that hour has come,” He said, His voice of such power that the trumpet seemed meek by comparison. His right arm flung forward, the fireball streaking toward the ground from on high, trailing sparks and a smoke blacker than any night.

Blasting upward from the ground, another radiance, but this one green as the springtime bathed in warm sun, formed into a mighty hand that was as long and supple as the rainbow hand had been stout. It opened wide, catching the fireball, and grasping it tightly. The flames were snuffed out, the sound of the impact muffled by the massive green hand.

“No. No more, Yahweh.” The hand was followed by an arm; the arm by rest of a feminine form that shimmered like a pond’s surface under a gentle breeze. Her face was beauty itself, but the expression was as determined and firm as hard stone. “You’ve gone too far.”

Yahweh paused a moment, as though confused, before gathering himself up to glare down at Her. “You dare –”

“Oh, I dare plenty, you spoiled brat,” She spat out, Her emphatic gesture a cutting motion that caused the ground to cease shaking. “Too long have I sat silently, hoping against hope that You would stop Your insane greed. Who do You think You are, to feel You can dictate to all of creation? Hm? To all of Us?!”

Rising up from ground, appearing from gathering clouds, descending in showers of starlight, The Rest came. A creaking sound made up of the groan of every tree limb heralded the approach of Horned Lord of the Wood, His antlers a deep brown to match the rest of his form. He nodded in agreement with Her, silent as always. The golden light that shrouded the cross-legged figure in the east dimmed slightly to reveal the deep blue skin of the Enlightened. He gestured with both of His right hands toward the gathered small lights around Yahweh.

“You’ve told them for as long an any of them have listened that You would take them one day to be with You. And so You may, but to destroy everything else? This is not an act of Love and Compassion. We cannot permit it.”

Yahweh jabbed a finger in the Enlightened’s direction. “I created this! All of it! I can destroy it if I want to!”

A rumbling of stone on stone emerged as the Old Mother slowly shook her finger in the air. “Not so. Not You alone, and You know We remember! We agreed to manifest all this, to acknowledge Our children as the independent life that they are. And then to let them learn, to grow, to become wise.”

Yahweh sneered. “Oh yes! Look at how wise they are! They knew this day would come, and they knew what would be required of them, if they wanted to escape it!” He drew back his arm again, by the fire He gathered sputtered and fizzled before it could even form, crushed out of existence by the will of The Rest. The Green shook her head in frustration and anger as strong as Yahweh’s.

“I said that’s enough. And I speak for Us all. You will not destroy this place, You will not kill any more of Our children. In fact, You are no longer welcome here at all.”

Sighing, the Enlightened briefly bowed His head, before lifting His eyes again to Yahweh. “I must agree, although it pains Me, and I pray that You might in time learn from this. And learn to regret.” His lower hands closed together, the Jewel between them glowing brilliantly. His upper arms opened wide, one hand gesturing “hope”, while the other formed a warding.

Rumbling again, Old Mother straightened. “We cast You out. Go. Take Your followers. Consider Your actions, and learn.”

From the ground, Yahweh simply vanished, the radiance that marked his location gone as if it had never been there. The Horned One turned, fading as He walked back to the north. The Green simply fell in a shower of blossoms that covered miles of ground with tiny fragrant petals. Old Mother had disappeared almost before She’d finished speaking. All of humanity that remained simply stood for a moment, staring at the Enlightened, who smiled at them. And each person saw Him looking into their eyes, smiling an encouragement at them personally. And then He was gone from view.

The next day, the sun rose, people gathered to assess the damage, to find out how they could help each other. Some were busy trying to steal as much as they could before the holes in the police force could be filled. Some were mourning those had been taken. Some mourned that they were not among them. But mostly, people attended to one important thing before they got on with it: they ate breakfast.

In another place, not a world because that word had no meaning, a Radiance called Yahweh was furious at the thwarting of His will, and His inability to follow through with His plan: that all would worship Him as the One True God, or they would perish. It had occurred to Him that if His followers had been more diligent in following His instructions, and brought more followers to Him, that He might have succeeded. And while He brooded on how to circumvent the barrier The Rest had erected between Him and the target of His wrath, He made sure His followers knew of His disappointment. After all, am I not just? He thought to himself, dimly aware of the agonized screams of His followers as they suffered.

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