Genesis (A Prologue)
Genesis (A Prologue)
There is a fire burning in the center of the universe, one that creates life and destroys it at the same time by merely existing. It is this fire that Sara Todd thinks of as she stares into the night sky, feeling such despair that it has decimated her desire to ever move again. She lays on the grass in a plaid skirt, torn panty-hose clinging tightly to her skin. There are holes ripped open in both the leggings and her flesh from running through a thicket full of thorny bushes. That had been a bad idea. In some way the pain of her newly opened flesh distracts her mind from the deeper pain that haunts her tonight as she stares out into the vacuum.
He used her. The preacher’s son. He had pretended to love her, although their love would never be approved of in the middle of the Bible belt, where all girls who dress like her are called whores behind her back when not to her face. She considers herself to be a “punk” but whore works just fine for most of the adult women in the neighborhood. She doesn’t dress like the proper young women around town, and when the chatty she-bitches at Woodlake Central Baptist Church caught Joseph Walton making eyes at her during his father’s sermon two weeks ago, the pressure had really been turned up. Nevertheless, Joseph’s devotion had not been swayed. She knows why now. He still wanted to fuck her. Now that that’s over, and it was over just around thirty-two minutes ago (it had started around thirty-four minutes ago), he had made sure to tell her to hit the road.
“Get lost, you whore,” he had said to her with cold calculation. She could tell by the hatred in his voice that he had thought long and hard about this moment. His sex had been quite aggressive and rude. She had not protested, but merely bit her lip and took it. It hadn’t lasted long. She suspects now that he really was a virgin, just as he had told her he was. He was her third boy. Who had taught him to treat women who are kind enough to allow him to make love to them as he had treated her, she cannot say. Perhaps it was his father, the insane fundamentalist Baptist preacher, Norton Walton. She hates him. She always has hated him.
She’s not much of a church girl. The only reason she’s ever gone to church was because of Joseph. They had “fallen in love” well over a year ago, when she had finally had the nerve to approach him. He seemed very interested in her, as she had always suspected but never had the self-confidence to truly believe. A lack of self-confidence was a quality that Joseph possessed as well, in spite of his youthful handsomeness. His low self-esteem is a problem that he seems to desire to resolve by taking confidence from women who make themselves vulnerable to him. Yes, Sara was likely his first, and the first woman he ever disrespected in such a way. He had seemed so eager to do it, so thrilled. Almost as if the degradation after the orgasm was more important than the orgasm itself, or perhaps even a part of the orgasmic experience. What would his sickness evolve into? She’s glad for one thing. She won’t have to find out.
It’s the cold that finally gets her moving. It takes a few moments of hopeless sulking and self-pity, but she finally pulls herself up, desiring to lessen her agony if at all possible. She makes her way across the field that has been cradling her, beneath the stars that have transfixed her. Even as she runs toward home she stares up at them, watching them blink connecting the dots to form the constellations with her mind. When she reaches her bedroom window, it is with some sadness that she leaves behind the night sky, although she is not so sad about leaving behind the chilly air.
She resumes her previous position by lying on the rug in the middle of her bedroom floor without bothering to turn on the light. There are cheap glow-in-the-dark stars puttied onto the ceiling. They have been there ever since she was a baby and her parents put them there for her to drift off to sleep under when she was merely a baby. They’re asleep now. They don’t care when she comes in or what she does. If she were to not come back in the morning, there would be some initial concern, followed by some waiting, some debating, a little more waiting, and then perhaps an embarrassed call to the police. It’s not that they have serious issues. Everyone has those. But they aren’t alcoholics or drug addicts. They just don’t care. They barely even care for each other. It’s as though something has eaten them. They pretend it’s in the name of freedom that they allow their daughter such lack of consequence for her risky behaviors. Sara is not stupid. She knows it’s really all done for the sake of apathy. They wouldn’t even care that she just had sex with the preacher’s son, who called her a whore immediately afterward.
She wonders if he’ll tell anyone what happened. She doubts it. His father would kill him, and word gets around fast in this shit-hole of a town. Woodlake, Kansas is where she has always lived, and she hates knowing that her entire personality is nothing more than a reaction to this horrible reality. She feels around to her right and - success! - clutches the remote on the floor, which is just beneath the edge of her bed. She aims it at the stereo and hits power, then hits play to the first CD in the disc changer.
She turns to where her body is facing the stereo, then lies on her side, her eyes searching for the red light emitted by the stereo. Tears begin to roll down her face as she painfully remembers her time with Joseph. It feels strange to her, to know that less than an hour ago things had seemed so different. She had seemed so safe with him. She had known tonight would be the night. With the other boys, it had been up to her as well. All had seemed so perfectly under control. But now her angel had turned into a demon, he had frightened her, humiliated her. He had used her up and thrown her away. A receptacle for his seed. She wants to vomit just thinking about it.
How long had he been planning on this? She tries to understand how he could be this way. How can anyone be this way? It makes no sense. What is the purpose of such hatred, such degradation? How do people come to desire inflicting such darkness on others? It would be one thing if she had gone into the relationship knowing he was that way, if she was dumb enough to want to be abused. But it hadn’t been that way. He had been one way for one second, and another way the next. Things had gone from white to black when she had done the one thing that she thought would be most beautiful between them. Her love had been greeted with hate. In some ways it reinforces her pain about the world, and in other ways it is new and impossible to understand. This is a new kind of pain.
And now she is choking.
She props herself up on her right elbow, still staring silently, and closes her eyes. The music begins to creep into her blood, releasing some of her thoughts and freeing up her mind to be aware of something else. The singer approaches a crescendo and the music stops for a moment as she begins to really listen to it, trying to take her mind off of tonight’s horror.
“So I will raise you up,” the voice promises from the speakers, sucking her in and hypnotizing her.
“before the stones
and the arrows
and the crosses they would nail you to”
The phone begins to ring to her left.
“And the evil in the words they say!”
She does not answer, focusing solely on the music.
“And the laws they write but don’t obey!”
The hateful thing rings, relentless, and finally she picks it up, the music still playing in the background and her mind more focused on it than on any answer coming through on the other end of the line. “Hello?”
“And the mirrors they never dare look through,”
“Hello!?” she repeats angrily, choking on tears. “I’m so sorry...” Joseph’s voice whispers back to her, but in it she hears mockery.
“And the lies they try to sell to me and you!”
She hangs up the phone, the knot in her throat about to unravel, and tears stream down her face. She refuses to let herself cry at his lies, his excuses. She rips the phone cradle from the wall and tosses it to the carpeted floor. Holding back screams of anger and sorrow, she falls to her knees, bites her lip, and lets the sweet taste of metal invade her senses.
The pain causes a bolt of energy to explode inside of her, and she shrieks and grabs at the phone, throwing it at the stereo, hitting the power button and shutting it off as she does so. She doesn’t care about waking up her parents. She knows they won’t come, no matter how loud she is. They aren’t concerned. Now there is no more sound. The lights are off. She feels her head pounding, her tooth begins to ache. Everything feels strange and she tumbles to the rug she was lying on previously. She feels every fabric of the carpet pressing into her skin, she can smell the shampoo from the last time it was washed. “Eugh…” she moans. She doesn’t feel good. The darkness seems to increase, she feels her stomach heaving. She dry heaves, but does not vomit.
She is either dead or dying or dreaming, neither of the three burdening her. Her life has toppled down all around her and the bricks have landed far too close for comfort. She is happy to be isolated in her loneliness and strange pain now. Somehow, in spite of the pulsing agony, she sleeps. And then she dreams.
“Hello, my love,” a man says, and there is odd laughter in his voice. Sara looks up. She is still in her apartment, but something is illuminating the room. A dim light is glowing around a man relaxing on her couch. His long hair is tied back into a ponytail, sandy blonde, and the irises of his eyes seem to be silver. He is the most beautiful thing that Sara has ever seen. Something about his face looks familiar, it is a face she has seen in innumerable paintings.
“Who - who are you?” she whispers, almost unable to make herself audible in the presence of this stranger. “Are you… are you Jesus?” She is hit with an ugly thought: she, her disgusting, whimpering, sobbing self, shares this room with a perfect angel.
“Those who know me too well call me many names, little girl. As for what you can call me? I suppose that, for now, you can call me Abedin. That is what others have called me, as of late. I have other names which you might be more familiar with, but perhaps it would be better for us to get on with it.”
“But... w-who are you? Why are you here?” she begs, pleads. “I can’t blame you for not knowing. I’m merely an opportunist, lovely one. As in, I don’t let one pass me by. I’ve merely come for… tacit consent.” Sarah is incredulous and stares at the dream-man for a moment. “I… I don’t know what tacit means…” Abedin smiles. “Good, good,” he says. “Well, you’re going to get your vengeance on your little boyfriend.” She ponders the strangeness of this dream, noting she has never had another like it in her life. “How?” she asks the strange dream man. “You’re pregnant,” he says. “That’s vengeance enough, isn’t it?” “I’m not pregnant.” Abedin grins widely (and somewhat creepily). “You are,” he says. “But if the good preacher‘s son denies his responsibilities, you can always claim it was an immaculate conception.” “I’m also not a virgin,” says Sarah. Abedin shakes his head. “It doesn’t really matter. The details are irrelevant, although I can assure you that they have all been accounted for.” “What do you want?” she interrupts. Her awe at the glory of this being is starting to give way to paranoid fear. Perhaps this strange one is a demon, it certainly isn’t talking like an angel.
“Demons and angels are the same thing,” it says, responding to her thoughts. “But if you must know, I am neither. I hate fundamentalists of all sorts. In fact, I exist to destroy them. This is my purpose here today.” “I don’t understand,” responds Sara. “This is a dream. It feels like a dream. It looks like a dream. You can’t be here, the only explanation is that it is a dream.” “You’re wrong,” he says casually. “This isn’t a dream. At least not a human one.” He smiles again. Sara’s paranoid fear begins to give way into sheer panic. She manages to restrain herself, although only barely. “You’re lying. I’m asleep, this is a dream, it’s a dream -” He silences her with a wave of his hand and ignores her statement. “Which is why I’ve come to speak with you today. Tonight. Whenever the hell this is - the way I see things, there’s not always a whenever to rely on. If that makes any sense to you, Sara.” It doesn’t.
She gets to her feet, a frown creased across her face. The panic is still back there in her head, waiting to find an escape route. “Who are you really?” she questions cautiously, the knot in her throat tightening painfully. “I’ve already told you, Sara,” he says mockingly. “You can call me Abedin.” “I don’t CARE what I can call you!” she shrieks, her fear transforming into rage from her pent up frustrations, that alchemical fury barging through her vessel into the aetherial air of the dream. “Who are you?!” she demands of the spirit. No more lies, she thinks, no more masks to hide behind. “Look, girl, I know why you’re being so foolish right now, and I can still forgive you, but you would be best to calm yourself before I’m forced to do it for you. We have something to talk about. It will not take very long.”
She walks to the couch to sit down, but he holds up his hand in protest. “Turn around. I want to see your eyes,” he commands. She turns around.
“This world is useless to you, darling. You know that both love and caring are fiction now. You were born knowing that. You are different, Sara. You are born in a world with Love in your heart, and you think that all others have Love in their hearts as well because that is the weakness of Love. It is in thinking others possess it inherently. They don’t. You are as a ripened fruit, Sara. It has taken many generations for your loathsome people to produce a spirit like yours. There are others like you, and they are all of use to me. But I see things, and I know that none of them will be as useful as you will be, Sara. You are so special. You must keep the child, Sara. God has use of you, and of it.” She stares forward, lost in his words, then leans her face into her palms and lets another sob escape, wants to let it all flood out. “I am here to prevent what would have happened had I not come.” “You said you needed my consent,” she reminds me. “What am I consenting to?” “You are merely consenting to your usefulness.” “But I don’t understand… Why is my baby important” she sobs. He smiles. “Then you do know the meaning of tacit.
She begins to cry, wanting to escape this ridiculous dream even more than she had wanted to escape her horrible waking life.
“Lift your head. I need to see your eyes.” She lifts it. He smiles in satisfaction. “Then the decision is made. I can see you will keep it.” There is something strange about this spirit. Although he seems to be telling her to keep a child - a child which she probably would have aborted, if only out of utter shame and humiliation - she senses extreme contempt coming from him. “Those who trust me receive amazing benefits, you know. I can make you live forever. I can make you happy dear, if that’s what you want. Why, if the urge so took me, I could make you love me.”
She begins to cry, looking away from him. He doesn’t seem to care anymore, no longer concerned with her eyes. “Your boy will be so special, lovely one. So important. Life as we know it, extending far beyond humanity, is in your little clay hands. You can decide what becomes of it. We’ve reached a crucial point in time. Time goes on, but the seasons are turning. The Tree of Life is withering. It is the Autumn of your world, Sara. Soon the leaves on the tree of this planet shall corrupt and fall from it’s branches. Your son will help bring that about. He will be a great man. He shall test your world to destruction or success. Should your race fail, humanity’s corpse will be the fertilizer that a greater life will grow from. The second stage of life - a life of which you nor I can even imagine - begins here.”
Sara gapes, her eyes heavy and shocked. “Humanity is going to wither and die then... like a flower...” she whispers. “Perhaps. Perhaps not. That is not for me to decide. I am merely here to set things in motion. As I am not human, I have no say in humanity’s final outcome. It’s likely man will perish in the Fall. But everything dies. It is a fact of life.”
“But...” she starts. He stares silently, then breaks the mounting tension. “Yes?” he questions. “Maybe everyone should die. Maybe that’s nature. Maybe I should just… kill myself.” Abedin frowns. “Your ‘God’ regulates nature. The very fate of humanity is in your hands and your ‘God’ is hoping that you let nature follow it’s course. Your ‘God’ is hoping that you let the living, your brothers and sisters, die. The natural order of things always ends in death. Your ‘God’ is not a fair creature, as your history will dictate. At least that’s one way of looking at it. A more appropriate way of looking at it would be to say that you have no idea what ‘God’ is and thus you should not presume to speak on it’s behalf.”
Silence deafens the room and makes it hard to concentrate.
“The fate of Life as we knot it rests in your hands, child. The universe is yours to save; be it’s savior. I will not crucify you, my love. I will not string you up on a cross, humiliate you, allow the blasphemers and evil-doers to spit and mock. Not as the false God you are still afraid of did to his own child. I will love you. I do love you. You will be a star in the night sky, Sara. A light in the darkness.”
And she responds: “Yes.”
In the darkness, Abedin smiles.