Tag Archives: desert

DROUGHT the DESERT 099-100

The DroughtThe Desert

The following is a short story that preludes a series of novels entitled HIGHSIX:

Master Grabe never cared for Tinn. The boy paid his lectures no attention, instead using the course book to conceal alternate study. Grabe would let him, though. His students weren’t slaves. If they wanted to learn, they would. If they didn’t it was between them and The God of Tongue. As the youngest Master in the Hall of Tongue, he was alone in this practice.

Tinn’s hair was orange and over the school year it grew until it hung over his face and around his head like a mushroom. The boy’s hygiene was bad, which Grabe was able to perceive from the empty seats around him.

While Tinn paid no attention, he did pass his oral exams flawlessly and his lecture on the similarities between ‘The Secondary Gods’ was inspired, though it infuriated the more devout students who called him blasphemous for comparing Mamoth and Jokkol to Xzicxy.

Grabe never pictured Tinn becoming an excommunicate, but it made sense.

Supposedly, Tinn was worshipping The God of Teeth. Acknowledgement of the other gods of The High SIX was not forbidden, but actual worship was dangerous, especially worship to arguably the most dangerous of the SIX.

Any books that documented or mapped the dangerous Orange Lands were mysteriously absent from the library shelves. Other books not completely dedicated to the Orange God, but with at least sections dedicated to him were missing those pages. Every copy of ‘The Short Lives of Jokkol’ was gone as well as field journals documenting the mostly ruined country to the southwest of Center City. Other books that depicted illustrations of Jokkol were defaced with crowns atop his head. Most damning though was the phrase ‘SEVILLIVES’ he had scratched in to the margins.

That same phrase was what Tinn’s bunking mates claimed he spoke in his sleep. Over and again they woke Tinn from muttering unintelligibly. Each time he sat up and spoke the words, eyes still closed, saying, “SEVILLIVES, SEVILLIVES, SEVILLIVES, SEVILLIVES.”

The worship of The God of Teeth could not be tolerated. Master Grabe knew already the boy would lose an eye and undergo deprogramming with Master Tyliss. Grabe didn’t like to even look at Tyliss let alone hear the beast speak. If it were Grabe in Tinn’s position, he would have kept the eye and embraced excommunication. No one came back from the desert. Whatever was there though, he would have preferred to meet with both eyes functional. Besides, another offense he’d be blind and after that he’d be blind in the desert.

Master Grabe entered the Sanctuary of Tongue just as Master Tyliss was putting the knife to Tinn’s back. The Sanctuary made his stomach turn with vertigo. The ceiling was so high that his poor vision blurred it, obstructing the view of how high it truly went, though it made him sick none the less.

Surrounding the altar was the rest of the masters. They wore the traditional green cloaks, hood up, and Grabe made sure to pull his own hood up before he joined them.

Master Tyliss held a strip of Tinn’s skin high in the air as he pulled it back, slicing with the knife under to pull more. Grabe had seen this before, but it was the first time the excommunicate had ever been silent for the process.

Not only did this mean that Tinn had passed on removing an eye for penance to The God of Tongue, but it meant that the boy would be meeting The Desert of Nails soon. First Master Tyliss would have to finish flaying the X off his ex-student’s back. Then, Tinn would be paraded through the Budded Isles and Meral City where he would be whipped, beat and stoned. If he made it to The Desert of Nails alive, his feet wouldn’t get him very far.

Master Grabe turned around. Whether it was the vertigo of the endless ceiling or Tinn’s silence that was making him dizzy he didn’t know, but he was sure now that losing an eye would have been the smarter choice.

Back in his quarters, Grabe’s mind was a drought. He chose sleep over prayer though the sun was still up.

 *      *      *      *      *      *

No matter how many times he insisted they called him Vonx they wouldn’t.

“Out the boat, Tinny,” demanded the shirtless enforcer. “Time to see how little mercy your God of Teeth has.”

Vonx didn’t respond and so he got another crack to the head. The stick had been used on him so many times that this time it broke and Vonx laughed. “Sevil lives,” he said, but was shut up from repeating it all four times with a fist to the temple. His vision was fuzzy before, but this time blood obstructed him.

The enforcer pulled him off the boat to the sandy beach and Vonx found his footing only after disregarding his vision. They walked through the brush until the sun was in the sky behind them. The vegetation dissipated until there was only sandy wind and then the enforcer stopped them.

His hands were bound with rope to another excommunicate’s neck behind him. Vonx was the only one out of the three with eyes. He hadn’t spoken to either of them though they spoke plenty. One was excommunicated for his third rape, the other for his third murder and he imagined them doing this blind, laughing as they spoke. Bound and blind, they could only curse him.

They stopped once there was no shade and the sun stung his back.

“The three of you are now free,” said Master Ohm. “Before you is The Desert of Nails. The God of Tongue is forgiving to an extent, but you have each proven yourselves unwilling to reform. I will bless you with water and I will pray for you that The God of Hands may find mercy on your damaged souls.”

Master Ohm poured water in to each of the blind men’s mouths, but Vonx kept his mouth shut and head down.

“Is your faith so strong in The Fourth God that you refuse drink from The Third?”

Vonx raised his head. “The God of Tongue can tongue my ass.”

The enforcer raised his hand, but Master Ohm stopped him by waving his own. “What is it about The God of Teeth that has sealed your faith? Has not The God of Tongue spoken to you?”

Vonx craned his neck and tried to collect saliva to spit, but only the sand on his lips sputtered off.

“You are damned. May your death be slow and merciless.”

Vonx laughed, but it turned in to a cough bringing blood in to his mouth. “Sevil lives, Sevil lives, Sevil lives, Sevil lives,” he said weakly before splattering Master Ohm’s face with blood.

The enforcer’s fist punched through his jaw easily and Vonx hit the sand.

When he opened his eyes, his hands were no longer bound. He raised himself from the sand and after a moment of wobbling managed to stay on his feet. The wind had erased the footprints and the sun was high in the sky. His back stung terribly from his lost skin, but his mouth was so dry he couldn’t swallow. He took a step, then another, and then broke in to a jog to avoid falling which ended with his face in the sand.

“I renounce the first,” said Vonx as he clawed the desert sand and used it to slide himself forward. “I renounce the second and the third.” He swung his other arm out and dug his fingers in to the sand. “I renounce the fifth and the sixth.” He pulled himself forward again, the desert cutting his bare chest. “My life for You Jokkol. My life for You, The Fourth God, The Laughing God, The Orange God. Sevil lives, Sevil lives, Sevil lives, Sevil lives!”

The sun was bright and blinding and everything hurt, but the darkness came easily and Vonx let it take him, praying to Teeth and laughing himself into unconsciousness.

CALM the MADNESS 095-096

The CalmThe Madness

The following is a short story that preludes a series of novels entitled HIGHSIX:

Beneath The Desert of Nails, the young girl shivered. She was not used to the chilled air of the underground and was still dressed nicely for the dinner party she wouldn’t be attending tonight.

“Look at me,” said Mother Devusi. She raised the young girl’s eyes with her chin and forefinger. “No matter what happens, I am your mother now. There are trials in life. You have had many and this will be just one more. I will be right here waiting for you. Trust in Nithya. She has chosen me to choose you. You are special and The God of Hands has recognized that and sought you out.”

The girl knew it was obvious she was crying, but Mother Devusi showed no care.

“You are finally home, child. Now come and wash,” she said. “Your face and hands must be clean before I present you.”

The young girl used her knuckles to rid her eyes of tears and sniffled back her drippy nose. She noticed then that the room they were in was wall to wall and floor to ceiling stone. Etched into the surface was letters she couldn’t connect into words.

Mother Devusi brought her before a raised pool of water the girl mistook for a bird bath. Hundreds of hands were masterly cut from the same piece of stone as the rest of the room and looked as if they all gripped the wine glass shaped structure. Beyond it was a stone throne which too was composed of hands carved from the same rock the room was. It was empty, but still commanded her attention anyway. Her eyes didn’t leave until Mother Devusi spoke again.

“Wash and then kneel before Nithya’s throne. I will leave you to Her.” Mother Devusi reached in to the pool of water. It was opaque, but the reflecting candle light made the surface look like it was covered in a swirling rainbow. She opened up her sleeve and the girl couldn’t understand her new mother’s next quietly spoken words. A reptilian head rose from the liquid and crawled in to her sleeve swiftly, but the girl saw enough to notice its scales were a bright yellow, not reflecting light but shining its own from beneath.

The doors closed behind Mother Devusi and the young girl thought to not touch the liquid. She bit down on her tongue to stop more tears from coming. She was at the Mother’s mercy. If she disobeyed, there was no telling what they would do to her. She had been brought to this place so few had seen and if she refused she doubted they would let her leave. Even if they did and she got back home, come the night she would already be wishing herself to be back here.

‘You don’t have to,’ she heard. ‘Leave and you can go back to everything you once were. Stay and you can be what you never before could.’

The voice sounded like hers, but confident, and so she exhaled, preparing herself to obey.

Her tears were dried and she relaxed her jaw from gritting her teeth down in to her tongue. She ignored the taste of blood and then inhaled deeply before digging her hands in to the swirling rainbow liquid. Her cupped hands splashed the liquid into her face. She did it over and over until she was rubbing it in. She pushed through until she felt the slippery bottom and then rubbed her hands together. She brought them out, satisfied she had done what she was instructed to and ran her wet fingers through her hair. She wiped the wetness from her eyes and walked around the standing basin to kneel before the stone throne.

When her knees touched the ground she tried to close her eyes, but found them frozen. She shook her head, but her eyelids stayed still. The room looked as it had before. She looked down to her hands and they too were the same. She looked up to the throne and inhaled a gasp. There was no throne, but in its place a door. She recognized the pealing black paint and the bronze handle. It was unmistakably the door to her home, even the circle window at the top with the stained glass letter J in the middle.

“No,” she said aloud and rose to grab the handle. It turned and she walked in to the entryway of her home, the same as she’d left it this morning. The maroon carpet was the same, her father’s boots and her mother’s sandals sat as they always did in the corner. At the end of the hall was the portrait she remembered sitting hours for to be painted. Her father’s face stern with pride, her mother’s coarse duty stricken face and her own face, quiet and simple, but ruined and sad.

She heard a yelp and once again was moving before it had registered in her mind to. She turned the corner in to the living room and couldn’t breathe. There she was, wearing the same dress she wore now, but hiked up over the top of her hips, with her uncle, slacks to the floor, ramming his pelvis in to her. She backed away in to the dining room and stopped as she bumped the table. There she was too, her cousin’s hands over her mouth, wearing the same dress hiked up with her limp legs bouncing as he pulled her in to him. She ran through to the kitchen where she was on her knees in front of her neighbor, choking and crying. She turned around again and had to cover her ears as the sounds of herself squealing, weeping, suffering wouldn’t dissipate. They reverberated within her home, bouncing back and forth off the walls, but never escaping.

“Sweety doll!” she heard. “Come here. Come to Daddy.” Her body moved against her will and she was then in front of her father. “You’re filthy,” he said. “How dare you. You don’t deserve these clothes if you’re just going to ruin them.”

His mouth opened wide and his teeth wiggled.

“Take them off,” he said and his teeth fell from his mouth. “Give me your clothes.”

The teeth clinked against the floor, bouncing but never settling, the sound repeating over and over. She looked back up to him and more teeth grew in their place.

“How dare you disrespect me,” he grumbled, but before he could finish, his new teeth were falling and clashing to the ground with the others.

“Fuck her,” growled her uncle from the living room.

“Fuck her,” grunted her cousin from the dining room.

She was dead on the couch and she was dead on the table and their teeth were falling too, hopping across the floor and never stopping.

“I’m going to have to. You need to learn your lesson.”

The teeth were all over, covering her sandals, chattering against her skin and then their mouths were raining teeth. They rose to her ankles and then calves and she couldn’t move to back away.

“Show me yourself,” her father said as his tongue hung passed his chin, teeth sliding down with dripping saliva.

The teeth climbed to her knees and then thighs and the noise hurt more so she covered her ears. The teeth reached her waist and she could feel them consuming her, making her disappear.

Her father said something, but his tongue hung to his chest and the fluttering teeth made it unintelligible. He ripped her dress, his fingernails tearing skin away in stripes, and her hardly budded breasts were frozen exposed.

Then the sound was gone. The teeth still rose passed her tailbone and up to the bottom of her rib cage, but she could hear nothing. She lowered her hands in front of her and in her palms were her ears. She looked up to her father who no longer looked human, only a slobbering and flailing man, his skin sagging, almost melting.

“No,” she said. She was gone from the couch where her uncle’s head was all that was visible above the teeth. She was gone from the table where her cousin stared at her in bewilderment. Her father screamed, but it didn’t matter. She might as well have been watching him with a telescope blocks away.

Her father raised his fist, her uncle climbed over the teeth toward her and her cousin swam atop the teeth to her.

“Nithya,” she said and as soon as she did she felt the heat in her hands. The teeth receded from her and she raised her hands in front of her. They glowed so bright, but she was done with surprise and so clapped them in front of her. The teeth crumbled away into dust as her father exploded and disappeared under the teeth. She outstretched her arms and squeezed her fists, not even watching as her uncle and cousin showed their ugly innards. She remembered her neighbor and it was all that was needed as she could feel his life extinguishing behind her.

The teeth retreated, leaving a path to the door. She took off her dress and opened the door to neon yellow light. She fell in and welcomed unconsciousness like never before.

Her nightmares were gone and so instead she dreamt.