Tag Archives: teeth

VOID the STORM 101-END

The VoidThe Storm

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

The sun was coming up and Master Grabe had yet to sleep. He’d replaced the candles once and they were already melted through. He moved to the window, thankful for the new light, and sat on the sill to continue reading.

‘By this time, I lost my ability to control my tongue so I stopped using it. My mates eventually let me be, though I’d hear them talking. It mattered none. I could see the logical conclusion to this curse and knew that biting my tongue was only biding my time. Soon, I will be found out for what I have chosen. Each day that passes I can feel the growth of anxiety looming over me ever more. It is all I think about. I know it will come and it will be terrible, but I will laugh through all of it. One can not be caught if they do not allow themselves to fall. The terror that comes from doubt is absolutely necessary. Terror is hilarious. SEVILLIVES, SEVILLIVES, SEVILLIVES, SEVILLIVES.’

Master Grabe didn’t hear the knock on his door, the sound of it creaking open and shut or the sound of his name being called. His eyes rose from the page only once out of his peripheral vision he noticed his page standing there.

He whipped his neck and was surprised at the bitterness in his voice. “What?”

“Are you ill?” asked Bo.

The kid looked hurt. “No, no, I’m sorry, I’m just…studying. What is it?”

“The bells have rung. Your robes are ready.”

Master Grabe looked out the window. The sun was not coming up, but had already come. It was free of the trees of The Hanging Jungle and well passed the point of his usual waking.

“You seem ill. Do you need tea? I can bring you breakfast if you wish.”

“No,” said Master Grabe. “I mean…no tea, but yes. I am ill. Leave me for the day, but bring me lunch after you eat. Cancel my classes.”

“But Master, it’s the seventh day. You are due to speak at-”

“Ill,” said Master Grabe. “Tell them. Go.”

Bo bowed and left him to his scroll. The paper was so long and he had been careless in rerolling it as he read. The top hung from his fingers and was snaked along the floor. He blinked his eyes to return them to focus and continued reading.

‘Our world is a lie. The histories teach the character of my blessed Fourth God as chaotic and evil, but in truth, Jokkol is the only consistent God of The High SIX. Realism is not evil no matter how harsh that reality may be. What separates The God of Teeth from the others is His or Her indifference to self. Each of the other is selfish and it is due to this distinction that they have shunned Jokkol. They refuse to recognize truth outside of what supports them as most deserving and just to hold the first place of birth order and power. They refuse to acknowledge their inconsistencies, refuse to respond to or acknowledge any question that would challenge their supremacy. It is not possible to worship all of The High SIX and any combination of the gods is equally impossible. It is taught that if you do not give yourself to a God than you are sent to The Void for all eternity to exist in nothing, becoming nothing yourself. If this is your only concern in this world then you are just as selfish as any of the other five gods. Those that give themselves to Jokkol are promised nothing in life after this. Is not that the most selfless way to live? To abandon your hopes of salvation and instead embrace the ambiguous? I have found my savior and I have rejected the silly presumptions of gods that can’t back what they promise. Sarora is a slut. Ethaum is a coward. Nithya is a prude, Mamoth is a tyrant and Xzicxy is the worst of all. The God of Tongue is a liar. I have never felt Xzicxy’s presence. I have been forced to worship the silly Green God my entire life and it was not until I learned of the great Orange God that I felt my spirit was touched. I know I will be excommunicated, but I have no fear. I laugh at fear. Fear is hilarious. I know I will be tortured. Torture too is hilarious and each act of revolt will bring me closer to my God. With every attempt to return me to Xzicxy, with every lash or beat or bruise, with every undue injury and refused kindness, I will worship Jokkol, my God of Teeth, my Orange God, The Fourth God, the Only God, and I will close my eyes and imagine Him, imagine Her, smiling, grinning their beautiful teeth. I will revel in their laughter. I will be saved! SEVILLIVES, SEVILLIVES, SEVILLIVES, SEVILLIVES.’

Master Grabe looked out over The Hanging Jungle after he read the signature at the end of the scroll.

The word ‘Vonx’ looped in his mind and he couldn’t remember his ex-student’s actual name. He watched the sun rise until he could see it no longer and then fell asleep on the window sill not realizing he hadn’t prayed to The God of Tongue in days.

 *      *      *      *      *      *

On the southwest side of SIX where the Desert of Nails ends and the Orange Lands begin, Vonx awoke because the backs of his hands were throbbing. He opened his eyes to see the earth moving below him and was confused. Instead of sand, it was dirt. He moved his hands from sliding against the ground to see their backs black with dirt and scabbed blood, but he forgot about them once he saw the live bed of scales he laid on.

“Are you afraid?” he heard and looked up to see a black silhouette floating ahead, moving backward as if leading the bobbing head of the giant desert lizard.

Vonx tried to move his mouth, but it was so dry that the skin of his lips tore away.

“You are afraid,” said the shadowy figure.

It was light out, but there was shade. Above the clouds covered the sun and a crack of lightning answered for him. Rain fell and stung his raw back.

“I have saved you. Go back to sleep. You will be treated soon.”

Vonx tried to open his mouth again, but the fatigue from his raised neck was too much and so he let his head fall back to the scales.

He came to inside a hut with the heat now burning his front instead of back. Thunder rumbled and rain clashed above him.

“Sevil lives,” he heard and noticed then that he was suspended in a net, lying on his chest with his arms dangling. Smoke entered his lungs and the voice continued the chant. “Sevil lives, Sevil lives, Sevil lives, Sevil lives.”

Below him, a circle of orange skinned men and women kneeled, naked except for the animal bones and teeth that hung from them. Together, they all took up the chant.

“SEVIL LIVES, SEVIL LIVES, SEVIL LIVES, SEVIL LIVES!”

The smoke became thick and suffocating. His torso became hot and with the swaying of the net he turned his neck to see a fire burning below him.

“Sevil lives,” said the first voice. He turned his neck to see the Master of Teeth. The man too was covered completely with the traditional orange pollen of the virral flower, but unlike the others, his face was covered with a mask composed all of teeth. There were hundreds of them that connected into a rotting mosaic of yellow, brown and black.

“SEVIL LIVES, SEVIL LIVES, SEVIL LIVES, SEVIL LIVES!”

The net lowered and Vonx’s body jolted toward the flame, stopping hardly above the reaching tip. “No! No!” he yelled and laughter filled the hut.

“NO, NO, NO, NO!” the Orange people chanted before falling back in to laughter.

The Master of Teeth silenced them by waving his skull mounted staff over the fire beneath Vonx who recognized the skull and noticed then the bloody lizard skin to the side. Below him in a circle around the fire, the Orange people held up their dripping meat.

Vonx’s heart beat furiously. “No!” he screamed again. The fire burned intensely and he tried to move his arms, but his body didn’t respond. He tried his legs and then his back and shoulders, but nothing happened. His fingers and toes,  hands and feet, all played dead. He rolled his neck around desperately.

“No scream,” said The Master of Teeth. “Laugh.”

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.

The God of Teeth 084-090

The Soul of Teeth

“The God of Teeth is the only god within the HIGHSIX that acts how he believes. If something is funny, you laugh. Any problem is to be met with a grin. If you are never serious, how can anyone else be taken seriously?”

The Six of Teeth

“The Fourth God is a liar. Those loyal to him cannot be trusted. Those that have gone to the Orange Land come back with lies or don’t come back at all. I am the only exception. I have been to the SouthWest of SIX and know it first hand. Listen so that you might be saved.”

The Five of Teeth

“There is a castle once you pass the ghost towns that the Orange people destroyed. They call them that for the pollen of the virral flower they cover their bodies with. The castle is made of bones and the rode to it is made of teeth. There is no sense in how this came to be, but sense holds little ground among followers of The God of Teeth. All that matters when you meet the true Orangies is whether or not you can make them laugh.”

The Four of Teeth

“I entered their castle a prisoner until I was put before the holder of the Orange Throne. He was a man, toothless, covered in that orange pollen and I had heard the legend, but didn’t believe until I saw it. The Orange Throne was not as I’d imagined it to be. It was far worse.”

The Three of Teeth

“Limbs made up the structure of the seat that the Orange Man sat on. JOKKOL was long dead and it was clear that this rugged man, skin orange, teeth gone, hair in long dreads and fingernails that touched the floor, was only sitting in his god’s stead. When he spoke, it was with fierce nonsense and I knew then what was necessary of me.”

The Two of Teeth

“I took out my dagger and held it above my head as I yelled the name of their god and then bowed as I placed the tip to the root of my gums. I used my palm as a hammer, ridding my mind and instincts of second thoughts.”

The Null of Teeth

“I have no teeth, but I have life, and now I know what true laughter really is: sustenance.”

The God of Hands 070-076

The Null of Hands

“I was born and raised in Center City, the one place in the known world where The HIGHSIX have never gone and never will.”

The Two of Hands

“My first memory in life was the hands of my uncle. His calloused fingers rubbed my teeny nipples and he dug his dripping teeth into my young hairless skin.”

The Three of Hands

“I grew up an object, raped no matter where I went, even if only with eyes and whistles and pats and squeezes. I dressed the part like all the other girls did, shaving and flirting, even though I hated men and their ugly snakes. It wasn’t until I met my mothers that my life truly began.”

The Four of Hands

“Mother Devusi surpassed my young beauty with ease even under the simple yellow fabric she wore over her sun scorched skin. She approached me as I quietly pretended to listen along with my school friends to the party minded boys in on vacation from across the Still Lake where they went to University. Mother Devusi and I connected eyes and I could not detach from her bright yellow stare, like sunlight, as it sucked who I was, my soul, unapproved, but welcome, right in to her beaming glow of perfected self. She held out her hands, interrupting the group, but paying them no mind as she spoke to me alone and said, ‘NITHYA has called you to come so that you will never again be victim.'”

The Five of Hands

“I left with Mother Devusi and we walked hand in hand South where we exited the draw bridge of Center City leaving all that used to be me behind. We walked miles without word and while the myth of the Mothers of NITHYA was that they hypnotized their followers before brainwashing them into their cult, I can attest that no part of that is true. I was chosen by Mother Devusi because NITHYA, our God of Hands, The Fifth and only truly just god of The HIGHSIX, worked through her to select me. We walked slowly, but for a distance of miles I never once could have without the healing radiance of NITHYA that accompanied us. Our destination was the entrance of a cave, black within, that marked the end of fertile land and beyond it the cruelest of all lands of the known world: The Desert of Nails.”

The Six of Hands

“I may not speak the words Mother Devusi spoke to me because they exist only within our Mother and Daughter bond. I became hers then and NITHYA shined the last light of the day’s sun upon us in blessing. Our connection filled my heart, relieving it of the hole I had tried and failed so many times before to make complete. We entered the cave where another world lived away from the terrors of society governed by misogyny and barbarism. Women controlled the underground living in peace with each other and finding love for every living thing, even the vermin. It was the first night as I slept cuddled in a heap of Mothers and their Daughters, my mother holding me tight as a man without eyes strummed a sitar sweetly, carrying the righteous understanding of NITHYA in to my brain.”

The Soul of Hands

“All that live are vermin. Not just rats and mice. Not just flies and roaches. All are vermin and that is truly a beautiful thing.”