Friday, April 19, 2013

‘Q’ is for ‘Question,’ OR, The First Apocalypse



‘Q’ is for ‘Question,’ and the most common question asked is, “What was the first apocalypse to hit this world? What started it?”

There’s a myth about that. Nowadays it’s impossible to imagine the world without apocalypses. The gremlins thought it was their turn, built automatons to do all the heavy lifting for their empire, and the autos turned on them. An electrical storm reduced the autos to blank statues. The dead rise. The bourgeoisies rise. It’s as natural as seasonal cycles. Yet if you consult the oral legends of the oldest races, the centaurs and the nine-legs, and the remaining records of the gremlins, you find common references to a First Apocalypse.

All land that we now is actually the decomposed shell of the World Turtle, which once swam either among the stars or in what today we call the World-Ocean. A big son-of-a-something, and healthy, such that all the world’s plants grew from its shell. Since it was green, most of the flora were forests. Thick jungles that consumed lumbering beasts, toughening the sauropods and cyclopes, so that all life was hardy, ruled under the Four Gods.

And there were gods, captains of this Great Ship World Turtle. One would wander down to its slippery head and whisper, “I feel like inventing ‘East’ today. Find a new direction and name it that.” And it would comply, because turtles are prone to peer pressure.

So one day the Goddess of the Sky climbed down the World Turtle’s neck and whispered, “You notice that yellow thing up there that makes days possible? Swim over to that. I want to know what it tastes like.”

Then she climbed up to the highest point on the World Turtle’s shell for the best view of the sun. But while she mounted, the God of the Depths climbed down the World Turtle’s neck. He whispered, “That nasty thing’s hot. How about we dive? See what’s under these infinite waters?”

Then he scampered off to the apex of the shell, expecting to get the best view of his desires. Yet as he ascended, the Goddess of Mystery rode the rivers between the plates of the World Turtle’s shell down to its ear. She cupped its beak and whispered, “Why did we ever start going forward? We never saw all of what was at the beginning of creation. Can’t you go backwards for just a few eons so we can appreciate what’s back there?”

To the World Turtle’s credit, it began to dip under the waves while it about-faced, conceding to two demands at once. Upturning so dumped a thousand sauropods into the surf and enraged the God of Boldness, who had been teaching them beach sports. He tumbled down the World Turtle’s slope, jabbing a javelin into its scalp to hold on. “What do you think you’re doing?” he chastised. “We’re making headway. We might see where creation ends if you just kept the bearing. We need to find what else is out there.”

The Goddess of Mystery hadn’t yet departed, and so contested his virtue. Their argument whirled into a tempest, the ferocity of which was only split when the Goddess of Sky and God of the Depths coming roaring down at each other. The desires of the four were irreconcilable, and none were willing to go second. They argued for so long that some of the lesser critters had to develop free will just to go on living, and they would have kept going forever if the World Turtle hadn’t stopped. Its continental body drifted, listless, unable to obey so many commands.

The Four Gods quit its head, unable to argue the World Turtle into submission with three dissenters. After it became obvious none could coerce each other, they split separate ways. That’s why none of them had alibis.

Tragedy struck at dusk. Jungles suddenly wilted to nothingness. The continental shell cracked and powdered into soil. Countless species died from the sudden shock of the modern world being born. Mortals rushed to the great head and found it dangling under the waves. Someone had drowned the World Turtle.

There were only four capable of such feats, though no one saw which God did the deed. Sky accused Depth, Depth accused Mystery, Mystery suspected Boldness, and Boldness pointed fingers at them all. They dragged each other to Celestial Court and have spent all known history simultaneously arguing four homicide cases. It is very difficult to out-argue someone who is nigh-omniscient and exists outside time; more difficult still to reconcile four such people who are all intentionally playing obtuse for argument’s sake.

And while we wait the eternity for the verdict, everyone has ignored the very possible fifth cause: the World Turtle may have drowned itself in the strife of indecision, or to rid itself of the godly masters. It can’t be asked, though, and that first dusk was a confounding one for the cyclopes and sauropods. There was all beloved life, drifting on a dead turtle, with no supervision from the Gods, and mildly curious how their fellow surviving life-forms tasted. It’s small wonder things went wrong after that.

21 comments:

  1. I was feeling very sorry for the World Turtle - if it did commit suicide no one could blame it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Poor turtle. I was confused reading all that, so I cant' blame it for being so.

    Rinelle Grey

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was taken in directions I really didn't expect here. Thank you. And yes, I also wouldn't blame the World Turtle for suiciding - but would have preferred it if it had at least attempted to take a god or two with it. If indeed that is what happened. Are you going to tell us? Or leave it for us to decide?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Interesting to form a new world out of an old one.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This was both sad and funny at the same time. The World Turtle is a fun legend to play with ("it's turtles all the way down!") and the gods driving it to distraction or suicide adds a great little wrinkle.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Perhaps the Turtle didn't die but is in fact hibernating for a long, long time. Until the Last Apocalypse, perhaps

    ReplyDelete
  7. Where there's one turtle, there's another, right? Perhaps that's where Kepler-86f came from...

    ReplyDelete
  8. This was a very interesting post, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I loved this as I thought at first it was going to be derivative of the ancient belief that the world was carried on the back of a giant turtle, but then you took me completely by surprise and I got a fabulous story once again, written by John the Great!

    jean xox

    ReplyDelete
  10. Its almost as if we were living this now...
    KaTy Did at: Life's Ride As I See It

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is fabulous! If that World Turtle is smart, he's just playing dead until the gods kill each other off. Then, he can swim about at peace with natural law. You had some really funny stuff in here. I love "turtles are prone to peer pressure". And as a side note, turtles are one of my favorite animals. Jennifer a.k.a Urban Gypsy Girl

    ReplyDelete
  12. You raised a smile on my face, one that has been hiding. You gave me something to puzzle over too. Thank you John.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The turtle in the tortoise and the hare story was his own guy- he didn't seem prone to peer pressure there.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow, John. Your creativity astounds me. How do you think up these scenarios? They are fantastic.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This one brings back memories of another story too. Maybe it's this world coming together for me.

    I've always maintained the best name for a pet turtle is Atlas. I also suspect the World Turtle died from a shrug gone wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I absolutely loved this! What an incredible display of creative imagery with lovely dashes of humor. I'll be back to read more:)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Stories about the first apocalypse are often complicated and confusing but one must remember things were very different during the time of the earliest centaurs and nine-legs. Stories were often told as parables and were not necessarily meant to be taken literally.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love how you turned a native american story into a game of clue. Your sense of humor, once again, is brilliant.

    ReplyDelete

Counter est. March 2, 2008