‘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.