The Immortals

“The immortals used to run the world. They carved our mountains, and dug our oceans with their bare hands.”

“What happened to them?” asked a snotty little pubescent boy by the name of Marcus Hill.

“As far as we know, they died,” answered the town’s wiseman Hermes.

“So if they died, how are they immortals?”

“Immortal does not necessarily need to be taken literally. Stories are immortal.”

“I thought we lost almost all of our stories during the Great Wars. They collapsed to their graves under tons of rubble and ash, along with the last of our ancestors from the Civilized Age.” Lightning lit the unfinished room, still riddled with shrapnel from the last attack, that’d burrowed deep into the wooden table and stone walls. It scared the child, who was now only used to hiding from the next attack, from prowling raiders looking for anything that would buy them an extra day of life.

“Just let me finish the damn story,” snapped Hermes, not used to people asking questions. It had been much easier in the past. In fact, all they did was listen and obey silently. They were awaiting a leader to emerge from their ranks. Someone to follow who wouldn’t lead them to war and more death and destruction. Someone that had a vision, to rekindle and rebuild a society fit for the scattered folk. Restoring the lost wanderers back to their prior civilized glory. Hermes was hungry for this. No matter how many times he’d done it, it never lost an ounce of excitement. He knew he could lead these shepherdless sheep towards the illusion of paradise they so desperately sought. The desperate mind is the easiest to control. It doesn’t take much to send it racing over the edge. All it needs is some fuel, which is provided through desperation, and a goal. A milestone. A hopeful promise, even if it is fake hope. Deception is preferable to the real thing, for deception can be perfectly polished. The truth will always have rough edges, hence the saying, “The hard truth.

“The immortals were the giants born of earth and chaos. They were the wardens, tasked with shaping and molding this landscape out of hard clay and dirt. Everything they needed was already here. Everything they built, was done so through harmony. For millennia, the land they had constructed, and surrounded with the purest deep clear waters, flourished and thrived beyond beauty that mere mortals couldn’t possibly begin to comprehend.”

“What happened next?” asked an absorbed and attentive Marcus. Hermes knew he had him now. The trap was sprung.

“The immortals grew weary with time. You see all that they had set out to do had already been done. Finished. There wasn’t anything left to carve anymore. Nothing to perfect, no matter how large or how small. It had all been constructed long ago. So what did they do?” Hermes shot Marcus a sharp glance. The boy shrugged, not daring to blink for even a second out of fear he may miss something. A twitch in the face, or a curl of the lip, foreshadowing what’s to come; not only in this story, but in his story.

“They began to tear it all down!” yelled Hermes, slamming his palm onto the wooden table.

“You see, an idle mind is its own worst enemy. Idle minds twist and turn, violating their predesignated barriers and confinement to sanity. They cracked the lands, so that they may float and drift away from one another, creating the continents. They poisoned the waters, until they turned sour with salt, giving birth to our oceans. They bruised the earth with raging strikes, spawning volcanos, bleeding into a scorching inferno. Until all that was left were black, sticky scabs, of sharp crystal glass. They tore it all down until they themselves had nowhere left to run. In a final attempt to restore order, they molded us in a hurry. Uglier, smaller, imperfect versions of themselves, made of weak and vulnerable flesh and blood. They begged us to usher the land back to health. And for many years we did, until we too grew weary. Our idle minds told our idle fingers to launch the idle nukes we’d so proudly built. Once again it was all torn down. That’s our true destiny, to complete the full circle of creation and destruction. It’s in our DNA, which was after all, spawned from earth and chaos.”

Hermes leaned in over Marcus, who had scribbled this polished forgery down with a grand passion. “We have to rebuild. It is time to continue the circle,” he whispered.

Hermes nodded with a malevolent smirk. “Yes it is Marcus. Go now child, and spread our true history to as many people as you can find. Until you grow old and heavy with age. Tell them that Hermes will reinstate our former utopian magnificence.”

Hermes signaled for the next young mind to enter the room, so that they too would be branded with this story. Marcus got up and a young girl, barely thirteen years of age, sat down in the unpolished wooden stool, staring at Hermes with blank eyes the size of dinner plates. Through the door, a huge line of children awaited to be brainwashed under the pretense of education. The adults didn’t have any energy left after slaving away all day, trying to rebuild what they could before the next attack. The skies churned with black clouds that reeked of phosphorus and chemicals. Acid rain poured down on the clueless children, irritating their skin, as they stood there in line with itchy bodies and estranged minds. Estranged from their own stories as a species. Where was Attila the Hun? Where was Napoleon? Where were the sacrifices of iron leaders throughout the ages, we so longed to follow? They’d all been silenced. Their stories forever lost within the dancing flames of zealotry.

The eager pubescent boy was last seen running into the black of night, unafraid and dauntless of the unknown terrors lying ahead. His heart was warm and his spirit disciplined and unbroken. The immortals were watching over him.

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