Chaste My Heart
I am a monster, a wreck and mockery of a human being. I look as human as anybody in Elenkor and Sarath and all the cities of man, but I am scarcely so. This may be blood here beneath my breast, but it pumps cool and does not give rise to passions when it should, and gives rise to terrible violence when it should not. For most of my short life I have been alone, inhabiting a place where only the dead dwell.
I first took shape at the Rise, just north of Elenkor, the city of Science. Before I arrived, my creators, the top men of science, sought a higher way to godhood. They sought a way to channel their hubris and potential into a single being, a being articulated from defiled magic. They found symbols deep in the earth and translated them, leading them to me. For my summoning, their labs would not suffice. They honed their craft in those hammered metal labs beneath the city, but they summoned me out of doors, as a honeysuckle summons a hummingbird. Their incantations there at the Rise gave way to an ensuing maelstrom, and out I came, naked and sprawling in the rock.
A sickly sweet tang fills the air on the Odum Rise, a place where crushed stone meets dry earth. The Rise is a plateau of raised earth just above Elenkor. It services the means of science but it is a place where possibility and superstition collide with theory and practice. It is not a place where one can imagine anything being born. Plants do not sprout from the cracks in the dirt and the animals shy from the spot like it is cursed. The rain itself appears to avoid the earth there. I chose to lay still on that spot only by choice when I came into this world. They saw me as helpless and at their mercy, and none of them fathomed I was the sum of them and beyond -- a product and a reflection of every one who summoned me, and derived from their knowledge of the world and their ancestors' knowledge. These men of science swaddled me and took me to Elenkor's underground labs for testing.
Ozone permeated the air underground. The giant conductors lay there: mammoth, brushed-metal cylinders rising into the insulated roofs and up through the streets. Above ground, they tapered into points, where they took the charge and sucked down lightening from the air.
Once my creators sealed themselves in to perform their experiments on me, I awoke and stood from the gurney. Thinking me nothing more than an animal to be commanded, they barked orders at me like territorial beasts. I walked to the leader, a slight, bearded man with symbols on his coat, and pressed my translucent palm up against his forehead. He disintegrated, his coat going limp in my hands. I shook it free, raising up a terrible cloud of human ash. The others scattered in all directions, gnashing their teeth and chattering like caged rabbits. I placed the coat over my naked body and walked toward the metal conductors.
I sucked in the current from the conductors and channeled it out to each of the men of science. I watched them fall and their skin grow red then brown and smoke rise off their remains. I took what I could and headed out into Elenkor's streets, making no attempt to hide what I was.
Immediately, city dwellers ran when they saw me. Some of them, raised to fear me, ducked into alleyways and forced themselves into strangers' homes. Most of the residents feared me instinctively and ran as best they could. The ones who did not run died soon enough. They stood there ground and explained my existence aloud as I approached, as if that would diminish my existence. I smote them each. I chased them down and wrested off their heads before they could bleat out entreaties for me to stop. Where they saw a wonder of science, I saw chaos, chaos to be molded for my purpose.
"If you scatter, scatter how I command." I commanded, my voice shaking the earth and reaching as far up as the University tower at the edge of town. "You cannot know my will, unless you are blessed enough to hear it and obey. Prostrate yourselves or die."
All in range of my terrible voice stopped and pressed hands to bleeding ears. The sound of my monstrous voice made their squirmy organs quiver and pop. I immediately recognized I could kill everyone at once, and why not? Stamping it out brought me closer to an existence that befitted my purpose. My time in this dimension had just begun, but already it was infinite. I raised my clear silver head to the sky and opened my mouth, letting a wide bellow loose. Every living being within earshot dropped stone dead, bringing me closer to fulfilling my purpose.
I drew in more electricity from the above-ground conductors. I burned the bodies, then the buildings they inhabited. I melted the labs beneath ground and the conductors finally sank into the earth. Their metal liquefied and cut channels down into the earth, silver and gold and copper and steel ore veins like ribbons. Once mined and honed for science, all metals returned to the earth at my command, in defiance of everything but nature.
For leagues in every direction from where I stood, the earth became like the Rise: cracked, lifeless, featureless, and pristine. Each step I took made me more powerful. I took what I wanted and who I wanted as I ventured out past the ruins of the city of Science. I spotted signal flares blasting out from the distant Sarath, the city of Art and Culture, on the horizon. I could hear the screams from far away; desperate attempts to warn of my arrival. They sought to save their own lives. What are lives, though, but interruptions? Living beasts like the humans who ran from me, clanging the bells, mouths agape, are burdensome and obstructive. Everyday humans, the sycophantic visitors in my wake, were even more useless and wasteful as my power grew. Each death I caused took with it the confused, distracted ugliness of the world. Each life I took enhanced my purity with the truth of what it really means to exist.
What is existence, after all, but the quest to give pure ideas shape? In purity there is beauty, and in beauty there is reason to subsist. I may be a monster, but my values are human, shared by greatest womb-born thinkers who summoned me. They, in turn, bore ideas and gave birth to them in me through the symbols that gave me shape. In the wake of my birth, however, humans became only burdensome vessels to be eradicated.
The swirling towers and art centers of Sarath stood as monuments to man's sublime achievement toward finding purpose through esoteric means. I alone saw their folly and swept my silver hands across the city scape. The towers flew sideways as if buffeted by huge blasts of air. Artists' ladders and easels twirled across the air like toys.
A large group of aesthetes who'd escaped the ruins of Sarath came out to greet me in the burning fields. They prostrated themselves before me, crying, laughing, dancing. I let one man kiss my hand, then let his life expire and tossed his body back into the air, back toward the ruins of his city. The other aesthetes kept coming, praising my beauty, in awe of what I was. I flung them all back, crushing heads, snapping limbs, disintegrating, until there was only one left. A small boy, not yet of an age to appreciate or fear my splendor.
He stood no more than two feet tall and carried a wooden toy of rude construction dangling from a string in his right hand. He walked past me, away from the city of art and toward the city of science. I stared at him like a predator gazes upon the spastic dance of wounded prey. I was hungry, watchful and curious. He did not appear to even see me. Finally, he sat near a swath of blazing grass in between the two cities and set his toy down. It was from this place in between that I saw the truth of him. He was like me, not human, only created through some other means in Sarath. He did not fear me because he saw me as I saw him.
Whereas I used language, the boy molded shapes and drew invisible lines in the earth where he walked, drawing the story of his short life, and I suspected, of mine. I walked up to him and raised my palm to his forehead, but I could not touch him. He existed outside of my dimension.
"Lay down and die!" I commanded. He would not.
He was not one of them. He existed apart from anything that made me. Gazing down at his tiny, helpless form, it grew clear to me that I bore hatred - cool, dispassionate hate - but hate nonetheless. I'd destroyed so much in the few hours since my birth in a fury so calculated it felt logical. But in the sight of this boy, this creature, translucent like me, I changed. I saw that he created instead of destroyed. I saw my own fury, infused with my purity so well as to be indistinguishable from the violence in passivity, coolness, science, and fact. My cool blood ran red and warm in that knowledge and a small part of me wept for Sarath.
I gazed about at the ruined skylines at either side of me, and the flames they wrought, and at the boy who-would-be-my-other. I ruminated - I am still a monster, and told myself again and again in all the voices of the earth borne with me. The boy of art and culture who sat and traced lines upon the scorched earth kept his thoughts from me. I told the air which had grown still and hushed in its fear of me. The dead dwelt all around. My fury laid bare, my chaste heart snapped in two, becoming something less than chaste, something almost grief stricken at humankind's competing hearts, its fury and progress, its stone silence dead and the land that dies and scatters ash, even now. We sit and wait on the fields-in-between, and wait for a sign from our makers.