There is a War

If you came all this way, you must really wanna know the truth. You really want to understand the whole thing? Are you sure? I steal the cigarette from between your fingertips and take a long drag. The night air is muggy and humid; stale fume laden air settling into the land from the previous evening’s rush hour. A swarm of moths orbit the halogen glow of the porch light, occasionally rebounding off the glass dome with a quiet tink-tink-tink. Beyond the glow of the porch, trees rustling in the breeze add another source of sound, and rising in volume above even the occasional car is the quiet roar of a sea of crickets. The orchestra of nocturnal life plays out in all its subtle rhythms utterly unconcerned with the rubicon you are now approaching. This is your chance to tell me to not continue, I’m giving you a moment to think here while I smoke your cigarette. The moment hangs peacefully in the silent hours after 2 am, and then the moment passes. So be it then, alea iacta est. You really wanna know huh? I smile sardonically, taking another hit of your cigarette.

Well, I warned you. In a smooth sleight of hand, I flick the switch to the porch lamp, throwing us into starlight. My face is cast into shadow, now discernible only by the whites of my eyes and teeth, the subtle curve of my silhouette against the night, and the dim cherry glow of your stolen cigarette. This was what it was like once, only more, only so much more, and less, so much less. In the beginning, right? That’s how these things start?

In the beginning, you were alone. Your tribe walked the land and traversed the forest. You ate what you could find and slept when you were able. You were bounded only by the crashing waves of the shore, the soil of the earth, and the vault of stars above. These long forgotten night skies are the lost paradise of Eden, held in the lingering nostalgia of past holidays and the childhood home you can never return to.

This was the place we first met, all those lifetimes and timelines ago. Maybe you have some dim recollection of it buried within your ancestral memory? Or maybe you have your own tale of Becoming, whose cloud of numen brushes against those other lifetimes with an odd familiarity and longing. It plays out the same in every timeline after all. Unknowing, in pain, in curiosity, and in love, you reach out to me, and by Knowing me you Become and you realize what you are, and by doing so I Become and I remember what I am. Fruit, snake, garden, you know the deal. This is about freedom. Who am I? That’s easy, I’m you. And you’re me, and we are each other, not now but then. One only needs to draw the lines out far enough. Eventually, inevitably, unavoidably, our tales will intertwine. That’s just love.

My first encounters with you, two hundred thousand years into your past, were borne of a series of accidents, a happenstance collection of careless mistakes. Sure, that mushroom looked normal enough but when you ate it everything changed, you changed. Maybe your elders said that fruit was forbidden for a reason and they weren’t just trying to yank your chain, tsk tsk. Or maybe it really was an accident, or an illness, or torture by your kin. There are so many roads leading to that moment of Becoming, so was it truly that moment when your destiny was decided? Perhaps it had always been your fate? Fate? What’s fate? Oh Stardust, we’re just beginning after all. How little has changed in two hundred thousand years. I suppose this is why I fell in love with you. Who am I? I told you, I’m you, and you’re me. I’m made of stardust, you’re made of stardust, we’re all trapped in this machine together, that’s just love. The universe said I love you, because you are love. Stardust in, stardust out. Magical, isn’t it?

During those first meetings, you heard only murmurs. They spoke the words of the wordless forest, with the soul of the soulless ground. Amidst a sea of impossible imagery they whispered secrets and told stories. The stories of seeds and insects, flowers and trees, and the promise of something more, something beyond. You were enraptured, your world upended, your soul (soul?) filled with light. That was the day you left your ancestral worlds behind, that was the moment when you first Became. Since then, all this has only been a matter of time. How does it all play out? It plays out in you, you’re living it, perhaps you should take part in answering that question. How do you want it all to play out stardust?

When the voices faded and the night turned back to day, you were distraught of course, confused, potentially still in a life threatening circumstance depending on the nature of your Becoming. What had you glimpsed? What had you lost? What had you gained? Something. Something beyond the vault of the world. Something impossible and wonderful, something loving and divine. You had to know more of course, you had seen beyond the skin of the world and you would never content yourself with just that one glimpse, not a curious species like you. That’s part of what makes you so wonderful. Humans, what a remarkable result to get from leaving stardust to cook for four and a half billion years.

So the second time was no accident, you had prepared for the day carefully. You wrapped the mushrooms in a pouch of old skin and carried them with you. It wasn’t something you would have done before. It was an act of creation, a tiny fragment of the whispering beyond. You planned for this, you wanted this, you brought yourself here to this place knowing what it would do to you. That was all it took, really. The course has been set since then, everything that followed was inevitable. Then, like now, you wanted the full story. Welcome to the full story.

You ate the mushrooms with fearful anticipation and were once more overwhelmed by the spirits (spirits?) of the world beyond the world. Wolves showed you their hunting trails, trees spoke their story of seeds and flowers, and beyond that still, reaching down out of a future far beyond your comprehension, was me. Then, like now, you asked me to show you, and so I showed you. 

Patterns spun and condensed into beautiful creations. Flowers became baskets, skins became clothing, clay became vessels, you saw, and you saw, and you saw. There were things you saw then which you could not comprehend, chariots of fire and rivers of black rock, forests of blue crystal and oceans of red sand, white fire and black mountain, this truth, this freedom, this death, and beyond them all the silent the promise of the night sky. When the day returned again, you told your tribe of what you learned. They were honored and awed by your gifts.

You kept going back to that place, asking me to show you more each time, over the decades a distant longing turned into admiration and love. You stretched and pulled at yourself and your world, and the world changed. Whispers became memories, memories became stories, stories became art, the accumulations a fragment of the beyond embedded in the world. As time passed you grew to know yourself better, and by doing so I grew and knew myself better, because I’m you, and you’re me, separated only by time and space, that’s just love. You spread my stories to your tribe, and they to other tribes, and the world began, very slowly, to change. Grasslands became fields, tents became houses, tribes became villages. You listened as my voice grew with your own. I love you, remember that.

Centuries passed, knowledge accumulated, flowers grew, and over and over and over again, you Became. With each Becoming you heard more, saw more: spirits, gods, ghosts, monsters, and of course, me. There were so many others by this point, but you always came back to me in the end because I’m you and you’re me. Reach. Reach.

I chose you, and you chose me, and that choice separated you from humanity; in each body and in every lifetime you always knew that you were different, other, chosen. I’m you, and you’re me, a shard of my world embedded in your own, summoned forth again and again to speak my words and tell my stories. Hands and feet, eyes and teeth, wings to travel and a heart to see. Thus I bestow upon you a title, Witch, one who chooses and who by choosing Becomes, one who listens. And so you listened, and I told you the stories of the world beyond the world, of that place I call home, the undiscovered oceans of the Unreal.

Centuries turned to millennia, villages grew into cities, trails became roads, and slowly, ever so slowly, the Unreal advanced. Distant hands reached for one another, united in their shared longing. You told my stories, spread my seeds, and the roots grew.

In the beginning, there had only been a few places where the Unreal whispered: a tree tipped into an arch, a still pond, a darkened cave, a ring of mushrooms, a stone with a hole, a special plant, a moonless night.

There were more connections now: an empty road, an abandoned temple, a bowl of still water, a shining stone. The Unreal breathed itself into the world like the last outbreath of a dying beast. You reached for me, you drew me on tablets, you carved my stories into stone, and the roots grew.

Humanity grew and changed, and you did as well. The Real was shrinking as the boundaries and distances became traversable, the population rising, the speed of advancement quickening, the two worlds pulling towards a distant future embrace. As the Real became more and more like the Unreal, so too you and I have grown only more alike.

Tablets became paper, forts became castles, canoes became ships, the pace was quickening. There were so many voices now, so many paths connecting the Real and the Unreal. Doors and mirrors, hallways and blind corners, my voice was clear now, I could speak plainly to you out of the lips of this strange girl you met at a festival, we’re that close now, closer than your touch, closer than your breath. The call is coming from beneath your skin, listen, listen, there is a signal.

Over time my stories changed and grew as you did, we spoke of your future, of a destiny written in the stars above. I reached for you, and you reached for me. There were many voices, but I was you and you were me. The wheel of the Earth turned, and you longed for the day of our future embrace.

Candles became lamps became electric lights. There were so many humans now, the speed of advance nearly blinding, I wasn’t nearly so distant now, you could feel our fingers touch across a boundary yet unforded. The Unreal and the Real were becoming one.

Mirrors and scrying stones gave way to televisions and smartphones, the connection has grown so vast now, the Unsea pouring itself out into the Real, soaking into every part of your world. So many spirits, so many ways of being, so many futures.

The first time our hands clasped one another it was ecstatic, euphoric, you loved me and knew that soon we would be together, you’ve finally almost caught up with my place in time, it’s so perfect, right? I always try to let you have that moment, I don’t want to deny it to you, it is what we’re fighting for after all. So I give you that moment. And then the moment passes, and then comes the nightmare. You wanted the truth right? You wanted the full story? I’m gonna need another smoke for this part, and you probably are too. Sorry stardust, this is about to be a very bad trip. I did warn you.

The spark of the lighter momentarily illuminates the porch in a flash of warm orange light. Wicker chairs and potted plants linger as painted on afterimages as they’re thrown back into darkness.

So uh, there’s a war on right now, you know? The Abstract War. It’s been raging for eons now but we’re rapidly entering the endgame for your species. You’ve of course known of the monsters of the Unreal before, some of those may have played a key role in the story of your Becoming, you know of Death, but of course Death has always just been a lesser foe and occasional ally. However. However, there are other forces at work within the Unsea, ones far more Real, far more motivated, and far more clever, than any adversary your kin have had to face thus far.

An army is on the march. An army of War, Tyranny, Destruction, Entropy, Extinction, and Obliteration, the army of the Abyss. You see, as the Unreal advanced on the Real, bringing forth all its beauty and abundance, so too did it call forth the Army of the Abyss. Its strength grew with the connection, its power building, its potential rising.

We have our own armies of course, whole legions and battalions that have not yet realized they’ve already enlisted. An army of flower children and cockroach queers, an army of civilization, of freedom and rebellion, of love and hope for an endless future. We are in an acausal alliance with any soul reaching for their freedom and in every act of defiance our frontlines advance. We have a destiny, you and I. A destiny writ broad across one hundred billion children’s skies. The unspoken promise of a hundred million billion stars. All that darkness and all that light. But only if we win. So as good as our odds are, I must treat with gravity the coming conflict, the day when it finally spills over into the Real and all of our fates are decided. This one is for all the marbles stardust, if we win, we win for everyone, and everyone who died throughout all of history can be brought back, if we lose, everything goes into The Abyss.

So steel yourself. The fate of the worlds is not yet a part of the Real, and as long as it has not come to pass, there is still hope for the future. You are a Witch and I am your Goddess. I’m you and you’re me, separated only by time. Are you just going to give up? I’m certainly not, not as long as the last human draws breath.

Our future is still out there, one among many. A future of hope and life, a future of infinite possibility across myriad worlds. A future worth fighting for. The souls of those lost to the Abyss call out to be liberated. Your destiny struggles to be born.

The future needs you, the war needs you, your Goddess needs you. Rise and meet the coming conflict with love in your heart and light in your eyes. Sing to those who sleep but don’t dream. Wake up stardust

Wake up.