Tuesday, May 03, 2011

#TuesdaySerial: The Gods of Evergreen (part 1)

I started this story several years ago, left it incomplete then came back and finished it last year. It has sat for lack of a venue — White Pickups took the serial slot for a long while. This is a six-part story, and is dedicated to the victims and families of last week’s tornadoes in the southeastern US.



The Gods of Evergreen
Part 1: After the Storm

Unconnected sensations: Pain. Sweat and something unpleasant. A triumphant shout. The sound of hands clawing at debris, then their touch, grasping and pulling. Dim light, yet blinding. Standing on wobbling legs, like a newborn calf or an old man. The acrid taste of sour wine from a skin, shocking disconnected senses into wholeness.

Sal and Jane loosened their grip but kept hands on his arms, ready to support him anew if needed. “You with us now, Johnny?” Jane asked. He looked to her and her husband Sal, wondering where they came from.

“Thank the gods,” Philip called from across the heap that had been Johnny’s house. “At least you’re whole.” Sal and Jane glared at Philip, who clapped his hand over his mouth.

Johnny shook his head, trying to clear his mind. “What — where are — ?” Philip tried, but could not block Johnny’s view of two bundles behind him; one large, one small. He looked to Sal and Jane; Sal looked away and Jane shook her head. He tried taking a step forward, but felt his legs give. His friends slowed his descent and sat him cross-legged in the dirt and debris.

“I saw it happen,” Sal sighed. “Your house was there one moment, the next moment the storm knocked it flat. I called Jane and we ran to you. Philip met us here and found Big Sara and Little Sara…” his eyes filled with tears and again he turned away.

“I thought we wouldn’t find anyone alive, but I heard you groan,” Jane continued. “I moved some boards and saw your hand under the tabletop.”

“What were the gods thinking?” Philip wept. “You and Sara were the best of us all. You gave what you had to whoever needed it… why would they have singled you out so?”

Johnny shook his head again. Sara would know what to do, but where was she? She can’t be dead, he thought. She needs to help me build a new house. But for the stinging of nicks and throbbing of bruises here and there, he felt numb. That pain was the only thing that told him he lived. He looked up, past Philip’s broad shoulders, as the afternoon sun found a break in the cloudy sky and shone on Mount Evergreen, the home of the gods in the distant east. Only a few weeks ago, the morning sun had risen over that mountain to signal the beginning of spring.

Suddenly, his mind was clear. He struggled to his feet, still watching the sunlit mountain. He ran his fingers through his thick black hair, then brushed himself off. As his friends followed his gaze, he spoke. “I will go to Mount Evergreen. I will meet the gods in their home. There will I sing my lament for my wife and daughter. I will learn the answer to your question, Philip. And then — then the gods may do with me as they will.”

continued…

10 comments:

  1. Oh I like. A fantastic immediate start and then bang a quest! This is a bit more somber than your other work I've read. I'm looking forward to seeing how this series progresses.

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  2. Oh, this is heartbreaking. Very well told and with an emotional punch.

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  3. At first I was a bit thrown by the contemporary names but the somewhat classical setting, but I'll be very interested to see where you take this.

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  4. Hi all!

    Thanks, Jason. Seeing you here reminds me I have a certain serial to catch up on too.

    Ganymeder, thanks much.

    Icy, I'm not giving away too much by saying the setting is some centuries after an unspecified apocalypse; that explains the familiar names.

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  5. I am very intrigued by what has happened so far! Great way to start a story.

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  6. Johnny's decision at the end gave me the goosebumps. I'm hooked!

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  7. And then the gods send them a coke bottle to help rebuild the house, right?

    My silliness (and supreme slowless to comment) aside, this is a good start to a story, Mr. FAR. I would have accepted it being in a general fantasy land, but being in a farflung future works for me as well. I'll be curious for the clues of the apocalypse that you'll give us.

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  8. Morning!

    Thanks, Xanto… and it looks like I have some catching up to do over at your place. ;-)

    Thanks, Mari. I never figured out whether he was acting on a suicidal impulse here, but we shall see…

    John, they might have found several coke bottles in a midden… gods know the ancients left a lot of trash behind! (Yes, I saw that movie.) At least this story is one I already knew the ending for before I put up the first part.

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  9. Intriguing gods. It'll be curious to see how active they take their role. Interesting possibilities with themes that you've got with this opening.

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  10. Thanks, Aidan. That's something you'll see a few episodes down the line…

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