I began toying with an idea for a follow-up to The Stream that I have no intention of writing. Still, the idea could lead me other places.
The sands lay at his feet shimmering like a jeweled kaleidoscope. Hunter looked around, disoriented. There were drifting dunes to the east, the colored grains of glass blown in waves by the desert air as if this were an arid sea. To the west, the sands rose, dipped, and then rose again, seeking the cloudless sky.
West it is.
He had been before to this place, and had never been. It was familiar, though created this moment, for his benefit. It was the Heaven Plane, and he was home. He removed his black leather boots and let them fall to the sand. The beads of glass between his toes would not break, and this place, his bit of heaven, must be felt. Hunter climbed against the bracing heat, his powerful legs churning up the yielding slope; his shirt was soaked, clinging to his muscled chest. It offered little protection against the sun, and so he tore it off. If the All wished him to have the sun, then he would welcome it. He climbed, against the heat, against defeat, against the fired anguish in his loins and growing despair that he would never be enough. There would always be more work. His best efforts would only stanch the shadows, but not turn the world toward the light.
For too long, humans loved the darkness; they would not give it up. In embracing the light, they risked their wealth, their pride, and their selfishness; no longer could they live for themselves. The All was not a docile guardian, but a selfish lover – demanding, narcissistic, needy. An infantile god needs worshipping even as a child needs love. Humans, however, had a different god to love. Money. Leave the sparkled gems the world threw at the people’s feet, only to embrace what? Spirituality? Hope? Enlightenment? Not likely. Hunter believed in none of it. He had no desire to marshal the wayward of the flock towards the forgiving light. He did not even like his flock. He was neither Christian nor Buddhist, neither Muslim nor Hindu. He believed in none of their gods, and refuted most of their science. Rather, his beliefs were simple, taught to him by his lost partner and only love. She had trained him to believe what his heart told him.
He did, and it whispered a single refrain: “There is more; but it is not yours to understand.”
I understand just fine. I understand none of it matters.
Science was a myth and religion faithless. God was the head of all the naked monkeys, and his former messiah, the Holy Einstein, has been proven master of all folly. He had a name once, before he became The Hunter. He could laugh and love … he could feel. Now, he could only seek and destroy. Once a man, now he was a weapon – and a dangerous one. In his many years, he had traveled across time, across dreams, across space. He had walked into dreams and exited into the world from whence they were born as if there were no boundaries betwixt the real and the imagined. And in truth, there were not. He, and his love had seen things none should see. They had endured; they had served; they had won. And for all their pained loyalty – his, and his partner’s – the All had allowed her to die without him.
On these journeys, through the pitted battles that the All allowed, but did not cause, there had been but one by his side. She was the other half of him – the better half by his reckoning. She was torrent to his calm sea, cyclone to his summer breeze. But she was gone now, and he was alone in the work. Without her, there was no more calm. There was only the want of her.
(to be continued tomorrow:)