The Origins of Knowledge

Written in response to: Write a story in which someone is afraid of being overheard.... view prompt


Historical Fiction Sad Suspense

They dared not breathe. They dared not move—as still and as silent as the black, formless waters that surged the empty void of space before light was there to be let. The man and the woman’s thighs burned from their long wait of crouching amongst the bushes. The twigs and brambles scraped against their brown flesh, like fingers of a jury jutting out to scratch at some criminals accused. They hid in silence, hitching their breath, daring not to be heard as God walked through the garden.

“Where are you?” He called out.

The woman shivered. The man shook. The evening wind rustled the leaves of the trees and bushes. Breezes vibrated the greenery in tunes of nature, like the brushes of a musician’s bow upon an instrument’s string. In the distance, the sun began to set. Colors in their pure and untouched watercolors coated the sky in its glorious pinks and yellows and blues and hazes. As the sun drowned in the west behind the Garden of Eden, reds and crimsons began to bleed out from it, like blood seeping into a pool of water. While the garden grew darker, the light of God glowed brighter as He walked along the dusty paths.

The man tapped the woman on the shoulder, gesturing towards the darkening cluster of trees that stood swaying nearby. The woman understood. She nodded and the man took her hand and together they scrambled out of the bushes. The woman raised her head as she did so, trying to peer over the bushes at the glowing figure walking amidst the paths. With a forceful yank, the man pushed her head down to the floor. Bent and lowly, like devouts kissing the floor of a shrine for an obscure and nameless god, they slithered on their bellies and elbows towards the shade of the trees. 

God heard this faint rustling of bushes as they did this. And He saw. Creation of His own image, hearing the scared and shaky breaths through the same nostrils of which He breathed life thus into, God’s air, squirming around in the dust amidst the worms and beetles. Of such a scene, I wonder: is this how a parent must feel when they see their children doing bad, unspeakable acts? I wonder how a creator must feel to see their creation destroying themselves. Of such a scene, I wonder—Did God want to weep?

He called out again. “Where are you?”

The degenerates cowered in the dust. Their eyes were wide, lenses of that which showed what would have been better left unseen. They could see in the dark the light of God that traversed through the garden. They clung to each other, holding on through bonds of fear and humanity. Their naked skin stank with the stench of tears and soil. If they could have sweated, they would be drenched: swimming in the pools of their own consequences.

Their fear hung like humidity in the air. God felt it. He waded towards them.

Eve tried to jump up, as if there was a place out of the sight of God to run. Adam held her still, his fingers gripping into her skin, embroidering into such a tapestry the threads of small crescent moons. If we don’t move, He won’t see us, he wanted to say. No such words emitted. 

God came closer, and Eve tried to jump up once more. He held onto her, trying to keep her still. With a final tug of strength, Eve pushed away from Adam’s arms and shot up, trampling through the woods like a deer running from a predator. Adam kicked himself up, bounding after Eve through the wood, leaving God stranded in the distance. 

They ran and ran and ran, but to no avail. No matter how far they ran, the Light never seemed to get any further away. Denser into the garden, their breaths got heavier. Eve fell to the ground, descending into the unseen greenery and forest floor. Adam ran to where she fell, shuffling with his hands through the leaves and vines to find his rib. He got hold of her and pulled her up. 

She gasped, hair wild and tangled, gulping in the cool night air. The dark enshrouded them, blinding and nebulous, trying to drown them, but the stars provided them light. They shone above them in those bright blue, white, purple flames—orbs like shining eyes that can be seen despite the darkness. Their light was more powerful than the night. Small they shone, almost atomic in size, like specks of dust amidst a great, vast sea. And yet the night is never dark because of them: eternal and true darkness never in actuality to be found, shining so bright to the point of wondering whether the dark is a tangible reality or an abstract, obscure concept that we make up in our minds whenever the light seems to get dim. But it exists. And yet, they shine in spite of you.

The man and the woman heaved in the starlight. “I need water,” the woman said. The man took her hand. He pointed to an area nearby, towards a clearing of the trees. “Over there,” he whispered.

They began walking, hand in hand and fearful flesh, jumping at every sound that sang out at them into the night—scared of even what crunched beneath their feet. They stumbled in the darkness, squinting their eyes in search of the lake. As they blundered about in the forest, Adam stepped onto a mound round and scaled. It coiled under his weight, hissing and screaming, and sank its fangs into the sole of his feet. 

Adam screamed. He sank, crumbling to the floor, yanking his hand away from Eve’s intertwined fingers and scratching at his foot. He pulled up his feet, and attached to the bottom of his flesh was a snake. It hung limp in the air, still connected to his foot by its fangs that sunk deep into his skin. Its head was strangely shaped, like deformed pottery, smashed and stapled by Adam’s large feet. Adam pulled its fangs out of his foot, leaving two small, eye-like holes in the sole. Thin rivers of blood began to pool out of the wound. Adam threw the snake to the floor. It was dead.

As they stared down at the lifeless form of scale and coil, God approached them from behind. Eve turned and saw the Light that stood behind her and cried. She fell to the floor, laying beside the snake’s corpse, and covered her chest with her arms. Adam fell to his knees before the Light. He could not discern any features on God’s face. It was not deformed, but exceeded any form that might have molded its existence. Adam could not bear to look at such ultimatum. He looked down.

“Where are you,” God asked.

“I heard Your voice in the garden,” Adam said, “and I was afraid because I was naked. I hid myself.” His skin flushed with the tinge of shame—flesh shining like the faint embers of a dying fire. 

God frowned. “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I have commanded you that you should not eat?”

Eve sobbed. Her fingers clenched her hair. Squirming wretched through the dirt, a lesser slobbering mess. Adam clenched a ball of soil in his fist and threw it at her. He looked at neither the woman nor God. “The woman whom You gave to be with me,” he said. “She gave me of the tree and I ate.”

God looked down upon the woman. “What is this you have done?”

She trembled in the dust. Looking towards the snake that lay beside her, she said, “the serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

“You ate..” God repeated, examining the truths of which He already knew. 

“Yes,” the woman cried. “This is what the serpent said unto me:

‘Fruit of the forbidden, the Good One speaks

Death and destruction, of which the fruit reeks

This is what the Good One says unto you

Is this what you believe to be true?’

When the serpent spoke these words to me, I said ‘yes’,” Eve said. “I believed what You said to me was true—that of every tree of the garden we may eat, but the tree of knowledge of good and evil we shall not, for in the day that we eat of it, we shall surely die. This is what I said unto the snake, who then continued:

‘You shall not eat it, lest you die

You shall not touch it, lest you writhe.

But heed what this creature says unto you

The words of the Good One are not words that are true

Plagued by ignorance, do you wish to be?

Good and evil be the fruits of this tree

A vast world we live in, a vast world indeed

Do you not wish to know of your origin and creed?

Eyes of your Endower, whose sight shall be yours

All be known at last, every story and lore

A mind of which you can think for yourself

And know the books which are stored on your shelf

Knowledge is power—power you shall gain

Everlasting food which shall ever sustain

A hunger never satisfied, malicious hints within

If it is not you that does it, surely it will be your kin.’

‘So which do you choose?’ The snake sung unto me. ‘Life? Or death?’ ”

“And what did you say?” God asked.


God spat at the lifeless snake that lay crumbled on the floor. “Cursed be you,” He cried. “Lower than low, wretched of the waste. Deceiver, liar—of tongue which shall now be split. As sharp as the sword of double edges, as keen to destruction of which the metal brings. Your words heed the songs that are sung when the sword clashes, tunes of violence and destruction. Work do you as a jester does, in singing folly poems to appease their king? Your voice has brought your own demise. Your words you shall be deprived of. Of every letter and every dialect and every alphabet of every vernacular, no ear shall turn to listen. Hiss as you may, for only the dust shall hear and gather on your tongue. Colloquialism verbose and too wretched to be heard, sing your soliloquies and no one shall answer. Cry as you may and plead for help. Your tongue has no more words. Slither out yonder and come back not. Your hiss falls upon deaf ears. 

“Cracked and dry as medieval ink on parchment, living beneath the rocks and befallen. On your belly you shall go, beneath even the beasts of burden and labor. More cursed than all the cattle and their toils in the field, go and eat your dust.”

He turned to the woman.

“Sorrow that you have sown, sorrow that you shall reap. Bear children of the man and be silent in the mouth. Tongue you have, be remained, but words upon which do not speak. Your words of which you should have been deprived. Dust of my dust, bones of my creation. Be in pain and be destroyed from the creation in which you bear for your husband. Lick the dust from his feet and let him rule over you. This is what you have brought upon yourself.”

The woman sobbed at the Lord’s feet. The Lord left through the garden, leaving the man and the woman on the ground, but quickly came back with the carcass of an animal in His hands. Out of twigs He fashioned a needle and with grass some thread, and sewed together a tunic for the man and woman so they would no longer be ashamed. 

“Behold,” God said, “man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.”

God pointed His finger, and through the garden a dirt path was formed leading to the rest beyond. “Till the earth,” He said. “Till the ground from which you were taken. Labor and work and sweat beneath the sun. From dust you came, now go return to your dust.”

A layer of slick, wet moisture began to coat their skin and foul odors radiated from the man and woman. The woman took her husband by the hand and began walking down the path. Eve looked down as she passed by the Lord, staring at her bruised flesh and filthy feet. Adam stumbled next to her, limping on his bruised foot. Dirt began to gather in his wound. Before Adam passed the Lord, he stopped, squinting and shielding his eyes from the Light.

“What have You to say unto me?” he spoke to the Lord.

God did not even look at him.

Adam turned and left. Degenerate, disparaged. They limped across the dirt path that the Lord had made for them, through the garden that the Lord had made for them, and into the world that the Lord had made for them. 

And I wonder how Adam must have felt when even God could not look at him.

The man and the woman left the garden.

God wept.

May 17, 2024 19:04

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