HIS VOICE AMONG THE STARS

Submitted into Contest #186 in response to: Write a story within a story within a story within a ...... view prompt

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Science Fiction Speculative Christian

Prologue


From the depths of ancient star clusters to the far-flung galaxies at the edge of the cosmos, I, Lord of Creation, He Who Causes To Be, shall make this universe my mercy seat, a residence without restriction to a single place, to be a life among fiery births and contortions in the fabric of space itself.  Omnipresence is a state of being no mortal sentient can enumerate or calculate with any tangible result.  Time is never the essence; I can see the temporal continuums folding in and out of themselves like an ever-revealing tesseract, each facet telling a different story, an alternate timeline, a unique experience.  However, I still prefer chronological conformity.  To change the course of events after they’ve graced the sands of age is to spite the natural order of things, to blaspheme all that has defined the tapestries of individual journeys and distinctive cultural summations.

What I look for in every enclave, no matter how loathsome or elegant its present iteration, is the ability to change in the midst of its entanglements, constructs, valuations, to rise from the mess of its own design and refine itself like a diamond in the rough.  Each civilization is a sculpture to be fashioned and kneaded into the model of its logical and teleological conclusion, to cull the propensities toward sin and rot and uplift itself to the image of all that is holy, to one day show for its spiritual maturity and to ultimately join my heavenly realm.

Therefore, take heed, I have sent each world the codes of the universe, the keys to the kingdom by which to overcome the habits formed in the mantle of evolution, and build upon its moral absolutism to distinguish between right and wrong, growth and death.  I would certainly vouch for their survival, for my Word transcends the disparities between alien races isolated by the vast expanse of space.

Dance with the angels, I say.  Irrespective of how far you've fallen, I am here to pick you back up and rebuild you in my image.  Listen and obey and I will bless you with the honor and testament of my will.  May you live in peace, rest and sanctity!


“In the Beginning…”


1 There was the void, a massive empty void without substance from end to end. 2 From that vat of emptiness came a series of vibrations, the plucking of strings, and several points of light sprung to life; from these points of light came brighter points of light that lit up the sky. 3 And the Creator said, “These shall be my lampstands to light the path of my work!” 4 From this cluster He plucked one of the points of light and drew it up into the primordial whorl; He said, “This shall be the Sun from which all the days and nights shall be cast. 5 From the furthest reaches of the whorl came a torrent of comets filled with methane and carbon compounds, and He ground them into great oceans, pouring them around the Sun before the splendor of the burning sky. 6 A great upheaval arose, and heaps of rock jutted through the seas of methane in the same manner as the lampstands dappled the sky. “I shall call this land, an archipelago on which my work shall follow!” 7 And plucking the organic compounds from the roiling oceans, He adorned the land with all the vegetation known, turning the islands into bastions of lushness. 8 He had one more use for the organic compounds and forged all the fish and creatures of the sea, giving them free reign over every depth of ocean. 9 Keeping vigil of his progress, the Creator thus declared, “Upon this land shall the fishes go, for I shall teach them to walk and tame the elements.” 10 And as He did, He created time and seasons with which amphibius erectus would use to organize their days and collect their harvests.

11 Henceforth, the world was created amongst the thousand suns, lying among a thousand clusters, strung across the raging river that split the skies of a billion dreams. 12 And on that day, with His work completed to his highest approval, the Lord resigned himself and came to rest.


“The Devourers”


Vktrlzhkn watched in horror as her long-time comrade ripped her husband’s head off. The outrage was evident in the way she leered with her mandibles agape. Szrbjnt wiggled her stubby antennas in confusion. What’s eating her, she thought, jabbing at her own act of mariticide.

“Vktryy,” she said, addressing her comrade in the diminutive, “haven’t you seen the rite of Consumption?”

Vktrlzhkn was taken off guard and shook her head to attention. “Oh––uh…it’s…it’s…”

“Oh, spit it out,” Szrbjnt snapped, after which she spat out a particularly hard piece of exoskeleton before returning to her grizzly feast.

Vktrlzhkn barely had any words to express her discomfort. Yet it did occur to her that she was the odd one out in regard to her view of Consumption. She often questioned her opinions through daily prayers, but she always got back the same answer. It was revolting!

However, she was still reluctant to insult her comrade, and resorted to half-hearted prevarications. “I…I don’t know. I guess I have a few things on my––” she flinched, becoming queasy as she watched pieces of chitin fall to the floor and get wedged within the reed matt. Those crumbs belonged to someone she once had jovial conversations with, and she would miss his belly-busting quips.

“Come now. We’ve known each other for how long?”

“Well,” she began, forcing herself to focus on what she was trying to say. Be decisive, the Good Book admonished, especially when in service to His Holy Presence. She huffed and became forthright. “Maybe, it’s time to reconsider a few old customs we've been taking for granted for too long.” There! But it set the precedent for debate.

Szrbjnt stared at Vktrlzhkn as she munched away, her palps wriggling through another piece of her hubby. “What are you getting at, Vktryy? How will our offspring grow into healthy predators without the nourishment of the mate? Consumption’s been with us since the beginning, way before we left the twig for the hovels. Imagine, Vktryy, the tree without its roots, a land without a red sun to blossom the fields!”

Become more decisive, Vktrlshkin! she prodded herself in the third person. You’ve been assigned to be a light in the world! “It’s just that you don’t need to kill anyone to raise healthy children. Mine turned out to be normal––”

“Oh, please. How many do you have? Ten…twenty? Are they even healthy? They couldn’t even eat a gnat! As for mine, I’ve counted one-hundred and seventy-four, and they’re all natural born killers, ready to strike in a moment’s notice.” She began looking at her comrade in earnest. “Is it something to do with that crazy sect of yours? What have they been teaching you?”

“Yes, Szrb, our faith is rather unorthodox to the ancient ways, but I wish you could see the results. One, we’ve bred ourselves beyond the capacity of the harvests, and we wonder why competition for resources has become so…internecine. Do you know how many wars we’re currently in as we speak? Have you heard of how many of us have already perished?”

“A little competition doesn’t hurt, Vktryy. It only makes us stronger. I’d throw that book away if I were you. What a waste of papyrus!”

“It’s not a waste, I assure you. And two; The Codex of the Living stresses the presence of the husband in the household who can teach and guide our children in ways we can’t or that we're too occupied to do. Our family units have become stable and our children providential. We’ve learned to forage without needlessly killing one another and one of our young adherents even came up with a method of allowing a parcel of the field to farrow during a season to preserve its fertility.”

“Mm.” Szrbjnt was unimpressed. “Clever. But what’s your defense in the time of conflict? I don’t see any of you preparing your young to fight.”

“Another fashioned a system of ramparts––”

“Enough!” Szrbjnt paused, visibly frustrated. A fragment of chiton hung from one of her mandibles. “We’re not exactly dying out. “We’ve been doing this for thousands of years, if not, more.”

“Thousands of years stuck at each other’s throats and a society filled with heads still stuck in the dirt! The only thing we’ve passed from generation to generation is murder and bloodshed. Yes. Consumption is murder. Our God has been recalibrating us, giving ourselves a new perception on values and ethics while everyone else indulges in coital cannibalism. We think. We’ve been blessed with a conscience, a soul––”

“And weak in the knees! Everyone in your little love triangle would be overwhelmed by attackers in seconds––”

Something cut her off. She felt the gust of air as the reeded front door swung open and in came one of her progenies battered and bruised, several of his limbs missing. He panted for a moment before collecting himself.

“Mama! Mama! They’re at it again. The province on the other side of the pass attacked our harvest. Everyone’s dead except those in the outlying field. They must’ve had a strong defense!”

Szrbjnt was in shock, unable to respond to the news that all her children were gone. However, Vktrlzhkn knew better. Despite her comrade's tragic loss, she knew the underlying truth in her heart.

Thank you, Lord, for guarding our thoraces!


“The Man on Top of the World”


From a distance, Mit’yan saw the post erected as it cut the Sun rising just over the hill. It was as dark as the figures milling around its base. Not too far away in the eastern sky lay the great Wanderer with its bands of shade and a bright tail of stars streaming through the heavens. However, that was not the most ominous part of the oracle. Someone––a man who was not a criminal, Mit’yah knew, would rest eternally atop that ungodly spike. He would share the same fate as his fellow deplorables dangling high above the ground, out of reach by loved ones. The most horrific aspect was the torturous climb every condemned man was forced to make before they impaled themselves on the apex. Nothing would stop them from slipping and falling to their death. To them, it didn’t matter. Such occurrences happened often, and some of them hoped they landed on top of a sentry, taking their cursed oppressor with them. Had they cowered and clambered back down, they would meet with a circle of cold steel aimed at their hides.

It was barbaric. Adherents who swore by the Tome were trenchantly aware of this, but was it the case with the rest? The ethical codes stressed by the passages in the Tome were certainly not reflective of the savage society at large, nor any society Mit’yan knew of. Compassion was never considered a trait of the land; instead, it was regarded as a weakness. Yet somehow, this virtue made its way into a hostile world in order to tame it of its primal impulses. It was a code of conduct delivered by the messengers of the Great Sanctuary in the sky. Reflecting on the teachings handed down to him of moralities alien to these savage lands, Mit’yan lost control and choked on this new sentiment. Tears began to run down his green-colored cheek.

This innocent man, his mentor, limped several stades toward the towering spike. The feat was remarkable for someone in his compromised position. He was flanked by a small phalanx of troops, all armed with pikes ready for summary use had the captive tried to escape. But to the surprise of his disciples, he remained solemn in his conviction, unafraid of the corporal fate in spite of the bruises and abrasions adorning his bedraggled flesh.

Mit’yan knew the body itself was a temporary shell, insignificant when compared to what awaited them on the other side. The concept of the hereafter was not reserved to his faith alone, but common among the lay, however, it was usually taken as a perversion of egotistical desires granted upon their departure. It was not so with Mit’yan’s faith. And it puzzled others on to whom would ascribe to this strange philosophy that emphasized an outpouring of love unheard of outside the immediate family, or relationships of convenience. All this self-sacrifice sounded like a lot of work without the mutual benefits. The idea was cast in flames and spit upon.

Why? Why were so many of his compatriots offended by such magnanimous teachings? The thought of it drew tears again, especially when his mentor finally arrived at his post after a few stumbles and subsequent lashings. From that point, he began his painful ascent. He took his punishment like a trooper though, unphased by the combined heckles, taunts and physical abuse by both the onlookers and his captors. Even the guards were confounded at the sight of the man who gave them no incentive to beat him down when most of the other convicts kicked and spat in their faces on their way to the gallows.

The lone silhouetted figure inched up into the sky like a prepubescent insect crawling along the stalk of a shrub. Mit’yan was no stranger to pain and felt the needless suffering his mentor was going through. But he was taught to endure such hardships; his mentor foretold this day and accepted it as a fulfillment of his promise without protest. Besides, his sacrifice would be a time of atonement and recalibration of every living being on this planet. It was confusing at first, but Mit’yan was prepared for the occasion, regardless of his own fate in some indeterminate future. He simply stood tall, impassive of open emotion. Deep within, however, he mourned without end.

The shofars bellowed. The crowds gathered, followed by a wall of cheers. Who were these ingrates? They looked up. The tiny figure at the top crouched over the needle point and let go. Mit’yan’s blood rushed out of his veins, leaving him with a cold flush as if he had taken his mentor’s place and died accordingly. His impalement was silent, almost anticlimactic except for the uncanny way the sun was suddenly eclipsed by the Banded Wanderer and darkness enveloped the hills. The astronomical significance was unplanned by the state, yet it was foretold in the prophecy.

Immersed in what became the Long Night of Sacrifice, Mit’yan uttered a prayer to the stars, whence his mentor’s father resided. It was a time of worship and the ushering in of the new era upon which the heavens would open to the mortal man. Tears dribbled down, but he was undeterred from his homage.


Oh, Lord of all Creation, Lord of the Stars,

In this time of retribution, make us pure and blameless,

May we live in forbearance and forgiveness,

Unconditional and unabashed, for I am forever in your embrace,

Let your stellar kingdom awash us in faith,

To uplift this world and flood it with grace.

Blessed be Your Holy Name! 



February 24, 2023 05:20

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2 comments

Mustang Patty
16:49 Feb 27, 2023

Hi there, Great job of World Building. Thank you for sharing and Good Luck, ~MP~

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R. J. Garron
16:51 Feb 27, 2023

Thank you very much!

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