Science Fiction Speculative Fantasy

The waves collected the bioluminescent algae into a chaotic society of billions. They churned in a perfect mass with enough darkness in between to still show each individual life form. A single figure stood ankle deep in the swirling light. Ceremonial robes locked under the weight of the water as it wicked upwards. His eyes were a black mirror to the glowing sea.

It was time. It was the end of an era and the dawn of a new one. A time of forced celebration and more than a few dissenters disappearing into the night. It is quite the ask to expect an entire civilization to die willingly for a faith that was starting to lose its hold on the masses. Undeterred, the priest chanted and his words twisted through the crowd until they echoed against the rocky cliff.

A procession of naked women carrying small handfuls of earth in delicate cupped hands. Their breasts and bellies painted with intricate patterns that shifted with each step. Each woman was lost in the world that existed in her hands. They could focus on nothing else but carefully bringing the sprouted seeds safely to their destination. The path had been so carefully cleared of any obstacles that could be tripped over.

So many of the caretakers went blind and faith alone was not enough to offer recompense. There was so little light in their world that their eyes could not take the brilliance of the Solaar without permanent damage. It was the only form of true light in the world besides the distant stars. They had buried it deep under the earth in twisting caverns. It was needed for the seeds to sprout.

Being blindfolded and doing it by touch was simply not an option with life so precious. By the time the seeds sprouted their eyes were too far gone to see the riches that they had amassed with their sacrifice. Their wombs were kept empty in order to give all of their nurturing energy to their charges.

One of the women kept walking as the others stopped. She was more sure footed than the rest despite being just as blind. Her hair was tangled and freely listened to the wind. There were no gems and intricate chains adorning the strands and keeping them in place. The young seedling in her hands was different than the others. The roots had dug their way into her flesh just enough to be secure. The plant had become a part of her. She walked without hesitation into the water and faced the high priest.

The chanting that had been going on without rest for hours stopped. The dark mirror of his eyes reflected in her own. She could now see. He encircled his hands roughly around hers. The crowd gasped thinking that the tiny life had been crushed. Few knew what was to happen during this part of the ritual. He gently let go of her hands and pulled her close as she clutched the small life to her chest. The two bodies slowly became darker until it hurt to try and look at them. The shadow forms merged into one.

The naked women kneeled in unison. Many with dignified silent tears falling as their sight returned one by one. The dark form of the high priest and priestess had pulled all of the light from their exhausted bodies and it had also healed. They laid down their burdens into intricately carved rock that had been carefully placed just out of reach of the waves. The soil blew away in the wind. The roots of the seedlings whispered their way through the design until the rock was living. A kind of awe swept through the crowd. And then the fear came. There was no voice to quiet or calm the people. The priest was silent.

This is the end of this age he had told them all of their lives. The wars have all been fought, the peace and plenty had all been had. The teachings that had built a strong society had crumbled over time despite the truth they brought. There was no singular event that had deemed the world ready to end. The waves of greed and violence were followed by gluttony and a weakening of the whole. They had pulled themselves back from the brink so many times with the kindness of a few leaders that stepped forward just when they were needed. But the cycle still repeated. Closer and closer together to a final resting place. There was no more growth or change. This was the age of darkness and in the end the women huddled against the cold stone. Not for comfort, but for the unchanging nature they knew.

There was no way to know how much time had passed. The stars were still and did not move as they should to mark the hours. The water of the tide did not retreat. The people were frozen in resignation, clutching to each other but getting no comfort from the act.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the world took on a faint glow. First the blue of twilight. Except that they have never seen twilight. The Solaar was streaming through the cracks in the earth that had never been there before. It had happened silently with no shaking of the ground. It was beautiful at first. The children played in the wisps of light. The parents did not even tell them to stop.

The cocoon of darkness protected the high priest and priestess as the rest of their people perished. They had one final task to complete. They must shield the plants while the Solaar broke free. Too much at once would kill the fledgling new life that would bring forth the next age. They emptied their energy and life’s blood into procreation.  The darkness grew and diffused as it shielded the rocks that hosted the new ones. There must be shade before the first tree can provide it. Their lovemaking ebbed and flowed, allowing just enough light to filter through. The life that they had held between them broke through the darkness. It carried nothing of them beyond their will for it to be so.

March 26, 2022 03:47

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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