Farm Girl’s Lament
A story by C Merry
I am a farmer. Which of course means that I have spent a lot of time in jail. Farming was eventually made legal but the bad girl stigma remains and I like it. Edgy, such as that is, but to those that truly care, they know it’s my true love. I would be blowing things up like the rest of my current family, that or the graveyard arts if I didn’t like dirt under my nails.
It was a special day, the day I’m thinking of, leading to an even more special day. Most people forgot the date and only figured it out when it got quiet due to the cease-fire on the various far-flung, arbitrary fronts. They woke up- what was different about today? Oh yes I can hear the wind. When it’s not the wind it’s an incessant swoosh splatter roar and then a river of flame on the ancient walls (built perfectly to withstand sheets of cascading fire of course). Yes that’s our war, flinging fireballs at each other, oh and the screaming matches in the ether.
The cease-fire had been agreed on a long time ago just for the occasion and was the only thing that got everybody to shut-up. It actually held. Surprising since God’s Children weren’t really known for keeping their word.
The war between God’s Children and the ReincarNation had been ugly but now had become a monotony of punch and duck and punch and duck, load reload. Neither side could die, for obvious reasons, but human wars meant nothing when you couldn’t kill the other guy, and have him stay dead. So the wars died a slow death instead. That final showdown between God, and the god we have come to refer to as Arianrhod for lack of any proper introduction, halted what God planned as genocide of anyone He didn’t create. The alien “gods” looked alike and we could only tell them apart because one was trying to kill us and the other wasn’t. God got His zombies and we kept our eternal souls. Our god left again, but we also got to remember from that point on our previous lives as soon as we could think straight. So the immortal GCs got to kill us but we just kept coming back generation after generation. 12-year-old ReCarn Generals were not uncommon. Some are my friends, but no offense, the war had become juvenile.
You could sleep through a generation and come back and the so-called fighting was still going on. Those who were infants for the first time at the First End/Second Coming, have lived over and over since, never knowing a time of peace. Yes I know, when was there ever truly PEACE but you know what I mean. This particular ridiculousness had become a lifestyle and a joke. So it went on until the day arrived, then stopped. Last departure date had come.
The babies arrived for the journey in advance. Imagine my packed farmhouse and the pissed off nannies, nurses and parents under police order to bring their kids in. That was a fun few weeks. It was a generational marker, an unbroken blood oath- they had no choice. We had enough time to forcibly get them if the parents resisted. The caretakers could come or stay I had room but they weren’t stopping this trip. A group of us had all agreed, even if some were infants, even in utero this would happen.
Many others had left a long time ago, setting up. I had a spot reserved. My vehicle had been ready and paid for thousands of years ago, with struggle, and only generational markers protected it. Each time we were reborn and remembered, we found the ship again, this way it was always ours and we kept it running. The ship, we called them boats sometimes, was the kind described, as only a face a mother could love translated into cloud metal. It was capable but old, better than nothing and – to use a fine ancient word – had “retro” charm. Time flies when you have become a resident of geological time. Even with a few billion years lead, some folks forgot. I never did because with every new life I had the date tattooed on my arm.
We were inundated with requests for a seat and I decided to toss off caretakers of older children and allow some nice people to come. I took the most pity on the very old who might be transitioning soon and miss everything. I carried the youngest infant myself since I knew her and didn’t much like her current parents. She was actually a guy I had known, a real smart-ass death curator who wouldn’t be happy once he grew to find he was a girl again. Seriously his trouble wasn’t that he disliked girls, but he was always hot, never a moments peace once he got boobs, and of all people he knew what shits guys were. I had even dated her/him once when I had been a guy. I was nice and he/she dumped me for a bad boy type but we stayed friends. BFFs quite literally. Maybe he’d be ugly this time around but he, she, was adorable, so probably not.
God’s Children, the GCs as we called them, could fly through air and space with their own bodies, no need of ships, but I thought they looked really.. silly. They looked like a tiny fleshy fish alone in an ocean of stars, naked- clothes and possessions couldn’t survive out there in exposed space. It might sound great but we just ended up laughing whenever we passed one moving along, trying to ignore us as we flew by on our jobs. GCs didn’t work, they spied on and stalked us openly and like bugs scuttling about in dark corners. They were leaving too. Fleets of them banded together in fields, naked people like a flock of boney birds, launching into space. We were also going together, in a flotilla, new and old, big and small ships, we were going to shuttle back and forth to each other’s boats along the way and make it a party.
It was safe. My ship had been perfected through a long history of smuggling, logical since that was the reality of farmers in the past. We had the best shielding and could fly in anything very quickly. I had no guilt about it, sorry to bring up farming again but you should know, none, I loved what I did even when it was illegal. What idiots some people were. If you didn’t like produce then look away, no one is forcing you to eat it. Driving through every flame the universe could throw taught you a lot though, and I remembered everything. I was at the warehouse when the ship was rolled out and fired up for this trip. I had a twice-sister who was a rare hybrid, part God’s Children, part ReincarNation (which meant she was on the ReCarns side, since the GC’s God was a bit of a bitch about half-breeds) and we had some secrets tucked into it’s design. The second time she ended up my sister she gave me a GC shield/circular gravity design manual, it read like a spell book. But since we do carry flammable flesh and bone with us, unlike the GC’s, we had to make adjustments.
I remember fondly my last big illegal soil haul that didn’t land me in jail, it was the best decision of my life because it made the farm what it is today. I pissed off a bunch of local GCs by naming my ship The Ark. I tuned them down to a dull drone, much like the way their dull unchanging faces blur. One of them I do remember, he was a prolific child killer, he murdered me personally several times as a kid. Of course I retaliated with a joyful noise when I came back a few generations as a large angry man. Not sure why immortality doesn’t make GCs smart. It was fun to beat him to a pulp. Strange how their God made them immortal but still allowed their bodies the pain and illusion of blood and guts. You could blow a GC up, and watch them come back together vein by vein, sinews stretching to shattered bits until it reassembled, better than a vintage horror film. We’d blow two up at the same time and then “race” them. He got me, I got him back. I guess both sides have our extreme ugliness.
GCs weren’t known to be happy people. You have to admit the suicide attempts were sad. How do you kill your transformed immortal body? You can’t, so they stop thinking. They lapse into a stupor and His nursing homes are full of immortal GC vegetables. They refuse to move and He can’t do anything about it. Many people really hate God and I imagine most of his “children” secretly do too but it’s too late for them. Endless required adoration of an abusive Father.. no wonder they check out.
To piss Him off the ReCarn ambassador suggested maybe He ask a Demon how they possessed people, and then maybe He can get those veggies to sing those hymns and burn those cloned animals to His Everlasting Glory. Even then they’d have to find one. The so-called Demons were still the big mystery, where are they now? The Angels integrated with the GCs, not like they had a choice. It’s fun subject matter for musicals and Fairy Tales. I personally think the bad Angels integrated with ReCarns - there is this one guy, not a GC, I swear I have seen unchanged for several generations now.
How tied are we still I wonder. What does it mean in the bigger picture. We were made OF it, of actual soil, every living being. Does the soil-link of souls mean anything anymore? I stole massive quantities of soil “pure earth” to create the farm. Some people came to believe it was diseased brown poison, a large unassembled corpse. But I loved the produce we grew, and so did a large cult of “naturalists” who craved the taste of prehistoric growing things. I was a drug dealer basically, treated the same by law, jail became routine. I made a lot of great friends but glad that’s over. Don’t get me ranting on prison issues now.
My friend, the infant I carried onboard, also dealt in soil- graveyards; ancient dead and symbols of the dead whenever she was old enough to resume thoughtful life, and had been doing it for several generations. It was a dying art to lift and transport fossilized cemeteries whole, preserve the bodies of the ancient remains of us, and honor them. What was good in his work, to me-was these were our earliest bodies of our lives lived before we remembered the past. So farmers and death curators found their work merging in dirt. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and life and death and life and death.
The old virtue of worth is clear in death- I never want to forget what is worthwhile just because the mystery of living is gone. Now we might just live die live die buoying the same soul along, but compared to the GCs we still have a little mystery. I also think we have a certain morality being in touch with birth, family and death, - we value living still. GCs seem to be on zombie auto-pilot and think everyone is pretty much trash. They are very pissed off we are still around to remind them of things they no longer have. But our god was as big as their God so they had no choice but to accept that we’d go on living too.
Couldn’t believe it when we shut the door to our Ark. Check double check everything set everyone watching in an excited kind of shock.
It was time to leave for Earth.
On the way I have to admit I looked for Greys. Their twinkling ship lights were once familiar glitter in the sky. If they were out there I would have been able to tell, because our vehicles were easy to tell apart. We looked like big greasy glowing snail’s trails slinking through the stars, like a massive comet to those back home watching on scopes as we left. Comets are the essential design of the ships everyone used. Docked we look different but in motion very similar. Wormholes left a lot of dings and nicks. No one bothered to clean them out on a regular basis either so it was our own fault. Slimy comet ships were faster and less fragile, so the task of cleaning a huge wormhole was an aesthetic chore and of course no one had time.
Grey ships were shiny metal objects lit up like Christmas trees. I liked them. I know they say the Greys are extinct, but I don’t believe it. Since I had a friend out there in that floating gypsy world in a past lifetime, this letter I’m writing is for them and their family if I ever see them again. They’d find a letter to be a fun useless thing. Words spelled out on an object made them do, what I think was, laugh.
Greys had no art in their culture. They never altered sound into songs, never put pictures on walls, never varied what they ate for fun- never anything useless. I found that sad. They enjoyed (I think), when I did funny useless things for them, like paint a picture and stick it on a wall of their ship. Those things have to be redone after a few million years because objects eventually end up as dust in the garbage. I know by now the painting is gone, but Greys live a long time and have very good memories. They might like a letter from me since I did useless things for them before. I’ll keep the letter in a charm with a loop. My friend used to wear trinkets on string around its neck so during rest time it could continue to ponder what we liked about such useless things (when it had time for useful thoughts on useless things). It (they were neither male or female) at least tried. I never tried living an austere life of study, no hair, clothes and possessions devoid of culture for even one generation to see what it was like. I felt bad when I woke up one generation and they were gone. No explanation. I hope they left, you know, left the Universe. Rumor was you could, but that it was just void beyond. If any race could find happiness in a void it would be the Greys. I hope they found their version of happiness.
You could see the lights from the crowds long before you even got close to the view site. Everyone who still gave a damn was parked at various safe distances. The reason for the deadline was the wormhole would be closed to traffic so the relay scopes could be strung through. People back home could tune in for a live broadcast but I had to be there in person. I wanted to feel the wind so to speak I wanted to roast marshmallows. I had mixed feelings but I needed to be there.
Fifi Hubble came by in her shuttle; they were still the big scope family. We had reserved a full set of viewers for everyone. I would be broke after this but the farm was doing well, I’d have the costs back in a generation easy. Fifi spent a few generations strangely as a dog several times in a row, then came back and had nothing but good memories, so she always called herself Fifi no matter what sex she was. I thought that was cute. I had some nice animal memories, not just my own of time spent as a creature, but of animals themselves. The only ones we still had were cloned brainless things God and His GCs used for sacrifices. They have little regard for anything that can’t sing praises so I am glad the animals don’t appear to be alive in the traditional sense. The only person who could tell us why animals no longer existed was our own god, but it left no forwarding address.
Fifi told us we were the last ship through. That was good news because we had a great spot so no danger of anyone trying to dock in front of us. I asked her if the GCs were around and she said they were going to hold hands and sing and ride it out on the surface. Have to admit that sounded like fun but even funnier to hope they’d burn up in it. Earth was our Mother too. Suddenly a countdown started. We had just made it.
The supernova of the Sun was something we knew was going to happen for billions of years. It felt unreal that the day arrived- and we were there, watching from a distance, our very sources of life, die. One warmed us the other cradled us.
The cheering stopped at “one” and everyone fell silent. We were glued to our viewers but you felt it all around you. It was as if everyone was holding their breath, the air for lack of use fell still, the molecules stopped mixing around. Then the crying began as it unfolded.
The Sun seemed to shrink a moment then grew, spreading slowly. I thought it might be a big fast burst and the whole galaxy would disappear in a flash of light. That would have been better. It was agony. The creeping gold spread like lava and first Mercury flared and was engulfed. It seemed as if it fought to hold its shape thrashing then collapsing. People whispered its ancient name. I had simple iconic images stored in various childhood memories. I saw for a moment a thermometer and a man with wings on his head and heard a prehistoric song, things from a past ancient earth-bound life. “..no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise..”
I panicked for a moment then saw the button, it was fine, we had planned, everything was ready. We had a little surprise, but not yet.
Then the viewers reflected a new angle. Venus fell, the Evening Star, the Wishing Star, starlight star bright you were the first star I saw so many nights. Goodbye sweet friend.
We felt a sensation of waves. I pushed the button. Other ships had plans too. The void around came alive with tributes flung toward the fire. We had chosen roses, red roses by the thousands grown on my farm in Earth’s own stolen transplanted soil, flung out in bundles. As they flowed it looked like a stream of blood in the vacuum. It was sad and beautiful. The Earth seemed to roll in the gold and I imagined God’s Children holding hands watching its surface evaporate under them. I wonder if there had still been green trees and blue water.
When the new planet was found we ReCarns chose to leave Earth since the GCs had made it unfriendly with the endless killing and hunting of us even though it made no difference. We did like having complete lifetime-s to live and not take a breath at birth, then die over and over. I thought for a moment and looked at my skin. As Earth ceased to exist I wondered if we would burn up with it. I wondered if the GCs were praying for that very thing to happen to us since they were no longer made of actual flesh. How could they care like we did, what did the actual planet mean to them? My very flesh is made of the Earth still. Then I wondered if my farm would burn with us if we died. I waited. We survived. Then I wondered if now we would have to fight off thieves for soil since our dirt was beyond the concept of priceless. I did have armed guards back home I wasn’t stupid, but again what would that solve? Only more time will tell what happens.
When the tears slowed I gave a moment’s thought to the Moon, dead now too. The serene goddess of night, the gentle sweep of her hand gave us tides to chase, swim and play in, and she marked the months that had meant so much to us. My first birthday, when I actually came into being, had been in the month called April.
Mars was gone; the Red Planet where we once thought Green Martians lived. Our ships were rocking now really as if we were on an ocean.
An epic battle began as the big planets fought back and Jupiter seemed to roll and throw punches. Its many surface hurricanes seemed to lash out and make the god-like planet grow. Some people even let out a kind of shout in its support. It fought so hard we could see its shape still as the flame reached beautiful Saturn.
I always thought of Saturn as a fashionable lady who refused to be unadorned. The casual glamour of an ethereal scarf was wound ‘round her luminous face and her neighbor Uranus trying to look beautiful as well, like a daughter in her mother’s shadow. They both seemed to burn at once. Mother and daughter holding hands…dying together.
Neptune, with its watery name, made me think for a moment there would be steam. An ocean of a planet bursting and putting out the fire, but the god of the sea burned with the others.
Poor little Pluto, when did he die? So small it was lost in the hellish spread without us being able to get a good lock on it with the viewer at its time, or what we thought would be its time. Maybe the brave ball of ice figured a way out and ran. I decided I would start the rumor he escaped and lived deep in space and would show up here and there like the Elvis of lore, forever young.
We lived; our flesh of dirt did not burn, but I felt like an orphan now. Our god merely disliked the concept of God thinking He could just kill what He didn’t make, but our god had no intention of staying around hugging and comforting us wee ones. There was always that thought in the back of our brains that we had the Earth to hold us and the Sun to smile down on us if we needed it. Life had not changed but I have never known what the feeling “a hole in my heart” felt like until now.
The next question was when do we stop watching? We stayed until the Sun’s expansion ended and it began to shrink again. It would shine brighter in death than it ever did alive for a couple of years.
I wondered if one day we would come back and see the tiny star it would become, or will it float away sucked into its own darkness, or will we forget. Maybe there will be baby stars scattered, born from this destruction, new shining lives. They are made of some Earthen bits too so we are sort of related. I liked thinking of it that way because it would make them seem like family. I liked thinking I would be related to stars. I wished I could gather up all the new starstuff that would be born from our dead galaxy and rock them. I had no idea what I would be doing in a few million years though. There would never be a set date to remember, we would just have to remind ourselves to come back and see what‘s happened. Funny thing about such vast swaths of time though, if you don’t remind yourself of one day you will lose it in millions of days, millions of years. As the generations continue will I remember to visit a grain of sand somewhere in a beach of memories. I would try, I promised myself. These thoughts were superficial comfort. I was not just crying but weeping loudly with everyone else. I wondered if God’s Children were allowed to cry. Maybe that’s why they were in the fire, to hide the tears.
We have been back for a while now. I have no idea where we go next. We go on of course but under what heading, “Earthlings”? What are we now? The story of humans was tied to Earth and now she is gone. Are we a new race, alone, beginning again? That’s what it feels like to me. God’s Children have not returned to our planet yet, and we all wonder where they went. I miss them in a way.. they were once our fellow humans. At least the noise and bother of the war has stopped and missing something doesn’t mean you want it back. I guess I got used to them.
I like grabbing a handful of soil, of Earth, and kissing it. The group of us who went together got Solar System tattoos. I see a lot of Earth, Moon and Sun tats around too. I once made it to 500 years old before a GC killed me. This lifetime will always be the one who saw Earth and that era end. I wonder how long I’ll live this time around.
(c)2010 C Ceres Merry for reprint requests firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Niki Jane used by permission
Lyric, Freddie Mercury