Previously in RESUME GOD: Carl sent himself to the microuniverse of Nataal to drive off an incursion from the Invader World of Kaerbanus… but it took all day and he didn’t get any work done. Now his wife Mindy is home and looking for a sign that her husband isn’t as lazy as he seems…
Part Three (of Nine)
It had been God, no doubt about it.
If appearing out of nowhere hadn’t been enough to prove it to Gisae, his mastery of wind and earth and war certainly made the case. No one could fight the Kaerbani; a single touch from their monstrous skin caused rot and mutation. Gisae knew this better than most. Her mother had been one of the first casualties when the demons came. By the end, her face was unrecognizable, replaced by a mask of pustulent hatred. Yet the man she had seen had not only summoned a weapon from the very roots of the earth, but he had driven the demons back to their own world.
Gisae had watched silently from her hiding place under a branchburrow. After the battle, the man had reconsecrated the earth and then, looking at his arm oddly, vanished. She stayed in her hiding place for at least a dozen tenbreaths before she was secure enough in her solitude to come out.
Wrapping her azure cloak of station around her, she pulled the hood down over the long straight ice-white hair that refused to stay out of her face. She missed her childhood when she was still free to wear unencumbering clothing and cut her hair. Admittedly, it had only been six months since she had been appointed shaman of her tribe, but it felt like years ago. Gisae was a fan of neither responsibility nor tradition. Both seemed to get in the way of actually getting things done.
Still, even when she was the tribal troublemaker she would have known how important what she just seen was. The elder two needed to hear about it.
It took almost a thousandbreath to make it back to the stonewave shelters of her people, risen from the living earth by ancient magics. In the center of the two concentric rings of inward-facing rooves, the Present and the Past were stoking the village fire pit. Alirya, the Past’s wife, sat on a wooden stool, stemweaving another unnecessary leaf cloak. She was the first to notice Gisae’s approach, and her eyes narrowed with mutual disdain.
“The Future comes with her usual impatience,” she sighed to her husband.
There were at least five gestures Gisae felt like making to the old woman, but now that she was a part of the Time, none of them were appropriate. Instead, Gisae chose to take the high road and greet Alirya with the newly-created shamanistic Sign of the Extended Tongue.
“What is it, little burr?” the Present asked. While she balked at the pomp and procedure of her position, she wouldn’t have minded if her father actually treated with the respect due it.
“God was in the wood,” she said. “Kaerbani came, and God himself appeared to smite them back to hell.”
“Sure he did,” Alirya purred condescendingly. At least she did it under her breath.
“You blaspheme,” the Past spat into the fire with a crack. “God is in the land. God is no man.”
“And you suck rocks,” Gisae said. “I know what I saw, old man.”
“Keep a civil tongue, daughter,” the Present said sternly. “Harth has earned your respect.”
“Just so, and so did I when the spirits named me Future. It’s a two way river.”
“One you have rowed far less time than our Past.”
“Look, do you want to hear about this or not?” Gisae demanded. “There is great danger coming, and there’s great hope within our reach.”
The argument was starting to get the attention of the other villagers, who were emerging from their curved homes to watch the upstart Future get herself into more trouble. It had been something of a sport back when Gisae was just the tribal leader’s daughter, but now that she was shaman, it had risen to the level of scandal.
“The Kaerbani have never emerged this far south,” the Past explained didactically. “The demons can only emerge from their hells beyond the Starakar Mountains. Yes, more and more have found their way overland to our valley, but our fields are too pure for them to tear our air.”
“Never in our past has any elder been possessed of the head of an ass, either, but I’m hearing braying tear our air right now.”
“Gisae!” the Present bellowed.
“Jandar, see to your betrothed!” Alirya cawed.
From the crowd of gawkers, a familiar dark-skinned figure stepped forward, a look of worry mixing with embarassment on his features. A few titters rose from the onlookers; what had been only political bickering was now expanding to include domestic obloquy.
“This is not your business, Jand,” Gisae said warningly, not taking her eyes off of the crone.
“Our lives are to be entwined, anything that affects you is mine as well, Gisae,” Jandar said, his large frame making the petite shamaness look even smaller as he stepped up behind her and put his hands comfortingly on her shoulders.
God–who seriously, really did appear before me–save me from men and their good intentions, Gisae thought to herself. No tribe is going to take seriously a Future who can’t even speak truth to her Time. Or her fiancee.
A gesture was called for. Besides, Gisae was angry and wanted to take it out on something.
Usually, the role of a shaman was to act as a liaison between the spirits of the world and the people who lived there. Speak softly, her mentor Yaera had advised, and let your strength come from your truth.
“Stuff that,” Gisae muttered, and told the spirits inside the bonfire how she was being treated. She couldn’t command the ifrits, but they understood anger and reveled in the chance to celebrate it. The gentle stoking of the disdainful men suddenly resulted in a mad pyre of whirling flames.
“Listen. To. Me!” Gisae canted in a loud, dramatically mystical shout. “Our God has appeared to us in a time of dire need! Our peace is in great danger and demons tear our air to come corrupt our very souls! Mock your Future at your own peril, people of Nataal!”
There was a long silence, as the people of her village stared, her truth being balanced in the air around each of them. For a moment, Gisae felt them listening to her words. For a moment she understood what it really was to be a Future… not the onerous ritual but the opening of minds to an unforseen truth.
“Your mother would be ashamed of you,” the Present broke the silence and Gisae’s hopes with the same bitter sentence.
Tears welled in Gisae’s eyes. Fists clenched in her fingers.
Before she could burn every hair off of her das’t father, the towering Jandar put an arm around her protectively and patted her cheek. “He did not mean–” her fiancee started.
“Burn you all!” she cried, yanking herself out of Jand’s embrace. She turned and raced out of the circle, out of the village, out of anything she could run hard enough to get away from. Finally her anger broke inside her, pouring out the self-loathing and despair that had been poisoning it. She fell to her knees and pressed her wet face, draped in hair she hated, to the earth.
“Um, hey,” a voice said. “This might not be the best time…”
She looked up, ready to pour her hate at whomever had followed her, only to look into the unkempt brown hair of God.
“Gisae, right?” he asked. “Look, I’ve got to ask you a really big favor…”
© 2013 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.