Friday, February 01, 2008

The Villagers (December 10, 2007)

I have journeyed too many years to recall. Somewhere along the path I lost the agility of my youth. Frigid conditions deposited a certain chill within my bones. My muscles grew thick under the many heavy burdens I carried. My sinew grew as rigid as my opinions and reason. I even grew fat with experience. Aches and pains like knowledge keep gnawing at my mind for recognition. Grey hairs and not so supple skin are small tokens of revelation to others what cannot be shared.

Today I arrived at one of the strangest places one can visit. It was a small village that was oblivious to the real world I had journeyed. The people were tall in stature with broad shoulders and under ideal conditions would be a robust clan. This ideal was not present and they were healthy in all ways but completely famished. Their smiles were contrived while they lived in their fears and phobias. Though they toiled for sustenance constantly there was always a state of lack. The children were listless with the hope of becoming just like mom and dad.

The village itself lacked soil, water, and other natural resources. Its ability to expand was reduced by these limitations. Up a large hill, maybe even a mountain was a very large meadow that could easily feed the entire village but it lay fallow. On the other side were crags and what appeared to be a volcanic cataract (the heat which could be felt throughout the meadow). I suspect that is why it had remained un-worked.

Talking with the villagers netted many strange myths and a legend of the fire god of the mountain. The people talked of the fire god increasing the heat if anyone went to work the meadow. That is why it was not touched. It was actually revered as hollowed ground only traversed by the mystic elders. Sometimes they would walk the field appeasing the fire god with petitions and offerings. Sometimes the fire god would show his favor by leaving books in their language in the field. These books spoke of history, economics, administrations, governing, and many other subjects the elders would use to educate the masses. The people thought themselves very wise because they were taught by the gods.

I was taken in by the elders and kept as an enigma to the common people. They took great interest in my travels and some of the documents I possessed. I didn't mind this arrangement because these people were an enigma to me. The other thing that troubled me most was the volcanic cataract. I had studied many maps and something in my memory plagued me about this cataract. It was an ancient map floating in my head but not yet connected to where I saw it that made me think this village and meadow was supposed to be near some of the largest mineral deposits known to man and some of the plushest gardens. If I was correct then these people were on the cusp of luxury yet ignorant and without hope. Could it be that the map was wrong or that there was some eruption I had not heard of that changed the landscape? This was always circling in my mind as I spoke with the elders.

The elders and I went over the books and discussed the topics. Sometimes it was a heated debate but that only happened when I was forceful about my opinion. This I rarely did out of respect and a certain indifference to their stubbornness. This event only happened behind closed doors in the elder's hall. They had a custom of open government so a scribe was always present. After three days the elder's spokesman would take the tablets from the scribe and read them to the public. My first listen to one of these orations that discussed a meeting of which I had attended had taken just a few facts and wove them into a complete fabrication. They were open governors; open to drama and screenwriting. As a stranger and guest I was never tempted to insert my knowledge. It was my experience that most people prefer a good story as opposed to the truth. Actually the truth was an offense and generally the quickest path to a revolt. There is probably some long psychological term to describe this pathetic state but I was not familiar with it. It seemed to work for them like choreographed dance that required a leader and a follower. As I mulled over these books a childlike question entered my mind and before I could capture it my mouth spoke it. "How is it that a fire god can deliver these books to you without a single singe or scorching?" Their retort was likewise childlike "Who are we to question the gods? God can do anything he desires." "The books are not all we get from the fire god he also supplies all our money" "What money do you speak of?" I asked. At this they showed me some very sophisticated bills of various denominations. The books were one thing but the fire god being the people's mint was too bizarre not to create a thousand questions. "How long has the fire god supplied your money? Why does it have any value to your people? How do you know how much you will get and when?"

Fortunately for me an elder, whose name translated, was Phoenix, rose from the ashes of my curiosity to give me a discourse. "As long as I have been alive it has been our custom to take the best of what we have and bring it to the field as an offering. If the gods are pleased with it by morning it is gone. This we must do with food, grain, minerals, wine, or anything we produce four times a year. We must also take every unit of money and place it with the offering. The gods have us fixed on about 2,000 units a person, an adult. (I'll insert here the units when translated are called Reals [re-als] like in reality not reels) when they are angry with us they reduce it and when they are pleased they increase. When we return to the village it gets distributed out in proportion to each villager until the next offering. What becomes most difficult is that we don't know which way it will go or why. No matter which way it goes the gods will never tolerate slack. They demand a certain measure absolutely. When the money is increased the prices go up. The worst though is when the money is decreased. When that happens some can't pay their way and the elders have to foreclose on behalf of the gods. We have to liquidate everything they have give 80% in offering to the gods, 10% to the elders, and 10% we return to the villager to help them start over. We also try and find them a second job. In the worst situations villagers have killed themselves over this but all have to trust the gods. Most will dig down for a little more strength or get the wife and children working. Many times these families turn things around. Our most famous case of this is elder Badger over there, (he pointed) Badger lost everything when he was about 30. He had 3 kids and a wife. He was betting on a good harvest and the gods blessing, which was looking pretty good at the time. Out of nowhere some locust came flying off the mountain and destroyed most of what we had.

gods were furious because they reduced our money like never before. There were many foreclosures at the time. How can you reason with the gods? Anyway, he is now one of the most prosperous and became an elder for his good work in teaching economic. Most of the elders are hereditary positions but when a line dies out we select one of the ablest from the commoners. That is how Badger arrived.

The next question I had was birthed out of what I just heard. "What is the oldest history of your people? How long have you been here?" Phoenix politely said that the elder who was the best historian should answer that question and he called over Jade. Jade listened to my questions and began: "We are a people loosely formed about 230 years ago. At that time we were at war with an oppressive tribe. The battles were severe and the toll was heavy upon our people. Our great ancestor Abclause called a national day of prayer and fasting for victory. He said that a messenger came to him from the gods who were willing to secure our victory if we would serve and obey them. The messenger was mystical to the people but the elders knew him as a little man named Cricket that was brokering for the gods. Cricket said he would supply us ample money for all the weapons and supplies needed but that once victory was obtained we would have to pay it back to the gods who made them available to him. He did all he said he would. Money came fluidly and we used it to buy everything needed to win and win we did. At our victory celebration Abclause and Cricket spoke. Abclause's speech was brief but poignant "People we have won a freedom for us today to be an independent people. Your bravery and effort made you accomplish it. This all came into being though by the generosity of the gods. We had not known these gods before but they have chosen us and we have agreed to serve them. Their agent Cricket will tell us the terms which are also written as a perpetual decree. To the gods be the glory." Cricket then spoke. "The gods are very pleased with you this day. They intend on giving you a sign of this pleasure and a sign to all that surround you that they are powerful and should be revered. First they are demanding that you set out of a pilgrimage 3 days to the tar pits, fast on this journey and pray and then hold a one day feast there of song, dance, and thanksgiving. Return fasting and upon your return will be the sign waiting for you. All must go on this journey without exception or the gods will take displeasure upon you and assist your enemies. From this time on you will have to make offerings every quarter and do what the gods request of you through your elders. The gods will assist you with knowledge and wisdom. The gods salute you and it was my pleasure to be of service to you. You will no longer see me again. Now return to your celebration." This was the essence of that day. When we returned from the journey the fire mountain had appeared and the meadow was now off limits." Jade finished.

I was beginning to suspect a genius plan of intelligent design too depraved for a good god or too simple for an evil god. It started to have all the marking of a conquest to me. This I did not share but my investigations continued. That fire mountain could not find a resting place in my soul. There was something blazing upon my suspicions I couldn't quite sooth. I sought a day with the villagers by the elders permission with the vow of secrecy. As I meandered through the streets I found the people very pleasant and optimistic about how tragic they felt their lives were. The all thought the gods could be nicer to them but remember that it was the gods that bought them their freedom and they felt blasphemous is their contempt. In this way they were very mystical. They were a subordinate people that trusted their elders. Though they had caught them in lies they didn't think it too serious since it was the gods really making the decisions over their lives. I asked them if anyone ever farmed the meadow on the hill. Their answers were spooky. There were many different myths as to what would happen if any ever tried. All these myths had the common theme of displeasure to the gods and death or peril to the violator. From this I took my leave and rested for the night.

The next morning I decided that I needed to take a little walk in the meadow. I had already discovered in passing that the temperature was going to be a little warm. This reminded me of the time I spent with an Australian buddy in Scandinavia in the sauna. We had to wear a special felt hat because of the temperature. The saunas there were 220° and would bake your brain quickly without these hats. I happened to have mine with me because I found it effective in hot or cold situations. I dawned the hat and scant clothing and headed to the meadow. I had with me a small table, a drawing-note pad, and a glass of wine with a fine cigar. I set up the table with all the supplies and then headed to the right side of the field. I turned left going directly to the fire mountain at the far right position. I had a temperature gage conspicuously hidden within my right palm. At the turn the temperature was 128° and it increased about 10% every fifty feet or so. As I got to the very edge where there was a culvert about 20 ft. wide except in one spot that protruded out to as close as 6 ft. This natural jetty would be only realistic place to navigate this mountain from the meadow without severe difficultly. I continued left running parallel with the culver headed toward the center of the mountain where the cataract of lava flowed. The temperature strangely enough decreased about halfway between the far right position and the center and then increased to the exact measurement of the right position. I found this very curious because I have never experience nature operating so precisely. To further my concerns of skepticism was the exact same pattern between the central position and the far left. I was a bit sloppy wet by now and wanted to cool down in thought and body. I returned to the table to enjoy my wine and cigar which I brought for this purpose. As I sat there looking upon this mountain I took the pad and began to sketch and jot down some ideas as notes. I took a sip of wine and set the glass down. That's when I noticed. The shadow wasn't aligned with the shadow on the mountain. This reminded me of one of my first journeys. When I was a young lad I came across and old prospector who used to speak with a certain raw wisdom. He said things like; "kick the dirt until it kicks back on you, even babbling brooks have something to say if you'll listen," and the one that fit my current situation perfectly was, "if the shadows aren't right the substance isn't right." Now the difference was not much but significant. Imagine if you will a sundial giving you two different times from a single light source and you can imagine how queer this was. Next I watched the cataract easily for an hour. I noticed a crescent shaped hot spot that flowed down which was not that unusual until I saw it again and again and timed it at 4:28 intervals. Now there is no way in hell this is possible in nature. I was dealing with a projection of intellect that was not a god's. I sketched out the mountain until that plaguing though of the map became clear. I had not seen it on a map but in a book. It was a perfect replica of a drawing from an ancient copy of Dante's inferno. Not in two dimensions but in three. Somebody was duping these villagers, but who was my question? At this discovery I elected to return to the village. The villagers were no longer quite the enigma as upon my arrival. They were dupes and I had seen that hundreds of times in my journeys. Now the enigma was who or what was behind it. I wasn't looking to be the champion of these villagers or anything like that I just wanted to know. If they liked their arrangements who was I to interfere. Many thoughts filled my mind before I retired for the night but at the end of the day I knew I was leaving the village in the morning. I was going to leave early and head straight for that mountain. A short sprint even with my equipment would propel me to the jetty.

The morning came and before the sun could cast it's deceptive shadows I was packed and headed to the meadow. I had my knives, hatchet, gun, maps, books, and stock of food. I had said my good-byes on friendly terms but I could tell they were a little caught off guard by my sudden departure. The elders actually had a very concerned look upon their face as though something had slipped their control and they didn't know what the cost of that act was going to be but they were certain there was going to be a cost. I did nothing to settle their minds. I kind of enjoyed it because I really didn't know the answer they were seeking intuitively. What I had decided to do was to make my early exit and walk to the meadow. Even though I was not scantly dressed I would run full speed toward the mountain heat and all and long jump to the jetty. If this mountain was real and I was delusional this could be a very dangerous exercise. I would fall off into the culvert and probably cook trying to get out. I was about as certain as I could be that risking my life seemed no risk at all. Nature is not that queer and I am not that stupid.

Leap, land, roll and surprise was about how it went. I had cleared the culvert easily and rolled straight through the mirage which was a mountain to the villagers. The surprise was not mine alone. What I saw was a bunch of little people. Not like dwarfs with compacted features but simply little people completely proportioned but small. They all seemed to be fat in their bellies from a good life of luxury. They were laughing, playing games, drinking wine, smoking, and eating until shock overtook their lives and faces. There were three blast furnaces that were being monitored by a couple of workers each. They were the heat source for the meadow. Their placement at the far right, left, and center accounted for the variations of heat I recorded. Hanging about 30 feet in the air was some type of projector. Nothing I had seen before. It was obviously the source of the fire mountain. It had hundreds of lenses poking out of it like a porcupine but they didn't shine like a luminescent bulb. They must have been of some laser type. I couldn't imagine how the act was accomplished but I noticed it took electricity because there was a long power cord running up a tree and then suspended in the air between the tree and projector. Very quickly about a dozen of these little folks came rushing towards me. They did not have weapons or evil intent the best I could tell. It was a good thing because I suspected I could take a couple of hundred out by myself. These were the elders and immediately they began bargaining with me. I wasn't interested and told them I was just passing through. They wanted to know if I had revealed my knowledge to any of the villagers. I assured them no and that I wasn't interested in their plight. I was passing through and this was the shortest path to my destination and that's why I took it. They seemed content with this and offered me some hospitality. They were bright and witty with a great sense of humor. They did show some signs though of uncomfortableness about the size difference. Still with a little wine, time, and conversation this seemed to dissipate a little. About three hours later, which was about sunrise, old Abclause came running toward the jetty as I. The projection worked in such a way as a one way mirror. Those inside could see everything going on outside but none could see in. He didn't do the tuck and roll as I because he apparently knew what to expect. It was obvious this was not his first trip. He was shocked to see me but also relieved that he had instantly figured out that I was being entertained.

Abclause joined us and made many conversation probes to see if I had evil intent. All the parties made it clear that I was barred from a return to the village ever again and that I must exit according to my plan through the valley's backside. All the assurances were easy because I was agreeable almost 100%. One thing though I must mention about myself is that my father raised me to be a honest man. There was always this little thing that boiled in me when I came across a cheat, especially an intentional one. That's what these little men and the village elders were up to plain and simple. I thought after all the courting that I would offer my best hatchet as a gift of good graces between us at my parting. After a few hours of them wanting to know how I figured it out so that they could make improvements and assure no village became as wise it was time to leave. Now this hatchet was my favorite and to part with it was difficult. I was a champion ax thrower and this hatchet was handcrafted for me as my competition ax. It was of the best metals and perfectly balanced. I had grown so comfortable with it as an extension of my arm that I could divide a frog’s hair from fifty feet. Of course I did not share that skill with my evil host. I acted a little more tipsy than I was and became loquacious and good-humored. Even old Abclause settled into a comfort of a security that his racket and fraud were secure. That was not true but it was good to see him enjoy himself one last time. I told them I needed to leave and pack my stuff. I offered all the polite courtesies and refused any further hospitality or gifts. I insisted though that I must give them this hatchet for it was my custom if anyone showed me the kindness of the magnitude I received that I was required to leave a gift. I made up a story about how I would need my knife and various other tools to survive and that the hatchet was special not for the reasons it truly was but because my father gave it to me. I passed it around and they all enjoyed the look and feel session until it return to my hand. I began my exit walking as though inebriated and we all laughed. I then bragged about how sharp it was and how your can even throw it. I turned quickly in a very coordinated and calculated direction though disguised as a jerky stumble of a drunk and threw it straight into the power cord. Cut it smack down the middle. I laughed and chuckled acting oblivious to what just happened as they all suddenly turned stone sober. The mountain was gone. I continued my exit as though nothing happened until it was no longer possible. There was fear and ciaos on every face and in every action. They wanted to kill me but I was able to sell the accident quality of my behavior. I apologized profusely with vain offers of trying to fix it. I took advantage of being drunk in their minds the best I could. I think I was doing a little Foster Brooks impersonation. Well it wasn't long before villagers began rushing up to the meadow. I was leaving and nobody seemed to care. They were in that strange naked place of being caught without their wardrobe of deceit. I could see Abclause and the tiny men elders trying to come up with the spin before the villagers arrived but there was obviously no agreement or joy.

It's been years now since this journey and I often wonder if the villagers have been duped again. Perhaps truth crashing in on them has changed their nature. It still amazes me how tiny men can steal the energy and resources of the real men so easily. There must be some principle or random joke pervading the universe that allows what should be impossible to continue to happen. Did the villagers exact restitution, find justice, or were they beguiled again. Their elders compromised their own people for the privilege of luxury from the tiny men. Will they be forgiven, punished, or believed. I don't know the answers to this village and have no plans in my journeys to arrive there again, but I can say I have seen this many places. This one is the only one I have had the opportunity to expose. Though it was in passing, I'm glad I did. Something tells me though there might be a tiny man behind the next illusion because they seemed addicted to the power and luxury of human slavery.


Scott from Vineland said...


Should have known it wouldn't last.

SOP, are you unable to AFFORD your meds or do you just not like the way they make you feel?

neodemes said...

SOP, please return to The Village.

They are one idiot short.

judge allslop said...

As I sit perched high above the court room in my over stuffed leather chair, tossing whom ever I please for whatever charge,for any length of time as pleases me, this voice comes into my brain...I am the god of hell fire, and I bring you
Fire,I'll take you to burn
fire,I'll take you to learn
I'll see you burn...

Scott from Vineland said...

Hey, what the.... ?

Imagine if SOP were to delete ALL of his posts from the entire blog, including all of his A/K/A's. You could skim through this thing in about 30-40 minutes! ;-)