The arrival of an intelligent being from elsewhere in the galaxy causes society to crumble and restructure itself in illogical, gruesome, and mystical ways, latching on to all the gods of humanity to make sense of their new world.
Here it is!
The Murdered Seer
I don’t have much time. I’m told the boat is leaving soon, and I can’t afford to wait another seven years. But yes, I was one of them. I scrawled prayers against the limestone bricks in dark alleyways, I raised souls from hell.
We made a calculated guess when we decided to kill the Seer and I cannot be blamed. It’s written in our constitution that I cannot be blamed. Our constitution etched into the sand and swept away with the incoming tide, but which nevertheless existed for a moment. Of course we wrote it in anticipation of the conspiracy. How else could we keep things legal?
Yes, some say it was the shifting of the poles, some say a single paranormal solar eclipse, some say an alien attack; the Seer never mentioned the cause. I’m sure you have your explanations wherever you come from. Of course some here say it never happened at all. This, as I’m sure you agree, is idle metaphysical speculation, for there is the proof of the event all around us. They then, the neo-skeptics, as they prefer to called, would argue that the process of deduction and proof was brought by the Seer himself, and didn’t exist before, and exists now only as an illusion. How easy for them to speculate at their leisure, appeased as they are by the Priests, gorged with fruit by uneducated and lustful young girls, suppliant at their dutifully unwashed feet. What a shock they’ll get when they find the Seer is gone! Here, you can see his blood still drying on my hands, and his skin still lodged between my fingernails.
I of course am a believer. Sound logic could not steer one otherwise. From where, I ask, came all the books? Who raised the towers, who paved these roads? What sculptor chiseled the idols, what architect designed the shrines? Some illusion for a single man! And I see you looking about you for these books and towers. I can see that is what you came to our famed city to see. But from the brandings on your forehead it seems you’ve ventured through the North Waterfront at sunrise. How unfortunate. You came in search of the wonders of New Israel, and instead you found this. Yes you caught the boat bright-eyed, but now your eyes are glazed with sorrow. Like the rest of us. That’s how you can tell a New Israelite from a visitor these days, by the thin layer of melancholy layered upon their eyes. Now people come and search in vain for the libraries, finding instead angular grey masks shaped from hardened lard lining the illuminated bookshelves. They bring their sketchpads to draw the splendid figures of the gods, but instead find only piles of rubble, each with a single rose decaying upon it.
Ah, there is the whistle! I haven’t much time. If only I’d found you sooner, I’d have taken you through the back roads where the visitors daren’t go. Hoist up a chair in a particular tattoo parlor and underneath you emerges the expelled grotto of Jesus the Sacrificed. Mutter a few dark words over the body of a slaughtered dog in the Quarry at the Southern Rocks and the white boulders will roll aside to expose an underground highway.
Magic you ask? Ha! Magic is ethereal, my boy, pure, above the toil and grime. There isn’t an ounce of magic here in New Israel. At least no longer.
I believe it was frustration that compelled us to destroy the city the first time around. Frustration only. Frustration that our ancestors’ thousands of years’ worth of searching were in an instant brought to zero. True, the relics of that search remained, but the only tools left to interpret such relics were our empty brains. Useless.
Although memory, wisdom and learning can be wiped out, instinct, of course, cannot be unlearnt. So we at first, and I’m sure it was the same where you are from, searched for any edible morsel amongst this city preserved in time; we found flesh to please ourselves with; we searched for warm places to sleep. We tore the city apart, but only on a juvenile, egocentric and unorganized level, nothing like the mass destruction that would follow, and nothing comparable to the mayhem that will ensue once they discover the Seer has been murdered.
I still remember the day he arrived! He said he’d been in space, and his was the last craft to return after the dismantling of the International Space Station. We didn’t even understand the noises he was making at first. But he soon taught us. And after language came logic. And after logic came research, and as it so happened his story was corroborated by the research that we carried out, using the tools and the knowledge that he, too, gave us. Do you see the problem now?
We were overwhelmed by his knowledge and did exactly what he said. The city was designated by the Seer into precincts of learning, a discipline being allocated to each Grotto. The Grotto of Apollo scoured the books of architecture, measured the angles and took samples of the many glorious buildings. My home Grotto, that of Krsna, focused on the various languages. How else could I be speaking with you right now? Why else would I be so confident in boarding this boat, which by the way seems to be raising its sails. Nevermind, I still have a minute.
After years of study and learning there were minor uprisings in the Grottos. The members of the Grotto of Thor, who were avidly studying, debating, and practicing politics, were called upon to deal with the uprisings, but their stealthy assassination of the ring leaders at a theatrical performance in the Grotto of Dionysus did little to quell the situation. In fact, many consider this to be the point of no return, the start of the downward spiral.
Of course when you boarded the ship here you would have heard only of our city’s majesty, of our commitment to learning, of our all-knowing Seer and our intellectual peoples, of our revival of farming, electrics, plumbing, mass entertainment. Much can happen, however, in the three months it takes to cross our ocean. The books have been burned, the Grotto idols almost all demolished, and our visitors are now animals to be claimed by the various factions. You will not be allowed to leave, I’m afraid, now that you are branded. The Captain won’t dare let you onto the boat (we’ve all become superstitious) and soon the drifters of the North Waterfront will be here to take you away.
You see why I’ve killed the Seer. Sometimes it’s better to let people crawl out of the dark on their own. Gradually of course, or they might go blind for good. When the fighting is done they will all wake up to find they have nobody to turn to. There will only be themselves and civilization will have to be rebuilt with the power of their own imaginations.
Now I must run, they are making the final call. I would invite you to come with me, I have an extra ticket. I found it in the Seer’s pocket. Sadly, it’s not at all your choice. You must stay and be a part of the destruction, and in time create your own civilization, and be a Seer unto yourself. I for one have had enough.
Can I take a message to your family?