by Paul Lang
Thou Nature Art My Goddess
When I finally found him he was sitting on a mossy rock, drinking hand-ground tea out of a wooden cup. There was a green ceiling of tree leaves up in the sky. With his left hand he was caressing a long wooden stick he had leaned against the rock.
His hair and beard were longer than I remembered them from the news, but that was about a year ago and it was no surprise. It had to have been at least a year ago, since the TV’s had all been down for about a year.
In honesty, he looked unusually clean for a man who had been without shelter, new clothes or a shower for a year and a half. He was cleaner than I, that was certain, though his fingernails were stuffed with earth and his feet were decorated with old and new scratches and gashes. He was dirty in my eyes; that was all that mattered
“I guess... I guess... It wasn’t fair, I guess you could say,” he explained to me in an intimate tone.
“Not fair? Please elaborate.” I almost called him “Professor” but that wouldn’t have been right. He had lost his right to any such title. The secret production of sixteen billion nanodrones equipped with tiny state-of-the-art EMP fields was heresy to the Grand Catholic Church of Scientific Genius. I wanted to strike the heretic here and now, but then I wouldn’t learn anything, and my whole foot-weary journey would have been in vain.
“I’m not really sure what you’re talking about, but if you ask me, the one thing that isn’t fair is lying to the entire world, making them wet their pants for fear of the whole planet crumbling under its own gasses and miasmas, then bulldozing all of society as soon as we have our backs turned!”
“Maybe.” He was surprisingly agreeable. Perhaps it was the tea. “Maybe I cheated, but it was a cheat in the name of fair play.” He raked his rigid fingernails across his shoulder to scratch and itch. He looked like an animal.
“Mankind has had an unfair advantage ever since Prometheus fell from the sky like lightning to give us fire. Back then, one might have thought we were the disadvantaged ones, but we were given our own advantage of intellect, yes, and emotion.”
My blood began to boil. My heart beat like a jungle drum. Something moved in the low forest thicket. “We trusted you! All of us! You were my role model!”
Throughout my whole journey I had had a mental image of myself sitting down politely and explaining point by point what was incorrect about what this man had done. Now that I had actually met him face to face I broke down. But though I struggled to keep my eyes straight and keep my voice from cracking, he never lost his smug expression.
“Tell me, when was the last time ‘civilized man’ ate another race of ‘civilized men’?” he asked me nonchalantly, as if totally ignoring my outburst.
I answered him only with a disgusted glare.
He understood my answer without any more hints. “Right, but we accept it as the normal course of nature for the beasts in the dust that devour each other, don’t we?”
He snorted. I let him go on.
“Yes, this is the way it was meant to be. Mankind has had its chance to evolve, but in our convenient comfort we were frozen. We have shown that we cannot evolve any further.”
A mosquito landed on his shoulder and he slapped it flat without looking. “Every race that loses its dominance has a disaster. Man’s disaster, man’s disease, was his disdain for the safe, metal world that his forefathers built around him, the birth of those who saw his castles in the sand and despised them, those who stepped aside and allowed the surf to wash them away and pulverize them. Yes, I am man’s disease.”
At that moment I could have sworn I saw his hair fly up like the fur on the back of a disturbed house cat. Saliva dribbled down his wrinkled lips. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a bone, yes, a human bone! It was sitting charred and black at the edge of a burned-out campfire.
His hand moved like the head of a serpent, like the tongue of a frog. With his fingers like flailing tadpoles he whipped up the sharpened piece of oak he had resting against the side of his rock. The stinger was in my chest before I could breathe. The king of this cursed jungle called the earth, the beast had caught his prey.
I dropped down on the forest floor, my face meeting billions upon billions of microscopic decomposers. I breathed my last breath. I looked up at him with my weak, human eye.
He took a leisurely sip of tea, likely his habit before eating dinner. “Or maybe I just like trees,” he suggested, looking up at the green ceiling in the sky.
Copyright © 2011 by Paul Lang