The Land Before Death

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is the story of how death came to be in my little world of imagination.

Submitted: May 26, 2014

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Submitted: May 26, 2014

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There once was a place called The Place, where the myths were the truth and the truth was a myth. People laughed at the tale of science, and laughed even harder when hearing the word “death.” Magic was  considered a reasonable explanation for things, and living forever was the norm. Although immortal, not all the people were gods, but those who were gods were highly respected by the others. Most of the gods had names such as No One, Nobody, Someone, Somebody, and so on. The youngest three, however, had names composed of Greek letters: Chi Psi Omega (???), Sigma Sigma Eta (???), and Gamma Rho Delta (???). All three were the children of No One and Somebody, and all three were almost too different from one another to be known as brothers.

Chi Psi Omega was the god of evil. He had strange powers, such as walking through walls and turning invisible. He was often considered the best-looking of the three and was the only one married at that time. Sigma Sigma Eta was the god of good. He had many minor powers, but his favorite was shape-shifting. Although most people didn’t think he was quite as handsome as his brother, many of women loved him for his kind heart. However, he refused to marry any of them for fear of making the others upset. Gamma Rho Delta was probably the strangest of the three. None of the people knew what his powers were, and he often disappeared from company. He told his brothers that he didn’t like too much attention being drawn to himself. They believed him, but some people began to spread rumors that he practiced the dark arts, and he didn’t want to be seen doing so. They said, too, that this was also the reason he didn’t show anyone his powers; and so people began to question Somebody’s claim that her oldest son was the god of balance.

One day, Chi Psi Omega was sitting under a cherry tree by a river. “Gamma’s been stealing off to himself more than usual,” he said to his approaching brother, Sigma Sigma Eta. “Have you ever considered that the tales of him practicing the dark arts may be true?”

“It is possible, but I highly doubt it,” Sigma told him. He walked over and sat down beside his brother. The two of them entertained themselves for a while by throwing stones into the river and seeing who could make the biggest splash. Sigma won against Chi almost every time. One time, Chi almost picked up a large rock to throw, but his brother told him that that would be cheating, and that they were only allowed to use pebbles; but what Sigma didn’t realize was that Chi wasn’t going to throw the rock into river, but at the victor’s head.

After the game continued for a few more minutes, they heard a scream: “Stop throwing rocks into my river, you horrible child!” The two of them both turned their heads to see Somebody, the goddess of dirty and clean (and, of course, their mother) storming her way up to the hill to where the boys were sitting. “How dare you put your filthy hands on the pebbles by my riverside?” she screamed. Then, with the snap of her fingers, she covered Chi with a fresh layer of dirt. She often punished people by making them dirty and rewarded them with cleanliness. For Chi, this meant constant filth. For Sigma, this meant being the only known person, besides the goddess herself, to smell good all day, every day.

“This is unfair!” yelled Chi. “I wasn’t the only one to throw pebbles into your river. In fact, Sigma Sigma Eta, the god of ‘all that is good and all that is wonderful’ is the one who thought of this game! I don’t see why I should be punished more than he, when we were doing the same thing, and when he is more to blame than I!”

He stomped his foot on the ground and walked away just as his mother was saying to Sigma, “Oh, my poor child! How dare such an evil creature act so disrespectful in the presence of two such well-behaved gods?”

Chi kept walking for almost an hour, and stopped in the middle of a forest because he was tired. He was happy to be a few miles away from home, away from his annoying brothers and horrible mother. She probably doesn’t even care that I’m gone, he thought. I bet she hopes that I’ll never return. “But I’d be glad to not return!” he said aloud, with enough volume to send a few birds flying from the trees. He then sat down on the fallen leaves, making a loud rustling sound that scared even more birds into flight. He watched them go until they were hidden by the thick foliage, then returned his gaze to the forest floor.

He scooped up some leaves in his hand, crushed them, and let the brown pieces drift down to the ground from which he had picked them up. He then picked up more leaves, and found that one of them was still green. It wouldn’t crumble like the others, so he began tearing it into pieces instead. Before he could make a second rip in the leaf, he heard a voice yelling, “Stop!” An echo repeated that word several times before Chi turned his head in the direction of the call. There stood Gamma Rho Delta, his brother, the one thought to be the god of balance.

“What do you care of a stupid leaf?” asked Chi. “It’s already fallen from the tree, and doing nothing any good.”

“It’s a science experiment,” answered his brother.

Chi stared at him for a while, then said, “A science experiment? You’re using this leaf as a science experiment? All the people, all the gods, even the plants know that there’s no such thing as science. The sun isn’t a giant ball of gas! It’s not a star!  The sun, Gamma, is carried across the sky by Apollo in his chariot! Science’s explanations for things don’t even make sense. Those who believe in such a childish tale are even more ridiculous!”

“It’s not ridiculous if you have proof,” Gamma told him. “Science, unlike magic, has an explanation. Even if those explanations make no sense, at least science tries to explain things. Think about it! When a person asks you, ‘How does the river flow?’ wouldn’t you rather have an explanation, rather than telling them, ‘It’s just magic?’”

“Not if it means telling them about something that isn’t real,” Chi answered. Both brothers were silent for a while. Birds began returning to the trees, and just as the first one started up its song, Chi asked Gamma, “Just out of curiosity, what kind of science experiment were you doing?”

Gamma smiled and pulled out a glass bottle full of black liquid from his pocket. He took the leaf from Chi’s hand and removed the cap from the bottle. Slowly, very slowly, he tilted the bottle until one drop of the liquid fell onto the leaf. A black spot appeared where the liquid fell, and the color rapidly covered the entire leaf. It began to shrivel, then to crumble, and then it was completely gone. “Death,” said Gamma, looking at the hand that had once held the leaf. “That leaf just died.”

“It was never alive,” said Chi. “It was just attached to something alive, but the tree let it drop when it wasn’t needed anymore. The tree was alive, and the leaf kept it alive, but once the tree had more leaves to keep it living, it didn’t need that one anymore, and so let it drop. I bet that if you used that potion on the tree, it would not work.”

“It’s not a potion, it’s a chemical, and I bet it would kill this tree,” said Gamma, holding the bottle above the roots of an oak. “We’ll bet on, let’s see, I’ve got ten gold pieces. How much do you have, Chi?”

Chi counted his money and found that he had the same amount. As soon as Gamma was informed of this, he tilted the bottle and let the liquid hit the tree. There was a faint sizzling, but nothing more. When the sound died away, Chi collected his reward and said, “It’s late, Gamma. We should return home.”

As soon as they reached their dwelling, Somebody ran up to them and demanded to know where they had been. Chi told her about the forest, but said nothing about Gamma’s “science.” For bringing his “evil self” to such a normally peaceful place, Chi received a fresh layer of dirt. Gamma was also dirtied for being with him, but still remained cleaner than his brother. “Is there any place I’m allowed to go without being dirtied?” asked Chi.

“Not unless you stop being filthy,” said his mother, “and we all know that’s never going to happen!”

After dinner, Chi saw Gamma sitting in the darkest corner of the house. There were clear bottles filled with strange liquids by his side. “What scientific theory are you working on now?” Chi asked him.

Gamma made a motion with his hand for Chi to come closer. When they were close enough for their heads to touch, Gamma whispered into his brother’s ear, “I figured out why my death wouldn’t work!” Chi rolled his eyes, but before he could reply, Gamma whispered in a harsher tone, “I mean it! I know you think I’m stupid because I believe in death, but just hear me out! When I poured my death on the tree, it did die, but it didn’t look like it died because it had nowhere to go! It’s dead, but its spirit stayed there. Things don’t disappear from existence when they die; their bodies eventually rot away, but not their spirits. There has to be a separate place, a land of the dead, where the spirits of dead things go.”

“Gamma, the world is full of living things that need room,” Chi informed him. “You can’t clear enough space for every single dead thing without taking away all the space from every single living thing.”

Gamma paused and thought for a while. Suddenly, his eyes lit up. “I’ll make the land of the dead under the earth! I’ll have to get a few things ready. Chi, tomorrow, meet me under the cherry tree by the river, and together we will create the Underworld. Oh, and DON’T TELL ANY PEOPLE.

Chi did as his brother asked and met him under the shade of the tree. It was a normal day, and nothing was bad about it; but the two brothers were about to make that all change. As soon as he saw Chi approaching, Gamma took out a bottle filled with a black liquid, similar to the one he had used before. He poured it in a circle on the ground. Immediately, the grass turned black and shriveled up, and then the soil disintegrated. Soon, all that could be seen was a gaping black hole. The two brothers turned and saw rushing towards them the spirit of a tree. Instead of knocking them over, it simply went through them, then disappeared down the hole. Chi looked down and saw, on what must have been a floor, a tiny green dot, which must have been the leaves of that tree, all the way at the bottom of the world. “Now that we know how death works,” said Gamma, “we need some people to die.”

Gamma’s fingertips began to glow, but not brightly, like other lights— this glow was dark and black. It shot out like lightning and went up into the clouds. The whole sky turned black, and it began to rain. Lightning struck, but not ordinary lightning— this lightning was blacker than the hole that led to the Underworld. “The rumors were true, then,” said Chi, “All this time you have been practicing the dark arts! Gamma, you must stop, now!”

“Why should I?” Gamma asked. “You wanted this! You agreed to help me create death! You can’t just back out at the last minute like this!”

Chi shook his head. “I agreed to help you create death,” he said, “but I didn’t agree to stand by your side as you use the dark arts to kill people. I can’t let you do this! You must stop!”

“I will repeat my question: Why should I?” Gamma asked again.

Chi answered immediately, “You must stop because you are becoming more evil than I! I, Chi Psi Omega, am the god of evil, and yet there is still another person out there who is more evil! This isn’t right! The world will fall out of balance! I will do whatever it takes to stop you!”

“Yes, and I will do whatever it takes to stop you from stopping me,” said Gamma.

Chi just grinned. “Do you not know that I can make all of your attacks go through me?” he asked.

“I know that,” said Gamma, “and that is why I must use the only thing capable of hurting anything.” The black glow returned to Gamma’s fingers, but instead of aiming at the clouds, he directed his attack towards his brother’s face. The attack hit, and Chi screamed so loudly that the entire world could hear him. Gamma stood there and watched his brother fall to the ground. He took a deep breath and said, “I’d like to stay and watch you suffer, but I must go. I have become much too evil to live under the sun, to breathe fresh air, to drink clean water, or to be among the living. My soul and my body must go to the Underworld, where they shall remain forever, and where I shall see you soon, brother.” Then he turned to the hole and walked right in, with the ghosts of those whom he had killed following close behind.

“Chi . . . Chi!” Chi slowly opened his eyes and saw Sigma standing over him. “Chi, are you all right?”

Chi sat up. “Sigma… What happened? Where’s Gamma? What’s…” Chi was looking at a deep, black hole in the ground. “Sigma, was that all real? With Gamma creating the Underworld, and turning evil, and . . .”

“Striking you with black lightning?” said Sigma, finishing the sentence for his brother. “Yes, It was all real. All the gods are wondering what happened, and you probably know more than any others. They wanted you to tell them as soon as you regained consciousness.”

Chi was standing up by this point in the conversation. “How long was I out?” he asked. “Have I kept the others waiting long?” Chi noticed that something felt odd about his face as he spoke. He realized that he was probably scarred after being hit with the black lightning.

“Well, I suppose they haven’t been waiting too long,” said Sigma; “I mean, three days isn’t much when you’re immortal.”

Three days!” exclaimed Chi, “I was out for three days? Sigma, how bad is my injury? Have I been checked by a healer?”

Sigma shook his head. “They were all too scared to look,” he said. “I’m sure you’ll be fine, though. I mean, you just woke up, and you’re already on your feet.” He leaned a little closer to Chi and whispered, “You know, that’s better than Mother on a Monday morning!”

“What about my face?” Chi asked him. “Does it look, you know . . . Damaged?”

“You’ll be fine,” said Sigma, pulling his brother towards their house.

On their way, Chi and Sigma met up with many people. A lot of them were weeping over a body that lay motionless on the ground. Chi noticed that Gamma must have killed that person, and that this was his family mourning his death. Chi saw that Sigma was crying, and realized that he, too, felt bad for these poor people. He began to cry with his brother, but noticed that no teardrops were coming out of his eyes. The weirdness of the situation snapped him out of sadness. Sigma seemed to notice, too. “Let’s get to the gods before my nose turns into two slits!” joked Chi.

Sigma looked away from his brother’s gaze. “Okay . . .”

As they continued walking, Chi noticed that none of the people were looking at them; they just walked by with their heads down. Once, Chi caught the gaze of a woman, but as soon as their eyes met, she quickly looked away. “Sigma, what’s going on?” he asked. “These people are acting like they’re scared to look at us.”

“They’re not,” said Sigma, “They’re afraid to look at you.”

Chi didn’t understand why this would be so. “Afraid to look? Why? Sigma, I don’t understand. Why would they be afraid to see me?” Sigma just shook his head and pointed to a mirror that someone had dropped on the ground. Chi ran towards it, sending anyone standing nearby a few steps backward. He picked it up and held it in front of his face. The person he saw in the reflection had two slits for a nose. He had two empty sockets for eyes that looked like bottomless black pits. The stranger had a smile full of sharp teeth that literally stretched from ear to ear. Covering those ears was a mess of ghostly white hair. “You’re joking, right?” Chi asked. “Sigma, please tell me that you’re joking!” Chi didn’t need words. He could tell from his brother’s expression that it was real. The mirror dropped from Chi’s hand. The thin glass shattered, the millions of pieces that broke off from it flying in every direction. The people standing around covered their faces for protection. Chi let himself fall to the ground, despite the shards of glass that dug into his legs, and covered his face and began to cry a tearless cry.


© Copyright 2018 J. D. Blood. All rights reserved.

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