MUSING THE ELEVENTH

        Occasionally, in my weaker moments, I wonder if one of my ancestors was unreasonably cruel to a traveling hag or hermit. Somebody out of a storybook, both willing and able to lay curses on a man or woman as well as all of their descendants. Rationally I know how ridiculous that sounds. But in the dark of night, when it seems like the city you've built is crashing down around you, rationality doesn't always hold the power it once did.

        I keep wondering to myself, every day, what happened? When did this turn take place? We've been climbing the mountain for so long, when did this crevasse open under our feet and take the whole party sliding down?

        I don't sleep anymore. An hour here, an afternoon nap there, bits and pieces, but not enough. It's never enough. And it's my fault. I know it's my fault. It must be my fault because nobody bothers me anymore. Nobody seems to want to be in the same room with me unless they have to. I don't know if I've even had somebody look me in the eye in weeks.

        I brought everybody together. Our whole Organization. I brought us all into one place because I thought that I could keep us safe. I thought I was doing the right thing. Above all else, I beg you to understand that, at least.

        I thought I was doing the right thing.

        Blind and deaf. I must have been blind and deaf. What killed the world of the Other-Earth? Humanity coming together. A more literal sense for them than for us, we're not melting into each other's bodies, but the Voices showed us. They showed me. And this old man was too blind and deaf and stupid to look at the picture set before his eyes and realize that it was a shadowed mirror.

        Hubris and self-hatred are my two states of being now. I'm either a God or a Devil in my own mind, and I can't seem to remember what it's like to simply be a man. Maybe that time is gone. Maybe that's another thing I've missed in the messages from the Voices. Maybe the time of being men and women and human beings is over.

        The question then becomes, what will we be, if we're allowed to continue on? Evolution or devolution? Can we ascend to a high state of being, or should we return to the safety of the caves and the trees? I just don't know.

        The amount of violence in our home sickens me, but I also feel a strange addiction to it. I know it's necessary, keeping order is necessary, but the beatings and the lashings that have been administered as of late are starting to become the only times that I feel in control. So, in yet another one of my failings, I let them continue until I am satisfied. And it keeps taking longer and longer to satisfy me.

        Our garden, where we used to grow the food that nourished our bodies and nourished our work, is filling quickly with death. The bodies of friends and coworkers. Family. I have no doubt that they deserve to be there, but it does pain me. I do not enjoy the role of cruel patriarch, it's a part that I'm forced to play. A necessary part, but a dirty part. And I feel it. I feel the grime and the grit that come from my actions. It seeps into my skin and stains me.

        I should sleep, but something won't let me. I should clean myself but when I happen to catch sight of myself in the mirror, it's my Father I see, and I shrink back and away from his cruelty. Now my cruelty, I suppose.

        I had...let's call it a hope. An unspoken hope. Maybe, just maybe, the Voices would show us something like heaven. A place where consciousness can travel to after death. It seems only fair that consciousness, being a whole that is greater than the sum of it's parts, would remain, in a sense, after those parts have disbanded and returned themselves to other roles in the universe.

        I thought that maybe I would get a chance to see my Mother again, in some form, at least. And I could tell her about all the things I did with my life. And I could show her all the wonders that she missed when she had moved into the spaces where the Voices dwell. And I could tell her how much I missed her. How much her love still means to me.

        I say that I had a hope. I have that hope no longer.

        When I think of traveling to the space wherein the Voices dwell, I don't see it as a comfort anymore. I don't think I'll be welcomed with love and with kindness. I think it's very likely to be a place of righteous judgment. I think that if, and when, I am sent Beyond, I will have to answer for what I've done here. And that frightens me. So to prolong the time before I must answer for my crimes, perpetrated in good faith or not, I send person after person, friend after friend, into the long dark before me.

        When I go, there will be a company of dead friends that await me.

        And I can only hope they will treat me better than I've treated them.