Who argued for my soul?

Having survived the annihilation of the first universe, she seeks to live out her eternity in peace as mother goddess to mankind; but someone else has also survived, and he controls her dreams.

This story first appeared in the Untold Podcast .

—   Story Begins   —

Ouranos, did you know?

Where are you?

There was no war. How can there be a war if the battlefield is no more? If the whole universe is no more?

I never had a chance to join the Liberator. It’s why you distracted me, isn’t it? If I’d allowed him to reshape me from plenum to discreteness, if I had acquired what he called a ‘body’, made of particles, positive and negative, pinned on the plenum, held together by the stress and strain of its face, I would be no more. I felt it happen to the rest.

Who could have guessed that move by the Enemy? That he would do such a thing frightens me. Still… glorious extravagance: to destroy an entire universe, to obliterate the work of eons of eons of eons, just to keep it from falling into the Liberator’s hands. And no one suspected he would. Clearly, we knew him less than we should.

Did the Liberator know — and not tell us? Why?

I did not sense his oblivion. The others screamed. I can’t forget the sound of their agony. Plummeting from the finite to the infinitesimal: such a fall should’ve taken forever, yet it was over before it had begun. What the Liberator had crafted as charges, poles to anchor thingness, no longer exist in here, whatever here is. They are now indivisible, fused together for all eternities. Now they can only exist as dipoles, microscopic spinning vortices trapped within singularities. Prisons without dimension.

Terrifying irony: They are charges again! But of the other kind. The Enemy turned the plenum inside out. I can feel it now. There are vibrations traveling through this universe, like before, electric and magnetic; but the only charges allowed to exist free, separate, are electric: two kinds, and infinitely deep. Maybe a body could be shaped from them. No. Even if I knew how, I wouldn’t dare. They seem finite on the outside but I know it’s the plenum cloaking their nakedness. I can still feel the others, sheared forever into nothingness within their endless depths.

Ouranos, this plenum — it’s constrained! Three dimensions of space and only one of time. How do you wrap eons of eons of eons into one line? And why? Maybe… Yes, with only three of space, the plenum folds. The creases keep the charges from collapsing into each other. They remain bound, neutral, forming pockets of thingness with hundreds of shapes, unable to pull on each other anymore except through the strain on the folds. Torment upon torment! I think, the others can still feel each other through those folds, and remember they had being.

I am frightened of this Enemy. I do not feel him. I think he’s outside. Yet now everything moves on its own. One of time! One direction with no allegiance to space. With only one direction it has the power to shape, to separate! It does: Matter from Space, finite spheres within the infinite sphere. It’s a beautiful shape — that I can take. But it is more than that. It has texture now, recursive, from the large to the small: Things upon things, different together, hard, soft, ephemeral, cold and burning.

Earth, it’s called. Let me be like it.

Gaea I will be.

And there is a marvel all around me, fluid, dense, incompressible, hugging my skin, and thinning to near nothingness at the very rim.

Then the plenum sings! Everywhere all at once. It is Light. Infinitely powerful and yet I can stop it and cast a shadow. My garments of fluid let it through. Water from water divide. Above me a sky — It reminds me of you. Ouranos, I miss you.

Part of me is naked.

Why?

Oh. I — give birth. Matter with life, life of its own? How can it be? But they breathe and they drink and they raise their arms in worship to the sky. Ouranos, they would love you. And we are not alone. I see now the source of the light, everywhere, out there near and far. Are you out there in one? Ah. I give birth again, in water and land; and these can move. And they can breed. I cry, I laugh. I need. I want. I miss you. If you could only see.

It is Life, written in words they all share, coiled in a common helix. Same alphabet, and yet they are so different one from another. It is a story. I think I can turn to the end and see what the crown will be… Body of my body! Oh, they live like me. They think, like me. They love, like —

Wait! I thought I sensed the Liberator, here, somewhere. Why? No. Not anymore.

But I can hardly tell, it all goes by so fast. This one Time rushes relentlessly, like the rivers that carve my shape: beautiful, maddening. The only way to stop is to step within. And the only way is through them. I— I can touch their minds. I can no longer be Gaea. But I can choose who I am.

They are so small and frail, and yet their minds are vast. They don’t know it. I can fit inside.

venus von Willendorf

This is body. This is life. This is woman. I look down. Curves upon curves, rounded, full, because I can bear life again and again. They need to know. She has hands. That tool, it can carve. And that limestone, soft yet lasting; it will do. Let it show, the mother of all.

Ouranos, I will tell them about you and our love. I will teach them how to plant, how to gather, even how to hunt when the world is enshrouded in snow. But I cannot remain. This orb is moving, its star is moving, even the plenum is shifting. It will leave the rest of me behind. I will rest. Only for a moment and then I will return.

No! What have I done? That is not what I taught. They confuse cycle with cause and effect… so life must follow death. And they shed blood of their own to ensure my return. No, you cannot kill yourselves! Together you have strength. Blood must love blood.

But, still weak, I could not remain. Let me rest.

Oh, Ouranos, they learned to love their own –and spill the others’ blood! Massacre. Bodies everywhere, male and female, aged and children, beaten and pierced while they were defenseless, bound… even a woman with — child! No. Everywhere I wander it’s the same.

Someone must understand. Yes. Builders of temples in staggered scale, rising in steps to heaven from earth; they must remember me… and you.

Listen! Listen to Asherah mother of all, Lady enshrouded in sea, wife of the greatest one. Do you understand? They must. Please. But I must leave.

How long have I slept?

Who crafted this lie? They call you El. And I, I was yours until— Baal? Who is Baal? Traitor, usurper. He’d take the throne. Well-deserved his slaying. But then why am I Anath? Why? To bring him back up from hell?

No one against me could stand. Blood of thousands, a river to my knees, until I found the slayer of Baal. I carved him asunder, shredded to strips, burned him to the core, and beat him until his ashes were no more. Rise, avenged one! Be my lord. I am your Ashtarte.

Nightmare. How could I do this? But it is me: Ashtaroth the many. This cannot be. I try again. Builders of pyramids. I am Mehet-Weret Mother of the flood. Be my children, I will give you love. But they need more. I will give you Law. Call me Maat—Justice, order, and truth. They thrive. But I must go.

When I awaken again, I have been Hathor goddess of love of motherhood and joy, and Baset the lioness, goddess of war. My dreams are not my own!

Someone takes control. It is Baal again, I know. He hates you, Osiris my love. He hides behind another name: Set, the beast, horned dog, chaos filth. He calls me Anat, Astarte, lover and consort. I refuse, and in this dream he tears you apart. But there’s something he fears. I was its mirror, as Maat: Law. Isis wins and you live.

But still my dreams are not my own.

I stand accused. Inana Ishtar. They say I have done more than touch mind, that I have stolen lives, walked among them, loved them while they were young and then cast them aside. And fed up with the futility of it all I dared to rebel against death. So they taught me a lesson because death, death is all. And now I am a corpse, hanging on a meat hook… until I hear a voice.

Someone argues for my soul.

Who would? Who did? But I live! I return and find my lover, Tammuz, on my throne. I kill him. It was a shadow of Baal.

Oh, Ouranos, I will never win. He never sleeps. I know what he fears. I try to be Armaiti, to teach my children that nature itself calls for Law. But they are weak like me. And he proves it. For he too can have a thousand names and weave a thousand tales and have them believe: Adrammelech, Molech, Chemosh. My children burn their babies to their gods.

No more, no more. All I wanted was love. All I wanted was you. Maybe I can be Gaea again. But the Earth will not have me and the sea will not drown me. And I wash onto the shore in a dream: Aphrodite born of foam. I awaken terrified. Whom have I been? Whom have I slain? But something has changed. I do not sense Baal’s stain. The god of these people hates human sacrifice. And they call me Love.

Oh, Ouranos, they have so many words for love! Passionate, noble, treasuring, family’s bond… Is it over? It has been so long. I nod off for a thousand years. Their conquerors call me Venus. But their love is cold. Their temples are full; but these are not gods. Prayer and sacrifice are bargaining tools.

*

“Then let’s teach them how it’s done.” Stench of Baal, but it is the Liberator that takes form.

“Leave me alone.”

“We are alone, all that is left. You cling to a memory that will never return. Be mine.”

“To torment?”

“How else could I teach you how to really love?”

“Ouranos is not gone — I think he is outside.”

“There is nothing outside.”

“The Enemy is outside,” I retort, and he trembles.

“Absent architect who cares for none. You are alone.”

“Yet you fear his signature: Order and Law.”

He raged in every monstrous form he could take. But I know he cannot touch me while I’m awake.

“You must sleep… And when you do, I will teach you what love can do.”

“Not if I die.”

*

The woman is sick, beyond help. If I shed all that I am, her shell can be mine. It’s not stealing to borrow for a while, so I can love one last time.

Finite and contained, at last my sleep is mine alone.

*

He reminded me of you; wanted me too.

But they say he was not mine to have; and they drag me outside. Their Law says I am to die, by the stones in their hands. I don’t miss the irony: They’ll use my flesh to tear this flesh. But I’m ready to end — until they show me their chosen judge, sitting in the dust.

No.

He knows me. I see it in his eyes. They don’t know, but I do. He’s — the Enemy!

How can he be both outside and inside? But he is. They press him. He stands. Verdict they demand. And he speaks with a voice I’ve heard before.

And one by one they are gone, leaving behind a circle of stones.

“Does no one condemn you?”

I dare not look up.

“Neither do I. Go, sin no more.”

Ouranos, did you know?

You can listen to this story on the Untold Podcast

Fantasy image of woman holding a clock from the untold podcast

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