Posts Tagged ‘Cumean Sybil’

Inside a floating library a small book was closed and placed on a table. The massive lungs of its reader let out heavy sigh. Below the four frosted globes that lit the room was a puzzled face with a light sweat on its brow.

The door slid open and a man in a turban and blue uniform entered. “Last Man No More” he said. “A rather peculiar choice this evening?”

“It’s… it’s fascinating.” said his companion.

“Indeed it is.” answered Captain Nemo. “You and I are among the few people who’ve ever read it.”

“You knew Mary Shelley?”

“As a young man I was educated in Europe, and had the opportunity to meet her but once. She was very talented writer. This piece is one of the last books I acquired from the world above. It was intended only for the foul members of that blasted Illuminati of which I regrettably was a member.”

The reader asked in a hesitant voice “What do you think of this, this Cumean Sybil?”

“There’s not much to know. The legend is she was an oracle of Apollo, and that she offered to sell nine books of prophecy to a king. The king refused because of the price she asked. In response she burned three of the books then repeated the offer for the same price. The king refused again and three more books were burned. Finally the king gave in, buying the three remaining books for the original price.

“I mean do you think this story is true?”

“It was true for her. Of course there’s no way to verify it. Before I left the surface world, I learned she met a very tragic end.”

“I see. Is it possible this story is just a literary trick on her part?”

“As I said I only met her briefly, but she did not strike me as having a dishonest disposition. I sense this story greatly troubles you. You should not worry about it. It’s been some time since I’ve read those tales. As disturbing as they may be, if I remember correctly they take place long from now. If she was telling the truth, then those horrific events will occur long after both you and I are long from this world.”

“Yes perhaps you are right.” the reader said. His eyes remained locked on the book. His hands barely resisted the urge to open it and pour over its contents again.

“Goodnight my friend.” Captain Nemo exited the library. He received no reply.

Far below the ocean’s surface, inside the steel whale known as the Nautilus, the Frankenstein creature lay restless. A disturbing thought would not flee from his mind. When he read of the amazing creature from Mary Shelley’s tale, could he have been reading about himself?

The End

With acknowledgements to:

Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley, 1818.

The Last Man, by Mary Shelley, 1826

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne 1870

The Crosso-verse of the future will continue in The Last Vampire!

Advertisements

The sun rose the next morning and I opened my eyes to see a small group of people, maybe twenty or so, about the size of our group of captors. For a moment I thought I was dreaming, as if I were back with my sister and my dear friends. Only the ropes that bound my hands reminded me of my current state. I’d been cut from the tree in my sleep, and was placed beside Mary to the side of the mount. The crowd gathered below, as Sophia came to the top of the mount to speak.

“Greetings my friends.” She began warmly. “We have gathered you together this day, to offer our warmth, our security, some much needed supplies, but also something much more important.” She continued with much enthusiasm. “We all know the plague that ravished this planet. That is why you’ve been in hiding, living like rats in the darkness. Even those of us alive have still suffered from its ravishes. We’ve lost friends, loved ones. I myself lost my own family to it. But we must leave that in the past. We the meek have inherited this Earth, and it is our duty to rebuild the kingdom of humanity! But what of the plaque you ask? What of it? From the heavens we have been sent a sign”. Motioning to Aliquis she boasted “Behold, this creature has been sent to us, with the power to cure the plaque.” I must confess she had a mesmerizing presence. If I was in that crowd I too would probably long to follow her lead.

“She certainly knows how to stir a crowd.” I said to Mary, who was tied up next to me.

“Yes, she does. Ever since we were children, she always knew how to put on a show.”

Then some women brought little Michelle up to the mount. Sophia motioned to her and the child stood at her side. Placing her arm around her Sophia said “This child just yesterday was suffering from the plague. Near death she was until she found this miracle, and here she is before you a happy healthy child.”

“Why do you tied your miracle to a tree?” yelled out a man from the crowd. “He doesn’t look like he wants to be there.”

“This creature has been sent to us, and suffers to remove our sickness. He can barely stand as he has shouldered the burden that has crushed civilization into the ground.”

“Why should we believe any of this?” said a woman in the crowd.

“I shall show you why.” As she gestured to the side a man covered in robes and a grey hood approached. He walked slowly and was trembling. Standing by Sophia he revealed his face which was covered in some kind of rash. I couldn’t see too clearly from my vantage point but as best I could tell he looked very sickly.

“We found this man when we arrived in Vohburg yesterday, alone, frightened, abandoned by all and ravished by sickness. We promised we would help him, if only we allowed him to show others the miracle we’ve found. He has been waiting patiently, and now it is time”

Now talking to the man he said “Go my friend, go and be well again.”

Slowly he crept toward Aliquis. He knelt down at his feet and lay still for a moment. Then he stood up, and slowly returned to Sophia. Standing at her side again, he looked at her, and Sophia was astonished. He pulled his hood down again and his face appeared fully healed. Gone was the rash and any signs of sickness. The crowd gasped audibly, and Sophia cried out triumphantly “Behold the miracle we have found!”

“I know him!” I said angrily to Mary. I couldn’t believe it. The man that was kind to me, he was an impostor just like the rest of them. John finally found his audience.

The crowd erupted and rushed up the mount. Some of them carried children that appeared to be sick. Others appeared to have other injuries, broken bones, one was blind. “Wait wait, one at a time.” Sophia tried controlling them but they continued rushing. Solomon shot wildly into the crowd which now erupted in fear.

“Solomon what are you doing!” Sophia called out. He answered by striking her in the head with the butt of his gun. She fell to the ground unconscious.

Solomon fired into the crowd again. “Alright you maggots I’m in charge here. You’re going to…” He ducked immediately as someone threw a stone his way. He never considered that some of the crowd might be armed too, as some of them began firing back. With the flash of a gun barrel miniature warfare broke out before me. The survivors fighting the cult, Solomon’s contingent fighting those loyal to Sophia. It was a shocking sight to me. Finally to see others, and this was the result. Their facial expressions betrayed the nature of man. I swear people of all three groups were smiling. They enjoyed the maiming, the killing, the brutality. When I was a lad I lived in brutality in order to survive, but as an adult was happy to live a life without it. Heartbreaking it was to know those before me did not share the same sentiment.

What no one noticed in all of this was little Shelly, who slipped away with Sophia’s knife in her hand. Swiftly she ran over to Aliquis and cut him free from the tree. His large body collapsed to the ground. Little Michelle kneeled at his side and placed her hand on his wound. Aliquis placed his massive hand over hers and the two looked at each other a moment.

Solomon’s hand grabbed Michelle by the back of the neck and tossed her aside. “Get out of here little bitch!”

“Shelly!” Her mom ran towards her. Our hands were still bound but no one was watching us in the commotion. I ran behind Mary as Solomon reached for the machete attached to his belt. While he did this Aliquis swiftly struck him in the face.

Mary and I both reached Michelle. She was ok. She still had the knife and cut our hands free. Meanwhile Solomon swung a kick to the wounded side of Aliquis. Our new friend fell to the ground as Solomon raised his blade into the air. As his one arm came down Aliquis did some technique where he wrapped his own legs in Solomon’s and grabbed his arm as it came down. With one motion he rolled his opponent to the ground and followed with a punch to the face. He slammed Solomon’s arm into the ground forcing him to release his grip on the machete. The part of his arm that still remained reached over Aliquis’s and the brute bit into him with his teeth. Aliquis yelled in pain as his opponent got some small measure of revenge. A knee to his wounded gut followed and Aliquis was pushed to the side on his back.

One thing I recalled from my more violent youth, is to never rely too much on weaponry, if you can finish someone with your bare hands you should. Solomon made the mistake of reaching for his blade, which resulted in giving his back to his opponent. Aliquis immediately reached over and wrapped his arms around Solomon’s neck. Solomon managed to bring the blade back to lightly pierce Aliquis’s shoulder. Aliquis screamed a mixture of pain and rage, but it was too late for his opponent, whose neck was snapped in a second.

Aliquis took no time to gloat as he stood up and took the bloody blade. Sophia had come to, and Aliquis spotted her. He ran toward her swinging the blade into the air yelling. “Time to meet your maker bitch!” In a second her eyes widened in fear and she raised her arms up while cowering before him. The blade sliced down through the air when Michelle stepped in between them. The blade stopped inches before her forehead.

“Stop!” She yelled. “Stop don’t kill her!”

“You spineless wench she threatened your daughter!”

“And killing her won’t make anything right!”

She knelt down to Sophia’s side. Sophia had a light gash on the side of her head, but it wasn’t serious. They both looked out over the mound to see everyone still fighting. Tears came to Sophia’s eyes as she said “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Mary please forgive me. Help me so it doesn’t end like this.”

This needed to end. I stood at the top of the mount and shouted “Stop! Stop this madness! Stop!” It was useless, the people just kept on fighting. I jumped in incredible fright as an inhuman roar erupted behind me. It was from Aliquis. He stood beside me and when he finished making his beastly noise he looked to me and nodded. A slight smirk escaped his face. I looked back out over the crowd and now had everyone’s attention.

For a moment I was at a loss for words, but then began. “Only three days ago I’d wandered this continent believing I was the Last Man. I’d have given anything just to find one more person. Finally I see not one, but so many before me. And what are we doing when we are finally together? Fighting and killing each other. I don’t want to believe that the only way to peace is for me to again be the last man.”

“They started it!” One of them countered. “We we’re at peace until they arrived. They’re the ones who came here with guns and violence.”

Some of the cult members raised their arms again and for a moment it looked as though the conflict would reignite. Sophia stood to my side. “Stand down! Stand down everyone. We’ve all been blind, all of us. When we returned from Paris we failed to realize the truth. Our leader was an imposter. We just wanted to maintain order, but for what?” Speaking to the others she continued. “It was wrong of me to try to deceive and rule over you.” Slightly kneeling down she said “I submit myself to you. We have food and supplies. We’ll help you in any way we can. Let us redeem ourselves for the wrong we’ve done.”

Tension remained in the air, but the peace was maintained. Sophia said to her group “Let’s get our supplies. We have a few medical supplies. Let’s tend to anyone who is sick. We also have food. Let us all eat together in peace.”

Suddenly we heard a slight thud. “Aliquis!” Michelle called out. He’d fallen to the ground. The wound to his side was still fresh and his blood spilled into the ground. Mary, Michelle, Sophia and I rushed to his side. Sophia noticed the wound. “Shelly, can you give me my knife?” Michelle went to give her the blade, but Mary held her back a moment.

“For God’s sake let me gause his wound!”

After hesitating for a moment Mary said “It’s ok Shelly.” Michelle gave the knife to Sophia who immediately tore a long piece of material from the bottom of her dress.

She knelt down besides Aliquis. Her hands trembled as she said “I’m going to try to help you. Can you help me wrap you up?” Aliquis groaned as he pushed his hips up, allowing Sophia to wrap the material around his waist. She tied it and put pressure on the wound. “We have some medical supplies. I’ll try to help you as best I can.”

I’ll be fine.” Aliquis said while coughing up some blood.

“Dammit man stop being so stubborn let her help you.” I said in frustration.

“Mr. Aliquis!” Shelly knelt down besides Sophia and next to her new friend. She placed her hands on his wound. “You made me feel better.”

“Be good to your mom kid.” Aliquis said coughing. “You’re lucky to…have… one of those…”

He then closed his eyes. Shelly called out “Mr. Aliquis!” Tears were shed as she pressed down on his wound with her little hands. Sophia lightly placed her arms on her shoulders saying “Come on Shelly. Let’s go.”

“No.” She cried out.”

Her mother then came to her side. “It’s ok Shelly. There’s nothing you can do.”

“No.”

Suddenly his lungs rapidly expanded and contrasted. He opened his eyes and let out another painful groan. Little Michelle’s face burst into a smile. Aliquis lightly raised her hand and brushed her face. “You made me feel better kid.”

He looked at the other faces before him. “You look scared. Huh. Do I look like I’m a threat?”

Sophia answered, “We’ll, I’m afraid of you being a man of your word.”

“A man.” Aliquis let out a small painful laugh. “Very few people have ever called me a man. I can tell I will not need to turn you inside out.”

And this was the true end of the cult of the imposter. The last branch of it snuffed out, it’s members rejoined with what was left of humanity.

And this brings us to the end of the tale of the no longer Last Man. Presuming only you of my inner circle shall ever read it, I hope it brings some illumination to your church of learning. I should especially thank my friend, Max Sutor, for encouraging me to push beyond the gruesomeness to the end of this tale.

In the event that someone outside my inner circle reads this, then firstly I apologize for any distress this tale has caused you. But again I swear to the heavens I merely served as a translator to the leaves of Cumean Sybil. My mind could never conjure the dark hallowed imagery and violence that accompanied this book, and this tale gave nowhere near the pleasure I’d found in writing The Last Man.

And if you are reading this as someone who I do not know of, or even someone outside the Perfectiblists, you may be curious to know of the other Cumean prophecies outside this tale. You may find it unfortunate that, unlike The Last Man and this particular tale, they were much shorter and in some cases very vague. One prophecy I recall was “A steel whale piloted by no one.” My companions spent hours contemplating it. Like scripture they offered many interpretations, especially regarding philosophical implications of “no one.” While piecing together various fragments occasionally others were brought in to see them. I recall once meeting Prince Dakkar of India. He was a handsome dashing young man with a mind for the field of engineering. Having little insight into the concept of no one, his mind lit up around the idea of a steel whale.

But alas, I have come to the end of writing of the leaves of Cumean Sybil. Whoever you may be, whether stranger or friend, may you find some enjoyment in this tale that I never could.

We sat around the campfire as I told him my tale of woe. Before the world had fallen I was called Lionel Verney. My life was steeped in tragedy before it even began. My father was a friend to the English King, but was abandoned due to gambling debts. I never knew my father; he took his life early on, and my sister Perdita were left to fend for ourselves. I was bitter towards the nobility that abandoned my father until I met Adrian, the Earl of Windsor, the last son of the King. He knew how my sister and I had been wronged and took us in. Those early years were among my happiest times. They were not to last. War broke out between Greece and Turkey. The city of Constantinople was raided, and there began the first rumors of the plague. England remained safe for a time, but the plague spread across Europe and the Americas. Soon it was everywhere. My acquaintances and I traveled across Europe in search of a safe haven. At one point we encountered a cult that promised salvation, but despite their denial the plaque reached them too. One by one I lost each of my loved ones until I believed myself the last man.

“Well Mr. Last Man,” my new companion said, “you may call me Aliquis. I apologize if my initial reaction offended you. I’m well versed in the follies of man. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry for all of your loss. I know what it is to watch everyone you love pass on.”

“Well let us forget that now. I must ask, what were you doing here? How did you end up buried under those rocks? How did you survive?”

In the brief moments I’d known this man he always seemed eloquent, but suddenly he seemed at a loss for words. “I… I.. I came home.” he answered.

“Was your family here?”

“I didn’t have a family in the way you speak.”

“What about your parents?”

“I didn’t have parents, I never knew a mother or a father. “

“As I mentioned I never knew my father either. Did you parents abandon you?”

“They didn’t exist. I told you I never had parents. I was… created.”

“What do you mean you were created? We were all created?”

The eyes of Aliquis peered past me looking out into the night. He answered “I thought you said you were the Last Man?”

When I studied this newest addition to the Cumean Sibyl prophecies, it was only at this moment I realized this must have been the same narrative as the Last Man. In this tale the Earth had been ravaged by a plague. There was little information about it, such as the means with which it spread or the manner in which its victims died. The account seemed to indicate that it started in Rome, but this was all the information available. For a moment I regretted not being able to include it in what most believed to be my novel. However, upon reading the rest of the account, I know that the following events of vulgarity and violence never could have seen print. Even if by some miracle they could have been, it would have only given the critics more cause to call me sick and deranged for telling this tale they would presume to have come from my own mind.

I ran back to the campfire to fetch my water pouch then returned to waking giant. He groggily moved his head as I brought the liquid to his lips. I let him have the entire contents, as he fully opened his eyes and looked up to me. This was the first human face I’d seen in so long. When was the last time he gazed upon another human? After looking at me a moment, his eyes once again closed, and he returned to his slumber. “No!” I couldn’t even remember the last time I spoke. “No don’t go!” I shouted, shaking his body with all my might. I could not bear to finally have another person cradled in my arms only to again be left alone. Gently I placed his head back in the earth and checked his vital signs. His heart continued to beat, and he was still breathing. Whatever his condition, he was still in this world.

While his heart lightly thumped mine pounded with excitement. I could not pull myself away. Under the starry sky I kept watch over him. Soon the sun crept up the sky into a new day. Still my new companion had not stirred, and late into the morning my body fell back to sleep.

A massive hand shook me awake. Looking up I saw this enormous man looming over me, his body blocking out the sun. I drew back and yelled out in fright. It had been so long I’d forgotten what it was to be in the company of others. He took no offense, but there was an awkward moment of silence, after which he said. “Thank you for sharing your water last night. I ate the rest of the meat but your pouch has been refilled and I caught another deer for you.” I could see the remains of last night’s catch had been devoured, a pile of deer pones lay to the side, while over the campfire a perfectly skinned deer roasted.

I leapt to my feet and embraced the man. He seemed very startled as I rambled “No thank you sir! Thank you thank you thank you!” Almost in tears I pulled back and continued, “I’m sorry to have been so startled. It’s been so long since I’ve seen… well seen anybody.”

“I’m used to it.” he said. I imagined many people may have been startled by him throughout his life due to his above average height. He inquired, “What do you mean you haven’t seen anybody? Are you a hermit or something?”

His question puzzled me to the point where I could not bring myself to give any answer.

“You got a name?” he continued.

“I’m, I’m just,  I’m no one.”

My bewilderment angered him. He mumbled something and shook his head and his fist for a moment, then pointed to me and said “Don’t ever say to me again. You got a name what is it?”

“My apologies sir. This is all so startling to me. For the longest time thought I was the only one left.”

“I went into the village this morning.” He continued. “There were a few bodies lying around but I didn’t see anyone alive. Why was this place abandoned? Was there another war?”

His questions were confusing to me. There’s an old expression that goes “Have you been living under a rock?” In this case it appeared he literally had. I asked “Do you really mean this line of questioning?”

Growing frustrated he pointed to the rubble and said “Look at where you found me! I’ve obviously been asleep a long time. Just humor me and tell me what happened!”

The mixture of confusion an elation were too much for my constitution. Reaching the point of tears all I could bring myself to say was “I thought I was the only one.”

He walked away from the fire and looked up to the sky. He was very still for a moment, as if he were looking and listening very intensely for something, anything. He looked back at the collapsed rubble behind me, and the few bodies that lay about. He then looked back to the garden. It started out small, almost like a whimper, then it grew larger and larger, his chest expanding and contracting; it was the sound of monstrous laughter.

“Hahahaha, oh you assholes! You fucking assholes! You people really did it this time!! Hahahaha. I gotta know, I gotta know, what did it? How did it happen what did you do?”

“I beg your pardon sir but what do you find so funny about a plague wiping out all of humanity?”

“Ahahaha! A plague huh? You idiots would wipe yourselves out with a plague. You probably made it as a weapon didn’t you? Oh and let me guess, the plague got loose and wiped out everyone hahaha. Gee I couldn’t see that one coming! I warned you people this would happen, but no, nobody listens to the monster! The monster doesn’t know what he’s talking about he’s only been alive since before everyone in the damn room was even born!! Hahaha!!! Well whose laughing now boys!”

“I still don’t know why you find this amusing! No one knew the cause of the plague. I have no idea how it started. All I know is that everyone I know is dead and you’re getting a laugh out of it!”

He walked over to the deer, pulled a whole leg off and bit into it’s thigh. While chewing his food he pointed the bone towards me and said said, “Well, at least it wasn’t nuclear.”

Such language could never see proper publication, yet I swear this is how he spoke, and I feel obliged to tell this story as accurately as my abilities allow me. Who was this incredibly strange man? And what was some of the strange words used. Deciphered them to the best of my ability, but words like nuclear were beyond Greek to me. It was around this point my acquaintances regained their interest in the tale. One of the criticisms of my previous work was that I offered little speculation in what life would be like in a world far beyond our years. This was the one criticism I was understanding of, but as I’d previously stated I was merely telling a tale from the leaves of Cumean Sybil, and they offered no little speculation regarding scientific wonder. Here there were mild hints of it. The previously mentioned museum with it’s man made lung and kidney, devices for conducting surgery using beams of light, and other devices I simply didn’t know how to describe. It was around this point my acquaintances regained their interest in this tale. More surprises were to come as this narratives two characters tell their tale around the campfire.