“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” – Revelation 6:8
Winter came and went with its darkness as they endured. Kiron’s deeds fell over the Obsidian Fields like hammer blows. Reshaping them against the anvil of his determination. His ability to see beyond the architecture of blood, flesh, and bone made him a survivor fit for the new world. And he feared no salvation as he stood atop the highest pile of skulls. Together, Adam and Eve feasted on the flesh of fallen angels.
There’s one at three beacons away, one beacon left! Ëoz called out from where she sat atop the tower of dead. She shielded her eyes from the sun with one hand and pointed with the other.
Kiron stuck his head out the opening on ground level and shouted, I’ll go and check!
He took his bone walking staff and headed toward the location of the newborn. When he came closer, he saw that it was a man sitting huddled on the ground, shivering in the cold. He rocked back and forth, beating himself over the head with one hand, biting the knuckles of the other. Kiron snuck even closer, careful not to startle him. So close, he could hear his mumbling.
Dammit, Kiron whispered to himself and clenched his empty fist. He rose and leaned against the staff. With a low voice, almost whispering, he said, Hi, how are you?
The man jerked and looked up at him, stared, and said wide-eyed, Who are you?
I’m Kiron. I live here.
I was reincarnated here some time ago. Like you were just now, Kiron said and saw Vör approach.
The man heard the buzzing and turned toward her and exclaimed, Who’s that?
It’s Vör. She also lives here.
Welcome to the Obsidian Fields, She said.
What’s that? The man said as his face turned into a grimace of confusion and disbelief overshadowed by fear.
It is the new Eden. It is where the first humans live. That is Adam, She said, pointing at Kiron. His Eve is at home. It is not worth telling him any more, is it?
No, Kiron said. I’ve never heard you say that before.
I might as well play that game.
But you can’t lie.
I am not lying.
Kiron smiled and turned to the man and said, Come with me, and I’ll get you some clothes and food. He nodded and got onto his unsteady feet. Kiron took his arm and led him home.
When Ëoz saw them come, she called out, Welcome to New Eden! She hurried down from the tower to greet them. Hello again, She said to the man and glanced at Kiron that nodded once. As Kiron led the man through the opening into their hut, Ëoz came from behind and hit him in the back of his head with a club. He fell onto his knees. Ëoz hit him again, and he fell to the ground with a sigh.
Again, Kiron said. She obeyed.
They hung the man in his feet from the ceiling. They cut his throat and let the blood trickle into a skinsack as they made love by the fire until he was emptied.
Hello! A voice said from outside the hut.
Kiron and Ëoz looked at each other.
Hello! Anyone home?
Kiron scrambled for his spear that stood against the wall, and Ëoz picked up the bloody club from the floor. They stood silent.
They snuck to the opening of the hut. Kiron motioned for Ëoz to take the right side, and he took the left. They readied their weapons.
Who are you? Kiron said.
Who are you? The voice said.
Oh. Good. I’m coming in, but you’ll have to promise not to stab me, hit me, strangle me, or whatever you’re planning.
Tell me who you are first.
That would spoil the fun. Guess.
No. Come in. Slowly. Hands in the air where I can see them.
I’m coming! Said the voice, and in through the opening came Aesk, naked.
They did not recognize him at first. Aesk looked at them with a smile on his face. Slowly, they lowered their weapons. They stared at him. And they all stood silent for a moment.
What? Kiron said.
What, what? Aesk said.
It’s you, Ëoz said.
It depends on who you think I am.
Aesk, She said and dropped her weapon.
Yes, Aesk said.
Ëoz threw herself at him and wrapped her arms around him. Aesk stood like a statue, unmoving, stiff.
Damn, you dug deep, He said.
You have a lot of explaining to do, Kiron said.
Yeah. But first, do you have any food?
I don’t know what the fuck is happening here but thank you for saving us. Yes, we have food. I’ll get you some.
Kiron put the spear against the wall and went to a rack covered in dried meat. He picked out the largest pieces and gave them to Aesk that began eating immediately.
Who’s that guy? Aesk said and pointed at the dead man hanging from the ceiling.
I don’t know who he was, but now he’s food, Kiron said. I hope you understand.
Found him dead?
Yes, Kiron said quickly. Of course.
Ëoz stared at Kiron for a moment before turning to Aesk and said, We would be dead if it weren’t for you.
Don’t mention it. Dying isn’t that bad after a couple of times, Aesk said between bursts of chewing. It has been like a well-needed vacation.
How does it work?
I don’t know. I just live again. After a while, sometimes longer.
I can’t fathom, Kiron said, and they all fell silent again.
What’s your vision? What’s your plan with this settlement? Aesk said.
Survive, Kiron said.
Yes. I guess that’s where we have to start.
We want to rebuild society, Ëoz said as she squatted down and put more dung on the fire.
Then that’s what we shall do, the three of us. Or four. It depends on how you count.
I hope you don’t mind. I need to prepare that, Kiron said and pointed at the hanging man.
I’ve done my fair share of that myself, Aesk said. It’s okay. Go ahead.
Kiron went and got his knife and cut the man open from breastbone to pelvis. He sorted through the organs and took out the bladder and handed it to Ëoz. She drank and gave it to Aesk.
He looked at it for a moment and said, How can things like this feel so normal after a while? Drinking from another human’s bladder. Eating its flesh. Wearing its skin. Death seems more normal than life these days.
I’ve also thought about that, Ëoz said.
Humans have an astonishing ability to adapt to their current circumstances, Kiron said as he removed the heart. He put it in the basket with the other organs and began skinning the man. Just imagine how we spread over the world and proliferated. How we went from one climate and biome to another. How we adapted to the flora and fauna. Imagine the first man, or woman, mind you, He said and looked at Ëoz, That saw the megafauna of Oceania. They had never seen anything remotely like it before. Giant monitor lizards on land, even bigger crocodiles in the water. Carnivorous marsupials that could kill you with one well-placed bite. All kinds of creeping crawling venomous things. Yet, they thrived.
Are you some kind of professor or something? Aesk said.
Not a professor. I am… I was a biologist.
That’s knowledge that could come in handy, Aesk said and took a gulp from the bladder before handing it back to Ëoz.
Not that there are many living things to study here, Kiron said.
No, but beyond.
Beyond? Kiron said and looked over at Aesk. Aren’t these fields the all-encompassing scabs of the earth?
Oh. I haven’t had time to tell you. There’s a world beyond the obsidian.
Do tell more! Ëoz exclaimed.
It’s like the old world yet different. I think. I can’t really remember much of the old world anymore. But I imagine that’s how the old world was.
A living world? Kiron asked.
Very much so.
Then why in hell did you come back here? Ëoz said.
I’m not from here. I saw that vessel come down, and I came here to see what it was. I ended up in some kind of limbo, where I’ve been planning on leaving, but life is easy here, despite the storms, and I think there are things still to learn from Vör.
Are there others? Ëoz said.
I haven’t seen any.
Where are you from? Kiron said.
Nowhere. I just existed one day.
It keeps getting weirder and weirder, Kiron said. Are you’re leaving again?
Sooner or later, I guess. Sooner or later. I would love you to join me.
Yes! Ëoz said happily.
I think it’s better to stay here, Kiron said as he peeled the last bit of skin off the man.
Life is easy here, Aesk said. If we want to build some kind of new civilization, this is the place to do it. More people are reincarnated every day. They will help repopulate Earth when the time is right. God knows if there are humans anywhere else. We could think about an exodus later, but for now, this is the best place to be.
Aesk swallowed the last piece of dried meat and said, We could all stay here for a while, and then when we’ve got something good going, Ëoz could come with me.
I’d love that, Ëoz said. I’d love to leave this hellhole behind.
Don’t you see what we’ve already built? Kiron snarled.
But I want to go with him.
Then fucking go! Kiron shouted and threw the knife at the ground so it shattered. Aesk and Ëoz looked at each other as he stormed out the opening.