Altered rosesShort Stories

Thus spoke Zarathustra

A vignette in a lost film roll. The image’s margins are narrowed by black fog. Nothing peers through it, nothing escapes it. Inside the image, a man and a woman are holding hands, standing on a beach. Their linen clothes are blown by a strong wind that comes from beyond the horizon.

In front of them, a green and agitated ocean. Waves with frothy white peaks rise in the distance and some break on the sandy shore. Above them, a heavy charcoal sky. Lightening without thunder is puncturing the dark celestial vault. No sound apart from the strong wind that seems determined to uplift the entire body of water.

The man looks at the woman and she looks at him. A blink of an eye and suddenly, they are feet apart. Both start walking towards the ocean. As they step on the wet sand, the earth begins to softly tremble. An earthquake somewhere in time shatters the stability in their hearts.

After a few minutes, the man and the woman reach each other. He takes her hand, and she places hers above. They look at each other and try to speak: no words come out. The wind is stronger and louder than before. The two look towards the ocean: larger waves are now forming on the horizon.

The man kneels down on the right knee. The woman follows him. They both write something in the thick, wet sand. The black fog at the age of the vignette is becoming corrosive, eating the image, turning the colours in a rusty green. They get up and look at each other, then at the words on the ground.

Only one word was written by both of them: “Nostalgia”. Tears begin to flow down their cheeks, slowly rolling, falling on the sand, turning into small salty crystals from which colourful flowers grow and bloom. A small field of red, white and blue buds cover their nostalgia imprinted on the sand, surrounding the man and the woman who are hugging each other.

They stay like that for a while, until the cold wind makes them look once more towards the ocean. From the middle of the large body of furious water, a pink rose, tall as a mountain, is standing erect. The flower is however bent, dying, with its petals sinking one by one into the acid ocean. As they touch the water, the bright pink turns to a dark crimson and then to black tar. Above the rose, the sky is empty of clouds and the sunrays are illuminating the perishing flower. God is by its side despite its loss.

The wind slows down, and another tremor shakes the earth, causing the rose to lose more than just a few petals. The ocean waters brake apart, as if ordered by Moses, and from the bowls of the Earth the Africans come, then the Chinese, then the Europeans and all the nations and races of the planet. They form a semi-circle around the man and the woman and speak to them all at once.

However, no words come out of their mouths, only white letters of subtitles that fade before the man and the woman who witness the letters disappearing into smoke. Their words read:

‘We are not animals and neither are you. We are inconsistent but eternal, and so are you. The truth is revealed to those not blinded by their autonomy. Now we are here, at the edge of our reality. We searched and searched and found nothing. Empty and full of false knowledge.’

In unison, the people point at the two who were still surrounded by the blossoming flowers. They turn around to see the never-ending desert at the end of which a distant pulsar is viscerally spinning.

The man and woman turn towards the people of the Earth who are still pointing at them. Confused, they look around but find nothing. Eventually, they look at each other and see two long scars along their chests which seem to have been carved into their flesh with a sharp blade. The scars read: “secundum fidem”. A look of sadness on their faces.

The people of the Earth turn to ashes and mud. The flowers begin to rot and the rose collapses into the ocean.

It is then that Adam and Eve realise what they have done but the reel ends and so does their universe.

Thus spoke Zarathustra.

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