A Voice From The Deep
Fairy Tales 2015 competition, with Yair Titelboim
They say that before me this place was peaceful, a vast and quiet land inhabited by many life forms. They say i was an accident, violently born out the crust that constitutes the surface of this planet. They called it a once in a century interference, a planetary catastrophe that caused much destruction and distress across the region. Those who survived this violent conception say It was a horrifying event that deformed the face of the earth’s surface and changed the local landscape beyond recognition. It was an occurrence they could not control or explain, A message from the deep.
It seems to me they were always looking in the wrong direction. From the dawn of their existence, back when the flame was first tamed by the two legged flesh creatures. For centuries they have been looking up, watching the sky, obsessed with the heavens and dreaming of stars that lay beyond their reach. They should have been paying attention to the ground. -- Perhaps they thought it holds only the past. Made of a substance that belongs to the dead they bury, another reminder of mortality and their humble beginning, when they still sought shelter inside the rock.
It started when they first discovered the black, flammable, volatile secret of the ages. This precious material, buried quietly underneath the surface, held the ancient, mysterious and extremely powerful energy that would change the course of history. Once they realising the awesome power this substance holds they started extracting it from the ground, digging as deep and as much as they could, accumulating the substance that could breathe life inside their machines, unleashing the forces that laid close to the earth’s core. The impact of this act was profound, it was the fuel of a revolution from which there was no going back.
Not long after this discovery they achieved terminal velocity, letting go of inhibitions and restraints, leaving no time to consider consequences. These strange two legged creatures had transformed nature, mechanically manufacturing the power of the gods, spreading, consuming, feeding their noisy engines, intoxicated by the hypnotic motion of the pumping piston.
Over time they learned that this power came with a price. What was thought to be an unlimited resource turned out to be anything but. Wars followed, drought, famine, pollution, and yet they persisted, consistently extracting the precious liquid. But the roles of nature would only bend so far, and what was removed from the depth had to be returned. The earthquakes were sudden and merciless, reshaping in seconds what the humans had built for centuries, rendering them completely helpless, as children would be, losing all composure and control, suddenly struck with the unbearable realisation of their fragile existence.
I have seen them change, reluctantly adapting to harsh circumstances. They move quickly, overcoming fear and uncertainty, defying odds - learning and forming groups - unwillingly changing their own nature, unleashing a force that could not be contained while simultaneously celebrating their ephemeral conquests, crowning themselves as rulers of the earth. Slowly and painfully they disposed of the wreckage that followed my beginning, mourning the dead and cursing their luck. Once the reality of my presence had settled and enough time had passed they started to rebuild, and from the dust and destruction came a new beginning - an opportunity that would not ignored.
First came the settlers, the ones that dared explore the open wound and venture into the unknown space that was created by my conception. Those who decided to leave the treacherous surface and come live in the shade. They came with rope and dagger, hanging from the edge, clinging fearfully to the rugged rock - carefully mapping their new surroundings. They started by building shelter: light structures of wood and fabric, objects that belonged on the surface now constructed within the dark domain. It was then that I decided to oblige them, blinded by the guilt for the pain my birth caused them. I had decided to help them discover, adjust and eventually blossom under my care.
More of them had come down, joining those who had already settled at the core, terning a sporadic settlement into a thriving colony. All the while I was closely observing, witnessing this process of rapid accretion, fascinated and delighted by the success of our joint venture. It seemed that the two legged forms had proven their agility once again, vigorously spawning new specimens, manipulating the new environment to fit their needs. Determinant little life forms they are, never standing still, producing sounds and smells that break the silence and darkness at the bottom of the dark rocky valley.
Beneath the surface I was their protector, the one keeping them from harm’s way. An element formed by destruction now sustaining life, reconnecting them once again to the ground they were exploiting so violently. And for a time they thrived: the population grew consistently, younger editions found new ways to create sustenance from within, thus severing unneeded contact with the surface. The transition between vertical and horizontal was complete. A new society was formed, a self-sustained culture cultivated under my supervision.
But I could not protect them against themselves. Not for long. The first signs started when a group of new settlers had took control of a few communal resources. The old leadership responded by destroying the assets in order to prevent it from falling into the hands of the mutineers. subsequently the core was divided to separate territories that inhabited the two competing groups. This shift in social structure subsequently led to the rapid depletion of resources due to the rising cost of security measures and the redundancy of wasteful systems. Dissolution was imminent.
So they started digging again. They could not help themselves, constrained by their own patterns of growth they were compelled to risk everything we had built together. They dug deep into the dark soil, opening the old wound, feeding the extracted materials to their infernal machines. It did not take long for them to reach the point of irretrievably. They had gone too far. I warned them at every turn, demonstrating the risks time and again, hoping against hope that they would stop. There was a time I thought they had gotten the message - it was after the first collapse that ended so many of them. But they could not stop. They would not be held back - necessity defied logic and self-preservation.
They say I was a warning. A sign. A voice from the deep. Next time they will be ready. More will come and we will start again. We will live happily ever after.