January 19th, 2019 by Patrick Starks
PART III : Greedful Times
The world had begun to lose hope on the restoration of its resources. It had become overpopulated and overtime due to that overpopulation the world would slowly crumble before men and women’s eyes. There had been wars, there had been lost, starvation, and more but none of it could man fix now, although, there would still be the strong faith and hope in women that had made a few think differently. More positively.
Deep in everything that was a ruin, there would be a man who knew of someone special that could help. And it would be no surprise to anyone that it be a woman, for out of all the brothels he’d seen, out of all the beautiful widowed wife’s from fallen soldiers wondering mindlessly through the markets, out of all the years the man had gone through not having children of his own… Still, this mysterious woman would be the one his heart desired. However, the hard part would be getting the woman to help at all since he’d abandoned her years ago with not a whisper or a letter written. Undoubtedly, the man was like a ghost, and he knew if he were to ever show his face to the woman again, he would probably become just that.
Although the task at hand had nothing to do with romance at all, still, there would be a small part of the man that had hoped that maybe he could win her back. But how could he win a broken heart back with his skin now more wrinkled than the Sharpeis he’d seen in China.
The man was much older now. 57 years old to be exact, although, by the numbers of the battles he’d been in, the man was more like 87 years old if we’re talking soldier years. When he was younger the man had been so naïve but now, he’d experienced all of what the woman had warned him to stay away from. Maybe, just maybe, his life could have been better than what it had been, he wondered. He thought of the kids they could’ve had together, the love he could’ve shared, but now all that lied embedded within his hairy and brawn chest was pain and desperation.
Just finishing his last battle, well… what he hoped was his last battle, the man gazed out towards the season where the horizon set, yet, where many ships had been laid waste, including his own. The man had assumed that it had all happened by the hands of Poseidon, but he never really was much of a believer of the fairytale. There were no gods. There was just Mathen. But who the man wondered, would believe him?
On the man’s ship he had a crew of at least 30 men from what he could remember, but now all he had was just Crimson, whom of which was a woman. So, to correct the calculations he had 31 crew members. But as the clouds became gloom, both the man and Crimson would look for shelter. And luckily, there would be a cave not too far from them.
“Wait… you’re not thinking about going in there are you?” asked Crimson, nervously. “The one that looks a giant shark mouth. I mean, come on we just survived the sharks out in the water. I don’t want to be going in one’s mouth willingly. Besides, by the way you and I smell, I doubt we taste any good.”
“You’ll be fine. And far as the sharks out there I doubt they care how we smell. You saw what they did Lardanian, and he was the smelliest of us all…” said the man, saddened.
“But why… why out of all the pieces of land did we swim here?” asked Crimson, flustered.
“Through there I believe we’ll find her. She is our only hope now,” said the man, with certainty within his eyes.
“Are you seriously still drooling over that fairytale of a woman,” said Crimson. “You’re no different than the pirates we fought. And look where that got some of them… Hell, I’m still shocked that we even saw a mermaid of all things. Who would’ve thought they actually existed? But it’s just too bad they weren’t anything like what those dogs of men always fantasized about.”
While Crimson snorted and laughed at her own joke. The man didn’t say another word. Instead, he lit what little oil that was left on his torch and entered the cave. But just like Crimson, as the man walked in all he could think about were the sharp fangs that hovered above them. And he could feel the fear of them tremble up his legs to hurry through.
Crimson then heard a loud growl from behind, and when she looked back glowing green eyes would be hiding in a shade just underneath what looked to be a magical tree, for it sparkled… like magic. And well… trees just didn’t sparkle. So, trees plus magic, equaled tree magic or magic tree. You get the point.
But being afraid of what might happen next, Crimson had ran in only to bump into the man, knocking his torch onto the wet ground below them.
“Now you’ve done it,” said the man, annoyed.
“Sorry…” replied Crimson, staying as close to the man as she could.
Everything was dark within the cave, but like most caves there would be a light shining from the front or the end of it, or both, which was what this cave had, both. Although, neither the man nor Crimson knew where the light might’ve led to. The cave was absolutely cold, and as both the man and Crimson walked through it, they could see the air from their own hot breath protrude in front of them like a tea kettle. Crimson shivered, and then latched onto the man’s muscular shoulders but by the touch hadn’t realized how afraid the man was himself until she’d done so.
“Everything alright…” she asked.
The man would then shake her off. “Aye, I’m fine. Just the cold. Let’s keep moving.”
But where were they moving to Crimson wondered. They no longer had a torch to guide them, and the only guidance that they had was literally the light at the end of the cave, that of which Crimson feared would bear even more awful things once they’d reached it. Crimson could never understand the man’s fascination about the woman of mystery or his motives. Just who was she? And whoever she was, Crimson had assured herself that she was the better woman for the man, at least that was what she hoped.
As the two continued through the cave thousands of glowing beady eyes hovered above them like still fireflies. Crimson had always told the man how much she hated rats but now she was literally looking at rats with wings; rats with wings and sharp teeth. And it would be then the man had to ask.
“Everything alright…” he asked. “I don’t ever recall you being scared of anything.”
Crimson then pointed upward to the roof of the cave. “L-l-look…” she shivered.
The man would have a sharp grin on his face. It had been a while he’d smiled. Maybe 10 plus years or more, which was humanly sad, but when the world was rough it really was rough. But the remembrance of the mysterious woman had always put the man to ease, and every bit of it Crimson hated and envied. Afterall, why couldn’t it had been her who’d stood by his side all those years, be the one to put his mind to ease. Then again, what if that was just the problem, Crimson wondered.
Nevertheless, the beady eyes that hung above them watched them for the entire time they traveled deeper into the mysterious cave. Being clumsy as she was, Crimson would trip over a small rock hidden within the mud. She’d fallen face first. The man laughed, but it would be short lived once he’d realized how many bats had awakened from their sleep.
“Crimson…” whispered the man. “Don’t move…”
But before she’s heard a word of it, there would be a bat on her right shoulder, smiling at her with its sharp teeth and wet pig-like nose.
“Don’t move…” repeated the man.
“Yeah you tell yourself that,” said Crimson running for dear life.
Crimson would then run as fast as she could straight towards the light at the end of the cave. And the man would chase right after her. Crimson was a lot faster than what the man had always assumed of her. But still he’d done his best to chase after her because out of all that had happened to the rest of his crew members and his hawk that he never liked discussing, he couldn’t lose Crimson too.
“The river of truth,” whispered a voice in the man’s head as he ran.
He then came to a halt. And Crimson would be as well. It was as if an invisible wall had blocked their path. The man peaked over Crimson’s shoulder and would instantly be mesmerized by the smell of her hair. He hadn’t noticed it until now. It didn’t smell like honey or roses because that was just the stereotype that was put on women. Yet, there was still something about Crimson that had smelt woman-like. Every bit of it had made the man somewhat forget the whole reason they’d entered the cave in the first place. But then the man would see something in front of Crimson that he never believed he’d see again. What stood before them brightly blue was the river of truth. But how the man, wondered.
It was a fact that the whole world did change, a lot even, but how could something that was once outside be now confined. It was then Crimson spoke.
“What is it?” she asked.
“It’s the river of truth…” said the man, hesitantly.
“Yes,” admitted the man.
“So that means that…”
“Yes,” admitted the man again, this time stepping forward.
Crimson stood by concerned as she watched the man walk into the river.
“Mathen!” shouted the man. “Mathen! Are you there?”
Not a word was given back to the man. Instead, out of nowhere a body slowly emerged from underneath the river. Crimson’s jaw dropped.
“Could it be…” she whispered.
Slowly as the body emerged from the river, dark emerald hair would be revealed right before the man’s very eyes. But before he could examine anymore beauty that the owner bestowed, he’d feel a palm slap against his face, and then another would follow not too long after.
“Dog!” shouted Mathen.
The man kept quiet.
“Out of all these years I worried… And now you show up. What is it money? More power you seek?” shouted Mathen slapping the man over and over.
And still the man would not block or catch a single one of them that Mathen had thrown at him.
“Are you a genie?” interrupted Crimson.
“No… And I’m sorry but who are you again?” asked Mathen, annoyed.
“Oh right, guess I should introduce myself. My names Crimson. And who might you be?”
“No need to play dumb sweetie. If I know this old fool, it’s that he’s probably already told you good and plenty about me. But if I must say it for your verification. My name is Mathen but some call me Mother Nature.”
Crimson had suddenly felt her heart stop. Could the stories of Mother Nature have been true? Of course, they had to be. Afterall, she’d seen mermaids. She’d even seen a cyclops once, but she’d never told the man because out of all the stories that had been told about cyclops, the one she’d meet would be as gentle as a baby bear. But if any man knew that it actually existed they would’ve probably sent out for a search party only to have the eye of the beast hanging on their wall that very night.
“So?” continued Mathen. “Why have you come?”
The man swallowed and took a deep breath. He’d thought long and hard about the answer before he’d come to it.
“Redemption,” he said.
“Redemption?” repeated Mathen.
“Yes…” admitted the man.
Crimson stood confused.
“What redemption is that?” asked Mathen.
The man then stepped forward. And held himself up straight with sincerity.
“I want to re-write all my wrongs. I want to undo the madness I created, the lives I’ve destroyed. I want a family, with a son and a daughter. I want to see that love is distributed not money. I just…”
The man stopped.
“Just what?” asked Mathen.
And Crimson had wondered the same, for she’d never seen the man so desperate.
“I just want some goddamn peace…” said the man.
Mathen then fully emerge herself from the river and then dried herself off with just a dry leaf. Little did man know that nature had all the resources that they needed. Although, listening to a woman wasn’t quite their forte sadly. Mathen then pointed towards an empty path as the man watched her naked body dry.
“Follow me here,” she said. “I have something to show you both. And then maybe you will see that what has been done in this life was not entirely for nothing.”
Both the man and Crimson nodded. They’d follow Mathen, and when they did, they would find themselves back outside the cave. Only this time there would be no sharp teeth hanging above their heads, or bats for that matter.
“Look,” pointed Mathen.
The man looked long and hard.
“I see nothing…” he said. “Just a few deer eating what little grass is on the ground.”
Mathen shook her head and slapped her own forehead.
“Keep looking you fool,” she said.
Mathen looked around the man and could see that Crimson had a concerned look on her face. And Mathen would smile impressed.
“What are you smiling about?” asked the man.
“Your friend has good eyes,” said Mathen.
The man then turned to Crimson.
“Crimson… Crimson, what do you see?” asked the man.
“Sadness, death, brutality, but hope,” she said.
The man then looked back out towards where Mathen had pointed. And from the shadow of a bush a cougar would jump out from nowhere and pounce on one of the innocent deer. All had run off while the other faded slowly in the fangs of what had hunted it. It cried and cried for help but not a deer had come back besides its mother. The mother had tried her hardest to get the calf back, but it was hopeless. The cougar was too strong, too desperate. Once the mother had realized that the calf had already died, she’d return to the rest with both a broken heart. The cougar, on the other hand, had taken the calf and returned home to feed three of its of cub, that of which one was dying by starvation.
It was apparent that life had not only been hard for the humans but for the animals as well. Although, the animals had been around long before man and woman existed. But months later the broken-hearted mother would have another calf to grow to its adult hood, all while the mother cougar had died, getting caught in a wildebeest stampede like Mufasa himself. And her remains would be left to feed the starving buzzards.
The man stood speechless.
“What is this?” he said. “Why are you telling me this?”
Mathen smiled. “This is life…” she said. “It is the circle that of which we are all connected. I cannot condone all of it but there unfortunately isn’t much I can do to save every breathing thing on this planet. When I first met you, I thought that I could do that but it was inevitable. Still, I hoped that I could turn it around somehow.”
“So, what your saying is there is no hope?” asked the man. “That eventually we all will suffer for something tragic. “
“No, there is still hope. There will always be that. But tragedy will all depend on what that being perceives as a tragedy” said Mathen.
Crimson nodded. She’d always felt that way about life, but she loved the man so much that disagreeing to what he wanted she felt she’d lose him. But now she even began to question if that was inevitable. She’d fought so hard for the man’s love and yet never fought for the love inside.
“I’m going,” said Crimson, walking away.
“What…? Go where?” asked the man.
“I don’t know. Somewhere on my own. Wherever life takes me,” she said.
“You can’t be serious. You can’t just walk into life blindly. You won’t make it like that,” said the man.
“And who in this life do you know who has conquered it entirely with just a plan… Not even a plan is guaranteed,” said Crimson.
The man had said nothing else after that. It had dawned on him that life was one giant experience, and that at the end, all were meant to roam and enjoy it as best they could before they died. The planet was fine before man arrived and it will be fine after they are gone so why couldn’t everyone just be happy.
But then after Crimson had faded into the forest, Mathen had whispered something that would sum up all that he questioned.