”Why did you murder him? Speak!”
”I had no hand in his death, he brought it to himself..”
”Stop lying! We’ve had clear reports of you both walking out into the desert, you with a weapon, an ax, in hand! He never came back, all we found was his mangled body besides a mound of dirt. How can you explain this?!
”He drove the tool into himself, you call it a weapon, but we, my people, have no use for such brute instruments. We use our axes to shape the land that we live in, not to inflict pain.”
”How much farther now?” the sun at this time of the day had reached it’s zenith, even the shadows hid from such heat and blinding light.
”We’re close, do not worry.” answered the tribesman.
”And you…promise to help me?” asked Keith.
Again that one, by now it was the only answer he could get out of him, perhaps asking over and over had driven the man to his patience. But he trusted him, which said a lot. Not many people could be trusted anymore, it had been so long, that the word itself sounded strange in his mind.
As they crossed another hill, much higher than the last, he finally saw it. In an endless stretch of sand dunes, in a monumental dry ocean of waves and sand, laid a small oasis. This time, it was no mirage, the tribesman could see it as well.
Keith stumbling down the sand, rolling and running with little control, raced towards the spring. He then cupped the fresh water in his hands and drank.
”Why…would a dying man wish to quench his thirst, if life has no meaning to him anymore?” asked the tribesman, suddenly by his side.
Taken aback, Keith looked up, ”I would like to…taste life, before I leave..”
”…and? are you satisfied?”
” It’s even better than I imagined.” with that he got up and walked towards the outer edge of the oasis and fell to his knees.
He began to weep, quietly at first, holding himself back, and then he broke. All the pain and misery poured out of him.
As each teardrop fell, he grabbed a handful of earth and pushed it to his side.
While the tribesman stood there, watching over him, he wondered if this man shed as many tears as there were grains of sand in his hands.
Keith stopped digging and looked into the hole. His eyes still swollen and with misery shining on his face, he reached into his pocket and threw something into the ground.
And then, he screamed. He screamed heavily.
This was no sound a mere man could make, this was a cry of the worlds, mixed within it the sounds of all creatures that have suffered to their limits and more, pain lashed in judgment of the unjustly lived.
It had been a long time since the tribesman hadn’t heard this.
Keith’s guide, jolted from his memories, turned to see the remains of a broken soul of a man looking at him, expectantly.
”Please…do it now. I’m ready.”
He hesitated, things had changed, this, changed it all. He took a deep breath and replied, ”I am sorry, I cannot, I have brought you this far, the rest, if you are that eager, is in your hands.” He threw the ax down and began walking away. This was not a fight he wanted to have any part in, not anymore. Too many decades had been spent in the follies of these men. Enough was enough.
” Yet more lies this savage tells us! A man of our community, a stately man, would have no inclination towards death, we can live longer than ever, do more than ever, we are stronger than ever before! Why do you think we would believe in something as preposterous as this!”
”Simple..why live in a world that has no life in it? You and all your countless communities have banished life from our Mother. You have sent it to the Otherworlds and expect mankind to keep on as if nothing is missing. We are Nature, if you destroy it, you destroy yourselves. My tribe had been the last one, and now, I am the last one. I fear not. I came from the Earth, and shall return. My home and school were in the forests and rivers. We learned by listening to it’s song. Now that the song is gone, what is left?! Men and their constructions. No! Not men, but machines. You go through life in organised steps, trends are the only seasons you ever follow. This is no life. The person, you think I have murdered, knew this. He had understood. I heard it in his scream.”
A woman suddenly stood up ”You monster!! You could have stopped him, it is your inaction that cost him his life, this is all your fault! Please, kill this man!”
The tribesman faced the people, ”You want to talk about killing?! Your people have killed all that I know, my family, our homes, you have poisoned the waters and ground, driven away all free animals! You’ve all put your hands towards crippling our Great Mother. How dare you speak of death?! You murdered and exiled our Gods from our lands, leaving the young lost, unable to make sense of how to live and what to do, in return, you offered them dreams of riches and fame. Nature cares not of these things! Only man does. You have taken all that I loved. And it has hurt me deeply, but I am alive.
I have spoken to the Mother on this. Lying on the soil of my burned village, suffocating in grief, I asked if I shall lose all that I hold dear and love.”
”You wish to know what she replied?”
Where there was silence an instant ago, now was a commotion in the audience, several people screamed ‘no’ whilst the majority urged him to speak on.
”I was told, that one cannot lose what never belonged to him, Love IS. And that is all it is. But…I shall part with much, so is life’s turn of the tides. I learned, that I shall lose as much and often, as I hold in me the courage to love. Love now, for you shall see it slip through your fingers, never able to catch it. All we can do, is to appreciate the feeling, and lighten our grasp.”
”I have loved fiercer than lions many fight, and I shall, always. For Nature loves, and we are it. I fear not death, kill me if you so wish!”
”You see! He does not even fear dying, there stands the culprit, one who has no regret at that! Bring justice upon his head! Keith is dead, it is time to let this man join him if he believes he still can!”
Far away, over the dry hills and clear sky, where an oasis lies, a flower suddenly sprouts from a mound of dirt.
Without warning, the tribesman erupted in laughter, ”You believe he is dead?! Then you must all have forgotten the ways of our world! Go back to where you found the body, if you can find the place again, go and look! As we waste our time here, a young seed has just sprouted, a soon to be beautiful tree, that has been planted into the soil at the feet of the Temple of Gods.
An offering, as done by many countless before, I have seen them all! All the beauty in this oasis has grown through eons of pain and misery. All men before have watered the soil in their tears, an investment that has given way to purity. While it is they who found me, I brought them all there, and not one single life have I taken! They knew the price to pay, it was all they had left. And so, the Great Mother has accepted them back into her arms.
What have you all to turn to? Who shall you speak to when you realise that you’ve made a mockery of existence?! Whose forgiveness shall you plead?”
”We must hang him,” quietly said one of the officials in charge, ” a man such as he cannot be known to be right where we have done wrong. Too dangerous.”
Within a jungle of steel, on a cold grey square, sounded a rope pulled down by a heavy weight, then, cheering.
Mankind’s justice had been done.
As the tribesman’s legs swung in the air, far away into the distance, an oasis began to dry up, it’s serene trees, withering. The song had been sung but none had heard.
Written by Mikelis Dobrajs
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