Sunday, October 11, 2015

Nightmare Fuel - Day the Eleventh - FAQ for a Damned Soul

Another day, more bleary-eyed flash fiction after staying up way too late to watch a baseball game which left me, to be honest, more angry than a baseball game should.

"Guide for Those Newly Damned to Endlessly Walk the Earth"

So you've been cursed to walk the earth, until the ends of time.

Join the damn club, or the damned club. I've done this too many times. I should write another self-help book, or a FAQ, or a maybe even "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eternally Walking the Earth as a Damned Soul". 

First thing to know is that you're not alone. Oh, there aren't many of us, but there are a few. I usually meet the new ones because I'm the oldest, but the other ones are still around.

That is, after all, kinda the point.

First thing to remember is that almost nobody's story is what you think it is. 

If the story is about rebuking a god, remember that history is written by the winners; it's likely as not the old god throwing one last hissy-fit as he dies. Some say the endless walkers really ARE dying gods. You'll get to know us eventually. We do like to meet every hundred years or so for a drink, but try not to let the Eternal Huntman have too much. He's rowdy when he's in his cups, but if he has just enough he'll tell you the real story. I'll not give it away, but let's just say it's not one you'd tell to the children.
Funny thing, my story is the oldest one and closest to true. Just know it was long ago. I thought I was the smart one because I'd just figured out agriculture. My idiot brother figured out what gods want in terms of a sacrifice. You see where that got us.

It wasn't a bad gig at first, walking the earth. You could drift in with no history and they'd all assume it was a fight over a woman or something in some place nobody had heard of. There weren't many people yet, but there were still places nobody heard of. You could make friends in a way, then when you drifted off they'd all assume something. Sometimes you'd even come back a generation or two later and learn a story about the mysterious stranger. Then more people knew more people, places built up, and it got hard. Then came the Wild West and it got easy. And now? It's damn near impossible, pardon the phrase.

How do we do it? All differently. You might want to talk to the Wandering Jew. He's still mad at being made a cautionary tale about rejecting Christianity - remember what I said about stories being written by winners? Oh, anyway, he's always been a forward-thinking type. He picks up names and identities in the new online world the way I used to walking town-to-town. It's quite clever, really. He can make himself a free-lancer in something or other, earn a little coin, forge bonds as tight or loose as he wants. Then he'll fade and start over. It's a trick I should learn.

What else can I tell you? Get a dog. There's lots of walking in this job, it's almost part of the description. Somehow you'll always end up walking. You can still find quite spaces, and, on a foggy day still pretend that the earth is young. In the early-morning fog near farmland it's the same as it was a thousand or so years ago. So, you'll get a dog and it'll remind you of the wolf you trained a thousand years ago. You'll sometimes call it by the wrong name, sometimes wonder if the same dog-spirit has been following you for millenia. You'll tell it secrets about the world.

And if you see one of us wandering, carrying a lamp in the daytime or a book of prayers or an old tarnished horn to call the hunt that never ends, when you see one of us you'll know that whatever secrets we've learned in our eternal wanderings are shared by our eternal companions. And that when those eternal companions pass, there'll be a new one, as constant as time, as changeable as the weather. 

We were, after all, the first to train wolves to become dogs so we'd not walk alone.

It is our gift to the world that has cursed us. 

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