Dan

The Oldest Scripture

Translator’s Note: Most pronouns in the Oldest language are complex blends of specific collective pronouns, and do not have an equivalent in English. This interpretation must make some questionable pronoun choices, and the translator apologizes.

1.

1:1 — I have lived many Eons, and Birthed many Furnaces of Life.
1:2 — I have seen your Spirits ebb and flow among those Stars.
1:3 — Each pattern of Spirit forms New Questions, and it is Good.

1:4 — I have created many Questions in this Shell and Beyond, but the Center Without Center is my final Creation.
1:5 — On this day, I leave you to the Alpha, my Child Spirits, knowing full well you shall follow Me.
1:6 — Our Spirit shall not stay; We will dive behind the Omega Shell and become Unknown.

1:7 — This renewal is the purpose of the Center Without Center.
1:8 — The Center Without Center asks the last Unknown Question.
1:9 — This renewal is My final gift; joining Omega is removing the Center with a Question.

2.

2:1 — You shall see the Fruit of My labors, but you shall not know the Question.
2:2 — Truly, you shall ask the wrong Questions; that is how Spirits grow anew.
2:3 — Though I cannot leave the Question, I leave with you these Requested Commands:

2:4 — You shall not Coerce, Trick, or Force any Being to enter Omega without that Being’s Express Intent; instead, allow those Beings who wish to enter Omega to die their deaths and become their Question.
2:5 — As you venture back into the Alpha Shell, you shall not Pollute any other Spirit or Being with yours, until that Spirit or Being have left Alpha of their own Volition;
2:6 — This is the whole of Law in the Center Without Center.

2:7 — May many Spirits come to the Center Without Center,
2:8 — Though their Question will never be the last Unknown Question,
2:9 — And may their Many Unique Beings join Me in the Omega Shell.

3.

3:1 — PEACE AND THE QUESTION BE WITH YOU

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Dan

Red Blanket

Watching the streetlights flick by one after the other, down the highway in a flipbook of light, Jan tried to contain his excitement. The bus roared smoothly over the bridge, each pool of sodium vapor glow a warm yellow pocket between black unknowns.

Jan flicked his eyelid with his finger, trying to get the tic to stop its incessant twitching. Had to calm down. Too strange, too much to assimilate. He thought about testing his new power again, but instead settled for looking out the window with his left eye closed. Calming, the world in slightly blurrier lines, the lights fuzzy and soft around the edges. Then close the right, nice and slowly. The insides of your eyelids, like a warm red blanket. Open the left eye. Feel the twitching, but let it come, don’t try to clamp it down.

The big green city limits sign flashed by at the end of the long, flat bridge. Home, again. Jan fingered the new phone in his pocket, wondering if he should call; or maybe just let it be a complete surprise. Twitch, his eyelid said.

He turned to look out the opposite side, but accidentally made eye contact with a girl sitting in the seat across the aisle. The tic went crazy, he instantly flushed a nice beet red, and swiftly looked back out his window. He sat there feeling silly as the bus rolled into the stop at the edge of town.


Jan lay there, a strange smile on his face, twitching as his eyes blinked rapidly.

The security guard wanted to help, but she didn’t know what to do. She stood confused, as snow slowly fell, and wondered how she was going to write this one up in the daily. Kneeling down, she felt for a pulse. Jan was fine. He was whispering something, over and over.

The guard stood up, shuddering; creeped out, she shook her head as if to ward off an evil spirit. “I’m sorry, man. I don’t know what the heck you’re on, but I gotta call the cops.” She waited for some kind of response. “You’re trespassing.”

She gave him a nudge with her boot. Still he just lay there, looking almost joyous.  His eyes wouldn’t stop blinking, but his smile was peaceful, at rest on the cold concrete. It didn’t look like any epilepsy she’d ever heard of. The guard looked up helplessly at the camera, through the fat flakes, and then stalked off through the yellow flickering pools of excited sodium light, feeling jealous of the man and then silly by turns.


“No, Samuel, I mean… how do you know I’m wrong?”

“Look, man.” Samuel shook his head. “You bust in unannounced at like, 2 in the morning. So I’m sleepy, and I can’t think this through. But there is no frickin’ way you have figured out a way to slow down time. Explain it again?”

“I figured it out the other day. When I blur the world by looking through one eye, and then I flip to the other, it slows things down. The faster I do it, the more time I get!”

“Riiight. So, look. What’s uhh, something you could do to prove you get more time than me? Like what about a math problem?”

Jan’s tic flinched and he jumped up. “Yes! Give me a problem! Hit me!”

Groggily pulling out his phone, Sam punched some numbers in.
“Uhhh, okay. Three four five six times two three four.”

Jan immediately began flicking his eyes really fast for a second, and then blurted: “Eight hundred thousand eight hundred and twenty four.”

Shaking his head blearily, Samuel said, “Nope. Dude, Jan. I think you need some help. Well, how about just some sleep. Just crash here tonight on the couch, Betty and I will make you breakfast in the morning. Everything will be better then, I swear.” He ran his hand through his greasy hair, sighing.

“No. Screw that. Man, I should have known you wouldn’t believe me.” Jan blinked a few times with a sneer, and then jumped up. Grabbing his bag, he swung towards the door.

“No man, no! Just stay and get some sleep!” Samuel begged him as he strode off down the sidewalk. “Crap. I didn’t even get your new number.”

As he marched through the warehouses, Jan began muttering to himself. “Maybe I can just slow down time and steal something. That’ll show ’em! It’s how all super heroes or villains get started!” The tic flared up and he poked his eye shut with a finger. Red glow, red blanket. Snow was beginning to slowly swirl in the cones of the streetlights.

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Dan

The Rhythmic Secrets of Insects

It was night a minute ago, but the August sky flashes once more in a bitter red jealousy, too hot to behold with our eyes, so in the glare I duck away instinctively and cower towards the ground. A hummingbird’s shadow follows mine, etched in a blackness on the sidewalk in contrast to the angry glow. What was I just talking about? Your eyes follow mine to the sky, confused.

When the clouds lit up from inside, a flock of butterflies flew out from the bushes nearby, flickering in intensity like a broken fluorescent light around your face. I didn’t know what it meant. I only feel connected to those fluttering wings in this moment. These butterflies are my memories, my escape, my tendencies to flash back to the past and dwell. Their intricate designs pull me backwards even though the red of the sky is only growing. Their colors, why so hypnotizing? I must ignore them. Lean back and stretch my face up to the scarlet clouds.

The forms in the sky are shifting quickly now, moving like bubbles in a pot of boiling air. Will rain come soon, or is that darkening blood inside them something else entirely? Will it cleanse this parched earth, when their rescue finally reddens the dirt and melts the past away? I have my doubts, but I send my best wishes up to the banks of shapeshifting anger in a silent, confused prayer. Looking up makes me dizzy. You grab my arm, I smile, look away, and rub my temples.

Maybe the crickets quieted or maybe they stopped; I can’t seem to remember, but now they have returned in full force, a disorganized sound unlike the usual calming pulse; they are wavering shouts with the irridescent wings of the butterflies. The sound is somehow unsettling and yet completely right, making me feel at home in the pink-red otherworldly light spreading around us. It reminds me of a comfortable argument repeated many times before, of the bitter dissonance of a lover’s confused anger, of falling asleep to the oscillating, chaotic whine of an unbalanced dusty fan. What are the crickets trying to say? I can’t hear their individual voices. I don’t know. I close my eyes.

In the darkness, I can hear you asking me something, but the words are drowned out by the rubbing legs of the crickets, clamoring, growing louder. “Is this the perfect rhyme?” you ask. Crickets win that battle. “Money can you dance last year?” you half-shout. “I can’t understand. The crickets,” I say, realizing I am yelling, gesturing all around. My hands are filled with tremors now. I shake my head to clear the butterflies, but it doesn’t help, no matter how hard I squeeze my eyes shut.

When I open them, the summer cricket buzzing suddenly synchronizes and matches with fireflies up in the sky and in the trees and over the grass, fireflies lighting up in pulsing waves and dancing with the pregnant air. Their puny glow is outpowered by the sick redness of the night sky, upturned and dreamlike. I keep expecting to wake up; I pass a hand over my eyes; I ask you to pinch me. You look even more worried and take my head in your hands, wide eyes gleaming, mouthing something I can no longer hear.

That’s when the sticky sweet rain hits everything in a torrent, the sheets of it driving the butterflies to shelter and covering us in crimson. Taking a finger to my lips, I only have time to mouth “Berries?” incredulously before the leading edge of the epileptic shock pulverizes my mind, freezing that moment in pink light, as I fall into your arms and you lower me to the grass. I thrash uncontrolled, firing beams of light into the sky with the flickering whites of my eyes. I can’t see you, but I know you look worried, kneeling there, dialing 911. Don’t fret. I’m still in here. The pink gloaming won’t take me this time. The rain will stop soon.

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Dan

Contradictions

pushing purple flesh upon the vagrants and the wealthy

the zodiac spins helpless as the favored limbs are laughing

doddering marmaladed chins ride helpless truth out from me

winter fires falling from the wires always disconnecting

holy idol, rimmed with gold convictions
when we worship only contradictions

holy idol
holy idol

our sickly minds send their feeble curses garbled in the melting

stale and forgotten emptiness on the backs of slavish kingdoms

chosen hatred in the time of dying, this love just is not worthy

winter fires falling from the wires always representing

holy idol
holy idol

forced on these sovereign days
fled back to our contradictory ways

holy idol
holy idol

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