POCHALYPTIS | Fire Tender | Story by Anita
The old world was called The New World and it was a suffocating place. Smoke and metallic fear ran through our veins and the only way to survive was to dump more fear on your neighbour, in hopes of emptying your own vessel of the rotting stuff. The people who introduced the fear had reserves- a century's supply of little metallic capsules filled with liquid panic. They'd push it into us and watch the chaos fold from on high. Over time, we fed ourselves the capsules thinking it was all we deserved. Thinking it would keep them strong, the Fear People swallowed many capsules themselves, and soon we all were filled with the disease. We got used to it. This is how we related to each other. This is how we related to ourselves.
When the world fell apart, the Fire Tenders were the first to appear. They blew the fear out of our veins with a simple phrase, from before the time of the Fear People: make of yourself a light. The Fire Tenders blew on the embers and found the thing before the fear, they found the unique and complex light in each of us.
Everyone set out to do work. Their work. The work of their light. Everything took a long time but time and each other were all we had.
Slowly, our bodies changed. Fire filled our veins and we burned bright with our own unique and complex light. As greetings, we blew on each other's embers, and our fires would mingle. We touched foreheads with the soil, with our plants, everything glowed. We looked for each other and saw each other all the time.
The Fire Tender took light from all of us to light the new New World. When we had hard decisions to make, we consulted the Fire Tenders' fire like an oracle, for it contained all our wisdom.
Sometimes the fire in our veins would pump out through our orifices- runny fire noses, coughs that set tissues alight. The Fire Tenders had a special vessel for these occasions. Drops of our unique fires were collected, and they hardened into seeds.
Over time, we started noticing a mark on everyone's forehead- a seed-shaped hole. It was lined with the metallic stuff- which had ceased to rule our world but had never fully gone away. When the holes in our foreheads grew big, we greeted each other with kindness and traded seeds. We coaxed the holes smaller with these seeds of care, these precious gifts. We let our unique and complex lights mingle, until the fires in each of us roared again.
(Also in my world, you do not need to be a man to have facial hair)