The Making of Sacrifice

It’s taken me a while to get back into this, into my Alternative Facts universe and the State of Amarak.

A lot of stuff gets lost in transition, and translation when I write these stories, I’m afraid. I think I go into it a lot more in my article Alternative Facts, where I discuss how this entire thing began, but to summarize the issue with my stories is that the language I attempt to create — the poetics — is by its own evolution very inaccessible, or limited. This is the language and syntax of a people — or populii — that has changed over at least a thousand years, if not more. I just attempt to extrapolate based on what I know, and what little I have read on the matter, and go with it.

But there is another issue as well. After talking about translation, there is transition to consider. I realize that most of my stories in this series are not really standalones as I might have originally planned them to be. I realized after “Freedom” and “The Spectrum” that I was essentially world-building from the roots of “Lost Words.” So here you have my poor readers trying to read my attempts at Newspeak and remember the context of groups and ideas from previous stories in that same vein.

Sacrifice is supposed to be different.

The first draft was very short and it was direct. At the same time, it lacked focus. It referred to other ideas, and it didn’t put emphasis on the Gilder Booms nearly as much as this one does. The Gilder Booms have existed ever since “Freedom” and they get talked about a little more in “Our Secret.” I don’t like to explain my stories, even if I did basically create a whole new language — or a basic attempt at such — for the world of Amarak. But I would like to discuss, briefly, the idea that led to this particular short story or, perhaps, chapter of this dark political speculative landscape.

I was, of course, paying attention to the recent school shootings in the United States. A lot of my friends and peers had been reposting and commenting on various articles. There were two ideas that came to me, one possibly in the back of my mind for a while, and the other more blatant. Let me start with the second one.

I thought about the Gilder Booms, as they are a group in the sub-cult of the Repo Party in Amarak: near or in the Borderlands away from the Repolitik proper. They are the cannon fodder, the militias, that go in and unleash the most bombastic and physical damage on those around them. I began to look at the religion or spirituality I extrapolated and formed around the Repo Party leadership and I wondered what the Gilder Booms thought of their “hallowed armaments.”

At one point, I came across this New York Review Daily article on my social media feed entitled Our Moloch by Garry Wills. It posited the idea that guns and firearms have a god: that this particular one is modeled after, or is, Moloch: an ancient god demonized by Judeo-Christian theology, and ultimately represents human — and especially child — sacrifice. The article, if you read it — and I hope you do — makes its point clear about guns and shootings in the United States along with its victims.

But then, I just couldn’t see the Gilder Booms blatantly worshiping Moloch: even with their time distorted idea of the Bible and folklore. So I thought of a deity that could represent the creation and power of firearms instead, on a warfare level. Unfortunately, Neil Gaiman beat me to it with his American version of the Roman blacksmith god Vulcan in his television series adaptation of American Gods. If you haven’t been watching the series, it is interesting, though I think the novel is better. Even so, Vulcan in that world represents gun deaths, and the military industrial complex of the United States. He is a perfect symbol and I realized I just couldn’t match that.

Even so, it still didn’t sit well with me. Two Mediterranean deities becoming the god of guns just didn’t feel … I don’t know, like they would be a part of Amarak. I tried thinking of Amaraki versions of them, but it didn’t work. And then, I remembered something about how the ancient Greeks, at least, thought of deceased children as heroes: and they were specifically buried in a ritualistic manner to almost deify them. I’d already touched on this in “Freedom” and “The Spectrum,” of course but I wanted to see what the Gilder Booms would do with it: how they would express it, and distort it to suit their spiritual and religious views.

And I realized that perhaps I was going about it the wrong way. The guns didn’t need a god. They already have spirits. It’s true that, in their theology, the Gilder Booms see the spirits of their hallows — as they call them — as extensions or servants of the Lohim, just as the Lohim has divine Masks or aspects representing specific old Amaraki ideas and figures. But I wanted to give the guns a life of their own, an animistic element, that ties them to the idea of nativity as part of the Land or the earth. The hallows themselves are a vessel of the spirits that they have … and the ones that they take.

I’m not sure when I started thinking about the Winchester Mansion. I know there is a film that had been released not long ago about it, and I’d always thought about the story in the back of my mind. It’s strange, when you think about it. I mentioned American Gods, and it has this idea that its holy places are specific focal points in the earth that attracts worship and belief. In America, according to Neil Gaiman’s novel, they are generally tourist attractions: the House on the Rock, and such.

The Winchester Mansion is definitely one of those focal points. It was created by Sarah Winchester, the widow of the man who owned the company that created Winchester rifles: which took many, many lives by design. The legend is that she started building an estate, after the deaths of her husband and child, to appease the spirits of all those killed by the family’s guns … or to get away from their curse. I wanted to find a quote about the Winchester Mansion and Sarah Winchester, but all I could actually retrieve was an old 1911 column about it: which I included as an epigraph in my story.

I … did the equivalent of meditate on that epigraph. I wrote some notes that, unfortunately, I deleted off of my phone. But what I realized was that according to the unnamed writer of the column, Winchester believed all would be well “so long as so long as the sound of hammers did not cease in the house or on the grounds.”

And then I started to think about it. What if the hammers are those in guns? What if the House is something more political? And what if the grounds are the Land, or a State, or a nation? What if Sarah Winchester and her actions, as fact, fiction, legend, or myth were a metaphor for a nation that profits from the construction, and deliverance of weapons? What if there is this large tract of grounds with different passageways leading futilely nowhere, or doubling back on themselves in circular logic, or hiding other secret places from those who would want to find them, or get out? What if there is a place that is made to hide rich people, or entrap the living, and attempts to forget about the growing dead?

What if America is the Winchester Mystery House? It was this idea, this image, that I ran with when I wrote this story, and then rewrote it and honed it down further. Perhaps I failed in telling this story properly in my Alternative Facts universe if I had to go into a digression about it here.

But it reminds me of something the narrator says in “Lost Words” when they are attempting to reconstruct the time before “The First Disunity” and a card game: about how the “House always wins.” And then there is also the idea, that can’t be discounted, of Sarah Winchester attempting to keep building on the House to actually pay restitution to the spirits, even with the problematic means of using the system her family made and the blood money to do so. Part of the column reads that her friends keep “persisting to visit her.” And either way you look at it, there is also that image of Sarah Winchester claiming that all will be well as long as construction keeps going … as long the House and the grounds keep expanding .. or the Land.

Sometimes, some things just speak for themselves, I find.  I hope that you will sleep well tonight. Take care, everyone.

Advertisements
Posted in Creative Process | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

8: Alternative Facts: Sacrifice

“She had told her few friends who persisted in visiting her despite their brusque reception, that she had received a message from the spirit world warning her that all would be well so long as the sound of hammers did not cease in the house or on the grounds.”
— “Winchester’s Widow Dying. Work on Her House in San Jose, Cal., Has Never Ceased,” New York Times, Vol. LX., No. 19497, 1911.

You’re here now, for the Night Terror.

Maybe the Baggers, our brothers, gathered you from your shacks at the Borders, with their prods. Saw your twitchy nubs, or bird eyes. Got libbed from the Pats for your trouble, and sent our way. We know family when we see you. Or maybe you were a Bagger, got us prey — every damn time — for our Great Pratik, and good. If that’s truth, good on you. You’re already one of us: getting your Mas or Fem. Or our Wag brothers and sisters told you about the fire and glory of the Cycle, how we’ll make the Arns see the piss, shit, and blood of the Terror again. And you’ll get that chance, if you’re good enough. And if you’re Nation, well, blood’s only cleaner when you spill it.

The Elders, the Pats, tell us that we’re the real Cycle of the Land, the whole lot of us. There’s Land, Folk, and Fire. No more, and no lack. And while we’re all Family here, it’s us, that are always — always — at the front: moving to the horizon. We’re not at the back or the side.

We’re the ones that ride the Cycle shotgun.

No Wags, no Baggers, no Nation, or Eyes, or Elders. No bullshit.

Just us.

You got that so far? Good. Cause whatever you were fore, you are us now, if you earn it. If you get better. If you live.

How it is, is how it was. There’s one Law. And that’s the Second Law. The Sacred Law, brought down by the Lohim Almighty, the Fathers, the Holy Writ, and the power of the Folk. And that power is the power of the Land.

At the First Cycle, the First Rebbing, the Red Coat Commies — those damned godless Tyrants — drew and quartered the Land — our Land — and our homes, and our bodies to be slave. Their armaments were the Law. And when we rose up, took the Law, and made the Second: taking their armaments, their thunder, as our own. Making them hallow. Making them our hallows.

We’ve been milit and soldered. That’s how the State, our Land, began, and that’s how it’s going to end: at the end of our hallows. It doesn’t matter that the Demos Usurpers and the Arns think they took this Land from us, taking away our Precedent, driving us off to the Borders, taking our hallows. We were the first in, at the ready after earning our fiefs and propers under the Precedent, and the last ones out when the Traitors took them away. They call us Repos, but they’re the thieves. They stole from us everything, but we fight for it back.

And they’ll see truth from our end. The only end.

Land, Folk, and Fire. Only we’re blessed with the duty, the glory, of wearing Gilder, the sheen around our hallows. We are the Hunters of sustenance, our holy power blazing to fill the bellies of our Folk, and the souls of our feeling against the Usurpers. It is our duty. Our right.

But our right must be earned. We’re the ones chosen to hold the Peacemakers, the Desert Birds, the Horses, and the Wind. The rhythm of our hallows are what we think. Fire and smoke are at our knees. The trigger our appeal. Prey in our prayers. It’s truth.

Our brother Wags are the mouth. The Baggers gather. The Nation purifies. But we, and we alone, are the only ones that dare to bear the sacred flame. Our hallows have changed over a thousand, thousand seasons, but the spirits are still the same. And the vessels, in our hands, where they dwell must be purified, must be proven … must be bloodied time and again in the Cycle that is Amarak!

And we enter the Great Pratik in recall of the Old Battles where we pray with our hallows, hunting all prey that is called Abominate. Rainbow scum hiding deep, the disease of the Nats living away from Domes in their Badlands Plague Pits, the dirty One-Backs bred by the Usurpers — these “new Amaraki” — either or any will do.

It’s truth! The Land rebels because it’s hungry. We hold its arms, its branches, its trees. We light its suns held by our sons, young or old-time, Mas or Fem, at the end of the sticks of the spirits to honour the turnings, the ever-turnings, that make the Land go on, to restore what’s true to the Folk: the Law to fight and fight back against those that take from them.

The hallows take all in equal in the end, espec us. The Land demands blood: taken, and offered. To take the thunder of the spirits of the Lohim demands sacrifice of foe and friend and brother. Too many of us have made that rite in Battle, cornered, or in the front. Sometimes the hallows take us at peace, fired off to recall of us its power to take. All the Gens of us …

Even the Young know the power of the hallows. Our Young, they have them at six cycles, gleaning the truth of the Land away from the Lye we will overturn. That’s when our Young start to serve. For blessed are those that meet their end by the hallows in peace: made all the more holy by that of a child. For in fire, they are made divine. In ash, they spread the Land. From the smoke, from what we burn, from what will stamp out in their name, they rise from our trumpets, from the tune of Amarak proper: made true heroes.

May we Gilder Booms take back the power that the Usurpers stole from us … in vain, just as the Tyrants once did, to keep the Land alive, and strong, and its Folk forever. May you, standing here now, prove yourselves, take stand with us, and take back what’s always been ours.

For Land, Folk, and Fire … For the Young. The next Gen … The true heroes of Amarak!

(c) Matthew Kirshenblatt, 2018.

Posted in Creative Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An Interview in Patrick Meaney’s House of Demon

Patrick Meaney, producer of She Makes Comics, and the director of Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously, Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods as well as many other documentaries has recently released his first-ever horror film House of…

Source: An Interview in Patrick Meaney’s House of Demon

Posted in Sequart Articles | Leave a comment

When I Found “The Heart’s Way” In the World of Two Moons

Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest is a comics series that has been around for forty years. Soon, this ongoing story about the World of Two Moons and its denizens will be coming to an end…

Source: When I Found “The Heart’s Way” In the World of Two Moons

Posted in Sequart Articles | 2 Comments

A Trip Through Old Wounds: Patrick Meaney’s House of Demons

It is fairly clear, to my mind, that when most people live long enough, they have moments in which they wish they could change something in their pasts. It can be something that they did,…

Source: A Trip Through Old Wounds: Patrick Meaney’s House of Demons

Posted in Sequart Articles | Leave a comment

Anklebiters: Pixies Vs. Gremlins

A few months ago, I announced that my friends at Pandora’s Fox were launching their weird and whimsical urban fantasy card game Anklebiters: Pixies Verses Gremlins. Unfortunately, at the time, they ended up having to cancel their Kickstarter Campaign.

However, they promised to relaunch their Campaign with a few new additions, which they have already done. A lot of the information in this Reblog is still relevant and accurate to Anklebiters, save for the Kickstarter Campaign, whose link you can find here:

In addition, I’ve done some writing for the game and even helped create two of the new Hero characters as part of this Project’s stretch goals. As I said before, if you like card games please consider taking a look and/or backing it.

Mythic Bios

Hello all. It has been a while since I’ve written here: something that I find I’ve been saying a lot. I have a few things going on, including some original creative work that I finally have formulating in my mind. And I can’t wait to see where I go with that.

It might be a while before I say anything about some of the other things I have planned. However, I would like to take the time to plug a card game in here. It’s not just any card game. Imagine a world, our world, where small creatures unnoticed by the rest of us dwell in the corners of the detritus we create everyday and wage wars for sacred leylines and land to summon a powerful being that will make them dominant over their fellows. Pixies use misdirection and magic to get their way, their whimsy just a mask for…

View original post 272 more words

Posted in Gaming, Role-Playing Games | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

7: Alternative Facts: Our Secret

“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…”
— Hosea 8:7

You’ve met with the Elders of the Hidden Festive. They have given you your orders as an Eagle-Eye, a Specular, in the Interface, doing the real work in fighting the Usurpers and the Arns of Amarak. They told you the truth, the secret of our Folk. It is honour. And you are one of the few to glean it, to be the hallowed armament within the Great Lye of the Three: who are really only ever the one … the Demos.

We don’t need to tell you that. You’ve already gleaned it. If not, you’d not have gotten this far. You wouldn’t have earned this truth over the unworthy. But you remember where you come from, child. You glean how you got there through the stint in the Gilder Booms, the Bagger hunts, the loud songs of the Wags. You didn’t need to be in the Nation, though. The races still live, and the Drop Ideal is folly. We have only, ever, wanted results.

There will be enough blood spilled soon, no matter where it comes from.

We’ve been here for you. And we know what it is like to play with pennies and the “winning hand” of cards. It’s what got us here, to this point, to begin with.

Now take this tea, child, and dump it into the river like the Rebels of old under the Fathers of the Lohim, under our god’s … Hidden Face.

All debts are wiped clean, here. Nothing is owed other than what you bring to promise. Tea leaves swept away, fortunes cast and reject. The real Fire, has been the ember, burning in you from the very began. We will pour you another cup, impurity burned away to steam in the water, and knowing passed on in the heat.

The Hidden Festive is adjourned. Thus begins the session of the True Hidden Festive: The High Tea of our Lady.

There is Lye in the Land: in Amarak. The Demos, claim themselves the cult of the Folk — of the “populii.” They do not care about the Folk. The Demos think themselves select, and everyone else are pieces in the Game. They think to use us in their war within the Rainbows. The Demos are Arns to the Cycle that begat Amarak, but they are not the only ones.

Again, you glean this. And as we take tea here, you also glean who our real enemy is. The true Usurpers.

Yes. The State calls us Repos, but we had another name, once. We have been born countless times, many cycles, in Amarak: all from began. We build the bridges. We defended them, watching each Repolitik, and keeping the lives of each Mas, Fem, and the Folk agon the govern. We tried to keep their rights, letting them seek prize and joy without fear of scripting, or quartering.

And we freed the slaves as the Demos divised and make profit from suffering, as they do. But we forgot. We forgot the Lessons of the First Cycle from which our Lady was born, from blood and light and friendship. We don’t know when it happened. Perhaps it was Disunity between States across the ocean, when we began to each each other, hunting the other. Or more disunities taking place in the far, alien lands. And when one Enemy was gone, we still saw them: here, in us.

Maybe the Mask of the Actor, which even now we are forced to play, never came off. And we were forced to take tea — take poison — with the rubbish of Amarak. It is no secret that the Gilder Booms worship death: that even the destruct of children consecrates their hallowed armaments in what they say is sacred blood, that the Wags scream of the Night Terrors and dream them, that the Baggers steal and lye and cull the wheat from the chaff. And the Nation and their notions of pure blood, perhaps our reunity with them is our worse sin.

We took tea. We forgot the Folk. Yes, we once freed the slaves, but we embraced the slavers, and enslaved like them. We just wanted to beat the Demos. We forgot the lessons of Independence, and the fiends of the Red Coat Commies. And as we took tea, continuing to get drunk off our poison, of our need for power, we sat back — we sat, or worse, cleaved together with the garbage … We brought everyone — all Folk — Back. Backward. And we took up the pennies, thinking it part of free trade, and the cards thinking of the winning hand and the easy kitsch of bars and liquor as we killed our Lady.

We killed her. Make no mistake. It is our largest crime, our greatest shame of our Festive, of our Folk. Not just that some of us poisoned her, bit by bit, or that we made her weak, in her glittering gown in the Night that came, as she fell in her blood pooling around her — toppling down into waves of the spreading red, our colours — in her bleeding shade across the Land, but that she cried out, cried out for help, for justice, while we stood there …

And did nothing.

Make no mistake. We murdered our Lady all those centuries ago, millennia before. And we all suffered. And we have been trying to atone ever since through our suffering. The Hidden Festive say they are of the Folk, of the Land, and that we are the Realpolitik. They are the children of the Pats that ruled our Repolitik thousands of years ago. They never cared for us. For anyone else. Not for the Folk. Not for Amarak.

We lost in the Great Disunity a thousand years ago now. The truth is that we did rule. We ruled small states, fiefs under a Great Precedent, as Governs and Sheriffs: each of us our own powers. But we didn’t lose the Land, or even get driven to the Borderlands because of the Demos and their Usurpers. We lost far fore that, and we couldn’t watch anymore. Not after so long. We couldn’t be in this Festive anymore. We became Arns, then. We helped the Folk, under the Brigaders, letting the Arn states take us, and betrayed our corrupt brethren and sestra. We gossiped the truth. We snitched on the Lye. We lost the Precedent on purpose, ignored them, didn’t listen, took their power like the others, and played in the squabble seeming of the fiefs: to bring the whole rotten tree down. We wanted it to end, and bring freedom back to the Folk: to the Land.

We took that tea and spilled it on ourselves, scarring ourselves in the places that no one else can see. Some of us joined the Lye of the Rebel and Workers, even the Demos, preferred to the brutalism of what we were. We were once a worthy Party, made into crimes and tyrants, into rapists, opportunes, fanatics, and thieves.

But we stayed. We weren’t like the other Arns. We are not Arns at all. We have baptized ourselves in the tea of our old betrayal of the Folk, of the Fathers, of the Land, of our Fallen Lady in her blood-soaked glittering blue robe. We burn our flesh with the tea, without the flavour of self-lye, or the ornamentals of our former hubris.

We stayed in the Borderlands, in sin, to atone: and perhaps to find redeeming. As the old saying says, we will not suffer poisoners to live, but we will suffer the poison and make it into the cure that will destruct the Festive. And as you, now, know your role in this — when the time is right — embrace the searing of the tea on your skin, etching the pain of the ancient betrayal, of the Sins of the Land, into your Skin, of the first true Rebellion, and remember. Remember what you are fighting for.

For we are the burning. We are hurt. We are the scourges, and the pain: the Pains of the Hidden Lady who we hope to resurrect, our Lady, may she grant us the mercy to continue in our quest, to destroy the Repos — as it is we that owe the Land — to restore our good name again, to bring back the Folk to freedom.

To the Pain of Pains. Our First Father before the Liberator, the child of the Lohim and our sweet Lady … Libertas.

(c) Matthew Kirshenblatt, 2018.

Posted in Creative Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment