“All the meanness we harbor, they borrow in redoubled spades. They’re a billion times itchier for pain, sorrow, and sickness than the average man. We salt our lives with other people’s sins. Our flesh to us tastes sweet. But the carnival doesn’t care if it stinks by moonlight instead of sun, so long as it gorges on fear and pain. That’s the fuel, the vapor that spins the carousel, the raw stuffs of terror, the excruciating agony of guilt, the scream from real or imagined wounds.”
~Charles Holloway, ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’
By the pricking of my thumbs
Something wicked this way comes
Then rang the bells both loud and deep
God is not dead nor doth he weep.
For some time, a shadow has been growing on my mind. When I think of battles yet to be fought, the declining state of the world, or any sort of negativity, I remember it. It slinks from shade to shade, stalking us. Hunting us. Worse yet, it hunts us by USING us. I do not know it’s true name, but it’s a timeless beast, a relic from a long dead age. It will not rest until every living human is either its slave or no longer living. When that comes to pass, only those who are dead will be free. We cannot defeat it because our hearts are too full of things that give it strength. Even the best of us would eventually be broken by it. The cruelty and sorrow it engenders will eventually trigger the end of all things; when the suffering of humanity is too great that even the gods begin to feel it, they will intervene and this will begin the end. Armies will march, trumpets will sound, and the battle will begin between the Shadow and all that it represents and the forces of Order.
As it approaches in the dreams, the waking world becomes increasingly worse. I fear what will happen when the Shadow finally arrives. But people who cannot see the true cause of our suffering will find other causes for what ails them: the economic downturn, incompetent and power hungry leaders, psychos with guns, etcetera.
But these are merely symptoms of the disease which threatens to rot away mankind’s very soul. It starts with the weak, and works it’s way up from there. It prays on fear and insecurity, on a lust for power, or anything else it can use to gain a foothold. Christians call this malevolent force the “Devil” (meaning “Adversary”), and this is an apt name for such a presence. However, they overestimate it’s sapience. It is a clever hunter, but in the sense that a wolf is clever in gauging the strengths and weaknesses of its prey. This Devil has no grand plan to rule. It knows only that it must be the most powerful. It gives no thought as to why or what it will do with that power when it has it: in the words of a more fictional devil, The Joker: “I’m a dog chasing cars! I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it!”
Likewise, this Devil moves forward with only the insatiable need to subjugate the living and eliminate all opposition. It doesn’t know or care about anything that follows. It knows only that it must be victorious. It is clever and cunning, but it does not have a plan of any sort.
That said, it will be our ruination, because we stand between it and victory. And if Earth falls, then I believe the Gods will have no choice but to act. If it is a battle mankind cannot win on our own, they will run to our side to assist us.
In the meantime, the Shadow will manipulate us into turning on each other. It will make us more and more miserable until we finally break and make no further attempts to hinder it. Like a tsunami, it will flow and flow until all that stands before it is crushed, expanding ever outward as an unstoppable force until it meets the gods, the most immovable of objects, and then there will be battle between those that have been broken and now worship it, and the gods and those who will stand with them.
Ragnarok. Armageddon. The End of Days.
And from the ashes will arise a new world, a cleaner world without the grime and influence of this shadow. New shadows may arise, but this one will fall and meet certain doom.
Only by refusing to break can we survive with our sanity.
Even if the fight is hopeless, you shoot until you run out of bullets, then you bash until your club breaks, and then you punch until your knuckles bleed, and at the end of it all, you scream in defiance until your last breath escapes you.
This is what it means to be a warrior at the end of days.
Until that battle, keep calm, and carry on.