Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Seer's Story 01

With a tip of the hat to Jasper Fforde. A short story:

“The oral history is almost gone now. The passage of stories from one generation to the next through word of mouth is nearly memory. The seers do not mourn its loss. The seers have lost so much more.

The oral tradition was the first link to the other worlds. It was the real power of mankind. Humanity, for all of its complexities and self-aggrandizing, would be just another animal without the power of story. Man didn't discover fire. Man discovered story; imagination; the impossible.

The thing is, magic does exist. It's obvious that the fantastical must have some connection to what is known as the real. But it's not about fancy scars or anything obvious. It is the subtle vibration of the physical laws bending, twisting, changing into something else.

The first story ever told was Man's first foray into controlling magic. And so this story begins not with Mankind, but with the first storyteller. She was human, pre-historic, and simple. Simian in mentality and basic in instinct. She was an animal the same as all animals of this earth.

But probability is magic's friend. Every possibility has the slightest chance of occurring at least once. Every infinity yields things beyond comprehension. And a chance encounter, a random firing of neurons, a haunting dream, and a series of coincidences changed her brain.

When the signs persisted, when the patterns of life continued to present themselves to her, she finally spoke. She told her group; a small band of homo sapiens, living life at its most basic. She told them the story she had crafted. Warned them of a creature of a greater magnitude and power than they could comprehend, and she enthralled them with the first story.

It has been lost now; the first story. But that is not important; a story continues even if the seers cannot access it. A single vibration—a spark—and the laws of physics change and morph, opening portals to the world created through story. And then another universe vibrates in time with the spark, there forever.

The oral history was the first passage to the other worlds. It remains the strongest. It was the vehicle through which the seers transported themselves and their audience into the impossible. Story is thus the impossible.

After the first storyteller, everyone who had heard the story could become a seer. For a time, every human was a seer, ably transporting an audience between worlds.

An audience would sit enraptured around a fire, as the members took turns transporting each other between worlds. It was a potent weapon. The other animals could never catch a human. What can a lion do against a man who can disappear into another universe at will? Civilization arose quickly from there. The dream of the impossible showed the way to the things mankind could do. Cities appeared. Great structures built to capture just a little of the magic of story.

Then the first great loss happened. No one noticed it at first. Mankind was reaching new and greater heights, imagination was becoming resoundingly practical. Irrigation, farming, domestication, and trade to far off lands. Specialization, the creation of new forms of art. All flourished during the first great loss. And writing appeared. Writing, was a perfect invention, save a story so it can never be lost. Hold the magic in a vessel that lives longer than a man. But it didn't work that way.

The seers wrote to save the magic. They would transport themselves and record everything they could to keep it when they died. The ultimate hubris is that we can live through our works. Writing wasn't a way to keep the universe alive. Instead, writing narrowed the portal. It made it almost inaccessible. Writing hid the vibrations between the lines on the papyrus.

Imagine describing everything on this earth. The exact location of every molecule and how it will move for the next 1000 generations. When the seers told stories, they tapped into the minute vibrations of another universe. They did not need to describe it, the other worlds merely presented themselves.

A written story did not tap into the vibrations of another world. A written story described the universe on the other side through a pinhole. Once a story was written, the seer no longer had to hold the vibration in his body; he could let it go and hope that the paper would hold it. But it never did.

Mankind was too preoccupied with the invention of war and the product of its tinkering to notice that they couldn't open the portals anymore. By the time of the Romans, only a very few could seers remained in Western Civilization. A secret council of seers was convened during the sacking of Rome. As it burned the council elected to hide themselves from the public. They called themselves the Western Gate and disappeared as the Visigoths entered the city.

Time passed, mankind continued its 'progress' going through great periods of creative flourish and growth. The Western Gate watched; they traveled between towns, peddling a moment in another universe, keeping eyes out for the next generation. Sometimes they were taken as witches, magical beings exposing people to evil. Many seers were lost in witch hunts. The Western Gate was nearly gone until Shakespeare. Shakespeare was a prodigy; so powerful was his ability to tap into the vibrations that even his written word could sometimes transport his audience; the gifted ones at least.

Transport requires a powerful seer as well as a gifted audience. Children are natural seers, but most lose their ability as they grow up.

The Western Gate thought they had a solution in Shakespeare. Some seers had such a magical gift that they could keep the magic preserved in print. In a rush after his death, the Western Gate helped fund the publication of the First Folio. They then began searching for seers with the same potential as Shakespeare. They found few, and many could not afford the exorbitant cost of publishing a book. The Western Gate barely survived that period. They settled, hoping for a better solution.

But unbeknown to them, other seers were dying in droves. The New World was a land rich in seers and oral tradition. When Columbus arrived, he brought with him plague and destruction. The second great loss had begun. The vibrations could only be preserved reliably in a very few books, and only when authors and audience had sufficient talent to keep open the gateways. For every book that held the magic, thousands of seers died in the cleansing of the New World.

Several Western Gate seers became frontiersmen in the New World. They founded the Last Gate and worked steadily through the enormous continent to try to preserve every seer they could find. But death did not just come in the form of an advancing army. The seers brought diseases with them and only added to the second great loss.

The world grew and changed. The two Gates became scattered organizations. The population ballooned and seers popped in and out of existence without the slightest ability to find each other. Many became depressed artists, unable to express fully the worlds they had seen—Edgar Allen Poe was a famous example. In 1945, seers near Alamogordo in New Mexico lost their ability suddenly. The vibrations left their body; at the time they could not explain it.

After Hiroshima, the cause of the loss was obvious. Nuclear radiation, even minute amounts, could stop the vibrations. There were only 40 seers in Japan before the two nuclear warheads were dropped. After, there were 2.

During the Cold War, steady escalation of radiation in the atmosphere nearly destroyed the abilities of the seers completely. Today the best seers can barely feel the vibrations and even children have trouble finding their way into the other worlds.

But the internet has brought the small community together. The Western Gate, the Last Gate, and the various world organizations are connected by the power of technology. There are only a few seers left; a couple hundred at most. The world has long forgotten us. But we continue to hold onto the only real magic bestowed upon humanity, and we try to share it and preserve it, waiting for the day the world will need it again.”