The wind seemed to be in a good mood today. Sometimes it can be angry, impatient, and forceful in approach, hands digging into the earth desperately searching for something. The sand always hits me with the force of a million slaps from tiny hands, and the collective is a sizzling pain.
The wind seemed to be in a good mood today. It was slow and deliberate today, aimless in approach. Its fingers gently parting the golden sea to examine the world beneath surface glance. All there was is sand, bits of broken off buildings, and curious pieces of furniture, but it is happy anyway.
His ears pricked up and he turned around, green eyes attentive. “Yeah, what’s up, kid?”
“Why do you call the desert a golden sea?”
His little cat whiskers flickered as he licked his nose.
“Meow, if the sea was made out of solid things, then it would be called a desert. So that’s why I call it a golden sea.” He nodded with a puff of his chest, satisfied with his answer.
“What’s the sea like?”
“Just imeowgine the water in your water bottle times one billion and instead of sand it’s just the water.”
“That’s a bit too hard to imeowgine, Master. My world is a bit too small.”
That’s right. My world was a bit too small. The only world I knew of was an endless expanse of sand, assorted with half eaten buildings. There was enough water to drink, but not enough water to swim. There was enough water to take a shower every once in a while, but not enough for something to live in it.
In the world I knew, there are no fish that swim in the golden sea. There were no turtles, there are no sharks. I was stronger than the wind, who was only vaguely curious to see a millimeter underneath the surface. If I dug through this sea, sometimes my hand caught on glass, sometimes I found a relic from the past, but most of the time, I saw nothing. Nothing but sand.
He paused, ears pricked.
No. Thinking about why the world came to be like this would be a complete waste of time. Once I figured one thing about it, another question came up. Why is there no more ocean? Because the sand ate it all up. What was here before? Buildings, but the sand ate it all up. Where did the sand come from? It came from a wish. Why did the wish make a grown man turn into a cat? The world is just weird. Why would anyone wish anything that resulted in that? Who knows, but it was a careless wish.
Completely and utterly careless.
Nonetheless, everyone is loved, even those careless people.
“Cat got your tongue?”
Cat got my tongue.
Our travels were usually quiet, but there’s a certain type of quiet that’s all right and a certain type that’s dangerous.
It’s dangerous to be alone in your mind while traveling, Master said. It can make you groggy, depressed, and anxious. It stunk and felt coarse; it could be spotted from a mile away. The other person would feel heavy, and it smells sour.
I suppose I smelled sour.
“What are you thinking about? You’ve been hanging on that ‘Master?’ for a while,” Master meowed, moving forward with ease on his paws.
“I have, haven’t I? I don’t think I’ve got the right way to ask you the question.” My steps were overly deliberate and slow in comparison.
“You don’t have to ask, I know what your question is.”
“You’re an open book, kid. But I’ll answer your question with a story. To get your mind off your depressing and unanswerable questions. Just listen, all right?”
I always listened to him. His stories were nice.
“So, what’s this story about?”
“This is a story about a boy named Rey.”
There was once a teenage boy, not too far from your age really, who went to a school made for ultra talented people. His name was Rey.
The strange thing was, he was a completely and utterly average person.
He was of average looks, of average grades, of average height, of average life, of average… everything.
Average sounds pretty bad, right? But it means that he is the result of the traits of all seven billion people in the world all in one person. All of those people in the world stitched together would collectively have a nice face, brown eyes, brown hair, and a kind smile. It also would mean that he would be a student in school who lived in an urban area with his family, working hard to go to higher education. If you understood that, then you would understand why average is actually pretty good.
So this boy, despite being the epitome of average, was loved.
Rey was loved not because he was average, but because he was kind. As most people are in this world, his intentions were good. Though, it kind of depends on what one reads as good. For the good of one’s self, or the good of all? He was kind in the depths of his heart, for all people, and that was quite an admirable trait.
He was loved for his kindness by his two best friends. One was a girl, and one was a boy.
The girl was the sort of girl who tried her hardest to be kind, self-conscious, and caring. She loved him with the force of protection, of the force of her most precious human being.
He was worth the world to her.
The boy was the sort of boy who tried his hardest to be honest, confident, and aloof. He loved him with the force of passion, of the force of his most treasured human being.
He was worth the world to him.
His two friends were completely different, like night and day, like cat and dog, like stars to the moon, like silver to gold. Rey was their dearly beloved human being, the balance to it all.
Because of his genuine neutrality, he saw many things. He saw creatures that no one could see but him, like ghosts and fairies and aliens. And one day, his kindness gave him a hefty responsibility. He became responsible for the lives of all supernatural creatures simply because he was kind to the strongest alien in supernatural existence.
Of course he confided in the girl and boy. And of course they disagreed on every angle.
“There’s no way they can coexist with us! They’re so much more powerful, and the difference between us is too big to fix!” The girl argued.
“Maybe they can’t, but we can use them to our advantage! We have the wits to outsmart ghosts and demons!” The boy argued back.
The tensions between Rey’s friends hurt him dearly.
Naturally, he needed to make a decision.
This was a decision meant for adults, Rey felt. He wasn’t one. He wasn’t experienced, wise, rational, or smart. He was only seventeen! He didn’t know anything, he didn’t have any beliefs, but his friends did.
And it alienated him greatly. Rey hadn’t reached that peak yet, he felt.
There is a peak to every life, a mountain to climb for all beings. They are shoved deep into the wilderness of the Earth, where parts of the land reach out to the sky, trying to break away from home, reaching for new places, reaching out of the atmosphere, into space, out the galaxies and into the unknown.
Humans are incapable of exiting the atmosphere. All would die by then, as old people, with the Earth begging for them to come down. The skin sags as the body ages, slowing down to a snail’s pace, until they lay on the ground, absorbed by it, eaten by it, and used to make the world vibrant for another hundred years.
Rey was placed in the middle of primarily three trails leading to different mountains.
One was covered with snow, pure, untouched, trees embraced by white silk. Her feet dictated that way.
One was steep, covered in rocks, trees dead, struck by lightning, some untouched, still thriving. His feet dictated that way.
And then, there was one path left.
A mountain so colossally tall, one that broke through clouds among clouds, reaching like a tower more than a mountain. It was shrouded in gray fog, barely visible.
“Is this the path you want to take?”
YHVH asked, staring into Rey’s eyes.
YHVH was an ethereal being that is said to be indescribable, a being with changing shape and form, voice and gender. It is said that They would take the shape of one precious to the beholder, and thus, is not universally describable.
“It is a path leading to greatness, a sliver of hope. But many have died trying to scale this mountain, or regretted succeeding. Will you still take this arduous path?”
He opened his mouth to reply.
The young man, for the first time in his life, began to walk his own path.
Surprisingly to him, there were stairs made of marble, like ones that would be in a mansion. The steps were finely carved, made for a mathematician or architect to marvel over. He walked with ease at first, but the steps got steeper and less elegant in design, until he was resorted to climbing with his bare hands.
The rocks from the summit began to fall, cutting his body, the barrage of stones becoming stronger and more frequent as he climbed on. And despite faltering, despite almost falling to a countless potential deaths, he proceeded onwards.
“Well done, you’ve reached the top.”
There was a clap. YHVH smiled proudly.
“Is this your decision, after all these hardships?”
A curt nod.
“Isn’t it cruel to essentially be killing your friends?”
“But you still desire this, don’t you?”
The look of conviction in his eyes explained no else.
“If you believe that this is the correct path, I will not stop you.”
The being disappeared and was replaced by a sudden brightness followed by two sharp noises and he was sandwiched in the middle by his two best friends.
There were words of disbelief, confusion. There was pandemonium.
“Haha, looking into your heart shows that you truly believe that this is the correct path. You truly are the human of limitless potential.”
The almighty voice came from nowhere yet everywhere, the summit empty and silent, except for Them.
“Do you truly want to take this path?”
The same question yet again, but worded differently. Answer delivered in exasperation.
“Humans truly do not understand that they are bound by their feelings until they are shown that they are!”
A bright light enveloped his friends, his companions.
The most important people in the world to him.
A bright light enveloped the world he loved.
The sights betrayed the transformation and the transformation betrayed the sights.
Birds turned to humans with wings, humans to birds. Souls of men transferred to cats, school girls turned into travelers. There was nothing crazy about the rewrite. It felt oddly relaxing to him.
Rey was tranquil.
He too, began to turn into something. He turned to sand, every molecule turning into grains of tan. There was no surprise on his expression.
A yell, no, two. Cries of anguish from two.
The horns grew from his friend’s head and wings on her, the other. Their eyes grew sharper, wiser, and a punishment consisted of glass shards tore their bodies apart–
For a rewrite is never easy.
And then, the new angel and demon sat, with only sand in the world, and the image of their beloved person’s smile in their minds.
And thus, Rey’s wish came true.
All beings were made to be accepted in the world, with uncompromising neutrality.
The angel and demon began to cry, but stopped when they heard a single voice.
“We will meet again someday, this I promise you. Don’t forget, we surely will.”
Rey’s voice faded into the sand.
“A rather depressing story for the beginning of the world, don’t you think?”
It was the only thing I had to say for such a depressing story.
“It’s only fitting. You’re so picky.”
That, I could agree with. Only some tale woven in tragedy could result in a world like this one.
We traveled quite a distance while Master told the world’s origin story and made our way to a portion of the golden sea littered with half eaten buildings.
Beyond the sands was a dilapidated church, held together only by seams of wires. Stained glass that once adorned its windows were in shards, pieces laying in the gold dust. Sunlight reflected off them, like precious gems. A breeze rustled Master’s fur, specks of sand getting caught in the wind and resting in his black coat, the golden grains landing in his fur like a twinkling starry sky.
His ears pricked up, and he flicked his tail silently to the holy structure.
I wasn’t sure of what he was referring to until we got closer and closer. It was the sound of a pipe organ being played, its song aggressive and melancholic in nature. As I entered the church, some of the stained glass sparkled under my heel as I stepped on the pieces, which I did not really mind about, but Master did, deftly jumping around the glass, making sure he didn’t cut his paws. Soon, the musician came into view, just enough for me to observe. I took a deep breath, an earthy smell coming from the church entering my lungs, and then I focused.
With a squint, one could see his dark gray and short horns stand from the top of his head, like mountains standing proudly in a sea of trees. They were old and worn, clearly shaved down with some regularity. His suit was black, covered in patches of dust. Those patches twinkled brightly like clumps of stars in vast space. A black tail flicked up and down with the beats. On closer inspection, the tail was actually alive and had a mind of its own, a snake that watched me in different angles as it moved to the beat. His long fingers glided on the keys, playing every note with precision and accuracy. The pure white gloves adorning his hands were sliding off, showcasing his pale gray wrists.
Clearly he was a demon, having a joke with himself about the utter irony it was for a demon to know how to play the pipe organ, making it breathe with a religious tune once more. The sense of humor he had made me chuckle.
His hands stopped, landing on a chord gently, fingers lingering over the notes, his back becoming straighter and straighter as he sat up with grace that did not fit his appearance. His eyes closed, long eyelashes apparent, and he reveled in the last note he played.
“Why are you here?”
His voice was low, relatively quiet, succinct. It held an unnatural calmness to it, comforting almost, like the sun shining on something black. It was that sort of warmth that was akin to something sitting on your chest.
“We heard your playing. We thought it was beautiful,” I answered.
He turned around, looking at me. His eyes were gold, coal black bags incredibly apparent underneath them. His voice spoke of everything in a clear impatient and snarky tone, but in a soft voice. His voice was soft, almost kind, except he spoke of things that no ordinary human would with such kindness.
“A natural response. I thank you. But I have no reason to see you. I was planning on taking my break after I finished my piece. I have finished it. I am going on lunch now. My lunch lasts for four hundred ninety six hours, seventy two minutes, and thirty five seconds. Please leave. Come back later.”
Master twitched with unease, unsure of what to say to the demon he just talked about in his story.
“Ah, but suppose you don’t want to have a chat during your break?” I prompted.
“I have no reason to converse during my lunch. Lunch is for eating purposes.” The demon glared at me dully.
“No one takes that long to eat.”
I felt claws in my leg. Master.
“When your lunch is to eat the despair of other beings, for which there is a large quantity, and you don’t want to, it will take that long to.”
His expression hardly changed.
“Ah, but as a being of chaos wouldn’t you revel in that?”
“You’re so naive. After a while someone must do a job and that is me. Alas, I still don’t take well to it. Don’t you know? As a former human being whose conversion was flawed and incomplete even I am still bound by the chains of feeling? I heard your cat there telling you the whole story and yet you ask so crudely and rudely. He taught you nothing at all. You didn’t listen to him properly. Such a being couldn’t be called a ‘master’ or deserving of any respect if he cannot garner his own student’s. How disappointing. How saddening. How unbelievably disgusting. As a human you should be more considerate of people’s feelings.”
He spoke a lot. Too much. He stared at the roof of the church while doing so, pulling on his thin white gloves. His teeth were sharp and yellowing, skin a chalky gray, like a sky on a cloudy day.
“I won’t take kindly to people who insult Master.” I said, feeling the edge in my voice.
“Ah, I sounded the exact same as you about a certain human being. However, he is dead now.”
“Rey was really quite inconsiderate and naive wasn’t he, going so strong for such an irresponsible wish?”
Why… Why am I here?
That was the question I wanted to ask Master. What did I do to deserve to live in a desolate world? A world that was entirely Rey’s fault?
“Don’t you dare mock the dead, you little scoundrel. How insulting, how terrible, how disgusting of you. It makes me want to throw up my lunch that I haven’t even started eating. You are really quite low aren’t you? You are-”
I gently turned off my hearing for the next while until the demon’s lips stopped moving.
“Ah yes, I suppose I am all of those things.” I replied absentmindedly once he was one.
“You paid no attention at all.”
Master’s tension escalated every second. His grip on my leg increased with every second.
The demon stood up from his chair and strode up to me in a swaying fashion, with exaggerated movement. It was a sight to behold his stride. It was filled with braggadocio, ambition, and an emotion too complex to describe with words.
“Ah, out of all the humans I’ve met in my whole life, you piss me off the most. Would you like to marry me?”
You’re the Rey of this world. Can I find an answer in you?
“What if I said I wasn’t a man?”
“For nonsense, you are! Not as if it would matter. I am smitten by you. Take my hand in marriage, oh sweet, kind, and candid you.”
“So I suppose demons get lonely at times.”
“So, did you love him?”
He gave no pause to think. “I certainly did, more than my life, your life, this whole world’s existences combined. And now he is gone, and all I have are his words of promise. They guide me every second of my life and that is a thing that is plenty sad, my dear.”
“I wouldn’t call it sad. Being dictated by love is better than being dictated by another human being.”
Ha ha ha.
His laugh echoed in the dilapidated building. Teeth glistening, sharp as needles. Hands in pockets, chain of his pocketwatch ringing.
“I would beg to differ. They’re the same thing,” the demon said, wiping a tear from his eye. He really did laugh that hard.
“I suppose you and I won’t see the same on anything, will we?”
“You seem like the type to agree with the angel. Why don’t you hope she’ll pay you a visit?”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about our compatibility.”
He laughed onward, amusement and disbelief apparent. “That is true. You certainly do remind me a lot of him. I suppose you’ll make a decision that hurts me more than his did? That sounds awfully amusing.”
With that, I left the laughing demon to himself.
“What an odd being,” I remarked to Master.
“You were speaking with him so candidly I was concerned he’d eat you alive!”
“He’s a bit too sad to do anything of the sort.”
The demon’s melancholy laugh ringing in my ears still, our journey continued on.