In the beginning, we thought the fires were an accident. It was later decided that the fires were not an accident. It always annoyed me when the headlines read “… breaks laws of physics.” Like some asshole checked the sums and declared the transgression. No laws were broken, we just had it wrong.

Ferrolus said, “We, bleating blindly at the cosmos, err in confidence. We ought better to acknowledge our folly and be done with this faithless confession.”

I think I know what he meant.

The fires were not an accident.

My aunt used to take me on walks down the dirt road. It was my favorite. Now that I think of it, she probably only took me on one or two walks, but they were so monumental that I had the notion that it was a habit. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? She used to take me on walks, and told me this story one time. It was about a time long ago. Those people were really smart, so they decided.

Ferrolus said, “The gods are born of decisions.”

That’s all it takes, decisions. So they decided. Not because it was easy, but because it was hard. And they almost did it. They almost uncovered the Truth. But He didn’t like it. So He started a fire, and it wasn’t an accident. Now we are all shit-talkers.


I heard that those fires ruined everything. At first people liked to go gawk at them. The fire crews gave up trying to stop them. They spread too quickly down the mountain. And then it was said that people were setting more. It was a lost cause, and so we stopped trying. Sometimes it’s easier to let go of an old idea. You get beat too many times by the old question and just give up. It’s too hard trying to outdo the Corinthian King. So you let go of it, let go of it all, and joyfully watch it roll down the hill one last time.

So we went to watch the fires crawl down the mountain. Pretty soon we were choking on smoke.

So we left.


People used to like telling stories about how things would get real fucked-up someday. But let me tell you, that’s a lot of horse shit. It doesn’t get worse. It doesn’t get better. It’s always the same smoldering ember. Just about to flash. Well, you want to know the truth? It did flash once. That ember up and blazed. But most of us forgot about it. You would think that all the holy books that we’ve writ would give a clue, but they don’t. But here we all are, like it doesn’t even matter if we know it or not. And I’ll tell you something else: He doesn’t like it.


Yesterday a few of the others signaled that they made it. I am still not convinced. We’ve always been told He wouldn’t allow it. I’m going tomorrow to see for myself. Taste and See and all that.


They were right. I can hardly believe it. The Location is real. The fires were not an accident. The implications are staggering. Another chance. It will be another several years before we can depart, but preparations are already being made. When the Explorers left us, they had charted a location where success was likely, the source of four small rivers. Our tethers will probably guide us to that place. Not all of us will go, of course. The decision will not be an easy one. In fact, many object completely to the idea.

Ferrolus said, “In those days, heresy will be your master, and you will desire him.”


Sometimes I think I can remember. We used to talk about it more. Now it’s too embarrassing or some shit.


Did you know that time used to take longer? It was all stretched out and just took longer. Most people talk about how things go by faster these days. That’s not what I’m talking about. That’s just you running out of novelty. Your brain is bored as shit and doesn’t care that you can’t concentrate long enough to have a decent thought or experience. What I’m talking about is Time; the old bitch herself. She is compressing.

Trying her best to run us frantically off The Cliff.

And He doesn’t like it.


Lies. The gods told us lies. I made a mistake when I triggered the signal. They will no doubt blame me for the consequences when they arrive. There is only one thing left for me. I am uploading my Anima Tabula into the Device. With any luck it will be able to warn them of the conditions here. Life is not possible. They will have to find another way. For what it’s worth, I probably never really believed. UPLOAD COMPLETE.


about the author
Nathanael Johnson grew up in the Dayton area. Over the years, he has written in his spare time, some fiction, mostly essays.  He has several projects written with his sisters that have grown into foreboding reminders of laziness. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran, father of five, and currently is going back to school for a computer engineering degree.