Back in my corporeal form, my sense of self reasserts itself. I pick my way through the detritus of another ruined city, the remnants of a multinational conflict: the world’s leaders have destroyed each other and, in a mad orgy of annihilation, almost the whole of humanity has perished. My world has been burnt to a crisp and I take no pleasure in the part I have played.
Am I the only one left? I long for my home, my uncle and our secret pact with Gaia – but where is she?
Abandoned, alone I trudge the blackened back-roads seeking redemption.
Gaia’s mantle shifts; I gear up for another astral transformation. I multiply, the same being, my very essence, replicates exponentially. Shimmering but not silent, the words of suggestion well up in my mouth as I creep into the consciousness of the rich and powerful that govern so-called humanity; the privileged who instigated their own rescue from the Great Wave that destroyed lesser mortals.
I unleash insidious whispers; spilling into seductive thoughts, temptation floods their avaricious hearts. Now’s the time to strike: the world can be mine!
Hypnotised by greed they’ll unleash the dogs of war: which one will strike first?
Threaded with trails of ruby magma, blackened viscous air enfolds me; far beneath me the ocean seethes and thunders, rising up in gargantuan walls of water and yet, all the rage passes through me, washes over me. I am immune, while fun-filled bars and sun-kissed beaches are obliterated.
The devastation spreads. Coastal conurbations, north, south, east and west are drenched with deadly, dripping force. Forests flatten, creatures flee; my only thought is for them.
The human infestation is weakened, badly damaged, yet not even decimated; I am still not done.
In Gaia’s service as rival to Pandora: her jar is emptied.
Borne on sacred scents, my development is complete. Now, incarnated in astral form, I hover over the occidental shore of the earth’s most populous continent.
I brace myself for the coming cacophony. My throat fills, and at Gaia’s command, I throw back my head and let fly the discordant melody that holds the power to move mountains: an unstoppable force, unleashed from the fragile firmament to the barely broken azure below.
Waves of disharmony filter through the air, a hideous marriage of chords of doom and pitches of despair.
The earth’s crust shatters sulphurous strings billow forth: Mount Teide tumbles.
Here, at the centre of the stone circle, looking towards the rising sun and channelling the power of the converging ley lines through my naked feet, I inhale the scents of selene and artemesia. The spirit of Gaia is within me; my journey begins.
Flying like a great winged eagle, I am guided by her sacred compass. I feel the strength of surging ocean currents and the might of spitting, smouldering volcanoes; she shows me the signs, the patterns I should follow. Now I know what must be done.
Teeming hominids Gaia has shown me the way: penance will begin.
I cringe. Images of the carnage wrought on Gaia’s beautiful planet crowd my thoughts: animals fleeing from a from a flaming forest, a child staring into the dusty desert that once was her home; chain reactions of a human population run rampant and out of control.
I shut them out; there is work to be done. I, the Initiate, have been given the tools and absorbed the theory; I am capable of harnessing volcanoes and tsunamis. Through astral projection and words of suggestion: famine, war and plague, I’ll bring them all!
Casting qualms aside I take up Gaia’s mantle she whispers to me.
My uncle warned me of the hallucinatory effect of smouldering henbane, but it is the essence of my initiation. Surrounded by the maze of megaliths, my body floats. I round up the shrill cacophony of chanting voices, which buck around my head like wild horses at a rodeo, and corral them in a corner of my mind.
My head is clear and I am ready; the only sound I hear is the sweet voice of a nightingale singing.
The message is within me and I am the message.
To this modern world which ransacks Gaia’s riches I bring her revenge.
We assemble at sunset. Goose-bumps cover the bared skin on my back, still tender from the previous pricking of the needle, which has marked me indelibly and for eternity.
Henbane and yarrow scent the air; charms and enchantments encircle the glittering granite standing stones, in a kaleidoscope of crashing consonants, while my uncle, a comfortable presence in the growing darkness, heralds the start of the ceremony with a single beat of an unseen gong.
Blindfolded, I am led to the centre of the circle. The ceremony begins.
In moonlight’s sphere runes on ancient stones ignite; the Mark of Gaia tingles.
My uncle is ebullient this morning, remarkably so. He is a man transformed; overjoyed outpourings spill from his lips as he beams at me across the breakfast table.
I, however, having ploughed through piles of obscure texts and ancient tenets from the towering oaken shelves of my uncle’s library (previously off-limits to me), am less so. The taste of the delicious food on my plate is spoiled by the knowledge I have swallowed down over the weeks since my discovery.
I am to prepare for my initiation, he declares.
Passing the baton gladdens the master’s heart; yet the burden remains.
There is no going back from here, for what I discovered up in that dusty attic on that cold winter afternoon has marked me out.
Now I am one of them.
I should have obeyed my uncle’s directive, but I’d been determined to find out the truth. The secret that was hidden from me, that was buried along with my parents, whose mysterious disappearance has never been discussed.
But now I have the truth, I must face the challenge ahead: the one that all our people must face.
On the lonely road our kind must travel alone; destiny calls me.