He is a force of nature. Part human and part spirit, he has a foot in each world but he belongs to neither.
His mother was a human woman and his dad was the mighty Raven. At least that’s what his mother used to tell him. Every year on his birthday she would say “your father was no human man; on the day you were born he flew away.” And then she would show him the feathers, “he gave me sixteen feathers and told me to give you one on the day of your birthday till you turned sixteen.”
When he was nine he told his friends he was the son of the Raven. The next day when he walked into class his friends stood apart from him, from the other side of the room they stared at him, he stared back and said, “what?” His best friend spoke up,
“You’re a liar”
“No I’m not”
“My dad said your dad isn’t the Raven and that you’re lying”
“My dad is the Raven”
“No he’s not, your dad was a drunk and on the day you were born he got loaded and went down to the tracks and kissed a train”
It was a painful memory, he never mentioned who his father was to anyone again, nor did he believe his mother. For the next seven years on his birthday she would tell him the same story and give him a feather. On his sixteenth when she was about to give him the last of the feathers he said to her,
“So what now?”
She gave him the last feather and twenty dollars and whispered to him,
“I don’t know”.
He left his house and laughed, “Is this all I am” he thought. In his left hand he held sixteen feathers, in his right twenty dollars. He tucked away the feathers and replaced his twenty dollars with a pack of smokes and a bottle of whiskey.
Sitting in the middle of the tracks, smoking cigarettes, and drinking whiskey, he waited for the one a.m. freight from the pulp mill. At twelve fifty six he felt the ground start to shake, “its early” he thought and stood up.
Holding eight feathers in one hand and eight in the other he opened his eyes and stared at the train barreling towards him. A second before impact the light from the train nearly blinded him and he shut his eyes tightly.
When he opened them he was standing on the tracks and the train was barreling through him.
He is no longer a child, he is a man, he is a transforming man and he has his feet in many worlds but he belongs to none.
His arms become wings and he flies away.
She screams in pain as she pushes them out of her womb, two infants joined at the torso, the doctor gently holds them in her hands. The male twin cries the female twin does not, looking at the doctor the mother says, “Are they O.K.?”
“They’re twins”. So small and delicate and covered in birthing fluids they are beautiful.
“They’re conjoined twins” the doctor says, the mother leans forward to look and them and they both rear their heads to look back at her.
Moments later their small delicate little hearts stop beating.
Their little body is buried in a family grave and the mother grieves.
But the universe is sometimes unjust and their spirits remained in the hospital, their immortal souls tied together. At first they did not have the capacity to understand what they were but as the years passed they could see the world change around them. The real world comes and goes and spirits arrive and quickly move on but there they remained, until he found them.
The transforming man stood above them, like a light in the dark.
“I’m sorry it took me so long to find you”
He picked them up and held them in his hands.
“I’m going to take you home; I know you’ve never been there before but it is where you belong.”
It’s a strange thing to see a grown man kneeling on the floor of a hospital cradling nothing and talking to thin air, but most people can’t see the world around them. Of course to the twins he didn’t look like a man, they’ve seen men. He was part bird and part man and he cradled them in his wings.
The years of being alone on the hospital floor had made the twins bitter, they had seen other spirits ascend and never had they, so they did not believe the transforming man.
“It’s time to go” he said as he dropped them to the floor, spread his wings and grabbed them by the hair with his clawed feet.
“This won’t take long cherished ones” he said to them. His mighty wings flapped and the three began their journey to one of many heavenly worlds.
As they entered the void the male twin looked up at the transforming man and said,
“You’re a liar”
It was less than a second, less than a moment, but in that sliver of time the transforming man felt all too human. Taken aback by his deeply buried childhood pain he released his grip, but for a second, and the twins were lost.
The fall of man
The twins fall, their life in a state of purgatory which some say is a fate worse than death. They live on the edge of so many worlds with their feet in none. They can feel so many spirits around them, traveling like bolts of lightning from one world to the next. The male twin is enraged, he is starving and just beyond his fingertips is the sustenance he needs to survive. His sister who has only love for her brother feels his pain and weeps not for herself but for him.
She knows he needs strength to find his way home so she decides to allow her brother to absorb her spirit into his.
He doesn’t hesitate, he feeds on his sisters’ spirit and grows strong, strong enough to catch a bolt of lightning.
Still he falls but now alone his appetite becomes insatiable.
He becomes still, forcing himself into a near comatose state, with his eyes wide open he waits for time to slow and the spirits that once traveled past him like bolts of lightning now travel like the smoke from a cigarette. He reaches out and grabs one, it is old and frail, and with the veracity of a starving wolf he consumes it.
He has become a cannibal, he no longer wants to ascend to a higher plane, he only wants to fill his belly with the spirits of men and fauna.
His sister who sacrificed herself to save her brother stands beside him; she is unable to stop him and can only look on in horror.
She is no longer a character in this play she is now only a witness.
Punishment of the Grave
In this great and vast universe there is a balance, spirits travel between worlds never filling one world with so many spirits that it becomes unlivable or taking away so many that it becomes lonely. When a spirit leaves one world it is expected in the next and when those spirits start to disappear it creates an imbalance.
Charged to find the imbalance in the universe is the transforming man. Finding a needle in a haystack would be easy compared to finding an anomaly in an unending universe. He searches for years, guilt ridden because of what happened to the twins he has not lived as a man since. It was quite by chance that while riding a blue, green and yellow bolt of lightning, to a world without the colour red, he feels a hand grab him by the throat.
“You!” he screams as he looks to see who had grabbed him.
“Yes me, Savior”, says the male twin who has become a horror, deformed by his greed.
“So what now Savior, you punish me?”
“No, my father will” and with that a raven appears. The male twin looks into the Ravens eyes and confesses, “I took the gift my sister gave me and created an imbalance in the universe.”
From deep down in his gut a lump appears and the Raven begins to choke, convulsing and shaking until finally he expels a small wooden box from his mouth. The Raven motions to the box and then to the male twin, but before the male twin can move the transforming man speaks up,
“Wait, it was my weakness that allowed him to fall into darkness. I will pay penance for any sins committed by him.”
And finally the Raven speaks, “but you are my son.”
“I know father.”
On a small island forgotten by the world there is a tree, and in that tree is a box. That box is the final resting place of the transforming man, but no longer transforming he is just a man, condemned to eternity in a state of neither life nor death.
But he is not alone; on either side of the box are two spirits, one male and one female.
They have made a vow to never leave their Savior.
The Raven, saddened by the events of this story, transforms himself and spends a hundred years traveling as a leaf on the north wind.
Story: Luke Parnell 2012
Image: Fall of Man, by Luke Parnell 2012