Chapter 01. A Sleeper

“Have been worried about you, Don. I misbehaved like a fool. Nok and Eli just can’t be offended, no matter how hard I tried to upset them. May I taste your apricots now, darling?”

“Nope.”

“Why not? Have I upset you too somehow?”

“Not at all. You’re the most adorable, and possessive, must admit, bunny in the galaxy.”

“Just the galaxy?”

“Ain’t that enough? Besides, you’ve been taught a new method of feeding us. Why not try that instead?”

“Just for our mutual pleasure. Please!”

“I can’t and you still don’t get it. Do you?”

“Get it? What?”

“Eli warned us to be aware. Astarte is more than the Serpent. She mothered this imaginary being out of her mind when she thought of ‘what a nice god would be if I just could have one on my liking.’ She is the most pervasive being that ever existed. Nok’s experiment went awry. Undeniably.”

“But she’s sleeping in her old sarcophagus. They said.”

“The sleeping beast, mother of Lucifer… on the same floor with us having oral sex. Ishtar, the goddess of sex and war, naps next door. Hey!, what can go wrong?”

“How could I be so stupid? Yes! This is why Eli struggled to teach me an alternative method of survival without recurring to solid or fluid food. He knew that, the moment I see you, I’ll rush to go down on you, to give you an orgasm, thus nullifying your self-mastery, making you defenseless against the daemonness. Now I understand, it makes sense.”

“Remember when I courted you during college? We didn’t fuck then. Just holding hands and gazing at the stars. Remember what I’ve told you on that bench in the park?”

“Yes… You said that you shall take me to the stars. And that you’re serious about it.”

Mhmmm… Who are these chatterers? Why do I hear their voices? Is this another dream of mine? And what’s that stench?! Can’t remember smelling something in my dreams… Hm… strange… Damn stink! Horrible. Ah… what if this is no dream? Let me do the test. Feeling up the icy wall on my fingertips… Shall I open my eyes before reaching for the handle? I’d better wait… What if it won’t open? Like so many times, when I’m about to reach that handle, knowing this because I could touch the loophole circling it, then it slips away but returns as I retract my hand, steadily keeping a tad of a distance… Darn thing, this handle. Oh… oh… wait… I just grasped it! Oh my… Can’t believe my fingers. Let me rotate it… Click… It made a click! Go on, go on, don’t stop, this is not a dream! My left hand reaches for the other handle on the opposite side. Click… Oh, how I love this sound. Yes, I love it less than the humming of the golden plates gliding sideways above my head, and my body. Wake up, Astarte, dear. You are free! Jump out of your coffin… Make some moves… Ouch! Damn muscles… they are all tired of so much resting. Let me take care of that. I instruct my pituitary gland to pump more anabolics through my body. Within the next second, I am capable to jump on my feet. Not many squats later, I jump high enough so that my palms can reach, and push, the ceiling. Ouch again – it is covered in burning frost. How can I forget such an intense pain? Dunno…

Good, now that my palms are crimson and my soles sapphire, I can walk my walk and, like I’m always looking for trouble, follow the awful odor. Do I have any memories of such a stink? Don’t think so. But I remember those voices, here they come again in between my ears.

“Don, I’m afraid that the she-daemon has quit her sarcophagus. Is she roaming or heading for our location? Can’t tell…”

“She’s heading for us, Doris.”

“I’m afraid. Hold me.”

“Come on, little bunny, be strong. Pray!”

“Oh Lord, Christ Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners. Oh Lord, Christ Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners. Oh Lord, Christ Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners. Oh Lord, Christ Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners. Oh Lord, Christ Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners. Oh Lord, Christ Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners. Oh Lord, Christ Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners. Oh Lord…”

Why did she stop in the middle of the phrase? Hm… Let me hurry up. I’m anxious to meet these stinkers.

“Hey Doris, while you continue praying in your mind, take heed at the news: the daemonness sniffs no more, she runs in our direction. If my calculations are correct and we’re situated at the North Pole of the pulsar, and if her sarcophagus sits at the South Pole, it will take her nine minutes to reach us, provided she won’t break her speed limit.”

Look at him, er, hear at him… This smart-arse thinks that he knows a damn thing about my speed limit. Let me give him a lesson…

“Correction, Doris, she doubled her speed. Wait… she quadrupled it now… It’s like she listens to us. I’d better shut up. Not to anger her into some accident of sorts.”

How magnanimous of you, smart stinky guy. I can already see the pyramid sheltering your pathetic body… Oh, guess that’s there where you keep your woman too.

“She’s dangerously approaching us. Gotta do something… Yes, good idea. You she-daemon! Halt!”

Dammit. His spoken command freezes my body in mid air. He even manages to disperse my considerable inertia. The blood begins to boil through my veins as the kinetic energy converts into heat… and pain, which I can’t stand. Thus I holler it out towards their pyramid. “You stinker, why do you torture me this harsh? Is this your way of greeting someone?”

“You beast. I meant you no harm. Next time when you wish to near us, don’t charge like a mad bull, please step nicely and ring the bell.”

He makes a point, this stinker. “Your stench had woke me up from a long sleep. I can’t see you. I can’t hurt you. I can only smell and hear you. Who are you? Please introduce yourself.”

“Ah, right. My name is Don Dawn, I’m here together with my wife, Doris Dawn. We are explorers from planet Earth. And you?”

“I am Astarte and I live here by the grace of your Lord. Can you see me?”

“Yes, we see a thirty-four meters high redhead. Your eyes are red and white and indigo but you can turn them any color of the spectrum if you wish. I suspect that you are struggling to scan beneath the surface of our golden pyramid. Good luck with that…”

“Hey, but how could I see you?” He’s testing my patience this little fart.

“Don’t you fart, Mrs. Astarte?” Fuck, he has the ability to read my mind. Let me… but I’d rather speak out loud against their curious minds.

“No, I don’t fart, Mrs. Doris. But I say hello to you. Welcome to my realm!”

“Oh Lord, Christ Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners. Oh Lord, Christ Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners. Oh Lord, Christ Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners. Oh Lord, Christ Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on…”

She doesn’t seem too touched by my polite welcoming message. This kind of scares me. Would this woman torment me with her words and thoughts and moods and…?

“No, Astarte. I would not but, if you give me no other choice, and if I could, as it seems to you, then yes! I will. My first command to you is to stay away from my husband. Don’t you dare charm him if you look for my sympathy. Is that simple?”

Oh, poor little female. She’s afraid that I’ll steal her man… What a joke…

“I can still read your mind, Astarte,” comes the voice of Doris, defensively.

“This is the joke, you funny little wife. You can read my mind and I can’t read yours. Your man said HALT and my body froze in mid air, my blood steamed through my brain and I’d be dead by now if my flesh would have been weak like yours is. You can order me back to my crypt with a spoken word and you, the mighty wife, still tremble that I’ll snatch your little stinking hubby. What should I do with him, use him as a dildo?” And I laugh like a hurricane. For a moment, I considered rolling on the floor laughing but I stopped short: aren’t my soles sapphire blue enough?; do I wish to teal my hips and elbows?; oh, and my fanciful bottom? Nah! I gotta look as normal as I can in front of these two judgmental stinkers.

“That you call us stinkers, I can understand, and even live with that. I’m accustomed…” Look at her, she’s got a sense of humor after all… “But to say that we’re judgmental, that’s too much of you, Astarte. How did I judge you to call me this?” …And here ends her sense of humor.

“Let me tell you why I perceive you to be judgmental – at least against me. You should know that I had mothered Lucifer, the deceiver of Eve. You should know that your kind calls me the goddess of sex and war. You undeniably know that men and women who worshiped my name, Astarte in the Western version, or Ishtar in the Eastern, had killed unborn babies, had given their children to fire and their virgins to religious promiscuity. My record is one of the worst throughout the history of your kind. Therefore, you are entitled to make many judgments against me.” Gosh, I said it. It wasn’t that hard after all, was it?

“No, Astarte. It wasn’t. It’s always easier to tell the truth and live by it.” This tight-ass Don thinks he’s a priester or something, lecturing me from the peak of his pyramid, eh? “Not the peak, Astarte, just the third down its axis. Please allow me to share how I understand your statement that we are indeed judgmental against you. It is not about drunkards who killed their offspring, it’s not about imbeciles who worshiped a totem, it’s not even about that sneaky son of yours that taught hypocrisy to our ancestors. All these, that you have mentioned, are deeds of others not of yours. Why judge you for what others said and did? However, when I spoke ‘HALT!’ to you and got your blood boiling in your heart, that was an accidental judgment that I pronounced against you. With immediate physical consequences. Unaware of the power of that command, I did you harm. Sorry for that. Wasn’t in my intention to make you suffer, just to stop what I identified as an attack. Next time I’ll have to consider other words, such as SLOW DOWN, VEER LEFT, GENTLY BACKWARDS, TURN AROUND… and such… But hey, what are you doing? Why are you dancing?!”

“I’m not dancing, you idiot. Stop giving commands to my body! Can’t you see?…”

“Ah, whoops, sorry once again.”

“Yeah, yeah, sorry again, sorry again. Watch your mouth, little man!”

“Don’t you tell my man what to do, monster of a woman that you are!” Wow, this little Doris shows some nerve. Shall I fall under the knife of her words… No! Can’t afford that. She’s way too dangerous… Let me…

“You don’t need to apologize for anything, Astarte. Doris and I have already read your mind. Fear is not a good way to start a companionship. Let’s find means to become friends, if you don’t mind.” This little stinker sounds sovereign to me. And startling, did I say that?

“Friends? Companionship? What are you talking about?” I feel like a cornered animal. Have no idea how I sound to them. What’s going on here, with me, actually?

“You don’t know. You really don’t know? Not a thing?” What I also don’t know – beyond not a thing – is how much have I surprised Doris with my lack of knowing. It’s clear that I’m missing something, but from her expressed astonishment I can sense that they expect more from me. They overestimated me. Shall I profit out of this misunderstanding?

“It’s already too late to profit, dear. You just thought it out loud. Enough for us to read your mind.” Speaks the woman firmly.

“Then tell me what should I know. Why do you keep torturing me with your inquiries?” I’m afraid that these two will get me to the lows of desperation. When was the last time? Ah, that time. Cruel. Why do I call back those memories?…

“Not before you tell us what you know, Astarte.” Says Don.

“I’ll tell you everything. Still I wish to see you with my eyes. The way you can see me with yours.” At least… Oops, they can read my mind…

“As a precautionary measure, we’ll stay inside the pyramid for a little while. Don’t you worry though, at some point you’ll get the chance to see us, as we see you, at least… Ahem…” Good. He’s got the upper hand, this burping fart. If I try something on him, then I’ll have to face the wrath of his little mighty wife and this is the last thing I wish to experience. I have no choice than to obey…

“To obey, yes, and to speak the truth. Don’t even think about lying to us!” See? She’s challenging me. Steadily. Good that I can flex my muscles around, can’t I?

“You can if you behave. There’s a speed limit in the proximity of our pyramid. You know that, dear, don’t you?” How can I become friends with this icy woman? Hard to fathom…

“Begin your interrogatory then, you little bastards.” I sigh and squat my ass over the golden floor. In an instant it turned sapphire blue. My pussy as well. Damn!

“What is the color of your blood?”

“Red.”

“Your age?”

“1.76135471583e+20 days plus one second.” Ha, ha, let me see if they can make a sense out of this…

“I couldn’t in a thousand years, dear. Glad that Don can. Can you, Don?”

“If we consider Astarte’s word ‘day’ as being a pulse period of PSR J1903+0327, which makes 2.15 milliseconds…” My mind approves so he carries on… “then 1.76135471583e+20 pulse periods return 3.78691263904e+20 milliseconds, which gives us 3.78691263904e+17 seconds which, according to the present revolution of planet Earth around its sun, gives twelve billion and 2021 years plus one second. Tell me if I’m wrong, Astarte.”

“You are correct. Twelve billion years from the making of Kronos to the earthly birth of Jesus and 2021 years from His birth in Bethlehem to the earthly AD consuming out there as we speak in here, plus one second.” Say I as I keep whispering a mild breeze to disperse their stench. To no avail…

“Well, well… You’re just a tiny second older than Mr. Kronos. How interesting…”

“That second was anything but tiny. I can tell you that.”

“Please do!” Insists Doris authoritatively. Her commanding voice forced a host of dormant synapses to sparkle deep inside my brain, taking me downwards to recollect long forsaken memories. My chest burns in pain. My lungs arrest that useless breeze of freshness. My heart wrestles to beat against a web of barbed wire. I wanna die. Now. Take me God and make me anew, and wiser than I used to be.

“Hey! Hey! BREATHE, STAND, BREATHE, JUMP, BREATHE, SQUAT, BREATHE, JUMP, BREATHE, STRETCH, BREATHE, STAND AND RETURN.” This Don wants to be a sports teacher or something? Well, he seems to care for me…

“Could you, little humans with big egos, stand the agony of my history?” Oh, how I wish to see their faces, to look in their eyes, to read fear and concern out of their minds. How I wish and why can’t I? Oops, never use why again… I forgot about this… Bad girl! Pinch yourself to remember next time. Ouch…

“Try us, big daemonness with little courage.” Answers Doris assertively. Is this woman pushing me into a fight? A fight that I can’t win, that I can’t even begin. Dammit.

“I don’t know if the first words that I had heard were part of a dream or coming from actual persons moving around me as I was sleeping. Yes! I became sentient as a dormant being. Was I before? Wish to know. They told me that I was not and then I came to be as a sleeper…”

“They? Who were they?”

“Nok, Eli and God. These were they.”

“Had they introduced themselves to you? How did you find out about their names, their presence?”

“By hearing them, haven’t I told you this already? My eyes were still closed but not my ears. As they turned around me – I was laying on my back – their voices moved closer, or farther, and my mind listened to the few words they exchanged. Nok said: “Here she is.” Eli said: “I name her Astarte.” And God said: “Let us see.” At once, I opened my eyes to look at them but no one was around anymore. They had vanished. I shouted their names out: Nok, Eli, God, where are yee?”

“So you never met them?”

“Oh yes, I did, several times, two of them, and only one time, one of them. But then, when I came to be, then no – I did not see any of the three, just heard their voices and listened to their answers as I kept asking them things.”

“You must be a good listener…”

“So I thought of myself. Eventually my deeds proved my thinking wrong. I loved listening to my own mind, to myself, rather than to their words. Thus they ceased talking to me.”

“Define eventually…” Can’t detect any feeling in the voice of this little man.

“For your mathematical mind, I shall divide my initial second as a queue of one billion nanoseconds. Based on this convention, I define eventually, per your request, to occur 887,950,002 nanoseconds after my zero moment. Satisfied?”

“Yes. Carry on.”

“Carry on what exactly?”

“Which was the minimum resolution of existence for your eyes and mind? Otherwise said, your clock frequency.”

“A nanosecond. My mind executes a billion operations per second and at the same rate my eyes record images of reality from the environment.”

“Have you changed this over time?”

“No, it’s constant. I tried hard to think faster and see deeper but I never made it past the nanosecond.”

“Why had you tried so hard?” This woman seems less interested in digits and efficiency. She’s hunting for my reasons, she’s eager to disjoint my emotions. Am I a case study for her? Am I more than that?… “You are more. Now go on, answer my question.”

“I wanted to gain an advantage over my son Lucifer, in vain. He acquired all my features, everything that I knew and was, plus an ambition that I never had.”

“What ambition was that?”

“To be God. Not a god, not like God, but to Be God. Like usurping, taking over, claiming the almightiness for himself. I wished to fight that nonsense…”

“You wished? You only wished to…?” Revolts Doris with the intent to enter a polemic, but Don stops her short.

“Doris, wait. Astarte, please don’t jump us over millions and millions of nanoseconds. Please return and tell us how Lucifer came to be so we can better understand the ensuing events. Will you?” Think that I begin to like this little man.

“Well, I had called for Nok, Eli and God to show up and talk to me. To this, Nok answered that no one will show up to be seen but he will talk to me if I shall accept. Of course I did – was feeling terribly lonely inside this realm of mine, sandwiched between a ceiling of burning silvery gold and a floor of pleasant yellow gold. I needed company. Desperately!”

“Wait, wait.” Jumps Doris in a wondering voice. “You tell us that it was here, inside this pulsar, here where we are now, that you came to being?”

“So it was. Here. Yes.” I listen to their silence. A long lasting and tormenting (for me) silence. Seems like they took an eon (or two) before getting back to me.

“Okay, carry on please.” Oh, how I hate this please…

“I asked Nok what stops him from showing up. Told him about my clear memories (acoustic not visual) near my zero moment. It was then when I knew myself by hearing them walking around and speaking to each other. I was there because I have heard them. And I knew it! He answered kindly that he made me, Eli named me and God confirmed me. I then asked Nok who made him. He said that God made him. I said: “how?” Nok replied: “do you know how did I make you?” I said “no, how could I?” “See!,” he said, “how could I know then how my Lord made me.” Your Lord? Hm, “why do you call Him Lord and not God?” He said that you can befriend your lord if you wish but you can’t go personal with a god. A lord can be yours and you his, while a god goes more like a distant phenomenon, nothing personal. “How should I call Him then? Can I call Him my Lord?” “No, you can’t.” Said Nok – guess I felt a tad of grief in his voice, not sure about that. “Why not?” “Because He hasn’t created you, I did. You’re an experiment for Him. A curiosity.” Then I got angry, really angry: “a what?, an entertainment article?, a toy? a plaything?; but I’m alive and…” “No, you are not alive, Astarte, you’re just functioning. A toy you are, yes!” So I began to cry and to scream: “why?…, what have I done to deserve this?…” “You did nothing, I did. It’s how you were meant to be, Astarte. Why is the wrong question, please remember this.” But I couldn’t remember and I wouldn’t, why should I?… And I kept yelling: “why?…, why?…, why?…”; I kept crying and yelling “why” at Nok. It took him an eon, or a million nanoseconds, to respond: “Why is the wrong question for you to ask. After I had told you this, you proved to me that you got stuck in asking the wrong question. This indicates that your inner logic is falling apart: repeating the wrong operation over and over and expecting to get a solution out of it. Hormones rave emotions and irrationality grasps your blurred mind. I will talk to you later. For now, you are on your own. Good bye.” And so Nok left me in all silence and sorrow. I was alone. Alone with myself. Trapped by consciousness and haunted by my understanding. No one answered me. No one cared about me – or so I thought.”

“What did you do?”

“Went back to my crypt, laid on my back as it closed to shadow my body and slept a couple million nanoseconds, asking myself why may I not call Him my Lord, why… why… why…” I can hear the silence of these little people emanating from the pyramid. Should I take it as empathy?…

“Yes, if you wish, we won’t mind. Carry on.” Empathy or not, she forgot to say please this time.

“Sleeping, I dreamed about God. Actually about this name of His: God. This word was the only thing I knew about Him, besides hearing His voice speaking three other words: “Let us see.” Having no image of Him, I wished to think of one, to imagine, to construct an appearance, to draw an illustration of God… Wishing, I realized that coupling my mind with my womb I will be capable to produce a person, a functional being that would illustrate God to me. It took me twelve thousand nanoseconds to conceive my new being: ovulation went out faster than I expected, fabricating the male trace chromosomes in a seed cell was way more difficult than my mind estimated – I missed that operation quite a lot before achieving a DNA string, alien to my body DNA and stable enough to withstand insertion and swimming throughout my vagina before successfully fecundating my first egg. I was proud of my techniques. Can say that…”

“So you fucked yourself…” Sounds sarcastic the naughty little man, but he can’t fathom how right he is.

“Unfortunately, the costs of my first self-fucking have yet to be fully assessed. Six hundred nanoseconds after fecundation, I was struck by a stream of light irradiating out of my womb. Remember that I was still shadowed inside my sleeping crypt. In fact, I was asleep while moving my raving dreams to elaborate new hormonal patterns and to craft a new DNA, alien to my own. I did all of this in darkness. And now, opening my eyes, I could contemplate a new light splintering the night of the crypt… Intrigued, I hurried up to the handles. Opening what you call the sarcophagus, I stood on my feet and gave birth to my firstborn. A new light was created. Oh wait, not just impersonally ‘was’ created but I birthed this new light into existence – or what I deemed to exist across my realm. The baby stared at me as I gently burnt the umbilical cord which was still binding us together. I was afraid not to blind him with the rays of my eyes. To this concern of mine, for the very first in my life, I felt a reassuring thought, not a voice – like I used to hear before, not a golden glow of the environment – like my domain used to react at my moves, or looks, no! This time it was another heart comforting me. It was my son, my interpretation of God. The new light, shining out of his presence, shortly overwhelmed the sphere – my territory, and now his. It made me feel happy – for the first time in my life. Happy!”

Silence surrounds the pyramid for a long host of minutes. I say nothing, the little humans say nothing. I revere the short-lived memory of mine, wish to remain there, like a dragonfly that has been captured in amber. Forever.

“There’s no forever, Astarte. There’s no never and no forever, dear. All things come and go…” Doris is so right and I know it. Out of sympathy, I carry on without waiting for their command.

“I named him Light-bringer, in your Latin that would be Lucifer. Chose this name for my firstborn because he brought a new form of light to the world – well, to my world… He matured to a thirty-six meters high male. This hadn’t surprised me at all. I anticipated for him to be what he was. I spoke to him all the time. Whatever came to my mind, a thought, a worry, an idea, a joy, a fear, a desire, an error, my mouth conversed my thinking into words, instantly. And his ears registered. Everything!” I keep revering back in those happy nanoseconds that ransack my present dialog… or should I call it interrogation? They give me nothing but silence from that pyramid ahead of me. I continue the narration of the first second of my life.

“Sixty nanoseconds after birthing, I found myself asking him: “Lucifer, can I call you my lord?” As he stood in front of me, scanning the horizon, he turned his head to stare into my eyes and said: “Yes, you can call me your lord.” These were his first words! He never spoke before, only had listened to my voice showering over him. Now he answered. Oh wait, damn thing, what a stupid female can I be! Of course, that was my first question to him! And he answered it. Affirmatively. It’s only now, talking my retrospection to you, that I realize: he talked back to me when an answer was expected. Else he sat there mute, listening to my countless statements. Makes sense. What an idiot I am!” I stop to breathe and think with my mouth shut. What if I dreamed out my desperation to patch my loneliness? I gave flesh to my yearnings… I mirrored my desires into a real being. I fantasized too far astray, so far that I hit reality…

“Let’s see how hard an impact that was…” The little man wants me talking not thinking, it seems. He’d rather hear my spoken words than read my thoughts. Or maybe that he wants me to hear my words… who knows?… What if this helps my understanding?… Hm, told you that this little man seems to care for me. Whoops, Doris will read this affectionate reflection of mine. What if her jealousy will rain with words like arrows capable to hurt my body? What if?…

“Stop wimping yourself, Astarte. Carry on!” Think I need being addressed in this dominant manner…

“As Lucifer has spoken his agreement to me, fiery stones surged above the yellow golden floor. Not out of it, not through it, just above it. Some went up to the ceiling, some shied off at just one meter or two above the surface. A fantastic forest of fiery stones surrounded us. My son walked amongst them and – from time to time – he dared touching or caressing one. Bolts of lightning knocked the peace out of my soul. Well, to be honest with myself, whatever surrogate of peace I ever had in my soul… Because I am a restless creature, always seeking when not sleeping…”