Abandoned … this house and all that is hidden within. Years of silence has fallen upon the house but once there was the sound of human life. Not only is the house abandoned, the whole town has been abandoned. If you look inside the houses you will know that the place has not heard a human sound for many many hundreds of years. Before we explore these ruins let me tell you the story.
The people sat down into a circle.
This was once a prosperous community. It had grown up over the centuries, first it was a hunter’s camp, then a few families had built some huts, farms grew up then a place of worship was dedicated first to the river, then to the sun and finally after many centuries to the one god. Eventually a small fortress arose to protect the people from marauders and the people gladly gave up a tenth of all they produced to maintain the headman, the soldiers and the priests.
A sigh arose from the people.
As the years went by as happens with humans, priests, soldiers and headmen (no longer chosen because of their wisdom, but because their father had been headman) became corrupt and greedy. Now the people of the village were no longer very happy. The tenth part of their produce freely given in times now forgotten was all that they had left after the “leader and the wise men” had taken their part, collected by the soldiers.
A murmur of disapproval floated on the air.
From among the farmers and craftsmen however, grew a new class of humanity, similar to the Wanderers. They travelled from town to town and then farther and farther away, trading. Soon they had what the leaders and priests wanted most, wealth which is one of the material manifestations of power. Over the years they became merchants and bankers; they used their wealth to buy influence but unlike the farmers and craftsmen, they didn’t sit in awe of the powerful leaders and priests, in fact they chaffed at the restrictions and the arrogant demands of these traditional rulers and eventually overthrew them.
Quiet reigned in the clearing.
Time passed, plagues and wars destroyed the city and it was abandoned over and over but it was always rediscovered after a time. If an archaeologist knew where to look, he’d have seen that the city which became this small town we see abandoned today, resurrected at least 15 times over the eons. But no more will it arise. And there are no archaeologists to explore, no farmers, leaders, soldiers, priests and no bankers.
Birdsong drifted on the wind.
The humans used their adaptability very well. They modified plants to feed themselves and changed the very land to suit their needs, killing whatever they didn’t need or that might interfere with their progress. Whole swatches of continents became deserts as the top soil lost its roots and blew away, there, only the most hearty of beasts could survive, usually under rocks or in the deep earth. They learnt how to harness first rivers, then the wind and finally they discovered how to make machines that weren’t dependent on fixed locations, so they could produce whatever they liked, where ever they liked. Factories were born and the farmers thought to make their fortune going to live in cities, where they only found poverty and endless labour.
A baby cried and was comforted.
In very few years, everything began to change at a pace that had never been seen in all the lives of humanity. They learnt how to make new and powerful machines and how to create cures so that fewer people died, ah it was prodigious! But alas one day, the humans found that the land no longer supported them. They could no longer breath their air. They had dirtied and changed the water, so it became a poison. Never being a peaceful species they became even more violent and began to kill any who wandered onto their land. Their medicine could no longer cure them, new strange illnesses took the place of the older ones.
The wind rustled the leaves in the trees.
When the atmosphere degraded further thanks to all the chemicals released into the sky and the body wastes and heat produced by the so-called human civilization finally killed most of the water, people died like flies. Illnesses, famine, mental diseases, congenital diseases, mutations undermined their strength and intelligence. Indeed, their intelligence began to diminish to such a degree that many of the new generations could no longer care for themselves. Millions died in a few short years and the millions became billions. War, famine and stupidity killed them. For awhile a few survived in the cities … but the illness that they had created continued to eat away at the species.
Soft sobbing could be heard.
Now, only a fraction of us are left. We are the Wanderers. We gather what we can to survive and sometimes, we hunt the beasts of the land as well as the cats, the dogs and the rats. I am your Voice, my group. Singing Wind before me was the Voice in her day and many others before her learned the stories of our species, the humans and passed them down to us. I only call myself the Voice and this my young chosen one who will now begin to learn the truths of our ancestors and when her time comes, she will tell the tales and choose her name. Because we are the survivors. Now let us go into these places with reverence and sadness, before we travel on.
And slowly the Wanderers arose in silence.
This story is linked to : The Voice – Free Verse – January 28, 2016