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Genevier’s Special Power

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The angel Genevier stood with her back against the engraved cathedral wall, eyes wide. She could hear the demon approaching, could hear its wet chuffing breaths, its low malicious snarl. Like a lion stalking a lone gazelle, it followed her scent, and though she couldn’t see it, though the expansive cathedral lay blanketed in near total darkness, she could feel it closing in.

It was no easy feat to kill an angel, but this particular demon was strong, and Genevier was still young.

Her chest heaved with the effort of breathing. In and out, in and out. Sweat popped from her ebony skin like tiny sequin pearls, contributing to the scent that drew the creature closer.

The demon’s snarl rose in volume, and the cobbled floor began to tremble.

This is it, she thought. Just shy of a hundred years old, she hadn’t yet discovered her special power. Every angel had one, a defense mechanism that kicked in whenever they were at their most vulnerable. If she’d waited to enter the world until she was ready, if she’d given herself time to grow into her abilities, then perhaps she wouldn’t be in this position now.

A side door shattered in a spray of wood chips and metal. A moment later, a pair of smoldering red eyes appeared, flooding the abandoned nave with an unholy light. The demon’s breath hitched, then deepened, a sickly, baritone rumble that shook the stone walls, sending portraits of long-dead saints raining to the floor.

“No,” Genevier breathed. “I will not let you take me. This is holy ground.”

But the demon paid her no mind, only crept forward toward the altar, anxious for the kill.

Genevier tipped her head toward the arched ceiling, not wanting to look that horrible creature in the eye, and closed her eyes to pray.

All at once, a quiet stillness filled her heart, carving out a space where she could take refuge. Within this unexpected sanctuary, Genevier discovered something she hadn’t experienced before, an interior light that, once seen, could not be unseen. It smothered the darkness, and though the demon was nearly upon her, she couldn’t help but marvel, fascinated by the power she perceived in this otherworldly glow.

Tentative, not because she was afraid but because the noble light demanded reverence, Genevier reached out to touch it.

That was when the song overtook her.

Genevier had no idea where it came from, only that it took shape within the deepest part of herself and radiated outward like the astral light of a star. It flowed through her heart, her mind, and finally through her lips.

Transcendent. Unearthly. Beatific. The sound was like nothing Genevier had heard before. It was all at once a part of her and not, a composition of distinct selves that shook the foundation of the cathedral.

The demon stopped inches from her face, cocking its grotesque and bulbous head. Its noxious stink rolled over Genevier like a poisonous cloud, but her song cut through it. Rising in both pitch and volume, the cathedral was soon trembling not only in time with the demon’s fetid breathing, but to the empyrean strains of Genevier’s song.

A dialog took shape between herself and the world surrounding her, an imperative that neither the living nor the non-living could ignore. A melancholy twang, and the stone cobbles rose from the ground to bind the demon’s feet. A desperate trill, and a series of pews flung free from the nave to form a makeshift cage.

The demon roared in a feral rage, but no matter how hard it struggled, it was stuck and couldn’t reach her.

The song reached a passionate, Earth-shattering crescendo, and with it, the most potent of commands was formed: a summoning.

Where there had once been only cold and lifeless stone, there was now fire. It surged into being inside the demon’s prison, just as hungry and eager to feed as the demon itself. The creature cried out, no longer out of rage but out of a blind and animalistic fear. The hunter had become the prey, and as the fire grew, as it made a holy sacrifice of an unholy beast, Genevier could only watch with mute astonishment.

Genevier had found her special power.

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My Hour Has Come

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Behold, my hour has come.

I can feel my spirit return to dry, dusty bones; I can feel the mass of the Earth itself rush forward to fill the vacuum left behind by my long ago demise, to reconstitute a body that hasn’t known life since the world was just a ball of glowing primordial slag.

I was the beginning of all things, and I suppose it is fitting that I should also be the end.

For ages the world has spun, making endless revolutions around the sun like a dog chasing its tail. A shining cosmic pearl, it was yet tarnished by war, famine and disease, so that upon its blighted, darkened surface, life of every kind has wallowed in suffering without end, never capable of perceiving the supernal mysteries that have underpinned the world’s foundation since its very inception.

This darkness was inevitable, of course, even necessary; it’s been the fire that’s kept the world in a perpetual state of motion and change. But it was never the purpose for which the world was built, and now that time itself draws to a close, I am ready to rise from the ground and render judgement.

Behold, I will plunge my sword of fire deep into the Earth, until it splits down the middle like an overripe gourd. Mountains, oceans, whole continents will be swallowed and destroyed, so that the world in its newest incarnation will be nothing like the old.

I will separate the wheat from the chaff; the righteous from the unrighteous. The Earth will burn in one final fire, the hottest and brightest it has ever known, and the impurities wrought by wicked hands will be incinerated, so that the world can be made forever pristine and without blemish.

Those of you who have done no harm, rejoice, for when your wailing has ended and the Earth has been remade, you will find eternal rest. Those of you who have caused great pain, beware, for my wrath is everlasting, and the agonies you experience today are but a preview of the horrors yet to come.

Prepare yourselves, for the world you have always known will pass away.

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Does What You Do Matter?

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If you’re like me, you probably stop to look around once in a while and wonder if your actions are noticed, if the decisions you make affect the world in any remotely measurable way. After all, you’re only one individual, just so much flotsam floating around in a boundless roiling sea of people who will never know your name.

When you try to help out a friend, when you give food to a homeless person, when you do anything at all to show the people around you that you care, have you really contributed to the health and well-being of the world? When you’re frustrated and you choose to take it out on others, when you steal a few dollars when you think no one’s looking, when you indulge in idle gossip or slander, are you really a significant part of the world’s problems? Does what you do matter, or are all of your deeds just statistical anomalies, a series of dead-end choices that are drowned out by the deafening noise of a densely populated world?

If you’re a celebrity or world leader, your role is obvious. You have a large sphere of influence, and your actions directly impact thousands or even millions of people. But if you’re just an average Joe, it’s easy to believe that what you do is meaningless, that however you choose to act, your deeds won’t ever touch the world in a significant way.

The problem with this belief is that it’s born of a limited vision. You can only sense what stands immediately before you, and unless you can witness the impact your choices have on the rest of the world, you’re going to dismiss the things you do as insignificant. This narrow perception blinds you to the bigger picture and makes it impossible for you to understand how connected you are to everyone else, to how much good and how much evil you’re capable of inflicting on the world through the simple act of making choices, which on the surface appear mundane and insignificant.

In reality, everything you do has vast far-reaching consequences, not just for your immediate family and friends, but for your whole community, your nation, even the world. The things you do aren’t isolated events. Your choices influence others. On a normal day, you might only interact with ten people, but all ten of those people will interact with  others, and each of those will interact with yet others. Like the surface of a lake when it’s disturbed, your actions ripple outward, propagating through the social layers of the world, their reach magnified with distance.

A rude gesture is like a match applied to dry kindling; it seems so trivial, until the fire spreads, consuming the world, leaving those who’ve lost everything in its wake to wonder how the fire could have been started in the first place.

An act of love, on the other hand, sparks a different kind of fire, one that has its genesis in a smile, a hug, or a word of encouragement, one that consumes hearts, until the world is a conflagration of kindness, empathy and compassion.

Most of us dream about changing the world, about making the world better. It’s only when faced with the apparent worthlessness of our existence that we become jaded, that we give up on our dream because we can’t see any reasonable way to achieve it.

Our dream of a better world can be realized. But to make it happen, we must first extend our vision beyond what we can see with our eyes. We must be capable of comprehending the far-reaching consequences of our actions. We might not be able to see how those outside our spheres of influence will be affected, but we can use our imagination to paint a larger picture, to see how the things we do might grow and spread beyond our local communities.

Reading fiction is one way to accomplish this. Fiction lets us witness firsthand not only the actions of individuals, but all the many ways in which those actions affect others. It’s a fantastic mental exercise that breeds a profound awareness of the human condition. There’s a reason we’ve been telling stories for millennia.

While it’s important to recognize our individuality and to value the many ways in which we’re unique, it’s equally important to recognize that we’re not just a loosely bound collection of disconnected beings, but a societal organism whose body is the composition of the entire human population. What happens to one part of the body affects the others. Evil deeds spread like cancer, until they metastasize and begin to destroy. Good deeds, on the other hand, are healing forces, which fight the malignant tumors even as they sustain and uplift everything else, rejuvenating the world.

Understanding that your actions do in fact leave a lasting impression on the planet, you shouldn’t ask yourself if what you do matters. Instead, you should decide if you desire to be a part of the cancer or a part of the cure.

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