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The Fifth Corner Of The Earth

Black Death and End Times

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Their world was ending.

They knew that from the toll of the church bells. They knew that from the stink of death. They knew that from the carts of seeping corpses being pushed through the streets. It was The Terrible Pox.

The Black Death.

Heat made the stink worse. The screams themselves became more terrible in the summer heat. Screams caused by the boils, and the black blood flowing through veins. The fetid vapours rose, and the drivers of the Death Carts puked from the stench.

There was nowhere to go, and no one to help. The monarch, the nobles, the bishops, and the wealthy, all fled to the country. They locked themselves into grand castles, yet they still died. The doctors, who knew no remedy, also died from their futile efforts.

Neither the poor nor the rich, the young nor the old, women nor men, were spared. They screamed and clawed to their death, and rats fed from their bloated bodies.

Towns and villages became armed camps. Strangers were turned back at the outer limits. Those suspected of the Plague were locked in their homes, sometimes to be burned. People were clubbed, a few were shot, many were buried before they were dead. There was no sorrow, and no mercy shown to any who were a threat.

The living were frantic to prove they still had life.

They ate and drank and danced and fucked as often as their bodies would allow. They were afraid to sleep, so terrified of that fake death with the real all around. They beat on drums, rang the bells frantically, shouted and sang and swore and cried. They rode horses wildly through the streets, until the beasts fell from exhaustion. They pillaged the vacant homes of the rich, looted stores and wine shops, and paraded in the jewels and fine clothes they had stolen. Women and girls and boys were raped and sodomised by strangers and kinfolk alike.

They did anything for action, anything to prove they were different from the rotting corpses in the carts, which trundled through the streets toward mass graves. They played all the more, and when some fell slavering in their midst, they were kicked into the gutters and forgotten.

It was a time for witches and charlatans. People would believe anything, take any quackish product, if it promised to save their lives. Ghosts walked the land while crops rotted from neglect. It was the end of the world for those who knew no better.

The Power Of Women

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In my novel, The Fifth Corner Of The Earth (which I class as a contemporary history) five people, decedents of five people through the centuries, must come together to decide whether it is time to end the Earth – the proverbial End Times. But this time, one of those chosen is a woman.  And women’s power is described.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She went along the hallway, turned down a longer, narrower corridor, and came to her brother’s room.

“Markos?”

She knocked on the door, but when there was no reply, she called again.

“Markos?”

“Please, Atropos. Come in.”

She lifted the latch and walked into the darkened room. She went down a few steps, and crossed the stone floor, until she came to the thick wool rug which covered the area beneath the bed. Her brother stretched his hand along the bedclothes.

“It is almost time for you to leave?”

“In the half hour.”

“You’ve been troubled.” He sat higher in the bed. “How are you feeling now?”

“That’s supposed to be my question.” She laughed nervously.

“I feel as I am – closer to death.” Markos pulled at the bedclothes. “We must not pretend anything different.”

“There’s always the chance – ”

“You’re talking to your brother – your younger brother to whom you have taught so much. Of course I know of `chance’.”

Markos started to cough, and doubled over as the sound filled the room.

“You see.” He forced a laugh. “As if on cue.” He held up his hand as she came closer. “They would have to give me new lungs, to do any good now. There is no place for `chance’.”

“Do you want a drink?” She reached for the pitcher of water.

“I want to talk.” As he again sat up, he pointed past the water on the table. “Get it for me, please.”

She stretched and took the black envelope in her hand. As she gave it to Markos, the sun insignia on the back glowed in the dimness of the room.

“Thank you, Atropos.” He lay it on the covers in front of him. “And thank you for the honour of asking my council.”

“Markos, I – ”

“It means a lot to me.” He held up her hand to stop her words. “You still have confidence in the advice I can give.”

“Of course I have – ”

“Ah, my sister.” He spoke slowly. “The dead and near dead have one thing in common. They no longer need to be humoured.” He touched her hand. “I don’t want to be a weight on your mind when you’re away.”

“How can I stop thinking about you?”

“I don’t ask that.” He smiled. “I hope I’m always in your thoughts. That’s how I’ll keep alive.”

“Oh, Markos.”

“You feel too much, sometimes, Atropos. Is that part of being a woman?”

“I don’t know.” She forced a smile.

“I think it is.” He pushed one of the pillows more firmly beneath him. “I think it’s because you can bring life into existence – you can actually feel a soul develop inside you. Women have a touch of God within them because of that.”

Markos hesitated, his breathing more laboured. He looked at his sister intently, his eyes hot from fever.

“Men will always envy you that power. We envy you the power to create life, and the feelings it must give.” He smiled abruptly. “Our duty done, we really become quite superfluous.”

“You surprise me.” Atropos spoke softly.

“What have I got to lose by letting you know of my primordial envy? My fears and inferiority mean nothing at death’s door.” He looked away. “I no longer dread you will turn them against me, and look upon me with contempt.”

“Markos. I would never have done that.”

“I am like all humans, Atropos. I have doubt of my own worth held within me like an insoluble capsule. Your words can’t dissolve it – even the knowledge of death leaves it untouched.” He stroked his chest. “Death just puts it in perspective.”

“I don’t feel that way.”

“No, you don’t.” His hand stopped moving. “And I suspect the others whom you are soon to meet are spared this most human failing.” He closed his eyes. “I want to make certain you understand. We humans are forced to carry this sense of worthlessness around like a curse. Remember that when you decide about us.”

“But where does it come from?”

“That question … ”

Markos turned his head. He opened his eyes, and looked out at the blue sky framed by the small window. Sunlight would soon be streaming through.

“I am not going to live long enough to answer that question.” He looked back at her. “Come closer.”

“What is it?” She leaned over the bed.”

“Don’t worry about me.” He clasped her hands in a strong grip. “I’m prepared for what it to happen to me – and accept it. Tell me you do the same.”

“I know you are going to die.” She searched for words. “I’m not sure I can accept it.”

“Then believe me, my honest sister, when I say I am content.” Markos stared at her face. “Tell me that my death will not cloud your mind on your journey.”

“I’ll keep you in my mind and heart.” She momentarily lost her breath. “Always. My sadness won’t distract me.”

Markos sighed, and his hands relaxed. He then picked up the envelope which had fallen beside him, and handed it to her.

“Here.”

She took it, then bent and kissed him.

“Good bye, Markos.”

“God guard you, Atropos.”

[Image} http://i.pinimg.com/originals/fb/48/ad/fb48adcbaf691feeb5b0c9484c44ff7f.jpg

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