Long ago, Man was nothing more than a companion for the Gods. We were a form of entertainment, and little else. They watched from afar as we danced to appeal to them to make the skies rain as they laughed, spraying us with the pittance of water we’d requested. When we didn’t dance well, the Gods would drown us in great floods. The Gods toyed with us, keeping us simple people; the people who wanted food, shelter, water and love far away.
Many years ago, there was a Man named Israel. He snuck away from the other simple men and saw the Gods dining on roasted meat while they ignored the Men. This intrigued Israel, and as he stared, the fire popped ember arcing across the skies. One ember landed in front of him in a clump of grass, catching it fire. Israel touched it and nearly screamed, alerting the Gods. He grabbed a stick and picked it up, slowly carrying the fire away.
When he arrived in the village, the Men were afraid of Israel, thinking he may have been a test of the other Gods. He lit a fire and roasted corn for the other Men, and they began to worship him like a God.
The Gods did not like this, and so, they punished the Men, causing a great illness. Israel died immediately, and men slowly got sick, sneezing for the first time as a flu pandemic swept through the thousands that lived. Those that survived it pledged their loyalty to the Gods and the Gods rewarded them with fire. The Men used it carefully from then on, strictly to roast animals.
As time wore on, Men became as smart as Gods. One Man figured out how to make a spear fire out of a tube with such force that animals died almost instantly. The Gods cursed man to know forever that they were simply animals as well, as other Men hunted other Men in an act called War, named after the God, War.
Men grew smarter and less fearful of the Gods. The Gods rained fire, and Men covered themselves in rock. The Gods created mountain falls, and famine and pestillence, and Man moved away from mountains, grew different crops and covered crops to prevent bugs.
And so, Gods created something more powerful. They allowed man to gain all knowledge he possibly could in his lifetime, and the moment they did, Man prospered. They figured out how to take hard rocks and place them into fire, and with that fire, to create objects much more valuable as well as more deadly. They figured out that cold could be cured by removing the skins of animals and wearing them. Man figured out how to farm cotton, and still beer.
But, there was a price.
For everything Man found, The Gods gave an obstacle. When the transformation of rock was first discovered, millions of Men died in what was called a Plague. As they found they could wear animal skins, Men went mad, some craving the power of Gods until they were murdered. With cotton came scorpions and snakes and with beer came the disease wherein skin fell off in clumps until Men bled to death, alone and shunned.
The worst however, came when man figured out how to soar amongst the clouds. The air, once the kingdom of the Gods and the Gods alone, brought with it something worse than death, something more heinous than skin falling off and bleeding to death as a leper. With flight, came the disease where your age increased, though your memory did not. At an age not able to be determined by Men, other Men simply forgot what they’d known their entire lives — faces of family, those they loved, how to speak and eat and enjoy life as a Man — simply because they dared cross the threshold and become much more of a God.
Alan Summers sat watching the entertainment box, in which Men paid for with the Crippling Disease, thanks to the Gods. He could barely remember his granddaughter, thinking of her as his wife on some days. He barely remembered his name, where he’d come from, where he was going and how he’d get there, but, he remembered where he needed to go.
Roanoke was calling, and he’d needed them all to go along to say goodbye.