Century old newspapers blow across a nearly empty market square. Here and there are broken segments of concrete and asphalt between piles of rubble and patches of dry dirt with strands of green poking out of them, as if new life was there, but unsure if it could emerge yet. It could have been day, or night, the clouds and dust that hung in the air seemed to glow just enough to indicate neither specifically. A few homeless people slowly floated aimlessly around shadowy corners, hard to see directly, but impossible to miss. Their clothes seemed to make them, no visible skin showing, genderless, ageless, faces hidden with sunglasses or dustmasks. A door creaks open and someone slithers out of a shadow and into the door. Whispers are heard from inside. The door closes lightly, yet a few chunks of stucco and brick seemed to exhale from the structure. Another figure approaches the door and slowly scratches its fingernail across the outside. The door opens into blackness.
‘Whom do you praise in this moment?’
‘I fail to speak its true name, yet for my lack of diction, praise be to balance.’
‘The name of god is spoken. Enter at your own risk’
‘I don’t need the reminder’ The figure siphoned itself through the door. No light was visible inside, it walked step by step, being mindful of every feeling. ‘I trust in the darkness’. Each footstep met with solid ground, and a dimly lit stair approached. The torchlight quickly faded, and once again, at the bottom of the stairs, was darkness. Whispers echoed in increasing volume. The blackness and sound engulfed the figure, disoriented, it let itself fall.
‘Follow our voices, cousin’
‘I fall, yet I do not stumble, my body can see the way’ for a moment it is weightless, then another door opens.
‘I fail to …praise be to design… been spoken… its true name, yet… lust… has been… to speak its… lack of… completion… its true name… for my… individuality… death… specialization… fear… contrast… praise be to balance’
And all the voices echoed in unison. ‘The name of god has been spoken, it is darkness and it is light, we are that fire’ Torches in all corners of the room flared up and the walls went white for a moment. A myriad of colors filled our vision, as the motley crew of homeless-looking people became visible. A speaker walked to the center of the room.
“Praise be to balance, for even balance must be balanced with extremity. Praise to the infinite, which begins and ends with consciousness, to the infinite names of god who can not be known, and the one name by which I am known.”
“As the winner of the last game, I shall choose the new game, unless there are any among us who hold a passionate bitterness toward this council. It is my right to allow any of you who, despite their passions, have failed to find the strength to speak over the rest.”
“I am bitter”
“Tell us your story”
“I have burned with passion for as long as I can remember, my soul is twisted and gnarled and I cannot find balance, it burrows inside me and blackens my heart, it is a river caught in a well.”
“I am sorry to hear this, cousin. Have all the members of our congregation spoken since your last time?”
“I cannot remember”
“It could be that this is your verdict, if you cannot find victory within, you shall not be granted it without. I could call upon the lineage of the god of time and change, or the god of history, if it’s not currently intoxicated, as usual, but that is not my decision. It so happens that this works out perfectly for my game. Whom do you praise in this moment?”
“The name of god is spoken. We shall enter into your soul, the winner shall be that who contributes in greatest measure to balance your passions. Let us search through your fragmented memories and the worlds that exist in your heart and mind and we shall champion the fledglings, tear down the old worlds and make them new again, bathe the old beliefs and icons with magma from the forge of Hephaestus, and temper them in the bitter hearts of your old gods. I feel that this building, and our bodies are in need of happier raiments.”
“Yes it is an opinion, and no you may not speak, win the damn game and then you can punish me for the breach, but I feel that it will be insignificant by then.”
“Thank you, praise be to balance.”
“Balance is not my name, praise be to balance, whom I now serve, and in the name of balance, let the games begin.”
“The name of god has been spoken, the infinite names of god cannot be known, praise be to balance, let the games begin”.