The following is the pre-edited final version of the short story “The Alabaster Bonobo”. You will notice Grammar problems and that’s why I have a wonderful editor. However as a story I am extremely pleased with how this turned out.
There is a smell of death in the air. As Spiders weave their webs throughout the corridors of cobwebs in hopes of catching the unperceptive. To inject their venom and gaze as their prey turns to goo before their eyes.
Beneath this jungle of decay stands a man who shares in the wealth of death. His bones fragile and his spirit withering with each passing moment. He stands, quietly gazing upon his workbench, his breath slow and methodical.
"Are you the answer?" The old man stared upon a 1 foot cube of Alabaster, gazing at its unblemished exterior as moments of his life flowed through his mind. "Are you my legacy?"
It had been almost forty years since it happened. As he watched it all unravel, as he felt the bite. He remembered the pain so well, felt the burning of his insides as his organs turned to mush. Oh how long he had wished the venom would consume him fully but it never did.
Though he did die that day. His dreams-his desires-all lost in a single act of liberation. His love stolen right before his eyes and carted off like cattle to the slaughter. How could he be so weak? How could he accept such loss?
"You are my child now." The old man ran his hand across the top of the cube. The Alabaster was as soft as skin to the touch and he swore he could feel a slight warmth from it. "I just wish I knew."
Deprideo gazed up the dusty stairs of his basement. The door closed tightly. He peered around the room, the faint glow of the sun forcing its way through the dirt encrusted basement windows of his home. "How did you get here?"
His heart beat to a song he had long since forgotten. Thump-thump-thump. He wondered just how it would feel, as the last beat fluttered off into silence. Would it hurt as he slowly lost consciousness? No pain could surpass the rape of his innocence…no pain could surpass the murder of his mind.
It is the sick joke of life. That we enter this world hearing voices, seeing a blurred universe around us, as sea of confusion and myth and we leave in exactly the same fashion. It was this knowledge that made what came next nothing of a surprise to the old man.
Can you hear me?
The voice came from nowhere and everywhere all at the same time. As if standing in the middle of a hundred fold people whispering in tandem at him.
Can you hear me-Deprideo?
The old man peered around the room slowly, his eyes fogged over like steam covered mirrors. "It is entirely possible yes."
Do you feel me?
Deprideo ran his hand across his grizzled face. A thick white beard pushed against his palm. "I fear that I feel little these days." Deprideo focused at the dark spots of his basement hoping to uncover the form of the voice. "I wonder though. Who is me?"
A soft chuckle fluttered like a butterfly within his mind.
A fine question. I am many things, I have many names, however once upon a time the people of this land called me by one name: Calamity.
Deprideo’s eyes grew wide, light reflecting off of them like pearls. "This is truly an honor. I find myself more often hearing the musings of crickets and moths."
You are not as far gone as you think Deprideo. This is not merely the latest betrayal of your mind. I’ve come to you.
Deprideo sat on the edge of his workbench, his back cracking as he stretched. "I fear that if I put my faith in the voices again that I will find myself even further in despair. Have you come to mock me?"
Do you even know how that block came to you?
Deprideo looked to his side at the cube.
You have before you my essence Deprideo.
"You have certainly had to cut back on appearance haven’t you? It seems that not only mortals are hurting for gold."
The voice once again chuckled.
You are perfect.
Deprideo gave a faint smile. "Tell me something I don’t know."
You were born with only one kidney.
Deprideo placed his hands against his lower back and pressed lightly. "Ah. I knew it. I have always felt a bit off balance."
Within his mind Deprideo could see a cloud forming. A million different colors clashing with one another as a storm began to brew.
It is time we met. I have for your a proposition.
A bolt of lightning struck within his mind sending a flash of white through his vision. As the white out faded he found himself standing amidst an endless field of darkness.
Before Deprideo the storm floated in the air, tiny clashes of matter against matter created an ever changing mass of plasma.
Do you know what separates law from chaos Deprideo?
"I can’t say that I do."
That you cannot.
There is nothing that truly separates law from chaos. It is merely a matter of perception, a false certainty that existence survives upon a set of unbreakable laws. There is in reality no greater certainty in the outcome of a coin toss than the likely hood of existing from moment to moment.
I do not blame the race of mortals for this ignorance. My enemy resides far higher amongst the heavens. The fiery orb that all life prays to, that bastard of unjustly won praise: the sun.
"Couldn’t have found a smaller nemesis?" Deprideo quipped.
There is no greater source of lies upon this land than that heathen. It is the sun that has done this to me.
Deprideo gazed at the cloud of chaos. "The sun turned you into a cloud?"
Slowly the cloud began to coalesce forming with each passing moment something that more and more resembled a human. The androgynous figure spasmed from moment to moment but would return to its form as quickly as it was lost.
No. The sun fueled the bastard who defeated me. It gave him the strength to overcome me and bring law to this land. It is this event that binds us Deprideo.
The old man looked on at the godly visitor. "I am far too old to be dabbling in Bondage Calamity."
Cute. I speak of the Lord King-I speak of your killer.
Deprideo’s face grew solemn, his lips straight as a razor, his eyes as motionless as stones. "I appreciate to no end your presence within my mind Calamity. But I make one request of you. Do not speak that name in the single place I find solemnity."
There is power in such words. You have only begun to see the power of a name my Deprideo. I have been drawn to you because of what binds us. I desire back what is mine and you desire a legacy. I can provide you what you desire most and in return I have a single modest request.
Deprideo approached Calamity. "You can provide me with a Legacy? I believe this corpse can provide you in kind with what you need."
Tonight you will become my Progenitor. You will carve from my essence a figure most perfect. The aura of your killer, of my conqueror, will be embodied within this statuette. Upon its delivery your Legacy will begin and I will restore this land to its proper place.
A lord of mortal beings stands before you requesting aid an promising you a fate greater than life and more powerful than death. Because death is the ultimate example of law, and I will quarter no solace in my progenitor being bound by its lies.
Calamity peeled back the dark wall of Deprideo’s mind to reveal the block resting atop his workbench. As if an automaton, his hands began to move on their own. Grasping hammer and chisel alike, gracefully they moved around the block removing chunk after chunk of Alabaster.
With each swing Deprideo found himself becoming more and more disorientated. His vision began to blur and in a flash he was unconscious.
The morning crept up on the aging home of Deprideo. Perforations riddled his once youthful abode and through them beams of light crawled along the floors and walls. A beam of fiery sun found itself squarely upon his eyes and woke the old man.
"A Dream?" Deprideo rose slowly from the floor. "I should have known. It was too good to be true-" His voice fell silent as he looked at his workbench and saw the Alabaster block no longer present. In its stead a 1 foot tall Bonobo stood motionless before him.
"My…my child. You are so beautiful."
Indeed. You are truly gifted.
Deprideo smiled. "Ah. So there you are." Deprideo rubbed his side, raw from lying on the hard basement ground. "Not a very comfortable journey."
My apologies, I am nowhere near my full strength. Soon that will change.
"It could have been worse. You could have been plot."
"The town drunk. He occasionally gets a hold of carriages and makes himself quite dangerous. Few things are frowned upon more than being Plot Driven."
Deprideo approached the Bonobo and began to marvel at its polished surface. He began to run his hand across it when a shocking sight caught his attention.
Indeed you are.
"Is this…part of your gift?"
It is only the beginning my Progenitor.
Deprideo smiled and placed his hand against his soft face. His beard was gone, replaced with a short tuft of hair around his mouth. "I’m going to miss it a little."
Today is the beginning of a new life Deprideo. You’ve already seen what becomes of you when you hold onto the past. Today I am giving you the chance to restart, to return the land to the way it was in the grandest of ways.
"I understand. So who will I be delivering this to."
I know you are younger but you needn’t exaggerate your childhood ignorance.
"Oh. Of course." Deprideo clenched his hand so tight his nails dug into his skin, a few drops of blood pooling in his palm. "Him."
Deprideo grasped the statuette and walked up stairs. The creaking of the home crisply ticking his youthful senses. His cleared vision revealed something even more infuriating to him. "How long have I been living in poverty?"
Deprideo placed the statuette down on a dusty counter near his front door using it to push some old dust books off the top. "You sit here and I’m going to change into something a little more appropriate."
Gazing down at his clothes he scoffed. "I must have been blind. I look terrible." His clothes were riddled with holes and caked with stains from decade upon decade of work and ever depreciating self respect.
Deprideo walked into his room, his bed was in shambles and the floor was riddled with clothing. On a table sat a small portrait. He frowned and walked up closer to it. Holding it against his chest Deprideo began to weep.
Do you want to know why he did it?
Deprideo held the portrait out and gazed into the emerald green eyes of the figure within its frame. "I want to know everything."
A flicker of Calamity appeared in his head, its face shaking disapprovingly.
Once a being knows everything it no longer has reason to wake in the morning. I don’t even know everything and I am a god. There is nothing fruitful about omniscience.
Deprideo wiped the dust from the portrait and placed it back upon the table. "Well then." He paused and dried his eyes. "We’ll start small. Why?"
You’ve heard the nonsense that power corrupts?
"Yes-Yes I have." Deprideo walked over to his clothing cabinet and began to search for a more proper outfit.
Well it’s a foolish notion. However with power does come an ever growing disconnect with oneself and the world around them.
Deprideo paused. "So he became ignorant? Should that make me feel any better?"
No. He must be made an example of, I am telling you this more as a warning.
Pushing aside some of his aged and ragged clothing Deprideo saw a green and silver robe hanging. He cocked a brow and pulled it from the hanger holding it out in front of him. "Another gift?
Calamity laughed. Oh right. How quickly they forget. That Deprideo is the dress of my worshippers.
"Ah. Well if you don’t think this will be too obvious."
You think a conqueror will notice something so unimportant as garb? Trust me Deprideo he will be entirely ignorant of the situation. Your new look will be entirely foreign to him.
The clothing began to cool once he put it on, his skin began to bead up with goose bumps. "Neat trick."
I told you before that the sun is the enemy. You will fear the fiercest wrath of it on your walk to the castle.
"My youth makes me undetectable, my clothing protects me, and the Bonobo will avenge me. Is there anything you do that doesn’t have double purposes?"
Does the sea flow with one thought in mind? Does the wind blow with only a single direction to go? In nature it is the path of least resistance that harbors the most powerful journeyman.
Deprideo walked out into the hall and looked down at the Statuette. "So. Next question."
"What is up with the Bonobo?"
Do you really want to know?
"I suppose not."
You are learning. Now we need to hide the Bonobo. If the sun see’s my essence I fear that even the robe will not protect you from its wrath.
"Well that just won’t do. I’ve never been a fan of burns."
Deprideo looked around his living room, in such destitution it appeared the victim of a windstorm. Pushing mounds of trash aside he found a box clad in leather. "There used to be poetry in this box."
How quickly you were crushed.
"Yes. I never thought I could be killed without being touched."
The Bonobo fit into the box as if destined. Deprideo put the leather top on the box snugly and walked towards the front door. Wind blew into his home as he opened the door, the sun was scorching the Earth all around him. It had been so long since he had left his home in the day, always finding food within the bars at the stroke of midnight.
The capital city of Calmius had been built all around a large hill, the hill itself was not quite large enough to be called a mountain, but far too large to not impress. Long dirt roads created an ant farm network leading to various clusters of homes and shops. There was a time when these clusters were separated by class, but as the decades of law settled in everyone slowly degraded to the lower class. It was a nation locked in financial, cultural, and spiritual stagnation.
At the top of the hill resided the Capitol of Calmius, a castle of marble and ivory that reflected the glory of the sun from the moment it rises to the moment it falls. It’s bright glow can be seen for miles in every direction and it stands as a testament to the supreme power of its inhabitant.
His name long since lost during the great war, the Lord King, as he is now known, marched across the entire Isle and settled every region. He brought all of the tribes together and brought to the land, once a flutter with chaos, into a singular state of solidity. In one such assault he single handedly defeated the ten thousand phalanxes of the Scholas. This defeat was so resounding and the news of his immense power was so overwhelming that the entirety of regions he had not yet conquered declared surrender.
However with each conquest he took with him whatever he pleased and many would find themselves alone. Those they loved vanishing. For once you enter the castle, you do not return.
As Deprideo walked towards the Castle he could feel the sun growing ever more fierce. The ground began to give off waves of radiant heat. The townspeople entered their homes and shops to escape the heat, gazing from their windows at the single green clad man marching towards the castle.
"So I must ask. How are we going to get into the castle?"
Deprideo’s inquiry was met with no response.
Once again minutes began to melt away until he was standing before the great gates of the castle. Hundreds of archers lined the towers strewn all around the perimeter of the castle, each with their bows at the ready.
The gates began to open, the mechanism of their movement completely alien to the young Deprideo. He approached slowly, making sure not to startle the archers.
Two large mithril clad soldiers stood with massive lances staring right through Deprideo’s eyes into his very soul. As he came within 100 feet of the doors to the castle the first spoke.
"You are expected-" He was cut off almost mechanically by the other soldier. "-enter immediately."
"Neat trick. You two practice that?"
The soldiers did not respond to his inquiry, instead they tapped their lances against the doors and those began to open much like the gate. No chains, no gears, no men, just opening doors revealing another alien environment.
The smell of roast and sex flowed from the doors and slammed into Deprideo’s face nearly knocking him to his feet.
"Good Lord!" Deprideo looked down at the box. "You are so lucky you are in there."
He looked at the Soldiers who appeared oblivious. "That smell could eat the wool off of a sheep." Deprideo smiled. "Am I right?"
Once again he was witness to silence. "I’ll-just be going."
As he took his first step into the castle he heard Calamity in his mind once again.
I liked it.
"Oh. Now you talk! You realize it makes little sense to give me my youth if you are going to leave me shaving years off my life in fear."
I was busy.
"Doing what?" Deprideo quickly followed his question. "Nevermind."
The inside of the castle was the manifestation of excess. From edge to edge the floors were covered in endless layers of silk. Columns of marble reflected walls clad in gold, silver, and diamond. The pungent odor began to fade as he stood in awe.
"I must say Calamity. After seeing this castle I’m feeling a bit short changed."
"I thought so."
A serious expression fell over Deprideo’s face. "I hear him."
Yes. That voice is unmistakable.
The path in the castle was singular, a long corridor leading into a large room. As Deprideo walked his steps caused the silk to ripple, sending waves around the room. With each step the waves compounded and the results grew ever more disorientating.
Oh the irony.
The Large room once again had long rows of columns, along the walls were evenly spaced doors that lead to unknown rooms. However the voice of their target could be heard booming from the end of the hall, behind two large jade doors.
How dare he.
As Deprideo approached the jade doors they began to open as those before.
"Alright. That’s it. Will someone please tell me how the hell these doors are opening?"
If I was to guess I would say the doors are fleeing from the smell.
"Oh? Was that a joke? It must be really getting to you too."
Oh shut up.
Deprideo walked into the room, atop a few dozen steps was a massive gold and bone throne. Sitting in it was the equally massive Lord King. In his lap, a young girl clad in nothing but chains. Her expression was one of cold loneliness. In every corner of the room stood archers with their crossbows at the ready pointing towards the visitor.
The Lord King’s voice was as deep and thick as the hairs upon his exposed chest. "I have been expecting you."
Deprideo gazed confused at the Lord King. "You have?"
I told you I was busy.
"Oh. That explains that."
The King looked at the young man equally confused. "What?"
"Nothing. I babble a bit in my youth my apologies."
"To be young. You must enjoy it-" The King slowed his speech expecting Deprideo to state his name. He got nothing in return, with an expression of discontent the King continued. "What is your name?"
"Lord, It has been so long since someone asked me that I must say I have entirely forgotten."
"Curious. I know the feeling." The King looked down at the box in Deprideo’s hands. "That must be my gift?"
The inquiry didn’t immediately register and Deprideo jerked his body with his response. "Oh right! The box. Yes Lord. I have for you the most precious gift in all the world."
Grasping the chains of the Girl the Lord King lowered her like a Marionette to his feet. Slowly giving slack he ordered her. "Get it."
As she approached Deprideo looked into her eyes he frowned, orbs of emerald green and sorrow reflected his complexion.
"My god." Deprideo held the box out to her.
Calamity spoke softly in Deprideo’s mind.
Yes. I wanted you to see with your own eyes. What I give you next is two-fold Deprideo.
In his mind Deprideo heard the name, the manifestation of his loss and of his murderer. He looked up to the Lord King.
A silence befell the room, not a single person breathed, not a single piece of armor clanked against its neighbor, the girl stopped motionless and the King’s eyes grew as wide as oceans.
"Where did you hear that name?" The King slammed his hands down against the arms of his throne, in doing so he yanked the chains of the girl sending her to the ground. "Tell me now."
Deprideo approached slowly. "That’s your name isn’t it." He looked around at the guards pointing their swift death upon him. "How quickly you forget." Deprideo looked up at the King. "How easy it is when one has no name."
The girl rose slowly and grasped the box, she began to stand just as the King took a step. His massive foot sending shockwaves around the room. Once again the box became earth bound though this time it sent its cargo across the floor. The statuette rolled a few times and halted before the base of the steps. Kahn looked down at it and froze.
"Where did you find that." He looked up at Deprideo. "Where did you hear that name? Who are you?"
Approaching ever closer Deprideo reached down and picked up the Bonobo. "I’m sorry child." He looked over at the girl. "To you I am infinitely more so." Without making eye contact Deprideo spoke to Kahn. "I am willing to make you an offer."
Kahn bellowed, his voice rattling the loose ornamentation around the room. "What makes you think you are in any position to barter with the Lord King?"
"Because I know you better than you do. The options here are few. Either you barter with me, or neither of us will survive today."
Kahn swung his massive arm while twisting his torso, the force of the blow sending his huge throne crashing through a column and into the wall. Fragments of marble and bone killed the guards who once stood there.
"Get out." Kahn looked around at the Guards who were now looking at him with faces contorted in fear. "I will not ask you again."
Quickly the remaining guards shuffled from the room. It was now Kahn, Deprideo, The Girl, and the Bonobo. The smell of blood mixing with the raw odor of the room.
"I give you the Bonobo and I take the girl."
"I take the Bonobo and I keep the Girl." Kahn responded.
"You may be large but you know as well as I that I can destroy this statuette before you can reach me."
Deprideo grasped the Bonobo around its legs.
"I scoured the entirety of Calmius in search of that Statuette. It was my destiny. How did you come to have it?"
Deprideo looked at the Statuette. "I made it myself."
Kahn took a step down. "Impossible. There was only one person in the world that could have made it and he died decades ago." Kahn focused in on Deprideo’s face. "You know what your name is. Tell me. Who are you?"
Deprideo smiled. "That wasn’t part of the deal. I take the girl and you get the Bonobo."
Kahn looked at the girl. "If I kill her and you destroy the Bonobo then what?"
"You won’t do that. Lets end this nonsense."
Deprideo held up the Statuette towards Kahn. "I know you better than you do. Do us both a favor and let us just end this.
Kahn reached out, his hand swallowing the entire arm of Deprideo. As he pulled back the Bonobo was no longer in Deprideo’s possession. Kahn held it close, inspecting it from top to bottom. "It’s more beautiful than I could have ever imagined." Releasing the chains he began to roll it around in his huge palms. "I finally have it. I finally can be free."
Kahn took the key from his waist and chucked it to the ground beside Deprideo. "There you are." Almost instantly he returned to gazing at the Bonobo. "So beautiful."
Deprideo released the girl and raised her from the ground. He took off his robe, revealing his warn undergarments below. Flakes of clay and other minerals caked all over them. "Here wear this." As the two made their way for the exit Kahn looked down at Deprideo, to see the caked on undergarments.
"So you are a sculptor. Before you go. Tell me. What is your name."
Just as they stepped out of the room Deprideo spoke his name at just above a whisper. "Deprideo."
As if stricken with nightshade the skin of Kahn’s palm beneath the Bonobo began to turn black. He stood motionless as the dark bruise spread through his hand and up his arm. It took every bit of strength within his massive frame for him to take a single step towards the door. He shouted as hard as he could but the sound never left his lips.
Deprideo looked at the Girl, her face resting silently upon his shoulder. "You remind me so much of my Daughter." He looked forward and continued to walk, his steps once again creating waves as before. "I know this is going to be hard to believe. But I’m your grandfather." She rested her face up against the side of his head and whispered into his ear. "I know."
A huge blast rushed from the throne room, sending a cloud of a million colors throughout the castle and bursting through its roof. A plume of plasma rocketed towards space, impacting with the clouds above it shot off in every direction blotting out the sun. The castle exploded into billions of fragments sending them soaring through the air in balls of every imaginable color of fire.
The rain of chaotic brimstone and fire fell slowly to the earth and as it touched the ground a momentary silence befell the land. Suddenly there was crash of sound and a flash of white.
Four Emerald Green eyes stood atop the hill looking out. The ground began to ripple like the sea and the wind shot off in every direction without cause. The ground cooled and each breath was visible.
"I’m going to give you back your innocence just as I was given mine."