Greetings, Lime Nation! We hope you’ve enjoyed our month-long series showcasing the short story, “Ecencial”, by our good friend, Dave Vierling. CLICK HERE to check out Volumes 1, 2, and 3. Dave will returning to the pages of #JPLMagazine in the coming months, but in the meantime be sure to follow him on Facebook, as well as his band, A Night on the Sun (and buy their album on Bandcamp).
We present the fourth and final volume in context so today enjoy ‘Ecencial’, the full edition.
How will our hero, Khan, deal with this new threat called Jumala? Is his sacred, beloved Ecencial in danger? Find out in the stunning conclusion, only at #JPLMagazine.
by Harold Cash
English is on the brink of extinction. Countable worldly circles as an esoteric power tool have whittled its citizenry into pockets, scattered across the land. Planets worth of vocabulary have been disappearing in middles of the light. One may exist for decades of nights without communicating the dying tongue to another talker. Even worse, those who talk including me, often exhibit anti-sapien behavior. We’d rather squander our sociability than mingle or cooperate. In dark of this, I feel compelled to diary these words to plug the hemorrhaging that is my aging fluency. They shall document the pending tragedy explicitly enough.
How rude. I am apologizing. My ancestors named me Khan. It doesn’t matter why but what does. I’m not bilingual. Neither are any of my Nearbys. The most influential difference between us is our language. Theirs need not deem titling because it’s subservient. Every new light, the Nearbys try to steal from her like pioneers of invention. That’s their quest yet I don’t blame them for it. She feeds all creation and sanctions privileged talkers to be Khan. I re-stoke the eld before darkness comes.
This was once a fecund land, bursting with caloric bounty. Back circles, my Pai and Majka oversaw the Nearbys more like celebrities than actual rulers. Intermittently ripe, it was the fruits and vegetables that allowed this dynamic to materialize. Happy stomachs equal peaceful masses. Ecencial’s value had depreciated but her worth remained indespensable as forever. It used to be easier to divvy out freebies and placate the Nearbys from one to another moment. I’m told that my family was proud to talk English then.
Cracked planet, the forecast has dried indefinitely. Earlier lush fa shriveled into sanded seas. Formerly spilling snakes shed their beds to path way for thirsty drifters. Along with political fraternization went the unpredictability of meteorology. Stagnancy ripened into the climate’s default. A few circles before his life stopped him, my Pai would always talk, impersonate and laugh.
“Attention Nearbys. First light should develop clearly. At middle peak, cotton patches will elude the blue. By horizon fade, chuva is still nowhere in vision. Over-darkness, forecast unquenched aridity. Evaporate, cycle and echo forever more.” Reminiscent, I raise lip corners. Softer memories serve to dilute Pai’s crusty legacy. Despite his fairness and well intentioned deeds, he destroyed existence over the smallest of crossings. I remember a moment when Osoba, his lifelong ally, siphoned two vats of Ecencial during the same light. This was not an accident of overconsumption. Osoba knew in his beat that all Nearbys are rationed one vat, zero mercy and negative tolerance per light. Pai waited until darkness, until words had smeared reputations across sleepy eyes. After smelting a fresh edge, into Osoba’s shelter he stalked.
“I prefer to chew rare flesh but you’re so filthy I will heat you exceptionally done.” My Pai talked with small wind while gutting the crook’s entire torso. Osoba was left to twitch, semi-consciously, long enough to hear the sizzle of his own sausage over Pai’s eld. A savage precedent was etched in every Nearby’s thinker and it threatened…
Even though the Khan glories in treating his habitants better than slaves, don’t bungle insistent professionalism for judgmental lenience. If you exploit Ecencial’s generosity, if you intake more than she can bear, the Khan will not trade eyes. He will gouge your feeble imprint out of history. The darkness is deep now. Sugary dreams.
I always open the land at first light. Pai used to talk an archaic utterance, “The early rooter sucks the water table dry.” Some of these words have since been misplaced in translation. I can only glean his context of early.
The climate this light was gorgeous. No Nearbys had roamed the dark in search of her nourishment. Perhaps they raided a neighboring talker. These infrequent calms earn me moments to undividedly pray to Ecencial, my surrogate Majka, which culminates in the imbibing of her sample. Congratulations. She exudes the most consistent taste in the land due to her untainted origins, boom, bust, blessing or a curse.
Ecencial. My purpose serves her. My profession profits from her. There is no separation of church and state here, like rotted democracies past. Chalky soil, scarce game and no chuva for circles upon circles have choked out any liberal sovereignty around. Once ago, talkers had webbed majestic social networks that stretched further than the known land. I read they could even communicate through far away machines without yelling.
Those relic moments barely glimmer now. Think-tanks old enough to have progenerated The Gold Age are burying any optimism for sapien equality. Some talkers recently coined our new age. The Drought. This scientific word hasn’t been pronounced since paper was made from fa, undetermined circles back. I suppose it means an unfurling chuva shortage.
Another book read our bodies survive at least eight drinkless lights. When staple public leaks dehydrated, Nearbys were the first to thirst. Acts of insubordination grew passively in the beginning. The more humble Nearbys started to beg for discounted access to Ecencial like she’s some measly floozy. Uman, a runt among twits, especially angered me. A miscarriage had sapped her strength’s majority. Dizzy and cramped, she fell to knees, kissing my repulsive feet. A trade was then offered, fleshly compensation for Ecencial’s nourishment. Blast! I ignited in English.
“How dare you equate my bestial lust with divine endowment.” I grasped Uman by the follicles and dragged her shrieking to the shore-step of heaven. “Is this what you crave?” I baptized her dirty face into virgin nectar. Gargle, thrashing, panic and lift. All along, my elitist tongue disqualified her comprehension. “Ecencial will spread her legs until they become your gallows.” I spat mucus in eyes, submerged her breath and weathered the storm. Ravenous resistance benumbed into a glassy peace as bubbles ceased.
Drained of emotion, I rested on fallen fa. Waning light had beautified the blue above. Colors pasteling cotton wisps chorused by faint birds all guided me toward a revelation. There I sat thinking that The Drought had only transformed us into savages, panting animalistic endorsements. Dearth of excess has simplified life and necessity has metamorphosed into conscious desire. Nourishment is fiended for. Passionate spirituality steers us once more. Yes, we are savages but you could talk that we cut out the fat. Only those with resourceful access will flourish. When alternatives are at a premium, hierarchy is born.
I tied rocks to the Nearby’s leg gifting her to Ecencial. After short prayer, there was meal and music. No one ever vomited Uman’s name again.
My Majka’s life stopped her when I was a mere five circles round. Her legacy is sketchy in my mind. Pai talked of her perpetual kind beat. She must be the excuse why I’m half as cruel as him. My closest neighboring talker is honest, despite his mistrustful appearance. He’s named Ningen and has existed for over 60 circles, an extraordinary feat these ages.
“Your Majka would frequently convene with Nearby women,” he stories with the clarity of a photographic memory. “She recognized their resourcefulness as more nomadic procurers and exchanged vats for gathering cues. She also applauded their sticky family unit.” Each talking of my Majka conjures subtle approval in Ningen’s words but I have mixed feelings. She was a beautiful wife who could cook. Why pine for more and endanger your safety?
When the chuva vanished, so did the Nearby husbands’ patience. They viewed Majka as a spy, briefing the talking community and assembled a crude witch-hunt party. The husbands met the male talkers, aligned on flat land. Nostrils huffed, kicks revved up soil, and a solitary moment before death bled everywhere, Majka intercepted the battle, scurrying.
“Both sides of you are wrong. Fighting for me is thinkless.” These suicidal words stabbed a fatal edge into Majka’s neck. Gasps dropped jaws. She danced a stagger while pumping red squirts high in the climate. Surprise plagued as not a being could have predicted her end. Majka had obtained everything necessary yet through cavalier progressiveness, dumped herself in the refuse.
Ningen believes she promoted valuable concepts. I disagree. He’s old school, a dying breed that hasn’t calibrated civil rights to modern circumstance. To empower women publicly in this dire Drought would be to convolute the simplicity that will haul us through. They already exercise dominance in the shelter. Hence, there has to be balance. We shan’t especially cut across privileged lines to teach English either. The very fabricate of our society depends on non-action. Once Ningen’s life stops him, I will restructure the system. He’s the last lighthouse of a shipwrecked age.
I loved my Majka. She taught me survival skills. My eld techniques were all crafted under her coaching and they heat throughout entire darkness’. Majka also taught me how to scout the best fa. I often afford to solicit excess pieces that I’ve gathered as a result of her expertise. She followed a moral compass, which can’t be faulted. A woman long after her moment.
I merchant vats when our star is at peak. Several circles ago, Pai conducted a census of the Nearby population. Since then, over half have migrated in promise of more opulent flora and just three remainders still exist. They are tolerable when compared to the tales I’ve heard of the rare super-Nearbys, monsters of physical awesomeness rivaling for privileges in select anecdotes.
Ludzki is the oldest on my land at 44 circles. An eternity of struggle has rendered him decrepit. Each peak on the shadow, he limps to Ecencial’s shore. Because of antiquated conditioning, his thirst is more ferocious than the other two. I push all Nearbys to bow and show her homage before they fill a vat. When Ludzki bends over, quenching his hankering, I wish he wore clothes. Circles of arduous walking have kept lipids from accumulating below his waist, like a double scoop ice cream cone that won’t drip. He’s a mess with constant currency. Only wise gods could fathom how he earns it but as an unscrupulous businessman, I don’t query financial lifeblood.
Like Ningen, Ludzki’s abides by a fossil code. He disburses on time, lacks greed, shuts lips and cognizes his niche. There’s no health in uprooting what grows sufficiently. More Nearbys should counterfeit his lead. Ludzki’s English hovers near zilch and aims to maintain the status quo. What a genius.
Pessoa is one of three single female Nearbys in the known land. Her birth was never officially logged so no thinker knows how round she is. Pessoa’s circles rely wholly on mouth words. I trust they swell and slump with her mood. In fact, the last census surfaced a pervasive trend of undocumented female births which cut across privileged lines. Pessoa’s English has improved since my Pai handed me the Khandom. Hush-hush. I suspect Ningen teaches her by darkness, committing treason. The Nevertheless, until hard proof evidences itself, I mustn’t bark conjecture at an elder talker.
Pessoa is a magician whose shelter reeks of medicinal lore. Whenever disease sics us, she negotiates to cure. There’s a famous legend. At one moment during the Gold age, a neighboring land, imaginations away, had been suffering analogous climate to The Drought. When they finally caught whiff of our fortunate salad, envy bloomed and poison was leached into all creators, including precious Ecencial. Clueless, my widowered Pai prayed next light. According to him, life herself looked, smelled and tasted the same. Yet later, his thinker ached before puke roused. Ningen also remembers full on dehydrated diarrhea within the same light.
When symptoms persisted over-darkness, they had to implore Pessoa. For a meaty price, spells were cast while concoctions soothed malignant bugs. Having nursed the rulers back to health, she demanded more profit for her civil niche. Thus, an unprecedented currency floated into legitimacy. Pessoa became the first Nearby ever to reap discounted access to any creator she pleases. Lifetime guarantee. It crumples my sapienhood.
Mens is a two-eyed pirate at 20 circles. Because he’s the most able-bodied Nearby, his foxy trial and error abides no bounds. What he lacks in thinker, he atones for in vigor. The riper majority of my lights are spent hunching over his next caper. Siphoning from Ecencial ties the least twisty plot I can recall.
By darkness’ veil, Mens has disguised himself as Ningen, lured me away with limping mammalian game and exploited my weakness, new books. He once tried to hogtie me in my slumber. On time I woke, bludgeoning his think-tank with a salt block. Mens has stabbed at capturing Ecencial since his Pai taught him to scheme. Nihilistic role model. Aristocratic cannibalism is socially acceptable in our land. We may shove down those under us, never above. Men’s Pai broke this hallow covenant and feed on a talker. Oh how gross a no. He was exiled until his life stops him.
This light was profoundly more anomalous than any before. Winds askewed. I inaugurated it, stuck on routine like a German dental exam. Order appeared to have prevailed over-darkness, apart from failed siphoning vestige at the far edge of Ecencial. Judging by tooth marks, the hose’s pure diameter posed an insurmountable girth challenge for Mens. Suction was never achieved.
As I disposed the embarrassment behind my shelter, an exotic breeze caught my smeller. I whipped around to witness a streaking blur duck behind rocks. Never had such extremities footed this land. Jagged agility crisscrossed springy hops. The being’s evolution showcased a palpable teleportation. For the first moment in my life, I felt threatened. Ironic tinglings fluttered down from think-tank to heels. For a deifiable advancement has come from a more cosmic gene pool, he will be called Jumala.
I grabbed my only real weapon, a whittled tree sapling. Although its length matches average sapiens, my composure was still shuddering in fear as I approached the rocks. Tense biceps trembled sweaty palms. Our star spotlighted us, summit happy. I raised spear, ready to destroy life if necessary. The moment stretched. My mouth wind plumed moisture into The Drought, over and again. For Khandom! On one, I charged over the rocks, veined out, mouth foaming.
“Ahh! Crypt you!” Partly to defy physics, my thunderous roar echoed off empty space. Beating through pectoral, I sighed, silently ecstatic to encounter no freak. The poker dropped. Thud. A small rodent cameoed amidst my traumatic renaissance. Hindered by a drowsy gait, this champion of The Drought pattered upon disturbing footprints. So enormous were their impressions, cartoonish could be the pertinent description. I lapsed crawling to examine them. Gulp. They almost sized my foot twice and mutation had webbed their toe gaps. If any Nearby peeps genetic realities that sum this portion, words will spread land-wide and a dawning image will demarcate the crumblings of my ruin.
I swashed sandy planet athwart the smoking guns while a chasm yawned in my thinker. Bang like our hierarchy, the conflict is inherent. That brute craves what his anatomy saps. Peripheried by decreasing resources, he has ventured afar in search of a potable creator. Desperation snuffs out. Without proper nourishment, sapiens fang ravenousness and bleed whatever they will to lap life.
Unlike its blooming predecessor, the solution mazes itself. When that anomaly inevitably circles back, how will I protect Ecencial?
Our closest mine walks less than a quarter-light from my shelter. Far preceding The Gold Age, Pai read mineral shakers were shelved indoors and sapiens had to actually purchase them. Can you brainstorm such a swindle? These circles, individual salt limits are confined by your own ceiling for hauling weight. Before infinite supply slit demand’s throat, I heard there was an untalked age called “The Periphery.” The mineral digested this illicit phase when fearless Nearbys would seize control of mines and ransom off hunks to talkers. Wayside blather.
Yester-light, I returned home from the salt mine to discover all of my burlap snares flung blue-ward. Loads of lifelessness sagged from five trees surrounding Ecencial. After I slashed inspection, facts were clear. Jumala had not only evaded, but mocked my booby entrapments by switching the currency bait for a substance not seen in histories. Each burlap sack was bricked up with gold, more than I can lift. My incredulous lids blinked over dreamy eyes. In humbling inferiority, the score doubled what I lured. Such sweepstakes should ship sapiens sailing effervescent gusts but instead, my nerves froze frightened. No Nearby has defeated me since Pai lived. Dense tears trail plops to my shelter where I encounter the ill-est fortune of intellectual dimensions.
Smack me, stir me, tumble me from this gravity. At nest’s mouth, I dwindled to shins, face gawking. Jumala had torn the entrance in half and stolen all my books, leaving behind a single leaf of fa paper. Its alien tongue stuck out at me like a conquerors’ steel boomstick. Never have I read script so elegant. Cursive suavity grooved amidst dots and squiggles. My beat’s dash coldened as a creepy revelation washed over me. Quite simply, Jumala had upgraded the ruler of privilege. Written knowledge. An invaluable lost art. Without which, our creation based system becomes tameless and choke-holds over Ecencials alike gasp vulnerability. Yester-light, Jumala exemplified how he could banish my throne, flagging a terrifying new age where English, as a stigma, perishes in oppression. While the foed psyche gears up from war-song, talkers pray, and envision inevitable coup.
My pride will not surrender reigns without sabotage. Despite the dignity instilled in typed text, these ages social mobility only manifests itself through brute force. Once one disinherits birthright, no mastery of linguistic dexterity shall rectify their grievances. Ages ago, this paradox grew amidst systematic educational inequity, where those privileged perpetuated selfish interests and those deprived internalized degeneracy. Khans past institutionalized tongued knowledge as a hierarchical weapon which subjected the Nearbys to cultural resistance. Floating under patriotic façade, democracy subtly mutated into monarchy.
Having only lounged atop the food chain and tasted entitlement, I can’t share her now. We’ve prospered monogamously for too much elapsion. The juggernaut of jealousy that would ensue from any infidelity may cripple our species. If I’m to lose her, so will the victor. Thus, because no sapien shall escape my selfishness, this light I dissolved my entire salt cache into Ecencial. A sacrilegious poisoning. While tears cascaded, prayer pleaded forgiveness. She hasn’t been mineralized since Ningen, loopy from fermented coconut milk, adulterated her with a sulfuric overdose. We found my Majka writhing in anguish, innards elding and nearly blinded. Pai embargoed Ningen for circles after that notorious blunder.
It’s peak. Our star bakes the planet. Deafening silence preludes showdown. During every previous light such tranquility would canary a successful Khandom. However, this finch appears to have been stuffed, more Christmas ornament than barometer. Ludzki, Pessoa and Mens had all transacted early as if they scented bloodstained peril in the wind. My beat palpitates.
Death and change resonate great fears for sapiens. Both scope mortality inside universality and force us to recognize that nothing lasts forever. Time outlasts political boundaries. Your forever is fried spit on a star’s surface. Regardless of will or strength, no tongue can eternalize dominance. After sleepless darkness’, I’ve made peace with this ideological realism. My passing is a new beginning.
Jumala jaunts into the background, sleek and well-fed. He was unarmed. I rise to feet, white knuckling my spear. Ecencial, the hinge of our conflict, rests between us. Jumala roars like atomic sound waves. Goosebumps rash me while our planet tremors. His muscles flex evolution in the glistening light. The end is imminent. I can only pray it be abrupt. Jumala fists his chest. Shot! Adrenaline, breaths, soles and doom race toward collision.
“Inferior beast!” He screeches English, sprinting wasteless strides. As bilingualism drips onto his privilege puzzle, our tug of war slips through my fingers. I can barely manage to dodge natural trip wires, let alone retort coherence.
“Now.” Nostril snarl. “Cycle my ashes!” Dread cracks my post-pubescent scream. Conditioned to inflict damage, Jumala lowers a deltoid. Rather than Hollywood slomo, our suspenseful sequence gleaks for the marrow. His rocketing stature shadows me while flashing mirages of bear electrocute my vision. Stub! A root stumbles me to the sand and I slide over a rock. Clock! Consciousness wavers our star, more out than in, rainbowing speckles. Clothed by synthetic material, a daunting silhouette overcasts my tweety birds. Polyester rumors scamper rampant across the land, but no kin of mine had ever sighted it before. I caress my skull. Jumala grins green teeth, gems not cavities.
“Where do you hail from?” I cough dust into the question. He laughs then lightly steps on my throat.
“Your hidebound culture couldn’t even hallucinate a land like mine.” Frantic fingers scratch boots for aerated relief. Jumala acknowledges conspiracy.
“Khan, I’ve been watching you for a circle.” One-handed, he begins to drag my weight toward Ecencial’s edge. Torso squirms. Legs flail. I chomp to tear flesh from his arm and shatter a fang against scaly skin.
“Not yet! Make me your sideshow! Please!” Jumala throws my begging upon damp sand.
“Life has tested you Khan. From conception, you’ve been instilled with the absolute power to create difference. So what transpires? Instead of humanizing society, talkers spin long-term weather cycles into droughts, which any Nearby will confess are political figments reinforcing bottlenecked access to her.” Jumala smashes my face into a puddle. Muffled struggles bubble a tyrant’s demise.
“Before you decay, I will feed your edibles to the Nearbys.” His murderous conviction holds my wind holes under. “Barbarism is all you deserve.” I numb. A goddess. Our creator. The planet’s Majka. Loving her too much spawned my downfall. Ecencial floods me. Sunshine flees from this dark oasis, clouded with trauma, as Jumala executes Khan.
Dear Nearbys and their ancestors,
By law, all tongues are hereby declared equal, except English, which shall be publicly condemned. No longer should the talking aristocracy control natural resources like fresh water. From now until my heart arrests, every sapien can drink from Ecencial, money free. This privilege will be revoked if you even mention Khan. As for fertility and empty bellies, irrigation trenches will filter into the most promising land plots. Consider multilingualism an asset instead of abnormality. Also, Talkers must implement breadth education via classes at reasonable prices. Let us expunge the water monarchy and embrace merciful times. As king, I govern you now. Welcome to a new age. I am not Jumala.