Saturday, October 2, 2021

Tale 4: Drink - Third Draft

  Every day, my father warned me of the dangers of the demonic fluid. It is drink which unleashes all of man's evil and eliminates the barrier from beast. It is drink which eliminates health and happiness. Drink is danger, drink is trauma, drink is obscenity and humiliation, blasphemy in the eyes of God and excrement in the windows of memory. Drink is serenity's eternal expenditure: instants of bliss for an eternity of inner violence. 

Trauma is the intrusion of another soul that claims a new section of of the mind every day, intrusion doubling upon intrusion, exhibiting ever more masterfully that he, not you, are the part of your mind that thinks. 

Perhaps this other soul is a devil or dybbuk, perhaps he's simply another person who deliberately lodged part of himself within you, or perhaps he's another person burdened with his own dybbuk. But whomever he is, he, not you, masters the mind, and you become a spectator within your own consciousness. With every hour he determines more of your decisions, and with every new decision he makes for us, you wonder ever more if he was you all along.   

For centuries, father barely touched drink. He knew of its ecstasies and torments as well as any man, but he saw what drink made him, and what drink made others, and its humiliations were repugnant. It caused a whole earth on which man has neither self nor divinity, but only sense - pleasures to drown our pain, other people's pain to drown us in pleasure, a whole earth of trauma absorbed and trauma inflicted where man uses his divinity to inflict all the worse. And so where the rest of Earth was wine, the House of Noah was water, kept fresh and pure in wells we cleaned every day along with blessings to a spirited water in a second, smaller well. A spirit whose name we never pronounced, and perhaps we never knew. For an hundred years of our lives, Ham, Japeth and I knew no drink but water. 

All the while, as the temperature warmed and the Earth became fire and rain. Father communed with his holy spirit of the drink. Every day as he had for hundreds of years, he pulled a bowl from the well tied to a string, put a finger in the drink, touched its holy spirit to his lips, and threw the bowl back. Every day he spoke with the spirit of the drink, and the Drink spoke back. For seven hours every day Father walked around the well, speaking questions and answers, and the pool told him all creation, of its trees and crowns, of its spheres visible and hidden, and the Spirit of the Drink made Father the wisest of men. 

The spirit told Father to build an ark and gather every living thing that creepeth upon the earth, for the spirit was wroth with the world and would flood it. The world would begin anew in a second Eden where would live none but the House of Noah's righteous offspring. 

And the Spirit was right, for lo, the earth became drink; not drink still and clear, but torrential and murderous, until all the world was again without form and void. Then the sea level rose, and rose, and rose, until the planet itself rose up and murdered its unworthy caretakers, and all the Earth was but one large ocean, stewed in the iniquities of its trillions of drowned beings and glazed with salt to parch any survivors. And within three days, all remaining life lodged within an ark of 300 cubits.

The invisible spirit told us of the flood, he told father to build the ark, precisely how, and with what, and how large, and how many animals to gather, but he gave us no extra ration of fresh water. All we had was the water within our well, which when drawn out must be fermented ere it turn to undrinkable excrement. So there was only barley fermentation, and wine, and animals, and obscenity. There was not even water for children. 

And yet the first thing we brought aboard the ark was Father's pool of drink, of which he made us carry pitcher by pitcher aboard the ark to a pool of stone he'd constructed alone.

Upon the ark at first it was only us and the wine. He told us we had no extra rations of fermented water for the animals, but to allow ourselves twelve times an eleven month supply for four families of drinks - we asked why, he did not say. Surely father knew what was to come better than we.

It began not with agony but with joy and camaraderie - days of merry work followed fine nights of wine and song. Then lying with our wives in tents in living quarters on the Ark's four opposite corners. The children would be serenely asleep just after dinner, and so torpid they never wandered. The House of Noah used our  wealth to buy all the crops of nearby families to feed the ark's animals, and once aboard we pickled the crops within buckets of salt water procured from the outside deluge. 

Father had always been serene, but he was quiet and cryptic, and often warned us of what sort of different man he was before encountering the holy Spirit. He took to the wine immediately, and his serene self turned upside down to the most dreadful moroseness. None saw him eat, and he said not a word even as he fed the animals. Yet while Father felt submerged in drink, our work seemed as play. 

But at the cusp of manhood, no drink could torpor Canaan. In less than one year he'd have taken to wife, but what wife lived to take him? 

The noises began with the sheep of course, and then the goats, and then the dogs and cows, and then to the larger animals, and the smaller, until we wondered if there was an unsullied animal among the 16,000 on the ark. An animal would exclaim that peculiar scream, always the same in every species, and we knew what Canaan was doing, particularly because he would return every morning with terrible bruises and scratches. But what did it matter if we all were so besotted with drink? The world was ending, boys will be boys, the animals were drunk too, and were we to believe Father, the House of Noah was the one family in the world who did not enjoy the company of livestock. 

The loneliness of the ark eventually grieved our wives, and eventually we too found it oppressive. As the drink increased, the revelries decreased. Never again would we see anyone but ourselves, and that realization necessitated more drink. Every simple disagreement felt like a fallen house, which also necessitated more drink. Whenever the rain's humidity caused a sniffle, we feared the mortality outdoors would spread inside, which necessitated still more drink. And whenever an animal fell ill, which was often, we were great with labor to minister them, which necessitated the most drink of all. 

All the while, father had built a new cage, and a large one. We wondered if there was a flying animal we'd forgotten. Father would not say. 

Days grew to weeks, memory blurred day into day, until eventually there were no memories except the wailing of our wives as dawned on them a world of loss, and the raging mischief of our children now tolerant to alcohol bored into our heads, which necessitated still more drink. Raven after dove after raven we sent to find evidence of land; but there was only drink, until finally a dove emerged with an olive branch. The Lord had spared us, and thus could we the survivors multiply in a new era of righteousness and favor and grace. 

But the very next day, great human cries awoke us to find Ham murdered, and Canaan locked in Father's cage.

"Canaan! What have you done?" 

Here is the tortuous dialogue between father and grandson which followed:

"I have done nothing! Ham was murdered by you Grandfather!"

"The Holy Spirit warned me something awful would happen, but surely it would be less than this! Murder or defilement among kin is what I expected, and for this the Spirit has flooded the world. We would punish such offenders justly, but what has occurred is so much worse!"

"Why have you murdered my father?"

"Your father tried to kill me before I laid my curse on you!" 

"Why would you curse me?"

"Look at the chalky substance within the drink! The imagination of man's heart is evil from its youth! Canaan has gazed upon my spirit's nakedness and spilled his seed into it! He has raped the holy spirit of the Earth! We shall never rebuild Eden! The whole flood has been for nothing! Humanity now shall continue just as it has!" 

"But I did not...."

"Cursed be you Canaan! A curse you were upon Ham and upon this ark, and cursed you shall be upon dry land! A servant of servants shall ye be unto your bretheren! A blessing shall this Holy Spirit of mine be to Shem and Japeth, but the your house Canaan shall be a servant to the servants of Shem and Japeth all the days of their li..."

"Grandfather, that was milk." 


"It WAS milk."

"Did Grandfather really think fermentation and salt would keep a kingdom of animals alive for a whole year?"

"It is not for you to question what the spirit in the drink tells me."

"There is no spirit in the drink."


"If it's a spirit, then the spirit told you what your mind already saw."

"Indeed, the spirit tells me the world is fornication and wickedness. Just like y..."

"No, grandfather, the world was already flooding, the spirit only told you what you knew." 

"We do not see but with the eyes of our spirit!"

"No, our spirit sees with our eyes." 

"Profanity! You deserve to be cursed all over again."

"Curses mean nothing."

"You dare doubt my curse?"

"I doubt there's any point to us living now when everybody else is dead."

"Your sacrilege is ignominy upon the entire House of Noah! Is it not enough that you desecrate every animal aboard the ark night by night?" 


"You have done evil enough. Do not dishonor us further in the ark of the Holy Spir...."  

"I curse you too Grandfather."

"Abominable blasphemer! May you be known through all eterni..."

"May you endure your remaining centuries knowing nothing of life but this stupid spirit of the drink or whatever you call that liquid shit." 

"Outrageous infide...!"

"May your bullshit visions of the Eden we lost haunt all your days and creep all your nights. May you forever see in me your only impediment to paradise."

Noah immediately charged at Canaan to strike him down but was prevented by the cage he built himself. He reached for the key to the cage, but Canaan pulled Noah's key out of his own tunic. 

"While you all spent your nights in a drunken stupor I was milking all the mammal females and feeding it to their children. I even fed the milk to your grandchildren and great-grandchildren and told them not to tell anyone, because children will never survive on just the alcohol you've spent your whole lifetime warning us against and then made us live on. Shem, do you really think Arphaxad could survive the whole first year of his life on nothing but alcoholic breastmilk?" 

Clearly in grief, Noah reached for his sword with a clear intention to fall on himself. But Canaan from out his tunic produced Noah's sword as well. 

"How can you be given power of life and death? You murdered your own son because I drank some water from the pool and didn't wipe a little milk off my cheek!"

A great cry went up from Noah. 

"My father is now dead because his own father slew him, and you think the outside world was the iniquitous place? Fuck you!"

Noah exhaled a still greater moan.

"We have no idea why the world flooded, but you all kept saying that the world was getting warmer every year of my childhood. Maybe it was from all those fires people light to worship their gods." 

Noah began to cry in earnest.

"And if the world was just a place of people killing and raping each other, maybe it's because worshiping all those drinking and smoking spirits were what made them that way. Grandfather Noah is the same as all of them!"

The wailing and crying grew entwined. 

"And yes, when we were still on land I jerked off in the holy spirit dozens of times, but the whole ark is alive because of me. Me, not your crappy god. I hate the drink and everything it makes you all do. I hate the fact that we're still alive and everybody else is dead, and if there is a spirit who did this, I hate him more than anyone and I curse him forever."

"Execration! Astonishment! Reproach! We spit you out of the House of Noah for eternity!" 

"I was planning to run away from this pathetic house for years. Now I've got a whole new world I can start on my own!" 


We never saw Canaan again. Within two days he'd run away with Japeth's granddaughter Arsal. I've had half a millennium to think about that last horrible day on the Ark. There were details on which Canaan was clearly wrong: the animals were nearly as drink-soaked as we the people and so would be their milk, but otherwise it's possible that Canaan was entirely correct. Perhaps there are no spirits and the earth contains nothing but water, fire, and air. Yet why did Father know to build the Ark? And why did we, out of all the world, survive when no one else did? Did the Drink's holy spirit know what was to come? And even if the drink has no spirit, did our belief in the Drink enable our survival when everyone else died? Even were there no drink to choose us for its terrific knowledge, could believing in the Spirit of the Drink make us survive through hardships no one else can or would? 

I had seen enough of the old world to know that Father may have been right: drink may well be the cause for all the terrors which made the world fit for destruction, so many terrors of which Father must have seen. Yet by abstaining from drink, did Father recreate all the terrors from which he meant to free his children? Had he simply curtailed his intake to mere moderation, no spirit would speak to him, and he would not have known to build the ark. But is the House of Noah lucky for surviving when all other civilizations die, or are we cursed? 

We have no way of knowing what became of Canaan and Arsal. Were there truly no people on Earth but us, how would they survive without knowledge of where to find arable land or animals? They have cut themselves off utterly from their roots and all the advantages therein. Were one of them to die, the other would be entirely alone on this planet, with no way of knowing whither their family.  As current head of the House of Noah, surely I would have welcomed them back with open arms, but how could we ever locate each other? 

Canaan and Arsal went alone into the world with no spirit to guide them and nothing to summon their willpower but a hot planet of death who washes away all things for no reason at all. How could they possibly summon will to life in the face of such indifference? Perhaps love of each other or children will give them succor, or perhaps they find sustenance in a vision of a more just world, better than the one which birthed them. Perhaps Canaan sees the world more clearly than his grandfather, and perhaps that clarity can build a better world, but surely he will commit errors as well, and when he does, what spirit will be there to comfort him? 

If Canaan and Arsal are still alive, they will one day die without belief in an eternal spirit to claim their reward. Can humans truly sustain themselves in a world where all things are considered flesh and dust, and even if they can, will they one day anger a spirit to the point of causing another flood? 

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