Authors: Starr West
Tags: #adventure, #fantasy, #dreams, #magical realism, #postapocalypse, #goddesses, #magic adventure
To my boys
You give me a reason to
get up in the morning and to be more today than I was
To all my Angels in
heaven, especially my Dad,
who thought I could do
anything, encouraged me to try everything and inspired me to begin
I love you all so very
Only those who have
learned to live on the land will find sanctuary.
Go to where the eagles
fly, to where the wolf roams, to where the bear lives.
Here you will find life
because they will always go where the water is pure and the air can
Live where the trees,
the lungs of the earth, purify the air.
There is a time coming
- beyond the weather, when the veil between the worlds is
The Lakota People
The sun rose
over a new earth, not the promised land, pristine in its
perfection, but a devastated land, bathed in the blood of humanity
and washed clean by the tears of the Goddess.
blamed the Christian God; it seemed only fair that someone
shouldered the blame, but even a vengeful god wouldn’t go to these
extremes. The truth was that the demise of civilisation was caused
by mankind’s ignorance and greed. In the end, the enemy of humanity
was humanity itself.
no one blamed the Goddess, who controlled the cycles of the earth
and was Mother of the natural world to some. Who would blame a
nurturing Goddess when so many others stood to gain so much? Still,
many ignored the Goddess and the old religion that had served earth
since time began.
the world had been at war for almost twenty years and governments
sent soldiers into battle, promising peace; although war was never
for the sake of peace, but for power, vengeance, and the control of
dwindling resources. In one day alone, seven nations vanished as if
they’d never existed. On one moonless night, their leaders issued
orders from foreign shores and bombed sacred lands until dawn. By
then, there was no one left to shed a tear.
lied, and should, by right, have carried the blame, but lies and
deception were so embedded into their structure that even they were
ignorant of the truth. Neglect was easier; ignorance made the
populace content and fear controlled them. Propaganda was simply a
creative means to satisfy an apathetic population. In the end, the
governments were nothing more than powerless figureheads trying to
rule a crumbling world.
on the other hand, were neither powerless nor figureheads; they
actually held the power to affect it all. They held governments to
ransom and controlled the daily lives of the people, though few
realised this until it was almost over. When scientists identified
the green plague, blame fell directly into the hands of the
corporate giants, who refused to accept responsibility for the
mutant genes that spawned the plague in the first place.
material in the food chain created a new microvirus that produced
chaos in the human body. It caused the body to develop
phosphorescent skin and blood that glowed under ultraviolet light.
It might have been fun, if it hadn’t mutated into psychotic mania
and ultimately, death. The green plague became a tragic reminder
that corporations shouldn’t screw with nature and this alone made
everything else seem minor.
occurred against a backdrop of natural disasters and extreme
weather events. First, Mother Nature cried, but no one noticed,
then she yelled and screamed and still, she was ignored. Finally,
she exploded in fury; but by then, she was only cleansing away the
The truth? It
was all of this and more. It was the abuse of a ravenous
population, the neglect by egotistical governments, the insatiable
greed of corporations, the fallout of vengeful wars and nature
purifying the earth the only way she could.
The source of
the problem, however, began an eon ago, hidden in the mysteries
that were given to humanity by the gods. As time passed, the
mysteries became secrets, concealed in the shadows, stolen from
humanity and twisted into lies or buried in sacred tombs. What no
one realised was that the truth would have changed everything. The
truth could have saved humanity.
In the hours
before dawn, there is peace. A quiet stillness reaches across the
land and deep shadows obscure the reality of life. There is peace
in this nothingness. I know I’m not safe, but for a while I can
pretend that everything is okay.
Soon the sun
will rise and wash away the emptiness, and this brief peace will be
replaced by the bleak reality of life. For a while, I thought I
could embrace the darkness; it was easier than looking for joy. But
as the days passed, the darkness became an entity, consuming my
life and pressing against my soul.
I am Psyche
Darnell, daughter of the apocalypse, an orphan of the end of
When I close my
eyes, I imagine how things once were. I can see people walking
along sidewalks and in malls, chatting, laughing and drinking
coffee from paper cups. Shop assistants chat as they scan food and
pack groceries into crinkly plastic bags. Even the smell of fumes
from the endless procession of cars stays etched in my mind.
All this is
I was born in
the days when rock stars were heroes and Facebook ruled. Life
wasn’t perfect, but it was predictable and safe. In those days, you
could ignore the bad stuff if you wanted to, which most of us did.
It was easier than worrying about a world we felt we couldn’t
Many say that
life was destined to end this way and that the prophets had given
us ample warning, but if this were our destiny, there would have
been nothing we could have done to change the outcome. Others
claimed we were given the gift of free will, not to save the world,
but to enjoy our time while it lasted and nothing more.
I think they’re
But what I
think doesn’t matter anymore; neither does the truth. Nevertheless,
beyond blame and truth, people suffered. We all suffered.
salted wastelands and deserts turned into floodplains. Food crops
failed and genetically modified sludge filled our bellies. Famine
weakened nations and sickness spread like gossip, but this was in
the early days of government-managed relief camps. Eventually, even
the tasteless sludge ran out and Utopia became a dream lost to the
horrifying reality of life on earth.
happen overnight. If it had, we would have set aside a day to
remember the dead and celebrate life. Looking back, we realised it
took years to get this bad, we just never noticed when it all
began. The dark days, the ones we remember as the end of the world,
lasted just a few months. The population of planet earth, once
almost seven billion, was now just a few million.
If you ask me,
the lucky ones were not the survivors, but the people who died in
the early days, before the famine and the plague. Still, there were
survivors and as we know, where there is life, there is hope, even
if it is only a tiny glimmer. With hope, that is enough.
I am a
survivor, so is Libby.
Libby is my
grandmother, my mother’s mother. Libby is a stranger to me although
she is the only family I have left in the world. She lives in a
valley protected by tropical rainforest, supported by a group of
friends who saw the end coming and prepared. They are
self-sufficient and live entirely off the land. In many ways, it is
a lifestyle based on an obsession to survive, but it’s not the only
obsession in their lives.
obsessed by the old religion. She worships the goddess and
practices magick. This was a new experience for me, but for Mum it
was normal; it was how she grew up. Beyond the necessary changes to
our lives to ensure our survival, I also had to adjust to a
religion I didn’t understand. Even doing the dishes became an
exercise in ritual and routine.
according to Libby was the heart of the home, by tradition, and an
altar to the Goddess, by design. Working in the kitchen provided
time to reflect, to give thanks and to honour the Goddess. Libby
held our earth mother in the highest esteem, but she also allowed
room for other deities in her home, paying homage to whomever or
whatever the situation called for.
We observed the
cycles of the earth and our days were organised by the phases of
the moon. “This is how it always was and how it was meant to be,”
Libby said. I adjusted to the routine easily, it was weird and a
little crazy, but so was everything else these days.
never been part of my life as it had been for my mother and
grandmother and a dozen generations of Darnell women before them.
But now that we were home, Libby expected me to make up for the
“lost years”. Mum had sheltered me from the magick when I was
young, hoping that I would be happier and safer growing up away
from the madness. She claimed that living under the shadow of
magick had made her life miserable.
So I was
initially raised away from my grandmother and a heritage that dated
back hundreds of years. Libby argued that we had wasted time, time
when I should have been learning and preparing for the future, but
I didn’t learn about any of this until recently. I knew they had a
big disagreement about something, but I didn’t know it was about
Only after we
arrived home did my mother reveal the truth about our family, a
legacy and a prophecy that bound us to the past and dictated our
future. Mum said it was more of a curse than a blessing; while
Libby had dedicated her life to preserving the secret and preparing
for the future. She just expected us to do the same.
the effect it would have on my life, I promised Libby I would make
up for the lost years and begin the lessons that she considered
mandatory for our survival. Mum’s attitude flipped overnight.
Suddenly she feared she had left it too late and admitted it was a
mistake to isolate me from my heritage. It all seemed a little
melodramatic and the significance of my promise was not as
important to me as it was to everyone else, but the relationship
between Mum and Libby improved and peace finally arrived in the
always like this, in the old days, I was happy. I grew up living a
gypsy’s life with my mother travelling with the wind and sleeping
when the sun set. Life was easy back then. I admit we didn’t really
travel on the wind, we drove an old Bedford bus, but it made our
life an adventure.
When it became
obvious that the world was beyond repair, we headed north to the
safety of my mother’s childhood home. As we travelled, we listened
to the radio and watched civilisation dissolve before our eyes.
Reports of tragedy and despair filled the airwaves as some
organisation kept track of the devastation, watching the world’s
population decline while recording the death toll; but they didn’t
report the numbers in the final days. There was no need.
We arrived at
Libby’s in the summer, amidst tropical storms and warm summer rain
that eased the heat and washed away the horrors of life. There was
no celebration to mark our arrival or acknowledge the changing
seasons or the start of a new year. Instead, we watched
civilisation take its final breath and all that we took for granted
vanish. We mourned for those who had lost their lives, for humanity
and for ourselves, but we were the lucky ones; we were safe and we
For a time, I
was glad we had returned to Mum’s childhood home and my birthplace,
but time passed slowly and the serenity was short-lived. If I had
known at the time, I would have embraced these precious days, but I
couldn’t see into the future and didn’t know how precious they
When the fever
arrived, we hoped it was nothing more than a common cold, but
deadly fevers shrouded the new world and influenza killed millions.
We knew it could get a lot worse. Within days, Mum grew weak and
pale and the fever made her delirious until she was barely
conscious. We waited in vain for the fever to break.