Fiction logo

Atlantis

by C. Rommial Butler 6 months ago in Short Story
Report Story

And The Song Called Dweller

Does he study the Orphic Egg, or does it study him?

On the great lost island of Atlantis, of which Plato with reverence once wrote, there lived a Hermit as ancient as the ancient of days, whose name was Berm. At the edge of the island he dwelled, his hut just beyond the reach of the encroaching waves. Every day at high tide, Berm would step out of his front door, and gaze into the heavens as the water gently lapped his bare feet, and two footprints would remain, filled with the water from the receding tide.

Every night he would revisit his previous position to inspect what the next high tide had washed into the shallow pools made by his feet. People visited from all over the island to note both the portents and Berm's interpretation of them. They marveled that the old man seemed to know the fluctuating levels of the tides to such an accurate extent that he felt confident in placing his home at their edge.

One night, Troy, an envoy from the King, came on his monthly visit to ask the Hermit what had been divined since last they had spoken; but when he came upon Berm's hut, he noticed that there were no footprints in the sand, only the lapping water.

"So the old man has finally passed," thought Troy, and with great sadness; for though it was his royal duty to visit Berm, and for too many years to count—alas! Troy was an old man himself!—he ever looked forward to his palaver with the Hermit. Berm was first and foremost his friend, and someone he loved and cherished very much.

He knocked on the door, and he waited, and he knocked again. Receiving no answer, he let himself in.

Inside there was only a bed and a small table and one chair. Berm lay on his back in the bed, shallowly breathing, his eyes closed. Troy pulled the chair quietly to the Hermit's bedside, and gazed into a face wrinkled with years of laughter and serene joy; but there was a troubled look this night.

Troy had never known anyone as beautiful or as strange. Sometimes the things the Hermit said made no sense, but they nevertheless resonated somewhere deep within, and the understanding which was hidden in the moment of their utterance would flower and bloom in time, often in conjunction with events so personal to the listener that one could scarcely disbelieve the old man's status as an expert diviner and sage.

Berm must have sensed Troy's presence. His face lit up in a brilliant smile, and he opened his eyes.

"Troy, my dear friend, it is good to see you in this, my final hour."

"You knew I would come," Troy replied, wearing a smile of his own.

"Yes, but I never cease to be surprised by how much it means to have you here. No matter how wise we become, there is no knowledge that can comfort and enlighten us like human companionship. You have been a dear friend to an estranged old man. It grieves me to have to relate the final portent which I have received, but I will also give unto you a hope that will propel our people forward into the dark age to come with a bright, burning light in their soul. Let it be that these, my final words, are a Hermit's Lamp cast out over the Abyss, lighting the way so that all who seek may find, and so that all that is found is redeemed.

Last night, I found in my footprints a dead crab. It lay perfectly still, shriveled in its shell, submerged in the shallow water, and I knew that it was Atlantis. Soon, my dear friend, this island will be submerged and dead like that crab. Its foundation will crumble beneath it and the Sea will swallow it up, and it will be no more than a memory."

Troy was shocked. He'd never had any reason to doubt Berm's prophecies. Moonbeams dancing through the hut's lone window glistened and sparkled like diamonds in the delta of tears that streamed down Troy's sun-ravaged cheeks. "But what hope lie in that, old friend?

"Ah, see, that is the very thing. I also discerned that the wisdom of Atlantis was not lost, for it is not the shell or the shriveled flesh within that endures; nor were those impressions made in the earth by the giant who towered above of any significance. These too will fade with time. All things crumble and dissolve with time, and become other things.

But what is it that observes this change? What is it, my dear, dear friend," and now Berm's cheeks glistened as well, but his smile never faded, "what is it that endures this change?"

"Nothing, so far as we know," Troy replied, and his smile was gone.

But Berm laughed, and for a dying man what a hearty laugh indeed! "Well, is it not the greatest boon, then, dear boy, that we know so very little? Is it not our very great fortune that there is and always will be a greater store of mystery in our souls and lives than there is certainty? And is it not true that this mystery itself is the greatest certainty of all, that it will always be there to behold and engage and enjoy?"

"As usual," Troy replied, "though your words and your manner are a balm to my aching heart, I do not understand you."

"Ah, but that is the beauty, friend," Berm said. "You will. Know that as old as this body is, the spirit that dwells within is older still, and all of the great spirits of our lost tribe will intersperse throughout the world, and intermingle with and elevate those who as of yet do not know us. And know, my dear friend, that we will meet again and again, and we will love, laugh and live in mutual warm regard. We will be a light shining before our selves and trailing ever after, revealing to the loneliest souls their own sacred wisdom, and redeeming them in their darkest hours.

I wish to sing you a song. You will bear this song in your heart, and you will give it to our people, in your own words and way, and they will share it through their own words and ways, and it will survive even beyond the fall of our great civilization and unto the farthest reaches of the stars."

Softly, gently the old Hermit sang his song. His last, aching breath was its final word.

When Troy returned to the King to share the Hermit's final portent, many people would not accept it.

Some, however, decided to flee with Troy across the sea to distant lands, to share the songs of their hearts in their own words and ways.

This is the song called:

Dweller

I thank you for coming

And I hope you feel the same.

I harbor the conviction

That we're more than just our name.

I long ago discovered

This body's just a shell

In which a spirit eternal

Has made a place to dwell.

Dweller on the threshold,

'Nother eucharist I ate.

Thoroughly digested,

Spirit still un(w)rested.

Far more important than where my body dwells

Is how I choose to dwell in my body.

Dweller on the threshold,

'Nother eucharist I ate.

Everything is fodder

And fuel for the star-spate.

I'm just a dweller in this body.

***** * *****

Commentary:

The "Dweller on the Threshold" is a concept from occult literature and weird fiction. Apparently, there is a demon, beast, monster or malicious spirit that guards the abyss that stretches between our temporal and eternal selves.

A fascinating description can be found in Aleister Crowley's Liber LXV, or The Book of the Heart Girt with a Serpent; but it can be found in many forms. Such is the meaning of the trite cliche: you got to go through Hell to get to Heaven.

Once you do, you realize that this Dweller is just another phantasm, another experience consumed and assimilated, another piece of the puzzle of self.

Bodies and the experiences they conjure are worthwhile pursuits. If our consciousness ends upon the death of our bodies, then there is no need to fear those experiences. If our consciousness survives the death of our bodies, then there is all the more reason to assimilate as much experience as possible.

The line "Spirit still un(w)rested" is a double entendre. It indicates first the unfettered going of this spirit. Second, there is a reference to Jacob grappling with one of God's angels, and winning through.

Not even God, or His emissaries (of which, of course, the devil is one) should be able to wrest from one the indomitable spirit with which one is blessed. All other things that make a being can be taken by force, but the spirit must be given away.

Short Story

About the author

C. Rommial Butler

C. Rommial Butler is a writer, musician and philosopher from Indianapolis, IN. His works can be found online through multiple streaming services and booksellers.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments

There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2022 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.