Epilogue II: 5,000 Years Later
: The very strong resemblance to a Jewish holiday in this particular section is basically because I'm writing what I know. I'm Jewish. I know Jewish holidays. If I wrote this based on a Christian holiday, it'd wind up ringing false.
No, I don't believe the Doctor is God. If he was, then "Hallelujah" would have turned out totally
differently.--000--Epilogue II — 5,000 years later
Anthrolandra hated it when Travorzine played the game wrong.
It was an easy game. They all knew it. But Travorzine kept messing it up and pretending things happened that didn't really happen.
"Travorzine!" Anthrolandra complained. "That's not how the game goes!"
Travorzine crossed his arms. "Yeah, well, I'm the one being God, this time, and if I say that this is the way that the game goes, then this is the way the game goes!" He pouted. "I always thought it was stupid that God didn't just run up and save Butheaze, anyways."
Anthrolandra stormed up to him. "God can't
save Butheaze," she said. "Because Butheaze dies to light up the sun! That's how the game goes!"
"Yeah?" said Travorzine. "Well… well… I'm God! And I can do anything I want! So… I say Butheaze is saved, and the sun is saved, and everything is going to be good again!" He waved his hand, as if to magically make all the things he just said happen. "There!"
"You're not allowed to save both Butheaze and
the sun!" Anthrolandra whined. "It's against the rules!"
"I'm God, and I make the rules!" Travorzine said. "Now, Anthrolandra! Do my bidding!"
Anthrolandra's eyes widened. She turned to all her other friends. "Travorzine just worshipped God!" she accused. "You heard him! He worshipped God!"
"Did not!" said Travorzine.
"Did too!" said Anthrolandra. "And that goes against commandments numbers one, five, and seven! So there!"
"Do you even know commandments one, five, and seven?" Travorzine snapped.
Anthrolandra fidgeted with the hem of her elaborately woven shirt. "I… know that they say you shouldn't worship God!" she said.
Travorzine lifted up his chin, a proud grin on his face. "Commandment one," Travorzine said. "'What? No! I'm not God! Stop worshipping me!' Commandment five. 'Seriously. Don't worship me. Ever!' Commandment seven. 'Stop taking this down! These aren't commandments, I'm not God, and… no, really, stop worshipping me!'"
Anthrolandra felt her face getting hot, because Travorzine was a year older than her, and he'd done that unit in school, while Anthrolandra was a year behind and had to learn it on her own. She hated being treated like she was young and stupid.
She stuck her tongue out at Travorzine. "You're a show off!"
"You're a baby, and a brat!"
"You're a game-hogging God-worshipping bragger!"
"You're… you're… you're glorious
Every single kid in the yard gasped at the word, staring at Travorzine in wide-eyed horror.
Anthrolandra felt tears coming into her eyes. She was glorious? Glorious! She spun around, and ran off towards her house shouting, "Mommy! Mommy! Travorzine just called me glorious!"
Travorzine shifted from foot-to-foot, a look of complete horror on his face as well. Then he looked at all the kids around him, and stuffed the horror down behind anger. "Well, you are!" he shouted after her. "So… yeah!"
And Travorzine only just stopped himself from chasing after her.--000--
The leaves on the trees were changing color, that nip had begun to spring up in the air, and Butheaze Day was approaching. For Anthrolandra, it was a very special Butheaze Day. Because this was the first Butheaze Day that she'd be old enough to sit with the grownups and hear the whole story.
"As long as you don't misbehave or make too much noise," Mommy warned her. "Butheaze Day is our most sacred day of the year. It's a day of mourning and reflection, and there are a lot of people who'll be very upset if you speak out of turn."
Anthrolandra had promised to be good. She'd promised to be just like all the other adults. She'd even done the self-reflection thing that her mommy had shown her, where she went through the year and thought up every time she'd ever been mean to anyone, and apologized to them for it.
"Can't I just apologize to God?" Anthrolandra whined. "This is hard!"
"God can't forgive you for the wrongs you've done to others," Mommy had explained. "Remember what God taught us. We worship only the ideals of friendship and love and happiness, not God himself. If we apologize to God, we are worshipping him, aren't we?"
"I guess," said Anthrolandra. "But I don't like apologizing to all these people. Some of them I'm still kind of mad at."
"That is why we have Butheaze Day," Mommy said. "To make sure that you don't stay mad or upset for too long. And to tell God we're sorry for all the wrong we did in the days of old."
"You mean before we were kicked out of Planet Earth?" Anthrolandra asked, trying to show off what a good student she'd been.
"Very good," Mommy praised, patting her sparse hair on her head. "And why were we kicked out of Planet Earth?"
"Because we were mean, and bad," said Anthrolandra, "and we tried to kill people, and we tried to blow out the sun."
"That's right," Mommy agreed. She picked up the dry-cleaning bag, and handed it to Anthrolandra. "Now, go on! Try on your sack cloth. We need to make sure it fits for the holiday."
Anthrolandra didn't like the sack cloth. It was brown, and itchy, and it had these annoying rope ties on it that kept getting tangled.
"Why do we have to wear these things?" Anthrolandra asked Mommy, wiggling around and trying to get comfortable as Mommy tied the ropes into graceful bows. "They're itchy!"
"These were the clothes we wore when we were led astray," Mommy explained. "And — hold still, Anthrolandra! — we wear them, now, to remind us where we came from, how we were led astray, and how easily we might be led astray again, if we fail to uphold God's laws." She finished tying the bow, and stepped back to examine Anthrolandra. "How is it?"
Anthrolandra made a face and stuck out her tongue.
"Not too tight?" Mommy asked.
"No," Anthrolandra admitted. "Just… yucky."
Mommy smiled. "Yucky we can deal with." She leaned down, and undid the bow, taking the outfit off. "Now, go change into your regular clothes, and finish your apologies. Butheaze Day is tomorrow, and if you haven't apologized by then, it might be too late."
Anthrolandra ran off to do as she'd been told.--000--
Anthrolandra was making sure to be very, very quiet, and not squirm around too much, as everyone got together for Butheaze Day. She couldn't see what was happening on stage when everyone was standing, but when they all sat down, she could see as long as she sat on her knees and craned her neck up really high.
She'd been just like all the adults, this year! Except… Mommy had still made breakfast for her, and told her she had to eat.
"You're too young to fast, yet," Mommy had told her.
But Anthrolandra had picked at her food, and only eaten a really, really small amount, and now she was sitting here, with the adults, watching as their 'Demotratically Electned Priest' (Anthrolandra didn't understand what that meant, but Mommy and Daddy had said it a lot, and she'd memorized it just in case Travorzine tried to tell everyone that she didn't know it) came up and began to read to them from the Book of Butheaze.
"It happened in the Summers of Earth," the Priest read. "Over 5,000 years ago! We were wicked, and bad, and strayed from the ways of light. We worshipped gods who wanted nothing but darkness, and tried to destroy the sun."
"In days of old," the rest of them chanted, "we were wicked, and tried to kill the dawn. But now we repent."
And Anthrolandra listened, just like a good little girl, as the Priest continued to tell the story. As he told of the false goddess, Glory, who was so horribly, evilly glorious that she attempted to drive all light from the heavens, by destroying the dawn. And they had been Glory's willing servants.
Then God had come amongst them. And told them that they were bad, and wrong, and should say sorry and stop doing evil things. And a few did, and he took them away and saved them. But most stayed behind.
And so God returned. And again, he told them they were bad, and wrong, and should say sorry and stop doing evil things. And, again, a few did, and God took those few away and saved them. But most stayed behind.
And a third time, God returned. A third time, God told them that they were bad, and wrong, and should say sorry and stop doing evil things. And a third time, a small number did, a small number that God took away and saved. But most stayed behind.
"And all of us can trace our ancestry back to at least one who chose to stay," the Priest reminded them. "Each and every one of us can say that, in the days of old, we were wrong, we ignored the light and turned to darkness, and we stayed behind to try to kill the dawn."
"For that, we are sorry," everyone chanted. And Anthrolandra was surprised to see that they weren't just saying it like she did when Mommy told her to say sorry and she did so just to get Mommy to go away. They really meant it. Everyone did.
Anthrolandra soon figured out why.
Because she'd heard the story, before. A lot of times. But she'd never heard about all the people who died, because her own people had followed this Glory and done her will, and killed for her. Anthrolandra had never heard about all the little kids who lost their Mommies, and Daddies, and friends, because of her… 'ancheshtorz' (whatever those were). She had never heard about the tears, and the sadness, and the crying out in pain and agony, which her ancheshtorz had pretended not to hear.
Anthrolandra huddled down in her chair. How would she feel if her Mommy and Daddy were taken away? How would she feel if she found everyone she knew dead? How would she feel if she woke up one day and found out that there wasn't any sun, and there'd never be a sun again, and everything would be cold and dark and scary forever? And all the plants would stop growing, and everyone would freeze, and then they'd all die — even Mommy, and Daddy. Even Travorzine!
Anthrolandra knew she had to be an adult, and be quiet and still and not interrupt. But she couldn't help herself. When the Priest began to talk about Butheaze dying to save the dawn, Anthrolandra started to cry.
Mommy picked her up and led her outside, stroking her back and shushing her, gently.
"Butheaze was just a little girl like me!" Anthrolandra cried into Mommy's lap. "And she died, because we were so bad and tried to kill the dawn, and I don't want her to die, Mommy! I don't want any of it to happen!"
"None of us do," Mommy soothed her, patting her back. "That's why we're here. Because we did something very, very bad. And we have to say we're sorry."
"But God will never forgive us!" Anthrolandra wailed. "God loved Butheaze, and we were so mean to her! Travorzine is mean to me, and I don't forgive him! So why would God forgive us?"
"That's why you have to forgive Travorzine," Mommy said. "We all have to say sorry, and forgive, and try to make ourselves better. That's what God told us to do, and that's what we've been doing for 5,000 years."
Anthrolandra sniffled. "Mommy," she whispered. "Do you really think God will forgive us?"
"God brought us here, remember?" Mommy told her. "He could have killed us all, as we deserved. But instead, he saved us, brought us to this new world, and gave us freedom. God believed that we were good inside. We have to show God that we're no longer bad, that we're following God's commandments and helping make the world a better place. Then — and only then — will God forgive us."
Anthrolandra nodded. "I have to say sorry to Travorzine, don't I?"
"Only if you're really, really sorry," Mommy said. "Are you really, really sorry?"
Anthrolandra pouted. "No," she said. "He called me glorious!"
"And what did you call him?"
Anthrolandra said nothing for a moment. "A game-hogging God-worshipping bragger," she admitted.
"And that's not a very nice thing to call someone, is it?" asked Mommy.
"I guess not," Anthrolandra said.
"Especially not someone you really like playing games with," Mommy said.
Anthrolandra said nothing for a lot longer. "Yeah," she admitted.
"So you'd better apologize to him after the gathering is over," said Mommy. "Hadn't you?"
Anthrolandra sighed. "Okay."--000--
The gathering was over, and everyone had gone outside to stand around and talk to each other about grown-up stuff. Anthrolandra snuck off to go and see if she could find some of her friends.
She found Travorzine.
For a second, she was going to just run away and pretend that she didn't see him, but then she remembered what Mommy had said. So she just stood there, wiggling around in her itchy sack cloth, trying not to look at Travorzine.
He stood in front of her, just as fidgety and uncomfortable.
"I'm sorry I called you glorious," he said.
Anthrolandra jerked her head around and stared at him. She thought that she
was supposed to be the one saying sorry! She didn't know that he
would do it, too!
"I forgive you," she said, just the way that her mommy had instructed her. She twisted her shoe into the dirt, awkwardly. "And I'm sorry I called you a game-hogging, God-worshipping bragger."
"I forgive you," said Travorzine, just as his Mommy had probably told him.
They stood there, not really sure what to do, now. They'd both said the words, but it hadn't really made them feel any better. They were still kind of angry at each other.
Travorzine hesitated. "Can… we keep playing games together, now?"
"I dunno," said Anthrolandra, staring at the ground. "I thought you said I was just a baby."
"Yeah, but… you're really fun to play games with," said Travorzine. He hesitated. "Please?"
Anthrolandra said nothing for a long moment. She really liked playing games with Travorzine. A lot. And he was a showoff and he was annoying, and liked to call her names, but he was really fun to play with.
She looked up at him, and smiled. "Okay," she said.--000--
At the end of Butheaze Day, after the stars had appeared in the sky, Anthrolandra changed into her normal clothes. She hadn't ever known how bad their ancheshtorz had been, and how sad Butheaze had been before she died. But now Anthrolandra knew, and she had seen everyone else say that they were sorry and shed tears over what they'd done wrong.
But Anthrolandra hadn't.
Anthrolandra hadn't known the words. She hadn't known when she was supposed to speak and what she was supposed to say. Everyone else had said they were sorry, but Anthrolandra hadn't.
So Anthrolandra stepped outside, into the cool night air, and tilted her head up to examine the stars. The thousand points of light, twinkling out at her through the darkness. Every single one of them a sun that she could save, just to make up for the sun that her ancheshtorz had tried to kill.
Which of those stars had Planet Earth?
Anthrolandra didn't know, so she decided to just pick one and pretend it was Planet Earth. She looked up at the sky, fixated on the sun that her ancheshtorz had tried to kill so long ago, and let all the sadness and yuckiness that she'd felt throughout Butheaze Day pour through her mind. She let herself remember the story she'd just heard…
Butheaze seeing the dawn about to be killed.
Butheaze leaping into a vast blue river of fire, lighting up the sun and saving the dawn.
God realizing what had happened, and crying for his lost love.
"I'm sorry!" Anthrolandra shouted, as loud as she could. "I'm sorry we killed Butheaze! I'm sorry we tried to hurt the dawn! I promise we'll never, ever do it again!"
She could feel tears pouring down her face as she said it.
"Please," she said, her voice faltering. "Forgive us."--000--
On a hilltop a short ways away, a lone man in a brown pinstripe suit stood in the doorway of his blue box, watching. He held a sheet of paper in his hands, with the title "Blame Sheet" written across the top.
A small, sad smile spread across his lips, as he heard the little girl cry out to the night sky.
"Always," he answered.