Earthquake predicted

The skinny old woman was wearing a worn black cloth faintly reminding of a robe. She had left the village ages ago to live in a cave by the sea. Some said she used to be a fisherman’s wife but after he died in a big storm she decided that gods owed her big time and so, she called herself a Sea God Expert, the Best Prophetess Ever Lived and started foretelling the future by interpreting sea signs. If for example you caught an octopus with nine legs and had nothing better to do, you’d run straight to her cave to find out if this meant extra money, good luck or even a bride. Everything was an omen or a godly sign according to her.

Once in a while this prophetess turned up in the street market and like Cassandra, she warned people of biblical disasters, storms and huge waves. And just like with Cassandra, people were very annoyed by her words because whether you were a prophetess or not, no matter if the gods were angry or happy, you knew that sometime soon they were going to throw another big storm, an earthquake or hailstones on you. Why give her credit for shouting in your ears bad news all the time?
How would she like it if you shouted to her ears that she would die someday soon? And then expect everyone to be very impressed by your prophetic powers; and all that during her funeral?

Of course sometimes she really impressed people. Not for her prophetic powers, though; it was mainly about the imagination of he prophecies. “Beware” she had cried one day. “The God Of Oysters is furious at you. You are murdering his children every day. I’m telling you this: throw all the pearls back to the sea now! Don't you know what an oyster has to suffer to become a pearl? Don't you? It takes years of prayers and faith and true regret to become a big shinny pearl. It’s the way the God Of Oysters shows he has forgiven all their oyster sins; by letting them transform into a beautiful pearl. Who are you to ruin that? Hailstones, the pearls of the sky, are on the way! The God Of Oysters is seeking revenge! You can’t just steal his pearls and make necklaces! It’s like… it’s like killing the virgin before the sacrifice! It is… it is… hybris!

However, all her predictions were of bad things to come. There wasn’t one good thing ever predicted by this woman’s lips and that’s why most didn’t really like her. She, on the other hand, when she saw sour faces she got mad and told them they would all thank her one day because “true scientists like prophetesses, witches, philosophers and priestesses don’t have to be popular too; their primal goal is to save their lives”. Their own lives she meant but she could use some popularity.

The market was full of people but her voice was very loud that day. Some laughed, some gathered to enjoy the show. She used to have a small bag around her neck with several seashells in it, which she used to throw in the air and then tell the future by the forms they took after falling on the sand. If for example, the seashells formed something like a circle this meant that someday from now in a year that contains a zero (that could be in 10, 20, 100 or 1000 years) the God Of Cetaceans* would sink the whole village unless they sacrificed a child. Then the crowd would laugh and scatter around the street shops leaving her alone to shout of calamities until she was exhausted.

She said the magic words, raised her hands and threw all the seashells as high as she could. People stepped back. When the seashells fell on the sand, it was obvious they formed the image of something like a snake.
Some couldn’t wait and started to guess:
- God Of Witch Eels! Oh wait, wait! It seems to glow a bit in the sun. Ok, I got it. It’s the God Of Electric Eels. That’s him sending the Sign.
- No, it glows too much. It’s The God Of Fire Eels. Definitely him.
- Oh, stop it! Don’t you see the space between those seashells? They are meant to be stripes. It is for sure The God Of Yellow-Lipped Sea Krait.
- No, can't you see? This is bigger. It must be The God Of Hydrophis Spyralis. Take a good look at my wooden foot; believe me I know how it looks from that close.

The old prophetess stepped forward and started to push people away from her seashells.
- Excuse me! Will you let me do my job? Please, don’t touch anything; you will ruin the evidence. Step back!
She went nearer, gave the shells a closer look, raised her hands and said:
- Well, it could be any of the gods you’ve already mentioned of course and you are right that it had to be a God of the Sea Snake Family but I’m afraid you are not yet aware of all the… unpleasant facts.
- What happened?
- Facts? What facts?
You see yesterday night while I was lying on the beach trying to relax from all those stupid Sirens singing all day, a young merman approached me. He was so handsome that if I wasn’t a scientist with such serious stuffs to handle, I would say yes to his proposal and become his immortal young wife. But the duty goes first! Anyway, he told me that Poseidon’s trident is about to struck our land. I asked him again and again but he swore he told me the truth. Poseidon himself, the God Of Sea Gods, Of All Fishes, Big Waves, Corals, Rocks, Seaweed And Sand, but mainly the God Of Earthquakes, is coming for us!
- Ok. I’ve had it. Someone call the police NOW!
- Yeah! We can’t let her keep scaring women and children like that!
- Good idea! It was about time. Take her to prison!

A big light drove their attention. It was like a cloud or a crystal ball just over the sea. A few seconds later, Poseidon rose from the dark waters and struck fiercely their land with his trident. A very few survived such an earthquake to tell this tale and among them the now younger and immortal prophetess.
And I’ll tell you one thing for sure: I was well respected after that. Oh, and another thing: Mermans are misunderstood. Take it from me, they rock.

*When the seashells formed a circle, everybody knew it would definitely be the God Of Cetaceans. You could easily tell which god would cause trouble this time. When the fish shells formed a line it was the God Of Eels, a bigger line was the God Of Witch Eels, a triangle was the God Of Angel Fish, a big triangle was the God Of Angel Sharks and when they formed nothing (or none could make a decision anyway) it had to be the God Of Plankton; pretty harmless fellow.


Inspired by: Guardian, HowStuffWorks and Huffington Post

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Ethics In Dystopia

Pythia run out from the oracle screaming, cursing and casting spells to innocent people. Every time she opened her mouth something really bad would happen. Zeus would come up with a thunder, Poseidon with a Cracken or Aphrodite with a new lover. All three very painful.

It was obvious that Pythia’s religious feelings were too strong to handle any more. You only had to draw her attention away from her Gods for seconds, or just ask her a very simple question, one that even a child could easily answer, something like “what is the Aquarius zodiac sign compatibility?” or "what does Zeus think of abortions?" and she became furious. And people kept coming from all over Dystopia for her prophecies. It was her job after all. But even a mosquito could make her mad those days. Her speaking to gods was like an addiction.

The only thing she wanted to do day and night, was to talk to her Gods which would be exactly what she was expected to do, unless she didn’t leave out the part of telling people what gods wished them to do. She had to be a medium and not in the middle of god's will. Talking to gods was a common addiction* for priests.

People called the Priest Of All Gods to help her. He went near her, rose his hands and spoke:
Don't do to others what you don't want others do to you”.

In any other universe this would be a great piece of advice. Pure wisdom. It would spread like pollen and be fertile enough for generations to come. However in Dystopia, such confident speaking was not something wise on it's own. You never took it for granted. No matter who said it, no matter how well he said it, it had to be really wise. Or at least, make sense.

People protested: “That’s not fair!” They began shouting until someone said:
- Let me ask you this, you stupid old man. Let’s suppose I like spaghetti and my mother likes pizza. That means that she must always eat spaghetti, right? And… I must always eat pizza?
- No, no… I meant…
- Yeah! And I hate wearing pink but my girlfriend loves it. What kind of cruel religion would suggest I don’t buy her pink shoes for her birthdays just because I don’t like pink bought for me?
- My pig loves mud. My little son loves mud too. Oh, I don’t even want to think about it, you monster!

Pythia moved near the Priest Of All Gods. She whispered to his ear: “I can get you out of this” she said.
- Really?
- Piece of cake.
- Then do that right this instant young lady, what are you waiting for?
- If I do that, you will leave me alone afterwards, let’s say… for 3 weeks?
- Deal.
- No visits, no prophecies, no daily horoscopes or any other questions asked?
- Do it now!
- Just me and my oracle, my absolutely essential ehm… spiritual substances and my Gods? Oh… and some chocolate, maybe?
- Done.

Pythia stood up. “Calm down mortals”, she said. The crowd went silent. She used to speak so seldom and they payed her so much for her godly words, that even if she made no sense, everyone would pay attention. The connection of Pythia’s prophesies with logic would be made afterwards. Or not, but you never admitted that of course.
- This old man is no ordinary old man. He is in fact very wise and so are his words. It’s the Hydra in his brain that is responsible for all this nonsense. Spirits told me just yesterday that the Gods felt jealous of his wisdom and so they put a tiny Hydra in his head.
- Really?
- Cross my heart. So, every time Logic cuts a head, Insanity grows back three. For every word he tries to say, his brain Hydra grows three more that make no sense at all and kicks them out of his mouth.
- Ewwww!
- If you see to it, It’s not him you should blame but you. You are the ones who should find the wise words in everything he says. You are the ones to discover the golden rule hidden in what he told you today and not his poor sick old brain! People started to rethink his words. Some of them, loud.
- I found it! It must be “Don’t’ do others. Do you”
- What does that mean?
- No, no it’s the exact opposite: “Do others, not you”
- Rubbish! I got it. It’s “Do you do others?”
- I will leave you now. You can continue your group therapy to wisdom. You are doing fine. You almost got it. Take my word for it. Keep it up!

Pythia left the Priest Of All Gods enjoy some enthusiastic cheering everytime someone from the crowd made a new combination of his words. He eventually felt free to say whatever religious nonsense he wanted, with absolutely no consequences to the Church’s image, for a change. A true Zen experience. Pythia closed the oracle’s door behind her, re-opened it in a hurry, hung the “Spirits Gone Fishing” sign and closed it again.

  • It’s that kind of addiction all religious people have, after talking once to their gods. Since you do that, it seems that you can’t get enough (most times, there is serious spiritual substances involved but that’s a sacrifice you have to make for your faith and has absolutely nothing to do with how religious you realy are).


Inspired by: myLot