A Paradox of Time Reborn

The brilliant sun burns mercilessly bright and hot, and the desiccated earth below is dry and desolate from its searing radiation—a vast desert, a wide and open wasteland. It is utterly dead and lifeless, except for a solitary phoenix that soars precariously close to the brightly burning disc in the empty sky. Of the entire panorama, no signs of life can be espied. The searching phoenix, quick and agile in its element, busily surveys the surrounding landscape below with its binocular vision as it soars. It searches for any signs of tell-tale motion, any indication that it is not hopelessly alone or abandoned. The only motion it is able to detect with its powerful, focused eyes, however, is its shadowy silhouette that swiftly follows along the sandy, gritty ground. “Nothing in this direction,” the phoenix sadly reflects to itself, so it instinctively banks to the left, first by effortlessly shifting its center of gravity, then by facilely throwing its right wing-tip higher into the thin air than its left.

Nothing changes so far. The sun-scorched earth below is barren and waterless, and except for the intermittent colors of ashen gray and windswept dust, no color is visible. No amount of searching or looking can seem to find the slightest hint of life, sentient or otherwise. Moreover, there is not a single trace or manifestation that suggests that abundant life was supported here, much less existed once. The sole prominent features of this barren world, besides the uniform colorlessness in all visible directions, are the endless, desolate multitudes of sand dunes, canyons, and rocky crags. The shifting winds, it seems, formed the innumerable dunes, canyons, and lonely crags over countless eons. “Perhaps,” the phoenix laments, “this place has been like this since the beginning; and, perhaps, it will remain this way forever.” With that abject thought surging through its feathered head it gives a loud, shrieking call, as if to voice sadness and remorse over the shadow of what used to be, and of what might have been. The shrill call, however, is to no avail, for there is sadly no one else to answer it.

Forlorn and comfortless, the lonely, magnificent phoenix swiftly swings around and lightly descends onto the highest crag immediately situated in its unbroken line of sight. Using its outspread wings as natural brakes, it gracefully lands in a single bound. The statuesque phoenix, with the coarse wind blowing through its majestic feathers, then carefully regards the surrounding terrain. It is woefully empty and void all around. Except for the persistent sound of noisy gales of wind there is dead silence. Not surprisingly, the august phoenix begins to quickly feel extremely alone and isolated, forgotten and forsaken. The pensive phoenix is the only islet of life in a sea of lifelessness. As it sadly contemplates its solitary existence, far off, in the distance, a large, moving shadow begins to emerge. It steadily and inexorably moves in the wondering phoenix’s direction. Naturally confused, but nonetheless curious, the cautious phoenix pinpointedly fixes its powerful gaze on the advancing shadow. The traveling sliver of darkness appears to indiscriminately swallow the entire horizon in the retreating West. The hot and pitiless sun, as it eerily turns out, was becoming darkened. Throwing its disbelieving eyes heavenward, the ennobled phoenix correctly begins to realize that the pale, wafer-like moon was coming between the colorless earth and the imperious sun above. In fact, it is a solar eclipse, one so magnificent to the marveling phoenix that it is absolutely transfixed by the cosmic spectacle. In truth, the awestruck phoenix is so suspended emotionally by the celestial event that it momentarily forgets its own aloneness. The uplifted phoenix begins to feel a sense of gratitude to be able to witness such a beautiful cosmic occurrence. “Why this? Why now?” it ponders. Regardless, the questioning phoenix does not have the easy answers that it seeks.

As it stood in inexplicable awe of the entire event of the celestial phenomena, the distracted phoenix does not at first notice the suddenly increasing impacts of innumerable meteorites against the flat, featureless earth around him. The blazing meteorites eerily coincide with the unexpected advent of the solar eclipse. But regardless of his otherwise keen, all-enveloping senses, the seemingly uncaring phoenix remains motionless, like a great, marble sculpture completely absorbed by its admiration of one of Nature’s more majestic displays. As the waxing eclipse nears its imminent culmination, so does the seemingly endless torrent of iron-encrusted meteorites. Replacing the persistent sound of shifting winds are the thundering meteorite showers that violently pockmark virtually every square inch of unprotected earth under the aloof gaze of the sun.  Only the rocky crag on which the lonely, immobile phoenix is poised upon is untouched by the relentless volley of fiery rock and iron from outer space.

The growing radioactive fires from the plummeting multitude of meteorites set the shell-shocked, traumatized, and exposed earth below ablaze. The progressing solar eclipse is at its peak by this time, completely darkening the mortified sun. Terra firma—planet Earth—is now a literal inferno! Furthermore, the motionless phoenix, much to its surprise and contradictory lack of concern, finds itself being rapidly consumed by the fiery bath of flames as well. After a quick, final look at its own burning form, the peacefully-resigned phoenix throws a final glance heavenward and then sacrificially surrenders its lonely existence to its final fate.

Terra firma—planet Earth—is now a place out of Dante’s Inferno! The strengthening solar eclipse, moreover, freezes at its peak for a span of several minutes, as if to signify that it is the creative force behind the lifeless earth’s purging and baptism by fire. Even the thin and tenuous atmosphere, the very skies!, are ablaze. For the very first time since forgotten Creation, the listless moon is illuminated on both sides at once! At last the languid moon begins to leave its high and privileged position between the burning sun and the seething earth. Simultaneously, the frenzied flames begin to obediently subside with the waning eclipse.

The phoenix’s burning form soon afterwards begins to miraculously resolve itself into an anthropomorphic shape, which tentatively appears at first to be a magnificent illusion—a cruel, proverbial trick of the eye. But when the expiring flames sufficiently die out a human being is revealed—a man, the first ever in untold ages! Then the immediate area around him begins to transform. The humbled sun grows softer in appearance and in intensity, and the air grows moist, pregnant with moisture. The bristling grass begins to grow, lush and green, as if by preternatural means. Then amazingly follows more complex plant-life, like pollen-bearing flowers, wild berries, fruit-bearing trees, and even whole tracts of unspoiled forests. And what was previously dry, dense rock bursts into springs of water. Limpid pools form. Then, from the simplest to the most complex, living animal-life appears. First, anything creeping or crawling takes hold in the humous soil of the transmuting earth. Then the wide, over-arching sky, azure-blue, begins to teem with numerous, high-flying birds that also nests in the shade-bearing trees. And, as if by miracle or by magic, entire herds of cloven-footed mammals appear from out of nowhere , each moving en masse. All the new flora and fauna each spring fully alive and flourishing from the Earth’s baptism by fire. In short, the once-dead planet Earth is renewed with life again!

Now no longer a bird of myth, the confused and amazed phoenix examines his new alien, human form and the dramatic changes in the terrain and the Earth around him with his new, human eyes. Halfway through his amazement and disbelief, a brilliant column of light descends from the clear sky onto a wet, grassy clearing not far away from the crag with a thunderous peal. Both dazzling and galvanizing, its effect is like lightning! The once and former phoenix, now acting instinctively and with total disregard for himself, hurriedly races toward the open clearing to investigate. Although the clearing is in fact a limpid pool of water the dazzling column of light ignites it like an inflammable lake of gasoline set ablaze. Perplexed but yet intrigued, the human phoenix cautiously studies the supernatural event before him.

Then the impossible happens! The column of brilliant light resolves into a human form. Once fully formed, it then boldly approaches the now stunned and frozen phoenix. Unable to move or run, the awestruck phoenix is instinctively overwhelmed by fear and wonder, and yet he desires to comprehend the senses-reeling, almost god-like entity before him. “What are you? Who are you?” the fear-gripped phoenix begs the incandescent figure with his new, quivering human lips.

Then, with a booming voice that sounds like a thousand cascades, the god-like being rejoins, “I shall show you! From this day forward, you will be called Gabriel!” The electrifying avatar then wondrously surrounds the overwhelmed phoenix in its own living aura of light and energy. The phoenix’s psyche as a result spontaneously floods with a stream of near-infinite images in the scant space of an instant in time which seemed an eternity to the former bird of myth. The supernatural link between them reveals a wondrous and fearful paradox—that the irresistible avatar is him, the newly-christened Gabriel! After near countless eons of physical, mental, and spiritual evolution, it is he who arrives from his faraway, distant future to dramatically help set events in motion in the present and to begin anew his mission with his newly-transmogrified self as the phoenix now turned avatar and godling.




Short story by Ngoc Nguyen The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 109 times
Written on 2024-04-25 at 18:41

Tags Avatar  Apocalyptic  Rebirth 

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