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The Telling - The Crust and the Rind


It was the end of the feast. The spilled wine, dried blackening the linen. Spiders found homes in the upright goblets. Tarnish left its mark on long untouched cutlery. Motionless spent wax encrusted, crystal bobeches, like frozen bulbous ice caps. The wind made the only music as it labored to restore the land.

The fluttering pages of a journal told the story, but there was no one left that knew what the markings on the pages meant. No one to see the pages. There was no one near, to breathe.

Once the curtain of the third act was pulled back, the end came quickly. Those angered into madness poured through civilization destroying thousands of years of progress. It started with the trials. The handpicked judges were predisposed to a whisper in their ear and the greasing of their palms. That made the wave of blasphemy against science easy. All studies and research were brought to a halt – all science was proclaimed inconclusive.

Society then turned its back on young women in their darkest hour. In despair, they went into the wilderness seeking a nonexistent home.

Advances in medicine ground to a halt. The callers from the Temple steps pronounced that only those worthy would receive medical attention in the future. This resulted in fewer and fewer people arriving for treatment. It was soon discovered that the revenue from those still arriving was insufficient and the system ground to a halt. Hospitals closed. Universities closed. The young and affluent that could afford to go, saw no point in doing so.

The callers from the Temples waved their arms and shouted to the crowds. It is the intellectuals causing the troubles within society. A call for the burning of all books went out, and armies of the damned went forth and carried out the bidding of their masters.

We cannot afford the luxury of art. There is no need for an education. Education has led to the social classes that we must dismantle. Education makes you unhappy in your work. You see how much trouble that social classes have caused our great nation.

The decline continued.

Lessons were learned too late; those governing without funding public works, soon found their cities crumbling. Their population soon began rummaging through mountains of human refuse for food. With nothing left to steal, the government soon disappeared.

Many battles were fought, slowing the push through the heartland of the army of the damned. Without customers, the factories closed; the farms were cleared, cleaner than a swarm of locusts. The Great Civil War raged.

It has been determined, that all is lost. There is no winning.

The armies of the damned will be here soon. The remaining thinkers have determined they cannot be stopped, but we can still strike a final blow. The remaining food is poisoned or destroyed. There will be nothing left for them once they have finished with us. It will be a hungry victory.’

The fluttering pages of a journal told the story. The wind rearranged the pieces of what is left behind. Erosion shifts the mountains of chemically produced packaging that still chokes the birds. A bird carrying a melon seed dropped it in a field. Vines slowly fought their way through hard soil and crawled in all directions.

Far to the south in a village at the bend of a river, a woman squatted, grinding wheat into flour. The roof of their hut was newly thatched and worked well enough to keep the rain out. Adobe served as the walls of their hut and oven. The dog the couple rescued, at the time of their exodus, gave birth to a litter of pups.

The couple was allowed to stay in the village, because the woman knew how to turn goat milk into cheese and how to harvest yeast to improve the baking.

In the dark of night, the children gather around the man who pointed at the stars. He talked in a language they do not understand. He told them the names of the constellations, and smiles, knowing the knowledge would go no further than his own mind.

The woman amused herself by writing with a stick in the dirt… In the Beginning. Then she rubbed out the words with her bare foot and ate a crust of bread and took a drink of water from the dried rind of a gourd.

Guns N' Roses - Welcome To The Jungle

Daughtry - Breakdown


mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on November 29, 2017:

Peg, this banana bread is so good. Thanks. Funny, I am listening to The Best of Bread as I read your comment. haha

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on November 29, 2017:

Yum, that's just the thing for a chilly November afternoon. I've brought some fresh baked banana bread to share. Hope you like it.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on November 29, 2017:

Hello Peg - You are in luck, a fresh pot of coffee is made. Grab a seat. There is so much anguish. I should apologize for adding to it. I kind of like the story I wrote for this Friday. It was a sudden notion, just as I was waking up the other day. My muse has quite a sense of humor. Here is your cup.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on November 29, 2017:

Yes, please. I would love a coffee and some vintage music to soothe my weary soul. I'm excited to hear that a new story is in the pipeline from you. Your writing is truly missed by me and so many others. We don't have to have happy, happy, happy if you are in the anguish mode. I can dig it. Yes I can.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on November 29, 2017:

Ah, coffee, yes please. Some things never change :)

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on November 29, 2017:

Hello Verlie - You can't go by anything I say. I have never been right. I can flip a coin ten times and never get it right. That said, writing is a good way to push out of the mind, anguish. Usually you find, happy, happy, happy, when you arrive in my corner of the hub. Lately, happy, happy, happy has been elusive.

Now, let's share a coffee while I'll get breakfast going.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on November 28, 2017:

Mike, How courageous of you to share this dark vision. Like Peg, I'm happy the puppies made it into the rebirth of the planet, but wow! Not much left...the annihilation of art and culture, the total disintegration of our humanity, the end of the world. And still, you can't let go of hope. There is a crust of bread to eat. There is a a gourd to drink from. Frightening story here, sadly so much of it is reality for uncountable numbers of people. I've got to say, you really don't leave us much hope. Anguish yes. I shall languish in anguish. Not that I wasn't already :(

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on November 28, 2017:

Oh, what can I say? Sorry Mike, no words, maybe later. OK, just thought of something. In the opening lines I was sure you were talking about my kitchen! More later. This is amazing!

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on November 28, 2017:

Hello Ann - Thank you. I have not felt much like writing of late, so when the idea popped into my head, I got to the keyboard and wrote it out in one sitting. (It will likely show.)

Ann Carr from SW England on November 28, 2017:

Just popped back to have a look at this one, Mike. I'll keep an eye out for that Christmas story on Friday. Looking forward to it!


mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on November 28, 2017:

Hello Peg - My writing method has changed over the years. During the great recession, I went out of my way to keep things light, and Emerald Wells Cafe seemed to bring joy to those that stopped by. Quinn Moosebroker was an escape for those that may think that they reached a level where live had little to offer. So, we all went on an adventure together. The Carriage Driver was a one episode Christmas story, again to share joy. And we know how that worked out, as it took two years to play out. Thanks for thinking of me.

I have part of a 'The Telling' story written. On the positive side, I have a story written, due to be published on Friday. The Curious Life of Jonathan Pool, a one episode Christmas story.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on November 28, 2017:

Sometimes the dark side is what we need to write about, Mike. I was back today to read this one again. Thinking about you and the days at Emerald Wells Cafe.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 13, 2017:

Hello Ann – You have been busy. If I move, I don’t expect I will be keeping up with HP. Thanks for the nice comment. The world seems to have gone mad. We have all picked sides. A shame really, the world could be such a nice place.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 12, 2017:

What goes around comes around I guess. This is a powerful piece and I'm late to pick up on it - I still have a long list of catch-up!

You've created something special here, as you do so well; it's a timely warning of what we could be heading for helter-skelter.


mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on May 23, 2017:

Hello Sha - The globe devoid of life. It is a sorrowful thought. Thanks for the visit this afternoon.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 23, 2017:

This reminds me a bit of Stephen King's "The Stand". At least the tale told in the journal does. I love the glimmer of hope you offer at the end of the story, Mike. It's hard to imagine a world completely devoid of life.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on May 15, 2017:

Hello John Gentile - Thanks for the nice comment and for the follow. I appreciate your visit.

johnmariow on May 14, 2017:

Extremely well written. Intriguing. I enjoyed reading this short story.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on April 29, 2017:

Hello Gypsy - The world seems to be under a conspiracy of hate. This notion that everyone is out to do us harm has reached all levels, at least here in the U.S. I think the U.K and France also have the hate bug. And the leaders seem to perpetuate this over and over in their actions.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on April 29, 2017:

Ah, if only the world still has the possibility of being saved. If only everyone around the world could read this.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on April 20, 2017:

Hello Peg - I thought I would challenge myself with some descriptive narrative. When I started putting bits of writing on Hubpages they were dystopian in nature. Wouldn’t you know, after all the sugar and spice, and everything nice, I am here again presenting the darker side of life.

What a fine compliment. Stephen King and T.S. Eliot can’t beat that. Thank you.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on April 20, 2017:

This is truly dystopian fiction at its finest. Your description of one potential future for the world is sobering with the death of all good that we know. Except for the puppies. Thank goodness you gave us some puppies for a glimmer of hope.

I loved your use of imagery and descriptive elements. I'm reminded of Stephen King's, The Stand and T.S. Eliot. "This is the way the world ends...not with a bang but with a whimper."

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on April 19, 2017:

Hello Shy – I strongly encourage that any victory that is accomplished comes at the highest price possible. The time for stepping into empty cattle cars is over. We certainly do not know how to best utilize all the talent that we have here in this country. It actually seems we are senses are being attacked. People scream about immigration, yet immigrants built this country. Each wave of people how came here for a better life, made us stronger. (I do distinguish between immigrants and refugees and believe they are two different groups.)

The people of this country are the strength and the hope of the nation. The idiot politicians come and go. If they ever refuse to go, then they will be run out of the country.

Thank you for the compliment and the blessings.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on April 19, 2017:

Hello Genna – My definition of Populism, is ‘Us Against Them’ it is just that we find out too late, just how many of us are in the Them category. It is unnerving to me, how ‘all of a sudden’ we are the violent left. That is laughable to me, yet it is being promoted as fact. And that the right, deems it necessary to arm against us is a slow motion nightmare in the making. A self fulfilling prophecy in the making. The dark ages are behind us, yet it seems there are those that wish to bring them back, There are those that want their followers to blindly obey, and be told what to ‘see’ and what to think. We are closer to that reality that I thought possible. Those that start their counterpoint with, President Obama, or the devil Hillary fall in the category, I feel, that are just speaking talking points fed to them.

Thanks for the nice comment.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on April 19, 2017:

It will be a hungry victory.’ Mike prophesied. I can see this happening. What a waste of minds, talent. But, as our dear friend Ruby says: you gave us a glimmer of hope.

You are a superb writer.


Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on April 19, 2017:

Hi Mike...

The definition of "populism" still evades me as I am given varying descriptions whenever I ask someone. I fear that such labels are just another mechanism of the lazy mind that looks to slot and categorize as if we can all fit onto some 3x5 index card.

However, from what I am witnessing in the world today and in our country, I think so much of what you have written here certainly fits the madness that has gripped too large a segment of society.

"It is the intellectuals causing the troubles within society." I always cringe when I hear this martyred cry. What's next? The books that they will burn in effigy, to leave those who read to learn to weep the tears among the ashes while humanity becomes shadows on the page?

You have spoken eloquently and prophetically, Mike. This should be required reading for everyone. Well done!

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on April 18, 2017:

Hello Martie - I read an article recently that talked of how those in power must unite against those that are not embracing the actions and programs that are being put forth. It talked about arming themselves, which is kind of funny, as they are armed and have let it be known that they are armed. Incredible. Anyway, I am glad that you stopped by to read this exercise in descriptive fiction. Another story wants to form under this same heading - we shall see.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on April 18, 2017:

This shed light on some books in the Bible written by prophets, or about prophets. Nobody wants to be a prophet of doom, but people with insight and vision can clearly see what the future holds if authorities don't change the existing tack.



mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on April 18, 2017:

Hello mar - Believe me, I know nothing. Just like Schultz. It took a few minutes to find the music. There is some very dark ‘stuff’ out there. I did write an F & F, but this piece went swirling through my mind. A second story is formulating also. The last thing I want to do is start a third series.

Happy Tuesday.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on April 18, 2017:

Hello Bill – Grapes of Wrath – that is exactly what is going on. All of our own doing, which makes it more painful. And heck yeah, first day issue and you arrived. Thanks.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on April 18, 2017:

Hello Ruby – It is rather annoying that science and technology get a black eye, when the findings are opposed to the corporate profit motive. The evidence is so strong, as the earthquakes in Oklahoma prove, that what is beneficial to the oil industry, is not in the best interest of the people. I don’t think we will ever learn. Thank you for the compliment regarding the writing.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on April 18, 2017:

Profoundly and disturbingly prophetic, dear Mike.

Your musical selections are spot on - easier for me to get lost in the lyrics rather than the possibilities.

Your muse is on fire. Hugs, mar

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 18, 2017:

The opening paragraph sets the stage for a futuristic world which once seemed impossible but now....

Hey, I made it here on the same day you posted. That has to be worth a shout of celebration.

Superb writing here, reminding me of The Grapes of Wrath.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 18, 2017:

This is so surreal. I wonder how long we have to save our world from the evil doers? At least you gave us a glimmer of hope with the one family surviving, and the puppies. This is writing at it's very best..

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