The Skull in the Sky

A beautiful, lyrical, dark creation myth.

It starts with a skull staring through space with eyes that spark red stars to brighten the dismal night with the first traces of creation—gleaming beacons that swirl and whirl into firework constellations, painting on the dead sky a new beginning.

The sky rattles after a billion pointless years of darkness and the hollow-eyed face looks down on the ancient world, where life-struck molecules are digging and clawing at ashen soil and charred stones in desperate pursuit for the fragments of love…

Out pops a bird egg, cracking, wobbling, the first arch of a smile stretching round its calcified shell, a white splotch on the dark swatch of rolling rumbling pitch-dark ground. The sky skull watches with cautious ambition…

When the next million years pass, the crack has widened to a hole, and out of this hole peeks the beak of a tar-black raven baby, eyes like cold stones, breath like cold and ancient fire. It pokes its head out into the world of darkness and sucks in the sulfuric air, feeding on primeval slurry, body bulging bigger, its cry the first sound to shatter that unending night. The sky skull listens…

From a sarcophagal shell emerges the raven, and this moment of its birth marks the start of a new age. Its first and second flap of those lacquered wings make the air waver and quaver; its beady eyes glint like precious onyx stones in red light—the light from the skull above, that solemn observer, awaiting this moment of renewal since time immemorial. The crow gasps, and it is the first gasp of life. The sky skull trembles…

At length the flaps, the first flaps of the first bird, travel and gather in the once-silent air and form hushing gusts that blow across the face of the barren earth and breathe and blow into streaming spurts of wispy wind, catching dirt and death and throwing them aside, making way for the new fecundity, the Cambrian bubble, the everything began from this simple something—a shabby black crow cawing in pale silence under eyes of a spark-stained sky, eyes of a distant cranial face gazing down with curious love…

Time slips by unstemmed, rushing on with a treacherous bite that chomps and changes the earth. The crow soars, dropping stiff black feathers on arid ground, where they sprout grand oak and pointy cypress, creeping willow, boundless bright fields of glistening ruby grass, shrubbery painted in the rich tint of blood. Up high, the squawk of a bird-storm pierces the ether—born from eggs of the first, the flock turns and whirls into a black maelstrom blanketing the red dawn in feathered silhouette. The skull’s bewildered visage blots out…

The dawn trembles and splits, cleaving the edge between night and day. From beneath the earth, rent by multitudes of rich roots and creeping insects, a deep throb begins to bellow. This is the pulse of something new—a thought a spell a nature—that seeks to repeat itself in every breathing shape, in every waking mind—it seeks to spread. This is the heartbeat of evil. The skull shrinks back in the sky, shifting its anxious gaze from corner to corner of the palpitating ground, which trembles and twists over itself, sporting new holes from which pours forth the white frothy pus of subterranean bodies, spilling out of the earth like a rancid stew of pulpy flesh and crushed carapace…

The rook-wing-wind starts to groan past regurgitant earth: pulsing, beating, shaking and quaking—the birds flee—trees sway with vegetable tension, their roots clenching on nothing, soil drifting from their grasp, losing hold, tips pointed upwards in desperate plea to the skull, who withdraws in intense distress; when the spark of life catches, how quickly evil follows…

Eons pass and from the bugmulch of the puking earth manifests a loathsome intelligence. Devious monkeys with ash-grey skin mope and scamper in the suffering trees, bleating and teasing them with simian greed, scratching and biting all dwindling fruit from those tired branches, stuffing their rabid mouths with toothsome pleasures, stripping the forest bare. The sky rubies glisten with a harsh warning glow, but the monkeys point, laugh.

When the last trees are stripped of bark and meat, starving chimp eyes twitch and shift in the molten dusk, loud laugh reduced to meek whimper, gaunt forms quaking and cringing in the shadows of fruitless growth. The skull knows what is to happen next, and with the rising red moon, the first squeals of revenge break the silence—out come claws tight and tearing at enemy genitals, stiff bloodsoaked hair strewn in haphazard clumps, yelping and crying and life fading in pools of painful excrement. Their shrieks of starvation shatter the night. Quick shadows dart from tree to dying tree, shoot in and out of barren bush, sink into great cracks in dry earth. The crow descends to pick at fallen meat; the monkey consumes the crow; the earth swallows the monkey. The skull vents out a long sorrowful sigh, dissipating into lonely cosmic dust. The trees die. The earth blackens. The sky is a blood miasma.

As the last monkey body rots into infinity, its grey and lengthened head, cradled by the swaddling roots of an extinct forest, is spared the final vengeance of the red exploding sky. And when all is turned to ash and char, the furless head remains, turned up and gazing at the blanket of blank space, its hollow eyes in search of comfort. At last, the sorrow proves too much to bear for this lost head, which rises from its nest of death and floats serenely upwards—past debris—far and high above the plateaus of destruction. Then gazing at this sacrifice—with tender remote gaze, the skull blinks out from hollow eyes and fills the sky again with warm red light.

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Issue 1.2

COMING FALL 2022 IN PRINT AND EPUB. Purchasers will also receive access to downloadable desktop and phone wallpapers of our beautiful cover art created by the amazingly talented Katerina Belikova (aka Ninja Jo) and inspired by Ephiny Gale's story, “Watchhouse."
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Featured in

Issue 1.2

COMING FALL 2022 IN PRINT AND EPUB.

Purchasers will also receive access to downloadable desktop and phone wallpapers of our beautiful cover art created by the amazingly talented Katerina Belikova (aka Ninja Jo) and inspired by Brian Low's story, “Have You Seen This Hungry Ghost?"
$10.00

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The Skull in the Sky

A beautiful, lyrical, dark creation myth.

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