Volume 1 Number 4


Autumn 2003

For Those Who Have Died In His Feet

William Lengeman III

We gather each year to honor their memory, though even the eldest among us did not know them. Our numbers dwindle with each passing year. Many have forgotten--or perhaps they only try to convince themselves that they have.

He seldom walks -- perhaps once in a hundred years. Some of his periods of slumber have been twice as long.

The walking is an awful thing. We dread it to the core of our being, and our children are taught to fear it as soon as they can understand our words. It is the great unknown, the dark uncertainty that looms over our days like the dark shadow of a wild beast stalking its prey.

As bad as the walking is, the uncertainty is worse. The great agony is in not knowing when it will happen. In the old times, our wise elders sat around the fires for days and nights on end, chanting and dancing, drinking of the spirits of the sacred root and examining the entrails of animals, hoping to divine some clue as to when he would walk.

Our methods are more scientific. After all, we are rational men--most of us. We are men of science, and yet, for all our analysis and measurements and complex, detailed computations, we are no better off than the grizzled old men poking at the steaming innards of sheep.

It is said that there are those who have gone outside, in search of some fragment of knowledge that will help us foretell the day. But these are insubstantial rumors that no one has yet been able to prove. It is even said that there are some who live in the distant and dark lands of the feet, but what a laughable idea that is. Who could live in such a place?

Many die each time he walks, but there are always those who live. Those who die do so in the most ghastly manner. He begins to stir, and they fall over and rattle about as the ground beneath them shakes and rumbles, and then the ground is no longer the ground--that is, it is no longer where the ground should be. And then they fall, swept into the depths, as he rises and begins to lumber forward. They fall and fall and fall into the distant darkness. Who knows how long it will be until they finally stop falling, only to die a horrible death somewhere deep in the depths of his feet?

But there are always those who will survive. They live to rebuild our shattered land, to thrive and to know happiness. We read of them in the old books, of the horrors of those days and of their bravery in the face of darkness. And yet, for all their courage, they all shared in the same sincere hope that, in their lifetimes and those of their children and of their children's children, he will never walk again.