What do we want?

9 minutes read

08-02-2024

In the deep recesses of space, far from any galaxy in the true void where not even the strange dare to tread, the wandering mass of a super black hole hunted its way slowly through existence, too far to reach any other mass in the universe, already consumed all within its grasp, all bar one instance.

Anodyne stared with his eyes unblinking into the writhing mass of the black hole; peering past the event horizon, he watched as the galaxies inside were forced into a singularity, periodically separating before being crushed back into a single entity of impossible mass.

Anodyne could feel the immense pull it generated; he felt his makeup shift as the intense pull of gravity pulled him one atom at a time. Tears were pulled as he stared, sucked into the darkness of the mass, disappearing without the satisfaction of crying them out; he stood hollow as he let the overwhelming wave of isolation consume him. His mind was empty as every voice in his head screamed, overloading their brain. They heard nothing but silence. There wasn’t even a static or the sound of their blood running through their ears, just oppressive silence. Despite there being no noise in their mind, it was too full to have thought; it was full of everything it could possibly generate. Anodyne didn’t know why he was crying, just that he was incapable of stopping. Because of the lack of noise in his head, he didn’t know what was happening, but his body reacted. He shivered as if he were cold, his arms and stomach tensed with uncertainty, his eyes flowed with the loss of love, and his stomach ached with violent uncertainty. Frozen in sensation, he stared into the black hole with the subconscious fear that if he were to take one step forward, the black hole would consume him.

Then, with a blink, he was back in Hollow; looking out into the starless night, he felt the tears rolling down his cheeks. The arctic winds left an icy trail he could feel well after the tears had fallen to the soil. Down below, in the deep thrush of the woods, a Holite stared up at Anodyne in utter disbelief at what she saw and heard. She could hear the sobs of Anodyne as he wailed out into the night. He collapsed to his knees as his hands started to pull hair from his skull, and he began to scream out in pain.

Then, as soon as it all happened, it stopped. The tension in his body fell, the noise stopped, and the tears dried up. Anodyne’s head snapped into place with a sickening crack, staring directly at the Holite.
“I see you.” He cried out.

The woman stood in shock; she was frozen to the spot as Anodyne cracked his way un-naturally into a standing position.

“So do not be afraid, little one. I am not out for blood this night. In fact…” He paused, leaping the great distance between the two in the time it took for the panicked Holite to inhale with shock. “I see your arm is missing. Would you like it fixed?”

Anodyne gingerly held what remained of her arm, looking at it with pity that most Holites would never see, not from one another and definitely not from Anodyne. She hesitantly nodded as she looked down to where Anodyne was touching her.

“I know I don’t have your trust, child, but a god of chaos may feel unfair, but we do whatever fancy comes to mind at the moment. So, while some of us are more malicious than others, we all do all kinds of acts. Even I have been known to help from time to time.”

Anodyne waved his hand, and through a tense jaw and an ache that radiated through her whole body, the Holite watched as the arm slowly grew back into place. The entire time, Anodyne held the Holite, comforting her.

“I know it hurts, I am sorry. But soon, you will be whole again.”

After a few gruelling minutes, the pain stopped, and the Holite could look down at her new arm. She flexed it, rolling the wrist and taking it to full extension before snapping it back to her chest.

“You fixed me. I, I, I haven’t heard of you ever helping before.” She said, looking up into Anodyne’s face.

“Like I said, chaos gods are just gods with no direction; they don’t know what they want, so they do whatever takes their fancy. Some of us like to hurt more, others love to heal, and we are a wide range of creatures that, while mortals struggle to see the pattern sometimes, we are actually very simple. Maybe too simple for your analytical minds to understand.”

“How can a god be simple. All of you are so fascinating. None of us here on Hollow could begin to comprehend your vastness.”

“Our vastness?” Anodyne laughed as they fell to a seated position on the forest floor. “No, my sweet little thing, we are old and moody. We are not these big divine puzzles. An ant may look at you, wondering how you can do so much, have so much power, cause so much death, and sometimes save lives or provide food. But the reality is you are just doing your daily life, and you may drop crumbs that feed them for a week, but to you, it is nothing. There is no difference; from my experience, the more powerful things get, the less intricate they get.”

“How so?”

“Well, if you teach someone to fight to survive, they will look through all their options and martial arts available at their disposal. They seek other avenues to better themselves in a way that makes them rounded and interested in their experiences. On the other hand, however, if you give someone a gun, they will learn to use their gun as best as they can, but will rarely venture away from it because it is less optimal to use anything else. It just narrows the experience. They become much more one-dimensional and, frankly, so simple that they seem mysterious because there must be more. There is no way what you see, is it? How have they survived with just one skill? And the honest answer to a lot of people, or gods like that, is, well, it is luck. They just happened to exist in the right moment at the right time.”

“That is very underwhelming. Are you saying that a lifetime of training is nothing in the eye of luck?”

“I am saying that it can be, but the difference is that you can’t rely on luck unless you are a certain selection of people. If you train and go out into the woods, you have a good chance of surviving the worst of conditions. If you rely on your luck, you rely on the universe giving you what you need. If it does, that is great, but if it doesn’t, then it is much better to be the one that is prepared.”

“My mother always said that luck is cheap, and you can make your own luck if you work hard. Lucky is just the word given by those unwilling to create a life for themselves.”

Anodyne chuckled to himself as he leaned against a nearby tree.

“Your mother has luck and probability confused. Luck is real, but so is probability. If I buy 100 tickets to a raffle, my probability of winning is 100 times higher than that of someone who bought one. But our luck, all things being fair, remains the same. But things are not fair; people have different amounts of luck, and depending on how the world turns, that luck can change, be it slowly or in an instant, for better or worse. Luck is there; it is always a factor, but never one a wise person would lay their mind to.”

“So you plan and work for everything you have made?” The girl asked a little sheepishly.

Anodyne laughed incredibly hard for an extended period. So long, the Holite thought she should leave while she had a chance, but before she could turn to walk away, Anodyne grabbed her by the shoulder with a wicked grin.

“No, I plan nothing, I aspire to achieve nothing, and I do what I please, results be damned. And the reason I can do this is because I can rely on luck. That is my weapon when all is lost, and I should be the one six feet under. I somehow end up okay, something intervenes, someone has pity on me, an anomaly happens where I am separated from my cause of distress, or I just happen to know the thing trying to kill me, so we end up chatting instead. Or killing someone else.”

“But you said you should never rely on luck, though.”

“I say many things, and there is always a nugget of truth with them. But the bottom line is that I am one of the few who can rely on luck, so I don’t always convey what I am trying to convey optimally as it doesn’t matter because I assume my luck will sort it out.”

“That seems like a terrible way to live; if you were so lucky, shouldn’t your life be amazing? You always seem so miserable, losing fights or disappearing because something is wrong.”

“Yes, to all these things. I am miserable a lot of the time, overwhelmed and struggling. But luck isn’t about making life perfect; it is about getting the best possible result for your situation. So, if getting a punch in the face is the best result, that is what you get. But the unlucky guy gets an arm removed. Or maybe getting an arm removed is the best result because it will come into play later down the line. We cannot know what the best luck scenario is, that is, for higher beings to understand.”

“You are a god; how much higher of a being can there be to ascend to?”

Anodyne stared deeply into the girl’s eyes with a deranged smile and spoke softly.

“My child, gods are but specks of dust in a sandstorm that is a multi-verse wide. We are nothing; any deity that claims to be at the top of the food chain has yet to stare into the eyes of those who only have physical form to interact with us, lesser beings. You may feel powerless as a mortal. But the power gap between me and even the next step up is greater than me to the ant beneath your feet. You don’t need to feel small because you are so insignificant that you don’t even register on the scales of those with power. So live your life, experience it in all its finite glory, then die and move on. Don’t think about what is to come because your brain will not comprehend the vast possibilities before you. The only thing you should be concerned about is what you want.”