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The Map
The Map
Published by Druidic
The Map

He rushed into the fields when he heard his brother’s terrible cry. There, among the tall swaying grass, he found a majestic form towering over Abel, and a bloodied stone by Its feet.
“Why?” cried Cain. “In the Name of God, I ask why?”
“In the Name of God, it was done,” said the angel, blazing bright as a sun. It turned away and was instantly gone from Cain’s eyes.
Cain carried his brother’s lifeless body home to find only curses and jeers awaiting him. A small child cast a rock, men rushed him with sticks in their hands. “Stop!” cried Adam’s voice, dark with anger, striking Cain’s heart like unexpected thunder on a summer’s clear day.
“Leave your brother’s body and depart from us forever. The earth will drink blood because of your sin.”
Cain’s protests were useless. No ear could hear them, no mind could understand them. He did as Adam commanded. He turned to the east, walking aimlessly through dusk and night and morning, moving like one in a dream from which he cannot awaken.
Over time Cain’s face grew terrible; it inspired revulsion and hatred in the breasts of all men. He shunned the habitations that lay in his path for he feared that men would murder him. He lived alone, a sparse and cursed existence; feared, hated, avoided by all men because of the terrible mark he bore. His home was a rank cave on a rough and rocky hillside overlooking the sea. It was here (as he returned from hunting one day) that he saw the angel again, waiting at the mouth of the cave. It no longer burned with the fierce radiance that Cain had known from their past encounter. Its body was bathed in a soft, gentle light.
“I recognize you. Why have you come to me?” said Cain, after a long moment of silence.
“To offer you what you once desired…understanding.”
Cain laughed bitterly. “God commanded you to slay my brother then clouded the minds of men against me and marked me as my brother’s killer. Leave me and speak not a word. I reject you, I reject God, I reject the understanding you would bring. Leave.”
But the angel would not--perhaps could not—do as Cain requested. Neither did he speak again. He merely waited. Perhaps he waited for Cain’s heart to soften, for Cain to accept the judgment and wisdom of the God the angel served so faithfully. The angel waited, the days turned into years, the years passed, years beyond number, and gradually, the angel’s appearance began to change. Perhaps It languished. Its gentle radiance waned and grew dim. Its skin grew unhealthy in both color and texture. It began to sleep, something it had never done before. At times it even cried out like a man afflicted with nightmares. One day, Cain returned to the cave carrying a heavy stick. He beat the angel for a day and a night and then repeated the brutality after a short period of sleep. Over the years, he grew weary of administering such beatings. He fashioned a long leash from a rope and fastened one end to a stake grounded in the center of the cave…though the angel had never made any attempt to escape from its wretched state.
In following years, Cain taught it how to hunt for him, how to walk and even run on all fours like an animal. It began to crave food. Cain threw it scraps and watched as it ate ravenously.
One day, ill with fever, Cain left the cave. He could no longer look at the angel without a sense of guilt and revulsion. He told the angel when he returned he would free him. The angel could not understand his words; it mattered not for Cain never returned.

Later, perhaps centuries, a shepherd found the cave. Upon hearing sounds of movement within, he cautiously approached the opening. In the darkness at the back of the cave he heard a voice softly muttering to itself… and at that moment felt an inexpressible terror. Something was trying to speak and the poor shepherd could only think of what an animal might sound like if it tried to utter human words. He ran from the cave...but the next day returned with several other villagers. They produced torches and entered the cave. And they saw what crouched in the darkness there, still tethered by a long leash to a stake in the center of that cave.
All of them but one went completely mad at the thing they saw, a thing whimpering and crawling in the shadows of the cave. Only one man, a man who had feared greatly because of the sounds, was spared their fate. The sounds had been too terrible for him and he did not dare to look upon what made them.
In short time other villagers came. They led away the poor lunatics who had once been friends or fathers or sons to some of them, and they sealed that accursed place without ever looking at the horrible occupant.
It waits there still. In the silence, in the darkness. It waits like a loyal dog for the beloved master who abandoned it. It waits still.
Such are the ways of God.

Is the story true? I do not know. I am a poor man, a shepherd, and a shepherd cannot judge such things. To God alone is given the knowledge of such things. But the cave? Yes, I can draw you a map…my memory grows weak with the years but silver can have a remarkable rejuvenating effect on it. Ah.
Here then. You say you are a Divinity Student. And your pretty amateur archeologist? I pray you find that which you desire.
2 Thanks From:
Hideous Name (12-09-2014), LittleJoeRodgers (12-09-2014)
By LittleJoeRodgers on 12-09-2014
Re: The Map

This story has haunted me for quite some time now. Truly in the spirit of Ligotti's work.
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By Druidic on 12-09-2014
Re: The Map

Thanks LittleJoe. Kind words are always welcome. I'm glad you found it worthwhile.
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