And so it was that one day, as the sun began to set in the west, the prized creature watched as the fox headed for its hole with the vixen, the stallion galloped away with the mare, the ram trudged in his trenches with the ewe, and the goose swam off with the gander. But it was alone. And it lifted its hands to the sky, gazing at the expanse imploringly, as though its silent pleas would rise with the wind towards the place of its Maker’s celestial dwelling.
The Essences observed.
“Might it be lonely?”
“Was it enough for Us to make but one of it?”
“The Created Order had provided for two of each kind that they may replenish their own for generations to come.”
“It seems We had overlooked something.”
“The Created Order is incomplete.”
“Then We must craft another of its kind.”
“A fitting companion.”
“A creature so like in likeness, but of finer form.”
“To help in the oversight.”
“To be a partner.”
“A flesh of its flesh.”
“A bone of its bone.”
The Eternal El paused to consider this plan, well aware in Their infinite consciousness of the ramifications, for the destiny of this new race will have to contend with the forces then already existing in Gaia. There are countless possibilities; dangers and threats lurking behind every corner in this unguarded paradise. Will the prized creature survive?
“There is a risk.”
“We must safeguard its will.”
“We have given it freedom.”
“It is not for us to interfere.”
“It must decide for itself.”
“Our seed is planted in its soul.”
“It is a matter of Will.”
And so it was that The Eternal El caused the creature to fall into a deep sleep. And as it was in this deep stupor, a rib was excised from its body, and with Gaia’s dust a new creature was crafted around it. It was also in Their likeness – but more delicate in form and endowed with a beauty none of the other creatures of Gaia possessed. When finally the form was finished, The Essences breathed into its nostrils and it came to life.
“It seems We have outdone Ourselves.”
“Indeed it is the fairest form.”
“How shall We call it?”
“Another prized creature.”
“Two that shall become one.”
“He and she.”
“Is it wise to leave them unprotected?”
“We have endowed them with will.”
“Let Us observe them exercise it.”
“Lift the veil from the Tree of the Knowing.”
“Let Us see how well they fare in this test of will.”
Thus was the prized creature given a mate to take dominion of Gaia and all the creatures inhabiting it. And he gave his mate a name, and was lonely no more.
But the Watchers grimly gazed as the prized creatures went about their task in the Created Order. They watched in bitter envy and loathing.
As usual, Azazel was the first to register his derision. “We were banished here for eons and suddenly, They create these creatures to take over our domain! Are we now to surrender the stake we’ve held on this world for countless millennia?”
Semjaza was quick to admonish. “Do not mistake our standing. Remember, we are fallen.”
“Only because we made a choice?” Azazel barked back.
“In one aspect we are of the same category as the prized creatures.” Quipped the sepulchral Samsapeel.
“Certainly not in image.” Observed Sariel
“It has the power….” Turel began.
“To choose.” Asael ended.
“But it has not fallen – yet.” Danel declared.
Suddenly, Ramiel exclaimed. “Behold! The veil lifts from the Tree of the Knowing!”
“The test begins.” Batarel whispered.
And so the Watchers possessed the viper, and as she passed by, it hissed an inviting SSSSSSS. She turned and behold, a beautiful creature was coiling around the trunk of a fully laden tree with golden fruits, glistening and fragrant.
“Hello!” spoke the viper in its smooth, silky voice.
The viper nodded, sticking out its forked tongue and coiling further up the trunk of the tree where a low branch hung with an immaculate golden fruit.
“I did not know vipers can speak.”
“Thisss one doesss.”
“How wonderful! I must tell him at once!”
“SSSSStay awhile pleassssse and marvel with me at the fruit of thisss tree.”
“Oh it is beautiful, I know, and very inviting indeed.”
“It isss alssso very sssucculent and sssweet.”
“I’m sure. But it is not for us to partake.”
“We were told we may partake of every fruit of any seed-bearing tree… but this.”
“Again, why not?”
To this, she looked around warily, then whispered, “Because if we do…..we DIE!”
The viper chortled and slithered closer to the hanging fruit.
“That’sss too bad. SSSuch a wassste to disssplay sssuch beauty for naught. Perhapsss you misssunderstood the dictum.”
“The dictum was given to him and he told me.”
“Ah! There it isss! Perhapsss he misssunderstood the dictum.”
“But it was very explicit. If we partake of this tree, we DIE!”
“DIE?” And the viper laughed softly under its breath. “Of courssse NOT!. Thisss fruit isss not the fruit of death, but of LIFE! Life asss you have never known before!”
“Are you saying that….They lied?”
“Heavensss forbid!” and the viper slithered to the ground. “We never ssspeak of Them in that manner!”
“Then explain viper, what did They mean by ‘you will die’!”
The viper rolled its eyes and swayed to and fro. “Ummm…death can mean many thingsss. When my old ssskin pullsss off, it diesss. But a new ssskin isss re-created in itsss place. That isss a form of dying. When you eat of thisss tree, you will ‘die’ to your old ssself, and be reborn to a more interesssting one. Interesssting – and powerful. Ssso powerful in fact that you will become – like Them!”
“I do not think I want to have that power.”
“Then you will never know how it feelsss to wield it.”
“Does this power have a name?”
“I will name it for you.”
“Name it then!”
“Choice! Preference! Will! Freedom! The power to choossse between two equally compelling, powerful but opposssing forcesss!”
“But the Order has only one force. There is no need for another.”
“That isss what They would have you believe. For eonsss, an opposssing force hasss exisssted. Without thisss other force, there would be no balance in the cosssmosss. It is an unwritten law of the Order.”
“I must die then in order to possess this power to be reborn anew?”
“The power isss in the knowing.”
“They alone are all-knowing.”
“When you partake of thisss tree, you will be like Them!”
The viper cleared its throat. “To a certain extent.”
The fruit hung precariously as it swayed in the breeze. What promise it held of sweetness, of succulence, of desire for that power in the knowing.
The viper slithered closer to the fruit and circled it with its slimy tongue. At once it broke free and began to fall, landing right in the middle of her waiting palm. Slowly, she raised it to her lips and closing her eyes, opened her mouth and took a big bite. As her teeth sank into its flesh, an onrush of pleasure engulfed her body. It was an indescribable sensation never before experienced. The feeling was at once terrible yet pleasurable, bordering between intense fear and wanton abandon. The more she sucked the fruit’s sap, the more the feeling grew, and it took all her strength to take her lips away from the forbidden fruit. The big chunk was still in her mouth when she opened her eyes. The viper was gone.
“What have you done?” He was aghast to see his mate standing by the tree, one hand holding a golden fruit with a large chunk eaten away. But she was glowing with the knowing, and as she approached him, he could not take his eyes off her beauty. Before he could speak another word, her lips pressed on his, and the chunk inside her mouth moved between their lips. His lips were forced to part and in an instant, as if by instinct, he bit on the chunk so that each had half of it. Suddenly, his body tightened around her. All his sinews quivered, feeling the same sensations she had the moment she bit on the fruit. They found themselves chewing feverishly on the pieces inside their mouths and wanting more. In no time the entire fruit was consumed.
They looked at each other now with the knowing, and passion stirred within them. Desire such as never before felt or imagined rushed through their senses. Their figures melded together in the passion of the knowing; their senses heightened with the sap of unquenchable desire.
The sky grew dark and the wind howled in the trees; the flowers withered, the green turned brown, and the animals once docile suddenly became ferocious wild beasts. But even as their world crumbled, the two entwined creatures rolled on the dirt and muck, oblivious of the destruction unfolding around them, thrashing and thrusting in unyielding lust.
The viper slithered away but the Watchers remained in attendance, viewing the throbbing scene in the dust with amusement and satisfaction.
“It is done!” Azazel declared.
“The dying begins.” Semjaza added.
“What prized creatures!” Armaros admired.
“With such immense propensity for disobedience…” Tamiel observed.
“…and rebellion!” Ramiel rejoined.
“Again.” Said Asael.
“We are no longer alone.” Arakiba declared.
To which Turel added. “The prized creature is now among us.”
“Yes!” Azazel exclaimed. “Among the fallen.”
And the Watchers laughed as the heavens thundered in fury, with a scream that still resonates across the immeasurable vastness of the cosmos.
Josie Tejada is a published writer, actress, and directress member of the Guild.