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         They were waiting for Razor.  Chess sat, head down and hugging his knees, on the cement floor of the hallway outside the kitchen.  Sariel sat next to him, and their bags lay on the floor, the contents dumped out before them.  Although he did not look up, Chess was acutely aware of Razor’s men, who were standing a few yards away from them, on guard, with assault rifles in their hands.
         Within minutes, they heard Razor stomping down the hallway, and Chess rose, terrified, as the guy burst through the doorway.  Most of his leaders and a number of curious underlings were in tow.
         Razor’s face was crimson as he bore down on them.  “Stealing from me?” he roared as he raised a huge hand over Chess’s head.  “I should have killed you long ago.”  Chess could not stop himself from shaking as he faced the Razor, but he resolved not to cringe.  His eyes, however, closed involuntarily as Razor’s hand fell, and Chess heard a cry next to him.
         He opened his eyes and wheeled just in time to catch Sariel before she went all the way to the floor.  He gaped at her and, in his shock, tried to pull her back to her feet.  Aghast, he looked up at Razor, then.  Beside him, Sariel rose on her own, and stood there quietly, as if nothing had happened.
         “I warned you to stay away from her, Goldfish,” Razor growled.  Then he pulled out his massive handgun and stared down the barrel at Sariel.  Chess turned to her, but she did not move.  She seemed almost calm, although her face was already becoming red and mottled where she had been struck.
         “Wait,” Chess cried desperately, stepping between her and Razor.  “You can’t just kill her!”
         Unexpectedly, Razor sighed and lowered his weapon, giving Chess a wild hope.  “You’re right, Goldfish,” he said, sounding dejected.  “You’re absolutely right.  I can’t just kill her.”  He shook his head.  “How can I ever trust you again, after this?”  He raised the gun toward Chess.
         Then Sariel moved.  “I curse you,” she hissed at Razor.”  She stepped toward him, her body tensed.  “If you kill him, my curse will be upon you and all that you care about.”
         Razor seemed to hesitate.  His eyes flickered for an instant, and the weapon dropped somewhat lower in the air before Chess.  But then he recovered, his eyes narrowing.  “Shut up!” he commanded, and the barrel of the pistol rose to the level of Chess’s eyes.
         Time seemed to slow then.  Every bit of sound left the world, and, with it, awareness of anything besides this one moment: Razor standing there, about to kill him.  It was all over, Chess thought.  He took a deep breath.  Yes, all over now, for him.  No more trying or struggling.  And, along with it, no more voice of failure in his head, and no more fear.  And, as he stared at Razor’s flushed face, and the resigned, burdened expression in the man’s eyes, Chess felt his lips curve up just a little.
         Razor stared back at him, and blinked, and, for a moment, looked confused.
         “What’s going on?”  From down the hallway, Chess heard Ileana’s voice.  “Razor?”
         “I’m busy!” Razor yelled in a thick voice, as Ileana pushed through the crowd that had gathered and came into Chess’s field of view.  “This is man’s business.  Not your concern!” Razor shouted without looking at her.
         “Razor?” Ileana cried again, sounding panic-stricken now.  “Please, let’s talk about this!”
         “Talk later,” Razor answered in a calmer, chilled voice.  “Get rid of vermin now.  They were stealing supplies from us.  Probably selling them.”  He inclined his head, keeping the handgun still pointed at Chess.  “Get her out of here,” he growled at Tez, who was standing nearby.
         Chess watched Ileana, saw the fear on her face as she twisted around, avoiding Tez’s hand on her arm.  “Raymond!” she protested.  “They weren’t stealing the food to sell it.  They were giving it--”
         Chess gasped.  In a flash, he envisioned the shelter destroyed, burning.  The people lying dead on the ground outside.  The children…  Heart pounding, he stared at Ileana and shook his head slightly.
         She must have caught his meaning because she stopped, blinked at him, and, momentarily, her eyes seemed to flick sideways at Sariel.  Then Ileana straightened, and he watched her draw in a breath as she faced Razor.  “Yes, they were stealing from you,” she informed him coldly, in a loud voice, “and giving it to me, for a pittance.”  She glared at him.  “I was selling it.”

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Brother Against Brother

…the soldiers stood them up against a wall and three men stepped up and cocked their machine guns.  Kokero and Taylor both burst out laughing – it was all they could think to do – and this so puzzled their executioners that they demanded to know why they weren’t scared.
“I’m a human being, like you,” Kokero said.  “We’re brothers.  If you kill me, you lose because you’ve killed a brother.  For me, it’s over, I’m gone.  You’re the one left with the problem.”
The soldiers were so impressed with their fearlessness that they let the two men go.
-The Terror of Sierra Leone, Fire by Sebastian Junger

         Back to ideas about mythology: I’ve gotten into the ways that mythologies might have been used by outside forces to change and control people, but have never broached the subject of why certain themes might exist in the first place.  If the basic reason for the existence of mythology seems to be to give people a way of explaining the world and possibly controlling their world, then people might also try to improve their world by using stories to illustrate what “correct” actions would be.
         In my story, I am fascinated with the idea of creator gods and especially, a goddess who creates humans.  But if there is a creator god, then why doesn’t she give the humans everything they need so that life can be perfect for them?  In my story, the creator goddess is hindered by the other gods and the natural order of things on an earth that she did not create.  In other myths, sometimes there are gods that are evil and work against the gods that are good.  Some theories hold that this is a way of explaining why the world is not perfect, why there is bad in the world: because some bad entity is causing it.  Evil upsets the perfection of what has been created, and so, in these stories, people have it in their power to work against evil and for good, so that the world will move closer to perfection.
         Mythologies are filled with this theme of the juxtaposition between good and evil gods, or at least one god who stands for perfect order and sort of an opposite or maybe an evil twin who tries to thwart the perfect order.  In Christian traditions, it is Satan who challenges the order and hierarchy of heaven.  In Egyptian mythology, Osiris is the great king and law-giver, until his brother Set tricks him and causes his death.  In Norse mythology, Loki undermines all that the gods try to do, and eventually causes the final world-ending battle.  In Aztec myths, Tezcatlipoca is the opposite and sometimes enemy of another creator god, Quetzalcoatl, and their conflicts eventually cause Quetzalcoatl’s death.
         Countless examples of this theme can be recounted by people who know far more mythology than I do.  The idea of evil working to undermine the perfect structure of good (and oftentimes succeeding!) is pervasive.  But is it just a cynical way of describing that which we should try to avoid but is inevitable in human nature?  Some believe there is more to this idea.

The Devil: Look, Elliot, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. The whole good-and-evil thing? You know: Him and me?  It really comes down to you.
-Bedazzled (2000)



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