All the strange Gods

Prologue: adream

Vancouver, 1924

Vaguely aware that you are adream, you see the landscape of Vancouver grow before you. Not just the young metropolis, but the old trees surrounding it, the silent seas, and the snaking river, the tall mountains standing their quiet heavy watch – all of it as if it had been there forever before, which of course it had. The land is cold as it should not be on a June morning; it is as if the sun, slow to rise, can barely penetrate the density of a today. A soft fog heaves low over the waters, spreading its brittle breath across the coast and banks, and the dawn can scarcely find its way across the shipyards and the docks and the thousand grinding streets.

Slow, your vision eats the city and it’s surroundings. And, slow, you feel it flow above the river like a salmon young towards the sea, sinking into the sharp and heavy fog. Then suddenly you veer away coldwards. As if trying to grasp you, the tendrils of mist curl around the trees and follow you, and you in turn follow the smell. In another age, you feel, you could have freed men into existence. You could have been life found. But suns and moons bring death and fire, and the same force that is one day birth, must clean carrion another.

The trees break away, short since torn down, and you see the empty grasses are here and there adorned with the stone gods of the new men. Dumb and square they mourn unfeeling, or some with arms sidestretched await some eternal embrace that never comes. You follow the scent to a stone house where no one lives and before it you see six men, five of them in white cowls alive, and one of them sleeping. Their hands pale as the summer morning. You land on one of their little gods. They quiet suddenly in agitated reverence of your arrival, look around, and continue with their lofty business.

“What do we do next?”

“We wait. We must be patient if we are to persevere. I had a dream this night, that a destiny came true. That we formed a new Arcadia, true and good, under God, and we rid this land of all the impurities that have infested it. I dreamt that the Americas from pole to tropic stood united in the face of the savagery and vice of this coming age. That we cleansed it of the Chinese, and the Japanese, of the Black man that infests the South, of the Red Indian that hides still in the wild, of the Jew and the Catholic, of the Bolshevik and the Anarchist, and every other calamity that threatens the living of the White Man. And that one man did this with a blazing sword of truth. And that all we have to do to get there is to do the bidding of this our God who speaks to us now.”

There was a silent agreement in the air. The sleeping man made no remark.

“What about him?”

“He was a sacrifice. Another. And if he died without succeeding his task it is because the God judged him impure. Bury him.”

And so before they did, you jump down and dig your black beak to see what life you could steal first. And even as the dream begins to dissipate and it’s memory begins to churn, you awake with the bitter taste of aqueous humour in your mouth, the shape of a cawing in your throat…


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