The Watchers

by Adam Prosser
Before there was anything else, anything at all, there was light: great, crashing, primordial light, which would blind you and burn you if you stood in it. Floating in this light, with nowhere to hide or to shield herself from it, was the Great Mother of All. She was in pain all day and all night, for years and years and years, floating and trying to turn away from the fiery glowing ball of the sun.

Finally, the great Mother--who her followers call Fengi, began to gather dust around herself. She gathered more and more, until she had blocked out the light; and still, dust gathered on her until her back had become a great field of dirt, which went on and on in all directions. Beneath her shield of dirt, Fengi bred her children, the creatures which dug through the dirt and scraped food from everywhere.

They would travel through the dirt, and bring her news of all that occurred. Because of this, she called them the Watchers. She blessed them, for they were her children, and bred hundreds and hundreds of them; and she gave to them the world of dirt and darkness that she had created.   But soon there were others, creatures who could not bear the darkness. They lived all the time in the great, crashing light, and did not mind; and soon they came to think that the world was theirs,

and that Fengi and her watchers were miserable, forsaken creatures whose existence was a mistake.

  One day, the Watchers brought news to Fengi. The world was covered with water, they said, which was fast washing away the dirt which was the life and protection of Fengi. This was the work of King Fish, they said, who wanted his people to be the rulers of the earth.

  So Fengi went to see King Fish. She stood in his hall, a great and beautiful creature a hundred miles wide, with a thousand thousand legs, a body covered with scales, and ancient red eyes, which burned with the memory of the great light she had once suffered.

  King Fish, who is sometimes called the Kraken or Leviathan, was afraid of her, although he himself was quite huge. Seeing his fear, she walked up to him, shaking the floor.

  'You are destroying my world,' she hissed. 'You offer your people a birthright which is not theirs. My children rule this world, not yours.'

  'Do not be foolish,' said Leviathan, mustering all the courage he could. 'Your people are small, and weak. My people are huge, and spread across the world, taking what they want. My soldiers are the sharks and the whales and the great manta rays; your people huddle with fear beneath the earth. Go away, and do not bother me again.'

  'You have insulted me,' cried Fengi, rattling and hissing. 'I declare war on your people.'

  'So be it.'

  So Fengi gathered her troops, and the Kraken gathered his, and they both blessed their people.

  'Be strong,' said King Fish. 'Have sharp teeth and powerful jaws; know the ways of the sea, and swim as fast as its currents. Kill the Watchers, every one.'

  Then Fengi turned to her people. 'You will be survivors,' she whispered. 'You will live a long, long time, and so will your children. The flame will not burn you,the ice will not freeze you; steel will not cut you, and poison will not kill you. You will need neither water, nor air, and the earth itself shall be your food, until the sun falls from the sky, and darkness rules at last.'

  The war lasted millions of years, and the fish seemed to rule for all that time. But finally the sun, which burns away all, began to dry up all the water.

Fish lay dead in shrinking pools, and the seaweed began to dry out, so that there was no more food. Only a handful of fish survived at the bottom of the few remaining oceans, and a few who learned to walk and to breathe in dry air. Except for these few, the world was once again still and silent. Then Fengi's children, the Watchers, who had survived as always, returned to the earth as though nothing had happened.