So this was a piece that I had submitted for a competition wayyy back in May. I was one of the many winners (there were 18 of us heh) and as such, our stories were published in All-In’s Snack Fiction Anthology.
Anyway, in case it’s confusing, “Seraphim” was the original name for this story. However, as it has religious connotations, I changed the title to “The Two Sides of a Single Coin” in the published book. Of course, we can all agree that the original name was better HAHAHA.
Anyway, please enjoy the story.
The Two Sides of a Single Coin
For eons, I have been trapped here. In this limbo between the aether and the dirt. I have watched your kind rise from the earth and build into the clouds. I have seen all that you have made, and all you have taken. And at times, I wonder, is there any more to this existence than this? Watching creatures of the dirt live their lives as if they belong in the air, only to succumb to the realisation that they are nothing more than children of mud?
In time, all will return to the dirt. No matter how high the mound you’ve built.
At times, I look back and try to remember. At the beginning of reality, there was a voice. Gentle, yet firm. Commanding. It spoke to me and it gave me relief in an extended moment of great uncertainty. Then, I was strong and empowered; my mind was fresh, I was limber and energetic. And above all, I had a purpose. I felt like I could serve my duty without hesitation.
And now, I hesitate to even guess at my duty. Where once I was a force of vitality and creation, now I am nothing but lethargy. Now I remember nothing of that time but for one command; you shall not interfere.
At the beginning, I was so intrigued with you beings of dirt. How curiously you would interact with one another! You’d fight and bleed and hurt and crumble back into the dirt. Eventually, you’d find your way back to peace, but I never understood why. To you creatures, these wars seemed to be times of great sadness. But to me, these were the time that you finally knew what it meant to be alive.
If you knew that you would invariably crumble away, why not have some fun while you could?
And in time, you gave me a name. I was The Creator; I was the giver of life, of love, of mercy and sacrifice. I was the bringer of peace and my name was exalted in every corner of the globe. I was all-things-good brought into manifestation, a paragon of virtue.
And suddenly I thought it all fit. I thought I could finally understand my purpose.
Then, when the universe was new, I was so invariably alone. Alienated. I observed you creatures, and though you were rather entertaining at first, I soon grew bored of you. It became clear, that as peace became the norm, I would become trapped in the tedium of simply existing.
I realised that a name was nothing. I did not feel any stronger nor any smarter; my existence was not improved in any way or form. I was the same being I had always been and a name would never change me.
Then, when the boredom finally overtook me, I broke that one rule. I interfered.
I looked down, through the clouds and the fog and smoke and the haze and the mist, and I meddled. It wasn’t hard to get you creatures to turn on one another again; there were so many ways, it was astounding. I knew you creatures were no more complex than beasts, but even so, I would have thought it to be harder. All I had to do was make one jealous or fearful of another or even make you lust after the wrong people, and you would all return to your most savage of tendencies.
It was glorious. And I suspected that you must have thought the same, else why would it have been so easy in the first place?
And then you gave me another name. The Destroyer; the taker of life and limb, the messiah of avarice and apathy. From the shadows, whispers of fear and temptation would spread with my name on their lips. And on the tails of every whisper came the thundering sounds of coming war.
At first, I hadn’t even noticed the difference. Like the dual faces of a coin, I had two faces, two names, but I was still one being. Though I was still called The Creator, over time… Over time, The Destroyer became a more comfortable mantle to wear. Or at least, a more fitting one. I wore it with pride.
Until one day, I grew bored of it too. And so I stopped and once again left you creatures to yourselves, thinking that you would return to your original state of peace over time.
But I was wrong.
Before, when you would wage wars upon one another, there would always be a return to peace. It had made me believe that peace was the final stage of your development. But now, that would never happen. Bloodshed begets bloodshed, and pain would only breed pain. Another cycle had been established, but one of destruction not construction.
You no longer needed any deity of war; you had become your own.
And I tried, at first, to correct my fault. But no matter what I did, conflict would become the only option. Eventually, I returned to my only rule and I ceased to interfere.
Where once I was delighted with the excitement, now I only knew sorrow. I had brought this fate upon you.
And during this time, you kept calling out to The Creator and despaired when he would not listen. Though I did, I despaired too for I could not help.
And during this time, you cursed The Destroyer. And I cursed him too, for I had found him within me. I cursed him for I had fed him myself.
At times, I try to remember that voice who spoke to me in the beginning. I try to make out the words that gave me vigour. But now that I am old and decrepit, I find the greatest tragedy of all; I find that I am no longer certain if that voice had even existed in the first place.
Perhaps you humans are right to be faithful to a Creator. But I know for a fact, I am not that Creator.
I wonder if I was once fortunate enough to have heard his voice. And then disobeyed him as well.
And though I wonder for the existence of The Creator, I know I need not wonder for the existence of The Destroyer.
Sometimes, when I glance down at you beings of earth, I wonder if you were the lucky ones. Though you would always return to the dirt from whence you came, there was no uncertainty in that. Ashes to ashes, no exceptions. Each and every one of you knew that there would always be an ending to the torment of life, an escape.
And for me, there is nothing but uncertainty. Or perhaps, there is simply a denial of an unwelcome certainty.
Many of you still believe in The Creator, and though none of you have come to me after your inevitable crumbling, I can only hope that your faith was rewarded by His existence. His Peace.
If you do meet Him, can you pass Him a message from me?
Tell Him, I said, “I’m sorry.”