Pareidolia Play Along 6: Creation Myth


This is a post by guest blogger Ellen Bulger.

In Pareidolia 5.0, I’m ramping it up a notch. The game has changed:

YOU are a fast-talking wannabe shaman in a not-as-distant-as-we’d-like future that is straight out of a Paolo Bacigalupi novel. That is to say, the petrofuels are gone, the climate has degraded and civilization as we know it is hanging on by a thread. Safety nets are no longer an issue, because save for the few whose ancestors were Bushes or Romneys or the likes of the Koch Brothers (Did those guys breed? Can creepy fucks with asbestos hearts actually reproduce?) everybody is at goddamn rock bottom. At least Mad Max had a dog. You had to eat yours.

Those one percenters who were stockpiling and prepping while the rest were distracted by bread and circuses (fake news and gonzo politics) provided a sort of a future for their descendants. Maybe those people are happy. It’s not like they spend nights sleepless with remorse, tossing and aching about social injustice and the suffering of other people. It’s not like they ever gave a damn about the glorious diversity of life on Earth. So maybe, so long as they have opulent surroundings and drugs and servants and maybe some slaves to abuse, they’re happy as clams. Maybe it is even more delicious for them when they know everything else has gone to shit. Yeah, probably that is exactly it. Ugh.

Sadly, your great great great great grand parents were just typical schmucks. It is not good for you in this brutal new world. No sirree. You have to live by your wits and the best thing you’ve come up with is being a cosmic con artist, that is to say, a holy man/woman. Woo woo woo. Woo for the life of you. Woo for food, for partners, for power, for survival. Woo is what you gotta do.

You’ve been traveling with a ragged band who hunt rats and gather various mushrooms to survive. You happen to suck at rat hunting. The only other job in the tribe is either as a strong arm to keep the cannibals at bay, or else the front line “gourmets”, the ones who taste whatever mushrooms have been most recently found FIRST. Because even if your taxonomy is awesome (and in this scenario, yours is NOT), there are invasive species that are look-alikes popping up all the time. Not to mention that you can never tell if the collection site has soil contaminated with old pesticide or industrial products or any of a number of other choice goodies that do not degrade in the environment, but that concentrate in the mushroom tissues like wrinkled old rich snobs clog the bars at country clubs.

So you and your group are foraging up the Naugatuck River corridor. Back in the day, this was breathtaking place. Back in the day, when there were highways and cars and fuel, a drive up the Route 8 corridor in the fall was stunning. But that was long ago, back before the ALBs and the EMTs and what all else killed all the hardwoods. But the rocks are still pretty and there are some scrubby trees and brush. And the topography of the place at least means your guys know where the likely ambushes are.

Things are as good as they can get for you in this post-oil world of long-gone gyres and rising sea levels. Except that there are fifty pounds of shelf fungus that look a lot like yummy Laetiporus. Only these ‘shrooms are purple and seem to move a bit. They freak you out. You thought you saw one of them eat a mouse. But times are tough and there are a crapload of them sitting by the fire, waiting to be cooked. Too much food to waste, if they are good. And it is your turn to be the taster.

Got all that? Good.

So your band comes across this:

Creation Myth © Ellen Bulger

The leaders of the tribe get very excited. They haven’t seen anything like it before and wonder what it is, what means. And they turn to you, because you have traveled a bit and even know how to read. They turn to you. They ask you what it is. It isn’t much to work with, I admit. But life is like that. Life is EXACTLY like that. This might be your only chance. If you are clever enough, you might be able to pass that big old plate of steaming purple mushrooms off on somebody else to eat.

NOW, for the sixth time, I ask you; WHAT DO YOU SEE?

Think hard. Put some cortical back into it!

Comments

  1. lochaber says

    Looks like some beautiful concretions weathering out of the rock (shale?).

    No idea what I would ‘claim’ they were.

    maybe magical slingstones of smiting, but are only effective after a ritualistic preparation that serves to ‘loosen’ the power that is currently locked in the stones. I’d explain it, but it’s different for each stone, and it’s difficult to get right. Any errors in the preparation process run the risk of entirely stripping the stones of all power and rendering them just interesting looking rocks.

    I couldn’t actually do this, cause I can’t lie or act worth a damn, but if I could, I’d pretend to be all excited, and encourage people to dig them out, and start chipping at the outcrop for others (looks like there are some just below the surface, and the rock is probably full of them) while I start messing with supplies and such, readying for the ‘activating’ ritual.

    Then I’d encourage them to make slings (if they don’t have them already) and practice with lumps of clay/dirt/plain rocks. And set about plans to knock over the nearest cannibal tribe when the group has enough proficiency (and rocks stockpiled)

    Maybe also use some to make a couple of warclubs or soap-in-a-sock style flails (just for confidence or something, i dunno).

    Strongly demand that we protect this site, and continue to mine it for magic stones, and try and build a society or something.

    Eventually, (if any of this works) I’m sure I’d have to farm out some of the ritual preparation, so start seeking people to take on and mentor, and ‘teach’ the ritual to. I’d probably look for people who more likely to be ostracized from the community (for being different/awkward, not for being predators or whatever), make some claim that they have some sort of ‘gift’ based on how they handle the stones or some such silliness.

    I dunno, I’d be horrible at this sorta stuff. I’d do better looking for grubs to eat.

  2. Emu Sam says

    The warts of a dragon breaking through. Keep an eye out; when there are more than ten per square foot (or other density that seems just far enough off), the dragon will be breaking through in less than an hour and eating anyone around unless it’s distracted by this spell I have on this piece of paper that you don’t know whether I wrote myself or collected in my long journeys.

    In survivalism scenarios, once basic survival is taken care of, I always make containers and paper and ink.

  3. maddog1129 says

    It’s a manifestation of the crocodile god. I see a croc breaching the water with its eyes and nose.

  4. sheila says

    These are the breasts of the evil witch Golgafrath, forcing their way through to our dimension. It is vital that she be stopped! She eats the hope and joy out of living souls, leaving only a husk that will do nothing useful, but still needs to be fed. (Unless you can bring yourself to kill the poor empty husk of a victim. Could you do that to your mother?) If she gets through, soon the tribe will consist only of the living dead!

    The only way to repel Golgafrath is with a very special ceremony, which is far too complicated to explain – I have to do it myself. The ceremony is extremely demanding, so I’ll need a good meal first to sustain me. Then I have sex with the most attractive man in the tribe. Filled with his energy, I must dance with whatever the tribe uses for currency (I should be able to hide some, at least.) This will attune me with the tribe’s best weapon. Then I attack the breasts with the tribe’s best weapon. This will scare Golgafrath rigid. But if anyone takes the weapon off me, she’ll know, and she’ll get us all! So it’s essential that I keep the weapon. (And then I’ll be able to threaten other people with the weapon and with letting Golgafrath through.)

    [Sometimes it worries me how easily I come up with this stuff.]

  5. maxdwolf says

    I’ve clambered over enough old farm equipment and bulldozers and the like to recognize rust and old rivets. Could be a part of a building as well, but I’m leaning towards some sort of equipment. Sadly, no clue about the accretion.

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