[The Island of the Centipede – Chapter Five]
Once upon a time a boy named Cronos forgot who he was.
He walked east.
Around him the world was swirling and filling and closing. It was surf. His snake Ophion wound around him. Its scales were obsidian plates. It circled about him. It made patterns of darkness and light.
His heart was full of joy.
Joy burned in his chest. He could not hold it back. He gave a great shout from it, “Yey-aa!”
All around him the surf crashed. He could not breathe reliably. The sea kept hitting him. It got in his mouth and his nose.
Ophion made a sound, ssaaaa.
It was like the sound of the surf, stopped at its very middle point.
Something was killing him.
To the east the world divided into lines.
Around him the world was swirls and filling and closing but to the east were lines and dots. Blue and white turned to scattered golden sands. Then a ragged line marked the edge of grass. A great round line made a boulder and stark rising lines denoted trees. Only at their tops with their thousands of leaves did the east turn to swirls and filling and closing once again.
Cronos walked east.
Ophion was killing him.
Crack the earth.
Stir the sea.
From the west there comes an outpouring of good to make all things right.
Max sets out in his catamaran to bring this virtue to an end.
He’s owned his crime but he can’t make it right.
His crime is a poison.
It is the Latter Days of the Law.
The Buddha’s answer is fading.
It cannot stop the suffering of the world.
The knife of the legend of Mr. Kong
Reflects his answer:
“We must try to be good.”
But people always fight the things they love.
The Island of the Centipede
Something was killing him. It was Ophion. The snake tightened about him. Its teeth bit into his ear.
“I love you,” he said to Ophion, which was true; and the snake drew back, and it said, ssaaaa.
One hand came down on hard round texture. There were rocks beneath the sea.
His vision became a tunnel edged with red. Under the surf he heard this sound: ba-put, ba-put, ba-put, ba-put. It was as if the world were suddenly on measured and accelerating time.
One hand squirmed under the coils to be between the serpent and his neck.
“Ophion,” he gasped.
The snake whispered, “We will die here.”
And the starry chambers above the world spoke, and its voice was everywhere and nowhere, and mellifluous and kind, and said, “Thus far, and no further.”
Cronos looked up.
It was visible even to the sky that he did not understand.
“I have made an Eden,” said the voice. “I have made a world that is perfect, just, and good. And to maintain that world it is necessary to exclude such things as Ophion. This is a doctrine of self-defense; it is a doctrine of mercy; it is a blessing of the stars.”
Cronos’ hand slipped away from his neck. The coil tightened.
And Ophion squeezed him and he could not breathe and his right foot sank into the sand and his left foot turned and his right fist seized about the body of the beast and pulled and his waist bent and his arms stretched out and he cracked the neck of Ophion against the stone and held its head beneath the waves.
The coils loosened. The snake flailed.
The fingers of Cronos cracked the scales of Ophion. His nails dug into the muscle of the beast. Its head was under the sea.
Loop by loop it fell away from him. It twitched.
He did not say: o my love.
He staggered up onto the shore and he fell down.
“What have I done?” he asked.
And the sky spins over him and it is some time before it said, “The question is immaterial.”
“There are no deeds,” said the sky, “beyond the boundaries of the world.”