Little Faces (VII/VII)

Micah attacks.

He is feral, in those first moments of his life. He knows only that there is a threat to Liril in those words and that he is a god born of her extremity.

He does not know his own power, only that it must come. It must find him, in the moment of his need. There is no alternative.

The monster has reached out and grasped at Micah’s hair. Micah is already moving. He is screaming. He is attempting to climb the monster. He is attempting to claw at the monster’s neck.

The door is opening. There is a grayish man outside. He is looking in.

Micah’s thoughts are a thunder of kill. Kill.

The world inverts.

[The Frog and the Thorn – CHAPTER ONE]


March 18, 1995

Micah finds himself plunging against a table. His arm is behind his back. It is twisted. The monster is leaning weight on him.

He gives forth a strangled cry.

He calls to his power.

He has none.

The monster grinds an elbow against his back. Noise and pain and seawater gurgle in Micah’s throat.

“What the hell, Liril?” the monster says.

He sounds bemused.

It’s like even after the sewer gnome and the footsoldiers he can’t quite believe that Liril would cough up such an unnaturally useless god.

“It’s not that bad,” Micah says. “I’m not that bad. Come on. This wasn’t a fair fight. I wasn’t ready. Let’s try this again.”

The monster considers this.

Then he shrugs.

He steps back.

He says, “Come on, then.”

Micah pulls himself upright.

He wobbles his neck from one side to the other. He wants it to make an intimidating crackling noise, but Micah is ten years old and can only demonstrate the limberness of youth instead.

“I’ll cut your stomach open,” Micah says. “I’ll let your intestines out. Then I’ll paint little faces on them and hold plays.”

“Is everything all right, doctor?” the man at the door asks.

The monster scratches behind one ear.

“Check Liril out,” he says. “She may have broken something.”

Micah tries to move.

The monster becomes truth.

The sands dripped through the hourglass
And the hour of the wolf closed in at last
And life is sweet and the sun is high
But the flesh and the fire are born to die

Micah comes to himself by dizzying, circuitous routes. He traces his way, bit by bit, to flesh and consciousness.

It is still there.

It is waiting for him, lurking before him, immanent in the world.

The monster wins.

He revisits his path. He attempts to plan strategy. He sends random instructions down his spine, trying to motivate his limbs to action.

It is pointless.

He is falling over. He thinks he may be falling over. He thinks he is leaking some kind of fluid.

He gets his hand to twitch. That fascinates him. It continues, once, twice, three times, and there’s a building pressure of wrongness under it, a falsity, and finally he stresses out and can’t keep going, he flails his hand out of the way somewhere where it won’t keep twitching in defiance or potential defiance of the monster, that is truth.

He mumbles something. Then he stutters his mouth shut.

He wants to scream.

He can’t.

Under the pressure of the monster, who is truth, the fabric of lies that is his existence, his defiance, his independent being in the world dissolves. He shatters. He is made nothing.

He is sweating and hot and his breath comes in great gasps from very far away.

A twitch in his mind wants to save him, save her, save somebody, but it cannot reach the surface, it is a blind thing damaged by the light of truth, it is a piece of paper caught in the fire that is truth, the armor of his will is a paper armor, crumbling to ash, and leaving him naked to the world.

Something in him gropes for the concept of justice.

He cannot find it.

His mouth is slopping open. There is something awful coming out, seawater and rot and horrid things, and he does not know why, save that one of them is a question:

“What is truth?”

He is utterly defeated. It is a sudden shining jewel to him. It is a course of compliance and forgetfulness along and around which he may organize his mind. It is a sudden shining jewel to him, the recognition of his defeat.

He does not need the truth to fall.

He is nothing, not even a Micah.

The monster could have beaten him with a lie.

Coming May 11, 2011: May 28th, 2004.

8 thoughts on “Little Faces (VII/VII)

  1. And like Martin in the Underworld, Micah has to let go of the idea of opposing and defeating the monster.

    I wonder what we’ll get on May 6, 2011…maybe a letter column?

  2. Micah shouldn’t be so hard on himself. It took Jenna over a dozen tries to even manage Bob, and while impressive in many ways, Bob still wasn’t enough of an answer to the Problem of Monsters.

    -Eric

  3. Oh, hey, I just noticed the mention of footsoldiers. So they were something that came from Liril but went wrong? (They weren’t mentioned in part VI.)

  4. Given the context of the Footsoldiers post (Martin’s field guide on creatures from Central), yeah – they were failed gods of Liril. She was their only working Crucible at the time anyway, so that makes total sense. They were mentioned as an injoke of Central – totally worthless gods.

    So:
    Liril’s Gods:
    – The footsoldiers
    – The sewer gnome
    – Micah
    – The growing god
    – Iaccholyreus

    Jane’s Gods:
    – Iphigenia
    – Alan
    – Daniel
    – Bob
    – Ii Ma
    – The contemners

    What other gods are mentioned as having been made by one of them?

  5. Where do we have it that Ii Ma came from Jane? I always thought of him (it?) as something spontaneously existing. The monster said in “The Fable of the Lamb” that Martin could turn Ii Ma into an is, but that’s not the same thing.

    Jane had a bunch of other brothers that the monster all killed. I can think of Frederick, Thess, and Lisa off the top of my head, and if you look at Martin’s backstory you’ll find others.

  6. It was in the teaser that Jenna released for the Hitherby book – http://imago.hitherby.com/?p=3587. Amusingly, the first comment to that post is you being surprised that Ii Ma was one of Jane’s gods.

    Also, when I read the Fable of the Lamb with that in mind, it seems clear to me that the Monster is referring to Jane’s gods when he talks about the beings Martin could send at them (Ii Ma, the Contemners).

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