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The Cessation of Man
by Arlene Showalter
1/08/2009 / Short Stories
Hungry cowered numbly on the floor. Trembling hands passed over her bruised face. She begged Death to release her from her pain and shame.
After waiting some time for Death to grant her request, she uncurled her weary body and shuffled to the shower. There she wept and scrubbed and scrubbed and wept; trying to scour away the rape shed just endured.
The following days passed as a blur for Hungry as she desperately pretended all was well. Nobody must guess her shame. With robotic precision the routine her life continued until her best friend called.
Hungry. Aid & Abets voice squealed with excitement. Ive got the best news. A prophet named Invincible is in town. You must come hear her talk. Shes phenomenal! Please say youll come.
What does she teach? Hungry responded in lifeless tones.
Shes a motivational speaker, devoted to helping women feel better about themselves. Her book just hit the bestseller list. Amaryllis. You have to read it!
I dont feel like going out. Sorry.
Hungry, Im not asking, Im ordering. I dont know whats wrong with you, but you look terrible. Like you just lost your best friend. Aid and Abet giggled. Well, that cant be true because Im your best friend and you havent lost me. So, as your friend, I am telling you to come with me tonight. Ill pick you up at 6:15. Bye.
Hungry clutched the phone until her knuckles whitened. How could she go in public and risk being around men? But she knew her friend. Aid & Abet would sit in front of the apartment, laying on the horn until Hungry emerged.
Once at the meeting, Hungry was pleasantly surprised to note the total absence of men. Amaryllis flowers lined the stage front. Each woman had received a free Amaryllis plant as she entered the auditorium.
The meeting began precisely at 7:00 PM with lively music. Soon the air was charged with female camaraderie. The speaker had not yet emerged and already Hungry felt proud to be female; delicate yet strong.
At exactly 7:45 Invincible swept from the wings, arms upraised in blessing.
My dear sisters she began. Thank you so much for coming. I promise you today you are reborn!
With convincing oratory, Invincible related the history of man and woman, recounting how men had dominated, controlled and abused women through countless ages. Invincible had a dream, a powerful dream, of a new world without men. A place governed with the tender harmony of women and only women. As she closed her message, she asked only seriously interested women to stay behind for more information.
Aid & Abet and Hungry sat rooted to their seats. Invincible began outlining her dream; a colony named Amaryllis. Briefly she explained the significance of the name. The Amaryllis flower stood tall and proud. The meaning of the word is sparkle. Amaryllis has also been known as the Naked Lady plant and Resurrection Flower.
My dear Sisters, I promise you we will sparkle in our new world. As Naked Ladies, we expose all injustice done to us by man and we are resurrecting to a new life, a new order, a new world!
The audience was swept away with excitement. Each Sister began cheering and shouting. Down with men. Down with men. Spontaneous confessions of wrongs done poured from lips as women cried in sorrow, and then laughed in release. Joyful confusion filled the room.
Invincibles sharp eyes swept the eager crowd, coming to rest on Hungry.
Come here, beloved Sister she beaconed with her hand.
Embarrassed yet pleased to be singled out, Hungry stepped into the aisle and walked to the platform. Invincible embraced her warmly, then turned Hungry to face the audience.
My dear Sisters, I have before you a true Amaryllis. This dear Sister stands before you as a Naked Lady but today is the day of her resurrection. The Great One has just told me our Sister has been horribly abused by man. A man shed trusted brutally raped her.
Hungry gasped. Not a soul knew about the rape and yet Invincible revealed detail after detail. Hungry stood shaking and moaning as Invincible exposed her shame. But as she spoke, indignation and anger replaced it. The Great One knew the truth because She had witnessed it all. The Great One hated what happened to Hungry. She hated what man did to woman.
Sisters, I am going to minister to this precious Sister right now. Thank you for coming. We will meet again soon to discuss our new colony.
As Invincible led Hungry away, she noticed Aid & Abet coming forward. Please do not be concerned about your friend. I will see her safely home. With that, she dismissed Aid & Abet, gently but firmly leading Hungry through a door.
Closing it firmly to the outside world, she tenderly gathered Hungry into her strong arms.
Go ahead and cry, Sister. Cry for all the injustice and filth put on you by man."
Hungry broke down into uncontrolled sobs as Invincible held her. At length, her torment subsided. Invincible continued to hold her.
Then she slid warm, loving hands up and down Hungrys arms until she finally relaxed, leaning heavily into Invincibles bosom.
Gently Invincible raised Hungrys face, kissing her ever so faintly on the lips. Hungrys eyes closed, as her bruised soul soaked in the tender gestures of love and acceptance.
Deftly, Invincible stroked and stroked. First, Hungrys face and arms. Next her fingers traced Hungrys lips. She kissed her again, ever so gently on the lips. Again and again she touched Hungrys lips with her own.
Hungry felt safe, so safe in Invincibles arms. The woman was a true prophet. She knew Hungrys deepest secret to the minutest detail. The Great One had told her. The Great One was the one true goddess. Hungry knew deep in her spirit she had been born again to a new life; born again to her new destiny.
Invincible scrutinized Hungrys face and body language carefully, knowing the exact moment Hungrys spirit accepted her doctrine. She grasped Hungrys face and kissed her with a lovers kiss.
Hungry drew back, shocked. Conflict raged in her. A woman had just kissed her with a lovers kiss. Only a man should do that. But man had raped her. There was no tenderness in his kisses. Invincible is woman. Woman kissing woman. It is so wrong. But man kissed her and his kisses were even more wrong. His were brutal.
Again, Invincible studied Hungry carefully. She knew the battle raging in Hungrys heart. She also knew the outcome. Like a panther on the prowl, she knew when to pounce.
Just as Hungrys body slumped in confusion and defeat, Invincible again embraced her with strong and loving arms, quietly holding her.
Again, at just the right moment, she kissed Hungry with a lovers kiss. After the barest hint of hesitation, Hungry responded.
Invincible and Hungry clung together, arms and lips locked as need exploded through their bodies. The fire burned hotter and hotter until they spun out of control, grasping, groping and satisfying each others raging physical needs.
Totally spent, the new couple lay on the lushly carpeted floor, basking in the afterglow of satisfaction and belonging.
From that day forward, Hungry became Invincibles most devoted and tireless companion. They defied the laws of the land by marrying in a lavish ceremony. Invincible continued gaining more converts to her vision of Amaryllis.
Finally, the dream became reality. Invincible purchased an island paradise and began moving her converts there. In time, Amaryllis would be completely self-contained and cut off from the tainted world of man.
Any female, regardless of race, color or creed had open invitation to live in Amaryllis. She had only to renounce any attachment to all males and their brutal world. The city flourished, filled with sisterly love and harmony.
Two months later, Invincible called a communal meeting.
Greetings, dear Sisters. How is everyone tonight?
Great enthusiastic choruses greeted her. For the first time, these women didnt have to worry about being sexy, pleasing men, being abused by men, being underpaid by men. Amaryllis was a smashing success.
I have disturbing and yet good news. My lovely soul-mate, Hungry, came to me with a problem. Remember, dear Sisters, you can always come to me with any problem and be treated fairly.
Hungry is pregnant. Invincible gave the women a few minutes to digest the information.
I prayed to the Great One for wisdom. She spoke to me in a vision. She told me Hungrys baby is a male child. He will insure the future of our wonderful colony. We are to allow him to grow to puberty. As soon as mature sperm are confirmed, we are to harvest all the sperm and have him castrated. He will be our servant forever. And he is never to know how he came to be, or his parentage.
When you, my Sisters, desire to become mothers, you will be impregnated through in vitro fertilization. From this day forward, all babies born will be from Hungrys a new and pure lineage. When the sex of your baby is determined through sonogram, you and you alone will control your babys future. If you are pregnant with a male baby, you may abort on demand, or allow him to be carried full-term, at which time mandatory castration will be carried out and the male shall serve the female forever.
Invincibles plan rocked the meeting. Sisters screamed and yelled in victory. At long last male would serve female. Finally, female had total power over males future. As one, the Sisters stood, singing praises to the Great One and her prophet, Invincible.
In due time, Hungrys baby boy was born, healthy and handsome. From birth, Savior was passed from sister to sister, never knowing his parentage. Every Sister diligently met every physical need while holding the male child in complete contempt.
Savior grew up confused. He knew he was different, the only one of a kind. While every physical need was anticipated and satisfied, nothing he did brought approval. Love was lavished all around him but never on him. Every sneeze brought an army of females about clucking in concern, yet holding him at arms length. Physically coddled and verbally berated, Savior existed.
Savior, today is your 16th birthday.
Today, your purpose for living is fulfilled.
Surprise, then momentary hope flashed in Saviors eyes. Maam?
Yes. We allowed your birth 16 years ago to fulfill a major need of our colony.
Since our formation the same year as your birth, we have been unable to produce offspring to carry on our vision. Now, with your maturation, we can harvest and store your sperm for future mothers of the colony. Someday, even this will no longer be necessary as doctors are working to produce sperm from female bone marrow, making the need of all males obsolete. You will vanish from the earth as has all creatures who have outlived their purpose.
Savior was stunned by Invincibles cool assessment of his value. He finally realized why he was treated with both deference and disgust. Invincible invaded his thoughts.
I could have you killed after we harvest your sperm, but after living among us for sixteen years, I have decided to extend an option to you. I have cyanide in this vial. You can choose suicide, which would take your blood off my hands, or you can be castrated and live out your life as a perpetual slave. The decision is yours. Please, let us sip some wine together in celebration of your birthday.
With these words, Invincible extended a glass toward Savior, lifting her own in a toast. To Savior, who will provide us with multitudes of female colonists and male slaves.
Savior drank the wine. He had no choice. As soon as the drug took affect, Invincible signaled to waiting sisters, who bore him out of the room.
Castration broke Saviors spirit. He shuffled downcast through every chore given him. He watched happy women waddling all around him, their bellies filled with his seed. He watched baby girls celebrated while males were aborted or castrated at birth, joining him as the living dead.
Years passed. At twenty-five, Savior looked twice his age, haggard, stooped, without hope in life. Countless times he caressed the vial of cyanide only to put it away. Deep in his spirit he heard a gentle voice say not yet.
One day, Savior worked alone at Invincible and Hungrys home, silently sanding down the cherry wood flooring. A preoccupied Hungry hurried into the room, almost tripping on his sander.
You stupid fool! I almost fell! She remonstrated.
Sorry, Maam. Straightening his stooped form, Savior did the forbidden. He looked into Hungrys eyes.
Stumbling backwards, Hungry gasped, angry words dying on her lips. She was staring into her fathers eyes. Totally devoid of love and nurture, her young son had aged until he could pass as his grandfathers twin.
Daddy. The word sprang from her lips, unbidden. The last time Hungry saw her daddy, his eyes overflowed with tears as he begged her not to move to Amaryllis.
Daddy. She sobbed. The kindest, most gentle man to walk the earth. In her hatred of the rapist, she had divorced herself of all males. Her father. Her grandfathers. Her uncles and brothers. All good men. Kind men. Men that treated their wives right.
Hungry remembered the time her father surprised her with a doll she had begged for, not even waiting for her birthday. The pleasure of his kindness surged through her veins as she stared into her father/sons eyes.
O, God, what have I done? Her spirit moaned to the true God, not the Great One. I have allowed the wicked act of one male to change my life to this? How could I allow myself to be so deceived? How can I look into the face of my son and think him evil? O, God, my God, forgive me! Forgive my grievous sins.
Still staring into her sons eyes, Hungry said Please meet me at Grahams Cove at 9:00 tonight. I will explain everything then. But if you tell anyone, I will deny it and you will be killed. Beware!
Savior went to Grahams Cove at the appointed time, completely bewildered. What happened to cause one sister to show a smidgen of courtesy in twenty-five years? Was it a trap? Did he see a hint of remorse on her pinched face?
Thank you for coming, Savior. Please sit Hungry waved a hand at the bench beside her. Savor hesitated. He never sat in the presence of the Female.
Yes, hereon the bench she answered his silent question.
Savior, what I have to tell you is so awful I must have your promise of secrecy. Again, I warn you, if you talk to anyone, one word from me and you will be killed.
No Maam. Ill not talk. He assured her, still stunned that a Female would speak to him.
Savior, you are my son.
Only total shock could spur Savior to look up into his mothers eyes. He saw the truth of her words in them.
Savior, I owe you both an explanation as well as an apology. In college I dated one of the most popular guys on campus. I adored him. One night he got drunk and demanded sex. I told him no. He beat me and raped me. I was so ashamed I never told anyone.
About a month later, I attended one of Invincibles meetings. The Great One told her what had happened to me. She accepted me and loved me as I was. Because I was so angry at all men I eagerly accepted her love. Even though initially repulsed, I allowed myself to become her lover. She has always treated me with love and kindness.
"I helped Invincible settle Amaryllis. When I learned I was pregnant, she consulted Great One who told her you would be a male. She further said we were to allow you to live to maturity so you could provide sperm for the future of the colony. This is why you were named Savior.
Today was the first time I really saw you. You look exactly like my father. Suddenly I remembered all the males in my life who were good to me. There are evil males in the world, but not all males are evil. I saw all this in a flash when I saw my father in you.
For years I have paralyzed my true self to embrace Invincibles teachings. I have known much love and acceptance from Invincible, but I also realize the moment I differ from her everything will change.
Here, Hungry stopped and reached for Saviors hand. Unused to human touch, Savior jumped. Hungrys eyes filled with tears.
I am so sorry, Son. I have greatly wronged you. I have greatly wronged myself. I have greatly wronged all the good males I have known. Most of all, I have greatly wronged the true God who created Male and Female.
For the first time in his life, Savior experienced loving discourse. Words came hard for lack of use.
So, now what?
I dont know, Son. I do know that this unholy colony is condemned. Sooner or later, Gods wrath will fall. I will pray to the true God for wisdom. Meanwhile, I must continue to abuse you in public. When you see me touch this necklace, you will know to meet me here. Agreed?
Yes, Maam. His deference caused more tears to fall.
God help us, Son, to rectify my sins.
After that, Hungry continued on, working with Invincible, scorning the male slaves, especially Savior. Only quick glances into his eyes reassured him he had not dreamed the night of their meeting.
Savior, I need five lemons. Hungry ordered as she caressed her necklace. Invincible is hosting a tea this afternoon.
Savior hurried to Grahams Cove, arriving precisely at five oclock. Hungry had arrived already.
Son, she breathed as she embraced him. I have a plan, but it will cost us our lives. Are you willing?
Yes. Savior answered without hesitation. "Ive nothing to lose."
May God reward you, my Son, for I cannot. Hungry cried.
Ive found the means to destroy the pregnancy clinic where your sperm is stored. I will order you to clean the rooms after hours and we will destroy it together. As much as I hate what this colony represents, I want no other deaths than our own.
O Son, can you not call me Mother?
I will before we die. Its too dangerous now.
Hungry and Savior embraced and left for their separate dwellings.
Yes, my Love?
I need to go to the clinic. I was there today and Saviors work was disgusting. Im going to get that lazy pig and stand over him to make sure he does cleans it right.
Good idea, Dear. Ill see you when you return.
Later, Hungry and Savior stood hand-in-hand with the homemade bomb before them. Hungry turned to Savior, enveloping him in a tight embrace. Good-bye, my Son. May God forgive my sins and allow us to be together on the other side.
Good-bye Mother. Thank you for revealing yourself to me. I forgive you.
I love you, Son.
I love you, Mother.
Just as Hungry reached forward to detonate, the form of Jesus stood before them, welcoming arms wide open.
Speechless, Invincible sank to her knees before the burning hulk of the pregnancy clinic, the future of her dream, lying in ashes.
Hungry, my dearest Hungry. What happened? You are gone. All the sperm gone. Great One, Great One, Where are you? Help me!
Only the quiet crackle of dying embers filled the silence.
The author wishes to enjoy every year God gives her on this earth.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! Click here and TRUST JESUS NOW
Read more articles by Arlene Showalter
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