Big Cranky: Fall Into Darkness
by James Pyne
Genre: Dark Mythological Fantasy, Action
Forget everything you think you know about myths and legends, James Pyne’s Big Cranky connects them all in an epic web of deceitful betrayal, love, and loyalty. A capricious tale of gods, showing human quirks are not only wasted on the mortals. A tale of many deities treading lightly around a superior as the world begins.
“Oink. Oink.” With hand on the rail, El pushed his nose up, making the nostrils real big, the gums of his top teeth showed in all their crimson pinkness. “Oink. Oink.”
“Real tough, kid.”
El stepped down from the fence. Turned to see his mother in a magenta sari, the secrets of the Universe embroidered on its material in an ideographic language El had yet to decipher, but would, and when he did, look out Universe. A dark ponytail cascaded down one side of her neck, bottle-green eyes refracted into amber when she glanced down at the penned pig, then back to sparkling green when looking back down at him.
The expression of her lips was impossible to read. She could be mad or indifferent. Or was it resting bitch face, he snickered at that thought. Regardless, El didn’t want to remain in her presence because it meant more lessons when he just wanted to play. He was still a boy in terms of maturity, though mortals thought he was no more than ten years old. To an immortal, he was ten thousand years old with another six thousand of fun he should be looking forward to, not being forced to grow up before his years. What bullshit.
“Where are you going?”
His mother grabbed him by the shoulder of his tunic. Her face set against a sapphire-blue sky.
“You have that pig to make things right with.”
“It doesn’t feel.” He tried shaking loose. It felt like she was going to lift him to her face. Instead, she released him with a slight shake. “I was just having a little fun.”
“The pig has feelings. It feels the pain you inflict.”
The pig wallowed in the mud of its sty, always at its happiest when El’s mother was present. They were in the middle of nowhere. No farmhouse nearby, just hills of rolling green pastures in every direction. An empty blue sky with a slow approaching sunrise lit up a wooden chair and table that wasn’t there a minute ago. A crow’s feather stuck in a bottle of ink and a sketchpad next to it on the table. A shifty breeze messed El’s shoulder-length hair every which way.
“Instead of understanding your creation, make improvements, give it purpose, you torment the holy hell out of it. I shudder at the kind of king you will become, apparently a childishly cruel one. Now go sit down and make things right. We have little time.”
“Drawing’s not my thing, you know that. Can’t you just snap things into creation after I describe them to you like you did with pig?”
“Time for you to be hands on and take full responsibility.”
“I said I don’t draw well.”
“Problem solved, kiddo.” His mother smelled of rose oil one minute, the next like cinnamon, the next scent was something else pleasant to El, but he didn’t know what it was, so he called it mommy smell, but when she smelled like turnips, shit was about to fly, and if one was smart, they’d flee for safety for her words stung like a thousand hornets. “The quill and ink are extensions of your imagination, what you imagine something to look like in that stubborn head of yours, will appear on paper no matter how talentless your hands. Imagine a certain scent to go with your creations and it will come into existence. Paint this planet in with life, son, with your best thoughts.
Show me this dimension will be left in good hands.”
“This planet’s too small for my big ideas.” It really was, taking no more than ten minutes to fly its circumference, something he couldn’t do right now for his wings were made lame, translation, he was grounded until he got things right. “I want a bigger canvas to work with.”
“I’m not a baby.” He stomped.
She turned from him and faded from view.
“This is your fault. You tempted me.”
The pig snorted at him.
“Are you mocking me?”
His fists clenched.
The pig shied away, trembled. It was the first time El had seen such an expression coming from it and it bugged him. He really was just having fun.
“I guess I can let you out.”
He opened the fence gate into a long creak.
The pig eyed El’s every move.
“I give you freedom.”
It fell back on its side, splashing mud up on El.
Mother would be watching and grading his every move. Best do what she asked so his wings would come back to life and fly him off this dump. He plunked himself in the chair. He’d get the
pig back another way. But first a little harmless test run. El dipped the feather into the ink, slid away excess glob on the rim of the bottle and drew Stick People on the sketchpad, grinning big.
Stick People sprouted from the rolling hillsides, unraveling and rising to full height. They were all around him, in bold-typeset black, standing there like a silent army waiting for orders.
“Just keeping it real, Mom. I’m no artist.”
The ground shook. The Stick People collapsed into twigs that took root, flourishing into patches of lush green forests. He didn’t do that. That was Mother passively reminding him to smarten up. She had never laid a hand on him, not once, and truth be told he deserved quite a few spankings over her knee.
He looked over at the pig. It was at the open gate, sniffing its freedom, looked back at the mud, stared back out at the rolling hills, then back at the pool of mud.
He waved away the pig. “Stay in there for all I care.”
The sky needed clouds. The very tiny planet looked like it was getting dry, with the tallgrass beginning to turn sunburnt-brown in places, and now with trees, more water was needed. He dipped the feather-point into the ink jar and thought about how many rainclouds were needed? Too many would flood the planet. He hated this game. Becoming king in the image of his mother was boring. Too much order with no chaos. How would anything evolve into anything worthwhile without some here and there anarchy? The Universe needed things that didn’t make sense, to confound all living things, spur them into seeking answers for things that had no answers, leading to them discovering profound things along the way.
The pig wobbled by, stopping at the left of El.
“Mother says I need to make things right with you. Setting you free is one thing, but giving you choices, instead of rules is the greatest gift of all, yes?”
The pig just stared at the rolling hills and scattered forests, no doubt it was unsure what to do. El imagined a bridge, then drew one. It slowly materialized in front of the pig, stone-grey, it arched all the way up the sun, looking like nothing he would draw, but true to his mind's eye.
“Come on, go up it. Or what about this?” He imagined a giant lake of mud and drew it. It materialized at their right. The pig oinked with excitement, tail wagging. It started toward the lake of mud, stopping, it glared up at El with distrust.
“Exactly, maybe there’s a pig-eating monster in that lake, not even I know. But up there on that bridge, you will see the whole planet from way up there. It will be a beautiful sight. And the muddy lake will be transparent at that height, allowing you to see if there’s a terrible monster in it.”
The pig looked up at the bridge. Then back at the Lake of Mud.
He dipped the quill into the ink jar, imagined what the pig’s favorite food would be and drew it. In front of the pig appeared three tubers for it to taste. The rest popped into existence all the way up the bridge. The pig munched on one, its eyes lit up, no doubt the best tubers ever. Tried
another, then another, starting its way up the stone bridge, curly tail wagging. The closer it got up that bridge, the bigger the grin on El’s face.
“That’s it. Fill your gluttony to heart’s content.”
It had the lack of knowing when it was full, El created it like that. Not knowing when to stop eating might have it blow up any second. Curly tail wagging while it ate every tuber it came to. El laughed out loud at the thought of it blowing up.
“I hope you don’t,” he shouted up at it, looking at the sun. “A much better fate awaits you.”
Something he had whispered into it was feeling pain, it was very sensitive to that and it was about to feel a lot of that. The anticipation of the pig becoming smoked pork had him almost in a fit of giggles. He would claim it was an accident of course.
Everything went dark. Like a switch was turned off.
“What the hell, mom?”
A moon flashed above, then starlight, like time had been sped up. The future was like that, he thought, just when you’re about to grab it, it pulled light years away. At least when Mother was around.
He flicked the feather into the darkness, threw his hands up, and just as the feather touched the wooden table it split into a million splinters, the chair, too, sending El hard on his bum.
“Mom, you ruin everything.”
He folded his arms, refusing to stand. The ink jar exploded into pieces.
“Pig-headed like your dad was,” his mother said, not yet appearing in sight. “Look, kiddo, like your father I’ll be moving on to the next phase of our existence. I feel the Eternal Energy pulling at me into the next Reality.” She materialized into view. “And you’re not ready to be Keeper in this one. But you’re all that’s left of our bloodline.”
“Things are going to be different.” It did sadden him she would be leaving; truth be told that was the main reason for his rebellious nature, hoping she would remain here until he grew up into adulthood. It didn’t seem right he would be abandoned at such a young age. “You better not leave because things will be different.”
“Why do you want to inflict so much misfortune?”
“Pain will be another form of scars, to remind them of what can hurt them. They’ll grow stronger because of it.”
“They already feel horrible pain when losing a part of their body, they die, they suffer from the loss of loved ones, many find that the worst kind of pain they know, why do you want to give them ‘cruelty.’ What point is there in that?”
El sprung to his feet, walking proud. He marched around his mother, as if sizing her up, which of course he wasn’t, but if anyone saw them from a distance, they would think that’s exactly what he was doing.
“For them to be truly enlightened beings, to maybe even surpass us someday, they need to know fear, unimaginable pain, know true evil, throw those things with the pleasures of life, they’ll be better for it. Your ways of pampering them, guiding them along with commandments, stops once I take over, Momzy. They are going to be figuring out things on their own. If they blow up the Universe while doing that is of no concern of mine. Do you really want to leave me behind, knowing this?”
“What will I do with you, El? You truly are terrible. Threatening the wellbeing of the universe if I leave? We will meet again in the next reality when you’re ready. Don’t be afraid. I’ll always be with you, your father, too. Cling to our traditions and we will always be with you.”
“If it’s for the greater good that you leave, leaving me to suffer from such a loss, then it’s for the greater good they suffer. They’ll be better for it, according to your way of looking at things. You’ll see. My vision of how things should be will be----”
El tripped over the pig, sending him face-first in pig excrement.
“You have such big plans for the universe, yet one of your creations,” she leaned back from laughter, pointing, “a simple pig has tripped you.”
James Pyne hails from Nova Scotia, Canada, and has been a scribe for the Universe much of his life. He's a firm believer in being able to write in every genre, to make his world building and characters hopefuly come out genuine. No matter what he writes it will have some form of darkness, nothing is pure light in any worlds James creates and rumor has it, his surviving characters are plotting his demise. When it comes to his past time, much of it is spent learning the craft, but he does enjoy gardening and playfully tormenting those he loves. When he's not writing, or working his day job, he's traveling. The Andalusia region of Spain the last place that tolerated him.
Favorite authors: John Gardner (Grendel, Sunlight Dialogues). Fyodor Dostoevsky (The Brothers Karamazov). Clive Barker (Imajica, Weaveworld, Books of Blood). Terry Pratchett (Good Omens, Bad Omens). J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings). And all the scribes who carried on the tradition of myths throughout the ages.
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