A Man and Three Brothers

Author: Mark Joseph Kevlock

A man and three brothers knew the secrets of the world. Thus, they began a quest to unlearn them. They sought a place to pour out their secrets, where none would ever find them. They found a cave that ran deep and walked down its throat for many days. They heard strange sounds and the footfalls of the world above them. They tired not, nor did they speak.

Eventually, the cave opened upon a bigger cave. One of the brothers took measurements with his eyes. He held that gift. And many more. Too small, he indicated, in his thoughts. The others concurred.

They passed through landscapes of long-dead civilizations. They saw secrets in the walls, in the rocks. But they had enough of their own to carry and took no interest in gaining more.

The man led the way — not by choice, simply in accordance with the universal order of things. The man was the leader. He carried the most secrets, the greatest burden.

Water ran towards them and then away. Another of the three brothers lifted his ear to passages read eons ago, still alive on the currents, echoes awaiting a listener. He listened. Their bible proved to be a bible like his own bible: words repeated often enough to lose their meaning in the crevices between tongue and heart.

Their search continued.

The third brother lay nearest to the grave. He kept disintegration at bay through force of will: pictures of beautiful women who raced alongside his preserved youth. He held the wisdom of the moment, though seldom shared it.

Interchangeable thoughts leapt between them, lightnings across the inner sky.

The world got deeper and deeper. All across its surface, they had journeyed with secrets in tow and no place to put them. Was it fair for the world to end, every so often? Perhaps fish would rule the next imagining.

They called themselves Lagonians. Names gave weight to thoughts collected into matter. Eventually, only the thoughts remained.

Certain that they had traveled through the center of it all and failed to recognize it as such, the man and three brothers halted.

In order to begin anew, the universe must forget itself, burn its paintings, bury its books. Men were paintings of muscle with books for brains.

Light shone feebly ahead.

A man and three brothers moved toward it.

A machine sat before them, needing secrets for fuel. They had secrets.

The first brother tried to measure it with his gifts. He could not.

The second brother listened to its hum, but could not understand.

The third brother tried to die, but it would not let him.

The machine waited for the man, the leader. He tilted his head and a secret fell out.

Secret number one: Machines made the world. All matter is inorganic at its deepest level.

The man beat a fist to his skull and knocked another secret loose.

Secret number two: Willpower creates matter. Thoughts give birth to all.

The three brothers knew these secrets. Everyone knew these secrets. That was why the world had to end: it had no secrets left to reveal.

Might this machine be God?

The man fell to his knees and dropped a secret, accidentally.

Secret number three: No one ever dies… for no one has ever lived.

The machine ate secrets from each of them, all they had. This accomplished, it gave no further acknowledgment of their presence.

A man and three brothers departed.

They had forgotten the secrets of the world and could begin to make them up all over again.

3 Comments

  1. Hari Navarro

    Wonderful writing and rendered in such a way that is thoroughly absorbing and thought provoking. Mark, I see that you have also written for DC, very cool that.

  2. Adam Gerencser

    Beautiful, but with the sad implication that when (if) we reach utopia, with no more secrets to reveal, its static nature would move us to undo it again..

  3. Thomas Desrochers

    Reminds me of Asimov’s ‘Last Question,’ if it were spliced with the wandering jew from Canticle for Leibowitz and some biblical spices. I liked it.

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