Cain’s tattoo

Adam and Eve settled in a valley somewhere east of paradise and eventually had two sons: Cain, a farmer, and Abel, a shepherd.

Each son offered to God part of their yield, a gesture of faith in His continued provision. Underneath a blistering sun, Cain would throw together an indiscriminate mix of berries and greens and scatter them upon the unwrought altar. Abel, on the other hand, would take from the firstborn of his flocks, carefully cut the choicest sections of meat from the bone, and place them in rows on a sacred stone. He would then burn them down to a charred powder.

Abel’s labor of love pleased God, so He blessed him with healthy flocks and herds. But he ignored Cain’s offering, and the elements of nature showed no mercy. Over time, grubs and vermin ravaged whatever fruit the sun or frost didn’t take in their season.

God asked Cain in a dream, “If you offer your best, will you not be blessed?” Then he saw a hideous serpent showing a snarled fang and hissing like a cockroach. Cain inched closer to seize the viper and snap its neck, but the unholy creature struck his ankle and bit clean through the ligament.

Cain let out a visceral shriek and awoke with a start.

On the brisk morning after, Abel was leading Cain to a new field he thought might produce food for them. Cain, lagging a few steps behind, gathered his bronze sickle with both hands.

“Abel,” Cain said, a pipe of steam coming off his breath.

Abel turned, and Cain swung the tool swiftly, lopping his brother’s head clean off.

Cain stood stock still and watched the blood drain from his brother’s body. The soil drank eagerly, and the earth around his torso darkened like an unholy shadow.

God haunted Cain’s nightly visions with the question, “What have you done with Abel?”

“When did he fall under my watch?” Cain asked the specter, writhing in a pool of cold sweat. “I’m not his Guardian.”

A cold shadow emerged from the ground where Abel’s carcass lay rotting, and his blackened blood cast a spell on the field. Soon rumors about his treachery echoed in the valley, and Cain became a nomad with a price on his head.

Withered by malnutrition and paranoia, Cain eventually begged for God to rescue him from his misery. God met him with tenderness and mercy.

“If anyone kills you,” He vowed, “I will rain down a sevenfold punishment.” God burned a mark into the outcast’s flesh to deter anyone from assaulting him, and Cain settled in the land of Nod. From his family tree came some of the earliest civilized people, including shepherds in man-made huts, musicians, and smiths.

God eventually blessed Adam and Eve with another son, Seth. From Seth’s family tree came godly men such as Enoch the Holy.

Enoch walked with God, just as Adam and Eve had done in the beginning. Meditating on the movement of stars, the cycles of seasons, and the withering of trees, he remembered his ancestors’ prelapsarian state. He divined that nothing in nature transgresses the laws of God, so he too walked the righteous path, creating order from the chaos around him. Then one day, Enoch mysteriously vanished.

Inspiration: Genesis 4

Dragon’s deception

The serpentine dragon cradled its scaly head on a branch in the Knowledge Tree and reasoned with Eve. “You look hungry,” he garbled. “I hear you aren’t allowed to eat any of Eden’s delicious varieties. Is this a joke?”

Eve bristled at the unusual voice of the talking lizard. “We can eat anything except Knowledge.”

She pointed to the tree from which both the forbidden fruit and the dragon’s tail dangled. “We can’t even touch it, or we’ll die.”

The dragon choked on a half-chewed morsel. “Dear child, do I look dead to you?” he asked, mucous-caked eyes glinting in the sun. He dropped from his perch and crept closer. “Don’t you want to know good from evil, child? That’s what happens when you eat from Knowledge. You become distinguished and discretionary. Like a god.”

Eve regarded the sagging fruit, and the dragon saw in her gaze a well of desire.

“Why should your God be the only one who knows good from evil?”

Adam appeared from out of the brush, his brutish footfalls startling the beast. With eyes fixed on the sun-kissed fruit, he inquired, “Like a god, you say?”

“Like your God,” the coiled reptile affirmed. “He lied to you, friends.”

With that, the dragon skulked away, eyes smiling.

Eve plucked the fibrous orb from the limb. The tree snapped back as if pained by the extrusion. No sooner had she and Adam bit into it that they gained all sense of time.

Enchanted by the hypnotic sound of blood pumping through their veins, they swayed to a melody swelling in their ears. Adam drew himself erect, pulsating waves welling from his lower spine up through his crown. Eve felt her legs give way, so she knelt and listened to the harmonies playing in oscillating tempo beneath the soil.

When their rapture ended, both creatures shuddered, feeling suddenly vulnerable and exposed. A harsh wind swept through the clearing, and the sky rumbled ominously.

They patched together the leaves of a fig tree with willow string and wrapped themselves, then scurried in opposite directions in search of protection.

God came down that evening, but Adam and Eve weren’t answering His call.

“Where are you?” He asked, peering into the orchard. “Adam?”

Adam responded from behind a mulberry bush, his voice shrill and weak. “I was naked and afraid, so I hid,” he explained, self-consciously.

“How’d you know you were naked unless you took fruit from the Knowledge Tree?”

Adam admitted his disobedience but quickly blamed his wife. “I was content with figs and pomegranates,” he said, “but this woman, y-your gift to me, I should say, sh-she wanted a taste of Knowledge.”

Eve appeared from behind the foliage of the weeping willow, face downcast and visibly shaken. Speechless, she pointed an accusatory finger at the creature who happened to be slinking along the path.

God seized the dragon by its throat. “Eat dirt and die! From now on, you’ll slither on your belly, with misery your only company. You may strike at His heel, but your Adversary will crush your head.”

God turned to Eve and said, “Now that you’ve tasted the difference between good and evil, childbirth will be painful and dangerous. As far as your relationship with the man, you’ll want to rule over him, but he’ll dominate you. His desire will be for wealth and power.”

To Adam he said, “You’ve cursed the soil, whose provisions weren’t enough. You’ll bleed, sweat, and cry for your bread, grasping for food, sex, and an endless string of temporal things until you return to dust.”

God’s countenance then softened. He presented them with clothes He had made from the hide of slaughtered animals. “You’ll need more than fig leaves where you’re going,” he said.

The first man and woman had just experienced a most unfathomable blow. For their safety, God separated them from the Life Tree and dispatched a host of armed guards to surround it. Had they consumed Life straight from the source, the wounded pair would have been damned to their eternal condition.

God escorted them to the east gate and drove them onto a twisted path leading into the cold darkness.

“Follow closely to the way,” God instructed. “The sun will rise again, and I will bring a source of Life back to your offspring.”

The estranged pair left the comforts of the lush garden and traveled east along the rocky road they named Suffering, and the dragon slithered behind them by the light of a fallen moon.

Inspiration: Genesis 3

Mythos rising

This story begins at the end of a brooding inertia in the abysmal recesses of amniotic space.

God hovered over the vast and shapeless deep, and after a pregnant pause, He uttered the first word:

“Light.”

A blinding shaft aroused the sleeping void and illuminated an ancient battle scene. Armed with Wisdom, the sword of eternal will, God crushed the head of the watery dragon Chaos and pierced the spirit of the raging flood.

From out of the maelstrom, a blue curtain appeared and shrouded the earth-in-flux in a dome. Its corners stretched out on the tenterhooks of four pillars. This bellowing canvass separated the waters of the chaotic underworld from the secret courts of the heavens above.

God etched boundaries into the waterways below, creating dry land, and a lush garden sprung in vibrant color from the banks of a crystalline river. Thick vegetation blanketed the ground in every direction, and two large trees, the Life Tree and the Knowledge Tree, flanked the tributary. Their outstretched boughs entangled to form a canopy over the rippling brook, dwarfing all the other plants.

“Good,” God said as He hurled the sun, moon, and an array of luminaries across the sky dome. “This is all good.”

He created sea creatures, land creatures, and sky creatures, and each multiplied by instinct across the land, air, and sea. Insects hummed, mammals groaned, and an cacophony of new life strummed their symphony. The vibratory song transcended the fabric of the dome and reaching the ears of heaven’s Watchers.

Then God made a strange creature like Himself and placed him in the middle of the garden beneath the crosshatched shadows. Like the animals before him, Adam rose mightily from the mist-moistened clay, animated by the very breath of God.

“This is very good.”

God gave His supreme achievement dominion over every realm and placed within him a link to Himself, a soul.

Adam named species, cataloged stars, and established order. He held a scepter over the new earth, but he was alone.

Considering Adam’s milieu, God caused him to fall into a deep sleep, seized a portion of clay from his body, and fashioned with it another creature like himself.

Upon waking, the son of God looked upon his new partner with immense pleasure.

“I’ll call her ‘woman.’”

Their embrace satiated Adam’s need, and the first king and queen ruled together without self-awareness and without shame.

God took inventory of everything he had made, and seeing it was perfect, He rested.

Inspiration: Genesis 1-2, Psalm 74:12-17, Isaiah 51:9-10