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The Slaughterhouse Mirror
My name is Adam and I fled paradise.
My earliest memory of Eden is a wooden table, splintered and marked by the edges of a dull knife. The lighting is dim, brief spasms filtering from a dirty lamp. A rusted line stretches above the wooden table, dangling with a thousand curved hooks. He- we called him the Maker- sat at the center of the table. His eyes never left the splintered surface, two lightening blues flashing at the orbits of insanity. His calloused hands thrashed with the dull tools, pulling and tearing at hardened bits of clay. Wild, knotted springs of hair shot from his gray head. He always wore the same torn overalls, his metal-tipped boots beating the floor with every cut.
I was his puppet, maybe his number ten puppet, more like number one thousand. Dangling with a hook in my spine, I turned to my left and to my right, and all down the rusted line hung more puppets. Breath lifted and pulled their clay chests: despite the dark room, curiosity spilled from their eyes. It dripped on the table, and flowed through the crevices of the floorboards. It formed a world in their minds, outside of the wooden table, and caverns of dim light. We swung to the creaking beat of the hooks, beautiful puppets tasting the breath of life.
The maker would sometimes tug us off the hooks, and throw our failing bodies before him. His eyes flew wildly over every feature, his voice a grating whisper. He poked and prodded at our arms, our legs, our cheekbones, the curve of our hips, the curl of our hair. A muted shriek would crawl down the rail, as the maker tore, attached, tore again, and reattached parts, patches of skin, tufts of hair.
The maker was creating us in his image. That image fizzled and cracked in his eyes, cast to the splinters and clay crumbs. As I lay on the moment of creation, love was a foreign concept. But I understand love now: the maker did not have love, and he did not give it. Instead, he infused our clay heads with wire strands, carefully drawing them from a spool in his hidden drawer. They were split at the ends, and bent. He twisted the wires into shapes, patterns, symbols, and tightly sealed our clay caps over top.
After creating a new human, he would grab the man by thee waist, and throw him onto a passing hook. As the hook’s point dug deeper into our spines, we loved our creator even more. The edges of our wire brains were barbed with the darkness: and so we believed that the maker was our light, our breath of life. And our affection grew with every cut, tear, and patchwork. We believed ourselves merely extensions of his calloused hands, the fragments of our souls drawn from the blue of his crazed eyes.
You ask, how then did I come to leave paradise?
It was fate, it was chance, it was fortunate, it was the creator’s mistake.
I lay exhausted on the table. He finished restitching the seams of my shoulder blades, and threw me back onto the hook. But as I swung in dull time, the cloth stitches loosened, inch by inch. A soft tear threw me back to the wooden ground. A few meters away, I could see the maker reassembling another human, the man’s legs cast to the side, as the maker fashioned new paris to never walk on. I cast a glance to my left. The rail shot like a weary lightning bolt into the darkness. A small spark within my clay skull to explore that darkness. Clambering to my feet, I quickly scampered past the edge of the dim lighting, bodies swinging gently in sleep overhead. The darkness deepened in every direction, a syrup thick with mildew and perspiration. At that moment, I did not fear. And yet I cannot explain why.
Where did the rails end?
Who was at the end?
Is there a door?
I started at the last thought.
I did not know fear until I stepped out of the light: it flowed like vinegar onto my tongue and through my blood, turning my feet into leaden weights. And yet curiosity coursed alongside it, pushing me further and further into the unknown. The bodies were beginning to drown in the darkness. The farther I walked, the more ragged they became. Skin of different shades stretched across crooked bones. The eye- I will not forget the eyes- they were black marbles and yet they shot out into the night, black spotlights searching for what?
I came to my knees with a hard thud. Unable to see a meter beyond, I fumbled and found an upper arm. It was slender and cold. Dropping it, I pushed forward. My bare feet brushed another fleshy piece- round, stubby fingers, severed where they once gripped the hand’s tendons. Laying scattered next to discarded legs and kneecaps, the parts were fraying at the edges, crumbling like ancient ruins into a clay dust. This was not an alteration, a stitch-up. The pieces were thrown in piles and jumbles, strewn in a violent dash across the plain. No tools lingered among them. A vicious stench attached my nostrils, the fume of rotting flesh, the mark of death. The scattered graves formed a tangible mosaic in the dark, deepening and widening as my path stretched ahead. For a second I fell to the ground, an unfamiliar cold. A faint bar of light melted from the night syrup. It touched the strewn bodies, opening a vast landscape. Its hills were sculpted by human trash. The incisions were not made with a dull knife, but as though torn apart in anger. I spun towards the light, zeroing in on something at its core. Carefully jumping over the bodies, I approached- shimmering with a light unlike any in the shop, its aura was a virgin white. Its form began with a round pinnacle and curved gently into a globe. Thin green sheets sprouted from its top. I only know now what its color was- purple- but at the time, I saw a depth of elegance, a richness unfound in splinters. My eyes poured over its surface, devouring it whole. Timidly I reached my palms toward this art, the light warming and hurling the chill of darkness from my bones.
A rumble threw me in the air, my hands flying away from the treasure. Mixed bodies around thumped the ground in anticipation. A roar thundered through the night syrup, engulfing me in its vibrations. The rough hands of the maker whipped an arc around my head, blowing the light and the warmth into the howling shadows.
“They tried too! You shall not have the gift of knowing!”
As his arms pounded darkness, I ran, the sound of breaking bones shattering in my ears. I did not know where I was running (what did I know?), for the only place I knew was behind the monster. I ran away from the graveyard, from the light and the warmth, from the first slaughterhouse known to man. I ran because a force independent of the maker told me to do so.
I do not know for how long I ran (what did I know?). More light, a hot orange mixed with licking flames of red and yellow. We now call it fire and I ran towards as if it were an old friend. Its tentacles reaching high above my head, I ran even further, past a dog foaming at the mouth, its teeth stained with blood and clay dust. Its howl radiated from pointed ears, chasing me past the fires.
A force hit me. Sun. (What did I know?)
You know my story now, after paradise. The authors got much of it rights, except for one thing. I never went back to the maker, my children never did, and their children did not. I found my independence, not simply of paradise, but of my wire brain. It was the maker’s mistake: he gave us the power to think on our own, to have Logic and Reason. By creating us in his tormented, subjugating us to his power, we became tormented as well.
My relief- yours- was abandoning the maker and his mark. The measure of man is not within the power of another, or even one we consider a supreme being- it is the independence we choose to have, to exercise in the fullest power our true human nature.