The Rematch


The brothers Sleep and Death

Mother Nature had a number of children but the two she favored most where her sons. Death, whose name was Mati, was called many other things, Surm, Kuolema, Kifo, and Olum to name a few. His younger brother Sono, the giver of sleep was often the subject of his criticism, saying nothing as weak as sleep could compare to a power like his. Their Mother considered them both the light of her life. They each had special powers of their own but Mati, the older of the two, felt his power was stronger than his younger brother’s. Many knew and feared him even as a child. He believed to be feared proved he had the strongest gift of all of Mother Nature’s children.

He bragged that his power was greater because there was nothing that could withstand it. It was affective on all living thing, and though he had no power against immortality, under the right circumstances he could claim the immortal as well. He would often gloat that no matter what Sono used his power on, since he too could affect living things, everything recovered. Sono insisted that this was one of the beauties of his powers that things under his influence could improve, regenerate. But Mati just laughed, only a permanent change in state marked power.

They had this debate daily and often his mocking and teasing would bring the two to blows, but they could not harm each other and they would end up in a shouting match that left Sono feeling wretched and despite being the victor Mati still felt as if his power was in question.

“Mati, my love, leave your brother alone. He will grow into his power and grow in strength as he gets older.” his mother would say.

“She always takes his side. When I grow up, I’ll show her, there is no power greater than death.” he said to himself.

Mati decided that a contest would resolve their fighting, that instead of hitting each other using their power against some living thing would be counted as a blow and the winner would be the one whose use of power had the greatest affect.

Sono was afraid for the living things, but agreed as long as Mati would agree not to harm mortals. Mati consented to this for now, but as he watched he realized that Sono’s powers grew in variety. Where he could only create the finality of death, Sono had varying degrees of ability. As a result everything he enjoyed Mati would destroy.

In what would have been teen years for humans the two had a fist fight that destroyed crops, killed livestock, and leveled a town leaving the inhabitants hungry, cold, and homeless. Up until then Mati had not harmed a single mortal being for sport. But this time he was going to prove that he was the stronger. He walked up and touched a young strapping lad on the shoulder. In the prime of his life this youth fell down dead and could not be revived. Mati knew he had won. Sono looked at him and said nothing and simply walked away.

For centuries after that the two did not speak or see each other. Mother Nature was heartbroken that they could not come to terms, explaining that each had their proper place and a job to do. That it had never been about whose power was greater or lesser, but about the continuation of creation and destruction, the two components of nature. Sono listened to his mother and made a decision. In his adult form he had come into his power and learned many new things. He had discovered light as well as dark sides of his power and though he did not intend harm to mortals, he could shift things to teach them and delay things as well. He therefore challenged his brother to a rematch.

Mati laughed, he had been the big man on campus now for centuries. Now as an adult he killed at will deciding the fate of mortals at his leisure. He could not imagine Sono winning now no matter what new varieties he had in his repertoire. So he accepted.

It began in a field of flowers. Mati waved his hand and the entire field of flowers turned brown and shriveled. But Sono wave his hand and said, “Stay.” Though the flowers had truly died and withered, the seeds dried and fell upon the dirt. They watched as the seasons passed and the ground was covered with ice and snow, but when the spring came the seeds that Sono had requested to lay dormant sprouted and grew replacing the entire field of flowers.

“A conjurers trick my brother, I will give you this round. You may go first this time.” Mati said.

Sono stood and thought of a way to best his brother, but nothing came to him. But then he saw an old man who was inflicted with a deadly disease. Mati had left him be, he would take him soon enough after watching him struggle though the agony of his disease. Sono looked on him with pity and said, “Stasis,” and the man slipped into a coma like state, though he could hear those around him, his suffering decreased and when he finally died he simply eased into death.

Mati was angry now. “Big deal, so you can slow death,” he said but actually that was a big deal. He had not known that Sono could do this and wondered if he could do it on a mortal he had touched directly. Sono had anticipated that he would try this and did not want to watch another healthy youth die unnecessarily. So he looked at his brother, touched him on the shoulder and said, “Sleep.” It was not a harmful power and therefore acted on all beings both mortal and immortal alike. The strength behind the command was so strong that Sono even surprised himself. Mati, who had never been asleep before fell to his knees in shock. His brother helped to lay him against the hollow of an ancient willow tree long dead. Who knew how long he would be in this state, but Sono knew that he would be extremely angry when he woke, after all he had lost. He wanted to be far away when he came around.

The Rematch © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved

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“Erwin! Come and get your cat out of the kitchen.” My mother yelled to me while I was in the backyard playing with my friends.

My friends looked at me quizzically and I ran into the house through the back door. There was my cat, Adleiavde, lying on the kitchen floor with his mouth hanging open and his tongue stretched out to the side.

“Does he have to lie there like that? It’s certainly very eerie.” My mother was easily disturbed by Addie’s behavior.

“Stop staring at him, mother. He will be fine in a moment.”

“He doesn’t look like he’s breathing.”

“Of course he is. His mouth is open for maximum airflow. Let me go and get his box.” I ran upstairs to get Addie’s sleeping box and brought it to the kitchen.

I scooped him up into my arms and laid him gently into his bed. I covered him with his blanket and closed the box. My mother’s strange look had become a common thing since I brought the cat home on my sixth birthday.

I found him a kitten on the side of the road. He looked starved and looked barely alive. I was moved to pity and put him in my pocket.  I shared my cup of milk and bread every until he began to grow more fit.

Later I found him a box, an old blanket and a ball of yarn from my grandmother’s knitting. He loved that yarn. One day I left to go to school and when I came home he was tangled so tightly I was certain he wasn’t breathing. I screamed and ran to find some scissors to free him. My mother found me cradling him in my arms, weeping. She asked what was wrong and when I looked down he was moving around again, as if nothing had happened.

I shortened his length of string and named him Adleiavde, or Addie, for short.

This accidental lifestyle became something of a habit. I would leave and come home finding him imperiled or what I thought was dead and yet after rescue, he would appear to be fine as if no harm had come to him.

As he grew older, he would occasionally appear as if he were dead. No signs of respiration, no physical activity of any kind. I learned to pick him up, put him in his box and go off to school. When I came home he was always fine.

It worried my mother fiercely. She took Addie to a local veterinarian who found the cat in excellent health, the best he had ever seen. He explained to my mother that cats slept up to fourteen hours a day and not to worry if the cat was a deep sleeper.

No more was said about his habit. For a few years.

The year before I was to go to university Addie was nearly eleven years old. His relationship with my mother hadn’t improved. He had begun to be found lying still in her chair, limp and lifeless or on the table, with a pool of drool forming at his mouth, cold and stiff. She was never able to revive him. I don’t think she liked him and saw him as she thought he should be. As circumstances would have it, I was away on a trip for a number of days.

One day when she could stand it any longer, she found a local maintenance worker and told him Addie was dead and asked if he could remove him. The man found the cat stiff and cold on the kitchen floor and he diligently removed the corpse, placing him in the trash outside.

When I came home, my mother told me the terrible news. I was inconsolable. I went upstairs only to find Adleiavde sitting on my bed, cleaning himself, waiting to nuzzle me with the stink of a trash can about him and a candy wrapper stuck to his foot.

My mother never looked at him again.

I took him away with me to university. It was clear she had no aptitude for feline care. Strangely enough, Addie was never able to be found when any of my roomates were in, but he would be a great inspiration with my physics experiments for years to come.

From the early memoirs of Erwin Schrödinger, Austria 1938

Adleiavde © Thaddeus Howze 2014, All Rights Reserved

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