Artwork by: Yamen Elgamal
It was a moonless night, yet the darkness failed to prevail. The scene was obscene in an un-vulgar way; the canopy of tiny, bright specks of light that covered the Earth was truly breathtaking. It was one of the things she liked about modern times; the way humans have succeeded at turning night into day with electricity, and day into night with smog.
She rested her hands on the metal rod that supposedly protected humans from falling off into oblivion at such height, whether by accident or intentionally. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, hoping to clear her mind after a long millennium of battle with the other gods; a battle she had won, but that left her feeling defeated.
It was never easy being a goddess, especially among other greedy divinities the likes of Jupiter who almost always abused his powers for his personal amusement, as if humans were toys to be played with for his own pleasure. During their last Vinalia Urbana festival, Jupiter had poisoned her wine with lust before serving it to the mortals and almost relinquished her powers of love and beauty into nothing. Humans, being the naive species that they are, believed that love was lost and a millennium of darkness began instantly. Mothers abandoned their newborns, fathers ceased to protect their families, knights broke their oaths to their kingdoms and the very essence of humanity was twisted beyond repair.
A long and devastating battle had begun between her and Jupiter where she; Venus, Goddess of Love, Beauty and Sex was forced to use treachery, infidelity, seduction and hypocrisy to undo what Jupiter had done to the mortals. A full millennium; a hundred hundred years had passed since that day. The damage that was done to humanity was catastrophic! The damage that was done to her was just as grave. The tragic methods she had used to win this battle had left scars and bruises on her divine soul. She thirsted for the love she had not seen in all those centuries. She despised the means she was forced to use to undo the damage that Jupiter had done, which is why her conquest weighed heavily on her heart.
It was that thirst for love that beckoned her to the sacred, untouched lands of great Egypt. These realms were immune to any of the turmoil that Jupiter had ever caused. Egyptians had their own gods; and those gods had protected their people well; exempting them from any of the aftermath of godly Roman battle or play. For thousands of years, the sacred, protective shield that surrounded this land remained strong, never bickering to the pressures of the creatures – or creators – that existed beyond them.
Cairo had always fascinated her! It was a city filled with vigour and the way its modernity diffused into its ancient past never ceased to amaze her. Wanting to absorb the magnificence well, she chose the pinnacle of Cairo Tower as her refuge. From up here, the city’s beauty and robust nature were a sight for sore eyes; a healing for a burdened heart. To know these lands are left untouched by cruel divinity gave her solace. She felt her healing process had already begun and the regaining of her forgotten, unused powers would soon take place.
With her eyes still closed and her focus entirely on breathing, she willed herself into betterment. One by one, she let her defences dissolve and her armour of fierceness come apart slowly. She allowed her beauty to emerge from underneath the layers of tension that had hidden it for so long. She let her hair down, felt the breeze caress her skin and willed away the turmoil in her soul.
This woman that was emerging from the ashes was the Venus she knew. Feeling the tickles of excitement run up and down her spine, she anticipated the return of her sanity, and of love in her immortal life. The love that she had abandoned for the sake of humankind, and that she now needed and desired more than newborns needed the bosoms of their mothers.
Atop that high tower, the Venus that she knew was now returning. She felt the gratification of knowing she had come to the right place to rejuvenate and breathe new life into herself. She allowed the energy to seep through her and revive the senses she had lost over those long centuries of battle. She could now see beauty, touch happiness, taste pleasure.
As her senses returned, she let her defences fall further, lower and lower until she felt almost helpless, almost fearful.
And that was when she smelled it.
It was a stench, a faint stench that caught her off guard and slightly disturbed her. She willed it away, trying to focus on her healing, but it persisted. It grew stronger with every passing moment, as if it was willing her into recognition. She tried again to dispose of it, but it persevered. Slightly perplexed, she gave in to it and breathed it in.
Almost instantly, her entire being came to full alert. Her eyes flew wide open into glares of agony, her muscles tensed rigidly into shock, her head flew backwards as she opened her mouth to gasp, then toppled over in convulsion. She let out a monotone, hollow scream as the pain crashed into her body, knocking the air out of her lungs, brittling her muscles into rust and stabbing holes through her being with what seemed to be a blunt, jagged dagger.
Still huddled over, slowly willing the pain away and sorely regaining her strength. She readied herself for another breath of that stench, but this time willed the pain away as she focused on recognizing these forsaken fumes of humanity.
Patiently, deliberately, anxiously, she took a slow, long intake of the odour that weighed on her atmosphere, carefully willing the pain to stay at bay. Her face contorted with disgust as the particles penetrated her body. She recognized the abhorrent smell far too well. It hadn’t left her senses for a full millennium. It had stained and tainted her with its evil powers during the entirety of her battle. Those were the fumes of dominance and surrender; of anger and fear; of spite and yielding. They were the quintessence of hateful contradiction; of prejudiced use of power; of surrender to victimization; of dehumanized humanity.
Those were the fumes she had come here to eradicate from her memory, they were the human excretions caused by the extortion of the gods and their selfish abuse of power.
How in the name of the Heavens had they found their way to the sacred, pure lands of Egypt? How had its people transformed into these complex, dominating victims of desire?
As the sun slowly began to stain the night sky with splashes of light and blood, she realized the atrocious truth.
Her gods had nothing to do with this monstrous transformation; as a matter of fact, her gods had nothing to do with the hideousness of the entire past millennium. They merely unleashed what was there all along, trapped and struggling for freedom behind walls of delusion, of care, of love, of so-called humanity.
The humans had evil in them all along. They carry their darkness with them everywhere, oppressing it, yet wishing to release it upon each other.
The humans wait for the first and slightest chance to rip their humanity apart and let out the beasts they harbour within them.
And the first chance they got, they did.
This is how they want to live. This is who they truly are.
This is all they deserve.
With another monotone, hollow scream, she ceased her healing and willed away the softness that had returned to her existence. She needed it no more; it was useless, pointless. She had no love to give if there was no one there to take it. She had no mercy to show if no one there wanted to accept it. She could not transform evil to good if no good was left.
With despair, and determination, she uncurled her roughened body into a stand and looked the now bright sun straight in the eye.
Defiant, coarse, unmerciful, she proclaimed love dead.
This is not a world that wants love; these are not creatures that deserve love. They will thus live without it until they are extinguished from this Earth. Let them live loveless. Let them exist loveless. Let them die loveless.
With that, a sad, burdened and melancholic smile crept its way across her lips.
“At least – one day – they will die,” she thought. “If only I could die. If only I could die.”