Prologue – The Time Has Come

Gaia wandered through the dense forest. Her trees greeted her with their songs as the winds whipped through their branches. Her bare feet made no sound as they tenderly crushed the thick bed of dead and decomposing leaves from autumn. Her hand softly caressed an ancient oak that rose from the abounding earth. She felt its life force coursing through the trunk as surely as humans could feel a pulse.

This was her world. Spring had come once more, and with it, the life that she gave to all things. Life she had been giving for millennia. For eternity it seemed. She was Gaia. Tlaltechutli. PachaMama. Mother Earth. And hundreds of other names.

She felt ancient, tired, and as old as her world itself. No matter how much she gave, it was never enough.

Not anymore. These humans had become nothing more than a hoard of locust devouring all that she had built through the ages. Cutting down trees that had lived through hundreds or sometimes thousands of springs. Polluting the waters of her streams, lakes, and oceans with their castoffs, trash, and deadly chemicals. Her precious air with pollution so thick it hung like drapery over their cities.

She, who had given them all that they had needed, had been cast aside in favor of gods. Male gods. Mere mortals, whose lives and works lasted but a short season only to be swallowed in death. Yet she was forgotten. Her works discounted. Her never-ending gifts of spring taken for granted.

The earth would always be there for man. Always provide what he needed. Always be his to command. Or so man thought.

A tear slipped from Gaia’s green eyes, eyes as green as the moss that covered the north side of that great tree. Her golden-brown hand caressed it tenderly like a mother with her newborn babe. Her deep burnished red hair as thick and soft as the red clay earth itself fell about her face, hiding its celestial beauty for the moment as she contemplated it all.

Something must be done about man. Something to stop him before he destroyed all that she had created. Something to restore the balance. She felt the tightness in her throat as the resolve welled up in her belly like magma collecting beneath a volcano. Death and destruction never came easy to her. But sometimes, they were necessary. To restore balance. And she feared this was one of those times.

Her mind filed through the options. The earth was such a delicate eco-system. There were literally hundreds if not thousands of ways that she could tip the scales, bringing famine, pestilence, and disease. Putting the pitiful humans back in their place and giving her other creations a chance to flourish once more.

But all that would wait for a bit longer. She caressed her fecund belly as she embraced the first pains of her labor that was to come. Another spring, another blessed babe to grow and bring forth her mother’s will. She gritted her teeth as another much stronger contractions gripped her body.

This one knocked the air from her lungs and doubled her in pain. She fought to remain on her feet, to make it to the small cave that would provide her with the shelter and protection she needed to give birth to this new life.

But each step seemed to be greeted with more pain. She felt her strength begin to drain as it did each winter when her green fields gave way to colorful leaves and eventually its winter coat of white that nourished and revived the frozen earth beneath it.

Gaia fought through the deep haze of pain. This was unlike anything she had ever felt. Unnatural. She struggled to breathe as a pain sliced through her abdomen like a knife. She felt a warm trickle down her leg. She looked down, expecting to see the clear fluid of her waters breaking.

Instead, she saw the deep red of her blood as it pooled at her feet and mixed with the decaying leaves and dark brown loam. She would have screamed but lacked the energy to do even that as she sank slowly to the ground beneath the great oak of time.

She focused all her remaining energy upon only one thing, the babe. She gathered all her strength and pushed as hard as she could. She felt her body rip almost in two with the force of the contraction. But she also felt the relief that always came as her babe slipped from her body.

The quiet forest was pierced with the robust shrill of the angry infant as Gaia reached between her bloody thighs to lift the child to her breast. She collapsed back against the trunk of the oak as the babe latched on to her dark rosy nipple. She winced in pain as the child seemed to almost bite at her flesh.

She looked down at the child she held. Its head covered in the blackest of hair. Its skin was a couple of shades darker than her golden tones, almost the burnished brown of autumn leaves. But it was the depths of its black eyes that seemed to absorb all light. Taking with it the last of her breath.

The babe transformed. She grew and aged with each suckle of milk from her dying mother’s breast. Until she was a young woman. A breath-taking beauty with long black hair that fell to the small of her back, just above the gentle swell of her perfect heart-shaped bottom.

She released the still warm nipple of her mother’s breast as she listened to the last slow beat of the goddess’s tender heart. She stretched and looked into the vacant green eyes of her mother. She lowered the eyelids with as much compassion as she was capable of. Her long fingers with sharp nails caressed the flesh that was rapidly cooling in the waning light of early spring.

“I am sorry, mother. You were much too soft. Your compassion would have never allowed you to do what must be done now.”

With something that would almost approximate a smile, she turned her back on the corpse that was already decaying and returning to the earth of which it was born. She stretched out her arms, lifting her firm, young breasts with their dark brown nipples towards the skies.

“Earth, water, and skies.  Hear me now. I am Kālī. Your Mistress. The time has come. Death and destruction to all who fail to worship us.” The young woman walked gracefully through the forest. Each step she took left scorched earth in her footsteps as the last of the flesh decayed from the bones of Gaia.

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