Long ago. Back in the times when men could talk to animals, and plants sang ‘oh sim sim sim’ to the sun, there lived a boy. No. There wasn’t a need for names yet. Nor a need to label things as such. Strong. Handsome. Charming. These words were not yet born of this world for it was a young world.
This boy grew up with his tribe. His family. Everyone older than him was his brother, sister, father and mother. For even though these words have not come into this world yet, love was already walking the earth.
There were many worlds back at the beginning. And more often than not, these worlds merge. Some things never change. The borders of worlds, now called countries and states to you and I were ever shifting. Men knew magic darker than that of gods. They knew that borders redrew themselves with the sacrifice of blood.
Death came to their village one day. They were legion. Each had a mask on them. They were human, but not. Driven by the drum beats, they danced with their knives. And called upon the ritual to redraw the borders of their worlds. To absorb the boy’s world. To make it their own.
They sang. They danced. They shed the blood of the boy’s family. The boy was 20, still a sapling in the age when man lived 2000 seasons. But he was strong and patient. And he watched. And waited. And studied their moves. He painted his face with the blood of his father and mother, he drew symbols of strength on his arms with the blood of his brother, and he painted an armour of blood on his chest with the blessings of his sister.
And so he danced their dance. And sought to redraw the borders and seal his world away from his enemies. It was a beautiful dance. From up above the gods looked down and marveled as a child would the wonderful beauty of fireworks.
And like all fireworks, it always ends all too soon.
The gods hungered for more. They sent their oldest son to seek out the cause of the end of this beautiful crimson firework display. He came in the form of an old witch. And saw that the boy was bathed in blood, both his and of his family.
‘You fought well, my son. The gods delight in your dance. Your blood returns to Mother Earth, yet we yearn to see more. I will seal your wounds, make you live forever, help you banish your enemies, but we want you to continue your Crimson Dance once again, for you are Makulele, the dancer of death.’
With his dying breath, Makulele gurgled a yes. He drank from a vial of the tears of his mother, and he rose and danced the Crimson Dance once more. The drum beats on, even though everyone is dead. There was an empty land. Blood soaked. And empty. Makulele despairs and curses the gods for giving him everything and nothing. And curses them even more now that he is sworn to entertain the gods with his Crimson Dance forever more.
He ate the skull of his father, and heard his ancestors speak to him. ‘Sleep Makulele. Only when you sleep, your dance of death stops. And the world can continue.’
Makulele retired into the Dreaming. He says a silent prayer before he does. He prays for death. Or never to wake. Fearing the dance that he is to play for the gods once again. He sleeps. And he dreams.
In his dream, he sees a man playing the drums of death. He sees that he has a tribe. And he sees Makulele and his enemies doing the Crimson Dance of Death. He sees villagers from different worlds applauding the bloodbath, just as the gods do.
Up above, the gods sit transfixed. For now they are content. For as long as they see the dance in Makulele’s dreams, they need not wake the God of Death.