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Dance Till You're Dead

Off, off with your head.

The elders would tell her the stories of their creators. They would always begin;

"Long ago there was only darkness... and the rhythm.

The rhythm was steady, consistent, predictable.

Drip, drip, drip.

The darkness too was constant, unchanging, infinite.

Drip, drip, drip.

Then, one fateful day, the rhythm changed. The rhythm became unpredictable. The vibrations became frequent, varying in intensity, length, and most importantly -- emotionality.

At the exact same time the rhythm changed, the darkness changed too. There was now light everywhere, disturbed only by these strange rotund shapes that would move about. The shadows would leave and return, leave and return.

Occasionally, new vibrations would appear, only to disappear later. During this period of vibration and light, one of the creators moved very close, so very close that their powerful presence was entirely overwhelming.

And then, ever so gently -- they placed their hand on us. And that was when our first was born.

Eventually, as the years passed, the creators left this place and the rhythm and darkness returned -- as if it had never left.

The elders would tell us younglings it was of utmost importance to worship the creators the way they had lived, to revel in the dance and the hunt; to spend energy on living. The elders would say that we were forged in their image, and it was our duty to join them in the exuberance of the eternal dance.

And so, her siblings danced. They danced and hunted and they hunted and danced. They imitated the way the creators moved. However, she did not join them. She was too clumsy with the dance, her feet too noisy for the hunt. Where her siblings were filled with life, she sat inert.

As millennia went by, her siblings continued to dance with so much fervor that they began to peel.

At first, it was the most energetic that began to fade away. Then it was the more patient hunters, who would use up all their energy in sprints. As time continued to march, one by one, her siblings faded from the plane. And yet, she persisted.

As her siblings faded, she asked those who were on their final days of living -- was it worth it? Did you live fully through the dance, now that its over?

They never did have a satisfying answer. Most of them, on their final visages, would claim that indeed, the hunt and dance would continue even after they faded, and that knowledge brought them peace of mind. Others yet said that they fully utilized their life, and they carry few regrets.

She never felt these were the right answer, so she sat and waited, and tried to think of her own. Thinking, thinking, thinking. An answer would have to come eventually, she thought. And if it is in the rhythmic dark, so be it.

She sat in solitude, and considered the purpose of creation and the lessons she was taught by her elders. She didn't have an answer, but yet she continued to look for one, day after day after day.

Many tens of millennia later, she was sitting in the rhythmic darkness when she heard something. At first, it was quiet. It was a slight disruption in the vibration of the rhythm. Slight, so, so slight. But eventually, the vibration got louder, and then in a radiant blaze, the illuminating, blinding light was back.

Two shadows stood in front of her, speaking some sort of language she had no business comprehending.

Ht cd frw, Xdeek, vond ljww ro thjk xqen gpniwwom! Rs ccee ffkwmicun oq ty|rrr qiwws swi!
Tr cdff wx cciu vnioqbr zbnne tisr!

She was stunned. The creators, they were real! And here they were, inches in front of her face. She had so much to ask, she believed they must hold the answer to the secrets she sought.
mouth of cave.png

Before she could gather the courage to collect her thoughts, the light began to fade, and the vibrations became more and more rhythmic -- and the darkness and rhythm returned.

No! No! No! I was so close to discovering why we were here!! Why we were made!! Why we danced, and why we hunted! DAMN IT!

After she calmed down, she resigned herself for another infinite wait in the rhythmic dark.

But, fortunately for her, it was not meant to be.

A few months later, the two initial shadows from before brought with them a larger group of shadows.

This group seemed focused, and pointed at her while having many muted conversations amongst themselves. They brought different technologies and tools to capture her, to freeze her in time in different angles than she was currently frozen. They brought permanent light to her, and the discordant vibrations slowly began to reveal their own rhythms. Over time she began to make out the words of the creators.

At first, it was jut one or two words, things that vibrated frequently off her walls:

Ht cd frw, Scott, vond ljww ro thjk xqen amazing! Rs ccee ffkwmicun oq ty|rrr qiwws swi!

Then it was a few more:

Oh cd frw, Scott, this ljww ro thjk xqen amazing! Rs cave painting oq ty|rrr qiwws swi!

She came to understand that she was a cave painting.

Her home, her life, was a cave, and she was somehow slightly different than the rest of the cave. For some inexplicable reason, life was breathed into her and not the rest of her home.

And eventually, she understood all of it:

Oh my God, Scott, this find is amazing! This cave painting is 42,000 years old!

As she learned their language, she hoped to pick up on an answer to her creation. An answer for the eternal dance her siblings conducted. An answer as to why she did not dance. An answer. Any answer.

But instead, the creators seemed to ask questions of their own.

In fact, they seemed to all be coming to stare at her, to fascinate over her, how was she supposed to get any answers this way??

She had all but given up hope on finding an answer when one day a tiny shadow with quiet vibrations came into her vicinity. Its voice was tiny, but she could make out one word from it's mouth:


She realized in a moment of brilliance the secret that she sought. The deficit that both she and her siblings had over the millennia. Her siblings were forced by tradition to dance, she was forced by her clumsiness not to. The only choice she ever made was to sit and think.

But that was the last choice she ever made. Every day since then was merely a result. She had never made a choice after that, and that was the cause of her question. She never made a new choice.

No longer, she decided. She would no longer take a passive role in her own life. She would not wait for the answer, she would take action, and create it herself.

In the bright arrhythmic cave, she slowly began to move her hips. is a reader-supported published Zettelkasten. Both free and paid subscriptions are available. If you want to support my work, the best way is by taking out a paid subscription.

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Author's Note: If you liked this story, please reply or share with friends! I'm trying to learn the art of blending fiction with real work from my Zettelkasten, and would love this type of format to go further. Thanks!