After the Rapture, the devil ruled. His likeness was not reproducible, but his presence was discernible and his proximity was felt everywhere, like knowing where the sun was. And although the devil is at times a warm fellow, he is not warm in that, “I’m going to turn over, can you get my back?” kinda way. In fact, what was left of the world pretty much cowered in fear.
Those with pure heart were manna to the devil. He consumed and perverted them. Slowly and inexorably, the world echoed his evil. The only defense against the devil was to hide, to go unnoticed, and to avoid any decision that might indicate that you were selfless, generous or good. Empathy for anyone outside of your immediate circle was dangerous, which fit well in politics but became anathema to those without privilege.
Nature, science, commerce; all the world was perverted to the devil’s whims. Even plants were divided into those that he approved of and those that he did not. The poor Dogwood tree was eradicated, as were most vines for some reason. There was one tuber, however, that seemed to be immune. It grew in the devil’s own backyard in the deep south of the United States. It was a failure from a genetic experiment to cross a shag hickory tree with a sweet potato tuber. It grew only in hard red clay, not because of the minerals inherent in that clay, or the constant sun, but because it was red. The tuber liked red.
People began to experiment with the tuber’s properties, hoping for a cure to evil, not out of a sense of morality but more as a way of inoculating themselves against the devil’s many mischiefs. Unfortunately the best that they could do was to enhance the tuber’s properties to confuse the devil’s gaze. It was named after the Japanese doctor that discovered it and was affectionately called the ‘Soul-stealer’. You see the tuber made people invisible to the devil by sublimating the soul.
Now this is a scary, scary thing. Imagine ingesting a seed that grows into a tuber, inside of your body (because, you know, red), that has the unpleasant side effect of suppressing your soul. It was also coincidentally symptomatic of a dramatic rise in people seeking public office.
Well I don’t have to tell you, that many people, after the Rapture, had gotten religion. There was not much doubt left that there was a big guy up there and a bad guy down here, so this whole business about walking around without a soul was pretty daunting. The cure was almost worse than the disease. Souls were pretty important once you had a good dose of religion, but practically a little less valuable when you were spending the rest of your days with Mr. Evil. Well, you pretty much had to make up your own mind as to whether you could tolerate the condition, and people started to come around as the devil got his campaign into full swing.
I can tell you personally, that not having a soul is a horrible feeling. The devil’s presence will make you fear like a drooling, screaming, idiot, but not having a soul is like carrying a terrible secret. You experience overwhelming guilt and vulnerability. It causes you to feel a total loss of ego. You feel incomplete, lacking, and insecure all of the time. You can barely get out of bed without worrying about the decision to wake up.
Over time however, that total loss of ego, that raw, skinless sensitivity, has you adjusting your perspective. You are no longer at the central vertex of your existence. As your “selfitude” begins to dissolve, you begin to become aware of other stuff; you know, things, mostly living.
Just like it took Western cultures a long time to discover the rightness of Yin-Yang and the reality that everything bad can also be good, from poop, to calories, to death, it took a little while for people’s sensibilities to change under the influence of a lack of soul. People’s values began to shift a bit from thinking that humankind was there to subjugate the earth, and torture pigs, and eat corn, to thinking that maybe all life, any life was right and that the devil was wrong to divvy everything up like he did. They also weren’t as scared of the devil because, you know, without a soul; they didn’t have to worry much any more about the afterlife. Even death wasn’t so scary because they knew that they had to make room for the life that came after them. They finally cared about the living.
Well I don’t have to tell you, that over time that tuber became more popular than celebrity nudes and pretty soon everyone was taking it. As luck would have it, it sort of of didn’t stop growing. In fact, it kind of consumed every living thing in a massive sea of blood (blood being redder on the outside than it is on the inside). The irony was that people didn’t mind.
You see, without a soul people valued all life, even the ‘Soul-stealer’ and it was believed that once the tuber had its fill that it might seek out the stars, grow in self-awareness, and spawn life on other red-tending worlds. It would carry with it a piece of every human and maybe another brand new sort of intelligent life form could emerge. The prospect of newness was exciting, even in death.
It remains to be seen out of the remains