Sow The Seeds And Give Thanks

Part I
Norma Gacy

I guess this all started with the flu…or at least that’s what I thought it was. I’m not so sure anymore. I’m hesitant to share this experience with anyone, least of all you because you’re going to think I’m nuts but who better to tell this about than strangers? It doesn’t matter if you judge me. We’ll never meet so your opinion about me doesn’t really matter.

I woke up a little over a week ago with a fever. Every part of me hurt and the sun was radiant and blinding through my bedroom curtains. It set the motes of dust that fell between the window and the space where I lay, fresh from waking, on fire blinding white. You’ll think it’s hyperbole, but it’s a fact–in that moment, never before in my life have I wished harder to be unable to see…more strongly even than the time in my early teens that I walked in on my mother and her boyfriend of that week, whoever he was. His name was Steve or something, I think. It doesn’t matter because the only thing I remember about it at the time is wishing to never see anything else again as long as I lived. That was the way I felt that morning.

The bed seemed to rock and the room swirled around me. I felt wrong from the moment I became aware. Even well before I opened my eyes. I could feel my guts lurching and twisting like a pack of eels and from nowhere there was an undeniable urge that came over me; I ran to the bathroom and heaved everything inside out into the porcelain bowl of the toilet with a sickening slush.

I was supposed to work, but I called in. Of course I called in. I don’t remember the last time I ran a fever like this or felt this out of sorts and awful. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I called in from work. This might have been the first time I’d done it since I landed my job with the firm. 

I lay in bed the entire day, quivering with cold sweats. All I wanted to do was rest it off, but no matter how I tried, sleep eluded me and the only thing I found was the precipice of it, and each time as was about to sink in, I was yanked back forcefully into wakeful agony as soon as I began to drift down off the peaceful edge. 

At some point my stomach lurched again, this time from the hunger, but I ignored it the rest of that day and for half the day after. I heard and felt the groans at regular intervals, but I knew I wouldn’t manage to keep anything down if I’d tried, so I just didn’t eat until I couldn’t bear it any longer. I stumbled weakly to the kitchen and microwaved a can of tomato soup … which I promptly threw up upon completion. After that, I lost it and began to sob. I was so hungry. I felt pretty confident I was going to die. If it wasn’t from this fever, I was probably going to starve.

This went on for another day or two, and my boss, though understanding, made sure to remind me of my balance of sick days each time I called out.

It was near impossible to get an appointment at my primary doctor. How was I supposed to know I’d be sick a month and a half ahead of time? The lady on the phone there was pretty rude about it too, as though my inconvenient illness inconvenienced her more. As though I should have prepared better, so I promised the office a shitty review on Google and called my cousin Dana to drive me to the walk-in clinic.

“You look like shit,” she said in the car.

It was true. I was gaunt, my hair was a nest and I probably smelled awful, but at this point I’d grown so used to being unshowered that whatever smell was emanating from me I was immune to. When we arrived at the clinic, Dana dropped me at the door. She promised to hang out while I was inside, but she wanted to pull her car to the back of the lot to smoke a joint instead of coming in. I had no objections because I was too preoccupied with what I presumed at this point was my impending death.

I stumbled weakly inside and checked in. The nurse at the desk guessed the wait would be about 20 minutes before I would be seen and she was very, very wrong. If estimating wait-times is her primary job at the clinic, she is definitely failing her quarterly performance review and getting fired because it was much, much longer. The entire time, I began to get inside of my own head. This was stupid. It was just a stomach ache and for the moment, I wasn’t feeling so terrible. Should I really be wasting everyone’s time like this? As I sat, a feeling of unease hung in the air around me…I know it’s a cliche, but you know that feeling you get when you’re being watched? As I sat there in that waiting room I couldn’t escape the reoccurring errant thought that someone was watching my every move. But it was more than that…so much more. I felt as though they were watching me so closely they could see all the bits and pieces that made me tick. Watching so closely because they hoped to pry me open and see inside. Then again maybe that idea was some sort of fever paranoia? Was this state of nervousness another symptom? Maybe it was brought on the endless and unpredictable waves of nausea that seemed to come and go on a whim?

I’d almost convinced myself these fevered thoughts were manufactured, but when the nurse called my name, I saw them staring at me. 

There was actually someone watching me…two someones.

Across the room a man, dressed like a preacher sat with his son. The boy must have been 9 or 10, dressed as a miniature doppel of his father. Both had piercing blue eyes and white hair, but that was not the most unnerving thing about them. When I caught them looking and stared right back at them, they didn’t look away like any normal people with a sense of social decorum would have. Instead, the man’s eyes widened and the slit of his mouth toyed an amused smirk. I could see he was saying something to his son, though he was barely moving his lips; secretive whispers that I couldn’t hear or read.

“Ms. Gacy,” the nurse called again.

Just before I turned, he tipped the rim of his wide black hat to me, and I shuddered, nearly fumbling over my chair as I made my way to the waiting nurse. I wanted to get away from that man and the crystal eyed boy who sat next to him as fast as I could.

The doctor at the walk-in, after several tests, couldn’t seem to find anything wrong. She said I wasn’t even running a fever and recommended that I go to the emergency room. I thanked her, collected my note for work and headed back outside. Biggest waste of about $300 in my life.

Dana still sat waiting in the car. As I took my place next to her in the passenger seat, amidst the haze of pot smoke, she shoveled a handful of peanuts into her mouth. With her mouth full, she talked around them. “What did they say?” She asked.

“They said I should go to the emergency room,” I told her.

She looked a bit worried, “is it that bad?” She asked.

“No not really,” I said, “I think that’s dumb. What are they gonna do there? Stick a thermometer in my butt and charge me $15,000 to pee in a cup? Can you just take me home? The American medical system is a joke, I have a headache now and this was a complete waste of time. Plus there was some weird guy and his kid in there and I’ll probably start to feel better as soon as I get the hell away from them. Really creepy.”

On the ride home, Dana continued to absently munch on handfuls of peanuts, and completely forgetting my aches and pains, I accepted a handful when she offered me it.

Oh. My. God.

I was breathless. Absolutely enchanted. These were the best peanuts I ever tasted in my entire life. How could that be? They were just peanuts weren’t they? 

“I’ve either completely lost my mind or these are magic.” I mumbled with a mouthful.

I don’t know how else to explain it but it was like the moment I swallowed the first handful, it was as though heaven opened and Jesus stuck his finger out of the clouds and Pilsbury-Doughboy’d my stomach and a week’s worth of pains went away. 

Hoo-hoo!

“What are these?” I asked.

“You were right the first time. You’ve lost your mind. They’re just peanuts, Norma.” Dana said giving me a side-eyed, confused look.

“No,” I declared, “these are the most decadent nuts that ever existed,” I said. I meant it too. “where are they from?”

Dana snorted and told me they were the generic brand from the grocery store and I begged her to stop there on the way back to my house. I had to have them. As many as I could get my hands on. All of them.

I don’t know why I did it. I can’t explain anything about it, but something inside of me just knew what to do. It was like how dogs know they’re supposed to eat grass when their stomachs hurt, or how some people with vitamin deficiencies have that condition–”pica” it’s called–they just know they’re supposed to eat dirt, so they eat some dirt. Everything I was doing was pure instinct. I made a beeline to the baking aisle. Before I knew what I was doing, I’d bought 17 pounds of various nuts and met Dana back at the car. I don’t know if she found this whole thing very amusing or she was so high she began questioning reality, but she didn’t ask me any questions about the purchase. She just looked at me for a long time and didn’t even start the car until I told her to do it.

Several times, I caught her laughing only to stop abruptly and begin to look worried. At every light, I could feel her eyes pressing me with pot-laden confusion. Her eyes were boring a hole into my soul but still she never said a word or asked me any questions. 

Once I was home, I thanked her for driving me and she shook her head, laughing again for a moment, before growing serious and quickly leaving. She looked almost like she was afraid of me.

I can’t lie. Not about this. I ate a good portion of those nuts in one sitting. With unexplained glee, I mixed them all into a massive mixing bowl. Cashews, almonds, walnuts, peanuts and macadamias. I ate them the spoonful until 4 pounds were gone. Then 5. I ate 5 pounds of mixed nuts in one sitting. It seemed impossible. I’m not sure how I managed to fit that many down, but I did. It was five bags worth, each a pound apiece and all mixed together…and every fucking moment of it seemed to stretch into an endless eternity of decadent bliss. It was better than getting banana bread at fucking work dude. 

It was better than the best sex I could ever remember having in my entire life. His name was Alejandro and because of a language barrier, the only thing I knew about him was that he was a Tijuana surf instructor, and he was incredible…but the memory of the things he did to me that night didn’t hold a candle to my big bowl of nuts.

Afterwards, much like after good sex, I slept. My belly was full, my ailments banished and for the first time in days, I rested my head on a cloud of contentment.

The next morning, I tried eating a bowl of cereal and found myself again unable to keep my bile down. I ended up bent over the toilet again, purging everything I’d eaten. That day, I discovered the only thing I could manage to keep down were the nuts, so I ate another 3 or 4 pounds and after that I did what I’d done the day before: I slept.

That’s when the dreams began. That same day.

Each night for the past week, I’ve dreamt myself dancing in the darkness of the trees as they lull rhythmically to and fro in the crisp breath of harvest-time air just beyond my house. The world is varied monochromatic shades: violet beneath the shadows cast the branches of the forest and shades of orange everywhere else that the chilly moon looks down upon. I can feel it smiling. Smiling and greeting me night after night in hushed whispers like a secret lover as I waltz beneath the dark sways of the canopy above; scores of leaves cascade earthward everywhere the autumn wind sweeps me. Falling like spectacular handfuls of confetti. There’s music too. Music everywhere. Set to the beat of crunching leaves and the staccato hoots of owls.

I know the words too.

The lyrics fly into my mind. I breathe them in with each inhale of the chilling air. 

Pick them up. Take every one you see.
Then swallow one for every three.
Two for you and one for me.

Acorn after acorn in my mouth, gulped down dry like a massive pill. 

They’re nuts.

Nuts are medicine. 

The sense of invigoration you feel when you take a piece of the forest into yourself, swallowing it whole is exquisite. 

Every acorn I didn’t eat–the two I kept for you–I hid away in my pockets. I saved them for you there. Hard little nuts kept nice and warm. I did this in many dreams on many nights over and over. Before I awoke each morning, as the sun began to rise, I dreamt I emptied the nuts for you from my jeans, one--one, in a nice little pile on my patio where you’d know to look and find them.

I dreamt this same dream for two or three days and ate the nuts in my pantry the pound until they were gone–and that day was depressing, let me tell you. More depressing than it should have been. 

I needed my medicine but I didn’t have a car. I didn’t dare ask Dana for a ride again–she’d looked at me so fearfully the day this all began.

That was when the message was finally received. Night after night my dreams told me, but with so many pounds of nuts in my pantry, I wasn’t listening. Acorns were nuts and nuts were medicine. The ones I dreamt of eating were just as decadent and alluring as each real bite of pecan, pistachio or hazelnut. But could I do it? Could I forage on my own in the yard? Tempting, but would I give in to the temptation?

I could and I would. And I did.

I found myself brimming with a sharp sense of awe when I stepped out into my back patio and saw the little pile. I didn’t even have to look for them because I’d left them here for you to find…but you never even looked, so I decided not to wait for you anymore and I ate the two-for-yous. I ate my fill.

The dream last night was much the same, but this time I was heavy with child as I danced my way on bare feet through the brambles and brush. I found myself incorporating a loving pregnant caress, a new motion to my well rehearsed moonlit ballet; my hands gently stroking my growing spawn. I felt it quiver like bottled lightning as it quickened in my womb.

I tangoed my way into a clearing populated new saplings and the remains of old stumps. Stumps scarred the memory and char of a long forgotten blaze. In the center of an empty patch, bathed in moonlight, a shovel rose, half buried in the soft earth.

The winds song changed then and whispered “dig” urgently, over and over again. So I dug. I dug until the hole was deep. I dug for hours until the light of the distant sun chastised the moon for lingering far too long and began to wash away the darkness. When I awoke in my bed, the sheets were smeared with clods of dirt and my bare feet were hidden beneath a coat of dried earth. A coat of crumbling mud.

I was no longer dreaming and the proof of my pregnancy remained. Something move within. With Thanksgiving a simple day away, I realized I had so much to be thankful for.

As I ate a handful of acorns for breakfast in the backyard, I hoped to find myself dreaming of that clearing when darkness fell once again…


Part II
Brother Savo Geistbach

This is a letter I have penned to my son, which I felt was of great importance to share with everyone on this reflective day. It is essential to always be grateful for the blessings we have been given.

Dear Mathias,

This year, for the first time, I have chosen to bring you with me to partake in the sacred Thanksgiving traditions of our forefathers. I was nine years old, just as you are now, when my father brought me along, and his father did the same before him. Regrettably, we do not know what the future holds, and my father was taken from us too soon. I was left with many questions unanswered, which I had to discover on my own. I do not wish this for you, so I write this for you to read and understand in the event that something happens to me before these matters are fully explained. I write hoping that you shall not ever need to read this. Hoping that I will be blessed to teach you this myself.

“Give thanks for thou blessings, oh weak minded worm. The earth is not yours to keep but to tend until the day of HIS righteous return.”

Thus sayeth the Lesser Prophet Träd in Chapter 7, verse 66 of the text. You know of him from our gatherings, and so each Thanksgiving, we set out to renew the parts which we tend, planting trees in the Bradenwood Forest.

I vaguely remember the first man I had the honor to witness. He was chosen to assist the order in this sacred task. This is just as you will, in years to come, vaguely remember the face of the woman chosen to help us tend the forest this year. I doubt you’ll ever forget the outcome, however.

Around this time last year, a part of the forest was set ablaze an act of The Adversary. Many acres were destroyed, and many more were spared. As you may recall from the recent news, many in other parts of the country are not so fortunate as we are. That is why we have sent them money along with our weekly blessings of peace and rebirth. If, when you read this in the future, a disaster like this should occur again, remember it is our duty as HIS Stewards to help our brothers and sisters rebuild.

Things are different here where we live. We can help these forests regrow ourselves. We need only foster and tend the seeds. The Living Prophets tell us it is our responsibility to do so. That is why the woman was chosen.

You are very young, and you were very tired, so I do not fault you for succumbing to sleep during the Mass of Selection. In time, you will become accustomed to the schedule of our midnight masses. You do not remember how we chanted as one around the circle of bones until her name was revealed unto us. It was Brother Hort who heard it first and began chanting her name and calling the spirit of Skogenherre from the void to afflict her with his extravagant gift.

This gift is a simple one: a hunger for the bounty of the forest.

As I explained to you while we watched through her windows, she began over a week ago to prepare within herself a space for the seed. We observed as she emptied herself to make room to receive HIM. This is good and this is necessary, so sayeth all of our Prophets. My favorite psalm that illustrates this is quoted from the Prophet Ingaborg 2:32.

Set a place for HE
The master of Hell and Earth
The slaver of all, to see
And judge us our worth
Prepare then, a Vessel!
Receive, oh Vessel! Receive!
The gift of Skogenherre’s seed.

We followed her for days, you and I. And on the third day of her cleansing, after patiently waiting with The Vessel in the clinic, we witnessed her rebirth. We watched in the grocery store as she unlocked the latent knowledge that Skogenherre had seen in her. It was so miraculous to see her discover the path on her own that I nearly wept.

Again, you and I were on hand to guide her through sleepless nights. Hidden in shadow, we whispered the Way of the Truth to her on the back of the wind — and it was good. We watched as she gorged herself on the seeds of the forest.

We guided her to the place that was prepared for her. We urged her to dig. We are told in the text: in order to breathe new life into this land, the vessel must prepare their own place. They must accept and devour HIS seed their own hand in order to be reborn.

Last night, I nearly wept once more as you and I followed her from the place where our sentinel watch had begun, that shadeless window where we watched her within. She found the crown of thorns for the ceremony, crafted you, at the edge of the woods. I have never been a prouder father than in that moment, knowing that the next phase would have been incomplete without your involvement.

You asked me at one point what the lady was doing as she entered the clearing and began to vomit up the young saplings she held within. I hushed you into silence with the promise that I would explain later, which I forgot to do in the adrenaline rush of the sacrifice.

Those seeds which she had purged from herself would grow, in time, to mighty oaks, but they were not the true seed. They were but many that chanced to be consumed in her quest for The One. Only one seed in one million has the chance to become the miracle that we witnessed. It does not always happen. More often than not, The Vessel has not consumed the correct seed among the millions that litter the forest floor… but she had! Oh glory! I have seen it twice in my lifetime. It is a good omen. It is a sign that this will be a Year of Blood, son.

It is with great joy, not just for myself, but for the entire order that you were in attendance to bear witness to the miracle that occurred as she stepped to ground. The roots split forth from her pregnant womb, writhing appendages of bark, and before us all, pulled the turned soil down upon her.

In a month’s time, I shall take you back to that place, the Circle of Bones, and there will stand a mighty oak, hollow and taller than any other for miles. We will leave a list of our enemies for Skogenherre to claim. If we are in his grace when he emerges, he may take one or a few to thank us for our tireless efforts and sacrifice.

As you see, son, Thanksgiving is not about Pilgrims and Natives, nor is it about turkeys or feasting. It is about giving back as stewards of our brothers and sisters. It is about being thankful for the ability to take part in this rebirth. But most of all, Thanksgiving is about blood, and with any grace, many of our enemies will see theirs spilled.

With sacrifice and thanks, we can prepare a way for the seeds to grow. We can prepare the way for Skogenherre’s return and for the blood to flow. We can prepare a place for him at our table. We can prepare ourselves, though unclean, we are able. Together, our order shall work to revive the flora in the hope to be cleansed the darkness of his aura.

So sayeth the Prophet Ingaborg.

Rejoice and be thankful on this blessed day, for soon the culling shall be underway.

Praise HIM!

Your Loving Father,

Savo

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