Dominus Vobiscum: existential novella by Dustin Pickering (4)

The following comes from the first few pages of my unpublished existential novella Dominus Vobiscum. The title comes from a phrase that means “God is with you,” or “The Lord be with you,” a traditional Christian salutation.

Dominus Vobiscum is written through the existential anxiety of influence, primarily Sartre’s Nausea. I explore the consequences of over-legislating a society while using libertarian-left or anarchist thought to prod the questions inherent in such an exploration. I begin with the tradition of the Scapegoat taken from Biblical text. As you read through the existential novella, I borrow extensively from American history, theological thought and literature of the past.

My primary influence in the construction of this existentialist novella is the principle of short expositions. I use the plot to explore idea-based content, keeping each section within the contemporary reader’s attention span.

In this existential novella, a zombie and a former bureaucrat turned literal monster fight the demonic powers at the Apocalypse. Their battle seeks to restore a city to godly powers inherent to it.

The fun of this novella is there are two devils. Each represents a prominent version of Satan: one, from Dante; the other, from Milton.

The loose symbolic construction makes this novella enjoyable. Keep an eye on this page for updated content for this existential novella.

The odd thing about my current existence is how I feel safe in this evil winter. With no burdens or responsibilities, I am free to move and think. I acted as though I was forbidden to respire when I maintained control. Constantly gazed upon as some reality TV star, my body stiffened and struggled to communicate.

        Emptiness is not something to take lightly.

        Even my dreams made me feel airy like a moth trapped in flame. I sometimes dreamed I was a butterfly and the sound of one hand clapping kept me alert. However, in the real world things were worse. The city was in collapse—my every action to blame, even the smallest movement to be taken seriously for its own reason. I developed bug eyes because I slept everything off but when I looked in the mirror I couldn’t see the depth of reproach in them. Often bloodshot, my eyes grew larger and my sight dimmer. I became shortsighted and developed apnea. Stress made me sick on a daily basis. It became harder to accept responsibility for these isolated actions of mine that ruined the beauty of the citizen.

        I know the heart of all purpose in the city is the social contract, without which the rules would cease to exist and no government could function. All working government relies on the people under it to maintain freedom. Like a machine with multiple cogs, the individual components flowed best together when they held commonality.

        When each branch, like particular factions within society, begins to compete and behave unruly then the order is in peril. The boundaries between the cogs widen, loosen, and begin to fall apart. The machinery slows. The breathing of the monster becomes steady until it stops. The beast is starved and leaves the table.

        However, to feed the beast again is a challenge no one takes on themselves.


        To give the impression of order, government takes burdens on itself that the people cannot carry. Policy decisions, I learned, are sometimes beyond the common populace. I don’t make up the rules; they make me up. I am their puppet. The strings are attached like the various cogs.

        I, the chief supervisor, no longer could act in my capacities. I hire others. I strongarm the factions and act in my own capacity, aside from law. The laws are so numerous no one can follow. They grow, they are like the hydra with heads that grow in number the more you cut them off. I carried the sword but it became too heavy. I asked if I traded power now, what would I become? I regretted the path I chose, but a certain poet reminds us that we will always regret even if we take the road not taken. How do we take the road not taken? The fact of the matter is we regret our every step and move. There is no way around it and we can only hope Fate spreads her wings to shelter us from our own whining. Looking back, it seems the other road is the one that would have been optimal. Regret is certain to flow through our psychic energies. It creeps up on us like an anti-humanism. We can’t even look at the moon without wondering what could have been.

        What really matters then? Some will counsel you but only by your own counsel. When you ask for advice, you are asking for encouragement to act the way you prepare.

        But now I am stuck in mountain ice outside the city where I was born. The city I led to ruin. The city I wish to revive but promise to leave alone because doing nothing is a great pleasure.

        This is my Cross, my regret. The path I took followed me back windways.


        Tonight, I speak to the empty air to hear myself. If the air is empty, can it be filled? With what can it be filled? My words. I will fill it with my words.


“O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.” (Psalm 79:8)

I hum this verse loudly as the creaking drawers of the earth quake, looking to the side of our apocalypse where enemies are bountifully adorned, joined to lovers fierce in quietude: while I lonely weep, sitting in the night doom: as if I have no person to watch over me, nothing of sparse deliverance for looking forward. The eyes of the magic beacon leave the silence in the fabric of space: emptiness is the engine of the sun.

        If I look to light, I see: however, looking to night is death and I am resurrected. Tempest of fathomless despair, if my crown of glory invites my kingship do I cling to the opposite hammer of my life? I am abandoned by the comforts of my age. I know of nothing to fill my plate with longing, again the slender poem of day.

        If I wait, I become darker: the enemy is a dream, for I have no enemy: the whispers in the sky are mere phantoms, things asking for my forgiveness.

        The world—as we know it now—is gross illusion, some insubstantial insolence coddling the wounds of terror. We are within wildness of mirrors: dim, senseless journey. I cannot eat the plague of my jealousy…the existence I latch onto is the violence of winter, the desolation stone of an empty graveyard breath. If language is held as joy in birth, I am its lost soul—wandering down into the corridors of madness like a laughing clown.

        What is more hideous than the moon in this dying hour? The sun is eclipsed; we are now in the mirth of solemn thanksgiving. I look longer in the haze—darkness is beyond, something metaphorical. To my mind.


        I fear history. It is the crux of confusion, the way trumpets blast over our dead. After all, we are human and pathos is the fuel driving light to light, and facing the sky with the most cryptic vision imagined. If the hurricane of unfathomable blindness blends to this nightly instance, I deem myself irredeemable and interrupter of decadence: hollow strife. A word is a joy to contain and light…let it fill the noise of the heart. All sorrow set aside, I am raising my fist up to the sweat-filled apathy of work. Now I will eat the communion of our faces, weep the melancholy mien of desire. I know nothing will come sooner but my heart aches, wounds I cherish cloy at its sweetest parts.

        In the meantime, I will tell the story of how many lives I took to make this hideous flesh strong and surreal. I am fear.


        I carried the rocks, I carried the laws. I brought the masses to fulfillment. I fed them. I ate them. I led them to pastures and then swept them into anthills. I am the God of the hour. I draw my water from all living wells, and feed the blitz of autumn his deserts.

        People become dry, empty, insolent. I cannot stop the motion of time. My actions intended to bring the night down from the stars, to end the unfathomable want in the stomach. I lit the torch I was created to carry: it saw my shadows and knew me well like a god. The rain came crying down but still my torch bloomed like a marauder. I wore jade and crystal to the dance of death. Blood is the currency of war.

        Like Moses, I could only bring my action so far before I dropped into the murky dark. I climbed Sinai, yes, and am now frozen in this unbearable womb of time. I clutter my mind with unspeakable parables. Tensions drive me this way and that, and reluctantly I go. Some god I am, taking directions from chaos. Yet to flow is the meaning of existence. I often surpass my own intelligence.

        That’s neither here nor there. My eyes burn to their witless agony—dry, cold, empty. I cannot empathize with the wind that thrashes me into my early death. I have waited and I patiently did what was asked of me. Destiny is a cruel master and she does not act alone. She is in collusion with the deep, with the dark, with the empty. Once I arise from slumber, the night nears and I dream of nothingness. What more could I ask for but to complete my fate? I cannot let invisible lies hearken to my dejection. The ink of antagonism is solemn and dry, but I buttress the enemy with my masterful farce, composed on the sly with the pen of grace. The only time I curse the angels is when they interfere with my gleaming plans. Doom exits through the mouth and my heart succumbs to smaller beats.

        Like Moses, I crashed the Laws against the end of this mountain. I destroyed the fates and their whims by cursing the lobotomized Herod of clashing intuitions—I acted wisely, did what I knew to be true.

        Now, I am cold and forgotten. The dream is down further. Away from here…the dream is away from here.


        Is unity a selfish aim? Now I see isolation, warfare in the mansions of time. My eyes are lit with the certain traps of wisdom. I know the answer, the final solution. I know what it is to dig, to separate, to draw forth. Like a sword, my face cuts the barricade down and we fill the sea with drowning enemies. I leave the wilderness, here I am. What am I left with? The opening mouth of the sky—it appears to want to eat, should I offer it my clan? We narrowly escape the frenzy—we looked North, and the stars are fish, the stars are our guides in this river of blood.


        I hear a cock crowing distantly. It is as if the voice of a poet spoke but I could only trace the infinitesimal. I thought immediately of Christ’s betrayal and how I betrayed the great city. We were a community who never stopped offering ourselves to one another in charity. There was a preaching in the churches we called “Charity Chasing”, and its purpose was to uplift those who were natural givers and keep the vagrants happy. Many of those vagrants were living in apathy and were stirred to action by small acts of charity from private individuals. A heart is a tough thing to swallow and when I made these acts of faith law, they ceased being credible. The city took it with a heavy head, bowed, and privately they sighed that these burdens should now be on everyone rather than the community that best suited them.

        I was clearly at fault. I saw how wondrous these acts were, and how much they accomplished—but I did not understand the reason they were so powerful. God is on the side of those who give cheerfully, and cheerful giving is granted His spirit. His spirit moves through all things but is most beneficial in voluntary action toward the unfortunate.

        At least I learned this fundamental truth after I created the “Pact of Parsimony”, or the imposed tax to uplift the poor. Those who refused to give were taken from under the paradox, “Those who have will be given more, those who have not shall be taken from”. I can only speak for myself in this matter that I made myself exempt from this pact. I often, good though I am otherwise, took these funds for my own benefit and simply gave the poor the bare minimum. There was much talk in the city of executing me or at least submitting my deeds to authorities higher than myself. I was in charge of the great city and my choices concerning its direction affected everyone under them. It sometimes upset certain factions when they did not get their way. They became unruly, tossing the laws under their belts like none of them served a purpose. I admit political leadership has faults because a push one direction has the effect of stirring the opponents of that move. They may choose violence to make their point. In this case, no one took it on to fight the Pact of Parsimony. I used the precedent of the social contract to enact these sets of legislation. I believed in my head I could rid the world of poverty and secure my name in history for good.

        Nothing is ever guaranteed. I not only failed at making progress a priority, I also upset the community’s sincere religious leadership.

        I have doubts about the truth of religion. I don’t see it as accommodating humanity as much as it claims. The god of religion is rooted in the past, in the ancient human tradition. Its flexibility is only what is granted by the human mind—I mean to say, we re-write religious dogma when it no longer suits us. The texts are infinitely shapeable to new scenarios. But…I preach to the choir here, and we are probably in perfect pitch…


        Cold air is not punishment. Everything is as you make it. I can shape my relationship with reality if I shift my contemplation—can I see inward? Do I know the facts from their resonance? Is there anything beyond—a God, a demon?—that my mind must make central? I think there is a force, something akin to the electromagnetic boundaries surrounding subatomic particles—something shaping both the motions of the entire project, and something limiting their sphere. There are spheres without tensions, limitations, and cooperation.

        Long wave and short wave magnetic resonances create positive and negative fields where the laws of attraction and repulsion are enacted. Sometimes it feels like stretching your compassion out to extend further than immediacy has the repercussion of insisting on autonomy—that is, such a person becomes lonely. The ions of the universe are responsible for the bonds between fields. They unite by acting as non-conformists, pursuing whatever avenue of movement that suits them.

        Within these separate fields are harmonies of particles dancing like leaves in the wind. They follow strict patterns and obey their perfect law.

        However the electromagnetism seeks to convey its unities, the particles therein find their perfect pitch. No one is useless and those who martyr their being are the ones whose efforts are sustained, paralleled, and created for infinity. The Godmind memorizes their pictorial representations and recreates them, forging existence as if the entire project was predetermined. How do we know what comes after the wind? There is a feeling in the air, a stillness, a sense of longing. Then we know the great man will betray our wishes, bring into circulation those dark malignancies, those worried dreams.

        If the ions of our friendship seek something greater than their corresponding fields, our hearts become heavy and we sink. Gravity is a small thing and is fragile like a mind. Minds break with light pressure, and move charismatically in the dark like shooting stars. My heart is abundant but I cannot fathom the missing link between myself and my history.

        God can’t remember His birth either…or how He became a “He”.


        There is something called “configuration”. It’s a process of creating and arranging. I sink deeper into myself to see how I am made, and think only on the deeper perplexities of my being. The sense perception is isolated and yet unique, like a gratification of our need foe beauty. Sometimes the heart is only satisfied by its opposites.

        Human nature. I loved humans until they isolated me and stabbed me into the sky, this wretched refuse of my body frozen into the merciless ground. They will need me someday, and will I be there? I can’t and I won’t! There is much to be said of appreciating another person. I am not human, no longer am I something reality can digest without fickle fear.

        The winds are stinging my face where frost has already created a treasury over my beard. I want to let out a primordial shriek of rage. If the stars were listening, I might have. But since I am left in the silence no one would hear me and it would be a waste of voice. I am an entire past, a history forsaken, and the moments I forgot to live matter to me as infinity. What if I am here forever?

        Darkness is always still, afraid like a doe caught in a human gaze. If I fear the light, I must fear motion…I must like being at a standstill.

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