Life is full of lies, deceptions, trickery, and flat distrust. We humans expend nearly a billion calories per hour – depending on the population of the planet at any moment – obfuscating truths.
There are little lies, medium-size deceits, full-blown treacheries, and everything in-between. Some lies weave themselves atop others. It is a wonder we ever communicate a single fucking thing.
Sometimes, we even lie to the therapist. We painfully gulp down truths to burp out falsehoods to the people who deserve the raw truth more than ever.
It causes me to ponder: when was the first lie told in human history? Was it when one person was starving and took a bit of another’s food when they weren’t looking? The ensuing accusation of thievery suppressing the simple, obvious truth. Yet, the cost-benefit analysis, even in the mind of Pithecanthropus Erectus, would see that admitting the truth could be more painful than just lying.
Was it when someone first saw the face of their so-called progeny and knew that the person in the next cave over was actually its parent?
Truly, it needn’t matter, in the long run. Lying has helixed its way into our social, behavioral coding long before that last vertebrae turned to allow our heads to swivel as they currently do. Or our clavicles pressed our shoulders back into the position of hurling and throwing. Maybe the axiom Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones arose not only from our ability to do bodily harm by throwing stones, but a deeper harm we mete out casting lies about like nefarious seeds.
They spread, comingle, create networks, construct power stratifications. A deep, and usually mostly unseen, matrix of beguilements and manipulations, that is eerily similar in form and efficacy to underground fungal networks.
Apate is the Greek goddess of fraud, trickery, and deception. Even though she was sprung into greater power at the opening of Pandora’s Box, she has come to lament the frenzied level of misinformation the 21st century human roils up. Their comfort in willful ignorance has given her a mysterious malaise and she can no longer eat. Apate’s parents, Nyx and Erebus, sit vigil almost constantly. Gods in their own rights, their daughter’s condition swells their distress to the point that they are supplicating the other gods to do something, anything.
Change does not always come quickly within the pantheons of gods, but Nyx is deeply revered by so many of the other gods, that action for change was swift. After some brief, but hotly debated presentations for a solution, a high quorum of gods chose Seshat’s proposal. Seshat, who was the Egyptian goddess of writing and measurement and the ruler of books, had a simple, yet devious plan. Her deeply organized mind lent her proposal a flavor of something akin to the Dewey Decimal System. Now, not every single human soul would receive their own number the way that books did. No, the ridiculous Untruths they believed in are what were categorized; every conspiracy received designation. Now, to ensure that this purgatorial filing system wasn’t designed to send every single person straight to Hell, it was balanced with Truths peppered in. Maybe a truth that was covered up in a seditious plot. When the muffling of truth beneath lies was deemed “in league with the betterment of humanity” by the schemers themselves. No matter how misdirected… like the notion of a Magic Bullet.
Now, Seshat also proposed that Hell itself had to be reorganized to make room for new torturous scenarios of eternity. Added to that, certain conspiratorial transgressions of stupidity during your time on the Terrestrial Plane were treated with a twist. If the lunacy that you participated in dealt actual mortal harm to others, you were given candidacy for potential reincarnation.
The other gods gasped in the horror of what seemed under-punitive, counterintuitive. Reincarnation?!? bemoaned Brahma and Buddha, catching vapors the likes of which only a god can.
Not to worry assured Seshat. Those most senile with willful ignorance would occasionally be reincarnated into a life destined to be, “Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” to quote Thomas Hobbes. Their candidacy for reincarnation – should they be chosen – would boot them up into a life destined to suffer on the other side of an Untruth they so boldly hung onto in the life just previous. Seshat laughingly referred to her organizational system as The Doors of Misperception while chewing on numerous fistfuls of Psilocybe cubensis in preparation for the task of creation.
She borrowed from Shiva 12 extra pairs of arms and from Hermes blinding speed. And with her all-seeing third eye in cross-dimensional focus, Seshat began building a near infinite hall of doors. Of course, there was one grand door outside the hall, which is guarded by Heimdall.
So began the filing, organization, and culling of The Conspirators. Just on the other side of death, you are questioned by Heimdall simply, succinctly, What hill is it that you wished to die upon?
Heimdall, it is True that Stanley Kubrick helped the CIA and NSA fake the Apollo 11 Moon Landing as a major propaganda tool in the Cold War and Arms Race with the Soviet Union, right?!?
Boom! In a flash, Heimdall has ushered you through the outer gate, while smirking at your fallacy, and you are sucked through a door. Through the door, you are pooped out onto the surface of the moon, surrounded by Armstrong and Aldrin’s bootprints. You see some left behind instruments and a totally familiar flag stabbed into the dusty surface. But you have no space equipment; no oxygen, no protection from the void that comes in the absence of an atmosphere. For an eternity – or until a “possible” reincarnation – your blood is vaporizing. Your lungs collapsing, unable to scream a scream that would have no air to bounce off of.
Heimdall, surely chem trails were poisoning us all along and disrupting weather patterns, yes??
He just smacks you through the grand gate. You awake, on the other side of your numbered door, which you barely make out in the blur-rush of it all. You awake in a classroom with a very boring teacher issuing the lesson on formation of ice crystals at cruising altitude for jetliners in their exhaust. Over and over and over and, god damnit, over again. Chemistry class without a bell… is a certain form of Hell.
I’m sorry Heimdall, I just cannot abide by the Magic Bullet theory of the Warren Commission and positing Lee Harvey Oswald as having acted alone. It’s not borne of the need for some grand evil plan – even if it got to that point – but that it just defies logic and, quite frankly physics as we knew it on earth.
Heimdall sighs a calm exhalation of relief, Thank you, my friend, for your logic. Please, let me show you to your door.
Your door is coded “ZapruderFrame.313,” because Seshat has a funky sense of humor. On the other side of it, you are in an ornately designed and decorated private dining hall and theater. Lush velvet seat covers. Copper ceilings with details – in relief – that expose every single string of the massive web of lies that turned the Grassy Knoll into an inside joke at the CIA. Looking further down the hall, you see John and Jackie enjoying a drink and light, yet loving conversation. Occasionally, they issue directions to a small man editing an unruly long film reel for a documentary set to be released at the Toronto International Film Festival in the early Fall of 2022. It will finally reveal the entire truth of the story.
Soon, you realize that Seshat has employed the infinity mirror physics of the Astral Plane. To your left is a line labeled “Pfizer 5G Chip” with another Heimdall, double-masked and armed with a huge bottle of hand sanitizer. And to the left of that line? “Tupac Is Alive.” Beyond that, seemingly endless lines and iterations of Heimdall. Likewise to your right; a line labeled “New World Order/Illuminati.” Then a line for “Flat Earth,” which is a shockingly long line. Next, “Climate Change.” It keeps going in that direction, too.
Above all, displayed brightly and unendingly are Apate’s vital statistics. Her blood pressure, heart rate, weight, nutritional levels, and brain function readouts. Of course, the gods are the only ones who can keep a record of her vitals. No single soul will ever see it twice. Even the reincarnated, because once they die again, they will have no memory of what her vitals were the last time. Hell, they won’t know they’d ever seen it before at all.
Seshat’s plan was working brilliantly. In the first month, the culling of stupidity, fallacies, and willful ignorances had reduced misinformation and lies by 0.9% on the Terrestrial Plane. Apate had already been up and eating small meals, despite her displayed vitals reflecting someone in critical condition.
Gabe Bogart lives in Seattle, Washington, where he patiently awaits the return of the Seattle Supersonics. He learned to love words in his senior year high school creative writing class and from his sister and mother. It’s been a long time since he took a major road trip and he’d like to do it next in a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Super Sport. His work has appeared in Pareidolia Lit, Hencroft Hub, Collective Realms, TERSE. Journal, Fahmidan Journal, acloserlisten.com, and thesianetwork.com.