By Lynn Daniels

Short stories, Magical realism


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3 mins


Manuel was a man of mystery. He had his secrets and perhaps a few of them were devastating. He was a respected member of The Elders. He was second in command after all, but the man he portrayed behind his sturdy, tanned frame was not the man he carried himself as beyond the cold, confining walls of the compound. To the Elders, Manuel was viewed as the feisty Elder. He would never bypass the opportunity to argue and he loved to fight. He was a spirited debater on all matters except those pertaining to love, marriage and women. When The Elders held discussions on these topics, Manuel was uncharacteristically silent.

In terms of love, two Elders believed that love was a positive attribute to have while two others believed love was useless and certainly had no place among the ranks of Gods and Goddesses. Manuel kept quiet on this issue because he was torn. He felt that love did not serve much of a purpose to Gods and Goddesses because of their immortality, but he did believe that love was an important part of mortal life because it made their lives more dynamic. When it came to marriage, two Elders were staunch proponents of the practice, even though one never married, while two Elders were fiercely opposed to the institution. Manuel felt that while marriage was not practical for Gods, he felt the choice to marry should be open to mortals and he was not going to press the issue or threaten social persecution upon mortals for refusing to marry.

On the subject of women, the other four Elders viewed women as nothing more than subservient objects. One believed women were tools to fulfill sexual desire, Another Elder believed women were best utilized as wives and mothers. Yet another Elder believed women were best suited as personal servants to cook and clean while the fourth believed that women should perform all of the aforementioned duties. The four Elders spent a great deal of their lives believing that women were at their best when they remained silent and deferred all decision-making to men. For most of those Elders, a woman managed to challenge their worldview; some for the better and some for the worse.

For Manuel, this never occurred. Though Manuel held firm traditional beliefs on male/female relationships, he was not one to believe women were just objects completely devoid of thoughts or feelings. Manuel wanted women to be demure, but he also wanted them to display a certain level of confidence in themselves and their desires. Unbeknownst to his colleagues, Manuel was a romantic. He had a countless number of lovers over the years and he spent a majority of his time in his home nation of Másquema planting the seeds of lust and sexual progressiveness in the minds of women all over the country.

Manuel had his own selfish reasons for doing this. The primary reason being that he was consumed with world domination. He felt fighting over land and ideals would ultimately destroy Cerebes. He believed if the women were confident enough in their sexual prowess, they could pacify men and force men in power to relinquish their land, wealth and prestige to the nation of Másquema. The other reason was purely personal. Manuel found the practice of pleasing women to be fulfilling and exciting. He viewed bedding women as a game in which he wanted every conquest to be better than the one before it. He also wanted to leave a lasting impression on every woman he ever seduced.

Manuel's thirst for bedding women came as a result of misappropriated envy. When head Elder Oscar elevated Manuel to a God and gave him the opportunity to create his own nation, he felt lost. Manuel was never the scholarly type and he had no real vision for Másquema. He led one hundred men and one hundred women away from the compound, established the boundaries of the nation and let the people do what they pleased. Needless to say, the early origins of Másquema were less civilized than the rest of the world and Manuel had to work on creating a real cultural identity for his nation. This was the time in which Manuel became good friends with fellow Elder Yousef. The two had a good friendship, but it was a strange friendship.
Manuel looked up to Yousef and admired his intelligence, but he was also jealous of Yousef and felt inferior to him. Manuel could not understand how Yousef could manage two nations heavily divided on the basis of gender and physical appearance while still being held in high regard amongst the other Elders. Meanwhile, Manuel took a laissez-faire approach to his nation and he was often reprimanded for running a Godless nation with no moral constitution because his people chose not to marry or work outside of attaining food and shelter.

Manuel also envied Yousef's luck with the ladies. Yousef was never without a bevy of beautiful women by his side ready to satisfy his every request. At first, it irritated Manuel to see these women blindly profess their love and devotion to Yousef, but after talking to the women, Manuel quickly learned of the one trait they all shared. Each woman had alarmingly low self-esteem and all of them believed being in Yousef's presence was the highlight of their lives.

Manuel thought this way of thinking was wrong, but instead of trying to encourage these women to stand up for themselves and speak out against Yousef's demeaning behavior, he used this loophole as the basis to use sexual warfare to achieve world domination and exact his revenge upon Yousef and the other Elders for questioning his competency in running a successful nation. To Manuel, it all made perfect sense. If he was viewed as a man with no morals, he was going to carry himself like one. If the other four Elders were going to treat women as if they were inferior to men and yielded no power, he was going to show them that even the most unassuming woman could be the catalyst for a powerful man's fall from grace.



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