- Vol. 08
- Chapter 07
It caused quite a commotion, when the gods decided to reorganise. They spoke to the animals first, because none of it was their fault.
'We have a solution to your problem,' the gods told the animals, speaking very softly, so as not to alarm them. 'We’re going to make some changes.'
The problem, as everyone knew, was the people. The gods were reluctant to wipe them out entirely, since they were very good at prayer and song, and the gods loved to hear themselves talked about. No, the people would not be destroyed, only transformed. The people could keep their voices, speak from their own mouths, but they would lose those opposable thumbs of theirs, that they used to make weapons and shoot them, and all the slaughtering, chopping and polluting would stop. No, people would exchange their hands for wings, flippers, fins or paws… but the animals worried, what would all those people become?
The gods decided to let the people choose. They went to speak to them, but there were too many for the gods to talk to all at once. So, they went first to those who already listened for them, the attentive. The gods spoke to them in whispers, and let them choose, and these people chose to become porpoises and dolphins, seals and fish, and they swam and they sang their songs underwater, and they were happy.
Then the gods went to the people who needed a nudge to listen; a flash of sunlight through the trees, a gust of warm wind. These people were easily distracted, but they knew the truth when they heard it, and they listened to the gods talk, and chose to swap their hands and arms for feathered wings. They became owls and wrens, sparrows, curlews and chatty jackdaws. They flew with the birds and they sang their songs and they were content.
Then the gods went to the people who had forgotten how to listen, and the gods had to raise their voices to get their attention, and the people quaked, but they did what they were told, and they chose. They became badgers and foxes, rabbits and hares, and they ran with the animals, and learned to survive in the wild.
Finally, the gods went to the people who did not want to listen. The gods spoke loudly, so the whole world trembled, but these people pretended not to hear them. So, the gods shouted and the earth split open, but still the people would not listen. Then the gods roared, and the oceans spilled over, and whole islands drowned. At last, the people fell to their knees, but the gods were angry and did not give them a choice. They took their skin and left them scales, took their legs and left them tails, took their hands and gave them only long, forked tongues. These people slithered like serpents across the earth, but even the snakes would have nothing to do with them.