What Pegman Saw: Ahriman snips away the world

 

 

The cafe lights bleached the night, washing colour from the hoardings, turning people to cut outs.

Ahriman imagined taking sharp scissors, snipping away plastic chairs and litter bins, sycamore trees and scraps of discarded samusa, leaving only the figures behind, their legs bent in mid step, lifting cups of black tea to puckered lips. He saw the paper people stacked like plates, shuffled like playing cards, packed away when he tired of them.

He used to love humanity, its endless capacity for greed and hatred, its skill at weaving lies, glittering webs to trap the innocent before the fatal strike.

Now he walked among these flimsy beings, sharing the fragile beat of their hearts, the flicker of pulse so easy to snuff out.

Passing the fountain, a cool mist played across his skin, damping his hair.

Life had been better when he was a god.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview as its starting point. Today we visit Tehran in Iran. See here to share, read and comment.

Notes

Ahriman is another name for Angra Mainyu, a destructive spirit in Zoroastrianism. Many believe Angra Mainyu will ultimately be destroyed, his power quenched. I imagined him passing into human form, becoming obsolete.

Samusa are pastries filled with spicy meat and vegetables. See here to discover more delicious Iranian food.

 

 

 

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38 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw: Ahriman snips away the world

  1. very interesting – and before I got to the god part – which was a culture deep ending – πŸ™‚
    well I like how the paper people were lifeless but then noted he shared the fragile beat of their hearts”
    – nice connectedness piece (to me at least)

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  2. I hope a god so destructive does indeed grow obsolete. Wonderfully captures his frustration and sense of superiority. He’s gnashing his (very sharp) teeth.

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    1. Yes, it’s sad that modern politics and international trouble have overshadowed a glorious history. The ancient Persians and Mesopotamians left glorious sculptures and cultural artefacts and were ahead of the West on areas of science and agriculture at that time. Sad the tragic modern era masks it all

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, I love the fantastical imagery of what he imagines here, with snipping up what he sees until all that’s left is “paper people stacked like plates”! Great hints that he is either crazy or not a human, and in the end the reveal is satisfying — and perhaps the answer is “both.” One of my favorites.

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    1. Ah, thanks so much Joy. I was struggling to write this – lots of noise in the room, distracting World Cup playing in the background! – so glad you thought it passed muster. Thank you for reading πŸ™‚

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      1. Good for you– I’m rubbish at writing when there’s any distraction at all, much less the World Cup. I can’t even listen to music. Those people who take their laptops to write in cafes? I’m convinced they’re another species. πŸ˜‰

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      2. I find it hard to concentrate if to concentrate if my husband’s pottering around at home, making tea and playing his bass – very distracting! But I used to go to cafes a lot and find I could zone the comings and goings out quite easily. People become white noise but only when there are enough of them

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      3. I just got back from traveling to see my family, and spent a good deal of time on planes and in airports. I managed to do pretty well at zoning out the distractions in order to read, but even then, I had to get up and move several times when people were talking next to me. I was kicking myself for not bringing ear plugs — very useful for zoning out crowds of strangers.

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      4. Had the same experience trapped on trains over the weekend – some people just love the sound of their own voices, even when they’re talking drivel! Ah, for noise cancelling headphones πŸ™‚

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      5. I never thought seriously about buying noise-cancelling headphones, and now I don’t travel nearly as much as I used to, so it doesn’t seem worthwhile. And then that ONE trip happens when I really wish I had them… Well, let’s see if I can remember my ear plugs and start from there.

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  4. What a wonderful vision of Ahriman in C21st (or maybe that’s not appropriate?) But I just love how you imagine things, and describe your visions with just the right language. Clearly you are blessed by Ahura Mazda, not cursed by the Dark One.

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  5. Interesting take. I questioned whether he was a powerful man who had lost all his powers, but read the comments above to see that he truly was a god. And I agree that it is vital that he has no power as an immortal anymore. He sounds like the kind of god who was full of destruction and without benevolence and justly deserves his demotation.

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    1. I think once gods are no longer believed in they lose their power – belief fuels them and Ahriman has lost his followers and become mortal. A fatal consequence for a god. Thank you so much for reading and the kind words Mandi

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  6. Oh! You have out-done yourself with this one. So captivating ~ people cutouts, snipped away trees and trash bins, paper people stacked like plates, shuffled like playing cards. I love how your mind works. Kudos!!! Lish

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    1. Ah, thanks so much Lish! Really lovely of you to say so. Yes, not sure where all that came from. I saw the silhouettes of the people and was reminded of those black card profile portraits that were popular in the 19th century. The snipping just carried on from there. Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

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  7. What a great take, Lynn. I could wax wax wax lyrical but everyone already has. This style, this darker style, is reminiscent of some of your stories I first read before the People’s Friend publication. I really enjoyed the ominous characterisation here.

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    1. Thank you Kelvin. Yes, I do like to venture towards the darkside, even though I’m very happy writing for the Friend and aiming for a happy ending! Thanks so much for the positive comment

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  8. Passing the fountain, a cool mist played across his skin, damping his hair. Ahriman not appreciating how welcome this would be, especially on a humid evening, told me everything I needed to know about him, god or no god.

    You conjure up scenes so, um, divinely, but it’s the killer endings that are the cherries on your cake slices.

    (My, what a rag bag of mixed metaphors. I can do no better.)

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    1. Thank you very much Chris! Glad you liked my wander into the mind of a god past his prime. Sorry for my absence of late – extra work and a family member being very ill has all but scuppered my blogging of late. Hope you’re well

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      1. No apology necessary, Lynn, I’ve been extra busy too of late though at least without illness in the family as well — hope that’s improving for you all.

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      2. What have you been up to? A summer of gigs and performances? Sadly, no, the family illness situation is unlikely to improve, but we just have to be around and do what we can while we can, don’t we? Hope you’re enjoying this weather – me, I’m longing for rain! πŸ™‚

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      3. I think we’re all bemused that we’re actually wondering where all the rain has gone — to Iceland, possibly, where they’ve reportedly had barely a couple of days without the wet stuff since April. Sorry about the family illness — I can’t imagine how distressing that must be for you all.

        Yes, lots of music going on — exam accompanying, concerts etc. Accompanied our choir and local high school when Prince Charles visited Crickhowell this week, and also conducted part of a newly composed song cycle for choir and soloist. Due to play Saint-Saens’ ‘Carnival of the Animals’ in Cardiff later this month too, so, yes, quite busy! πŸ™‚

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      4. ‘Quite’ busy sounds like an understatement! What a wonderfully diverse range of music for a summer’s entertainment – sounds amazing Chris.
        Had a short lived storm here the other day which meant I didn’t have to water for a day, but now we’re back to scorching heat and dry. It’s just a shame because the schools are about to break up and you just know that as soon as they do we’ll have wall to wall rain – it’s been the pattern for a few years now.
        Happy playing, whatever the weather!

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  9. This story is fabulous in every sense of the word. Your opening sets the scene distinctively and involves us immediately. Closing the opening paragraph with “turning people to cut outs” gives a wonderful transition to the action of the next paragraph (it’s so clever, I am consumed with envy of your talent!). Despite the 150 word limit, you somehow find space for a leisurely, whimsical description of the bent legs and puckered lips of those unfortunates from whom Ahriman has stripped everything; and space for what is essentially a soliloquy by Ahriman on what humanity used to be like.
    The way you use sentence length and structure to give your story shape is again enviable. The title is excellent. It’s just a terrific story.
    Kudos!

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    1. Thank you so much, though I feel totally unworthy of the praise. It felt a bit of a struggle, this one – there were a lot of distractions in the room at the time – it came together slowly and patchily. Glad you thought it worked though. Thanks again and thank you for the fabulous feedback

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