I met him many times, in many forms. In my father’s face, in my mother’s eyes, and in the fist of my lover. Seared into my very being, he was.
And so at the foot of the burning man I stood, awaiting perhaps my final orders, or perhaps my bitter end. He had been my mentor in trouble times. My touchstone. Perhaps even my hero.
But our wooden ideals last only as long as we can strain against the world’s immorality and our own self flagellation.
I watched as he poured the gasoline on himself and struck a match. There was no blazing fire, but he darkened like the new moon, full of rage and renewal. The smoke puffed through his ears and scratched at my eyes.
“God help us!” screamed the spectators.
“Why are you afraid?” I called. “Those who are with the Gods can not be killed!”
But they would not be calmed, they who would prostrate themselves before false gods.
I came to him often then, bringing my offerings, my hopes.
“You must warm yourselves now,” he warned.
He burned for three moons before succumbing. So died my faith too on that first sunless day.
Our world was plunged into madness and darkness, so I lit myself with gasoline to show them the way. But alas, I became too another burning man.
“You must light the way,” I said to my disciples. “You must be your own light.”