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Sisy, For Lack of A Better Word

“I am asking you not to misuse your eternity.”

“I am asking you not to misuse your eternity.”

“Finally,” said he; his eyes set upon a vast landscape so immensely captivating that a wild thought slipped and emerges in him, trying to convince himself that even though he may not find what he’s searching for, this landscape might as well be worth his journey.

In an instant, he rejects such idea that he traveled all this way, keep in mind he’s not talking about how far nor how long, to this remote realm just so that he can adore such scenery. Mountains, hills, green, and blue of a realist masterpiece lie before him, it’s nice but this is probably nothing more than a distraction to his true objective.

So he walks towards the highest mountain he can see, the distance doesn’t matter many thanks to the green and emotionally engaging sea of grass. As he getting closer, he begins to see the gentleman he seeks.

Three times the size of the tallest human there ever was, the gentleman is all ripped up and naked. There was no one but him anyway in this realm, so why bother to wear clothes. Probably. Or he’s just naked for the sake of comfort.

The gentleman is pushing a huge rock, or maybe we can agree to call it a boulder for its round-like nature, and now he is midway upward the mountain. There is no mistaking it, that is definitely him.

The mind is involuntarily and gradually canceling the scenery once interesting, and the steps are becoming faster and faster. His eyes now set in the movement of the gentleman pushing the boulder in upwards fashion until it reaches the peak. Once said boulder reached the peak, the gentleman lets the boulder roll back down the mountain.

There, he witnessed it, the infamous hero of absurdity. That gentleman is no other than Sisyphus.

He stands near the boulder that Sisyphus rolled back down again and waits for Sisyphus to come and get it. Sisyphus walks slowly down the mountain then he was greeted by a stranger, the only living soul he has ever met since the beginning of his boulder-pushing-gig.

“Greetings, Sisyphus!” he said, yet received no reply whatsoever. Sisyphus ignores him and goes directly to this boulder. “I am Matahati, and I came here to meet you.”

Sisyphus ignores him still. Instead of giving any response, Sisyphus continues his gig and starts pushing the boulder again.

 “Alright, fine. You go ahead continue your…activity,” said Matahati.

It is sure confusing for him, being ignored. Not because he never felt such a thing, but because it’s Sisyphus. The guy probably hasn’t interacted with another human being since forever. Now, someone showed up and he just ignored him? Did the boulder talk back to him occasionally or did I miss something here?

So Matahati stands there, patiently, watching Sisyphus pushing the boulder to the top of the mountain. He observed Sisyphus doing his exhausting gig, trying to capture that one moment when that inhuman body stops midway the mountain to rest, catching breath and gathering strength. Bored, Matahati then throws his gaze around, minding the scenery. He made efforts to fathom this remote realm which contains no human-like creature except Sisyphus and him. Became even more bored than before, he counts how long Sisyphus has been here, but that also bored him so dearly.

Eyes skyward, Matahati studied two shining circular objects and instantly defined those as suns. Two suns. How comfortable for Sisyphus. Speaking of comfort, Matahati now wonders whether Sisyphus is still, like he was in the myth, a human being. Hunger and thirst, rest and sleep, pain, anything that might suggest the man is still indeed a man, will definitely help.

No, wait. Matahati looks around him. Is there even something to eat here?

It is inhuman to push a boulder that big if he has nothing to eat. Sure, his body is inhuman by size, but surely it needs energy. It’s basic biology. How can he have the energy to push boulder if he has nothing to eat? How? Through sheer will and determination?

Matahati then notices himself being a bit sarcastic yet he can’t help it. Everything is absurd. This realm, Sisyphus’ punishment, everything. Being sarcastic is forgivable in the face of absurdity. Being sarcastic means you know which one’s true and which one’s less so. Sarcasm might as well be the official coping mechanism against absurdity, as sarcasm does use logic. For him, though, being sarcastic is just pure joie de vivre.

He smiled while wondering about absurdity, which in some way is absurd too. His wondering stopped upon noticing Sisyphus reaching the mountaintop. So does the boulder. And now it did, as Sisyphus let it roll down back again below until said boulder stopped a few meters from Matahati. There, Matahati caught a sigh from Sisyphus before the gentleman slowly descends from the mountaintop.

That sigh, for Matahati, a long-awaited beacon of light. From where he came from, a sigh has more definition than any word there is. Nothing more ambiguous, in his personal experience, than a single sigh. It is more human than hunger. Far-fetched, maybe, but he stands by it.

As Sisyphus slowly descending the mountain, Matahati digs. Digs in his mind on how to wisely define Sisyphus’ sigh. It was short, he can tell. He remembers, through his good eyes, a hint of movement in Sisyphus’ shoulders. Further read, the steps while descending the mountain are slow, eyes to earth.

In conclusion, Sisyphus is indeed a human. That sigh could be defined as a slight depression, boredom, exhaustion, an effort for patience; everything points out that Sisyphus is a human.

And what’s the best way to treat a human who ignores you?

“Hey, Sisy!” yelled Matahati.

Sisyphus doesn’t respond, but Matahati saw his reaction. Sisyphus keeps on walking and Matahati prepares himself to ‘trick’ Sisyphus. Sisyphus arrived near his boulder, and Matahati begins his plan.

“Hey, Sisy. You were a king, aren’t you?” said Matahati.

Sisyphus looked at Matahati and turned his cheek. Matahati smiles.

“Fine. I know you were. So, Your Majesty, are you going to push this boulder again?”

Sisyphus still ignores him, but Matahati can sense the tide turns. As Sisyphus starts pushing again, Matahati walks beside him. His steps are smaller than Sisyphus’ but Matahati is still able to keep up. After all, he’s about to win.

Along the way to the mountaintop, Matahati practically abuses Sisyphus with annoyance, asking questions that are all rhetoric and somewhat condescending. Silly yet simultaneously molesting the absurdity that is the boulder-pushing-gig punishment. He intentionally lets the annoyance build up into tension. No answer whatsoever from Sisyphus, so Matahati just went all out.

“So, Sisy… did the Gods being specific about your punishment? I mean, yeah, push a boulder towards a mountaintop, and then it will roll back down for you to push again; but did they specifically tell you to push the boulder to this mountaintops? I mean, you can pick…say…that mountain. It’s shorter. Or that hill. Or that one. Or, you know, just find a hill with flat tops so this boulder won’t roll back down.”

That one goes on and on until they reach the top. The boulder rolled down, then they both descend with Matahati keeps on annoy Sisyphus. As Sisyphus starts to push again, Matahati changes the subject.

“Did you notice there are so many trees in this realm? From where I came from, it’s something. I mean, over there is a forest. There, too. With that arms and strength, I mean you do push a boulder, Your Majesty. You could easily gather some woods and make a shelter, in case of rain. Or a palace, you know, being fancy. You were a king, after all. Oh, you could build a palace on the top of the mountain! You can hang out there, looking at the scenery…maybe build a wall so that the boulder won’t roll back down, you know. Be creative.”

Upon reaching the mountaintop, Matahati changes the subject again.

“Oh! Hey, Sisy! Did you ever try to change the boulder? Since Gods weren’t so specific at some points, you could’ve changed the boulder with something smaller. Easier to carry. Or if Gods were specific about the size, maybe change the boulder’s shape. Box-shaped boulder won’t roll. It’s basic physic. Or triangle, you know, to mess with the Gods. Oh, and I wonder why this boulder isn’t gradually scrapped from rolling down the mountain millions of times for eternity? Why doesn’t it cracked even one bit?”

And change it again on the way to the top.

“ Your Majesty, if I may, I have in my possession some delights called muffins in my bag. Muffins are sweet, tasty food. From where I came from, people like muffins because you can eat them while waiting. Or while traveling. While pushing boulder towards mountaintops, too. Exciting, isn’t it, Your Majesty?”

Then again. This time, halfway through the mountain where Sisyphus took a moment to rest. At this point, he isn’t just messing with Sisyphus. He’s half pissed about this absurdity that he had to annoy his childhood hero just to make him stop ignoring. He blames the punisher, with grace.

“So, Your Majesty Sisy, after all these times you pushing boulder like a slave to Gods who punish you, did they ever show up and pat you in the head to say a good job?”

“In this very moment…”Sisyphus finally responded. His breath is heavy. “…I solemnly wishing the Gods allow me to crush you with this boulder.”

A smile, finally, came out true from Matahati’s heart, slipped to his face.

“Crush me, then, Your Majesty Sisy! Or are you truly a sissy, in every way there is?”

Matahati could see in Sisyphus’s eyes, it was rage. Pity, what truly gets him was not the rhetorical question towards the absurdity; it was the pun intended to his name and his previous title. His identity. For a couple of seconds, Matahati waits for his childhood hero to crush him with a boulder, but it didn’t happen.

“No,” said Sisyphus, then continuing the gig.

Matahati, displeased, stands his ground. He lets him reached the top without further annoyance. Then, the boulder rolled down past Matahati. Matahati still holds his stand, waiting for Sisyphus to walk past him.

What Sisyphus failed to realize is that Matahati came from another realm, a realm where Sisyphus and his life were a myth for people to study; that having Sisyphus as his childhood hero means knowing a simple ‘no’ grants a slight illusion of winning by doing a protest. That big, tall body walked past him, with head held high. Matahati turned, Sisyphus’s steps are long and in no time, he is already far down the mountain.

“Your Gods have left, Sisyphus!”Matahati yelled.

Sisyphus stopped. Matahati took it as this subject successfully triggered something inside Sisyphus.

“Your Gods left a long time ago! Far too long!”

Sisyphus turned then stares at Matahati, who stands on higher ground than Sisyphus. Matahati could feel the stare intimidating. Challenging. Rebelliously intense. Maybe this is why Zeus didn’t like him.

“They left, man,” said Matahati again, his shoulders speak honesty. “Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Aphrodite, Athena…even Dionysius. They are no more.”

“Who even are you, stranger? What kind of purpose does your existence have to stand before me and claim such a thing?”

Matahati held his smile upon hearing the word ‘stranger’. Mais oui, je suis rien qu’un étranger.

“The purpose of my existence matters not. I am, indeed, a stranger. What matters is what I know, and I know you, Sisyphus.”

“You know nothing.”

“I know you were a king. I know you tricked God. I know you tricked Death. I know you are here. I know your punishment. I know your story.” Matahati’s voice gets higher, “I know you. Don’t you dare tell me I know nothing, you absurdist. Haven’t you heard the rhetorical questions I’ve been posed to you? Logic, Sisyphus, against the absurdity that is your current life; you’re the one who knows nothing!”

Matahati did not give his childhood hero a chance for rebuttal. He walks towards Sisyphus like a boulder Sisyphus had been pushing for eternity; exactly like the boulder, Manahati’s on the roll.

“You are the genius of all those myths, Sisyphus! Your glory is not about wars or journeys or happiness! It’s about your existence! You, a human, tricked Gods! You tricked Death! You outsmarted them all! Now you’re telling me a genius who outsmarted Gods and Death deliberately accepts his punishment to push a freaking boulder to the mountaintop just to have it rolled back down? Without even questioning such a thing that is absurd? You, genius, know nothing!”

This time, it was Sisyphus who stands his ground. Sheltering in silence. Matahati walks towards him, make the most of his momentum.

“You know what happened to your Gods? Just like most of the old Gods, they ceased into a myth. Fanatism is temporary. Humans confront the absurd, as they always do, and look for clarity. They look for things more relevant and more acceptable to their logic. To their genius minds. They look for the new Gods. Your Gods became the Old Gods, a commodity of culture. They are now a myth, just like you are. They have left. They’ve left you.”

Now, Matahati stands exactly in front of Sisyphus. He can feel Sisyphus’ eyes stare directly into the window of his soul, looking for a reason to believe the stranger. Is he?

“Are you done?” Sisyphus replied.

Three words slapped Matahati right in the face, for Sisyphus, even though standing on lower ground than him, just took the higher ground and slammed Matahati to the lowest of ground. Lingering for a couple of seconds, Sisyphus gracefully snatches his win by giving Matahati the look of his back as he walking away from him and to the boulder.

Matahati, being slapped and slammed, decides to do what humans do when they hit rock bottom; picks himself up, dusts himself off, stands tall, and goes all in because when you lose you have nothing to lose.

“They made a mistake, though, your Gods,” Matahati whispered. His voice was low but aims for the top. Straight to the absurd, irrational fanatism. Again, Sisyphus stopped.

“No, they don’t,” Sisyphus objects.

With that, Matahati has his win secured. Through experience, Matahati learned that when one puts something on a pedestal, higher than oneself, one has a strong tendency to afflict self-blinding. One will accept nothing but perfection about the resident of the pedestal, therefore may never critics them and may never truly use their logic.

“They do,” Matahati said again. All he needs to do is just tip-toe around the matter and manipulatively let Sisyphus succumbs to his logic. “I might never convince you that your Gods left, you could take a stand no matter what. I can tell you things I know, but you can always refuse to believe it, no matter how logical things I said are. But your Gods did make mistake.”

Sisyphus waits.

“You are punished to push a boulder towards mountaintop just to have the boulder roll back down again for you to push, for eternity. That’s their mistake. ‘Eternity’. They made you eternal. You have outsmarted Gods and Death, then they made you eternal. Now, what can they do to you, really?”

“They could come back and punish me,” Sisyphus throws a rebuttal.

“What, with pain? With vain? You’ve been there and you’re done with that. You, of all myth, a human-made eternal. Are you really gonna spend your eternal life with that boulder? Fine. You go push that boulder. But if you do, you’ll never know whether what I said is true until you prove it.”

Sisyphus now fell into silence. But this time, even silence cannot shelter him.

“I am asking you not to misuse your eternity.”

In Sisyphus’ silence, Matahati cannot tell what his childhood hero has in mind. But he did make Sisyphus stop pushing.

Sisyphus looks at Matahati, then walked past him, towards the mountaintop. For the first time since forever, Sisyphus walks towards the mountaintop without the boulder to push and block his sight. He held his head high. At the top, he sits down and starts thinking.

Matahati witnessed the hero of absurdity at the top of the mountain, thinking. His childhood hero. The one who outsmarted Gods and tricked Death. Matahati came all the way to this realm, asking for his hero not to misuse his eternity. Seeing him sit down and thinking, for Matahati, is enough.

Absurd Fantasy Short Story


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