The boy had attitude problems. Everyone said so. Everyone who knew him.
He didn’t really care, and at thirteen – practically a man, although he was yet to see any sign of his being treated as a child coming to an end – he was getting used to the expectations people had. People, he’d long since come to realise, were stupid. And that was why the world was fucked.
They expected him to be difficult, he expected them to be stupid. His expectation relieved him of any obligation not to be difficult, and their expectations were neatly met. Everybody came out of it as happy and validated as they could expect to be, and yet he was the only one who got thrashed by his father for being a wastrel and a blasphemer and a wilful son. Basically, he was punished for being the only person in the village who wasn’t a mouth-breathing idiot of the most slurry-minded variety.
He didn’t really care about that either, for all that the beatings were painful. They were a symptom. As long as they went on happening, he knew he was on the right side of the grinding wheel of the status quo. And the more they happened, the less obligation he had to any of them. One day – and he thought it would be soon – the stick would land a final time and the last glimmering spark of duty would be extinguished, and then he would walk away from the entire species and let them moron themselves to death in the sand.
He would leave. There was more to this world than the dreary little huddled cluster of houses and the seething, carnivorous towns beyond. He could go anywhere. He could find his uncles, live with them. They’d been smart enough to get out while the getting was good. They’d be pleased to help him find his feet. They’d done it before, when his hapless parents had failed.
In the meantime, he had to eat. So sooner or later, he always returned home.
Yesh had always thought of the ruins as his own special place, although he knew that kids had been coming here for as long as the ruins had been ruins. That hadn’t been a particularly long time – there were certainly older ruins around – but these ones had the benefit of being broken and forbidden.
Part of the reason he’d always considered the ruins to be his, aside from the fact that he was the only kid with the wherewithal to come out here anymore, was the Tetragrammaton.
It was faded, scored away by years of flying sand and whatever disaster had turned the ruins into ruins in the first place, but it was still legible. The Tetragrammaton read יהוה, which Yesh knew was the name of God, although it wasn’t really a name. Yesh knew this too. I will be what I will be was the only answer God had ever given anyone about His name, and Yesh considered that about as enlightening as one could expect from an imaginary manifestation of human sociocultural emergence.
These were the sorts of things that earned him thrashings.