Ben Okri has published a new short story titled “And Peace Shall Return” in Emergence Magazine. 

The story opens with the line, “Once upon a time, in a world that no longer exists…” and contains 7 lost documents found by space travelers exploring planet Earth twenty thousand years after floods obliterate the human race.

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“And Peace Shall Return” is an origin story in reverse. It depicts the end of the world from seven perspectives as opposed to its creation in seven days. The fragments of stories take place in various locations within what was once the United States, Italy, West and Central Africa, and Peru.

In true Okri style, each narrative explores the meaning of life, death, and humanity from the perspectives of clairvoyant children, fearful adults, and disgruntled gods.

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Read an excerpt from “And Peace Shall Return” below:

On our journey across the earth—which has been silent now, according to our calculations, for twenty thousand years, and which at last is showing signs of the quiet regeneration of its forests and its seas—we came upon scattered notes and half-worked stories left behind by the last human beings in the very twilight of their history.

It seems, from their notes, that their gods died a long time ago. Then towards the end, they declared the final death of God and ascended the throne. The results are unedifying. It does perhaps show that it is easier to kill off the gods or dethrone one than it is to be one.

They conducted the final catastrophe of the human race as gods of an earth devoid of mystery. What is most strange is that, as you will see from these notes, they carried on through their last days in the same way they had over the years and decades prior. They altered nothing in their thoughts or behavior to try and avert the disaster that they saw coming, and which was evident every day.

Maybe the final suicide of humanity was not really some momentous event that happened in the last days, the drowning of the cities and the poisoning of the air and the detonation of nuclear bombs, but was a condition caused by the mesmerism of a people chained to their past, the fatalism of a race that had accepted for centuries that it was simply unable to change. In this at least they were consistent. They perished, little by little, every day. They were killing themselves and it didn’t seem to trouble them.

This is perhaps the most unheroic tragedy of all the vanished species we have encountered across the immeasurable galaxies…

Emergence Magazine is a free quarterly magazine that publishes illuminating stories during dark times. It is a platform for works that connect ecology, culture, and spirituality.

It is always a treat to read a new story from Okri. Click here to read. You can also listen to the story narrated by British actor Colin Salmon. Enjoy!