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The sleepy sunlight dripped in luxuriously through the broken window pane of our small cottage and pooled in small rivulets along the floor. As the invisible cock crowed in the adjoining barnyard, it seemed to be another sleepy day of invisible farming. But reality hit me as surprisingly as a silent stampede of invisible elephants and I was startled into the realisation that today was the day. The day when my life - my life as I knew it - would be over.

The others had been taken away. There were no more now save my husband and I and the few chickens and invisible roosters that were left in our village. The horde had killed them. Killed them all. Indiscriminately. Horribly. I knew they were dead, because I could see their corpses, lying abused in the dusty street. You could only see them when they were dead, that was when they became visible. I thought of all the poor wives, taken away, or killed by the Horde, who would never get to see the faces of their husbands that they had loved so dearly.

Nobody knew where the Horde had come from. Nobody would probably ever find out, if we were the last. One day, maybe a few moons ago, if I kept my count correctly, they came yelling and screaming into our village. You could see the invisible Horde coming by the huge cloud of dust that their running feet kicked up as they scampered violently towards us. The first time they came was bizarre in a horribly violent surreal sort of way, like we were coming out of a dream. They didn't kill everybody, but those they did kill died horribly. The men, once virtuously and honorably invisible, were torn into this world with bloodied limbs and looks of petrified terror. But...they only killed those who tried to kill them: those people with the knowledge of how to fight the invisible Horde.

These thoughts rushed through my head, and I leaned over to check if Xavier was still in bed. Fuck! He was gone. I was lost on what to do. The memory of last night's bedroom revelation washed over me. Xavier had always been a peaceful farmer. That's why I had loved him so much. He had been one of those kind souls for whom any violence was a total waste. His only wish was to spend life tending invisible sheep and growing his invisible cacti. But...the strain of the entire village being decimated got to him. It had managed to plant the seed of violence deep within his once gentle heart. He had planned revenge, and had a revelation on how to fight the invisible men. I had cried. He refused to tell me what he had learned in fear of my life.

Oh Xavier, what have you come to? Who have you become? Where have you gone? I will never see the face of the man who had loved me for so long. He will forever be but an invisible spectre of my memory.

I had come close to killing him last night. Killing out of love, or maybe mercy. I knew the Horde would get him. The Horde left nobody unscathed. He could have died a quick death at my hands. I could have seen his face. But now...now, he's gone. Gone forever. The overcast clouds overhead fly by, and I know the Horde is coming. They won't take me. I don't know enough.

If Xavier were so lucky.

These tribes of men were never seen,
except for their footprints and shadows,
except for their snow huts and weapons.
Seeing that there were no invisible women,
these imperceptible men courted humans.
Invisible men were said to be among the most handsome,
but women could not be sure who they married
until the unseen spouses died
and then their faces became apparent.
One human woman was so curious,
she often stared into her invisible husband's shadow
trying to guess the shape of his chin.
When she held his body against hers at night,
she memorized his outline. She tried to fill
everything else in the next day when he was out hunting.
She imagined the shapes of his hot breath in cold air
were keys to the details of his chest.
She noticed the nuances of skin color among the villagers
and tried to approximate his. When they kissed,
she paid tribute to his invisible nose's width.
One day when she could stand it no longer
she stabbed a knife into the space
where her husband was sleeping.
His feet appeared first, then his legs,
his torso, his arms, and finally his face
which was more angelic than any wife
could have imagined. Outside the hut
bows were seen moving through the air
as the other invisible men craved revenge.
Because of their code of honor, invisible men
could not aim arrows at those who could not see them.
So instead they wailed along with the wife,
voices even more invisible than usual,
sobbing their disembodied grief.

"The Invisible Men" from "The Woman With Two Vaginas" by Denise Duhamel
Copyright © 1995 Denise Duhamel, all rights reserved.


This write-up is the result of an odd synchronicity. To explain:

I had a little time on my hands this morning and decided to surf a few random nodes. The first time I looked at my 'random nodes' nodelet, this somewhat bizarre title jumped out at me. Strange though it is, it also seemed oddly familiar, although I couldn’t understand why. I thought perhaps a quick look at the accompanying write-ups would solve the mystery, but when I got here the two existing write-ups seemed (to me at least) as if they had been written for a nodeshell.

And then it came back to me: just a couple of days ago I had re-read some poems based on Inuit (Eskimo) mythology in a work that I had read some time ago and all but forgotten about. And although the myth suggested by the title above was not one of the ones that I re-read, the fact that I read a few of the others seems to have been enough to bring all of them back within memory’s reach.

The fact that the node title fits the legend (and the poem based on it) so closely makes it difficult for me to believe that it was intended for anything else. Perhaps there were copyright problems, and the original text had to be removed? It occurred to me that perhaps I ought to paraphrase the legend in order to avoid that possibility altogether, but some part of me was extremely reluctant to interfere with what feels like the natural flow of these events.

The poem itself is from 'The Woman With Two Vaginas' by Denise Duhamel, and is Copyright © 1995 Denise Duhamel, all rights reserved, as noted above. It would seem somewhat ironic if the original write-up was removed for copyright reasons, since Duhamel's poems are themselves reworkings of existing material, a fact which might explain the following quote which she includes in the book:

"A story is not true unless the storyteller puts something of his own in it."
-Anonymous storyteller from Nain, Labrador

If that is so, then this addendum is my own addition to the story, and it is true.

Don't kill your invisible husband to see what he looks like or you'll sob your heart out.



Of course you will. Invisible people don't become visible when they die, they disappear. Forever. Not only will you no longer have a husband (he wasn't really that bad, was he?), but all the time and effort you put into assembling an armament of weapons that are effective against invisible people will have gone to waste. And you'll have blood on your hands, blood that you can never know if you've washed off. Because it's invisible.


But don't worry about the millions of invisible men coming to attack your village because they won't kill you if you don't know how to fight them.



Simply put, millions of invisible men are not an effective weapon against a village. The primary advantage of invisibility is stealth. You send one invisible man to spy on the enemy (or at least the enemy's women when they think they are safe enough to remove their clothes (but they aren’t (because you have a spy (who is invisible)))), not millions to destroy a village.

It's like using the thermonuclear arsenal of the former USSR to kill a starving bacterium. Except that the millions of invisible men couldn't kill the bacterium, much like they couldn't kill the thermonuclear weapons. Thermonuclear weapons are inanimate objects; they can't be killed, no matter how many bacteria you have.

But as far as the village goes, it also can't be killed by millions of invisible men. They are simply too numerous and invisible to coordinate any kind of attack. There would be no way to feed them or stop them from trampling each other to death, and eventually fleeing in terror when they realized the village had a massive thermonuclear arsenal. Which it might not, but how else could they be wading through so much invisible blood? (Remember, there are no invisible corpses. Invisible men disappear when they die.) They would run in fear, especially since the blood would attract a lot of bacteria which would be visible, but floating in invisible blood and it would be creepy and no one, no matter how invisible, would want to step in it.

On the other hand, if you had an effective way to kill invisible men, they wouldn't know they were being killed, but would be sufficiently reduced in number that they would no longer shed an ocean of invisible blood upon the ground, and thus your village would be overrun because they would not be frightened if they could not feel the invisible blood that they could not see and there were no bacteria floating in it (because it wasn't there).

If you killed your invisible husband, you will have an effective arsenal of weapons against invisible people, and thus your village will be destroyed. So don't kill your invisible husband!!!

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