At the moment I am working with an amazing artist named Holland Reynolds. In the midst of putting together an illustrated Gathering of Darkness Paperback which I hope to have available Fall 2015, so keep your eyes open. Until then hope you enjoy.
Originally posted on The Way Station:
Picture of a boy rescuing his sister from their bombed house in Syria!
When I see this picture I get it- what Jesus was trying to say all that time when he walked and talked to all those people. I get what he’s trying to say even today.
I understand what he sees when he looks at us. I know why he wept…
I understand how fragile life is, our lives- the lives of one another. If we could see each other as this brother and sister see each other, there would be no more war, no more aggression, no more hate against each other- there would be only love, only grace, only forgiveness.
How can we hate when we were created to love? How can we turn our back on one another, when we were meant to reach out and hold? How can we cause or do or bring…
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A New Chapter- A new day…
I figured my job at the moment was to stay put. Concentrate on the here and now and don’t think about anything else. Because I needed to remain here, in this exact place, if I was ever going to figure out exactly where and when, here and now was.
The asphalt underfoot, long faded to a watery gray by endless summer suns, reflected heat like a blow torch, heat that radiated upwards through my shoes (a pair of brown canvas hiking boots) like a blast furnace, searing the air and making my eyes water.
Assuming that over my shoulder meant the direction I’d just come from; then straight ahead must be the direction I need to be going. (How’s that for logic.)
Head down, I continued walking.
Time… if I didn’t know any better, I’d say I was the one standing still and the world passing beneath me.
Cotard’s delusion… ever hear of that one? I just did. For some reason the word, or should I say the diagnosis, just leapt inside my head. The idea that I’m dead, but I’m really alive, believing I am dead.
I know, sounds even crazier than being crazy if you ask me, however, the possibility could exist.
Then again, I’ve never heard of anyone suffering from Cotard’s delusion thinking he was dead but alive, wandering through Kansas or Nebraska in the middle of a heat wave, either.
Another moment in time
My eyes must be playing tricks on me, because if I squint really hard and use my hand to shade my eyes, I swear the horizon seems darker than before.
I’d been traveling for what seemed hours, all the while making very little obvious headway.… and now, after an immeasurable amount, I spot something on the horizon, something ominous looking just beyond the range of my vision but near enough to break the monotony of the endless fields on either side. Another quick glance confirmed my observation; it was definitely darker ahead of me than behind.
At least it was something to strive for. With any luck it would be an approaching storm.
With renewed confidence my pace quickened.
I continued to walk like this for a couple more hours, head down, teeth clenched, mind centered on remaining exactly where I was, intent upon placing one foot in front of the other and making a dogged effort to reach the darkness first glimpsed on the horizon sometime back.
What confidence I had gained earlier was swiftly fading.
I’d taken to walking alongside the highway, not because I was afraid of being run down by a passing motorist, because there weren’t any, but because it was habit. I’d already accepted the fact that I was alone, that this world had passed on. In my mind the highway was a farce, a story I’d been told that had no ending- the hard, sure promise of something that would never completely be.
Besides, the heat seemed less intense along the highways edge.
The next time I thought to look up, busy within the confines of my own misery, the darkness had grown, been replaced in fact, but not by what I had hoped for. As it turned out the darkness I’d spotted earlier hadn’t been a storm at all, nor was it the promise of a cooling rain or cloud, but something much, much better, or worse depending on how you looked at it. The darkness turned out to be a town, but not like any town I’d ever seen or known before.
Another excerpt from my new novel- Fata Morgana. Hope you enjoy reading it, as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Wikipedia defines Fata Morgana as: An unusual and complex form of superior mirage that is seen in a narrow band right above the horizon. It is the Italian name for the Arthurian sorceress Morgan le Fay, from a belief that these mirages, often seen in the Strait of Messina, were fairy castles in the air or false land created by her witchcraft to lure sailors to their death. Although the term Fata Morgana is sometimes applied to other, more common kinds of mirages, the true Fata Morgana is not the same as an ordinary superior mirage, nor is it the same as an inferior mirage.
From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fata_Morgana_%28mirage%29
She stands before me where ocean meets sand, part angel, part demon, all woman and child. Because of this, how I got here, where here was even, no longer seemed to matter, only that I was here and so was she.
Honey-brown skin tanned by endless summer suns, long blond hair, wafts of which hang in front of her eyes, full lips and a broad forehead. She is hard in all the places meant to be hard and soft in all the places meant to be soft.
Clad in skin-tight blue jeans and a light gray tee, she stands with her legs squared beneath her shoulders, her head tipped forward ever so slightly, watching me, her eyebrows slightly raised. Her arms hang by her side relaxed, but her fists are clenched.
Even at this distance I can tell she smells of sunshine and rain, a young girl’s flesh after tanning in the sun, slightly spicy, slightly salty entirely exotic, like three quick shots of tequila and a warm summer’s breeze.
I am reminded of the song Thunder Island
In this time and place she anchors me, reminds me that I am not alone. She also brings to mind that I am not the last; that someone suffers with me, is going through the same trials and tribulation. (That’s what I would call them anyway, the farmhouse, the town and the tunnel… all those ‘day-tripping’ adventures in-between.)
The thought makes me weep.
In this time and place she is a godsend, an answer to an unasked prayer. It wasn’t just me living again all by myself and just for me. There was more, so much more. The universe was a huge, huge place and her being here reminded me of that
For I knew her
For what seemed an eternity we just stood there, I’m looking at her; she’s looking at me, both of us too terrified to move. One word and she might vanish. One blink and I might end up being all alone again.
“Is that really you?” I ask.
Her answer returns in silence. A muscle in her forearm starts to quiver and then grows still. “I could ask the same of you,” she replies.
Same voice, but older now
In that moment I approach, daring the moment to end, daring the vision of her to vanish like a mirage.
And yet, through it all she remains, even as I close the gap between us.
Question’s remain; if I were to run my lips across hers, lightly brush them across her cheek- run my hands along the curve of her arm, the small of her back… dare to hold her hand in mine, would she still remain, would she still be mine?
“You have no idea,” I begin, reaching out. I wanted to hold her, to pull her up next to me, feel her body close to mine, to feel her breath on my cheek, her heart beating fast, for you see, I once knew who she was and she I.
She denies me this simple gesture, shying away from me like a young willow bending in the wind. “Exactly,” she states, “I have no idea.”
But she lies; I can see it in her eyes, in the squaring of her shoulders. Deny me she must, but at one time- in that other place and time -she knew exactly who I was and what I’d meant to her.
What we’d meant to each other.
But then again, that had been a lifetime ago.
I MET a Traveler from an antique land,
Who said, “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is OZYMANDIAS, King of Kings.”
Look on my works ye Mighty, and despair!
No thing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that Colossal Wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
- Original Poetry. (1818, January 11). The Examiner (London), p. 24.
- Shelley, Percy Bysshe. The Complete Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Roger Ingpen & Walter E. Peck eds. New York: Gordian Press, 1965.
A soldier rushed up to kneel beside Sebastian, momentarily drawing her host’s attention. “Sire,” the man began, “it’s the tarns…”
She could see the man was clearly nervous; bullets of sweat dotted his forehead and face, rolled down his crooked nose, and dripped onto his chest. His armor, much like the others’ around her, appeared well-worn and creased, like he’d lived in it most of his life. His face, chiseled and weathered like naked stone, belied his age; he looked somewhere between twenty and fifty. It was his eyes, however, that revealed his true age… eons. He’d obviously seen too much of the bad side of the world to ever be young again.
“What is it, Winston?” Sebastian asked, eyes locked on the soldier’s drawn features and wringing hands.
“It’s the tarns, sir; the enemy keeps driving them against the gates.”
“I can see that,” replied Sebastian matter-of-factly. “And…”
“And… it’s only a matter time before they gain entrance.” As he was talking, he kept drawing his eyes away from Kaelynn’s face, as if what he had to say to Sebastian made him ashamed. “What would you have us do, Milord?”
Before Sebastian could reply, a tremendous shout went up from below. This noise was followed by a sense of impending doom so strong she actually felt physically ill. Something terrible was about to happen; she just knew it.
She couldn’t help but peek over the edge.
At first she couldn’t seem to get her mind wrapped around what she was seeing. Everything looked normal at first, as normal as it could be, she guessed.
The distant forest, a vast sweltering swath of green only moments before, was now completely white, and hovered from here to the horizon; broken every so often by knobbed hills of crumbled stone and earth. Some of the more distant hills seemed ringed by windswept trees.
Directly below her, beginning at the base of the main wall, there was no forest, only a sea of tree stumps and broken knobs, poking their way up from the earth like an accusation to the winter-laden sky. The land between here and there, forest and wall, had been clear cut for quite some time from the looks of the blackened and rotten stumps. A winding road of churned earth currently wound its way out of the forest to the base of the wall. It was mobbed by an army of footmen and some cavalry, a menagerie of armor and fur, patched mail and leather. Some of the men, she could see, were wearing nothing at all, but had smeared their bodies in paint mixed with mud, twigs and leaves.
How they managed the bitter cold, she had no clue.
Then there was the other group.
Directly beneath her were the tarns’ retainers, men dressed in billeted mail and dark leathers with caps of steel covering their heads. They were also wearing shields on their arms. They were still poking their torches at the tarns and evoking their considerable wrath. Beyond this group, amid all the chaos and churning of the men, two very distinct and impressive groups had also gathered. Impressive for very different reasons, however.
In the first were men on shaggy black horses heralding streaming banners showing a silver griffin against a blood red sky. This group seemed to be the ones in charge. In fact, the one in the front, obviously the leader, was standing high in his stirrups. Except for his piercing eyes, he was wrapped entirely in what appeared to be bands of dull, heavy metal. A glittering point of steel, a weapon of sorts, was in his mailed fist as he stabbed defiantly toward the sky. If she didn’t know any better, she’d say he was the one controlling the weather, as the wintery storm clouds seemed to be swirling from a point directly above him. But how could this be?
Currently, the leaders’ eyes were intent upon the place where she and Sebastian were spying.
There were other two men beside the leader, if you could call them men. They seemed more like wisps of smoke or rags and tatters of dark storm-driven cloth than men. Even from this distance, the power they projected was formidable indeed; palpable waves of energy seemed to be radiating from them like waves in an ocean, crashing against the wall beneath her, then sweeping over her and the men gathered around her like an ozone-laden charge of lightning. The fact they seemed more menacing, like pure brute force wrapped up in human form, was enough to give her the shivers.
For just a moment the leader’s eyes locked on hers from across the field. Then it was like a camera close-up in a movie, as his battle-scarred face became amazingly clear. His eyes, currently shadowed by the visor of his helmet, seemed to reach out and grab her, see through all her defenses, revealing all her weaknesses, desires, and dreams. The corners of his mouth turned up in a mock smile, a smirk.
Then, she was back, Sebastian grabbing hold of her and pulling her down, out of sight beside him. She felt violently ill.
“I know him,” she gasped, “but I don’t, either.” Leaning forward, she barely cleared the wall before vomiting over the side, her guts wrenching, acid burning her nose. To keep her from plummeting over the edge, Sebastian reached out and steadied her.
He waited silently, until she was finished.
Dragging the back of her hand across her lips, she wiped the last strings of bile away. She felt both hot and clammy at the same time. “What is going on around here?” she asked. Not a new question, to be sure, and not the last time she would ask or think it.
Sebastian brushed back a lock of matted hair from her face. “Deep breaths,” he said, doing his best to reassure her. “Remember that event I was telling you about?” She immediately knew he was referring to the end of the world vision he had shown her as the old man, the one with the earth-shaking, ash-falling finality. “That’s one of them,” he said.
“That’s… the Fallow King?” she gawked.
There are documents galore about how I had entered the world, (just not this one) still, breathless and blue. And if that isn’t proof enough, you could always ask my parents or grandparents, (if they were still alive) I’m sure they would be more than happy to relate, how, instead of checking back out quicker than I was checking in, that God decided he must have wanted me to hang around for a while. (Eighty-two years to be exact.)
Starting out, though, I discovered that it would take more than just a slap on the derriere to start my engine; it would take some doing, on the doctor’s part as well as my parent’s.
The doctor’s part was easy, ‘Salad spoons’ to pull me out, a slap on the behind to revive me, (no response, so a quick rush over to the incubator, a little oxygen, a little chest message) and like that, I’m off and running the human race- pink and getting warmer– all the while screaming my freaking head off.
Then came the proverbial, ‘parental handoff’, that’s when the real fun began. Leave the hospital and find out on your own about dirty diapers, colicky cries, sleepless nights, dragging days, spit-up, baby formula, doctor’s visits, and excessive worrying. I may have been brand-spanking new as far as the world was concerned, but in the bigger picture, God must have built me on a Friday afternoon thirty minutes before quitting time.
In other words, I probably should have been recalled.
As for my mother- I’m not saying she had it any rougher than most, but those early years had to be a lot for a young mother all of twenty-three to handle. Especially since she was someone used to having her own way and doing what and when she wanted. Not saying she was a bad mother, to the contrary, you could not have asked for a more loving parent- considering the company she kept, namely my foul-tempered father, who happened to be… well, what shall we say… brutish, to say the least. Nevertheless she soldiered on, a real trooper my mom, all this despite the nearly over-whelming (I’m sure) thoughts of strangulation at times, of both me and my father. I’m just glad that in the end she took enough pity on me, and him, to keep us both around; hoping against hope and against all odds that somehow all her hard work would pay off someday. (As history would show though, Dad never did work out. As for me, well, let’s just say that I’m still a work in progress… a challenge, obviously. Even from beyond the grave.)
Eventually I got beyond the childhood stage, made my way past the diaper stage, the colic stage, past the learning to walk stage, the eating on my own stage, (thank God and Hallelujah) the even bigger potty stage, (most people have no idea… no idea at all what this stage is like) And before you knew it, I was all grown up, or so I thought so, for even this too was a stage. (Possibly the worst stage, my teenage years, and trust me, we won’t even go there- at least not for now.)
My mom used to tell me, ‘That you usually spend the first few years of your child’s life trying to teach them to walk and talk, only to spend the rest of your life yelling at them to set down and shut up. This saying would change later, of course, especially during my teenage years, to another great proverb, one that she seemed immensely fond of repeating over and over again like it was some kind of magic mantra or something wished for-
‘My greatest hope, is that one day you will have a houseful of kids all your own, and that they all turn out to be just like you!’
Little did she know what she was wishing for?