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Ron Sanders  Feb 2020
Hero
Ron Sanders Feb 2020
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

There is a glacier.
Its blue tongue’s tip just tastes a frozen gorge.
There is a gorge, its walls shattered by cold; a once-green thing that, in dying, birthed a thousand aching fissures. It works its jagged way downhill, round ragged rifts and drifts until it comes upon a little frosted wood.
There is a wood, an island locked in ice.
Within this wood the gorge descends. It wanders and it wends; it brakes and all but ends outside a clearing wet with sun. And there, forking, its bent and broken arms embrace a strange, enchanted glade.

There is a glade.
And in this glade the black bears sleep, though salmon leap fat between falls. Here the field mouse draws no shadow, the eagle seeks no prey; they spend their while caressed by rays, and halcyon days are they. Here rabbit and fawn may linger, no longer need they flee. For in this timeless, taintless space, the Wild has ceased to be. (Outside the glade are shadow and prey, are ice and naked death. There blood may run freely. There the eagle, that thief, is a righteous savage, a noble fiend. But once in the glade he is dove, and has no taste for blood, running freely or otherwise).
And in this glade there nests a pool:  a dazzling, blue-and-silver jewel; profoundly deep, pristinely clear. All who sip find solace here, for this is the Eye of Being. They lap in peace, assuming blear, not knowing it is seeing. And ever thus this pool shall peer:  a silent seer, reflecting on—all that Is, and all Beyond.
(Outside the glade there lies a world where rivers ever run, where ghastly calves in random file revile a bitter sun. East, the day is born in mist. West she dies:  her rest, the deep. And North…North the Earth lies mute. Wind gnaws her hide, wind wracks her dreams. Wind screams like a flute in her white, white sleep).
But in the glade are tall, stately grasses, sunning raptly, spinning lore. Roots render the rhythms, blades bend without breeze, as signals ascend from the glade’s tender floor. (In this wise the glade weaves its word, airs its views. All the glade’s flora are bearers of news). They do not wither with fall, for in the glade there is no fall. They do not bind or wilt or brown—they gesture, spreading the mood, the mind; conveying, indeed, the very soul of the glade. As ever they have, as they shall evermore.
Bees do not hum here; they sing. They fatten the dream. Mellow and round are the timbres they sound, sweet is the music they bring. Birds do not sing here—they play. They carry the theme. Dulcet and warm are the strains they perform. Gifted musicians are they. (All in the glade are virtuosi. They were born to create. Melody, harmony, meter…are innate). Now the performance is lively and bright, now full, now almost still. For, though all in the glade may lean to the light, they must bend to the maestro’s feel.
And yet…there was a day, long ago in a dream, when this ongoing opus was torn. And on that day (so the lullaby goes) the wind brought a scream, and Dissonance was born.
There was a noise.
Moose tensed, their coffee eyes narrowed, their patient brows creased. Bees mauled the tempo, birds lost their place. The grass stood *****, all blades pointing east. There was a crash, and a shriek, and a naked, bleeding beast burst stinking through the fern, fell stumbling on its face.
Moose scattered:  unheard of. Sheep brawled, geese burst out of rhyme. The symphony, forever endeavored to soar sublime, fluttered, plunged, and, for all of a measure, ceased.
The pool was appalled…what manner brute—what kind of monster was this? Furless flank to forelimb, hide obscured by blood. As for its face…it had no face; only a look:  of shock frozen in time, of horror in amber. A deep welling rift ran temple to chin, halving the mask, caving it in. Such a grievous wound…the pool watched it stagger, on two legs and four, thrashing about till it came to a rise. There it labored for air, wiped the blood from its eyes, lashed at illusion, looked wildly round. Beholding the pool, the beast tumbled down.
And there this wretch plunged his thirst, drank his fill, fell back on his haunches.
The pool became still.
The two traded stares.
The glass read his features:  that durable eye pondered the wreckage and probed the debris. Revolted, the pool sought the succor of sky. But that thing remained—that face…in all creation…surely there could be…no other creature so ugly as he.
And he gazed in the glass.
Beneath the surface were…images…swimming in currents of shadow and light. He saw half-shapes and fragments…hideous men, exotic beasts…saw blue worlds of water, saw white worlds of ice…it was all so vague and unreal—yet somehow strangely familiar. Deeper he peered, but, as his mangled face neared, the sun smote the pool and the shapes disappeared. The brute pawed the ground and, dreaming he’d drowned, shook his head sharply and slowly looked round:
There were starlings at arm’s-length, transfixed with suspense, their tail feathers trembling, their dark eyes intense. Fantails and timber wolves, stepping in sync, paused for a sniff, stooped for a drink. Bees, pirouetting, threw light in his eyes. Seizing the moment, the pool pressed its hold.
And the glade revolved.
The freak watched it spin—saw the ferns’ greedy fingers reach round and close in, saw the tall grass rise high in an emerald sheen, swaying to rhythms from somewhere obscene. This place was madness; he struggled to stand, but, weak as he was, keeled over cold.
And the glade heaved a sigh, and the tall grass reclined, in curious patterns once rendered in whim. Far off in thunder the hard world replied, as iced pines exploded and screamed on the breeze. Down bore the sun, a chill just behind. The pool, grown blood-red, fended frost from its rim. Details dissolved in the oncoming tide. The pool dimmed to black. Night seeped through the trees.
Now flora found slumber while, pulsing below, the pool was infused with a soft ruby glow.
Soon birds bearing beech leaves, and needles of pine, laid down a spread and returned to the limb. But breath from the North blew their blanket aside. The wind grew in earnest, the air seemed to freeze.
And the wolf and the she-bear, of contrary mind, abhorring their task approached, looking grim. They sniffed him for measure, then, loathing his hide, growled their displeasure and dropped to their knees.
All night these glum attendants flanked his naked quaking form. The rising moon drew dreams in gray.
In time the man grew warm.

Morning swept through the glade in one broad stroke of the master’s brush, dappling the foliage with amber and rose. The pool was roused by the sweet pass of light. He opened his eye and the glade came alive:  into the whirlpool of life a thousand colors swam, chasing the scattering eddies of night. The magic of morning began.
Bluebird and goldfinch descended in rings, primaries clashing with robin and jay. Dollops of sun, repelled by their wings, spattered anew on the palette of day. Banking as one, the hues struck away.
There was a crowd.
And in this crowd that oddity sat, its chin on its chest, its rear pointing west. Its forepaws lay leaning, upturned and at rest. ***** and blood messed its muzzle and breast. Passed overnight. Or perhaps only dozed…tendril by tendril, claw by claw, the crowd decompressed:  the ring slowly closed.
And the stranger cried out and shifted his seat. His eyes sought his feet—rounding the arches, and topping the toes, the tall grass was questing. The little brute froze.
And the fauna took pause, and the flora went slack. Leaves followed talons, stems followed claws. Hooves tromped on paws as the crowd drifted back.
Not a breath taken. Not a move made. Stillness, like fog, enveloped the glade.
Now the grass tugged his feet, now the sea of jade splayed—left hand and right, the slender shafts reared. Gaining momentum, blade followed blade. The green field was torn till a deep swath appeared. The swath hurtled west, reflecting the sun. A hundred yards distant it died. Once more the grass stood, its tips spreading wide. The swath, born again, repeated its run.
Plain was the message, and clearly conveyed. The newcomer gawked. Confusion ensued.
The tall blades were swayed by the pulse of the glade.
But the swath was not renewed.
Something tiny bounced by. He ventured a peek, barely rolling an eye.
A chocolate sparrow, with pinfeathers black, popped past an ankle and paused to look back. The bird cocked its head, rocked in place, hopped ahead. It fluttered. It freaked. It glared and stopped dead. Vexed to its limit, it burst into flight.
The sitting thing watched till it passed out of sight.
Now a breeze bent his back, picked him half off his stern. The wind, done its best, grew flustered at last. It trailed to the west, thrilling lilies it passed. It wound round the willows and didn’t return.
So the fauna repaired to the live oak’s shade.
A strange kind of stupor fell over the glade.
From deep in the wood came a shape through the trees—a pronghorn, perhaps, or an elk swift and sure. But up limped a moose, a flyport with fur, low in the belly and wide at the knees. Wizened he was, scarcely able to see. Neither vision, nor vigor, nor velvet had he. He hobbled abreast, then groveled or died, his nose facing west, his tail flung aside.
The brute merely glazed.
But the glade was unfazed.
Those long shafts reshuffled. A tense moment passed.
The ominous shadows of badgers were cast. Three left their holes, as if to attack. They pedaled like moles and the stranger jumped back. He stumbled, fell flailing, and, kicking his guide, threw out his arms and tumbled astride. First he stepped on his tail, then he stepped on his pride. The moose bellowed twice and shook side to side while the little pest clung to his high, homely hide.
And the old moose unbent to his knees by degrees. He reeled like a drunk down the path of the breeze. Together they lurched through a break in the trees. And all morning long, and on through the day, both beggar and bearer would buckle and sway. The moose lost his temper, but never his way.
And the wind blew the sun to its deep ruby rest; the scrub, in obeisance, inclined to the west. Their slow taffy shadow in slinking would seem to slip round the rocks like a snake in a dream.
And the sun became a beacon, and the underbrush a stream. The wide Earth took their weight in stride, and the wind named him Hero.

                                               WORLD

When the sun was low the old moose began to stumble, at last limping to a halt beside a swift river lined with stunted pines. He’d half-expected a somewhat graceful dismount, but Hero, dug in like a tick, wasn’t about to let go. The moose knelt until his joints objected, shimmied, bucked, and with a sudden whirl sent the little bother flying.
Hero scraped himself out of the dirt and looked up forlornly. The ancient moose, his good eye gone bad, glared a long minute before hobbling away, his bony **** rocking with dignity, his scraggly tail fighting off imaginary flies.
Hero managed a few steps and dropped, staring in disbelief as the moose disappeared between half-frozen pines. He remained on his knees for the longest time, his jaw hanging, waiting for the moose—waiting for anything to show. At last a ruckus to his left snapped him out of it. His head ratcheted around.
Fifteen feet off the bank, three screaming gulls were dancing on an immense stone outcropping, fighting over a rapids-tossed sockeye. Hero was instantly famished. He wobbled to his feet and stumbled twice wading out, only regaining his balance by leaning against the current while rapidly wheeling his arms. The shrieking gulls reluctantly backed off as he stepped in slow-motion through the rushing water. Hero lunged at the slapping fish, cracked an ankle on the rock, and hopped around howling with both hands holding his shin. One foot was as good as none in the surging water. He went right under. Before he knew it he was being swept downriver.
This was glacial meltwater, so cold he quickly lost all sensation. Hero swallowed a mouthful and surfaced fighting for life; too disoriented to combat the current, too numb to realize his waving arm was striking something solid. That solid something turned out to be a swirling clump of rotted birches tangled up in scrub. He embraced one of these trunks as the mass slammed against isolated rocks, kicked his feet wildly, and somehow hauled himself aboard. The raft ricocheted rock to rock until repeated impacts sent it spinning. Giddy from the whirling and soaking, he clung freezing to the trees, retching continuously while the river roared in his ears. Through spray and tears he made out only cartwheeling fragments of the world.
But then the river was widening, its fury dissipating. The raft was approaching the sea. Hero gasped as the seemingly boundless Pacific swallowed the broad red belly of the sun. And as he spun he was treated to a panoramic, breathtaking spectacle:  the great indigo ocean with its slow traffic of driftwood and ice—voiced-over by the dismal calls of foraging gulls, and broken rhythmically by intermittent glimpses of the river’s rocky banks growing farther and farther apart. Whirling as it went, the dying man’s soul was taken by the sea.

At the 59th Parallel in winter, the Pacific coast plays host to numberless floes and minor bergs orphaned from Alaskan coastal glaciers. Hero cruised into a watery gridlock on a boat of ice-glazed birches, one bit of flotsam among the rest.
The cold wouldn’t let him move, wouldn’t let him breathe, wouldn’t let him think. He lay supine, feet crossed and hands clasped, terrified that to budge was to roll. An ice patina grew over the tangled trees like a white fungus—this growth soon webbed his fingers and toes, speckled his chest and thighs, glazed his hair and face, danced and disintegrated with his breath’s tapering plumes.
Floes and frozen-over debris tended to group with passing collisions; Hero’s married birches bit by bit accrued a mostly-submerged tangle of trunks and branches, all becoming fast in a creeping ice cement. Night came on just as resolutely, until land was only a flat black memory. The raft moved silently over the deep, still accepting the occasional gentle impact. And the floes became thicker and wider in a freezing doldrums; soon the proximate sea was all a broken field of packed ice, bobbing infinitesimally with the planet’s pulse.
Long ghostly strands of fog came striding over the torn ice field. They leaned this way and that, their mourners’ skirts tearing and patching and leaning anew. The ghosts were there to seal it:  their locked fingers and gray diaphanous wings were quickly becoming a wholly opaque descending shroud, its boundaries lost in the soughing wind.
Collisions came less and less. Darkness and silence, breaching some previously impenetrable barrier, began to take up residence in Hero’s chilling marrow. From his very center broke a weak little cry of refusal, of denial, as mind mustered frame in one desperate bid for freedom. His skin, frozen to the raft, peeled right off, and at that his inner brave succumbed. Hero’s smashed head arched back. His face contorted frightfully while the little lamp fluttered and paled within.
A raucous chorus slowly worked its way through the mist. It emerged a few hundred yards off—a tiny, terrified barking, growing in clarity as it grew in volume and urgency. It was a sound beacon. Hero strained eagerly, and when for one excruciating minute the beacon was cut off by a large passing body, was certain death had claimed him. Then it was back, and his heartbeat was quickening. He caught a heaving sound…something was moving his way down a wide tributary between floes. Hero could hear a gasping and snorting, accompanied by a hard slapping and splashing. The sounds vanished. In a moment the raft was rocked from below.
A sputtering muzzle blew salt in his eyes. A cold slimy flipper flapped across his chest and slapped about his face. The fur seal barked directly in his ear. Whiskers raked his dead cheek. The seal barked again.
Back below the surface it slipped. Hero listened anxiously as the splashing sound retreated whence it came.
The seal swam off perhaps a hundred feet and began barking hysterically.
From much farther off came a profusion of answering barks.
The seal swam back to Hero’s raft, circling and calling, circling and calling, while the responders approached en masse.
Now a sallow beam could be seen cutting through the fog. Several more showed vaguely along a plane yawing with some huge, barely discernible object.
A herd of northern fur seals burst into sight, barking madly, beating through the ice. They converged on Hero’s raft, really bellowing now.
Those odd yellow beams came in pursuit, and soon were close enough to eerily illuminate a gigantic wooden vessel parting the ice. The seals barked ferociously. Whenever the vessel leaned away, those nearest Hero’s raft would absolutely howl.
The fog deepened, condensed, crystallized, and then the collective light of a dozen lanterns was playing over a low, listing nightmare. Hero could hear the shouts of many aggressive men, but the waterborne seals, rather than scatter, boarded the ice and redoubled their din, fighting their way onto his quickly mobbed raft.
The sealers hurled serrated spears even as they clambered down rope ladders. When these men reached the ice the seals snapped and gnashed madly, refusing to be dislodged. The sealers lost all composure with the thrill of the hunt:  wielding clubs, spears, and hatchets—sometimes using iron bludgeons or any old utensil handed down—they crushed skulls, dragged carcasses, hooked animals still spurting and bleating. Clinging though he was, Hero was flabbergasted by the way the slipping and scampering men went about their butchery, hacking and smashing more with passion than with precision. But not a single seal attempted to flee—throughout the carnage they barked all the louder, egging on their slayers, carcass by carcass drawing the impassioned sealers to Hero’s ice-locked raft.
It was all so hazy and macabre. Hero’s eyes rolled back, and the next thing he knew he was sitting hunched on the vessel’s sopping deck. Two men were rubbing his limbs while another poured warm water down his back. He looked around in shock. The very notion of a boat containing more than one or two individuals—a sort of floating tribe—was way beyond his ken; so to see it, to have it come looming out of nothingness, was an experience almost supernatural.
He remembered some of those fur-covered men force-feeding him mouthfuls of halibut and seal fat, and he recalled a small group standing around him, shouting words that made no sense at all. After that he had a very vivid memory of their angry little chief repeatedly punching him while hollering one angry little word over and over and over. Hero couldn’t make out his inquisitor’s face, for the large feather-lined hood quite engulfed the man’s head, yet he could see those quick eyes flash as they caught the oil lamps’ light. Finally this man stopped boxing Hero’s ear. He stared hard. In these remaining decades of the tenth century it was fully within his power to administer as he saw fit—he could have ordered Hero’s immediate execution and not a man of his crew would have objected. He hesitated only because there wasn’t a hint of resistance in his prisoner’s pinched and frightened eyes. He leaned forward, studying the wound that all but split Hero’s face in two before grunting, raising his right arm, and yanking down its seal hide sleeve. Attached to the stump of his forearm was a primitive prosthesis consisting of a thick oak cap strapped to the arm with lengths of gut, and, hammered squarely into the center of that cap, a broad, cruelly hooked blade chiseled from a narwhal’s tusk. He held this obscenity in front of Hero’s eyes, traced the face’s deep diagonal rift, and once more demanded his captive’s identity. Hero then vaguely remembered being dragged along a tilting deck and thrown into the ship’s tiny hold. He retained a strong mental image of landing in a place of musty odors and dank projections.
There came a soft scuffling in the darkness, and presently a blind and exceedingly old woman felt her way to his side, mumbling as she approached. Her speech was comprised not of words; it was rather a running gibberish of cooing vowels and clucking consonants. The old woman was as mad as her circumstances; sick with sea and solitude, bedeviled by age and confinement. She sat cross-legged, patting her withered palms up his arm until she came to his face. Her strange mumbling soliloquy rose and fell as her bony fingers daintily explored the newly opened wound. Hero let his head fall back in her lap. A pair of hands like emaciated tarantulas scurried through the filth and tiny bodies until they came upon an old otter’s pelt bag that held her secrets. The woman loosened the bag’s cord and extracted an assortment of herbs, sniffing each in succession. She then scooped a handful of blubber from a bowl made of a previous occupant’s skull, kneaded the selected herbs into the blubber, and commenced gently massaging the wound, clucking and cooing while the black rats watched and waited.
For nine interminable days Hero remained in that cold, stinking compartment, rocking back and forth between life and death. The old woman never gave up on him. She clung to him during his seizures, rubbed his limbs vigorously when his blood pressure fell. She gathered various accumulated skins and, using woven strands of her own long hair, sewed him a multilayered, body-length wraparound with arm sleeves and very deep pockets, working by touch with a needle formed of a cod’s rib. By this same method she was able to fashion a pair of heavily lined snug-fitting moccasins. The old woman made him eat; she masticated the cod and halibut their keepers pitched into the hold, then shoved the results down his throat with a long gnarly forefinger. She called into his screaming nightmares, talking him out of sleep and back into their foul little reality. Together they lowed in the dark, while the keel groaned along and the waves beat time.
At the end of those dark nine days his strength was restored, but not his mind. Once again he was taken on deck.
The vessel had reached a chain of remote wind-swept islands, rocky and treeless, naked except for patchy carpets of hardy grass. These islands stretched far to the west, shrouded in mist. The ship was making for the smallest; just a chip on the sea. When they reached depth for anchorage Hero was hustled into a rowboat and lowered over the side. He looked up, saw two men climbing down by rope. These men positioned themselves at the oars and slowly rowed toward the islet. Seated between them, Hero felt like a man being led to his execution. He snuck a peek. The rowers’ heads were lowered, their features completely obscured by the heavy feathered hoods; they had all the somberness of pallbearers. Not a word passed between them as they rigidly worked their oars:  the only sound was the dip-and-purl of wood in water. Hero looked away. Against his will, he found his eyes drawn to that rocky islet waiting in the fog.
Not a bird, not a sea lion, not a shrub. It was lonesome beyond imagination.
Upon landfall one of the men used a spear’s point to **** Hero ashore. While his companion steadied the boat, he removed a skin sack full of half-frozen halibut, followed by a few armloads of precious tinder. These articles he tossed at Hero’s feet. He resumed his place at the oars and, without looking back, used the blunt end of his spear to shove off.
Hero watched the boat moving away, watched the men climbing their ropes, watched the boat being hauled aboard. As the mysterious vessel receded he saw a number of those silent men standing at the stern, stolidly returning his stare. Their hooded forms grew smaller and smaller, finally becoming indistinct. The vessel was swallowed up in fog.
Hero looked around, at a desolate world of rock and drifting ice. In the sunless pools at his feet a few purplish, flaccid sea anemones were waving in a sickly phosphorescence; along the rocks ran a tattered quilt of wild grass and lichen. It was the end of the world. He began to pace in his anxiety, only to crumple bit by bit inside his furs. At last he just sat with his face in his arms and wept. When he could weep no more he raised his head and opened his red, swollen eyes.
There were gulls all around him, staring like statuary in a madman’s garden. Standing in their midst were auks and puffins and murres, absolutely spellbound, unable to lean away. The silence was broken only by a wild, fitfully pursing wind—a wind that seemed, eerily, on the verge of producing syllables. And on that wind a flock of terns was rising slowly, their beady eyes fixed on the lone sitting man. The terns watched as he trembled, and banked as he swooned.
Then, beating as one, they threw back their wings and blew into the sun.

There was a blaze.
Behind that blaze a pair of black, bug-like eyes met his and immediately withdrew. A man wrapped in caribou hides stood abruptly, drawing angry swarms of sparks.
The Aleut peered queerly into the icy Pacific, his craggy profile merging seamlessly with a jumble of rocks showing just beyond his shoulder. The man was very tall, closer to seven feet than to six, and thin almost to emaciation.
He was also a mute. Soon enough he would display a talent for communication through gutturals, but now his body language spoke louder than words. It told the shivering stranger that he was not only disliked—he was feared.
The islander removed the hides he’d piled on the sleeping man. He produced a bone awl and strategically pierced a caribou hide, draped the hide over the old woman’s handiwork, and ran a cord of tightly woven tendons crosswise through his made holes, knotting it at the bottom to create a kind of cloak. He then killed the fire, heaped wood, fish, and remaining hides into Hero’s arms, and led him to a tiny cove where his long skin canoe lay in the grass. This was not the one-man kayak used by his people for centuries, but an actual canoe modeled on the graceful vessels he’d observed under the control of northern coastal tribesmen. After dragging it into the water he perched Hero in the fore, placed the cargo in the middle, and stepped into the rear like a gaunt furry spider. The Aleut dug out a paddle and began pulling with smooth strokes of surprising muscularity, his black eyes trained on his quiet companion’s back.
So began their long island-hopping journey. They stepped the chain one stone at a time, living off the sea. But much as the islander disliked Hero’s vapid company, it was not in his nature to proceed expeditiously; his people, remote as they were, had learned to count not in days but in generations. Given this, the Aleut took his time. He showed Hero how to build shelters of skin and gut; during bad weather the two would sit on an island in utter silence while rain hammered on their stretched seal-intestine window. And one very clear night he pointed out constellations while attempting to demonstrate, using broad gestures, just how the brighter heavenly bodies were in perfect alignment with the Aleutians. Hero followed his guide’s gestures as a pet follows its master’s movements and, like a pet, soon became bored. The Aleut did not grow flustered. He grew ever more wary:  behind that granite, weather-beaten exterior squirmed a very primitive imagination. Superstitious as he was, the Aleut was almost certain Hero could read his mind. So one time, and one time only, he threw a searing look at the back of Hero’s bowed and listing head. After a long minute of vigorous thought-projection he shifted his gaze aside. The brute appeared to feel this shift, and gently turned his head. And both saw the ocean break rhythm, and watched as otters and sea lions surfaced, noted their progress, and slipped without tremor beneath the waves.
In spring the fogs lifted. The grimness gave way to serenity, a generous sun buttered the dappled sea. On the islands grass grew lushly. Wildflowers leapt on the color-starved eye.
And one day the islander’s nape itched. He turned to see a flock of arctic terns casually tracking them under a gorgeous, white-plumed sky. As the day progressed the terns came drifting high overhead, slowly but surely taking the lead.
The Aleut squinted against the sun. He’d never known these birds to pursue a westerly migratory pattern—the terns were distributing themselves into a rough wedge shape, much like geese on the wing.
For a while he let the flock be his guide. Then, to test his stars, he cunningly steered his canoe north. At once the wedge disintegrated. Not until he’d lowered his eyes and pulled purposefully to the west did the disrupted pattern reassert itself. He peered up timidly. The wedge was now in the shape of a perfect arrowhead.
Just so were the fates of mariners and aviators inextricably entwined. At night, once the Aleut had landed his canoe on the nearest pearl, the terns would light in a quiet circle and remain until sunrise. As the Aleut and Hero took to sea, the flock would quickly form that same authoritative pattern.
In time the Aleut paddled his companion clear to the westernmost islands of the Aleutian chain. His people had dwelt, even here, a thousand years and more, but no contemporary islander knew for certain what lay beyond. Legend told of an enormous land mass forever gripped by cold, where a cruel people waylaid innocent seafarers for barbaric sacrificial rites.
So here the islander paused. But even as he vacillated he noticed the terns were veering south.
If the Aleut had been able to curse aloud he would have been vociferous. He was being compelled to follow an even less desirable course—that of the unknown open ocean. Now he looked upon his passenger’s hunched back not with fear but with loathing. He took a deep breath, rolled his shoulders, and defiantly continued west. The wedge broke up immediately. The terns dive-bombed the canoe, whirled around the windmilling Aleut, tore skyward and hovered determinedly. Something huge broke surface behind them, but the Aleut was way too frayed to turn. He dropped his head, a beaten man, and began paddling south. Little by little the birds returned to formation.
The tiny canoe had no business going up against the mighty Pacific. It would soon have been swallowed and smashed, had not the terns veered in close formation whenever the distant sea appeared too rough. Once he’d lost his bearings the Aleut religiously followed their serpentine course.
The days began to warm.
Now the sea’s bounty all but leapt in the canoe.
It seemed the Aleut was forever catching the finest currents, practically sliding down a corridor entirely free of peril. In this manner he was able to safely navigate waters no such craft had mastered before.
They were proceeding south by southwest, awed children of a plenteous, generous sea. The going became easier by the day, the ocean heavier with cod.
Nights the Aleut drifted comfortably, but a lifetime of wariness made him wake off and on. He’d slowly rise to find Hero sitting quietly under the stars, and soon he’d see, pallid in moonlight, a large body neatly pleating the ocean’s surface. The shape would precede them a while, only to vanish without a ripple.
All this strangeness kept the Aleut’s heart in a whirl, though he took pains to maintain his poise.
To allay his fear he kept a flat black stone planted squarely between them. It was his oldest treasure; an oddity he’d taken off the body of a mauled Tlingit woman when he was a child. Who she was, and how she’d come by the stone, were mysteries far beyond him, for no such piece had ever been known to Aleut or Inuk.
The stone was smooth and had been worked perfectly round. Bright yellow specks were scattered about its dull black face.
Long ago someone had etched a quaint and clumsy rune on that flat black surface—it was the crude, universal symbol for sun:  a broad circle surrounded by several rays. When the stone was rubbed against a pelt it possessed the curious property of growing quite warm and bright in the rune’s grooves, while the surface remained cool and dull.
This stone, both friend and overlord, had always “spoken to him”. It caused him to become restless when it was time to move on, and allowed him to relax when a destination had been reached. In this way he’d come to the familiar islet and discovered the unconscious little man. Just so:  the stone, he was sure, was responsible for making him “feel bad” as he watched the stranger shiver, and “feel better” once he’d built him a life-saving fire from the small pile of tinder he’d found nearby.
By now, however, the Aleut was wholly disenchanted with his stone, and deeply regretted having done its mysterious bidding. Never before had he been so long from sight of land, and never before had he felt so very, very small. The unimagined immensity of the Pacific was really starting to get to him when, after all their while at sea, a gray, seductive haze broke the horizon. They had reached another chain of islands, an Asian chain, the dark and smoky Kurils. Here a cold current kept the climate cool and foggy, and the chill, along with the prevalence of otter and seal, made him feel almost at home.
But this place gave him the creeps; he was a stranger, a trespasser somewhere sacred. There was a looming quality to the island mountains that made him extraordinarily aware of his transience, his pettiness, his puniness. He grew more and more cautious, sure their progress was being monitored—he could have sworn he saw wraiths in the trees, and wolves padding warily in the brush. The big islands looked on breathlessly. All along the rocky cliffs, thousands of auks and puffins followed the canoe in dead silence, their heads turning simultaneously, their countless tiny eyes peering redly through the fog. As the weeks passed, the Aleut’s anxiety was manifested in tics and sighs, and he’d cringe each time the crimson sun sank behind those black volcanic summits. In his imagination the mountains would rise right out of the sea, as though to pluck him. But the islands, in all their dignity, would always refuse to acknowledge so meek a stranger, and return their eyes to sea. The Aleut would hang his head, and timidly paddle by.
Then for days and days he pulled his weary canoe west—through a strait parting two mighty islands not part of the chain, and thence across a sea that was a warm, enticing bath. Spring had come to the East Asian coastal waters, and the Ainu, alone and in groups, were venturing deeper in search of increasing bounty. The Aleut, absorbed in his thoughts of sweet climate and bitter fate, was unaware they’d been spotted.
This first meeting between strangers of different worlds was a brief and awkward one. A lone Ainu fisherman, seeing the Aleut come paddling out of the unknown, dropped his net and turned to stone. The Aleut, for his part, instinctively froze with his body turned half-away to make the leanest target possible. Their stares locked. Never had the Aleut seen a face so heavily bearded, and never hair so fair. The Ainu began banging on his bronze catch pail. Other fishers soon appeared from the north and south, effectively cutting off the canoe. The Aleut caressed his stone and looked to the sky. The wedge had vanished. He put down his head and paddled for all he was worth.
With the word out, uncountable fishing craft appeared out of the blue and broke into hot pursuit, their pilots determined to force the canoe ashore.
Suddenly they were in sight of land, and the sea was absolutely riddled with watercraft. A train of small boats cast off from the mainland, even as a posse of two-man coracle-like tubs began to surround the battered skin canoe, their inhabitants calling back and forth in astonishment at the sight of these dark, savage newcomers. But the pursuing little coastal men, banging excitedly on the sides of their boats, were not Ainu. They had very straight black hair, prominent cheekbones, and strangely slanted eyes. And their speech, oddly marvelous as it was, was a rapid series of coos, chirps, and barks. Their boats formed a tight semi-circle around the canoe, forcing the Aleut to approach the mainland. The little men banged their boats maniacally, with more joining in as the canoe neared shore.
A bit farther south was a natural harbor swarming with fishing vessels of every description. As the canoe was forced into this harbor, people along the rocky coast began banging whatever they could get their hands on, until the air was filled with their lunatic percussion.
Tiny brown men came running along a soft yellow cliff overlooking the harbor, gesturing wildly. The canoe was squeezed between a chain of tubs and the shore, and, as it slowed, the tempo and ferocity of the banging decreased accordingly. When the canoe came to a halt the banging and shouting stopped. Hero creaked to his feet. The first North American to set foot on Asian soil stepped out shakily.
There followed the profoundest silence imaginable.
A second later it was as if a dam had burst.
Hundreds of hysterical, yammering voices erupted from hundreds of hysterical, clinging men and women. Hero was spun around, jostled about, handed along. He stared into their astounded, pinched little faces, and the sun, pulsing between their heads as he was turned, repeatedly stabbed his eyes. There came an excited outburst and frantic splashing which could only have been the Aleut’s violent demise, and then Hero was somehow limping alongside a primitive fishing village, blindly following a narrow dirt path that hugged the yellow cliff’s base. The warm spring sun caught the dust as he shambled. He rounded a bend and stopped.
Half a dozen children stood in his way, too fascinated to run. A chatter and scuffle rose behind him. He looked back to see that he was now in the midst of a small crowd of these children, and that more were running up with cries of amazement.
A stone struck his shoulder. As Hero turned another glanced off his chest.
A moment later he was being pelted from all sides, and the giggles and gasps had become something wildly unreal. He dropped to his knees in a hail of hurled rocks, covered his head with his arms, and slithered up the path on his belly.
A new voice broke in; an older, authoritative voice.
The children scampered off squealing.
Hero, shaken to his feet, found himself face to face with a diminutive, shouting, incomprehensible old man. The old man threw his arm around Hero’s waist and, jabbering all the while, led him to a secondary path cut into the cliff’s face. This path sloped gently upward over the waves. Together they picked their way to a place maybe halfway up, where the cliff’s face was honeycombed with natural alcoves and dug-out caves. Most of these spaces were used as one-man shelters; a few, cut deeper in the earth, as family hives. Strange gabbing people slid out of these holes like worms, reaching, but the little old man, who was evidently a little old man of some stature, embraced his find possessively and shouted them back inside.
The path narrowed as they climbed.
At its summit spread the upscale end of the neighborhood. Hero was led to a hovel nestled amid dozens of similar hovels, all scattered around a dainty stream wending between patches of stunted vegetation.
The old man’s place was basically a one-room hut fashioned of earth and salvaged boat hulls, with a slender side-yard surrounded by dry, dusty hedges. But inside it was clean and tidy, with rice paper partitioning and, built into the far earthen wall, a miniature stone fireplace. The old man sat his guest in the exact center of the room. There he fed him scraps from his bowl, using long sticks to pluck out bits of fish and clumps of tiny, starchy white pellets.
He studied the brute closely, watched him chew, walked round and round him. He poked here. He pinched there.
And that night he lit a fire on his crushed-shell hearth.
Hero curled up on a mat where the gossip of flames could reach him. Nearby, at his delicate wicker table, the old man sat in semi-darkness, illuminated only from the waist down.
But his eyes were alive. They spat and darted as they reflected the fire’s light, and, when at last they’d begun to sputter, his scratchy little voice came pattering out of the dark, muttering something vile and oddly modulated, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a gathering snarl.
Hero feigned slumber, unable to ignore those paired ominous flashes. Still, the room was cozy, and the fire warm, and the play of light and shadow kicked sleep in his eyes.

In the morning he woke in the old man’s side-yard, his head pounding, a rusty iron clamp securely fastened around his neck. This clamp was attached to the outermost link of a crude three-foot chain, and the link at the other end to a long stake driven into eight inches of solid rock. The chain and stake, like the clamp, were hammered of local iron. The clamp was too tight for comfortable swallowing, the chain too short to make standing possible. Hero could, however, spread out on his chest and stretch an arm to a low row of hedges. By parting the tangled undergrowth he had a limited view of the fishing village below, and of the harbor beyond. As the days passed he was able to tweak himself a view-space discernible only from his peculiar vantage. He accomplished this by gently breaking small branches strategically, then guiding their interrupted growth with the utmost tenderness. It was his secret garden.
He had no memory—none whatsoever—of being staked here. Obviously the old man hadn’t set this up overnight. Hero’s mind prodded timidly…how many others had been chained to this spot, and why?
But over the subsequent weeks and months he went beyond caring. Each day was the same:  just after dawn the old man would storm into the tiny side-yard swinging his reed whip wildly. The lashings were savage and unremitting. The old man, except for his eyes, would be mute. Only his whip need speak. And the snap of his reed had but one message:  when you see this whip you go down, and you go down immediately.
The naked savage, scarred head to foot, learned to go prostrate on the moment. Even so, the old man couldn’t resist the temptation to indulge in the occasional good old, all-out thrashing. And after each session he would toss the prisoner a vile mess of dead fish and rotting leftovers.
Hero lived like this for many months, lost in a confused world of pain and anticipation. Perversely, he came to look forward to the bite of that whip, for, whether he flogged him in passion or just for sport, the old man was always sure to make it personal. It seemed their relationship might go on forever.
But one day there was a great commotion in the sleepy little fishing village. Hero parted the leaves and beheld a small train of oblong coaches at rest near the harbor. Large oxen yoked in pairs lolled between the carriages, immune to the clamor around them. There were dark shaggy horses and colorfully dressed Bactrian camels. The horses and camels were tethered in the rear, but were occasionally paraded around the carriages by little men wielding long painted bamboo poles. The whole affair was exotic and mesmerizing, eccentric and profane. Hero watched all day in amazement, infected by the hubbub, though he was totally mystified by the crowd’s fascination on the carriages’ far side.
And late that afternoon he saw the old man come walking out of that crowd, talking heatedly with another man. The stranger was shorter and broader than the old man, with long stringy hair and long stringy mustaches. He saw them climbing the path, saw them crawl inside a hole lashing furiously. They were lost from view for a minute, then popped up big as life. Hero glowed and curled up eagerly as they approached.
The old man and stranger came into the narrow side-yard still arguing. The old man grabbed Hero by the hair and twisted until he was facing the newcomer.
The stranger had oily, porous skin, and a round but grave countenance. His highly slanted eyes were bright and restless. He studied Hero’s mutilated face with keen interest before borrowing the old man’s reed. When Hero scraped at his feet he grunted and returned the reed.
The stranger pulled out something shiny and hefted it in his hand. He then raised his other hand while considering Hero, as though weighing him too. The old man’s eyes glinted, and for an instant his expression became grotesquely servile. The stranger and old man, facing, nodded curtly in unison. The stranger dropped the shiny thing onto the old man’s itching palm. The old man whipped Hero frantically before taking a small ax to the chain. A few hard blows split a link, the broken link was bent back by the tool’s shaft, and the prisoner was at last released.
The old man handed the stranger a short hempen rope. The stranger bowed deeply. He then tied an end of the rope through one of the remaining links and began dragging Hero along. Hero’s hands sought the old man, who kicked and cursed him all the way to the path. The three stumbled single-file to the bottom. The old man waved his arms and shouted hysterically, trotting behind until he ran out of breath. But he got in a final kick and, before he came to a gasping halt, managed to lash Hero once for old time’s sake, and to spit on him twice for luck.

There were five carriages; a long one in the center hitched to four oxen, and two smaller coaches in the front and rear with a pair of oxen on each. The carriages were old and battered, built of splitting wood slats and rusted iron braces. Various hides, spare wheels, and a hundred odds and ends were tied to the sides and roofs. Hero’s new master, using him as a ram, shoved him through the crowd to the long carriage. He hauled him up the single wood step and watched the crowd’s reaction. Children hid behind mothers, mothers hissed and jeered, men spat in that smashed, disgusting face.
Satisfied, Hero’s master twisted the rope tighter and dragged him through the hide flap that served as the carriage’s rear wall.
A strange ruckus began at their entrance.
Inside the carriage were bulky shapes and quirky movements, yet the immediate and overwhelming impression was one of unbelievable stench. Hero, instantly covered with flies, was kicked and shoved down a foot-wide aisle. The carriage’s walls were riddled with black flecks of old dried blood, the floor coated with standing *****, a variety of small carcasses, and some clinging, indefinable slime. But the living contents of this hell were so horrifying, and so unexpected, that Hero at once dropped to his knees. Observing this, master grabbed a whip off the wall and lashed him along the floor.
A number of bamboo cages lined either side of the carriage, each four feet high, four feet wide, and three feet deep. In the first cage to their left, a quadruple amputee dangled in a leather harness in a cloud of flies, jealously gnawing a chicken carcass balanced on his belly. The second cage held a man who had been burned over ninety per cent of his body, and the third a middle-aged woman with no eyes or tongue, her head shaved. The next cage housed a fully grown black leopard, its bright eyes fixed on the horrified newcomer. Then an empty cage, and finally a cage containing a demented man whose long yellow nails were busily raking a face deeply scarred and bleeding.
The first cage against the opposite wall held two girls rolling in their own excrement. Siamese twins unable to part, they had developed a unique method of locomotion, and now executed a three-quarters cartwheel in Hero’s direction, their mangled, severely bitten hands attempting to reach him through the bars. In the cage next to theirs a naked dwarf glowered menacingly, his eyes following coldly as Hero’s master shoved him down the narrow aisle, occasionally pausing to lash a cage. The hissing and howling increased as each prisoner beheld the new neighbor.
The third cage held an intensely sick adult Bornean sun bear, so confined it was entirely unable to move. Its hide was a patchwork of scraggly fur and grayish skin, glistening with odd eruptions. It rolled its sunken eyes in Hero’s direction, its muzzle twitching feebly.
The next cage contained a man who was frightfully diseased. Broad fungal patches covered his face and limbs, terminating in waxy folds that dangled like a rooster’s wattles. Welling sores spotted his chest and back. His eyes were bugged and sallow; his lower lip drooped below his chin. He barked wetly at Hero’s passing legs.
The second-to-last cage housed a rare, completely hairless Chinese albino, and the last cage a very tall, skeletal woman. The albino snapped at Hero while repeatedly banging his head against the cage. The woman hissed and coiled like a snake, her spine arching amazingly.
Master hauled Hero to the empty cage on his left, swung its door open with his foot, and forced him to his knees by pushing down with all his weight. He kicked and punched until Hero had been squeezed inside, then shut and secured the wide bamboo door.
Master inched his way back down the carriage, hammering the **** of his whip on each cage as he passed. There was a glimpse of daylight as he lifted the flap.
Once he’d departed, the carriage grew eerily silent.
Hero cautiously turned his head. Less than a foot away, the black leopard was frozen in place, one paw waving hypnotically in his face. The beast’s fangs were bared, its ears straight back, its eyes glistening. Hero turned ever so slowly, until he was looking into the eyes of the demented man in the final cage. The man cocked his head quizzically. A second later he was screaming his lungs out in a bizarre downward spiral.
At once the carriage erupted. The freaks shrieked and scrabbled, the leopard spun in place. Directly across the aisle, the albino hurled himself against the bars of his cage. He batted his face with his fists, threw back his head, and just howled and howled and howled. The snake woman curled even tighter, her long scrawny legs entwined behind her head.
Hero sat with breath held, absolutely silent, absolutely motionless. He very, very slowly closed his eyes.

Later that night the flap was flung high. The menagerie came alive as master, weirdly illuminated by moonlight, slowly made his way down the aisle carrying a skin sack oozing blood. He stopped at each cage to toss in a dying chicken and a handful of smelt.
When he reached Hero’s cage he looked down thoughtfully.
He extracted a quivering chicken and held it above the cage so that blood dripped on the brute’s deeply pleated forehead. Hero lowered his eyes. Master’s face darkened. He smashed the bird against the cage, over and over, a vein throbbing in his temple. Finally he hissed and displayed the limp chicken high over the albino’s head. The albino yelped and kicked, thrusting his hand up between the bars and jerking it back to lick away the blood rolling down his forearm.
Master eyed Hero coldly before pointedly dropping the chicken into the albino’s searching hands.
Master hissed again. He slowly made his way out.
Soon there was a commotion outside. The carriage rocked a bit before settling. Hero, turning in his cage to peek through a rift in the wood, saw horses being urged forward. He could hear men shouting. The carriage rocked again. He looked up and saw the gibbous moon suspended in mist. For just a second something wedge-shaped cut across its soft white face.
But then the oxen were grunting, the wheels had been freed, and the horses drawn abreast. Master’s lash spat left and right, and the show proceeded…west.

                                              MA­STER

She was very round and very small, with very short, very shaggy black hair. Her arms bore the scars of numerous bites from beast and man, and around her neck ran long wheals from a particularly savage owner. Hero, having spent the better part of the morning watching master storm in and out of a strange screaming house, now watched him drag the little round woman through the dirt. For a while he listened to the song of his master’s lash, waiting for the woman to break. But there was never a whimper.
It had been a difficult transaction for master, and an altogether difficult morning. For hours he’d paced up and down the main carriage, alternately murmuring affectionately into, and lashing at, each cage he visited. The sun bear, long dead and stuffed, had been taken outside for barter. It had soon been returned.
Master had lingered over Hero’s cage for a good while, staring critically. He’d begun shouting, and three of his men had burst in through the flap, unlatched the demented man’s cage, and dragged him out by the feet for trade, master personally stomping on his torn and groping hands.
And now master was kicking and shoving the little woman down the aisle as his men restrained her by the hair and throat. Upon master’s command these men stripped her naked and commenced pinching and slapping while making threatening faces and mocking noises. The freaks sat right up in their cages.
The woman looked as though she’d fainted:  her arms were lax, her eyes rolled up. Her whole face seemed to purse, and her body, head to toe, began to run blue. Her fingers quivered, arched, and clawed—the woman was self-asphyxiating. Master fairly leaped with delight while the cages rocked around him. He had the men slap her awake. Once she was fully conscious they stuffed her into the demented man’s old cage next to Hero’s.
Master then looked in eagerly, one to the other, his hands balled into fists. The woman buried her odd round face in her forearms as she squeezed herself into her cage’s deepest corner. Hero gazed indifferently and went back to his peephole.
Master exploded. He smacked and kicked the cages over and over, swore up and down, ran the shaft of his whip back and forth against the heavy bamboo bars. Eventually he calmed somewhat. He stared coldly at Hero, made a ***** smile, and spat right in his eyes. A tense minute passed. Master slowly made his way outside.
Hero automatically relaxed. Across the aisle the albino ****** his face between his cage’s bars to sniff the newcomer. The leopard, bobbing rhythmically, emitted a high-pitched squeal that gradually descended to a steadily throbbing growl.
Hero looked the stranger over. Once she’d lowered her hands he saw that her eyes were crossed, her jaw slack, her face as round as the full moon. He looked closer. There were scars all over her throat and arms:  plainly, the small round woman had been treated very badly. Hero instinctively slid a foot between the bars; the woman cried out and scrunched even deeper. Across the aisle the albino quickly extended an arm. Without knowing why, Hero turned on him. The albino flinched, his eyes tearing into Hero’s. A second later he was stamping his feet and grinning wildly. Hero went back to his peephole.
Next morning master and two of his men dismantled the bamboo walls separating Hero’s and the woman’s cages. They bound the frames with broad leather bands, making a single cage of the two.
A common door was fashioned and secured. Master used his broad blade to shear away Hero’s rags. The men hunched around the long cage expectantly.
The naked couple backed away. Master was instantly exasperated—he shouted, lashed furiously, stamped and screamed, jabbed a broken shaft between the bars with malevolent intent, whirled and hurled the shaft at nothing. The carriage’s inmates went out of their minds. At master’s bellowed command a man scurried outside, returning with a long rope of woven leather strands. Master opened the cage and, applying all his weight, pinned Hero and his new mate in an awkward embrace while his men tied them together.
Again master and his men bent over the long cage to watch.
When Hero realized his predicament he made a desperate attempt to reach his peephole.
The men, misreading his struggles, babbled and cheered, but master threw up his hands. He then, through gesture, ordered his men to drape a number of hides over the long cage. Once these hides were in place he very quietly bent to one knee and placed an ear against the cage. After a while he cursed and rose to his feet. He shook the cage and stormed out, whipping and kicking the howling inmates.
In the semi-darkness the man and woman quit fighting their bonds.
A muffled patter began on the hide-covered roof.
Rain, as always, had a calming effect on the carriage’s occupants, causing the freaks and beasts to slip, one by one, into lethargy or slumber. Under such a spell, the attainment of master’s goal was inevitable.
It was a coupling both innocent and vile, without passion or celebration. Occasionally the freaks would surface, register their excitement by shrieking, shaking their cages, or otherwise clamoring…but very quickly the air would stifle them, weighing their heads and confusing their impulses. The atmosphere grew heavier by the minute. And, when night rolled over the carriages, the rain came down in sheets.

Leaning ******* the woman’s cage, master slipped his gnarly hand between the bars and slowly rubbed her belly in a counter-clockwise motion, his sinister features soft in the candle’s light. And he told, in nonsensical cooing whispers, of a lovingly secure and impossibly prosperous future.
How large and promising that belly had become! And how wise was he, the cunning and aggressive master, in his far-reaching business decisions. He turned his affection to the motionless gaping brute; stroked the battlefield of its face, tossed in another lizard. Master rubbed his palms together. From now on it was extra lizards daily, for both the woman and her mate. He remarked, with only passing interest, his star player’s continuing indifference. They didn’t know each other, didn’t need each other.
There’d been months of shows on the road now, broken only recently by this sensible rejoining of the mates at conception.
Hero’s horrible disfigurement was unquestionably top draw; he was a guaranteed crowd pleaser at every stop. So now master looked him straight in the eyes and smiled. He held the reeking candle high. The carriage was absolutely silent. Master smiled again, rose to his feet, tiptoed away.
Hero watched him retreat until the flap had fallen. He returned to his peephole, saw master round the rear of the carriage and slowly crunch by. For a time he could see nothing but the half-shapes of junipers bathed in starlight. There was a tentative movement to his right and a large shape came to obstruct his view.
The horse stood for a minute in profile. It slowly brought its head to rest against the carriage, applying its eye to the peephole. Hero froze. The two remained fixed, eyeball to eyeball, while a breeze played odd tunes on the outer wall’s hanging paraphernalia. The horse’s big dark eye rolled nervously. A long moment passed. Slowly the horse backed off. It stood uncertainly for a while, staring at the peephole. Then it quietly moved away.

Master kicked the cages one by one, left hand and right, as he slowly made his way down the aisle. Into each cage he delivered a personalized warning in passing—a growl, a hiss, a bark—but he was quickly losing control. Animal electricity hopscotched the carriage, cage to cage, ceiling to floor, front to rear and back again. Master froze. Much more of this excitement, he feared, could seriously agitate the woman—with grave consequences for master.
She was splayed on her back, in labor’s throes, her ankles and wrists bound to the long cage. Hero had been removed to give her room, and now sat hunched atop the snake woman’s cage, two men holding him by the throat and legs.
Master gnashed and snarled, listening to the woman scream, watching her stupid round head bounce up and down and back and forth. He knew it! He’d been suckered, hoodwinked, scammed—ripped off like a common rube. The woman was too ******* to handle even something as natural as childbirth. Still…it was too late to second-guess himself—all these months he’d been patient—he’d been supportive and vigilant and now he would not be denied. He flogged one of the men to alleviate his tension.
The blue lady was very slowly, very dramatically arching her spine. Master wiped the sweat from his eyes. When the bars were pleating her big round belly, her shoulders began drumming on the straw-strewn floor.
Master screamed one very colorful expletive.
A razor silence came over the carriage. Not a body moved or breathed.
At last two men tiptoed around their purpling master and leaned into the cage. One obediently ****** a foot between the bars. He pushed ******* her right knee while using a hand to grip the left knee, spreading her legs wide. The other man drew a broad leather strap between her teeth. After lifting the woman’s head he pulled the strap behind her neck, knotted it to make a gag, and yanked a skin sack over her face. He looked up anxiously. Master licked his lips and nodded. The man made a fist and frantically punched the woman’s face until her muffled screams ceased. She moaned gently throughout her contractions.
Master genuflected, brought a spitting candle in tight, and took a deep breath. As he raised his hand the candle’s light bounced off his knife’s chipped and scored eleven-inch blade. Master swore and reached down carefully. He flicked his wrist twice and the menagerie went mad.

The child was a tremendous disappointment.
Master had eagerly anticipated an infant ******* and deformed; something embracing the best qualities of its parents. He had even designed a special cage that could be expanded by degrees as the spawn developed. There also remained the tantalizing option of a family display, though such an undertaking would require the eventual construction of a structure even larger than the cage its parents now shared. Master anguished over the logistics, knowing it would break his heart to have to cut one of his jewels’ throats just to make room for a growing child. Nights he would slowly pace the carriage with all the possessiveness of a jealous suitor, one hand maneuvering a sputtering candle, the other tenderly rapping his whip’s **** against each visited cage.
But the boy was a flawless specimen; a beautiful, undemanding baby. From the moment master angrily tossed the placenta he felt cheated, even betrayed. He grimaced as it peaceably took to its mother’s breast, despite the surrounding horrors. Master hated it, immediately and entirely. The ****** thing was so docile it was almost charming. He drew his knife and was just reaching down, when an overwhelming sense of dread shook him like a rat in the jaws of a mastiff. Sweat poured down his squat, pig-tailed nape. He knew he would live to regret it, but decided to not cut the child’s throat right away. It was the oddest feeling. His knife hand had trembled for the first time in his life, and he had found himself momentarily contemplating right and wrong at the outset of a perfectly simple and commonplace procedure. That was it, then. His business instincts were letting him know there was a good, albeit unknowable, reason to let the sweet baby live. Master left the carriage anxiously, muttering in his ambivalence.
The boy grew to embody his worst expectations. Not only was it a poorly oriented child, clinging to its father rather than its master almost from the moment of weaning, but it soon proved a lousy draw with the patrons. Those who paid to view the child dangling in its special cage inevitably departed unsatisfied, some vocalizing, strangely, an acute sense of shame. So once again master entered the carriage with his knife hand steady, and once again he exited trembling, his heart in his throat and his soul in a whirl. He whipped the dwarf savagely before leaving. What place conscience in the mind of a businessman?
Soon as the boy could walk, master put him to work fetching and feeding. But the brat was slothful in his chores, preferring to hang around his family’s cage while staring wistfully at his father. For their part, the parents were wholly disinterested. Master would fume while Hero gazed for hours out his peephole—even as the mother lolled, perpetually ill. Sometimes that accursed woman’s condition riled poor master to no end. She could teeter at death’s door for months at a time, her body changing hues to the fascination of customers, only to bounce back with a hardiness that was of interest to no one. But at the peak of her performances the blue lady could really hold a crowd. Master produced an entire outdoors extravaganza around her:  within concentric rings of raging torches his men would slowly strip her naked before wild audiences, then allow the dwarf and albino to take her while the leopard strained against a gaily festooned chain. Master circulated his crew through the crowds to encourage his patrons’ cult-like behavior of breath-holding and fainting. No getting around it:  the customers were crazy about her—village to village, master’s Bactrian vanguard’s colorful robes shouted her approaching fame. And Hero’s popularity continued to soar. Many were the nights when master, pacing the perimeter, wondered just what devilry could have produced the lovely boy.
Overall, Hero remained his master’s favorite conceit and hottest property. Part of the little brute’s appeal was, of course, his exoticness. And certainly the ugliness arising from his deformity was compelling…but there was a detachedness about him that fascinated every soul with a fistful of copper cash coins. Whether they ****** him, cudgeled him, or spat in his face, he remained unflappable, staring only at the aching sky. Though many would leave uneasy, master noted with deep satisfaction that they almost invariably returned.
The boy soon evinced an amazing affinity for animals. No matter how agitated an ox or horse became, the child could pacify it with one hand on a lowered brow. This was a source of endless fascination for the crew. Wagers were made. The boy was pitted against oxen whipped to a frenzy. But they would not harm him; they would rather go prostrate and take the lash. Master tried to work this knack into a viable act, but his patrons just weren’t buying. They wanted freaks.
When the lad was a mere five years old, master had him trained in the peripheral art of the pickpocket. The boy worked well alone, and had all the makings of a fine little flimflam artist. Master sighed, his chronic nightmares a thing of the past. As ever, his business instincts were guiding him well.
Then late one afternoon he found the boy squatting outside his parents’ cage. The boy had done the unthinkable:  he had deposited his day’s pickings at the feet of his father instead of bringing the ***** to master. Master flew into a rage and raised his whip to give the little traitor the lashing he deserved. But before he could deliver a single stroke his other hand shot to his chest and he staggered back against the albino’s cage. He blinked down at the boy, who regarded him steadily while scooping the plunder into a little pile.
From that day on the boy placed whatever he could get his hands on at his father’s feet. As time passed he became ever more adroit at thievery, growing into a youngster both admired and despised by master and his crew; admired because theft was a cinch for him, despised because they were all that much lighter in their possessions.
Now, for eleven long years the strange little train had bounced along, sometimes camping outside villages for months, occasionally pausing on connecting roads. The show traversed the heart of Manchuria, skirted the Gobi in the north, and so eventually crossed almost the entire width of Mongolia before proceeding north to the confluence of the rivers Yenisey and Ob’. Much silver and copper had come to master’s coffer, much fame to his name, but he now sat looking over a vast, unmapped Siberian wilderness. The mostly nomadic characters they’d been encountering spoke in tongues unfamiliar even to his personal valet-translator-accountant, and the tone of these nomads had been unmistakably hostile.
Master huddled surlily under a canopy of sopping hides. Night was falling hard during a merciless rain, the wind was picking up, and his supplies coach was bogged in a growing sea of mud. At that moment he accepted the whole end-of-the-line concept, and knew he wasn’t going anywhere but back. And when he got back he was going to shine! He jumped from the coach.
The earth took his weight for a heartbeat—and he was up to his chin in muck, splashing about on his hands and knees, sliding forward on his palms and toes. He did a belly flop into a rain-filled depression and churned to his feet with the devil in his eyes. Wallowing in mud and bile, master stomped to the supplies coach and kicked wildly at the stuck rear wheels.
Somewhere between kicks he lost it completely.
Master broke for his whip. One minute he was blindly lashing his men, the next he’d succumbed to a mindless ferocity. He thrashed about like a berserker; whipping the beasts, the coach, the very night. His men were scarcely able to move in all that mud, but their dread of his savagery kept them hopping. They gathered as one and shoved the coach recklessly; slipping, splashing, shouting. A minute later, three lay splayed underfoot, but the mired wheel had been freed.
Throughout all this the oxen had swayed nervously, while the horses softly tramped their hooves in place. Master had his men turn the oxen about until the rickety train was pointing dead east. He checked the hitches and personally applied the lash. The oxen didn’t budge. Master swore and wiped the rain from his eyes. He had the horses hitched ahead of the oxen, but they were even less obliging. Master flew into a spectacular rage. His men, fearing for their lives, ran liberally with the lash.
The swaying of oxen picked up until the entire train of carriages was rocking. Yet the oxen could not, would not be compelled, under any amount of prodding, to take an eastward step. Master looked around in exasperation.
The night had gone insane.
Horses were fighting hitches, oxen walking on fire.
Master cursed the rain and mud and lashed all the harder. His men, seeking to please, whipped maniacally until the horses and both lead oxen broke their hitches and bolted west. The men immediately embraced the rear oxen, but the hitches shattered and the beasts stormed off. The remaining horses blew it, kicking at everything and nothing.
Inside the long carriage all was chaos. The albino was neighing and screaming, the aged leopard spinning in its cage. Hero stared out his peephole, amazed at the blur of figures stumbling by in the rain.
A pair of clopping blows rattled the opposite wall. Three slats cracked. A tremendous impact, and a huge section collapsed. A thrashing, hysterical mare burst through the breach in a veil of rain.
The horse went mad, killing the albino and snake woman in a flurry of hooves. She fell ******* the near wall, crushing the cages. The leopard shot into the air like a rocket, slashed at the mare’s throat and vanished in the rain. The horse reared above the family cage. She was just coming down in a wheeling storm of hooves when something made her freeze. Her stare locked with Hero’s, and a second later her eyes were rolling in their sockets. The mare kicked crazily and came down ******* her left flank, smashing the long cage’s side. She whirled upright and leaped outside.
For a tense minute the family sat in the rubble, rain bombarding their eyes. Nothing in their years of captivity had prepared them for such a situation. But by the end of that minute the son had taken full command. He rolled onto his back, braced himself, and kicked his parents across the aisle, through the remnants of the opposing cage, and out of the carriage. They all fell about in the mud and rain. To the west, the mare stared back strangely as she splashed into the night. The boy wedged himself between his parents, threw his arms around them, and pushed with all his might. Their bodies found a common center of gravity. Fumbling drunkenly, the family staggered through the rain in the wake of the mare.

The boy was the natural leader.
Master’s innocent-looking little ex-student could quickly assess and exploit almost any situation. He did the foraging and the figuring, slept with one eye open and one fist ready. He got what he wanted by charm or by stealth, slipping off at nightfall, returning at daybreak with small slaughtered animals and chunks of dark peasant bread. He also pilfered any bauble or oddity he could get his paws on, to be placed reverently at his father’s mangled feet. Breadwinner and watchdog, he faithfully held the family together; a nuclear son. He sewed hardy feather-lined cloaks of reindeer hide, and turned a cache of marmot pelts into a kind of side-slung backpack. He was doting nurse during his mother’s episodes, and unbending apportioner of calories in lean times. Dauntless when it meant crossing mighty rivers, relentless when it came to finding mountain passes. But the endless marching, the unreliable diet, and the countless predators made the three wanderers lean, haggard moving targets. There were times when the little lamp of family was all but extinguished, and long stands in places that seemed absolutely impassable. Still, the boy would work things out. He would stoop to any level to feed Hero, and for a stranger to threaten his father was to summon a psychotic, unyielding monster. He was both spear and shield.
The toughest job of all was maintaining a tight unit, meaning he was forced to become a hard-nosed ******* whenever his father was ready to wander off, which always seemed to be whenever the mother was hurting most. She’d become a tremendous impediment to Hero’s compulsion, and therefore her son’s chief nemesis. It wasn’t a big-picture concern anyway; the writing was on the wall. The blue lady’s attacks were increasing spectacularly on the steppe; her world had always been an enclosure of some kind, and the great horizon was proving just too much. Perhaps these intense affairs served as links to Hero’s suppressed memories, for at the onset of each attack he’d turn and hike, and then only exhaustion could curb him. The boy would press his mother on, dragging, shoving, and smacking—he could be mean when necessary, and though circumstances had made him the nucleus, their worlds unquestionably revolved around Hero. Where he sat, they sat. When he rose, they did the same. In this manner they marched for years across the vast steppes, single-file—father, mother, and son, respectively—unmolested, lacking possessions, always following the sun. Long before they could be measured they had drifted into obscurity.
The woman’s end came quickly and dramatically, in a rocky little depression on a half-frozen field. One moment she was responsive to her son’s prompts, the next she was flat on her back, her eyelids fluttering. That night she leapt from fever to chill, from alertness to stupor. The boy, squatting beside their campfire, watched her face and hands run cadaver-blue to fish belly-pale and back again. While he was staring her eyes popped open and her hands came scrabbling. He sweated through the clawing embrace until he could bear it no longer. He oozed out and ran down to fetch his father.
When they got back Hero watched incuriously for a while. His mate’s face was scrunched up and her skin the color of sapphires. She wasn’t breathing.
His gaze became glassy, his eyes returned to the night. As he rose the boy immediately grabbed an arm. Neither moved for minutes. When the boy at last relinquished, his father casually stumbled off.
Strange things were going on in Hero’s world. Some days he would notice how animals regarded him oddly, in a manner that seemed almost personal. He found, for instance, that particular creatures were recognizable even over great distances. A number of times he would sit with one in a stare-down, waiting patiently, until the animal’s natural disposition caused it to bolt. Though the meaning of these encounters was way over his head, he would watch, and he would listen.
In time he noticed an increasing skittishness in some of these familiar creatures. Something had them spooked. He then observed a number of lean gray wolves moving in and out of the picture with an air of complete indifference:  these wolves weren’t hunting; they were loitering—lounging in the grass, lackadaisically padding to the rear, filing by slowly in the distance. Once in a while a lounger would raise its head, yawn cavernously, and drop back out of sight. So unobtrusive was their behavior that even Hero’s ever-vigilant son began to take them for granted. They paused where the family paused, and halted whenever the woman broke down. Perfectly camouflaged by the gray boulders and dire sky, they were completely forgotten in the drama of her passing.
There were other, far subtler events existing for Hero’s senses alone. He could perceive patterns in everything around him; in the manner vegetation gave way wherever his heart was leading, in the way so many animals appeared to be not merely mirroring, but making his course. And wind, rain, running water:  these phenomena had voices. Yet not for everybody. No one—not his mate, not his son, not another soul on the planet could hear this call, for they were all of a sort. They were static, they were temporal. Hero couldn’t have cared less about the lives of his family, or about the mundane goings-on in the encampments and small tribes they skirted. Such beings lived in a world that was defined by the moment. They shouted, they banged, they clamored.
But west—west was music.
For his boy, once again watching Hero shamble off, the moment of truth had arrived. He looked back down, at his mother’s death mask being remade by the dying light of their campfire. As the flames dwindled he could have sworn he saw shadows creep into the wells of her eyes, while others, crawling up around her jawline, drew her bluing lips like purse strings. He hopped to his feet and ran for another handful of tinder. When their little fire provided enough light he dropped to his knees and looked again.
She was sinking right before his eyes, every aspect of her expression in collapse. The boy watched clinically, fascinated. As the flames began to sputter he thought he could see large purple bruises spreading across her cheeks like the seeping limbs of overflowing pools. He bent closer.
From deep in the night came the longest, the leanest, the saddest wail he’d ever heard. He turned to see the starlit ghost of his father, facing away, staring at a low barren hill. Uncountable stars embroidered the spot. The boy made out a low shape moving along the hilltop, cutting off patches of stars as it passed.
The wolf howled again; a mournful, spiraling cry to nowhere and nothing. Hero’s head notched upward. He began to hike.
Halfway to his feet the boy stopped dead.
It took a minute to sense why he’d frozen in place, and a good while longer for his heart to quit pounding. He was aware of a nervous padding, and, once his vision had adjusted, of a lazy stream of eyes gleaming in the dying campfire’s light. The eyes bobbed around him, glared momentarily, returned to the ground.
A massive gasp, and his mother was tearing at his wrist. He watched her hyperventilating, saw her bulbous yellow eyes sinking in a wide violet pool. With a sizzle and pop the last tongue of flame was taken by the night.
Then her clammy hands were all over him, pulling and demanding, caressing and beseeching. He had to pry them off like leeches, had to place them clasped on her shuddering arched belly.
A silky snarl rose almost in his ear.
With a little squeal he sprang to his feet, even as something nearby jumped back in response.
The boy stood absolutely still while the panting thing padded nearer. They stood very close, smelling each other. He instinctively extended a hand, palm forward. But it was no good; his arm was shaking out of control. The snarl rose again, not so tentatively this time. His mother’s nails tore at his ankle.
The boy gently stepped away, only to find himself surrounded by the shifting silhouettes of half a dozen gray wolves. They approached in a calculated manner:  two from the left, one from the right, another from behind. He was being goaded away from his mother; he could hear her fists beating the ground, and a few seconds later the sounds of a nauseating assault and ravaging.
He shakily raised his other hand. Now both arms were extended, and their message was clearly one of defense rather than control. Two snapping wolves stepped aside, leaving him a gateway into the night. A cold wet nose bumped his wrist.
Screaming like a woman, he took off after his father just as fast as his feet would carry him.

                                                  BOY

Alon­g the great Kazakh Steppe a man could wander a lifetime and never meet another of his kind—especially if his kind happened to be Alaskan Inuk, and if he happened to be the teenaged patriarch of a two-man family going nowhere.
Here history is mostly mute.
Upon this continent-spanning steppe, unnamed communities were scattered and rebuilt, lives blown about by the wind. The only centers of humanity a traveler might encounter, far removed from the Silk Road at the very crack of the new millennium, were temporary encampments of civilization at its rudest—shifting holes of cutthroat commerce existing solely for the barter of silk and spices and hapless souls. Life here was revered far less than merchandise, and the longest-lived men were those who kept their distance.
Hero and his boy hiked over permafrost and tundra for years; their meandering course a drunken mapmaker’s scrawl. Chronological entries along this imaginary line would reveal that they’d stopped, sometimes for months at a time, when the father had grown too weak and disoriented to continue. Hero’s internal compass was long-sprung, and his weight had fallen considerably. He’d sit on his lonesome, scarecrow-scrawny, wistfully scrolling a 360-horizon while his boy scouted and scavenged. Then, for no apparent reason, he’d just up-and hike—sometimes northwest, sometimes along a tangential plane that always threatened to spiral. It was brutal:  winters were frigid, summers, by odd contrast, running steamy to baking. Season by season these marches lost their tenaciousness, and eventually their heart. Hero’s obsession was becoming his demise.
Now, to a hypothetical observer, the ratty pair of woolly camels materializing out of the rising August heat might have been mirages.
These beasts were novelties here, and pioneers, for they were way beyond their normal stomping grounds. They’d tramped for months with a mind-numbing monotonousness, a thousand miles and more; round the Urals to the south, and through the hard territory braced by the Volga and Voronezh, avoiding anything that even smelled of men. They’d been wild camels; ugly, ill-tempered, and unpredictable, until the boy tamed them by touch…but this new pattern was a literal change of pace…for weeks the frail little man and his dark teenaged son rose and fell with the animals’ rhythm, lulled by it, sick of it, dreaming of lands far removed from hoarfrost and peat moss. In this manner they were borne clear to present-day Belarus, whereupon the camels’ stupefying march began to quicken. Mile by mile they put on steam, until one day they reached a broad area distinguishable from its bracing terrain only by its many deep surface cracks. Here the camels’ behavior became erratic; they crouched at an angle while tramping, their long necks oscillating, their noses bobbing along the ground. Eventually they came upon a dingy pool nestled in a pebbly depression. The local brush surrounding this pool was situated like iron filings about a lodestone. The boy hauled back his camel’s neck and laid a hand on its brow. The brute slowed to a halt. The other camel imitated its partner, move for move. Simultaneously the animals dropped to their knees.
The boy jumped off, catching Hero as he fell. The camels stood watching stupidly as son maneuvered father, but after a while grew nervous and began tramping their hooves in time. They slowly stepped to the pool’s rim and knelt woozily, their noses poised just above the surface. Their whiskers danced on the pool’s face, their lids became heavy, their hindquarters quivered as they drank. Their nostrils, having fluttered in unison, remained agape. They appeared to be asleep.
The boy began filling skins.
The water was quite warm; he slurped a palmful and almost immediately felt intoxicated.
He flicked it off his fingers; the water was bad.
Three heads were now mirrored in the pool; the camels’ at ten o’clock and two o’clock, the boy’s at six. He watched their reflections continue to ripple, long after the pool had become still. His face, melting and firming, rapidly fluctuated between extremes of age, and between his own recognizable features and those of some…monstrosity. The effect was hypnotic. He felt his joints stiffen; his eyes became weak, his thoughts muddled…his face was irresistibly drawn to the pool’s surface, and for a moment he was in real peril of drowning. He ****** his head aside and creaked to his feet.
Where the camels had knelt were only the prints of their bellies and knees. In the distance they could be seen galloping all-out for the horizon, right back the way they’d come. The boy watched until they were swallowed by their dust, and when he turned around his father was long gone.
Now he knew it was all just a matter of time.
And sure enough, after eleven more days of feebly staggering along, Hero completely ran out of gas. The boy bundled him up in a shawl, like an old woman.
Sitting there, cradling an unresponsive man weighing less than eighty pounds, he couldn’t help but let his morbid fantasies run wild. He was now old enough to realize his father had at some time suffered severe head trauma, and honest enough to accept that the man was rapidly approaching a vegetative state. This understanding accompanied him like a shadow, and that night he questioned, for the very first time, his own convoluted rationale.
He was just beginning to sense that his will was not his own.
He built a semi-permanent camp west of the Desna and foraged in a tight spiral, always returning in a straight line. Some days he came back feeling uneasy, sensing another presence. Then it was every other day. It bugged him to no end. At last, when it became every day, he hauled his father to his feet and began a resolute march to the west.
Again he became anxious, and after only a dozen yards.
He turned slowly while hunching, certain something bulky had just dropped out of sight. Nothing looked suspicious, everything looked suspicious. He walked Hero some more, occasionally peering back over his shoulder. There was…something.
He whirled:  only masses of rock and high brush. Yet, when he really strained his eyes, he was sure, pretty sure, that he could make out a large crouching body continuous with the rocks. Heart in his throat, he began a slow steady creep, only to pause, positive the bulge, whatever it was, had shifted in response. The boy very gradually raised his arm until it was level with his eyes, faced the palm outward, and extended the arm parallel with the ground. He could almost feel some kind of current passing between his itching palm and…nothing. He walked over to Hero, stopped again. There’d been the subtlest sense of traction. The boy propped up his father in a cloud of flies and waited.
In a minute the bulge drew *****.
Out of the brush strolled a furry gray wild ***, her back inclined from countless weary miles; stretching her neck, pausing to nibble, taking her sweet time. Grungy as she was, she fit right in.
At the boy’s first casual step she immediately hit the dirt and remained flat on her belly, one big dark eye staring between her hooves. Another step, and her **** bunched up. The closer he got, the higher her rear end rose. When he was almost at arm’s length she sprang back and danced away, seeming to bound with delight. But not to the east, as she’d come.
To the northwest.
She backpedaled while the boy came on whistling and cooing, matching him step for step. But the moment he threw up his arms in resignation she spun round as though cued, dropped on her belly, and peered over her shoulder.
The boy was first to blink. This time he approached fractionally, keeping movements to a minimum. She rose just as carefully, sauntering northwest in reverse, and at the first sign of hesitation turned, dropped, and cautiously gazed back. The boy glared at that huge mocking **** and broke into a sprint. She easily danced out of reach, plopped down, and continued to stare.
He began hurling stones, with venom and with accuracy, until she’d scurried into the brush.
But on the way back to his father he could feel her tagging along.
Twenty feet behind she halted, looking bemused.
The boy nodded ironically. He walked Hero over, murmuring baby talk all the way, and firmly placed a palm on the animal’s muzzle once her breath grazed his fingers. She stroked his hand up and down with her whiskers, gave a kind of curtsy, and waited on her knees while he helped his father mount.
At Hero’s touch a shudder ran down her body. She stood up straight. Her eyes became set, her back absolutely stiff. She put down her head and began the long trek northwest, never once breaking stride.
It was an amazing march, an impossible feat. For a little over three days and almost four hundred miles she progressed like an automaton, driving herself without rest, without food or water.
After trotting alongside for an hour the boy climbed on and force-fed his father berries and smoked meat, his dark eyes constantly searching the countryside. Occasionally he’d see a run of red foxes to their left, watching intently, padding cautiously. Sooner or later they’d vanish, only to be replaced by a train of feline or equine pursuers. Packs approached and receded while, high overhead, flocks formed triangular patterns that continually broke up and reformed. There was a peculiar rhythmic quality to this ebb and flow that lulled his senses further. The boy shook his head to clear it, but his exhaustion was deeper than he’d supposed—even the brush appeared to be leaning northwest.
That first day he grew numb with the pace, and that night the relentless pounding of her hooves drew him into a miserable slumber. He wrapped his arms around his sleeping father and lay half atop. When he couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer he tore strips from his skins, then looped his tied wrists round her neck, his ankles round her belly.
On the second day she was breathing hard, but her back was still high and she showed no signs of faltering. Her eyes remained focused on the ground dead ahead. She always sensed the best routes; finding mountain passes, fording wetlands.
But by the third day they could feel her ribs quaking against their legs. Her breath exploded as she marched, blood frothed and caked about her nostrils. Still she pushed herself on, her pace so steady it was almost metronomic.
On the fourth day her legs were gone. She veered and stumbled, shuddering every few paces. The boy hopped off for the umpteenth time and tried to bring her to graze, but she wouldn’t be turned. He ran behind her as she staggered along, unwilling, or unable, to rest.
At last a foreleg gave and she went down hard. Sobbing and snorting, she plowed her muzzle back and forth in the soil, the useless leg repeatedly pounding the ground. After a minute she raised her head and brayed at the sky, her neck muscles taut, her head slowly swinging side to side. Her cry went on and on.
With a tremendous effort she pushed herself upright and butted the boy aside. Every part of her body was shaking. From her depths a low moan grew to a steady bray, and finally to a wild, pulsing howl. She came to a rise, but was too weak to climb without sliding. Stamping in frustration, she managed a few feet, reared feebly, slid some more. The boy got behind her and applied his back; it took all he had to assist her almost to the top. With a desperate lunge she crashed on her belly.
Amazingly, she dragged herself on, her howl now a scream, her head whipping left and right. When she could pull herself no farther she ****** forth her neck to its very limit and, with a shudder that ran from the tip of her nose to the tuft on her tail, shoved her muzzle straight into the dirt and died.
The boy hauled off his father and fell back. The animal’s eyes were fixed upwards, seeming, even in death, to be straining for a glimpse of what lay just beyond the rise. The boy half-dragged Hero the last few yards. They collapsed at the top, and together looked over the cold Baltic Sea.

At water’s edge a haggard fisherman sat on his boat’s ravaged deck, blindly staring out to sea. His was a queer vessel; a family structure built more like an aft-cabined barge than like seacraft typical of that period. The fisherman’s boat, like his mind, had been abused beyond repair.
He’d lost much in his life. Time had taken his dreams, pox his face, hardship his back and shoulders. And, more recently, a brawling band of drunken Baltic pirates had ***** his wife and daughter before butchering them along with his two fine sons, while he sat helplessly bound to the mast. Finally, to further their delight, they’d set the boat aflame and sent it crackling against the sun; knowing he could hear their hoots and howls, knowing he would drift undead, accompanied only by this last unspeakable memory.
But a squall, without prelude, had doused the flames and blown his home ashore.
There he’d remained for a full long day, staring at nothing, his shattered life caught on the rocks. On the second day he’d worked himself free and commenced staggering about in his memories, gathering shards. It was a pathetic claim. He made a pile of all the old bedding and linen and usable cords, and set about sewing a sort of mementos sail. All that third day he had sewn, and on the fourth he had hoisted this sail and been moved to see it billowing in a northwest-blowing breeze. Again he just sat and gaped. And later that day he’d become aware of a commotion taking place on the long grade leading down to the water, where a writhing mass of seagulls was proceeding like a tremendous slow-motion snowball. He’d never seen anything like it. It wasn’t uncommon to find gulls in a group of many dozens or more, but there must have been two, maybe three thousand of the birds now swarming toward his boat. They were making an incredible racket. In the midst of this cloud could be seen a couple of slowly walking figures; as they neared he made out a small man accompanying a boy in his late teens, both dressed in odd skins. When they reached the rocks his eyes were drawn to the small man’s face. It was a foreign face, brutish and dark, with a deep cleft running from above the right temple to the jaw’s left side. Whatever instrument had felled this man had been devastating—everything in its path was smashed, and with permanence. The forehead was caved in. There was no bridge to the nose, the left cheek was completely collapsed, one side of the mouth was a mangled mess. The jaw itself had set improperly, so that it jutted to the side. The general impression, especially from a distance, was of some unforgettable circus freak’s countenance puckering at an angle. It was a face right out of a nightmare. But there was nothing frightening about the eyes. They were the eyes of a child.
Maybe half the gulls hopped screaming on the rocks. The rest circled overhead.
The boy considered the fisherman curiously before placing a foot on the charred deck. His gaze went around the boat, lingered on the makeshift sail, returned to the slumped figure. He passed a hand before the eyes. No response. He then leaned in close and placed his fingers on the man’s forehead. Immediately that bleak expression became fluid, brimming over with horror and heartbreak. Tears rolled down the fisherman’s cheeks as he gasped, shuddered, and backed up the scorched mast to his feet. Thus propped, he squinted at his visitors and was overcome by a wave of homesickness so strong he had to turn away. The feeling bewildered him, for this vessel, and this sea, were all the home he’d ever known. He clung to the mast while the boy helped his father board. Once he’d collected himself, the fisherman tore a heavy crossbeam from the toasted cabin. He and the boy used this as a lever, and together they shoved the boat off the rocks. The wind picked up nicely, and the little craft was swept across the water.
Exploding off the rocks, the gulls shot after the boat as if it were brimming with fish, the loudest and orneriest vying for favored positions directly overhead. The melee attracted additional gulls—they came shrieking in their hundreds from all sides, banking and calling in the oddest manner, until the mass grew so thick as to cast a permanent shadow on the boat. All day long the clamor continued, and all that night. The fisherman rolled with the rudder, listlessly, allowing the sea to control him. Eventually he let go, that the wind might bear them where it would. His sail ballooned but held firm, and the boat fairly zipped across a sea somehow smooth as glass, broken only by the vacillating ripples of bottleneck dolphins and migrating humpback whales. The three tiny sailors sat hunched together, motionless, all throughout the next day, until the black coast of Sweden loomed in the twilight.
As the boat neared land the cloud of gulls broke up, shot to shore, and landed in groups of a thousand and more; a dizzying, wildly uproarious reception committee.
The dung-covered boat slammed into the rocks, shattering the fisherman’s trance. He intuitively walked his **** up the mast and, swaying there, watched the boy draw his father over the side and lead him to a clearing at wood’s edge. There in the dusk he made out what appeared to be a hefty spotted runaway heifer hitched to a rickety wood wagon. He saw the cow gallop up to meet them, saw the boy look around warily, saw him help the little man into the wagon and climb in beside him. The animal immediately began picking through the woods, the large brass bell round her neck clanging forlornly.
The clarity of that bell made him realize just how quiet it had become. He craned his neck:  there wasn’t a gull in sight. He fell back against the shot mast and slid onto his tailbone with a clacking of teeth. His eyes were misting up. In the gathering dark a few sail fragments flew past and were ****** into the woods. The boat rocked and relaxed. After that there was only the sound of the receding bell’s sad, monotonous song being batted about by the wind.

The little cow strode through moonlit woods until she came to a path formed by the rutting of wheels over many years. She followed this broken, serpentine track throughout the night, and by morning was passing farms and, occasionally, crossing broader paths that might realistically be defined as roads. All day long she bore down that ragged track, until she came in late afternoon to a clearing near a village. Here many such tracks converged. And here the boy slipped away while she grazed.
Sometime after dark he returned with a load of straw, a couple of pilfered blankets, and a fat iron kettle. Crammed in this kettle were salt, tubers, cheese, a few loaves of rye, legumes, and a plump foot of lamb sausage. Most of this ***** he’d brought in tied to the bowed back of a huge, puffing, highly amenable black pig which, thus laden, now followed the boy’s every step like a fresh convert tracing the heels of the messiah. The boy built a fire under the stars, filled the kettle with creek water, and commenced simmering their dinner. While waiting, he couldn’t help but note an odd feature of the local flora:  plants, especially trees, all seemed inclined to a northwesterly disposition, though no amount of wind could account for it. He shooed the pig. But rather than run along, it backpedaled in a nervous circle, round and round in reverse, until it lost its balance and fell on its ****. There it remained, a yard behind the wagon. The boy fed his father and lined the wagon with straw. They settled in for the night. The boy must have nodded, might have dreamt, but while he was drifting he became aware of a stirring in the woods. He sat up, saw the pig’s eyes gleaming inches from his nose. And there were a number of animals, some wild, some strayed from farmsteads, arranged in a broad circle around the wagon, their eyes glinting with moonlight. Not a rustle, not a peep, was lifted from the woods.
In the morning he woke to find the pig still staring. The fidgeting heifer, impatient to roll, began her long day’s march while Hero and his boy were yet stretching and scratching, and the ******* pig, galloping heavily, fell in close behind. Each new day this routine was repeated. They banged past farms and small communities until the ruts intersected a broad rocky road wending halfway across the kingdom. The cow addressed this road with vigor. They picked up followers—a goat here, a couple of sheep there—which hurried after the wagon as best they could. The cow stomped on with resolve, mile after mile, day after day, her bell keeping steady time. That bell’s peal attracted foals, lambs, and kids into the wagon’s narrowing wake. Hares hopped between hooves and wheels, boars and blue foxes fell in and withdrew. White falcons, normally solo fliers, whirled into wedge shapes high overhead.
At night the entire train would camp on the road while the boy raided proximate farmsteads, always returning fully laden. And as soon as the fire died the colony grew, creature by creature, and the moment the sun broke the horizon the heifer came to life and moved on, but each day a bit more resolutely, as though straining to meet a deadline. The march took on a sense of real urgency. The cow pressed on with attitude, the clang of her bell more strident with each passing mile. Soon her followers numbered in the hundreds, as animals deserted their farms or crept out of the woods to tag along. Tillers and traders stood dumbfounded, amazed by the bizarre flow.
Once they’d crossed into Norway the frothing cow veered hard to the west. The pace really picked up; no longer were Hero and his boy afforded the luxury of a night’s sleep in one spot. Days blurred into a single variegated flow as the bashed and lopsided wagon continued building its entourage; the riders were surrounded dawn to dusk by a confused and confusing scurry. Word of the flow’s weirdness preceded it clear to the Norwegian coast, so that now plowmen and merchants, wearily gathering their goggling families, found themselves lined in anticipation along the king’s highway. Horsemen went pounding to and fro with news of the procession’s progress and particulars, children ran through the streets banging pots in imitation of the cow’s approaching bell. Livestock wheeled and stamped, fowl leaped and crashed.
The slobbering cow broke into a run.
Bystanders trotted behind, calling back and forth excitedly, while the wagon’s permanent following squealed and squawked between their heels. The cow made a hard turn onto a widening swath in the brush. This swath, seeming to strain against the soil, ran straight down to the crest of a low hill overlooking the Atlantic. On either side a crowd had been studying the phenomenon for some time, but now all eyes swung to the dark and disfigured man and his son, clinging to the disintegrating wagon behind the careening spotted cow.
The trailing people traded views as they ran. Most—at the very outset of the new millennium, with Christianity burgeoning throughout Europe—leaned to the miraculous. Others, just as superstitious but prone to a darker point of view, threw looks of horror at the deformed little man. Yet they ran no less eagerly.
The galloping crowd made for the seaside, where only one local event of any moment was brewing:  on the coast a Greenlander Viking was preparing his longship for the rough voyage home. Impetuous son of the great island’s first permanent European settler, he’d just been baptized in Olaf’s court, and was now eager to sail—but not as a warrior—as a missionary. While his spirit remained in a tug-o’-war between his father Erik’s will and that of gods old and new, his duty was clearly to his king. And Olaf had charged him with the Christianization of pagan Greenland.
Something on the wind now made this destined man turn his head. From behind the gentle hill to his rear came a kind of thunder. Heads popped up, followed by a confused explosion of voices, and seconds later a frantic bug-eyed heifer burst into view, dragging the wheel-less skeleton of a shattered wooden wagon. On the wagon’s splayed frame a man and teenaged boy clung for their lives as the spewing animal made a beeline for his ship.
The new missionary, still egocentric enough to assume his Maker might actually toss him a personal, surreptitiously rolled up his eyes. The sky yawned at his arrogance. At his side a smallish cowled man rose irritably, but the missionary sat him right back down. He then snorted, squared his shoulders, and signaled his men to halt their preparations.
Knowing it was expected, he gathered his hard Nordic pride and coolly made his way into the crowd.

The priest clung to port, gagging above the waves.
After a completely uneventful minute he leaned back and stared through tearing eyes at the distant backdrop of gathering mists. Weeks now…a man of his constitution had no business at sea.
Along, too, were a quirky little man and his fiercely devoted son.
Through his pantomime, the boy had been so persistent in begging their passage that refusal, under the circumstances, would have been unbecoming not only a man of God but a man of the world.
So there it was:  a priest who couldn’t hold his lunch, a witless eyesore who couldn’t sit still, and a surly teenaged protector who snarled at the first hard look. This crossing just had to be some kind of divine test—of mortal patience as well as moral values. Norsemen weren’t made for babysitting.
The mists condensed.
And the shifting shape became a hard familiar coast.
And the longship was mooring, and the crew were jostling and clambering, and the big missionary had booted off the haunted little freak and his hypersensitive son, and was condescendingly half-escorting, half-carrying, the green priest ashore.
And they were home.

Priest in tow, Leif quickly took up the Christianization of Greenland’s Western Settlement, as per Olaf’s command. The mangled little man and his son followed him around like dogs, slept outside his door and annoyed his visitors, ultimately proving far easier to adopt than to shake. Barely tolerable shadows…still, the lad was simply amazing with livestock…and though the youth’s useless father seemed time and again to be just begging for a whooping, his son’s presence bore some ineffable quality that always curbed the missionary’s hand. Several times he’d witnessed the father approached by settlers bent on abuse. Each time the boy had stepped in, and each time the troublemakers were mysteriously repelled. The missionary of course didn’t attribute any kind of celestial intervention to these episodes, and certainly the popular notion of devilry was a natural reaction to the pair’s outrageous exoticness, but…in the son’s company, and even under the sharp eyes of his fellow Norsemen, Leif more than once found himself oddly moved to protect the father. And so the deformed man and his boy day by day blent in—as village idiot and mystic guide. And when in time a ****** brought tales of an unvisited land to the west, it was only natural for the restless Greenlander to buy that ******’s boat and, before stalwart comrades, weary family, and whimsical God Almighty, reluctantly accept the eccentric father and son as sort of seagoing mascots.
Hero was from then on irrepressible. During preparations he would pipe and stammer in his half-mute way, brimming with a confounding anxiety that kept him underfoot and at odds with all. On frigid nights he perched on the westernmost rocks, moaning to the horizon in the strangest fashion while his son stood guard. He positively spooked the locals; they’d gossip, nervously and with bile, of an answering wind that came wailing off the sea like a banshee in labor. The whole island wanted rid of him. And when his champing beneficiary, still clinging to the notion of Christian charity, bundled him aboard with his son and a crew of thirty-five, not a single settler was sorry to see him go.
Almost from the moment they cast off everything went wrong, as all attempts to control the longship were met with some kind of unknowable countermanding force. Vikings were not renowned for passive resistance—they fought, squaresail and steering oar, leaning oarsman to oarsman, until the ship rocked on the waves like a bucking bronco. An erratic weather system pursued them, worsening dramatically at each minute variation in heading. The Norsemen doubled down, and when the clouds finally burst wide, the cowling sea went mad. Dervishes whirled about the hull, crisscrossing winds bedeviled the sail. Patches of kelp belonging to much warmer waters came heaving alongside, fouling the work of the oars, while far to the west a humongous fog bank formed, eradicating the navigable field. The lightning-streaked horizon was a throbbing gray slit.
The longship became locked in a slow westerly current.
Fatigued crewmen complained of headaches and hallucinations, and of a nasty, slightly metallic tang to the air. There were numerous walrus sightings; bobbing flippers and snouts amid drifting ice chunks that came prowling the North Sea like a circling pack of famished white wolves.
Worst of all was the boy’s father—instantly agitated by everything and nothing, prey to some primitive impulse that caused him to periodically incline his head, shudder to his feet, and loop his arms as though embracing the sky. Leif would watch him scrabbling at the prow like a cat at a tree, furs snapping in the wind. He’d watch the boy re-seat him for the hundredth time, and for the hundredth time be filled with an immense contempt. By now he’d acknowledged that it takes a special kind of strength to shoulder charity and tolerance. That brown little freak struck him as an enormous malformed barnacle, slowly working its way back up the prow. Trying so hard to go unnoticed, looking and listening so intently, though there was nothing to see other than the growing shelves of fog, and nothing to hear save the rising, almost hysterical voice of the wind.
Leif sniffed the air, his ******’s instincts nagging him. This was a foul current, and a fool's errand; he took a deep breath and tentatively ordered the longship brought about.
The ship kicked twice, as though an enormous submarine hand had seized and released the hull.
A whirl formed in the water, causing the keeling ship to sweep around like a clock’s second hand. All about them, those drift-ice ghosts cruised dangerously near.
But they’d been liberated from that accursed current. Leif fiercely urged on his rowers, and at last the ship broke free. They made a bead due north.
Night came and the temperature plummeted.
Small sheets of ice converged, drifting between the hunks. The Norsemen, instinctively huddling amidships, passed out one by one in a massive pile of fur and flesh. In the freezing silence the floes bumped and recoiled, bumped and gathered, bumped and bonded. The tiny ship, swallowed whole, was dragged along in a labyrinth of black sea and interlocking slabs of ice.

The Norsemen came to in a surly, foul-smelling heap, lost at sea. While they were still groggy a voice cried out that a darker patch was developing in the fog. The men all fell to port. Under the confusion of their voices could be heard a distant rumble.
At this Hero hauled himself up the high curved prow. A half-light began to penetrate the fog, barely illuminating the irregular faces of drifting ice. The missionary stormed forward and indicated by gestures that if the boy didn’t restrain his father he would have the man tied down.
The longship stopped dead in the water.
The men found themselves regarding a perpetually frozen coastline swathed in bluish veils of mist. Directly before them loomed an immense ice cliff hundreds of feet high. Rising beyond this cliff were endless snow fields, where lean violet shadows seemed to drag about of their own volition. And upon those bleak fields a thin howling wind prowled, kicking up brief white dervishes, leaving a strange zigzagging signature.
Even as they stared, a darker shadow high on the ice cliff’s glistening face began to widen, accompanied by a cracking sound that could be felt before it was heard. With the illusion of slow-motion, a stupendous chunk broke out of the cliff and came screaming toward the sea. It hit the water like a bomb. The thunder of its separation and the explosion of its impact took a moment to reach them. Then, out of a spewing crater of crests and spume, the new calf came lunging, tromping the sea so hard the longship, fully a mile to sea, was swept out and ****** back in like a cork. The floundering mountain of ice bobbed and lilted, generating huge waves which continued to rock the ship long after the monster had settled. In a while the roaring in their ears subsided and there remained only the swirling, nerve-wracking howl of the wind.
The missionary’s eyes swept left and right. Whatever this place was, it sure wasn’t the fair shoreline he’d been promised. Hero again scrambled up the prow, and Leif again yanked him down. This time he made good his threat; he had the little nuisance bound, though he was half-tempted to let him take his chances overboard.
From somewhere deep in the haze grew a soulful, otherworldly call. It went on and on, electrifying the air, bottoming out once the ship had merged with that previously fought westerly flow.
By now Leif’s nerves were shot. He ordered the oars raised.
The longship began to drift. Ship and ice were pulled due west.
The clouds fell far behind as the ship embarked upon an amazingly calm sea—so calm its entire visible surface was featureless except for the faint wakes provided by the ship and its hulking ice companions. To the east a huge fog bank appeared on the horizon, and a while later a smaller bank to the north. Then a very dense one to the south. In time these banks converged, imperceptibly becoming a single mass that closed about the ship, bit by bit creating a slowly heaving dome. Tiny beads of water appeared on beards and eyebrows; in a minute everything was soaked. The only sound was that of the dragging steering oar. The men were now sopping ghosts, speaking only with their eyes.
Directly ahead the fog began to dimple. The dimple became a hollow, the hollow a cave, and then ship and ice were being towed through a low, ever-extending tunnel in fog. The current increased its pull. Ship and drifting ice accelerated through the tunnel.
After a while the missionary quietly stepped forward. He stood with one hand on the prow’s neck, listening to the mist, so motionless he might have been a carved extension of the longship’s aggressive design. Not a man breathed. The tunnel’s dilating and contracting bore was producing an all but seamless series of oscillating, near-phonetic sounds. Leif almost tiptoed back. No god, pagan or Christian, could account for the strangeness of this situation.
They were borne on a course that grew more southerly, and the following day beheld an inhospitable shoreline glazed by dazzling white beaches. Their course held. Two days later they came upon a far pleasanter, thickly wooded coast. Here the current released its hold, and here the missionary untied Hero and personally placed him and his son in a tiny oak faering. He was just as sick of them as he was excited by this promising new land. Once the rowboat had been heaved over the side, he and another man stepped aboard and took up the oars. They began rowing with easy, powerful strokes.
When the boat kissed sand the missionary stood unsteadily.
The first European to set foot on North American soil now placed one hand on his crucifix, the other on his sword’s hilt, and awkwardly plunged his leg into the thigh-deep, ice-cold surf. Before he could take another step the boat lurched as Hero leapt headfirst into the water, followed an instant later by his son. The Greenlanders watched sourly as the two splashed their way into a mad dash for the waiting pines. Leif wished them both good riddance and turned to grin wryly at his fellow Norseman. He must have blacked out for a second, must have been blinded by a shaft of sun, for he found he was staring stupidly at a point midway between his companion and the longship. It felt like he’d been kicked between the eyes.
Everything was dissolving.
He studied the beach and pines closely, but saw nothing of the man or his boy. He turned back, disoriented. With what seemed a superhuman effort he took up his oars. He rowed out sluggishly, in a dream, and the fog rolled in to meet him.

The boy broke into the trees and embraced a trunk, fighting for breath. What happened next happened so fast and so unexpectedly he didn’t have a chance to react.
Three savages stepped from behind the pines and beat him to his knees. They twisted his arms behind his back and hauled him to his feet. He’d barely processed the impression of a wild painted face when something sharp struck him ******* the temple and tore down his cheek to the jaw. Two of the assailants manhandled him into an upright position and held him in place while the third brought his weapon down again and again and again.
All but dead, he watched a nightmare countenance shouting through a shot veil of blood, and behind that image a reeling crimson sun. He lay there gushing while the savages went through his rags. They propped him against a pine and shrieked with triumph, tore the hair and gory scalp from his skull, threw back their heads and screamed at the screaming sky. Tooth and nail, they ripped apart his face and throat and, certain he would die, split what bits of fur were left and let his carcass lie.

                                                HERO

The weeks stretched into months while he fought his way back into the light.
He progressed in stages; only half-conscious, stumbling along in a blood-red stupor punctuated by a slow strobe of frequent blackouts. Days loomed and decayed, nights pounced and were gone; the backlit, swirling gray cosmos collapsed and expanded on every missed beat of his pulse. A thousand times he broke down to die, and a thousand times he clawed to his feet, driven to pursue a tiny, ghost-like figure fluttering in his memory.
Everything conspired to check him.
A bay like an immense landlocked sea was skirted over months or years—it was all the same. Cold locked him in, Hunger drove him afield, that rude ***** Wind lashed him blind, wore him like a shoe, screamed for his skin while he worked his way west.
Somehow he ate, somehow he avoided being eaten; the instincts that had served him halfway around the planet were still vital beneath the abused exterior. His simple burrows became sturdy temporary shelters. He relearned the art of fire, and began to cook what he killed. He manufactured crude snares and weapons and, when his recuperation was complete, paid closer attention to the on-again, off-again trail he’d been following…forever.
Sometimes this trail would call to him like a lover. Other times he stood peering uncertainly, trying to recapture meanings and aims. Then the ground would turn spongy and the sky revolve, and once again he’d be lying all but dead in the woods, while from the face of the sun emerged a vile winged horror, its ugly pale head lashing side to side, its cruelly hooked beak dangling something that glistened in the wild pulsing light…then the fat moon, rising like gas against the icy black night…the feel of the wind:  the slashing of her nails, the chafing of her hem…the sound of things crunching and pausing and sniffing…then the sun, blazing anew. And again that thing, descending, its wide black wings beating slowly, metronomically—but none of that mattered any more. For his mind had quit him, had flown howling into ice and pine to roost with things surreal. In the day his madness might muddle and run, or spend the light stalking, cat-like, watching and waiting. But at night it came creeping from all sides. Sometimes it came in waves. It could gnaw like the devil, or wrap around him like a warm second skin. But none of that mattered either.
The only thing that mattered was the trail—whether it was lost for good, or for only a while. He’d been following it through his episodes, always north, wondering just who and where in the world he was, and trying to shake a ridiculous notion of being led on a wild goose chase.
The cold was unbelievable.
The deeper north he delved, the more confused he became. He grew starved for colors and scents, finding nonexistent patterns in the stark contrast of shadow and snow. He thought he could detect a kind of otherworldly design in the overwhelming number of dead ends he encountered, and, too, in the diabolically frustrating locations of natural obstacles. He seemed to be forever fighting the wind—a hulking, despondent snowman, he hiked face down and focused, while another aspect of his attention floated just behind, disembodied, watching his silent pursuers…leaving no tracks, blending perfectly with the environment in their clever winter coats…not predators, but creatures that normally should have been hightailing it away from him. By the time he could turn, they’d become nothing more menacing than snowdrifts. But they pursued him nevertheless.
And so his paranoia increased…had there ever really been a trail…and when did this miserably cold, miserably anemic crusade begin…his long-term memory was falling apart a chunk at a time. It just got colder and colder and colder until at last, one snippet of a day during one blur of a year, he found himself utterly lost, and clueless as to his history or objective. His mind was a blank, as colorless and featureless as the endless world of ice around him. He’d come this far solely to learn that the only trail he’d been following was his own—and now even that trail was succumbing to ice. On all sides there was nothing to see but an infinite field of glaring whiteness, and nothing to hear but the ululating wail of the tubular polar wind. It was the loneliest, the unholiest, the creepiest sound imaginable. But it wasn’t insanity that made him wheel. It was his self-preservation instinct.
And then he was somehow on his knees in the woods, facing a furious setting sun.
Whole seasons had passed from his memory like chalk from a board. His only recollections were those of a broken, haunted animal:  of being perilously sick, of fearing the unseen, of blindly struggling across a solid-white wilderness. That he’d survived such an ordeal meant nothing to him. And that he had in some indecipherable manner stumbled across the cold-as-stone trail did not fill him with amazement or with thankfulness—there simply wasn’t anything visual or emotional left to draw on. A significant part of his life had been whited out.
But now he could focus entirely on the trail. And before he knew it, the fuzzy area between fantasy and reality found a seam. He began to analyze and plan. He paid attention to hygiene, and kept a kind of running mental journal. Things were sorting out. Yet there were nights when the old sickness would resurface, reestablish its hold, and leave him sweating and uncertain under the stars. Then, paradoxically, his perception would become razor-keen. And so he would see, on a distant hilltop, a pair of scrawny silhouettes, one on four legs and one on two, slowly crossing the faintly pocked face of the setting moon. He would become strangely excited, and thereafter retain crystal-clear images of himself, as if seen from above, hurrying with adroitness through the silent, graveyard-like setting of black and blue night and white-frosted trees. Then the fuzzy area would broaden, and it would be the next morning, and he would be staring at the prints of man and elk in snow. And he would see how the elk’s prints doubled back, and how the man’s prints terminated where he had obviously mounted his guide. An unfathomable glow would bring tears to his eyes. But, even as he gathered himself, a fresh snowfall would wipe out the prints. And once again the world would plummet into white. And the wind would howl as the snow hammered his eyes. And he would ***** on.

A haggard animal sat shivering in a small grove of frozen pines, watching his campfire die. His eyes were fixed. Like the fire, he was running out of warmth, running out of fuel. There wasn’t a whole lot of tinder round his bones, and not much feeling left in his limbs. The slowly heaping downfall was burying him alive, but he was too numb to care.
It had taken him six long years to cross an entire continent, and during that time he’d known only cold and excruciating pain. The pain was leaving him now. The cold was making it right. His eyes glazed over.
Along a narrow plain to the west a herd of caribou filed dreamily through the snow, cutting across a panoramic backdrop of dazzling white mountains. The slow-motion parade was hypnotic. After a while it occurred to the drifting man, in a roundabout way, that he was dying, that he was nonchalantly freezing to death. Concurrent with this notion there rose in his chest a wonderful liquid warmth. His eyes slowly closed and, once shut, began to set fast.
He was jolted from within. It was as if he’d been kicked in the heart.
He ****** to his feet, pounded his fists on his thighs, felt nothing. The breath spurted from his mouth in small white clouds as he stumbled downhill after the slow caribou train. He swam through the snow, hallucinating, imagining that certain individuals in the herd were mocking him by slowing and accelerating, while others glanced back with expressions of contempt.
As he burst into their midst the animals stepped aside indifferently. A few galloped ahead to keep up the herd, but most simply sidestepped while he danced there, stamping his feet and smacking his hands. The herd grew thinner, until only the old and infirm were filing by. The man desperately embraced a hobbling female for warmth, but she cried out and kicked, triggering a panic reaction in the herd. Clinging for his life, the man was dragged along beside her as the herd stormed into a maze of flying ice and snow. His weight caused her to stagger sideways until they slammed against the flank of a sick male. The man instinctively threw an arm over the male and, thus draped between them, was borne across the drifted plain for upwards of a mile, his freezing feet alternately dangling above and dragging through the snow. The herd broke into a hard run, forcing him to assume a broken trot. Soon his legs were stinging. Sensation rushed through his body.
Now the herd, still picking up speed, began to contract, jamming him between his bearers. There was a quick jolt to his right and he was lifted clean off his feet, nearly straddling the bucking female. It had become an all-out stampede. Through hard-flung snow he saw the cause:  just ahead, the caribou had run head-on into a solid wall of galloping wood bison, and both frantic herds had blindly veered to the east; were in fact running side by side down a deep, ragged canyon—were pouring over the canyon’s lip like a cataract. He was approaching, at breakneck pace, that very place where the converged herds so abruptly swerved. The hanging man snarled as he was borne inevitably to the point of deflection.
There came a concussion at his left shoulder, followed by a blast of snow. In an instant the ailing male was tumbling head over heels to the east, ****** into the stampede’s plummeting mass by the fury of its descent. The man and female, rebounding from this impact, were shot to the west in a crazy jumble of flailing legs. The caribou lost her footing, flew nose-first into a snowbank, and came up running. Kicking off, the man used the last of his strength to heave himself astride. At first she fought to shake him, but the spell of the run was too strong. She and half a dozen others went pounding in the opposite direction of the stampede, quickly joined by a number of bison that had likewise splintered from their herd. The riding man could make out their huge hulking shapes thundering by in a blizzard of flying ice, could hear their heavy gasps and explosive grunts. One passed so close he felt its massive flank brush his leg. He peered to his right and saw a black, pig-like eye regarding him excitedly, moving up and down like a piston as the beast ran alongside.
The eye shifted, focusing on the gasping, completely obsessed female. The bull dropped its head and slammed into the caribou’s side, sending her and the man careening down a ***** to the west. The caribou brayed hysterically and her backside went down, but she managed, despite the weight of her rider, to return to all fours and frantically continue along the *****. Again the bull charged, crashing into her shoulder. The man and caribou were launched sideways into the white searing air.
He sat up carefully. The huffing bison was straddling him like a bully laying down the ground rules. Its big wiry beard came right up to brush his chin. The stench of its breath was stupefying.
The bull stamped and snorted, thrusting its stubby horns left and right as the man used his elbows and heels to back away. The bull followed, move for move. When the man collapsed under his own impetus the bull shoved him along with its snout, bellowing furiously. Clear down the ***** they lunged, shoving and lurching, until the man lay sprawled on his back; up to his chin in snow, completely helpless. The ton of a bull butted and kicked, but only glancingly:  those hooves could **** with a blow. At last the man, in one clean sequence, spun on his rear, dropped to his side, and went rolling down the ***** using his elbows for ******.
At the bottom ran a narrow fence of frosted saplings marking an ice cliff’s precipice. He lay face down in the snow, too done in to do anything but **** at an air pocket.
And there came a high-pitched crackling, a sound like the protracted gasp of embers in a dead fire. He turned just as those saplings began leaning to the west, their frozen skins cracking with the strain.
The bison bellowed menacingly.
The sprawled man looked back and saw it still standing with legs spread wide, silhouetted against the sky. In a moment it began huffing downhill, lurching side to side, surfing the snow between lunges.
It chased him through the genuflecting saplings straight into a frozen gully where, protected by a few feet of insurmountable verticality, he was able to slide on the ice between its stomping hooves, downhill out of reach, then downhill out of control—spinning just in time to glimpse a breathtaking vista:
Partly framed by the gully-straddling saplings was a vast crescent of jagged white mountains seemingly huddled round a small stretch of snow-draped pines. The little wood these mountains surrounded was isolated in a broad lake of solid ice. Hundreds of fissures radiated crazily throughout this packed ice field, appearing to issue from somewhere near the frozen wood’s center, which was completely obscured by a ring of rising mist. Above this thumbnail panorama the sun showered gold.
Then the gully dipped radically, and he was skidding headfirst, slamming back and forth against its slick white walls. This uncontrollable plunge had the positive effect of getting his blood flowing. Yet it tore him up. Had the gully concluded in a cul-de-sac, or had further progress required a single calorie of uphill effort, his struggle would certainly have ended here. He would have been too weak to move, and death would have been swift.
But there was a glacier—a great river of ice pouring slowly out of the clouds. The gully, terminating in a little scoop formation near the glacier’s base, spat him flailing onto its gnarly glass hide. He went head over heels, bits of skin and fur flying like chips from a band saw. Somehow he gained his footing, and then he was running against his will, tumbling and recovering and tumbling again.
He didn’t catch much of that crazy run. He half-glimpsed whirling walls of ice, felt a fickle surface underfoot, and broke through an assaultive mist that clung to his ankles and arms. He remembered having the ragged hides torn right off his body, and then being skinned alive. And he remembered reaching the glacier’s base and crawling like an animal; round its sweeping drifts, past its peaked moraines, all the way to a twisting frozen gorge.
And he followed this gorge down; ricocheting wall to wall, delirious, small plumes of thrashed snow marking his descent.
Through a freezing wood he fumbled. In a veil of mist he tumbled down a steep and verdant grade. As cold consumed his closing breath, he fell upon, near-blind, near death, a strange, enchanted glade.

There is a pool.
And in this pool a man lay purged, his broken body half-submerged.
The stumbling man stopped. He knelt to weep, but lost his thread. One hand took a bicep, the other, the head. With a twist and pull the corpse emerged.
That visage…that face—misshapen mask, contorted, bleached; of life’s deposits fully leached. Essence dispatched—a void, sodden wretch.
He let it fall and the glass was breached. All a freak, all a stretch:  upon this act his grip detached.
And the bridge collapsed…one vagabond grasp…what were these feelings; recaptured and trashed…a span elapsed…who was this puckered mass…he hauled it by the waist and thighs…slid it in, watched the pool react:  purse and recover, expand, contract. The glass reformed, now silver-backed…a sudden mirror…the man leaned nearer…saw his reflection, just smashed, remade intact.
The pool grew still.
Within its depth a shadow stirred—visions gathered, some distinct, some obscure. What they meant, and who they were, was much too much to fathom. The glass became blurred.
He closed his eyes, let his heavy head fall, fell back on his haunches, felt the sweat seep and crawl. The air was a pall—as he struggled to rise, a nib crossed his wrist.
He opened his eyes.
Between his fingers the blades poked and crept. Round his knuckles they ventured, up his forearm they stepped:  they seemed to be triggered by prompts from the ground. He shook his head slowly and dully looked round.
There were jays grouped about him, their black eyes aglow. Red hens came running, their fat chicks in tow. Gophers engaged in a weird hide-and-seek. Bluebells and buttercups craned for a peek. Sparrows hopped past and, paying no heed, burst into flight. He watched them recede.
Westward they flew.
Bewildered, he slumped.
Bumped from behind, he jumped to his feet, flabbergasted to find an ancient gray moose near-eclipsing the sky, with grit in his snarl and fire in his eye.
The old moose took aim.
The man turned to flee and stumbled, then tumbled and fell on a palm and a knee.

But there lies a world (so the lullaby goes) where rivers ever run.
Poked from behind, pushed out of his mind, he staggered into sun.







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
Rexhep Morina Apr 2017
extensions to an emotion
grown like branches on a tree,
blooming towards beauty,
further reaching the sky,
touching the blue
with the tip of the flowers.
life, bursting out,
in one way or another.
endurance, the key
a way of living, so to speak
surviving the storm, or adapting to it.
giving the branches strength,
strength to withstand the worst,
only to be given another day
another day to bloom,
another day to grow,
to branch out, thicken and, burst out
into something unexplainable,
rather observable,
reaching out to hights
and depths, simultaneously.
most of the times, filling the notes is way more difficult than writing poems, but oh well, I don't like to leave blank spaces, it's just another opportunity to write something, enjoy.
Adam Childs  Aug 2014
LION
Adam Childs Aug 2014
As the glorious LION
Stands strong in stature
Radiating with a presence
Of Absolute rule
The air washed with
A bristly respect
A natural pride
Beams with  beauty
He guards the gateway to truth
and only the brave may enter
He is the king that needs no crown
as he holds a royal presence as he
sits in his golden coat and main
Lies spark combust just bounce off
dissolve in all his shine.  

As broken men become renewed
Their fractured parts
Collect in the melting ***
Of the Lion's  stare
As they are engulfed and swallowed
In the reservoirs of his strength
As the many wounded souls
Find themselves restored
In his majestic presence
As he rattles the very fabric
Of this world

There is no procrastinating belly
Exposed by a lackluster display
No one insults his strength
By creating a make believe world
Or covers him with scaffolding so
That they may alter him
For he is the finished article
And he is never held up or supported
With anyone's emotional ropes or strings
For he no ones puppet
He is never silenced
By the Strangle hold of this world
Tightened with a multitude of gestures
For I hear his ROAR!!!!!!!!
His explosive self expression
As his throat bursts and beams like the sun
Breaking all collars, and his tongue is freed
As a thousand trap doors Open up in him  
And boulders are lifted and rocks are shattered
within the sound of his voice.
His Soft pads of silent stealth
Gather for all his wealth
As the power of his pounce
Is governed by both his strength
Of spirit and the honesty
With which he meets the earth
For he owns all of his own pain
And paces and growls to warn
Away any who seek to steal his fresh ****
And diminish him with pretty lies
For he owns all his space
As it feeds his strength
As somewhere in the fury of feasting
Lionesses and Lions  
We find our freedom
For his power explodes like a volcano
When his soul meets the earth  
As he shakes off all avoidance
To seek only truth
As streaks of white light
And pure Gold glisten in the SUN
As the world's projections
Reflect and bounce off him

There is so much to learn
From a beautiful LION
just decided to take my two poems about a LION and remove all the dead wood and see what I came up with . not sure but I love some of the lines individually
LN  May 2014
Admiration
LN May 2014
I hesitate to show him the truth.
The words I write may never reach his eyes
I am afraid of the torture after rejection.

These feelings cannot be denied,
my poems will never cease to exist
even if i erased these heavy thoughts I typed
burned them alive
the memories of us will float around endlessly
somewhere, out of my reach.

If he sees himself in mirrors
in a monotone and meaningless way
he will not anymore
because reflections of him
lie not only visually in images,
such as projections on clear glass
but in others who admire him too.

We become who we love eventually
Admiration for someone else
makes us melt
covering past pages of who were before.
n)Ethno-spirit and Biodiversity (Diogiversity)

Given its ethnikos factor and contribution towards a common origin of multiethnic languages, in values and traditions, its morphological factors of Verthian sub-mythology, are provided with content, features, colors, and textures of neutrality, focused on a biosphere ecosystem, where the air conditioning, flora-fauna will make Sub-mythological Biodiversity, where the beings that inhabit it and will be in the range of evolution of mythological living beings, whose diversity of genetic seizures, will adopt natural and compound patterns, but always predominant in the biological pattern and organic. Wandering the world in desert places, in alloys and classified plant compounds, emptying their species through the hollow of the atmosphere and through the green grasslands in the reviving surviving evolution of organisms and species that for the first time see each other as a biotype between rocks and plantations, reciprocally among themselves, and extemporaneously generating mythological genetics heritages. Considering millions of years in evolution with explosions of multicellular and fossilized species extinct in massive and occlusive memories. Inert matter and geological strata will make millions of years converted into microseconds in the Verthian Biodiversity of the Duoverse, in a Psychic and spiritual Universe, emerging in all macroscopic perspectives and parapsychological regressions. Impact They will cause the maturity of all the diversity of externality and sensations in new topologies of anonymous universes and species of biodiversity, under a pillar of culture based on the Sub-Mythological biosphere process, encompassing all mythological species where the hope of Life and Super life. Transforming systems of functionality under the protection of spontaneous generation and in a matter that is availably underlined in the mountainous tissues of the mechanics of the subset of the air mass, water, climatic biospheres, and biogeochemistry, that in the unreal juncture of, and inter-procedural reality of carbon, that factor the species key and specimen disclosure, in the collection and in sinks, water drains but without carbon. encompassing all mythological species where the Life expectancy and Super life unfolds.

Hyperdisis, the galaxy connected to the Duoverso, in its biotic diversity, reinsert thick clumps of Nothofagus Obliqua forests, in waste processes, to domesticate the Leiak ethno-forest species, as balance nutrients and repair the disgraceful disgrace of unnatural toxicity and fragile of the agrosystem, maturing cultures and preventive pollination in succulent transfers for purposes of food webs and the environment. Making the appearance of species more effective and perceptible, reunited in community chains of coherence, to amortize low-resource needs and distance economic-political impacts, in view of new base resources and the sustainability of balance of allopathic crops, for the good of driving the extinction of plagues or flagrant excesses not converted, Hyperdisis has a mass of inert matter that creates accesses of resilience, for salinity, rainfall, and human adaptive mythological innovation, given its versatile opening of complement and generation of substances, for the convenience of living beings and No. Having adopted in the context of mythological Galaxy, related to beings of light comparable to distant elements, by means of Psychic Trisomies and tell transportation, for energy sources and soil and water mechanics with Leiak, constituting molecules for the simplification of phenomena of exacerbation of chronic diseases and endogenous. Forests and parks of Hyperdisis in the symbiotic open air, for more airs in microbiological space, in the intimate portion from greatest to least challenge of elements exclusive of antinomies of hieratic human bio culturalization, in a showcase of communities with an interest in technologies and renewable empirical usability, each part doing its scientific role and biodiversity in the portico of its home. As a hieratic quality, presenting amendments that are glimpsed and more existing, although it passes before our eyes without a Carbon Footprint, figuring logical mathematics by sponsoring its count more than a shadowy synthetic body, anticipating super-appraisal measures, averaging them in tiny theological portions, with varied and dissimilar levels of genetic habitats and alleles or heterozygous in the taxonomic functionality of reproductive and approving biological elements. The wealth and abundance of this item are delegated to Leiak, in all the revolutionary processes of the oak forests and the high mountains,

Within the gasifications of Cinnabar, there was Carbon in its Life cycle, being Zefián; the curator of the Duoverse, destined for a lifetime, under Universal and intergalactic effects. Claiming innocent beings with greater attributes of predation survival in the ecological chain, with the mix of Tsambika and Theoskepatis, granting multidirectional dynamic residual matter for green energy emissions. Feedback quantifies offset options in carbon circulation, offsetting multipurpose CO₂ inventory. Through the darkness Zefián and Vernarth traveled in the streets of Rhodes, and in Tsambika looking for the distilled portions of the carbon and sulfur emanated by the Cinnabar. In the same way Etréstles in Theoskepatis initiating with the Archpriest by virtue of the honors and the rubies of accumulations of water mass and of sulfur and carbonated air, which hung over the low sky of Rhodes and Kimolos. They were going to the Necropolis of Hellenika, when the gnostic rampages were glimpsed in the surrounding slab, minting half of the gold bars for the great goldsmith who erects the conventionality of having the physis imperturbably established, as a matter of patriarchal character. They entered Helleniká and the souls that wandered were ringed under crescent-encrusted rings, lavishing the independence of the night in the hands of Borker, which was reflected in the capitals of a mausoleum. Borker is consistent in saying that he is free in Helleniká, In the myth of the dustbin woodworm of the frieze where Etréstles perched next to Zefián's strap, who would manipulate the gold and alabaster chain, to pull its ascetic and rubies from it, approaching a final night in the astronomical autumn, in the last parapsychological regression of the god Vertumnus, which would embody the expiration of the Helleniká friezes by Kashmar branches decayed from vegetation and the tears of the Etruscan god Vertumnus. Making the branches of the Kashmar, the epithet of heraldry in the noble metals and woods of the autumn, and the mountainous temple of the one that follows the equinox in the meridian of seven days towards the southern and northern hemisphere. in the last parapsychological regression of the god Vertumnus, which would embody the expiration of the Helleniká friezes by Kashmar branches decayed from vegetation and the tears of the Etruscan god Vertumnus. Making the branches of the Kashmar, the epithet of heraldry in the noble metals and woods of the autumn. They enter the Necropolis of Helleniká, by upper and lower trays, cordoned off by obelisks in a series of petrified labels, in the square sections of the convergent ones and the linearity of the central pyramid, where they sponsored all the sectors of the stones of the prismatic geometric body, next to some piloneos that flanked the third of those that were in the figurative memory of funerary monuments of Vernarth. In harmony with the radiosities of the Cinnabar, they purged the carbon emanations in the intra-bodies of petrified breaths, expanding in the segments of frenetic life of the behavior of the inert matter, crushed by the organic, polishing the degrading character of the excavated prayers, under a superfluous shade. It was already dawn, Etréstles and the Archpriest broke the loaves to deposit them in the bowl of the Day, stretching in the arms of heaven under the gargle of the god Vertumnus who forged from the materiality of Jupiter. Vernarth nodded his head to the movement of the winds that cut the profile of a Citarista yawning on the frieze that raises all the crowns of the princes of the living-dead, making them part of the royal occasion, preparing petty spaces and tyrannies for devouring vassals in Helleniká, from the lair of his rib one, sees Diogenes of Sinope emerge, splitting with his doctrinal staff all the Isthmian paroxysms, which declared the cell of his life as Diogiversity.

"There were murmurs of astonishment at the surprising response of the wise man because no one dared to speak like that to the king. Alexander the Great asked: "Why do they call you Diogenes, the dog?", To which Diogenes replied: "Because I praise those who give me, I bark at those who don't give me, and the bad ones I bite." Again, more murmurs, but Alejandro was not moved by those answers and said: "Ask me what you want." So Diogenes, undeterred, replied: "Get away from where you are, you cover the sun for me"..., Vernarth replied: "Look for him in the bones of those who refused to die and fear beyond expiration who rejoices in the cold of the dean ossuary seed, without heat or memory here in Corinth and its Diogiversity ".

o)Reflection space length (π)

The hemispheres were out of proportion, one another was modified in the air, leaving the horizon exorbitant and the poles out of square. Coastal the lengths of the sun around areas that some Helleniká countrymen had never put on the crowns of their consciousness. Certain pressure changes dislocated other modules in the filaments that had rudimentary inaccuracies, creating reflection space failures in the installation of the Duoverso, due to the due calculation defect. The observations of Hyperdisis, generated superpositions of the Zigzag Universe, before the crescent moon, after the full moon, again de-calculating the sphere of Hyperdisis in relation to the ecstatic length of itself in the hands of a third of a second a day, to overflow in impositions that They revealed Dekas Cove in Kimonos(π).

The value of the opinion of reflections will be the originality of breaking of statics, of the motors of the verb and the conscience of the flushed being, and of erudition of the naive contrast when decanting the perceived morality. They concur with the moral value in every sub-mythology of an ambivalent being of supernatural human co-belonging, not dependent on gnoseological reflections, rather spontaneous under the embankment of reason. The latter being absent in the shadow of its shadow, no reflection can take hold of anti-values, self-valorized in contingencies under the effects of the drug of lies or truth, in a difficult equation to refer to in gnosis treatises, declaring the absence of consciousness to species without reflection or length of their molecular evolution, in evidence of mythological humans. The triangle Patmos, Rhodes, and Kímolos, make up a Venusian adonis, of stimuli in the nostrils of Aion, which sneezed on the integrity of the reflex arc at high speed superseded in the tremors of Athens until Hyperdisis, flashing anatomical and pejorative on the optic nerve of the Colossus Rodino, and the twisting of the multi-personal muscles..., but already depersonalized..., with little telluric reaction in the core of the symmetry of his legs, dodging as he thrashed on his frowned arms, behind the legs of the lycaons..., digging his jaws in reflex arches, for ages that only an immemorial one would enchant him, and be it the throbbing of the earth in the crust and seams of the calcined Colossus. Existing like this their reflection of attenuated light, they shook through the sea full of sinewy pieces of precise length. Frequently in the hydronium cations, undermining the temporality of Tsambika in random stones in the humid, and dark narrowness of the anthropic reflection, having lived in the heavenly paradise that formed them by the volcanic tube and its syngenetic, by the erosion of the subsoil of Rhodes. In Helleniká, everything that is expected, flows with the Meltemi tubularly, so that they are polyps of fluctuating desolation or placed above all zephyr or anti-wind, in ammonoids or ammonites; reviving from the seas it flows with the Meltemi tubularly, so that they are polyps of fluctuating desolation or placed above all zephyr or anti-wind, in ammonoids or ammonites; reviving from the seas from Devonian to Cretaceous, escaping from the ferocities of the Etesios and these same escaping from the roars of Vernarth.

p) One-Dimensional Beams II

When their ears fell in love with the Orthoptera or Grylloideas before Joshua, the night became restless, abandoning them from their shelters, they brushed the seeds of the thistle that trembled with the new millennium of the Duoverse. Levitating their ailerons in the tenors of their birth and dilettante sounds, before an ovipositing candor of the remains of the abdomen that remained in their jaws, always being from one of the Beams, for the largest Enciphers that hung from their antennas in search of Joshua's telepathic messages in the manger. Sappho of Mytilene, also known as Sappho of ****** or simply Sappho, pretended to be a marigold proliferating in the twenty corridors of the Greek poet, and also as the tenth poet in the other ten that was reflected with transparent wings of the dew that stuck, phenomenal of physique -Saphonic and in the recent rain of wind and condensed air, in the form of drops due to the sudden decrease in temperature in contact with cold surfaces. Sappho's dew was talked about in Kafersesuh, usually when it comes to condensation on a Poetic Grylloidae surface, naturally on the ground cover or artificially in a dull cloudy crystalline, in the amount of supernatural tradition, heroes, superheroes, and anti-heroes conspiring with the territorialities of hexagonality.

The Aramaic message comes forward with vigor from the orthopterans and birds that piled up on the journey, going back and forth. The Beams shone from the celestial kingdom holding on to the Cherubim and the Archangels, through the paths of conversion and the support of the bizarre Christian time, in implacable hegemony for the propaedeutic of phylogeny, but more than perfumers chemistry and the same creation. carrying Lepidoptera winged tetra and Sand Crickets, on the interlocking and obfuscated pheromones from a nascent-elemental child, in his own evangelical philosophy, from a winged dimensionality and in the gloom of Manger shouted and aligned, before the compendiums of double pyramidal landmarks and of inflection, of his word in the Grylloids and panaceas created in the affinities of the world and Animalia, stylizing muleteers carriers, phrasing acronyms and parabolizing the polygonic nomenclature of the child made a territorial man on the wings of a Cricket, already being it !, but representing himself as a lifeless man in the entirety of an advantageous canon child, from a sudden bi-dimensionality of Grylloideos. A great Zohar light gathered all towards a whole in those vantage points of terrestrial columns and orthopterans that Joshua felt in advance in his resined ears, like irreversible entropy giving back his wise existence to prepare them for the day of his holocaust. Pre Existing in catharsis and busilis substance of divinity connected with the Grylloid phylogenetic species, classifying until the Aramaic crackle, pontifying pheromones settled in the lithosphere site of Gethsemane, coincidence in the wading of a Libraco period, or in the phenomenological simultaneity of Eukaryota and Glaucophyta until late Animalia, giving relation parental in the characters of the vibrational timbre of the Beams and the atavistic pedestal, readapting in the evolutionary ellipticals of tetra-winged species, allowing to change the ancestral linguistic accouterments in processes of redesigning the genetic historical tree..., divine and increasing.

Inter-Duoverse, in space demography, has been frequented since today in a nuptiality between the Sun and Earth, wrapping the inter-generational homes that have prostrated themselves to the One-dimensional Beams, evolving millions of years between links of angels from the north and the south., for each year between half years and decades that the ancestors are passionate about, unleashing in what they aged in their youthful lives and eternal ideals, as an atom not guaranteed in families that did not get to know their Duoverse. When they walk through the urbanized farm of their parents they go in their shoes and in the paternal and inter-parental sun barefoot, the children travel far from the monographic patriarchy, declaring themselves between psychic families and unstable plots of core conformity and procreation.

The line of supra healthy cerebral is born from the Beams of deforested family trees and treasured in the Trunk of the seventh ascending generation, towards a nefarious tribal of industrious and vegetating regressive parapsychology, bringing zombie societies, to great lethargy that disorganizes the parallel emotion of the Being descended from a Messiah, with the prophetic organization. There in the Koumeterium of Messolonghi, in past generations, the "IO" was omitted to limit them from the spellings like Ghost Cemetery lost in other lost sacramental ancestors. The inappropriate location of our ancestral duties has guided us in the axis of the pabulum, before the second coming of Messiah Parousia, to continue the re-sprouting foliage of the Universal theological tree. The children of the seven intergeneration generations, will be from the endearing of a patriarchal family, and those of Exo family lineage will be from outside the non-generational family, where everything flourishes according to the requiems of ******-domestic economies, and in the new chimera from new shocks and reprimands, already being spouses the Sun and the Earth after being divorced from a deluge of immolations and inter-millennia and rotations, further than those of any prophet wandering without advancing or rotating, enlisting and expiring in succumbed and pre-historicized generations of other prehistoric ones. Pre and post Flood; not presenting itself as the object of linking a thousand decades where not even a holy chirp from the Thrush, praises on the windows of the world bringing us babies that are born without past or future quantum generations. Ready to the hint of Duality and its nuptiality with the Sun and the Earth, They will make us magical creditors of the increase in demography and of unions that will marry in inter generations, not seeing passions in exhaustion, under the grass of the allegory of defeated love. Giving ourselves conjugal virtuosity, but of immanent dogma for the purposes of multi-figurative coexistence, under the Yoke of an individualized Faith, in the passing of millennia, we continue to crawl on the floor of the nebulae, and we do not rise to establish ourselves as masters of ecstasy, and the pendulum of the stars, creating us more in the orthogonal egalitarian of the cosmos and its Vernarthian architecture, of poly productivity, of Sun-Earth and its post-genetics, of high-grade clay, expanding with halberds on the self-insolated Suns, and highly calorific inherited towards a rupture of Solar freedom leaving us in the horizontal, not having ascendants of sin enriching their illicit chromosome. Made a beast, from the inertia of a paradise full of hidden public and private exchanges, but not secular, for those who pay tributes of ecstasy in a reborn and weakened state. This is how Diogiversality is verticalized (Diogenes's anthological action), concluding the variants that weaken the nexus of the denatured society of its atavistic social nuclear concomitant, extending eco-life gaps, but eco-unstructured and crucial inter-generational nature, being of arbitrary passion and of seismological doctrines, of haughty morality and of sociology fabrics without body or motor, with frail of castes and generations evolved age in a retrograde and elemental psychic sense, but biologically and reversibly to their boomerang lineage.

q)Amphibology Cosmogonic, Sub-Mythological root

The threshold, as a minimum rubric, must be in force from the Constellation of Orion, with barely a hundred millionths under the same eye of Orion and his psychophysical space, sensitive to the falcado charioteers and the water vessels on the backs of the probable Barnard Loop., and its nebula presence. The icy impulsiveness brought her under her right shoulder and the lean hollow under her arm unraveling from a staircase, at the entrance point of Betelgeuse coming from the cosmogony of Eridanus and in tune with Ptolemaic astrology. In the Sibyl and with a hint of a metric brilliant mass triplet, Betelgeuse Orionis, is the scale of the Aulos and piccolos expelling hydrogen as an Ace in 240 scales of harmonies and in sounds of light, for cycles and years of Light. The binary of Orion, is pre-born of the sub-mythological root, with binaries of Poetic Parapsychology, or Para-poetical; which is the trapezoid and the kinetics of the hunter Orion arrowing the Pleiades and its nebulous plains, with diametrical diarthrosis in his synovial joints, with the third militarizing joints already formed by the hyaline cartilage, which joins the two bones with the synovial fluid, before reaching the deltoid of Hunter Aurion, to awaken the Asleep world.

Vernarth in one of his adventures in Pella, scapula with his arms the force of the friction discs of the Olympics and corrected his hands and shoulders, for this purpose of Aurion and his dilettante Astro Betelgeuse, with giant arrows against matters towards the sky of its Constellation, embedded in beaten Odyssey and turpentine in the sullen Hellenistic, being for May its amber trapeze of trunk and arm, in each hand a Xifos and Dorus, always in right-handed hemispheric pathologies of their shrewd hands in Kopis swords, and in the memories of the wind that throws pain to the whistle of the combatant, when the meteorites decay in the Tyrrhenian Sea. With his brass-bronze club and Vernarth's corrosive breath, he proceeded to file odyssey on Eos's ******* and peduncles; Goddess of the Dawn, in Dionysian beauty in bulk, Mintaka, Alnitak, Alnilam, (The Three Mariah), For the twelfth lunation of the Celestial Vault, together with Pleione, in its bolometric Oceanid matrix; against borderline stellar magnitude in the major and minor dogs, and in there a priori waves of misdeeds lending measurements in the eyes of Aurion, always henchmen on their Pleiades.

From this intricacy, Cosmo-is born the Vernarth Duoverso incited towards the Horcondising, so that it is mythical co-property at the origin of the universality of the Duoverse in the Vernarth scapulae, bleeding towards the cosmos that was born from his stellar blood, conjuring chaos and uncertainty in messenger Gonies, facilitating community life free of ethnocentric, psychic, intersubjective life, the metaphor of myth and dogmatic, by the imaginary struggle that leads its bleeding back over the Cosmos, and its demiurgic brilliance over the atmosphere of the earth like bronzes that twist in the necks of oxen, that urinate on the officers of the Barnard Loop, and its polyphonic magnetic exciter, on it the ***** of Orion falling on the poles, like flagrant Amphibology.

The Kanti Steed and the Aurion nebula, to the beat of a waltz ionize, lavish chemical ions free of electrons, on the neutral molecules of Betelgeuse, to proclaim in the nerves of the shoulders and its bronze club, as musical praxis and harmony net, giving way to the nebula and the art of the Duoverso, which shows the pristine astral days, how his alchemical arm sprouting in chemo-astralities of the pectoral, and his armpit that joined in its maximum stick, cutting down roots of Olive Bernar, behind Barnard's Loops, in the midst of runaway stars that are systematized in their ionized bleeding esplanade, such as Stellae Novae, who retrograded the astronomical ritual into cosmogony, and in her escape by going at night to sleep near her father Poseidon and Euryale, who cheered him near the grassy fields to paste explosive clay on the sheet of his drunken smiley face with Ionic wine, in advance of spreading the nascent Duoverso throughout the new world.

r) Hyperdisis

Sitting on the edge of Andromeda, in his planetary chamber Zefián; The Duoverso computer separated the parasitic inter-chamber from the Duoverso, which would be born from the Auriga, which in his buggy would unleash the senses of structures and luminosity between this colossal interplanetary chamber. Being between points that venture through the axon of time infinitesimal and longitudinally for light-years, which even so, will intervene from the Duoverse, for thermal purposes and other changes of the remnants, when especially the luminosity will speak of the destruction of the darkness inherent in the eyes of the universe, which can only stabilize areas that have not been fused in the discs of the Universe-Duoverse spatiality, long before the initial explosive between the Constellation of Orion and Andromeda. Globular clusters that will make up the perfect delay of transfusing the blood and no other, which makes the character Hyper naming and hyper-pectoral blood, which flows from this tri-astral polynomial, compromising the method of area, shape, and refinement of the sagittal profile of Hyperdisis in the Duoverse in the reversible intergalactic plane. Going from lenticular to irregular over the keystone of the trapezoid, towards the right arm of Orion, where its radius becomes hypocentral sequentially, but it takes advantage of interstellar matter, to generate its own light. Some explicit explosive arms of Andromeda were expelled from their center towards the right arm of Orion, for the purpose of implosions in the effect of the clubs or snails, as a sublime effusion on other stars, which lost essential stellar mass, to differ from one another.

Radio-Patmos, or galactic energies of Andromedian origin, would arrive as devout prayers at the border of Skalá, such astro-omegas and Invisible Universes, which inhabit the flaccidity of the Universe of Consciousness of the pole contact with the Xifos or Kopis, when Andromeda contacts the spur of the clubs or snails, inciting the capos of Astro-Omegas spaces, which would begin to take the front and front, after having been the atrium of invisible stars, only visible in the spurs of the swords, which were only moistened with the viscous blood draining from Orion, towards Hellenic lands as Omega age, for Vernarth early when he carries the keys of the Omega World, towards the shadowy proto galaxies, knowing that the Milky Way and Andromeda come so close in their stellar mass, being able to collide in a few million of light years, in advance, since the Duoverse of Hyperdisis will be formed as a Galaxy of change, to interact with each other, dismembering, but re-transforming into the new speculative nucleus of the Duoverse as a great Black Hole, embedded in the Kardiá of Patmos.

Hyperdisis, navigates from the most ancient confines, from the origin of nothingness itself on the threshold of the Universe, but now it is already converted into the Duoverse, re-implanting itself in helical polarity, and in bifurcations of luminosity, of colorful reincarnations or astral, to consent to the cessation of darkness and valuing luminance, possessing colorimetry and chromatic steps of childish tales in infant galaxies, which in all the lives of Greece and Vernarth delivered for their ancestors, articulating the iconology of Orion, in candlesticks per square meter, in vigils of:

LV is the luminance, measured in Nits or candela per square meter (cd / m²).

• F is the luminous flux, in lumens for the Andromeda triad, Milky Way e Hyperdisis in conjunction with Orion.
• dS is the surface element considered in the triad of Kímolos, Rhodes, and Patmos.
• dΩ is the solid angle element, from Vernarth Omega and the origin of the Duoverse.
• θ is the angle between the diameter of Andromeda and the Milky Way (2.5 million light-years)

The luminance can be defined from the radiometric magnitude and the radiance without more than weighting each wavelength by the sensitivity curve of the eye. Thus, if LV is the luminance, Lλ represents the spectral radiance and V (λ) symbolizes the sensitivity curve of the Vernath's eye of the Betelgeuse area below, dumping plasma and bruises on the galaxies and the Orion Eyes.

s) Zigzag Universe

The Zig Zag Universe was and will be excluded between time and space, in a world adjusted to the senses that are driven within the contextual totality, the world and the biosphere framed in the phenomena of the Zig Zag Universe, being born on a stellar night when Our life searched the earth, being able to see how cordial matters of the cosmos caressed its cosmology, making it its magistracy and descendants of the Hellenic cosmos, in constant caresses of the universe already predisposed to the Bing Bang, emerging from another type of self-observation, seeing ourselves in the face of Horcondising anti-material and Universal Biomass. We preexist under science that models the system of energy and matter in causes of ancestors, with whom their vital and ours sneakily crashed. Gravity made great paternity in the Vernarth Biomass, being in the Dodecanese, being cosmos in its arcuate curvature, which makes us screen with the moon in its romantic astrophysical swings, and with the exaggerated geometry of a zigzag. We are the versatile and multi-dynamic mass that expands simultaneously in the head that pauses in the Nothofagus Obliqua of Vernarth's Horcondising and also time2-space2, which has not been troubled by the origin or abscess of the stars that move irregularly in zigzag, for the fractality of its component, which is clearly Aramaic blue light, in circuits of clusters and movements brushing the air, attracting the attention of the entire order of the hypnotized universe and making the duplication of the universe itself appear before them; in Duoverso that is the Universe shaken and young of its gratitude's ".The distribution of nearby galaxies are keys to the paleo universe already arranged in macro waves, which are percentages of spaces in the Trisolate energy fields, which interact with the Mashiach of Gethsemane phylogeny, now tending to a stagnant decomposed future, towards a specific frozen present. Its final station is to bet the Zig Zag Universe on the re-expanding temporal Medieval chrestomathy, in gregarious qualities of Sub-mythology, already conformed here in Archangelos. The implosion of gravity has created worlds of visibility in great astronomical yearnings, in some fractions of time zigzagged by millions of fractured light-years, as an irregularity that resembles the measurements of everything quantifiable, being omniscience or not, acquiring the hexagonality of the birthright in the passage, Here the Mashiach emerged and died in its abstraction in the One-dimensional Beams and in the foreign eyes, eroding those who are mortal and do not see with divine eyes in the self-resemblance, of our hypochondria and of the failed plan to amplify the size of the unknown analytic, of this new dimension in the implosive movement of the Verthian Duoverse. The nature of the snowflakes in Bethlehem are natural fractals, detailed in their nature and in the natural infinity, here the privileged new world was envisioned, for self-similarity in the speculative and cosmogonic functions of Vertnarth, at intervals in each space of the shadowy walls, bringing accelerated courier bombs from Gethsemane among mutated olive trees to other humans. "Its correlation is an infinite fractal with reversible observable time.

Finite is the curvature, between the time that walks between the grove of the Duo-Universe as an alternative of energy Zig Zag and Duoverso, which triggers our subconscious observable world, which is a great reflecting lantern eye, which ignores and prescribes extreme distant and focal parts of the One-dimensional Beams of Kafersuseh in Ein Karem, since the Duoverse is the trial Universe that the Mashiach had, before coming to the Holy Land, provided by his form of Hyperdisis escorting him from Betelgeuse and in Orion. Change from arduous colors to the gradient in Avant-Garde, for the confines of perspectives and verbality, in amendments of physical fields, interwoven by an external gravitational means. The macro waves, are exposed matter not contained in the abrupt changes of the optical selection of the Mashiach with the One-dimensional Beams, attracting selection crystals to atomize them, in reaction disturbances and recreation of multiform plasma saviors of Christian cosmic. The double expression of macro waves and the equation of them over the axial of the universe turned into the universe Duoverse, in millions of light-years will continue in the Duoverse, for ectoplasmic reconversion energy with great margins of assertiveness. The cartography in hyper diction will correct errors of the current universe, losing itself in the second thousandths of figures that separate us from the Universe, but all being more than time... !, remaining at the expense of the wick of all electro-matter " The double examination of the macro waves and the equation of them on the axial of the universe turned into Duoverse, in millions of light-years will continue in the Duoverse, for ectoplasmic reconversion with great margins of assertiveness. The cartography in hyper diction will correct errors of the current universe, losing itself in the second thousandths of figures that separate us from the Universe, but all of them being more than time... !, remaining at the expense of the wick of all electro-matter. The sub-mythology having already been constituted, Hestia appears, having slept a great slumber. When he appeared before Vernarth in Tsambika, he was seen changing in size, when he was six meters away he looked dwarf and when he was already two meters from him he looked monumentally huge, but in a versatile physiognomy, therefore he was already appreciated in his last steps, with her domestic Goddess figure that emanated light-years from the chimneys of the habitable galaxies. The critical immanence will happen, pre-existing of the perfectible plan for the Universe Zig Zag and Hyperdisis, as Hyper-Hestia, bringing torn words for those who were approaching the main altar of Vas Auric, which was in the great ratio of the proscenium in the vicinity of Tsambika, between Mind / Meditation for constant mechanisms of Wisdom / Meditate, according to the cosmological constant, taking them perhaps to the beginning of a decade and the third universe called Traverse. The oscillations of all these fantasies, Vernarth observed, but he knew that he would have to collide with these worlds finally already precipitated, and of temperature that acted on the average of the normal range, therefore it was imminent to mutate it to the provisional Christian Duoverse, which moves backward. among the dizzying lights of creation. Immediately afterward, the Universe has torn apart and lost among those around it, establishing itself in units of millions of years of light compressed in the piccolo Aulos, which Hestia carried in one of its golden hands, from the prytaneion, igniting with the flames of the Kardiá on fire and the passion of consanguineous love, "Prytaneum", the omphalos stone, marking the navel of the world with the boast of wandering towards the island of Delos, in the daily warmth of a spring afternoon in Rhodes. She is a woman with veils on her face, always walking to and from her virginal abode, in the house of foolish or vestal virgins, there is no Hestia, only maybe there are some similar ones staying in the cold fire of her menopause, losing fertility afterward. that his father swallowed it, and then it was expelled from himself, regurgitated in flames of love candles in a blessed house and full of immunity, giving the Duoverse another geometric category with never contained angles, sliding vibratory between the distances that discount minutes of the Hestian space, for such a corollary by approaching its finitude, and inaugurating the sub-finite, that it will never be the source of the end of a disconcerting end of time, neither equationally consummated nor physical. "This consolidates the Duoverse into Duo-Universe, expressed in figures that moderate the length of a physical state before it is finished and restarted in a process that does not end (sub-infinity)

t) Vernarth Omega (Ω) - Preface

before facing the Achaemenides. Being Omega and Micron in the warlike primer of their cause, within the prophetic in all necropolises of tiny omega (ω), towards an Omega that reaffirmed the good hand in Saint John the Apostle by rewriting the Apocalypse twice, coexisting the same but with the voice of Vernarth commanding the ten thousand Falangists, who made up inter-generational gaps, of camouflaged alien ancestors. For this purpose, he opened the windows with their pillars sheathed with tetrachloride of chlorine, at solid angles of Ω, in what was Virgo institutionum / Aurion-entity that interfered by projections and leaks, which converged on the strut of the omphalos of his heavenly father dealing frequently and bled his immortality, constituting from a helper being to the planes of subconscious reprogramming and perspective. With his arms raised, in each hand a raised sword to pierce the vanishing point, between the spaces that were ascribed, under the solid projection, from an observer that inhibits ad limits the biomass in all the masses of aqueous filter and lumen flow, towards the throne of the angelic guardian of Avant-guard by the stereotype and sclerosis of Zeus in his dissociated physicality, even though he is an amorphous entity with pulverized magnitudes, between Pi and Golden numbers, fading away without area or volume. Vernarth in the humanoid apocalypse was transfigured from a solid point in Hyperdisis, as a direct escape settlement to Aurion, towards a surface of conical vestige in three-dimensionality towards Andromeda, the Milky Way, and the shoulder of Betelgeuse,

Vernarth distracted the emeritus stars in the corner of his room and in the convex the points of his celestial patriarchs in the conical spheres of perenniality, leaving only solid angles in each of the two parts of space-delimited by two semi-planes that start from their common edge, under the ideal geometric concept and that it is only possible to partially represent it as duplication in parallelograms with a common side, symbolizing two half-planes, making from all distances seclusion of visions in the culmination of imagination and apparent angles, seen from any point of the Celestial Vault in invisible counterpoint.

The decalcified cells of Vernarth solfying together with Sophocles in orpheons after the victory of Salamis. Already being a tragedy in the next act of the prologue and their friendship bordering on his tragedy, he continues to exist in energetic arms to write, and Vernarth to dispute the characters from a regular prologue writing with his own blood hematology verses, which traveled meters and that they shrunk from the anti-verses scarring their declaimed intra-breath, in corals that only the wind clarifies of what precedes and happens towards the suffering, in the metrics of the Areimos chorus that were lectured anti-verses, and that they tried to ****** him from the hands to Sophocles, in immortality that refined him by abandoning him in sub-units. With masks and mythical cycles, he mixed the metaphorical facsimile of momentum and the separation of friendship with him, seeing him in an episode of his works, and instead of Vernarth's transcript sheltering him in the origins of the volatilizations of his orpheons, converted into physical waves of a dramatic-oracular order. Gods re-transformed into divination and futuristic germination, they were hidden dormant and forgotten in times of subconsciousness in the Selenite collection, felt in the Colossi signs of parliamentary, where the oracle leans on the lines of vibrational words and how they cough their " páthis "in the place where the language dissociated from the heart nucleus speaks. In misguided divination, the oracular mantic brought the cold of loneliness and the fiery heat that guesses in the laurel forests in oracular daphnomancy, Vernarth omega self-erects as a versatile column that temporalizes the threads of his organic brain, creating synaptic logos in Pashkein or the alert regret of abandoning the arm that rewrites his heroic Sophoclean and tragediographic biography, in ancients transiting in disintegrated emotionality and ****** Hellenic neurotransmission, "Two omega men or omega speedometers, carrying neurons from ankylosed and frustrated herd of pleasure, for tripartite meson form of routine grinding in Alzheimer's lost, lost in sympathetic and para-sympathetic routines, with probability of Hellenic gray matter; That is to say, of all memory that does not sin of ignorance in the ancient world, in more than nineteen hours of vehemence, the dangers will brighten when reliving nth times in the twilight of omega, Vernarth, was already narrowing on the tracontero Eurydice, to save his pains, deposed in terms that would renew anti-economies by supplying unsustainable in liquefactions and in synaptic melts, extra energetic vesicle of pure natural law of the eyebrows, of lunation that rests in the inter millennium, beating with ecstasy in the Buddhist suttas, and in the adaptation of the flesh of the hypersonic fissures of the Meltemi, and attachments that still beat over the dermis of pain. Vernarth draws his sword Xifos of phenomenal structure and he cuts on the Sutta or sermon that mimicked him at the time of the lunation, doing sabotage of redemption of the anti-verse from the court of Sophocles, as a myth-saboteur and anti-value, overvaluing the wiles of the same utilitarian tragedy, conquering in the curtain of mourning and sadness, unguarded and overcome by the stoic duel of jubilation. From here Vernarth, opens the gates of hell, eight hundred times going mad with omega value, by reiterating omeganymy, creates the numbering of the anti-verse and the suffering that does not even sleep further from the departure of a soul and a body only asleep of concave omega, overlapping in golden transfinite chests, which reorder the natural numerals with the ordinal transfinite omega, but on frictionless wheels of other omegas that break in recirculation rules on alpha, in supra omega levels such as parades, stamens, episodes, and Vernarth-omega paradigmatic exodus.

Omega I Prologue: "Once upon a time, amidst a rain of clouds full of drama, in a time that was oriented regime of the armpit of Betelgeuse and Aurion, 334 BC, it was the penultimate breeze of Tsambika, in the spiritual devotion that hovered over the unison voice in the magnanimous Zeusian chorus, as an alternate event of imprisoning past and next in an episode of the present act. The expectant was curious about the retouched makeup of the drama's superlative consonant, in a disembodied place, but with a good narrative source when it came to fruition. Here the myth is plausible, among everything mythical, more than all the super sums of expectations of the Ismo "

Parod I: "For the submissive words on the stage of the trident fire, where I have to warm my hands with ashes of eternal fire"
(Directing the scenes through the coripheum, there is the master lord who, in flames and by unequal numbers, pawned in the Aulos and piccolos, whose bare feet bordered the risk of the bellies of the Maenad damsels united in processions, between princes, powers and Dionysian dances holding on to the Pufios; in Baquian and ceremonial liturgy near Vernarth, taking a glass every seven minutes in animosity, in cages of his stuck little finger, whistling from organic pimping, next to dancers raising an arm and directing the palm towards the heaven, while the other remained down with the palm towards the earth; in this position, since he was like Vernarth buried by the tides of Patmos wandering him in times that marked the entrance from Mars to Jupiter, and from autumn to winter in fifteen times agreed with Sophocles, hanging from the penultimate to the entrance with his trembling voice desalted..., tolerating himself in his own tragedy)

This is I: "Through the right hemi-body, Vernarth intoned his laterality exposed in harsh penumbras, while Hera brandished over his existentialism clouds of oatmeal and candies in a liturgy, a homily that personified the Stasis, in the choral intermission resisting his angry hands in tragic passion and frenzy, unleashing oratory of self-blame, unraveling drama-tragic, and in each pause the emotion that was accompanied in new episodes when it was stoked "

(Vernarth says: "submitted in parts that are not its parts, my pain has blinded me, where it has embittered the conflict of ethical interest if the stars as a public cheer are anointed, sentencing the opposition of other lesser stars who cheer what that does not shine. The principle of the voice violates the normal parenthesis, which is governed by itself in the omega voice, mocking the modal in four magistrates, in martyrdoms of an ideal of the procession, each one being with his super-private toga, before me It must not be who recognizes if I will be who I am, on the seventh judgment of my surviving ethics)

Episode I: "Vernarth extrapolates the values of his judgment, which override the first, the coryphaeus directs his promenade from the countryside on his Horse Alikantus"

(Vernarth says: "I have instantiated the steps that my chestnut crossed with you in the future if I am to sing with a sorrowful voice, no choir will be able to follow me when you are gone. However, I have to define what personifies who, more than a thousand miles away, carries with him the lamp that opens the light of your roguish contemplation... "
Alikantus wailing says: "From the luster of your heartbeat, I obfuscated the jailer from your ribs, for the preference of the one who takes you even further in tempestuous pro-hedonistic prose "

Exodus I: "Sometimes the endings smell like fields of lavender, where the call of the almighty is heard, to take him over his loaded plantations, which are emerging from the dialogues in the afternoon with its twilight, as well as stanzas that smell of lavender anointing, separated in syllables and tonic that flex my charm, not to say that I was anointed with Lavender when I was prepubescent "

(In fifteen times, in syllables and rakes, the sentences of its paragraphs are sterilized, leaving the audience speechless, without a gesture or word that emanates from a sacred paradise, rather from the Stasis that never purged the omission of the syllable that is not of proscenium nor trident, but it is umlauts on Omega, between syllables of fire that burn from its proscenium)

With few and precise changes of consciousness, Vernarth approaches his Omega Point, as the end of his self is identical to his consciousness. He was leaving Tsambika and Kímolos, diligent towards Theoskepatis, warning Etréstles for defiance goods in the aftermath of the Eschaton. His spiritual cerebellum faded identically when he wandered through the distances of the entities that competed and are prominent, transforming his Hetairoi reliquary, here his tendentious impulse begins and dehumanizes him by becoming a Celestial entity, but with Noosphere endowment. The tendencies are established hyper-connected, with him Tsambika, Theoskepatis, and Patmos were triangulated for consummations and finality from the rudiment of Universal deity, reprogramming the end of restricted humanity to a mere boundary of dogmatic morality declared existential.

Within the Omega points, his unfolding acted as a disembodied statue and redemption of similarity and humanity, leading him to a self-conspiracy, by abandoning himself to his own equal, for the duration of the final sulfurous sublimation of the Cinnabar's margin of abstraction, after joining in all the quantum, physical and biological lines, making the Duoverse an inter chamber of the prior Master in a process of change, to sensitize his image of physical-chemical Man, but of God in his rigid powers. Cataloged as hommo sapiens who expresses himself in fallen beings under the arms of his sword in a limpid target, rather than in his own pointed tongue, and steely towards the point of unification in the hyper-dimensional of good achieve spatiality and volume, only contacted by his devoid of a Xifos hand. Consciousness rarely loomed in its compendium in nth bytes and data, much more than those recirculated in astrobiological quantum, creating blind exclusive and patrimonial universes, on the basis of nth bytes, which kept reorganizing itself in the personality of the unknown, fewer than four bridges of consciousness united in their own gregarious universe. The transcendence of the basic data of consciousness will lie in the Maenads, and their deliberate acre magic, extending through the limbs of the Nymphs, to re-possess it and take them to the confines of mystical paranoia, perhaps towards the embodied Vestal Virgins, purging their paths that they notice a variant of licentious departure in the stanzas when seeking final swings, which are not for the sake of shedding everything before the Universe rescinds its intellectual limitations, contracted in an orgiastic Imaginary Universe, and the precariousness of the concept transporting us to the origins of the species and its behavioral rapture of loss of sensation, and reason, for this reason, Vernarth takes them with him for his ******* and alienated perceiving of inherent reality and its opposite sunset. The ministry of the sacramental mystery is the consciousness of the Dionysian being in gestation, wanting to be the paroxysm of its equivalent, in an eternal Omega effect, for the purposes of omeganymy of conscious chaos, being the same portion of omega ad limit of its secondary reluctant personality of being, to found the hermit solitude on his revived empty ego, residing in his being by bilocating with two idiosyncrasies for a Venarthian Thiasoi, succumbing to weightlessness over all the Maenads and the intoxication of community in its opacity,

The madness was a transcript of reasons lost by the Vernarthian Omeganymy, sometimes the disproportionate of his steps by more than what should be generated was objected to in the circles of the Tsambika monastery. The unification of blood was confused by the viscous wine of the mysterious foliage of the Diospyros tree that led them through the enigmatic unaware, in primary practices that tore apart some somatized ones of the order of a third body, which still transmitted the last organic matter, refusing to spread at the omeganimic points. The consciousness of replicated beings of themselves challenged themselves towards the perfect copy of their transcendent alter ego, in an understanding of the present-future elucidating for whom or those who demystify the visions of an arbitrary creation, allied to the evolutionary myth-truth, in the face of any real and human maturity gap, the conclave of the near pious Christ, bequeathed in us and in the venerated hominization, at his sole and directional will. Now we are all in the aqueducts of Christian science, for specimens of eternal categorization and frontally in view of a God-Mashiach, as ordinal inclusion and in greater ecumenical diversity, with variables of independence range, for staggering motor skills, retaining the attention of all the powers of the Christian world at an Omega point that seemed to be Alpha. The sense of the Duoverse in Vernarth Omega makes us rethink the central phenomenon of thought and frustrations, by the socialization of distant species from prudent dogmatic ostracism, towards refractory empathic and ultra-rational reasoning. conclave of the near pious Christ, bequeathed in us and in the venerated hominization, to his sole and directional will. Now we are all in the aqueducts of Christian science, for specimens of eternal categorization and frontally in view of a God-Mashiach, as ordinal inclusion and in greater ecumenical diversity, with variables of independence range, for staggering motor skills, retaining the attention of all the powers of the Christian world at an Omega point that seemed to be Alpha. The sense of the Duoverse in Vernarth Omega makes us rethink the central phenomenon of thought and frustrations, by the socialization of distant species from prudent dogmatic ostracism, towards refractory empathic and ultra-rational reasoning. at his sole and directional will. Now we are all in the aqueducts of Christian science, for specimens of eternal categorization and frontally in view of a God-Mashiach, as ordinal inclusion and in greater ecumenical diversity, with variables of independence range, for staggering motor skills, retaining the attention of all the powers of the Christian world at an Omega point that seemed to be Alpha. The sense of the Duoverse in Vernarth Omega makes us rethink the central phenomenon of thought and frustrations, by the socialization of distant species from prudent dogmatic ostracism, towards refractory empathic and ultra-rational reasoning.

The supra intelligence has to become in them and those, the pre-existing point of duality, to reunify them in Patmos, as the only spirited meaning, and biomass evolving on the super-dimensioned materiality, in a greater radius where it will have to be delivered to whoever speaks with words. of living energy, and not complex towards all processes of emancipatory concord of personal authorship, on levels of relative lust in the absolution of medium integrity, and towards an elemental unitary totality of animal instinct guarded by the instinct of Being, that from its similar awakened rebirth of the sleeping mass matter, and in the animal purifying multiplicity. The man stands in his memorandum bend, like a haughty memorial, evolving in the cosmic expiration of the molecular transverse, admitting us in its vestige of complex extinction, but not in human slip, nor in acid and self-instituting scenery, on the real creation of its DNA, which reverts from the formality of helical reiterative rings, by heights of whoever oscillates in their coupled pairings, and their silent probable associations, in the nature of real origin and their structural perfection. The acceptability scenarios derive from the feasible concretion, and the approval of their tendencies and mobilizations of the structure of life, and codes greater than those that limit them to reside, to more than one body, residing from an incorporeal body, capable of its quantitative life and the extension of existence, super existing in the heights of the helical rings, which may vary more than they are, and which could be, without being seen under a scientific gaze. "Becoming a mechanics of maturation and prayer, which the energy from the material world to the spiritual, as a moving particle of inert matter in parasitized free radicals, which are re-energized by the mystery of the helical trans-threshold of the Aramaic mystery of the Olives Bern. "Vernarth disintegrates in omeganymy in laxity towards Aurion, descending pro-tenebrosity towards the profanity of Patmos, engulfed by Love in a dark summer, brushing the silos of DNA in the will of the automated world"
DUOVERSE
IN SEARCH OF THE PRESENT

I begin with two words that all men have uttered since the dawn of humanity: thank you. The word gratitude has equivalents in every language and in each tongue the range of meanings is abundant. In the Romance languages this breadth spans the spiritual and the physical, from the divine grace conceded to men to save them from error and death, to the ****** grace of the dancing girl or the feline leaping through the undergrowth. Grace means pardon, forgiveness, favour, benefice, inspiration; it is a form of address, a pleasing style of speaking or painting, a gesture expressing politeness, and, in short, an act that reveals spiritual goodness. Grace is gratuitous; it is a gift. The person who receives it, the favoured one, is grateful for it; if he is not base, he expresses gratitude. That is what I am doing at this very moment with these weightless words. I hope my emotion compensates their weightlessness. If each of my words were a drop of water, you would see through them and glimpse what I feel: gratitude, acknowledgement. And also an indefinable mixture of fear, respect and surprise at finding myself here before you, in this place which is the home of both Swedish learning and world literature.

Languages are vast realities that transcend those political and historical entities we call nations. The European languages we speak in the Americas illustrate this. The special position of our literatures when compared to those of England, Spain, Portugal and France depends precisely on this fundamental fact: they are literatures written in transplanted tongues. Languages are born and grow from the native soil, nourished by a common history. The European languages were rooted out from their native soil and their own tradition, and then planted in an unknown and unnamed world: they took root in the new lands and, as they grew within the societies of America, they were transformed. They are the same plant yet also a different plant. Our literatures did not passively accept the changing fortunes of the transplanted languages: they participated in the process and even accelerated it. They very soon ceased to be mere transatlantic reflections: at times they have been the negation of the literatures of Europe; more often, they have been a reply.

In spite of these oscillations the link has never been broken. My classics are those of my language and I consider myself to be a descendant of Lope and Quevedo, as any Spanish writer would ... yet I am not a Spaniard. I think that most writers of Spanish America, as well as those from the United States, Brazil and Canada, would say the same as regards the English, Portuguese and French traditions. To understand more clearly the special position of writers in the Americas, we should think of the dialogue maintained by Japanese, Chinese or Arabic writers with the different literatures of Europe. It is a dialogue that cuts across multiple languages and civilizations. Our dialogue, on the other hand, takes place within the same language. We are Europeans yet we are not Europeans. What are we then? It is difficult to define what we are, but our works speak for us.

In the field of literature, the great novelty of the present century has been the appearance of the American literatures. The first to appear was that of the English-speaking part and then, in the second half of the 20th Century, that of Latin America in its two great branches: Spanish America and Brazil. Although they are very different, these three literatures have one common feature: the conflict, which is more ideological than literary, between the cosmopolitan and nativist tendencies, between Europeanism and Americanism. What is the legacy of this dispute? The polemics have disappeared; what remain are the works. Apart from this general resemblance, the differences between the three literatures are multiple and profound. One of them belongs more to history than to literature: the development of Anglo-American literature coincides with the rise of the United States as a world power whereas the rise of our literature coincides with the political and social misfortunes and upheavals of our nations. This proves once more the limitations of social and historical determinism: the decline of empires and social disturbances sometimes coincide with moments of artistic and literary splendour. Li-Po and Tu Fu witnessed the fall of the Tang dynasty; Velázquez painted for Felipe IV; Seneca and Lucan were contemporaries and also victims of Nero. Other differences are of a literary nature and apply more to particular works than to the character of each literature. But can we say that literatures have a character? Do they possess a set of shared features that distinguish them from other literatures? I doubt it. A literature is not defined by some fanciful, intangible character; it is a society of unique works united by relations of opposition and affinity.

The first basic difference between Latin-American and Anglo-American literature lies in the diversity of their origins. Both begin as projections of Europe. The projection of an island in the case of North America; that of a peninsula in our case. Two regions that are geographically, historically and culturally eccentric. The origins of North America are in England and the Reformation; ours are in Spain, Portugal and the Counter-Reformation. For the case of Spanish America I should briefly mention what distinguishes Spain from other European countries, giving it a particularly original historical identity. Spain is no less eccentric than England but its eccentricity is of a different kind. The eccentricity of the English is insular and is characterized by isolation: an eccentricity that excludes. Hispanic eccentricity is peninsular and consists of the coexistence of different civilizations and different pasts: an inclusive eccentricity. In what would later be Catholic Spain, the Visigoths professed the heresy of Arianism, and we could also speak about the centuries of ******* by Arabic civilization, the influence of Jewish thought, the Reconquest, and other characteristic features.

Hispanic eccentricity is reproduced and multiplied in America, especially in those countries such as Mexico and Peru, where ancient and splendid civilizations had existed. In Mexico, the Spaniards encountered history as well as geography. That history is still alive: it is a present rather than a past. The temples and gods of pre-Columbian Mexico are a pile of ruins, but the spirit that breathed life into that world has not disappeared; it speaks to us in the hermetic language of myth, legend, forms of social coexistence, popular art, customs. Being a Mexican writer means listening to the voice of that present, that presence. Listening to it, speaking with it, deciphering it: expressing it ... After this brief digression we may be able to perceive the peculiar relation that simultaneously binds us to and separates us from the European tradition.

This consciousness of being separate is a constant feature of our spiritual history. Separation is sometimes experienced as a wound that marks an internal division, an anguished awareness that invites self-examination; at other times it appears as a challenge, a spur that incites us to action, to go forth and encounter others and the outside world. It is true that the feeling of separation is universal and not peculiar to Spanish Americans. It is born at the very moment of our birth: as we are wrenched from the Whole we fall into an alien land. This experience becomes a wound that never heals. It is the unfathomable depth of every man; all our ventures and exploits, all our acts and dreams, are bridges designed to overcome the separation and reunite us with the world and our fellow-beings. Each man's life and the collective history of mankind can thus be seen as attempts to reconstruct the original situation. An unfinished and endless cure for our divided condition. But it is not my intention to provide yet another description of this feeling. I am simply stressing the fact that for us this existential condition expresses itself in historical terms. It thus becomes an awareness of our history. How and when does this feeling appear and how is it transformed into consciousness? The reply to this double-edged question can be given in the form of a theory or a personal testimony. I prefer the latter: there are many theories and none is entirely convincing.

The feeling of separation is bound up with the oldest and vaguest of my memories: the first cry, the first scare. Like every child I built emotional bridges in the imagination to link me to the world and to other people. I lived in a town on the outskirts of Mexico City, in an old dilapidated house that had a jungle-like garden and a great room full of books. First games and first lessons. The garden soon became the centre of my world; the library, an enchanted cave. I used to read and play with my cousins and schoolmates. There was a fig tree, temple of vegetation, four pine trees, three ash trees, a nightshade, a pomegranate tree, wild grass and prickly plants that produced purple grazes. Adobe walls. Time was elastic; space was a spinning wheel. All time, past or future, real or imaginary, was pure presence. Space transformed itself ceaselessly. The beyond was here, all was here: a valley, a mountain, a distant country, the neighbours' patio. Books with pictures, especially history books, eagerly leafed through, supplied images of deserts and jungles, palaces and hovels, warriors and princesses, beggars and kings. We were shipwrecked with Sinbad and with Robinson, we fought with d'Artagnan, we took Valencia with the Cid. How I would have liked to stay forever on the Isle of Calypso! In summer the green branches of the fig tree would sway like the sails of a caravel or a pirate ship. High up on the mast, swept by the wind, I could make out islands and continents, lands that vanished as soon as they became tangible. The world was limitless yet it was always within reach; time was a pliable substance that weaved an unbroken present.

When was the spell broken? Gradually rather than suddenly. It is hard to accept being betrayed by a friend, deceived by the woman we love, or that the idea of freedom is the mask of a tyrant. What we call "finding out" is a slow and tricky process because we ourselves are the accomplices of our errors and deceptions. Nevertheless, I can remember fairly clearly an incident that was the first sign, although it was quickly forgotten. I must have been about six when one of my cousins who was a little older showed me a North American magazine with a photograph of soldiers marching along a huge avenue, probably in New York. "They've returned from the war" she said. This handful of words disturbed me, as if they foreshadowed the end of the world or the Second Coming of Christ. I vaguely knew that somewhere far away a war had ended a few years earlier and that the soldiers were marching to celebrate their victory. For me, that war had taken place in another time, not here and now. The photo refuted me. I felt literally dislodged from the present.

From that moment time began to fracture more and more. And there was a plurality of spaces. The experience repeated itself more and more frequently. Any piece of news, a harmless phrase, the headline in a newspaper: everything proved the outside world's existence and my own unreality. I felt that the world was splitting and that I did not inhabit the present. My present was disintegrating: real time was somewhere else. My time, the time of the garden, the fig tree, the games with friends, the drowsiness among the plants at three in the afternoon under the sun, a fig torn open (black and red like a live coal but one that is sweet and fresh): this was a fictitious time. In spite of what my senses told me, the time from over there, belonging to the others, was the real one, the time of the real present. I accepted the inevitable: I became an adult. That was how my expulsion from the present began.

It may seem paradoxical to say that we have been expelled from the present, but it is a feeling we have all had at some moment. Some of us experienced it first as a condemnation, later transformed into consciousness and action. The search for the present is neither the pursuit of an earthly paradise nor that of a timeless eternity: it is the search for a real reality. For us, as Spanish Americans, the real present was not in our own countries: it was the time lived by others, by the English, the French and the Germans. It was the time of New York, Paris, London. We had to go and look for it and bring it back home. These years were also the years of my discovery of literature. I began writing poems. I did not know what made me write them: I was moved by an inner need that is difficult to define. Only now have I understood that there was a secret relationship between what I have called my expulsion from the present and the writing of poetry. Poetry is in love with the instant and seeks to relive it in the poem, thus separating it from sequential time and turning it into a fixed present. But at that time I wrote without wondering why I was doing it. I was searching for the gateway to the present: I wanted to belong to my time and to my century. A little later this obsession became a fixed idea: I wanted to be a modern poet. My search for modernity had begun.

What is modernity? First of all it is an ambiguous term: there are as many types of modernity as there are societies. Each has its own. The word's meaning is uncertain and arbitrary, like the name of the period that precedes it, the Middle Ages. If we are modern when compared to medieval times, are we perhaps the Middle Ages of a future modernity? Is a name that changes with time a real name? Modernity is a word in search of its meaning. Is it an idea, a mirage or a moment of history? Are we the children of modernity or its creators? Nobody knows for sure. It doesn't matter much: we follow it, we pursue it. For me at that time modernity was fused with the present or rather produced it: the present was its last supreme flower. My case is neither unique nor exceptional: from the Symbolist period, all modern poets have chased after that magnetic and elusive figure that fascinates them. Baudelaire was the first. He was also the first to touch her and discover that she is nothing but time that crumbles in one's hands. I am not going to relate my adventures in pursuit of modernity: they are not very different from those of other 20th-Century poets. Modernity has been a universal passion. Since 1850 she has been our goddess and our demoness. In recent years, there has been an attempt to exorcise her and there has been much talk of "postmodernism". But what is postmodernism if not an even more modern modernity?

For us, as Latin Americans, the search for poetic modernity runs historically parallel to the repeated attempts to modernize our countries. This tendency begins at the end of the 18th Century and includes Spain herself. The United States was born into modernity and by 1830 was already, as de Tocqueville observed, the womb of the future; we were born at a moment when Spain and Portugal were moving away from modernity. This is why there was frequent talk of "Europeanizing" our countries: the modern was outside and had to be imported. In Mexican history this process begins just before the War of Independence. Later it became a great ideological and political debate that passionately divided Mexican society during the 19th Century. One event was to call into question not the legitimacy of the reform movement but the way in which it had been implemented: the Mexican Revolution. Unlike its 20th-Century counterparts, the Mexican Revolution was not really the expression of a vaguely utopian ideology but rather the explosion of a reality that had been historically and psychologically repressed. It was not the work of a group of ideologists intent on introducing principles derived from a political theory; it was a popular uprising that unmasked what was hidden. For this very reason it was more of a revelation than a revolution. Mexico was searching for the present outside only to find it within, buried but alive. The search for modernity led
softcomponent May 2014
Find the lighter, use it as a lighthouse on a walk below the wall you watch along the wave-formations. Who Wants a Cold One? a Coors Light ad corrects.. When it comes to your home, the little things matter.. an insurance ad blares.. my computer is infected with 3rd party applications unremovable to my meagre tech-ability.. there is a hero as Joseph Campbell once theorized.. in myself like a sick bastardly virus waiting for moments to prove to me "I AM THE SAVIOR, I AM THE CHRIST, I AM THE WARLORD, MICE, MAN, AND VICE".. the windows of opportunity close, I am left waiting the door

& the elevator.

Thirty-thousand years ago, there was nothing but a breeze.. a viscous breeze across chill-spined pterodactyls.. warm-under-the-jungle-brush tyrannosaurus rex, and to think one day I will be just a legend in bone..
Charlotte said she thinks of death and so did Jen. They sat next to the all-you-can-eat and discussed the inevitable. I was sour and playful with no-will-to-understand, just reminding my hair of breezy summer days of 10, thinking of strangeness, of place I was in.

When it's quiet sometimes, I think of old dreams.. dreams I sunk below drown-level as a child in bed and belief. Both mommy and daddy were arguing in the kitchen, this was 7 or 8.. they argued so often one could hear mom begin to cry sometimes, and dad I could see in minds-eye with a grimace so closed and so creased he was hurt and yet honest.. I did not understand so I hid under-stood-silhouettes, oh adulthood..

once in dream I was in pulsing green graveyard like crayon realism strobe lights, tombstones all-round and faint-buzz of outside and one of those strange balded henchmen of badguy Jafar from Disney's Aladdin came peaking outta nowhere with curled eyebrow and baggy one-thousand-one Arabian nightlives parachute pants, curled toes brown-beige moccasins to.. he let out conniving 'HEUHEE!' and slapped me right-side cheek and I JOLTED up bedwise in real time to feel actual physical sting for a few lingered seconds then the sobs of poor mother outside.. I never remembered a dream so clearly again.. they all come, Pro-Found, and dizzy away after hour or two for rest of eternity or perhaps to Place I Can Visit at Death to Review Every Vision and I wonder... when your life flashes before your eyes and the light is encroaching, scenes of mother, brother, father, son, daughter, best-friend, party, break-up, heartbreak, slip-fall, first-sip, first-drag, last-leg, first-kiss, first-hit, first-game, fear, love,  HATE, wait.. do the Dreams come to? Are they all flesh-ed before your eyes as you pass into Light? Are they brought to direct remembrance as you cross the border with Passport of Gods and a Goddess (and which Picture appears on the Page)..?

I remember the old eczema taking bits of skin to carpets round-town and round-lower-mainland to disgust of friends old and new-- this was era where confidence ate itself in mirrors, the sober reality of ugly-ness chiseling away at my Goodness Attempts.. All That Pointless Pain was no Exception nor a Rule, it just **** Happens every once-and-again to the sound of life farting. I used to miss school for feet so impossible to walk on, pussing and bleeding and staining the sheets, shoe soles, carpets, and soul.. limp thru the hallways of Brooks Secondary feeling like bad flavor additive to multicultural Planet Earth-- sleeping 'til the bell rang drinking coffee singing songs I said '**** the ******* educational system and **** me I'm so flatlined..' someday I felt things would really get better and lucky young me I was right.

A half-decade later, I am 21 and hoping, floating, free in the breeze as the wings I have grown keep on wishing the subsistence down. The girl, whoever-she-might-as-well-be, sits immediately vertical chatting frantically to boy with a bit of a cowlick slouching on-up over a bundle of colored paperwork. It seems late in the season for homework, and assume they may have some affiliation with a crazy-hep computer design group in the tradition of Nouevau Silicon Valley.... I sit at my laptop, inching a word a million cubic millimeters closer to God or Divinity or Crescendo or A Bunch More ******* You'll End Up Ignoring---

It's a sunny day, the rain having slathered-off into obscurity somewhere with the Monsoons when the Sun gave the Moon a Soft Slap and the poor purity white-kid went off whimpering, bleeding nose-- I sat, the other night, playing another Grand Strategy game as Tom divided his time between a vaulted and damaged lover, his labor, and his life (friends, food, video-games, vice)... Chai, old Chai the Thai Guy mentioned past his nose in previous iterations of Depictions sat and described his pins-and-needles upset at his bosses at one his three many jobs.. desperately firing text-messages into receiving-space-panel and reflect and back unto Tom's smartphone dash asking him to order a six-pack from a local delivery service cuz his adrenal was giving him heartpain with hurt, and Tom being Busy as All-Ways Tom Is wasn't able to decipher the scramble in-time to make contact before closure of the liquor stores.. poor not-so-poor Chai at first felt castrated at realization he would miss the 11 PM dot-time, but didn't mind as he rendezvoused with Tom and I at Willows Beach where Tom reminded him of a whiskey he'd bought sitting counter-wise at his place.. we kissed a few Mary Janes rightsideup, dragging our butts in the sand to discuss what was wrong (each of us had a problem that night, save for perhaps a less-vocal Tom, I describing my annoyance that a lazy consensus had erupted in my sorry-hometown between my sorta-friends and friends-of-friends that my writing and sharing my writing was arrogant and I an arrogant *** for sharing and I just confounded that they would find my passions so trivial-- perhaps jealousy, perhaps complacency and judgement-for-lack-of-anything-better-to-do and ah **** em all if they think like that, I'll write and be the arrogant me they think I am and share 'til I'm blue in the face and dead perhaps for outspoken intellectualism in their autocratic pointless-waste worldviews.. sad that I dislike them only on the basis they disliked me first..)

I had planned to stay late and leave early-morn (5 or 6 AM) to catch a first-off morning bus back home and sleep, hoping for most part to avoid the shattered-***-mess of a home I was living in.
About 2 days ago, give or take, a water-line for the laundry machine had erupted to soak our entirely-carpeted basement suite, forcing the poor new landlord (a sweetheart of a man named Ron having just taken possession of the house from previous owner on May 1st and, it seems, left 'holding the bag' as they'd call it in day-trading-investment-lingo) to tear out the entirely-soaked carpet and replace it with sensible laminate flooring and rendering the entire suite virtually unlivable for indefinite-few-days and so for me work and friends and especially writing become a welcome reprieve to I, a first world Refu-Jeez.. us, so terribly-off I sip a latte near sunny panorama windows-so-clear-they're-not-there overlooking the crosses of Yates and Blanshard with European church of Gothic architectural style poking heedlessly into empty-open blue.. ironically and strangely there is a liquor store quite literally right next door, and's one I shop at often for its decent prices (God is Dead or Just Drinking to Cope with Sartre and Kierkegaard's Ultimate Thesis) (Kierkegaard especially '*** Kierkegaard seems a good and long friend of God the Almighty) (...I talk with such Judaeo-Christian Catholic rhetoric it never ceases to amaze myself as it bleeds to page..) (stranger thing is, tho, there is no beginning, no middle, no end.. you read or you are bored and either/or is just fine..)

There is some hypothesized crescendo-bliss Tech Singularity on the way in the try-dition of Ray Kurzweil and William Burroughs.. Oscar Wilde to.. (see The Soul of Man Under Socialism in essay-collect book De Profundis).. one day we will all be eternal happiness expressed in song and dance and LED erected-projections of Imperfect Universe (Our Imperfect Earth) with lives stuck on infinite repeat.. our idea of Paradise.. and for those with ability to remain rushed to cortisol (stress-the-best hormone) it will be Hell on Earth, so DRAB and THE SAME all the TIME and it's READ and it's WRITE and it's RIGHT.. the world runs faster with every passing day so desperate to discover the Globe is Flat so we can Hop Off the Other Side into what one might assume to be The Better Place.. elusively picking-up speed thinking 'closer now definitely closer now' unaware (or, secretly aware and unwilling to admit for what will one do when one cannot run?) they are Running in Circles Over and Over and Over and Over and Over Again... cannot take the hint in the fact the Pacific (same Pacific) has been crossed a hugeillion times, nor the same McDonald's in the Azores of Atlantic Portugal is the Same ******* McDonald's stopped-thru on the then-trillionth time last year... and all whilst the International Space Station remains muted up-above crossing 'round and 'round 'til the Jehovah'n Day of Judgement (Chris Hadfield now below with advice for how to run a little faster even blinded in one eye..) then there are the dying Prophets Predicting Industrial Collapse who preach upon the Mount of Internet Sinai Eternal and state "the world is now unsalvageable and we are all about to die.. if ever you wished to find Buddhistic Nirvanic Peace, now is the time so start meditating and imagine Death as New Life and Geopolitics as Game".. forever and ever and ever and ever.

It is only natural to find existence to be 'weird..' layered with Who's That's and giant What The ***** everywhichway you turn.. did it start in a Big Bang, will it end in a Big Crunch, Big Freeze, Big Bang.. ? all questions once ignored for certain ignorance and resurrected as questions concerning the Nature of the What The ***** (also known as 'Science').. and if it did start in a Big Bang, did I start in a Big Bang..? and if it does end in a Big Crunch, will I end in a Big Crunch..? am I a sudden flash of REAL in a Universe that isn't me..? or am I an entire Universe.. perhaps even more than that...? the questions pulse in youth like bad words or bullets. I once stayed up all-night thinking of infinity with my head soaring space-wise forever and ever and ever and I stopped in sudden panic thinking: I could lie here up all night and all day 'til the towered age of 37 (I was 14 at the time) and still be no further on the Universal Map than from thumb-tip-middle to thumb-nail so I wrapped up the attempt with a mix of fear and incredulity, went to school next-day exhausted and tried to explain it all to friends.. they got it, I suppose, but we were all 14 and played basketball instead (I imagined infinite-spinning-basketball on thumb of Michael Jordan).

It's always best describing life in form of Disembodied Poetics.. sure some Philistines won't understand '*** their minds are made of Clockwork, Digits, and Blockthought.. but the general psychic underly implied in all with human faculty will ring-a-ding-ding! and remember all such ancient thoughts and feels as forgotten as a child, locked away until the Spirit rose-up from a rosey thorn prickle to flower straight-up into a Rose! or so I hope as a one-of-many writers-- all of which will write so-as to speak on your behalf.. all floaty and marking a purpose.
Ashley Chapman Sep 2017
Sandwiched in layers of liquid crystal display,
Encased in vats of plastic,
                          
                            we
Voyaging in data-spheres, plumes of digital play.

Mindless,
         In the soup of silicone,
                            
                            all
Myt­h-makers,
         Pouring over electro-spawned
         networks,
                            
                            fall
Workers,
          In the buzz of bits and bytes, of
          megabytes and terabytes,
                            
                            down
Everyone
          Far from the wood, the brine, the
          mud that caked us,
          In tighter and tighter
          digitised  projections,
                            
                            click!
‘Like me’,
‘Share me’,
‘Leave your comments.’

Messages smoothed out in polymers,
Beyond reproductions of ourselves,

                           enter:

Deeper, delving in the mire of dream-conscious,

Now a waking voice,
          Hardened, digitised, recorded in
          bubbles, in drives, in clouds:
                        
Numb numbers of numbers numb,
                          mirror.

          A platform slotted home:
The motherboard!
          To record the echo in the hollow
          of our Being.
Wrote this a while back. It was published in The Tunnel Magazine, which was great. Anyway, hope it gets a wider audience.
jennifer wayland May 2014
step number one: read the book wintergirls.
tuck away every detail like you're cramming for a test.
dog-ear the pages and carry it with you like a travel guide.
decide that with your fingers and toes always icy cold for as long as you can remember,
you were destined to be a wintergirl.
reread it periodically, for inspirational purposes.

step two: download the myfitnesspal app.
use it to track every calorie you put into your body.
memorize that an oreo has seventy calories, an apple has one hundred, a cup of hot chocolate has eighty,
a bagel has two hundred seventy (a number that terrifies you),
and on and on and on.
let numbers float behind your eyes just before you go to bed,
and let them stay there as you throw off the covers to do guilty pushups and situps in your room
for twenty minutes (burning one hundred and twenty calories).
ignore the warnings shouted at you in red text
when you eat less than twelve hundred calories per day.
look at the projections it gives you for five weeks from now
with weights that seem both too small and too large at the same time.
when your net for the day hits the negatives after weeks of trying,
feel the slightest pang of satisfaction.

step three: find your "thinspiration".
make a tumblr just to look at pictures of jutting-out spines and thigh gaps and ribs.
hold your phone up next to your reflection in the mirror
and pick out everywhere your body differs from hers.
when the girls on the fitness blogs start looking too heavy for your goal,
find the eating-disorder blogs.
obsess over their bodies almost as much as you obsess over yours,
but not quite as much.

step four: begin losing weight.
imagine yourself floating away, feather-light.
imagine yourself becoming skin and bones.
imagine this as you drag your heavy body from class to class,
as your muscles waste from malnutrition.
imagine this as you have to clean your hairbrush out
three times while you work tangles from your hair.
imagine this as you snap at anyone and everyone,
as you spend hours locked in your room.

step five: become a poet and write about yourself.
romanticize your own demons, just by calling them demons.
use as many metaphors as you can,
to avoid the harsh language of the truth.
and especially avoid writing about the crippling guilt
that hits you when you eat too much,
you're fat you're worthless you'll never be anything,
and hits you when you don't eat enough,
what's wrong with you how did you let it get to this point
voices in your head never abating.
avoid writing about your lack of motivation and constant exhaustion and always,
always, use words that imply mystery.
describe your mind as foggy, call your body diminishing.
never say it how it is, because you could convince yourself to quit.
never say that it's torture and you're in pain
and you just wish you were eight again, never considering this path.
never say that you need help but you don't want help.

if you have the urge to say these things,
say only that this disorder is not one you would willingly give up,
because you finally have something to control.
because it is the truth,
but it is also the romanticized truth.
trigger warning, obviously. this just came out of nowhere the other day. apologies for how harsh/offensive it may be.
Mateuš Conrad Aug 2016
die nacht  aus alle verewigung -
verewigung die nacht - in immigrant German
spoken - not spoken, hälfte, hälfte,
pork-chops go go got taken with Australian *******...
cos selling the body saved you with the crucifix from
selling something like your soul, hence the accord to
be ready for critique of selling the magic potion of drinking
iodine... i was a fetus back then... when the atom
**** got the plastic elasticity of tangling
to wanking a didgeridoo... magician's syndrome:
**** that tightened fist and i'll assure you
you'll get the white flag of piracy's peace:
meaning they never robbed the rich men, pirates
just robbed the artists... hey wooden plank,
knock knock... don't make me into a wooden chair...
take a creaking floorboard and make it into
a shimmy toothpick... knock knock... who's there?
Jude? Jude who? hey i'm Jude? Judy Jew who?
a Jew who chewed propaganda and hid Jude.
fair enough, Jude's the everyday Jew.
no, she's the Rabbi! Rabbi who?
the Sabbatical who knows who.
some say i know god.
well, good luck with that, mostly asserted
on death row.
at least that place is given a fabric of a team effort.
by the time i think about next week's trash
i'll have written something akin to it being
taken out into a pig's trough of what resembled
the dating scene in New York...
hardly reminiscent of the gay Utopia:
so much anger yet still only the vote,
so much anger yet still only the vote...
           the intelligence poured in, but the
quiff only wanted the algebra of x
to match it up to a presidential race success with some donor's
y, and later + and squared and equals to make
those family holidays affordable.
- winter-night... deutschekaiser....
i swear it would be cheaper to build a wall
around the middle east...
like the European Union really
wanted to invest in dates... cos we were
ready to make a Sabbath from a Ramadan...
like we waited for the loss of % on added debt...
we waited, and waited... and waited...
we got McDonald's instead... and that was all
in the inventory... and that was all in
whatever we got, if we got anything:
deutsche schmutzig machen... is that perfect
German muddy - herrbzigg - or alter
Philanthropist zigzag - howdy howdy **?
dots the avenue...
and the many riches coming your way...
make muddy, or muddied already,
takes one swipe of the credit card,
ends up with 110 to nil streaks of ****
bothered about Star Trek... and the cellphone...
and the extraterrestrials of Mexico (or he co & co; huh i?)...
got the gangrene green if you
like the Licorice tangle of blank Ovid saying:
mahogany, mahogany, mahoney... mama got all da
honey... n she got the 2Pac shaky shaky core blues;
mind the albino in the hood:
or Mars the red planet, Earth the brown planet,
scary they thought of dinosaurs with dragons prior...
didn't think of Martian life prior to government
conspiracies, way before Darwinism and crowd control...
life on Mars: well, it was once there,
long before dinosaurs, and bacteria and yogurt...
long before the circus, and the commuter caterpillar...
i believe that there was life on Mars,
given the timescale... it was there...
but it ain't there anymore...
                           which might explain the U.F.O.s....
don't believe the government's audacity to have
created something so phosphorescent Zulu
as to invoke an engraving of lawless Voodoo...
before we knew of dinosaur remains we drew dragons...
before we explored Mars we were given
the proofs... life existed on Mars, long before
Earth was made the 2nd laboratory of a deity...
then it died, given the life-cycle of stars...
Mars is rocky... earth is rocky...
whatever life existed on Mars in its full potential
is long gone... is this really as weird
as what pop culture makes of man and monkey?
kettle and carpal muscles evolving from
oysters? we really can become equally ridiculous to
the extent that we turn on each other...
it didn't take much to divide Hindu from Muslim
into India and Pakistan... this won't take much thought either...
i'm just trying to counter scientific negativism,
and counter the timescale of both physicists' big bang
theory and the anti-historical Darwinism...
i'm starting with life on Mars, at a time when
Earth was inhospitable... volcanic... i might be among
the many people treated as being "mentally ill"
when the government claims to be so advanced as to practice
such projections of phosphorescent objects,
when it's dumb as Donald *****... because NASA is
not theoretical enough... and the government seeks
control by claiming NASA isn't the end result...
the usual suspects: lies... and more lies...
the Venusian Art... the pick-up artists...
i read it, never tried it... wish i did... but i also wished
for a herd of goats too...
but that's the best explanation of sighting a UFO i have...
before Earth was made habitable, Mars came prior...
Mars is rocky... is Earth... our fantasy is about discovering
life on Mars... life on Mars left a long time ago...
it's gone... gone gone gone...
the sun is cooling down before it becomes a dwarf...
before the perfection of this glasshouse of plants and animals
Mars came before us... and it was perfect...
later came this whole God and Devil debacle and plagiarism...
the first supreme, the second mildly similar...
but altogether worse... i told you, a phosphorescent object
in the night is hardly a government project...
the government is not capable of such things...
if they are, then they're like a man with a 4 inch
***** telling a girl he's a millionaire and has a fetish for
watching his girlfriend get ****** by a stranger with a 12 inch ****...
do the match... get a mud-bath.
the Welsh drew dragons and the Chinese too,
long before the dinosaurs usurped the happy-times
next to a bonfire... i'm just like that...
life existed on Mars long before we decided to look
for microbes on that red Ayers orb...
i'd be looking for sodium rather than twin oxygen trapped
into liquid by hydrogen, then always alienating laws
by ice, the said liquid and vapour...
my theory is that the original life on Mars,
didn't experience hydro sodium chloride... i.e. the seas...
Mars had only sweet life form... given the Devil
plagiarised Mars with earth, we received the seas...
we received the hydro sodium chloride... salty waters...
so if i was heading to Mars, i'd be mostly interested
in finding sodium chloride (salt) than anything...
not life... if i was heading to Mars i'd be trying to find salt...
not life... salt... salt... salt... Angie Jolie film (2010)? Salt.
because we forgot our individual intuition,
and we chose to have individual intellect that might be
easily swayed, because of this we allowed
collective intuition to arise... which we couldn't
intellectualise, because a collective intuition gave rise
premonition, prophecy and such artefacts of similar attention...
no collective intellect could ever be grasped:
atheism and Christianity and Islam and etc.
are such examples of what we lost... once we gave up
individual intuition, to replace it with a collective intellect,
we couldn't revise individual intuition with an individual
intellect (how many adherents of Marx does it
take to change a light-bulb?) - so we invested in
a collective intuition, whatever you call it, it's maxim
is still unshaken with the words: the sun will rise tomorrow.
a line from Heidegger concerning this observation:
every man is born as many men and dies as a single one -
like me, how i discovered the difference between
the man and the mass, intuition and intellect...
how man reversed the intuitive continuum of animals
to converse with an anti-animal invigoration of
intellect, and transcend the continuum of replicas,
and therefore invest in embryo, or the book of Genesis,
"original", in that, also a continuum by ontological inspection:
i.e. continually revisionist... Einstein preceding Newton...
Orangutan Joe preceding King Kong was never
really going to happen.
WA West  Aug 2018
Airport
WA West Aug 2018
Airport

Covering my face with my hands, there is an incessant in-pouring of light. I feel like I am in a casket. My brain seems to be swelling, in tune with an invisible pendulum. Waves of nausea flood my body.  Small children thunder around in front of me, like hysterical nightmare projections.

I have never enjoyed being in Airports. They are morgues with an added buzz of visitors and commerce. The sterility of the interior design and the nervous excitability of the passengers sets me very quickly on edge. As a salesman for a major international e-commerce company, I am required to fly often.

To avoid excess stress and anxiety I prepare meticulously. Nothing must be left to chance. I am regimented and purposeful during my preparation. If the luggage allowance is 15kg, then I make sure that my suitcase is dead on that weight. I reweigh my suitcases on several sets of scales. Checking there is no error in their calibration.  I do not carry any prohibited travel items. I ring airline customer support several times to double-check. I rummage through my suitcase repeatedly. I allow no error to go unnoticed. I google articles about travel preparation, checklists, essential travel items and I read articles about anxiety related to fear of flying. Neither my emotional state nor practical matters are to take me by surprise. I am like a samurai undertaking pre-battle rituals.

Check-in is open. I funnel through to the check-in desk. There are several people before me; their movements generate a low pitch buzzing in my head. They are hyper-kinetic, speaking at unreasonably loud volumes in an indecipherable language. My arms vibrate down by my sides, my tongue thickens. I feel warmer and more vulnerable. I start to think about the first meal I’ll eat in Rekyjavik. I have panicked thoughts, recognition of myself in these thoughts is minimal. I swing around to check that nobody is standing directly behind me. The several people check in without issue. A man in all black clothing, I presume, a security guard intercepts me and asks me to go to desk 13. Although there is a sign hanging down from the ceiling with directions to check-in desks 10-15, I am unable to locate desk 13. I double back on myself, I ask the check-in assistant from desk 12 where desk 13 is. She says that it has been temporarily moved to the second floor of the terminal. Desk 13 on the second floor doesn't in the slightest resemble a check-in desk. A burly individual with an absence of ****** expressions or an officious manner mans an oak desk. There is no conveyor belt for the luggage, only a shopping trolley. ''Ermmm can I check in here?''. The man whom lacks an officious manner nods curtly without removing his eyes from the newspaper he is reading. "Documentation''. I hand him my documentation. ''Passport''. ''Going to Reykjavik?'' ''Erm yes''. ‘’Follow me’’.
The man, who lacks an officious manner, leads me a door behind the check-in desk that doesn’t in the slightest resemble a check-in desk. A young child with golden blonde hair in white robes pushes the shopping trolley behind me. We enter a room that is high like a cathedral and tiled in exquisite mosaic tiles; alternating gold and white into infinity. The ceiling is so high it seems to disappear off into a void. Sat down at a bog-standard mass manufactured desk in front of me, is a man who must be at least 13 feet tall, he has enormous ears like an elephant and is speaking in rounds of what sounds like the same phrase. I do not recognise the language. I am ceased from behind by the blonde child and the man who lacks an officious manner. The man with enormous ears like an elephant screams ‘’I hate Iceland’’, the blonde child laughs uncontrollably grabbing his stomach like he is holding his insides in. The ceiling begins to close in and a space opens in the floor. The man who lacks an officious manner says in a sinister tone says ‘’Do you think you would be forgiven”. I say ‘’I have got a ticket, I’m going to Iceland on business’’ I feel a prodding in my lower back and then darkness.
#shortstory #anxiety #Rekyjavik
Lin Cava  Jun 2013
Renewal
Lin Cava Jun 2013
Renewal

Mother walked into the Sea this morning.
Harkened to the song of Neptune;
the wail of the sirens.
She was called to beauty.

Mother walked into the Sea this morning,
but she did not walk out.
Embraced by the precious,
the irreplaceable, the untouched
she is surrounded now in a balance of beauty.

She travelled long and far
leaving land behind
as a lost memory
a forgotten effort

Relieved forever of the weight
of the fight, of the blight
She has left us to our own devices.
I cannot even cry, "Why?"
For I am aware.

Mother walked into the Sea this morning.
She moved past vast deserts in the Oceans,
fled beyond sea lanes and gulf streams
shedding tears to match the salt of the sea
she cried for the lost coral reefs

She cried for the loss of life
She cried until there were no more tears
...and still she swam to where now she rests.
There is no more she will do.
There is no more she can fix.

She floats past green fronds,
free floating in the brine
feels the mermaids purses hiding there
so few, and less will survive.

Along the way, through dead seas
she sees the remains
of man's most vile waste
drums upon drums, rusted through
once filled with half-life,
spent fission elements
left to decay, left to destroy
left to be forgotten
but Mother, cannot forgive
the damage is done.

She lingers in a place of beauty
beyond words, no language can portray
as she hides among the coral, watches
the colorful fish, tropical life
and cries once more for the death
the destruction, mankind's blight
wreaked upon these special places...

Her heart is breaking
for if the Seas die
the Earth dies.
Better to let the Blight of Man
be left to destroy himself.

She shall gather the gifts of the Earth
Secret them far away from harm
to become the seeds of a new beginning.

It has happened before
Millions of years ago
But an instant to Mother
And after, the Earth came back
full in its beauty
perfect in its balance

Let her sister, Nature, take Her toll upon
the blight of man,
the pestilence of saturation.
There are too many, much too many
for Mother to support.  

She must rest now.  Save what little can be saved.
For the time when she must rise again.
A time when the wind will carry her breath
to  breathe life into what remains.
And she shall rise again.

Renewal.  Mother will rise once more.
And for a while, there will be no callousness
no blight of forgotten crimes
against the lifeblood that sustains her;
Mother Earth.  Only she shall remember
that once, there was greatness in Mankind...

Mother walked into the Sea this morning.
Harkened to the song of Neptune;
the wail of the sirens.
She was called to beauty.

Mother walked into the Sea this morning,
but she did not walk out.

Lin Cava
20-June-2013

As of June 19, 2013 the world's human population is estimated to be 7.093 billion by the United States Census Bureau, and over 7 billion by the United Nations.  Most contemporary estimates for the carrying capacity of the Earth under existing conditions (which is the ability of earth to sustain the population of man) are between 4 billion and 16 billion. World Population Organization has stated that the growth of human populations now exceeds the ability of the earth to sustain them.

*****************­*
Depending on which estimate is used, human overpopulation may or may not have already occurred.  Nevertheless, the rapid recent increase in human population is causing some concern. The population is expected to reach between 8 and 10.5 billion between the year 2040 and 2050. In May 2011, the United Nations increased the medium variant projections to 9.3 billion for 2050 and 10.1 billion for 2100.

Something has to give.  There will be disease, and increased loss of life by natural occurrences because of sheer volume of population alone.  There will be genocide, and hidden agenda's carried out by the powerful and wealthy which will remain secret.  We are so capable of saving many, but just as capable of biological destruction.  Culling of the herds.  It will not be fiction, just as "1984" is no longer fiction...

— The End —