Test Ting Won To Tree
By
Charles Fleischer







Rifleman decal water is to Tiny basket liners as Strained yo-yo string is to?
Dark wool glowing is to Oldest lost oddity as First genetic engine is to?
Black quail taint is to Nut curdled paint as Hemp biscuit dominoes are to?
Steam traced paper is to Lemon ash vapor as Digital midget wig is to?
Eccentric brine mimes are to Electric silk slacks as Spark formed lava is to?
Sunchoked black hornets are to as Rescued orphan doves as Retold cat jokes are to?
Hand traced videos are to Braided rubber spines as Opal rain dancers are to?
Halogen anchor gong is to Annoying bread portraits as Soft bracelet lockers are to?
Old troll bios are to Select cherub echoes as Broken matchstick parasols are to?
Dome nine chariots are to Frayed lunar remnants as Fuming honey flasks are to?
Bluing assault operas is to Beading fluted flowers as Magnetic lawn tweezers are to?
Converted flea sponges are to Floating dog murals as Frozen Archie comics are to?
Molded road pads are to Crusty gumdrop thread as Straw ribbed pelicans are to?
Inflatable diamond vowel is to Single gender raffle as Groovy desert coffee is to?
Temporary solution radiation is to Idiotic witness mumble as Motorized marshmallow kit is to?
Panoramic utopian paranoia is to Aggravated pimp silhouettes as Unhinged gun sellers are to?
Homesick ghost pajamas is to Virtuous fly fungus as Royal sandpaper gloves are to?
Gangster hayride tickets are to Deer milk Oreos as Turnip fairy maps are to?
Glue gun porn is to Nocturnal cabin mice as Cab fare corn is to?
Speckled fish nickels are to Under water bric-a-brac as Epic snakeskin paisley is to?
Twinkie bungalow pranks are to Drowsy vapid oafs as Quantized cavern fish are to?
Raunchy snail kimono is to Coiled time dice as Smeared equator malt is to?
Metallic centaur franchise is to Transparent cheese chess as Spotted glacial remnants is to?
Sky fused pong is to Rustic mothers brattle as Granulated canister ointment is to?
Overgrown maze mule is to Mated smugglers hugging as Floating thesaurus exam is to?
Sliding coed sprinkler is to Soapy whitefish rebate as Precious lamb diaper is to?
Mushy acorn luster is to Lilac protein rings as Slapstick wrestler dialect is to?
Freaky plankton bells is to Rolling horse divorce as Morphing morphine lips are to?
Sticky razor sparkle is to Emerald muscle spasm as Glaring cat cipher is to?
Peppy unisex mustache is to Pelican fighter syndrome as Clumping night grumble is to?
Scanning paired pearls are to Ruby rubbed roaches as Satanic sailor flotsam  are to?
Glowing asteroid solder is to Ideal shark data as Failed frail doilies are to?
Numb nuts boredom is to Fantastic icy phantoms as Sporadic silk creations is to?
Crooks crow chow is to Loading spackled bonder as Gargled snowdrop blasters are to?
Outdid myself today is to Outside myself again as Outlived myself controls is to?
Venting shuttlecock upset is to Texting badminton kitten as Settler tested motels are to?
Prepare paired vents is to Prefer paid events as Pretender predicts fiction is to
Crunchy mental fender is to Catching mentor menace as Poorly seasoned lettuce is to?
Outside sidewalk inside is to Seaside outcast input as Sideways landslide victory is to?  
Compile fake password is to Compost world poo as Compose village anthem is to?
Crooked crotch blunder is to Loud crowd thunder as Divine vine finder is to?
Chucks’ wooden truck is to Bucks good luck as Sticky ducks tucked is to?  
Overhaul underway overseas is to Overturned downsized pickup as Underground onramp overloaded is to?
I’ll bite there is to Aisle byte their as Isle bight there is to?
Gnat gnawed wrist is to Boned show beans as See through putty is to?
Flapping floppy guppies are to Buzzing zipped dozers as Muddy bloody strippers are to?
Dark diagonal dialogue is to Diabolical dihedral die as Interesting circadian exposition is to?
Experimental flossing expectations are to Waxed dental traps as Permanent impermanence resolution is to?  
Outran ringside intrigue is to Sidetracked onboard boatload as Loaded firearm topside is to?
Phony floozy phone is to Chewy ego honey as Yogi Mama’s dada is to?
Nimble teardrop squiggle is to Humble cage curtains as Loyal truckstop morals are to?
Torching curled elastic is to Sonic neighbor clamor as Golden droplet integers are to?
Duplex pupil scanners are to Nacreous cloud clocks as Shrouded flute shops are to?
Lawn rocket tendrils are to Finding surreal borders as Sheep monarchs children is to?
Gloating ungloved squires are to Busting double doubters as Pushing woeful doctors are to?
Tricking snowbelt firedogs is to Panmixing blackened haywires as Unclothed shameful leaders are to?
Malicious ranch ritual is to Internal puppet bubble as Ornate underworld masquerade is to?
Rustic debonair Eskimos are to Mindless sassy elves as Gorgeous somber acrobats are to?
Learned earthy pimps are to Fearless sneaky Queens as Somber gentle vagrants are to?
Shocking horse wear is to Glossy sled fluid as Damaged chipmunk tongue is to?
Traditional agony chart is to Damp voodoo motel as Backwoods museum quote is to?
Magical cat cabin is to Dapper porpoise humor as Malicious graveyard foam is to?
Therapeutic gazelle cushion is to Stored alibi equipment as Stunning tempo light is to?
Fantastic rascal art is to Wasted prune dust as Jupiter’s midget law is to?
Little nut razor is to Gigantic hyena shield as Hourglass pillow fever is to?
Coiled rain clouds are to Dizzy tycoon clowns as Lime eating cowards are to?
Possessive epicurean demonstrators are to Faded eavesdropping giants as Determined swanky drunks are to?
Aquatic preview pocket is to Soggy judicial topiary as Finicky hamster fabric is to?
Enlarged fruit cuff is to Obedient mumbling orchestra as Dark tenant tariff is to?
Recycled flash thermometer is to Botched temptation probe as Pet glider grid is to?
Seriously shy idols are to Costly driving perfumes as Ferryboat chapel wine is to?
Winged jalopy details are to Faithful spectral fathers as Sprinkled mint rainbows are to?
Spelling unneeded words is to Sprouting donut flaps as Blaming mellow mallrats are to?
Eroding loom keepsake is to Magnificent accordion canoe as Dirty bongo fumes are to?
Souring violet ink is to Juvenile insult park as Periodic ferret envy is to?
Obedient boyfriend aroma is to Sanitized fat lozenges as Dramatic jailer garb is to?
Mysterious patrol group is to Dynamic maiden discharge as Captured hurricane ratio is to?
Lackadaisical bigot bingo is to Oblong care merchant as Expensive swamp shampoo is to?
Petite orifice worship is to Atomic barge pet as Plucked hair exhibit is to?
Elite officer wallop is to Automatic yard rake as Healing climax glitter is to?
Needless swan costume is to Giant jungle goat as Organic picnic napkin is to?
Leaky jet steam is to Innovative fascist whistle as Enchanting idol evidence is to?
Plastic mascara seduction is to Greasy thermal ointment as Attractive muskrat crease is to?
Lucky camel pills are to White coral Torah as Eternal stage clutter is to?
Roasted oat lube is to Sloppy rum glue as Nylon table debt is to?
Steep nook catastrophe is to Empty dome damage as Pulsing breeze powder is to?
Empty sack power is to Hitched buck stroke as Red claw warning is to?
Ultra brief slogan is to Yummy lab mutant as Pathetic ball armor is to?
Nauseating fish splatter is to Obstinate rectal twitch as Strained prick coffee is to?
Mezzanine intermission fossil is to Proven slut apathy as Golden duck shroud is to?
Civil tutors torment is to Thor’s posted theory as Yellow melon rain is to?
Immense olive raft is to Exploding kangaroo buffet as Ethereal witness index is to?  
Marching dark speeders are to Searing scribble fighters as Weed tripping sinners are to?
Seeping viral angst is to Aged hermit tea as Murky bowl nibble is to?
Condensed blister guzzle is to Pink dorsal pie as Lavish speckled runt is to?
Needy insult poet is to Sedated acorn trader as Dry honey zoo is to?
Veiled trust flicker is to Deranged poser fashion as Flat sizzle tangent is to?
Purified diet spray is to Nebulous wishing target as Thrilling screen dope is to?
Majestic ribbon astronomy is to Bizarre formation sector as Rebel bell gimmick is to?
Sealed dart whisper is to Green silk draft as Cold vacuum varnish is to?
Clumsy raven power is to Insect island circus as Minted mink drapes are to?
Curved map ruler is to Tiny lethal radio as Blue fused metal is to?
Inverted laser invasion is to Damp sheep dump as Puffy gown smoke is to?
Saucy Channel blazer is to Leather goat filament as Starched locomotive hat is to?
Broken jumper leads are to Disgraced mini exorcists as Designer shamrock caulk is to?
Tweaked poachers smokes are to Assorted sulfur pathways as Collected bedlamp trickle is to?
Twinkie bungalow pranks are to Drowsy vapid oafs as Quantized cavern fish are to?
Crawling battle worms are to Vibrating metal pedals as Mentholated matrix wax is to?
Missing meshed rafts are to Liquid rock pipes as Crinkled bean bikinis are to?
Tithing nude joggers are to Perforated buck fronds as Leather zither picks are to?
Fearing truthful cowards is to Rambling preachers mumble as Gazebo ambulance gasoline is to?
Shelving elder’s whiskers is to Poaching goalies pesto as Radical tricycle angst is to?
Mucky gunboat polymer is to Primeval maypole flameout as Cathedral greenhouse intercom is to?
Diaphanous safety prize is to Unleashed saucer lion as Dorky blonde ropewalker is to?
Tapered spring meter is to Silver silo mythology as Misguided judges medallions are to?
Alligator x-ray money is to Cherry unicorn water as Coyote cactus toy is to?
Cowardly dorm scrooge is to Atomized pewter script as Flattened spore smoothies are to?
Trash can yodel is to Flashing wired spam as Exploding chocolate pudding is to?
Sonar blasted bushings are to Threading ruined wheels as Forty shifting boxes are to?
Tiny balloon rebellion is to Softened square cleanser as Iconic soul sucker is to?
Harmony night light is to Spanish nitrogen desire as Squirrel cavern iodine is to?

Lazy winter secret is to Slow airport widget as Silly mustard binder is to?
Elephants raising raisins are to Microscopic lamb planet as Purple hay puppets are to?
Caribou venom vaccine is to Electronic lemonade choir as Demonic princess massage is to?
Beet coated bridge is to Fattened needle point as Mylar monkey spine is to?
Ashy ink dust is to Youngest rabbi planet as Orange cartoon geometry is to?
Cold green chalk is to Cobalt ladder farce as Dirty river filters are to?
Sublime sheep master is to Sleeping past rapture as Subliminal bliss jelly is to?
Ocean crust slippers are to Twigged germ radar as Popping sharpie scope is to?
Zen wrapped beep is to Oak foamed code as Wicked flashing sizzle is to?
Dew eyed sleigh is to Say I do as Act as me is to?
Humpback on hammock is to Ham hocking hummer as Hunchback with knapsack is to?
Corned flag jelly is to Draped wing chewers as Tripping swan acid is to?
Futuristic Rembrandt chant is to Almond likened meadows as Asian timber blue is to?
Nap in sack is to Flap on Jack as Ducks dig crack is to?
Flowing flavored lava is to Gleaming optic layers as Enhanced goose gibberish is to?      
Flag tied pajamas are to Saline checker choir as Speed reading quotas is to?
Whipped spam spasms are to Misted shaman scripture as Testing pitched bells is to?
Cave aged eggs are to Crowded tiger cages as Bloody wagon pegs are to?
Pigeon towed car is to a Man toad art as Wolf whisker wish is to?
Second hand clothes are to Minute hand gestures as Final hour prayer is to?
Slick wicked shavers are to Tricky watch boxes as Sprouting pine tattoos are to?
Waxed stick ravens are to Match stick foxes as Narrowed thermal towers are to?
Ice cave rice is to Laced face lice as Gourmet pet meth is to?
Diamond lane anniversary is to Space age appropriate as Time travel agency is to?
Lime bark violin is to Lemon twig guitar as Lunar sky waffles are to?
Fake rat fart is to Smart cake batter as Rugged fur tax is to?
Tarred raft fluff is to Flaked rafter dust as Lined liquor flask is to?
Flakes will fall is to Take Bills call as Broken maze compass is to?
First faked voter is to Entombed cartoon honey as Smallest aching smurf is to?
Fancy bared nipples are to Flaky fairy treats as Kings amp filter is to?
Bone window folio is to Whittled fake pillow as Little fitted jackets are to?
Nine nuts brittle is to Ate pear pie as Six packed poppers are to?
Incandescent playground pencil is to Elastic hand worm as Perfumed piano ink is to?
Opal shifting anode is to a Windup lion decoy as Pale paisley trolley is to?
Stacked black boxes are to Old packed tracks as a Throwing micron hammers is to?
Apricot bark furnace is to Merry Orchid Choir as an Ivory rinsing funnel is to?  
Narcotic honey nuts are to Slick flag toffees as Silk fig sugar is to?
Orange coin raisins are to Low note candies as Smelling balled roses is to?
Pocket packed monotints are to Tragic ladder hayracks as Ravishing speed traders are to?
Crayon spider resin is to Coral squirrel forceps as Wolf tumbled loaf is to?  
Silver wheat flies are to Width shifting wheels as Golden blister blankets are to?
Really tiny hippopotamus is to Masked fat podiatrist as a Sad sack psychiatrist is to?
Miniature Mesopotamian monuments are to Apple minted elephants as Raising wise ravens is to?
Lathered nymph nacre is to Sonic ion constellations as Concealed iron craft is to?  
Epic gene toy is to Ladies bubble sled as Jagged data bowl is to?
Bugged dagger bag is to Pop sliced meld as Atom bending moonlight to?  
Rural madam’s deed is to Dyed dew dipper as Eight sprayed dukes are to?
Jiffy grand puffer is to Floating altar myth as Vintage dark mirth is to?
Undercover overnight underwear is to Overpaid undertaker overdosing as Overheard understudy freebasing is to?

Black grape crackle is to Red cactus ruffle as Installing padded pets are to?
Snide snobs sniffing are to Sneaky snails snoring as Snared snipes sneezing are to?
Exploring explosive exits is to Explaining expansive exports as Expecting expert exchange is to?
Shrewd logic ledger is to Puppets dropping cupcakes as Placated topaz octopi are to?
Door roof tools are to Cool wool boots as Wood cooked root is to?
Bright fight light is to Night flight fright as Mites bite site is to?
Floor flood fluid is to Wooden door Druid as Nasty poop broom is to?
Accurate police photography is to Intelligent microbe geography as Condensed aerosol biography is to?
Cowardly cowboy grime is to Corpulent corporate crime as Bosnian dwarf necromancer is to?
Jell-O clearing shaker is to Brillo cleaning shiner as Cheerios bowling shields are to?
Mumbled mindless hokey is to Fumbled found money as Humming kinder bunny is to?
Daisy’s clock setter is to Lilly’s boxer toxin as Poodles rose paddle is to?
Watch Bozo Copernicus is to Hire Clarabelle Newton as Find Pee-wee Einstein is to?
Amethyst thistle whistles is to Lapis pistol whip as Diamond bomb scar is to?
Dandelion seahorse rescue is to Crabapple dogwood farm as Faux foxglove lover is to?    
Optical poppy stopper is to Polar halo lens as Day-Glo rainbow sticker is to?
Savanna leopard spotted is to Eskimo lassos kisses as Alligator lemonade standard is to?
Bill of Rights is to Will of left as Thrill of night is to?
Baptize floozies quickly is to Useless outsized nozzles as Puzzled wizard wanders is to?        
Chaps wearing chaps are to Chaps contesting contests as Consoling concealed consoles is to?
Quiet squirming squirrels are to Aeon beauty queens as Queasy greasy luaus is to?
Knew new gnu is to Sense scents cents as We’ll wheal wheel is to?
Blazing zingers ringing are to Wheezing singers flinging as Freezing finger number are to?
Lamb tomb jogger is to Dumb numb thug as Thumbed crumb bug is to?

Blue accordion casket is to Jaded scholar vomit as German mushroom circus is to?
President George Flintstone is to Funny Fred Washington as Abraham Jetson’s dog is to?
Google Desmond Tutu is to Kalamazoo Zoo Park as Zodiac actors Guru is to?
Swamp cradled whisperer is to Cherished drawbridge cello as Bludgeoned prankster outlaws are to?
Dukes pink mittens are to Smeared nest caravan as Miniature fire trucks are to?
Part too

Duck village avatar is to Corona garden ogre as Mini Martian treasures are to?
Melting razor anvils are to Phased tanning lamps as Metered photon spacers are to?
Masked vergers tagging are to Zapped roadies muskets as Cutting paper newts is to?
Popes pest dagger is to Turtle dawn bong as Dream bending tea is to?
Pilot’s vital vial is to Crystal pepper clouds as Red plastic socks are to?
Sleeping deco mice are to Dove pecked ginger as Stitched candy witches are to?
Vivid sugar nougat is to Giant clam tiara as Velvet halo omen is to?
Pawned awning tablet is to Coiled round poppy as Coal black slug is to?
Humping mole mites are to Crushed wheel arrows as Wireless flower syringe is to?
Ten spinning plates are to Tense pinning plays as Tents winning ways are to?
Cracked pepper shells are to Violent star static as Franks’ rubber domino is to?
Crown Newport pine is to Copper birth pods as Anterior hub stains are to?
Aqua dot motor is to Nine banded rod as Floral army ruse is to?
Looped impala tide is to Creeping toffee trestle as Erroneous aberrant hayseed is to?
Drooling troll doll is to Elk powered anthem as Ozone rat genome is to?
Short fuse ions are to Fixed mode divinity as Fabled frog moth is to?
Frosted Parisian scone is to Drilling phased phones as Fading alloy allies is to?
Bulging cream pie is to Nut drained pastries as Narrow tailed vixens are to?
Tapered wing tapestry is to Post gift tangle as Peeled strutting strays is to?
Faithful boater baiting is to Beak draining bone as Moronic intuition train is to?
Idiotic ditch clock is to Taffeta confetti hat as Foolish daffodil dialog is to?
Manual towel barge is to Orbiting bug cage as Rawboned reptile scales is to?
Chinese lace noodles are to Singing metallic chopsticks as Trapping mollusk jelly is to?
Spotted ice cats are to Chime lashed moccasins as Dusty cracker vats are to?
Synthetic pink fur is to Red ink crumble as Flaky flute fruit is to?
Silky clay feet are to Soaking collegiate dogs as Moth eating sheep are to?
Enticing plastic fumes are to Motorized stroller lanes as Zoned virtue manifesto is to?
Penthouse grammar trance is to Lazy naive critics as Dolphins heart channel is to?
Twin ballroom pranksters are to Floating old stallions as Stolen gold chariots are to?
Gin soaked map is to Operatic Rasta pot as Chasing polka dots is to?
Dithered zoo pixels are to Lavish slim brunettes as Foam bubbled lace is to?
Abracadabra focused pokes are to Armored flower jokes as Red wax lion is to?
Jumping measles cure is to Roped canal forces as Silver ladle equinox is to?
Apostle light cones are to Dormant pixie bats as Puffed white circles are to?
Morbid crayon secretion is to Warm parrot eggs as Wet baby horses are to?
Levitating geode wrapper is to Ornate foiled cobra as Boiling coiled poles is to?
Gagged rivals toboggan is to Salacious tepee atrium as Invisible spider tattoo is to?
Green witches milk is to Oiled fur boat as Fox blended muck is to?
Glorious spontaneous remedy is to Magi reunion ritual as Pasted adrenal divot is to?
Coconut hallway spray is to Fractal fossil pit as Bloated stoic boas are to?
Linking green puddles is to Vortex splash magic as Lifelike ram monument is to?
Fortified troll festival is to Moss playboy usher as Groggy fish dentist is to?
Candy ribbon bourbon is to Lazy sapphire wine as Zircon blossom bingo is to?
Kashmir bison catapult is to Cashmere mouse radar as Amish billiard champ is to?
Amoeba crater maps are to Sinking apple rings as Soda frog babble is to?
Dappled blue dachshund is to Apricot fire mystery as Frosted ginger club is to?
Splattered ghost dew is to Red court scholar as Pearl chinchilla talon is to?
Sequential aquarium equinox is to Opaque quantum liquid as Marmalade invader scalp is to?
Nocturnal badger logo is to Avalon nerve nets as Thickened raven twine is to?
Ripened seed salon is to Clock flipping skink as Shunning pitied pilots is to?
Barking circus fleas are to Clustered pod buzzards as Rock spitting birds are to?
Dove cage pharmacy is to Purple poison antidote as Cellophane cell phone is to?
Sap chained bandicoot is to Limestone saddle track as Raspberry butter water is to?
Transparent waterfall goggles are to Altered spark rockers as Tibetan flotation tourists are to?
Bug licked leaves are to Swollen star stamen as Gloomy neon haze are to?
Pick pocket cowboy is to Poisonous light bulb as Chrome topped trestles are to?
Fire pumped peppers are to Rat flavored crackle as Flaming orange poop is to?
Manchurian panther vodka is to Heated cat crystal as Pirated pillow puzzles are to?
Porcelain pine cone is to Neutered pelican glue as Stone age moonbeam is to?
Hallow weathered feather is to Willow feathered heather as Cathedral monarchs marching are to?
Reindeers teardrop cup is to Salty jeweled butterfly as Velvet martini rancher is to?
Altered jester stain is to Diminished chewing barrel as Insects graphite portrait is to?
Clearing atoned heroine is to Toy pusher pump as Flowing plumed clouds are to?
Sparked rapping pellets are to Sacrificial lake creature as Blurred algebra steam is to?
Nagging cordial lady is to Grave stone gravel as Meshed nylon joints are to?
Tall king yawning is to Fountain bottled throttle as Correlated cocoon elation is to?
Resented sparrow files are to Risqué kissing parks as Lewd mood covens is to?
Parchment heart paradise is to Elated well stories as One ton eyelid is to?
Minted twig quiche is to Complex moon tableaux as Driftwood movie monster is to?
Kerosene carpet gym is to Eve’s atom apple as Sprouting stoned smiles is to?
Chained squatter rite is to Noah predicted ducting as Neural gun unity is to?
Inked bubble noises are to Rooted lakers rocking as Royal soul relish is to?
Expanding panda verandas is to Commander Randi’s handler as Newest aging jails is to?
Cackling spaghetti twins are to Misted fortress fauna as Riding butter cranes are to?
Slapping knighted knuckles is to Calf chewed chalk as Phonetic parakeet stencil is to?
Salted fossil flags are to Frozen felt cushions as Quartz martini straws are to?
Hand traced videos are to Braided rubber spines as Opal rain dancers are to?
Historic dovetailed rewards are to Folded roach molds as Majestic cryptic fulcrums are to?
Terminal fowl taxes are to Sailing glued wheels as Creamed goat fumes are to?
Smashed cotton stockings are to Shriveled mango pits as Chocolate holiday spackle is to?
Bronze furnace crumbs are to Flaming nougat bouillon as Neon target markers are to?
Glistening shade plungers are to Scrambled shifting shafts as Cramped titanic nomads are to?
Unwashed orphan figurines are to Mammal bowling shoes as Stretched rubber vowels are to?
Snail etched lapis is to Submarine anthem cocktail as Protein discovery rage is to?
Elected duck blaster is to Jigsaw antler frost as Boiled car parts are to?
Diluted sun drops are to Hawk bone vinegar as Plundered shelf cork is to?
Royal opiate globules are to Flared platonic vessels as Flying brandy patches are to?
Tucked fish pillows are to Hazelnut chimney wafers as Obsolete holster charms is to?
Shadowed floating dice are to as Blotched nut color as Repaired thermal vacuum is to?
Graphite bowler’s patio is to Tanned yogi artists as Botanical glacier carvings are to?
Spinning piano towers are to Military dog medals as Caffeinated margarine crackers are to?
Pickled turkey wattles are to Thin rocket grommets as Sculpted stooge fudge is to?
Chalk nesting microbes are to Flapping pulsed banners as Pure iron loafers are to?
Magnetic water trout are to Manic teaching vouchers as Winged thunder sages are to?
Hypodermic splinter shrapnel is to Helical sponging option as Antique thorn javelins are to?
Charcoal toothpick points are to Pan fried peyote as Tribal locksmith ethic is to?
Banished Roman butchers are to Tragic squid trophies as Crumbling gluepot anger is to?
Bleached arrow parallax is to Airborne sneaker trajectory as Erotic fowl relays are to?
Scrambled fashion frocks are to Swanky swan boats as Failed pilot morphine is to?
Death feather archives are to Pork chowder flushing as Lackeys pudding trowel is to?
Tonal vipers vapor is to Patched spider traps as Knotted soap daisies is to?
Hang glider bonfire is to Stashed reefer gushers as Intergalactic pray phones is to?
Verdant skater verdict is to Rotting gourd roots as Robotic taxi doctors are to?
Flowing crooner coral is to Big banging microwave as Wasted termite parkway is to?
Lumberjack’s vineyard stopwatch is to Rowboats anchor strap as Chewed raisin nets are to?
Throbbing migraine strobe is to Telescoping fly pods as Suburban throat fudge is to?
Painted beast fang is to Toad gas converter as Rude bridal posture is to?
Worm smudged grapefruit is to Red moleskin gloves as Timid antelope retreat is to?
Dish location docket is to Privileged orangutan checkers as Brunch table rickshaw is to?
Mechanical piano tuner is to Whitefly calendar laminate as Paired fishing limousines is to?
Grimy fiddle furrow is to Plastered clown smackers as Card holster latch is to?
Supine maggot cargo is to Furry waterbed bug as Lavish nutmeal emulsion is to?
Polar slime awareness is to Sturdy gherkin tablet as Funky subterranean gradient is to?
Stored chimney tile is to Tingled gorillas mingling as Linoleum channel changer is to?
Botched boot clasps are to Vented dungeon vaults as Backyard beamer spore is to?  
Machete lug nuts are to Spunky pumpkin cakes as Patching ragged charities are to?
Vaseline trampoline murder is to Scottish sculptor goggles as Dwarfed mirror radish is to?
Soft mirage balcony is to Ocean thimble noise as Singing clouds cabin is to?
Crushing spotted wrinkle is to Cracking rotted twinkle as Broken racers linger are to?
Blank linked chapters are to Beatnik particle debate as Jubilant dribbling heresy is to?
Misleading vacancy bookings is to Flustered skeptic tingle as Oak trench fallacy is to?
Burbank coat survey is to Antique snowball waffle as Tinsel jigger vermin is to?
Wasted flyspeck nightcap is to Flavored quasar treaty as Aborigine biker frenzy is to?
Sliding shower latch is to Hidden snow catcher as Redden thinnest data is to?  
Combat poser stance is to Decomposing time prize as Surprising battle secrets are to?
Commuters depressing confessions are to Domestic sport fortunes as Computer dresses rabbit is to?
Hippie pipe piece is to Pierced pie groupie as Piedmont blue sharpie is to?  
Hillside sidekick duped is to Blindsided ironsides scooped as Sidestep curbside poop is to?
Winged sword tax is to Tented tribal trash as Wooden watch working is to?
Submissive dancers trance is to Flashing bulb séance as Glaring award radiance is to?  
Blowout dark fires are to Handout spark flyers as Freaky outside liars are to?
Dripping waterspout trout is to Dropping scout quartet as Knowing knuckle knives is to?
Titanic ear pop is to Tube room debutante as Modern courting lark is to?    
Roaming medieval shouter is to Knitted cake knobs as Coded zipper faze is to?
Lost knowledge knot is to Multipart dart art as Fijis Bee Gees are to?
Numb dawn cavalry is to Windsock chandelier apron as Macaroni mask reduction is to?
Violent chomping knockers is to Vanquished grouchy fighters as Ridge faxed copters are to?
Glazed funk holes are to Hoisting fruit ringlets as Spongy vouchers bouncing are to?
Roaming modern ducklings are to Blocked archdukes cracking as Sketching stitched smidgeons is to?
Energetic closet divas are to Naked misfit hunters as Wretched sloppy tarts are to?
Raspy brash directors are to Abrasive gene stingers as Trite wreaked writers are to?
Protective evaporation headgear is to Classy weasel broth as Electric pyramid shame is to?
Youthful governor effect is to Attic raccoon nostalgia as Jealous koala madness is to?
Ossified fur paddle is to Boring oval piffle as Cowardly dolphin vaccine is to?
Pointless juvenile lexicon is to Obscene gesture acne as Fertile zoom strategy is to?
Old alarm matrix is to Animated demon stench as Twitching kangaroo grotto is to?
Temporary insomnia quilt is to Colossal spurt discovery as Evasive universal mosaic is to?
Forged ledge trigger is to Hamper hamster transfer as Hobo fluid tremor is to?
Burning bush pilot is to Mundane picnic weakness as Placid possum gesture is to?
Crass combat chuckle is to Vengeful camper technique as Fuzzy squirrel wisdom is to?
Strange cheetah logic is to Tiger tavern chuckles as Moving yacht statues are to?
Absurdly named whiskey is to Friendly lesson catalog as Epic apex rapture is to?
Sugar card war is to Moldy failed weapon as Roaring jumper hare is to?
Forked valley resentment is to Yellow teenage laundry as Cured paper socks are to?
Purple kissing frog is to Damaged cantaloupe experiment as Dented tin marinade is to?
Early zit rash is to Folded scenery stitch as Mind gutter gauze is to?
Orbiting robot amendment is to Radiant muzzle radius as Synthesized dignity therapy is to?
Buffed lute fingers are to Pickled gonad cream as Burnished clock rods are to?
Coyote dream filter is to Heartbreaking hate reserve as Festive verse fallacy is to?
Red amulet agony is to Sad patchwork melody as Cliff monkey election is to?
Ultra lash victory is to Historic page vaccine as Massive portal echo is to?
Spooky lobby notebook is to Noisy postal rat as Ancient crash pony is to?
Cultivated ghoul absorption is to Rustling warehouse treaties as Branded crab romance is to?
Reasonable plant yammer is to Black pelt bandanna as Rejected omen code is to?
Plaster acre sedation is to Lake nesting loon as Orchid pizza machine is to?
Acoustic whirlpool melody is to Mute stingray vengeance as Throbbing dew terror is to?
Worn rocks tundra is to Spicy tethered nurse as Fused mountain nexus is to?
X-ray sleeping leash is to Bursting lantern pajamas as Fake owl hip is to?
Matted clam tendril is to Renaissance glory bug as Royal saltine raiders are to?
Nervous curator debacle is to Cracked screen portrait as Burnt walnut icon is to?
Moist corduroy slippers are to Silver train tracks as Deviled fart repellant is to?
Snooping marked legend is to Maize willow salve as Shiny hard redwood is to?
Agnostic preacher overlap is to Hypnotic cell elation as Healthy pimp peaches are to?
Fancy hat jitters are to Long distance lather as Bargain glamour twine is to?
Automatic trance legacy is to Stalled coal car as Brain train translation is to?
Bonking glitter logs are to Lyrical fudge mishap as Vacant urban posse is to?
Sewage charged water is to Excessive yawn adage as Woozy flower lunch is to?
Pioneer baby spook is to Ambitious furniture lab as Untested swamp bread is to?
Savoy beach waffles are to Vivacious humming needles as Muddy collar oration is to?
Muffled crouching teacher is to Funky drunken gator as Mango lock narration is to?
Smoky sewer sentiment is to Shrewd dinning diva as Toasted rose pasties are to?
Rude polar scar is to Rabid rat agony as Singed lace scarf is to?
Beeping spiral flavor is to Fabled burning table as Raging verse vengeance is to?
Grinding rumble mutant is to Grotesque banker spleen as Tainted ranch banister is to?
Converging lettuce fever is to Pegged shuttle shuffle as Severed server franchise is to?
Cheerful sperm juggler is to Alley joke hunter as Shifting gear leakage is to?
Remote blossom intern is to Linked track contraband as Mad plant piano is to?
Chubby crap face is to Secreting meth rod as Narrow arrow kook is to?
Quiet prom function is to Outdated bubble charger as Melted fractal trap is to?
Pretty egg tranquilizer is to Fused pain manger as Pet poker token is to?
Blind rhino taboo is to Matched knob rage as Adult barrel jelly is to?
Heroic supper rash is to Blazing pulp jam as Holly spiral mosaic is to?
Accidental stereo flag is to Ranting brainless mail as Hairy flying wand is to?
Red rayed tide is to Pine striped road as Dog carrot wine is to?
Garden snake addiction is to Garter belt adhesive as Shocking poster poses are to?
Masked shovel plate is to Wigwam jawbone fate as Torn raven quilts are to?
Ski musk jingle is to Red braid pilot as Screw top plowing is to?
Rat hole tachometer is to Foxtail hoof ramp as Sorted function folio is to?
Canned winding train is to Lotus toupee glue as Catfish worm jumble is to?
Tornado gremlin muslin is to Rocket launched emblems as Mighty snow batons are to?
Pitchfork dialogue jabber is to Gumshoe drama symbol as Sublime papal draft is to?
Planning genies arrival is to Railed pocket lock as Sneaky muscle ache is to?
Jealous French cows are to Sympathetic feather ragas as Peacock dart blocks are to?
Painted bathing brackets are to Frosted opera glasses as Foiled labcoat buttons are to?
Shiny leafworm droppings are to Vibrating caramel candy as Activated sidewalk figurines are to?
Obese moth month is to Sportsman’s squirting lacquer as Arsenic shampoo jackets are to?
Blazing email slippers are to Cleated sunbeam flippers as Pretty flecked apricots are to?
Soaring flowers swaying are to Funky fungal holes as Abominable abdominal anomaly is to?
Clawed fauna germ is to Washing focused groups as Urban turbine turban is to?
Organic water spouts are to Magnetic peach melodies as Thunder winged sages are to?
Dinosaur valley comet is to Honey wagon fiber as Cracked brownie canoe is to?
Sapphire bayonet gaze is to Superman’s witch shop as Whistling ego chivalry is to?
Fumbling trucker carousel is to Rainbow shrimp sabotage as Storable falcon wigs are to?
Mayan anvil storage is to Immoral stingray salute as Cloud plated wishbone is to?
Nocturnal zebra whiskey is to Stinging graphite romance as Comical champ euphoria is to?
Curvy dowel deviant is to Pudgy mudlark cereal as Roaming stinkbug fever is to?
Captive boat musket is to Forbidden freak eyeball as Bleached frog dynasty is to?
Foaming leotard syrup is to Honeycombed curtain equation as Caged wolf thunder is to?
Tropical bumpkin strobe is to Vanishing backbone virus is to as Hysterical blowgun implants are to?
Zinc camel varnish is to Clustered doorman slumber as Frowning polar bugs are to?
Enamel helix fulcrum is to Halibut sex window as Swollen cherub jargon is to?
Dazed fawn jury is to Hysterical sneeze fatigue as Fastest stolen jewel is to?
Faulty isometric umbrella is to Wooden bead catapult as Welded porch font is to?
Unlocked mucilage scraping is to Oversized peon craft as Flashing penny dish is to?
Penguin iodine parody is to Organic plumber toast as Fat stinky sulfur is to?
Twisted bathing sword is to Shameful basin claim as Throbbing pimento cover-up is to?
Mutant bread spheres are to Pastrami dog triangles as Whirling fist novellas are to?
Wispy cracker gravity is to Crusty peaches lane as Blazing lava train is to?
Grungy hound radio is to Thermal butcher twitch as Rustling rhombic sail is to?
Fractured plum clarinet is to Cork bolt combat as Horsefly court dispatch is to?
Junkyard campfire choir is to Ravenous pancake scouts as Glamorous sleigh glow is to?
Checkered praline blisters are to Hydroponic blues riffs as Time tower silhouette is to?
Naked car dealer is to Master mist lute as Ten pound marionette is to?
Diaphanous safety prize is to Unleashed saucer lion as Dorky blonde ropewalker is to?
Empty fedora cabinet is to Fragrant cutworm escort as Swollen cupcake auction is to?
Smoldering crop lights are to Silent condo drones as Bald pepper cures are to?
Rowdy locket politics are to Skinny Buddha Frisbees as Ripped dandelion tablets are to?  
Curved market cuticles are to Frozen Koala clichés as Vulcan applesauce spoons are to?
Bipolar owl capsules are to Heated boltneck tokens as Garish iceboat anchors are to?
Flatworm wartime pathways are to Racy lemon moccasins as Downy patch bait is to?
Rustic love montage is to Slanted emerald buildings as Mandatory climate insulation is to?
Chunky map monitors are to Sparkling microwave water as Scarce chair furrows are to?
Sinus signal fractions are to Sneaky fishpond bridges as Skylight doll signals are to?
Glowing calculator comet is to Bleeding starfish galaxy as Crushed steam fuses are to?
Lincoln Canyon fog is to Washington canned frog as Carters livid thrills are to?
Pony licked paisley is to Stoic solo syrup as Squatting buffoon allergies is to?
Trolled onyx pitfall is to Kazoo playing pythons as Porky’s pixel pylons are to?
Pleated heat generator is to Whistling wet spots as Frozen tears pier is to?
Perverted camp dog is to Intruding skillet seizure as Golden radio mattress is to?
Fat drained hotel is to Rattled brain lotto as Fedora lane auto is to?
Chrome eagle ballet is to Cortisone hawk banquet as Jade raccoon shampoo is to?
Hilarious rail guard is to Soiled whale apparel as Cove boner taffy is to?
Fluorescent tofu babies are to Denim elf slacks as Coned ray envy is to?
Snake shoe riddles are to Mood beam blues as Author enhanced dice are to?
Victorian slaw burger is to Roaming multiplication typos as Random sword fungus is to?
Lemon snow cloud is to Sadistic loan relish as Pasting red gravel is to?
Noisy snail missile is to Perfumed sativa diva as Powdered apple heart is to?
Fainting vapor spectrum is to Nylon pants wizard as Barking moss slag is to?
Darting lakes paranoia is to Sanitary bee artist as Stubborn weather oven is to?
Sunbeam archery mint is to Eden’s needy maidens as Yellow rhinoceros tweezers are to?
Ravishing blue radish is to Puffing fish livers as Dazed cone carpet is to?
Dismal rehearsal reversal is to Captured captains caption as Recording garden porn is to?  
Shady gazebos flies are to Kooky cob jobs as Cooing nettle gnats are to?
Huge owl bones are to Linked boats bobbing as Weaved wings flapping are to?
Chronic cyclone blaster is to Lustered rustic phone as Cunning comet camels are to?
Hot tonic tuners are to Western sponge portraits as Chiseled creeping leap is to?    
Fat doe cakes are to Growing cat masks as Sexy horned elk are to?
Bleak nights stationed is to Danish beak vaccine as Kabbalah dart elixir is to?
Fluted basin thread is to Corduroy dinosaur market as Rapid radar radio is to?
Flamed Botox serum is to Foggy noodle sandwich as Swinging moon aliens are to?  
Genetic gemstone badge is to Wolf massage cult as Juggling ghost sherbet is to?
Quartz pod cats are to Moaning crack addict’s as White noise needles are to?
Tender tenor boasting is to Cactus backed abacus as Minting tinted mittens are to?
Robot tractor tracks are to Stacked rusted rack as Paper packed slacks are to?
Open source code is to Open cold sores as Old oaken floors are to?
Moody swinging sliders are to Slippery thumb guitars as Official drooling fool is to?  
Drifting bacon geode is to a Timid waif loafers as a Nighttime slime skier is to?
Safe cracker baking is to a Demented crackpot dentist as a Jeweled jockey cave is to?
Red clawed snail is to Dagger tooth rat as Hot trigger ant is to?
Anthill mind trust is to the Ideal leopard squad as Harpooned popper squid are to?
Seeing orange coins as raisins is to Hearing low notes as candy as Smelling balls as roses is to?
Vampire clock repair is to Zombie walnut harvest as Testing rated robots is to?
Banjo mind cloth is to Black Swedish furniture as Indigo eagle ink are to ?  
Canned sedan shoes are to Pinecone trophy walkers as Cracked glass buttons are to?
Drifting banded disks are to Raised ridge nuggets as Prehistoric hut crackers are to?
Stone forest sinks are to Rock garden tubs as Dragon moon whistles are to?
Green serpent droplets are to Cliff side graphics as Cellophane mountain sandals are to?
Swindled Parcheesi gangs are to Looming shill jostle as Twin kiln glaze is to?  
Historic glamour poses are to Distorted cloud mirrors as Porcelain horse shoes are too?
Paramount’s adored spy is to Whipping pealed bubbles as Fortified glamour bus is to?
Targeted tram rider is to Drained moon memories as Stop sign holidays are to?
Flying slit finder is to Frayed felt scruff as Crafted rag muffins are to?  
Fudgy panoptic naiad is to Transitory poser token as Flying archer fugue is to?
Overwhelmed understanding overhead is to Interstate overpass underway as Head over heels is to?
Artificial artichokes hearts are to our Arthropod artillery darts as Partly sculpted carts is to?
Splashdown countdown sound is to Lowdown hoedown clown as Putdown downtown standoff is to?
Speak up standout is to Lookup hideout map as Cookout cleanup mop is to?
Gestalt parrot party is to Drafted mayhem module as Cupids padded papers are to?  
Insect infested vest is to Indoor inspection squad as Insulting gene razor is to?  
Inventing informed nation is to Invited assisting ants as Insisting intent pitched is to?
Doors Tool collection is to Cool boot inspection as Wood rotting knot is to?
Daddy’s bad mood is to Cool pool Mom as Floating moon boat is to?
Zoom proof focus is to Blood bloom poker as Last roof hooker is to?
Phony coughing coach  is to Bronze trophy laugh as Adopting orphaned elephants is to?
Gleeful stamp collectors are to Morose racecar drivers as Buttered griddle cakes are to?
Steel trumpet petal is to Tardy guitarist startled as Riming drummers rumple is to?
Squirrel scrotum ballet is to Sphinx sphincter opera as Lapping lilac labia are to?
Kool-Aid dashes are to Silly putty hyphens as Jiffy pop star is to?
Anointed cake candles are to Fixed ambition martyr as Melancholy collie melons are to?
Dog whisper suicide is to Seahorse action rider as Optical nightmare tickle is to?
Existential rabbit hat is to Holographic steward’s cat as Expired mental gloss is to?
Skipping rudder rules are to Skimpy dork doodles as Wimpy wet noodles are to?
Lumberjack mice cookies are to Cedar packet chew as Ladder back chair is to?
Chihuahua guardian angle is to Toxic taxi tangents as Graceland’s fur emporium is to?
Gazelle’s spooning sherbet are to Dragonfly pie squares as Black lizard gelato is to?
Spike Tesla spokes is to Billie-ray Lincoln jokes as Gomer Edison’s lab is to?    
Alabaster bastards placards are to Malachite nights kite as Junipers persimmon riches are to?
Pyrite left turn is to Topaz right angle as Sapphire burning man is to?
Snoopy's Snicker tricks are to Pavlov’s’ spectacle bells as Seed soiled knickers are to?
Cubic cobalt factory is to Nordic nimrod ranch as Mosaic Mobius stripper is to?
Lamp stand RAM is to Light speed hand as Male forged freight is to?
Training trainee trackers is to Underwriting overture gestures as Upstairs downtown offer is to?
Crazy drizzled jam is to Fizzing sheltered lamb as Lazy citizens cram is to?
Shelved shells shaking are to Skinny skinned knees as Rendered revival rivals are to?  
Polished zinc zeros are to Shifting zoo zones as Popping zombie zits is to?
Diagnosing deadly diarrhea is to Diagonal dialing demo as Diagramming distant diamonds is to?  
Combo comb cleanser is to Comics comp camp as Compacting complaint trash is to?
Pepper tree entrée is to Gum tree soirée as Dirty shoe tree is to?
Itchy scratchy spot is to Spicy icy hot as Touchy bitchy feel is to?
Raspberry cupboard surface is to Applecart heart attacks as Windswept cotton tunnels are to?
Smart part gene is to Tart dart thrown as Fart chart needed is to?  
Heartless monster costume is to Clueless mobster excuse as Mindless spinster rip-off is to?  
CD needy kid is to Seedy weed lid as Speedy greedy gringo is to?
Preppy hippie laptop is to Happy puppy crap as Speedy remedy ads are to?
Relaxing composer napping is to Reflex composure app as Complex exposure setting is to?
Comet tail comb is to Comma dash combo as Combat ball camp is to?
Madman mentalist listing is to Menthol mentor torment as Menagerie mending vendor is to?
Tin man semen is to Yemen plant stamen as All good women are to?
Piedmont pie platter is to Piecework pier pliers as Earthy beach sandals to?
To the store is to To the bank as Go to school to is to?
Outside sidebar budging is to Landslide sideline fudge as Graveside sidekick boxer is to?
Duck trumpet holder is to Moose flower stem as Beaver flute solo is to?
Donald cruises seas are to Tom ducks keys as Porky corked Stalin is to?
Hope shimmering ray is to Love sparked glimmer as Ultra glamour fashion is to?
Hunter ranged wilderness is to Pouring flowered tea as Mirrored smoking whistles are to?
Spoon valley calling is to Folding moon telescope as Holdup cream meeting is to?
Cars that roll though sticky sod are to Jousters sprung on fractured taras Sparking arks that sway and rock are to?
Sales are sold as they sell is to Tales unfold as we tell as Cities swell with the sea is to?
Wink won’t blink if he stinks is to Lance won’t boil if he foils asTom wont romp if he stomps is to ?
Flip won’t flip if he flops is to Skip won’t skip on a ship as Ned won’t wed in a shed is to?
A train of twin world twine is to A plane of spinning time tops as A ship of shifting sands is to ?
Sales are sold as they sell is toTales unfold as they tell as Cities swell when seas are jealous is to?

Keith Collard Jun 2013

The Quest for the Damsel Fish  by Keith Collard

Author's  Atmosphere

On the bow of the boat, with the cold cloud of the dismal day brushing your back conjuring goose bumped flesh you hold an anchor.  For the first time, you can pick this silver anchor up with only one hand and hold it over your head. It resembles the Morning Star, a brutal medieval weapon that bludgeons and impales its victims.  Drop it into the dark world beyond the security of your boat--watch the anchor descend.
        Watch this silver anchor--this Morning Star--descend away from the boat and you, it becomes swarmed over with darkness.  It forms a psycho-metallic grin at first as it sinks, then the sinking silver anchor takes its last shape at its last visible glimpse.  It is so small now as if it could be hung from a necklace.  It is a silver sword.  
Peering over the side of the boat, the depths collectively look like the mouth of a Cannibalistic Crab, throwing the shadows of its mandibles over everything that sinks down into it--black mandibles that have joints with the same angle of a Reaper's Scythe.  

I am scared looking at this sinking phantasm.  I see something from my youth down there in this dark cold Atlantic.  I see the silver Morning Star again, now in golden armor.  I remember a magnificent kingdom, in a saltwater fish tank I had once and never had again.  A tropical paradise that I see again as I stare down into the depths.  This fish tank was so beautiful with the most beautiful inhabitants who I miss.  Before I could lift the silver anchor--the Morning Star--over my head with only one hand, turning gold in that morning sun-- I was a boy who sat indian style, cross legged--peering into this brilliant spectacle of light I thought awesome.  I thought all the darkness of home and the world was kept at bay by this kingdom of light...

Chapter  1 Begins the Story

The Grey Skies of Mass is the Name of This Chapter.

                                                      ­­                        
    
 Air, in bubbles--it was a world beauty of darkness revealed in slashes of light from dashing fluorescent bulbs overhead this fish tank.
Silver swords of fluorescent energy daring to the bottom, every slash revealing every color of the zodiac--from the Gold of Scorpio to the purple of Libra combining into the jade of the Gemini. 
In the center, like a dark Stonehenge were rocks. The exterior rocks had tropical colors like that of cotton candy, but the interior shadows of the rocks that was the Stonehenge, did not possess one photon of light. The silver messengers of the florescent energy from above would tire and die at their base.  The shadows of the Stonehenge rocks would stand over them as they died.

 
          When the boy named Sake climbed the rickety wood stairs of the house, he did so in fear of making noise, as if to not wake each step.
   Until he could see the glowing aura of his fish tank then he would start down that eerie hall, With pictures of ghosts and ghosts of pictures staring down at him as he walked down that rickety hallway of this towering old colonial home.  He hurried to the glowing tank to escape the black and white gazing picture frames.
                    The faint gurgling, bubbling of the saltwater tank became stronger in his ear, and that sound guided him from the last haunt of the hallway-- the empty room that was perpendicular to  his room.   He only looked to his bright tank as soon as he entered the hallway from the creaky wooden steps.  Then he proceeded to sit in front of this great tropical fish tank in Indian style with his legs folded over one another as children so often would sit.
  The sun was setting.  The reflections from the tank were beginning to send ripples down the dark walls. Increasing  wave after wave reflecting down his dark walls.  He thought they to be seagulls flapping into the darkness until they were overcome as he was listening to the bubbling water of his tank.
                " Hello my fish, hello Angel, hello Tang, hello  Hoomah, hello Clown and hello Damsel … and hello to you Crab...even though I do not like you," he said in half jest not looking at the crab in the entrance of the rocks.  The rocks were the color of cotton candy, but the interior shadows did not possess a photon of luminescence.  All other shadows not caused by the rocks--but by bright swaying ornament--were like the glaze on a candy apple--dark but delicious.  Besides the crab's layer in the rock jumble at the center of the tank which was a Stonehenge within a Stonehenge--the tank was a world of bright inviting light.
                The crab was in its routine,  motionless in the entrance to his foyer, with his scythe-like claws in the air, in expectation of catching one of the bright fish someday.  For that reason the boy tried to remove the crab in the past, but even though the boy was fast with his hand, the optical illusion of the tank would always send his hand where the crab no longer was.  He did not know how to use two hands to rid the crab in the future by trapping and destroying the Cannibal Crab ;  his father, on a weekend visit, gave the Crab to the boy to put into the bright world of the saltwater tank, which Sake quickly regretted.  His father promised him that the Crab would not be able to catch any of the fish he said " ...crabs only eat anything that has fallen to the bottom or each other..."

         A scream from the living room downstairs ran up the rickety wood and down the long hall and startled the boy.  His mother sent her shrieks out to grab the boy, allowing her to not have to waste any time nor calorie on her son; for she would tire from the stairs, but her screams would not, allowing her to stay curled up on the couch.  If she was not screaming for Sake, she was talking as loud as screams on the phone with her girlfriends.  The decibels from her laugh was torture for all in the silent house.   A haughty laugh in a gossipy conversation, that overpowered the sound of the bright tropical fish tank in Sake's room that was above and far opposite her in the living room.
               " Sake you have to get a paper-route to pay for the tank, the electricity bill is outrageous," she said while not taking her eyes off the TV and her legs curled up beside her.  He would glad fully get a paper-route even if it was for a made up reason.  He turned to go, and looked back at his mother, and a shudder ran through him with a new thought:  someday her appearance will match her voice.  

              Upon reaching his tank,  Hoomah was trying to get his attention as always.  Taking up pebbles in his big pouty pursed lips and spitting them out of his lips like a weak musket.  The Hoomah was a very silly fish, it looked like one of Sake’s aunts, with too much make up on, slightly overweight, and hovering on two little fins that looked incapable of keeping it afloat, but they did.  The fins reminded him of the legs of his aunt--skinny under not so skinny.’

               The Tang was doing his usual aquanautics , darting and sailing was his trick.  He was fast, the fastest with his bright yellow triangular sail cutting the water.  Next was the aggressive Clown fish, the boy thought she was always aggresive because she didn't have an anemone to sleep on.  The Clown was strong and sleek with an orange jaw and body that was built like a tigress.
  Sake thought something tragic about the body if the  orange Clown and the three silver traces that clawed her body as decoration -they reminded him of the incandescent orange glow of a street lamp being viewed through the rainy back windshield of a car.   The Clown fish was a distraction that craved attention.
The Clown would chase around some of the other fish and jump out of the water to catch the boy's eye. 
                 Next is the Queen Angel fish, she is the queen of the tank, she sits in back all alone, waving like a marvelous banner, iridescent purple and golden jade.  Her forehead slopes back in a French braid style that streams over her back like a kings standard waving before battle, but her standard is of a house of beauty, and that of royal purple.

                    Lastly is the Damsel Fish, the smallest and most vulnerable in the tank.  She has royal purple also, rivaling the queen. Her eyes are lashed but not lidded like the Hoomah.  Her eyes are elliptical, and perhaps the most human, or in the boy’s opinion, she is the most lady like, the Hoomah and the Queen Angel come to her defence if she is chased around by the Clown.  Her eyes penetrate the boys, to the point of him looking away.  

                      Before the tank, in its place in the corner was a painting, an oil painting of another type of Clown donning a hat with orange partial make-up on his face (only around eyes nose and mouth there was ghost white paint) and it  had two tears coming down from its right eye.  The Clown painting was given to him by his mother, it seems he could not be rid of them, but Sake at first was taken in by the brightness of the Clown, and the smooth salacious wet look of the painting. it looked dripping, or submerged, like another alternate reality.  The wet surreal glaze of the painting seemed a portal, especially the orange glow of the Clown's skin without make-up.  .  If he tried to remember of times  before the Clown painting that preceded the Clown fish, he thought of the orange saffron twilight of sunset, and watching it from the high window from his room in the towering house.  How that light changed everything that it touched, from the tree tops and the clouds, to even the dark hallway leading up to his room.  The painting and the Clown fish did not feel the same as those distant memories of sunset, especially the summer sunset when his mother would put him to bed long before the sun had set.  
Sake did not voice opposition to the Clown.
Then he was once again trapped by the Clown.  
            The boy was extremely afraid of this painting that replaced the sunsets , being confined alone with it by all those early bedtimes.
Sake once asked his mother if he could take it down, whereas she said " No."  That clown would follow him into his dreams, always he would be down the hill from the tall house on the hill, trying to walk back to the house, but to walk away or run in a dream was like walking underwater or in black space, and he would make no distance as the ground opened up and the clown came out of the ground hugging him with the pryless grip of eight arms.  He would then wake up amid screams and a tearful hatted clown staring somberly down at him from the wall where it was hung.  Night made him fear the Clown painting more;  that ghost white make-up decorating around the eyes and mouth seeming to form another painting in entirety.  He could only look at the painting after a while when the lights were on, and the wet looking painting was mostly orange from the skin, neck, and forearms of the hat wearing clown.  But the painting is gone now, and the magnificent light display of the tank is there now.  

                Sake pulled out the fish food, all the fish bestirred in anticipation of being fed.  The only time they would all come together; and that was to mumble the bits of falling flakes: a chomp from the Clown, a pucker from the Hoomah, the fast mumble of the Tang, and the dainty chew of the Damsel.  The Queen Angelfish would stay near the bottom, and kiss a flake over and over.   She would not deign herself to go into a friendly frenzy like the other fish; she stayed calm, yet alluring like a flag dancing rhythmically in the breeze, but never repeating the same move as the wind never repeats the same breeze.  She is the only fish to change colors.  When the grey skies of Mass emit through every portal in the house at the height of its bleakness, her colors would turn more fantastic, perhaps why she is queen.

                 He put his finger in the top of the watery world; the warmth was felt all the way up his arm.  After feeding, his favorite thing to do was to trace his finger on the top of the warm water and have the Damsel follow it. She loved it, it was her only time to dance, for the Clown would descend down in somewhat fear ( or annoyance) of the boys finger, and the Damsel and he would dance.  The boy, thought that extraordinary.

                     Sake bedded down that night, to his usual watery world of his room.  The reflective waves running down the walls like seagulls of light, with the rhythmic gurgling sound and it's occasional splash of the Clown, or the Hoomah swooping into the pebbly bottom to scoop up some pebbles for spitting making the sound "ccchhhhh" --cachinging  like a distant underwater register.  The tank’s nocturne sound was therapeutic to the boy.

                      Among waking up, and being greeted by his sparkling treasure tank--that was always of the faintest light in the morning due to the grey skies of Mass coming through every portal to lessen the tropical spectrum-- the boy would render his salutations " Good morning my Hoomah.....good morning Tang, my Damsel, and your majesty Queen Angel.....and so forth.  Until the scream would come to get him, and he would walk briskly past the empty room and the looming family pictures of strangers.  His mother put him to work that day, to "pay for the fish tank" but really to buy her a new cocktail dress for her nightly forays.  The boy did not care, the tank was his sun, emitting through the bleak skies of Mass, and even if the tank was reduced to a haze by the overcast of his life, it only added a log to the fire that was the tropical world at night, in turn making him welcome the dismal day.
                  On a day, when the overcast was so thick, he felt he could not picture his rectangular orb waiting for him at night. He had trouble remembering what houses to deliver the paper.  He delivered to the same house three times.  Newspapers seemed to disappear in his hands, due to their color relation to the sky.   Leaves were falling from the trees—butterfly like—he went to catch one, he missed--a first. For Sake could walk through dense thorned brambles and avoid every barb, as a knight in combat or someone’s whose heart felt the painful sting of the barb before.  He would stand under a tree in late fall, and roll around to avoid every falling leaf, and pierce them to the ground deftly with a stick fashioned as a sword.  He could slither between snow flakes, almost like a fish nimbly avoiding small flakes.  
                  After he finished his paper-route , he went to his usual spot under an oak tree to fence with falling leaves.  As the other boys walked by and poked fun he would stall his imagination, and look to the brown landscape of the dry fall.  The crisp brown leaves of the trees were sword shapes to him.  He held the battle ax shape of the oak leaf over his eye held up by the stick it was pierced through, and spied the woodline through the sinus of the oak leaf lobe.  The brown white speckled scenery, were all trying to hide behind eachother by blending in bleakfully; he pretended the leaf was Hector’s helmet from the Illiad—donned over his eyes.
“ Whatchya doing Sake?” asked a young girl named Summer.  Sake only mumbled something nervously and stood there.  And a pretty Summer passed on after Sake once again denied himself of her pretty company.  He looked to the woodline again, a mist was now concealing the tall apical trees.  It now looked like the brown woodland was not trying to retreat behind eachother in fall concealment, but trying to emerge forth out of the greyness to say "save us."

“ Damgf” he uttered, and could not even grasp a word correctly.  His head lifted to the sky repeatedly, there was no orb, and the shadows were looming larger than ever; fractioned shadows from tree branches were forming scythes all over the ground.
             He entered the large shadow that was his front door, into the house that rose high into the sky, with the simplicity of Stonehenge.  He climbed the rickety petrified stairs and went down the hall.  Grey light had spotlighted every frame on the wall.  He looked into the empty room, nothingness, then his room, the tank seemed at its faintest, and it was nearing twilight.  He walked past the tank to look out the window;  the back side of the house seemed like a tower, being on a hill it was dizzying to look down this side.  He felt like the only boy in the world, he could see off distant,  grey  clouds were overtaking the tree tops and buildings.  Out his door in the hallway were shadows painting  the portraits black, and the dust that was swimming in front of the empty room— came together to resemble a flowing Sunday dress, as if it was underwater.  He slammed the door, and closed his blinds, turning off the light.  The waves came back, the gurgling was stronger, and then he sat Indian style in front of his tank.  He was alerted to something wrong.  
            The Tang was there, Clown, Angel, and Hoomah but no Damsel. Looking in the usual refugiums of the Damsel, she was not there.  His eyes lowered to the rock alter--pink on the top, a multitude of dark polygonal faces on its facade..  In the main shadow, there motionless, the dark crab, unblinking with both it's scythe claws upward.  In its grasp the Damsel, writhing and squirming, but it was firmly grasped by the tail.  His hand plunged down, and grabbed at a mirage, the crab had already retreated with the Damsel.  
          He wanted to plunge his fist in into the dark alter of rocks, but was afraid of the murkiness.  His hand felt the coldness near those rocks, and the hair-like touch of algae growing on the inside of the rocks.  " She's gone," he whispered to himself.  All the fish floated in a baffled muse staring at the boy.  The clown hid in the back, the boy knew the clown was the cause of this.  
                    He felt he was sinking to the bottom of the sea.  Out of his brooding darkness, gliding specters swam up to him, and stared at him as he sunk away.  He felt the tremendous undertow of huge things swimming by.  
The grey skies of Mass outside had made its way into his house, completely filling up his room.  He felt like he reached the bottom of the cold dismal sea while the grey filled to the top of his room. The tropical tank was but a faint shining fishing lure in the monochrome of his mind, a mind that relied on the palette of a bright world to emit some light--  
               His mother's scream woke him from his misty malaise, he walked down the long hall, staring at the pictures this time, the black and white pictures started to disappear with the onset of the grey skies  that were of the same color. The rickety stairs creaked with an all new slowness from his tread.  They sounded like muffled moaning from fathoms.
                     " You need to give me more money for the tank, it is costing more," said his mother deceivingly.  Her heart was caught by another shoe or dress, the boy knew.  He assented and added , " I'll give more money, and turn off the tank."  He left, his mother too bestial and short sighted to be perplexed.  Two days surpassed, he did not feed the fish, nor clean the tank, and then he unplugged it, silence came over the room.  He went to bed at a sunset that was not there.  He held up a dried oak leaf, and placed it upside down on the glass over the grey expanse, the oak leaf looked like a Trojan helmet staring down the bleak expanse, but then Sake crumpled it, and let it fall like flakes of fish food.
  He thought of the Clown fish, and he thought of the old painting.  Slowly and slowly he fell into sleep,  slight liquid disturbances were heard, from the fish trying to get his attention--  the pebbles chinged  from  the Hoomah; but they have betrayed him, letting his Damsel be snatched up, her elliptic eyes disappearing into that cave--and he had failed too. Now he had no escape from the grey skies of Mass.
            More and more, the drip drop sound became louder, Sake who was in half sleep—rolled around on his bed. He pictured a giant crashing tear in his sleepy daze--he fell  fully into sleep.  Nightmares haunted him, he looked and looked for the Damsel in impenetrable grey light, until he came upon a dark portal, and he was too afraid to enter.  He suddenly missed the other fish, and called out to them. "I’m sorry my fish, come back."  His words were gargled in the dream-state, and he could not move as he intended to.  
                  The image of the Damsel disappearing into the rock alter, slowly as a sandbar is overtaken at high tide made him wake mid scream.  The reflecting light was running down his walls again, the sound of the tank echoed off his walls as if he was in an underwater cave.  The tank was on, and lit somehow, and the crab was in the entrance again with the Damsel in its claws.  The air in his room was distorted, like the area above the surface of something hot; the dust particles swam around as if in liquid light; every time he blinked the tank was closer to him.  It was also growing bigger, merging into the room with the mandibles and fore claws of the black crab spreading around his vision.
             Sake froze in fear ; the seagulls of light increased down his walls, the gurgling became incessant; he crawled under his comforter and closed his eyes.  All sound stopped.  He opened his eyes, and threw off his comforter, his bed was gone and he was standing.  No longer in the same world.

Chapter 2 The Land Of Chimes

"O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing."--La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Keats

He felt millions of firm but gentle breezes gliding past his body from all points of the compass.  The sound was source less--the sound of an indefatigable exhale.   Was he in his bedroom still? No, he was in a cave.  In an opening like that of a nave of a church, or a foyer, with a high ceiling of jumbled rock with cat-holes of light that came through as spot lights.  Under his foot were pink and red pebbles that suddenly glowed brighter, then waned, as if a tree branch was above it swaying-- but there was only rock.  
          “Where am I?" he tried to say to himself, but his words were unintelligible to himself.  He went to move his hand to his mouth, and missed his face completely and very slowly.   Looking around at the dark shadows that lined the bottom of the foyer like dark portals, he felt as if he was in a school's foyer awaiting punishment from a principle.
                 He looked up at the upper walls, the dark cavities looked like eyes, blackened hollow eyes.  Behind him, a portal had grey light coming into it; possibly the outside entrance—he thought.  He made his way, slowly and confusedly, he could not walk properly. I must be dreaming.   He heard eerie echoes from one of the dark portals—almost like sobbing stretched painfully to laughing.   He attempted to walk to the sound , loneliness beckoned him.   His feet sinking in the pebbles, with the fractioned light waving off the bottom and be speckling the dark rocks above him-- he reached the dark entrance ; the abutting rocks swaying with green algae to an undetectable breeze-- he felt the air grow colder.  This is just a dream, he told himself in order to brave the dark entrance, but his words were jumbled.  He then clumsily walked into the portal, toward the sound--hoping it would be something that would hug him in this scary cavern, and assuage his fear and lonlieness.  He looked at the sides of the rock portal as he grabbed onto them to walk, and was frightened deeply, he felt the complicity of the rocks, as if they served as the tools in a pagan sacrificial chamber, with the sacrifice paid by the opposite of the uncaring, planet old, jagged rocks--and what came to Sake's mind, was feminine glass smooth beauty.  " Help me," Sakes mind said, as that thought induced in his mind, but he did not address it to anyone, and so get's returned to sender.

Coldness seized Sake, he took under ten steps but he felt fathoms away from the foyer.    The sound changed drastically—a drilling sound, as if a distant shuttle was departing the bright earth’s gravitational field and into the starry sky.  The chamber was empty, with eye-like cavities running up  walls flickering with green algae.  The algae and the red pebbles on the cavern floor were the only way he could see; they created a contrast with the darkness that was perceptible, but most of all the ground was not dark. He heard a voice again coming from another cavern.  
He stumbled, almost falling just to get to the other entrance to find another human being in this unknown place.  The entrance filed down to a rock hallway, the algae touched his forearm, he pulled back from the silica feel.   The rock jumble wall stopped, and he turned the corner.  Colder than the previous cavern by a degree, but a lip bluing degree-- tiger stripes rippled in vertical reflections along the walls, giving the cavities momentary and replenishing reptile eyes.  He could not make out anything in the chamber, it was bigger than the proceeding one and it did not have green algae nor red pebbles.  
In the center of the cavern was a fire, dying down only to kindling, then back up in a yellow flash that lit up the chamber like a flare, and shrinking  down again as the tiger stripe reflections returned on the walls: as if the fire in the center was running out of energy.  The fire lured the boy before he knew he was moving towards it; it was a beacon in a world of darkness.  He neared…the beacon spoke , “ Hey you, help me, get this trap off me.”
  “ Mmmgmgglllloooo” came out of the boy’s mouth, even if he could have spoken he would have been unintelligible still from sheer shock.  The radiance shined brilliantly, not at all blinding to the eye, but the opposite; the fire was the size of him.
“Hurry up Cucumber, before they come back,  bite down right here,” said a long needle mouthed  flickering flame . Sake just sat there staring at the glowing, rippling form.  “  “ Hurry up you stupid cucumber, I can still find the Damsel--”
Sake felt the cold on him again, around the intensifying luminescence of the fire;  a droning sound, that was distant yet audible became known—almost like druidical monks conducting a ceremony underwater in a black cauldron.  The Damsel is still alive... he mumbled to himself, shaking nervously.  He saw the net only when the fire died down, it was cinched through a eyelet with a weight like tackle, he pulled one side of the working end and with his other hand loosened the cinch of the net on the fire.   The fire was in utter surprise at the boy’s method of rescue.  “ I never seen a cucumber with claws,” a  yellow circle forming a mouth said as the monkish droning became louder.  “ Come on, the Damsel must be here,” it said as it rose off the floor, hovering , rippling in the air---brightening the immediate vicinity.
The fire darted away from the boy and into the next chamber, Sake watched as the rippling torch flew off into the other opening abandoning him, and hurried after it--afraid the darkening cavern was going to devour him.  He mumbled and stumbled after it—the mumbles would have been shrieks and cries if translated.  As he passed a cavity in the wall he noticed something bright down deep in it, like a white hot stone from a fire thrown into a well.
He chased after the talking torch. “ Damoiselle, where art thou?” the giant torch yelled.  The droning was becoming ominously thicker; he could not keep up as he watched the torch disappear into another chamber.  Suddenly the cavern started to brighten.  The light was coming from somewhere hidden.  Seeing movement, Sake looked up at the far wall of the cave, the mumble  “ Mmmblllerrf,” translated to “ Uh Oh.”
First alerted to the movement by the swaying green algae on the far wall, he noticed a more spasmodic motion that was the converse of the rhythmic and mindless algae.  It moved again, the purple outline came into view with the sparkle of a diamond being turned in the hand—for the deep purple mirrored sideways against each other—was blinking.  My Damsel, said his startled mind.
The searching torch in his hot neon negligence did not see the wall that captured the Damsel , searching other chambers in flickering haste, sounding the dark cavern with taunts and yells—blinded by anger.  Sake took a step closer to the wall, then heard a ‘click ‘noise over the monkish droning of the foreboding cavern.  The rest of the outline from the Damsel’s tail came into view.
The protrusion at the base of the rock jumble wall was not a rock, but a giant crab with both its black scythe claws up in the air as if conducting a ceremony in a lifeless stare, as if it had been in dark polluted harbor sludge for eternity.  One claw clutched the almost lifeless Damsel around the yellow band she had on her tail fin, the other was held around her body.  It looked ready to close on the purple-diamond-studded corset that was the Damsel’s body.  The smaller rock jumble stacked above and on the back of the large crab, was made of smaller crabs, packed tightly—with their baby scythes sticking out.  ‘Click’ He now knew where that sound was coming from.  It was the open claw, clicking closer to the Damsel’s body.  ‘ Click.’  The claw was three clicks away. All the little stacked crabs on the wall closed their claws at the same time as if snapping to attention: reminiscent of a black clawed iron maiden--that sent chills down Sake’s spine in the already ice cold cavern.  He stepped closer, the giant dark crab’s mouth –hooks and scissors—looked like a  carousel of torture.  ‘ Click.’  Only one click away from the Damsel.  Sake could reach out and touch her, but the wall of scythes scared him to immobility.  He closed his eyes and looked away in anticipation of the fatal click.
He heard a different sound, a “ clack,” as if the claw was opening back up.  He was looking at the back wall away from the wall of rhythmic algae adorning the snare-trap-still crabs.  The crevices in the far wall now looked like deep recesses, the eye shaped recesses now had pupils—glowing white hot dots.  He looked back at the crab, the claw was all the way open again, but then ‘click’ and it started the process over.  Sake looked away.  If he could only walk correctly he could run to the wall save her.  He could not do it with his eyes closed, it scared him too much.  He looked back at the wall, the pupils in the crevices were glowing brighter, almost getting angrier.  They dilated, glowing white hot.  Then the eyes emitted a white hot pebble attached to an arching branch.  Hundreds of glowing stones came out of the walls, then the branch that held them slowly came forth.  
The corner of the room lit up with color, it was the torch returning from its search.  “ Run Cucumber, they are coming,” it said to Sake has it rippled past him.  
He began to see what  the branches coming out of the walls were attached to, a silvery metallic scowl of a fish’s head.  And that fish was the Deep Sea Viper.  The whole wall was a ’grin with shiny and rusty razor blades.  Sake suddenly felt fathoms deeper, with no chance of hope.  
The torch was flying  past him, Sake grabbed onto the bright blur that was cool to the touch, and held on for dear life as he looked back at the chamber fill up with rusty (or blood stained)metal  of hundreds of Deep Sea Viper.  They all turned there razor over-bites in unison at the fleeing morsels, and shrugged off their lethargy, remembering their proclivity—to devour.
“ Let go of me Cucumber….” Said the fire, as he took the wrong direction back to the foyer.   “Mmmmblerf,” cried Sake to tell him it was the wrong direction.  The Vipers darted down the rock hall, scraping and sparking off the rocks, they were fast.  Sake saw what it was that dangled from their foreheads, he thought it was a glowing shrimp, but it was a glowing skull—their lure.  As soon as the silver filled up the hall and Sake could see the Viper’s black dead eyes up close, he let out a muffled scream and the torch picked up speed, turning and twisting at 90 degree angles, then soaring down a straightaway only to turn again.  The fire’s soaring speed was kept down by the turns, and that was a good thing for the boy, his grip barely held on at the roller-coaster speeds.
  Sake  could not bear to look at his assailants anymore, he looked forward—but that was just as daunting.  The fire flew at jagged walls, only to turn at the last second—Sake could feel the green algae’s cool wet touch on him as the fire pivoted and darted down the rock halls.  If the vipers were a mustang cobra, then the torch was the fire in the cylinder, unhindered by chassis—fast as an explosion.
They came into a cavern that had red and white pebbles as ground, but to sheer horror, the only exit out of the room was emitting the metallic silver light and a painful scraping sound.  “ We’re trapped”, said the fire but the boy pointed to the high walls that had a cat hole and was emitting grey light.  “ I cannot climb that high with you on my back.”  Sake got off and started climbing the wall , which was easier than walking on level ground.  To the boy’s surprise, the fire could not go upward in the same speed as it went horizontal.  The chamber started filling up with clashing armour, which was the vipers scraping into eachother as the fire was rippling upward slowly .  Sake reached there first, and was silhouetted by the light coming from the other side, he grabbed hold of the bright creature that was having difficulty rippling upwards, and pulled it up and into the narrow passage.   As soon as the fire was on level ground it shot forward pushing the boy out of the narrow passage as if the fire was the primer and the boy a bullet just as the vipers were filling into the tunnel; before Sake knew it, he was falling down into the foyer.
Sake looked beside him, the torch in dark caverns, was a magnificent Tang in light.  The Tang startled himself up,, the vipers were coming still.  “ Get on Cucumber,” said the Tang, and the boy  climbed on clumsily putting a foot on the Tang’s face.  “ You oaf,” his voice almost honked from the boy’s foot in his nose—a saxon nose in human scale that gave the bright creature an utmost humanness and its scales on the downward taper of his forehead resembling a slicked back neon hair.
The yellow neon fish exhaled after feeling the boy’s full weight, “ you must be one of those coral cucumbers,” he said exasperated. The sparking sound was closing.  The Tang cracked his body like a whip, and gave the boy a momentary vertigo ; the powerful ripple distorted the air behind them, and sent a seismic ripple through the pebbly ground; the closing vipers were knocked into shock.  Sake watched the grey light of the entrance coming at him as the barrel of a cannon, as the incendiary round that was the Tang shot forth with its payload of mumbling boy.  ; they shot out of the opening and the landscape opened up,  he looked back, the cave was retreating from proximity with the imperceptible increments of low tide--even at high velocity.
He hung onto the streaming hair of the Tang with all his might, which was severly weakened in this new land.  The ground below his feet took the form of liquid metal at high speed; the surrounding landscape was a nuance of grey on silver.    “ What were you doing in Crabaltar, that is no place for cucumbers, in all my journeys around the Saccade, I have not seen one like you… have you seen any other knights?” said the aerodynamic face, unaware that his passenger could barely hold on let alone answer him.
The boy’s legs were streaming in the wake.  Wind that was so thick that it was causing the boy to smile, was forcing him off the inverted saddle.  “ Slooooow dooown….” he yelled, but  even if it was unjumbled, it was absorbed by the dense streaming wind.  The yellow streak  that the boy was falling off of even had words that were aerodynamic, “ I must come back another time, it will be dark soon and much colder, the vipers can go much further when it is cold, but at least I have brought back a nice cucumber for the queen…
“ I am the only to make it out of Crabaltar alive, someone has laid a trap in there, that is how I was captured, they are lucky I was traveling without my cuirass, I wonder how the Hoomah is doing, if he is the hunter that he says he is….. I say, I never saw a cucumber with starfish on it, you will be a rarity in the Coral Kingdom…and a mighty fine present for the Queen” the speed talker did not notice that the boy’s starfish were losing their grip.  “ Blllrrrrffff” the boy’s mouth sputtered, as he lost his grip and fell into the strong slipstream, tumbling over and over until sliding in debris strewn ground slowing his speed before his movement was stopped by a mound of rocks.  He watched as the flame became smaller and smaller, dying down as it disappeared into the grey horizon.  “ Come Back…don’t leave me” he tried to yell, but to no avail.
Running after the Tang’s direction his foot was caught by something and he fell; the sound of melancholic chimes rang into the silent wasteland.  Not seeing what caught his foot, he got up, only to trip again.   This time he saw, but only for a second as the outline of the line sparkled amongst the greyish background.  It was a fishing line of some sort.  He reluctantly scanned his environment and goose bumps flared up on his skin.
The level plane was studded with mounds of rust colored rocks, choked and strangled with silver line, and stabbed all over with barbed hooks.  Metallic scales littered the ground, with slices of rust color seeping up between the wreckage.  It looked as if a great battle took place, and the good guys lost.   He stepped on the metallic ground and a depressing chime sound emitted then was swallowed by the bleak expanse.  At that point he saw a shadow exhibit over the ground, moving sinuously and fast, it then disappeared.  Try to keep my steps on the rust-- his instinct ordered him.

The direction the Tang was going was already lost by the boy after he tripped on the line. “ No, no , no” he cried, only to be horrified to what his words were converted to in echo by the burial grounds he was in--” lay down don’t fight it.”
  He set off in the direction he presumed, passing foreboding mounds and webs of strung diamond line.  His foot yanked a line, and a hook the size of its target (his head) whistled through the air at him, he ducted and it sunk into a mound, piercing both ends into the rock torso.  Metallic scales covered the rock’s head, a head  of a stainless steel-osprey with no eyes.  His heart raced as he fell back, stepping on the scales that rang like a lonely chime ornamenting a grave.  The shadow on the ground appeared again, then disappeared, causing Sake to look above him in expectance of a monster, but nothing was above  in the sky that resembled the depths.
“ Ugggrrrh” he muttered as he tried to balance his steps, to steer clear of the metallic scales and the diamond lines that could wrap around and strangle him if not for his slow gait.  He passed a lobster trap, in industrial dimensions, two bars were bent away from each other.  He shuddered then tripped again, the diamond line wrapped up his shin like a reel, but it did not have a hook on the end, only a weight, Sake could not get it off, and so left it.
He felt like something was watching him, even worse, following him--on top of the feeling that the scales would assemble themselves into Vipers, and the lurking thing high above him would dive down on him. Getting nowhere fast, he sat down, and started crying.  His tears swam out of his eyes, and collided with a mound—embedding  the word 'beloved' in the mound altar as if the tears were chiseled dates, that then leaked downword forming the sentence “ lay down to rest.”  A carousel came to the boys mind, for trident hooks and lures dangled out and away from the mound.
Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw some color, “ please let some color or light come, please” he cried, putting his head in his hands.  Then he saw it, through his arms, two hovering yellow half circles, that retracted sharply into nothing.  The color looked out of place, he stood  to survey  what he thought he saw, “ who’s there?” he gurgled, but nothing stirred.  He turned now, to put distance between him and the apparition. " PING" He stepped on a scale that chimed ominously in the cryptic landscape bedecked with sepulchers of rock mound in all form of strangulation; he was not stepping with care now.  He looked back to see a faint portion of yellow before it disappeared.  “ Who are you, what do you want?” he yelled and pointed at his follower.  Then the two yellow half circles returned and then quickly disappeared, confirming his suspicion.  Then it spoke,
“Sponge, keep your mumblings down, you are going to attract Viper, or let alone the Mahi Mahi. What are you doing so far away from the Coral Kingdom, in this cold wasteland?....nevermind that, I do not speak sponge…do not fear me…”  The flitting half circles then seemed to move horizontally and upward; under one of the yellow half circles now ran a yellow paint streak conjoined with a pink one.  Metal scales bound together like chain mail fell to the ground off the apparition.  Sake now saw what the two yellow half circles were--two eyelids, and then saw the crescents of shock white and yellow on the body that was attached to the face that had pastel war paint.  It was the Hoomah who cloaked himself by covering up his tropical streaks with the viper scales, for in between his streaks of pink, yellow and white was his body color of grey—which already blended in perfectly with cemetery bleakness of the landscape.
Ecstatic at not being alone, the boy approached the hovering Hoomah, with its two small wings not flapping, for they had the proportion of a T-Rex’s arm is to its body, and could not viably keep the powerful stout Hoomah in the air, but paid heed to an old custom and now just rippled in the slow manner of a boxer snapping his knuckles.  Gravity was not the same in this dark world, with distant constellations of neon plasma and the hovering Hoomah confirmed that fact.  He was double the size of the Tang, and had  lipstick of yellow which he sucked in when cloaking himself.   A boxers nose was on the declivity of the long snout, in human scale, also giving presentation to rugged humanhood, . 
 The giant lips spoke,” Sponge, go in that direction, hurry before the lights set and the Vipers come, it is already getting late for it is much colder--.”
Sake just wanted to hug the magnificent hovering body, and stay with him, but the large lidded eyes looked at him, as if to say “easy sponge,” so the boy backed off.  But he did not want to leave his presence and the direction the Hoomah gestured was foreboding with its strangled mounds and giant prisons of lobster traps.  “ Oooh, it’s getting colder,’ the Hoomah shuddered, “ Now go Sponge,  the Mahi Mahi already heard your clumsy chimes,” but the boy did not listen, just gurgled idiotically, and in his excitement stepped on another chime, but this chime was Sake’s earlier fear, for it reared its decomposed looking head sheathed in metal blades, and opens its jagged jowl while rousing itself from slumber.  The Hoomah went to one of the mounds, and freed a hook from the mound’s torso with his powerful mouth, as the Viper was recoiling in sadistic joy at the sight of Sake; its overbite of jagged razor poised.  
Sake flinched and put up his arms to guard his face--that the Viper was eying with salivating desire--and gurgled helplessly.  The Viper’s arm length body straightened and shot at its prey, and in turn was preyed upon by the hook that the Hoomah blew at crossbow speed , piercing the viper  with the sharp and dull end through its body sticking it to the torso rock mound.  The Viper made a nasty scream, then fell to pieces, clanging and chiming off the other assorted scales.  The giant shadow re-emerged on the bottom and a distant shriek sounded, that even though afar, had bone-setting captivation; something horrible lurked above in the depths, and came closer with the sound of chimes.
“ I am going to give you a good start Sponge…darkness is almost here, and this place will be swarming with these ,” with those words , the powerful lips that were already cloaked again--for the warrior had donned his camoflauge taken from slayed viper--revealed a bright red tongue inside and suctioned up the boy, and after a deep inhale, blew the boy through the air barreling at catapult speed, but not before hearing from the owner of the blinking yellow eye lids in deep confident tuba baritone , “ Tell our Queen-- I will find her—alright Sponge .”
Chimes rang and then were swallowed up by the desolate land.  A skid trail twenty long was behind him, that connected the flat stainless steel graveyard land to a rolling land he was now in.  Littered still with scale but not dangerous tackle, the piedmont milieu was decorated with more natural objects: shells, conches, and swaying plants of red and blue.  He badly wanted to go back to the Hoomah, who was somewhere behind that grey impenetrable light, and suddenly felt cowardly for being so afraid amongst the stalwart, and for escaping away from the Damsel.    
Off distant, the blue and red plants suddenly started swaying, as if a breeze was snaking a path through them, making its way towards the derelict boy.  Sake braced himself, for what he thought would be a cold breeze, as the nearest plants rose ten feet higher into the air.  No breeze came.  
The foreboding path deterred Sake to traverse to the side of the swaying alley, and as if a breeze had started from his location, arose and went back down the alley, and the once swaying plants became still.  
Standing before a new lane,  the same breeze came, enlivening a new alley of plants, the nearest ones rising into the air.  The boy gulped.  But this was the direction the Hoomah pointed with his snout, so he proceeded.
Chapter 3 A Stunning Land
" This quest is not for thee."--Tennyson, Holy Grail

An almost inaudible whisper came and Sake turned as if he was tapped on the shoulder: “ hope and change I care for you.”   The sound came from a large waving blue plant, but the boy did not see anyone around it.  He resumed his awkward pace, this time a red plant on his right rose up well over his head.  “ family together I work for you.”  The sound had to be coming from inside the plants, Sake looked at the plants, they looked harmless and even inviting with color far different then where he had just been.  He kept to the center of the path well away from the still upright neon plants.  He passed another red plant, “ united with her, love forever.”  He paused to look at this blue plant, it had took the form of a house, a tall house; a mother ,father, and daughter were in the doorway.  “ join us, forever, hope, change.”  The red plant rose up even higher behind him, “Come inside, let us help, unite, forever.”  The red plant took the form of a little girl made up of slithering tendrils.  She animated and started skipping with a pony tail of tendrils streaming .  Sake was mesmerized, he held his arm out to touch the red image made up of adroit tendril, and the image held her hand to him fingertip to fingertip; the girl burned his finger, he brought back his hand and crossed his arms to smother the searing pain.  But the image was still there, “  not leave me here alone Sake come stay in with me.”  Sake walked away down the corridor as goosebumps flared up his back and more plants waved to the air.
“ Son, I am for you, come let give you hug, it’s had  too long, me  your mother  back together,  like old times, now come hug, yes we can.”  The blue tendrils even darkened the 5:00 o’clock stubble on Sake’s father’s face.  Sake was mesmerized, “ You’re not my father,” he whispered to himself unconfidently  as he held out his arms and headed into the blue tendrilled siloutte of his father, “ Good boy, forever, we can,” whispered the plant.  Sake felt the stubble of his  father’s face just like old times, a sting full scratch against his face. But the boy saw something in the center of the waving plant, that was busy assembling most of itself to allure the boy.  “ My promise to-- a whole new land” said the fatherly image with arms going around the boy.  Sake saw what they were in the center of the plants; tendrils that have assembled themselves into coffins, with portholes where one could see skulls with bits and pieces of bright colored scale still on it.  One head opened its jaw to reveal tendrils inside—probing and nestling--sending the boy retreating out of the blue tendrils .  Away from the now upright swaying blue neon plant, he felt the scratchy sting from the stubbly blue beard, and as it flared up, his vision pulsed blue. His finger and his face hurt in alternating turns, as if the plants were in alliance, to not waste a pain receptor of their prey.  Economical.  Sake looked back down the corridor, the plants were almost fighting with each other, like teachers and priests arguing over the souls of children.  They interfere with each other, thought the boy unconsciously.
“Don’t you want be family, and change,” the tendrils were already assembling themselves again as they rose upright.  Sake turned, and hugged the center of the path out of the reach of the red and blue tendrils.  Behind him, a red plant whispered “don’t leave me”, he looked back to see tendrils start to coil around her and drag her back into the center, the person being dragged was the young girl “ Noooo,” Sake yelled, and fell to his knees.  The father image assembled again, yelling “  son, never, forever, come back to past for a better future.”  A door formed and the tentacles acted out someone being dragged inside a room.  Sake turned to move on, a red and blue tear swam out of his eyes in a snakes swim, knotting and crushing itself into obscurity.
He quickened his pace, estimating the length   of the tendrils and walking down the middle out of their reach.  They all rose up as he came before them, “ value me….family first….hope” and as he passed them they could be heard saying “ value, death, forever….depths.”  Some sent beautiful faces out to kiss him, saying “ oh what  marvelous handsome little ….what fine hero  be someday….come  gather  your  insides inside…” They were relatives of his, and so strangers that just made him quicken his pace--at times angling himself like he was doing the limbo, so he would not feel the heated touch of the red and blue plants.
He was almost out of the dangerous corridor.  There was a giant red and blue plant, intertwining to form a mesh gate, leading out of the seductive  alley.  Their tendrils were high and numerous enough to grab the boy;  Sake looked back at all the still slithering apparitions behind him, and decided he could not make it back the way he came. The red and blue intertwined plant  ahead of him was massive,  and foreboding, it was the Magnificent Anemone--it was getting darker out too, the darkening atmosphere brought forth more plants with the buzzing and sputtering  of neon signs being turned on in a bar window, sending a reminiscent chill down Sake’s spine.  A blue tendril sign read “ Damsel,” a red one said “ Ours.”
“ I need armour” he said to himself--a tactic he recalled from his brief encounter with the Hoomah .  The remembrance of the Hoomah, gave him the will to carry on, and shake off the visual stunnings of the anemones.  He feared the Tang, but admired the Hoomah’s wise face with the pastel war paint.
There was plenty of armor lying around: shells, metallic scales, conches, lime green seaweed.  He wrapped his arms and legs with the seaweed, weaved the metallic scales into them using the diamond line that wrapped around his leg like a reel as he tripped over it earlier. He saw a scallop shell inside a plant to his side, he could not get it out without something, for the plants would surely burn him.
As he worked, he felt the slithering tendrils on his shoulder or back, but as soon as he turned in surprise, there was nothing there.  He sawed the diamond line with a jagged shell,  like he was playing the harp.  A melancholic sound emitted,  the tendrils sang in his ear to the tune of his sawing—obliiiiiviooon--they sang, he looked over his shoulder startled—but nothing was there.  His face burned from the neon plant’s stunning, he badly wanted something to protect his face.  Back in the bottleneck of the corridor, where the plants converged dangerously close, where he had been seduced and seared minutes before, was a conch shell and hook the size of Sake’s arm on either side of the alley he realized now.  I do not want to go back there…I cannot,  whimpered Sake as he stared off at the conch.  But the conch beckoned him, with its glowing bone white knuckled fist,  -- looks that looked out of place, and defiant to the neon plants.  
Sake stumbled towards it, mumbling this is gunna suck over and over again.  The plants let him in then re-animated again.  The conch was under a blue plant, the hook a red one.  
“ The outcome not  does look good forever.”  Sake turned round, to see where the voice was coming from.  It was a hospital room, no face could be clearly seen.  They were gathered around someone in the hospital bed with a doctor telling a prognosis.  The image stunned him, his heart palpitated in his chest and he struggled for air.  The hospital bed lowered into a cavern below the anemone, as if a casket being interred. Sake clutched his heart.  “ The court  now session for oblivion.”  The plant behind him turned into a courtroom, with a woman crying at the stand, her face buried in her hands.  “ The divorce is now always, and he is forsaken, always and for oblivion.”  The woman on the tendrilled stand lifted her face, and was streaked with her make-up in a clown like manner.
Sake was immobilized, he should not have come back down the corridor.  He stood, as if a spider bit him, and he was dissolving from the inside, but the painful images came undone, and released the boy.  One tendril even snapped its fingers to awaken him from his stunning. “ Awaken my poor boy,” whispered from all angles of concealment in a woman’s blithe voice.   He aroused, shook his head, remembering his aim, to get armor.
He took step by cautious step for the hook, but still was aloof, his feet were struggling to learn this world’s gravity, an enslaved collage of color on both sides of extreme, oblivion black and the interplanetary blinding lightning color, with the lifeless neutral point the grey metallic scale color of viper.
Expecting the neon red plant, that was a still-picture of a five thousand degree fire to come alive and ensnare him, he moved to the hook the size of a side sword under the red glare—his shadow emblazoned behind him in like a dark socket, outlined by a bright arterial glare; but the plant did not animate, and Sake grabbed the hook, and retreated back to the aisle.  
On the other side of the aisle, the conch sat, in white knuckle defiance staring down the blue plant, almost keeping it at bay.  Sake followed after the barb of the hook in which he led with, and hooked the conch closer to him while keeping his eyes on the blue plant.  He hastened out of the aisle to the opening before the giant magnificent blue-red anemone.  “ I hope this fits” he uttered pathetically as he slipped the smooth opening of the conch over his nose, and as if destined, it locked onto his nose and chin.  He removed it, and with one of the sharp knuckles on his new face mask, he sawed the diamond line on his leg, and through two convenient holes in the conch, he fastened it back onto his face.  It glowed white knuckle hot, and cooled instantly the sting on his face from the blue plant.
“ Much better,” sake said, and to his surprise, his words were converted to a deeper voice, rectified and pressed together from fathoms, and it was sand crystal clear.  He used the hook and released the scallop shell from the site of its demise, but a fated demise for its body would serve as armor for this boy and the world it’s in.
He approached the intermeshing barricade, with the scallop shell held in front of his vulnerable torso, the viper scales shining on his shoulders and limbs, and the conch strapped around his face like a hounds helm; his hands were still vulnerable though, and there were spots not covered by the viper scale, but those spots were padded with extra sea weed.  He lifted his hook to start slashing at the barricade but it began unfurling in the same manner of two tendrilled coral snakes releasing eachother from an interlocking kiss, the more they pulled back the wider they opened and louder they hissed, venom dangled out their fangs, but was actually the illusion of the anemone.  
A long arcade of ornate fluted columns opened up before him  with the live pulsing contour of a dragons throat.   On the slightly unstill columns,  were torches made of the same deadly anemone material, waving with what looked to be red and blue neon tinted deep sea centipedes; legs and incisors opening and closing.  Sake stepped reluctantly into the long hall, and the red and blue tendrils formed overhead and behind him, imitating a bar coming down to lock the two doors to a palace gate.  He gulped.  The plants did not seem to be interested in him, other than drawing him further into the swarming palace.  He stepped at a cautious pace; his hand  still stung from the blue plant which seared him earlier.  As he walked, he looked into the recesses in between the columns—shark bones, with tendrils waving out of sockets as eye lashes-- blinking, dilating, watching the boy.  He looked to the other side: great jaw bones, long since dead, came alive with wicked waving red tongues.  There were knights also, fallen in death, the tendrils polishing their armor as they spoon fed from the remnants that once wore them; a trigger fish was splayed between two columns, bone armor with an indentation that said ‘ Clan Hoomah.”  The other side, a knight propped up—was a butterfly fish, with silver armor indented with ‘ House Of Tang.’
Chandeliers came down from the ceiling, spinning, and emblazoning blue red lozenges on his scallop shield; Sake looked at his shield, it now bared heraldry of a knight dying, and already being buried with dirt by the parents; the motto of the shield said Only Death Shall Set You Free.
The boy looked around in awful trepidation as he passed down the long hall, the light emblazoning the deathful illustration on his shield departed.
  He pulled out the barbed hook from his belt, as he reached a foyer.  The tendrils formed vases, paintings, sculptures of Spartans, Athenians, Romans, all  gesturing for mercy from their unseen slayers.  The stair case formed, and came unrolling down to the boy.  He climbed, with awkward gait.  Every footstep sizzled off the red treads, his shoe tips sizzled from contact with the blue risers.  He picked up his speed to get off the grand staircase before they burned through his shoes.  Upon reaching the top, the first sound other than deadly nestling came, “ Come my boy, ahah, come forth, let me see what a strong brave boy you are,” the sound was coming from directly ahead of him.  
On a couch of red tendril, an orange and white body laid with utmost hedonism.  Fans of blue connected to the side walls , were waving  and cooling off the boy’s addressor.   It was very warm inside, and past the couched madam, were flambeaux torches, that were burning fuel of decomposition.  
An orange clown, lightning bolted with white, laid horizontal on a waving, caressing couch.  A blue tendril came and fed her a flake, a red one wiped her mouth.  “ Oh such cute armor, conch, and viper skin, ahah, such a warrior, even better than the those Hoomah’s.    Come, my boy you must be hungry.”  The drawing room turned its walls into a kitchen, the Clowness got up, a spectacular dress of blue, a french braid of red formed under and above her, her orange nose, in human dimensions wrinkled every time she spoke suggesting snobbery.
  The palace came forth to unfurl her red carpet, as she went up to a red blue stove, with pans that were sizzling with viper bodies in them—their dead eyes bubbling in the heat provided by the plants scorching sting.  “ You must be hungry my brave warrior, that shield is heavy as your legs look, perhaps you would like some poached conch wrapped with seaweed, served on scallop shell.”  As the queen of the red blue palace trailed her flowing dress and flowing French braid, the tendrils formed her arms and picked up the plates, that were of the same variety that made up Sake’s armor, helm and shield.  Sake dropped the long hook, and dropped the shield.  He could be devoured any second, those statues in the earlier foyer, were pleading mercy from the Clowness, and so would he.
“ Are you going to kill me?” asked Sake, and he was surprised to realize that through the conch on his mouth, he could speak bravely and intelligibly in the face of death.  The Clowness laughed, “ kill you, oh poor boy, that would be rude of me,  me and you need each other.  You’re here to rescue the poor Damsel, and stop this ooohh bitter cold from coming , with all this grey, how blazay.”  
The Clowness moved with her wavering blue dress behind her to the other wall, “ The coral kingdom my boy, is what’s at stake, and we cannot let Crabaltar penetrate into the kingdom, but I say, night is falling here, my palace keeps me warm, but my palace likes the cold, and it takes all my power  to hold them back from your warmth, they turn everything bone cold in the end hahaha, you need to get to the warm Coral Kingdom, and fast, for the vipers are coming along with other cold depth creatures.  The Queen is already sick you see,” the tendrils formed to show a magnificent looking Angel fish lying in her bed, with colors turning fantastic.  “ Oh poor queen, and all this wrought after the Damsel disappears into the cold realms.  All those yellow fins, and still they cannot save her,”  the Clowness’  dress wrapped around her tight, her red tendril hair spiraled up, a microphone came forth from her servants, a chandelier came down with stinging fluorescence.
The back wall formed the posture of a red organ ironically, for the whole palace seemed like a thriving organ.  The side wall formed blue drumsticks and banged on blue drums,  the Clowness, looking miraculous and stunning from the boy’s viewpoint, took the blue microphone and said in a transatlantic singing voice: “ Well show me the way, to the next little girl, for if we don’t find that little damsel girl, I’ll tell you we must die.  Oh the viper moon , and we are losing our good old mama queen, and if that little girl has died, from the mahi mahi there will be nowhere to hide, oh show me the way to the next little boy.”  The Clowness stopped, and gathered herself up, lying on her caressing couch exhausted, her slender servants rushing out to her. Sake could see green droplets of what looked like mucus sweat coming from her face and body—be telling something world old of the young Clown.  “ You see boy, someone has to find the Damsel, or coldness will reign, and the coral will petrify, oh how all the bright fish won’t stand a chance against the vipers, they’ll be sought out and devoured. (as she said that, a tendril mimicked the act, with the red tendril being the remains).  No one wants that, and then there is the Mahi Mahi.”
“ What’s the Mahi Mahi? Asked the boy still in the same exact spot, afraid to move.
“Oh the Mahi Mahi, if the vipers and other deep sea creatures rule the night, it is the Mahi Mahi that reigns supreme during the day.  She has a barb in her heart, her lips are studded with a hundred hooks, and her ears dangle line connected to hooks scouring the floor for flesh.  She was scorned, and slithers down from  the depths, when she descends, she screams, and anything that moves, is….(a tendril drew a knife motion across the Clowness’ throat) has a worst fate than my tendrils(the tendrils formed a large cavity somewhat of a stomach with blue tendril inside imitating the scream painting).  No one can remain in place after her tormented scream ahaha.”  The tendrils formed a horrific hook studded fish swallowing down from the depths, with everything scurrying out of the way.  Then they untangled, and wiped the Clowness’ face, and powdered her nose.
“ It will be a lonely cold path my boy, you will need everything you have to make it here, the Damsel, well, it does not look good for her.”
Sake looked at the hedonic Clowness, her audacity filled him with anger, that anger devoured his fear.  This world is not different from mine, lonely, and cold.  That thought creeped from his head, and through the conch over his mouth to say in a whisper “ I will save her you witch.”  The conch over his mouth translated his naiveté into defiance, invoking a sense of symbiotic alliance with his armour, in turn invoking a sense of futile hope, that if he had known someone believed in him as his armour did, he would have walked back through those rows of neon plants, that sounded like every preacher, teacher and politician of his life speaking their own selfishness.  The neon plants were like the teachers and priests fighting over children that were throwing paper airplanes while they talked, thinking of things afar.  During the day the teacher would talk of things en masse, and at night, the priest would conduct mass; he wanted to be gone from the state of mass altogether; all had nothing to do with Sake’s internal battle, he was suffering, and alone--abandoned.  That is when the grey skies of mass came, when the teacher talked of oblivion during the day, and the teacher of “hell” at night.  The two colors of this world thought Sake.  But the color he had seen on the Tang and Hoomah, were different he thought.
They were one of the same for Sake,  cold neon blue and cold neon red, and they both fought eachother, as they do most likely at home.   The Clowness had built her palace with an entrapping mockery of color, of vehemence  and callousness.  It was true, the red and blue ferns were of a different spectrum, and had a different purpose than the tropical ones.
“So, what are we going to do with our warrior, “  a hall formed on the far end of the drawing room, with descending stairs, “ we need to help you get to the Coral Kingdom, oh that poor Queen, missing her Damsel, oh boo hoo.” Her couch wiped her eyes. “ Go, my boy, get to the Coral kingdom, tell her that the Clowness offers her premises if the cold disrupts her kingdom, and beware the Mahi Mahi.”  A blue tendril picked up his scallop shield and gave it to him, as he was being moved away from the lounging Clowness on descending escalator.  Sake looked back, her French braid swirled upward, and a red tendril dangled a sizzling viper in her mouth.” Better Hurry Buddy boy.”  He looked forward in breathing a sigh of relief to be leaving her domicile.  A door unbarred and he was out of the palace of the Clowness.

Chapter 4 Land Of the Egg Eaters
" ...and you shall slither on your belly, and eat dust"

The ground graduated into capsules of red and blue interspersed with upright anfractuous plants that have been stunted from growing to maturity—almost strangled to a gnarled state; Sake owned the only luster of the plain—with chain scale he wore as a doublet.  He thought about dropping the scallop shield, it was tiring his arm, but a gigantic shadow slithered over the land in the distance—the size of cloud, and there were no clouds above in the depths, only impenetrable grey light.  It was cold, and getting colder.  The brightness to his rear—that was the Clowness’ domain-- was slowly receding with every distorting wave that blew across the plain.
Something rippled across the ground to his front, then off to his side.  He pulled his hook out, and raised his shield, and walked on with clumsy gait.  Another ripple.   He turned, but saw nothing.  He turned back around, and dangling out of from the ground in front of him was a blue and white striped snake, with blue eyes that had the flicker shape of a candle—hypnotic  blue pupil silhouettes that opened up and swallowed  a small remaining portion of itself, then waved and and laid down—snake eyes of a continuous liquid motion staring into the shocked green ovals of the boy.
“ And who is this?” the serpents voice was sedated, its snub jaw barely moving, but revealing small rows of fangs.  Sake held his shield between the approaching snake and him.
“ I am passing through, to the, to the Coral Kingdom, so get out of my way,” the boy’s voice quaked and in turn was rectified by the conch and its ages old veteran calcium, “ Out of my way” said the boy’s facemask, but his eyes betold of hesitation, which a snake always capitalizes on.
“ Oh you are, are you” the snake’s voice was more haughty and drawn out.  “ You do not want to be mon ami, we do not get many visitors.”  Sake squinted  and looked around him when the lethargic snake said ‘we.’  “  My name is Caviar, what is yours?” the snake twisted itself up putting its small head on level with with the boys.
“ My name is, is Sake, I have to go,” Sake could see a vaporous blue breath coiling in and out of the snake’s mouth.    He turned and went to sidestep the solicitous snake, but the reptile was to circuitous and slithered through the red and blue capsuled ground and twisted up to eye level with the boy, mesmerizing Sake until he shook his head and turned around with his shield over his back, to head back to the domain of the Clowness.  The ground rippled before him and up sprung a red and white snake.
“ Who do we have here Caviar?”
“ It is a new friend, introduce yourself Caliente.”  The boy was turning clumsily in both directions with his shield to face the two threats at once. The latest arrival, was not sedated, talked fast, and twisted its body like a barbershop sign causing the boy’s eyes to cross.  “ Please stay amigo” said the red striped snake—vapors were protruding from its nose holes forming large fangs, then retracted by dissipating; his pupils could have been the psychedelic looking hyacinth seeds if not for lacking the third dimension-- kidney shaped and white, bespattered with all shape of capillary red.  The snake came up to eye level of the boy and widened his lids revealing his blood shot hyacinth eyes.  The red smears seemed to come forth out of its elliptical white dimensions: intertwining…climbing, kissing…then knotting, tightening…strangling, swaying, and stilling.
Sake was gorgonized.  A scream came down from up in the depths and snapped him out of it, just as Caviar was slithering forward targeting a chink in the boy’s armor.  The large shadow enveloped Sake and his venomous interlocutors.  He looked back at Caviar, his eyes were neon now in the shadow—with the same liquid blue metal, but no longer the ladylike form waving goodbye and laying down, but of an even more hypnotic motion, a morphine drip of tears…drip….drop.  Sake shook his head…shut his eyes, but still saw the elliptical drip drops  reflecting on his black eyelids.  He raised his shield to the approaching Caliente—whose eyes ever brightened in the shadow,  projected a film from the iris—capillary streaks were in a fight with each other; one streak struck the other, and picked it up and carried it off…back into the two dimensional realm of Caliente’s eyes.  
The shadow flitted across the land and out of sight, the snakes hypnotic eyes lessened in intensity.  “ Come on, let us have a kiss, a kiss is all we miss,” said Caviar in his sedated tone.
“ Yes, one hiss of our kiss, will be delish,” said Caliente with smoky tendrils fuming out of his nose holes.  Sake turned sharply, and heard the “ting” off his scallop shield.  Caliente went forward to kiss the boy, but was intercepted.  " Please, leave me alone," begged the boy.  He turned again, this time it was Caviar slithering down low for a fatal kiss, Sake dropped his knee and his heavy shield downward cutting the snake in half.  Blue egg capsules squeezed out of the snake’s innards.  
“ Nooo, Caviar,” Caliente’s hyacinth pupils were now arcing, binging with lunacy.  The snake bent its body sharply and thrusted, pushing the shield and the boy backward.  It recoiled for another strike almost like a fencer,  Sake’s arms were tiring—the snake formed a ninety degree angle then sprung, tapping off the shield, it recovered and thrusted again, and again—Sake was grunting every time he lifted the shield, and he was losing sight of the red and white snake because his shield was steaming from the coral snakes kisses.  “ One kiss is on your list, oh don’t worry it will be so delish,” taunted the snake’s voice, the boy could not locate its source.  Sake took a step back and sunk up to his knee, he had stepped inside an upside down conch.  He heard movement to his right and posted his shield up and in turn heard the “ting” sound emitted off his shield.  Ting…ting Ting…the snake was inexhaustible.  The boy’s  leg was beyond his shield, and his other leg was  inside the conch; he felt the small but devastating bite on his leg,  gashing the snake across its face with his hook, he stunned the snake momentarily.
“ Nooo, “ the boy said, knowing the snake possessed some kind of venom.  He brought the wounded leg back under his body inside the conch, took a step backwards, and as if descending a staircase, lowered into the conch, then stumbled inside its winding staircase. The shield falling over the entrance sealing it shut.
He fell onto the first landing, and then tumbled in a slinky motion finally stopping on hard-smooth-level ground.  Grabbing the the hound conch  guard from his mouth and tearing it off, he fell to his knees and breathed in deeply.  There was a long dark corridor ahead of him, faintly visible due to the pink color of the giant underground conch tunnel.  Boom….boom boom…his heart thudded.  
Putting one hand on the floor, putting himself in a three point stance, he lifted himself to his feet and trudged forward.  The corridor curved subtly—taking the bend, the ambiance changed drastically and took on the form of the lower levels of an aquarium, pink light reflecting down the dark walls that were equipped with large ports.  Lumbering with the disregard that someone with high fever has, he came up to the first port, it was painting, a living painting that drew him forth.
It was a coral palace, an electric lighted playground almost, neon green palm’s waving tendrils that formed an arcade leading up to a throne where a most striking and beautiful queen sat—she was adorned with every color of the rainbow, and had a crystallizing white traces growing over her face that wore a veil of royal purple.  At her feet, mid bow, were two warriors in shining  and bone armor, the Tang and the Hoomah.  
The boy was entranced with the moving painting, and went to walk into it.  As his nose was a hair away, he saw what made the painting move, little hermit crabs—some with scarlet legs and some with blue legs--  busy scurrying around tracing the magnificent colors, their shells glowing to the color they were painting; their hooked claws like assembly line lasers emblazoning the pink creamy white walls of the conch.  “ So beautiful,” said Sake in his delirium, then rolled along the wall to the next painting, it was the Damsel as the center of attention in a ballroom, suitors and handmaids in the motion of the minuet around her.  Her purple corset shined brilliantly, her elliptical eyes modestly aimed down as if she was mid dance, the Hoomah was in the background, body still, with eyes fixed wondrously on the Damsel.  The Tang was beside him, looking with considerably  more affection at the Damsel; but there was a large brooding golden knight in the background—the only one adorning the vain color of gold, the color which with all its ostentatious and glare was considered a cheap imitator by the lush neon and pastel colors around him, and the void above in the depths at the golden knights shoulders in the open air court hall seemed to distinguish the golden glare to a rusty imperceptibility;     the rest of the knights were in a form of silver, bone or steel.
  Sake went to walk into the picture, but stopped upon seeing the hermit crabs busy rendering another mirage paintings.  Hand over hand along the wall, he came upon the next painting.  It shined with the colors of Caliente and Caviar’s eyes.  It was the Clowness, on a lush red anemone, with blue tendril chandeliers over her, there was a parrot fish perched beside her attending.  Sake backed away from the painting, the Clowness’s stare was that of aspiration, and a colder grimmace than Caviar’s.  The painting started its transition with lava lamp fluidity; showing the Clowness surrounded by little clown babies, and with machine motion, the painting depicted the little clowns being gobbled up by their mother.  Sake tucked his chin into his neck, “ Mmmblurf,” he mumbled, which was surely an expletive starting with “ What the...”
The next painting was dark, barely perceptible, a nocturne of perhaps a barge on a dark stormy ocean.  No, it was a bed in a room.   A boy was being painted on the bed, with his eyes looking forward unblinking at something bright in the corner; the hermit crabs painted his forehead glowing hot, and there was a blue capsule on the bed stand, that looked like medicine.  The painting started glowing red hot, and blinding.  Sake covered his eyes, only to notice he was losing his vision—as if staring into a solar eclipse.  He fell to his knees, and listened to the peaceful inner humming of the conch, he could just lie down and not worry anymore but as he was descending down, on the inside of his eyelids something was being painted, it was purple and beautiful.  Dancing in the wind, it was the Damsel, and she gestured for him to get up and go get the antidote—so he got to his feet, and followed the walls of the conch back to the winding stairwell he fell down, where the inner humming of the conch mixed with the thudding of his heartbeat, along with the tinging sound  that was Caliente striking the scallop shield in his red hot fury.  Now Sake would have to face the snake blind, to obtain the capsule outside on the ground that was shown to him in the artwork.
  All form of expression fell from the boy’s face, he sat stoically, wiped the sweat droplets from his forehead-- put back on his hound conch mask, strapped it snug and climbed up the stairs to the tapping shield.
Thud…tap….thud(of his heart)…tap(of the shield).  He listened, gaging the pattern of the enraged snake.  Putting his feet on the shield and his back against the inside wall, he readied himself.  Tap…tap…tap, tap… all he could see was the snakes pupils now in his blindness, the hyacinth seeds, the red lines strangling and slapping each other, one always overtaking the other. Tap….he straightened his legs with all his might, sending the shield upward.  The decibel of the snakes jaw hitting off the shield was attuned by the boy’s ear.  He scrambled out, feeling the ground, holding capsules to his eyes, almost pressing them to his eyes.  “Dam, only red” he said after making out the aura of the capsule.  Rustling came from behind him, Caliente was over his stunning, Sake had to turn and ready his shield, he could not gauge where the lethal snake was, he swiped the air with his hook to get his stalker to betray his location.
“ A miss, but I won’t miss with my kiss…another miss, can’t find the source of hiss,” laughed the snake toying with the vulnerable prey.  “ A kiss is on your list.”
The snake lunged but the boy reacted in the microsecond stopping the strike, Sake backed up against a stunted tree.  There was  capsule dangling from one of its branches above his head, and the boy saw that it was blue.  Instinct kicked in quick for the boy, he swiped at the capsule hanging, and hooked it in, retreating behind the tree, he squeezed it over his mouth and swallowed the juice.  “ A kiss is all I wish,” came the snake around the tree.  Sake wobbled backward, and readied his shield in the wrong direction—baiting the snake to strike while watching the now visible red and white snake unblinkingly feigning being blind.  Caliente lunged at his exposed neck line, where the boy was expecting him, the hook came upward through jaw ,tongue and brain.  Sake used the tree to help remove the lifeless snake from his barb.
“ Ya, You can kiss my butt snake,” said the conch over the boy’s mouth, which was almost near to the boys own words….surprising Sake as he stowed his hook in his belt to free his hand to rub his eyes.  Everything was tinted blue.  A cold breeze stirred through all the gnarled trees.  The grey horizon was darkening.  The capsuled wasteland was awakening from its lethargy in a red and blue glow, like lava meandering over cindering blue coal.  He looked down at his hooked sword, it was steaming with red fluid at its tip.  A lacerating scream came from the darkening depths.  Sake sliced some thin switches from the tree, and picked up some red capsules and strapped them to his belt, then retreated to the conch entrance and sat down.  It was if that loud tormented cry was tolling for the oncoming night, Sake knew it was the Mahi Mahi, but was not particularly worried about it, for at the moment the stars were descending from the depths as the ground lit up, and things could be heard scrambling for hiding spaces.  The blue tint lessened to a smaller degree, or so he thought.  Taking refuge back in the underground conch he pulled the shield three quarters over the entrance, watching the lights descend like coins falling to the bottom of the sea.  Two lights sped for each other, sparks ignited.  More broke their descending methodic speed and darted for prey on the lit floor.  He made eye contact with a psycho razor grin, then pulled the shield all the way over the entrance.

Chapter 5 Night Of The Viper
" I had a dream, which was not all a dream, the sun was extinguish'd and the stars."--Darkness, Lord Byron.

His footsteps rang into the hollow curving chamber of the conch, he turned the bend to find that the previous paintings on the left were now gone.  The interior walls of the conch were blue now and not pink.  He doffed his conch from his face, and walked in a brusque manner to the first painting.  
The hermit crabs were arcing with blue lightning diagonally from each other, assembling a blue hour glass, that then turned sideways forming the Damsel’s elliptical eyes.  Tremendous sadness and shame assailed the boy’s heart.  He walked on to the next painting.
It was Crabaltar, with its entire dark crevice, the hermit crabs were hot pink as they were working slowly to lazer  the jumble of rocks in the same  nominal speed of a photocopier.  Next to the pink lines was infinitesimal darkness, and the real picture came into the boy’s view.  The shadows formed the Crab in the interstice of the Stonehenge-like rock jumble--with its scythes upward, with the Damsel in his claws, she was dripping hot pink.  He moved on quickly from that painting.
Adjacent, was a painting almost bordered itself by reflective blue waves, Sake could not make out where the conch ended and the painting started.  The hermits left the canvas blank, until its viewer stepped fully in front of it.  There were many painters assigned to this piece, and it would be massive.  Twilight lines started the head and forehead: Siberian white stripes,  ranks and ranks of clashing silver scale, nebulas of red dots.  As the massive beast was being filled in, studs and studs of hooks came into perception, dangling from the massive lips.  Trident anchors of barb hung from the gills, diamond line strangled around its throat. A giant spear or harpoon protruded from its chest. The artwork enlivened, startling Sake backward, it swam the depths, with a tortured look on its face.  It grew and grew, taking up the entire tunnel, then it screamed revealing trident hooks on its tongue and tonsils.  
Covering his ears, “ arrrrrrrrrr” he screamed, which was only a whisper under the shriek of the Mahi  Mahi on the conch wall. He tried to retreat away from the growing monster, running around the bend to the unexplored corridor, the beast followed in length and torturous echo. Tear drops were landing on his shoes, he fell forward in front of a painting that was just before a rising spiral-staircase at the end of the conch.  The sound and sight of the Mahi Mahi vanished as Sake kneeled, crying, before another painting, denoted by the flurescent arcing, suggesting it was warming up--
The hermit's painting assembled the image with the reticulate pattern of the human iris.  But it became apparent that it was coral, a giant massive brain coral, with a frontal lobe of bright green, right of red, and left of blue, underneath was purple. It was an oracle of some sort, a ‘Coracle.’  The purple was flaring more than other parts and was leaking into the grey matter grooves and spilling out of its section.  Three figures came into view at the base, the forward one was a boy, in armor, scallop shield and straight sword; to his rear was the Tang in a shiny cuirass with a dorsal sabre and pectoral dagger; next to him, the block body of the Hoomah, in his mouth like a toothpick  was a barbed hook-- the war paint of yellow and pink dripping from his right eye, his lids were wide open and he is staring intensely at the interaction of the boy and the coral.  
Battle erupted on the painting, showing only the Hoomah and Tang back to back.  The big body of the Hoomah spit bolts and barb at assailers of pscyho grin as they screamed with sadistic seizure from the impalement they recieved.  The glowing skull lure of a thousand vipers were surrounding them from the darkness.  It was as if the two knights commanded the spotlight on a dark stage with the audience grinding their teeth of flint.
    As the vipers lunged forward, the two fish moved too quickly to be perceived correctly, the Tang was a forge bedecked with silver swords fresh from the flames;  and the Hoomah:  who’s bone armored body resembling the shape of a cross bow with the sight rising just under his large mouth screamed baritone at the demonic hoard with a powerfull  war cry shockwave that bought his armor  time to load the next bolt.
  The attackers were limitless, and occasioned with bigger deep sea creatures; spinal cords connected to bear trap brown scale heads, their jaws wide and ready, as their tongues slithered in front as their form of lure for their prey: they were the Gulpers.
   Sake stepped away from the painting, it was so intimidating, and immediatly felt cowardice at not being brave enough to want to help the suicidal duo in their last stand.  He clenched his fist, inspired, commanded by the travesty of the besieged.  
The Tang became maimed first, a gulper bit out a chunk of his tail fin in its fast jaw spring lethality.  The Hoomah blew air from its powerful mouth blowing the assailers off the Tang then rammed a gulper with a barb sticking out of his lips, like a prow of a trireme at ramming speed.  But a viper took advantage of the Hoomah’s distraction and bit between his bone armor.  Bright yellow lids widened at impending death.   The vast glowing lures from the approaching darkness that surrounded the spotlighted arena formed the outline of the Crab, in the interstices of the viper skull lures.  The two tropical warriors could not be seen anymore, only wagging tail fins of the voracious vipers, as the glowing lures became inordinate, as the stars in the black expanse.  I rather die with them, then be enchanted by the viper like everybody else—thought but did not speak Sake, for fear that the painting's depicture would be given materialistic merit by his words, making it an actuality, rendering him alone.  Then the thought of the tendrils from the Clowness’ palace wearing the two fallen knights armor came to mind, infuriating him.  The depravity and onslaught of it all.  
The painting reverted back to the Coracle, but no one was standing at its forefront anymore; purple was spilling out from the coral and engulfing the entire canvas until all was of one color; in turn the whole tunnel glowed with the royal color, then in one blink the tunnel was empty except for blue waves of light interspersing the walls. The tunnel was quiet.  Sake continued looking at the spot where the artwork was, something about it, something fated about that depicture that told him he must re-unite with both knights before it is too late.
He climbed the stairs past the point where the last painting was, and found a cat hole to look out of at the top.  The glowing bait of the prowling vipers dashed and cruised the black expanse.  Struggles could be heard at intervals, but otherwise it was tranquil.  Sake sat on the step, and was resting his back against the wall, when he heard his name being called from the darkness.  He looked to first see a flowing dress, ghastly white, then a frail arm, “ Saaaaake” the voice was childlike, or was a child-like predator.  The flowing dress and the frail hand moved over the loophole, Sake saw what it was.  The skinny arm was a tentacle belonging to the translucent dress of a jelly.  The head came into view, and Sake whacked his head against the back wall; the jellyfish had a globular head, that en-sphered a dissolving viper head; the psycho grin and black eyes of the viper became the jelly’s face.  “ Disgusting,” whispered Sake, trying to be barely audible to this dark world.  He moved four steps down, and rested, until he fell asleep.
His dreams were loneliness, the black expanse beyond the conch poured into his mental panorama as a black cauldron pouring out black fluid.  In dream, he felt the strength of an undertow when something massive swam by him, but paying no attention to him.  He searched for a glimmer, as he was sinking, or rising… pure vertigo, pure pure vertigo in a never ending cold black universe.  Then the feeling came, as a blacker essence came forth in the abyss,  it was the crab’s scythe , and it clicked close foretelling the boy that death: is oblivion.  The boy screamed at the form, the ultimate tragedy leading to his ultimate shame, he screamed the words “ The Coral Kingdom” the claw clicked open, only to close again; he couldn’t believe it, all were subject to the cannibalistic realm of the crab, the realm of ‘ In the eye, out the mouth’ , he screamed for light, and there came forth a glimmer, a sparkle, a glimpse of hope.  It fluttered to him, and a halo of light illumined from a beacon,  it was the glowing skull lure that was arched from a vipers forehead, it was squirming into his black panorama to devour his hope, it writhed and gnashed, Sake woke up.  
A viper was writhing through the cat hole, it was breaking its own teeth to get inside in a metallic frenzy.  Sake stepped to the intruder, and drove the barb through its brain.  The view to the darkness was now blocked by the dead viper.  He was almost glad it had waked him from that dream.
Before he sat down, he saw a cleft in the shape of a oak leaf in the conch’s wall, and immediately thought of a sword, looking down at his hook his brain was moved by the thought he could straigten out the hooked weapon he held in his hand.  Arising, he stuck the hook in it with an upright position; the barb fit inside as a key into a tumbler; Sake then bent it straight, leaning every ounce of meat and bone on his body.  
The dream maddened him still, and the sound outside the conch, had the sound from inside his dream.  He lopped off the viper’s head and carved the vipers ribs, making a cup hilt for his handle.  He had to pry the ribs out, for they were metallic, and the sound was that of claws scraping down a chalkboard.  Sake had a scowl on his face as he worked, but he was still aware of his fear of the vipers carcass coming alive like a mesh mower and dicing his arms off.  He finished the work and quickly wiped the sinewy white guts on his coral snake blue greaves--not wanting any part of the disgusting predator's flesh on him.  " Eeeck, "he sneered, without his conch on.
A painting came alive on the wall, it was a blue-red lazer outline of a sword, almost like a mold.  Two hermits were spaced apart with their claws facing out, almost beckoning Sake to put his sword on their hooks.  
He went up to the wall as if he was summoned and placed the sword onto the hook like projection of the red and blue hermits within the lazer sword outline  More hermits came,  the mold outline exploded with spectrometry of a diamond flooded with electrons;  the hermits fashioned the hilt to the shaft with green laser precision first, grooving the handle and making a pommel.  Red lasers gave the forte, shell cutting sharpness by smoothing out the barb. ‘ Sake’ was laser etched into the debil of the blade forming a blood groove;  the lights ceased.   Sake picked up his modified rapier that was still hot and returned to the step to sleep, thinking all the while, that if he ends up in that dream of tragic darkness again, he will have his sword to sink or see with.
The night was over, and the shell was back to its creamy pink color due to the bright rays of light coming in from their unknown starting point, and refracting down the shell tunnel. He put his hound conch back over his face and picked up his custom rapier, and with a slow and achy gate made his way back to his shield at the entrance to the underground layer.  Using his rapier to hold up the shield, and thus provoke any enemies, he made his way back to the land of stunted growth .  There was already movement under the surface, and what he thought a large tree, was a strangled sapling seething with more bi-color coral snakes.  He looked back to the direction of the Clowness’ domain, and pondered going back, “ I would not stand a chance getting by there…then there is Crabaltar,” he felt cowardly, due to his pragmatic conclusion that he wouldn’t stand a chance alone in either domain.  The Damsel would have to hold on.
It was much colder, and that fact was hindering the snakes, they huddled together to keep warm.  There was barely any capsuled fruit around, “They must have gobbled up em all, to not feel the cold, or feel  warm, dumb snakes” thought Sake.  He proceeded in the direction of the Coral Kingdom, his balance much better, but now weighed down by a heavy sword.  Caviar’s body was still strewn on the ground, Sake stopped to use his tough hide to reinforce his shoes, and making blue greaves and boot gaiters.  He approached Caliente’s body at the base of the swarming tree, the snakes reared their heads, and put their pupils in unison, making a blue red motion picture of Sake getting devoured.  Sake looked away, and using his rapier, fetched the body and fell back.  The snakes were helpless from their cold lethargy.  Strapping muscle shells to his knees with the red snake hide and diamond line,  Sake did not worry about the coral snake's  little teeth anymore.  The armor, felt personified to Sake, maybe because at one point it was alive, and thus he felt better for putting the coral snake hide at his feet, and the calcium conch knuckle on his mouth.  It fortified him against the loneliness of the landscape; from the depths above, the grey impenetrable light behind, and the faint infra-red and ultraviolet stars growing from the horizon in the direction of his travel: which did not possess the deceiving color of the anemone’s spectrum but something by the light of a liberating x-ray.

Chapter 6 The Hunting Mire
"Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
                                For Thine is the Kingdom..."--T.S Elliot


Trudging along, the landscape molted its previous colors.  Even more depressing than the land of chimes—was this land of sockets, cesspools, and seaweed.  The boy’s leg disappeared into the mire up to his knee, he ripped it out using his shield as leverage.  He  used his shield as a boat over the rotting ground with his long rapier as an oar; a journey worse than Virgil and Dante in hells river choked with drowning moan.  The gaping wounds from the oar would send up fuming gas that would send him slipping off his shield into the muck.   Sake looked behind him, to his horror, was vast muckiness, it had crept behind him in a high tide stalk, furthering him in the muck more so than he had thought.  A sense of return was out of question.
Sake suddenly felt like he fell inside the dank deep disgustingness of an outside toilet.  Or swimming in the dissolving enzymes of his own liver, in brown excruciating bile.  Almost too much for the boy, his nose and mouth burned, he suddenly needed someone, anyone….he was too young for a landscape that betold : in the eye and out the mouth.
  He struck his sword for another laborious row on top his scallop shield to keep his body moving in the burping land.  The muck made a noise, a  moan.    Sake readied his weapon, but the glimmer of silver came up from the dankness, it was a knight, the Dragon Goby, that wore a silver masquerade mask that connected to a large silver bladed serrated horn that emitted from his forehead just over the knight’s nose..  The rest of his body was submerged, but one could tell from the countenance of the unfortunate knight, and the languid fluttering of his lower jaw, that he was in pain, and mortally wounded.
“Where are you wounded, let me get you on my shield, I am a friend of yours knight,” said the boy, in self-deceiving hope that he would not be alone.
“ I…I have…failed…Damsel…the prawn…go before…” Sake began trying to dig out the stricken knight, only to find big clawed, slender crustaceans devouring his lower body.  They were prawn, and they were voracious.  A claw stuck through the eye behind the silver masquerade mask,pulling the unfortunate knights eye inside the socket.   Sake fell backward in horror and splashed in the muck.  They came for his exposed eyes, one prawn almost speared his oval right through the epicenter before Sake caught it with his hand and flung it.  Flopping his belly on his shield, the prawn scurried up his back, they snipped at his snake hide, but it proved as durable as his viper chainmail.  As quick as he flung one from his face, another would scurry onto him for his eyes.  Another wound in the muck opened and a stream of prawn came out, covering Sake and weighing down his shield.
“Ahhhh, “ he screamed in utter desperation, his scream was not tempered by the conch, for the conch knew the gravity of the situation,  as a prawn snipped the diamond line holding the white knuckle conch felling it as another prawn crawled in his mouth and cut off his scream.  He flung it with lightning reflex as he was being weighed down into the fowl undersurface.  Reaching for his rapier,” no use” he thought, as he let go of the hilt.  It would have just opened another wound for prawn to come out if he pulled it out and he could not even wield its weight in the strength sapping muck.
  “ The red capsule” whispered a voice in his mind. Flinging prawn off his belt, he uncovered the red capsule, and as his vision was being blotting by the pincers of the prawn, he held the capsule over his head with his eyes closed.  The smacking’s and sucking’s of the prawn were in his ear.  A prawn snipped his ear on the lower lope making a bi-lobe, Sake grunted in pain, but the prawn’s claw was so sharp as to be almost done by a professional surgeon with a scalpel cutting the cartilage in half.  His fist clenched, breaking the hyacinth streaked capsule over his head; it was as if Caliente’s eyes leaked their capillary blood shots from the capsule, wrapping round the prawn like snakes, boiling their shells instantly, turning the prawn from maroon to bright boiled arterial red.   The surviving prawn scampered off, perhaps the coral snakes were predators of prawn,  and the fumes of the capsule were more than enough for them, the opposite smell of the methane decay they cherish.  
He caught his breath, caught his rapier, and steadied his shield  Barely alive with his ear dripping blood on his shoulder, and the hyacinthe lines of the capsule squirming off to find prawn or fade away.  He looked back down at the poor knight, and grabbed his silver masque,  and detached the blade and slipped it off the knights horned forehead.  The blade was hollow as to fit over the Dragon Golby knights horn making a sharp horn even  deadlier.   He used it as a scabbard to sheath his rapier diagonally across his back, affording extra armor, and tied the silver zorro type mask along with the snipped off conch on his mouth and nose-- effecting a total face mask with visor; for he almost lost an eye to those things and was still squinting from the encounter, but now he looked out through a horizontal slit with the visor in the flipped down position.  The conch clenched white knuckle hot again, and burned off all the savage muck.  The conch steadied the boy, who was still not in possession of his mind and body, after that close encounter.  Sake was shaking his head, as his right eye shed a tear, and his left ear shed a droplet of blood.  “ I’m not going to make it out of here,  and there is nowhere to make it to, “ said Sake, despondent, for the horizon of ethereal glow was out of sight, blocked by distorted rising gas of methane or the vile fountains of prawn nest—which resembled pagan sacrificial altars, with the top most part a dark offering plate….they were empty at the moment.
  He rowed on with without his prior coordination, he so wanted to be gone from this foul land.  Upon looking around he spied many yellow fins poking up out of the muck.  An unnerving thought came to him, “ how did they fall into mire if they can hover above it?”  Then the scream came down from the depths, and the green brown abscess that was the quicksand seaweed mud frenzied itself in burping bubbles.  There was nowhere to hide or run.  Sake said “ oh no” but his conch said “ready yourself.”
The massive shadow slowly stalked over the cess; the black shadow lacing the land in slithering darkness.  Sake flipped down his new visor over his conch and scanned the greyness.  He felt so cluttered and hindered from the muck on him, and the wobbling shield he was on that would not stay still due to his nervous legs.  “All the knights must have been sitting ducks” thought Sake, he raised his rapier in a futile taunt to the depths above him.  The shadow and scream told him that his sword would be esteemed as straw by the behemoth.  He plunged his rapier into the mire to see if he can make any sort of a getaway, but the dank land and the Mahi Mahi were in symbiotic cahoots—he could not row anywhere.
The scream tore through the land, splitting the muck into divided wake, foretelling the boy which way it was coming, as he covered his ears.  “ Nooo, please God,” he muttered in futility as he saw the mouth wider than he saw in the hermits painting, he could not jump out of the way, the hook studded mouth spanned two to three of his jumps on solid ground.  He saw the trident hook on the ghastly tongue wiggling in anticipation of bathing in minced boy.
The gape was becoming larger and larger, until Sake smelled the stank breath, and thrusted his rapier onto his shield and pole vaulted with all his upper body strength out of the swooping  beast’s jaws.  His head banged off the side of the cold lip of the beast.  He splatted into the muck, as the beast’s  velocity and slip stream caused the mire to churn sending the boy struggling to keep his head above it.  A prawn went onto his face, braving the red capsule, but Sake’s helm proved sufficient.  He churned and slapped maniacally.  The large shadow was returning,  the scream split the muck, Sake ducked into the disgusting cesspool as the massive undertow went by him overhead sucking him sideways under the surface.  He could hear the Prawn sucking their lips, in  momentous unison, and snipping at his cordage to rend his flesh.  He had to get out of there, he surfaced his head, breaking into air with a sucking sound, he saw a diamond line trailing the massive body, a trident hook on the end.
The rapier was an arm’s length away, he reached for it, skimming his fingers off it.  The giant shadow turned round, Sake finally grasped the rapier and used the handle to pull his shield to him.  He climbed atop, hooked his feet into the handle, held his sword backwards, “ Alright Mahi Mahi, COME ON, COME GET ME “ yelled the boy in a voice rectified by the veteran calcium of the conch.  The gaping mouth came after the scream, he quickly regretted his taunt, “ On second thought maybe we can be friends” said Sakes mind,  but Sake held his place, almost like a sacrificial boy on the plate of the behemoth who esteemeth his bones as straw.   The trident pierced tongue was almost on his conch helm.  The last possible second Sake flattened himself, and felt the prickling’s of the Prawn as he raised his rapier above the muck with all his strength, and the diamond line streamed by , Sake caught the trailing trident hook with the hilt of his rapier and was violently spun up and around, skiing on top off the muck, then the shield lifted up onto into the air.  He was waterskiing behind a battleship, the wake of which was enormous.  Sake’s stomach dropped as the great beast ascended, he could see a great harpoon in the chest of the Mahi Mahi, and past that sight post was a glowing kingdom, as the beast was starting its turn, Sake released his rapier from the trident and he coasted at missile speed in the direction of the glowing city.  But the shield he was using as a wake board spun around, so he was flying backwards, looking at the massive seamless pivots of the Mahi Mahi cruising the lonely depths, with eyes fixed downward, bestudded and bejewled with swaying chain and hook, resembling chimes of a lonely graveyard. A beast eager to pass the pain to someone else, and replicate itself.
Sake tried to spin around, but to no avail, he awaited his toboggan to smack into an implacable object at any moment.  
Chapter 7 The Coral Kingdom  
" every tear shall be wiped from the eye forever"

Skidding and sliding, Sake came to a violent stop; but not a life threatening abrupt stop. A Jetstream of unknown properties slowed his descent.  Then the land slowed him down, one tumble, one scratch, and one “ahh” at a time.  Unlike in the other lands, there was swaying warm growth here.  He had smashed his hound conch mask off glimmering lime green coral, it slid off his face like a jigsaw puzzle.  The shield skimmed over the ground until it smacked into a pile of yellow coral cracking in half.   He flipped up the silver visor, and gurgled an expletive--he would not be able to speak.  As he was feeling his head, he heard scurrying behind him, he drew his sword while he was still sitting and unsheathed it then accidentally let go of it and it sailed from his hands.  He was discombobulated to say the least.
“ What is that…is it plankton…no it’s a sea slug.”  Sake was looking at a gang of peppermint colored shrimp musing over what he was.  “ No it’s definitely a sea cucumber,” said one confident shrimp who came forward and gave a little nibble on Sake’s foot, then started spitting . “ Uggg, no it’s definitely a sea slug.”  The motley gang moved on away from distasteful boy, lumbering over pizza anemones, and non-stinging purple carpet anemones humming a song that Sake could not discern.  
The shadow at his feet was unfamiliar, but it was his—he turned his head to see where the powerful source was that was casting shadows askew from the festive plants and crustaceans.  His eyes followed a pebbly road busy with traffic: shrimp, starfish, algae, butterfly fish all scrambled down the highway toward a palisaded coral palace, that had a white marble coral grand staircase that tiered down three levels surrounded by columns spiraling with pink green phosphorescence.  Sake looked down the road at the incoming traffic—bleak greyness with something lurking in it, was causing an exodus.
He joined the traffic, ducking out of the way of algae and fingerlings soaring by.  The coral off to the side of the road was cindering like hot coals fighting to stay alive, of all color—blue, green,pink, yellow—pulsing was a better word .  “The cold, “Sake thought, “it’s from the cold.”  Something caught his eye out to the side of the road; it was coral in the shape of Trojan soldier, with only one arm,the other had broken off long ago,  and it  was holding a spear that had green algae swaying from its tip and from the helm running the long way down the helmet like a plume was bright green seaweed.
  It did not pulse, but stayed its grooved gangrene color with the T opening of the Trojan coral helmet staring down the grey bleakness—implacable..  The redoubtable man size coral was more impressive up close, “ An Atlantean knight” Sake gurgled.  Only the helmet had joint lines, thus being able to detach; Sake doffed his silver visor, and reaching up for the ancient green coral helmet, grasped it and donned it over his head.  “ I like,” the boys words were sharp and distinct as a Lacedaemon bronze sword.
He had to make his way across the highway still, and waited for an opening, and stepped onto the road.  He was immediately spun around by a turtle, “ Hey watch it buddy” the turtle jeered.  Then a jelly fish splatted onto his face and a sea horse hooked into his lips giving him a fish hook. “ Get out of the way,” they all said in some form or fashion.  A blue bottle jelly smashed off his helmet breaking to pieces. “ Well the helmet works,” he mused as he stumbled and spun, as he made it to the far side of the road that was flowing with Bostonian-like commuters.
Leaving the fleeing passerby’s, Sake stood at the base of the grand marble coral staircase that was blushing with pink blotches;  it looked more precious then Aventine marble; the fluted columns were electric eels sizzling as they spiraled up and around thin coral poles, dazzling bluish black electric devotion and loyalty.  The bespattered boy, in snake hide boots, climbed the stairs.
At the first landing, he looked back, the landscape tableau was spectacular, abuzz with life, warmth—the radiation was captivating; there seemed to be a pattern to the sway of the plants, or a gravitational pull and push from the bright bodies, inducing all color of voltage into their surroundings and even up into the depths as spotlights.  But, something ephemeral was invoked into Sake, as if the Kingdom wasn’t going to be there much longer, “ So pretty” he whispered, so the Trojan helmet would not hear his effeminate words.  He looked aft beyond the road, he now saw what was lurking in the grey bleakness, causing the exodus, it was Crabaltar.  He hastened his speed, to get to the top of the grand staircase.  His eyes came on level with a  foyer, smooth as ocean glass, that absorbed every spectrum from  the kingdom below and before it.
The court silenced, as the boy stepped forward—his viper boots sounding off the aventine coral floor, smoother than ocean glass.  The throne to his twelve o’clock was empty, there was a dozen bodies standing before it with serious looks on their faces, one was the Tang.  “ This area is off limits to cucumbers, the rules haven’t changed in the wake of these events,” the Tang said squinting, surveying the boy with suspicion due to his armor and the full palette of bespattering it had.  There was a parrot fish in the center of the gathering, Sake recognized it from the Clowness’s palace as he approached the hostile Tang.  “ Flee like the rest of the commoners, this assembly is for loyal fighters, therefore for Royalty,” barked the Tang,” knights do not migrate, so join the migration, migrant.”
Two silver blades sprung like switchblades from the Tang’s cuirass armor; Sake didn’t process the knights warning, for the Tang was still a beacon to the boy.  “ I am here to help rescue the Damsel, I am…”  before the boy could finish the Tang came at him with lightning speed, Sake turned his back, and heard the sound of metal clashing against his sheathed rapier on his back.  Le Tang recoiled and lashed Sake across the face, knocking his Trojan helm off.
The knight that was thermite hot now betwixt his silver cuirass armor-- and ready to make a point to the intruding boy, and draw it across his face in a disciplinary slash.  Sake froze, unable to speak without his helm that was clanging over the super smooth Aventine floor and clanging down the grand staircase.  
That is enough Le Tang, he comes in peace,” the stout body came forward, wearing a helm of shark jaws, the upper serrated jaw hung down over the yellow eyelids, the lower jaw under the Hoomah’s long snout; the Hoomah looked as if he was swallowed whole from the tail end by a skeletal shark, with the jaws closing above his eyes and below his snout; but in fact was a shark that was severed of life by the Hoomah, dismembered, and hewn as hand crafted bone armor  .  He was wearing a necklace of shark teeth also,  and there were long bones of rib cage fashioned to sharp deadly bolts running the length of the stout hunter’s body that served as armor and missile.
“ We do not have time do deal with cucumbers Hoomah, the Queen’s color is changing drastically, and you waste time stopping my slash…” the others present were forming a circle around Sake.  One knight, who looked like he was wearing a bandana bandito mask but in fact was only wearing its natural tropical tribal pattern of black to yellow,  puffed up like a body builder who only does upper body, then he whipped himself like  a cat o’nine tail in the air. It was a formidable knight, perhaps the strongest, for its body was now an offensive weapon, with his now stern small face on the bludgeoning surface of the mace, and his duel yellow fin served as chain.  “ Blunt, squish this intruder, we can use his oil to shine our steel,” ordered Le Tang.
“ Le Tang, he looks like an ally, he wears our colors, and smells of slayed viper, so shut your hubris, I care not of your rank nor honor,” said the Hoomah as four bone bolts projected out and over the lower shark jaw from his pectoral , ready to be loaded into the powerful mouth.  His armor had a bone-action mechanism of hand crafted simplicity, and the primordial provenance of a great hunter.
Le Tang’s pectoral and dorsal blades split open, forming a razor sharp X.  The circle backed up, the parrotfish spoke, “ The Hoomah of the lower class has insulted an aristocrat, Le Tang, proceed."

“ A costly mistake Hoomah Hoomah, the Queen is sick, the cold bleakness and vipers are coming, and the Coracle forewarned us that it is all for the Damoiselles’ sake, and I have to waste time to slay you as Saccade is overpowered by disgusting son’s of…,” Le Tang spinned in place faster than a garbage disposal.
The boy could do nothing but watch, as the Tang who was arcing with incandescence and the Hoomah, who seemed to blend in with the marble calcium color of the court due to his bone armor covering his tropical camo streaks, which was one of the hunters natural methods-- were getting ready to battle; making Sake’s stomach drop in fear and horror for it was like he finally found his brother and father and instead of jubilation--was violence and destruction.  The land flickered down below.
Ready to slay each other, the two knights alternated in anticipatory strike of one another encircled by the other knights of the court.
“ I need my helmet” thought Sake, but he heard it clang down the stairs.  The parrotfish was edging the knights on, “ Lets finish this, hurry!” he haughtily ordered.  The boys eyes squinted as he spied the look alike from the palace of the Clowness.  It had her audacity, unabashed, and most of all—trespassing.  Sake unsheathed his rapier behind his back, and held it like a javelin, his cursive name in the debil of the blade was oscillating with red current in eye like capillary lines.  He did not have his coral helm, but his rapier was made of instinct.  He launched it at the fight provoking Parrot of the Clowness.  It sailed and hit its mark, pinning the parrotfish to the sloped wall of the calcium court in steel-to-bone grip.  
A horrible scream emanated in the court, witchlike, and nasty.  The parrotfish uncoiled in red and blue tendril, revealing itself as anemone.  The knights attention was all on the screaming creature.  It spoke as it uncoiled around the rapier, “ you will all serve me, when the cold comes” and terminated in a horrible laugh.  The tendrils struck outward, the knight Blunt crushed it into the Aventine with his powerful mace body.
The rapier leaked its cursive voltage up the curving calcium walls of the court.  A picture emitted-- canvassing the entire forum, walls, palisade, and floor.  It was the Damsel, wavering, in royal purple.  The crystals on her corset body refracting the lost spectrum of light, lost to the mortal eye.  
“ It is the hermit's painting,” exasperated Blunt.  
“ It is the Damoiselle,” barely muttered Le Tang.  His fiery light--lashed between silver armor--died down, tempered by the one of two things capable thereof—lethal defeat, and the pristine innocence of a maiden.
The ceiling turned to black body light, as the moving painting now resembling the Stonehenge boulder stack of Crabalter.  That came into existence around the Damsel, until she was entombed, and then engulfed by shadow the color of oblivion.
Sake suddenly turned back, to look across the open side of the court, facing the coral kingdom down below, and to the source of the exodus—which was the brooding Crabaltar.  Walking down the first tier of the grand coral staircase Sake retrieved his helm, which fell to the position of staring down Crabaltar once again—gangrene in stark contrast to the white coral and pink blushing stairs.
He donned his helm, “ I am migrating that way, “ he yelled in, his voice rectified by the coral grooves of his helm making him sound unlike a boy.  The sound waves caused serpentine slithers of red capillary light on the stairs.  He was enraged by the thought of the Damsel being back there,  and returned to the foyer, not looking at the other knights, and went to pull his rapier out of the wall but failed pathetically.  Crying, he resolved to die trying to pull it out, the knights surrounded him in curious awe.   His hands were bleeding ,but the color of his blood was blue, as if still inside him. It dripped from the blade.  Frustrated he gave up, and yelled “ you cowards,” what are you waiting on, let’s go save her….”
“ Cucumber, desist from your stupidity, you do not need a blade, go, we will venture to the dark palace of the cannibals, we now know for sure she is there,” said Blunt Mace, as he turned to look at Le Tang who inturn collapsed his blades with a sorrow induced face.  He was there at Crabaltar, and he failed to find her.  
The knight known as Blunt Mace,  wore no armour, for that was his weapon, to entrap enemies by feigning weakness, then puffing up to the shape of a  mace-like club, with his little face staying the same size in his natural bandana mask; if Clan Hoomah were hunters, then Blunt was the trapper from ‘Club Puff” a long line of trappers, and bludgeoners, who served as the palace guards; the boy felt as if a titan was going to descend his hand to wield the ball  and mace shaped knight.  But as strong as he was, he could not pull the rapier from the wall, and Blunt Mace knew this, so he beckoned Hoomah Hoomah forward.  
Hoomah blew with his powerful lips, the boy across the foyer, who slid on his backside to the other side.  He put his lips on the hilt of the weapon and pulled it out, then spit it across the court towards the boy.  It clanged with dissonance.  “ You have much to learn Sponge,” torted the hunter.
“ I am not a sponge, or a cucumber, I am a boy, A BOY.”
The knights convened amongst themselves, ignoring the crying boy. “ We must go to Crabaltar now,” said a yellow fin, and they all morosely agreed.  For one only had to look forward past the kingdom, to see the impending coldness, and the virtual impossibility of surviving out there.  
Le Tang only looked at the exodus, as the other knights deliberated.  His color intensity was completely flat.  “ The hermits know the future,” he said not taking his glance of Crabaltar.
The boy’s helm quenched his sobs, by hollowing out the quaking voice, to a warriors blithe.  He composed himself, “ The hermits painted more, a giant Mahi Mahi, a Clowness in a giant anemone, and a giant coralcle,” he uttered to the Hoomah.
“ The Boybummer doesn’t know what he is talking about,” said Le Tang, still not moving his stare.
“ But the Boybummer is right,” said Hoomah, “ we must consult the Coralcle, for the Clowness is involved, who can command the creatures of the cold, and the Mahi Mahi patrols past the land of chimes now.”
The court ceiling erupted in rivulets of royal purple, as if the high ceiling was the bottom of a purple stone brook, unrolling curtains of purple light down the sloped scallop walls.  The calcium floor unfurled a blushing pink carpet of light in the smooth luster of marble coral.
“ That will be tough, my knight, the Coracle is past the Land of Blennie in the Goby Desert,” said the brightness, that came forth to be the Queen, held up by two servants, a dazzling snowflake was crystallizing and dissolving in the skin of her face, on her body was tropical green, twining over the field of royal purple, to blinding levels then disappearing to start all over again: a sign of the cold.
“ I have dreamed of someone coming from afar, someone that I could not see, but felt, felt his presence standing guard over me, and once the finest maiden in our court, the symbol of our purity disappeared, I prayed for you to come, and here you are.”  The servants placed the Queen Angel on the throne.
“ My Queen, you should be in your chamber resting,” said Le Tang with deep concern.
“ There is no time for that, the Damsel needs to be restored,” the Queen Angel said faintly.
Sake was in complete awe of her beauty, even more beauteous than the paintings, he thought of the Damsel when he looked into her royal purple, and saddened immensely.   He got up and  took a knee in instinctual deference, and said “ My Queen-- Le Tang, Hoomah Hoomah and I will go to the Coracle and find the answer, and stop the Clowness and her plans, I have seen it in the hermits painting,” the boy could picture himself kneeling before the queen in this lofty court, and felt supercharged with the feeling that he was being knighted.  But the Queen looked ready to swoon, and every time her color traces roared then faded, the palace flushed, and the land pulsed.  In that moment, the grey bleakness felt like it would suddenly thrust from afar right to the royal party and palace replete with voracious metallic viper, and other monstrosities from up in the depths.
“ It will be dark soon, and too dangerous. If the hermits have only painted you three at the Coralcle then only you three can go according to their depiction; the corals still have enough light to keep the vipers at bay , so we will have our traditionally fete for our guest,” she motioned for her servants to start the preparations.
“ A feast of fete for our guest, get up my warrior, your tears are cold, I know what they hold.”  The Queen Angel got up from her throne, her body entirely royal purple, she clapped and said, “ Ready the Pavillion.”  Her servants soared down to the lower landing, overlooking the lower Coral Kingdom, smoldering beyond the spiraling columns of electric eels and the crowded highway’s pastel passengers;  they took giant feathery algae in their mouths and tickled the frescoed ceiling of coral, in turn the coral high ceiling erupted in color and unfurled robes and tassles of light down the walls.
The warriors formed a circle around the Queen and Sake, who was blushing beyond his mask.  Hoomah puffed his lips and blew Sake’s helmet off; Le Tang whipped forward slashing the lines holding up his bespattered snake hide and viper mail; a servant slipped on a purple vest studded with sparkling diamonds onto Sake, the diamonds turned to prism of fantastic color.  The highway stopped moving and anxiously looked up the marble coral stair case.
“ I am not as good a dancer as the Damsel, but I can still do the minnow-ete,” said the Queen, as  the landing beneath engulfed in purple circles of light; the parapet surrounding the lighted floor undulated  in digital display of blue and red.  The vaulted coral walls reflected a human profile of ocean glass behind the queen for Sake to mimic in dancing. The entourage started swaying in unison, to an invisible breeze; a drip drop sound percussed from the palace in fast rhythm and echoed of the many vaults of the palace: one drip drop sound was converted into an orchestra by the amazing amphitheater  powers of the coral’s grooves.
The reflection told Sake to put his arm across his stomach to bow and he did so; then told him to turn the opposite direction of the Queen…bow, lift his leg, turn….move his hands.
“ Do not forget to smile my dear prince,’ said the dancing Queen with her dainty lips.  Sake smiled without showing his teeth, as usual.  The Coral Kingdom beyond, watching in adoration cheered “SMILE CUCUMBER” .  Sake showed his teeth, eliciting a “ handsome boy” from the Queen.  He felt like he was on Mount Olympus, among shimmering ambrosia, shiny goblets, the stuff he has read about in the Iliad ; for once he did not feel in the fathoms.  The Queen pulled up her slender body like folds of a dress, changing the dance, there was no reflection for Sake to follow, and he improvised.  Hoomah and Le Tang nodded in uniform sway, smiling for the first time in a while seeing their Queen vibrant and dancing as the Damsel.  The coral spotlighted the two dancers, the walls and palisade turned ivy green, with white veins forking their way to leaf like symmetry ,then the rest of the Coral Kingdom beyond sent up neon spot lights in a show of finale.
The lights toned down, and the traces returned to the Queen, as she was helped off to her throne.  Sake stood in place, looking around, “ So beautiful” he thought, then he saw the distant glow of the vipers patrolling the bleak cold as deceptive stars of light that was their skull lures.
“ That is why she is Queen,” said Le Tang, “ because even in the midst of the oncoming darkness, she inspires us and leads us like a beacon.”  The Hoomah looked at the Tang who was staring deeply at the Queen, then at the coral walls unfurling banners of light that portrayed the Damsel.  A tear emitted from the fiery yellow warrior and was swept away , and the Hoomah for the first time saw something other than anger from the vehement young knight.  
The highway of colorful refugees began moving again as the Queen was led off to her chamber.  The knights’ just sat down on the glowing white stairs, next to their custom armor as the Coral Kingdom died down, and the palace became fainter.  Sake sat down too on the white marble steps  pulsing to stay lit and put his helm back on. They all watched the distant vipers, dashing like shooting stars until the ones not on guard fell asleep.  Sake saw that the Hoomah was just staring  forward at nothing, in deep muse, with a solemn face, his big eyes motionless in his big sockets; the pastel war paint streaking down from his eye looked like two upside down feathers up close..  Sake wanted to break up his morose concentration, and so asked “How did you get that scar on your stomach?”
Big eyes rolled to look at the boy, the yellow eyes blinked, the long snout flexed—Sake was ready to gobble up his words, in sheer admiration of the calm warrior.  The big eyes looked forward again.  The mouth moved.
“That is, a dark tale Boybummer.”
Sake finally relented on his new name, out of sheer exhaustion trying to explain that he was a boy.
“ Well, I sat on one of you by accident, that’s how I got these scars.”  
Sake started laughing, “ I am not an urchin or whatever you think I am.”
The Hoomah’s face became serious, and the boy became aware of the Hoomah’s spiritual connection with the land; the coral kingdom down below rippled with a barely perceptible vision--it was a knight, adorned with shining blond armor, with two sabre fangs coming up from its lower jaws, the upper smaller fangs the same width as the scars on the tale teller.  “ Our best knight, who worshiped the Damsel’s beauty and youth, was named Sabretooth Blennie."  

Chapter 8, The Tale of The Fallen Knight and the Clowness
" It is better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven."--Paradise Lost, Milton

The boy was not watching the Hoomah now, he was watching the land below, pulsing a faint image.  He could not hear the narrators deep baritone voice no more, just watch the story unfold in light.
“ The Sabretoothe taught Le Tang the skill of speed, and thrust.  I was just an ambassador in the court, an onlooker, not yet knighted.  Jousting matches, fin to fin, and other competitions were held, the contestants motivated with unsinkable buoyancy due to who sat by the Queen—the Damsel.
“ He defeated all, and stood alone in the winner’s circle, but the Damsel did not change the shape of her elliptical eyes due to his feats.  Blennie became boastful.  He was from House of Tang, and wore the “t” symbol in blond gold across his massive pectoral.  The rest of the knights wore silver, due to the long belief of what happens to gold in the depths—it joins the sad gold streaks of the bestial Mahi Mahi. The knights, wear silver, fashioned from the spines of the metallic viper.  So whosoever shall don armor, cannot do so until slaying a brood of viper to accumulate enough spine.  But Blennie, did not want to be on par with the other nights, and had more than enough viper silver.  He ventured to steal the gold scale from the Mahi Mahi.  Only he could survive the encounter,being strong enough to climb to her heights and knew the weakness of the beast and her blind spots.  He put her in her current position with a barb to her heart. He made the House of Tang “t” into blond gold.
“ Le Tang joined the competitions thereafter, and was defeated every time by the golden sabers Blennie, he tried and tried, but could not defeat Blennie and those defeats made him faster and sharper.  Blennie became audacious and insolent, demanding the Queen give him his prize, but silencing himself at the moment of her anger: when her frontlet formed to fire red on her forehead.  So Blennie took out his energy for the Damsel, descending up to the depths, spotlighting darkness with his golden armor, hunting for challengers; one day he returned, and I noticed he had a mark on his neck, as if he received a searing kiss.  He grew violent in the kingdom, as his golden armor was losing its shiny finish as if it was growing a patina of decay similar as if crab entrails inside out.
“ He rushed at the Damsel as she was dancing, Le Tang interceded and was deposed.  I fought the Sabretoothe, and lost, getting pierced by his top sabers,he was much more powerful and bigger than before.   He fled with the Damsel, no one knew where he went, we knew  from the coral that she was still alive, we did not know what possessed him,  but we had our theories.  The day she disappeared, the Mahi Mahi turned possessed also, screaming down, attacking, everything, laying waste to everything.  Le Tang blamed me for failing against Blennie, and I do feel like I lowered the prestige of Clan Hoomah.  Now the kingdom has lost its separation from the depths, and it looks to blanket us.  No one has seen the Sabretooth Blennie since and lived.  They say he is guarding the coralcle, no one knows. “
“ It was the Clowness that got to him huh, who is she, what is her deal?” asked the boy trying to seem calm hearing the narrators words.
“ Her hot vanity and ice cold soul control the magnificent red blue anemone, she is extremely jealous of this palace, and might, I suspect, have made a deal with the Dark Crab.
“ She is world old, much older than she looks.  She is a link, between the darkness and the light, her palace a waystation from Crabaltar and the Coral Kingdom-- she keeps the viper brood from filling the depths completely and cannibalistic crab, lobster and prawn from becoming the squirming floor.  That is her purpose, to balance the light creatures against that of the dark, in her powerful filtering palace.  She does not do that because she wants to, but has to, her palace breaths our air, she breaths the viper and crab’s exhale.  She needs the warmth, her palace the cold.  She cannot move out of place without jeopardizing her being.  Her vanity and lust could destroy this kingdom instantly if she could move, and Crabaltar would emit infinite creatures from the depth if she was removed.  She has come to the Queen’s aid before.  But, I suspect she has wrought all this, by introducing something new,” the Hoomah looked at the wide eyed boy, “  something we were not ready for.”
The corals resumed their slight pulsing, the boy was in awe of the Hoomah, he did not know what to say, and did not feel as if it was proper for him to advise him, this veteran.  Sake looked forward, and said passively “ does everything in this land try to eat ya, I don’t wanna know what lays ahead anymore, I did fine in those cold lands when I didn’t know what was coming…I was sharper because I expected the worst…and seen the worse, the Damsel in that thing’s scythe,” the boy looked down upon thinking about it.   Hoomah turned his big eye to the boy and said, “there is one more monster, terrible, worse than Blennie and the Clowness,” Sake looked worriedly at him as the Hoomah continued, “ it is the stink slugs, they stink so bad…” the Hoomah started laughing at the surprised boy.  “ Sake, you have done more than meet the criteria of a knight, and Le Tang told me after the Queen fell unconscious that he was glad you were coming with us than one of the other veteran yellow fins….you caught on to the business of facing down death, and even excelled to the next level.”
“ What is the next level Hoomah?”
“ It is to be the same warrior in life as in death, at home and on the field of battle, if you laugh in the court, then you have to laugh in the field staring down the enemy.  You said you expected the worst, seen the worst, your life has been warfare just like many, but you know it to be so, others do not….and you are far below military age, and that only means one thing—“
Sake interrupted Hoomah, “ How do you laugh at the enemy, if they are so annoying, always yelling and trying to kill you and all,” Hoomah looked at the striving to smile  boy, who was already catching on, and said “ I usually tell them ‘ you dropped something’ and when they look down I bury a hatchet fish in their head, then that will make me laugh, but that only works with more than one enemy, so someone is alive to see you laughing.  Then there is the Le Tang way, use big fancy words , calling them the sons of codswallop—he’s always saying son’s of something, son’s of slugs, son’s of barnacles…. “ Hoomah was chuckling as Sake was shaking his head to that cheesy joke.
Sake was watching the glowing viper skulls descending from the distant depths as if stars, and stood up and punched in front of him, as if to strike a deadly blow to one.  “ Those…those nightmare creatures, why do they want to hurt and devour, they have no purpose…..Blennie, the Clowness, what is the point of them, I never hurt anyone, I don’t want to control anyone…I want to go now, slash right to Crabaltar, burn down the Clowness’ palace, and rip apart that crab.” Sake’s helmet was pulsing green as he spoke staring down towards the viper starscape. “ Such lonely depths, ugly depths, they take the only thing you have…what doesn’t turn to viper in the depths? not knowing what way is up….they take your light, your beacon and drop it to the depths, and you watch it sink, you chase after it only to turn into the thing harming her (he paused)…..they do not even let me have my fable, where the girl lives, and there is a father and mother that teach light, not darkness, what is the point of these wicked things…” the boy was still standing, staring at a kingdom in sleepmode ambience. " The Mahi Mahi, I hate her, her shriek is horrible, but I know she was once beautiful, and so I hate life, for making me hate her, and what it has done to her...." The coral helm rectified his voice to the sound of steel being sharpened on stone.
Hoomah looked at Sake who was staring off distant, and pitied the boy, for the Hoomah knew the boy was a good looking specimen of his species, and youthful, almost princely looking, yet his green ovals showed a desire in their elliptical curve, to be destroyed, and not just adequately, but completely, as if they wanted to be burned at 1 million degrees, destroying the atoms of the soul
  “ Your helm helps you speak, so listen to your own words, have a beacon when you are in the depths, an image of an angel, so as not to turn psycho mad, like viper and Blennie, the Mahi Mahi, and the Clowness.  They have some of our color, but not our luster, making our camo burn brighter in infinite darkness, and perceived hopelessness, we know what is good by seeing the horrible and wicked, that is the point of the wicked, to let it be seen as a warning to the good, to not bear resemblance.”
“ But I have no beacon Hoomah.”
“ You do, a false beacon, it is your anger, as like Le Tang, that does not allow you to see things correctly, and why he could not see the Damsel at Crabaltar.”
Sake sat down next to the sage that was the Hoomah, the boy felt his words, but could not understand them yet.  But, he felt that understanding, was why they were making the next journey to the Coralcle.
“ I need to find my beacon,” said Sake becoming drowsy.
“ You need to get sleeping,” replied Hoomah Hoomah as he puffed off Sakes helmet, and the boy chased it down the stairs, mumbling “mmmblerf” the while.
  “ Get some rest Sake, we depart for the Coracle at first light,” and with that the Hoomah laid down next to his shark armor and started snoring in howitzer caliber.
Sake put back on his Coral Trojan helmet, and not needing to speak anymore took it off again with the Hoomah getting the last laugh. Resting his head against the de-energizing stairs, one thing was  still on his mind, it was “ why was the CLowness doing this, and what had the Damsel to do with it?”  He looked out at the coral down below, like filaments aglow with only static electricity, he looked at the distant vipers with their glowing death head lure," Disgusting creatures, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were enslaved and whipped on by their own lure" he thought…"Slaves."
The morn came, and the knights were already up before the boy, staring off down the highway with horror.  It was Crabaltar, and it was in view now, and seemed to be coming closer with every distorting breeze.  The line of warm and cold could be seen in the sand, as a dark rain cloud rains on the other side of the street.  “ We must make haste,” said Le Tang somberly.
They were in the full armor, looking on the flashing Queen, bedridden and barely conscience, she labored to speak, “ My nights, let us say a prayer:
Build me straight, O worthy Master!
Stanch and strong, a goodly vessel,
That shall laugh at all disaster,
                                                       ­      ­     And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!*"
With her utterance, she fell into unconscious sleep, Le Tang fell to his knee at her side.  The rest left, then the Tang.  Sake was turning to leave, and the Queen Angel spoke, “ Sake, when you feel the cold of the world attacking from the past and the future, sit down at the fire and warm yourself, “ then she fell back to feverish sleep.  Traces of chiseled font etched on her body like that of cracking glass; the color of silver rain over orange incandescence.
The ones to remain and protect the palace and Queen were in line at the top of the grand coral staircase, they made way for the three voyagers.  Le Tang said “ wait” and went to grab something, returning with a neon yellow shield emblazoned with a lowercase  lime ‘t’ , “ this is the shield from the house of Tang, take it Boybummer, you will need it,” and the boy took it, and they descended the staircase with armor, weapon, and bone rattling.
Chapter 9 The land of Sand and Sabre
                      " What do you know of Behemth, who esteemeth your sword as straw."--Book of Job

“ Get on Cucumboy,” said the Hoomah, “ you are to slow.”
The boy got onto the stout body, the Tang not able to support the weight, from his size or ego.  The coral below the moving Hoomah looked to the boy like rain falling down the back window of a car at night, under a street light—but not silvery translucent ,but a spectacular neon array.  Le Tang was out in front, his glow coming from under his silver cuirass weaponry was warning off the encroaching bleakness that was closing in like a tunnel but leading the way to the Coracle.  Sake looked back, the pizza anemones and purple carpet anemones were becoming distant.  He felt as if the tide came behind them, and locked them on an island sandbar; the palace, a lighthouse showing how dangerously distant they were.  They were transitioning into the Golby desert.
“ We have to hurry Hoomah, ‘ the Tang yelled from out in front,” we must pass through the Land of Sand, the other route is shut out by the cold and most likely cold water creatures.”
Making circles shapes  of his mouth, the stout Hoomah chugged along with shield bearing boy.
Realizing the Hoomah was tiring, and not able to keep up with Tang’s pace, the boy called a halt.  “ We must stop, and catch our breaths,” the boy helm called out ahead to the neon silver array on point.  “ There is no time,” called back from the knight on point.
“ There is time,” said the fatigued Hoomah, “ let us bivouac for a moment, so we are full strength upon arrival.”  
Sake dismounted and put down his shield, and stabbed his rapier into the center of a sandy circle surrounded by low lying green-red coral. His arm was  tired from the heavy shield. The Hoomah dropped his shark-armor and rested on the ground.  “ You are a bunch of weaklings,’ scoffed Le Tang.
“ We do not burn with the same fire as you,” rejoined Hoomah.  Le Tang made his way back to the sandy circle and sank down into the sand.  Sake was looking at the grey expanse that was the closer of the two sides that enclosed them.  
“ What is going to happen to the Coral Kingdom when the cold darkness comes?” asked the boy.
“ The coral will petrify, all else will go into hiding,” answered the Hoomah, “ the land will be a wave less colorless place, like that of the Land Of Chimes and  anything with color will be the imposturous cold water anemones.  The original color and history of the great coral kingdom, will be petrified in the coral…we should have set out earlier  but the parrot clouded our plans, a defeatist and detractor.”
Sake dropped his viper chain mail armor, a slight chiming rang out; the shadow came forth from something high above them; Le Tang turned to a fire in the looming shadow that engulfed them, and only the neon war paint of the Hoomah could be seen, especially the two paint spills of upside down feathers distending from his right eye.  The boy looked up in apprehension of the great beast.  “ Don’t worry, she will not come if you do not do that again” said Hoomah calmly.
New deep sea creatures were swarming in the grey misty wall. Brown sperm bodies with enormous gulping heads.  They unhinged their jaws, gaping open only to clamp back down with bear trap efficiency.
“ Why does she come for the sound of chimes?’ asked Sake ignoring the rancid raucous of the deep sea creatures.  Le Tang was stirring as he sat, anxious at the question.  “Why did she come for the knights back in that land of muck?”
The Hoomah was taking up pebbles in his mouth and spitting them out—his way of relaxing.  “ She comes with the sound of sword also, she is haunted and in turn haunts the land during the day, she swoops down on any metal, for they sound like the land of chimes—“
“ But why has she turned into a beast after the Damsel disappeared,” interrupted Sake.
“ Because the vipers torture her, grinding their rusted razor blade teeth, and flaunting their glowing skull lures, but they can only do that at night, when they amass —“ before the Hoomah could go on a hideous gulper  poked its head out of the grey mist and disgorged a hideous tongue wagging taunt.  Le Tang shot forth closed the distance and sliced off its head.  The decapitated head was still blinking and snapping its jaws , it happened so fast.  Sake thought of the painting in the conch tunnel, where darkness and its minions surrounded the two knights and instantly trembled, for he was with them now on that dark stage.
“ When Sabretoothe Blennie kidnapped the Damsel,” the Hoomah went on,” the Mahi Mahi hunted in blind rage for the sounds of metal , chime or sword clash .  She grew enormous swallowing the male species, a shadow of her former self she is now.”  The massive shadow came back, reducing Le Tang back to a flickering flame and the Hoomah to neon war paint.
The Tang was calmer now that he vented his internal forge that was his anger slaying the deep sea creature.  “  Cucumboy, I will say this, you are here with knights, to do battle, you are a knight by association now, as the rest of the kingdom is fleeing, you are fighting, I am sorry before for saying otherwise, “ said Le Tang who finally doffed his silver cuirass.
“ What is making the Clowness do this, does she really want to have a world of darkness, with nothing  but these, these creatures,” asked Sake, gesturing to the approaching masses of coldness.
Le Tang spoke, “ She is a witch, who would gobble up her own children, as to not waste any of herself on them.  Jealousy and envy occupy her, she wants to be adored, and served.  She will not give up her cold-water palace of anemone to live amongst the commonage, and will not live under the Queen Angel, for she thinks herself to be an Angel worth serving.  She has learned the dark secrets, every life she has destroyed gives her the mucus to stay young, and command the anemone.  A corruptor of youth, and destroyer of whole families, she was confined to the cold water domain, but now, as we have found out, has found a way to unleash the deep sea depths on us, all to satisfy her vanity--”
“ All this, so she can be Queen, but there will be nothing left, only Viper,” interrupted Sake.
“ She wouldn’t care, the mucus in her pores are an ancient evil, as old as the coral, when the land was divided, and she was confined to the cold realm by her own vanity, for her palace needs the cold, she could have gave it up to come to the Coral Kingdom, but she would not deign before a more noble light, as that of the Queen Angel,” explained Le Tang.
“ We have to stop her, we have to stop this,”  said Sake desperately as he pointed at the towering wall of grey.  “ How is it linked to the Damsel and Crabaltar?”
“ That is why we are going to the Coralcle is it not,” answered Le Tang sarcasticly, “ if not for you Sake, the Parrot would have sent us  to her for help in our desperation,still, we did not know she was commanding this cold front.  But what we do know now is that Clan Hoomah and House of Tang do not serve hags, right old Hoomah?” said Le Tang in a jocular voice, attempting to bury the hatchet fish with the older veteran—for they were pressed together, literally, by a vast army of enemy lurking on either side of the narrowing sand road to the Coralcle.  The evil gliding things in the two walls had compressed them together in camaraderie, as it was just them three versus a vast jaw snapping horde.
The yellow lidded warrior responded with a “ Hooooomah,” that had the baritone force of a tuba.
“ What is your clan, or house Sake?” questioned Le Tang.
“ I do not have one, I am all alone,” answered the boy.
“ Well, then that is better, you are the originator, you can be House of Cucumboy,” quipped Le Tang.
  “ I think I’ll find a better name,” rejoined Sake.
              “ Or Clan Sponge,” said Hoomah and all three chuckled, their laughs momentarily drowning out the deep sea creatures salivating asseverations off in the enclosing bleakness.
“ Take off your helm boy, it is not good to always wear armor” said Hoomah.
“ But I will not be able to talk,” responded Sake.
“ You cannot talk without it because you had no one to talk to, you know us now, so you can talk to us,” said Hoomah as he spat a pebble.
He took off his helm, and went to talk, “ mmmbleerrf” was the only thing that came out of the boy’s mouth.  “ Well a good mmmbleerrff to you as well” responded Hoomah, as he and Le Tang erupted in laughter.  “ Hey I thought you said I could talk without my helmet” said Sake putting back on his lime green Trojan helm.
“ Well maybe you have an accent, trying saying ‘mmblerf’ now, and see what comes out”
“ Lumpsucker” was the word that came out of the boy’s mouth, Le Tang almost doubled over.
“ Now take off your helm and say ‘lumpsucker’ ’” advised Hoomah.
“ Stinkbutton” came from the boy’s lips.  They all started laughing.  
“ Clan Stinkbutton it is,” bellowed Hoomah, as all three bivouacers rested into the sand, resting before battle in the corridor of bleak mist and gliding, screaming  things.  Perhaps why they were talking more now--to break up the eerie hollowness of the desert, and the lacerating screams of the rising walls of gray on either side of the corridor leading to through the desert to the Coracle.
“ Learn the pattern, and you’ll be able to talk here, but only with people you trust, but the helm gives your tongue clarity for now,” replied Hoomah.
The shadow returned, slithering over them , and the three warriors illuminated once again: Sake’s gangrene coral Trojan helmet and blue viper skin gaiters on his shins, Hoomah’s white shock streaks on his body and pastel face paint, and the solar flare of Le Tang’s body.
The viper’s glowing skull-lure branching from their disgusting metallic foreheads seemed pathetic in comparison to their colors, thought Sake.  But the boy once again thought of the hermit’s painting, these two knights being overwhelmed by the hordes of nightmare creatures on that dark stage spotlighted by the combined skull light of a thousand vipers.  He wanted to hug both warriors, so so badly, he did not want to lose them, as the painting was becoming ever more likely as the Mahi Mahi patrolled above, and the deep sea monstrosities were closing in with the gray walls.  The Atlantean helm Sake wore rectified his young quaking voice, but viewing the two tropical knights through the ‘T’ of his helm made him realize, that the only way he could be close to these knights, was being back to back against the odds,always outnumbered he was to be, if he wanted to be like these foremost warriors… the ‘T’ viewpoint he received from the gangrene coral resembled an upside down sword projecting on the two tropic warriors, being a sword still in the forge on Le Tang, and the bright shining steel after it hardens in air when on the Hoomah’s shock white stripes.  He would mimic these knights, he said to himself—be has lethal and confident as Le Tang in the face of death, and as calm and pluck as Hoomah Hoomah who would not let impending disaster jolt him from his pebble spitting hobby; and most of all, to not be changed from the depths.
An oblong balloon inflated from the sand near the knights, Sake roused to his feet, “ A coral snake,”  called out Sake.
“ That is just a Goby boy, don’t worry, they’re  only cleaners,” said Le Tang nonchalantly.
The oblong blue-green balloon spoke, “ Hello my wayfarers, might I offer a free grooming,” solicited the Goby.  “ No thanks Goby, be gone, we are on serious business if you haven’t noticed,” answered Le Tang.
“ I can go for a cleaning,” responded Hoomah, and the Goby called out, “ Hey Zumba, grab the kids,”and three more Gobies ballooned out from the sand.  “ Yay, a Hoomah,” the child Gobies rejoiced.
The Gobies swarmed the Hoomah, nibbling his scale, and cleaning him.  Hoomah laid back in pleasure as they caressed him.
“ How bout you, you look like you need a cleaning.  Are you a Flounder?  Anyways, your pretty dirty,” said the father Goby.
“ Ah, I don’t know, I’m a boy, and not sure if I can be cleaned,” answered Sake unsurely.
“ Go on Sake, it is imperative that a warrior remains clean, and it is very relaxing,” advised Hoomah.  “ Well I guess so,” said Sake as more Gobies emitted from the sand and swarmed onto him.
Sake began laughing and rolling around as they tickled and poked him.  He rolled and rolled till when Hoomah thought he would roll into the bleakness suctioned him up and placed him back into the sandy circle.  “ Wow, this Flounder could feed the whole Goby nation,” rejoiced a Goby.  Le Tang just watched shaking his head the whole while.  Le Tang was all business, or vengeance.
The two were laughing and crying so loud as to drown out the deep sea creatures stalking in the over watching bleakness.  Hoomah was more professional about it, and only emitted short tuba sounds.  A Goby pulled a green ball from the boy’s ear, “ wow, we are going to save this for a holiday dinner,” delighted the oblong Goby.
The Gobies left the Hoomah, having depleted their scales of crumbs, and joined the foray on the boy.  Sake was in ecstasy, a Goby was mumbling his eye lids, and pulling food out of his teeth.  But the Hoomah warned, “ Be careful Sake, many warriors have not made it back from the Coracle due to their overindulging in Gobies, they have forgotten their mission, and became Goby addicts, roaming the Goby desert, rolling around in mud to get a cleaning, only to starve to death or get eaten by vipers.”  As he said his warning, Sake was still laughing, until he caught the distant view of a viper, just staring at him from the greyness, as if it was waiting,   The image of the Damsel came into his mind.  “All right, that’s enough,” Sake said as he brushed the Gobies off of him.  One Goby that squeezed under Sake’s viper gaiters on his shoes was rolling a green ball of toe jam back to his hole saying “ Wow, boys are good eating.”
“ You will be a formidable warrior Sake,” said Le Tang, “ You do not possess the lower classes addictive personality, you are in control of yourself.”
“ Well, let’s get it on , the walls are closing in,” said Hoomah—and they put back on their armor.  Le Tang went back ahead on point.
The land graduated from streaming dark sand to wavy blond sand, there were protrusions from the sand everywhere.    A whale bone-yard, that was what it resembled.  The behemoth bone stabbed upward out of the sand in sabre curvature.
The bones were sparse at first, so they only had to walk around them, but then became a bone bramble, and Le Tang kept catching his cuirass on one of the hooking-bone sabres. Hoomah worked slowly and methodically for he was much bigger.  Sake, who before could not even walk in this land, had no difficulty at all.  He felt it was just another graveyard, where he was raised.
The white grey bone started to show signs of patina, even signs of gold specks—which had a physical reaction in the two tropical knights, for their eyes scanned their environment more rapidly—for  every rib a certain width apart resembled the two sabre fangs of the Sabretoothe Blennie.
He followed after his rapier, pointing through every rib cage slat first.  Le Tang was still bravely out in front on point.  Hoomah still methodically pivoting his stout body around the bone wreckage.
At points, they had to crawl over dense bone huts.  The deep sea creatures could not be heard in this land, making it only sound with the scraping of the knights armor on bone.  A bone outcrop collapsed, and the whole party whipped their heads to scan for a threat—but it was nothing.
Then the land became a little less dense with bone obstacle.  Sake’s rapier was shaking violently as he led with it.  “ Le Tang is one brave knight being out in front,”  thought the boy, recalling the knight in Crabaltar, recklessly touring the cavernous layer in flaring daring; the boy was beginning to see the benefit in being dangerously debonair like Le Tang—anger was less painful than fear and feeling.
No one spoke as they moved forward through the wasteland, for their ears attuned for the sound of movement.
Le Tang was passing under slanted fangs in the form of a bone arbor  all color of decay, patina, rot, and bedecked with gold fillings.  The Hoomahs eyes widened, the spacing of the sabre fangs that hung down above Le Tang  were the same distance of the scars on his chest.  It was him… “ Tang move” he yelled, as another set of fangs sprung from the sand beneath Le Tang looking to meet their smaller but still enormous upper jaw that once pierced the Hoomah.  Hoomah blew the Tang out of the way as the teeth that was the Sabretoothe’s locked shut, and the sand disgorged the huge body of  Blennie rising into the air: tiger striped with gold over green patina and block rot, its eyes were black spilt egg yolks underneath its mask.  The party backed up and the creature that was once a knight spoke in a hollow long dead sepulchral breath as if a sinking titanic finally reaching its sight for internment—gives its last metallic stretching moan.
“ The Coldwater Clowness is making her way for the Coral Kingdom  for the Queen, and then the Crab’s claw will close around the Damsel making the Clowness beautiful ruler supreme, and you will be still alive to bow to her, in my prison, peering between my ribs begging for oblivion .”
All were in horror of the morbid knight, especially Le Tang who had nothing to say for once.  They did not want to be addressed individually by the long dead tone of the eternally damned knight.
“ I will be first knight and only knight, for I was the strongest, and should have been given the Damsel, I have served the House Of Tang long enough under the Queen Angel, I shall command the Viper Brood as their King, and my clade of sabretoothe goby shall live as long as the Dark Crab.”
The dark knight was ten times the size of the Hoomah now—five  lances in length.  
“ You are a disgrace Blennie, look at you, you resemble the disgusting creatures of the depths, your soul has been digested by the dark crab and spit back into this land.  The Clowness will fail, she cannot survive without the Coral Kingdom you disgusting son of a urchin, she needs the warmth caused by our breaths and deeds to live,” yelled Le Tang.
“ Le Tang, still thinking that there is good and evil.  What do you think will happen when the tropical light is gone, the vipers will be the light, and they will change, they will don your armor after you are slain, they will be the warm vipers, exhaling a warm breath for the Clowness, they will be the knights, they shall teach and preach through the depths, this world will be two shades of viper, not light against darkness, but black light against oblivion.  The Magnificent Anemone shall be the palace, after the cold takes over balanced by the warm cadaverine rising from the slain tropical bodies.  All hail the beautiful Clowness,  and all thankness goes to the Cannabal Crab of Oblivion.”
“ Blennie, we shall stop the cold, and rid your legacy,” gritted Hoomah Hoomah.  Sake was motionless, pointing his rapier at the dark knight thinking “ this is futile, we are going to die,” the boy thought.  
“ Blennie, your armor won’t stop me from wearing your heart,” said Hoomah.
“ I have dibbs on his tongue,” said Le Tang as he sprung his blades and split them into the “X” form.  Sake heard the bone mechanical sound of the Hoomah’s custom armor—the shark jaws closing more over his face, and pectoral bolts spearing forward under the lower shark jaw to be ready to spear or spew.
The massive rotten jaws opened--readying to strike.  Hoomah’s armor loaded forward then back, putting a long bolt into his mouth, he spit in rifle velocity at the tonsils of the dark knight but was stopped by  a rotted saber; Le Tang spiraled through the air and carved a sparking gash in its armor, but the powerful beast bent its tail sending Le Tang to the ground—crashing into bony debris.  One of his sabrers  bent as the fiery body crumpled on the ground..  But Le Tang got up, and reversed his blades forward—they now looked like  a clutching claw of an eagle.  “ I will gut you Blennie,” he said as he flared up between his silver cuirass.  Le Tang attacked again barely dodging the snapping sabers, and was head-butted violently to the ground.
  The Hoomah’s shark jaw helm loaded another long bolt forward and the Hoomah sucked it into firing position but the Sabretoothe dove for him causing him to evade out of the way; the Blennie was back on him and ready to swallow the Hoomah whole but for Sake, who ran forward to pierce the blond chest armor with his rapier only for his sword to fling off the tough armor and out of his hands; the act bought the Hoomah some time, as the focus now was on the boy.  He backed up before the salivating dead beast.  Sake backed into a tunnel of bone, with the Sabretoothe crunching forward to get the fleeing morsel.    The boy ran to the end, that was gated close with bone.  He could not fit through the slits…the beast closed on him—squeezing its body in the tunnel it then writhed, snapping the bone hallway to dusty debris that made a smoke screen of marrow. It opened its jaws, Sake looked away.
A yellow lid showed in the slit of bones blocking Sake’s escape, “DUCK” ordered  Hoomah.  He blew  a bolt through the slit  striking the monster in the left eye sending it recoiling backward in anger.  “ RUN, NOW, BOTH OF YOU, I’LL DEAL WITH THIS DISGRACE.”
Running by the huge body and into the dusty cloud of marrow, Sake found Le Tang and helped him up, “ lets go,” he uttered.  
“ Im not leaving , this is my battle ,” scoffed the injured Tang.  The occupied Hoomah yelled with baritone force “GO NOW,” the force of the Hoomah’s yell blew the boy and the Tang back, crashing through bone—a good stone throw from the battle.   Sake pulled Le Tang up.  Le Tang conceded the fight to the Hoomah, “ All yours big guy,” he muttered in respect to the veteran warrior who looked to be evading the mammouth sized Blennie , but in actuality was stalking him.
They ducked and weaved under and around bone, while the Hoomah was doing the same behind them, avoiding the thundering clamping strikes of the Sabretooth.   The beast moaned, struck at the Hoomah, missing by a pectoral fin width, snapping the bone protrusions in half. Sake understood what that the Hoomah was doing, waiting till the monster showed the other eye so he could spit his barb into it.  A thunder clap, the snapping of bones, were the sounds  as the Hoomah narrowly weaved in and around bone.  
“ Get on, “ commanded LeTang as the bone became less dense allowing easier movement, and the boy got on and they cruised under and around bone to the direction of a faint blue-green and purple beacon off distant.  Sake looked back, he lost his rapier back there with the struggling warrior.  Hoomah looked to not stand a chance, but the calm determined look on the Hoomah’s face re-assured him that he did.  He did not even blink  his yellow lids as he barely retreated from the rotted giant overbite and weaved into another patch of cross bones.  Sake turned his head frontward--saddened, but  knowing there was not enough time.  Another moan, thunderclap, and snapping of bones emitted from the battle taking place well behind them.
Horrid sounds of battle slowly lifted as the land opened up to baron blond sand: the Goby Desert . Sake heard the labored breathing of Le Tang, and dismounted.  “ What are you doing Sake?” get on, we have to make haste,” commanded the ailing neon warrior.
“ You’re injured, don’t worry I will run,” replied the boy.
“ Your about as fast as a periwinkle Cucumboy, get on, or I will go on without you,” said Le Tang.  The boy ignored Le Tang’s bluff, and started to run over the rippled dunes to the faint distant trace of a purple beacon.  “ Sake, I guess I am going to have to carry you,” said Le Tang.  But as he approached the lumbering boy, he froze.  Sake looked back at him with a blue and red eye—the eyes of the anemone.  “ What is wrong Le Tang?” asked Sake.  
Le Tang looked to the approaching walls of bleakness, there were anemones flaming beyond the grey mist—hexing upward to the depths with their demonic digits.  They were perched on top of lobster like silhouettes, awaiting the bleakness to move forward and allow them to move up with it.
“Sake, nothing to win, in world of evil, oblivion is painless, serve the Clowness,” they droned, but only the boy could hear.  They formed pictures, half concealed from the mist that froze the boy-- his eyelids unblinking over his blue and red eye.  “ The world is ice and fire Sake, serve the Clowness, and wield both, they abandoned you, the ‘t’ on your shield and your parents, your teachers, the state, they are one side of the spectrum, serve her Sake…”
Sake’s head started sweating and burning up, his hands became ice cold.  He fell to his knees.     “ See, the world is evil, it is they that are killing you,  killed your soul…” Sake fell lifeless to the sand, his red and blue eyes projecting upward.  “ Serve the Clowness, serve oblivion, and serve yourself, all others already do, but only one side, you will have both, you will die if you don’t, and not from us….let us show you then,” the anemones formed into memories at the base of the grey wall.  
“ This is from  Venice,” it was the image of a priest addressing children in the animation of anemone.  He was talking about his garbs and gesturing to his gold skull that resembled the viper lure around his neck.  
“ See Sake, you asked for light, and this man of red was occupied with the glimmering viper gold hanging from his neck,” the anemone spoke to the mesmerized boy in the accumulated voice of many whispers. “ Worship this or go to hell,” the priest finished.  The anemone undid itself.
Another anemone spoke, already mid animation.
“ Children, we come from apes,  when you die, there is oblivion, we are ungrateful towards society, there are kids dying around the world ….”  It was the visage of a teacher, addressing pupils.
“Ah, but are there not children dying under the teachers nose, loving so far, is so despiteous, making you feel so alone, you do not have to join the viper brood as the teacher or priest, the Clowness will care for you, you can be different from viper,” spoke the anemone.,” you do not even know who is your father and they want you to hug apes.”
“ Serve the Clowness, for she serves the Crab, the Crab wants to enlist you, you will never shed a tear again if you do.”
Le Tang was strapping the hallucinating boy’s foot into his cuirass in the same manner as a foot in a stirrup as the anemone spoke personally only to Sake.
The boy was being dragged by Le Tang, who then picked up speed as to not drag the boy off the sand.  Anemones were replaced by vipers and gulpers, with their gaseous methane hisses.  “ Hold on boy, I’ll get you away from her power,” yelled the speeding Le Tang as the boy’s eyes  projected red and blue—as his head turned they scanned the immediate air like a copy machine.  Red blue skin glowed inside the ‘T’ slit of his coral Trojan helmet.  “ HOLD ON,” desperately cried Le Tang.


  The glowing brain coral became immense, blinding  Le Tang who was dragging the boy.  He reached the base of monument sized brain coral.  The anemone’s light instantly ceased in Sake’s eye as his gaze fell on the Coralcle that was the only outcrop in the sandy wasteland.  “ Where am I,” asked Sake as he got to his feet and looked at the Coralcle that was aglow in purple light that sent out purple haze in the immediate surroundings.  His feet sunk in the sand as he approached then stopped.  The grooves of the Coralcle were rivulets flowing with energy.
The Tang , after seeing the boy was alright, approached closer to the monument.   His flare between his cuirass was completely drowned out by purple light.  “ HOW DO WE SAVE THE DAMSEL?” he yelled impatiently.   Nothing came back.” HOW DO WE STOP THE CLOWNESS AND THE COLD?”  Still nothing.  “ DAM YOU, HELP US, WE HAVE JOURNEYED HERE AND THE PALACE IS IN DANGER.”
Le Tang scowled, and turned his back to the glowing edifice.  “ We wasted our time, let us rejoin Hoomah” he said to the boy who was just staring at the brilliant beacon with light running its grooves as electrons run an elliptical track orbit.  The misty cloud around the glowing object seemed charged.  
Sake doffed his helm, and walked closer to the Coralcle, as if summoned.  Le Tang watched curiously, rippling in the barren desert breeze.  The boy just stood there, and the Coralcle spoke with the combined voice of a billion microscopic whispers and from a region, that was only heard by the boy.  It glowed red from within, in what resembled its mid brain, the hypothalamus of the coral.
The Coralcle spoke no words, but spoke hyper light, and transferred this light to the boy. His eyes dilated and undulated rapidly.  The capillary hypnosis of Caliente’s  and Caviar’s eyes could not compare to this.  Sake felt the message, as high above the Mahi Mahi screamed by.  Take the barb from her heart, put it in yours, then put it in Crab and Clowness alike, and command the gray, was the message to the boy.
A life time of pain was erased from Sake’s eyes.  The Coralcle photo copied from left to right and right to let over the paper whites of the boy’s ovals.  The searing kiss of the anemone was gone, for now.  Sake turned from the dimming Coralcle and faced the sandy expanse closed in from
  walls of misty bleakness  gliding with monsters; darkness was enclosing, and  Le Tang flared up ever more, as did Sake’s helm and blue viper skin gaiters over his shoes.
There was a lacerating scream back in the sabre land where they left the Hoomah, that woke Sake from his paralysis.  It was no telling if it was a death throe or victory cry.  He so badly wanted to go back for him, but Sake knew that coldness was coming; they were boxed in on both sides, where beyond the darkening gray mist were concealed vipers and gulpers of the dark depths.   Le Tang had swallowed all his pride to be able to not sail back and help the stricken Hoomah; his bright neon body was rippling with cat o’nine tail vehemence.
“ We must take the barb out of the Mahi Mahi,” said the boy to the Tang.  Le Tang unsprang his blades, “ we won’t need weapons this time, only armor,” said Sake as walked confidently—matching his voice.  Le Tang followed the boy into sandy wasteland that was the Goby Desert.  
“ We must lure her, “ the boy said while taking of his viper mail. He began waving his viper chain mail like a towel, the chime sound rippled into the wasteland that was quiet as a graveyard and bounced off the impending grey curtain and rose up into the depths.  “   Le Tang, was spinning all around, in trepidation of their vulnerable position—in the open, attracting the locomotive strength of the Mahi Mahi.    “ Sake, I have plenty of weapons and javelins in my armory, how bout we go…”
“ When it comes lay flat as you possibly can, tuck that big nose of yours in, and then we give chase and remove the barb before she ascends…”
Le Tang interrupted the boy,” Big nose, look who’s talking,” the Tang gestured towards the boy’s codpiece,  Sake laughed, and so did Le Tang not fully understanding why.  It was nervous laughter, and suicidal quips, that make heroes out of warriors.
They whipped their heads in a direction of something coming down the narrow passage between light and greyness--that was in line with them and the Coral Kingdom.  It was the long immense jetstream shadow of the Mahi Mahi.  “ Don’t worry Le Tang, I’ve done this before,” he said as he waved the viper mail.  “ That’s very comforting,” quipped Le Tang in an apprehensive look at the daunting shadow.  “ We have to try to hold in place when she screams, and not become dislodged,” said the boy as he looked down the corridor caused by the approaching cold—a corridor that darkened from the corralled massive Mahi Mahi above in the depths.
The sand began to tumble toward them; small whirlwinds of rip currents started dancing upward—then the passage before them between the greyness became occupied by the never-ending procession that was  Mahi Mahi’s body uncoiling downward for its nose dive; to level with the bottom for its screaming prowl.
” Ready Tang,” …Le Tang made an X  motion with his body like a fencer, crossing himself in the sign of the House of Tang with a look on his face of bloodless determination.
It darkened, as if a wave was rising over their heads, the scream came, a slit in the sand came at them with flaring sides forming a V.  “ Remove the barb from the heart,” repeated the boy in his head as the viper mail flew from his body as the first destructive decibel of the scream reached them.  He went down to a three point stance, Le Tang began speeding in place so he would not be dislodged.
They were blasted with sand, that pinged off their armor, Sake covered his ears, and began sliding backward as he was out of three point stance.  Le Tang held him in place by speeding with all his energy.  They were being moved back slowly, the Tang was rippling with lightning speed and yellow energy that was being pushed to its max amperage.  “ I can’t keep up,” gritted Le Tang, as his body began to flicker like an incandescent light.  “ GET READY TANG.”  The trident pierced tongue between the hook studded lips took up all of the narrow passage, the lower lip was exactly Sake’s body width from the ground, but hooks and tackle reached further, carving the sand like a thresher.  He would have to dodge barb and beast.
The giant upper jaw was over them as Sake flattened forward as the lower jaw contacted the plume on his coral helmet almost knocking it off.
They were under the belly of the great beast.   It was as if he was crawling under a moving locomotive, there was no space to move, a barb had hooked his shirt sleeve and ripped it off, another one caught the other sleeve giving the boy a vest.  He dug his head into the sand to be able to look up; the view was of a concrete wall, grout lines of scale, stabbed with hook and spear—a never-ending story of beast.  Barely being able to turn his head forward and seeing a shining harpoon slicing the ground in half, he moved to his right and it flew by him almost cutting him in half.  He could not see Le Tang behind him who unsprang his chest V blade—digging into the ground to remain in place.  The boy’s foot was on Le Tangs head.   Le Tang dodged the deadly hooks and barb, as a fencer parries.  
The beast began to lift in the air, Sake had enough breathing room to turn and yell, “ GET READY.”  Le Tang retorted inaudibly under deafening noise of the beast “ A cucumboy telling me to get ready.”
The behemoth was high enough that no protruding hook on its belly would cut them in half.  As if they rehearsed it, they got up in synchronization, Sake hooked his snake skin boots in the Tang’s silver decking –using them like stirrups to hang on.  Le Tang whipped and rippled, rearing himself like a horse and gave chase to the ascending beast; but the sound breaking scream of the Mahi Mahi was slightly faster than the sound breaking speed of the not full strength Tang; the Mahi Mahi was raising more into the air, the long barb was becoming out of arm’s reach.  “ FASTER,” screamed Sake.  The Mahi Mahi was screaming into the air…“ FASTER.”
Le Tang cracked the sound barrier with whiplash ferocity and rippled so quick that Sake was losing his grip on the silver.  Sake had to take his hand off to grab the barb, and he could barely hold on with two, realizing this Sake yelled “OVERSHOOT IT LE TANG” and the fast thinking Tang grasped the command.  It was almost becoming out of reach, the speeding Tang overshot the target, Sake let go of the silver and he became sucked backward into the jetstream crashing into the barb, and as he bounced off it; he clasped it in a bear hug, the Mahi Mahi was rising faster now, the wind blew off his helmet and undulated the flesh on his face—he put his feet on the scaly belly and pulled, it was in there deep.
“ Ahhhhh,” Sake screamed in his exertion, he was now high above the ground, Le Tang was a ground fire down below.  “ Ahhhhh,” his scream was as desperate as the Mahi Mahi, it pulled loose;  Sake tumbled downward  in a radial pattern  with the long lance like barb, as if he had a parachute that didn’t fully employ—still neck breaking.  The fire on the ground was darting every which way to line up with the falling boy….. “ Shiiiiiiit,” yelled Sake in utter horror.
Sake closed his eyes in expectation of smashing into the ground.  Then smash…he crashed into the slow climbing Tang who put on the afterburner slowing their descent but it was still a too deadly rate, Sake saw the ground a blink away and closed his eyes, but the last second when they were above the ground Le Tang shot forward and tore into the sand like a comet crashing and digging into the earth.
He opened his eyes, darkness, they were in a ten foot hole; the lance was glowing red—where it was submerged in the Mahi Mahi-- behind them at the mouth of the trench they created.  The far off scream graduated into a smoothing glissando of feminine voice—no longer tortured. The Mahi Mahi was at peace and sounded beauteous.
They clamored out of the trench and returned to the lance sticking out of the ground.  The grey that was closing from both sides of the horizon, like towering waiting waves--darkened, they could see the glow of the vipers; both sides were a spear throw away from them on either side now, and the remaining light glowing ahead of them in between the encroaching darkness—was the Coral Palace.
He slowly grasped the lance, a shudder ran through him, he felt the pain in his heart and quickly pulled back his hand— it was glowing as if right from the forge but the tip was shedding ice blue glacial tears.   The Coralcle’s message came into his mind: put it in your heart, then Clowness and Crab alike.
The walls of darkness moaned in unison “ You will fail, and she will die”-- it was a gaseous sound, of decaying methane. Sake grabbed the lance and pulled it from the sand.  The pain was extraordinary, it was the anemone’s kiss  and Blennies bite, but he held on, to return the painful capacitance of the lance to the Clowness, and finally , god willing, to the Dark Crab.
Ignoring their demonic hecklers, they got their armor together, Sake putting on his Coral Trojan helmet, as Le Tang unbent one of his blades.  Sake mounted without saying words, and rested the lance in line with the aerodynamic neon yellow body.  He hoped that they would come across the Hoomah Hoomah on the return journey, but deep down did not think that would be so.

  The tip of the lance coming over Le Tang's eyes was the cue to floor it for Le Tang, and he cracked his body like a whip, speeding down the narrowing passage with demonic droning from both sides.

Chapter 10 Final Chapter: Crabaltar
" Come father, let us embrace."--Excaliber

                    As Le Tang shot through the narrowing passage, Sake suddenly became aware of something, there were two towering walls that enclosed them and the Coral palace, and Crabaltar was only on one side..  The walls no longer resembled the Grey Skies Of Mass, but oblivion interspersed with sliding monsters.  Such Pain, he thought again, looking at the lance glowing, deflecting the rushing air like a boat prow,; and suddenly the lance made him recall painful things, and those painful things were the best days of his life.  He gripped Le Tang’s weapon accoutrements making him rear, swivel, then crash into the ground.  Sake became lost in thought, staring at the lance glowing, upright in the sand--
Images of him deftly catching snowflakes, rolling to catch a leaf flying to the ground, or stabbing a shopping bag whipping through the cold air with a newspaper… every season was gray, cold and alone, then he remembered he was not always alone…there was a warm youthful Summer, replenishing, and he walked away from the sunshine and sat indian style in front of a world he thought he was in control of, then there was the Crab, infiltrating his kingdom of light.  .  A world, where he was no longer deft in hand or confidence, unable to talk, chasing strangers to hug him.  The crying clown painting in his room came to mind, and his mother crying with make-up smeared down her face.    Then he thought of the Damsel, in that Stonehenge within a Stonehenge, that pagan, disgusting vile place, surrounded by vipers.  She belonged in the Coral Kingdom, and he had to put her there all the time forever…and he would put a sword upward through viper breath closing their mouths, so they never again have the audacity to assail the kingdom; and end the mirage that is the Clowness, her falsity, her pretension of bringing happiness, she works misery and a lifetime of craving and vanity.  Then there is the Dark Crab, polluted sludge within a shell, just like his once human followers are shells of their former human-hood….the Crab made the Clowness who she was , who in turn made Blennie.  
The Crab, a cannibal worker from the underworld, not fit to scurry among the upright in the light.  
Sake looked at the other wall of approaching darkness, and it scared him-- it was the future.  
Le Tang was shouting, but Sake couldn’t hear him, just looked at the approaching darkness.  He felt cold, oh so cold…and abandoned.  The landscape darkened, Le Tang was completely back to torch form.
When you feel the darkness pressing from the past and the future, warm yourself by the fire.  It was the voice of the Queen Angel in his head.  He snapped out of it with Le Tang’s shout.
“ You have nearly wrecked us.”
Sake looked at him, a blazing fire, went to put out his hands as if to warm them, but stopped.  Le Tang was his future, a future of revenge and vehemence.  Sake could not give that up, he was only a boy, and boys do not know forgivness, especially from teachers that wear the glowing skull lure of viper round their necks.
Walls running all the way up to the depths laughed and screamed at the two knights—they  appeared to show hideous teeth while they laughed and screamed then let way for another  volley of screamers.  The walls were a javelin throw away from either side now. Sake became enraged.  “  Let us go, and finish off these mutants,” said he, as he  pulled the lance out of the sand and mounted Le Tang.
The neon warrior in silver armor said nothing, and appeared less vengeful than the boy for the first time.  In life as in death, said Sake to himself, repeating the Hoomah’s words.  They went forward, through the bone brambles, no sight of the veteran hunter, nor Blennie.  They slowed a bit, but after concluding that a tropical warrior had been felled, they sped on to the faint pulsing image of the Coral palace that was without a doubt under siege.  They both said nothing, enraged at the apparent loss of their fellow knight.

Light came into view.  Hope?  No, for it was the Clowness’ magnificent anemone, surrounded by shining armor and yellow fin laying lifeless on the ground still smoking from a hot tendril touch .  Her massive anemone stayed in the dark towering waiting wave of coldness, and  it was atop a giant lobster—under her control—black eyed, and soulless, a lobster from miserable polluted sludge.  Crabaltar was behind her, inching closer with every blink.
“ Run this hag through, and sever her head” ran through the boy’s mind faster than the Tang was moving.  Le Tang tacitly approved.
They charged straight forward with the lance glowing lance leading the way.  The front row of blue and red anemone mobilized and formed a line mocking colonial era troops…tri corner hats and all, and pointed muskets with tendril bayonets protruding from the ends.  Sake pulled back on the Tang and they stopped just short of their deadly reach.  The bayonets went to attention, and formed a path for the besieging baroness.  She came forward with legs of anemone covered with red knee high jack boots and blue riding pants, and a blue-red fencing mask that quickly unformed to show her orange face.
“ Oh, my poor knights, you tried so hard to save the Queen, but she is almost within my grasp, so maybe you might think of serving me.”
“ We would never serve a hag from the cold water realm, you are an usurping peasant in temporary clothes, “ sneered Le Tang, moving clockwise around the red and blue troops, who in turn moved  their bayonets to follow his throat.
“ But my poor Tang, you have already helped me, with your anger, and you boy, yes I know what you are,” she stepped down closer to address Sake who was standing still unlike Le Tang, “ You have unrolled the carpet for me, letting the cold in, and I am Queen of the Coldwater, and now to be Queen of the Petrified Coral Kingdom, and then ruler of Saccade, and I will replace the knights with vipers, and they shall be more colorful than their monochrome cold water cousins, and they shall balance the temperatures.”
“ They are not tropical warriors, but imposters , and it will not work, the knights are the vipers opposite, evil cannot be evil’s opposite,” gritted Sake with the help of his helm.
Sake held the lance over his shoulder, he did not know what to do, for surely her anemones would intercept it.  They would have to slay each tendril, there was no other way.  “ Enough talking old hag,” said Sake and with that gambit, Tang sprang his sabres then they split into their X as he raced forward slicing a row of red musket men in half.  Sake moved forward, and speared a blue coat in the chest.  The Clowness went back into her field attire and fencing mask, “ Fools” she laughed.
Le Tang hacked and hacked them down, and Sake leaned in for a thrust , pulled back, and speared again,  but every assembled soldier they dispatched, it was only scratches to individual tentacles.  Le Tang was hacking his blades dull, he could not penetrate into the defense of the Clowness.  His yellow body was sending small curls of smoke where the tendrils had reached their mark, he was losing the war of attrition.  Sake’s armor was more complete,  but not having the Tang’s speed left him more vulnerable, a tendril wrapped around his wrist, “ Aaaaarrrr,” he yelled and stabbed through it with the lance. He was using the weapon as a bat just to stay alive now, he was retreating, and Le Tang was still hacking nowhere.
A soldier bayoneted through Le Tang’s tail, another grabbed hold of his fin, Le Tang sliced one off him, but another came.  “ Fall back,’ Sake yelled, but it was too late, the soldiers were on Le Tang; the Clowness was laughing haughtily now. They took off his armor and held him by the tail, which was smoking from the hold; the bayonets now all trained their points at his chest, he was helpless.  Red tendrils put on the Tang’s blades and ornament, and formed to the front.
“ What about now, will you render your service , haha,” taunted the Clowness.   “ You are just a boy, can’t even speak without the help of your helm, how would you expect to beat me.”
Sake wanted to throw the lance, but knew it stood no chance, unless something cleared the way first.  Le Tang was screaming from the burn, but he was still yelling “Hag” at the top of his lungs.  The  giant lobster moved forward towards the palace stairs and stopped, awaiting the cold to move forward again.
“ Serve me Sake, you will live greatly I assure you, we will be the most brightest in the land of Saccade, no one will rival us.”
“And the Damsel?” asked Sake as he noticed something in the cold wall, but it was not a viper, it was a yellow lid and it blinked at him, implying “get ready.”
“ The Damsel will go to oblivion painlessly and my palace and I will be the brightest in the kingdom of  fifty shades of Grey,” and with the Clowness’ remark the Hoomah rushed forward from the darkness where he was concealed by the besmearing of his body with the Sabretoothe Blennie’s black heart.  Hoomah bull dozed into the anemone, making a way for the harpoon, the red and blue tendrils first stung his shark bone armor, then slipped it off and slapped at his scale, but the warrior still rushed forward, all the tendrils formed together to stop the hulking Hoomah.  Sake watched for any lane to open up and throw as he moved forward diverting some attention away from the Hoomah and the captured Tang.
The soldiers retook tendril form and left Tang under two guards, one guard was mid thrust with a bayonet to Le Tang’s heart.  Le Tang whipped free and whipped the guard in half, then cut the tendrils in half that stole his armor by pressing the collapse mechanism only he could work, and Le Tang was back in his armor slicing the tendrils off the dog pile on the Hoomah.  Sake walked to the right of the ferocious foray, and had the Clowness in his sight, with only two tendrils standing guard, he poised the lance that was hot with magmatic pain.
“ Haha, boy, you can’t harm me,” as she said that Sake squinted under his Trojan coral mask and took three steps forward and launched.  The two tendril guards grasped the lance, but before they could slow it down, it struck home, pinning the Clowness to the lobster.  She looked at Sake in horror, mucus formed on her face and body, the tendril’s left her attire.  Her eyes looked up to the depths then she split from the lance in two gelatinous globs, splattering on the lobster.   The anemone returned to its lifeless sway.  He could not believe it, they defeated her.  Sake ran around the lobster, to look for his compeers.  They were at the base of the anemone, he pulled them out by their fins one at a time.
Both were in rough shape, but Hoomah  had ribs exposed.  Le Tang raised himself to a fin, and looked at the Hoomah.  The Hoomah’s big eyes were looking forward and not blinking when Sake cried  “ you’re alright ” the big eyes came down and looked at Sake.  Tears were swimming out of the boy’s eyes.  Hoomah spoke: “ You will be the first of your line, protect it… do not waste a kill, now go save her,” and with his last breath he made his last joke and blew Sake’s helmet off.
He stood up, and closed his eyes, not moving.  The loss of his mentor, was his final lesson.  He fought with all his might to hold back his tears, as if Hoomah was still watching him…As in life as in death… and that thought wiped all expression from his face and unleashed him from his brood.
Sake picked up his helmet, and retrieved the lance.  He could not bear to look at Hoomah, he rather look at the redoubtable approaching Crabaltar.  He turned and faced it down, as the Trojan coral before him, it was at the doorstep to the Coral Kingdom.  "Don’t waste a kill"  he said out loud.  He  lifted up the lance and brought it down on the lobsters leg.  Cracking and prying it off, then reaming it out. He shoved his hand up it, and with his now claw armored arm he snipped off anemone, and put it all over his armor. He worked lifelessly, as if he was a mortician doing his own art.  Battle hardens the heart.
“ I’m coming with you” minced Le Tang.  Sake just shook his head, he knew Le Tang still could not move anyways.
The cold breeze caught his Trojan algae plume, and his red blue anemone swayed off his arms and torso in medusa lethality, ready to sting flesh from him .
He walked toward the towering dark wall after his anemone glow entered first.  The dark creatures of the fathoms silenced their demonic laughs, “not so tough anymore.”

A Deep Sea Gulper went to clamp Sake, but Sake’s armor bit into it, sending it scampering off singed and yelping like a beat dog as he walked to the entrance of Crabaltar.  He needed no torch, the anemones light searched into the darkness and his lance was the equivalent of fifty torches .  He passed into the foyer, where it all began, then passed into the first dark portal.  The crevices emitted their glowing eyes of vipers, the anemones singed and stunned them.  The vipers screamed in Sakes face as they burned from the sting, he did not blink, just head butted them with his helm or ripped out the stunned ones from his armor and crushed them underfoot as he walked down the long narrow passage.  He stood up to his knees in dead viper.  He took a knee before the Damsel’s chamber.   More vipers screamed down the hall, then screamed in their painful retreat.
As he took a knee, he took off his blue-red light anemone to stand guard at his rear as his lime green helm lighted the path to his front.  The lance was a magmatic rivulet in his hand, glowing to unseen proportion in the dark enclave.
He closed his eyes, “ Power and speed, be hands and feet” and walked into the chamber with  his eyes still closed remembering the Crab’s claw will close on her if he sees it.
He heard a click, and knew the claw was only one click away from the Damsel, he walked at the Crab, and heard the rock wall behind the Crab coming loose with baby crab.  Sake did not stop.  He climbed on top of the Crab; the wall of small crabs came over him, he still did not stop his ritual.  The Crab’s free scythe came up slowly and pathetically to pierce Sake in the side, it did not get deep.  Sake still did not make a noise, but raised the lance with both hands, he stabbed down through the cannibal’s exoskeleton, prying each way to open the wound.  The exoskeleton made a cracking noise that echoed off every wall. Then he opened his eyes and stuck the lance through the claw that held the Damsel and snapped it off by  giving the lance a hard boot, ripping  the black scythe claw to the floor  . The Damsel fell slowly to the ground like a feather.  He buried the lance through the crab’s brain and the baby crabs fell off him.  
He stepped down and picked up the Damsel, as the whole place begin to buckle.  He walked over uneven ground of dead viper, and into the foyer as one of the gigantic rocks overhead fell behind him blocking the entrance to the Crab’s layer.  He walked out of Crabaltar as the place began to crumble..   Rock tonnage fell with thunderous force, sending out aftershocks.
Outside was already brightening; he walked with her in his arms past the giant dead lobster to the Coral Palace that was becoming alive again.  He walked past his fallen mentor, but  Le Tang was not there.  The grand staircase lit up in a white hot glow from the first touch of Sake’s snake skin gaitered boots, the Damsel opened her eyes, and looked at her hero as he climbed the stairs. “ You are free,” said Sake looking into her eyes.
“ Ma frère” she said, “ you are free,” and she quaked in his arms, her heart ceasing from beating .  He stopped on the stair landing, looking downward; the stair case flickered and so did the whole kingdom, he then proceeded to ascend the stair case and the staircase responded by glowing its white aura continuously.
He reached the open hall, servants and hand maids were there with a royal bed, he placed her on it.  They took her within the palace, as the Queen was being led out to her throne.  Coral parapets were energizing and forming purple wavelengths undulating in soothing sine waves along the palace--in healthy heartbeat rhythm.
Sake turned around and doffed his helmet, holding it under his arm. He had to see this unimpaired and not through the ‘T’ opening of the Trojan coral..  Life was returning to the Kingdom, the corals glowed, light came from the depths.  The Mahi Mahi glided over the kingdom, no hook nor barb in her face--she was beautiful, and strong, and her shadow brought forth magnificient light displays on the corals.
  He stood looking at the impressive vista, the court filled behind him, hailing him as a hero.
  The Damsel’s image was projected from the corals onto the sky and onto the palace walls.  Sake heard a drip drop sound, just as he saw Le Tang beyond the palace, he had his armor back on, and he had only one fin.  He rendered a salute—a three stroked fencing slash with his body- -smiled, then collapsed his blades and turned.  Le Tang became a wandering fire.
Clan Hoomah came to claim the body of Hoomah Hoomah, a procession longer than the kingdom, and a body worth more than Alexander the Great’s.  One particular clan member led the procession, he was young, with the same neon war paint through his right eye—two upside down feathers.  No one in the procession showed any expression, other than austerity, Sake remembered the Hoomah’s words…” In life as in death,”  and smiled at the sight of the clan, all austere faces with : lips of jokesters, minds of hunters, and hearts of mentors.
He thought he heard the Queen Angel hailing him, he turned, and the drip drop sound became louder.  He stood on the glowing marble coral landing, holding his helmet, as the highway of returning colorful refugees came from both directions to hail the knights.  An elliptical constellation twinkled up in the depths.  He felt as if he was being pulled away from the kingdom, as if the journey was over.
“ Sake, can you hear me, Sake, honey, are you awake.”
He opened his eyes; he was in his bed, his mother was attending him.  He sat up, his tank was back on.  He looked at his mother, she looked like she had been crying.  “ Sake, you had a high fever, you--you called out things in your sleep.  I turned  your tank back on, there is breakfast for you when your ready—and Summer is waiting for you” she turned and left.
Sake stumbled out towards his tank.  Waving like a magnificent banner, was the Queen Angel .  The rock jumble in the middle had collapsed; on it, a neon scallop shell, with a lower case’t’ indentation in the center.  He turned to the window and smiled.  The overcast was being pierced by a thousand swords of light, the reflections running down his dark walls slowly diminished, and returned to their source.

Afterword


My Angel In Heaven

I am tired and want to die,
I am not Atlas, but still
try to hold up the sky.

But it is not your sky I hold up,
it is her heaven, over violent sea.
she needs my help--I need help,
sunset-- I am down to knee.

If my arms weaken--
I lost faith,
my young angel,
will disappear into ocean--
without trace.

Every morn I stand,
some days refreshed;
when ocean is quiet,
and clouds resemble
Sunday dress.

My angel in heaven,
sea spray can lash my face,
wind can howl in my ears--
I will still hold your heaven in place,
from falling in the ocean of tears.--KjC

Pearl Smoke Sep 2014

iTs Difficult To Live Mylife,
The Struggle.
The Problems iHave And Keep Creating.
Not Knowing Who iAm
Being A Drug Addict Who Cant Seem To Stop There Bad Habit.
They Say iTs Easy You Just Want To Want iT.
Not iF You Fallen So Low, left All Alone.
iM Deep iN This Shit, Deserve To Be 6ft Down To Rest.
iTs The Best.
For Everyone.
iM Doing Nothing But Disappointing The Ones Taking There Time Trying To Support Me.
Wasting There Encouragement Not Knowing iWont Last Long Before iUse And Fall Back in
The Same Cycle All Fucking Over Again :/
iTs  Very Sad, To Continue This.
Been To Many Places Yet Nothing Changes,
iM Tired And Overwhelmed .
Why Am iUsing Now?
iFeel Lonely.
This Drug Fills Everything Up inside Of Me.
This is The Reason Why iWent Back To iT.
Before iT Was Cause iLoved The Effects And Kept Trying To Get High Asf Like My 1st Hit,
Then Lead To Me Going At iT Cause
My Body Felt Like iT Couldnt Function Off iT
Which Made Me An Addict .
Loving And wanting To Always Have iT.
Before iT Was Great,
Nobody Knew.
Then they Found Out The Truth.
Ever Since Then Ive Been Living Daily On Lies Having To Hide iT, Denying im On iT When Clearly iTs Obvious.
Chemicals Messing With My Mood ,
My Mind Now Plays Tricks On Me. Dont Know When itl Be Over Cause iDont think il 
 Want To ever Be Sober.

Keith Collard Jun 2013

Centipede Valley (A tale of infantrymen in Hawaiian--Twain Style)


'Welcome to the 25th Infantry Schofield Barracks Hawaii' the sign read as the taxi van rode past. The only thing in the boy's mind was of guns, tanks, soldiers, and grenades. He accompanied his father who had used his veteran credentials with the Coastguard to gain admittance to the base; and thus able to reserve a round on the famous 'Schofield golf course." They were on vacation, and left the women at home.

    The boy, expecting to see an army division rappelling down the buildings that the van was streaming past, was scrutinizing every person, vehicle and store. He thought he saw a humphvee, but it was just a hillbilly driving his spray painted doorless Ford Bronco with his flip flop clad foot hangin over the side. The boy spied a soldier in camoflage uniform with what looked like a rifle,"wooweee ,a rifle." But as the van closed on the pedestrian soldier,it was revealed that he was carrying only a loaf of french bread. Then another soldier,"wowee,a bazooka," but only a folded up beach chair.
Then a helicopter screamed overhead, the boy scrambling to position his head to see the still-hidden helicopter was ready to tear the roof panel off, "Hey easy Ben," said his father at the other window. The helicopter came into view,"must be an Apachee," he thought as his eyes came to discern a sign trailing from the helicopter ..."60% off flip flops at Kemoho's market."  The boy sank down in disapointment.

           He begged his father in order to come with him. The father agreed but with the surrender conditions being "Im playing golf, your going to watch me and be a good boy then we are leaving."

              They were on a tough schedule and had engagements with the rest of the family.The father promised him that they would visit Pearl Harbor and the Coast Guard base.  Ben would enjoy the battleships at Pearl Harbor, but he had heard from his friends that the rockstars were the "infantry." They were the 'Billy the Kids' of the miliitary; guns and mischief, and most of all....glory. But he would only see them and their toys from a van--and then a golf course.  That was straight 'malarkey'to him, and that was what his mind kept repeating.

           The van pulled up parallel with the side walk that was lined with a chain link fence. Palm trees rowed the inside of the fence, and the boy could see the lime green grass of fairways-he sighed. His father tipped the taxi driver, and grabbed out his club bag; they procceded down the sidewalk in direction of a shadow, which was the 'Scholfield Golf' club buiilding. The boy looked across the streeet at a  barracks, tiered with balconies, he could see men in fatigues moving about on them,"wowweee,grunts." But they were only brandishing mops and brooms. "Malarkey."

              They entered the air conditioned building, the boy became sleepy as he waited by his father's side who was checking his reservation in the golf store. "Alright sir, if you want you can sit out there on the verandah with complimentary drinks untill we bring your cart up to you."

         Re-entering the stone paved fenceless verandah, they took a seat at a round table with an umbrella. The humid heat woke the boy back up. A vantage of bright green grass, palm trees,and men hustling back in forth in white docker pants opened up before them.

     There was a grey haired man sweeping up the tile of the verandah within earshot of the father and son. The boy watched the old man sweep up something in his dustpan, then bend down and put it in a zip lock bag that he produced from his pocket.  The boy's curiosity was ignited, he had to know what it was, maybe a spent shell casing, or a tripwire; he jumped down from his stool and approached the old man.

          "Excuse me sir," what was it you picked up, a shell casing?"..... the old man just looked at the boy and smiled, and continued sweeping. "Ben, don't bother that man please," admonished his father.
               Ben walked back to his chair,and picked up his coca-cola,and pretended as if his curiosity was quenched. He watched the old man, sweeping and sweeping, untill he bent down to pick another object up. The boy flew from his seat and closed on the old man.
"Ohhh man mister, what is that thing , a dragon?" At the old man's feet was a coil of something, corrugated, black with a red neon tinge, incisers and mandibles the size of paper cutters. It was dead whatever it was, but its shell was still intact; and so was everyone of it's hundred legs, its fearsome face was preserved amid a deathly stare with blackened eyes.

"Don't worry, it's nothing, just a bug sonny," said the old man who packed it away in a zip lock bag.
"Then why are you collecting them in ziplock bags?"
The old man hesitated, then he sighed knowing it was futile.
"If I tell you, you cannot freak out.  Im supposed to rid these creatures from the guests sight."
" I won't freak out--that thing looks like one of those chinese new year dragons they parade in the streets."
"It ain't no dragon son--it is a Centipede."  But to the boy, it reminded him of those Chinese dragon parades.  It was massive.
The boy was hailed back to where his father was sitting. " Ben leave that man alone, he has a job to do."
The boy thought the old man and his centipede to be a riddle of the highest importance. He sensed a story, before he knew what a story was. He looked at this man inquisitively; he looked to be Hawaiin ,maybe South American, but he also had a martial stare.

       The old man looked at his watch and sat down at table at the corner of the stone paved verandah, bordered by bright green grass.  Ben saw centipedes now in the design of the old man's hawaiin shirt.
          Producing a mango from his pocket, the old man proceded to strip the tough skin and spit out the peelings onto the grass as Ben's attention was broken by an employee. "Excuse me sir, there seem's to be a slight problem ya, there's only one golf cart available, and we have to fit you and someone else on there, but there is your son?"

The father's face froze.  "oh, my son, oh yeah" he mumbled as he watched the beautiful tropical neon course ahead of him."  The groundsworker who was finishing his mango was paying attention to the whole interaction.  He watched the boy scanning the greens, it made the old man smile.

" Excuse me sir, I think I can help out, I can babysit the lad right here, and tour the golf grounds with him, I finished my duties....."

The father looked at the old harmless man.  The hawaiin accent on him, and hawaiin shirt on him, rendered him as harmless as puff the dragon.  No one has ever commited a misdeed in a hawaiin shirt, and that resonates in the subconscience of visitors to the Hawaiin chains.  For Captain Cooke(the first anglo visitor to Hawaii) was boiled in a pot by shirtless Hawaiins.

" Sir, I can vouche for my employee....."  It was in agreement, the father sped off.
They had two hours to kill.  Just enough time for a story.
" So Ben, Im Edison, would you like to hear a story--" the boy interrupted him, " About the infantry?"

    " Yes, the infantry, Hawaii, and dragons."  The scene was too unreal.  The tropical tableau panorama behind the old man--that made the old man's hawaiin shirt seem to disappear and make his head float--was pastel portraiture with palm outlines bursting with their leaves amid a light blue sky.  The old man mumbled his lips every other second, possibly from denchers.  The boy watched the floating head mumble, mumbling faster and faster readying for a story, captivating the boy.  He came to see the infantry, and he would see them in words.  No illusion this time.

                                                         Centipede Valley


" The story of Hawaii, is a story of short dynasties.  The first known dynasty was the Rat dynasties.  Like Attilla The Hun's followers, the rat's followed their king; down the ropes and piers from the ships and overwhelmed the populace.  The set up Rat colonies, fishing centers, and cheese vendors."  The boy interupted the old man, " How can rat's set up cheese vendors?"

        " They just did, ' Cheese for Sale' was screeched on every block, now if I can continue my story lad." The boy nodded, sorry for slowing down the story.

        " The Hawaiians tried to battle back, arming themselves with brass knuckles of sea conches, and throwing jellyfish at them, but it was of no use—there  were to many.  Then the other dynasty came, the Python Dynasty.  Instead of scurrying down the ropes, they spiraled down at night.  They were a clever bunch.  They would play dead, and wait for birds who were hungry for a meal, then  ' crunch'  and the bird would be a knot in the snake's ropey body.  The pythons also ate all the Hawaiians roosters.  At the height of the island’s empire, every Hawaiian had a at least five roosters per household.  Every sac and backpack was alive and moving as the roosters were carried about on the street. But the Python's ate them making only one rooster per household.  The next dynasty was even more clever than the Python--the Mongoose Dynasty.  They ate all pythons with lightning speed.  They didn't scurry nor spiral down the ropes--they lolly gagged down them.  Stopping to stare in the water, for a clam or fish they could eat, they were cocky sons of....
"By the time the Hawaiins raised their jelly fish at them sitting on the ropes, they already ate the belly button lint out of your belly button.  They were crafty.  But their downfall was that they were not unified.  Their kingdom fractured, but they remained on the island.

"The last known dynasty, did not take the rope, but the plank.  Drooling, huffing, and snorkeling--snorting up every barnacle on the pier in the two minutes they arrived on the island--the pig.  They quickly broke their bonds and took to the mountains and jungles.  But something came during the pig dynasty, that was the real scourge of the isles.  And it is this dynasty, that my story starts, with two infantry members, from opposite ends of the empire--Seattle and Boston, who arrived to the island not knowing their position on the Hawaiian food chain.

" When Boston first walked into his barracks latrine(bathroom) he was overwhelmed with how humid it was, like he just entered an iguana tank.  The ceilings were painted green with mold, the floor kept a semblance to checkered tile due to the heavy mopping of soldiers armed with ammonia. He noticed he was not alone.  There were geckos on the ceiling, running around eating giant flying things.  The geckos did not bother him, he has seen them in Florida, and perhaps that was there these fellas had come from.  He walked over to the sink, for he needed a shave for the first formation.  The barracks was old, and used as an overflow for departing service members, or newly arriving ones.  It is rumored to still have 50 caliber holes in its foundation from Japanese Zero's.  

"He looked down into the sink, there was a Gecko's tail, writhing in the sink--not attached t anything.  The drain was open, it looked like the cave to a malevolent beast.  And it was, a black tendril, or serpent, quickly emitted from the dark drain and grasped the writhing Gecko tail in its mandibles and retreated back into the drain.  ' What in holy .......' Boston whispered as he stepped away from the sink.

"Meanwhile, Seattle walked up to his new room, and used his card key to open his barracks room.  The door swung open, and on the floor in front of him, was a large cockroache on its back, apparently dying of over-eating.  It bicycle kicked the air, and doggy paddled.  It's belly was huge, and it's face said ' I lived a good life.'  Seattle could only muster the words, ' well that ain't a good sign.'

"Seattle and Boston were roomates for only a month before they became bickering enemies, likened to England and France--coming only together under rules and regulations and enforced peace treaty.  It started with a bag of potatoe chips.  'Seattle, you can't come home drunk and leave potatoe chips all over the room.  This ain't the mainland, we are gunna get eaten in our sleep by cockroaches.  Every night you explode a bag of potatoe chips all over the couch.'  It was true, they had a black pleather couch given to them be an eager barracks member, and if you sat down on it, you would always hear a crunch.

" ' Whatever Boston, you keep leaving your cherry dip around attracting ants.  You fell asleep with a dip in your mouth and you woke up with goat-tee of ants. ' And so it went, it was two male humans in a barracks cage.  One, a North Eastern Humano, the other a North Western Humano, both ill-disposed to each other.  One more afraid of ants, the other cockroaches.  

" But then in a sign of peace offering, Boston introduced Seattle to his Fillipino girlfriend's sister.  They went on a double date, and then Seattle went on two other dates after, with just him and her.  But then Boston was getting pestered by his girlfriend to 'have Seattle call her sister," or he was getting pestered by " What , Seattle don't like my sister no more ya?"   Boston always dodged the question, knowing the rules.  Then one day, Boston had to go up to his room with the two sisters in his car.  But they followed him up at the last second, and ambushed Seattle, who was really upset by this and left the room and barracks.  That incident could have been water under the bridge, except for what happened.

"When Seattle returned to his now empty room, he opened a draw and removed his sneakers from them, for he still had on his flip flops.  He put on his sneakers without socks and was walking down the barracks stairs when he felt it.  It was like a nail just went through his foot.  A medic in civy's (civilian clothes) was behind him watching him.  " You alright buddy," he said.

" I just stepped on a nail or sumthin," said Seattle.

He shook his sneaker, nothing.  Looking at his foot, he saw two fang  puncture marks in between his big toes.  His vein near the bite was surfacing like a snake all the way up his leg even up to his forehead, he felt dizzy.  He shook the sneaker one more time, harder.  Inside, now, was a coil, or a nest of black cobras, but it was not many cobras, but one centipede.  " what the f...."

The medic looked in, " That’s a centipede, highly toxic, if you get really ill come to the Aid Station," he said then left.

"Seattle burned in a fever that night, having dreams of the scorned Fillipino girl haunting him, holding centipedes over him, doing a witch-like curse on him.  Seattle was lucky, most react alot worse from the bites.  He blamed the scorned girl for putting it there, and most of all--he blamed Boston.

"And that is only one side of the story, for soon after, it was Boston who would become livid with Seattle.  One night, Boston was sitting on the pleather couch, with his girlfriend, when they fell asleep on it watching TV--they had the room to themselves.  When they awoke they were covered in cockroaches.  The girl ran out of the room and Boston's life forever.  Upon lifting up the couch cushions, there spied, was a massive moving cockroach galaxy.  " Seattle," Boston gritted through his teeth.
" Mister when are we going to get to infantry stuff--" whined the boy.
" Very shortly my lad," said the old man, producing another mango from his pocket and resuming his story.

" Seattle and Boston quickly rose through the ranks, and commanded  teams in the same squad.  At that time, they got their own rooms, and one would think that would make them get along better, but that was not so.  The only thing that assuaged the wise remarks of Boston, and Seattle's feverish temper, was that they had to get along if they lived together, and now they don't.  And now they both have a four man team competing against each other, when they are in the same squad.

" Boston's number one on the team was a kid named Mango.  He was the go-to guy for Boston, and made his team look good.  Seattle's number one guy was a soldier named Biggin who made Seattle's team look good.  
" Well, one night, their whole platoon were siting under double canopy in the complete dark.  They were in full battle rattle( ammo and body armour) readying their equipment and eating some rations in anticipation of a live-night-fire training exercise.  Those exercises were always dangerous, involving all the platoons weapon systems: machine guns--light and medium, grenade launcher tubes(under rifle) , at-4( disposable rocket launcher), hand grenades, banglomores( used by combat engineers....all in precise cordination with eachother.)  All the muzzles orientated in an L shaped pattern on a mock bunkers, trenches, and fighting positions.  All had to shift fire, as friendly teams bounded forward.  Extreme pressure.

"The platoon, is awaiting for the squads to get called up, for this night is a squad level exercise, tomorrow is platoon.  Boston's and Seattle's team have not gone in the 'hole' yet.  Boston is prepping his night vision, and after he put the batteries in he scans his dark surroundings.  All the teams are sitting or laying down, with their ammo vests on.  Most are dipping, or eating; some have took off their ammo vests attached to their body armour (as to keep it ready and put together to don it quickly) and are airing out their shirts and allowing precious oxygen to reach their backs as not to get cellulitis from a zit.  The back and trapazoids of an infantryman are under constant pressure of their gear, and that is where the most sweat is produced; in 99% humidity a zit will work its way back into the body, spreading from the sweat that pools.
  “It is dark.  There are green 'chem lights' in the middle of the perimeter, illuminating  the trash collection point.  The air smells of hot sauce from the soldiers meals, and fortunately the soldiers cannot smell eachother at this point, but the smell would be the equivalent of lumberg cheese.  But something can smell their cheese.

"As Boston is scanning his fellow platooners in green black night vision, his team member Mango is eating chicken out of a packet, he is wiping his hands all over his ammo and vest as he feels for a spoon he keeps in his grenade pouch.  Boston scans right, and notices Biggin, swatting near his ear, like there was a fly there. Boston turned the knob on his nightvision to focus, it was a pig in his ear eyeing the hamburger meal Bigin was eating.’Holy sh.....’

" Before Boston could finish his sentence, the chem lights attached to the trash collection point come alive and hauled ass for the woodline.  Mango yells, ' aww my chcken, and my.....' he didn't finish what he said, silencing himself.

" The platoon sergent barked and all had to put away their food.   Mango came up to Boston,  'Buston , that pig ran off wit my grenade.'   Sheer horror, for to lose grenade was a serious crime, and to lose one to a pig was a hazard.  " Your kidding Mango, why would a pig want a grenade.'  Mango kept silent about wiping chicken flavor all over it.

" ' 2nd squad, your in the hole, get it on, get it done,' barked the platoon sergent.  They were in a jam, Mango was supposed to throw a grenade in the bunker with a range supervisor right behind him.  Boston ran up to Seattle, " Seattle, we lost our grenade, when you throw yours Mango will pretend like he threw his at the very same time, they won't know it was only one."

" ' What?  Boston, once again making our squad looking bad, if we get caught, it's on you." He turned and returned to his team with the green glow of a chem light illuminating his outline.

"Everything went as planned, the engineers blew a hole in the wire, the teams shot thier rocket launchers, they breached and bounded across the bunker complex,but.....

" Biggin was on the support by fire--the machine gun position, he shifted right as Boston's team was coming, he had his hand still on the pistol grip of the machine gun, but then something squeezed his hand like a mother holding  a childs tight who just did something bad.  A centipede, and it locked on to Biggin's hand.  He jerked and traversed the machine left spraying a eight round burst four feet in front Mango and Seattle who were 200 meters in front of him.  The range supervisors shut down the range and failed them.  A night of disaster, the centipede did not bite Biggin, and dissapeared.  He did not mention it.  

" That was the first demerit against the squad. Tension was high.  The next field exercise at the squad level was on a mountainous, lava rock ridden Hawaiian island.  Boston had to lead his team by compass at night to link up at an ambush point where Seattle’s team was waiting.  They were humping hard and making good pace, they practiced hard for this mission, especially to redeem themselves.

" But calamity struck again.  Boston's team was walking up a road, when loud snorting came up from the ravine on the side.  A whole gang of pigs that had tusks came up onto the unpaved road.  " Boston , shoot it," said Mango.

“He couldn't though, if he fired a round outside of  range limits-- it would be a  serious crime.  The pigs looked formidable with their glistening white tusks under the moonlight, that were razor sharp.  They just stood there on the road, implacable, and daring.  Boston thought of something, they all had bayonets on them--they could attach them to their rifles and charge.  ' Men , fix bayonets, we're fighting through.'  But Mango voiced opposition, " Buston, let's throw our rifles like spears, charging is to dangerous, I throw mine and kill one and the rest will run.'

" ' Mango I don't think that's a good idea.' but before Boston could finish Mango had already fixed his bayonet and was lurching forward like a javellin thrower, then he released.  The rifle and bayonet landed and hit the biggest pig right in the head. It sunk in one inch.  The pig with the rifle sticking out of it's forehead just looked at the soldiers then turned and walked into the scrubby field to the side of the rode.   'Shit mango, you have to get your rifle or we're .....'

"They failed to meet up with Seattles team at the checkpoint, for they had to chase a pig that looked like a unicorn all night for a rifle, in which they finally found.

" The platoon sergent gave them one more chance, before the squad would be disolved and Seattle and Boston would be demoted.  ' You too better work together, or you will never have a leadership position again,' he threatened.

"They were in the mountain range called the Kahukus.  The last field exercise to get it right.  
" ' Boston , you better not mess this up.’
" 'What about you Seattle, you better not.'
" They still were not acting as team, and they needed to here. When they filed in and up the mountian to the bivouac site, they seen fellow battalion soldiers who looked like the remnants of Napoleons army after Boradino.  Bandaged heads, hands, limping, despondant.

" Seattle went up to one soldier.  ' What the hell happened here?'  The soldier said they were attacked by centipedes, it's breeding season, and the wounded soldier warned '  don't go up there man, don't go.'  The soldier looked like his head grew to three times normal, and he had two fang marks on the side of his temple.  Seattle looked down the line, some had hands as big as ferns, and others had jungle boots that were bursting open from swollen feet.  Seattle remembered what that felt like, he thought of Boston and his girlfriends sister, that made him angry, but then he thought that this was their last chance, and they had to get along.

" Their entire platoon humped up the mountain, making mountain streams with their sweat.  They reached their bivouac site for the night.  Taking of their Kevlar helmets, revealing steaming heads they strung up bungee cords to trees and draped their poncho's over them for shelter for the short rain showerings that came and went all night.  ' Alright everyone bed down, squad exercises  at 0500 hours,' said the platoon sergent as the sun just started setting.  Anyone who was caught still up and dipping and smoking felt the platoon sergent's wrath.

" But then the first attack came.  Biggin laid down on the ground under his teams hooch( ad hoc poncho shelter) without spraying any bug juice.  He felt a tickling in his ear, he laughed and thought of pleasant things back home, but then he turned his head.  A bright red centipede was dribbling on his ear.  He rose up, putting his head through the poncho hooch and collapsing it.  His team-mates to his side awoke, ' What is it Bigin?'  ......' It's a dam centipede, almost crawled in my ear.'  That got his teams attention.  They propped up the poncho hooch again, and moved all their gear to find it.  There was a cord from the ponch hood dangling down from the middle of the hooch as it hung overhead.  Someone turned on their red lens flashlight, as they searched on their knees with their bayonets ready.  

" Then the side of the poncho that went to the ground, looked like a big red and camouflaged projection screen with the silhouette of a monster on it, writhing it's legs and fangs. The string dangling from the center of the poncho hooch was actually a centipede, none of them knew it. Biggin stabbed at the projection puncturing a hole in the poncho.  ' It's a reflection Biggin, it's beside us ya idiot.'  But the poncho collopsed from all the stress, and they scrambled out of there, resolving to sleep on their feet the rest of the night.  Right when their platoon sergent was about to yell at them to go back to bed as he laid on the ground in his sleeping bag he was bit on the back of his head and medvac'd out.  The new standing platoon sergent created a roving guard, to search with their red lenses for the heat hunting centipedes.

" By morning the squad was exhausted, and they had to start a new mission that was being briefed to them by a range officer  ' Alright second squad, thats your bearing( he pointed down the mountain to a misty valley) go to the said cordinates and  write down the code on the sign, start your second leg, write down the code on the finish point, then finish in the squad live fire lane at prediscussed cordinates.'  The tired squad looked down the alley, there were birds falling from the skies, they didn't like the look of this. Hamburger, a team member on Seattle's team kept looking at the distant ocean coming into view, he looked despondent, ' Dawg, look at the ocean, and that rainbow, now look where we are going.....'

"2nd squad started down the draw into the valley. Hamburger was holding his m240 machine gun like a boombox, and Private Catfish of Boston's team was in charge of the map checks and pace count.  Slowly they disapeared from view, with the range officer behind their ranger file.  They didn't not have to move in wedge formation, but had to stay tactical on this graded movement.  Seattle's team lead, with Biggin at point.  The bi-pinnate leaves of the trees looked like insect legs.  Private Catfish of Boston's team, who compared every training field mission to Vietnam, kept on saying ' and 2nd squad descends into the A-Shaw valley in hunt of the vietcong.....' before Seattle told him to shut up.

"They descended 500 meters by Catfish's pace count, when things started to fall apart.  ' You have to form a patrol base as part of the first grade....' the range officer didn't finish his directive, for a bird fell out of the sky and hit him in the head.  The bird was entwined with a centipede.  The eightman squad froze, staring at the range officer then the unfortunate bird.  Bigin took his bayonet and stabbed the centipede in half.  It was still squirming around.   'These things are unstoppable,' he said.  Boston took out his bug juice, and picked up the centipede head with the pliers from his Gerber knife and put it in the bug juice to kill it.  The squad watched as the centipede swam around in the bug juice like a dragon. They said nothing.  

"They thought the range officer was going to get up, he didn't--he was knocked out.  ' Jesus Christ, he's knocked out' said Bigin,' we have to turn back.'  Seattle looked at Boston, they were in agreement for the first time in a while. They could not turn back, one more failure and the squad was done.                     “ 'Hamburger pick him up, give your weapon to Catfish,' ordered Seattle.  
Catfish was in horror, for he had to carry the machine gun.  They moved out, much slower, with the range officer draped over Hamburger.  They slid and fell down the mountain reaching the valley, still a click away from their first cordinates.  

"Hamburger flopped down in exhaustion, they took a break, no longer tactically due to the lack of consciousness of the range officer.  ' Seattle, lets take a breather, then move out,' said Boston exhausted.  They took out their MRE's( packaged meals ready to eat).  Private Catfish put the thick package down on the rocky ground and rested his head on it, saying ' watch out for vc in the wire....'

"They lingered, already daunted from a daunting start to a mission.  They stared at the blue expanse of sky, it was heating up, no more morning caress of the Hawaiin sun.  Then they heard a thud.  The meal Catfish's head was resting on was snatched out from under him by a mongoose--Catfish's head was concussed from the impact with the rock.  ' Jesus, where'd that mongoose come from...' said Boston.  The squad looked at Seattle, he shook his head, no they would not turn back still and Bigin had to carry Catfish.

"They moved even slower now, Boston kept looking at his watch, he gave a radio report with the current cordinates of their location.  ' Hurry up, you haven't reached your first phase line yet' the radio admonished.  The squad was getting spooked, everything looked like a centipede--the vines on the forest floor, the straps on their gear.  Mango punched himself in the head because he thought his eyelashes were a centipede.  Exhaustion was creeping in, in the form of delusions.

“Lumbering across the valley, enclosed by steep scraggy hills on all sides, Seattle kept on thinking ’ How are we get up the next incline with two wounded?’ But  mission failure was not an option for him.

"They reached the phase-line where the sign with the code they are to record was.  They dropped their gear in a cache to look for it without the weight of their gear.  That is when Bigin noticed something stalking them. ' Boston, look out there, what is that, it's a .....it's a pig.....' Then they were greeted with utter horror, around one of it's tusk's was a grenade.  The pin of the grenade was being scraped at by brush as the pig snorted around the woodline--the thumb safety was already off, and if that pin goes.....

" 'Mango , that's your freaking grenade around that pig--' yelled Boston.  The squad backed together, in a tight huddle, they looked at Seattle.  The pig came closer, Mango was ready to load a live mag and blow it away before Boston stopped him, ' Mango don't, if we do not have all our rounds we are disqualified when we get to the live fire point.....'

"Slowly retreating back to their cache point, they were greeted by a gang of mongoose's--they had ramsacked all their gear and took all their MRE's.  ' What are we gunna do now' whined Hamburger as a mongoose ran up his leg and onto his neck to steal a booger out of his nose and retreated to the woodline with its fellow mongooses, and gobbled up its prize.  Hamburger dropped his machine-gun,      ‘ Aww my nose....that bastard plucked out my nose hair....goddam mong......’
“ ' Push on ' said Seattle interrupting Hamburger.

"Push on they did, reaching the first incline, carrying two unconscience soldiers, well one was almost unconscience, Catfish was mumbling about Vietcong and Ho Chi ming.

"The sky disappeared , and there was only the trees that had leaves that looked like insects with many legs.  ' Seattle, I don't think we can make it Bro,' said Boston, as a pig snorted not too far from them.
“ ' We can make it bro, we have to work together, we'll make it,' said Seattle stoically with a steady conveyor belt of sweat beads rolling down his nose.

"Grabbing trees to pull themselves up, they reached a level part where they could skirt the hill, a ridge they could cut around on and continue the azimuth to the second point.  All of them had to carry the two wounded men like they were crowd surfing.  

"Reaching the other side of the hill, they took a break before the decline.  All were staring overhead at the leafs of the trees.  Hunger was setting in all of them.  Mango saw an Apple Banana tree, ' I'll climb it and get us banana's Boston,' said Mango.  No one voiced opposition, they were starving, they were burning muscle, and all could smell it.  

"Mango climbed the palm looking trunk of the tree, his spaghetti arms almost built for that purpose.  He got three quarters of the way up, when out of the cluster of yellow green apple banana's a swarm of black red tendrils came out, he screamed and rocked the tree so hard it's trunk split in half and he came crashing down with all the apple banana's falling on top of him.

He hit hard, then got smacked of the head with a heavy cluster of fruit. Boston ran to his aid, pulling him up brushing the centipedes off him,but the centipedes clutched his fatigues.  Seattle ran up to Boston trying to brush him off, but they clung to him, and Bigin swung his rifle batting them off Seatlle but connecting with his knee, crumpling Seattle to the ground.  A snort came from the dense growth, then the pig rushed in, a vine caught the pin of the grenade, they heard the clack of the grenade spoon flying off ' shit' said the wounded Seattle who grabbed Mango to drag him out of the tree riddled with centipedes.  Bigin, Boston and Hamburger grabbed Seattle and (who held onto Mango) dragged him out over the ridge.  ' Over the side' yelled Boston, and they dragged Catfish and the range officer with them.  The pig dove into the apple banana's.

"The grenade blew up, they saw the hot sparks screaming into the air above them as they were sliding down the hillside.  They slid to a stop.  They looked at Seattle who was in pain, he gritted and said ' push on.'

"They now had four wounded, but at least Mango and Seattle could walk.  But Mango couldn't carry his gear, his arm was sprained.  Boston now took point, carrying the gear of three soldiers, they all looked as if they were squatting the sky and all its atmospheric pressure.  They got around the hill, reaching their phaseline.  ' You guys stay here, I'll find the sign,' said Boston.

"He walked into the growth with his bayonet attached to his weapon, stumbling over the slightest trip because of his exhaustion.  He fell one more time, and thought of laying there a minute, but a leaf caressed his ear and that sent him to his feet.  ' Let's go Boston,' he said to himself and checked his compass.  He saw the orange spray painted sign through some vegatation.  His heart lifted, he hacked his way and came face to face with the sign.  ' No' he said in a despondent voice.

"The tree was swarming and alive with black ripples that slithered over the sign rendering it unintelligible.  It was the layer, the layer of the centipede.  There were bones of birds, pigs,mongooses and rats at the base of the tree.  A centipede crawled out of an eye socket of a mongoose and back into a socket of a pig.  Boston stood before the hideous tree,  clutching his rifle.  A wind blew through the canopy of the surrounding trees sending the centipede-like leaves into a scurrying tantrum.  If he get's this code they are done with the land navigation, and they would be allowed to go last on the squad live fire at the end, doing it days later.  Seattle pushed through the brush with his M-4 fixed with a bayonet, ' let's do this Boston, let's finish it,' and they took their knife points and tried clearing the metal sign.  They stabbed and thrusted to reveal every alpha numeric of the code.  As the black tendrils swarmed onto their rifles and up their jungle boots they felt the incisers cutting through their pants; before centipedes bite they clench with one hundred black legs as if their were the hands of demonic monster, that had hands built for stripping flesh.  

"A centipede crawled over Bostons eye, and gripped his face, they were on the last number, he swiped at the sign to read it before it was covered by the swarming red tinted blackness again.  They got the code, then the centipede incised into his nose sending hot blood running down his nose, he clutched it and in turn his hand was clutched by insectal strength biting him on his hand.  Seattle had a centipede on his ear dangling like an ear-ring, it pierced his ear and fell with a piece of it.  Retreating, they made it back to the cache, Hamburger and Bigin removed the horde from them with their bayonets.

"The fever was setting in on Seattle and Boston, but the range officer was waking and was able to walk , along with Catfish.  They continued their azimuth, all extremely tired, the range officer helped Seattle walk, he was turning pale, and Mango helped Boston, who's face was swelling up shutting his left eye.

"They came into a clearing, with mesh camo tents, and a view of a beautiful ocean down below  and the finish point.  The range officer at the finish point took down their unit and squad to check them off as 'completed,' but only after saying ' holy shit, what the hell happened to you guys.'  The squad and range officer collapsed and they were taken to the medics tent.  Where they got the story from Mango.  They were all flown back to the rear, all earning commendation medals.  The squad healed to full health and was promoted to 1st squad, the best in a platoon, and Seattle and Boston became best friends."

The old man took another mango from his pocket. " Your Mango arn't you," said the boy, enthralled by the old man’s story.
" Not any more lad, not anymore,' said the old man in a pensive stare.
" Wow, that must have been years ago when you were in the infantry?" Ben said, in awe.

" That was five years ago, when I was in, I was 24 then in the valley of the centipedes," said Mango.  The boy looked at him in astonishment as his father was getting off a golf cart coming up to him.

" Hey Ben, you have fun.....thanks for watching him..." said Ben's father, in a jolly mood from his golf game.

Ben was in state of awe still, getting up to join his dad, musing over everything that the old looking young man said.

Then something caught all their eyes.  " Hey what is that?" asked Ben's father.  " Is that a rabbit..or what is that?" asked Ben.  " I think that's a hedgehog, but what is it eating..." said his father unsure..." It's eating spagetiti or something..." replied the boy.

" That's not a hedgehog, that's a chinchilla, and it's eating a centipede," lectured Mango with a cold stare at the animal.  The chinchilla was gobbling up a centipede like a noodle, the centipede was biting the chinchillas nose, but the fluffy animal was unfazed. It seemed a spicy delicacy to the fluff ball.

" Ben, come back and visit" said Mango almost in a trance watching the chinchilla crunching up the armor plated centipede.  He had a thousand yard stare, as if to recall a nightmare, he spoke again in a lifeless voice addressing the boy " Come back" the old man said "and I'll tell you the story of ' the night  on Chinchilla Hill' ."
The End

turbul-sense Jul 2015

meet me where our souls do
where the breath you've held is freed
where your old soul finds
peace.

where me and you become 'we'.

meet me
so i can tell you how i love the dance your hair does,
how i adore the curve of your shoulders,
how i hold on to every word you speak.

meet the way you make me explode into tiny pieces of colourful glass
meet the way i am constantly overwhelmed with the art that is you

meet this.
bonjour. enchantée.

-s.c

for sarah

1.
From my
uneasy bed
at the L’Enfant,
a train's pensive
horn breaks the
sullen lullaby of
an HVAC’s hum;
interrupting the
mechanical
reverie of its
steadfast
night watch,
allowing my ear
to discern
the stampede
of marauding
corporate Visigoths
sacking the city.

The cacophony
of sloven gluttony,
the bawdy songs of
unrequited privilege
and the unencumbered
clatter of radical
entitlement echoes
off the city’s cold
crumbling stones.

The unctuous
bellows of the
victorious pillagers
profanely feasting
pierces the
hanging chill
of the nations
black night.

Their hoots
deride the train
transporting
the defeated
ghosts of
Lincoln’s last
doomed regiments
dispatched in vain
to preserve a
peoples republic
in a futile last stand.

The rebels have
finally turned the tide,
T Boone Pickett’s
Charge succeeds,
sending the ravaged
Grand Army of the
Republic sliding
back to the Capitol,
in savage servility,
gliding on squeaky
ungreased wheels
ferrying the
Union’s dead
vanquished
defenders to
unmarked graves
on Potters Field.

The Rebels
joyous yell
bounces off
the inert granite
stones of the
soulless city.

The spittle
of salivating
vandals drips
over the
spoils of war
as they initiate the
disassemblage,
the leveling and
reapportionment
of the grand prize.

The clever
oligarchs
have laid claim
to a righteous
reparation
of the peoples
assets for
pennies on the
dollar.

Their wholly
bought politicos
move to transfer
distressed assets
into their just
stewardship
through the
holy justice
of privatization
and the sound
rationale of
free market
solutions.

In the land of the
pursuit of property,
nimble wolf PACs
of swift 527, LLCs
have fully
metastasized
into personhood;
ascending to
the top of the
food chain in
America’s
voracious
political culture;
bestriding
the nation to
compel the
national will
to genuflect
to the cool facility
of corporate
dominion.

As the
inertial thrust
of the plaintive
locomotive
fades into
another old
morning of
recalcitrant
Reaganism,
it lugs its
ambivalent
middle class
baggage toward
it’s fast expiring
future.

I follow
the dirge
down to
the street
as the ebbing
sound fades
into the gloom
of the
burgeoning
morning,
slowly
replacing the
purple twilight
with a breaking
day of cold gray
clouds framing
silhouettes of
cranes busily
constructing
a new city.

The personhood of
corporations need
homes in our new
republic; carving
out new
neighborhoods
suitable for the
monied citizens
of our nation.

First amongst
equals, the best
corporate governance
charters form
the foundation of
the republic’s
new constitution.
Civil rights
are secondary
to the freedom
of markets; the
Bill of Rights
are economically
replaced by the
cool manifests
of Bills of Lading.

The agents of
laissez faire
capitalism
nibble away
at the city’s
neighborhoods
one block at a time;
while steady winds
blows dust off
the National Mall.

Layers of the
peoples plaza are
plained away with
each rising gust.  

History repeats
itself as the Joad’s
are routed from their
land once again.

A clever
mixed use
plan of
condos and
strip malls
is proposed
to finally help the
National Mall
unlock its true
profit potential.

As America’s
affection for
federalism fades
the water in
the reflection pool
is gracefully drained.

We the people
can no longer
see ourselves.

The profit
potential of
industry is
preferred over
the specious
metaphysical
benefits
of reflection.

The grand image,
the rich pastiche,
the quixotic aroma
of the national
melting pot
is reduced to the
sameness of the
black tar that lines
the pool and the
swirling eddies of
brown dust circling
the cracked indenture.

From his not so
distant vantage point,
Abe ponders the
empty pool wondering
if the cost of lives
paid was a worthy
endeavor of preserving
the damned union?  
Has the dear prize
won perished from
this earth?

Was the illusive
article of liberty  
worth its weight in
the blood expended?

Did the people ever
fully realize the value
of government
by the people,
for the people?

Did citizens of
the republic
assume the
responsibilities to
protect and honor
the rights and privileges
of a representative
government?

Now our idea
and practice of
civil rights is measured
and promoted as far as
it can be justified by
a corporate ROI, a
shareholder dividend,
an earmark or a political
donation to a senators
unconnected PAC.

The divine celestial
ledgers balancing
the rights and
privilege of free people
drips with red ink.  

Liberty, equality
fraternity are bankrupt
secular notions
condemned as
expensive
liberal seditions;
hatched by
UnHoly Jacobins,
the atheist skeptics
during the dark times
of the Age of Enlightenment.

Abe ponders
the restoration
of Washington’s
obelisk, to
repair the cracks
suffered  from
last summer’s
freak earthquake.

I believe I detect
a tear in Abe’s
granite eye
saddened by the
corporate temblors
shaking the
foundations
of the city.

2.

The WWII Memorial
is America’s Parthenon
for a country's love
affair with the valor
and sacrifice of warfare.

WWII forms the
cornerstone of
understanding the
pathos of the
American Century.

During WWII
our greatest generation
rose as a nation to
defeat the menace of
global fascism and
indelibly mark the
power and virtue of
American democracy.

As Lincoln’s Army
saved federalism, FDR’s
Army kept the world safe
for democracy.

Both armies served
a nation that shared
the sacrifice and
burden of war to
preserve the grace of
a republican democracy.

Today federalism
crumbles as our
democracy withers.

The burden
of war is reserved
for a precious few
individuals while
its benefits
remain confined to
the corporate elite.

Our monuments
to war have become
commercial backdrops
for the hollow patriotism
of war profiteers.

We have mortgaged
our future to pay
for two criminal wars.

The spoils of
war flow into the
pockets of
corporate
shareholders
deeply invested
in the continuation
of pointless,
destructive
hostilities.

Our service
members who
selflessly served
their country come
home to a less free,
fear struck nation;
where economic
security and political
liberty erodes
each day while the
monied interests
continue to bless
the abundance
of freedom and riches
purchased with the
blood and sweat
of others.

America desperately
needs a new narrative.

The spirit of the
Greatest Generation
who sacrificed and met
the challenge of the 20th
Century must become
this generations spiritual
forebears.

The war on terror
neatly fits the
the corporate
pathos of
militarism,
surveillance
and the sacrifice
of civil liberties
to purchase
a daily measure
of fear and
economic
enslavement.

It must be rejected
by a people committed
to building secular
temples to pursue
peace, democracy,
economic empowerment,
civil liberties and tolerance
for all.

Yet this old city
and the democratic
temples it built
exulting a free people
anointed with the
grace of liberty
is being consumed
in a morass of
commercial
polyglot.

3.

During the
War of 1812
the British Army
burned the
Capitol Building
and the White House
to the ground.

Thank goodness
Dolly Madison saved
what she could.

The new marauders
are not subject to the
pull of nostalgia.  

They value nothing
save their
self enrichment.

They will spare nothing.

Our besieged Capitol
requires Lincoln’s troops
to be stationed along the
National Mall to defend
the republic.

The greatest peril
to our nation
is being directed
by well placed
Fifth Columnists.

From the safety
of underground bunkers,
in secure undisclosed
locations within the city’s
parameters, a well financed
confederacy employing  
K Street shenanigans
are busy selling off
the American Dream
one ear mark
at a time, one
huge corporate
welfare allotment
at a time.

The biggest prize
is looting the real
property of the people;
selling Utah,
auctioning off
the public schools,
water systems, post offices
and mineral rights
on the cheap
at an Uncle Sam
garage sale.  

The capitol is
indeed burning
again.

Looters are
running riot.

The flailing arms
of a dying empire
fire off cruise
missiles and drone
strikes; hitting the
target of habeas
corpus as it
shakes in its
final death rattle.
I make a pilgrimage
to the MLK Jr.
Monument.

Our cultural identity
is outsourced to
foreign contractors
paid to reinterpret
the American Dream
through the eyes
of a lowest bidder.

MLK has lost
his humanity.

He has been
reduced to a
a Chinese
superhuman
Mao like anime
busting loose from
a granite mountain while
geopolitical irony
compels him to watch
Tommy Jefferson
shag Sally Hemings
from across the tidal
basin for all eternity.  

MLK’s eyes fixed in
stern fascination,
forever enthralled
by the contradictions
of liberty and its
democratic excesses
of love in the willows
on golden pond.

Circling back to
Father Abraham’s
Monument,  I huddle
with a group of global
citizens listening
to an NPS Ranger
spinning four score
tales with the last full
measure of her devotion.

I look up into Abe’s
stone eyes as he
surveys platoons
of gray suited
Chinese Communist
envoys engaged
in Long Marches
through the National Mall;
dutifully encircling cabinet
buildings and recruiting
Tea Party congressmen
into their open party cells.

This confederacy
is ready to torch
the White House
again.

Congressmen and
the perfect patriots
from K Street slavishly
pull their paymasters
in gilded rickshaws to
golf outings at the Pentagon
and park at the preferred
spots reserved for
the luxury box holders
at Redskin Games.

They vow not to rest
until the house of the people
is fully mortgaged to the
People’s Republic of China’s
Sovereign Wealth Fund.

4.

A great
Son of Liberty like
Alan Greenspan
roundly rings
the bells of
free markets
as he inches
T Bill rates
forward a few
basis points
at a time; while
his dead mentor
Ayn Rand
lifts Paul Ryan
to her
Fountainhead teet.
He takes a long
draw as she
coos songs
from her primer
of Atlas Shrugged
Mother Goose tales
into his silky ears.

The construction
cranes swing
to the music
building new private
sector space with
the largess of
US taxpayers
money; or
more rightly
future generations
taxpayer debt.

Libertarians,
Tea Baggers, Blue Dogs
and GOP waterboys
eagerly light a
match to the
the crucifixes
bearing federal
social safety
net programs
to the delight
of NASDAQ
listed capitalists
on the come,
licking their chops
to land contracts
to administer
these programs
at a negotiated
cost plus
profit margin.

Citizens
dependent
on programs
are leery
shareholders
are ecstatic.

To be sure
our free
market rebels
don disguises
of red, white
and blue robes
but their objectives
fail to distinguish
their motives and
methods with
some of the finest
Klansman this
country has
ever produced.

5.

DC is a city
of joggers
and choppers.

Corporate
helicopters
wizz by the
Washington
Monument,
popping erections
for the erectors
inspecting the progress
of the cranes
commanding the
city skyline.

USMC drill team
out for a morning
run circles the Mall.

The commanding
cadence of the
DI keeps us
mindful of the
deepening
militarization of
our society.

A crowd  
rushes
to position
themselves,
genuflecting
to photograph
a platoon on
the move.

I try to consider
the defining
characteristics of
Washington DC.

DC is all surface.

It is full of walls
and mirrors.

Its primary hue
is obfuscation.

Open
communication
scripted from well
considered talking points
informs all dialog.

The city is thoroughly
enraptured in narcissism.

Thankfully, one can
always capture the
reflection of oneself in
the ubiquitous presence of
mirrors.  

Vanity imprisons
the city inhabitants.

Young joggers circle the
Mall and gerrymander
down every pathway
of the city.  

They are the clerks,
interns and staffers of
the judicial, executive
and legislative branches.

They are the children
of privilege.

They will never
alter their path.

You must cede the walk
to their entitlement
of a swift comportment
or risk injury of a
violent collision.

These young ones
portray a countenance  
of benevolent rulers.  

They seem to be learning
their trade craft well from
the senators and judges
whom they serve.

They appear confident
they know what's best
for the country and after
their one term of tireless
service to the republic
they look forward to
positions in the private
sector where they will
assist corporations
to extend their reach
into the pant pockets
worn by the body politic.

6.

Our nations mythic story
lies hidden deep in the
closed rooms of the
museums lining the
Mall.

I pause to consider
what a great nation
and its great people
once aspired to.

I spy the a
suspended
Space Shuttle
hanging in dry dock
at the air and
space museum.

Today America’s
astronauts hitch
rides on Russian
rockets.

America rents a
timeshare from
the European
space agency to
lift communication
satellites into orbit.

Across the Mall
I photograph
John Smithson’s
ashes in its columbarium.  

I fear it has become a
metaphor for America’s
future commitment
to scientific inquiry
and rational secular
thinking.

I am relieved to
discover a Smithsonian
exhibit that asks
“what does it mean
to be human?”

The Origins of Humans
exhibit carries a disclaimer
to satisfy creationists.

The exhibit timidly states
that science can coexist
with religious beliefs and
that the point of the exhibit is
not to inflame inflame religious
passions but to shed light on
scientific inquiry.

I imagine these exhibits
will inflame the passion of
the fundamentalist
American Taliban and
provide yet another
reason to dismantle
the Moloch of Federalism.

The pursuit of science
remains safe at the
Smithsonian for now.

7.

Near K Street at
McPherson Park
a posse of
well dressed
lobbyists, the
self anointed
uber patriots
doing the work
of the people
stroll through
the park
boasting a
healthy population
of bedraggled
homeless.

The homeless
occupy the benches
that have been
transformed into
pup tents.

Perhaps some of
the residents of this
mean estate were
made homeless by a
foreclosed mortgage.  

The K Street warriors
can be proud that their
work on behalf of the
banking industry has
forestalled financial market
reform.  

Through it exacerbates
the homeless problem it has
allowed these K Street titans to
profit from the distress of others.

Earlier in the day
I photographed
a homeless man
planted in front of
the Washington
Monument.

I wonder
if my political
voyeurism is
an exploitation of
this man’s condition?

I have more in common
then I probably wish to
admit with my K Street
antagonists.  

In another section
of the park the
remnants of a
distressed OWS
bivouac remain.

The legions of sunshine
patriots have melted away
as the interest of the
blogosphere has waned.

As the weather
improves Moveon.org
and democratic
party operatives
pitch tents in an
effort to resuscitate
the moribund
movement.

They hope
to coop any
remaining energy
to support their
stale deception,
a neoliberal vision
based solely on the
total capitulation
to the bankrupt
corporatocracy.

I heard someone say
a campaign lasts a
season; while a
movement for social
change takes decades.

If that metric proves
correct, and if the
powers don’t succeed
in compromising the
people’s movement
I’ll be three quarters
of a century old
before I see
justice flowing like
a river once again.

8.

I circle back to
the L’Enfant and
find myself
tramping amidst
the lost platoon
of Korean War
soldiers.

My feet drag
in the quagmire
of grass covering
the feet of this
ghostly troop.

My namesake
uncle was a
decorated
veteran of this
conflict and Im
sure I detect
his likeness
in one of the
statues.

The bleak call
of a distant train
sounds a revelry
and I imagine this
patrol springing
to life to answer
the call of their
beloved country
once again.

Yet they remain
inert.  

Stuck in a
place that the
nation finds
impossible to
leave.

The eyes of the
men stare into
an incomprehensible
fate.  

They see the swarms
of Red Army infantrymen
crossing the Yellow River
streaming toward
them in massive
human waves,
the tips of
sparkling bayonets
threatening to slash
the outmanned
contingent fighting
to bits.

They are the
first detachment
to bravely confront
the rising power
of China many
thousands of
miles away
from their homes.

America like
this lone company
is overwhelmed
and lost in the
confusion
that confronts
them.

Looking up
I perceive the
bewilderment
of my muddled image
reflected on the
marble walls
surrounding
the memorial.

I am a comrade-in-arms,
a fellow wanderer sojourning
with the lost platoon tramping
onward to another uncertain midnight.

The ambivalent eyes
of my comrades look
upon the wall beholding
the fleeting image of
our shared predicament.

It records in the stone
tablets, a ubiquitous
moment of a
nations incessant
wandering in a
wilderness of dismay,
entrapped in the
intractable morass of
unending war.
Did those eyes
looking on from
an expired century
perceive
Viet Nam
Granada,
Panama
Gulf War One
Somalia
Balkan War
Gulf War Two
Afghanistan
Iraq
Libya?

Is our terror
the intractability
of war?

Do we have
no other vision
but to look
forward to
the next
conflict?

9.

I drive down to
Charlottesville
to tour Monticello.

I roam the grounds
of Thomas Jefferson’s
beloved plantation.  

It is magnificent and
enthralling as the man
himself.

The author of the
Declaration of Independence
built his bankruptcy on the
exploitation of slave labor.

Monticello sits atop
a stable of dependencies
like a new world pyramid.

All the laborers and their labor,
the foundation stones
of his beloved mansion,
tucked under the house,
hidden from view,
so that Mr. Jefferson could
enjoy an unobstructed view
from the peak of this
modest mount.

Sally Hemings managed
the affairs of the chamber
for our third president.

It laid beyond the
eyes of history
for almost two
centuries.

This giant of the Enlightenment
was free to enjoy the pursuit
of his keen intellect
and converse about worldly matters
with esteemed guests while enjoying
an unencumbered view of the
Blue Mountains as he sat atop
the subterranean blues of
his well concealed
dependencies.

Music Selection: The Band,  
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Dedicated to the memory of Levon Helm, Godspeed Beloved
and
Robert Lowell's
For The Union Dead
Relinquunt Omnia Servare Rem Publicam
(“they gave up all to serve the republic”)

Washington, DC
Charlottesville, VA
4/12/12
jbm

Sjr1000 Apr 2016

I don't know what I'm doing
I don't know what I'm feeling
I don't know where I'm going
I don't know who I'm being
I'm overwhelmed,
frustrated,
I can't cope

These are the slogans
I repeat to myself
Over and over again

Oh yeah

I'm a failure too
I've lived this life
What did I do?
What do I have to
show for it?

These facts about myself
are the one thing
I'm very positive about.

I repeat these slogans
day in and day out
always wondering
what I'm so
depressed about

I bury my head in these sands

Suffocating
Smothering
choking on anxiety
in my own
advertising slogans
on my private airwaves

To complicate
matters
worse
just because we think something
doesn't make it true
that goes for
self worth too.

But

Mindfulness
stands
watching the passing cars
from a freeway overpass
like our racing thoughts
not holding on
not making them go away,
in peace
simply
letting them
be.

States of mind are transitory, come and go.
TinaMarie Feb 2012

The sounding alarm starts the frenzy
I hurry myself to shower and dress
Slowing just for a moment
To strategically place fragrant surprises
For later explorations.

Accelerating with all urgency
I weave through the blockade of traffic
Risking it all to preserve
Each second, each minute, every moment of time
For my waiting infatuation

Flushes of excitement consume me
As I near my destination
I am overwhelmed with pulsating urges
As I search for a way to impress you
Show advanced appreciation

Welcomed with a sensual eagerness
Each of us knowing and wanting
I ask "Can I play you a tune?"
A Love song plays to a faintness
As you bring me to satisfaction

Then,

Ascending to kiss me softly
You wish me a good day at work.
Wiping excess from your chin
You smile and say "See you tomorrow."

© Tina Thompson

Sian Mathers Jul 2016

Submission
He owns my body.
He owns my heart.
When he’s displeased,
My whole world falls apart

When he’s satisfied by my efforts,
I’m overwhelmed with joy.
Though often mixed with anxiety,
In case inadvertently annoy.

For him i will change,
To almost anything he requires,
For now my only life goal,
Is to be all that he desires.

I will take almost any pain inflicted.
Hold each predicament position.
As he knows the key to my heart,
Is the key to my submission.

So yes I will take any punishment,
In anyway he sees fit.
For him i won’t fight it.
For him i will SUBMIT.
**

Hal Loyd Denton Apr 2013

Not funny but this was written on 4-15-12 exactly a year to the day


I re-post this for our last battel field Boston these words are nothing but as you read you will find the one who lives in them and He is everything all the comfort and hope we can ever want


Sorry if this seems at first confusing all my friends on facebook and Redbubble will get it right away as
I asked them to use their love and caring to pray for my hurting distraught friend at her time of great
Loss if you are hurting it will help to at least a degree or it will help at times of future loss

Well dear sweet precious Addy this brutal day is at an end I hope you sleep well I prayed for you and
Kathleen’s son way into the night at first I was terrified you weren’t going to get my post and you would
Enter as I told my wife you would enter the lion’s den the lions all have familiar names pain sorrow
Grief and many others and they maul with cruelty without pity I didn’t want either of you to take those
Fatal steps without your armor not to be to descriptive but reality waited with a blast I tried to diffuse the
Coffin the grave and headstone never could I do it immeasurably my fight for you could only be in the
Smallest victories comfort mined at times like these is like uranium white silver metallic with almost
A power that can’t be harnessed the same as loss of a love one what blow back again the same as a
Nuclear test one problem you don’t get the protection of a bunker no just suffer the blast in your
Body mind and heart you are stepping into the shoes the same as young woman who lost her father
That as she described him he was the light of her life our paths crossed on line when I thought she
Was a classmate’s wife her story of her dad touched me deeply I’m going to add that piece here plus
The comfort I tried to write for my friend that was more like my brother when his mother died I will
Include a small background so it wail make more sense let me add those here the first was Fathers story
What you read here is her hearts knowing and the undying love that it created and that continues.
His precious hands were removed from earthly things. A great and gentle man his greatest possessions his family. I only knew him from his business and the fact that one of his beautiful daughters married a classmate of mine. Then much later by error I made acquaintance with another of his daughters you can tell a lot about a person from the actions of his children. She told me that he passed away and that he was the light of her life. With God’s help I would like to pay tribute to him.
A light did shine it was magnified by the eyes of a daughters love. He took his journey he went above his ship was the care they shared he the captain made the course straight and true he didn’t slow her run until heaven was in plain view they would have cheered but it hard to see through eyes filled with tears. All the wonderful years seemed to be eclipsed by the sickness that came it seemed an angry wind from their lives this stalwart precious soul it did rend. It left the greatest empty hole it took the longest time to fill and then with the sweetest cooing the grand babies made the hole enlivened not the terrible twisted knot that had the family bound but without being able to speak a word grampaw was found. If you looked in their faces his smile is bound to bundles only heaven can design. I’m not saying they asked him how to work these miracles yet this is true he watched with intense interest and was happiest since his departure he knew that back through time and space healing was for all time secured. Their stoic acceptance could now be laid aside the family could run in softer climes know the sweetest of times that were thought to be forever gone.
Love spills down from heights distance is only on a map in peoples heart its no farther than the end of your finger tips. Images are so strong not because we have great minds it’s easy to make these rich finds when your love and its power shake the foundation of the universe is it not said that love is the greatest power. Oh how so many in dark shadows cower when they possess the power to ignite the world on fire. From heart to heart it does dart the wildness of the spirit is told blotting out all of the cold. Yes there is winter but also the spring. The light spoken of is no longer beholden to earth and so the family is free by love he joins his light to the Christ the all glowing light
Life force by haldenton
To all who have lost heroes
This was written to Eva’s son Bill to help him at her passing. With this writing I took him back thirty years when he was in the truck wreck that killed his dad his recovery saved his mother I hoped by him being reminded of that now it would help him the same way.
Tribute to Eva Wafford Life force
For all who lost heroes
In your soul freshly the wind of death did blow.
Cold eerie shadows marched against your tender broken heart.
What defense could this onslaught repel agony’s volcanic flow.
Ominous well filled with grief from this weight no relief.
The child the grim reaper did spare.
Only after leaving the body bruised and in despair.
From this broken body drops of mercy started to make the mother well.
I held your trembling frame today this memory rings sweet as a bell.
Streets and houses without number fill the land.
I can’t help when I look to recall memories grand.
Now they are but dreams that ache in the night.
Images that over ride the present in their glory I take flight.
Brush aside caution raise your voice as a trumpet.
They live only in yesterdays even so indelibly they wrote their stories.
We hold our children we cling only a moment as mist on the summit.
Your life Eva continues to build the next generation.
Your voice is heard in the breath of your grandchildren.
Wonders they spin from golden thread, now that you have gone ahead.
Your spirit glows in the fire that warms the house against winter.
Summer’s cool breeze not sent by chance she doe’s tenderly incite.
Death silently said what I already knew.
To me you were always immortal you were bigger than life
Many were the days when the wind of storms blew
those who know us feel the calm; this is only your life on review

One more
Simply Jim
Old Abe said it right ‘It is right and fitting that we speak these words here to honor these lives so honorably lived. I can say that about Jim and this also he was a prince among men if I do this right the words will convince you.
He had a gentle way and nature he spoke softly but a softness that flowed to you like ribbons that bounced in a little girl’s hair how delightful. He should have been a doctor his hands his mannerism was ideal for that job. I guess thats what made him stand out so strongly like a gentle calm breeze if you came in a panic his soul would float down around you like a parachute first it safely brings you from great anxiety and exaltation to a graceful landing then gently envelops you in its silken embrace. I had this privilege of watching him inter act with his wife as I said and truly he was a prince and I was the beggar that benefitted richly from the sidelines God knew my needs.
He was called from this life but all the days he filled before his home going are the sustaining force noticeably seen felt with keen awareness you know that a gentleman passed this way. In the lives left behind there is a blend of sadness and astonishment you realize you are looking at the work of a master workman who left behind a tightly and perfectly fitted family this unfortunately is sadly rare in this society that boast of its accomplishments.
As a friend his breadth and depth was sufficient you weren’t a burden he had a way of dispelling trouble making you understand with wisdom and unerring judgment then with ease you could extricate yourself from the problem. His heavenly father filled him with tenderness it stood him and others well in a somewhat crabby world. If you’re pressed and anxious about life take from this life expressed. A portion of the good will you need use it as a defense Jim couldn’t be everywhere but God saw fit to make an original that you can duplicate benefit from and be a part of his ongoing legacy. Thanks friend for a life lived well

Well hurting one in the earlier part of a writing I said I am God’s battle field reporter and medic
These writings are my bandages and gauze God gave me great big hands and I fill them with
Salve with all the love I know I gently apply it to your broken hurting wounds mingle it with
Tears that are not always mine alone but His mixes with mine one day He will abolish all tears
Until then this is our duty your heart we hear and we can do no other God bless you Addy and
Your nephew and all others who find this helpful

Mirrored Pool


Wonder for all the hurts

First I knelt just to see my reflection then the depths started to reveal first the flowing thoughts were
Restrained and then a bubbling seemed to dislodge from greater depths hard truths churned with
Violent twisting but the motion made it impossible to turn away there were great large white clouds
From depths then even above the pool they rose fourteen stories high the sensation was you were
Standing outside clear air intoxicating views the pulse of many were throbbing in your ears their
Thoughts and dreams were known and their sorrows were weights that pulled you from the heights
It was a colossal game of tag and you were it first reaction fear then the appearance of bundled gifts
Broke down the fear it was promise in different sizes that met the required needs it was like a divine
Warehouse had just made a delivery there were cards with names and writing gave clarification tears
And smiles intermingled then the outer knowing postulated the difficulty the puzzle an enormous
Streaming that was now congested and it was beginning a vortex all was understood now human thought
With doubts was pulling the answer into this destructive hole where was one to find the lever to stop
This action that would disallow was the answer to touch the water bring the finger to my lips possibly
A blazing thought would occur that would strike the mind no all that brought was words that had the
Letters jumbled they made no sense unless there is a special book that is alive in it the letters and words
Are already set but they cover every act in the human condition the broken can pour over the pages
You won’t find thorns to repel your efforts there are thorns but they will speak and assuage your hurts
At the most basic and needed levels the points of your hurts will begin to dissolve from your eyes to
Your mind this inward rush and power will dislodge even spears driven deep by enemies carried for
Years you searched in vain over sad and lonely paths and days now you journey is at an end thorns of
Suffering for another produces profound power and mercy go in peace beloved one another bears your
Burden now maybe words cut you at depths you can’t even identify what if there is an antidote in a
Book you pick it up with trembling hands your body tingles from the knowledge that this is ancient texts
It will have a revival of appreciation in this world of texting but with gentle fingers and eyes that glow
With respect as you see the wisdom and the love cannot be denied you leave the world you know and
With total abandonment you swim in this sea of words until the your tears spill on this rich world of
Words those cruel barbed words that pierced tender skin and have bled internally all of these years
Begin to dissolve with stories and accounts of betrayals then the swells love and mercy you read about
Restoration not always found after apologies are given but the teaching of forgiveness strikes a cord
You have been made free from your prison the tangles of life are great as a great black cloud it hangs
Over head many are its troubles this isn’t mild but the disruptive made to strike and pierce deep the
Hidden that steals the morning blessing while other feast your hunger and unrest only enlarges a
Tormenting unquenchable fire a slow burn this is a forest being burned at the thermal level the hidden
Roots a slow process destructive but not so visible agony torture I have seen men crawl in war or fire
Fighting that where all else is lost you will know greater thrills than any other living soul with the
Desperate and those heavy burdened unable to stand a word will flow it puts out fires and gives
The luxurious buoyancy heaviness changed to joy the bouncy laughter every outward blast attack
The enemy launches is within its pages they are repelled overwhelmed by love you suffer unduly
If you don’t hold this fortress this informative book of stratagems that have made everyone a victor
Who has ever found themselves at their wits end no place on earth has a contingency plan though it
Will make the greatest claims all is just empty air when life as it too often does sucks the very air of life
Out we practically are unconscious but this help this rescue is activated by one name it’s not just a book
But the word is a person what a pool you will find what a reflection will engage you beyond your hope
To imagine just say Jesus all will be total peace your heart will know no more sorrow peace will surpass
Sorrow love will disallow the specter that was once a constant it will disappear it will return to the
Darkness from which it came stand in this newness totally free abide by still waters as the good
Sheppard stands by bless you



Disgrace

This land void of devotion gone is the church steeples.
Replaced by voices and shadows of drug dealers on each corner.
Now they are the keepers, lost cities, death stalks its peoples.
Nothing is sacred in this polluted and diffused land.

No longer hallowed be thy name, it’s as if he never came.
Forgotten is any standard of moral excellence.
The once high ideals only represent a fool’s parlance.
Man declares I throw off these restraints only to find darker chains.

The book that once guided this great land.
We now betray with each waking day.
Our hearts and mind it did ignite, now it’s word we can’t stand.
Powerless and feeble we stumble, anxious ever moment.

Just to remember is not enough, best confess our pride.
Make sacrifice with our lips, to burn on altars on high.
There is a short season for all to make amends to regain our stride.
March on to glory with it burning on the inside.

You don’t have to be astute in business to see the sound investment.
Bring your poverty of spirit leave with the riches of his last testament.
It offers the greatest rate of exchange.
Light for darkness, life for death, selfless love for selfishness.


Streaks of Jefferson


In freedom’s blessed glorified sky through streaks of immortal gold his visage we behold
He looks upon the fields of liberty that he and the founding fathers sowed he sees the

Richness America has become he also beheld her struggles catastrophic wars abroad
And the most painful the one that divided the nation marred it with southern and northern

Blood saw the affable the sad giant Lincoln take the reins of discontent hold them by
Shear will and with uncommon sagacity guided it back in line to fulfill its destiny as the

Powerful fount that would always pour forth waters of freedom for all of earths peoples
Total unconditional acceptance of liberty and all the fruit it bears to establish a

Government like no other this golden grain has waved under bluest skies and brightest
Sun light its rich harvest has gone to darkest prison cells Mandela was sustained by it

For twenty nine years and by its moral purity it fed the lives of those that over threw
Apartied and Mandela finally freed by principals it avows rose from prison clothes

To wear the mantle of president of his country and the honor of the man instilled
Quality that transcended political office Jefferson not to be disrespectful to his progeny

Whispers today’s politicians could do well to look on this African model of good
Stewardship of public trust with that Jefferson faded back into the mist pray that’s
Not the fate of this country






--------------------------------------------------------------­------------------

FIRST DAY

1.

Who wanted me
to go to Chicago
on January 6th?
I did!

The night before,
20 below zero
Fahrenheit
with the wind chill;
as the blizzard of 99
lay in mountains
of blackening snow.

I packed two coats,
two suits,
three sweaters,
multiple sets of long johns
and heavy white socks
for a two-day stay.

I left from Newark.

Damn the denseness,
it confounds!

The 2nd City to whom?
2nd ain’t bad.
It’s pretty good.

If you consider
Peking and Prague,
Tokyo and Togo,
Manchester and Moscow,
Port Au Prince and Paris,
Athens and Amsterdam,
Buenos Aries and Johannesburg;
that’s pretty good.

What’s going on here today?
It’s friggin frozen.
To the bone!

But Chi Town is still cool.
Buddy Guy’s is open.
Bartenders mixing drinks,
cabbies jamming on their breaks,
honey dew waitresses serving sugar,
buildings swerving,
fire tongued preachers are preaching
and the farmers are measuring the moon.

The lake,
unlike Ontario
is in the midst of freezing.
Bones of ice
threaten to gel
into a solid mass
over the expanse
of the Michigan Lake.

If this keeps up,
you can walk
clear to Toronto
on a silver carpet.

Along the shore
the ice is permanent.

It’s the first big frost
of winter
after a long
Indian Summer.

Thank God
I caught a cab.

Outside I hear
The Hawk
nippin hard.

It’ll get your ear,
finger or toe.
Bite you on the nose too
if you ain’t careful.

Thank God,
I’m not walking
the Wabash tonight;
but if you do cover up,
wear layers.

Chicago,
could this be
Sandburg’s City?

I’m overwhelmed
and this is my tenth time here.

It’s almost better,
sometimes it is better,
a lot of times it is better
and denser then New York.

Ask any Bull’s fan.
I’m a Knickerbocker.
Yes Nueva York,
a city that has placed last
in the standings
for many years.
Except the last two.
Yanks are # 1!

But Chicago
is a dynasty,
as big as
Sammy Sosa’s heart,
rich and wide
as Michael Jordan’s grin.

Middle of a country,
center of a continent,
smack dab in the mean
of a hemisphere,
vortex to a world,
Chicago!

Kansas City,
Nashville,
St. Louis,
Detroit,
Cleveland,
Pittsburgh,
Denver,
New Orleans,
Dallas,
Cairo,
Singapore,
Auckland,
Baghdad,
Mexico City
and Montreal
salute her.

2.

Cities,
A collection of vanities?
Engineered complex utilitarianism?
The need for community a social necessity?
Ego one with the mass?
Civilization’s latest perversion?
Chicago is more then that.

Jefferson’s yeoman farmer
is long gone
but this capitol
of the Great Plains
is still democratic.

The citizen’s of this city
would vote daily,
if they could.

Chicago,
Sandburg’s Chicago,
Could it be?

The namesake river
segments the city,
canals of commerce,
all perpendicular,
is rife throughout,
still guiding barges
to the Mississippi
and St. Laurence.

Now also tourist attractions
for a café society.

Chicago is really jazzy,
swanky clubs,
big steaks,
juices and drinks.

You get the best
coffee from Seattle
and the finest teas
from China.

Great restaurants
serve liquid jazz
al la carte.

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they serve is Jazz
Rock me steady
Keep the beat
Keep it flowin
Feel the heat!

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they is, is Jazz
Fast cars will take ya
To the show
Round bout midnight
Where’d the time go?

Flows into the Mississippi,
the mother of America’s rivers,
an empires aorta.

Great Lakes wonder of water.
Niagara Falls
still her heart gushes forth.
Buffalo connected to this holy heart.
Finger Lakes and Adirondacks
are part of this watershed,
all the way down to the
Delaware and Chesapeake.

Sandburg’s Chicago?
Oh my my,
the wonder of him.

Who captured the imagination
of the wonders of rivers.

Down stream other holy cities
from the Mississippi Valley
all mapped by him.
Its mouth our Dixie Trumpet
guarded by righteous Cajun brethren.


Midwest?
Midwest from where?

It’s north of Caracas and Los Angeles,
east of Fairbanks,
west of Dublin
and south of not much.

Him,
who spoke of honest men
and loving women.
Working men and mothers
bearing citizens to build a nation.

The New World’s
precocious adolescent
caught in a stream
of endless and exciting change,
much pain and sacrifice,
dedication and loss,
pride and tribulations.

From him we know
all the people’s faces.
All their stories are told.
Never defeating the
idea of Chicago.

He had the courage to say
what was in the heart of the people, who:
Defeated the Indians,
Mapped the terrain,
Aided slavers,
Fought a terrible civil war,
Hoisted the barges,
Grew the food,
Whacked the wheat,
Sang the songs,
Fought many wars of conquest,
Cleared the land,
Erected the bridges,
Trapped the game,
Netted the fish,
Mined the coal,
Forged the steel,
Laid the tracks,
Fired the tenders,
Cut the stone,
Mixed the mortar,
Plumbed the line,
And laid the bricks
Of this nation of cities!

Pardon the Marlboro Man shtick.
It’s a poor expostulation of
crass commercial symbolism.

Like I said, I’m a
Devil Fan from Jersey
and Madison Avenue
has done its work on me.

It’s a strange alchemy
that changes
a proud Nation of Blackhawks
into a merchandising bonanza
of hometown hockey shirts,
making the native seem alien,
and the interloper at home chillin out,
warming his feet atop a block of ice,
guzzling Old Style
with clicker in hand.

Give him his beer
and other diversions.
If he bowls with his buddy’s
on Tuesday night
I hope he bowls
a perfect game.

He’s earned it.
He works hard.
Hard work and faith
built this city.

And it’s not just the faith
that fills the cities
thousand churches,
temples and
mosques on the Sabbath.

3.

There is faith in everything in Chicago!

An alcoholic broker named Bill
lives the Twelve Steps
to banish fear and loathing
for one more day.
Bill believes in sobriety.

A tug captain named Moe
waits for the spring thaw
so he can get the barges up to Duluth.
Moe believes in the seasons.

A farmer named Tom
hopes he has reaped the last
of many bitter harvests.
Tom believes in a new start.

A homeless man named Earl
wills himself a cot and a hot
at the local shelter.
Earl believes in deliverance.

A Pullman porter
named George
works overtime
to get his first born
through medical school.
George believes in opportunity.

A folk singer named Woody
sings about his
countrymens inheritance
and implores them to take it.
Woody believes in people.

A Wobbly named Joe
organizes fellow steelworkers
to fight for a workers paradise
here on earth.
Joe believes in ideals.

A bookkeeper named Edith
is certain she’ll see the Cubs
win the World Series
in her lifetime.
Edith believes in miracles.

An electrician named Lech
saves money
to bring his family over from Gdansk.
Lech believes in America.

A banker named Leah
knows Ditka will return
and lead the Bears
to another Super Bowl.
Leah believes in nostalgia.

A cantor named Samuel
prays for another 20 years
so he can properly train
his Temple’s replacement.
Samuel believes in tradition.

A high school girl named Sally
refuses to get an abortion.
She knows she carries
something special within her.
Sally believes in life.

A city worker named Mazie
ceaselessly prays
for her incarcerated son
doing 10 years at Cook.
Mazie believes in redemption.

A jazzer named Bix
helps to invent a new art form
out of the mist.
Bix believes in creativity.

An architect named Frank
restores the Rookery.
Frank believes in space.

A soldier named Ike
fights wars for democracy.
Ike believes in peace.

A Rabbi named Jesse
sermonizes on Moses.
Jesse believes in liberation.

Somewhere in Chicago
a kid still believes in Shoeless Joe.
The kid believes in
the integrity of the game.

An Imam named Louis
is busy building a nation
within a nation.
Louis believes in
self-determination.

A teacher named Heidi
gives all she has to her students.
She has great expectations for them all.
Heidi believes in the future.


4.

Does Chicago have a future?

This city,
full of cowboys
and wildcatters
is predicated
on a future!

Bang, bang
Shoot em up
Stake the claim
It’s your terrain
Drill the hole
Strike it rich
Top it off
You’re the boss
Take a chance
Watch it wane
Try again
Heavenly gains

Chicago
city of futures
is a Holy Mecca
to all day traders.

Their skin is gray,
hair disheveled,
loud ties and
funny coats,
thumb through
slips of paper
held by nail
chewed hands.

Selling promises
with no derivative value
for out of the money calls
and in the money puts.

Strike is not a labor action
in this city of unionists,
but a speculators mark,
a capitalist wish,
a hedgers bet,
a public debt
and a farmers
fair return.

Indexes for everything.
Quantitative models
that could burst a kazoo.

You know the measure
of everything in Chicago.

But is it truly objective?
Have mathematics banished
subjective intentions,
routing it in fair practice
of market efficiencies,
a kind of scientific absolution?

I heard that there
is a dispute brewing
over the amount of snowfall
that fell on the 1st.

The mayor’s office,
using the official city ruler
measured 22”
of snow on the ground.

The National Weather Service
says it cannot detect more
then 17” of snow.

The mayor thinks
he’ll catch less heat
for the trains that don’t run
the buses that don’t arrive
and the schools that stand empty
with the addition of 5”.

The analysts say
it’s all about capturing liquidity.

Liquidity,
can you place a great lake
into an eyedropper?

Its 20 below
and all liquid things
are solid masses
or a gooey viscosity at best.

Water is frozen everywhere.
But Chi town is still liquid,
flowing faster
then the digital blips
flashing on the walls
of the CBOT.

Dreams
are never frozen in Chicago.

The exchanges trade
without missing a beat.

Trading wet dreams,
the crystallized vapor
of an IPO
pledging a billion points
of Internet access
or raiding the public treasuries
of a central bank’s
huge stores of gold
with currency swaps.

Using the tools
of butterfly spreads
and candlesticks
to achieve the goal.

Short the Russell
or buy the Dow,
go long the
CAC and DAX.

Are you trading in euro’s?
You better be
or soon will.


I know
you’re Chicago,
you’ll trade anything.

WEBS,
Spiders,
and Leaps
are traded here,
along with sweet crude,
North Sea Brent,
plywood and T-Bill futures;
and most importantly
the commodities,
the loam
that formed this city
of broad shoulders.

What about our wheat?
Still whacking and
breadbasket to the world.

Oil,
an important fossil fuel
denominated in
good ole greenbacks.

Porkbellies,
not just hogwash
on the Wabash,
but bacon, eggs
and flapjacks
are on the menu
of every diner in Jersey
as the “All American.”

Cotton,
our contribution
to the Golden Triangle,
once the global currency
used to enrich a
gentlemen class
of cultured
southern slavers,
now Tommy Hilfiger’s
preferred fabric.

I think he sends it
to Bangkok
where child
slave labor
spin it into
gold lamay.

Sorghum,
I think its hardy.

Soybeans,
the new age substitute
for hamburger
goes great with tofu lasagna.

Corn,
ADM creates ethanol,
they want us to drive cleaner cars.

Cattle,
once driven into this city’s
bloodhouses for slaughter,
now ground into
a billion Big Macs
every year.


When does a seed
become a commodity?
When does a commodity
become a future?
When does a future expire?

You can find the answers
to these questions in Chicago
and find a fortune in a hole in the floor.

Look down into the pits.
Hear the screams of anguish
and profitable delights.

Frenzied men
swarming like a mass
of epileptic ants
atop the worlds largest sugar cube
auger the worlds free markets.

The scene is
more chaotic then
100 Haymarket Square Riots
multiplied by 100
1968 Democratic Conventions.

Amidst inverted anthills,
they scurry forth and to
in distinguished
black and red coats.

Fighting each other
as counterparties
to a life and death transaction.

This is an efficient market
that crosses the globe.

Oil from the Sultan of Brunei,
Yen from the land of Hitachi,
Long Bonds from the Fed,
nickel from Quebec,
platinum and palladium
from Siberia,
FTSE’s from London
and crewel cane from Havana
circle these pits.

Tijuana,
Shanghai
and Istanbul's
best traders
are only half as good
as the average trader in Chicago.

Chicago,
this hog butcher to the world,
specializes in packaging and distribution.

Men in blood soaked smocks,
still count the heads
entering the gates of the city.

Their handiwork
is sent out on barges
and rail lines as frozen packages
of futures
waiting for delivery
to an anonymous counterparty
half a world away.

This nation’s hub
has grown into the
premier purveyor
to the world;
along all the rivers,
highways,
railways
and estuaries
it’s tentacles reach.

5.

Sandburg’s Chicago,
is a city of the world’s people.

Many striver rows compose
its many neighborhoods.

Nordic stoicism,
Eastern European orthodoxy
and Afro-American
calypso vibrations
are three of many cords
strumming the strings
of Chicago.

Sandburg’s Chicago,
if you wrote forever
you would only scratch its surface.

People wait for trains
to enter the city from O’Hare.

Frozen tears
lock their eyes
onto distant skyscrapers,
solid chunks
of snot blocks their nose
and green icicles of slime
crust mustaches.
They fight to breathe.

Sandburg’s Chicago
is The Land of Lincoln,
Savior of the Union,
protector of the Republic.
Sent armies
of sons and daughters,
barges, boxcars,
gunboats, foodstuffs,
cannon and shot
to raze the south
and stamp out succession.

Old Abe’s biography
are still unknown volumes to me.
I must see and read the great words.
You can never learn enough;
but I’ve been to Washington
and seen the man’s memorial.
The Free World’s 8th wonder,
guarded by General Grant,
who still keeps an eye on Richmond
and a hand on his sword.

Through this American winter
Abe ponders.
The vista he surveys is dire and tragic.

Our sitting President
impeached
for lying about a blowjob.

Party partisans
in the senate are sworn and seated.
Our Chief Justice,
adorned with golden bars
will adjudicate the proceedings.
It is the perfect counterpoint
to an ageless Abe thinking
with malice toward none
and charity towards all,
will heal the wounds
of the nation.
Abe our granite angel,
Chicago goes on,
The Union is strong!


SECOND DAY

1.

Out my window
the sun has risen.
According to
the local forecast
its minus 9
going up to
6 today.

The lake,
a golden pillow of clouds
is frozen in time.

I marvel
at the ancients ones
resourcefulness
and how
they mastered
the extreme elements.

Past, present and future
has no meaning
in the Citadel
of the Prairie today.

I set my watch
to Central Standard Time.

Stepping into
the hotel lobby
the concierge
with oil smooth hair,
perfect tie
and English lilt
impeccably asks,
“Do you know where you are going Sir?
Can I give you a map?”
He hands me one of Chicago.

I see he recently had his nails done.
He paints a green line
along Whacker Drive and says,
“turn on Jackson, LaSalle, Wabash or Madison
and you’ll get to where you want to go.”

A walk of 14 or 15 blocks from Streeterville-
(I start at The Chicago White House.
They call it that because Hillary Rodham
stays here when she’s in town.
Its’ also alleged that Stedman
eats his breakfast here
but Opra
has never been seen
on the premises.
I wonder how I gained entry
into this place of elite’s?)
-down into the center of The Loop.

Stepping out of the hotel,
The Doorman
sporting the epaulets of a colonel
on his corporate winter coat
and furry Cossack hat
swaddling his round black face
accosts me.

The skin of his face
is flaking from
the subzero windburn.

He asks me
with a gapped toothy grin,
“Can I get you a cab?”
“No I think I’ll walk,” I answer.
“Good woolen hat,
thick gloves you should be alright.”
He winks and lets me pass.

I step outside.
The Windy City
flings stabbing cold spears
flying on wings of 30-mph gusts.
My outside hardens.
I can feel the freeze
deepen
into my internalness.

I can’t be sure
but inside
my heart still feels warm.

For how long
I cannot say.

I commence
my walk
among the spires
of this great city,
the vertical leaps
that anchor the great lake,
holding its place
against the historic
frigid assault.

The buildings’ sway,
modulating to the blows
of natures wicked blasts.

It’s a hard imposition
on a city and its people.

The gloves,
skullcap,
long underwear,
sweater,
jacket
and overcoat
not enough
to keep the cold
from penetrating
the person.

Like discerning
the layers of this city,
even many layers,
still not enough
to understand
the depth of meaning
of the heart
of this heartland city.

Sandburg knew the city well.

Set amidst groves of suburbs
that extend outward in every direction.

Concentric circles
surround the city.

After the burbs come farms,
Great Plains, and mountains.
Appalachians and Rockies
are but mere molehills
in the city’s back yard.

It’s terra firma
stops only at the sea.
Pt. Barrow to the Horn,
many capes extended.

On the periphery
its appendages,
its extremities,
its outward extremes.

All connected by the idea,
blown by the incessant wind
of this great nation.

The Windy City’s message
is sent to the world’s four corners.
It is a message of power.
English the worlds
common language
is spoken here,
along with Ebonics,
Espanol,
Mandarin,
Czech,
Russian,
Korean,
Arabic,
Hindi­,
German,
French,
electronics,
steel,
cars,
cartoons,
rap,
sports­,
movies,
capital,
wheat
and more.

Always more.

Much much more
in Chicago.

2.

Sandburg
spoke all the dialects.

He heard them all,
he understood
with great precision
to the finest tolerances
of a lathe workers micrometer.

Sandburg understood
what it meant to laugh
and be happy.

He understood
the working mans day,
the learned treatises
of university chairs,
the endless tomes
of the city’s
great libraries,
the lost languages
of the ancient ones,
the secret codes
of abstract art,
the impact of architecture,
the street dialects and idioms
of everyman expression of life.

All fighting for life,
trying to build a life,
a new life
in this modern world.

Walking across
the Michigan Avenue Bridge
I see the Wrigley Building
is neatly carved,
catty cornered on the plaza.

I wonder if Old Man Wrigley
watched his barges
loaded with spearmint
and double-mint
move out onto the lake
from one of those Gothic windows
perched high above the street.

Would he open a window
and shout to the men below
to quit slaking and work harder
or would he
between the snapping sound
he made with his mouth
full of his chewing gum
offer them tickets
to a ballgame at Wrigley Field
that afternoon?

Would the men below
be able to understand
the man communing
from such a great height?

I listen to a man
and woman conversing.

They are one step behind me
as we meander along Wacker Drive.

“You are in Chicago now.”
The man states with profundity.
“If I let you go
you will soon find your level
in this city.
Do you know what I mean?”

No I don’t.
I think to myself.

What level are you I wonder?
Are you perched atop
the transmission spire
of the Hancock Tower?

I wouldn’t think so
or your ears would melt
from the windburn.

I’m thinking.
Is she a kept woman?
She is majestically clothed
in fur hat and coat.
In animal pelts
not trapped like her,
but slaughtered
farms I’m sure.

What level
is he speaking of?

Many levels
are evident in this city;
many layers of cobbled stone,
Pennsylvania iron,
Hoosier Granite
and vertical drops.

I wonder
if I detect
condensation
in his voice?

What is
his intention?

Is it a warning
of a broken affair?

A pending pink slip?

Advise to an addict
refusing to adhere
to a recovery regimen?

What is his level anyway?
Is he so high and mighty?
Higher and mightier
then this great city
which we are all a part of,
which we all helped to build,
which we all need
in order to keep this nation
the thriving democratic
empire it is.

This seditious talk!

3.

The Loop’s El
still course through
the main thoroughfares of the city.

People are transported
above the din of the street,
looking down
on the common pedestrians
like me.

Super CEO’s
populating the upper floors
of Romanesque,
Greek Revivalist,
New Bauhaus,
Art Deco
and Post Nouveau
Neo-Modern
Avant-Garde towers
are too far up
to see me
shivering on the street.

The cars, busses,
trains and trucks
are all covered
with the film
of rock salt.

Salt covers
my bootless feet
and smudges
my cloths as well.

The salt,
the primal element
of the earth
covers everything
in Chicago.

It is the true level
of this city.

The layer
beneath
all layers,
on which
everything
rests,
is built,
grows,
thrives
then dies.

To be
returned again
to the lower
layers
where it can
take root
again
and grow
out onto
the great plains.

Splashing
the nation,
anointing
its people
with its
blessing.

A blessing,
Chicago?

All rivers
come here.

All things
found its way here
through the canals
and back bays
of the world’s
greatest lakes.

All roads,
rails and
air routes
begin and
end here.

Mrs. O’Leary’s cow
got a bum rap.
It did not start the fire,
we did.

We lit the torch
that flamed
the city to cinders.
From a pile of ash
Chicago rose again.

Forever Chicago!
Forever the lamp
that burns bright
on a Great Lake’s
western shore!

Chicago
the beacon
sends the
message to the world
with its windy blasts,
on chugging barges,
clapping trains,
flying tandems,
T1 circuits
and roaring jets.

Sandburg knew
a Chicago
I will never know.

He knew
the rhythm of life
the people walked to.

The tools they used,
the dreams they dreamed
the songs they sang,
the things they built,
the things they loved,
the pains that hurt,
the motives that grew,
the actions that destroyed
the prayers they prayed,
the food they ate
their moments of death.

Sandburg knew
the layers of the city
to the depths
and windy heights
I cannot fathom.

The Blues
came to this city,
on the wing
of a chirping bird,
on the taps
of a rickety train,
on the blast
of an angry sax
rushing on the wind,
on the Westend blitz
of Pop's brash coronet,
on the tink of
a twinkling piano
on a paddle-wheel boat
and on the strings
of a lonely man’s guitar.

Walk into the clubs,
tenements,
row houses,
speakeasies
and you’ll hear the Blues.

Tidewater Blues
from Virginia,
Delta Blues
from the lower
Mississippi,
Boogie Woogie
from Appalachia,
Texas Blues
from some Lone Star,
Big Band Blues
from Kansas City,
Blues from
Beal Street,
Jelly Roll’s Blues
from the Latin Quarter.

Hell even Chicago
got its own brand
of Blues.

Its all here.
It ended up here
and was sent away
on the winds of westerly blows
to the ear of an eager world
on strong jet streams
of simple melodies
and hard truths.

A broad
shouldered woman,
a single mother stands
on the street
with three crying babes.

Their cloths
are covered
in salt.

She pleads
for a break,
praying
for a new start.

Poor and
under-clothed
against the torrent
of frigid weather
she begs for help.

Her blond hair
and facial features
suggests her
Scandinavian heritage.

I wonder if
she is related to Sandburg
as I walk past
her on the street.

Her feet
are bleeding
through her
canvass sneakers.

Her babes mouths
are zipped shut
with frozen drivel
and mucous.

The Blues live
on in Chicago.

The Blues
will forever live in her.

As I turn the corner
to walk the Miracle Mile
I see her engulfed
in a funnel cloud of salt,
snow and bits
of white paper,
swirling around her
and her children
in an angry
unforgiving
maelstrom.

The family
begins to
dissolve
like a snail
sprinkled with salt;
and a mother
and her children
just disappear
into the pavement
at the corner
of Dearborn,
in Chicago.

Music Selection:

Muddy Waters
I'm Ready

Robert Johnson
Sweet Home Chicago

jbm
Chicago
1/7/99

Added today to commemorate the birthday of Carl Sandburg
Noah Apr 2015

When I am in statistics I cannot focus
because the world around me is ending in my mind
slowly fading into something without meaning
until I cannot breathe and I have to leave
to go cry in the bathroom.

When I am in my statistics class I cannot focus
because there is a boy there who looks like my favorite porn star
I know what his penis looks like
     or might look like
     Schrödinger's dick in a box.

I cannot help but stare at him and
picture him in gym shorts and no boxers
or cargo pants and no boxers
or just in boxers
or.

It's an uncomfortable feeling of morbid intrigue that
makes me tap my toes too fast.

I want to know him.

I want to tell him that
I love the way he smiles
and laughs and communicate s
and makes sure everyone is safe and happy.

I can only watch porn that has behind-the-scenes features.
It's comforting to know that
everyone is happy and
everything is consensual and
everyone is having fun.
I get too invested in these people, too attached -

One time I had to give up
and take a moment to breath
because I was just so overwhelmed with pride
Like a parent watching their kid graduate after all their hard work.

And that feeling is not okay.

And seeing that boy in my class is not okay,

Because I feel so proud of all he's accomplished
So when he answers a question right in class all I can think about is
When he sucked a dick on camera for the first time
And the first time he licked whipped cream off another man's nipples
And it's very distracting.

When I am in statistics I cannot focus
because I start to worry that I will fail this class
and then I start to worry that I will hate my future
and then I worry about having a future in the first place,
bunching up into an unfocused, panicking, asthmatic mess.

The porn star boy is a distraction.

It's because of him that I'm passing this class.



( and in a way, a stupid, silly way,
it's because of him that I'm alive. )

Months of stale, cigarette smoke
and spilt bong water pleasantly
offset the stench of cheap cologne
and ratty, abused furniture.
    
Fictitious stories occupy this tiny, dim
apartment, birthed on the lips of
rebellious juveniles whose tongues
pierce the ears of our elders.

In a forsaken corner, Jeremy lounges
awkwardly on a grubby-plaid sofa that
suitably complements his button-down shirt.  
I join him.

Behind his right ear rests a lonely cigarette, while
another sits snug between his lips, set ablaze
by the 1968 Slim Model Zippo he inherited from
his beloved grandfather.

His transparent sense of self-worth emanates
from his grubby, grease-stained hands, scuffed boots,
blotchy-checkered flannels, and faded blue jeans
that are completely obliterated with holes.

I look into his pale blue eyes, the depth of which
often goes unrecognized.  Jeremy is a soft-hearted,
pudgy youngster with the kind of chunky cheeks
that all grandparents love to torture.  

But his marred, acne-ridden face betrays the transition
that has been forced upon him.  Slowly, his trademark
grin appears across his face – subtle, mischievous, and
typically without reason.  But this time it appears justified.

Jeremy takes a moment’s break from his cigarette to drop two
hits of acid.  A new drug for him, he hopes to find relief from
his seething anxiety, evidenced now by the wide expansion of his
chest as he takes another, more lengthy and powerful pull from his cigarette.

The mundane chatter that fills the room continues, a seeming
necessity to offset any potential awkward silence. I feel as if
this noise is closing in around us.  But just as suddenly as I
feel overwhelmed by this sensation, the noise stops.

I look around, noticing everyone’s eyes staring in my
direction.  Jeremy is still next to me, now giggling
like a little school girl.
I begin to feel sick.

Jeremy swiftly leans forward, giving his
cigarette a premature but honorable
death, eliminating its glow as he smashes
the cherry into tiny bits against the ashtray.

As he sits back against the couch, I can see that
his eyes are now indifferent. Foreign.  With a perplexed
and fascinated stare, he watches the pearly-white smoke
slowly slither upwards towards the ceiling.

There’s no question in my mind that his
soul has fled. Jeremy sinks further into the
couch, turning his vacant eyes in my direction.
I want to vomit.

His high-pitched giggle has now subsided into a
low whimper.  Gradually extending his left arm into
the air, he tilts it from side-to-side, examining it as if
an infant discovering his genitals for the first time.  

Bike wheels appear in the corners of the room.
Entertained, his eyes rapidly zigzag from the
corners of the walls to his hands. He asks me
if I can see the wheels. I don’t respond.

Intervals of psychotic emotion begin to cycle. Jeremy’s eyes
fill with tears as he tries to understand the hallucinations
engulfing him.  The expression on his face betrays the reality that
he has stepped onto the never-ending theme-park ride from hell.  

Together we leave and walk to the bus station, Jeremy
walking slowly and whimsically. The bus arrives,
and I hand him a few crumpled, single-dollar
bills as I attempt to instruct him where to get off.  

All I can envision is his mother’s first reaction to her son’s arrival.  
Would she collapse at her son’s knees, crying like a mother whose boy
has come home from war?  Would he forever be an awkward guest
at the dinner table? Would she disown him?  Would he become a feral child?






I no longer know what day it is. I am surrounded by lockers
and students, trapped in a tunnel of shadowy walls.  As I stand
alone, I find myself entranced by the blinding, January sunlight
that floods through the double doors a mile away.

My vision is unexpectedly blocked by a figure
standing in front of me. Clothed in little but jeans
and a bright, white t-shirt, Jeremy stares at me, his eyes
mirroring the emptiness I now feel.  

“Do you have a lighter?”  My hands pointlessly search my pockets for
what I already know is not there. “No, man. Sorry.” A look of confusion
spreads over his face, and I suddenly cannot help but notice the sick irony
of the scene in front of me - Jeremy flooded in light as if born again.  

My thoughts linger here too long, and just as swiftly as Jeremy
appeared, he is a mile away sauntering out through those double
doors. Estranged, I continue to stand here, hoping with
futility that this isn’t the last time I have looked upon him.

Year: 1995
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