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hj Nov 2018
She was a beautiful creature
Outside and in
But they marked her up
By her so called sins

A beautiful creature
Voice so loud
Waiting for someone
To hear her out

A beautiful creature
Her smile shone bright
Careless of what went on inside

A beautiful creature
Voice gradually became low

A beautiful creature
She froze like stone

A beautiful creature
With no happiness to call her own

A beautiful creature
With under eye circles so dark

A beautiful creature
But her smile doesn't spark

A beautiful creature
She cut her glowing hair
And made herself a room
Under the stairs
Where her beautiful voice
Sang along with sorrow
The beautiful creature
who lost her belief in tomorrow

A beautiful creature
But they tore her down

Until the beautiful creature
Listened to sorrow's sound

A beautiful creature
They hang her photos by the stairs
To remind everyone
Of the beautiful creature she were
It is a terrible crime to slay a unicorn. Drinking the blood of a unicorn will keep you alive even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something so pure that from the moment the blood touches your lips, you will have a half-life. (harry potter and the sorcerer's stone)
to anyone who as ever harmed a beautiful creature
how do u like ur half life?
Joanna Alexandre Feb 2016
The wind blows a cool breeze speaking a language that I can only hope to understand
The sun shines through the barriers of leaves cascading down to hold me tightly, comfortably
The foliage steady underneath my unsteady feet promises to give me balance
The water buries the sand pulling it back into line always returning it safely home

A soft creature appears from behind the green wall crouching curiously in fear, denial
Unable to speak like the wind it simply blinks, both yellow eyes; once, twice, three times
The long fur covering it's body blows with the western breeze head tilted towards the east
It rises on two feet; remains stationary, despite the wind pushing it back

An array of colours catches light from the creature; yellow eyes, purple fur, black teeth
The deflection of colours creates a rainbow around the creature; a force field
It casts no shadow despite the downward sun trying its hardest to expose the creature
The array of colours surrounds the creature fading away with the sun behind the leaves.

The foliage struggles against its foot moving forward in a staggering motion as if they were glued
Fallen leaves crumble underneath its feet and flowers rot to a bruised purple
Like quicksand the ground tries to swallow the creature, hold it still despite its strength
Quicksand is not quick enough, the creature shuffles through the dying foliage

The water retreats, taking the sand with it, gathering as large an army as possible
The creature continues forward, the water continues back as far as it can before returning to shore
They meet in an unwelcome collision the water trying to push the creature back, unsuccessful
The creature emerges from the water droplets of water being repelled from its fur

The wind changes direction pointing at me whispering words of caution whispering, yelling
The sunlight illuminates me, sweat drips down my face like tears as if to say: hide
The ground shakes and trembles beneath my feet urging me to move, keep moving
The water reaches for me with open arms to hide in amongst the sand, to return safely

The creature spots me; staring unflinchingly, it stares back into my eyes with yellow ones
It's fur directing it towards me urges it onward dragging it alongside the cool breeze
It's feet start toward me slowly as the trembling ground regains its posture so does it
I stand in awe of this beautiful creature, so frightful so delicate aiming for me

"Humph" the sound of it colliding with me is carried away with the wind, long gone
The sun gleams off its black teeth blinding me before I feel it rip into my neck tearing flesh
The green, brown, purple ground lay stained with my blood dripping from its mouth
The incoming tide holds my hand one last time as the creature drags me back behind the green wall
Jackie Mead May 30
On the surface of the moon, high in the sky and far out of sight.
Lives a creature, in a crater, half in shade, half in light.
The creature has a snarky grin.
And that is where this story begins.
People find it hard to describe the creature they see.
“he’s tall” some say, others “he only comes up to my knee”.
Some say he has two legs; some say he has four.
Some say he has six legs; some say he has more.
Some say he has two eyes, a nose, two ears and a mouth.
Some say he is charming; others say his charms are leaving him, heading south.
But one thing that is known for sure.
Is the creature that lives on the moon is a frightful old boor.
He has no words, no small talk, chitter chatter.
He doesn’t pass the time with a friendly natter.
He slinks and slithers.
He glides and shivers.
A snake, I hear you cry but “no!”
This creature is not a snake, he's neither fast nor slow.
He lives on his own and seeks no crowds.
He shouts at you “turn the music down”, if it gets too loud.
Some say he's a dinosaur, one hundred years old.
Some say he's a young un with a heart of gold.
The creature that lives on the moon, is happy being one of a kind.
He's happy being himself and has no desire to be refined.
The creature that lives on the moon, is happy in his own skin.
Makes no difference to the creature, if he has no known kith or kin.
The creature that lives on the moon, makes no judgement of what you wear.
Makes no judgement of how you choose to style your hair.
That is why the creature that lives on the moon is welcome to attend his neighbour’s parties.
That is why they welcome him with arms open wide,  wholeheartedly.
The creature that lives on the moon is pleasant to them all, but he has no desire to be the star of the ball.
By preference, the creature sits alone in his chair, he does not speak, he does not stare.
He just enjoys the moment, living without a care.
He has no shackles; he is not bound.
The creature is content living life in his crater, he has no wish to be found.
The view he has before him of the planet below is a glorious sight.
A sight that waxes and wanes with the season, sometimes he is in the shade, sometimes eclipsed by the light.
A sight he adores and is grateful for.
A sight he is happy to be considered a “frightful old boor”.
When you see the moon in the sky at night.
Look for the creature, who lives in a crater, sometimes in shade and sometimes in light.
Give him a wave and say a prayer thankful he continues watching over the planet below from sunset to sunrise; from the time your head hits the pillow until the time you open your eyes.

Sweet dreams.

©Jacqueline Mead 2020
soph Feb 2019
There once was a creature who lived in a shell
It was tiny
Not a boy or a girl
Barely a human
The shell was big and stayed perched on something
The creature couldn't tell much else
It sat in the shell waiting to grow and move out
Twiddling its thumbs
Not having much fun
Years and years and years and years
Growing steadily in that big shell
Well, the shell got smaller as the creature grew
Less space for the creature to run around
Finally, one day,
There was a crack in the top of the shell
The crack widened and the sunlight came in
A huge smile came to the face of the creature
"Is this the day?
Am I finally getting out?"
A delicate hand with long, painted fingernails
Picked up the creature and dangled it upward
Out of the shell it lived in for so long
The creature's eyes were massive
Taking in all the new sights around it
The creature finally saw the outside of the shell
A beautiful head attached to a beautiful woman
She had long, flowing hair and ruby lips
She smiled at the creature she held in her hand
"It was you who was in my brain all along!
I knew something was trapped, but I didn't know what
Now I can finally set you free"
She kissed the creature and held it tight
"It's time for my body to leave
And time for you to explore
Thank you"
She placed the creature tenderly on the ground
Before her body melted into the earth
As the woman shrank, the creature grew
Finally fully becoming the human
Able to walk and explore
In its truth
this poem is in conjunction with the poem posted directly after called "Woman"
this is a weird series and I definitely want to see how I can continue it in the future!!
I can't give any real explanation of the meaning because even I don't really know what it means, but I would love to hear interpretations of both works
Raj Arumugam Nov 2011
Scene One



...some time in time... bare stage except for a square neon sign on left that reads: “Aged Care Home”...on right is a rectangular neon message display with full title of the play...Urgo and Burgo bring Raj Arumugam out on wheelchair...
*



Urgo: I am attendant 1. Often known as Urgo.



Burgo: I am attendant 2. Always known as Burgo.



Urgo:  You see this creature seated here
            in the wheelchair? 
Can you believe it?

            This creature once wrote poems
            
and its poems still inhabit cyberspace.


Burgo: Oh, this creature did that?


Urgo: Yes, this.


Burgo: I think I’ve read some.

             Not that I can remember any.
             
Not a word, not a title.
 But must have been pretty good, ha?
             
To write all those words, in verse...


Urgo: I don’t know about that.
           
It’s the girls who write. And sissies.
           
And for all that, you know
           
there’s just one word this creature can say.


Burgo: Really? Just one word?


Urgo: Yes.
All right, watch this.
           Come on, Raj-i.

           Hey baby...Burgo here wants to hear you.
           
Just one poem in your one word.
           
Come on, baby - or no soup for you tonight.



Raj: Baa, baa, baa

        Baa, baa, baa

        Baa, baa, baa

       Baa, baa, baa



(Burgo and Urgo clap)



Urgo: Baan-derful, Raj...
Now Burgo,
           let’s wheel the creature back in

           and dump him in
           his corner.



(Urgo and Burgo go out, Urgo pushing wheelchair with Raj in it)





Scene Two



...some time in time... bare stage except for a square neon sign on left that reads: “Aged Care Home”...on right is a rectangular neon message display with full title of the play...Urgo and Burgo bring Raj Arumugam out on wheelchair...






Urgo: Today, Burgo, is Exercise Your Vocal Chords Day.



Burgo: No problem - Ahhhhhhhhrrrrgggggooooaaaaa.....



Urgo: Not your vocal cords, Burgo.
           
It is Exercise Your vocal Cords Day
            
for our distinguished guest currently
            
on this wheelchair.



Burgo: Ahhh...I see...



Urgo: All right, Raj-i baby...
Exercise your vocal chords 

            and entertain us with your delightful voice...



Raj: Baa, baa, baa
        
Baa, baa, baa

        Baa, baa, baa
        
Baa, baa, baa



(Burgo claps)*



Urgo: OK - that’s enough exercise for the day!
           Let’s go






(Urgo and Burgo go out, Urgo pushing wheelchair with Raj in it)






Scene Three

...some time in time... bare stage except for a square neon sign on left that reads: “Aged Care Home”...on right is a rectangular neon message display with full title of the play...Urgo and Burgo bring Raj Arumugam out on wheelchair...


Urgo: Burgo!

Burgo: Sire!

Urgo: Sire? Where in the world
           did you get such a word?

Burgo: Sorry - I thought I was in a *****
             Shakespeare play.

Urgo: Have your head examined, Burgo.
            We’ll never make it there.
            All we have is this 3rd-rate one-act play.

Burgo: I understand. I’m just a little ambitious.

Urgo: Be realistic. Don’t be ambitious.

Burgo: That’s wise, Sire - I mean, Urgo.

Urgo: Well, this creature in the wheelchair,
            for example...It was ambitious...
            and it had a great fall...
            it never knew how to be realistic...
            But more of that, later - first, what Day is it today?

Burgo: It is We Tickle Your Foot Day, today.

Urgo: You learn fast, Burgo.

Burgo: Thank you, Urgo.

(Silence)

Urgo: Well?

Burgo: I’m very well, thank you.

Urgo: You idiot! I mean if you know it is
           We Tickle Your Foot Day, today -
           then what should you do next, you knave!?

Burgo: Oh. Ok.

(Burgo kneels before Raj, takes off Raj’s shoes and with a feather tickles Raj’s feet.)

Raj (laughing): Baa, baa, baa
                              Baa, baa, baa
                              Baa, baa, baa
                             Baa, baa, baa


(Burgo puts Raj’s shoes on again, and his feather back in his pocket and stands up.)



Burgo: You mentioned ambition
              and this creature that sits on the wheelchair.

Urgo: Yes, it is time to exercise my vocal chords.
           This creature forgot, like all creatures,
           we come alone, and we go alone.

Burgo: Ah, at last! - hints of a Shakespearean play
             albeit we’ll never make it into one.
            With ambition, loneliness and all the Lear madness.
            Will we have the lewd parts too
            and rich imagery of body parts?

Urgo: Perhaps...perhaps...but let us stick to the ordinary ...
           This creature was born in 1derLand
           but was washed ashore to foreign shores.


Burgo: Good, good...like Paris, son of Priam and Hecuba?
             O Paris, washed ashore to Sparta
             O so well-loved and nursed by Helen.

Urgo: Yes, except this creature is more akin to the Wanderer
            like Oedipus, or just the indistinct Mendicant,
            the Samurai with no master, a ronin,
             all cursed to wander the face of the earth...

Burgo: Oh - are we in Shakespeare yet?

Urgo: We are in deep ****! That’s where we are!
           We all are.
           Burgo - let us stick to the banal like hamburgers.
          This creature forgot that
          and dreamt of things like poetry, ideals -
          and therein is the moral of the story for you:
          we come alone
          and alone we go
          one at a time we come
          and each we own, and each faculty
          one at a time they go.

Burgo: So let us stick with the banal
             eat our burgers
             and pick our teeth after.
             Do they supply toothpicks at takeaways
             in your country, Urgo?

Urgo: No, we recycle them, Burgo.
           We just pick up discarded ones from the ground.
           Like some nations pick up cigarette butts
           from the bins.
           Waste not; want not.


Burgo: Oh, if this scene goes on any longer
             it might become Shakespearean, Urgo.

Urgo: Ergo - we must go.
          But let us allow Raj to have the last word,
           since this play is entitled
          “ Raj Arumugam, (a one-act tragicomedy)”.
          Idiot of a son! What kind of fool-writer will have a play
          with his own name as the title of his play?!

Burgo: So, Raj-i, you egocentric ******:
             You have the last word in this scene...
             You really put words into my mouth, you ****!

Raj: Baa, baa, ba
        Baa, baa, baa
       Baa, baa, baa
       Baa, baa, baa


Urgo: All right, Let’s go, Burgo.
           Bring him in -
           Let’s drop him in bed
           and may he drop dead!



(Urgo and Burgo go out, Urgo pushing wheelchair with Raj in it)




Scene Four



...some time in time... bare stage except for a square neon sign on left that reads: “Aged Care Home”...on right is a rectangular neon message display with full title of the play...Urgo and Burgo bring Raj Arumugam out on wheelchair...



*


Urgo: Burgo!


Burgo: Urgo!


Urgo: How long has it been since
           you started work here?


Burgo: 3 months, Urgo. Why?


Urgo: Well, show me a game...I’m bored...a new game...


Burgo: Well, have you played wheelie bin?


Urgo: No.
But Oh I love to delve into world culture.

           Show me.


Burgo: Well, let me show you.

             A wheelie bin is a bin with wheels
             and you put ******* in it
             
and you leave it outside on the kerb
             
and the garbage guy in his truck collects your *******.
             
So this is the game.



(Burgo pushes wheelchair round the stage and sings.)



          This is the way we 
wheel out our wheelie bins
           
this is the way we 
wheel out our bins
           
early every Thursday morning


           This is the way we 
leave our bins,
            our wheelie bins

            this is the way we leave our bins
            
out on the sunny kerb

            every Thursday morning



(leaves wheelchair on kerb)



           This is the way we empty our bins

           this is the way we empty our bins
           this is the way empty our bins
           every Thursday morning



(empties the wheelchair; Raj Arumugam  drops onstage)




Urgo
(joining in):
 This is the way we 
pick up our *******

                                  pick up our *******
                                  
this is the way we do it

                                  this is the way 
always we do it

                                  early Thursday morning!



(Urgo picks up Raj Arumugam and drops him in the wheelchair)



(Urgo and Burgo clap, applauding each other.)



Burgo:
And now, Urgo - for the ritual
             of 
Raj Arumugam’s final words in the scene...
Is that right?



(Urgo nods...)



Burgo:
  Sing, you Sir in the Wheelchair.



Raj: Baa, baa, baa
       
Baa, baa, baa

       Baa, baa, baa

       Baa, baa, baa




Burgo: Oh, you spoil the fun! Let’s go.






(Urgo and Burgo go out, Urgo pushing wheelchair with Raj in it)




Scene Five

...some time in time... bare stage except for a square neon sign on left that reads: “Aged Care Home”...on right is a rectangular neon message display with full title of the play...Urgo and Burgo bring Raj Arumugam out on wheelchair...


Urgo:
          Let's leave him here tonight;
         some fresh air might do him good

(Urgo and Burgo leave, leaving Raj on his wheelchair.)

(Long silence.)


Raj: Baa, baa, baa
       Baa, baa, baa
       Baa, baa, baa
      Baa, baa, baa



(Raj has a thought. His thought is broadcast as a message on the rectangular neon light display: “Hey guys, come back...Another word is coming back to me.”)

(Long silence)


Raj:
**** **** ****
**** **** ****
**** **** ****

(Raj has another thought. His thought is broadcast as a message on the rectangular neon light display: “Another one’s coming back...maybe my mind is coming back.”)


Raj:
**** **** ****
**** **** ****
**** **** ****

(Long silence. Lights fade. Darkness. Curtain...)
Kagami Apr 2015
A creature that I live with every day
Creates something that I can not escape from.
Something that follows me and rapes me of my happiness,
Something that recreates the worst parts of my life
And forces me to watch, paralyzed in my own bed.

The Creature has dyed red hair, brown eyes.
The creature weighs 136.2 lbs and continues to gain more.
This creature is 5'8" tall.

This creature shares the same name.
The same putrid name as the girl who
Fell in love with someone who saved her life,
But had to convince herself to keep loving him
In order to endure the thing he said to her.
The same ugly name as the girl who fell in love with
Someone else, but ignored him because of her guilt
And then kissed him only five days after
The one who saved her dumped her on her 16th birthday.
The same name as the girl who forced herself to feel
Numb because everyone who surrounds her
Tells her not to feel bad because they have or had it worse.

The creature screams, trying to make her happy, trying to
Please her, make her leave.
SHE REFUSES. Every day, she lays down and can't get up because
Nothing is worth it. The creature ignores her pull.
She leaves bruises with her fingers,
But the creature is used to the pain.
The Creature tells me:

*Life is worth living. The future is worth seeing. Life will be hard:
Demons may scare you and block your path,
Demons may haunt you and infect you, they may change your mind.*

And the girl agrees:

**But changing your mind hand having those demons inside you make you who you are. They affect you and let you become something that no one else can be. The future is worth seeing. and the past is worth accepting.**


I don't know how to find a middle ground. I am still trying to cope with  something that happened two years ago. I am at war with myself. I want to be happy, but its so difficult to get past the sickness inside. I need help, and I have it, but I am not getting anywhere. I am trying to gain independence and learn for myself, but multiple factors are keeping that from happening, and the only way to relieve some of that stress will cause even more of another stress and more sadness than I can imagine. I can not deal with everything happening at once. Everything is crashing don and I cant ease myself into it.
Sad Beauty Sep 2017
.. her stained hands clasps
..a dab of makeup felt stainless
.. fabulous touchup we must say
She: ... believed in alone
Distantly from this polluted star
Distance from the captivity
Distances are farthest away
When pain is the experience
Plenty of space in her heart for distinctivness where it does the gravity pulls us apart where does the sea stop in a sky warped.. distinct creativity and cultivating luminously as does the creature
He comfronts her well-being devotedly to her charisma she sang and wonderfully blessed in a toughness that vowed himself a creature a creative man in a way a bit certainly known to be that simple touch

...certainty
....dismantle the serinity into you
.. dismemberment
. remember you're honor
CREATURE of the Night.. stare at her as if it were impossible with those crystalized steerling chimney smoked eyes whimpering at her witherment;
Either way he's a creature she'd think about along
.in the ending
.. designed for each-other
...part or take from hand to life

Start
Creature
Run but don't be afraid
After-all

After-hours: if we close the door the night could last forever

~Classy that everything we have is gone and all that we need stands strong and all that we haven't gotten stays simply strange enough to remain a creature

After-life; If you close your heart your death could remain a mystery but the creature in your soul makes it up; the creature in your system messed-up ..  PM:

CLOSED;

Clouds are closing in on me like a volture just like a big giant reluctant egale  ;Creature! Type of thing that the evilness couldn't find.
#i
Troy Jun 2017
The sun shine rose in the dark rainy night
The wind howled and the dogs snapped
Out from the shadows a creature stalks
Only to find a weeping child

The creature leaned in and there was a shudder
The cold from his hands frightened the child
The creature looked at the weeping child
The child looked up to see a face

The face the child did see was familiar
There was none in the world just like it
The creature smiled and said come back to me
The child nodded and put his hand in the creature's

They walked toward the sunshine and the creature became a man
The child grew taller and taller than the creature he grew
Until they were no longer child and creature
But became love's first hand
Anon Feb 2015
once upon a time
a creature was created
whose primary skill
was to hide from view
evolution agreed that it was fine
until one day
unfathomable questions inflated
however, not all were of goodwill
these questions
slowly began to accrue
and build up
so that the creature would finally hear
their clamorous voices
with very little choice
of contemptible judgement
why is the creature so lonely?
stuck in its miserable, sad recluse
why is it so awkward?
stuck in its home of alone
why does it feign its exterior?
stuck in its dejected form
and why
do we not know
that this creature exists?
but no one knew any answers
except
the creature itself
and as the creature was set loose
into reality
and the outside world
that it coveted to refuse
it felt torture
but the creature's inward
firmly remained unknown
shadowed
by a beatific smile
and this is all we know
about this "insignificant" creature
because no one ever tried
to discern
and realise
that this creature felt so alone
and that this creature was

just a human
Noel Billiter Mar 2018
The title means: Truth( Razor  Blades) For Beautiful Creature ( Of The Mind)

To explain what this poem is about, when I use the words Razor Blades,  I actually mean Truth and when I use the words Beautiful Creature I mean The Mind.  This poem is not about Suicide. It is about a girl who finally starts to remember painful memories of her past when she was a little girl. Her mind at the time couldn't handle or process what was happening to her so lies were put place to protect her fragile mind. When she is older and more capable of handing the truth her mind decides it's time to start the painful process of remembering and dealing with these memories.



It's beautiful this creature and me
we sit in silence grasping air
and appease the darkness willingly
the deepness of the tone goes on
Hearing small noises like a ancient drum
the ethereal voice creeps in
your good deed will soon arise
shoot out, shoot up, then compromise
the steady drum rolls on then stalls
what will creature bring to me?
a thought, a spark, a memory
a place to crawl in when my tide is high
or razorblades instead of lies

Places, Places everyone
the prisoners enlightenment has just begun
creature beckons my soul to arise
stand up and  open your once silent eyes
beautiful creature what have you done?
I have brought razor blades of truth sweet ***
What cruel truth will creature tell?
the ones you buried in your yourself
Whose thoughts and memories are these I ask?
my dear ghostly girl they are your past
for this is the hour of your reason
nothing here is out of season
fiery and fierce your will must be
do not be tempted by its misery
these growing pains must be held
they hold the keys to unlock your cell
beautiful creature how much will this hurt?
gut wrenching and painful
so a little a first
Momin Nov 2014
In the dead of night
The creature crawls
On your windows
And on your walls
Towards you it creeps
As you turn your back
In the dead of night
Its going to attack

You gasp for breath
And hide under the sheets
Feeling his presence
Your eyes then meet
Eyes blood red
You try to scream
You gasp for breath
And pray its a dream

For in this moment
The earth stands still
The creature stands
And breaks your will
Skin so black
As black as this night
For in this moment
Will you fight?

Take a look
At this creature
The long bony claws
His most frightening feature
As sharp as scalpels
Your skin he will cut
Take a look
With your eyes wide shut

A weakness you say?
The creature must have
There is no such thing
You make him laugh
He inches closer
So near your face
A weakness you say?
Not even a trace

Open your eyes
Let bravery fill your heart
Forge the mighty blade
To rip this demon apart
Aim for the throat
Do not miss my friend
Open your eyes
Cut through to the end

The creature on the floor
His eyes no more red
The deed is done
He lies cold and dead
Engulfed by darkness
He is taken away
The creature on the floor
May in hell he stay

The night is over
You can finally rest
Lie down your weary head
You did your best
The dawn now breaks
The light shining through
The night is over
The creature killed you

*M.A. 2014
Noel Billiter Dec 2018
The title means: Truth( Razor  Blades) For Beautiful Creature ( Of The Mind)

To explain what this poem is about, when I use the words Razor Blades,  I actually mean Truth and when I use the words Beautiful Creature I mean The Mind.  This poem is not about Suicide. It is about a girl who finally starts to remember painful memories of her past when she was a little girl. Her mind at the time couldn't handle or process what was happening to her so lies were put place to protect her fragile mind. When she is older and more capable of handing the truth her mind decides it's time to start the painful process of remembering and dealing with these memories.



It's beautiful this creature and me
we sit in silence grasping air
and appease the darkness willingly
the deepness of the tone goes on
Hearing small noises like a ancient drum
the ethereal voice creeps in
your good deed will soon arise
shoot out, shoot up, then compromise
the steady drum rolls on then stalls
what will creature bring to me?
a thought, a spark, a memory
a place to crawl in when my tide is high
or razorblades instead of lies

Places, Places everyone
the prisoners enlightenment has just begun
creature beckons my soul to arise
stand up and  open your once silent eyes
beautiful creature what have you done?
I have brought razor blades of truth sweet ***
What cruel truth will creature tell?
the ones you buried in your yourself
Whose thoughts and memories are these I ask?
my dear ghostly girl they are your past
for this is the hour of your reason
nothing here is out of season
fiery and fierce your will must be
do not be tempted by its misery
these growing pains must be held
they hold the keys to unlock your cell
beautiful creature how much will this hurt?
gut wrenching and painful
so a little a first
CloudedVisions Apr 2019
There was a creature
With a heart of good
Knowing what's right and wrong
Yet hidden behind a hood

This hood was called
The hood of false hope
For in it was hidden all greatness
Never washed away by water or soap

The creature it tried to give joy
The creature tried make smiles
Yet over and over the hood made it fail
So it walked and walked for miles

For her an outcast
Forever alone
Forever with no one
To remove this cone

This cone of shame
This hood if dread
This lingering shadow
That surrounded its head

No matter the effort
No matter the intent
No matter the smiles or joys it sent

No matter the creature
Beneath the hood
No matter the effort
To share only good

No matter the creatures appearance
No matter its face or emotion
This creature will forever walk
For no one will make the notion

No one will make any effort to try
To make this creature a pleasant surprise
To make the creature feel at home
To show it the joy or a pretty sunrise

But because if this hood
That covered this monster
The creature is hated
Never to be, nor show, nor be shown good
Caleb Nobles Sep 2011
The moon is high and bright tonight
Quietly lighting the earth around me.
My skin scrunches together
As a chilly breeze steals warmth from me
The only sound heard
Comes from the invertebrates in the trees
And the closest heartbeat is a mile away
But there is something out here
It is a creature; a creature of habit
Always hunting only those who are solo
It is a sly creature
Creeping up on its prey silently
It will drain every drop of happiness
All dreams, all plans, all loves
Will fade away from the victim
Slowly the numbness absorbs me
And I do nothing to hinder its progress
Soon I am consumed in the cold darkness
I know this creature
This creature is loneliness
Michael Kusi Nov 2017
My name is Eve
Mother of all living
God created me to live in his garden
I was made from the rib of man
Bone of bone and flesh of flesh
God said to eat free
Of every tree in this garden
Except for one tree
That would be a downfall

I was standing by the tree one day
Looking at its branches
Seeing its fruit
When I heard a voice
He said come here, come here
I turned around
And saw a creature
I wish I did not
I really wish I walked away
I should have ran away
To the other side of the garden
The only other voices I knew
Were that of Adam and God
I am the mother of all living
But I was not this creature’s mother

I walked to him
This creature was on four legs
Like a dog
But he could talk, like me
So I thought we could have a conversation
I could tell him about the garden
And not to eat the fruit
He could be a friend
And I could show him to God
Little did I know
He was no friend

This creature asked me a question
Based on what God said
I knew the answer
Because God told me himself
It was one of those times
When God’s voice was frightening
Don’t eat the fruit
Don’t eat the fruit
Did he also say not to touch?
I think so
Better safe than sorry
I should have asked God
About what he said
But I misspoke
I told him, We can’t eat
Or touch
Lest we die

The creature told me
Or rather lied to me
He said in soothing tones
You will not die
Because God did not tell the truth
If you eat the fruit
If you have the courage
To take the fruit in your hands
And digest it into your belly
You will be God!
The garden will be yours!
Not to take care of
But to take over
You will be the higher power

The fruit looked so shiny and good
The creature touched the tree
And said, See I am not dead
He then took the fruit
And sneered, Not dead yet!
Eat, eat eat!
I could not resist
I took the fruit from the creature’s hand
And I smelled it
It smelled, different
It looked even better in my hand
I took a bite
I wish I could have unbit the fruit
I should have put it back.
Suddenly my world had changed
EVE!
Then I saw Adam.

I told Adam
This fruit is pleasant to the nostrils
And goes down to the belly
I feel a power
That was not there before
God has deprived us
And kept the fruit that he eats to himself
But I have discovered it
And when we eat the fruit
We will be like God
And not under him
I sounded like the creature
The fruit had warped my thinking
I gave Adam my fruit
The fruit I had bitten
Because we were in this together
As two of a kind
He looked at the fruit
Then he took a bite
OH NO!
WHAT HAVE WE DONE?!
1 -

No glares of missing eyes, just the one, at the center that soars high. Mst of all. It fles, careless and free. It’s hands pills precious wine, as it recites poetry about the end times. Conjure up as emotions of failures and shame, meet within. Not million, in fact in the billions dismissed the thought of arrival. Shutter in fear and weep to each word spoken, in that poem, that recites, in every detail, how your life will end. It’s tongue, doesn’t skip a beat, rhymes perfectly, in every human tongue. Though it’s a tyrant, some have complete devotion to such creature, redish aura over a dark shape. The eagles seem to cry. Rats and cats run to it, to pay their own homage. Fogs and dogs, mist and a devilishly ******* smell. Pigs talk and end up screaming about sacrifice. Such is early talks, of such end times. Prone to sudden fits of rage, wearing cold ****** to the creature, is as natural to him, as breathing is to you. Gold, *** with virgins, praises will be used, more valuable to what had just been written, one’s own soul, nothing in this life is free, everyone was given life, despite never asking for it. Master of famine, king and queen to poverty, dreamer user, inventor and distributor of disease. When voted in men and women give in, trenches of brave people, rage war, knowing privately they’ll fail. Still they try. No one is truly pious, it will take more than forever to master that trait and so very few are blessed with immorality. This creature has the attributes of a supreme leader, just without its own kingdom. For in no dogma, no myth, no whispers of physical storytelling knows of such creature, no prophecy, nothing, not even in Nostradamus. Endless it seems, for it walked to the horizon and back, perhaps it comes from the other side of the moon. Trembling slaves in chant in joy, from learnt pleasure and addicted to a self-produced evil, after so much, they grow to love, follow the creature, sweeping down to help. Fine, call it demons if you must, for most, that's the best their own imagination can conceptualize. People are their prized pleasures to take with them and eventually turn into them. Lust can be good. We’ve got something inherent in us and encourages us to be a bit more carnel, sinful, selfish and so on. Most just keep it a bit better kept, inside the privacy of their own home. After-all, in a democratic system, ****** got vote in. not in vain read this, do not concern yourself from where, how or why I write this. Death will come, the end of the world will come, just ask yourself, what will come first? Work for everything, but cherish nothing. In the transition, you’ll never be permitted to take anything with you. Just your soul to what makes you good and your sins to which you've committed, and will atone for at gunpoint. When you hear your fate, life will either be a total blessing or something completely unjust. Both will last forever after death or the end times. Solemn. Poets, be master of your word, painters, be master of your strokes, musicians, be master of each note. Do not live in angst people, life will be better before this time, without anxiety, at least some joy will be experienced and not something to be yearning for. Wild beasts will come and **** your first daughter and chop off the private of your first born. Without a care and it’s master will teach them how. Humanity is only a glint. One glint. Like a star. Pretty from a distant, something to philosophize over, than learn, but close at face sight, the star is already dead. Whoever said the struggle will stop today? A-lot of Mystics dead and never to be martyred. Plus, you don’t have any gold to give away, so you can remove your past. Underslung sky, now is not the time for fear, that comes later. Desolate intense resent nothing at the same time of everything. Bloated with both virtue and lust. Malice. For life wanted melody, instead, people got malady. The creature stepping over earth's land, people run, as that very military shoots and ending fail. It’s not monster film. People run, some stop to pay homage and offer their souls, as the so called demons **** them up, those people turn to sin and **** in **** form and iron race, become. For some, if they’re going to be talented, it’s far better to be such of someone in great fame, to things they've always wanted to do to one another. Most people die. The creature sets up camp, Astana. Takeover and demands complete and whole obedience. Holy books burn. Slaves for the rest still living, though mostly dark ashes fall from the sky, grey colour themes, burning bodies left on the ground and homeless children asking for their mothers walk, all people see is their personal fear. Lukewarm life is at best. Daring not to live anymore or any better. Once a servant to one's life, now just a servant to dying days. Violet in all violence. Voiceless tears inside interior chambers, cry private prays, not even confessing to one another, muted silence between people, saturate this earth. Marching to Zion, they’ve given up. And no network of hope or revolt. In harmony, all remaining poets weep at a blanket and shared evil, that everyone is experiencing under this rule. To the police, in tempest wrath, those demons that tagged along. This is a neo-empire outshining those before. It’s a shame that stupidity isn’t painful to one’s whole entire essence. Wanting avator’s. Getting none. Over a thousand year period, lavish pillars rise, it’s that humanity forgot about the godhead-figure, they simply forget. New omens provide a new scent for earth. Astana remains the capital of earth. With different races of tiled skin, phishing tongues, tall, green. Peoples private hell is prolonged. The rich **** any animal and tear off their skin, use it as fur coats, they smile. So let’s take a trip, where anyone can **** limp, ******* in public and spend money on any mofoe. Getting lonely, I can’t control it, pass me the blunt, let me roll it. Perhaps it;s doubt in anything that will bring pain, not knowing the truth that I had been hoping for to bring me freedom. Supreme leader is now the title of the creature. And everywhere he goes, are ****** ******, both men and women, preferably if they were under the age of sixteen. Because they haven’t been broken. With no floods, no locus, some disease, ****** became normal and a bit of ****. No money, a lot of silver, a neo royalty line is produced amongst people’s blood, the half cast between those demons and virgins, both male and female. Swallowing eternity. As any prince would laugh. Though from the sky, the earth is drowsed with new philosophy. In textile fields, elderly women tend to those fields, all missing one eye and stuck in old age forever. As young boys run naked around neo palace’s. Just only entertainment. Writers invent new tragedy stories, abated pale, blue and pure. Misting stageplays for giggles and laughing till it hurts in the stomach that encourages everyone who watches to give into lust. Like we’re all meant to do. Along watery plateau,  different breed of Mystics walk, those born in the world before that survived the initial stages, ate eagle eyes and living now, until time decides to stop mocking everyone and finally give up and provide the final solution. Under red dusk, those know most things are propaganda, freedom inside someone’s *******. ***** everywhere. Like steam leaking from any paved roads and newly built cities. Images strung from the air that remind people, peasants too be honest, that we all can die. Disc of time. Burnt colours. Nothing said about hope, love and romance. No weddings. As for babies, they pop up at random places, roads, dumpsters, fields with goats, public toilets and the nile. To whoever finds them first, by law they are the new parents. **** is punishment if those do not take the babies. **** kittens. Rereading of Ovid. Talk of having Latin as one language, going beyond this world. And Helen is her name. Streams of Blood. Phinx is his name. My king, my queen. What tears can bore? The dooming death and nothing forces us to change or to know, nothing greater than pain. Bore. shame and exile to those who age. Life is not for them to claim, old-fashioned school of thought, doub their words. Until a neo-poet rises from the ash below, drops of stars and Lions stand on their tongue, not from wrestling but out of respect, breed of new prophet in these times of neo-dogma. Revolt personally as a single person in revolution. People to pray to this poet as they write words on the second renaissance, where only those born to create great works of beauty to walk this earth, like Monks in a monastery. At the moment, until it defeats the creature, monster to any god, it's only a moment or glimmer of hope. One hero, born under one tree. Weaving thoughts of romance, soulmate to those with intelligence, poetic to the poor and match to one only, no-one else. Most of all, birthing life for those who deserve it.
(knowledge variable)
Leigh Jun 2015
The creature waits clenched.
It waits hunkered and steadfast
For the quintessential moment to
Dangle your pride and cut its
Throat where you can see it.

The creature waits fuming.
It waits - shadowed and drip-fed -
For the penny to drop from its height;
To pierce the soft body of calm
And let loose the mess.

The creature waits grinning.
It waits smug and hysterical
For the time and times before this
Where it beat down a smile by
Forcing the question:

What is wrong with me?
Crystal lived alone in the cabin Ray had built for her. Ray had left long ago but she thought of him often and sometimes went to see him in the city. She was an artist and a dabbler in many fields. Her house was a kaleidoscope of stained glass windows and half finished art projects. It was built almost entirely of wood with a beautiful stairway to a loft bedroom replete with a skylight window on the stars. Set in the mouth of a valley next to a clear stream the cabin looked almost as if it had grown there.

Crystal spent most of her time on her art projects, in fact she made her living that way. She was well known for the macabre nature of her works and they sold well at the local art fairs. Most of the scenes she painted could not possibly have existed on earth. Take for example the orange sky and purple mountains of Mariners Delight or the river of blood in Cosmic Conception.

Often Crystal would meet Ray at the art shows and they would discuss his books or her latest works. It was just such an occasion that preceded the first of her dreams.

Although Crystal had often dreamt of playing in a large meadow surrounded by reflections of her art work this dream had been different. She awoke from a scene in the woods where she had been the object of a grotesque conclave of creatures almost beyond description. There had been a huge goat like creature leading a chant, "Rada nema nestos Yreba, Rada nema nestos Yreba", for a group of creatures that resembled animals. There was a black toad sitting on a rock of seemingly impossible crystalline form, while an agile spider danced on the spokes of its luminous web above her. The smell of blood, the heat of the fire, and the constant and oppressive chant, "Rada nema nestos Yreba, Rada nema nestos Yreba" with all eyes directed at her. She woke with a start, it was early morning, her bed was a tangled mess, and she was covered with sweat. She felt she could almost smell wood smoke, and somewhere in her mind she could still hear the echos of the horrible chant.

It wasn't until almost a year later that the dream repeated itself. She had just completed what she considered her greatest work, a large mural like painting called Id Conclusion. It was a matrix of human forms in contorted and deformed conditions against a backdrop of misty images of human holocaust, war machines, and atomic clouds. She had gone to bed in a storm of thoughts on human depravation and greed. The scene was the same, the spider, the goat, the half human animals, all seemed the same, except for the chant, it was different. "Rada nema nestos Yreba, Raga mantra nestos reale, Yreba Yreba Shiva kommt da." Lightening cracked and a creature appeared. He seemed a man but was built more like a large monkey. Light seemed to follow him like an aura. He was the obvious master of the conclave and all stood back at his approach.

Crystal was lying on the stone altar in the center of the glade and although not bound she was incapable of motion while held in Yreba's gaze. That this creature was Yreba was obvious since all had bowed down now and the chant had changed, "Yreba Yreba teach us to grow." Crystals eyes were glazed and her naked body shown in Yreba's light. All her past works were floating across her mind like a collage. Lost in ecstasy she responded to his aggression like a wanton beast, screaming and writhing in the flow of his energy.

She woke to find her cabin in shambles and she was lying in the center of the living room on the floor, she panicked and ran to her car, slammed it into gear, and sped off down the road.

Ray was sitting in his office at the University that morning when Crystal burst into the room. "Ray, Ray, I've had a dream, a horrible dream, it was, I was!" "Slow down Crystal! You've had a what?" said Ray. Crystal sat down in a ball of frenzy and continued.

About an hour later Crystal had finished her story. Ray spoke, "So you say this is only the second time you've had this dream. Tell me more about Yreba. Does he resemble any of your art works?" "No", she said, "He seemed a lot more like that creature you told me about that day we were discussing witchcraft. The one who was supposed to be the personification of ****** desire evoked for the *** ****** of the ancient Persians."

Ray walked to his bookshelves (he was a professor of ancient mythology and religions) and pulled out a book called Necromancer by Abdule Azerod. "As I recall" he said "that creature was also a god of fertility." He thumbed slowly through the book, "yes, here it is. What did you say this creatures name was? Yreba? Very strange that's almost exactly this Persian deities name, Youruba. It seems he was evoked every year on the vernal equinox to assure ****** reproductivity and if you think that's frightening, feature this, last night was the vernal equinox." Crystal was stunned. "Do you think there's a connection" she stammered? "Don't be silly girl, this was three thousand years ago. Why don't we drive out to your cabin and see if we can find some clues."

Twenty minutes later they were standing in Crystal's cabin. What had seemed so disorderly to Crystal in the morning was now clearly a purposeful state of order. All of her sculptures were arranged neatly on the stairs to the loft, and her pictures were arranged so as to face the spot on the floor where she had awakened. On the floor where she had lain was a large five pointed star. "What does it mean Ray?" "I think it's a pentagram" he stated. "Is anything missing?" "Not that I can see" she said. "I don't think we had better stay" he said, "Find what you need and we'll go back to my house. You can stay there until we figure it out."

Crystal never returned to the cabin. Ray sold it for her and bought her a new house in the city.

Crystal got sick a few months later. She was sitting in the doctors office now awaiting his return. "I have good news" he said. "Good news" Crystal groaned. "Yes" he said, "Your pregnant."
Aliens can make you pregnant of mind, it's the hawkowl facts.
I named my bird dog Yreba.......I'm in so much trouble!!
The ship docked on the small jetty by a beach of white sand
lining the front of a jungle full of horrid noises and every shade of green.
There were a few huts that had been constructed by the natives
in anticipation of our arrival in this hot new land.
We were informed by the ship’s captain that they had been paid
with small gold coins that they would likely trade with other natives
for exotic fruits and sharper weapons and a few weeks’ peace.

The first night was a struggle, the air was as stifling during the day
and I don’t think any one of us managed much sleep.
The morning came as cold comfort as the sun blazed unobstructed,
beating relentlessly on our heads, feeling much closer than it did back home.
Gloria Noone, a middle-aged woman who had boarded in Cork,
had a look of perpetual fear on her face, the look of someone
who had experienced nothing but ultimate terror during the night,
and I had assumed it was just because of a lack of sleep,
but she soon informed us of something far more sinister than dreamlessness.

After a couple of hours of nocturnal turnings and curses,
she left her hut during the night and walked along the beach,
away from the jetty and out of our makeshift village.
Not long out of the village, she had the unnerving sense of being watched
and expecting to see a native by the jungle’s edge
she looked towards the mass of trees and saw horror.
An unearthly creature stared back at her, she told us.
All black fur glinting in the moonlight, teeth as large as great knives.
She swears it spoke to her, in English, repeating her name
with a deep, gruff voice that seemed to come from the whole jungle.
She ran back to her hut, silently, terror paralysing her voice.

Gloria stayed in another hut owned by a couple who had an extra bed
due to their only child dying of disease just before we set sail.
I could not sleep, as I assumed correctly that others could not either
because when I left my hut in the night, others were on the beach.
A man called Ivor, a giant from Cardiff, called me over
and said that he and a couple of others would walk down the beach
to where Gloria had spotted the creature and they would wait for it.
He invited me and I agreed, four of us leaving the village behind.
Ivor, Daniel the ship’s captain, Robert, a forester from York and myself,
a former teacher from a small village not far from Edinburgh,
sat down on the sand in silence waiting for horror to arrive.

We did not have to wait long in that tropical heat for terror to invade our hearts.
We heard the growling of a jagged throat and snapping branches,
all turning our heads in unison as two blazing orange eyes scanned us,
a tongue licking its nose and an almost human smile spread across its face.
Hello, it said.
Lovely night, it said.
I am hungry, it said.
Ivor, it said.

We jumped to our feet and ran as fast as we could,
screaming for everyone to get on the ship, and hurry.
I could hear the muffled steps of the beast behind me
and although I could not see it clearly when I glanced back,
I could make out just how massive the creature was.
Its shoulders were at least as high as a thoroughbred’s
but it was built like a massive cat, like a panther I had seen in a zoo.
It laughed and kept repeating Ivor’s name, putting in little effort
in keeping up with us, toying with us as cats toy with mice.
I could make out the others in the village running for the ship,
and as they reached the gangway that entered below deck,
Ivor screamed an awful scream as the creature brought him down.

The three of us stopped and turned, unsure what to do.
Ivor had already gone limp as the creature crushed his skull
and bit through his spinal cord, launching the top half and his head
into the air as the creature turned his attention to Ivor’s legs.
He chewed the meat ravenously, occasionally looking up at us,
standing completely still, mesmerised and horrified at the spectacle.
Run, it said.
Run, they said behind us.
We ran.

As we reached the ship, the captain unwound the ropes from the bollards
as the rest of us ran into the ship, grabbing the gangway,
ready to slide it back in as soon as the captain was on board.
He came running in, shouting at us slide the gangway in
as he continued up to the deck towards the whipstaff.
The hatch closed, we all went to where the captain was
but I left the group to keep an eye on the creature.
It was standing on the jetty, next to the hatch,
the top of its head so close to the railing I was leaning against.
It looked up at me and the smile returned to its face,
the blood of the Welshman smeared over his huge teeth.
No wind, it said.
I am hungry, it said.

I turned to face the captain and the rest of the group,
tears rolling down my cheeks as they creature jumped over my head
and ravaged the rest of my friends and villagers.
Legs and fingers and heads and arms and bones and meat.
All over the deck.
All over the deck.
All over the deck.
The creature stared at me, smiled.
Run, it said.
I am hungry, it said.
Frozen for millennium, looking eternally over its territory
Someplace it's own, hard fought and for which many fallen, his own
A man of stone, gazes, immobile
Part of the mountain, now, to those below

Play in its shadow,
Gaze at its likeness
So similar to man
Large brow, hawked nose
A common man

Moments measured in years
Too unconcerned to bother
Throned high on his mountain
Kept to himself, memories of battles
Friends, brothers for this valley

In the valley, children play
Not concerned with a likeness
Too common to stare
Leave that to tourists
Who come and they go

Eyes shift with a rumble
Grating, smell of granite on stone
He sees soft children, not of stone
Knowing life, not hard
Not like him, of stone

Parents, families tell stories
Of the creature in stone
Eons have past, myths, legends
To scare children, laugh now,
Old widows' tales, all told

Protector of the Valley, his title bestowed
Passed from crown to hand,
From times beyond old, to seek and be told
His memory is not foggy, sharp and bold
He watches for signs, of evils still known

A rumble, earthquake, they know
Not gods of fire, nor devils below
They built houses of stone, solid and uncold
Women skitter, men more bold
Children laugh, cry; depending on delight

Small creatures take wing, a flurry of flight
Soaring through the air, not for those as he
Their moment is ignored, not the threat he seeks
But from whence they come, something astir
A rift in the ground, a creature of Below?

Buildings lean, no great such thing
Prosperity is well, good neighbors to help
A man looks upon his home
His family safe, wife at his side
He is not alone; a sound takes his eyes

The creature was large, an Elder
Beyond language and time, seeking who-knows-what-this-time
They have come and he is here this time
Again, he moves, reaches for weapons
For stone, like his hide; for earth, like his mind

Some monster, some flesh of daemon
A creature, unnatural and bold,
Ripping earth and spewing foul
Springing forth, denying safety for child and wife
In an instant, the man is alone

Unmoving for years, centuries untired, readies for war
Rock flexes like muscles, stone tightens, coiled and then unfolds
From his seat, his throne
He joins battle, swings lethal, heart cold
Elemental, Warrior-King just as old

The man, stuttered by sight, then sound, both unknown
Falls to the ground, some part of him rolls
He looks up to see the mountain
Falling down, then up, and down
Time slows and it falls on down

The King sees the soft, fleshy man
Not unlike his form, but not made of stone
Shaking the Earth, the man is no concern
Only the Nemesis, the creature that came before he was old
He meets it with weapon, violence and scorn

For a moment, the man saw the face of the mountain
Above him and cold, eyes of flint
Recognizing, but disregarding his life
It met the daemon, crushing it's limbs
Epic, fury, a fight to shake bodies of men

The creature was old, even elder to old
It cast spells of fire, brought curse to the land
******* power from life, it's nature to man
The King broke weapon, chipped fist
Losing both ground and tooth

Pulled to his feet, a neighbor drags him away
Between stone foot, and slamming tentacled limb
The great creatures smash earth, livestock as well
Together they clash, first forward then back
The mountain looks down and seems to grin

The King sees the earth and inside
On a grave he does now fight
Clenched in heavy stone fist
Forged in primordial fires
A weapon, fit for a king

The mountain slammed it's fist
Down. Into. The. Ground.
Wrist, then elbow, then shoulder gone
And the other, brought itself together
For the first time since mankind hand seen it

The soft creatures stared at him
The Elder Nemesis gathered itself
Calling its volumes to one spell
The small ones stared, mouths slack
And his fingers, at last, touched it

Half in the motion, of standing
Almost although an action caught in time
Men, and women now, surrounded by children
Who wouldn't know where to flee, stared
The Stoneman rose to his feet, great axe in hand

It was lighter than he had thought
Gripped, tightly in two hands, now
He leveled his gaze, tunneling
A spell of his own, one of fight
He spoke his words of death

The world seemed crushed, smalled to a sound
When the mountain bellowed, erupting noise
A scream, mad and angry, forced, primal
Trickling blood from their eyes, ears
Children, falling and for the frail, death

The Nemesis saw his movement
Was unfinished in either word or deed
Unprepared for violence or tool
Raised suckered limb, protect!
Sheered through, it sunk deep in to its mass

Again and again, the mountain struck
Slamming ax deep, flailing deep; madness
Bone, blood and flesh, raining down like hail
Children were picked, dead and live alike
Carried off far from this site

The creature was dead, Nemesis no more
But still he struck, drunk on action, fluid of motion
Again and again, pulping it beyond
A fury, his crown for this, soon to be spent
A lesson to be made here, Others, he suspect

Hours, the ground still shook
Days, miles from their valley homes
Weeks, they could still feel the powers to the west
No one to believe their stories
Only superstition by day, fear at best

The small ones didn't return
He pondered, again on his throne
No wonder, to witness, such an Evil
Unbridled violence, not for those
His wound would fester, he would not grow old
You beautiful creature
You lily in the spring
You bloom so beautifully
But you're gone so quick
I want to love you
But it's making us sick
You beautiful creature
Our lives are a trick

You chaotic creature
Your drawer full of secrets
You're so afraid that nobody will keep them
You're so alone You've got no home
You hurt my heart and stain my soul

Oh beautiful creature
Chaos in the air
Strings holding you up
Voices in your hair
We are making us sick
We are making us sick
We are so sick but we don't care

You're so quiet but your soul is so loud
You're breaking up and sinking to the ground
But if you're drowning then you're bringing both of us  down
We're both going down


Oh beautiful creature
Chaos in the air
Strings holding you up
Voices in your hair
We are making us sick
We are making us sick
We are so sick but we don't care

I made a promise to you one night
That I'll always be there
And you need not fright
But I'm afraid that one  day
My words will not be the same
And then youll know had nothing to gain

And when I'm gone I need you to know
That everything I ever did show
Was true and pure Even though insecure
I held you close and when I was unsure
And when I'm gone the last thing I want to say
Is don't ever be afraid

Oh beautiful creature
Chaos in the air
Strings holding you up
Voices in your hair
We are making us sick
We are making us sick
We are so sick but we don't care

Oh beautiful creature , you take my breath away

You are my reason to stay

Don't ever be afraid
Cyrus Gold Jan 2018
I lay, of my own volition, in a space meant for her:
a confined and achromatic scene.
My hands, malodorous, muddy and splintered,
leisurely rest on my chest, free from labor machines.

Here I rest, hackneyed and discouraged
in a pitifully human attempt to simulate death
I curse my virtue; it chastises back as it
mourns the curious exploitation of my health.

It was meant to last only a minute,
as sorrow chains my putrid despair in place.
Yet I, to this day, cannot begin to explain
how the darkness manifested itself a face.

I attempted to strike a movement but remained still
as the daemon began to smile.
The plan was to endure without oxygen for seconds,
yet the creature stayed my conscience for a while.

In a surprising and trepid consternation,
I find myself in service to mendicancy.
The creature, a devil with venetian red oculi,
salivates at its newest and prized delicacy.

I cry at the fleeting mastery of my faculty,
yet the tears remain inattentive and departed.
Time blesses the creature with a dominant sentence
as reality registers a dialog that I had started.

“Where is my daughter? I demand to know.”
The creature’s smile grows ever wider.
He then takes the form of the stuffed turtle toy
that used to sleep right beside her.

The creature, in a droning and unmelodious voice,
utters a perplexing, yet commanding noise:

“ATIV ARETLA NI MAN ES ED OLEF”

Frightened yet discouraged, I aim to find the sense
in the puzzling command the creature produced.
“She’s been missing for days! I need to know where she is!”
The beast speaks again, letting its anger loose:

“FELO DE SE NAM IN ALTERA VITA!!”

Suddenly, albeit boundlessly, the stillness was lifted,
and my structure was free from this tenebrous stead.
I raise myself and clasp at the summit’s precipice
after having danced with a beast in this wooden bed.

The vacant coffin remained pristine,
fitted with natural calico cotton lining.
The devil you fear the most is the one you create
and mine emerged with impeccable timing.

The creature’s malevolent ballad persistently tattles
as The Lapse rebroadcasts the “truth” it wanted to utter.
It had told me, “Become a felon of oneself,
and thine own life shall be traded for another.”

I refuse to concur with the creature’s decisiveness
as my unyielding faith will ensure my daughter’s return.
Her weighty and boundless absence must cease
and lead to the terminus of my inexhaustible concern.
Tales from The Lapse - Entry I
ryn Sep 2014
Creature of myth, you have to be real
I know you're there, I know you exist
Can't see nor touch but indeed I feel
That should suffice to say the least

No one I know has seen this mythical creature
I stand by my beliefs... I simply just do...
This being unknown to aged texts or ancient scriptures
Allow me to document, I'll keep it true

"A magnificent neck that tapers into a head
Much like a halo, wearing a luminescent crown
Azurite for eyes like many have said
A golden mane majestically cascading down

Almond shaped face, with cheeks slightly scaled
In the centre were dimple-like nostrils
From it's mouth, a voice; demure and frail
Speaks in verses from a time frozen still

Within the cage right under its chest
I know that calmly there lay beating
A huge, magnanimous heart does rest
Embedded deep within a physique so beguiling

Its spine is perfect, as if forged by a divine mould
Limbs are long, but with gait so light
Non terrestrial wings that into nothing they fold
Stretched around is smoothened skin milky white"


That is all I have got to offer so far
Matched the words to my mind's bewitching visage
No one has seen it; thus ensured that they cannot mar
In my head will forever be etched the image

Creature of myth... Please be real
Know that I am blinded, I just want to see
Not for the others, you don't reveal
I do believe... I just need to convince me...
Somewhere in this world, I've heard that it's true,
That a creature exists, with huge eyes that are blue,
A small kind of creature, you'd mistake for a mouse,
A small kind of creature, with a small kind of house,
Now this creature is kind and so full of affection,
But the worlds big and scary, so it requires protection,
But fear not young Snuggle-Bug, you are destined to find,
Another such creature, that's also so kind,
A creature that's known, from the east to the west,
As the Snuggly-Buggly if you hadn't have guessed,
Now the Snuggly-Buggly is small but it's strong,
And it holds the Snuggle-Bug in it's arms which are long,
Now it keeps it warm and it keeps it secure,
It gives it some love, and it gives it some more,
If one makes a mistake, a hug's what they're given,
Because each of them knows, they'll always be forgiven,
Now remember this Snuggle-Bug, no matter what you do,
The Snuggly-Buggly will always love you.
My first attempt at a childrens poem, but it's also a love poem to my Snuggle-Bug :)
Ron Sanders Feb 15
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
Andrea Diaz Dec 2011
Childhood,

                   Such sweet everlasting blindfolded years.
          Where, we didn’t care who you were
                   We didn’t care where you from
                   We were just happy to have you as a friend.
Where the only type of love we yearned for
          Was the one given by our mother and father

How I remember those wonder-filled days,
          Where the only thing we whined about was,
                   Having more sweets and staying up later.
          Where the only thing we whished for was,
                   Having two front teeth and
                   Wanting to grow older.

Wanting to grow older so we could,
                   Buy a magical car to take us anywhere in the world!
Wanting to grow older so we could,
Buy whatever we god ****** felt like buying without our parents questioning our insanity!

But…
          What was so great about growing up?
Heck, when we got to that stage in our life,
We wished that we could build a time machine to go back to the past and relive those simpler days.

BUT!
          ITS TOO ******* BAD SUCH A THING DOESN’T EXIST!
          It’s too ******* bad that we live in a world of reality where it crushes our fantasy
          It’s just…
                   Too god ****** bad,
                             That when we grow older, our hearts grow wider…
                                      And the love we receive from our parents…
          Just isn’t enough.
So,
          Let me formally introduce my self,
          I am the loveless creature
Who was always told never to look at the  Moon,

Because it would forever remind me of me and you.
Because when ever I did look at the moon,
          I’d cry at its beautiful presence
Because its so ******* elegant to look at
          Yet its too god ****** far away to be with.
I couldn’t be like the stars that always surrounded its elegance
I couldn’t fly up to the moon because every time I tried,
          I ended up falling after breaking through Earth’s atmosphere
          Crashing and burning onto the ground.

Because I,
Am like many lonely hearted, hopelessly romantic, empty hearted people in Earth’s room who always wanted the warm fuzzy feeling of someone holding their hand
Of someone holding them in their arms
Of someone just being there for them when their world is crashing down on them.
I,
Am, like many people who have those awkward weird feelings of seeing everyone around them coupling off one by one,
Leaving you stranded all by yourself in a lonely corner entitled “Loveless Creature”

Yet,
          In that corner,
                   I always saw that devilishly looking moon
That always ******* stared down at me because I would never be able to reach the skies and become a star so I too can surround its elegance.
And I am always fearing that this dark corner I sit in
          Would forever become my “home” because I feared that
          I will forever remain a loveless creature.
Because I will always be a loveless creature…

So,
Can I please go back to those beautifully filled childhood days where all I ever required and needed was the love I received from my parents and even the graceful loving moments being surrounded by friends who never coupled off

Can’t my corner be a little bit brighter?
          So I can endure the pains of being an empty hearted creature?

Because, walking through those cruel ugly hallways
          Is just making me suffer.
Because, seeing that god awful moon
          Is just causing unwanted tears.

Heh,
          I guess its just the feelings of a loveless creature.
So,
Allow me to apologize to my friends who already found someone to complete them because I am unable to feel truly happy for you.
I am sorry that when you say, “I love you as a friend,” it never really filled the emptiness in my heart,
And for ******* cramping your style,
Because I cannot truly smile
Sorry for being entitled as the loveless creature,
And for having ****** up emotions
Sorry for crying when I looked at the elegant moon,
And for reading to you to you a disgusting depressed poetry about how ridiculously loveless I am!

And…
For those who are lonely hearted, hopelessly romantic, people who need to fill that empty void in their hearts,
Sorry that we all mostly feel the same
And that life put us in this cruel game,
But…
          Maybe in the future, not so far…
          We will become a star,
          Shinning ever so brightly
          Next to the one elegant moon
          That will forever complete that emptiness in our hearts.
Isaac Monge Dec 2012
Pebbles rotate all around the man
The sound of heavy paws
He says he can fight it, he can
Yet he glances at the creature's jaws

Fierce, yet resembles a cat
A friendly house pet
Not a pet, nothing like that
The time is now set

The sun glows like a bright ball of fire
Light peering through the trees
Being alive, that's all he desires
Creature, I come in peace

Tears stream from his eyes
He clenches his teeth
The man, completely scared at its size
He reaches for his sheath

Many years in the town
Never seen such a creature
All those times, the times he frowned
But never at a creature with striking features

The man knows his sword would not do a thing
The creature roars loud
He takes it out anyways
The cat reacts to the sound

In front of the creature, he mourns
He begs and cries
Carrots and corn
He had everything, but the time is set, now he dies

Its claws, each a sharp knife
The smell of the creature's breath
Thinking about his kids and wife
The time has come, time for death
King Panda Mar 2016
I.

and I galumphed
to the rock salt
shore and
collapsed
waiting for
you
to run over
the dune’s
*****

II.

it had only been
a few minutes
but I could see
the rhino cloud
coming
full
steam
and spitting
fire
if only I had
the strength
but you stole that
from me
too

III.

the steam was
fresh against
my cracked
skin
I could feel the
salt melt off
into the
sand
crane swinging
jaws engulfing
my twisted
body

IV.

I did not find you
inside
only an
unbreakable bottle
with an
unreachable
note and a skeleton
with rings
on its
fingers

V.

my last dreams
were ones
of us
on a mountain
hot air balloon
shadow
specked against
the sunset
everything was so
big
the wind blew
your hair
everywhere
as I drank
in the
storm
this was the last
time I remembered
smiling

VI.

black expanse
with a little
white dot
popping from
corner to
corner
life always played games
with me
death was no
different

VII.

this creature
feared you
this creature
was a long visit
with fire burning
and love notes
this creature was
spit out by
your mouth
this creature
was loud by
your breath
this creature
spackled and
magnetized
never reborn
boat stench and
teeth
mashed
and mashed
again
raining on
your body as
the desert breaks from
its last
drought

VIII.

we will meet
again
I’m sure of
it.
Elizabeth L Aug 2014
The creature sat in the back of a room in the middle of a mind behind the ribs and looked around.
Around it was its own coagulating, dark liquid substance, like a cowl over its skull-like intangible head.  
Claws scratching from the inside out, digging from the outside in for release, to be vulnerable, so that perhaps someone could truly love it.
Ripping open the cheeks, stomach, chest of another, searching for itself, for another pair of bottomless dark eyes to look into, and crying.
The body needs to be crushed and destroyed before the soul can be free, there isn’t another creature just like it for miles and the other shells failed.
But to rip open to release the creature it loves, it would have to ****.
So it’ll just **** itself or else drown in the posion of another and hope it doesn’t live to see the repercussions of its actions.
self destructing, salting its wounds with another's lips, cracking itself open against a wall, waiting in a tower to be rescued, no one wants to save the knight.
let the darkness grow and then saving the light wont matter
drown in the devil to lose the fear of preserving a soul already too tainted,
let it fester. the creature just wants to sew the outer skins together and live with another but there isnt another creature.
it met one once, but that one harmed it in a bad way, but maybe thats what it deserved.
drown the fear in hurt and it wont have to be strong
the darkness oozes and burns and pleases in self delusion.
It wanted to be free but now it's lost and blind and vulnerable and it will have to harm in order to be rectified, verified, loved.
Maybe some things are better left hidden away.
well, at least i found words for it
Mateuš Conrad Jul 2018
.wow, i never thought it would ever be possible,
i'm sorry, i have no empathy for these youtuber "creators",
any idiot can regurgitate the news,
venture into vulture journalism,
  then again: gone are the days of closely associated
with people like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein...
they are really gone: what the hell was gamer-gate
compared to watergate? gate after gate,
and all i'm hearing is response videos,
it should have never come to this,
whereby journalists are as untrustworthy as politicians,
and of what remains, come the saturday and
the sunday editions, when the petty bourgeoisie
come out of the woodworks of a week,
album reviews, book reviews, t.v. reviews,
restaurant reviews: real, real journalism,
all the grit you'd expect from a warzone...
           journalists forgot they were not kindred spirits
of politicians: but immediacy historians...
the front-line history chroniclers...
i find... these days, esp. these days...
    you know why i like heidegger so much,
and forget the fact that he joined the **** party?
in 1938 he was already disillusioned by it...
so the ad homine fallacy bites the dust...
   even a **** deservers a redemption...
but i find that these days, of all days...
   man, as a historiological creature has to bow
before the unshakeable facets of the biological man,
esp. in the english speaking world...
    in terms of history and biology:
     history has all the fun stories,
and a sensible "concern" for time,
   well... if not "concern" then at least a bearbable
time-frame...
                  after all, i am the one who said:
all the great deserts of the world,
akin to sahara? they were once great
mountain ranges... you already know where
to look between a mountain range akin to the alps
and a desert... bound to h'america...
   monument valley: utah...
  a mountain becomes a rock after a while...
while the desert expands...
    ayers rock (uluru)... but monument valley (utah)
is a transition period between a mountain range
and a desert, if we're going to stand outside
of all space and time, and look back in...
we have plenty of time to catch-up on...
           just like i believe that black holes
are actually 2-dimensional objects:
   that spin really fast, giving an impression
of them being 3-dimensional objects:
as usually represented by a gravity dip associated
with them pulling matter into themselves...
i think that black holes are paradoxes...
since how can a 2-dimensional object
actually exist in a 3-dimensional space?
   that depends on the size of the "3-dimensional"
object / space... the universe is a medium,
it's defined as a "space" but to me...
      it's beyond space... it's only space on the grounds
of isolated time, 365 days,
the time and space it takes for the earth
to orbit the sun... which is an isolated example,
outside? well: there's atmosphere on earth,
outside? vacuum!
who's going to prove my theory wrong?
               not anyone in my lifetime -
besides the point with these youtube content
"creators": where credit is due, credit is due,
but once might have cared for their vulture
journalism... two old farts akin to felix (black pigeon
speaks) and sargon of akaad talking about how:
the youth are congregating to youtube to listen
to music: that's what i've always done...
  i discovered these youtube "creators" by accident,
i just wanted my jukebox back, man,
i wanted my algorithm back, my imprint back,
now that the devil's dozen scenario took hold
of the platform: 1 video playing, 12 back-ups...
and they're all the same, unrelated, *******...
        talk all you want, please, just give back
my algorithm imprint, where i can discover new music...
again... i never thought i'd see another
compilation video, 173 videos bound to one...
and, mind you... after finding about 6 googlewhacks
(googlewhack? when you use the sort of
language that provides you with only one search
result on the behemoth platform of billions
of results, 1 is grand, but 6? it's becoming too
predictable)...
                        so here's what i found
   (band - song):

wooly mammoth - mammoth bones / kyuss - space cadet,
rainbows are free - last supper / grand magus -
                                                mountain of power,
zed - lies / om - cremation chant I & II,
    smoke - hallucination / weird owl - white hidden fire,
orchid - son of misery / witch - seer,
               unida - you wish / black mountain - old fangs,
b.r.m.c. - ain't no easy way /
              jack daniels overdrive - ****** to death,
shrinebuilder - blind for all to see,
                   datura - mantra / the heavy eyes - voytek,
the machine - infinity / clutch - the regulator,
   colour haze - mountain / maligno - son of tlalocan,
dozer - twilight sleep / gomer pyle - albino rattlesnake,
blockback - dead mans blues / greenleaf - witchcraft tonight,
cactus jumper - right way / borracho - bloodsucker,
alabama thunderpussy - motor ready,
                    earthless - sonic power,
my brother the wind - death and beyond,
   zaphire oktalogue - carrion fly / siena root - reverberations,
unida - slaylina / pothead - toxic / sungrazer - mountain dusk,
   rotor - costa verde / blizaro - it's in the lighthouse,
planet of zeus - woke up dead,
     kongh - pushed beyond / ufomammut - smoke,
high on fire - to cross the bridge,
              the secret - bell of urgency,
      unida - wet pussycat / dozer - big sky theory,
cavity - chloride / brutus - swamp city blues,
the grand astoria - something wicked this way comes,
sasquatch - the judge / pharaoh overlord - skyline,
baby woodrose - love comes down / kamni - **** of satan,
lay with me - the flying eyes / cowboys & aliens  -
                                                out of control,
sons of otis - liquid jam / hainloose - recipe,
    ridge - rancho relaxo / bongripper - ****** sutherland,
skraeckoedland - cactus / grails - satori,
    lo-pan - chicken itza / five horse johnson - people's jam,
blind dog - don't ask me where i stand,
     wiht - orderic vitalis / hisko detria - nothing happens,
liquid sound company - leage for spiritual discovery lives,
   goatsnake - black cat bone / gandhi's gunn - rest of the sun,
the egocentrics - wave / propane propane - it's alright,
heliotropes - ribbons / mother mars - price you pay,
che - the knife / annimal machine - condenado,
   earth - tallahassee / the whirlings - delirio,
orchid - heretic / maeth - horse funeral,
siena root - rasayana / graveyard - longing,
           tia carrera - hell / hainloose - recipe,
      burner - five pills (and a bottle of whiskey),
dala sun - guilty for ****** / vulgaari - lie,
        slo burn - muezli / stonehelm - zombie apocalypse,
smallman - evolution / spiders - fraction,
         shakhtyor - e. jaspers / earthmass - lunar dawn,
evoke the lords - dregs / colour haze - silent,
     sutrah - el septimo viaje...

  

who are "these" people,
who: "supposedly" live for the future...
they always cite it,
as the one motivational
momentum of the present -
it's as if they've never seen
a bull itch the ground
with its front hoofs -
   imitating building up momentum
before a charge...
or how a slingshot,
or how a bow works...
   to these people,
the ******* sideways movement
of a bow against a violin...
sometimes...
      you do not retreat into
the past, to hide, to amount
to nostalgia...
     sometimes
the only reason for the reflexive
affirmation, confined to maxims
and aphorism, nay: even poems!
is to look back...
     to reap what was once
sowed, rather than sow blindly,
and reap: what no one wants
to reap...
    drunk? getting there...
       it felt so relaxing paying off
a 100 / 250 part of a debt
i owe her...
            while buying a russian
standard liter,
   asking for a 100 cash-back
of the supermarket cashier,
- the limit is 50,
   but if you buy something else,
i can give you another 50...
- oh... ok...
   so me went to and took a bottle
of shveedish cider...
   rekorderlig...
   mind you? the swedish,
what they perfected fermenting
better than what the the irish claim
to fame is?
    sorry... magners:
               irish? stick to the guinness...
(it's actually the only cerveza
i'd go into an english pub to
drink from the tap... bottled? canned?
not the same)...
     but with such swedish delights
such as the above mentioned,
  ålska and K  ö   nigsberg
                            *œ
?
no competition... the suede(s) just
do one thing grand...
    cider...
- what was i talking about?
  ah... the "dreaded" past...
     the people who say:
  but you can't live out a life,
   holding onto a private past,
a memory...
    so... these other ******* were
allowed to implant a false
past, unrelated to me,
teaching me whether it was
Newton, or Leibniz who first
invented the infinitesimal calculus
method?
                i'm betting on Leibniz...
after all... he took the position
of a ******* librarian...
   and he wasn't buried with pomp
& circumstance at Westminster Abbey...
sometimes...
         one person can't have it all...
but if the education system
is a system that is indicative for
the erosion of memory, esp. private
matters... and juggernauts in
with these selective rubrics of science
and history...
fair enough the basic
implants: numerical arithmetic,
and lettering arithmetic -
    and then... lessons in mental
entertainment... when applied
           to menial labour...
memory is: supreme...
          i can't give my memory up...
that's what: killer proteins
eating the fat tissue of the brain
like starvation in reverse
        of a case of Alzheimer's?
memory is: cameo cinema -
    however distorted it might be,
although i beg to differ on
whether time per se,
  is not the better psychedelic
component
when coupled with memory -
esp. the cinematic aspect of memory...
there was never a "living" in
the past -
      there was a point about memory
to sharpen the edges of
    "dasein"... all speculation and
questions regarding consciousness,
as championed through
a chimpanzee's *** are somehow
pointless:
    given there's a higher tier of
conceptualization -
   working from dasein...
            hierjetzt -
      or in english?             presence...
- because why would i treat
a personal memory,
like some inorganic entity of
a schooling system,
under Catholic measures,
  that made it necessary to include
Pythagoras... but not Horace?
that's inorganic memory...
and unless i turn into some
inorganic entity -
   the organic aspect of my psyche:
my past, my cameo cinema?
   that's going to be a leech,
attached to me...
  and i'm not going to give it up,
just like... when i walk about
my door, and enter the england
that i know on the peripheries...
i'll speak the lingua franca -
     but with my privacy?
    you'd better cut my tongue off
before i stop speaking
my western slavic heritage...
    and it pains me...
when certain groups of immigrants...
don't know the POINT
where immigration becomes
insensible... self-lacerating...
           i once hated their approach...
now i just pity them...
anyone ****** can juggle
     two oranges rather than three...
p.s. old school cure for a cold?
forget the pills...
   glass of warm milk,
  an egg yolk,
     and a good scratch of butter...
  (on the rare occasion,
  milk infused with garlic)

mixed together...
before bedtime...
  if the ****** won't sweat out
the bacteria during the night...
     well... stick to the synthetics...
i'm pretty sure i know why i drink...
certainly not to: PARTY PARTY PARTY...
i always aim for
the one safety net of "pharmacology"...
ssssssssleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

p.s. so much for children loving their
parents...
        in vitro and the whole
m.g.m. debacle:
so, sweet little *******,
       no *******, no chance for your
for a quickie satellite launch date from
Tehran, under all the weight of
monotheism turned secular...
christianity: the only "monotheism"
with overt tinged of polytheism,
lutheran, baptist, catholic, orthodox...
just today i opened my door twice...
once to a confused curry house delivery man:
did you order some food:
i too replied with a confused look
and the word: huh?! no.
then a black woman with a a white ol' granny
came by with a leaflet...
the jehovah's witnesses were on my trail...
lucky of my grandfather,
   the profanity brigade of the hebrew name
i will not dare utter came by...

  and if you have lived a good enough life:
memory? memory beats hollywood
technicolour and CGI...
at least in the cinema of memory i always
get to play the cameo (role)...

oh i get the youtube creators:
   living with his parents... still. aged 33...
funny that i don't mind them,
since they're getting older they're settling
into their solispsism,
        annoying as ****, but i stand them,
thank god the protruding caduceus veins
on my phallus protected me from
a circumcision...
  i can ******* like a girl with a web-cam...
no scented candles:
the no. 1, 2 & 3 on the throne of thrones...
the toilet, simultaneously masaging my ****
and prostate...

men were not exactly supposed to derive
pleasure from ***: they were,
supposed to give pleasure,
and in giving pleasure to one outlet,
they were subscribed to finding out what
best pleases them: ergo?
women would always derive more of
the people from *** than men would ever...
*** is not a story of bragging about
a harem... the woman lies flat...
the man pumps her...
after all... she is the one burdened
to carry a child, why wouldn't she be
the one deriving more pleasure from *** than
a man could ever?
72 virgins! ha ha!
   ah ha ha!
             what's the ratio?
   last time i checked... a 3 hole caravan...
of a woman's worth...
   mouth, ******, ****... and man?
only two points of entry, well...
"entry"...
                    seems that the tomatoe,
really is a fruit, but is treated like a vegetable
nontheless!
homosexuality in the 1960s...
william burroughs in Tangiers...
                    when Islam was quiet radical...

well... i cook, i clean...
                what are my other options of continuing
to write and living the ed gein "lifestyle",
i tried getting social housing in england,
but, i'm not a somali with two wives and a dozen
kids...
              rent, in london?
extortion...
                   housing shortage...
                 well there's me hating my parents,
the outside world just needs to see
an ed gein imitation...
               or there's me living off acorns
in the woods, or rummaging on the streets,
making the N25 bus from oxford st. to ilford
my own personal mobile hotel as a homeless
man in london...

   i think it's time to succumb to your
parents prejudices, if only for the jokes,
no point in making ethical high judgements
to fit into a zeitgeist narrative surrounding
yourself with people: you'd never eat a meal with...
that's how i define the highest form of respect:
if i'll eat with you: implies that i respect you...
i drink alone...
a high school fwend once thought he could
bribe me with his company,
that i "had to" drink with him...
      no... not really...
          i much prefer drinking by myself...
these days you're not expected to honour your
mother and your father,
i.e. make them proud...
               honour is a double-edged sword...
just don't be ashamed of having
a mother or a father...
not that hard: given western divorce rates...
i.v.f., frozen eggs... yadda yadda yadda...
lucky me in having went to university...
oh... really? so much cooler in a cosmopolitan
environment with your contemporary
flat-mates?
               get the picture?
                 paying rent while literally living
in a diguised cardboard box?
i can't help the fact that poetry doesn't pay...
that there are economic factors beyond
my control in play...
   maybe if i was the grandson of my parents,
born in england, and not elsewhere,
there would be some sort of + leverage...
for a bricks and mortar start-up...
plus... i hoard...
         books and music...
                     mind you:
neither of my parents spoke english as their
mother tongue...
  neither did i...
they didn't teach me this tongue:
i had to teach this language by myself:
for myself...
           aged 8: thrown into the deep end
of the pool: now swim ******, swim!

i just feel sorry for the immigrant parents
who gave birth to their children into the *****
of the land they immigrated to...

two days ago i found a heartbreak,
a romanian couple, with a child...
the father was stubborn in teach his daughter
his / her native sprechen...
romanian... but she was already speaking
perfect antithesis of accent kindergarten english...
and almost non-responsive to her tongue
alligned to her biology...
    clearly she was born in england,
but her parents were both romanian...
i've had that conundrum in my head
for a long time...
   what if i married an english girl...
and i was unable to teach my offspring
my native language,
what if i had to silence my native tongue,
"forget" it, or only speak it by myself,
via reading a book in western slavic?
what if the woman i married:
wouldn't see the benefits of bilingualism,
outside of the mainstream economic
mantra of ensuring your children
learn either german or mandarin or arabic?
that worried me...
          oh believe me, i enjoy my lapses
into english: since i am providing the groundwork...
but in the case of having offspring...
e.g. teaching them the western slavic tongue
so they could speak to their grandparents
(i.e. my parents)...
       even my grandparents lament
the scenarios when a woman would marry
an austrian... and she wouldn't teach
her children her native tongue,
and when the grandchildren would visit their
grandparents... they'd be speaking
a crude variation of braille, morse,
   sign-language: na migi...
               i know that my mother is alive
in me even under this veil of english...
because she's more than the womb,
the genitals of my conception, the breast fed off...
she's also the Atlas of my vocabulary
of the "hiding" tongue beneath this one...

i already knew the "game" was rigged from
the get-go... i've seen how one hindu woman
suffered being married to a scouser...
she never managed to pass on her language
to her children,
she bought a library, thinking her children
would succumb to learning: however poor
they might end up being...
but she was suffocated by the english
tongue of her husband...
and her children didn't express even the most
vague of desires to learn their mutterzunge...

that's what worried me to begin with,
marrying an english woman i was afraid
of the ignorance that someone bilingualism
was en route toward a psychiatrist disorder
i was diagnosed with: schizophrenia...
this anglophonic ignorance still scares me...
like: everyone is expected to speak the revisionist
globalist lingua franca: this anglo lingua...
if i didn't meet a bilingual / polyglot woman,
i'd return to rearing idiotic children...
anglo lingua was only supposed to be a middle-ground,
a "no man's land"...
             a language of trivial economic transfers...
a language primarily orientated around usage:
rather than an ethno-centric basis for "englishness"...
to **** with: god save the queen...
the british grenadiers' fife & drum...
                 old scot dragoons': auld lang syne...
those where my forever anthems...
see...
        what gave birth to a jihadi john?
his mother "forgot", his father "forgot":
his "mother" forgot, his "father" forgot to speak
the "ancient" tongue...
there's a point to integration of the immigrant,
an immigrant is a forgetful creature,
an ever pleasing creature...
never to mind himself as an ex-pat...
you ****** forget your mutterzunge...
you'll be speaking in cockney accents
with broken affairs of arabic beheading people
for zombified reasons of grandeour!
*******...
          you, you: you are to blame!
you were so ashamed of your parents that you
delved on honoring them to the point
of thinking giving pride unto them was very
much akin as keeping shame away from
their girdle of the wedlock of your own existence!
death has not made your a martyr...
i guess you deserve those 72 mishaps,
those 72 annoying voices...
and i pray to god that you receive your reward!
i hope that among the 72 you will never find
a chance a repose to find your: self!

integration is one thing,
pandering to the "elites": plebs who think they
are kings among the plebs,
is quiet another...
plebs who go places and think english
is a universal tongue: just because
uncle sam says so...
of those i respect:

y cymraeg: pwy dal eu tafod...
an gàidhlig: cò fhathast bruidhinn an cuid teanga...
i nawet moim: co ma mówić
to nawet tyle: co znaczy tak niewiele!

there are boundaries... learn the customs
of the natives, but ensure you retain the customs
you were born with...
a child, born in a foreign land,
ought to ensure his parents teach him
the words to speak to his grand overseers...
complete immersion,
this cultural abortion,
this cutting of the umbilical chord
from: i have never met a people so
content at having been subjugated outside
the indian sub-continent,
cricket... for ****'s sake...
       as to demand other europeans
to treat them as superiors,
when sitting alongside an englishman...
****-bud-bud, the **** are you on about?!
once again: england has become the circus
for the grounding of what began
with engels and marx...
   wasn't communism born from
engels and marx observing english society?
sure... first experimented en masse in
mongolia... but its origins?

   so of course i had problems finding a suitable
mating partner... i was afraid that my nativ-zunge
would die a slow but solemn death...
that an english bridge would not consider
the worth of a bilingual child, or a polyglot,
or that she would repress the chance of my
"biological continuum nuance" to respond outside
of the anglo lingua refrain of: beside the english language?
there are quiet a few one might want to learn...

it's not easy being a first generation immigrant,
esp. if you moved aged 8, mute as a wolf
to a domesticated dog's barking...
but hey, no jihadi john in me...
           jihadi john should have been raised
bilingual... i wouldn't be the one speaking broken
tourist arabic while beheading someone...
jihadi john spoke tourist arabic...
the dichotomy of the mind to the biological
reality, beside the current, western,
"biological relativism" debate...
      clearly darwinism was "wrong"...
man is, these days, left with neither a biological
reality, nor a historical reality...
              but there is a historical reality:
but it's so knit-&-picky...
come on... philip augustus of the capetian
dynasty?
                 casimir III...
                        jeremi wiśniowiecki...
konrad I of masovia...
                           kuno von lichtenstein...
alles ist gott: und gott ist alles -
  gott mit, uns!

              mit eine leben wert leben:
    erinnerung ist die nur kino
             wert sehen eine film beim;

hell... could be worse:
   i might have translated some latin
of horace into pig-trough comfort food.
Ashley Chapman Jul 2018
Pressesd tenderly,
your carnal flower opens,
its butterfly released,
hovers like a hummingbird
drinking from the bill.

Oh, I too would steal you away
and cage you happily,
to get under your black-fringed skirt; 
to see that pretty dress,
fly off once more,
and see you bare;
burned now forever in my banks,
a first sight,
of dark curls!

As I think of it,
my desire stirs,
but of us
I have already masturbated twice:
jammed,
hips pinned,
sliding over our wet perspiring bellies,
in our jungle heat:
'cause in the firmament of our embrace
- it's hot -
where glued we **** into each other,
stoking flames,
until sleep,
when we disappear from each other.
My mind crowds,
with niggling neurotic inanities;
yours with manic dreams where bed-wetting criminals in cages beg to be freed,
before better spaces overtake.

When I awake,
I am lying next to you,  
Gwen over the horizon of your fertile valley,
a mountain,
white and reposed.
You,
murmuring desire for me.
****!
I can't wait to answer.

It is late,
late morning,
and we are all half asleep.
You have your back to me,
as we lie,
rubbing feet,
stroking hands,
(the oiled bulb at the end of a finger),
your fine shoulders,
(that delicate but persistent bone in your wrist that stretches with pointed elegance);
as quietly inside,  
(warmly enveloped),
my couched *****,  
rocks us:
each diffusing into the other
like the early morning brew.

Lust and love,
closing-in,
which for a good while on edge had been:
the weeks,
days,
hours;
faint promises from afar;
sometimes a little closer,
our shadows in daylight cross,
as one over the other storms;
and once (or twice),
a sleeve brushes,
even better,
hair crackles,
as a speaking lip touches lobe,  
and for a moment,
taking in the other's scent,
a hint sublimely overpowers.

And these,
dearest of fancies,
are just some,
with which to penetrate your mind,
as you have mine:
the energy of my yielding tenderness,
inviting you to complete me,
as I spread for you with desire.

Much later,
those daring looks you have,
the way you walk our stage:
your beautiful elongated face,
those quick-fire arousing eyes,
your sultry self-assuredness,
your pre-possessing self.

I could talk about your couple,
of generosity,
reaching up,
beyond mere comprehension:
of the fact that I like Gwen
(his love gift for you, me);
but actually,
in truth,
I prefer to take this moment to make love to you;
to say how wrapped I am,
folded in your limbs,
in our mingling sweat;
how with your joy,
you touch my desires,
into yours,
so they flow,
run rather:
honeysuckle from your blessed nymphae.

You love my smell,
you say,
and I dream of gathering you in pheromones,
of drugging you,
of intoxicating you,
so once again you will find me,
take me,
have me.
Entice you once more like a creature from its shell:
Come!
where I can ravish you,
all of you,
lay naked to me,
flesh,
sinews,
everything,
your very bones;
those fine elbows,
those knees I would like to ******* over;
wash their smooth surfaces in my come:
from these cliff heights,
rain ***** on the rocks below.

To once more cast aside your socks and get at your toes,
to pour oil on 'em,
to rub and squeeze' em,
while in the moist cavern of your insides,
we ****,
half washed over by our own tide.
And as we do,
I quail,
speaking sweet nothings of appreciation;
from full lips,
your sounds return,
the hypnotic rhythm of your breath:
I engorge and in our labyrinth,
- the maiden and the bull -
we consume ourselves.

There,
Sweet Lentiform,
you did it,
you got me rolling in flesh,
lusting after your intimate parts,
wanting you in bed as I know you must have me:
pulling me on you,
kissing and biting;
my arousal in your palm,
pops,
as you run a curved finger over my nethers.

Lying,
lying,
side-by-side,
lying prone,
lying ******,
never unconsumed,
because,
please,
please  us,
with more;
so rarely,
unfucked even for a pause,
nothing doing more than sleeping and carousing;
our sustenance barely enough to keep us at it,
an occasional comic thrown in.
Oh,
God,
throw the ******* comic at me,
will you?
Beat my ******* flesh with it if you like.
Anything to see you standing in all your pearly naked glory!

And if you can,
keep texting me,
so I can hang on your every word like a ******* puppy!
Beautiful
long-haired,
skin tight,
upright,
wise,
gorgeously wild,
woman ...
Now pull me by my **** into your **** -
where I love it best.
James Scanlan Mar 2017
Gasping, I struggle as air wheezes into my lungs.
The bitter cold water runs down my face.
Shocking me awake, focusing me,
But the creature is still there

“Control,” I whisper to myself.

I see the creature’s face. It’s pale, pale as a corpse!
Thin blue worms wriggle beneath its skin.
Its hair, lifeless and thin, hangs limp on its head
While strands fall past eyes shining with a sick fire.

“Control,” I plead to myself.

I squeeze my eyes shut then open them once more.
The creature is closer now, clearer too.
The fire in its eyes burn with an unholy desire,
A fire that consumes and leaves naught but ashes.

“Control,” I beg to myself.

But the creature does not listen.
It claws its way out of the mirror and worms into my body.
Bringing with it that devouring, merciless fire
My blood turns to flame, rampaging across my flesh!

It Burns! Burns! Quench it! Feed it!

All control lost, I tie off my arm.
The fire quickly gathers there in anticipation
As I grab the needle and fill it.
Fill it with that cool liquid, that sweet Nectar.

Yes! The fire hurts! The Nectar is Bliss!

I slump back in ecstasy, lying on the bathroom floor.
Pleasure fogs my mind and
I no longer feel the agonies of my life,
Nor see the Creature I have become.
Crystal lived alone in the cabin Ray had built for her. Ray had left long ago but she thought of him often and sometimes went to see him in the city. She was an artist and a dabbler in many fields. Her house was a kaleidoscope of stained glass windows and half finished art projects. It was built almost entirely of wood with a beautiful stairway to a loft bedroom replete with a skylight window on the stars. Set in the mouth of a valley next to a clear stream the cabin looked almost as if it had grown there.

Crystal spent most of her time on her art projects, in fact she made her living that way. She was well known for the macabre nature of her works and they sold well at the local art fairs. Most of the scenes she painted could not possibly have existed on earth. Take for example the orange sky and purple mountains of Mariners Delight or the river of blood in Cosmic Conception.

Often Crystal would meet Ray at the art shows and they would discuss his books or her latest works. It was just such an occasion that preceded the first of her dreams.

Although Crystal had often dreamt of playing in a large meadow surrounded by reflections of her art work this dream had been different. She awoke from a scene in the woods where she had been the object of a grotesque conclave of creatures almost beyond description. There had been a huge goat like creature leading a chant, "Rada nema nestos Yreba, Rada nema nestos Yreba", for a group of creatures that resembled animals. There was a black toad sitting on a rock of seemingly impossible crystalline form, while an agile spider danced on the spokes of its luminous web above her. The smell of blood, the heat of the fire, and the constant and oppressive chant, "Rada nema nestos Yreba, Rada nema nestos Yreba" with all eyes directed at her. She woke with a start, it was early morning, her bed was a tangled mess, and she was covered with sweat. She felt she could almost smell wood smoke, and somewhere in her mind she could still hear the echos of the horrible chant.

It wasn't until almost a year later that the dream repeated itself. She had just completed what she considered her greatest work, a large mural like painting called Id Conclusion. It was a matrix of human forms in contorted and deformed conditions against a backdrop of misty images of human holocaust, war machines, and atomic clouds. She had gone to bed in a storm of thoughts on human depravation and greed. The scene was the same, the spider, the goat, the half human animals, all seemed the same, except for the chant, it was different. "Rada nema nestos Yreba, Raga mantra nestos reale, Yreba Yreba Shiva kommt da." Lightening cracked and a creature appeared. He seemed a man but was built more like a large monkey. Light seemed to follow him like an aura. He was the obvious master of the conclave and all stood back at his approach.

Crystal was lying on the stone altar in the center of the glade and although not bound she was incapable of motion while held in Yreba's gaze. That this creature was Yreba was obvious since all had bowed down now and the chant had changed, "Yreba Yreba teach us to grow." Crystals eyes were glazed and her naked body shown in Yreba's light. All her past works were floating across her mind like a collage. Lost in ecstasy she responded to his aggression like a wanton beast, screaming and writhing in the flow of his energy.

She woke to find her cabin in shambles and she was lying in the center of the living room on the floor, she panicked and ran to her car, slammed it into gear, and sped off down the road.

Ray was sitting in his office at the University that morning when Crystal burst into the room. "Ray, Ray, I've had a dream, a horrible dream, it was, I was!" "Slow down Crystal! You've had a what?" said Ray. Crystal sat down in a ball of frenzy and continued.

About an hour later Crystal had finished her story. Ray spoke, "So you say this is only the second time you've had this dream. Tell me more about Yreba. Does he resemble any of your art works?" "No", she said, "He seemed a lot more like that creature you told me about that day we were discussing witchcraft. The one who was supposed to be the personification of ****** desire evoked for the *** ****** of the ancient Persians."

Ray walked to his bookshelves (he was a professor of ancient mythology and religions) and pulled out a book called Necromancer by Abdule Azerod. "As I recall" he said "that creature was also a god of fertility." He thumbed slowly through the book, "yes, here it is. What did you say this creatures name was? Yreba? Very strange that's almost exactly this Persian deities name, Youruba. It seems he was evoked every year on the vernal equinox to assure ****** reproductivity and if you think thats frightening, feature this, last night was the vernal equinox." Crystal was stunned. "Do you think there's a connection" she stammered? "Don't be silly girl, this was seven thousand years ago. Why don't we drive out to your cabin and see if we can find some clues."

Twenty minutes later they were standing in Crystal's cabin. What had seemed so disorderly to Crystal in the morning was now clearly a purposeful state of order. All of her sculptures were arranged neatly on the stairs to the loft, and her pictures were arranged so as to face the spot on the floor where she had awakened. On the floor where she had lain was a large five pointed star. "What does it mean Ray?" "I think it's a pentagram" he stated. "Is anything missing?" "Not that I can see" she said. "I don't think we had better stay" he said, "Find what you need and we'll go back to my house. You can stay there until we figure it out."

Crystal never returned to the cabin. Ray sold it for her and bought her a new house in the city.

Crystal got sick a few weeks later. She was sitting in the doctors office now awaiting his return. "I have good news" he said. "Good news" Crystal groaned. "Yes" he said, "Your pregnant."
I named my bird dog Yreba, I'm in so much trouble!
Rae Mort Dec 2015
Wandering through every darkness
The creature has never been curious
Shadows cast the only illusions that matter
And the creature has never been curious
But that tiny girl
With her eyes wide and wandering
Her smile sure and unfaltering
She cast a shadow greater than the darkness
Tempting that creature
Tempering that creature
It followed her into the worst of places
All beautiful, serene
All lonely
It followed her to the edge of the darkness
Where she lit a flame
Ignited the entire world
And even then it followed still
The creature was never more curious
Of the tiny girl whose courage
Conquered more than any light ever could
Owlman Jul 2015
The creature watched them come and go and marveled at their beautiful wings and their elegant movement in the breeze. " i'll get my wings one day and they would put shame on the rainbow, you just wait and watch!" before long the day came and he got his wings. Through agony he fought his way out of the shell. With help of the breeze he spread the wings and flew in sky. When he was passing by the river, in still water, he saw an image and moved closer to it. Saw a dreadful creature in the silvery water that had a thousand eyes and the ugliest wings that he had ever seen.The creature imitated his every movement and then he realized that it's his reflection. He was angry and hateful and just like water that reflected his image he decided to reflect that anger and hate. From that day on he hunts the other winged creatures that he adored for so long. he flies static on silvery waters to see the beast every now and then.  That's the story of the dragonfly.

— The End —