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Liliana Jaworska Oct 2014
Surely I am dreaming
about heart left in the theater of your ardent idolizing.
Surely I am dreaming
about your strands enveloping my cheek.
Surely I am dreaming
about day in impetuous snowstorms spent in your arms.
Surely I am dreaming
about rush of events that take place only in movies.
Surely I am dreaming
about body panting into oblivion of worldly pleasures.
Surely I am dreaming
about face flushed from compliments of lover.
Surely I am dreaming
about hectic rush to your awaiting hands.
Surely I am dreaming
about red roses protruding from corners of your sensitive hands.
Surely I am dreaming
about heat of caresses in boiling blood.
Surely I am dreaming
about book of poems about our first love.
Surely I am dreaming
about you dancing in the withered leaves.
Surely I am dreaming
about sighs at beauty of carnality.
Surely I am dreaming
about sensitive whispers of desires of melancholy hearts into ear .

Surely I am dreaming
because I did not send a telegram entitled "Looking for love".
Surely I am dreaming
because loneliness can not disappear like stone in water.
Surely I am dreaming
because the best dreams come in the morning.
Surely I am dreaming
because it is so difficult to find warmth of someone else's hand.
Surely I am dreaming
because thoughts gallops as steeds in the forest of wilderness.
Surely I am dreaming
because dawns wake me up in supplication for more and more of you.
Surely I am dreaming
because kingdom of your eyes staring at me can not last forever.
Surely I am dreaming
because I am senseless from blizzard of evening events.
Surely I am dreaming
because you can not find love in a café or bar.
Surely I am dreaming
because I departed a long time ago from the distant land of fulfilled wishes.
Surely I am dreaming
because flowers are handed to uncommon women.
Surely I am dreaming
because hidden secrets are revealed only to beloved.
Surley I am dreaming
because I did not have  eyes half-closed in pleasure before.
Surely I am dreaming.
Ston Poet Dec 2015
(***** I'm dreaming2),..***** I'm believing,.. I'm chasing hope & faith mane..I'm chasing my dreams, ***** I'm believing, I'm chasing (my goals & aspirations2)..***** I'm believing,***** I'm dreaming (Yeah2)..(***** I'm dreaming2)
Dreaming..***** I'm believing, ***** I'm dreaming.. Dreaming..I'm (having hope & faith2)..***** I'm believing.., (I'm having hope & faith2)..***** I'm dreaming, ***** I'm believing, (I'm having hope & faith2)..Yeah..(***** I'm dreaming2)..***** I'm believing, Im (dreaming2)..I'm chasing hope mane,..(I'm chasing my goals & aspirations2)//***** I'm dreaming, ***** I'm believing, I'm chasing (my goals & aspirations2)..Aye..(I'm dreaming3)..dreaming, ***** I'm believing , I'm chasing (my goals & aspirations3)..(***** I'm dreaming, my ***** I'm believing2)..(I'm chasing hope & faith 2)..mane,

I ain't chasing after fame, I ain't chasing none of these hos either,..(***** I'm dreaming
2)..***** I'm believing,..I'm dreaming, I'm chasing (my goals & aspirations3)..*****, I'm believing, ***** I'm dreaming, ***** (I'm believing2)..(Im dreaming3)..dreaming..,aye..I'm chasing, (my goals & aspirations3)..
Goals & Aspirations.. Aye

That's what I'm chasing after like a hungry cheetah, I never been a cheater, ***** Imma believer, a true believer, a King Yeah..Aye, I'm chasing my goals & aspirations, &( I'm speeding2) like,**** the laws I'm going past the speed limit, **** a stop sign, no braking, I'm in drive *****, Its so hard being patient, but I'm tryna be Aye, no time waiting  , no time waisting, none of my days  being wasted..Im so wavey..Aye, Yeah I'm getting so faded, so wasted, Lord please forgive me even , tho I smoke alot of **** on a regular basis, that's (my medication2)..& I need it, it helps me from going (crazy2)..,I ain't never had **** partner, I come from nothing, I ain't had alot of money at a point of time in my life , I was so broke my *****, all I ever had was my goals , dreams, & aspirations, Yeah I was dreaming, & believing, I was chasing after hope & faith.., not after no females mane,Aye..
Nobody can't tell me nothing paparazzi better stay away from my face, aye I ain't on that Kanye West **** I ain't selling my soul for a happy meal *****, In happy all ready, God owns me, So I'm investing in my own worth homie, Yeah..I'm building my on corporation..Aye man..

(***** I'm dreaming
2),..***** I'm believing,.. I'm chasing hope & faith mane..I'm chasing my dreams, ***** I'm believing, I'm chasing (my goals & aspirations2)..***** I'm believing,***** I'm dreaming (Yeah2)..(***** I'm dreaming2)
Dreaming..
I ain't chasing after fame, I ain't chasing none of these hos either,..(***** I'm dreaming
2)..***** I'm believing,..I'm dreaming, I'm chasing (my goals & aspirations3)..*****
Uhh,Yeah

/This is (only for the Real
3)..if you don't know well then now you know *****/3,..
Aye, if you don't know *****, then pull a chair up & listen, Turn this **** up & listen, Blaze one up, (& listen
2), pay attention..This is (Only For The Real2)..Aye
I'm teaching ****** lessons like a teacher *****, I didn't have to go to college to teach *****, but that doesn't mean I can't teach you *****, I was blessed wit this gift from God, thank you so much Heavenly Father, thank you so much Jesus Christ, Ayo we all can learn something from each other, we all sisters & brothers word, Uhh..
Let's come together, let's stand up to this curropted government system, rise up & destroy them..Uhh, Aye I usta be all alone man, so lonely stuck in my room writing hits all day, I been a big factor my *****, man I always been the man, Yeah..Uhh, I ain't conceited either my *****, I'm just saying I'm confident,.. (Yeah *****
2)..
I just been (chasing my dreams & aspirations2)..I write (masterpieces2) Pablo Picasso type of ****, if you don't know well now you know this is (Only For The Real2)..Aye,..

/Im chasing my goals & aspirations
2..(my goals & aspirations2)/2

(Aye, we all on3..)..now..we all on..now
(Aye, we all on
3..)..now..we all on..now

/Aye it doesn't matter what anybody gotta say about ya, forget a doubter let them hate man, if you dream it see it in yo mind, & believe it, then you can achieve it/2
**** right..my *****
if you dream it see it in yo mind, & believe it, then you can achieve it..for real dawg..Ayr


You can become anything that you want my ***** for real dawg, gotta push yo self, uplift yo self if nobody else will, chase after hope & faith, chase (your goals *2), chase (your dreams
2) & your aspirations, don't ever stop *****, Cuhz, (anything you put your mind too you can achieve it,2) Yeah mane, you can..Uhh

/***** I'm dreaming, I'm chasing hope & faith, I'm chasing my goals & aspirations/
3
(Goals & aspirations*3)..aye
Julieann Jonson Jan 2019
Dreaming
Dreaming about you
Dreaming about us
Dreaming about what it would be like to be with you

Wishing I could stay asleep

Dreaming about our lips touching
Dreaming about our hands interlocking
Dreaming about you holding me close
Dreaming about you never letting go

Wishing not to wake up

Dreaming about looking up into your eyes
Dreaming about you looking into mine
Dreaming about your shy smile
Dreaming about the way your voice sounds when you say my name

Wishing to sleep forever

Dreaming about the way you make me laugh
Dreaming about your laugh
Dreaming about our conversations
Dreaming about everything

Wishing not to wake up
Wishing this was more than just a dream

I am awake
I am no longer dreaming
No longer dreaming of you

Wishing I was dreaming of you
Wishing this wasn’t just a dream
Marian Jan 2014
I'm dreaming beside the creek
I'm dreaming of skies with aurora hue
I'm dreaming beside the ocean
Of angels singing and playing their golden harps
I'm dreaming in the forest
Of fairies dancing on the pine needle
And moss carpeted forest floor
I'm dreaming in the woodlands
Of a place where time is eternal
And where wishes come alive
A place where dreams, fantasy, and illusions exist
I'm dreaming in the meadow
Of a world to call my own
Free of pain and sorrow
Where nothing bad or tragic ever happens
And where everything is sheer bliss
And pure magic
I'm dreaming in fields of flowers
Of true love that lasts forever
With no hearts ever broken
Or no tears ever shed
I'm dreaming on the mountain
Of a friend who understands
One whose always there to hold my hand
And tell me it's okay
The one who puts their arms around me
Or offers me a shoulder whenever I cry
I'm dreaming on the shores of time
Of orchestras singing me lullabies
Whenever I feel sleepy or tired
Or perhaps playing a tune to calm me down
Whenever I feel panicky because I'm scared
I'm dreaming underneath a tree
While the sun slants it's rays across my cheeks
Dreaming of everything pretty
Of life calm and cool
Forever tranquil
I'm dreaming of all the things
That make you and me happy
The things that are so pleasant and cheerful
I'm dreaming about you as well
And when I wake up from these
Happy and all-too-short journeys
I wonder, are you dreaming about me too?

*~Marian~
Another random poem, that just came to me!! (: ~~~~<3
Hope you enjoy it!! :) ~~~~~~<3
Rachel Gosby Nov 2018
I’m dreaming this is so unreal, I’m standing here dreaming, and I'm praying that I’m not. This has to be a dream come true. I’m standing here feeling my heart beating so fast, and I can feel my blood racing throw my body. I’m standing here looking throw the love of my life eyes for the first time in my life. I can feel the tears falling from my eyes, because I’m so happy. I’m dreaming this is so unreal, I’m falling throw your eyes, and melting from your sweet words. Catch me I’m falling for you, and I only want you to catch me. I’m dreaming, here we are together, and everything between us is good. The feeling is new and it feel so wonderful to me and I don’t want to ever lose it. It feels like I’ve been setting in my chair, waiting for a knock at my door, hoping, and praying it would be someone like you, and it was, it was you. I’m dreaming this is so unreal, I was speaking love awake, and speaking love in my dreams to the water, the shadows the mountains, to the flowers, the grass and the fountains, no one was listening to me until you came in my life. I was running from the pain and hurt, and I was falling, but here you are, catching me, and holding me. I’m dreaming, this is so unreal. I’m dreaming, this is so unreal, I couldn’t see throw my darkness days, until you came, I can see the sun shining again. I’m dreaming this is so unreal I didn’t have no one to give my sweet kisses to, and now I do. My heart was breaking, and now it’s being healed by you and only you. I’m dreaming this is so unreal, I said I wouldn’t take another step at love again, but here you are. Opening my door up one last time to true love, and I’m willing to take the last step with you. I’m dreaming this is so unreal, I was ready to run away, and now all I want to do is run into your arms. So thank you my love for waking me up from my dream. I am now awake, and I’m so ready for you, all of you a n 100%.
I'm dedicate this poem to the love of my life Zeola.. my husband to be. the one who I'm in love with all my heart and soul.
Brea Brea May 2013
I am a dreamer
my mind is always dreaming
silence please
as the imagry flows over me, an artist at work
a spiritual master
dreams keep me strong
I am strong so long as I'm able to dream
it makes me weak in the heart
keeps me from folding apart
Dreaming is my ave. Maria
she is always with me, in my heart
dreaming is my messiah
dreaming is my salvation
it leads me where to go
helps me to recognize and to know
it is the breeze that brings me upon the desires and wishes of my heart
containign all that I know
a message I like to impart
it preaches on where forth, I should go
Dreaming is the ideal
it is the amniotic fluid
Dreaming alerts me to the presence of the creator
as they are present in myself
dreaming as would a child
helps me hold onto my light
dreaming as would a lover
enderaing and selfless at first sight
dreaming as does a mother
with endless love and all that is good and right
dreaming as would a spiritual leader
with pure divine insight, from which my actions recite
dreaming protects me from worry and woes
but it gives me an empathetic soul
The power of go
dreaming, causes illusion, to stille my saddness
give meaning and worth to the poor
helps my mindful intentions to soar
English Jam Feb 2019
Quickly and quietly, running in the snow
Recalling memories of so long ago
The smell of wood and burning embers
That cherished old cabin, I remember
Am I Dreaming?

And when it freezes at night, and the outside seems like ice
The cosy firelight, curling up to your delight
There’s no difference between the dusk and the dawn
But it reminds us the fireplace is still warm
What am I Feeling?

Dreaming- could this be real?
Dreaming- what memories could heal
Dreaming- what do I feel?
Am I Dreaming?
Am I Dreaming?
Dreaming

Think of the haze of the early mornings
The breaking rays of sun as a new day’s dawning
There’s a blurry sensation to the bitter cold
Made to reflect on when you’re drowsy and old
Time is Fleeting

The grey hope of the skies of late afternoons
Life is far away, but coming so soon
There’s a mind numbing, tear-bringing space
That I enter when I think of that place
Is this Believing?

Just for a flash, to see things from my spot
Just to catch a glimpse, a portrait or snapshot
Just fly out the window and burst at the seams
Those fleeting moments
Those forgotten seconds
Those dreams

Are we Dreaming?



Dreaming
Today's my one year Hello Poetry anniversariy, so here's the first (proper) poem I ever wrote, and the one that lead to me discover Hello Poetry.
Josiah Archuleta Sep 2018
Late at night when all the world is sleeping
I stay up and think of you
And I wish on a star that somewhere you are
Thinking of me too
'Cause I'm dreaming of you tonight
'Till tomorrow, I'll be holding you tight
And there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be
Than here in my room dreaming about you and me
Wonder if you ever see me (see me)
And I wonder if you know I'm there (am I there? Am I?)
If you looked in my eyes, would you see what's inside?
Would you even care?
I just wanna hold you close, but so far
All I have are dreams of you
So I wait for the day and the courage to say
How much I love you, yes I do!
I'll be dreaming of you tonight
'Till tomorrow, I'll be holding you tight
And there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be
Than here in my room dreaming about you and me
Late at night when all the world is sleeping
I stay up and think of you
And I still can't believe that you came up to me
And said, "I love you"
I love you too!
Now I'm dreaming with you tonight
'Till tomorrow and for all of my life
And there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be
Than here in my room dreaming with you endlessly
With you tonight
And there's nowhere in the world where I'd rather be
Than here in my room, I'll be dreaming
With you tonight
I do not own this. This is a song by Selena Quintanilla.
Valerie Dec 2017
I daydreaming
I dream about you
every night
every morning
I can not do anything without thinking of you.
But at the same time
my subconscious says '' go to sleep your fool,
he's not thinking of you ''
GloriouslyFlawed Jan 2013
You will often find me dreaming
Here on my lonesome, lying in bed
In my darkened room and wondering
What will become of me. Whether
The days shall pass by without
Me seeing a smile or the gleaming sun.

For there is nothing but the sun
To make you enjoy life, enjoy dreaming.
Who could go every other day without
The lovely thoughts you think in bed.
I imagine it being unnerving, whether
Or not your dreams are full of wondering.

I have vivid thoughts, often wondering
Why I’m free of nightmares which hide the sun
From many others. My question is whether
My mind omits such terrible dreaming
Immediately as I awake safe in bed.
Why must I be the one to go without?

There is no harm in I going without
Though it does provide me with the wondering
Of how such a thing can be, my bed
Is where I can escape to, escape the sun
And what comes with it. No dreaming
Can be done with such blinding weather

I often think to myself and question whether
Or not I can truly say that I go without
Having a single nightmare. The dreaming
That I do is so bizarre and leaves me wondering
How it would feel to fear the burning sun,
To fear falling asleep, to fear lying in bed.

How would it feel to fear lying in bed?!
Not wishing to allow yourself sleep. Whether
Or not you could fear such a thing when the sun
Is such a beautiful thing, and the moon, without
Them both our world would be left wondering,
Asking this question to themselves ‘Am I dreaming?’

So make your bed now, or go without.
Whether you choose to remain wondering
About the sun, about the moon, you’re dreaming.
This was my first, and so far only, attempt at writing a sestina. It is certainly an interesting form and one that I quite enjoyed the challenge of.
Rebel Heart Jul 2017
I'm dreaming of summer nights
And the sound of the ocean breeze
I'm dreaming of the blanket of stars
That'll watch over us out by the seas

I'm dreaming of your electric touch
As we make out by the campfire
I'm dreaming of your endless love
And the reckless nights full of desire

I'm dreaming of dreams
That keep me awake
I'm dreaming of fantasies
I never want to break

I'm dreaming of you
Though I knew it wouldn't last
You're nothing but a dream
Stuck in a summer past
An old poem I dug up from 2010.. Simple and worth sharing... On a different note I appreciate all the support this wonderful poetry community has given my friend, RH, and I can't wait for her to see how well her words are loved by all you wonderful people. Stay cool ~BM
sammybunnie Feb 2014
I'm dreaming out loud,
I'm dreaming about love,
but there's not a part of me that could ever feel it.

I'm dreaming out loud,
I'm dreamig about love,
but there's always that thought that brings everything crashing down to the floor.

I'm dreaming out loud,
I'm dreaming about love,
But there's no familiar scene for me to remember it.

I'm dreaming out loud,
I'm dreaming about love,
and that's all I'll ever do.

Dream.
jeffrey conyers May 2013
I wakeup dreaming love.
I go to sleep dreaming love.
I be at work dreaming of love.
All because yours is so powerful.

Am I addicted I am asked?
And I state without a question's that I am.
It's always that way when you're around.

Some dream of riches and success.
Which I have both within you.
You're my treasure.
You're my wealth.

Some dream of love forever more.
I simply dream of forever just being yours.

I walk the community dreaming love.
I be in the park with you sharing love.
I simply adore being in your company.
Just dreaming.
Just dreaming.
Not scheming.
Just dreaming love.

Only yours.
Only yours.
Only yours.

If it vanish than my dream would be interrupted.
Tommy Allen Jan 2017
Dreaming of this,
Dreaming of that
Does the world even care
where you’re at
Lost somewhere
a dreamer may find
The best part of life,
is in their mind
Dreaming of love
in a faraway land
He dreams of peace,
whenever he can
Snow in the mountains,
makes a nice dream
Watching it fall
or so it would seem
Dreaming of sports,
says the athlete
Just give me a chance,
let me compete
Some dream of money,
fortune and fame
Others dream of God,
that eternal flame
What about the girl
without eyesight
Dreaming of colors,
the world so bright
Then there are those
who dream of greed
They just don’t realize
what they need
A man knows,
he soon must die
Dreaming of better things,
he now wonders why
As God now takes him
to a better place
Entering those gates,
a smile on his face
A man who can’t walk,
does anyone care
Dreaming of life
without that chair
Now I just dream
making you smile
As I write my poems,
all the while
Your dreams can come true,
as you may find
That the best part of life
is in your mind
Briano Alliano performing at jupiter moon



hi dudes and welcome to Jupiter Moon and today christmas has come early

with a whole lot of funny christmas carols that i have wrote and the first one

joy to the world


joy to the world

christmas is great

a bumper holiday, i say, mate

you see we have roast dinners

and pavlova and fruit punch

and a mighty tasty super slush

tasty for the mouth, tasty for the mouth

tasty tasty, tasty for the mouth

i rule the world with my magic wand

i wave it when i feel great

hills and plains and rocks and streams to sit and have a look

at the wonderful water, at the wonderful water at the at the

wonderful water, oh yeah, you can almost taste that wine that

jesus turned it into

joy to the earth, oh jesus birth

thanks to the might of cronus

you see as his arrival into the world made everyone happy yeah

we sing the beautiful carols we sing the beautiful carols

we sing we sing we sing the beautiful carols

with all our pride,

ok dudes, that was a great song and here is my version of christmas bells are ringing

marshmallows and flavoured milk

oh what a wonderful sight you see

opening christmas presents

underneath the christmas tree

there are gifts for uncle Tom and uncle Jay

and each kid gave each present a little play

they sang carols like deck the halls

and away in a manger, silent night and joy to the world

and then out came the fruit punch we all can share

we go

ding a ling ding a ling christmas bells are ringing

oh yeah let’s party on christmas day is coming

the party is on for young and old

then mrs ratcombe came out

we thought ‘what a mole’

ding a ling oh yeah let it ring

the christmas bells are ringing

ding a ling, oh yeah it will ring

every single day

yeah santa came through your computer screen tonight saying ** ** ** to you

and he left many presents for mark and tom and little baby foo

you see they fed their faces on  turkey and lollies and more food

and each kid told santa that they were very good

ding a ling ding a ling

christmas bells are ringing

santa coming through your computer screen

to leave your presents there

and at each house he will have marshmallow slice and beer and coke

and *** ***** and white christmas, oh yeah

oh yeah oh yeah ding a ling

the christmas bells are ringing

merry christmas dudes

hi dudes and wasn’t that a great song and now here is sitting at the mall, because there is nothing i like better

is sitting at the mall especially as the christmas tree is up, here it goes

sitting at the mall

and man, i eat too much junk food

it makes me slow

it makes me weary

you see i want to positive so let’s party from now to christmas, fine

i will go to my family’s house and listen to the carols play

you see this brings on a perfect life

i like singing christmas carols

around the table on christmas day

i want to see the christmas parade in adelaide and a few weeks later in perth

and video them for youtube, so i can push up my views

every kid and big strong adult would say merry christmas

and have a wonderful day

and i go about my life filled with junk food saying

hi di hi di **, the big fat elephant is so slow

and i see the kids playing with their christmas gifts oh yeah

they consume lolly after lolly and they will get really fat

they will look liken santa, how about that

so i can feel fit and be a cool entertainer singing

jingle bells jingle bells jingle all the way

oh what fun it is to play

on santa’s one horse open sleigh

and i am dreaming of a white christmas down here

well stop, cause in Australia it’s too **** hot

thanks dudes and now as it is coming on

a bit of summer weather


You see it's the summer weather
The barbecues are being cooked so well yeah
And the swimmers at the beach
are swimming between flags avoiding the sharks
And those crazy surfers as they surf with Santa
they drop off at the night club
to order a pina calada, yeah, that sure keeps us cool
You see it's summer weather
And you sun bake on the beach yeah
put on heaps of suncream, so cancer don’t strike, yeah yeah yeah
You see it's the summer weather
My poppy came out with a nice beer
And my two kids bobby and Toby had a coke
and they enjoyed that a lot
You see it takes away the hot, especially in ice
And it is great in the summer weather
Cause our drinks keeps us cool
You see it's the summer weather
The cricket and baseball is a playing
You see the players take about 5 hours to move oh yeah
And we see these players stand around forever
And in late of summer is the summer of tennis
watching the best players from around the world
and afterwards they go to the pub and celebrate
we say it's the summer weather cause those drinks keeps us cool
it’s the summer weather, the end of another year yeah
we lay the fireworks on the beach
so the lightshow, will be great
as midnight approaches we yell HAPPY NEW YEAR and then we say
what great summer weather, out champagne sure, keeps us cool

and now here is the song summer wonderland


The beer is chilling in the esky
Abc the BBQ is nice and hot yeah
And the kids are playing with their presents oh yeah that sounds real rad
And the swimming pool is being cleaned by your father and you can't swim in it cause the pool claurine
Can **** you well
You see we are running around
Up up and down
In a summer wonderland
You see Johnny Butthead and
Micheal Kenny and Robbie roe
And Kenny gee gee
And the superman of the heavens
Brings us nice weather and that makes us feel great yeah
Walking around singing a song
Walking in a summer wonderlsnd
On the beach we all made a sand castle and buried uncle Robbie
In the sand and then as he called
Out come on ya bludgers
Give us adults a ****** hand
You see when Robbie got out of that
He jumped around the beach
I was buried in sand
And yeah mate yeah I understand
Walking along singing a song
Living in a summer wonderland

ok dudes, that was a great song, and now dudes here is a song about santa claus new journey

you see santa claus came through the computer through the computer through the computer

santa claus cam through my computer, to give the gifts oh yeah

every time he came through the computer rolling around in cyber space

every time he came through the computer, he went up and then went down

you see tommy was a little boy trying to be good and susie was a little girl

who wanted santa to come, oh yeah

but susie was raised with santa going down the chimney yeah

and she went in and asked her dad, how can santa come here

and dad got out his apple Mac and said santa claus comes through this computer

through this computer through this computer

santa claus comes through this computer

to zap your presents there

you every christmas he comes through your computer

rolling around in cyber space

you see you can see every christmas eve you can see in your computer

a vision of santa coming through

santa claus comes through your computer through your computer through your computer

santa comes through your computers

santa will still eat lollies and cakes and a nice cold can of beer

so don’t be shy to leave them out as santa will be happy oh yeah

you see christmas day is a good day for santa to drop by

but for those families who have no chimney they will wonder how

you see santa claus comes through your computer through your computer through your computer

santa claus comes through your computer, ready to zap presents to you

here he is going through your computer, rolling around in cyber space

you see here santa is dropping from your apple Mac with a very loud thump

santa claus comes through your computer through your computer through your computer

you see santa is dropping through your computer, oh yeah let’s party on


and now here is stop dreaming of a white christmas, cause it’s too **** hot, pretty cool dude

You see I believe the North Pole is
Great and has a lot of penazz oh yeah
And Robbie roe decided to host his
Own Christmas bash with a BBQ and beer oh yeah come on
And then Martin pence bought
100 cases of the most expensive
Wine money can buy
And his 12 year old son
Said what about the coke dad oh yeah
You see it"s ****** hot and you have for a drink so what about us
Kids we need coke, oh yeah
And Martin prince said to his son
That we will have enough coke
Oh yeah cute cause it's hot
And we need to cool ourselves down
So stop dreaming of a white Christmas cause it!'s too **** hot
And on the day of Christmas Eve it hit 37 degees and we didn't feel like doing much let alone the preparation of the party so what we did is have a
5 hour dip in the swimming pool oh yeah carn Christmas spirit right out of me, oh yeah come on dudes
And the kids kept on jumping on us
Leaving us sore but at least we were having a nice dip in the pool to cool ourselves down do we can get ready for the party oh yeah mate yeah
So stop dreaming of a white Christmas cause it's too **** hot you see you see with pretty great
Mountains  and candy cane fountains  so stop dreaming of a white Christmas csuse it's too **** hot for that too **** stop dreaming of a white Christmas cause it's too **** hot for that
The kids are playing backyard cricket yeah and the men came out
To have a hit and the ladies are in
There swearing as they cook the bird
But the ladies have an agreement
That the kids and men all do the cleaning up and talk about the sports whilst doing that
So stop dreaming of a white Christmas cause dudes
It's too **** hot too **** hot
Too **** hot for that
No white Christmases in Australia pal

and now it’s time to go, goodbye jupiter moon
How can I pretend that I don't see
What you hide so carelessly?
I saw her bleed
You heard me breathe
And I froze inside myself
And turned away
I must be dreaming

We all live
We all die
That does not begin to justify you

It's not what it seems
Not what you think
No, I must be dreaming
It's only in my mind
Not in real life
No, I must be dreaming

Help you know I've got to tell someone
Tell them what I know you've done
I fear you but spoken fears can come true

We all live
We all die
That does not begin to justify you

It's not what it seems
Not what you think
No, I must be dreaming
It's only in my mind
Not in real life
No, I must be dreaming

We all live and
We all die but
That does not begin to justify you

It's not what it seems
Not what you think
No, I must be dreaming
It's only in my mind
Not in real life
No, I must be dreaming

Not what it seems
Not what you think
I must be dreaming
Just in my mind
Not in real life
I must be dreaming
If I'm Dreaming*

If I'm dreaming
Please don't wake me up
The life I'm in is one I love
And im doing what I want

If I'm dreaming
Help me stay asleep
Turn the lights way down low
Throw a cover over me

If I'm dreaming
Don't you bother me
Let me stay where I'm at
I have exactly what I need

If I'm dreaming
See the smile there on my face
I'm loving life in my dream
I don't want to be awake

If I'm dreaming
Please just let me dream*


Poem by : Carl Joseph Roberts
jdm Nov 2013
https://soundcloud.com/nethersky/dreaming-dmt

(chorus)
Am I dreaming
I know that you are not alone
Am I dreaming
So many ways to go on
in this life that you know

I close my eyes and look above
I know this time I am not dreaming
I look above and close my eyes
is this the time I will be leaving
I know it's time for DMT
magic in my memory
I know their eyes do look at me
I see the road is never-ending

(chorus here)

Standing on a cliff of diamonds
I look down and see the world
Standing on a cliff of diamonds
I look down and see the world

When I was a little boy
These creatures came to me at night
when I was a little boy
they took me to a place of magic

(chorus here)

I was sleeping in a world of my own
I was grieving and I couldn't let go
of the demons that were inside of me
Am I dreaming when I am awake
DMT

I close my eyes and look above
I know this time I am not dreaming
I look above and close my eyes
is this the time I will be leaving
I know it's time for DMT
magic in my memory
I know their eyes do look at me
I see the road is never-ending

(chorus here)
© JDMaraccini 2013

(*Listen to this song here*)
https://soundcloud.com/nethersky/dreaming-dmt
Jacqueline Anne Feb 2015
I dreamt about you last night
tripping in eyelid flutters,
drifting in bizarre slumbers
entranced by illusions of you.

If only our dreams were true.
Wishes, dreams, at night with you.
Dreaming wishes to come true.
Just so that I can see you.

I dreamt about you last night
in my woozy sleeping arms held
you tight. In reverie we
left heartache behind to live.

If only our dreams were true.
Wishes, dreams, at night with you.
Dreaming wishes to come true.
Just so that I can see you.

I dreamt about you last night.
Imaginary laughter,
chimerical and hazy
fantasies enchanting us.

If only our dreams were true.
Wishes, dreams, at night with you.
Dreaming wishes to come true.
Just so that I can see you.

I dreamt about you last night,
told you everything will be
alright. Moments together
we will treasure forever.

If only our dreams were true.
Wishes, dreams, at night with you.
Dreaming wishes to come true.
Just so that I can see you.

I dreamt about you last night,
and awoke in a gloomy dawn.
Wonder if you dreamt of me
knowing you do you love me.

If only our dreams were true.
Wishes, dreams, at night with you.
Dreaming wishes to come true.
Just so that I can see you.

I dreamt about you last night
eternally keeping you in
my sight. Our eyes will meet one
day, embracing our faces love.

If only our dreams were true.
Wishes, dreams, at night with you.
Dreaming wishes to come true.
Just so that I can see you.

Wishing to see you,
dreaming of you.
Loving you forever.

.
©Jacqui Slade
Mw Feb 2010
This time you'll find me,
But what will you see?
I'm dreaming, I'm dreaming,
Can this all be?
My eyes will be closed,
And you will transpose,
The dreams that you held,The love that we had.
The dreamer, the dreamer,
What else would you add?
The setting is right, the timing is nigh,
And we will get by,
Amidst the sky and the stars, and infinity on high.
It's all but a veil draped above in the sky,
You lay next to me and that's when they'll say,
They're dreaming, they're dreaming,
By then you will sway,
Closer to me and that's where you'll stay,
We're dreaming, we're dreaming,
That's what we'll say.
We're dreamers, we're dreamers,
Don't bring the day.
The line 'the sky and the stars and infinity on high' is based on one of Vincent van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo.- From Babygirl
Dae Staebell Jun 2016
Dreaming a dream so dreary
Upon a bed of fire lilies
Where fear flocks and sorrows sleep
To a grove abandoned where she weeps

Dreaming a dream so dreary
Upon callous thoughts so weary
Clasped in a white veil
Seeing maroon on a visage pale

Dreaming a dream so dreary
Upon a cries in a clearing
Silent shrieks that haunt me I find
A walking corpse in pearl delight

Dreaming a dream so dreary
Upon a nightmare without meaning
To and fro wolves do roam on the rim
A hunt in this abyss for my kin

Dreaming a dream so dreary
I smell familiar blood and feel weary
A mangled corpse lies in slumber
What a nightmare, what a curse

Dreaming a dream so dreary
A solitary hunt so eerie
Hunger sated and thirst quelled
Will I ever wake or is this my hell?
Hannah Plumb Feb 2010
It started out as just a cute summer crush Where I draw little pictures of him and I together. Only Dreaming… We started hanging out more. He seduces me. I fall for him fast I want to spend forever with him          Only Dreaming…          I’m in love with him now          So is she          Its killing me!          Yet I still stay…          Only Dreaming...          He kisses me          He hurts her          He hurts me too, no, he breaks my heart          I wish I never fell for him.          Only Dreaming…          I try and try to get over him          I just can’t.         He keeps me hooked         His eyes…         Wishing he were mine         Only Dreaming…         School starts        We become friends, not knowing what will happen        We know he loves both of us        We wish he would choose.        Only Dreaming…
Luke B Hopson Apr 2011
Life's Better When You're Dreaming
Of a Transcendental World
With Deliverance and Freedom
Under a Sky of Neon Pearls,
Where the Populace are Former Loves
All Gathered in the Clouds
And Lend an Ear, for Bygone Cheer
So Memoirs can be Ploughed.

Life's Better When You're Dreaming
Of Archaic Silver Screen
Parading Lavish Garments
And Conversing with James Dean,
Where Bowler Hats are Stock Attire
And Pea-coats Line the Hall
And Champagne Flutes, Say 'Fill your Boots'
To an Infinite Curtain Call.

Life's Better When You're Dreaming
Of a Ride on the Good Ship Hope
With Secret Codes and Yellow-bricked Roads
And ***** with the Pope,
Where Lotus-eaters Man The Decks
And White Rabbits Scale the Mast
We'll Sail Away, On a Tranquil Day
And Pervade the Ocean Vast.

Life's Better When You're Dreaming
Of Unblemished Skin and Bone
On a Bed of Fragrant Petals
On which Countless Seeds are Sewn,
Where Laborious Figures Embrace as One
Compelling Magnets to Concede
And Music will, Amuse them 'till
They Repeat the Final Scene.

Life's Better When You're Dreaming
That all the World's a Stage
And that Pair are a Distant Footnote
On the Thirty Thousandth Page,
Where the Cast are Poised in Waiting
And the Finale is About to Start
They Take a Bow, And this Tells Me How
I Came to Play this Part.

*December 2010 (Completed April 2011)
The line 'All the world's a stage' is taken from 'As You Like' by William Shakespeare
andy fardell Aug 2012
I dream a new tomorrow
A dream from yesterday
I dream no more this madness
My dream so far away

Dreaming of the sunshine lover!!!!!
dreaming through the day
one day I'll dream its better never!!!!!!!
dream another day

I wish my dreams were real
So I could hold his hand
I wish my dream come true
Say mum I love you too

Dreaming of the sunshine lover!!!!!
dreaming through the day
one day I'll dream its better never!!!!!!!
dream another day

I dream just tears of smiles
All pain is gone away
I dream of money heaven
My debt stuck at the gate

Dreaming of the sunshine lover!!!!!
dreaming through the day
one day I'll dream its better never!!!!!!!
dream another day


I wish that I had that one more chance
To change the way I've been
I wish true peace for everyone
Not just for you and me

Dreaming of the sunshine lover!!!!!
dreaming through the day
one day I'll dream its better never!!!!!!!
dreams dont go away!!!!!!
christmas concert on venus by briano alliano




hi dudes and welcome to venus where we are celebrating christmas in a big way

and our first song is, santa brian is coming to town

ya better watch out ya better not cry

ya better be good cause i am telling you why

santa brian is coming to town

ya see he’s making a list and checking it twice

finding out what kids are naughty or nice

santa brian is coming to town

brian see you when he’s sleeping

he knows when your awake

gotta make everybody be bad or good

so be good for goodness sake

santa brian is coming to town

ya better party on like ya never going to stop

the beat will go bop pity bop bop bop

santa brian is coming to town

ya see my mate bing crosby, is alive in all our hearts

and then your mate brian allan does a really big ****

ya better watch out and keep the party going strong

party like the day is long

santa brian oh santa brian is coming to town boppity boo

and the next song is


         Stop dreaming of a white Christmas cause here is too **** hot


You see I believe the North Pole is
Great and has a lot of penazz oh yeah
And Robbie roe decided to host his
Own Christmas bash with a BBQ and beer oh yeah come on
And then Martin pence bought
100 cases of the most expensive
Wine money can buy
And his 12 year old son
Said what about the coke dad oh yeah
You see it"s ****** hot and you have for a drink so what about us
Kids we need coke, oh yeah
And Martin prince said to his son
That we will have enough coke
Oh yeah cute cause it's hot
And we need to cool ourselves down
So stop dreaming of a white Christmas cause it!'s too **** hot
And on the day of Christmas Eve it hit 37 degees and we didn't feel like doing much let alone the preparation of the party so what we did is have a
5 hour dip in the swimming pool oh yeah carn Christmas spirit right out of me, oh yeah come on dudes
And the kids kept on jumping on us
Leaving us sore but at least we were having a nice dip in the pool to cool ourselves down do we can get ready for the party oh yeah mate yeah
So stop dreaming of a white Christmas cause it's too **** hot you see you see with pretty great
Mountains  and candy cane fountains  so stop dreaming of a white Christmas csuse it's too **** hot for that too **** stop dreaming of a white Christmas cause it's too **** hot for that
The kids are playing backyard cricket yeah and the men came out
To have a hit and the ladies are in
There swearing as they cook the bird
But the ladies have an agreement
That the kids and men all do the cleaning up and talk about the sports whilst doing that
So stop dreaming of a white Christmas cause dudes
It's too **** hot too **** hot
Too **** hot for that
No white Christmases in Australia pal




       Summer weather

You see it's the summer weather
The barbecues are being cooked so well yeah
And the swimmers at the beach
are swimming between flags avoiding the sharks
And those crazy surfers as they surf with Santa
they drop off at the night club
to order a pina calada, yeah, that sure keeps us cool
You see it's summer weather
And you sun bake on the beach yeah
put on heaps of suncream, so cancer don’t strike, yeah yeah yeah
You see it's the summer weather
My poppy came out with a nice beer
And my two kids bobby and Toby had a coke
and they enjoyed that a lot
You see it takes away the hot, especially in ice
And it is great in the summer weather
Cause our drinks keeps us cool
You see it's the summer weather
The cricket and baseball is a playing
You see the players take about 5 hours to move oh yeah
And we see these players stand around forever
And in late of summer is the summer of tennis
watching the best players from around the world
and afterwards they go to the pub and celebrate
we say it's the summer weather cause those drinks keeps us cool
it’s the summer weather, the end of another year yeah
we lay the fireworks on the beach
so the lightshow, will be great
as midnight approaches we yell HAPPY NEW YEAR and then we say
what great summer weather, out champagne sure, keeps us cool


and now dudes we are going to sing away in a manger


away in a manger

no crib for a bed

the little lord buddha

l;ays down his sweet head

the stars in the bright sky

look down where he lays

the little lord buddha asleep on the hay

the cattle are lowing

buddha awakes

but the little lord buddha

no crying he makes

i love the lord buddha

as i look down from the sky

and stay by his bedside

till morning is nigh

be near me lord buddha

i ask thee to stay

close by me forever

i love thee to stay

bless all the dear children

under thy tender care

and fit us for nirvana

to live with thee there


    Summer wonderland



The beer is chilling in the esky
Abc the BBQ is nice and hot yeah
And the kids are playing with their presents oh yeah that sounds real rad
And the swimming pool is being cleaned by your father and you can't swim in it cause the pool claurine
Can **** you well
You see we are running around
Up up and down
In a summer wonderland
You see Johnny Butthead and
Micheal Kenny and Robbie roe
And Kenny gee gee
And the superman of the heavens
Brings us nice weather and that makes us feel great yeah
Walking around singing a song
Walking in a summer wonderlsnd
On the beach we all made a sand castle and buried uncle Robbie
In the sand and then as he called
Out come on ya bludgers
Give us adults a ****** hand
You see when Robbie got out of that
He jumped around the beach
I was buried in sand
And yeah mate yeah I understand
Walking along singing a song
Living in a summer wonderland




my next christmas song is joy to the world, here goes


joy to the world

the lord is come

let the christmas party shine

let everyone party on

and let heaven and nirvana sing

let heaven and nirvana sing

let heaven and nirvana and nirvana sing

joy to the world

the saviour reigns

and party right till the end

let everyone prepare him room

let all buddhas creatures grow

let buddhas creatures grow

let everyone belonging to buddha

let the spirit really grow

party on every night

   A cold for Christmas means PARTY PARTY


Oh yeah on the first day of XMAS
My coke bottle said to me
Buy a coke at the supermarket oh yeah
On the second day of  XMAS my coke bottle said to me get your cousin in the USA a present and a nice card to boot
On the third day of XMAS
My coke bottle said to me
How about inviting all out friends over for a slap up XMAS party dude
On the third day of XMAS my coke bottle said to me I need to give my
Grandmother some rioses to put in a vase on your toilet
On the fourth day of XMAS my coke bottle said to me  slam me down ya
Get ready to lift ya party spirits right till the day is long
On the fifth day of Christmas
My coke bottle said to me
How about we see the arrival of
Santa in the big Christmas parade in
Out gracious city
On the sixth day of Christmas
My coke bottle said to me
Yeah we need to give Tom and Benny a hand with the annual Christmas lights ok outside his house how delightful dude
On the seventh day of Christmas
My coke bottle said to me
Give Australia a present by booting
Abbott out oh yeseree
On the eighth day of XMAS my coke
Bottle said to me
How about you see the kids play in their Christmas play
On the ninth day of XMAS my coke bottle said to me how about a nice bit of bourbon in me to lift the family's spirit oh yeseree
On the tenth day of XMAS
My coke bottle said to me
How about we go to the nightclub
And party all night my dear old friend old pal
On the eleventh day my coke bottle gave to me a new clear head to get normal visions rather than stupid
Allan family delusions I know they help but ha ha ha
On the twelfth day of Christmas
My coke bottle gave to me
A lot of information saying coke is still a medicine don't listen to skeptics they are too much into the real world yeah on every day of Christmas my coke bottle said
No matter what ya do drink plenty of me I will make you XMAS sweet


ok dudes briano alliano says merry christmas
Jo Mar 2016
Some things just never change, but we just can't stay the same. I'm running in circles, watching you call someone else's name.
  I know it's not my place, but my mind will never change. No matter what I do, I can't help running back to you. I can't help the thought of us, of us.
  I'm reminiscing around your catches. I can't help to think about love.
  Maybe we don't care enough tonight. Take your fears and throw them in the sky. Whatever's wrong, I'll make you feel right.
We're living, not dreaming.
What's the possibility in me making up the time I spent with you? Tell me what you want me to do.
We're living, not dreaming. We're living, not dreaming. We're living, not dreaming. We're living, not dreaming.
What's the point I'm taking? So much, but never taken a chance on new romance, 'cause bits a movies, scared to make it.
I'm not meant to be or sense when I got to need you. So, stop pretending, I gotta be the kind you need.
We're too young to follow what they've told us.
What's the possibility in me, making up the time I spent with you? Tell me what you want me to do.

We're living, not dreaming.
Alif Imran Jan 2016
In my dream,
I saw you dreaming,
Dreaming about me dreaming about you,
How wonderful,
To dream a dream both soul dream to dream,
Oh, it shall feel nice I can say that,
In my dream of you dreaming about me dreaming about you,
You say you love me beyond my reality,
I wonder how big is my reality?
The dream that I dreamt about you dreaming about me dreaming about you,
Vanished when I wake up into reality,
I just realize how big is my reality and the reality of my dream,
  
It was just a dream I dream about you.
Gaby Comprés Jan 2017
dreaming of coffee dates
and your hand crawling towards mine
and a love
dreaming of watching sunsets
next to you, and your fingers tangled in my hair
and a love
dreaming of you, singing songs in my ear
and a love
dreaming of the way your arms
will feel around my waist
and a love
dreaming of your eyes, lit up by your smile
and a love
dreaming of not wanting to hide from you
and a love
dreaming of a love
and a love
and a love.
Ron Sanders Feb 2020
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
I'm dreaming of a WHITE Christmas
Not like the ones we used to know
Where the hoods and robes are
making things all *****
Those kooks dressed up white as snow

I'm dreaming of a WHITE Christmas
His uni underneath the tree
With his new Doc Martins
That he'll look smart in
To show his mentality

I'm dreaming of a WHITE Christmas
I'm glad it only is one night
With his new plaid shirt on
This racist *****
Hia  tree...has no coloured lights

I'm dreaming of a WHITE Christmas
What would he do if he just knew
The KKK man
Had better re-plan
His Christ....he was born a jew

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, black or white, green or grey, red, brown and yellow. Have a wonderful Christmas Season, because it is Christmas after all.....and remember, this is just a poem, just fiction. I want a White Christmas, but, one with every colour of the rainbow treated equally, and hopefully some nice prezzies and a song or two by Andy Williams and Bing Crosby.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE
When the wind blows
When the snow snows
When nobody knows
What will be
All drowsy with sleep
My love you will keep
You’ll find me
Dreaming of, dreaming of thee

When oceans roar
Open the door
To my troubled heart
Set me free
I do nothing more
Than wait on the shore
Forever
Dreaming of, dreaming of thee

Nothing so blind
As cannot find
The beauty around
Or to see
The hopes and the plans
In the love for one man
Eternally
Dreaming of, dreaming of thee

Storm breaks in the ocean
Your ship is in motion
Sailing through wind and through rain
You’ll return soon I know
Through sun and through snow
‘Till I see you again
I’ll be
Dreaming of, dreaming of thee
Akira Chinen May 2017
Back to where it all began
  before our first breaths
    before we knew fire
     before we knew blood
Before time had movement
  or meaning
Before our ribs
  our bones
   our skulls
Back to the empty sky
  of our souls
Yet to birth stars of sin
  and shame
   and fear
Back to the moment before
Dream became dream
  Dreaming
of dreams
  of dreams
   of dreams
Of rivers dreaming
Of fish dreaming
Of flight dreaming
Of birds dreaming
Of butterfly wings dreaming
Of feathers tied to the lost branches
Of the first dream of a tree
Dreaming of leaves
  Thirsty for the dream of a sun
     Which was desperate to dream
    Of the moon of all moons
Dreaming of the pale blue skin
Of dream becoming the dream
  Of the birth of blood
    and bones
      and life
Weaving the blanket of dreams
  That would become the flesh
    And truth of love
Back to the
  Heart of all things
#dreamweavers
Joe Cole May 2014
I'm sitting outside my tent in a meadow verdant green
Just sitting, listening, dreaming
Surrounded by stately trees Sillouted
against an azure blue sky
Tall hedgerows filled with blossom
White, like drifts of new fallen snow
That's why I'm just sitting, listening,  dreaming
The storm we had an hour ago long passed by
Now I sit and watch white wispy clouds floating there on high
Why am I sitting,  listening, dreaming
Do you really need to ask?
If I truly believed in God then I've found heaven here on earth
I've no TV or radio but music fills the air
Leaves rustling in the gentle breeze and bird song near and far
And so I'm just sitting,  listening, dreaming
Right in the physics lecture
Mentally dreaming,
Thinking of a phenomenon
I am day dreaming,

In the front seat of the corner
And all the conceiving,
Thinking of a phenomenon
Cause I am day dreaming,

Sometimes the teacher gives a bang,
Mentions my name, and takes away my tang,
Little does he know that the lecture he’s singing
has a thinner bandwidth than mine.
So, right in this fellow’s lecture, mentally beaming,
thinking of a phenomenon, I am day dreaming.

Sometimes the future bike is back,
Other times, the actress who’s not black,
Sometimes the ex girlfriend whose new boyfriend,
for whom we say, “Hey he looks like a ***”
Moreover, you think about the dating,
Was she pleased or was she just faking
Next date in café coffee day
Or the recessional snack corner away
So, right in the fellow’s lecture, you keep on dreaming
Think of your fond hope
And keep on day dreaming.
The poem is written in a boy's perspective who daydreams.
Nicole Dawn Jun 2015
I made myself
Shoot friends and family
In the head

I'm "dreaming" again

I felt myself
Begin to fall
Off the cliff

I'm "dreaming" again

I watched you
Slide the knife
Across my skin

I'm "dreaming" again

I feel your
Hands on
My body

I'm "dreaming" again

I run to
Save my sister
But am never there in time

I'm "dreaming" again

I lose myself
In a horrible
Maze if terror

I'm "dreaming" again

I keep myself
Awake all night
So I don't feel this

*The nightmares are back
This is very personal, I've never told anyone about my nightmares, so please don't laugh. These are but a few of my nightly terrors

— The End —