The soft muzzled cough brought Alice back from being lost in her usual daydreams.
It had been months since she had walked freely about the streets. Even longer since the blind run through the dark forests of another world.
If this insane self-imposed quarantine had to continue for very much longer, Alice was going to leap back through into the brightly lit hall beyond. Once there she was more than willing to try her luck at some other random doorway.
“What then?” muttered the low voice of the sage.
Alice could tell he was talking more to himself than to her.
Alice replied anyway, “Anywhere but here.”
The look of the old mages floor length beard partially muzzled by a soft swath of mask looked ridiculous. The rope ties for the ears could not reach so Alice had helped him braid the ends into the facial hair just beneath the cheeks.
The effect gave the ancient librarian a hipster grunge look.
The ink stained hands of the sage had been hard at work rubbing his face again. Either an allergy from the ink that now tinted his nose or from the dreaded Covid virus had been making the elderly gentleman wheeze and cough. He had coughed enough times that Alice had demanded the face covering.
The sage grumpily complied just to silence her complaining.
The whole request struck him funny since it came from a woman wearing no clothes at all…
The doorman had been busy hanging invisible signs about the hall. Each had been hung so that an individual entering could see them with little effort. He was certain when the complaint department was called he would be found blameless in the spread of such ignorance. Each entry had been clearly marked with a request for a mandatory fourteen day quarantine, and each infectious destination properly marked.
The Gatekeeper had even replaced his usual Welcome mat with one that read, “Masks Required”.
“Yes”, he thought, “in a reality of inexistence the flattened curve wasn’t going to catch him in another surge, hoax or not.”
Pat sat watching the falling leaves. The peace autumn brought was a welcome change from the dry hot days of summer. Still the thought to lay naked in those golden rays made his pulse quicken with youthful memories.
“The seasons change with the turn of a word,” he whispered to the quiet room. Though there was a large crowd, no one heard him.
Pat was aware that the sentence could be thought of as political, as well as environmental.
Opinions were changing. Impatient populations desperate for a miracle.
Come November another four years of greatness would be chosen. Hopefully one that meant the destruction of a party founded in racism. If not then things weren’t going to look too good for the home front.
It had been bad enough that this man-made virus was unleashed by corrupt policies of the criminal elite in the attempt of a one-world-order coup.
To have to suffer under the heavy-handed tactics of the cosmopolitan could lead to an actual armageddon between good and evil…
Pat watched the falling leaves. The beauty was not wasted on him. The mix of yellows and reds drifting down. Sometimes in soft spirals, sometimes in a direct glide. Individual leaves and groups all randomly blowing about with a kaleidoscope of color.
None of the meaning was missed.
Everything had a purpose;
Pat just had his own preference in how things should end.
All this change from the green leaves of one tree. Nothing was ever missed…
I remember days that lasted weeks. Left alone to many nights at port, to many times on dusty roads.
Mirages appear and disappear like the voices in my brain. Slowly becoming landmarks burned deep into my soul.
Out there somewhere I’m looking for something lost or maybe it’s just something I’ve never seen.
You never know what’s waiting there just beyond what you know.
Crazy ad it is, that’s exactly where I want to go…
The oddity of life. It’s razor thin slivers slicing across shallow veins of truth. Passions play out upon the same nerves that transfer pain. Rocked with pleasure not meant to be enjoyed. Then just as dilated eyes gain their focus the fire light dims and the last vibrant tone fades into inexistence.
She’s yellow ocher to me. In words muttered beneath audible sound I often express dislike for her. Preference usually given to the pristine colors of ebony and titanium white. Crisp lines shape the image. Tethering reality with math and logic. Rarely do any of us separate from the uniformity of their use.
Unmistakable. She is yellow ocher, and that is what makes her beautiful to me.
I can never let her know.
Alice sat distracted. A nuthatch was slowly making its way down the trunk of a nearby sapling. It’s funny head-first hopping reminded her of the her own first moments leaping through worlds. As nauseating an experience it had been, Alice was secretly hoping to get the opportunity to do it again. The only thing that was holding her back was the how and when.
Alice had gathered from the many frequent visits of disembodied voices that the portal from here to there ( where something she never knew) was always opening and closing. To use it, one simply needed to be determined and fully willing to accept the next outcome. The concept of outcome being as close to exactly what the event actually meant.
Alice couldn’t quite understand that piece of information either.
She just took it to mean 1+1=2 but to get to four the possibilities increased as well as the path. Everyone understands 2+2, or 1+1+1+1, or 1+1+2, and even 1+3. But doing the possible backwards or even not at all could cause a bit of stress. 0+4, 5-1, and so on into infinite realms could get a person marooned, even completely gone from before, during, and after. As insane as that sounded, Alice was not yet willing to prove anyone’s theorem’s just yet.
Why did everything have to involve math…
Alice could bring herself to accept that it had only been three days. What she couldn’t believe in was the constant transition of the garden outside.
She vaguely remembered the first time looking out of the window. The season had been late spring. The butterflies and hummingbirds fluttering amongst the many wildflowers and well planted rows of perennials. Annuals like irises taking over where daffodil and hyacinth had earlier flowered but now becoming just green leaves and dying stalks.
With later glances outside, Alice noted the crepe myrtles had begun to bloom with deep purples and reds. Their many branched arms spreading outward casting a welcomed shadow from the hot blazing sun.
And today as she gazed upwards in a daydream daze of building castles in the sky, Alice’s distracted eyes watched as oak and maple leaves began drifting down from leaf clogged gutters. The browned yellows and crimson reds slowly sailing down, down, down carpeting the flower beds.
Alice even noticed amongst the brown blades of overgrown grasses the aster and goldenrod turning to seed. The planting of daylilies she must have confused for irises being nothing but withered yellow and brown mulch piles beside dried stalks of gladiolas.
No. Though she was not a naturalist or expert at gardening, Alice knew the changing seasons without the need of flocking geese or migrant fish swimming up stream. Without a doubt, and without need of the old sage explaining things, Alice knew she was sitting in the middle of 0+1 or something very close to it.
Across the room the sage let out a humourous chortle.
To Alice the old man always seemed to take great interest and enjoyment during her most confused moments. It’s was almost like he knew her mind, and saw all the outcomes before she did, and thought her ignorant.
Along the waters edge where sand and ocean meet
The worlds first words are spoken
By the soft and whispering breeze
It speaks of the many kingdoms
and of ageless palaces carved of stone
All the chambers filled with musical laughter far below in the surging sea
The echoing ripples flowing
Splashing playfully upon the distant shores above
Alas the people of the land no longer remember the beauty
Nor can they walk the halls
Time since it has passed deep beneath a sea foam gray
Softly the wind summons back the memory
As the crabs solemnly standing guard lament
And flying high overhead seabirds call out a sullen praise
There at the waters edge where sand and ocean meet
With the setting of the sun
And rising of the moon
Stars unseen glow with new life
I watch in silence
Becoming lost between worlds
Filling all my sight
Even more expansive
Filling my thoughts
With mystery and hope
I have been here before in life… a forgotten martyr of a desperate time. Now I lay concealed beneath these layers of dead skin, mummified cartilage and muscle.
The life giving waters have long ago fled back to the sea.
Left alone my corpse’s slow decay releases back my last breaths of air. Returning what little good it once kept trapped within.
Somewhere solemn words stand forgotten carved deep in weathered stone. “The Last”.
Birth shown without beginning. Death left unchiseled. Such a precious thing as life left blank.
Was it for convenience or from lack of concern.
The curious may one day find this bolt hole where I sit enthroned. Disturbing my promised eternities, foolishly attempting to pry from dead lips secrets of forgotten times.
Agelessly, lidless eyes watch for the coming day. Stiff bones growing impatient of the wait.
Silently I listen to the world just beyond wooden walls and marble stone. Remembered sounds echoing out inside the powdered dust that once was brain.
The constant intrusion of spider and moth from clay stained crevices. Pillows and tapestry they weave for me. Adorning my once vibrant pastels in a virgin bower of silken whites.
Dressed in such royalty all my court gather near.
The maddening chirp of the camel crickets add to the music of my ballroom. Beneath the chandeliers of glowworms the seething hoard claw away the grime leaving traced lines as forgotten mosaics.
Still I wait for you my love. Promises made in youth still bind. In death they hold more honest truth. In sickness an in health, for richer and for poor, let none separate what here has been joined, even upon death one should depart. In unity, what once was two, now man and woman be made whole.
I’ve been here before. I’ve sat in this dust filled room watching the same spider weaving her web. Sitting slouched with the wait of eternity perched cumbersomely upon my eyelids. Through the haze of blurred vision I have been witness to a life time of war and decay. Still the day is not over.
Time wanders independent of reality. Change only the product of some other force combined, separated, absent.
After all I exist as a simple closed system. Only one has ever been able to open the door or close it when through. The one is, that’s all anyone need know.
You and I live connected. Forever entwined even during the trials where effort is wirepulling or sanguineous. From the salt of the sea, and water of the heavens, you and I are. That’s all eternities secrets told upon a gentle breeze.
Rambling on, two old souls… (Here the sage began singing in his head. A song about fish bowls and endless calendars. – the author)
Invisible hands scrawl out variations of lines. Words both cryptic and plain fill margins and footnote. The simplest thoughts hidden in the most compounding phrase. Only the distracted eye can see clearly the misspelled word while the clearest mind reads on.
A tale of two, you and I. A circle folding in often looking out. Neither seeing the end nor ever beginning the race. We chase the clouds as a dog chases it’s tail.
A rambling of time ticking out life with everything existing as fundamental interactions balanced upon a needle point tip.
Pat sat patiently in his garden. The watcher was in no hurry to get anywhere.
The soft buzz and fiddle of insects drifted about on the sweet summer air.
There were birds singing and calling back and forth. They too appeared in no hurry to fly off to some distant place.
Here the rose and columbine flowered amongst the ironweed and goldenrod. A clash of season mixed with the pastel colors of the sweet pea vine.
Only Adam strolled these garden paths. Lost in wonder. Idling away the moments… (Here again the sages attention drifted of into another song. Something of dull days and thinking that he has something more to say. – the author)
Alice sat perched high upon a stack of books. She had been busy thumbing through a few of the older ones trying to look interested.
Ever so often she felt the need to put the book down and gaze out the one window of the sages library.
It was a beautiful day outside.
Alice had asked the old grumpy man if it would be okay to throw open the glass. With a distracted angry scowl the sage had signalled a stern no.
Alice had went to the window anyhow. After a Herculean effort she had found it impossibly stuck.
The old mage laughed quietly beneath his beard. Since the change of humidity and weather he had been unable to open the window himself. Alice probably would contrive some mystic use of magic to the sage preventing her from doing what he said no too. He laughed again a little louder.
Alice had stalked angrily back to her stack of books. Secretly cursing the old mans powers over nature and time.
With a fish eyed gaze out of the window, and a pleasant tune in his head, the sage went back into his trance. ( It was at this point I, the author, came to the conclusion the sage was going to be absolutely useless today.-the author)
And time flowed on…
Words had become unwelcome aliens to him. During the long, lonesome days of summer verbal expression was of little importance. Even the occasional jotting of notes and poetry had all but disappeared from the watcher’s daily habit.
The absence of human company had begun to void all progress socially made in the early spring months. The warming heat and longer days allowed the once tight knit group of vagabonds to expand out into newer territories. Though beneficial for the group it only drew Pat deeper into isolation mentally and physically. Soon the weak feelings of trust, compassion, and fellowship would all be forgotten. Replaced by an insane anger and hate for the world as a whole.
Change was what the watcher hated most. Wether it was the sun, the season, a simple object out of place, any altering to the system was to be avoided. Only hunger and the need of shelter could drive him back into society, and force a change to the routine.
If only they knew or understood the danger. The thing they felt most at ease with had died a very long time ago. That person had laid buried in some shallow grave for more than two decades, a victim of some forgotten war. The only protection he could give to them and himself was a wall of apathy. Any attempt to break through would almost certainly unleashing the daemons within.
Enoch knew first hand what now walked the earth. The thin cloak of flesh and bone did little to conceal the seething hate and rage boiling within. It is to Enoch that the watcher often thought of. Not since the desecration of Babel, the rise of the Sumer and Olmec ziggurat, and the cataclysmic drift of landmasses had the host of legions been at peace with what he was.
Ah the good old days. Before Moses and his big ten, and the writing of the lesser others, “Pat” had beta tested every one of them with a few still in need of repeating.
How had the worm turned. Robbed of the freedom of the æther. Imprisoned to never touch the quintessence. Left to lay dormant beneath the ever increasing weight of invisible chains. The punishment was fair enough. The watcher knew he was given a very lenient sentence. After all eternity and infinity were going to be a very long wait anywhere he could be placed. This bit of community service on Ki wasn’t without it’s pleasures. The irony was because of those pleasures he was being chastised…
Pat sat waiting.
The clock on the wall had long since died, and now forever marked it’s death at one twenty-three.
It was post meridiem. The watcher knew because he had watched that last hesitant movement on August 5th as he had witnessed the first energetic second back on June 3rd one and two-thirds year ago. The time then was five seventeen post meridiem.
The uselessness of keeping “time” was as pointless as having two heads attached to one heart. When the “time” came both would get there at the same moment.
(Somewhere a small chuckle could be heard. Though the sage only wrote the story as it unfolded a turn of a phrase by his own hand could make him still giggle.)
(Old men often laugh at their own jokes while the rest of the world looks puzzled. – editor note by the author)
Left undisturbed the clock on the wall would never grow old, never change. Though the dust of ages piles up upon it face, and the corrosion of the batteries spreads to eat away within. The clock would never know or feel the changing hour
Pat was very much the same. Forever stuck at one twenty-three p.m. Physically corrupted, mentally deranged, but for the spirit always the same. Time had stopped. The movie that he saw was forever set on a loop. The actors in it always moving along, developing their character, then when the plot line needed a twist a new star would appear as the older one faded from scene.
It mattered little. The movie was set upon a continuous loop. The stage would reset, the actors would take their marks, and somewhere stage right a voice would be heard saying “Action”.
As many loops and layers of film and tape were to be used, a good actor could always improve his skill. In that one hope both the author and watcher had learned to count upon. They both had witnessed enough footage left behind in the cutting room floor.
Even now Pat knew it was time to splice, exit stage left, and in the following drop of the curtains listen to the sounds from behind the props.
Echoing footsteps upon a wooden stage.