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…
In the shadows lay a daemon
Lurking quiet beneath the trees
Stalking silent amongst the leaves
Until opportunity came to be
Then the devil stole from me
Stole in a whisper a love so dear
Left of her no trace to see
None would ever hold again
The soft shape and elegant line
Of her beauty so devine
Lost to the living
For all time
Except in memory
Shared in rhyme
She said she hears the night birds call
But when I listened I could not hear them
It was during the last breath of summer
Blowing the first leaves of fall
Tired eyes were looking to the west
Into the setting of the sun
Where withered limbs bare of fruit
Sway in a dry September wind
Forgetful of the spring
Naked she sings in the moonlight
She dances beneath the stars
Even as my heart yearns
Desperate to hear her song
The echo of the night birds
Calling from afar
The sun is setting
Life flows on
There in a blue room
Yellow light flows across the firmament
A silver glimmer promises hope just outside the door
Desperation transitions between salvation and escape
A butterfly flutters with each breath the body dies
But the mind lives on
Tethered to a waning moon
My flesh is burning
The skin just falling away
White fire blisters
Boiling blood to steam
Just need a little help now
All attempts to extinguish the flame
Ends up just spreading pain
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…
My beard is scruffy
Growing it longer on the chin while cutting back the rest to stubble
Thread worn clothes
Constant use has kept shirts permanently stained
Unwashed jeans carry damage from friction, time, and thorns
Like some art nouveau palette
Many vibrant colors of oil, acrylic, and grass, harshly dye the denim
Weathered canvas and leather finish the form
Twisted shoelaces holding together boot
The hard rubber tread walked down to slick smoothness
Odd cuts through the edges giving a unique pattern in the mud and grime of the city
It could be the sleepless nights or just constant sickness reddening the eyes
The slightest breeze bringing out a tear
Blurred vision of advancing age
The fingernails are clean
Every opportunity taken to maintain that air of godliness
One other thing shows through the layers of unkept rubble
An even, straight smile
Without gap, bend, or chip
White tea stained teeth
Another glimmer of some other existence
Who would ever know or care to guess
The judgemental quick to label
Uncaring for their own commandments
Incompetent in a lackluster religion
They would unknowingly look down upon Jesus, John, and a host of martyrs
Confused as to those burdened beneath the cross
A high pitch mixing at the upper spectrum of a ringing chime
Sharp tones of metal on metal cutting away through bone and brain
Screams of pain changing over into images of lightening bolts and razor thin daggers
My eyes turn to liquidized jelly
They melt under the constant agony of pulses spuming forth from now empty sockets
The only escape is being walled into a casket six feet down insulated by the solid earth
Until the volume of gnashing and gnawing grows
Louder than before a chorus of beetles and worm devour flesh
In this one last sanctuary of hell the spirit unable to find release from the torment succumbs
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.
Somewhere I lost my way
Somehow I went off the path
Overhead the storms are raging
Deep down a flood is rising
I hear a cyclone blowing
It’s wind is tearing me apart
Emotions turn toxic with the pain
I can still see your face and hear your words
Just can’t bring myself to understand
Why are you still holding on
To a person as lost as me
When life would be better to just leave