Silence

The katydid and tree frog chirping out a lullaby

In the shade of the great oaks

The summer sun now just breaking above the distant hills

Filling the air with warmth

A soft breeze moves the green leaves and tall grasses

The passing cooler air drifting down through the hollow

Carrying with it the smell of flowers from beyond sight

Lulling tired old men into a quiet reflection

Silent as a shadow

Breathing in the peace of the world

Bit’s and Pieces from The Book of Pat

The mountain folk were a completely different nation unto themselves. They were proof that a drawn line wasn’t what made a mixed group of people into a country. They were proof that it would make them enemies…

The forest underbrush had nearly completely obscured the trail. If not for the occasional bent reed or bare patch amongst the bracken a traveller could easily become lost in the half light of the bottom canopy.

Other than the man made tracks he was leaving behind there appeared no other sign that any other human had passed this way in generations. That was something very disheartening and troubling. The traveller had more than a lifetime of training in tracking and survival. He had even more memories of the countries landscape. Images of before and after floated across his vision, each step made on the internal magnet that could guide a homing pigeon or smart bomb to their final destination without error.

The only problem came with the now. The now could throw a wrench into any plan. The now could be raining or blazing dry, a flooded landscape or a burning forest fire. Only the Author knew for sure what the now would be. It was in that way He made sure the traveller would stay true to the story. At least that’s how everything usually went.

Alice nether knew where she was or when she had been there. The whole tumble from the one next into the other had left her a bit addled and confused. If it wasn’t for the sugary scent of strawberry glaze frosting that was currently drifting about the place Alice probably would have stayed in that kaleidoscope frame of mind for quite some time.

Hunger… Alice was very hungry. The first sounds to reach her ears was the growling of her own stomach. Soon after that conscious thought came the pain of the tight cramping knot of her guts slowly churning. The need to separate reality from delusion was to take second seat for now.

With a quick scan of the room Alice saw that presently no one was there. The rows of shelving and stacks of literature were present. The large ancient writing desk stocked with and ink well and piles of parchment paper was located just how she had seen it. The only thing absent was the box of pastry, the old man, and the ever increasing mess of sprinkles and jam about the floor.

“Damn”, Alice thought. “Missed out and stuck here, where ever here is.”

A almost unheard voice spoke from the dimness of the library. Alice almost mistook it as one of her own thoughts spoken out loud, then as the return of the insanity from the night before. “From where does the strawberry grow? From what does the hunger know?”

“Through what path have you vaulted? For what reasoning has time yet not come?”

Alice felt as if a door had opened and with the fresh in flux of air slammed yet another doorway closed. The sudden shift of pressure bringing a bit of nausea and the threatening kaleidoscope of confusion she had already overcome.

When the room returned to normal Alice noticed a few more lit candles burning, the box of pastry opened and set within arms reach from where she stood. The strange old man was busying himself with an even stranger white container with blue labeling. Without a single gaze back over his shoulder the sage asked,”Glass of lactaid free milk, Honey? I mean Alice… I fear we haven’t any honey at this moment.”

Pat sat once again in his garden. The summer heat had came earlier than expected but not so early that it would ruin the plantings. He’d have to run the drip hose more than usual until everything had set down good root.

The sky was filled with white cotton candy clouds; Each set drifting on a sea of pastel blue.

Many years ago Pat had hung many small wind chimes about the wood that surrounded his home. He had set so many so long ago that the watcher couldn’t remember where they were exactly. All Pat knew was on beautiful days like today the effort had been worth it. The native songbirds with a musical accompaniment by the wind softly off set the rustle of the trees in the cool summer breeze. “I know that reads as a horrible sentence, each word exactly accurate and the moment perfect.”

Pat was for the moment at peace with the world.

Wednesday of the fifth month, the one hundredth forty-second day, year two thousand nineteen a.d. of the Book of Pat

The traveller gazed up at the midday sky. Overhead two blazing suns burned down to earth. This was the first time he had ever seen such an event in his lengthy lifetime. For the traveller to acknowledge that fact was a scary thing. He had thought he’d seen it all. Now here he was stranded in a reality of time that quite honestly looked to be the end for his career and the rest of creation.

The only intelligent voice in his head was uttering the word fuck, fuck, fuck. At the moment all the other voices seemed in agreement.

Fuck.

After an eternity of quietly contemplating the situation one of the voices pointed out that as the earth rotated only the larger of the two orbs seemed to move in the arc. The other seemed to become more of an oddly formed orb which reflected more than it seemed to be burning. A few other voices began to chime in with agreement, and after a lengthy discussion it was agreed that fact was true.

“So we’re good then?”asked the traveller.

“No.”said the leading authoritative voice. “It’s probably a massive meteoroid. Even the fact that there still isn’t a visible smoke trail may mean it’s further above the stratosphere than it looks. We are screwed.”

The sound of sneakers running away on smooth concrete and then the loud slamming of a metal door was what Pat heard first.

It was a familiar but funny sound to hear over the speaker system. It reminded him of his high school days and the loud racket one could hear over the public announcement system will the principal was going over the days events. Those were the glory years for sure.

On this occasion though, Pat was a good twenty years older, and working in a tower miles away from the originator of the sound. As a joke Pat was buzzed up on the speaker. A familiar voice on the other end began a rant that unless privy to the joke itself would sound very offensive to the receiving party. The joke would have been hilarious to Pat, but as fate often intervenes it was not Pat that first answered the call… It was Pat’s boss

After a three sentence rant of blasphemy and expletives Pat’s boss began shouting expletives back and yelling “Who is this!” back over the speaker.

The only reply was “If you don’t know mother-fucker”, and the sounds of tennis shoes running on concrete right before the slamming of a door.

Pat tried not to laugh. He knew that the anger would soon enough be turned towards him.

“Do you know who that asshole was?” the boss asked.

With the straightest face Pat could muster, “No sir. I’ve never heard that voice before.”

Alice slowly slide through the small sized opening. At first what she thought to be only a thin gap she had discovered to be a hinged door. With a little coaxing the portal could easily be made to open out wider.

Alice thought how odd to have a door hidden inside a tree. Even odder was the fact she knew it couldn’t have been there before. The door opened into an immense room with vaulted ceilings that the tree she had sheltered in could not have held.

Cautiously Alice looked out into the room. Fully aware of the funny old man that even at this moment was busy wolfing down strawberry treats and having some sort of discussion with the thin air about him. Perhaps if she kept in the shadows and used the massive stacks of books between the two of them as cover the old man wouldn’t realize she was in the room. By the way the food was being consumed Alice knew speed was going to be of the utter most importance.

The doorman was partially surprised. It wasn’t a frequent thing to see the sage away from his writing. It was even less frequent that the sage would share a tasty strawberry glazed donut. Later the gatekeeper would blame those events and the sudden sugar rush as the reason he was surprised for a third time.

Even as Alice stretched out into the room she realized something wasn’t right. Where shelves of books and piles of scrolls should have been there was suddenly nothing.

Nothing was actually not quite right. There was a brilliant white, a worn mat, and a strangely uniformed man eating a pink colored pastry that at the moment was shedding rainbow colored sprinkles about the area.

Both Alice and the doorman stared blankly at each other. Neither seemed to know exactly what to do at that moment.

Alice was the first to take action. In a dead run Alice leaped past the uniformed man and on into the doorway behind him.

As quickly as she had come the trespasser disappeared into the next. In all his lifetime the gatekeeper never had this happen to him. He was pretty positive the Author would already know. What that meant wouldn’t become clear for a great while.

“Oh well”, he thought.

The gatekeeper scarffed down the last of his donut. There was going to be a long wait until the next one…

Revenant

rev·e·nant/ˈrevəˌnäN,-nənt/
noun: revenant; plural noun: revenants
a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead.

Pat awoke into a word of skyscrapers and high-rise apartments. The new realities landscape was a random mix of Italian Renaissance and a modern art deco. Here and there Pat’s will could change some of the architecture into a more attractive Parisian nouveau but only the structures that felt sympathetic towards him.

The sidewalks were full of people out for a leisurely paseo before dinner and bar hopping.

Pat drifted back and forth through the crowd listening to the chatter. He could hear stories of how their day went, plans for after dinner, and on a few occasions the pleasant words of couples in love.
Nothing he heard helped him understand his current presence in such a peaceful setting. By default Pat was always a storm bringer, a gore crow, and the toxic side effect of a beneficial medication. Finding himself comfortablely walking the promenade was a bit unnerving. The only satisfying thing about it was the ability to redesign this world about him as he walked.
Pat did go out of his way not to make physical contact with the others strolling about. Practice had given him the delicate like a glimpse of shadow caught from the corner of the eye. By the time his movement was detected he made sure to be clear with their only view being of his back. When the path seemed too crowded everyone would become suddenly distracted by the amazing transformation of the surrounding buildings.

Pat slipped down the first side alley he found loosing himself into the comforting arms of darkness.

Amongst the discarded boxes and battered garbage cans Pat felt comfortable. Here was a place that served his purpose. Here was somewhere he belonged and from every dark corner draw out energy.

Without concern the dreamer sank back against old mortar and brick. Knees bent and elbows resting crossed upon his chest he listened quietly lost in thought. In all his travelling he had never had time to be at peace. It was not a good sign.

A large cat ran past his left leg. Seconds later Pat could make out the same cat with rat in mouth slowly tearing it apart. The soft crunching of bone chewing and a cats pur drifted out of the alley to mix amongst the sounds of laughter…

I’ve been here before…

Same tired chair, mildewed and stained…

The same ancient cobwebs drifting lazily in a draft.

Even the sounds creeping in beneath the crack of the door.

Everything is familiar, even you.

On the end table sits an empty glass, white chalk stained, with a half decayed bowl of something once edible but now rotten beyond recognition. The passage of time doing us all the favor of removing the stench.

It’s been awhile since the mold gnats and bottle flies maggots paid their visit to such a meal. By the way the dried remains peel and crack away from the glazing of the bowl a considerable amount of time has passed. Other than the ever increasing volumes of books and stories, one of the few signs that things here do change.

Infinity can be found between zero and one, and only understood by those that seem to never make sense.

The old sage sat silently in prayer. He often did. Head bowed, eyes closed, hands folded or left resting motionless upon his lap, palms together.

Unlike most people, the sage would often have his replies by the end of each sentence. If any curious onlookers were able to ease drop they would find the whole moment more of a discussion between a teacher and pupil. Which was which was easy enough to discern. The sage was ever the career student. To know is not enough; understanding is the true gift.

During his lifetime of service the only true peace he ever felt was when in talking to the Author. The serenity and calm making his responsibility to maintaining the library a worthwhile sacrifice.

A quiet voice spoke out from the nothingness of empty air,
Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage:
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage.

As if in reply the sage spoke back, “These heavy walls to me had grown A hermitage—and all my own! And half I felt as they were come to tear me from a second home: With spiders I had friendship made and watch’d them in their sullen trade, had seen the mice by moonlight play, and why should I feel less than they?

We were all inmates of one place, and I, the monarch of each race, had power to kill—yet, strange to tell! In quiet we had learn’d to dwell.”

As if satisfied the response the disembodied voice went back to what corner of reality had spawned it.

“Strange how well you knew the verse and the other to reply.”. The other was used to interruptions. It had always been the most used and over abused form of worship. What did irritate Him was that many of those confused want for worship. Then when those masses fail to receive they then go off on a tangent of self destruction. Sometimes after hitting the bottom of that a repentant few turn back and truly learn worship.

“Never seems to be enough though”, said the sage.

“Someday it will all make sense”, came the reply. “Not until then. And when you get back to your writing, I need to have a review on the Alice situation. We may need to revise a few things.”

The Ringing Bells

Pat sat distracted. He often drifted off and got caught up in a daydream or remembrance of a conversation that happened hours to months ago. When that happened his face would fix into something near in description to an angry solemn look. Perhaps a person could confuse it for a resting bitch face but it was actually less intense than that look. People often left him alone because of that.

Either way, Pat was content with the solitude.

Today Pat found himself listening to the various chiming and ringing in his ears. Somewhere between a constant ring of a school bell to the vibration on the C string struck while depressing the pedal to make it more of a sharp. Today both ears were at war with the other.

It always amazed him how he could still pass a hearing test being so fucked up.

She had taken shelter from the raging storm inside one of the many large oaks in the wildering woods. The softer wood of the core having rotted away generations ago leaving space inside for perhaps six or more stout individuals and a pony. It only lacked a decent floor and a chimney to become liveable she thought.

“She!” a loud voice spoke out in the darkness of the tree hollow. “Our name is Alice, and not she! I’ve but one body, one life, and one voice.”

Surprisingly nothing replied back. It was the first time that there was not even an echo of sound from inside her brain or from outside in the world. Startled by the silence Alice sat quietly waiting for some invisible shoe to drop or a prophetic vision to sweep her mind clear.

Nothing happened. Perhaps all that was needed was a good night’s sleep. After a bit more listen to the dark Alice felt sure that the nights rest had cured her of whatever it was. Alice knew that the journey back home was going to be a difficult one. There were chores left undone, explanations to be made, and even the chance of some sort of witchhunt if no one accepted a less than honest account of sleepwalking or a lie about simply getting lost looking to empty the chamber pot. It was something she did not look forward to.

The soft sweet smell of strawberry slowly drifted in from outside her little den. Alice’s hungry stomach churned in it’s own juices as saliva began to form on a once dry tongue. Whatever it took, Alice knew in the end she was going to have some. With slow determination she edged her way across the tree to the opening the smell came trickling from. The brightness of the outside was near blinding but Alice could make out oddly uniform shapes lining what looked to be shelving. A vast room of books with a strange old man hobbling about what appeared to be a writing desk. He seemed extremely excited and fully energetic for being such an old individual. In his hands he held what appeared to be some baked goods frosted with a pinkish glaze, and dripping what looked like sprinkles and jam. Both the man’s beard, hands, and floor were covered in spots where he had been less than agile in devouring the food. The whole scene only deepened Alice’s hunger.

And that’s when it happened…

Slowly the outside noises of the world would intrude: the chirping of the birds, the repeated shouting of his name, the constant ringing of a cellphone, or the soul shattering alarm Pat set to remind him of important things to be done.

Today it was the single ring of a door bell. They were more like chimes but the hollow ding was close enough to the required tone to pass as a bell. Pat slowly walked around the house. He had found himself outside in the garden when his mind cleared. The garden was small, but pleasing to look at and enjoy.

At the front porch Pat found no one waiting. A package left by some errant delivery service sat snug against the door.

The name on the mailing sticker was addressed from Alice. Pat smiled at the name. Like so many things he had seen and learned in life, that name always rang a bell and a pleasant memory.

The old librarian paced excitedly about his writing desk. The days were few and far between that such a reward was ever granted. He had been given permission to buy some donuts. Not just any donuts though! Krispy Kreme donuts, strawberry glazed with sprinkles, and stuffed with jam if he wished. Though he had to use his own money, do all the leg work, and make up anytime he missed from doing his writing, the sage felt it called for celebrating. He was so jolly that he was positive in the fact he had forgotten something. Perhaps it was the change from the twenty, or the lactate free whole milk he loved to drink now that he was “old”. What the hell, he’d figure it out later.

Someday Often Comes To Late

The dreamer dreams in lingering thought of reality unending and stories yet untold. Painted visions of peopled cities of different make that rise and fall like the breath in sleep.

Here there is no ticking clock to arouse the slumbering Buddha. No changing season to cast alarm to those senses that watch the sky for rain.

The dreamer dreams of reality unending, and of stories yet untold…

Pat watched the passing traffic. All the drivers going by shared the same emotionless blank face and self absorbed gaze. It didn’t take a detective to see their minds were distracted by secret thoughts of what they wish to do to the other assholes driving. Occasionally one would act upon that emotion and swerve into another lane. A succession of honks and horns would immediately erupt from the offended then the offender. There was nothing entertaining about watching it.

Across the street a mother and daughter were just exiting a white SUV. The child looked to be six years of age, very short, and very thin. The mother was only two feet taller, slim waisted, with a half starved but fit build of a runner. The black yoga pants she wore left little for the imagination to guess at. Perhaps she was in her early thirties. Nowadays it was becoming more difficult to guess a woman’s age. Even the daughter, depending on the size of the father could have been twelve years old and malnourished.

Here too was nothing of interest to the watcher. Maybe if the woman had red hair or was a large busted blonde Pat would have given her a much more intensive observation. Instead his attention went more to the little girl and what was held tight in her left hand.

A long slender ribbon tethered a bright red balloon to her. Recently bought or gifted the elastic shine of it’s red bobbed back and forth under the tension of her pull. The nearness of the slow moving traffic sent it eddying this way and that above the girls head.

Pat watched as the two figures disappeared into a resale shop. The red balloon bobbing even as it faded from view in the store.

A silent prediction was made that upon returning the red balloon would be absent, and the little girl’s mother would be dragging her by that very same hand. The pleasant expression upon their exiting the white SUV would be gone as well…

A dark cloud lurked upon the distant horizon. It looked like more than just a small rain shower on the way. A stiff breeze blew past. The storm was going to be strong enough to carry a mix of dust and leaves with it.

The traveller looked impatiently over her shoulder then back to the approaching storm. The sun was already a soft rose colored orb drifting down behind the tree line. It looked to be a cold damp night with still more distance to make before she would feel comfortable enough to seek shelter.

The look of the path ahead was of one well tended and high trafficed. The chosen route would be an easy one to travel. Still the uncertainty of the present and her purpose here was an annoyance. It had been to many times that the traveller had been caught in the open that they would ever allow it to happen again.

“They”, she repeated out loud. The host was still attempting to override the situation she now existed in. This insanity had the tainted smell of witchcraft. Whatever daemons had possessed her during the night and coaxed her sleeping body into this unplanned pilgrimage was not going to continue without fighting it the whole way. At the moment she had to admit to the sensation of being thoroughly screwed and a bit out of control. The voices inside her brain, and constant hallucinations overlaying the real world were enough for now to keep her following the path “They” had chosen.

They continued further into the wildering darkness. Like the insanity of voices, and the deepening night, the enveloping woods soon swallowed her up from the world she once new.

Pat watched as the sun slowly sank behind the grey clouds of rain. Even now the rosey reds and brilliant rays of gold were becoming muted by the storm.

The once invisible homeless became active moving about. They shuffled by with cardboard tucked awkwardly beneath the arm, strips of plastic or confiscated garbage liners clinched tightly against the blowing wind.

Pat could see the same lines in their faces and hands as his; The same age worn stains upon clothes, tired odd sized boots and shoes worn brown with neglect.

“How many times has it been?”, the voices asked.

As if in reply one green eyed transient looked nervously back over his shoulder.

“To often” came the reply blown upon the wind.

Idle Times

Had it been seconds or a lifetime of ages since the last time a visitor had past. The doorman was starting to wear thin like the door mat he had been gifted by an old travelling salesman.

At first he saw the humor in the gift as a poke at his own purpose in being. Often the thought had been contemplated that his only purpose was to keep the mud and dirt from getting through the door. Even though the wording and color was beginning to wear away, the doorman still felt “Welcome” in the stylized flourish of flowery writing. After all it never rained or snowed here in his land of make believe.

After all, in all the land of entrance and exit, only he had a comfortable mat to stand upon. Without a doubt a true gift to someone bound to stand until forever ends or begins. Whichever came first no longer mattered to him.

On some occasions the doorman would move his mat down the white halls of light. In picking a new place he had hopes of changing the view for a time. Nothing ventured, nothing gained was the latest saying he had heard. It made perfect sense to him. Of course the only change was in the mind of the doorman. A cityscape of blinding white never dimmed or changed in contrast. In truth the only purpose in seeing at all was his purpose as watchdog. Never open, never close, never allow another beyond the threshold. Absolute and uncompromised in that one task this whole time… Orders he never did really understand. Why have a door then?

The rules never applied to the Author, or Dreamer, nor even to himself should he venture beyond. Somehow they were the same as he or she depending on your train of thought.

Another was someone like the man in the grey suit, but not like the traveller. As hard as it was to tell the two apart only the traveller could gain entrance while the grey suit would just fade away into the darkness beyond the portal.

The thought of the grey suit saddened the usually cheerful doorman. “Could you imagine being aware and completely capable of communication with another sphere of being? Only unable to bridge that short distance of understanding to join. It could drive a being to do horrible things, all the while thinking you had a purpose in stopping something.”

The doorman stared out into the white patiently waiting for an answer. After what seemed an infinity to him he heard a reply.

Some days it felt that it was a wasted effort to take the time to go to work.

And with that the doorman moved his mat once again.

The twenty-ninth day of the year twenty nineteen anno Domini…

The traveller was very fond of old memories, strawberry shortcake, doughnuts, and the ancient writer who maintained the stories. He found that no matter the time or day those four things could always bring a smile to warm the heart.

Sad fact of the travellers reality, one couldn’t always get strawberries for the cake or hot glazed donuts. So whenever the opportunity to get them the traveller would. It was one of the few things he always looked forward to. Sometimes the traveller had to look back to find them and on those occasions having the love of old memories came in handy. And with those three bound together one could easily understand why the old bearded sage made the list.

“With great humor I laughed even as I write this.”, the sage commented. Something as time progressively circles about, you may notice often happens by him, third person or not. We both laugh a second time together at that confusing thought.

The traveller in all the forms and personalities knew one thing to be true. The sage knew, knows, and will have known so when you write the list, there really is no trouble placing yourself onto it.

“Why I’m fourth on my own list I can’t explain”, thought the sage. “Perhaps it’s because I too cheerish the other three.”

And with that thought bubble explored the sage went back to his writing. (It should be noted that a scribbled message in the border for a request for hot donuts was later found by the author and editor. Something for another story line.)

In another reality information posted on how the traveller graded the present occupied time by the HOT DONUTS sign flashing at a nearby Krispy Kreme. Only the best realities had them, and damn the world if fresh hot glazed donuts didn’t exist yet.

(Here again the author and editor can’t decide if it is truly the traveller or the sage craving said donuts. Something that will be discussed at the next panel meeting.)

Carrying on…

The traveller woke just past midnight. The cold flow of heat leaving his body creating a soft steaming mist. Where ever he was it wasn’t summer. Even worse than the cold, the fact of being completely nude and laid out on a stone slab brought a horrific terror to his groggy mind.

At a young age there were many Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft books read beneath the bed covers with flashlight in hand, then retold by fire light long into the night. Stories filled with dark shapes, beautiful women, and often daring hero’s intrepidly in search of unknown truth. Only rarely did the physical strength ever overcome the unseen evil, when it had it came with a bitter victory.

Happily there too was the great novels of King Arthur, the Holy Grail, Robinhood, Ivanhoe written down by Walter Scott and others. Valiant crusades of justice, good vs evil, light over darkness. Always follow the code of conduct to succeed. Even if you die without victory, those deeds done would bring certain honor to those left behind. Symbols of perfection, and an example for them to follow…

There was Gilgamesh, the Tolkien stories, C. S. Lewis, and the classic mead hall poetry of Beowulf too fill in any gaps. Even the wonderful writings of Alice had there time being absorbed during those earlier years.

Guides and guidance for a future that was yet to be.

The greatest book was T. H. White, The Once and Future King. In it the secrets of time and politics could be unlocked, even understood. Once those pieces feel in place, how large creation could become.

Of course nothing ever happened back then. Childhood dreams of dragons and knights; Kingdoms of elven druids, secret paths unlocked by magic balls and slithering snakes.

Not until the day at the coffee shop.

And being laid out naked flat on ones back upon a wet slab of rock was as far from any coffee shop or glazed donut a being could ever find themselves.

Of all his learned knowledge, poetic stories, and trained responses to unexpected tribulations, the only thought to find it’s way out from the clutter was… “Fuck.”

Hot glazed donuts with strawberry sprinkles dipped in jam thought the Sage. I will definitely hold out for the sprinkles and jam at the next juncture. Surely they will see how the sugar would keep my eyes from wandering as do my thoughts.

Surely.

The 91st day, 19th Year, 21st century, 3rd millennium…

Still alive; I often wonder how. It’s been a very long time since that first coffee at the corner cafe. I still remember the cappuccino double- shot, and the rush that followed. The world was electric and I saw the neon signs light up my path.

The problem with electricity is eventually insulation wears thin, circuits overload, and either a breaker pops or wiring burns. Reckless, the odds were never in my favor.

A brilliant mind once wrote that as I Time. That line of thought took an individual as a single observer at a fixed point in an endless line. He was close. Time as a unit of measure, as a distance between two unknowns, a thing without a constant… Compressed into words on a page.

Everything is related, especially believing in the wrong answer. That’s the most important thing. Believe and you can live forever. Doubt and you will anyhow. You are the question mark, not me, not them, and not time.

I woke up this morning with a splitting headache; Bloodshot eyes with blurred vision, capped off by a dry cough. The familiar joint pain was missing. It would come back soon enough. Like a missing limb my suffering from torn and dislocated ligaments was a ghost pain carried over from a previous point.

I’d travelled again. Must have died suddenly and without seeing it coming. That shit happened on occasion. No matter how long you travel some things still catch you off guard. At least we didn’t suffer. Suffering sucks even if you know it has an ending.

As I laid there the slow movement of a ceiling fan cast a flickering shadow across the ceiling. Three walls were in my range of vision. There square angles joining in uniformed lines. There were doors on two of the walls. One door an obvious wider cut than the other, but both of the same height. One window was on the third visible wall. It was shuttered tightly against the outside. Still cracks of daylight filtered in bringing with it flashes of movement, rhythmic back and forth in a fixed position. Traces of green carried in as well with a soft sounds of a breeze.

I was glad that there are plants here. I was also glad for a closed room quiet and undisturbed.

The fourth wall I could sense without looking. The soft downward movement from the fan above blowing much stronger at my back. The cool force of the walls nearness reassuring enough to ignore for the moment.

I imagine that a picture or painting there. No sound of a muffling tapestry or curtain. Crazy the things you learn to listen for.

The absence of cobwebs or animal dander in the rest of the room even more reassuring.

The bed I awoke in was unscented. The pillow beneath my head and lain tightly stuffed beside my arms were covered in a solid gray-blue pillowcase. These too lacked any smell or staining from use. By the amount of room I felt, a definite queen size bed. A pillow top liner, simi-firm. The temptations of closing my eyes and going back to a dream filled world overwhelm. Everything has a purpose, a reason, a connection even if you can’t see it.

We apparently are male, single, or at least recently so for a period long enough to remove the essence of the more pleasant sex. As a male we are clean, moderately organized with the routine of doing laundry.

Even the absence of dust spoke of organization, maybe even a means of income to support the payment of a maid. Something in the feel of the room told me no to the maid, no to a mother figure, no to any outside influence.

It was always important to understand things without relying on a host’s memories. Memories lie, sometimes tainted by previous lives experienced elsewhere, or even falsely placed by the pressures of others.

Never trust a memory. They are just the dreams of another world. I know.

Regret is the daughter of hesitation.

We fumbled around the bed and found a familiar metal and glass instrument. Another luxury of a distant world, technology of a smartphone.

A quick check of the alarm and calendar I am surprised to find the host on his off days. Nothing scheduled, no anniversary or birthday, no bill due, not even a note to perform some task or hobby.

“What the hell,” we said. “Time for another nap.”

And so it is.