To what value do I set the scale
With incremental movement a clock measures out moment by moment
But that has no existence
The vapor and steam of things unseen
Passively touch then dissolve
And yet you and I watch it’s coming pass us by
Left in the wake that follows
We reach out as if to hold invisible threads of thought
Something unattained in the passage of life
And burdened by our own purpose
Feel fulfilled or utterly emptied by the experience
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…
Before my days grew cold
Naked and unafraid
I walked the wilderness
The coarse earth bore my presence
Silent footfalls beneath the endless sky of blue
Golden light filtered through green seas of leaf
Undulating waves back and forth moved with the soft breath of God
Floating feathered squadrons in an endless circle
Farther each moment
The sharpest blade tarnish and dull without the touch of decay
The strongest bull and fastest horse stumble upon the rock
Youthful vigor drains away evaporated with disuse
In old age wisdom flounders where truth has lost its worth
I am forgotten upon those places where once I traced my name
No sacred tree carries remembrance of me
All time worn stone and fire scarred wood have long dissolved with bone
And yet I hunger for tomorrow
Though I never see the day
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
Pull me from the darkness, lift me back into the light
Fill this empty vessel, fill this hole I have inside
Am I worth forgiveness, I can’t make myself believe
Show me that you’re listening and tear this devil out of me
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.
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.
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.