Come November, from The Book of Pat

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…

Daydreams and School work

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.

10:30

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.

I know.

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.

Eden.

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…

The Echoing Footsteps

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”.

Improve.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wearing the Grey

For as long as he could remember, the man knew he was different. Not a visible defect or an observable point of perfection or beauty. Even his test scores blended in seamlessly with the upper portion of the bell curve. Not in the middle, mind you. He was always just above average but off a mark for honor roll.

The boy he was and the man housing still those childish ideas still could blend into the population. He could excel in any field if he chose to. That’s where the special and different was. The boy and man never needed to. Never had to bother with choice. The path he walked was already lined up. Lined up not in a material or financial way. Neither was it a hereditary or surname position in life that granted such a privilege. And it was definitely not a thing of chance or luck. Through out life that theory had been tested. No, luck and being blessed by the Blarney Stone never entered the equation.

As long as the man did what presented itself and tried his best, life was good. The Golden Rule of do unto others being the biggest lesson he ever learned. Many of those times and lessons administered across the palm with the ruler.

I would like to point out that the ruler used was not golden and being the other never was given the chance to do unto the other. Lesson learned, those who control the gold control the wood. Since the boy nor the man were destined to have control or the gold it was best to tend to the business at hand, never draw attention to yourself. Good or bad, attention was only trouble in the end…

The sage blinked away the cobwebs of his Irish coffee. With a quick read of the words before him he was once again up to speed.

The Man in The Grey Suit was a fitting title for him. More fitting than calling him John Smith, or Joe Bloughe, and even thinking Steve or Martin was just humor gone bad. So The Grey or The Man was a good enough fit.

The background of growing up was new to the sage. Very rarely was information like that provided by the Author. The Author usually leaving off the less important details on first read, leaving those details for the magic and dreams which filled each page, newspaper, magazine, and book.

The sage was fully aware of the fact it was his hand that did the work. The staining of his hands provided plenty of evidence of those marathon journalism events. The thing was he was never fully there when it occurred. By the size of the library and piles of written material that gift of trance was definitely a blessing. If one cared to gather more evidence to prove or disprove who truly was doing the work, the comparison of hand writing and style changed about so much that one would think a legion of writers were at the task.

A Legion was not far off the mark either.