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…
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
Have you ever watched the world from behind locked doors? Spent the days and nights lost in a drug filled haze? In a murky quiet found absolution from the confession of the soul?
He was a tall man. From the discolored yellow socks to the last wisp of grayed hair he would have stood an impressive seventy five inches if not for a stoop. Years of emotional withdrawal from the world around him had manifested into a passive slumping of the neck and shoulders. The effect gave the watcher the impression of a passive mouse. Nonthreatening in appearance the observer could easily dismiss what they saw as a harmless old man. Someone easily taken as feeble in mind and spirit.
They’d be greatly mistaken.
Only after making contact with his darting green eyes would you truly see the man before you. A spark of other worldly power flowed in them. Dark emerald mixed deeply with a hazelnut burst from some alien nebula. Somehow they expressed both an anger and peace at the same moment.
With a furrowed unkept tangle of eyebrow overshadowing the slumping gaze it was not often an individual could intercept his gaze.
No, the only thing most people would see of the face was an insane grin. A grin that was stretched taught across yellowed teeth, and highlighted by dry cracked lips and the drip of a thick viscous drool.
Even the aperture of the mouth was overhung like the eyes by a disgusting growth of long unruly hair. These though grew out vulgarly from the nostrils, and to the disgust of any curious spectator often dripped with a condensed collection of snot or mucus.
His name was Vincent, and he was insane.
I remember days that lasted weeks. Left alone to many nights at port, to many times on dusty roads.
Mirages appear and disappear like the voices in my brain. Slowly becoming landmarks burned deep into my soul.
Out there somewhere I’m looking for something lost or maybe it’s just something I’ve never seen.
You never know what’s waiting there just beyond what you know.
Crazy ad it is, that’s exactly where I want to go…
The cold winter night
A cloudless star filled sky
Only naked branches on the trees
No wind to rub limbs into a screeching creak or rustle dried leaves under foot
The coyote bark and howl from one hidden den
Over the hill another begins their baying
A chorus takes up position
Navigating the dry rills, bramble filled trenches, and deer worn paths
I can feel them closing the distance
Each twisted trunk
Every darkened hole
The night comes to life with slender shadows
Backlit by the northern constellations
Crescent moon trailed close by Venus
The haunting calls of a predator coming closer in the night
But they know to tread softly across my path
I too have a yearning hunger that calls, and a inner desire to be unleashed
My beard is scruffy
Growing it longer on the chin while cutting back the rest to stubble
Thread worn clothes
Constant use has kept shirts permanently stained
Unwashed jeans carry damage from friction, time, and thorns
Like some art nouveau palette
Many vibrant colors of oil, acrylic, and grass, harshly dye the denim
Weathered canvas and leather finish the form
Twisted shoelaces holding together boot
The hard rubber tread walked down to slick smoothness
Odd cuts through the edges giving a unique pattern in the mud and grime of the city
It could be the sleepless nights or just constant sickness reddening the eyes
The slightest breeze bringing out a tear
Blurred vision of advancing age
The fingernails are clean
Every opportunity taken to maintain that air of godliness
One other thing shows through the layers of unkept rubble
An even, straight smile
Without gap, bend, or chip
White tea stained teeth
Another glimmer of some other existence
Who would ever know or care to guess
The judgemental quick to label
Uncaring for their own commandments
Incompetent in a lackluster religion
They would unknowingly look down upon Jesus, John, and a host of martyrs
Confused as to those burdened beneath the cross
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
A high pitch mixing at the upper spectrum of a ringing chime
Sharp tones of metal on metal cutting away through bone and brain
Screams of pain changing over into images of lightening bolts and razor thin daggers
My eyes turn to liquidized jelly
They melt under the constant agony of pulses spuming forth from now empty sockets
The only escape is being walled into a casket six feet down insulated by the solid earth
Until the volume of gnashing and gnawing grows
Louder than before a chorus of beetles and worm devour flesh
In this one last sanctuary of hell the spirit unable to find release from the torment succumbs
The oddity of life. It’s razor thin slivers slicing across shallow veins of truth. Passions play out upon the same nerves that transfer pain. Rocked with pleasure not meant to be enjoyed. Then just as dilated eyes gain their focus the fire light dims and the last vibrant tone fades into inexistence.
She’s yellow ocher to me. In words muttered beneath audible sound I often express dislike for her. Preference usually given to the pristine colors of ebony and titanium white. Crisp lines shape the image. Tethering reality with math and logic. Rarely do any of us separate from the uniformity of their use.
Unmistakable. She is yellow ocher, and that is what makes her beautiful to me.
I can never let her know.
Alice sat distracted. A nuthatch was slowly making its way down the trunk of a nearby sapling. It’s funny head-first hopping reminded her of the her own first moments leaping through worlds. As nauseating an experience it had been, Alice was secretly hoping to get the opportunity to do it again. The only thing that was holding her back was the how and when.
Alice had gathered from the many frequent visits of disembodied voices that the portal from here to there ( where something she never knew) was always opening and closing. To use it, one simply needed to be determined and fully willing to accept the next outcome. The concept of outcome being as close to exactly what the event actually meant.
Alice couldn’t quite understand that piece of information either.
She just took it to mean 1+1=2 but to get to four the possibilities increased as well as the path. Everyone understands 2+2, or 1+1+1+1, or 1+1+2, and even 1+3. But doing the possible backwards or even not at all could cause a bit of stress. 0+4, 5-1, and so on into infinite realms could get a person marooned, even completely gone from before, during, and after. As insane as that sounded, Alice was not yet willing to prove anyone’s theorem’s just yet.
Why did everything have to involve math…
Alice could bring herself to accept that it had only been three days. What she couldn’t believe in was the constant transition of the garden outside.
She vaguely remembered the first time looking out of the window. The season had been late spring. The butterflies and hummingbirds fluttering amongst the many wildflowers and well planted rows of perennials. Annuals like irises taking over where daffodil and hyacinth had earlier flowered but now becoming just green leaves and dying stalks.
With later glances outside, Alice noted the crepe myrtles had begun to bloom with deep purples and reds. Their many branched arms spreading outward casting a welcomed shadow from the hot blazing sun.
And today as she gazed upwards in a daydream daze of building castles in the sky, Alice’s distracted eyes watched as oak and maple leaves began drifting down from leaf clogged gutters. The browned yellows and crimson reds slowly sailing down, down, down carpeting the flower beds.
Alice even noticed amongst the brown blades of overgrown grasses the aster and goldenrod turning to seed. The planting of daylilies she must have confused for irises being nothing but withered yellow and brown mulch piles beside dried stalks of gladiolas.
No. Though she was not a naturalist or expert at gardening, Alice knew the changing seasons without the need of flocking geese or migrant fish swimming up stream. Without a doubt, and without need of the old sage explaining things, Alice knew she was sitting in the middle of 0+1 or something very close to it.
Across the room the sage let out a humourous chortle.
To Alice the old man always seemed to take great interest and enjoyment during her most confused moments. It’s was almost like he knew her mind, and saw all the outcomes before she did, and thought her ignorant.