Things have been hectic lately, as I am packing up to move (one of my absolute least favorite things to do), and I haven’t had much time to post updates. To give an example, it is after 1:30 in the morning when I am writing this, and I returned from an 18 hour workday about half an hour ago. I am feeling a bit loopy, to be completely honest, which may have something to do with my current train of thought, and the nature of this post.
I like to give insights and examples into the life of a writer of (albeit strange) fiction, and those that know me know I have no shame. I don’t mind posting stuff I would never publish, or writing about my personal life experiences. Tonight, I’m throwing out the former.
Here is a piece I wrote some number of years ago, more than likely at some ungodly early morning hour when the only things stirring are mating feral cats and barn owls, when I had time to just follow whatever inspiration struck me at the time. The little scene below is unedited, an exercise in just typing and seeing where it took me.
Don’t judge…it’s just for shits and giggles, folks.
THE FIEND, THE MESSENGER, AND THE DREAMTIME DAIRY-QUEEN
There is no warning. All I know is that I’m sitting facing a food court style Dairy Queen Booth. The table appears to be plastic, as is the chair I’m sitting in.
Oooookay, I think. This is new.
I look around, curious. The Dairy Queen is empty, as is the rest of the food court. I can see other booths lining the area, Burger King and Manchu Wok and Subway and Cinnebon and Sbarro’s – all deserted.
There are no smells. I am surrounded by silence.
I catch a hint of movement from the corner of my eye. Turning, I see a form moving toward me. It is a man, and although he isn’t the largest human I’ve ever met, he definitely belongs to the same club.
He walks around the tables, and sits in front of me. The air around him shimmers and glows as he moves, and I know two things at that moment.
One, is that I’m in the dream-realm.
The other is that, whoever or whatever he might be, he isn’t human.
Normally, I’m a bit more reserved, but lately, my temper has been a bit on the short side, and I’m even less in the mood for games than usual. I consider just doing what I can to rend this thing limb from limb, but the thought no sooner takes form than he smiles, and when he does, his eyes flash yellow. It is a color I’ve seen before.
“No, I’m not the one you call the Wolf-Bear, little Grinder, Son of Cain,” he says.
He uses the old names, but the smile on his face is one of sarcasm; and I know he realizes, as I do, that they are merely words, words with no real meaning.
“Who are you, then?” I ask.
“Someone who was sent to give you a message,” he replies.
“And you found it necessary to steal a human dream-form for this?”
“It’s easier for purposes of communication. You, better than most, should know that value in that.”
I want to reply to that, but I hold my tongue. He does have a point.
I wave my hand at the empty stores. “Interesting place for a meeting. Having a craving for a milkshake, maybe?”
He looks past me into the food court. “This dream is his,” he says, before looking back to me, “would you be more comfortable in a Scylding hall? The plaza of a Mayan city, perhaps? The halls of Babylon?”
“Not really, ” I reply, “One setting is as good as another. What about your host? I know you can’t hold this form for very long, without damage. I trust he will be unharmed, or do you even care?”
“It will be just another dream,” he smiles, “with no more harm done than any other. As long as I finish my business here in due time, that is.”
His eyes flare yellow again. “Meaning you should still yourself, and listen.”
I force myself to remain calm. It takes some effort. “Speak then.”
“The message I bring is simple, little one, and it is this: a weapon, once dulled, must either be sharpened, or tossed aside. You had a path once. Even deemed yourself a Sword of Karma, ridiculous as that is, but even a Sword of Karma is useless without an edge.”
I start to protest, to tell him that I am already doing all that I can, but he cuts me off before the words find form.
“You are next to nothing,” he says. The air ripples around the dream image of the human he has stolen, blue and scarlet, and the impression I feel, is of restraint. “And if you weren’t spending so much time feeling sorry for yourself, you would know that.”
“I’m not . . .”
“Of course you are. You’re nothing but a whining, puling little brat, and were it up to me, I’d let you wallow in your own pity until you collapsed under its weight, but luckily for you, others think you may have potential yet.”
“Why? Why would anyone think that?”
“Two reasons,” he says. “The first is that, unlike any of your kind before you, you have tried to elevate yourself beyond mere being. This has not happened before, and is likely not to happen again.”
This is a surprise, not because I was unaware of my own efforts in this regard, but that it meant anything to anyone other than myself. But it is his next answer that really gets my attention.
“And the other?”
“The second, is because more subtle life lessons have been lost upon you. Most, upon reaching your level of awareness, come to appreciate life more when it is nearly taken from them. Again, had it been up to me, I would have let you perish on the highway, as I do not care for your kind, beneficial to your hosts as you may be. Still, it was decided then that a more . . . direct approach would be in order.”
I feel myself growing warm with anger. “Left me on the highway? Is that supposed to be a joke? Is that what you mean about a life lesson? You . . .you fuck!”
“You know it could have been much worse, worse even than the oblivion to which you have sent so many lesser beings.”I find myself sputtering, unable to form a proper response. “That’s . . . that is just . . .”
“Unjust? Unfair?” Even under its guise, I can see that this being is taking some sort of pleasure in this, and that fuels my anger even more. “In your whining, you have hit upon at least one truth, little spirit. You feel as if the penalties for your mistakes are greater than those of men. Of course they are. That you have gotten as far as you have, have been allowed to enjoy the pleasures and pain of men, has only been due to the sheer benevolence of that to which we all answer. Accept this, for to do otherwise would be at your peril. Remember what you have been told. You will not be told again.”
There are so many things I want to say, so much that I want to know. What of the Wolf-Bear? Does the same thing hold true for him? Are we all held equally accountable? Have all my deaths and near-deaths been to the same purpose?
But I am denied. The world falls apart around me, and all is darkness.
I wake up on my bed, and look at the clock. It is still early evening. I remember laying down earlier that afternoon in an attempt to stretch my aching back muscles, but I had not thought myself tired enough for sleep to come that easily. I am sweating, and when I lift my hand to wipe it from my face, I see my hand is trembling.
I spend the next few hours recovering, and make notes on my encounter. I know that the details, however stark, will fade with time, like all dreams, and I want to capture as much as I can. I know however, that while the memories of this day may lessen through time, the message will stay with me.
Weapons, once dulled, must be brought back to order, or cast aside.
And that is something I cannot forget.