Personal art completed with graphite and charcoal on toned gray sketch paper.
Personal art completed with graphite and charcoal on toned gray sketch paper.
“Do you really think you are alive because you are strong, and you think you can fight?”
“Yes,” the human answered confidently.
The being leaned in. “Wrong. You are alive because I saved you. I made a conscious decision that your life meant something. Do not make me regret that decision.”
The human remained silent.
“Is there anything else you wish to argue?”
“Why, then? Why did you save me? You’ve hated me from the beginning!”
“Yes.” The being’s eyes glowed with power. “I still hate you. You are not worth of my time. You are selfish, greedy, arrogant. You take the credit that belongs to others. All you care about is your own gain. Your honest coworker could have used that promotion. Now, he will not get it because you got the credit. He needed that money. Now he will not be able to afford the treatments for his dying child. He worked hard. It means nothing because of your entitled nature. The universe does not revolve around you. Can you understand?”
The human remained silent still.
The being’s power did not die. It grew. Formed an aura. “Yes. I should have let you die. You learn nothing! Yet, I am not your judge. If I did not save you, another would have taken my place. There is a plan for you. It is not climbing the corporate ladder by lying or swindling. Your plan has nothing to do with money. However, you are too dense to see past something so meaningless.”
The human watched the being start to leave. “Wait! Aren’t you going to tell me my plan?”
The being paused. “No. It is not my place. You are too deaf to hear. Ignorance clouds your judgment. You will never understand until you let go of your earthly desires. Until then, do not push your luck. Your plan may be for you to die by the hands of a bus versus that gang.”
The human could not respond.
“Where are we going now?”
“I do not know.”
“Don’t you know everything?”
The being smiles. “I do not know where you want to go. Where would you like to go?”
“I want to go home.”
“I can take you there.”
The small child looks back into the endless void. “Will I see them again?”
“I can assure you, you will.”
“I want them to be happy.”
The being kneels down. “I have been your guardian angel since the day you were born. I know they will be happy. Every time they look up at the stars, say your name, or think about you, they will be happy.” The being holds out arms. “It is time for us to go home.”
The child looks behind one last time and nods. “I want to go home.”
“There will be others who will love you. All of you will be able to look down on your happy families. You will become their guardian angel.”
“Yes. Like me.”
“Okay.” The child enters the being’s arms. Together, they dissolve among the stars. The void is empty for now.
A family huddled on the front porch of their home during the night. The burden of loss heavy on their shoulders. They lifted their heads to see two shooting stars streaming across the sky. The father held the mother close as she burst into tears once more. Their now youngest pointed at the phenomenon. “There!” The mother nodded through her tears. “That’s…that’s our child watching over us, wanting us to be happy. I think it’s only fair we honor that last wish. We,” she took a deep breath for composure. “We must keep our hearts filled with love. That’s the best way to remember.”
Now, I’m not famous. I have yet to publish a book. So I’m not sure how much authority I have on this subject, but after seeing Doctor Strange, I can’t get one thing out of my head. Writers are master sorcerers. We take blank thoughts and make everything. We use pen, paper, and words to shape whole worlds. Use words to shape opinions, thoughts, and feelings. As represented in the picture above. We govern characters, what they will or will not do. Govern the balance of thought-out worlds. It’s a craft that’s mastered naturally by some and gradually by others. But I’ve seen the craft bite back. The majority of the time for the better. I don’t know how many times one of my characters has done the opposite of what I wanted or how a story has twisted in a completely different direction. Magic flows from our hands and minds. Whether or not it’s controlled is a separate matter. But does it need to be? I’m not even sure I can control how this post will turn out. I’m okay with it. That’s when the magic takes over. That’s when our inner sorcerer shines through. How many dimensions have we each created? How many universes float through our heads? And all of them are unique. Sure, nothing’s new in the world, but we have our own flavor we’ve honed. A new persepctive to spin on an old tale. It’s one of the things I enjoy most. Succombing to a writing mood and creating new things. Allowing everything else to fade away. It’s therapy. Writers are also therapists. Well, let’s face it, writers are many things. But how many people just want to delve into a fictional world to forget their own? In a way, we carry a heavy burden. We’re responsible for providing the escape material. It’s worth it, though. Knowing something we’ve written has touched someone in some way. It really goes for any craft. However, writing holds a special place in my heart. It’s one of the few things I’ve done since I was a child. I have heard the magic in storytelling, read it in books, and I hope to do that myself someday. It’s amazing how much words can affect the world. As long as someone needs the magic, I take comfort in knowing a writer will be there to take up the mantle. It’s a satisfying feeling.
Her lungs felt like they were going to explode. Her legs prickled as she pushed them harder. Arms felt numb. She didn’t know how long she had been running. But she had to get to him, had to help him. A short, high-pitched shriek echoed through the trees surrounding her. No! That thing couldn’t be here. Not now. She choked and gulped down more air. Trying to get her muscles to move faster. The air cooled considerably. Breaths appearing in short clouds. Her body trembled. Shorts and a tank top didn’t cover much. She tried to keep going, but her pace slowed. No! Her eyes squeezed shut in attempt to focus. That only made everything worse. The darkness caused by her eyelids shifted and spun, brain fluids swirling. She opened her eyes and outstratched her arms. All balance and sense of direction lost. As she hit the ground, she saw it. Caught a glimpse of the Nameless One. A tendril reached for her. A dark light flashed. When her vision refocused, she didn’t see the dark forest. She was in a bright meadow. “No!” she screamed. “You can’t do this! You can’t take me from my world to aid him then send me back when he needs me most!” She slammed her fists against the ground. She had spent two weeks in the other world. Learned its secrets and customs. Learened all about the Nameless One, who was an inter-dimensional spirit with a nasty habit of ruining people’s lives. Tears flowed. How could it be so cruel? He was going to die without her help! She beat the ground some more. Another flash. Except this time, her warrior was brought to her. She gasped and sprinted forward. Froze. His bloodied body fell in seemingly slow motion. His eyes were lifeless. The Nameless One ripped out a sword that morphed into a smokey tendril. She sunk to her knees. What? Why? “What is wrong with you?” she cried. But the Nameless One didn’t respond. It only cackled hideously as it slowly dissolved into another world.
He pivoted. Stared down the tunnel he came from. The monsters lurked outside. This, he was certain. But he had another piece of armor. And it would be hard for them to get his heart now. Assuming that was what they wanted. What did they want? Did it matter? Their vile nature didn’t seem to frighten him as much. So he began a slow pace forward, the radiating breastplate lighting his way through the darkness.
Ignoring the bones lining the walls around him, he continued back toward the valley. Kept his eyes on the exit. Even when bunches of maggots dripped from the ceiling of the long cavern. Well, he tried his best to ignore that. It disturbed him beyond what it should. How could it not? Determined strides kept him going. He still knew not if he would live. But he had chest armor. That, he was most thankful for.
Then he heard it. The grinding of rusted metal against bone and the hiss of smoke-escape. There was no laughter. Not yet. But it waited at the mouth of the cavern. Paced back and forth. He could see its glowing eyes. Its talons dug into the muck, ready for him to come to it. It wanted him. Wanted to devour his soul and spit out his leftover bones. Or maybe let his disfigured carcass rot with the numerous others. His stench of death would simply mingle with the rest.
He breathed deep. Paused a few moments before stepping out into the valley. How could he face the monster? He may have found another piece of armor, but he remained weaponless. Did he have a choice? He needed to push on. Needed to find a way out of this nightmare. Perhaps the only way he would wake was by finding the valley’s end. Perhaps by dying. Was he supposed to die by the horrendous combination of flesh, bone, and machine?
There was only one way to find out. He emerged from the protection of the tunnel. The pacing creature stopped. Giving off a horrifying shriek, it stumbled away from him. While remaining close. Close enough to snap at him if it needed to. Its head lowered. A form of grating growl escaped its jaws. The glowing eyes seemed to darken.
Was it mad? He looked behind him. Then down at the breastplate. His brows furrowed. Perhaps there was a reason the piece’s owner died in a cavern. Away from the monsters. Did they not like the soft glow? He stepped forward, toward the beast. It lurched back. Gnashed its fangs. The spiked tail swayed back and forth angrily. He surveyed the breastplate again. Continued on his path down the valley.
The monster stalked him at a small distance. Occassionally making noises of unfamiliar sound. It never laughed. He never looked back. The new addition of armor seemed to have power over it. Not that he wanted any control over the beast. There was at least an essance the monster hated. Did he tease it, now? He remained at a walking pace. His toes were sticky. As long as the maggots stayed out of his socks…. Shivers coursed through him.
A cracking sound made him stop and cringe. He glanced over his shoulder. The fiend snapped its jaws, repeating the sound. It echoed throughout the valley. Another gruesome crack. Chittering responded this time. Chittering of a thouand creatures. His eyes widened as he looked all around him. There was nothing to be seen except for the monster following him. How many were there? He swallowed and returned his gaze to the unseen destination.
What else did this valley of death have in store for him? Monsters worse than the one behind him? He couldn’t see the end of the valley. Didn’t know if there was an end. He just knew he had to reach it. Didn’t he already go over this at one point? He couldn’t remember. Surely, he was losing his mind. Movement caught his eyes as multiple mounds rose and sped through the bones.
See? Who pictured things burrowing under the muck of the valley floor? They were like sharks moving under a water’s surface without breaching their fins. More cracking made him cover his ears. None of this could be reality. But how did he get back to his previous life? What even was his previous life? All he could remember was the valley. Waking up to this hellish atmosphere. He wanted to go back. But what did he have to go back to?
Shaking his head, he took a couple unsteady steps. He couldn’t falter now. He had to keep going, though he knew not where. Did it matter what his reality was? Certainly, anything was better than this. Nothing could be worse, right? He sucked in a breath of rancid air and straightened. Still, this situation unsettled him. The zooming mounds closed in on him. He broke into a run again. Not wanting to see what would finally surface. However, one particular mound possessed an unusual shine to it.
He chased it. Pursued it until he was close enough to dive. And he dove. The mound simply dispersed, bones clattering on themselves as they settled back to the muck. He scoured through the dismantled skeletons and thick blood. Did whatever creature take the shiny thing with it? He had to know what was there. Had to know if it was more armor or perhaps a weapon. Something. Anything other than bone and blood. Please let it be something helpful.
His fingers touched metal. Gasped when he pulled out a pair of armored boots. The joy of having new boots brought tears to his eyes. His shoes were so moist, he assumed they were washing off his feet. But first, he thrust his hand in them. Making sure they were empty. Thanking the mound for accidentally giving him dry armored boots, he hurridly swapped the old shoes with the new. Stood in them. Vibrations shook the ground. His heart beat fast. However, the shoes gave him certain readiness for what lied ahead.