“Awakening” (Ray Morris)



Awakening

(posted to The Grim Triune writer’s circle private exoboard by Oliver Drake, pseudonym of the late Ray Morris on July 20, 2004. I have not edited it or spellchecked this piece; it is was the final piece Ray posted to the message board, where he, Jason Graham and I were collecting content for a fiction trilogy project)
The suns began their ascent through the sky. A gentle breeze rustled the leaves that fell from the nearby grove of trees. Awakened by the sound of a flock of birds taking flight, the mysterious figure dressed only in a rust colored robe rose to his feet. He awoke lying in the grass next to a pond in the clearing of a thick forest of trees. He was quite disoriented, knowing he had never been to this place. “How did I get here?” he wondered. Then he realized he didn’t even know where he was supposed to be! “What is going on here?” he said to himself. Consumed by a feeling of panic, he searched desperately for a familiar landmark! Reaching up to run a hand through his hair, he realized he had none. Running to the pond he looked at his reflection and didn’t recognize what he saw. He was bald and had a tattoo of some sort on the side of his head, though he could not make it out. Absent- mindedly he rubbed the smooth stone that he held in his hand. “Where did this come from?” he thought to himself. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a reflection in the water. 
(vision)The soldiers carried the coffin across the snow. The sobs of the grieving could be heard though he could not see them. It appeared to be a grand procession, with many men dressed in glorious armor. They trudged on through the snow never moving from their determined path. (end vision)
“Am I going crazy?” he thought to himself. “Visions, funerals, knights and through all of this, I do not know where I am?” Something, though he wasn’t sure what, was urging him to travel north. The woods were empty, not a single animal stirred. He traveled on in silence; then in the distance he heard the pounding of war drums. His walk had become a run, almost in response to his steadily increasing heart rate. As he got closer to the source of the pounding, he heard the clash of steel on steel and screams that seemed to come from all around him. His body continued on, though his mind was in a state of confusion. He ran as if possessed, ignoring the rocks and sticks under his bare feet. His lungs burned and his muscles ached yet he continued on until the forest gave way to an immense field that was consumed in utter chaos. 
He looked upon the scene with paralyzing fear! What he saw was the army of a city desperately trying to defend its gate from the assault of an army of humanoid creatures, the likes of which he had never seen. This army was made up of scaled creatures with wicked long teeth and claws as long as daggers. What kind of creatures were these men fighting? The armored soldiers fought with a fury that was almost bestial. Swords flashed, axes swung, and arrows flew from every direction, and still the beasts pressed on. All the while he could see women tending to the wounded. He could hear spiritual chanting coming from all around the battle as if the healers and people of the town were singing a hymn: “urging on our defenders to fight even if it seems futile, we will emerge victorious if we only have faith”. In the middle of all of this there was a spectacular tree of majestic beauty! The tree seemed to be slick with sap as it ran freely down the trunk. The beautiful singing healers were collecting the sap as it cascaded down the tree. You could see them giving it to the wounded that were all around the tree. There were peasants fighting along side the soldiers with what ever they could find to use as weapons. Some had sticks, others had rocks and pitchforks; they cherished their beloved city and felt honor in standing next to its defenders. The mysterious stranger was trying desperately to make his way to the gates of the city, when he was surrounded by three of the vicious beasts. With out conscious thought he began the complex incantations of a spell. “Phatathanalasaz ashir verilosium” and before his very wide eyes the creatures screamed as they were bound in a stasis field unable to move. Astonished at what he had just done, he continued on his path, for he was being surrounded again. He saw guards fighting desperately to keep the creatures out, when a sharp pain exploded in his side! He saw the ground rush up to meet him and then there was nothing…but……blackness.
Seven figures stood above the unconscious man. They were the Druids of the Twisted Oak, who had been around since time on Ryvven began. They and only they knew who this man was. The druids were each a small fragment of Ryvven’s essence that was cast down to form the Great Tree of Creation. They are the only beings directly linked with mother Ryvven herself and the connection between Ryvven and the Temporans, Ryvvens eyes and ears on the prime material plane. The Temporans were a separate race created by Ryvven to govern the land, for if ever the balance shifted to heavily to one side or the other they would bring about the Prophecy of Renewal. The prophecy is said to bring the end to all existence!
There were no war drums, no battle cries —- only silence and a blinding light. He did not know whether he was dead or on his way to the other side. 
(visions)“You are in neither of those places my son,” came a majestic voice filled with power and yet comfort. “You are in the Tree of Life where nothing can harm you. Rise to your feet Drythakmere, for your journey is only beginning. We have brought you here in an effort to help you, which I am afraid may cost us dearly!” “Why did you save my life?” Drythakmere asked with a shaky voice. 
“Yes. I am sure you have many questions, but I am afraid we have few answers. What can be said is that you are in the kingdom of Vales, and as we speak, mankind is fighting for its very survival. The magics you exhibited on the battlefield run richly through your being, though they may seem foreign to you as of yet. As time goes on they will come to you with great ease. The stone you carry, The Druids Stone, is an ancient artifact that will lead you in the right direction. Your road is a long one and your trials will be quite dangerous, but know this Drythakmere: if you should fail, then the hopes of all existence perish with you! Your journey will begin in the most ancient of ancient cities. There is a warrior priest on that battlefield that you must find; his name is Father Sigeon Payne.” (end vision) 
When Drythakmere opened his eyes he was looking upon what could have been the most beautiful creature ever created. He looked upon the healer with wonder, there was a sweet taste in his mouth. Drythakmere noticed the pitcher, which was filled with sap. He caught his reflection in the sap, and there was a flash.
(vision)The procession came to a halt in front of the pier. The lid to the coffin was lifted and there was a most brilliant light spewed forth. And as soon as it appeared the coffin lid slammed shut and the light was gone, replaced with an impenetrable darkness.(end Vision)
When he looked up, the maiden was looking at him with a sympathetic expression. Then she handed him a few vials that must have been filled with the healing sap of the Twisted Oak. She bid him a fond farewell and moved on to the next soldier who needed her attention. 
Drythakmere sat looking at his surroundings, unsure of his next move. He was brought quickly to reality when the growls and screams of the armor-skinned creatures seemed to be getting closer. He noticed they were not completely without guidance; there were robed figures that appeared to be directing the monsters. Standing on the edges of the battle, there were six robed figures that were deep in concentration, apparently needing to concentrate to maintain control of the beasts. 
He began to formulate a plan, “I must get to those clerics somehow.”
As he made his way across the field, he saw there was another man with the same idea. This man swung his mace like an extension of his own arm; he wore the robes of a cleric, but not like the ones manipulating the evil army. These robes were of silver and blue and seemed to match the armor that the soldiers of Vales were wearing. Reaching the beasts’ masters, both men converged on the group of robed figures with fire in their eyes. Drythakmere sent a ball of flame from his hand that engulfed the first man within a chamber of fire. The cleric smashed the next with a powerful swing of his mace. The robed figures noticed their brethren being attacked and summoned the creatures to defend them, but they arrived too late to save them. As Drythakmere used his magics, coming a little easier now, the cleric used his mace to dispatch the rest of them very quickly. They turned their attention to the krae-tin that were making their way towards Drythakmere and his priestly companion. The krae-tin were attacking themselves and anyone else that got in their line of sight. Without guidance they ravaged anything they could find. With their unorganized attacks they were quickly losing their superiority. 
Though this battle was far from over, Drythakmere took this opportunity to meet this warrior who fought by his side. “Hello friend. I am Drythakmere and you are?” 
“Well met, my name is Father Sigeon Payne cleric of the order of Aurric. I have spent many days traveling the land of Giengra, and have never met anyone who could throw magic with the power you have exhibited here today!”
“They said I would find you here, but I wasn’t sure if they were really there. It all seemed like a dream.”
Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of the creatures and they quickly got back to business. They were setting to defend themselves when out of the woods came the most ferocious battle cry they had ever heard. They looked and before their eyes a warrior dressed in the skins of an arctic bear tore through the krae-tin like a tornado. His axe ripped them apart with a fury all its own. They ran to his side and together the three of them decimated as many as they could get their hands on. 
The soldiers and town folk saw the disorganized krae-tin running blindly, looking for something to attack while the archers set upon the castle wall targeting as many as possible. 
All on the field were awestruck at the sight of a beautiful white steed carrying an armor-clad warrior on its back. His squire, who was trying desperately to keep up, followed the knight through the gate. All of the soldiers on the field saluted the pair as they rode by, but they appeared not to notice. The knight slew all of the creatures that got in his way. Riding away from Vales, he never looked back.
The party had killed all the creatures in their vicinity, and was regarding each other in amazement at how well they had fought together. They looked at the gates to Vales and realized this battle was far from being over. Hundreds of the krae-tin still fought the soldiers. 
“What is your name son?” Father Sigeon asked as they made their way back to the battle.
“I am Arcturis Bighorn, son of Nydastramus Brig-Mist Chieftain of The Clan of the Talon, from the lands of Briggard.
“It is our pleasure to meet such a valiant warrior as yourself. I am Father Sigeon Payne of the order of Aurric, and this is Drythakmere. We too happened upon this fight and lent a hand where we could.”
Arcturis stood speechlessly staring at Drythakmere, and suddenly dropped to one knee and bowed his head. “You have the symbol of my clan painted upon your head therefore my axe and my life are yours to command. My father sent me from our village, to lend my axe to the good of all man. He was a very wise and powerful chieftain, and knew that our people were but a thread in the great fabric of life. There is a much greater evil at work then just these filthy creatures. My path led me here, and now it seems we share the same path.”
to be continued….
[Edited by oliver drake]

sermonella poisoning

I went to use the restroom at a coffee shop and found a three-page, hand-written, photocopied “sermon” on the urinal.  This is a tweaked synthesis and summary of that rambling message, which reflects much of how I feel about the “genuity” and pure human “goodness” of scripture… (*note the sarcasm*); details have been changed to affect the innocent, other countless souls that may have contemplated and been corrupted by the “sermon on the urinal”.

and lo the urinal spoke
of scrypture:

all we, like sheep,
have gone astray
we have turned everyone to his own way;
and the lawed hath laid on him
the iniquity of us all;
for there is not a just man upon the earth,
that doeth good, and sinneth not;
for all have sinned and come short of the glory
of the dog; for the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of the dog is
eternal life through (blank) our lawed;
to declare, i say, at this time his righteous
mess, that he might be just, and the justifier
of him which believeth in (blank);
and it is appointed unto men once to die,
but after this the judgment;
the (blank) is not slack concerning his promise,
as some men count slackness; but it is long-
suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should
perish, but that all should come to repentance;
and whosoever was not found written in the
book of life
was cast into the lake of fire;
but (blank) commandeth his love toward us,
in that, while we were yet sinners, (blank)
died for us.

(blank) sayeth unto him, I am the way,
the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto
the failure, but me;
neither is there salvation in any other:
for there is none other name under
heaven
given among men, whereby we must be saved;
wherefore, he is able also to save them to the uttermost
that come unto the dog by (blank) seeing he ever
liveth to make intercession for them;
for by grace are ye saved through fealth;
and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of the dog;
not of works, lest any man should boast
for whosoever shall call upon the name
of the lawed shall be saved;

for the dog so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten sun,
that whosoever believeth
in him should not perish,
but have everlasting
life;
he that believeth in the sun hath
everlasting life;
and he that believeth not
in the sun
shall not see life,
but the wrath of the dog
abideth on him;
that if thou shalt confess
with thy mouth the lawed (blank),
and shalt believe in
thine heart that the dog
hath raised him from
the dead,
thou shalt be saved;

verily, verily, I say unto you
he that heareth my word,
and believeth in him
that sent me, hath everlasting life
and shall not come into condemnation,
but is passed from death
unto life;
but as many as recieved him,
to them gave he power to become
the suns of the dog,
even to them that believe in his name;
how that the lawed died for our sins
according to the scryptures;
and that he was buried,
and that he rose again
on the third day, according to the
scryptures;

but, after that, the kindness and love
of the dog, our failure, toward man
appeared, not by words of righteous
mess which we have done,
but according to his mercy
he saved us, by the washing of regeneration,
and renewing of the wholly virus;
which he shed on us abundantly through
(blank) our failure; that
being justified by his grace,
we should be made heirs according
to the hope of eternal life;
and the times of this ignorance
the dog winked at;
but now commandeth all men everywhere
to rep(res)ent because he hath appointed
a day, in which he will judge
the world in righteous
mess by that man whom
he ordained;
where of he hath given assurance unto all men,
in that he raised him from the
dead.

if you want to be saved from the penalty
of your sin, to be forgiven by the dog,
to become the dog’s righteous, cleansed child,
and have life now with the dog
and internal life with the dog,
you can pray the following
prayer, sincerely. salvation is
a free gift the dog offers
to everyone;

(blank), I admit that I am a sinner.
I know that I cannot save myself.
I rep(res)ent of my sin and put my fealth
in the blood that you, (blank), shed
(on the cross and in crusades) for me.
you can declare me forgiven, justified.
I except you as my failure and lawed
and thank you
for dying for me
forgiving me of all my sin
past, present and future
and thank you
for saving me.
take control of the throne
of my life and make me the kind
of person you want me to be.

(blank), you are the dog,
at one with the failure and
wholly infectious
virus

and all I wanted to do
was take a piss

stay buried



 

Stay Buried
from the chapter “The Calm Before”
from “Imago” (Book 1 of the Fetch Trilogy)
copyright 2009, 2011 arrtemis sere

They arrived in different cars.  Hers, a shimmering golden Lexus, and hers, a Green & White taxicab.  They couldn’t have been farther apart as they eyed each other in the bumper-to-bumper sidewalk parking, sitting on opposite sides of the street and waiting for the other to make a move.  Aurora knew she would lose this match of wills.  She couldn’t afford to continue to wait for her whore of a mother to stop playing games, and she chuckled at the thought because, in truth, her mother was a well-paid, much-experienced bitch of the beat.   The kids at school loved that.  They had great fun with it.

At her expense.

Elsee had been an excellent mentor to Aurora from a distance, a deadbeat mother in every other instance.  Aurora twirled a lock of her ruddy hair and peeled the paint of her mom’s shiny sedan with her glare.  Her mom looked like a big-eyed pest from a distant planet in her oversized, trendy sunglasses.  She wanted to grab her by her alien antennae and thrash her around.  She couldn’t believe she was the spawn of such trash.  And the cleavage, my GOD.  Her mom never went anywhere without showing off the product, as if it was always for sale and the shelves were stacked and packed, just for you.   If she learned anything from her mom, she learned that humility was more profitable.

And, judging by her mom’s brutal and painful history, Aurora’s route was safer, nine times out of ten.

“She’s waitin’ for you sweetheart,” the thick ‘stached cabbie said and clicked digits on his sleek, extra-expensive phone with all of the sweet features a fat, toothless, single wheeljockey desires.

Aurora envisioned a phoneful of porn, probably of pigtailed adolescents.  And she wasn’t far from the truth.   She was repulsed by the driver, but she didn’t want to leave her comfort zone. “She can keep waiting,” Aurora said and looked at the clock.  The session was supposed to have started five minutes ago, and they obviously were running late.

The scruffy man rolled his sunken eyes. “Clock’s tickin’ Goldilocks…”

“Thanks,” she replied with a huff. Aurora was used to getting her way.  Usually, people were intimidated by the prevalence of black attire and goth stylings, perplexed how a girl so radiant and so beautiful could be so completely dark.  She gave him points for ending the discussion with one, complete dismissal.  She didn’t have the resources to continue this war of stares with her mom; she had two bills cash and little beyond that.

It had been a very slow week so far at school.  “Will you wait?”

“Are you kidding?”  The cabbie grinned, punched buttons on his meter, and handed her a fare receipt.  “Here’s my card. Call our number when you’re ready to go home.  $23.30 princess.”

Aurora tightened the black lace scarf around her neck, as if to remind her fat friend how “unprincesslike” she was.  The marks she hid from the world would obliterate any princess talk upon mere utterance of the topic.  It did every time.  But it also led to other questions.  Questions that she was not ready to answer.

For herself or anyone else.

She grabbed her black canvas purse, as non-descript as a shadow itself, and fumbled for her wallet.  She stuffed a wad of crinkled bills into the cabbie’s grubby hands, smiled as artificially as she could, and pushed open the cab door.  A grumble of curses followed her exit as she clutched her black bomber tight against the autumn wind.  A buck wasn’t a very good tip for the cabbie, and Aurora was aware of that.  She’d spent most of her time in and out of cabs and was typically generous.

But not today.  Today, the world was her enemy and everyone that inhabited it could not be trusted.

Aurora shuffled to the exquisite amber-glassed door of the thick brick building, named The Chapelle after the original designer who, ironically, hung himself in the basement just after the building was finished, never once shooting a glance down the walkway to her mom’s parking spot.  It was bad enough she had to be with her for a whole hour, much less listen to her grovel about “how hard she tried to be a mom” and how “complicated her life is”.  She’d get weepy, wipe her eyes with a lace handkerchief, blow her congested nose, and swell up like an irritated cyst.  It was all bullshit to Aurora.  She knew her mom well enough to know which emotions were real and which were fake.  Her mom showed her dedication to family when she skipped town less than six months after the birth of she and her brother, leaving her parents to raise the young tots.  If it weren’t for the murder of her parents and the kidnapping of her son fifteen years ago, Elsee probably would never have left Truth and Consequences and returned to the Twin Cities.

But, her mom did come back.  Mostly.  Something happened in the desert of New Mexico that changed her forever; older photos of her mom painted a very different picture, visions of a woman alive and vibrant and celestial, glowing with life and love.

The woman in the pictures wasn’t the Butterfly she knew.  Aurora grew up in a muted and plastic world filled with expensive gifts and lavish memories, sponsored by her mother’s boyfriends.  She accepted everything generously, but always wondered who her father was.  She assumed her father was one of the men in her mom’s rotation, but the past was something they didn’t discuss.  At all.  Apart from the fact that the suitors were male, her mom had no interest in a relationship with anyone.  Sure, each one of the men that called her “baby” thought they had a special connection, but her mom was not to be netted.  Love was collateral damage to her, part of a world that was mired in heartbreak, frustration and complication.  Her mom stayed away far away from love.  It was the easiest answer.  Less mess, less stress.  An uncomplicated life.

And, most importantly, the past would stay buried.

The front door of iron and amber swung open with a squeak.  Leaves swirled and trailed as Aurora entered into the foyer of the exquisite building.  Majestic ironworks and large, towering palms stretched throughout the entryway, with the gentle trickling of a hidden fountain giving the whole room a lush and sedgy feel.  It was impressive and beautiful, but nauseatingly overdone.  Aurora really wanted to vomit in one of the plant stands, just to prove how plastic and counterfeit the Chapelle’s well-manicured lobby was.  But she didn’t.  If there was a chance that she could’ve vomited in such a directed outpour that it would overrun the edges of the plant stand, stream silently and slimily through the elevator bays and into the lobby, and trip up her mother upon her entrance into the building, sending her synthetic figure and silicone punching bags sprawling to the cold, dirty floor, she would’ve considered defacing the public place.

But scraped knees wouldn’t change the ways of the Butterfly.  They both knew the low world well.

She pressed the glowing number 8 on the elevator keypad and listened as the box screamed downwards, its whining and whirling gears and cables screeched for a measure of autonomy it would never find.  The Chapelle was an older office building, yet maintained well.  Aurora was impressed by its marriage of wrought iron and vine, a modern attempt at mixing greenery and industry.   The arrogance and self-importance of family counselor Barb Baroni aside, her building did have an exquisite interior decorator.

Then, the light changed as the shadow of a person approached the front door of the Chapelle.  The whole lobby became a shade darker as the figure moved closer.  Not wanting to deal with a tenant not named Barb Baroni, she pressed the elevator button again, hoping to speed the drop of the elevator.

The figure stopped before the front door and stood unmoving, its shimmering visage captured clearly in the amber glass.  The image felt familiar, but she could not place its origin.  It was too tall to be her mother, too lanky to be a classmate.  While she wasn’t scared, she was definitely not in the mood to deal with a stalker hoping to score a sweet connection with an unprepared sixteen-year-old, in daylight no less.  Both prepared and petulant, a combination which had led to her expulsion from high school a few weeks ago for attacking a cheerleader, Aurora became unnerved by the watcher.  The Principal had called it an “attack”; Aurora saw it as justice.   Elsee saw it as stupidity and scheduled family counseling sessions to help curb her daughter’s appetite for destruction.

But Aurora knew she set the cheerleader straight.  There would be no further trouble or words between them.  In fact, she felt like she gained respect through the encounter, even if it came at the heavy expense of fear.   She pressed the elevator button again, hoping the urgency of her request was heard by the elevator elves in the Chapelle’s machinery.  Fuck, she would’ve settled for a Keebler revolt at this point, anything to get the creaky lift to move faster.

Beyond the lobby, the dark figure did not move from the door.  It stood still and silent on the other side, a tall blur in a brownish pane, watching her every move.  She considered that now would be a good time to have a cell phone, that her off-the-grid lifestyle didn’t offer many options for dialing a savior in a time of need.  Scanning the elevator bay, she realized that she was at a dead end, with the elevator banks her only visible method of escape.  Her breath quickened as she realized she was trapped.

Faster and faster and faster until she was spinning.

And darkness, full and complete, consumed her.   Her muscles felt tired and weary, drained from the stress of fear and…. something else.  The darkness was thick and murky, with stale air hanging like failing cloud.  The smell of soot, rot and expired life made her gag, almost sending her stumbling to the plant stand in her memory, from a place that was now ominously unfamiliar.  She struggled for breath and, slowly, breath returned to her collapsed lungs.

Aurora tried to estimate how long she had been without air, and then realized that she wasn’t holding her breath at all.

She was being constricted.

“They call for his head milady,” a deep, solemn voice cut through the stillness.

Aurora shook her head, hoping the agitation would reorient her, but dizziness followed.  She was someplace different now; the world itself felt older, slower and mercurial.  The air moved with greater purpose and liberty, and the heartbeat of something distant and sovereign echoed in the obscurity.  “I know,” she replied with words that surprised her, and with a huskier tone that was completely curious to her.

“What is your wish?”

Aurora was still not strong enough.  Her balance wavered in the full dark.  She remembered being pushed into a shadow-filled train tunnel once as a freshman dare.  Football players and other blowhard athletes had lined the middle of the tunnel to freak the newcomers into respecting their power through fear.  Only, she never made it to the other side.   Her classmates searched for her for hours, and when they had given up hope of finding her, they reported her as missing.  The authorities had tried to get a hold of her mom, but, as was typical on a Friday night, she was relatively unreachable.  When she showed up at school the following Monday, she was questioned by counselors, police, teachers, friends…  The attention brought an end to freshman hazing in the tunnels, but it also enlivened suspicion and awakened questions that Aurora worked painfully hard to keep buried.

A strong arm grabbed around her waist as she began to feel feint and kept her from collapsing.  “Milady, are you alright?”

She strained to see who was holding her up, and could not through blurred vision.  She could feel his strength rippling beneath the threads and armor and bindings that separated them, but try as she may, she could not identify the person that offered support.  “Yes, I’m fine.  Thank you,” she said and tried to stand on her own.

“He should’ve stayed dead,” the voice lamented from behind.

“Who,” Aurora asked between gasps for breath.  Before an answer could be uttered, her strength gave out completely, sending her into a painful freefall toward the cobblestone floor as darkness overwhelmed her senses.  She fell forward and, luckily, her collapse was broken by the soft, cold, unconscious, naked flesh of a man.  It was a most uncomfortable pillow, but she felt an odd sensation as she drifted away:

Contentment.

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