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Posts Tagged ‘novel’

It didn’t take long for James to come along and nudge him with his fat stump of an arm. As large as a mountain and twice as silent, James didn’t say anything when David staggered up and glared at him sharply. Indifferent to his glare of protest, James turned his attention to the rest of the cafeteria, scanning for any more stragglers.

Although James was barely 5’8” and exceeded 375 pounds, he was possibly the fastest thing on two legs. The gazelle can reach speeds of 50 mph, and, as anybody knows, the Cheetah beats this by at least 20 mph. In times of conflict, James could easily double this. There were many times when David witnessed a fight break out halfway across the ground floor of the school, and, in a breath, James was there strangling one guy with his left while holding another to the ground with his right. Watching James mediate conflicts was like watching a large beast overcome its prey on the Discovery Channel. It had the same magnificence and the same gore ridden climax that satisfied the savage bloodlust that all of men share.

One morning, David was unfortunate enough to feel his wrath. Walking past and courteously waving to James, which was returned with a smile, David passed him at a leisurely pace with a grin on his face from a more than satisfactory wake and bake session with true kine buds. Suddenly, he had something that could only be described as a giant orangutan on steroids on his back breathing hot breath into his ear molesting his ass. All the breath was pushed out of David and the substantial weight that was on his body wouldn’t allow any to come back in. Two hands scrambled around David’s ass, and his eyes went wide with the realization that the orangutan was trying to ass rape him. Afraid that if he screamed, it would only excite the beast more and entice it to donkey punch him in the back of the head while it vigorously pounded his ass. David tried to scream anyway, but all that came out was a whining whimper that sounded like it came out of twelve year old girl that had scraped her knee on the playground. The orangutan pulled something out of his pocket, and, before his cherry was popped, the weight lifted. At that moment, he knew how sailors who had been drowning must’ve felt when they finally found which way was up and found the surface. Taking in that first breath of cool air almost tears the lungs, but you’re not able to restrain yourself and you do so as if you may never be able to breath again. It was the breath of freedom without an ass rape.

James observed the black comb that was torn out of the young man’s back pocket with only a glimmer of regret. “Sorry, I thought it was a gun.” He held out the comb, handing it back to David in an unspoken gesture of peace, which David found unusual considering that James’ gesture was returning stolen property that had been obtained through fear and brute force.

David reached for the comb and took it without a word, gently nodding as he put it back into his pocket. There were no words for him to utter anyway. Some may say that he should’ve raised some voice of protest, stand on a soapbox and proclaim his tactics as abuses and demand reconciliation. David would submit that he was just happy to walk away with his cherry intact. Besides, David couldn’t help but respect such an animal in his natural environment, and when the animal nudges, you move.

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Keep your teddy bears close! But not too close.

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She moved ahead and kept the watch for her brother and his burden.

They moved toward the setting sun, keeping away from the cities and their broken towers. The burdening man still slept. Even when his body began to heal, shedding his blackened flesh and growing new, he still slept. They kept him as their own, forcing him ground food and water to keep him fed. Ewald wasn’t convinced. He still thought his sister’s decision to save the man was foolish. Other than his weapons, which worked well for hunting if nothing else, the man served no other purpose. He was a burden.

“Why won’t he wake up?” He held the knife in his hand, rolling the tip against his finger. She didn’t answer. She kept her gaze to the west. They had come far without any trial and she seemed to become more and more cautious with the shortening days. “Maybe he won’t wake up.” He broke his skin. She didn’t answer. “You won’t change your mind?” He put his finger to his lips. Still, she didn’t answer. Her words were less and less with her brother as they moved. He kept to his questions, but her answers were brief if they came at all. “Well, we have enough food for now so…” He pulled the cart he had made as it creaked under the burden of the man and their supplies. He had already replaced the wheel of the cart twice because the wood was always too soft. He hoped to get some more distance out of this one before he had to replace it again.

She moved, and he followed. She looked to the man who swayed limply with the movement of the cart. His face was buried beneath his long dark mane, portions of his dark face barely peeking through. He moved from dark and shadow, and an impetus forced him through the black veil. The veil bowed aside in his presence and released him from its hold. He was free of it. The veil flew apart in long shreds as his form flew from it. Even now, he still lied in greatness. Torn from his roots and from his glory, she knew him still to be unequaled.

He was legend

He was man

He was…

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“You forgot them. All of you forgot them. They’re barren because of you. No children. No youth to invigorate their lives and bring hope to them. They’re just an old dying thing because of you. All of you. You neglected your children and now they hate you for it, abandoned by their gods. Left to rot and die. Well, they’ll make you remember them. They’re coming to your gates; they’re going to knock them down, break down your walls and leave them to crumble. They will bring you death and bring life to themselves once again.”

“What do I have to do? Do I have to believe in them? That’s easy. I’m surrounded by them!”

“Belief is a measure of children and fools. They don’t care if you believe in them. They know they’re real and their lives do not tether themselves to trivial beliefs. What creatures would need the faith of their gods to live? I can’t think of any. Remembrance, on the other hand, that is something that every creature asks of its god. If you would’ve just remembered them…” Arjuna lowered his head. “If you would have remembered me…”

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For some reason, Amazon has the kindle version of my book for $1.91. This is a generosity that I would personally never extend, so you should take advantage of it while you still can.

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For fourteen days, the father, the child, and the companion all moved without rest. Food and water had all been spent, and although Marc and Reuel weren’t hungry, they knew to keep the child fed. Reuel collected berries, vegetables, nuts and water. It was better for the child. All of it could be easily boiled or ground to a paste that the child could take in.

Marc wanted meat. He always wanted meat. Reuel had shaped a spear from a branch with a rock, shaping it sharp. Taking care, he made sure the spear was straight. He held it in his hand, ready to throw, feeling its weight and its balance. It was a fine tool. Reuel looked to Marc sitting on the dirt playing with a piece of grass, smiling foolishly as he twisted it between his fingers. Reuel wished that he would take these things more seriously. Marc raised his head and looked at him. Reuel held his spear up high waiting for a nod of approval. He got none. Marc just chuckled, threw the piece of grass aside, and walked back to the camp, leaving Reuel on his own for the hunt. Fine. I’ll do it myself. He found a wild pig and speared the creature through the side. It came crashing to the earth in a lifeless heap.

He gutted the animal and prepared the meats. He kept some of the meat for cooking and hung the rest to dry in the sun. As Reuel cooked Marc tried to pull the meat out of the fire. Reuel angrily stopped him. “The meat’s not done yet!”

After their supply was refreshed, they continued their journey. At first, they let themselves sleep every two nights. Eventually, it became every three. Then, seven would pass by before they would need to rest. Moving day and night, through rain, through drought, they moved through all the elements until the cold times came.

Reuel was still trying to understand things, and he needed to speak about them. He showed Marc a game to play as they spoke. The game, which allotted sixteen pieces per person, involved each player’s attempt to block or trap a primary piece. Played on squares of black and white, each piece had its own movement. They fashioned the pieces from bone and black stone, and the board from wood. Reuel showed his friend how to shape the stones and what shapes to make. They worked bone and black stone hard, shaving the contours of each piece into its own ornate design. Reuel carved the board from wood and blackened squares with ash. Reuel kept the bone for himself and gave Marc the black stone. Reuel knew all of the rules, but he didn’t know the name of the game. He only knew how the pieces moved.

They played the game when they held camp. Marc picked up on it quickly and won often. Reuel didn’t mind and enjoyed watching his childish excitement when he did. Children love their games, I suppose. Reuel’s friend would chuckle when he knew his next move would win the game. One corner of his lip would rise while he bit the other. The first time he won, he threw his hands up in the air and jumped around in his newfound victory. Children love their games.

Marc spoke little, drifting in and out from time to time. Conversations would stay incomplete, and long would pass the times between broken speech. It was difficult to keep the conversation going. They would speak one night, and two nights later the topic would be brought up again without warning and in the middle of another conversation. “You have to learn to finish your conversations.” Reuel would remind him.

“But I need…”

“It doesn’t matter, you can’t just pick up whenever or wherever you feel like it. You have to keep order to these types of things.” Reuel saw his friend’s confused gaze.

He hung his head low. “Ok. I’ll try.”

Reuel was always the first to speak. “Do you have any memory?” he asked as he looked to his next move.

“Huh?”

“Memory, of things before this.”

“Nope. Just this. Don’t make that move!” Marc frantically pointed to the piece that Reuel was about to move one square forward and two over.

“You don’t have to help. It’s just that I believe things were different than they are now. I don‘t know how. I just know they were different.”

“I like to help you with your moves. Makes us better when we know what the other’s thinking.” He stretched his arms out and got lightheaded when he stretched too hard. “Besides, things are always changing, so they’re always different than they are now.” He pointed to one of his pieces that would attack Reuel’s strongest attacker if he made the move.

Reuel looked at Marc for a moment, ignoring the piece that he was pointing to. He doesn’t know what I’m talking about. He’s like a child. He never understands anything. “You frustrate me sometimes.”

“What do you mean, brother? Are we still talking of things? You should move that piece.” He smiled giddily when he pointed to the threatened piece.

Reuel threw his arm across the board and scattered the pieces. “I don’t need you to tell me what piece to move right now, I need you to tell me if you have any memory of other things!”

Marc looked into Reuel’s eyes with an innocent look of a boy unsure why he was being punished. “I’m sorry, didn’t mean…”

“Don’t you remember anything before this, before the shadow, before the child?” Reuel boomed. “I…I know there was something before the dark, but…but I can’t find what that was. Was there passion? Was there understanding? Was there thought that didn’t evoke fear? There must have been something before this.” He pointed to the sleeping child “I…where was I when I was like this? Where were you when you were a child, or did we skip that? So many fucking questions and no answers…no…where…none…are to be found anywhere with these bounds that the shadow has left. Semblance? Ha! Hardly. I’ve seen more than these past times. Must‘ve. I’m sure of it, and I’m sure of the same with you. Answer me! Is this in your head too, or am I…am I…searching, am I searching beyond boundaries that don’t exist to find answers that are only illusion?”

Marc lowered his eyes to a fallen game. “Those aren’t your words.” He paused and pulled his breath deep. “Don’t ask me these things. You’re asking for my memory to help find yours. There’s nothing for you there. I searched for it, and it’s here.” He lifted his eyes up. “It’s here for me to find. This is mine. I can tell you what I know. I know music. I know books. I know speech. I think of others. I know I was like Joseph. I think. Cared for, maybe, like I care for him, or not. Who knows? It’s the dark that clouds and plagues, but like everything else that’s ours, we control it. We can find these things, but, brother, they may or may not be real. The mind’s not so primitive that it lacks the ability to create. We could…can create these memories from the dark and that empty. Hell, we probably already have. But, I’ve found nothing in it. I’ve only found that I must have more than I am bounded to by this shadow. Not found by memory. That’s a lost thing. I know I must’ve been a child once since now I’m a man. I know that I must’ve had some contact with others who spoke like me, because I speak like this. I must’ve learned something somewhere. You probably learned these things too, but I’m sure that you know that, and you’re searching for more, other things. I’m sorry.” Marc bit his lip…I’m always with you brother…I won’t let you lose yourself in shadow…

“I…I’m…sorry.” Reuel couldn’t return Marc’s gaze.

They set the board back up and began a new game, speaking of other things.

They slept that night. They didn’t dream, but they didn’t sleep still. There was something there, something beyond the shadow. Something that reached with one hand and pushed away with the other. It stretched their bodies to where they might snap. They struggled to hold together with all might and strength, muscle and bone clenched tight as the bonds began to break. They held as those same bonds began to tear. They held as such bonds shattered, and still they held hard. Blood flowed through their fallen faith and carried them further from the light, drowning them in a sea of unknowing where they lie, dead in themselves, without bond, faith, or knowing, and still they would hold. Rely on your strength child, for when you wake you may have nothing else. Perhaps one day you will allow these things to return to you.

 

When the morning came, Marc was anxious and woke everyone else up. He nudged Reuel, and Reuel’s eyes opened wide with a start.

“We need to become better.” Marc whispered as if he was trying to keep something secret.

Reuel had felt the same thing. He knew that they had to become stronger and more powerful than they were if they were going to have a chance against the monsters that Marc had talked about. They both agreed to begin their training before they reached out to the west, to find their guides and their strengths and to ultimately push back to the east once more.

 

Reuel was surprised by how clumsily Marc fought. His movements seemed rigid and uncertain. “You can do better than that can’t you?”

Marc didn’t say anything as he awkwardly flung his leg towards Reuel’s head.

Blocking the kick with his left arm, grabbing the leg with his right, and parrying Marc’s blow, Reuel threw him to the dirt.

Marc rolled to the side and attempted to kick Reuel’s legs out from under him.

“C’mon!” Reuel jumped the kick.

Marc rolled again, got to his feet, and leapt toward Reuel.

Again Reuel dodged and put his elbow to the back of Marc’s head. His opponent’s face hit the earth. He kicked him twice in the ribs. “If you can’t stop the monsters… y…your child is…g…going to die. Joseph is going to die! Get up!” He kicked again and again. Every time Marc would try to push himself up, Reuel would kick him harder, laying him back down on the earth. He straddled Marc’s back and punched him in the back of the head. “Get the fuck up! Fight me!”

Another blow hit him, “Get up!”, and then another. “I’m going to kill your son! I am going to kill Joseph!” He struck him again. “I’ll eat his flesh and wash it down with his blood! Get the fuck up!” He kept punching, but Marc didn’t move. “Fine! Fuck you! Your child’s dead! I’ve torn him apart, peeled the skin from his bones, and bathed in his blood, and you’re just sitting there accepting it!” He pushed Marc’s face into the dirt, got up, and walked away, storming off into the surrounding trees.

Marc growled as he lifted his face from the dirt with his eyes swollen and muddy and his fists clenched tight. He didn’t wipe the clotted mud away from his eyes. He let it stick. He was afraid what might happen if he saw what had happened to him.

…I don’t know if I can stop it…

…I don’t think you can…

 

It was some time before Reuel came back, and more still before he spoke again. Finally, after a long time apart, they started training again. This time, Marc pushed his body to its limits and did so each time he fought. His muscles tore, his blood rushed, and, as his strength and speed augmented, he felt himself coming closer to a cadence. But he was afraid of where it might lead. Marc didn’t want to fight Reuel when he reached it. It would be too much. He knew that.

Sitting alone, his gaze found light crawling slowly across the blue above him, slow in its sway, keeping its silence while it watched its wandering children. Marc knew he would have to speak again, but just for now, until the light left him, he would stay silent. Just for now.

 

They traveled west until they hit water, then they moved north, finding ice and snow. Then, they moved south, through dust and sand, never finding what was drawing them, no semblance of anything that would help them prepare for what lie in the dark territory to which they so quickly abandoned. They did find some remnants of things civil. In the dark cities that they never entered, they found once great towers toppled to the earth and crumbled into dust. They were so tall when they were seen from a distance but greater still when seen up close. Outside the cities, they found places abandoned. They even found other beings, at least what used to be other beings. Their lives had ended long ago and nothing was left of them but bones and ash. They also found books, old and dusty with their covers torn and missing. Their broken bind barely held together with shredded cloth. Those old tales were spun so long ago but aged well in their handsome bind.

So many tales

So many tales

The father read to his son every night. First, he read a small book telling the tale of a man’s jealousy for the affections of his wife and how it darkened him. Next, he read a tale of another man, strange but familiar, lost without the end of things. So many were lost in those tales, but there was still so much left of them in brittle books. Even though their tales might still be there, the authors were long gone.

The child smiled at the tales, even the dark ones, and closed his eyes as they painted their pictures for him. Tender are the ears that hear those tales before sleep, for they always bring those tales with them.

It wasn’t long before the child could read the stories on his own with little or no help from his father. He would always ask questions though. He always wanted to know what his father would say.

The child read all the books. As they found places in abandon, while his brother searched for supplies and his father stood by idly, he searched for more books. There were chores to be done, and the child did them without question, dropping his books whenever his brother made him do things. Even without a chore, the child always asked his father for permission to read before he did. His father almost always said yes. Even when the father would train and build his strength, the child would not be far away with his nose buried between the pages. He read stories of man’s battle with nature. He read stories of war and salvation. He read all the stories.

Reuel, carrying supplies from the burnt remnants of an old home some distance back, came upon Joseph reading a rather thick book. “What are you reading, kid?”

The child was startled. He stuck his eyes over the top of the book. “Oh…h…hi, brother.” He lowered his head back to the page. “Um, it’s about a man who doesn’t work and wears a…a funny hat.”

“I wish you would stop calling me brother.” He bent his head down to find out the name. The spine was worn, and the name was gone. Reuel shrugged his shoulders. Must not be anything. “Doesn’t work, huh? Sounds like fun. Why do you read all those books anyway?”

“Huh, oh, th…they show me, uh, things.” Joseph still kept his eyes to the words.

“Really, what kind of things do they show you? You know, you should really look at people when they speak to you.” He adjusted his burden.

“Uh huh. Sorry. Uh, they…they show me things that you and…da…father don’t talk about.”

“Like what?” He sneered at the child

“Like…wha…what’s different be…between a man and a beast.” The child finally looked up from the page.

His sneer relaxed into a slightly twisted surprise. “Oh. Well, that’s not quite what I expected. Well, what is the difference between a man and a beast?”

“I’m not sure. I think one as…asks things. Yeah, that’s what they said. I think. I think that’s it.” Joseph didn’t seem satisfied with his answer, but returned to his reading anyway.

Reuel walked away from the youth, reminding him as he left, “Make sure that you don’t believe things just because you find them in a book. You figure out what’s true or not on your own.”

Joseph kept his eyes to the words.

Reuel passed Marc cooking by the fire and began sorting through the load. “I’m sure you heard our conversation.” The smirk on Marc’s face showed that he had. “Well, I am not sure if it’s healthy that he reads all of that stuff. Some of that stuff is absolute garbage.”

“How would you know? When’s the last time you read anything?” Marc snickered.

“Regardless, you can’t tell me that you approve of everything that he reads. Your fire’s getting low.” He split the load into piles.

“Thanks. I’ve read some, and you’re right. Some of them are garbage.” Marc reached for another log.

“Well, why don’t you stop him from reading them and have his time better spent?”

Marc shrugged as he threw the log onto the fire. Sparks flew upward and around the meat. “What should he do, sort clothes instead? Besides, Joseph can figure things out on his own. It’s like you said, ‘you figure out what’s true or not’”

“Yeah, well, I think it would save him a lot of time if you would just tell him not to read certain things.” He kept sorting his piles.

“It’s not what’s in the books. It’s that he’s looking.” He stirred the fire to bring up more flame.

“Yeah, whatever. I think he’s just reading garbage.”

“Reuel?” He tested the meat by pressing it with his finger. Marc liked to leave a lot of red in the meat. He liked the blood, but Reuel always complained. He would cook it a little longer.

“Yeah?”

“I want to train him.”

“Who?”

“Joseph.”

“Huh?”

“I want to train my son.”

Confused, Reuel regained himself and moved back to his work. “He’s too young.” He spoke fast, discarding a piece of clothing he grabbed by accident.

“Doesn‘t matter.” Marc sat down by the fire.

“What makes you think that you need to teach a boy how to fight? There’s no way that he could keep up with us at this point.” He stopped his sorting.

“He doesn’t need to keep up, brother. He only needs to learn.” He stretched out his legs and put his arms behind him, propping himself up.

“I don’t understand what we are training for anyway? Why do we have to train him too?” Reuel looked at one of the piles, lost himself for a moment, then took what was lying on top and threw it to Marc.

“I’m not sure either, but we have to keep going, and we need to find this place in the west, wherever it is. I think that means the child too. Uh, this’ll be a little warm don’t you think?” He held up the thick sweater that Reuel had thrown to him.

“For fuck’s sake Marc!” Reuel wrapped his hands around his head. “There’s nothing here in the west! We are in the west, and there’s nothing here! I don’t see anything. Do you? Because if you do, well, I think you should let us know. We have things to do, y’know. Shit! We’re wasting our time looking for this place. We should just find another place to settle for a while. Even better, lets go into the cities that we’ve been avoiding and look for others.” He took his hands and rubbed his eyes, pushing against his eyes with aggravation. He pulled them away and found Marc still holding the sweater staring at him questioningly. “Don’t be stupid. It’s getting cold.”

“What do you think we’ll find there?” He sniffed the shirt.

Reuel raised his eyebrow. “Why are you always sniffing things?” He went back to sifting through his bundle. “We will find something. That’s all that matters.”

 

With a movement to the south, they started training the child. It began with building speed, making him swift and strengthening his legs. The child was given lessons from his father. His father wouldn’t allow it any other way. Every time, he brought a new challenge for the child to complete before he was given rest. “Push a boulder up a hill. Do it again, faster this time. Not quick enough. Keep your back straight. Look up. Do you want someone to hit you while your not looking. See, it hurts, doesn’t it. Now run until I tell you to quit. Pull your weight.” Make yourself…

The child fought Reuel. Joseph threw his fist and barely missed his face, grazing the cheek. Then, he looked and found nothing but empty air. Out of the corner of his eye something moved. He turned to it, but it was already gone. His eyes shut hard with a sharp pain to the back of the leg, knocking his knee out from under him. He fell back. Lying on a twisted leg with a twisted look, the child opened his eyes to find the companion standing above him and shaking his head. “We’re done.”

The child was becoming strong. His arms and chest grew twice in size, and he became quickened by them. There were some times that he could evade Reuel’s attacks, but those times were still few and far between.

Even beaten and bruised, the child buried his face in those books until his eyes failed him, and he often fell asleep, drooling on the pages. He finished the book about the man with the funny hat long ago and started reading something that told of adventures through the stars, a tale told through the journey of a very ordinary man and his friend. His bursts of laughter would startle the others in the dark of night. The story wasn’t long, and he finished it quickly. Then he found another book, long, confused, and hard to understand. He lost himself easily and looked up from the pages bewildered. Start it again. It was more baffling than the first time he read it. This doesn’t make any sense. So many people, so many things, hard to tell them apart…what am I… Joseph asked his father about the book.

“F…father”

“Hmm?”

“I have been reading this…this book here, and…and I don’t know.” He offered the book to him, who took it into his hands and looked to the cover. Rubbing his fingers along the gilded letter, it stained the tips. He found the spine and found more of that gild, shiny and bold.

“One thing to remember about this book, it’s a book made by a man. These are the thoughts of men, their dreams, their…”

“…but it’s confusing.”

“These tales always are.”

“Is it real?”

“Well, sort of. Even the thoughts of men can be real, but the author can be confused.” The father held the book to the child, and the child took it.

“Well, if he’s confused…I mean, well…I knew that it was…was written by a man. All of them are, but what…ma…makes them real?” The child held his gaze to his father while holding the book tight against his chest.

“It doesn’t really matter, they just are.” He smiled to his child.

“What…what should I do?”

“Keep reading. At least, you might get a good laugh out of it.”

“I guess it is kind…of funny, huh?” The child smiled at his father and clutched his leg, wrapping his arms firmly around his thigh. His father put his hand to his son’s soft light hair. The boy looked up, smiled again, and turned away. Lying down on the earth, the child continued to read. Before long, the pages stopped turning, and he fell asleep.

 

With the disturbing of the waters, he moved between face and ghost. He pushed beneath the waters and found nothing but what he already knew to be there. The water spread, he submerged. He couldn’t breathe down here and knew that he never would again. He would try to say that he was pulled beneath the waters, told that his throat was dry and needed to drink. He would try to say that a man like himself told him that what was here would fill him and quench him. But to move beneath the water was his choice, and it was his choice when to breathe.

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