“The record stands 11 to 10” chirped Kris as he tied off his skip to the wharf. The last race had gone exceptionally well given the headwinds in the last hour.
“You got lucky this time! If it wasn’t for that alligator that started tailgating my boat” yelled Wheaton who was still sweating from the near life-death experience.
“Tailgating both of us. I recall being neck and neck when that log started drifting on its own. You made the first move to break away before it pounced”
“Bah, how was I supposed to know gators like moving prey. Don’t they prefer to sneak up on their food?”
Kris gave a slight grin as he took a gander around Wheaton’s craft. “Maybe it wasn’t looking for food. That engine of yours makes a pretty deep rumble.”
“Who’s the man that you keep sketching every week in the studio?” inquired Madeline. Her father had recently took to portraiture drawing after a decade long hiatus in the arts.
“This is my old college roommate Dan. He made a bet that I couldn’t remember his face after all these years so I accepted the challenge… Ten portraits over several weeks depicting his ugly mug under the best of all possible lights!”
“Heheh, do you plan on showing these beautiful caricatures to his wife? She’ll be the best of judges” grinned Maddy with a devilish eye.
“Even better. I’m going to put them on exhibit and invite the two over. The expo will be called Recollections of a Wanted Man.”
Jeremiah had many guises. In past lives, he had been a sorcerer, assassin, mystic, warlord, and baron. His pact with the Krovikian Order gave him eternal life but at a steep cost. Beneath the temple lie a vast catacomb of phylacteries that housed the faithful’s souls. Such bonds tied Jeremiah to the syndicate for millennia until his latest reincarnation. Fortunately, the purification process had failed to eradicate his fledgling vessel’s soul which remarkably started re-coalescing through sheer force-of-will. Katarina was its self-name and he would use her to break both his imprisonment and the Order’s grip on the world.
There once was a route that only monks could pass. It belonged to a sacred pilgrimage that initiates took to cleanse their souls of the karma from previous lives. For three-hundred miles, a monk traverses alone through sheer cliffs and narrow crevices until reaching a shrine atop a mountain. Each day, he or she burns off an article of their clothing as to release an attachment to their life. Those without the proper discipline and resolve do not complete the journey and succumb to the elements.
Legends tell of the monkey king who had once made this very trip in a bet against the Buddha. Stripped bare of his immense strength and disguised as a monk, the monkey king quickly realized that he was in no condition to finish the task. Using magic, he plucked a single hair out to make a clone fully attired and expendable. The Buddha who saw the deception transformed the clone back into a hair and hid it up the deceiver’s nose during the night. When morning broke, the monkey king attempted the same trick but without success. Realizing the ruse was up, he continued the journey with sheer willpower until by the end atop the cold mountain, all his fur was plucked gone. After the Buddha had restored his powers, the discarded fur subsequently transformed into wild monkeys that now watch the pass for cheaters.
Legends spoke of the Demon Kaktusi that fell from the heavens in a battle against the Sun god. Sealing itself within a meteor, it made its escape across the wide expanse before impacting an infant Earth and splintering into seven pieces.
Burying deep within the planet’s mantle, Gaia who watched over the planet could not stop the invasion. Instead, she sought to hinder the Demon’s resurgence, casting a spell that imprisoned the fragments in massive iron cores that would drift apart beneath the planet and never unite. Kaktusi’s volcanic rage tried to break Gaia’s spell but to no avail. Its lava bursts formed the land masses that made Pangea and the seven continents over the eons.
Today, you can still hear the Kaktusi’s bellows. Look for the lava tubes behind waterfalls but beware of their designs. Mankind under its influence also seek the stars.
Roberto had no idea what he’d gotten himself into after the casting crew told him to strip down. The audition was for a sidekick role on a pilot of a cross-over sci-fi detective series between Sherlock Holmes meeting inter-galactic crime syndicate. He felt a slight chill in his briefs after the cameras started rolling.
“Recite these lines” commanded a female producer as she pointed to a page on the script.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” Roberto uttered in his best Watson imitation.
“Again” ordered the producer, “this time with rage.”
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!” Roberto yelled, channeling Taxi driver.
“Again! With sorrow and disgust!” dictated the producer.
Several hours after the audition, an exhausted Roberto stumbled back to his flat. Upon entering, he found a DVD and letter by his TV. The video showed Roberto starring in a live-action trailer of the upcoming pilot with lines and scenes that he neither spoke nor shot in. The backside of the letter revealed a contract, signing away all rights to his façade. Dotted lines hovered below a signature, undoubtedly his. Beneath that was a simple order…
I long for the sea in a bygone time,
but arid sands now cover my lands.
Who’d thought that spirits don’t die,
waiting for bells to sound last knells.
Yet hope remains among liminal currents,
two strangers dream of beautiful expanses.
So I coil my arms around wishes and desire,
nudge them together and watch with eager.