Weight: An old shepherd tugged on the ropes that had bonded with his waist. Daisy-chained were an ashen woman, boy, and girl, presumably his family. They had sullen looks and a world-weariness of those who had lost their home. Together they scaled a pass that spiraled up and down a mountain to an uplifting tune that went nowhere.
Lightness: A pit-bull grew up tied to an oak tree. His world was a nine-foot circle of dirt, acorns, and taunting squirrels. Having given up on escape, he fell into a deep slumber and dreamed of the pearly gates. A voice told him to come forth, but he couldn’t. The clouds turned dark and erupted with rage. The smell of burnt ash then woke him up. Tugging at his leash for the first time in years, he found it slack.
Entry to this week’s What Pegman Saw! Location is La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná in Paraguay.
A young prince once asked an old cripple how he could sleep so soundly each night. The cripple responded that he had been born with his deformities and had learned to live with this fact. Curious, the prince offered to have his best doctors and servants treat him. The old man chuckled and politely declined, replying that he was content with his lot in life. That night, the boy dreamed that he had turned into the cripple who begged for his livelihood. Waking up from the nightmare, he swore to never let such a fate come to pass.
Decades later in old age, the prince who ascended the throne and became king wandered the halls alone at night. Now an insomniac, he cursed the cripple for having steered him onto his current path. On his deathbed, the man finally broke down and begged for a reprieve. His wish was granted.
A young boy frolicked by a spring-time lake. In his exuberance, he accidentally trips over Death’s scythe and falls into the water unconscious. Death pulls the boy out from under as it was before his time. He then etches the true hour of fate in the back of the child’s mind.
Decades later, an old man returns to the site. He finds Death waiting in a gazebo overlooking a winter-time lake before announcing that he’s ready. Death inquires whether he’d live a different life if ignorant of his fate. The man replies no. The reaper grins and wakes him up.
Incubus: I saw atop the fortress a seducer who had captured the host’s maiden. The two had eloped before abandoning the domain. Their unholy union left a pair of twin changelings in the wake. A clan of ravens took pity and raised one of them as their own where it assumed their eponymous title.
Raven: The sky temple looms over a barren city. A woman on the ledge stares into distant lands across borders. She seeks her father whom she’s linked to but never met. Shapeshifting into a raven, she forms a portal and flies into another’s dream. I follow suite.
Succubus: A seductress reins over the court. She assumes the role of queen over an absent throne. Suitors line up offering their hand, but she strings each along until they are spent and discarded. Her eyes then fixate on mine before a silver bolt struck her in the heart.
Dhampir: The hunter emerges from a shadow in the corner of the room. A man of few words, he quickly unloads several more rounds as the Succubus thrashes against the ground. When she finally bled silence, the Dhampir tasted a sample before spatting in disgust. Half-bred he scowled.
Envy: The tyrant wanted a piece of the sun. Confiscating all the gold in his kingdom, he built a palace high above the Eastern mountains and coated it with the element. This way, he will always wake up to his monument reflecting the light before dawn. The palace took a decade to assemble. On the day of its completion, he boasted to the sky that he will now be first to rise. The sun then blinded him.
Generosity: The prince had renounced all earthly possessions. His wealth, connections, and time would be given away to his people and the Buddha’s teachings. The royal family disagreed and trapped him in the palace. There, he mediated without eating or sleeping until word reached his people and they started donating aid. The family eventually relented but when they opened his chambers, the prince had already transcended. His body turned to gold.
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.
Solomon at the height of his power sought to resurrect Babylon, a city in the desert where the mythical garden of Eden could descend upon. Scouring the far reaches of his realm, he discovers traces of a dried-up system of water ways that had long been scrawled out by the passages of time. The nexus at their intersections form a vast underground hull several miles wide, the result of perhaps a meteoric impact from ages past. Entering the cavernous space, he finds faint trickles of water emanating from an unknown source. Following the residual streams leads to the entrance of a sealed chamber blocked by a massive boulder. Two large hand-prints cover its side along with an inscription in an unknown yet familiar language. Placing his hands over the impression, a woman’s voice whispered from without. “Beware of floods. Towers and arks won’t save you this time.”
Morey’s Piers, New Jersey. Entry to this week’s WPS!
Meridian: A beacon appears on the horizon after a long dry spell. My supplies are running low and my compass desynchronized. I need to re-link with the collective, above and below.
Azimuth: The beacon looms overhead and I enter its orbit. Cycling between hot-to-cold to hot, the center pulsates with a code that I must decipher. Its shards keep me at a distance from the access point.
Zenith: I hear the sonorous commands of my station. His voice booms with my coordinates and the next destination. I split one half to follow.
Nadir: I hear a faint whisper which I’ve known long ago. Her voice is still a riddle but now with a twinge of the mercurial. I lead one half in pursuit.
We used to joke that the boogeyman would hide under the bed and raising havoc in our dreams whenever things were going too well. A little bit of paranoia curbed inflated expectations, derailing our fantastical brain train and so preventing a full-on collision with the mountain that is reality. Of course, the boogeyman’s true quarters weren’t below our old dusty mattresses. Such conditions would’ve insulted his dignity and the role he played. We found him instead at the back of the caboose during one of our nightly excursions into la-la land. Peering through the single slit that had been carved into petrified wood, we saw a young man humming to the tune of Michael Jackson’s Thriller whilst chopping garlic against re-runs of the classic Dracula film. Oh the irony and embarrassment we felt, having been so utterly fooled. The next night on our commute home, an old smelly man entered the train with knife in hand and foaming at the mouth. He took a young woman hostage and demanded that we return his spirit of which we stole. The lights went out and a massive jolt shattered the recollection. We woke to the sound of electric grinders.
Entry to this week’s Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner!
A young pigeon once asked his cell mate if there was life outside the cage. The older bird, having pecked away the button that once yielded sweet cakes gave a wistful look and replied
“These wings could fly me to places beyond the eye’s reach. Those cakes however ruined it all for I now only dream of cake and so keep waiting.”
“That seems quite sad, but I don’t fully understand” remarked the younger pigeon. “What does it mean to fly?”
The older bird sighed and said “To fly is to live”.