5.23

So here it is, all those words that you think should never be said, because the truth is that you broke my heart when you walked away, and after having come this far I know you’ve left for the last time

I watched you from the distance as I buried my heart in that box underground, it took me the longest time just to figure out where, when, or how, now I’m looking around to find it so I can try to give it away again, confession is I was watching you from the very beginning

But the words you’d never say again would never be enough, I cared for you from when it first began, but I guess you’d rather be gone, surely you can tell me how long will it hurt every time you come to mind, every time I can’t find the words for the lives we’ve left behind

I can’t recognize this place, the look in my eyes or my own face, I waited so long for what I pray was not simply fool’s gold, fell off the edge in a free fall with nothing left to hold onto, but I guess you’d understand that now

Now we’ve both become so much more or less, turned out and aimless in this wandering wilderness, I can only pray you are well and finding your own way, that the love I couldn’t show you will follow you through the night and rain

You meant so much more than I think you’ll ever know, more than you would have believed, it’s true I loved you so, and I didn’t want to leave, but now that you’re long gone there’s no reason to stay in this empty room all alone.

5.17

Some things are too painful to look at twice, even when you know it’s probably the truest advice, turn off the radio because it’s singing at you, reminding of how the only peace that’s not faded are all these cheap imitations we’re chasing

know we’ve got to get out of this or we’ll never be alive again, know I’ll pick myself up again, if we just stay stuck in the abyss that we all fall in, they say stay positive, it’s all we have to give, but tonight I don’t want to play counterfeit

You’re always better than me at these games, I’m not giving up, I just don’t want to play

I know we don’t want to stay in this rainy weather forever, problem is when you grow up and nothing makes it any better, but smile so we feel that it’s not wasted time, we could run for the rest of our lives, if we both believe that nothing makes it right

I’d much rather see your tears than the mask you’ve created to weather all these years, I can see right through you, so do you see me too?

5.16

When I finally come back home, after all that I’d done wrong, You ran to meet me from a great distance between, seen from upon the horizon, unsure of which way to go, chasing after lovers who can never stay though

What a fool am I to think they’d understand, that any place or one could ever hold my hand, I know You’re the only one who will ever move fast enough to catch up, to me when I’m on the run again, though a thousand thoughts of you forever fill my head

Prodigal on the mountaintops edge, running from our demons screaming from within, when you are hurt and surrounded again, just search the words that I never said

Can your pain be mine, is mine Yours tonight, we both know I’ll run again, there is no one who can fix our heads, but still you’re always on my mind, You’ll always be my home inside.

5.12

Seems another day is lost again wrestling the thousand thoughts in your head, of all you’ve seen and are supposed to be becoming, and I wonder which one to hear

Was it just a demon singing me to sleep, waking me with song, filling me with these dreams? A leaden soul no matter which way you go, and the battle can leave you frozen

For all that’s living still inside in your head, without a single confession that you ever actually said, do not be deceived to think it is not heard, for it is even felt, every faded thought and word

A devil’s got my number tonight, I always see it coming but can’t help but wonder why fight, been off the edge for weeks, only telling secrets in my sleep, and I know your back’s no stranger to the weight when it calls your name

Who’s side am I really on, can we really help each other find the strength to go on, when it can feel more like drawing on empty, each surviving in our worlds that never really meet

I’m trying in vain to reach out to touch, but have never been able to break the glass disconnecting us, keep trying or just hide, never belonging on either side, just tell me that you at least do not feel alone and maybe sleep will restore a comforting illusion of home.

5.11 free write

Perhaps if I could use less words somehow, it would be construed as more profound, because they were right, and everything’s just fine

Be glad you didn’t get it so bad they say too, but dear I’m afraid I couldn’t keep up with you, run away before the world ruins you with its truths, before it comes to be, what cannot be unseen, an entire world on its knees

You know once I was blind and now that life has uncovered our eyes, the terror in the silence is that we are lost for our lives, and nothing in this world can reconcile

I will not lie, I still weep for what has died, soul, fire, hope, flesh, that I fear will never live again, I would take away all of your pain if I could, though I know you can’t help me, if you would only let me, I would

But don’t ever let go of me, because just as you dream and long, I too live terrified that I am too far gone, the more we open up the more we see just how vast the oceans that are separating us

Paste on a smile for everyone else in the land, but don’t ever let go of my hand, it’s never felt so much like the very end, For who can hear a voice that cannot cry out? And love, I fear that we are lost, never to recover.

5.10 free write

You say go, don’t know where to though, that they’re waiting for me to show, but who though? The wind is sweeping me away, and inside never a place so vacant and grey, but being alone in a crowd is worse than being on your own now

I can feel this place has grown empty, silence traps my ears as a new ending descends, and strength to face an impending beginning again, as I search the faces through every crowd, but still you are nowhere to be found

The heavens claim that its true, but what of if I find you, I’ve seen how it goes, comes and goes as soon as it’s low, they don’t think it exists, because too few know what love is, and I wonder if I’ll be one to find the courage

Come full circle, nothing will make you whole, spend your whole life looking for the next open door, but tell me what are you really searching for? We all have broken hearts inside, or patching them up with the best looking lie

Like it’s never enough, and you’re not the only one, though I know that never made it feel any better to repeat the same obvious dogmatic letters, and they say go, but where to though

When will I truly understand, get out of my own way, translate from head to heart to hand, pull the melody from out of my soul, the one that’s been so heavy and boring this great big hole

When the words don’t ebb and flow the same, the ones I need caught in a web of shame, but we’ll always be alone if we can’t find them to say, God grant me the courage to say them anyway

And to go, though I don’t know, concerned I won’t care, and words suspend worthless in the air.

4.29 free write

I keep on holding my breath just to keep the tears away, no word, no sound, no truth, only lies now, tripped up once and falling on the ground

I’ve been pretending for so long though, the only evidence of the truth are the songs on the radio, don’t think I’ll ever know another, maybe we don’t even really know each other

But it comes as no surprise, seems most of us are locked up in our own minds, it’s okay if you don’t want to look at the truth, I don’t want to right along with you

I know we are all crazy in our own ways, I just don’t want you to see, want to be alone today, but we are all hiding our something, but how far does it have to go before we cut our ties with all the lies of a better time

Tomorrow’s past is growing cold, today’s the last chance of a miracle, went all the way out there just to find that we are all scared, now I can’t help thinking maybe it is better to just believe whichever lie makes you feel alive again, tell me real hope didn’t just die, right along with what’s been lost inside

See me today and I’m not sure that I could tell you the difference either, but we do know something’s changed, and today will probably never go away, But hate to admit that I am more afraid

I’m just not convinced which is the truth or a lie that I’ve sold, and now the only evidence I find are the songs on the radio, and I’m holding my breath again.

4.28 free write

Thought that I knew what I was supposed to do, but just can’t seem to find the words to, trying to hear what’s the next move, but I’ve never felt so far away from You

But I know that You are here, holding me up and counting my fears, but all I can hold is my breath from here, show me where to go next, though I don’t know if I’ve the strength left

Never thought I’d get this far, but neither thought it would be so hard, just when I think I know, there’s nowhere left to even go

What is it I’m still searching for, in this world of so much nothing more, speak all the words in all the world and still feel alone, I know You are all I really need, so why do I still feel so hungry?

I know You hear all these thoughts so faded, and the silence that’s singing me to sleep now, maybe if I can write them down in these spaces, I’ll find a way to say them somehow

Im struggling to recognize amidst the sea of voices, when I fuck it all up given my own choices, I’m not hoping, but keep on going, of no reason I can see, a common thing of such familiarity

Ever scratching right beneath the skin, push it back down just to breathe in, we all have a silent scream trapped inside, as a distraction, part of the divide

I don’t really care for make believe games anymore, can’t even seem to find a conversation not so vapid and bored, so what is it I’m still searching for, in this world of so much nothing more, speak all the words in all the world and still feel alone, I know there’s nothing more I really need, so why do I still feel so hungry?

4.25 free write

Too tired to cry, but I keep on trying, as I’m rising higher and higher, but can’t help but wonder all the while why, when all I want to do is trade in tomorrow, when today is all we’ve got and always full of sorrow

So push it right back down, pretend for one more day, though I can’t see it now, they say it’ll be okay

But I wish I could believe

Today I stand here stronger than I’ve ever been before, I won’t be stepped on any longer, know what I can do and more

Hold back another scream, I climb this mountain on my own, and though I’m by myself, I am never alone, don’t you know, I made my friends in the stars above, quiet my heart, I don’t need their overrated love

So when the darkness descends upon you again, learn to recognize the friend in it, I just wish we could believe, but by the time these words will ever reach you, it already hurts all the time and never goes away, but they say it will be fine,

but I can’t see it today, too strong to say a word, too tired to admit I am afraid.

4.18

Child of the Devil, blind where I’m headed, yeah I’ll give you the second, but now in hurt my mind is on fire, all these words so long I’ve held inside

You say I’ve got to learn to use some of this anger that I can, all that I’ve got when it seems no one understands, criticize everything I do and all I am, while I’m trying so hard just to appease you, too tired to gain the upper hand

Seems I know exactly where I belong, hiding right beneath and all alone, pick me apart and watch me fall, but now I can see you never knew my heart at all

Sorry that I can’t be like you, I don’t know how to forget, how to feel what you say is the truth, but unconventionality permissible too, but only when most convenient to you

I don’t believe anymore, tomorrow’s gone too far, only further into the nightmare, so let’s erase the middle and burn out at the start

Now I know right where I belong, beneath everything you deny to keep the fear from rising, I remain one to the end of time.

The Lesser Darkness p.17-18

17

I was deeply conflicted but this was messing with my head again; I knew that if I stayed any longer that I would later regret it. I rose from the grass and looked past the clearing into the saturated darkness beyond the trees. I began to walk toward where I had come but briefly hesitated beside her. I bent down and faintly kissed her forehead, surprised to find the sensation that she didn’t feel as the illusion I had assumed. I worked my way back through the grassy thorns and into the trees. I shivered under their thick cover, and opened my eyes to the Scarlet table.

This time I more quickly regained my composure and orientation, “How long was I gone for,?” I almost instinctively queried.

“Again, I can’t tell you exactly how long-as I keep no Time- but I can say that I perceived you to have fallen asleep for only a few short moments.”

“Alright, let’s get this last one done with,” as stoically as I could feign.
The crimson vial caught my eye from the candle in front of me.

“But before I forget; I saw an old friend- a particularly dear one I suppose-” I again downplayed my recount, while reaching for the vial and holding it up against the dimmed light. “She held this, emptied in her hands. What is it- or should I ask what it means?”

“A wise question,” he tipped back in his chair with a creak. ”
“The seemingly inert substance you hold in your hands has the capacity to entirely eliminate the need- and reduce the craving for- sustenance, of any kind. Take it and you will no longer hunger, thirst, nor die of lack. But deprivation, it can well teach one progressive discipline and an increasingly heightened resistance to all pain-”

“If what you say is true, I’ll take it,” I interrupted with a laugh.

“To never be of want or it’s chains is indeed of value…” he continued. “Yet, as you know trying to force Death’s hand has its consequences, as does trying to cheat it. I rarely mention the option, as few would agree to forego something so oddly, yet universally deified; I had an inkling however, that you would not hesitate at even such a weighty decision.”

“Well how long does it last for? I would love to no longer worry myself of the imposition.” I thought of the ravenous pain in my muscles during imposed fasts and arduous treks. “Does it simultaneously reduce the pain of starvation?” I deeply coveted the notion of no longer suffering for the fact that I had not had enough food in many years. It never got any easier to make those ends meet.

“I don’t know how long it lasts- beyond the decades or if it’s forever; I’ve never again seen any one of its few partakers. I’ve a strong suspicion that it’s forever- or until you come back wishing to enjoy the carnal things of the world again. I’m still working on the formulation of its undoing…but that’s just one of my many projects, and I can make no promises at this time of its fruition.” he stared off towards the messy table, as if he had just remembered a thing long forgotten.

“so what are these downsides you so cryptically speak of?” I could not veil a slightly patronizing intonation.

“well despite the obvious forgoing of food and drink, you would become violently ill, should you attempt to do so again. You could still drink very sparingly, but it would be of no reason nor quenching. Many count food and wine amongst life’s pleasures, but you’ve apparently no firm attachment to such…” ending with the air of a question, of which he then appeared to withhold.

18

” I’d still like to take you up on your offer…” I hesitated, “and I apologize for my previously curt behavior, I was fairly worked up coming out of that first vision.”

“Think nothing of it, but help yourself if you so please.” he gestured to the vial, pushed back his chair and went to rifle through two mahogany bookshelves across the way.

I uncorked the vial, met by an oddly metallic scent, and tentatively put a few drops on my tongue. It was of a pleasant honey taste, but in swallowing it down immediately caused my stomach to wrench at the suddenly revolting taste lingering in my mouth; of which was remarkably reminiscent of blood. I allayed inquiring to be of no consequence, and quickly gulped down its contents. My vision blurred slightly as my stomach convulsed violently to empty itself of the menial remainder of its contents; of which, much to the rug’s relief was again merely a false threat.

Originating in a dull stab at the base of my skull, a sensation as though ice were filling every individual vein spread throughout at a disconcertingly slow pace.
The man stood still casually paging through a few dusty books, again entirely unphased. Picking up another couple hefty tomes he produced a modestly sized dagger from the hollow space in an encyclopedia of herbal lore. I sat frozen, consciously focused on his limited movements to attempt distraction from the increasingly heavy feeling embracing my slowed heart and lungs. I was suddenly gripped by the regret of the foolishly implicit trust I had placed in this stranger.

I sat wordless, anticipating either the feeling’s diminishment or final consequence. He returned to the table, placing the knife inside the satchel with the scroll.

 

The Lesser Darkness p.15-16

15

ssre

I stood there for another moment, having cut around at still a small distance. It was quickly evident that the woman did not, or could not see me at all. I took a few steps straight toward her this time, startled to have suddenly prompted a cloud of small blackbirds to spring up from in the grass, where they had been hidden from my view; they together flew off into the shroud of black and grey. Of unknown consequence, I somehow intrinsically knew there to be 40 of them.

I resumed forward until I stood a cubit from the woman, who remained nearly motionless- though I could perceive the rising and falling of her breath. She sat cross-legged, with a loosely curled palm resting face up on her leg; in which precariously lain was a vial. She allowed it to roll from her palm and rest on the muddy earth. With a step closer, now at her immediate side, it was an exceedingly small glass vial of which gave me a distinct sense of deja vu with only the remnant of a few crimson drops left within.

I stopped to marvel after the thought, to realize that everything here seemed so much more real and clear than anything I remember seeing or feeling before. In an inexplicably otherworldly form, it was if I had never really noticed rain so consciously, or the wind had never swept through me with such bristling clarity. Everything my eye beheld was as though its definition had been fine tuned, every outline as though really seeing for the first time. The clouds were so immediate and heavy that I was sure if I were closer I could have felt them. I still couldn’t bring a single other thing to mind of what I had known before or if I had ever been here previously.

I sat down in the same manner across from the woman and studied her face. Her expression appeared downcast and her eyes as to communicate something inconsolably sorrowful; but I could not tell her tears from the rain. I took notice of a gnarled scar tracing from the left side of her neck, down over her collarbone, and out of sight.

An unknown time passed as I sat in this place, attempting to commit to memory every line and drop of precipitation in this mysteriously serene place.

A single desert locust jumped out from the dead grasses onto the hem of my pants. I reflexively flicked it away and looked back up.
I wondered how long this would last, or how long I could stay before something would demand my notice. The woman, whom I conjectured to be of her early 30’s, remained seated where she had been, moving only so slightly every so often to straighten her back, look around the field, close her eyes, or take a concertedly deep breath.

It seemed as if another hour had slipped by and all I could bring to mind was to continually remind myself that this wasn’t real, that I was seeing it from somewhere else, far away- though it did not seem so, and I could remember nothing else.

She cross her hands up over her shoulders and rested her face in her arms, eyes flashing up at the sky with a quiet sigh. In that flicker I was again impressed with the undeniable feeling of deja vu, and failed to recall any context by which I could allay such.
There was then a small, silent voice in my head- and  every tiny detail came simultaneously flooding back into my remembrance with the same vivid color.

16

I remembered that this was a vision- though a definite part of me felt that it may have been real- that the man who spoke in riddles had precipitated. It was the flash of her eyes which instantaneously caused that unconscious part of me to again see her looking down at me from atop the train tunnel ledge; calling to me to begin the climb again.
She looked so different that I hadn’t recognized what was right in front of me for those hours- but I allowed myself to entertain that possibly it was her.

I heard a crow calling in the distance. It called of a peculiar voice, which looking around was nowhere to be found.
I had thought a thousand times before throughout the ages that I had caught sight of the face of familiarity in the crowd; I had many times met eyes of affinity, or a foreign voice so intrinsically amicable, but never would permit myself to believe in the silly tales of fantastically wishful fates. Had she died and lived in the number and manners as I had? Was this the past, present, that yet to pass, or a projection of the uncontrolled, loneliest fragment of my imagination?                          My throat began to tighten, my jaw tensed, and a the same wave of tormented grief washed over me; bringing with it a single tear from my eyes. I had always spent my time running from the past- I couldn’t live there anymore. I couldn’t sleepwalk through the today’s any longer. Everything she and those years brought with them- that they undyingly carried of meaning- was dead, was it not?

I was dead.

I looked back at her, with new eyes to discern. I remembered how the sun had always found her copper tresses, but she would always find the most torrential deluge. I remembered the scars that decorated her chest; I could see that they had extended their grip about her. I remembered when we had once thought that something in the universe was finally on our side and the tentatively silly Magic that kept us always looking for it.

Yet that was all before;

I again surveyed the scarred vine running alongside her neck.

Before the climb; before the journey called, before the world; the life, the loss, burden, death, age, and preceding the violent awakening to a reality of an imminently wearing, withering attrition. If she had been able to see me- of which I still was uncertain if she was still even out there, anywhere- I would likely feel this same crushing, mournful shame at my now dwindling world- to the degradation of the very soul I remembered being. I revisited wondering of where or who she had herself ended up becoming.

I wanted to try to enjoy the moment, but my mind never had been easily subdued in regards to the loss of everything I ever had, or thought I loved. This was just an illusion- an illusion of Time’s, wasn’t it? Time had taken more than just love from me- Time had taken all of me; of something seemingly irretrievable through the countless years I had strived to put the shards back together, in hopes of things ever being even close to the same. Yet  I had done everything In my power to try to save the pieces-

Hadn’t I?

The Lesser Darkness p.13-14

13

He stared back calmly without a word, as if accustomed to being threatened in such manner.

“May I have my neck back?”

I began to return to the present. I took notice of my startlingly icy cold skin, finally realized my hands still about his neck, and allayed my grip in time to heed the warning of my retching stomach.

“You were sleeping so peacefully I could have sworn you to be in some happy place,” he grinned, incognizant of the matters he was making light of. “However, now you seem a bit tense…”

“You seriously didn’t see anything? I was asleep?” I rhetorically inquired, still feeling fairly disoriented.

“I’m not the person who took one… Much less chose the red one first.”

“I thought you said you didn’t know which was which?”

“No, what I said precisely was that I couldn’t tell you which was which.”

“Nice,” I replied flatly.

“But your nearly ruining my favorite rug reminds me of an offer I have for you, before we continue on to the next seed.”

“Yeah, I’m not so sure at the moment of your offers of supposed good intent.”

“You don’t even know what it is,” he countered.    “Don’t you want to live to see what’s next? You’ll need this in order…” he trailed off as though with a knowing air. he jumped up and again fetched a crimson-filled vial from the disorderly table’s contents and held it out to me.

“There’s no fucking way.” I sat unmoved.

“Very well, I can out-wait your nagging curiosity,” he conceded. He set the vial down on the edge of the tallest candle and sat down. “And where did you pick up such outdated language?” he laughed to himself. He directed his eyes to the remaining seeds in front of me. “Now reconsider; you’ve already got the potentially rough one out of the way. Of which, may I again inquire as to what you saw that so shook you?”

Reminding myself that he was of no responsibility for the content of my vision, I attempted to quell my aggravation. “I saw spirits, the evil ones. I don’t know what else to call them. Four of them- but one was different, coming from the shadows behind you. I’ve known them many times before throughout the ages, but seldom in such a personal and violent manner.” I decided to eschew the details. Similar had happened before, but then there was no rescue but Time. “I also heard and felt a great Wind that scattered them. There were deafening voices, though I could not interpret what they were saying.”

“Hm.” his expression betrayed no surprise. “I can’t tell you what it means, but it will likely serve you to have experienced in its context. Keep it in your mind for that Time.”

“You don’t know, or you won’t tell me, again?”

“Both. I’ve ever remained an advocate for learning by experience.”

Recognizing that further inquiry had yet to get me anywhere with the man, I rewound the unpleasant event in my head to commit to memory. In my rumination I found myself looking at the clock again- of which remained frozen at 3o’clock. Surmising it was broken, I queried as to the time-mindful of where I would be attempting to sleep.

 

p.14

“I think your clock is broken?” I looked up at the steadfast hands, still pointing to the 3 and twelve. “I arrived here an hour or so ago, and the Sun was getting low, so it must have been roughly 6 in the evening then.”

“I don’t need a clock- it’s of no consequence to me. it’s always 3o’clock in my mind, is that not also the case in yours?”

“No…I don’t follow.” All I had heard of any implication was that 3 in the morning was held by some as the easiest hour to shift between the physical, astral, and other planes.

“Regardless, Time does not pass in the way you likely believe it to. You’ll find in this place- in particular and hereafter- that the Sun rarely rises or sets at the Time you would expect, or hope. Neither does the Moon any longer chase the Sun or follow in its “proper” path. Even I’ve seen daylight last for a week straight, and darkness for months. There is no prediction nor observation of Time’s manner of passing; in most places you’ll find it three times as fast, and in a few- just half. So there’s no keeping track of Time; it simply goes as it wills, with or without us- and stops for very few.”

I stared back incredulously.
“Is this belief why you previously thought that I had been walking for days- because it had only been less than one. I was just exhausted when I started…”

“I’m not here to convince anyone, and if I were- well, I wouldn’t.”

The man was clearly either insane, speaking in riddles, or both. Harmlessly so, but in the same.
But in fairness, he also seemed to know things for which I could not account for. I picked up another seed from the table, a light green one. I decided that whatever I saw next would determine for- deciding between the two- which he was. I reminded myself of all the different ways in which I had already died, in order to quell my anxiety, and gulped it down.

This time I immediately noticed the shift, and was conscious of the fact that I was quickly overcome with drowsiness. I opened my eyes to find myself lying on my back, squinting up into a grey torrent of rainfall. Rising, I beheld that familiar low sky of heavy clouds, feigning a black pitch. I stood in a vast glade against the trees, of which was a field of mostly dead grasses up to my knees. The rain poured down in angled sheets, silencing every other sound or thought. I thought to bring to mind where I was, but I could not remember how I had gotten there or where I had been before, and my mind seemingly could behold no tangible thought.

I brought my eyes back up from the dirt to notice a very distant break in the abyss of clouds, through which a single ray of sunlight broke through, shining down upon what, I did not know. Looking back out across the field, I then noticed someone sitting down in the grass, their back to me. My inquisitive nature brought me to tread forward through the muted grasses, mixed with all measures of thorns that had been rendered dull in the rainfall.

Slowly drawing nearer, I made out long, wavy hair of a shade impossibly undecided between red and black, or simply the coexistence of both. I made my way around to the side, standing silently, but she did not avert her eyes from her fixed forward gaze, as though too looking off into the distance at the peculiar beam of light.

The Lesser Darkness p.11-12

p.11

I had enough sense of him to know that he was a man of no conscious deviance- and my curiosity rationalized that I had nothing to lose- so I picked up the red seed first and gulped it down. I looked around the room, anticipating the moment it would take effect. Moments passed and I glanced back at the man, with a minor twinge of nerve. I looked over at the clock. It was 3o’clock sharp. I was shocked; for according to the shrouded sun, I had arrived around 6pm, and our conversation had not spanned 9 hours.
It was then that it occurred to me that perhaps everything they had said about me was right-

was all of this just in my head, made up to quell my empty, wandering heart?

I had heard that in dreams clocks would most always be either absent or indiscernible. But I was clearly and consciously reading 3o’clock on that wall.

Was I dreaming? God, I hoped so.

One of my fears was that my body was physically still back in the Asylum; my mind gone off into the oblivion of delusion that had been forewarned me- but I then so vehement that I was not? I remembered that crazy people don’t know that they’re crazy- they can’t see it. So there really was no knowing either way on my behalf. I had always feared deep down that my grip on reality was far more precarious than I could ever bear to accept. I’d been called many things, but perchance there was a reason I so intimately loathed being called ‘crazy’. Was reality ever subjective-such as those who are colorblind- or was it fixed, with only one right way to perceive and react to it?

Before I could ask anything about this strange time inconsistency, to affirm or deny my paranoia- I saw it.

It was a familiar sight- but nevertheless one that seldom failed to raise every hair on end, steal the air from my lungs, crawl on my skin, and through my bones. Standing back behind the old man, in the shadows of the room was a gaunt, towering figure nearly 9ft in stature. Not surprisingly, it was cloaked in black robes, a near perfectly unification with the shadows of which it inhabited. Yet the unmistakable stark white of its long, hollow, fleshless skull was clear as it always had been- set with petrifying eyes bearing no Iris, no pupil- only the white of its penetrating sclera. Yet I knew it to be looking straight at me and feel it piercing though me- far more pronounced than when you can feel someone looking at you- as it always had long before I would turn to look or open my eyes. This being wore a skull resembling that of a cross between a goat and a wolf- though it was much longer, with slightly extended eye sockets.

I had borne many past experiences with these usually nameless, But it was still always the same kind of chilling presence that dropped the room to the sudden iciness of an energetic black hole; There is no peace, no joy, no hope, humanity, nor rescue in the air of these beings. Practicing neither mercy nor cooperation with even those of their own kind- they hide themselves behind any unnerving skulls they can find- favoring goats, horses, and humans. I had been pursued by those with and without cloak and skull- both equally terrifying, and a formidable test of my Fear; it was as if they were always lurking, following, watching, waiting, torturing, pushing- pushing with everything they had to push me over a ledge of unknown origins. It simply stood There, first watching to intimidate before moving in closer. I wasn’t sure if this instance was real, the red berry, or both. I attempted to shake off the instinctive reflex to temporarily freeze, so as to defend myself. I knew I could never be physically as strong as these inhumanly sadistic beings, but sometimes if I reacted fast enough I could drive them away for a time.

Before I could figure out what to do, the figure appeared to begin moving into the light towards me – but the further it advanced, the more expansive grew that choking darkness with it; until the room was devoid of light, air, or the old man.

 

p.12

The world dissolved away to appear in such a way that nothing of the physical plane was any longer real or accessible; all appeared as a ghost-like projection tinged in an eerie blue energy. I could no longer feel my hand on the table, but felt an increasingly violent tremor passing from my hands through my body. Three more beings emerged from the walls, bearing a similar resemblance to the ethereal blue plane. Each wore a crown upon their head, adorned in shredded white garb, with long spiked spinal protrusions through from their back.

The three immediately lunged at me with outstretched claws- I tried to use my arms but they remained motionless on the table. grabbing my neck and sinking claws in; I realized they were pulling me out and away from my ensuingly disanimated body. My body too became light and translucent as theirs; grabbing for the table leg in my new form, my hands still passed right through. I found I could however grab hold of my attackers; but they were still far too powerful- being knowingly uninhibited by the laws of earthly matter; and in this this place one can see without light or open eyes. I struggled helplessly against the number, but was easily dragged to the center of the room and onto a large, hewn rectangular stone table. The skulled being stood unmovingly aside watching, evidently pleased by the spectacle.
A stream of blood coursed from my abandoned body onto the now bare earth. Despite this, I felt an innate urgency that I needed to stay as close to my body as I could manage against their pulling me further- or risk being trapped here with them indefinitely. But their gruesome thoughts burned through me as my own and I perceived that they knew they could not allow me to get back. I could manage to fight and crawl a foot here and there, but as though they were simply toying with me, each time I was effortlessly dragged back to center. I felt their claws sink into my flesh with superficial repetition. Hands encircled my neck as iron, depriving me oxygen in between another forcefully reaching down my throat, each followed by subsequently hyenic laughter with every turn.
Terror is of no description; nor is there any vague justice or likeness to attempt to describe the nature of this at all.
I suddenly heard the clear indication in my head that if I could just manage to speak, I could be saved- to scream; but to whom, for who would hear? I knew there were no other souls in this realm- I felt the threatening weight of the possibility of eternal isolation and torment. I could not raise my voice against their strength.
There were words in my head-words that were screaming at me to be said, to be wielded. But as this all continued, I could not utter more than stifled cries of agony. There they were again- words of a language I did not speak or know of. The words rang in my head, building in precedence and authority until I heard them echoing through the vacuum around me, but not from within me. I could have thought I heard the low mutterings of the name the man had given me, just barely perceptible above the frigid blood pounding in my ears. A stream of words foreign to discernment resonated all around from no distinguishable origin. The table shook as the three beings instantaneously jerked away from me, rigid; all spiritual eyes searching for the source of the sound.
Continuing to build to a thundering quake that shook the room’s Foundation, the beings froze as though they were cockroaches in the unanticipated light of something much larger. I gave a powerful shudder at its thundering sound. Oxygen returned to my tortured lungs with a pang of shock as I was violently wrenched downwards in the deafening roar of a rushing Wind. I felt another hand grab my shoulder, and blinded, I lunged forward to tear at my attacker. I opened my eyes again to a blurred face; my hands now tightly gripping it’s neck. My vision slowly returned and I descried the lines of the old man’s face.

The Lesser Darkness p.9-10

p.9

“Bara’-shema”

the man read. “I will be calling you Shema, then. If you don’t like that, well- that doesn’t really matter,” he declared.

“What does that even mean-”

“Some to know, Few to find out,” he echoed in reply.   “Oh, while I’m thinking of it…” He again got up and fetched a scroll of similar appearance- though much larger and older looking- from one of the drawers beneath the collection of bottles. He grabbed a cloth Messenger satchel from another table, dumped it of its contents, threw it onto the red table, and then tossed the scroll to me- of which I missed and hit me in the face with an ironic thump.

“Ha! There’s your sign!” he chimed, amusedly.

“I’m giving you this, but give me your word that you won’t open it until you get to where you are going,” he said with an abruptly stern air.

“How can I open it when I get there if I don’t know where I’m going?” I prompted.

“You’ll know when you get there, of course.” he replied, matter-of-factly. “You hear little bits of this and that in the Winds, you meet Him, Her, or It here and there- you piece it together and you’ll figure it out. Who knows, perchance you’ll even figure out what you really want somewhere along the way- I’d guess you’ve no idea anymore, eh? But you won’t be changing the subject, don’t open it until then- swear it,” he repeated.

“My yes is my yes,” I replied quietly.

“Good, you learn fast.”

“I’m in awe of how helpful this is.” I returned dryly.

“Well, luckily I’m in a particularly favorable mood today, because I can feel the rain is coming again soon here, so I’m going to show you three things- what you want, what you need, or what you understand.”                                            

He reached to the floorboards under the red table, removed a couple of them, and dug around in the sand for a minute before producing a flat, rectangular, tin box. “if you still don’t trust me enough at this point that the meat wasn’t poisoned, you’ll have difficulty with this next one, but I’m accustomed to opposition- though it’s always a refreshing thing to still encounter now and then…” He set the box down in front of me- of which occupied a decent amount of the minuscule table’s face, and flipped the lid to reveal 40 divided sections, each filled with what resembled miniature cranberries of all varying colors; blends, shimmer, or even phosphorescence. There were tags in each division, so small I had to lean in and squint to read them. They read: Purpose, Numbness, Contentment, Beauty, Business, Past, Apathy, Love, Sense, Accomplishment, Worthiness, Separation, Validation, Peace, Illusion and countless others of the like.

“These are what most of them come for-” he began, “Everyone wants one more than another, for whatever their own reasons are- All parts of life, part of the unquestionably, cyclical institutions we all come to know. But all of these are merely temporary illusions to make you feel whatever it provides for the time it lasts; and I’ll tell you, all my years of study have never permitted the knowledge of how to extend their effects. At first it seemed like a profitable way for a man to make a living, but after enough years it grew from mildly bothering me in some way, to deeply disturbing me some days- but I admit that despite all this, I have often used them myself. The Work, the Wait, the Journey- to me seemed to unfailingly take more than I could ever procure for all the effort.” He methodically tapped the face of the table as though assessing some distant matter and continued, “Now I know this sounds selfish, but I am just a man as well- one who knows and has seen the order of things, and this is what I’ve become proficient at: helping people feel just a little bit better, for just a little bit of time.

People find themselves wherever they always do. They wander- some longer than others- but many find it too lonely, too ‘absurd’ , too unbearably tiring, or they simply cannot stand the anxiety of never knowing what– good and bad, though increasingly most often the latter in these times. Many start to seek out Routine; Security, Surety, Acceptance-” he pointed at a few more of the sections. “Love is always the most popular, the most sought-after, and consequently misunderstood of the lot; with Validation and Security following closely behind. He laughed. So very many, running around looking for “The One”, but how many ask me how to become the one- Few, too few.”

“This is true,” I interjected tersely.

“Ah, the proverbial drop in the ocean we all instinctively flow back to. But I think love may very well be in a great many of the places that are everyday overlooked or unseen. Love that at all changes the world, love that changes lives, is often found only in the most difficult places and people. It’s simply not always so obviously over saturated in the name of self-interest…” He stopped, with a barely perceivable change in his countenance, as though a certain remembrance had suddenly lost him his fervor for discussing the subject.

Well,” with returned animation, “Luckily I’ve got six different kinds of Love formulations- I thank the Greeks for the idea- so I never run out of that one.”

“But why even bother wasting your time here with these lunat- eh… people? And all for what’s nearly equivocal to nothing?” I had long ago lost my faith in the establishment of helping the human condition, having settled into finding most charitable efforts fruitless- particularly in personally accepting them.

p.10

“I can’t precisely say… Perhaps the last bit of humanity within me? Pity, understanding, solidarity? I too had my Time of the same vain strivings. The Vanity of Vanities- all for an illusion for which we each must assign meaning to- to keep our soul’s will and hope afloat on seas that never cease raging nor flow in direction. After it all, I ended up myself preferring to stay rather than go- the familiar to the distressing. If it’s a matter of nobility, I see the objective difficulty of it. But without creating a shelter, it’s a continual trek underneath a Sun that never sets, and a Moon that never rises, to permit any rest inside. You follow?”

“Yes. I believe I truly do…”I replied pensively.

“I’m essentially just giving them what they want. It’s not always the absolute best, or the most interesting- but it is permissible. But some truly are happy remaining within the confines of that handed down through the generations. They end up here thereafter the wandering and the lessons- others start here and leave- bitterly dissatisfied with an insatiable craving, and rightfully so. But forcing matters of change- much less people, Rarely if ever goes nor ends well. But you would know that.”

I was led to believe by his manner of speaking that he found few listeners of which he could relay these thoughts.

He reached across the table, tapping my arm, “You’re still bleeding.”

I glanced down to see that running along the length of my forearm I had evidently cut myself somewhere along the way over the rock faces- likely on one of the many jagged, broken branches that jut up in between the cracks. It appeared rather deep, though most of the blood was dried, with only a few drops on the table. It was just like me to never notice the type of thing until I observed an untraceable trail of blood.

“I like it- adds character,” he volunteered.

I could not conclude exactly what he meant, or if he knew why I always ended up tripping over something sharp.

“Ah, where is my mind-”

He got up and stood over by the long, wooden table with the vials and bottles. “I got distracted – it’s been so long since I’ve had remotely intriguing company.” The ‘Seeing ‘ Seeds aren’t in that box anymore.” he continued rummaging through the bottles, dumping them out and picking a few different colored seeds from the hundred. “I had to hide them elsewhere when the girl-whom I’m sure you met- found them. Took me a week to figure out where they were all disappearing to…”

“Yes, what is she doing here? She seems so obviously out of place.”

“Oh, the girl won’t stay- I could never let her. She thinks she’s a part of this, evidently excited to be of the age to begin partaking in the education of jobs, tasks, duties, our grand Illusion of business, or whatsoever it be- but I’ve watched, and I see it in her heart for higher heights and it’s intrinsically lower depths. It would sadden me to see the girl go, but it would pain me much more to see her stay- or God forbid- inherit contentment with this place. She plays with her small words and impossibly fragile form, but let it not deceive you; she sees and hears that something is missing and vacuous with this place. I’ve known she’s been sneaking in here and reading every leaf and scribble on these shelves since she very first arrived- many books of which are unfit for her age; unfit knowledge for her Time to know of the most difficult truths and lessons this world conspires to teach each of us…

Her parents unknowingly aim to instill Fear within her- to try to keep her safe- but regardless, she’s always running off alone into the forest and towards the Higher Mountains. However, I do not know if she has seen or knows the exact nature of what wicked terrors reside there and in between…. Her mentors fetch her back and bring her to me, asking me for some of the Contentment Seeds that they may give her; that she may stay and relax enough to learn the things they learn at her age. I feign compliance, but always simply give them some plain old Birch Tree seeds.

He placed four seeds in front of me on the table, “Here they all are now, take one and see what you will. I can’t tell you which one is which however.”

3.21 free write

It’s true, but they likely won’t tell you, that living’s the most painful thing you’ll ever have to do, and it’s true, it never gets any easier to make it through

Though everyone may leave you all alone, you’ll always have this melody to hold, lift your eyes to the horizon and know, I never would have let you go

What are we even searching for, I can’t take this hurt anymore, time will lie to you, your eyes will cry unto the very end, but I will be waiting back at the start, until after the stars turn dark

I will not lie to you, we’re all headed down into the bitter truth, and for the pain in any line I will ever write, it’s multiplied a thousand times, the words were never any good you see, not to you, not to me

Though everyone leaves you all alone, you’ll always have this song to hold, lift your eyes to the horizon and know, I never would have let you go

What are we even searching for, I can’t take this hurt anymore, time will lie to you, your eyes will cry unto the very end, but I will be waiting back at the start, until after the stars turn dark

but the time will lie to you, will it be too dark to see the ending.

The Lesser Darkness p.7-8

p.7

She spun about sprightly and headed back toward the hut, practically skipping as she went. I remained for a few seconds, still taking in the bizarre array of antics all those around were thusly absorbed in. Not a single other person as much as raised their eyes from their business as I emerged from the trees into the starkly unnatural circular clearing. Of the diversity of people around, the girl was clearly the youngest amidst them. I was puzzled momentarily as to why she was the only one who seemed awake. She was standing with one hand on her hip, motioned for me to follow, and gave another exasperated sigh. I obliged, quickening my pace across what was now sand beneath my feet, until we came to the purple curtain.

“I can tell you haven’t been here very long- have you. But have they?” I pointed as discreetly as I could muster at the others, ever engrossed in whatever each took fancy to.

“Nope,” she chimed, “my parents just finally brought me out here for the first time, after my 12th birthday this last April. Just like they-”

“And you’re not the least bit weirded out?” I interjected.

I can tell you ask too many questions.”

I couldn’t help but allow a glimpse of amusement to cross my countenance at her tone- like a chiding parent, in a squeaky little voice.

“Go on, go in and talk to him! “she gestured again toward the entrance.

I hesitated still. Equivalent to my inclination to simply barge in, was my desire to even be there- much less to get at all involved. I already had more than enough confusion in my life. Despite finding her feisty spirit refreshing- I was still reasonably uncomfortable about the whole scene. I looked back over at her, and back at the doorway, which at a closer vantage was interwoven with shining gold thread. I instinctively recognized a small, metallic sound resonating from up above us, and glanced up to see a tiny red-throated hummingbird glaring back down, scarlet chest glinting in the dying light. Chirping in such a manner that I guessed he may have been reciting avian profanity; I had always wondered why it was generally accepted that hummingbirds were of docile nature, I knew firsthand that they could be little devils if in a mood.

The girl was making play fists and rolling her eyes again, so concluding that there would be no knocking, I pushed the curtain aside and furtively stepped inside.

The space was surprisingly large and well-furnished for the base state of everything outside; filled with a warm energy, I saw that the walls were in fact made of rich, sturdy oak logs behind the brittle sticks and straw. There were bookcases both short and lofty, stacked and filled in disorderly array with hundreds of shabby leather- bound, paperback, wooden, and hardcover books. Many were exceedingly thick, with the initial appearance of research and reference documents and journals. I didn’t see or sense anyone at all, and continued to observe the spread of tubes, vials, darkened bottles, syringes, papers, and seemingly plant matter strewn about on two rectangular wooden tables. There was a third table, bright red and only the size of a square end table, with three broad candles exuding a fragrance that brought me to feel of a frustratingly indescribable nature.

Time seemed to be crawling at half speed as I loitered around waiting for someone potentially as disconcerting as the public outside that violet tapestry. I decided to further tarry only long enough to study a staff leaning in the corner. It appeared to be made of a finely smoothed Yew wood, carved as one piece with two snakes encircling its length, heads nearly meeting at the top. I flinched to suddenly sense a hand on my shoulder.

 

p.8

I turned about, looking behind but beheld no one, until I spied the man sitting in a chair at the little red table. Only half veiled in shadow, he was an unshaven man of considerable years. Had he been just sitting watching me? Whose hand grabbed my shoulder? I had been standing back by the door, about to leave after I had been examining the staff; I marveled at how I had missed something so obvious.

“Rather captivating craftsmanship eh?”                                                  “Yes, particularly the eyes of the snakes…”
I was embarrassed by how oblivious I had been but was then also grateful I had not indulged my curiosity to look inside the darkened bottles with various tags on each.

“well it doesn’t mean what it used to to me- that’s for sure. Take a seat if you will?”
“I prefer to stand,” I instinctively countered.
“so be it,” he laughed. “So. No need to explain why you’re here, I would gather for the same reasons as most everyone else…”

“being?”
“Irrelevant-” he said, holding up his hand with an exaggerated emphasis on every syllable. “That is, the past has passed. What can I do for you today?”

“I wouldn’t know. I can’t even figure out what this place is. What the hell is this camp doing here? What’s wrong with all of those people?”

“Ah, straight to the questions- straight to the point. I do like you…” he trailed off, as if carefully measuring his answer.                      “I cannot tell you definitively, but I can tell you that we all come here, and we are all subject to the Laws of this place. Some stay, while others do not- both either content or discontent.”

“I hear a lot of riddles and nonsense.” I replied curtly.

The illuminated half of his face cracked a smile, “Ask better questions.”

My stomach protested loudly in reply.

“Oh yes-” he rose, moving to the tall bookshelf and retrieving a burlap bag. Producing two substantial sheets of dried meat, he placed them on the red table across from the chair, of which he was again seated. I began to feel foolish standing there, unsure of how to hold myself so as to not appear as weary and ill as I felt.

“I should have remembered- you’ve likely been walking a couple days.. Come now, eat. I’ve got better things to do than to poison those who don’t ask for it,” he chuckled, apparently quite pleased with himself. “Eat so we may continue this discourse with no unnecessary ill-will.”                    I acquiesced and divided my attentions to sating the fierce aching in my muscles.
“And do you have a name, or shall I simply call you the Guarded One Who Stands?”
“That works,” I managed between laborsome mouthfuls.

The food was already taking the edge off of my hostile delirium and I paused chewing, realizing it had been a while since anyone had asked that.                                            “I guess I don’t have a name- not yet I suppose.. I usually don’t think about it until someone simply starts calling me something for one reason or another. My name was once Zakuw- I don’t know why, but an old friend of mine way back in the day used to always call me that and then laugh. I never did figure out why or if it even meant anything. Funny how we met, in that day we used to walk the Catacombs at night for kicks. Peaceful place…Why am I even telling you this?..”

I could still hear his trademark laughter ringing in my ears. For the longest time he was the only person I ever spoke to, until he simply disappeared. One night he never showed up to walk along in the dark with me, and I was never any the wiser of where he went. But I eventually understood his disappearance when some decades later I developed the inclination to do the same thing. Friendships and relationships were too risky. Since then, I’ve long preferred to share my secrets with strangers, those of the Asylum who would not remember my name or face, or those I crossed paths with in the Silent Places- but never for long.

The old man wistfully nodded as if he perceived my thoughts.

“Anything in your pockets?” he proposed.

“No, I didn’t bring anything with me but these clothes.”

“Clearly you’ve no others…” he laughed again. “check anyways.”

I reached in my pockets and to my surprise was something, pulling out of the depths of my left pocket a tiny parchment scroll, about the size of a matchbook. I opened it to see only a few indiscernible symbols, appearing as that of a foreign language, and handed it across the table to him.

The Lesser Darkness p.5-6

p.5

Unsure of where I ought to head next, I figured my best bet for finding anything useful was to turn back around to go up over the mountain, where I knew at one point was an older established town. There would also most certainly be some water caught in the hollowed rocks after the recent uncharacteristic storms. Yet even the thought of such a great distance caused my head to throb even worse. I knew the rock faces of the mountain continued up for miles, then dropped off into various valleys in between each, meaning even a manageable looking distance would take exceedingly longer than anticipated.

I righted myself east and began the journey, up the introductory rock face I was so familiar with, and struggled to push away the memories playing in my mind like a movie reel I could never shut off. I finally regretted not having taken more time in this life to train myself to scale this old mountain face with the grace and ease I used to watch her leap eagerly ahead with, always beckoning me to climb just a little higher-but I usually preferred to watch and in stillness savor the otherworldly peace of our hiding place. Nearby there was an extensive cave between two horizontal rock faces that had been called the Witch Cave, because when we first discovered it there were candles lining makeshift stone shelves and the uncanny existence of our initials carved into the rock wall. I had already spent so much time out in these summits that I both loved and loathed their heights.        

At one point in the journey of my consciousness I had thought that If there really was heaven or any semblance of it in this world- that that time, that place and presence was it- or as close as I was ever going to be. I foolishly fantasized that some measurable form of peace could be found in what couldn’t possibly last. Born of naivety, I thought that I had finally found a resting place- somewhere safe, understood, and in the sight of familiar eyes. Yet the present always falls away into a lost past and a different life brings different dreams- or nightmares from the recesses of our intimate fears.

I had advanced up and over a few of the ascents and in the thinning fog was able to catch sight of a thin plume of smoke off to the North, less than a mile off. It would take me out of my way, but the chance of resting and refueling somewhere soon was tempting enough to chance the relative detour. I knew I could always try killing something for food, but in my recollection there really weren’t many animals out here anymore, I was a shitty hunter, and foolishly enough always felt some measure of identifying guilt over it. I had done some awful things, but could never bring myself to harm one of the only things that seemed undeserving of suffering. Yet the verocity of the catabolic pain had grown enough to overwhelm any of my hypocritical convictions.

Tracing along an interstice of the mountain gained me some time in light of my rapidly diminishing strength and I stood off from the smoke’s source-which had dissipated shortly after its appearance. I was pleasantly disoriented to see the appearance of some lofty pine trees down along the way- being exceedingly out of sorts for the immediate area. They were multiplying, dotted amidst the starkly viridescent ferns, as I drew nearer. It almost seemed that the terrain was steadily shifting as I went, into that of some place alarmingly unfamiliar and inexplicably eerie.   I peered from behind the cover of a broad fern to distinguish what appeared to be a fairly well-established camp.

It was an unmistakably circular- shaped setup, with what I counted to be twelve chairs near the middle, arranged in another sizeable circle.

There were all sorts of people walking about, each remarkably uninvolved in as much as acknowledging those whom they were ploddingly passing by in monotonous repetition. Most of them were dressed in what appeared to be olden robes and untimely attire of predominantly velvet reds, black, and white with much fewer yellows, green, blue, and purple. upon further examination, what appeared to be twelve chairs were actually all tree stumps that had been cut down, roots still in their place, each inhabited by a person of uncannily straight posture. Most of those going about were walking in a clockwise direction, and those sitting on the “chairs” were each engrossed in some unknown task of apparent urgency, moving their hands about as to emulate counting, typing, folding, or other mechanical motion of a speculatedly task-related nature. Two of the twelve sat motionless and equally straight-backed, simply holding their hands over their eyes, remaining unnaturally still as though dead.

The dying fire in the middle of the chairs was now barely even flickering amidst the ashes, and though night was falling, no one paid mind to its kindling. The outer part of the camp was lined with various clotheslines, woven baskets of linen, and pots containing unknown substance. Beyond the ring of senseless antics was a small circular hut made up of straw and branches, with a deep purple curtain hung in the doorway.

p.6

I remained hidden, watching from behind the fern for some ten minutes or so before deciding that such exceedingly odd behavior strongly recommended that I turn back around- especially considering my inability to spot any mushrooms of the sort lying around. That meant abandoning the idea of finding any refuge or sustenance. The rock catches hadn’t yielded near as much water as I had hoped for. Physically however, I recognized that I didn’t realistically have that choice, unless I wanted to risk collapsing on the way to a place that I didn’t even know was there. I instinctively reached back to check for my buck knife- just in case- to realize that it hadn’t made the jump and I had nothing of any use.

Given, I had seen much stranger behavior during my stay in the London asylums. Ironically enough, it was there I encountered a decent number of memorably unique individuals- some even seemingly brilliant to my interpretation- of whom could seem more “sane” than the management body of its facilities. As mentioned, I had seen that every advantage had its disadvantages, every gift had its often steep consequences, and everything has its price. Needless to say, after that I never again broached or entertained conversation of my lives’ experiences. Though the following century gave rise to many inquiring minds for the mystical- it was mostly intangible imaginations of past lives, and never gaining any answers had long left me feeling voicelessly isolated inside- wondering if I was the only one, or if anyone else who had been around the block at least more than once was also fearful to speak of such matters with confidence.

I often passed some of the countless lonely hours pondering or making up stories of where the selected few other humans I had cared about would be now. I liked to think that they conjectured similarly; that they still thought of me, but I was sure they didn’t care as much as I did anyway. Most times I hated caring the way I tended to, long after I was surely forgotten or they were gone- I wanted the feelings to be as dead as the time that killed them all. But I couldn’t, it simply wasn’t in me. In those few cases I cared too much.

A small, biting voice intruded my train of thought, “Just what exactly are you doing hiding there? If you’re going to be creepy, you could at least pick a bigger plant!”

Clearly my hesitation was potentiating trouble for me again. I stood up from my apparently meager cover, mostly surprised that I had even been noticed at all. I didn’t think to say anything but an indecipherable mutter, and stared back at a diminutive girl of about 12. Her sharp eyes pierced impatiently through unkempt, bright blonde hair.

“What are you mute? Well you clearly didn’t come all the way out here just to stare did you?”

I shook off the perplexity of such a young girl all the way out in these mountains.

“I suppose I’m rather… lost? Well- I thought I knew where I was, but it seems like everything is changing…”

“What did you choose the Blue berry and then get lost in the woods? Are you slow? Of course everything is changing- its an unsafe world where you can’t predict or control anything but what you do! The landscape is always changing!” sounding like she was reciting some mantra, she was apparently accustomed to speaking just short of a yell, and her enthusiasm seemed oddly misplaced.

I paused. “I saw the fire and needed somewhere to rest because I’ve been wandering and I don’t know where I am, how I came upon this unfamiliar place, or where I’m going.”

She rolled her eyes, “Oh man, have I heard that one before. Well I guess you’ve stumbled upon just the right place! We at least know what we’re doing here. We have options and choices. We’re free.”

I silenced my many inquisitions and simply returned an untenable smile; disguising my incredulity at such a all-encompassing statement to a subjective end.

Her childish grin yet unforgiving candor was again inscrutably reminiscent of some place familiar. Everything felt like a reminder of some place I’d never been.

3.17 free write

The days are passing me by in such a hurry, but still everything remains just as blurry, I’ve found my melody they say it’s a gift, but with this empty heart I can’t keep the rhythm

Keep waiting keep searching now for what never seems to come around, I’ve got to take this last chance, paste on a smile for one last dance, but where is my heart, the weight of the world has torn it apart

Everybody seems tone deaf and in a world so bleak its hard to find some rest, I am tired and looks like the time has expired, my body runs down into empty notes, where we don’t understand each other and always feel alone

Ever unknown, we’re speaking in foreign tongues at best, pouring out all to hold on that was left, trying to make something out of the chaos, it never stops spinning but this is all we’ve got

God in heaven give me the strength, to leave a mark, to make my place, when everything inside is running with the sands, I can’t hold on but take my hand, even when they don’t understand

Didn’t think a world full of so many people around, would leave you so lonely, and most in a crowd, maybe some are simply meant to be alone, but still there’s something missing I know, now where do we go

And the dreams they showed us everything, now watching the fates unfold, they were correct in what the time would bring, except that there’s nobody there to hold

God in heaven give me the strength, to leave a mark, to make my place, when everything inside is running with the sands, I can’t hold on but take my hand, even when they don’t understand.

The Lesser Darkness p.3-4

p.3

I stood up, dusted myself off, and momentarily studied the puddle of blood mixing down into the earth. Reassessing my surroundings, the tunnel was gone- no ledge, no walls or gravel- but had been replaced by raw mountainside as ancient, gnarled oak trees sprawled across the formerly desecrated terrain. I found myself standing in a fluorescent green moss that suggested having been undisturbed for some time before I came along to ruin its isolated peace. The sky was a dark, inky grey, clinging to the foggy groundcover.                               The Winds had kicked up again in still yet another black, suffocating, deafeningly silent day in the Valley of The Winds.

I’ve no conscious idea of why I had remained in this valley for so long. I guess I never had a good enough reason to leave. Given that it’s completely hemmed in by mountains on every side, the black clouds always settle here, and stay- sometimes for weeks without cessation. It would obviously be no place for a person of similar disposition to live; but perhaps I find a sunny day irritatingly disattuned to how the world has long looked through my eyes- that perhaps the weather can be disconsolate for me, so that I’m not invariably the one bearing the collective weight of the knowledge the years have bestowed upon me.

Save for the familiar crags of the mountain ever looming overhead, everything around had entirely changed, and it was with great difficulty that I could gain any bearing for which projected direction I should head. I was sure I knew where I was when I passed by the rock caves where we used to play, but at the point I then expected to find the parking lot’s break in the trees, the foliage and foreign treeline only carried on. Holy hell. Given this, I was led to believe that this time I’d gone backwards- precisely what I tried to avoid ever doing- in any form in my life. Regardless, this had never happened before, because Time always ran linearly, right?

Additionally, I seemed to always start off roughly the same age- had that changed as well? There was nothing I could catch my reflection in, but briefly examining the matter, I concluded that to be a constant. I felt perhaps a bit shorter, but that was all I could immediately notice in regards to any physical changes. I observed a lock of hair in the dim light. It appeared that my long red hair was now black.

A medium had once told me that I could only try to throw my present life away so many times before I either reincarnated as a rodent in the dust of Mumbai, or my wandering fuckup of a soul would catch some other karmic retribution. Likely however it would be that I could no longer outrun the lessons I could never seem to learn, not to the liking of whatever held me here. Karma had sure been a bitch already, though I never concluded which sins I was paying for. Other than a personally insatiable death wish, I had always stuck to the “saintly” side of things in regards to my treatment of others; Though I suppose any god might be perfectly just in their subjective opinion.

I had been essentially tricked into even consulting this self- proclaimed psychic in the first place, and thusly discarded most that she had said as a fanciful lie to catch a pretty penny. Now I was sorry I hadn’t paid closer attention, or at least written it down for kicks.

p.4

I scoured the corners of my mind for anything else she had said. Much to my surprise, concertedly thinking about it brought back more than I had expected to remember. One thing that never changed despite all I remember seeing- I’d always been a skeptic until proven otherwise, and rightfully so, because I’d seen firsthand that people deserve to start out in the negative.

Yet somehow throughout the ages I had often ended up in the company of various kinds of mages- whether they were called witches, mediums, psychics, or what the twenty-first century’s New Age “awakening” eventually deemed an Intuitive- they had all always told me the same things, of which I still had paid no mind to, for all that it mattered to me at the time. More than a few of said Intuitives had told me that I had another past life of which I did not consciously remember. The past life part was obviously of no surprise to me, as neither was not remembering some blurred details or periods of time.

Some things got lost in the transference altogether, while other events always remained crystal clear in recollection through it all. Every once in a while I would recognize a missing part by the vague, inexplicable knowing feeling I would often get with people, places, objects, or events. Not recalling an entire lifetime however, was of surprise.

These people had each only briefly glossed over the details of its relevance, recounting something about being a “warrior” who had spent most of my life alone, wandering the mountains for unspecified reason, wielding nothing but some type of lame- sounding spear. Wandering for nothing, looking for and fighting for something I could never be sure of- much less remember. I guess I had never thought about it again since. It sounded like some fantastical bullshit. I had to stop and laugh at myself, because then again, I supposou some people must have thought the same thing of my much larger, reluctant confessions- resulting in my being thrown in the Looney bin, again.

Yet if it were so- It must have been too long a time ago to remember, considering that time had never ceased to progress in its traditional order, before now. This time around sure didn’t look like anything along the lines of being any warrior- quite far from it in ripped black cargo shorts, an equivocally ragged black tee, and somber disposition. Was it supposed to be some kind of a patronizing, symbolic jab?

It then crossed my mind that perhaps I had actually gone forward– but pondering that quickly brought me to question that any amount of time or magic could refill the train tunnel that had been bored through the mountain. I realized that I was sure wasting my time musing about something of little relevance to the fact that I now had no idea how far from food, water, or shelter I found myself. The violent 50 mile-per-hour winds had blown a chill right through my thoughts, and my bones.

I had long been accustomed to being both cold and hungry- nearly numb to it- but not to its eventual effects. It had already been nearly a day since I’d had anything to eat when I decided to just head to my favorite place, where I knew I could clear my head for a while. After all, there’s nothing quite like jumping in front of a train to clear your head. I briefly felt a twinge of guilt, hoping that it had only been a cargo train.  I’d always been on the lean side, so it never took long for me to start to feel the ache of my body eating itself- and it had already begun to threaten with the pain and tension impeding every muscle. I guess all the time I’d already spent starving out in what I was reluctant to call mountains would finally pay off as being customary. My body had clearly already become a few degrees hypothermic again- a state I regularly sustained for long periods of time. The fog in my head however was always much thicker than that shrouding my vision- and exceedingly more mentally challenging to press through.

3.7 free write

I dream of a place where we could fly away, above the endless toil and outrun this decay, where you could open your heart up again inside, then you would feel me by your side

Are you so ready to be gone, gone with me right along, if only you could have known my heart, but love it’s growing far too dark

How can you not see, there is no morning, and I wouldn’t want to live forever, all I really wanted, it’s now or it’s never

It’s no secret that I care for this place no more, there is nothing here but one last lonely closing door, so I raise my voice with all that’s left alive in me, and ask, can you feel the time retreating

Are you not ready to be gone, in dreams that fade right along with me, because I am so ready, if only you could have known my heart, but love I fear is growing far too dark

How can you not see, there is no morning, and I wouldn’t want to live forever, all I really wanted, it’s now or it’s never

If I unstitched my heart, lying at the cross of all roads gone dark, all I really wanted was…

3.5

Here I am still with you after it all, where we should say what we ought to and let the tears fall, so long and so far I ran from the path before me, sought to close up my heart just to stop from bleeding

In this cruel place where love is forsaken, with few to no answers when left in its wake, they say when one road ends another one begins, but didn’t know back then that nobody wins

I try to cover up my face when I can’t face the truth today, we came all this way just to lose everything, now it’s too late for regrets, we can’t go back when the past is dead, can’t barter our way out, in over our heads

Feels like I’ve been waiting my entire life for this time, now I cant close my eyes, will it ever be alright again, and I know you can feel it too my friend, now let our destinies lead us on to the end

Strength hastened to that day, I know we can’t go back, but I’m sorry I’m afraid.

2.26 free write

You’re paging through every song that you know, thousands of bittersweet memories, but not a single one to say what you’re facing today though, the stranger in the mirror and you never stop wondering just when did I get here

How’s it all happen quite so fast, one minute dreaming up your life and the next you watch it pass, these dreams so frail just slip right through our hands

And you remember everything, as all that’s left of you can only say

When did we get so far away, how did the best part of my heart break, and I know that we’ve only just begun but can’t you tell me when this is done, and everyone keeps talking about redemption, but all I want is to find an exit

Feels like there’s a certain point that we never can come back from, each day we’re moving forward ever searching just to find some hope that can feel right, for once

I don’t know how it all happened quite so fast, one day you have it all and then you breathe and it’s all passed, these hopes so fragile just fall right with the sands

And you still feel everything and all that’s left of you can only cry

When did we get so far away, how did the best part of my heart break, and I know that we’ve only just begun but can’t you tell me when this is all done, and everyone keeps talking about redemption, but all I want is to find an exit

No I don’t know what to say, I know we’re not the same, so I disappear and pray that we can fly away.

2.21 free write

Here I am on my own, though I know I’m not the only one who feels so alone, with all of these questions eating at my mind, like why am I still alive when I tried so hard to die

And the silence it screams nothing right back at me

Don’t know where to go from here, all I can see, hear, or feel is fear, seems I’ve already gone and died, only my body’s been left behind, find the strength any way it takes, but I’ve lost my faith in better days

Throwing down any pills it takes, don’t care if it kills me today, I can’t justify any more all of this misery and pain, I’ve got to take my place and make a name to burn out to my end

Was my destiny sealed when I couldn’t find a way to sufficiently heal, and all of these answers scream back at me in the silence whom I know

Don’t know where to go from here, all I can see, hear, or feel is fear, seems I’ve already gone and died, only my body’s been left behind, find the strength any way it takes, but I’ve lost my faith in better days

Everyday I wonder when I became the stranger standing in place of my reflection, but a changed mind cannot be unbent, and never going back is the hardest lesson

I died when I opened my eyes, terrified that we’ll never be okay again, even though I know that’s life, and now I’m too angry to find the words to say to the only one left in the silence.

2.17

Dear God, if you’re still there, I’m trying to understand if You still hear my prayer, I guess that I’m wrong, but I can’t help but ask for what I really want

What else can I do, when I’m having to change everything I am, and even though it may sound undue, I don’t think anyone truly understands, just what I’ve been going through

Feels like I’m walking down death with every passing day and it’s taking so long, but I am not afraid, not to die- only scared the pain it’s costing will never fade, don’t let me stay here stuck in between, help me never want to leave or let me fly away

God if You’re still hanging out with me, I could really use somebody, wish I knew what You are doing, so confused after everything You’ve brought me through

Sometimes I can still feel You breathing next to me, but these days I can’t find anything to say but I’m sorry for hating everything, I never knew life would be so painful when I was a kid, wish I could go back to when I was naive and innocent

I guess this is growing up, take the next breath in and hope that it’s enough to make it through another day, never know when it might be the day, and I know we all bleed, it only makes my heart break, I guess I’m just not taking life anymore

So let’s sit down, maybe we can work something out, there’s nothing I can give You, but You already know what I was going to say, I guess that’s not so fair, still I’ll ask You anyway, dear God if You’re still there, won’t You understand what I’ve tried so hard to say?

2.13

You show me all these pictures, like the old photographs, of what is to come and what’s already past, everything and everyone in stills, their lovers, their children, and the birds that would alight upon my window sill, but no match was found suitable you see, with no one to blame but me

I have been and become of a great many things, but all when I look on that I can see is that everything is changing, I can’t lie that I’m not afraid, I broke it all down and now we’re building a new face, will I ever again recognize this place

Take me to the heights, let me never come down, where the colors are so bright and I can make my own way now, let me run with the eagles, though my wings be caught as the crow, may I bring about these impossible things that nobody else may know

As though we have already graced upon tomorrow, let that time be enough to pay all my sorrow, that I would be weaved to where You already are, my steps be pre- conceived by the hand of an orchestral heart, let my mistakes pave the way for the person torn apart

Why do I go, why do I stay, everyone wants to know if I choose a certain way, every hour forward it hurts to let go, and I cannot ignore how the time it flies so, but in the end I suppose most everyone ends up alone

Your lovers they will come and they will go, according to what serves them upon a wind easily blown to and fro, and though you be not alone for today or tomorrow, eventually you’ll know- if you can’t love a soul, you cannot love at all

I just want to feel the sun shine upon my skin again.

2.7 free write

I’m keeping back the words because I’m afraid of getting hurt, when perhaps I should’ve said fuck you from the very first accuser, who’s reading this anyhow, we’ve all grown up and point our fingers now

I won’t be cut back down like I’m fourteen years old again, I dug my way up out and don’t have to keep up with pretense, don’t make this a numbers game, been there done that, a formula built to fail, why should I be so motivated to change if the the other side tastes as ill

I’m trying to get my eyes off the endless fear and compromise, there is no striking balance, I’m here and not afraid to die, I don’t need any more correction, my conscience won’t let me sleep and it’s enough to garner direction

I just needed someone to sit down and talk to me, look me in the eye like a human being, without salting the wounds, because you don’t need to as I already do it, if you think I don’t have enough guilt to push me through- I put it on myself, even knowing it’s a tool that only freezes you

Useless to anyone else when ensuing shame tempts me to hide myself, but I take the responsibility and can’t be deluded from its futility, and you know what the scariest part of being honest about it is, I’m no longer sure I even really want to change this

Not when something inside reaches out to cripple before I even try, just fighting myself every step from the sidelines, continually challenging everything I am to get to a place I don’t even want to be, no more excuses no more wasting time or being afraid of honesty

But it would be better to just keep my mouth shut, when nothing worth saving comes out of the truth that I hole up, too bad no one knows the truth because no one ever got that close to me, feels like going fucking insane and on the verge of apostasy

Don’t know if it’s true that we are our own saviors, I’m sure not standing around waiting for any takers, there’s nothing they haven’t said before, and on the cliches- still got plenty more

But here I am again, ready to pull out my skeletons and confess to who I am, talk about love and talk about peace, but I won’t understand until I can see, I didn’t mean to throw it all away, and now the person in the mirror has become a stranger

Another shifting face that I can’t recognize, is it too late to turn around my demise, look what I’ve done, what I ran for a year to try to get away from

Show me if there’s anything left, moving on to the next life or moving on to death, slipped up and fell back, I want to give up every time I relapse

I’m on a path and headed for destruction, the worst part’s that I don’t know I give a fuck about it, and I know that I’m wrong, but don’t know where this is coming from, maybe it should be easier to trust someone but I only seem to end up feeling like the villain, and then frustration’s the only language these days I know how to speak with this tongue.

2.2

Having come nearly full circle, having walked these lessons, now that wisdom makes us older, having paid the consequences, I leave this now empty room and learn to walk away, tell me, do we ever truly change?

I carry on as every other fate, in the never ending flight amidst the winds of change, bittersweet wars we lost and we gained, don’t know where I’m going and so much there shall be no knowing, but how I wish to lie and say that I am not afraid.

1.31

I do still care, but it’s killing me to stay, watching the same old faces slowly waste away, pretending I’m not scared, but again you weren’t even there, so I guess it doesn’t matter and my conscience is cleared

At least on that account, can’t say I’m not a fool for following dreams around, not sure it could ever matter anyway, when I can’t see how that part of me would ever be free

I can’t tell if I’m going nowhere or simply moving slow, the instructions are running thin, don’t know where else to go, don’t know how to give a shit, don’t know of anything left to believe in

I see the sinking all around, but that’s not how I want to go down, endless dreams in my head that there’s got to be something better, I can’t delude myself but can’t accept the same old fetters

Three different directions conflicted in my mind, resolution restricted, an endless intertwining, an impossible conflict, bringing all the guilt and questions, but no words that satisfy me

I remember when you felt so close, once I heard Your voice so clear, thought I knew where I was supposed to be going, it was like You were right here, but all things pass away, and now I feel alone and filled with fear

Im trying to breathe words of encouragement into my spirit, but my ears hear so dull today, my eyes hard as I try can see only grey, and I don’t know if the signs are telling me to quit, if I just imagined all of it

But I have seen so much in this place, that simply cannot be explained, but how do I ignite the fire again that’s gone out, it’s the only thing that can burn away what’s rotting in its place now

It’s come to the place that what’s inside will either die or fly away, we can only pray to grow wings one day, because I simply don’t have the heart to stay

But don’t turn away, and don’t let me, hold me in place, help me believe, I wasn’t born with a mind that could be distracted, when there’s a problem I think about it until I crack it

But this is driving me insane, I try to let it go, but it never leaves my brain, it’s destroying all that’s left, turning the time to waste, I speak the truth to correct, but it still feels like my grave

In the middle of our story, all I want’s to feel alive again, and give back the colors to those who have lost sight of them, to open my eyes again and really see, really be

What I have seen now, more magic in my life than I could ever even try to write down, there’s got to be more to life than what I see, I want to run with the stars until after they fade, and chase out the fear, to create a better way, and I know that I’ll die trying.

1.27 free write

I sit in the pew with my head hung low, surrounded by all these people but I’ve never felt so alone, I swear I’ve heard these words before, I wrote them in my journal just the night before

And I can barely stand as the man recites what I thought he would say, and was most afraid, yeah the illusion I tried to create is falling apart, and I’m terrified every color will forever turn dark

I don’t want to be afraid anymore, but the more I push on my very best, heart sinking like a stone within my chest, I ran so far my wayward years, from everything and one, now all I have to say are tears

No words to exhume from the ocean that just feels like a different tomb, yeah I know just who You’re talking to, I’m not saying that you’re wrong, I just can’t find the motivation to move on

You are good, You are faithful, but my heart is selfish and the truth evokes hate in my soul, perhaps it’s presumptuous, I’m just convinced I’ll never feel anything else again but this

Yeah life is pain I know, and if we’re surviving we’ve already got it made, I just didn’t think when I was a little child that the pain would be the only thing that stayed, and after everything I’ve seen, I don’t know what to believe

I don’t want to talk to anyone, had to break me down slowly for what was to come, I couldn’t properly run my life, now I’m caught between here and the other side

I’m sorry if it sounds like it’s doubt, maybe it is, but I just can’t see what’s to hope for now, though I still hear all sorts of things, there’s nothing I can think to ask the future brings

Why should I be exempt from giving up all I thought I had? I just didn’t know it would hurt this bad, why am I always bitter, when I have no right to it, all I want is to quit as soon as it begins, because after everywhere I’ve been, I am still far too human

Am I bound in Saturn’s transit, destined to turn to the pages I’ve dreaded, on my knees I’m begging to be locked into the path the seven stars are headed, forever until the end held together

After everything You’ve seen me through, God help me to trust You, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to trust in You to do, when to live is to die and to grow is to lose

Feels like the end, but I guess we all get our time to pretend, now destiny’s calling and I don’t know how to answer, I don’t even want to, they say that we’re born to- God I didn’t know dying hurt more than my conjecture of never having been born at all.