Unsung hero. (A true life “Fairy Tale”)

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from November 2014 (yet again this seems appropriate.)

Song Bird Songs

fairy tale

There were a lot of medals in my mother’s family including 3 Victoria Crosses (the highest British award -quite rare) and I grew up hearing about them, but this is a story about another kind of courage.

My grandfather  took part in one of the WW1 Christmas Eve cease fires so well depicted in “Joyous Noel”  (If you have yet to see it this year is the perfect time!) It tells how the war stopped for a while on Christmas Eve and both sides met to celebrate Christmas, play football and show pictures of loved ones, thus realizing their common humanity.

Soon after this he and a friend were trapped behind enemy lines. Unable to break through back to their unit they began to wave their arms above the trench they were trapped in, in hopes of being shot (they’d heard the injured were sent home). Eventually they were captured…

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Coma (final blog bite of short fantasy story)

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dev2

“I can’t tell anyone anything can I!” Alex grimaced alluding to his unresponsive body.

“You won’t stay that way Alex. You’re going to come out of the coma.”
“Sounds pretty much impossible from what the doctor said.”

“Ah!” Doc. raised his eyebrows, “but I’m his superior.”

“Now come there’s something else I need to show you.” Doc grasped his hand as if to lead him somewhere as the the blanket of darkness descended.

It lifted, not back in the hospital ward, but in a vast scene of devastation. There was movement among the rubble at his feet, insects scurrying through the debris. Alex recoiled in horror.

“They’re all that survive here,” Doc explained.

“Where is this place? Is… is it the future?”

“It’s part of the future.”

“But what about those other places I went, could they be the future instead?”

“They are the future. The weak inherited the earth, but there are still atomic wastelands. The rich and powerful elite were obliterated. Sad that it had to come to this. These places remain that mankind might see and understand the end result of war.”

A whirling sound made Alex look upward. Lights were flashing through the sky, some kind of vehicles – new technology – flying over the wastelands.

“Who or what are those?” Alex asked alarmed.

“Don’t worry Alex. There are no more war machines – remember the birds? There’s total peace everywhere, even here.”

“Then who…”

“Children, Alex, older ones. This is a history lesson of a different nature – a, learn from history lesson! The mind of man still has free choice to do evil. They teach the children there is no glory in war only devastation. It’s become increasingly hard for them to relate to cities as the generations pass, to understand why men would want to fight, kill, destroy in order to get more. It has become foreign to their natures, yet still these trips continue. It will be long before these lands heal. They serve as reminders of the price of man’s greed and selfish pride, his ambition. The earth has been pieced by sorrows she cannot heal of herself. One day it shall all be restored, new heavens and a new earth. Only then shall the healing process be complete, when, cleansed by fire, the earth and all that once dwelt therein shall be reformed and transformed, as water that, flying to the heavens, leaves the things and corruptions of earth behind, its very substance changed to vapor that it may one day return as rain to replenish the ground.”

“But where do I fit into all this?”

“I want you to witness what you’ve seen; tell people there is hope beyond the war, the strife, the annihilation. I want you to write, speak, publish, get the message out.”

“How can I do that? Even if I do recover who will listen? They’ll think I’m crazy, delusional!”

“Yes, no doubt they will, but some will listen, some always listen.”

“But what if they try and medicate me, put me in an institution or…”

“They won’t Alex. They won’t be able to. You see I’ll be there, helping you. Don’t you want people to know, to have the chance to believe?”

“I’m not even sure I believe it myself…”

“But you will Alex, you will…” Doc was fading, everything was fading…

He woke in his hospital bed. It was nighttime, the dim light of the monitor the only illumination. He reached for the light switch…

It was then he realized, as the hand responded, as the eyes adjusted their focus. He was awake, truly awake. He turned the hand from side to side in wonder, ran his fingers through his hair… He began to laugh, quiet, almost afraid to make a noise, scared the spell might break. He sat up, his back stiff but functioning. He grasped once more for the light his hand knocking something careening from the table. He groped on the floor to see what it was bringing it up into the newly broached circle of light. It fell open, his eyes falling upon the passage, “and I will give power unto my two witnesses.” He knew this book. The Gideon’s people left them in hospitals and prisons, suddenly it all made sense. He knew now who “Doc” really was. He raised the book further to the light eager to read about his future mission and ponder who his companion might be.

Coma. (blog bite of short fantasy story)

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needle

Alex awoke to morning sunlight dazzling his eyes. He moved to sit up. Then he remembered…The dreams were becoming more real than his “reality”. He waited passively in his unresponsive body for the all-important shot that would reunite him with his fantasy utopia.

It came, the beaming smile, eye contact, and the prick of the needle. His eyes closed in expectancy, opening to focus on a white stone fountain, fresh sparkling water, a small town square reminding him of southern Italian piazzas…

A cool breeze ruffled his shirt. Villagers sat around white, ironwork tables drinking wine, chatting, feet outstretched in the evening sunshine.  A weathered old man, foot resting on a rattan chair, coaxed music from an ancient fiddle for a group of young dancers. More people were coming together having finished work for the day.

There was a feeling of balance, no one tired or exhausted, the intense need prevalent in Alex past life to “party” as an antidote to work or stress (as if enjoyment must be crammed in) seemed entirely missing.

Alex looked around for his guide. Doc was close by, answering the unspoken questions as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

“Most do this every night, or most nights,” He informed Alex. “Someone is always here and they enjoy this time together.”

It seemed quite family orientated, with quite a few old folks, mostly sitting at the tables or playing instruments. Children dashed between the groups playing games, some intent on an occupation similar to jacks, squatting on the ground, there were even a few dogs milling in the crowd. Younger folks were mostly dancing and talking.

“Not everyone is here,” Doc explained. “Some young couples for example prefer to walk alone, or enjoy the moonlight and stars.” He chuckled.

There was an overall feeling of peace and tranquility, song and laughter; no one seemed to be intense. Alex noted the old man that played had the fiddle dancing with a young woman and a strapping looking youngster with a little girl standing on his feet to dance. No one putting on a show, everyone included.

There were lampposts set about the square lighting the tables and illuminating the fountain, making the water sparkle. Some folks sat on its edge, a young girl splashing her companion, he laughed as it ended in a kiss. They all suddenly turned to acknowledge and wave to Alex, a wave of farewell. Was it time to go?

“No Doc, no! Not yet! I don’t want to go!” Alex pleaded, but the wave of darkness invaded none the less.

Coma.

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children playing

(third blog bite of a short sci fi/fantasy story)

Alex woke with a jolt in his own personal penitentiary, aching to feel the response of his body. Hope glimmered. “Doc” said there’d be other times…

“Stupid, stupid idiot!” he admonished himself “Doc” was a fragment of dreams, a character created by his subconscious due to his administering the medication. It was all an illusion, a paradise conjured by the meeting of a desperate mind hallucinogenic drugs.

Would the real doctor return? He had no way of knowing. Fear seized him. Night came with its nightmares, but none as bad as his waking state.

Morning dawned, faces swam and retreated, the drip rattled as it was changed. Then there he was, Doc.

“Bet you thought I wasn’t coming!” he grinned as Alex felt the prick of the needle.

*

The hospital gown was gone; replaced by a shirt and loose, brown, cotton pants.

“Do you like your new look?” Doc chirped. “I thought you might want to blend in more.”

“Well it sure beats that gown! Simple and functional, suits me!”

“Yes, I think it does,” Doc said slowly, looking him over. “No multi-million fashion industry here!” he added, as if picturing with pleasure its demise, “or Anorexia.” A cloud of sadness passed his face, then he continued. “No gyms either, there’s plenty of “work out” to be got out in the fields. No uncomfortable business suits for anyone! The air is fresh and unpolluted, there’s plenty of good food for all, rest and exercise, the little ones thrive on it.” Alex remembered the healthy, laughing children at the pool.

“My kind of place!” he agreed. (If only it were real)…

“Let’s look at the school!” Doc grinned. Strolling over the hillside they sighted a crowd of children sitting under an oak, a vivacious young woman standing among them.”The location can change with each lesson.” Doc informed him. “Today it’s here.”

The children flocked to him. He gathered them in his arms as they laughed and squealed. They seemed to know him. The teacher was unconcerned at the interruption of her lesson, smiling flirtatiously at Alex. They began telling Doc some of the places they’d been and things they’d done. Alex listened enthralled. This school was no longer about books it seemed one joyous festival of learning, doing and experiencing!

“There are whole areas for them to come where they can learn constructively. ” Doc explained, “They come any time they want, it’s not required. Some parents also teach them at home, but they like to come, there’s no need of cajoling. Even reading and writing are not compulsory, though they all learn because there are so many beautiful books and stories. Some things must be learnt the hard way and reading is one of them, but it’s taught without pressure so some learn early others late. You’d enjoy teaching here.”

“Me a teacher?”

“Why not?”

“But what would I teach?”

“Oh, believe me you’d have plenty to teach! As you can see this school system is quite different!” He laughed and the sound was pure joy reflected in the laughter of the children. It all became one and blended together as darkness invaded.

Coma. (second “blog bite of a short fantasy/sci fi story)

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pool

Time trickled past in agonizing slowness, blurred faces peering as the doctors did their rounds, as the nurse adjusted the drip… He longed for contact, to feel the touch of sensation on his skin, to look into the eyes of another. He remembered the eye contact; strange… there was something special about that young doctor, a certain empathy…

The ward emptied, he was alone again, alone with maddening thoughts. He tried to focus, picturing the birds, the peace… Then quite suddenly he was there, hypo in hand, a tiny squirt of liquid like a fountain of relief. Alex tried to speak but his mouth would not obey him, tried to read the name tag but his eyes wouldn’t focus. He felt the prick, relief coursed through him as the blanket of darkness swept over him.

The sound of water assailed his ears. He opened his eyes. Gushing waterfalls cascaded down an immense rock face converging in a small lake. The doctor sat beside him smiling broadly.

“You wanted to feel something?” He inclined his head towards the water. Alex needed no further enticement. Pulling off the hospital gown he dived into the pool. Overwhelmed by sensation as the tingling fresh water enveloped him he surfaced laughing. “Doc” as he’d begun to call him sat on the bank smiling. Sun was gleaming between the trees – early morning Alex surmised. Reclining on his back he looked up at the sky. Tropics? … he could feel the warmth of the sun on his skin, a hundred memories invaded his consciousness as he swam in cool relaxed strokes across the lake reveling in the sensation of rippling muscle once more, of power, of command.

*

The sun now showed its face above the trees as his ears alerted him to Doc’s calls. He was standing on the bank waving a shirt of some kind and pointing. Gliding back to shore Alex scrambled out of the water.

“You might feel more comfortable in these, there are others coming,” he said with a grin. Alex looked down. Of course he was naked. The hospital gown appeared to be gone, instead Doc held a pair of light cotton shorts and T shirt. Alex pulled them on. He was enjoying this “dream”.

He could hear merry voices on the wind. There were children coming, a whole crowd of children, boys and girls, mixed races, the older holding the hands of the younger, but none older than ten and some as young as five or six.

Excitedly they tumbled out of their things and went splashing uninhibitedly into the water at the shallow end of the lake.

“Seems they don’t need these either,” Alex said laughing, pulling at his T shirt.

“No, but I thought you might feel more comfortable with some on.”

“For sure! Don’t want them thinking I’m some sort of perv, especially as there’s no adult with them!”

“There’s no need much of the time. There are no perverts, nothing that would hurt them.” Doc looked at the splashing children a faint smile hovering around his lips.

“I always loved children,” he continued, “Here they have a place that’s good for them to live and no more school, at least not the kind they used to have.” The smile grew to a grin. “Would you like to see a school?” Alex nodded.

“You might have to wait till next time, your visit is almost up.” He glanced at his watch.

“There will be a next time then?”

“Oh yes, lots of next times.”

“But what is it…?” the question was drowned as a blanket of forgetfulness enshrouded him once more, muscles twitched and became unresponsive.

Coma. (First “blog bite” of a short story).

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misty mountains

Total desperation seized him squeezing inert muscles. There was no response. It formed words on lips that couldn’t be uttered. He, “the great adventurer” was trapped, encased in a shell that wouldn’t respond, eyes that couldn’t focus on white coated doctors and their clip boards.

Panic finally receded leaving in its place a desolation of spirit so overwhelming he was drowning in it…

*

A fresh faced young doctor entered the room. He smiled, strangely making eye contact. In his hand he held a hypodermic needle.

“I’m just going to give you a little shot Alex, something to help,” the smile turned to a grin.

A deep wave of darkness swept over engulfing him in slumber…

He “awoke” alone on a mountain side. In awe he realized… He was standing! He raised his hand. It moved. A dream he reasoned…

He gazed astonished as colossal flocks of birds arose, curved and soared in the sky above. Like a rush of soft sound and colour they wheeled to and fro interweaving their songs. The sky, a brilliantly soft shade of deep blue faded into purple at the horizon as the flocks wove in and out in giant loops of song.

A finch stopped to perch on his hand, fearless as Alex’ finger stroked the resplendent, downy chest, so soft and fragile, but the heart seemed to burst forth from within in song. It was all so sublimely beautiful he could only stand and watch.

The young doctor appeared beside him.

“What is this?” Alex asked.

“The birds fly forth to celebrate the coming of peace. They soar across the skies lending their joy to the creation bursting forth below, new buds, new beginnings.”

Alex became aware of other watchers coming forth from the small village below, children yelling, jumping up and down, mothers, dish cloths in hand, all with eyes bent skywards taking in the sight.

“Most don’t know what it means” the doctor explained. “They know only it is the celebration of a new beginning. This evening and tomorrow morning will be the first day of peace.”

Light faded as the sun descended behind the hills. Alex’ eyelids grew unbearably heavy as the blanket of night swept over him. His hand no longer obeyed him.

*

He woke once more to the blank white walls of his prison…A dream, a drug induced dream… He wondered if it was part of their health care plan, he doubted it… perhaps the young doctor had acted in compassion? Whatever it was he desperately wanted more, addiction couldn’t be worse than this hell he was living in, nothing could, not even death!

The Package.

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from August 2014

Song Bird Songs

parcel

(The beautiful true story of an “old flame”.)
It was an ordinary 1963 day when it arrived, a bulky parcel wrapped in mundane, brown paper and string. He turned it over examining the post mark, Germany? His girlfriend looked up from her hot, buttered toast.
“Aren’t you going to open it?”
Hesitantly he pulled off the stiff paper. Inside the mystery continued – bundles of letters? He sat down an odd prickling sensation at the nape of his neck. Though intensely curious she left him alone. Whatever it was he needed space…
They’d met at a jumble sale, impoverished students looking for bargains, an unpretentious place to start a love affair. The art and music departments of their college, with their counter affiliations of rebellion and conformity, didn’t mix, but he was different. He’d introduced her to the world of classical music, charming her with the haunting notes of his…

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