Learned from one of my characters.

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Sometimes characters take on a life of their own. They often surprise me.
As the end of my first apocalyptic love story neared, I found myself writing a totally unplanned scene in which a bitter, sadistic character is given a second chance. An unplanned sequel “Journey to Redemption” materialised tracing his physical and emotional journey across a dangerous new world from Wyoming to Taiwan.
Presently, trapped in Los Vegas, he becomes henchman to an ex showgirl run crime ring. I thought this would be an exciting addition to the plot, but I’m seeing more and more as I write, how only in seeing himself in her can he begin to make the changes he needs.
How true that is of life, it’s often only when we see our own vices manifest in others we become desperate enough to change.

A walk with the Dream Master. (Dream master4)

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flash fiction from October 2014

Song Bird Songs

footprints

“Can we go walking?” she asked in the depths of a troubled dream.
“Of course, come,” he answered, “just reach out your hand.” An icy precipice stood before her feet.
“Its not really there,” he whispered, “you just think it is, so for you it’s real, like the gap between our worlds”. Taking his hand she stepped over.
“Now, let’s walk. See the snow is deep here. That’s when you leave the deepest, longest lasting marks, when the snows of life are deep. Look out over the valley and realise how far you’ve come. It feels a little lonely, but this is where you can hear my voice best, also the voices of others”.
“Let’s go higher.” Transforming like spirits they soar upward. “Up here we can see much but leave no footprints for others to follow. It would be easier for you if I brought you here, you could…

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Dream Master (no. 3)

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flash fiction from October 2014

Song Bird Songs

lights
The darkness was soft around her like a comforting blanket, warm and snug, endued with a faint glow. Embedded in the walls, if such they could be called since they had no substance, glimmered pinpoints of light, momentarily flickering. She reached out her hand, as in slow motion, clasping substance in the mist. A jewel glistened within her hand, glowing in the darkness. She reached out eagerly to get more wondering at the rainbow forms glistening on her palm.
She was aware of a being beside her his face picked out in silver light. The dream master was here.
“I’m sorry you had to come alone,” he whispered, his voice an echo of the stillness. “This lesson cannot be taught another way. I wanted you to overcome your fear of the darkness, those black times when clouds of doom and destruction overcome your life.”
Reaching up he plucked a delicate…

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Fleeting glimpses.

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flash fiction from October 2014

Song Bird Songs

ruined city
Cowering on her bed she listened to the creaking boards, remembering the dark gleaming eyes glimpsed through the shattered plasterwork. Trembling she summoned a last vestige of courage, grasping the overturned broom handle she limped toward the tattered pieces of wood and cardboard denoting what had once been her bedroom wall. A scurrying sound preceded her. Must be a dog, she told herself. If it were looters they’d not have run, besides there was nothing left to loot, nothing except the cans under her bed that had kept her alive these few weeks.
She’d heard the rioting as the last folks were rounded up and placed on army trucks. Her injured leg still incapacitating her, she’d lain cowering as enemy forces over ran the city scouring for any food and supplies, machine guns braking through the silence. Since they left only the smell of death invaded her windows. She was…

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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 5 from a short fantasy story)

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deer

“I want to stay! I want to stay! Please Doc give me another shot!” Alex sobbed. But the words no longer found utterance, trapped as he was in the useless shell that had once been his body, muscle and sinew slowly wasting away as he himself wasted inside, trapped!

Tears of frustration forced their way out seeping between prison bars into the old world he’d once known. A nurse noticed, retrieving a tissue to wipe them away.

“Poor sod.” She muttered. “He must be conscious somewhere inside.”

“Nonsense,” said the impassive doctor at the foot of his bed. “He’s practically brain dead. Not much hope there. ” The nurse slipped her hand into Alex’s, as the doctor strode away, leaning over to kiss his forehead before, with a sigh, she resumed her duties. The small touch of humanity made the pain even more poignant. Something broke inside. Like a torrent of water it gushed forth its pain and fear then suddenly, without the injection, without Doc, he was there…

Animal foot prints in the snow? Something had passed this way. He stood at the edge of a forest. Passing among the trees he glimpsed tiny faces peering out, curious, but strangely unafraid. Chipmunks and squirrels dashed through the trees as if intent on appraising their visitor. A deer raised its head in his direction but did not run away; rather, satisfied it returned to its grazing, impassive…

*

“I thought you’d make it here eventually!” Doc was walking through the trees towards him.

“Am…am I dead?”

“No,” Doc smiled. “You are very much alive Alex, perhaps more than you’ve ever been.”

“But then how… You didn’t give me a shot… at least I don’t think you did…”

“There never were any shots Alex.”

“I don’t understand…”

“No but you will.” He fell silent for a moment looking around.

“It was like this at the beginning,” he continued, “before they began to prey upon each other. That’s why the smaller, weaker ones flourish in such abundance now. There’s plenty of room for them to expand with the cities gone.”

“Cities? What cities? Where is this?”

“Not where, when!”

“So much was destroyed in those final years, now it is being replenished. These trees are young, a mere one or two hundred years. This was a city once, an urban area reduced to rubble. Now the sands of time have clothed it once more with beauty, and nature, once perverted by man, flourishes.”

“People moved away from the cities after a while to make a new start at life. They took what was useful and left. Hardly any knew anything of the new agrarian lifestyle most were to pursue. Few survived but those few were special. Most were happy to leave, in fact most already had left of their own accord for one reason or another- they couldn’t buy or sell. They’d been hunted, lost families and loved ones; these were the survivors. Like the animals they were few, but their needs were few also, content to be alive, to be free. Some had survival skills and helped others, all were ready to learn. From one day to the next farmers became the new elite, teaching businessmen and ex heads of state how to farm and care for the land.”

“How do you know all this? Who the hell are you anyway?”

Doc smiled. “You think I’m a figment of your imagination don’t you?”

“No you… you were…”

“Was I?”

“I don’t know! Am I going crazy?” Doc stopped, taking Alex’ hand he looked deep into his eyes.

“You’re not dead and you’re not crazy Alex.”

“Then what?”

“I brought you here for a purpose. You’ve always been a traveler, reveled in new cultures…”

“Yes, but never anything like this”

“No, not like this. I want you to talk about it, write a few more books. Use your celebrity status to pass on the message.”

“I’m hardly a celebrity.”

“Not yet, but you will be, if you accept the task.”

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 “Act” of Writing.

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from July 2014

Song Bird Songs

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She picked up her pen staring at the blank sheet before her. It began.

Her hand moved, forming shapes on the white surface that wove the magic of words. She became more engrossed, captivated by the pictures forming before her eyes. The dirty casement vanished; coffee cups dwindled to nothing as a fresh breeze took the air.
She was transformed, re-clothed in silk, her features rearranged as she breathed in the role. Fingers formed the words she would utter, mind already scripting the scenes. Willingly she stepped into the world she was creating, breathed in the perfume of a hundred flowers as her eyes searched a velvet sky for details of the flying beasts above her, all the while her fingers dexterously capturing the imagery.
Slowly from the dust her counterpart took shape, his features refined by the art of the pen. Looking inward she formed his thoughts, his character…

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