Sunday, August 23, 2015

Under the Mountain

Once, long ago, there were two kingdoms that lay sprawled out on either side of a great mountain, and for many years they lived in peace and harmony with one another. Their trading and diplomatic business was conducted through grand tunnels that ran through the mountain depths, and both kingdoms thrived and prospered.

The rulers of each kingdom, powerful emperors, would often visit one another's cities and celebrate their peaceful existence with festivals and revelries to which all their surrounding allies would attend.

So it was that that the young son of one emperor and the young daughter of the other met on one such occasion and became the closest of friends.

All year long, each would wait with excitement until the next visit to see their friend and they would play and laugh during the festivals; marvelling at the exotic animals that were brought in from far and wide, enjoying the strange and delicious treats from the vendors, and watching in awe during the fireworks displays that lit up the starry night skies.

Soon, as it is oft to happen, the young friendship grew into more as their feelings for each other evolved into love and they would not wait until the next festival, but sneak out into the mountain tunnels to meet one another in secret.

In the multitude of tunnels that snaked through the base of the mountain, they had discovered a hidden chamber midway from each entrance, and there they would meet and be with each other, promising their undying love to one another.

Unfortunately, peace between nations sometimes only last when there is prosperity for both, and soon the dark shadow of famine fell upon the kingdom to the south of the mountain while the kingdom to the north, still prosperous, began to increase their prices for the goods and services they had always provided fairly.

The shadow grew through long months and became the darkness of war between the two kingdoms.

All the while the young lovers continued to meet in secret until her father's spies discovered their clandestine rendezvous and relayed the information to their emperor.

He forbade her from seeing the young prince and in his fury, gave orders to destroy the mountain tunnels, thus cutting his enemies and their young love off forever.

Unaware of the eminent destruction of the tunnels, the young prince stole away from his family's palace and went to meet his adored one in their secret chamber deep within the mass of rock and stone that separated them.

Horrified at the thought of her love being crushed underneath the mountain when her father's army set off their explosive powders, the princess escaped her chambers and fled to the tunnels' entrance.
Perhaps she could get to him before the tunnels were caved-in and they could escape far away to the west or barring that, at least that they could be together for eternity, buried deep in their mountain tomb.

She was within sight of the darkened gates of the tunnels' carved entrance when the massive blast exploded in a fiery flash like flames out of some terrible dragon's gaping maw and she fell to her knees as her heart broke with more force than did the mountain itself.

Weeping for her love she vowed never to leave from where she knelt and that she too, would become as the stone that buried him.

Try as they might, the emperor's guards, alchemists, and even the Emperor himself could not move her, as she had indeed become as immovable as the very stone of the mountain.

And there she remains, still kneeling, alone, all remnants of the two kingdoms eroded away over the millennia, leaving only her stone image, untouched, weeping for her love entombed deep within in the ancient tunnels.

Enwrapping him through the very rock she had become part of, the two lovers embrace forever more, under the mountain.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Black Tower Return

Against the hazy horizon it stands starkly contrasting the golden glow of the dawn sun, the Black Tower radiates its darkness into the very air that surrounds it; its evil trying to bleed into the world as it has always attempted to.

Its true nature hidden from the rest of the world, the Tower cannot hide from me. I see it, not as the modern, sky-scraping building that it disguises itself as to the rest of the citizens that dwell in its shadow, but as the ancient abode for the earliest of evils.

Throughout history it has always been, not always in the same location, not always taking the guise of the looming monolith against the sky; sometimes as the tower of an ancient stronghold, or a lone lighthouse on the cliffs surrounded by the crashing sea, or even as a sacred cathedral on occasion.

Yet, how ever it has hidden itself in plain sight, I too have been there to prevent the evil within from seeping out into the world and infecting it like a deadly virus, and turning it into a insidious nightmare from which there is no waking.

Over countless years I have fought my way to the Black Tower; fought my way inside and to the very apex, to face the evil that I always find there, each time, sacrificing myself in order to prevail.

Though, this time it has taken me much longer to find my way here, to realize my purpose. So much of this time is distraction. In days gone by, I was able to focus my attention, sharpen my mind against the darkness that threatens to envelop the world, but this time feels different.

This time feels as if too much of the Tower has leached its way into the world; leached its way into the hearts of the people. And it is growing.

Perhaps my spirit has grown tired and weary, having battled the undying evil of the Tower over and over, through the millennia, but this time feels different, this time feels wrong.

As I stand looking out over the sprawling cityscape, the Black Tower looming ominously in the distance, I feel alone.

I feel that I am missing a part of myself, the part that gave me strength in times of yore.

Did I have a companion once? One who fought along side me, as we moved as one, our combined strength out-matching even the primordial evil of the Tower?

If so, where have you gone, my friend? Did you fall in battle some time before and throughout the years I have forgotten you? Or did the evil behind the Black Tower find away to wipe you from my memories?

Where are you now; now, when I need you most; now when I face the Tower once more, alone and unsure.

The sun rises up from behind the Tower's dark outline and its golden light falls upon me, warming the chill that has descended upon my heart.

From behind, far off in the distance, a fierce roar echoes out and I turn to look over my shoulder as a memory blossoms in my mind and a smile appears across my face.

Have you return, my old friend? Have you come to my aid once again?

With a roar of my own I charge forward down the slopping hill, courage and strength returning back to me as you have done, and even as I race along, I can feel you fast approaching to join me. Your strong legs hurtling you along, coming up strong so I can almost feel your breath on my neck from behind.

Not even death could keep you from my side, could it, my trusted friend? Come; let us face the Black Tower once more; come, let us roar.

In response, you bellow thunderously, heralding our charge.

Be warned it cries out to the Tower and the evil therein; man and beast have come for you once again.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Lately, I have been fixated by the idea that there is another me living directly underneath me.

Not in the apartment beneath mine, or even in the basement, but underneath the very ground, mirroring my every action, my every movement in a world opposite my own.

It began a few weeks ago when I was out for a jog in the park. I had taken the wooded path that went through the thick canopy of the trees, to get away from the hot sunlight; becoming distracted by how the rays of light flitted through the leaves prettily, I tripped on an exposed root and fell sprawling onto the hard-packed ground.

I was surprised more that hurt, yet the impacted winded me for a moment and lay there, feeling the cool soil against my skin.

Pushing up with the palms of my hands, I instantly felt the sensation of my palms coming into contact with what seemed like someone else's hands pushing back just underneath the surface.

The sensation startled me more than the fall and I scrambled back up to my feet and stared at the impression I had made on the ground. There was indeed the outlines of my hands but they were not depressed into the soil as they should have been from the impact, they only seemed level with the surface, as if they had been pushed back into position from the other side.

Shaking my head, I disregarded the thought and continued on my run, but that night, as I lay in bed, my mind drifted back to that sensation of someone underneath me on the ground and started to ponder if there were other dimensions sitting right next to this one, why could there not be one below; a world just underneath the surface where our opposites live and go about their lives counter balanced to those in this one.

The idea festered in the back of my head, distracting me during the day as I tried to focus on my work, and then consuming my thoughts while I walked home each night. A few times I nearly walked straight out into traffic because I was too busy looking down at the sidewalk under my feet, fooling myself into imagining feeling the footfalls of my opposite on the soles of my shoes through the concrete.

Searching online and even going to the library to research books on physics and theories of multiple universes, I became obsessed with the subject. Though, in all of the books and articles, most spoke of dimensions stacked metaphorically on top of one another, not actually sitting beside or on top of each other.

None mentioned being able to actually feel the other pushing back, but each day I became more convinced I could; convinced that the fabric between me and my other was somehow wearing thin.

The question is: could it wear out?

What if, through our constant contact with the thinning floor between our worlds we manage to tear a hole in the fabric between our worlds and we fall through, sucking everything down into each other's dimension, causing both to collapse into each other; obliterating both.

I know how ridiculous this sounds, and I cannot explain how it is possible, yet I believe that is what is happening. That is why I am writing to you.

I have stopped leaving my apartment; stopped setting foot on the floor unless absolutely necessary, for fear any more contact with fabric of the floor between our dimensions will only further damage it, thus destroying both our worlds.

I know you are reading this letter as we write it, so please, I implore you, stay off the ground; stay off the floor, and I will do the same.

Though I fear the damage is already done, I can feel you underneath me now; feel you sitting cross-legged on your bed, writing this letter to me as well.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Darkness Below

The darkness was encroaching, soon it would swallow the light and there would be nothing; nothing except oblivion.

Looking up toward the shimmering rays of light that danced above him just outside the dome of the void he now sank further down into; teasing him, the heavenly beams seemed to pull away from him as he swung out a flailing arm to somehow grab hold and pull himself out of the blackness that threatened to suck him down below.

For a moment he let himself float in between the darkness and the light, the calm of the muffled silence washing over him even as the burning within his chest intensified. It was peaceful down here, all the troubles and stresses of the world above slowly fading as he began to drift downward.

He looked away from the mocking light and down into the dark; down into the vast blackness of the void, and felt it calling out to him to let go and let it enfold him within its icy arms.

However, his glance happened upon what he held in his left hand, the object that had brought him down into the deep in the first place, and the vividness of life above came back to him and he once again found himself filled with the desire to be in the light.

A surge of energy run through his body and he kicked and clawed his way out of the suffocating dark up into the dancing beams of light that played near the surface.

With a final, agonizing push of his exhausted arms he felt himself break through and out into the open air above.

Holding his treasure high in his left hand, he gave a triumphant shout as he gasped for air to fill his almost depleted lungs.

Blinking as the water dripped down his brow into his eyes he orientated himself so he faced his family who were gathered on the dock of their cabin on the sunny lake.

Wearily, he started to swim toward them as the shouted encouragingly for him to come back out of the water, all the while, holding his left arm in the air, not wanting his trophy to touch the inky waters ever again.

"I found it!" He tried to shout as water sloshed into his mouth and he sputtered and coughed. "I found Jimmy's shoe!"

He clutched tiny child's Velcro running shoe in his hand as if it were the most precious treasure the world had ever known.

"Good job, honey!" his wife said somewhat proudly. "But you didn't have to jump in after it, we have another three pair. They were on sale."

Her words could not tarnish his triumph as he swam close to where his son sat on the dock's edge, wearing his little, yellow life jacket, swinging his legs out over the water; one bare-footed, the other still wearing the matching shoe to the one he had dove down into the deep for.

Swinging his legs happily as his father came splashing toward him, Jimmy laughed; laughing and swinging; swinging and laughing.

Until, as he watched, Jimmy's other shoe was flung off his chubby little foot, arced into the sun-filled air, and then landed with a plunk into the deep, blue waters of the lake and began immediately to sink.