Universe W-2020: The Old Man’s Cabin 4
Locked In A Closet
Have you ever been locked in a closet before? After a long night of sneaking out and dumping tea into the harbor, have your parents ever thrown you into the broom closet underneath the stairwell and emptied the oil out the lantern, leaving you to sulk alone in placid misery whilst your mother’s homemade cleaning supplies topple off the shelves and empty out all over you? That hollow, lonely feeling, the flowery-scented irk of abandonment and neglect, the horrid sting of the knowledge that the very ones who made you, who borne you out of nothing into a world so callus and barren, decided to store your embarrassing self in a closet rather than supporting your wills, your highest, most revolutionary of actions – have you ever been there, forced to face it?
Even if you have, it doesn’t matter. That darkness, dominated by the rage and disappointment of your beloved creators, is preferable to this darkness. This darkness doesn’t have things like parents or feelings; it does have knowledge though, the knowledge that there is, in fact, a somewhere else. A somewhere beautiful, a somewhere loving and accepting where rosy-cheeked chrysanthemums run thru’ the forests after school to sing, dance, and pick children until the sun disappears over the horizon. An amazing, truly wonderful place… that is not right here and right now. This darkness… this is crushing, harrowing, empty; devoid of light by any stretch of the word. This is the place you end up that you wish you hadn’t, the nightmare you wake up to thinking your dream was scary. The face of a cliff you sail into thinking there’s more ocean between you and the land. The summer eve’ the stars begin to blink out of the sky. Bleak. Darkness.
All things have a beginning, a creation story; it’s just the nature of what is! To that effect, a form emerges from within the darkness. It’s a human form, floating on the rippling lack of things for endless eternity after eternity, never moving nor changing, simply riding the waves of its own nonexistence.
Until something pulls him under.
A Ghost Carriage
A shimmering blue butterfly flaps its wings in his face, waking him from his slumber with the gentlest hurricane this side of the globe. A beautiful landscape of rolling green hills dotted with boulders of various shapes and colors stretches out before him, reaching further and further into infinity until it grows into a jungle. Behind him roars an ocean, a boggy marshland splattered with assorted splats of sand bridging the gap between land and sea. Above him the sky sprawls out in the deepest shade of cerulean, not a single cloud for miles and miles.
Like most beauty though, this is short lived – as quickly as this most harmonious Existence appears, it melts and twists away as it contorts itself into a harbor. Trees become splintery docks and lead the way out to sea where boulders have become sea-crossing vessels of all different sizes and makes, docked in the shallows in wait to ferry both material and human cargo from the American colonies. Merchants and sailors are trading what goods went undumped whilst the laborers and guards busy themselves cleaning up after last night’s party. He smiles first, and then finds himself standing on the docks, a silent observer among the beehive of pre-nautical activity. As he turns his gaze to the water, he notices its color seems a little off, almost as if a bunch of ballsy young chaps disguised themselves as savages the night prior and dumped a substantial amount of tea into it. Huh…
A commotion erupts behind him – there be a squabble breaking out between a strapping young dockhand and a tribe of angry guards on one of the ships. The guards seem to be yelling, screaming at, and blaming the young human for something whilst said young human is helplessly trying to defend himself against the bastard cronies of the crown. His attempts unfortunately amount to nothing because there are four guards and one human, so one thing leads to another and the young man is thrown from the ship, resulting in a high-five sesh shared amongst the guards. The boy flails through the air like a fish out of water until he crashes into a fish who had coincidentally jumped out of the water at just the right time. Our silent observer, a’watch of one getting punished for participating in the tea party, knows all too well how cold that water is and how cruel the guards can be; they are guards, after all. He leaps across the entire harbor in a single stride and dives into the water after the drowning fool, reaching and grabbing at his pale hands as they sink deeper and deeper. Each and every attempt at saving the weakest swimmer is a failure; he can swim no more, so he lets the human drown to save his own life.
He breaches the surface of a river, or rather, swims through it – the current doesn’t seem to be pulling him. The river runs alongside a trail that was blazed through an almost foreign-feeling forest, beech and oak trees dominate the mountainous surroundings among other, lower species of flora. He swims to the bank and climbs up onto the land, feeling dry immediately as he slips free of the water’s embrace. The rattling of a woodpecker echoes through the trees, completely encapsulating his attention just long enough for a carriage to come plodding down the path. He stands dead center in the trail, does not notice the carriage, and is very surprised when it passes through him, the carriage and the horse by which it’s drawn taking on an ethereal tint that fades after a few hoofsteps. He unblinkingly stares ahead, incapable of understanding, let alone believing what he had just seen with his very own eyes – it must be a sort of spectre, a ghost carriage perhaps. Oddly enough, this ghost carriage seems to be leaving a trail of water-droplets in the dirt behind it, but he does not claim to know anything about the inner-workings of ghost carriages, so he simply holds his stare. Minutes after minutes later, when the dot that was once a carriage disappears over the horizon and he finally remembers to blink, he finds himself sitting on a bulbous rock overlooking sacred ground where a Native American sacrifice ritual is taking place.
The campground is small, just large enough to house two fire pits and the four accompanying Natives. The pits were dug beneath each of a pair of towering stone slabs complete with logs secured horizontally near their tops by string, their shape resembling crosses. The Natives are dancing in a circle around the fires as two Caucasian humans, one strung up on each slab, struggle to adjust themselves to a more comfortable position. By the time night falls, the white devils have given up and their bodies are limp, the man passing before the woman; the Natives are long gone, back at their homes with their families. He floats down to the scene of the sacrifice to take in the sight but falls forward when a mountain lion jumps through him and attaches itself to one of the charred bodies with its claws. He hears the cat gnawing away at the corpses, or rather, community buffets, so he decides to stay down until the noises cease. When he finally rolls over to look up, he can only see the sky.
The cacophonous cries and pained moans of Native Americans echo through the mighty mountain range as damn near one hundred of the bestricken beings are marched over the ridge of the mountain. He’s afloat a few inches above the heads of the front-most marchers and he has something of a body now, a translucent shade in the shape of a naked human male, his form penetrated by feathers in multiple locations across the body. He attempts to move but cannot, as the ceremonial headdresses worn by the Natives below have him staked, locking him in place. The nomad tribe is being led overtop a massive mountain that overlooks many less-impressive mountains and into a new domain of forest by a single man of a lighter skin color. As the group proceeds across the ridge, the man watches the younger and weaker among them fall to the ground and stop moving, one by one. No effort is made to help the fallen members of the tribe though – they are one with the Universe now.
The colored, or rather colorless man, a shaman of sorts, stops the group once they reach the treeline. He says a few words and dances in place while flailing his arms above his head before turning back around and continuing into the forest. The tribesmen nod their heads in agreement and follow without a single word. A dreadful hand of terror grips him by the throat.
With each step down the mountain the Natives take, the closer to the ground the man sinks. At first he hardly noticed it happening, but when he sees the top half of the back of a Native woman’s head sprouting from between his legs, he realizes something is definitely happening. The further down the mountain the group travels, the thicker the forest gets – sunlight’s becoming scarcer by the minute, as are the children of the tribe. The shaman’s feet meet flat ground at the same moment the man’s body becomes one with the Earth, immobilized and forced to look up at the well-traveled bodies of the Natives. The light-skinned shaman lowers his head and closes his eyes before resuming his dance, this time chanting even louder. One by one his followers join him in the dance, their howls sending eerie vibrations through the air a’tumble in the space betwixt the trees. Once the remaining tribesmen were made to dance for long enough, the shaman ceases activity, his followers quickly following suit. The shaman looks down at the shade buried at his feet, looks him directly in the eyes for what feels like an eternity, and then turns around and begins walking. His followers do their thing, walking directly on top of the being trapped in the Earth, each footstep pounding him deeper and deeper into the ground. By the time the final Native child crawls across his apparent grave, his Existence is dominated by darkness. Bleak darkness.
The man wakes up to the moist touch of a deer licking his face.