Meeting my Replacement

 

After weeks of little to no interesting occurrences, this week’s constant barrage of peculiar events has been exhausting .It all started on Sunday while relaxing in my bed for the first time in what felt like weeks, I caught my breath and my thoughts. Between school, work, and errands I find little to no time for myself these days. Ever since I graduated high school and started at community college, the days float past slowly and no longer maintain the vigor they once did. For the moment, I am stuck in this purgatory, waiting impatiently, dreaming of an end to this monotony. I was under the impression that this feeling of¬†unfulfillment came to people in their forties working office jobs. Oh well, patience is the saint to which I pray to nightly, before I dream of a time after school where I am happily employed, married, and situated. As I entertained my grand notions lying on my bed that Sunday afternoon, my phone began to vibrate.

Sydney

“Hey stranger! You looked cute today ; )”

I felt my brows furrow as confusion beset my mind. I had not spoken to Sydney in about a year and had not seen her once today. Unless she had looked through my bedroom window, she could not have seen me, considering I have only left my bed once to go to the bathroom. After unlocking my phone and pulling up her message, I began to respond.

“You probably saw someone else, haven’t gone out today”

It was only a few seconds before her response came through.

“But you looked straight at me!LOL stop playing around cutie ūüôā :)”

Like a ton a bricks, I remembered why I had stopped talking to Sydney. It quickly came back to me that behind her dotty and subtle flirtatious behavior when we spoke, was the mind of a cruel and vindictive woman. We had a momentary romance over a year ago, that ended with a bad taste in my mouth. Her possessive nature and thirst for attention resided in the shadows of her character when she first lured me into her web like a spider. Why she was claiming to have seen me today, only further annoyed me as a stream of foul emotions flooded through my memory.

“Alright ”¬†I replied, hoping it would end the conversation.

To my disappointment, it did not.

???”¬†Was her reply, to which I chuckled and tossed my phone aside. I receded back into my mind, and began to drift.

That night I dreamt my five year old son was walking towards my wife, some beautiful woman I have yet to meet, and we were all happy.

Monday started and went on as any other, and it was not until the evening that another strange incident occurred. Arriving at the local Walmart at around nine, I headed over to the frozen food section for some dinner. While passing the aisle containing bottled drinks, I saw out of the corner of my eye Sydney. I quickened my step to avoid being seen, one awkward conversation with her a week was enough. It would seem that I made it safely to the frozen food section, as she wasn’t trailing me. Sighing in relief, I pulled open the door to the frigid fridge and grabbed some icy pizza. I briskly walked past the aisle where I had last seen her and arrived at the checkout. As the cashier rang up my stuff I saw the back of Sydney’s head. I would have felt the need to hide my face, had I not seen my face standing in front of her.

The world around me was immediately swallowed up, and noting remained. Nothing, except that back side of Sydney, and someone who appeared to be me, standing in front of her. The cashier that was there one second ago, now beckoned me for payment, but I could not hear her. I could only see that mind shattering impossibility that stood just forty yards away. He was like me, but not exactly me. He was leaner, more muscular, and he smiled. He smiled a lot. I stood there with my jaw on the floor attempting to retain what little sanity I had left. Their conversation drew to a close as Sydney took off in one direction, and myself in the other.

The cashier finally caught my attention by poking me with a grocery divider. I handed her my card, and remained silent all the way home.

I closed the door to my bedroom, having not even eaten the dinner I just bought, and laid in bed. My mind ran for what felt like hours before I fell asleep.

The night I dreamed of my times with Sydney.

___

To be continued

 

Advertisements

Reminisce with Me (cont.)

Engrossed as I was in the story, it seemed that old Eddie had entirely forgotten that I was there. It seemed as if he was telling the story to himself, rather than to me as a listener. None the less, I sat content by the fire, propping the shield that had been attached to the pack against a large rock, and got as comfortable as I could. Eddie paused before continuing with his tale. He put his lute down and took a sip of the broth from his bowl. The fire crackled as Eddie re positioned himself, and he looked at me.

“How much did Daniel tell you about the Battle of Fredrickstead, young man?”

His inquiry was accompanied with a look of concern. I replied,

“Only that thirty two men died at his hands that day.”

Eddie for no reason apparent to myself, looked relieved.

“Aye, he did. Most did not die by his hand or sword though.” He chuckled.

“How did he kill thirty two men then?” I asked, having already assumed the answer. The millstones were probably a majority of his kills, but I felt it necessary to entertain the old man.

Eddie took a breath of preparation, “To answer that, I will continue where I had left off.”

He continued the tale.

“The sun had fallen, and most of the men were armed and ready, waiting atop the hills surrounding the hamlet. Daniel and his scouts scurried along in the darkness to a collection of torches which lit up the pitch darkness only slightly. This mass of light in a dark place was the one of the two war parties, the other taking the opposite end of the town, lead by Elyse and Gerald. Your uncle and myself took charge of the one at hand, and Daniel had news of the approaching army. It appeared as if the size of the army had been cut in half, which we later found out to be because that idiot David thought we had gone East and taken shelter in the woods of Wergen. David took his best soldiers and left the rest to search the south, where we were. David’s decision was not entirely misguided though, as some of the men who fled Fredrickstead upon arriving, had been sighted near Wergen. Although they were cowards, they did not deserve to be butchered as they were during David’s fury upon realizing he had made a mistake. ¬†But I digress.”

“Upon hearing the news of half the expecting opposing force, many of the men rejoiced quietly. This angered myself slightly, and I took it upon myself to remind everyone that most of us would still die her tonight. “Less than three hundred fifty farmers, workers, and young men, against four hundred skilled and trained soldiers” I reminded them. The war party grew silent and went back to brooding in the darkness. An hour passed, and the marching of David’s men could be heard. The entire plan rested on the assumption that upon seeing a deserted hamlet, the enemy would spend the night, and then loot in the morning before leaving. Luckily we assumed correctly as four hundred soldiers poured through a small break in the hills and into Fredrickstead. Thanks to our friend Gerald, who had the bright idea to wait until most fell asleep to begin the attack, we waiting until what was most likely three in the morning. One of our men lit the signal, the other war party responded and it was on.”

“If you were impressed by the thirty two your uncle killed, then Gerald’s death count would make you faint son. To start the battle, Gerald and his band of archers had arrows lit by some magic of Elyse, and let loose the fiery birds of the night. The fire that was born of those arrows engulfed the town quickly, which we had made certain it would with kindling and coal placed in precise locations. At least fifty of their men died in those flames. From the tips of the hills, it felt as if we were staring into a massive campfire, and all the enemy soldiers were small anchovies caught in the heat, roasting alive. As we heard the screams of dozens of burning soldiers, our men prepared the millstone for its descent into the blinding light. The enemy had caught on and began to climb desperately and frantically up the hills. They were met with a hard crushing death. Your uncle crushed at least thirty of the thirty two men with his millstones. It wasn’t long before we ran out of the massive make shift weapons, and we began our climb downward into the still hot embers of a town that was alive and well earlier that week. ”

Interrupting the old man I asked “How many men do you think remained when you entered the town?”

The old man pondered for a minute.

“Well, I would say we lost less than ten men at that point in the fight, and upon arriving at the village, we outnumbered them quite a bit, so most likely they had less then two hundred and fifty. The fight in the embers was the most costly for our cause. By the end of it, We had a count of one hundred and seventy nine men, with forty enemy soldiers taken as prisoners. Unfortunately Gerald had perished during this fight, along with countless other great men. Elyse, Daniel, and myself mourned greatly the following day, and we did not find respite until we arrived at Fort Magen after a weeks journey south.”

Eddie became silent briefly, then quickly added,

“My… our first real victory.”

I had become entranced with his tales of swords, stones, and war. I sat patiently anticipating him to continue his story at Fort Magen. He looked at me and yawned.

“Perhaps you will hear the rest of it if we make it to tomorrow night young man.”

He stood up and got into his tent. Shortly after snores from his tent were heard in addition to my uncles. I sat there for a while, imagining the horrors of war. I was grateful to have not known those horrors, but found myself wanting the same glory and achievement that these older men had earned. I could always dream about war in my sleep I realized. It was not long before there were three men snoring in harmony.

___

To be continued 3/8/16

 

 

Reminisce with Me

The summer heat was sweltering and it was only midday. I slowly trudged out the door of my uncle’s cabin, pack on my back, reluctant to start the task at hand. My uncle had been my caretaker ever since my parents both died during one of the many uprisings against the king. I was too young to remember any of it happening, and my uncle refused to tell me about any of it, citing his weak heart as the reason. He raised me at the foot of the great Mount Hubris, aptly named after Lord Davis and his forces were subdued on its peak. Every now and then loyalists to the crown, historians, or curious tourists would pay my uncle a fair sum to guide them up the mountain. It wasn’t much money, but that and the food we grew on our own was enough for the both of us. My uncle had told me that morning that we would be guiding an old friend, who had grown blind in his later years, and could no longer make the journey on his own. My uncle looked impatiently at me as I shuffled towards the gate to his cabin.

“Hurry, our client is not somebody we should keep waiting.”

I grimaced, “Sorry, it hasn’t been this hot in years.”

My uncle smirked at me and took off towards the meeting point at a pace brisk for someone as old as him. Although I had never directly asked my uncle his age, he had to be somewhere in his late fifties. Yet, on this day where the sun poured molten waves of heat on one’s skin, he had seemed more agile then myself at seventeen years of age.

“It’s been years since I’ve seen Eddie,” he looked back at me struggling to keep up. “Hell maybe even decades!”

Uncle seemed genuinely excited, more than I’ve seen in years. As we approached the small stone bench were Eddie was seated, my uncle began to tense up a little bit. He slowly walked up to Eddie and extended his hand,

“It’s been too long friend.”

Eddie looked up at where he supposed my uncle would be. His face was old, weathered, and beaten, but somehow still maintained some spark of youth. I almost fainted when I saw he was wearing a thick mail of shiny metal and some fancy looking greaves underneath that. I was surprised he had not collapsed from heat exhaustion. As he looked up at my uncle, his expression began to change from one of contentment to one of mild disgust.

“Even after all these years, your terrible sense of humor has not changed Daniel,” Eddie scolded as he pushed my uncles had away. “Extending your hand to a blind man might top the list of bad jokes you’ve made over the decades.” He began to chuckle, as did my uncle who sat next to him on the hot stone bench.

“What kind of madman parades in their old uniform on a day like this Eddie? And during a journey like this one, you must really miss being on the field.” My uncle patted some dirt off Eddie’s shoulder.

Eddie stood up and started to wander, poking at various things with an old oak cane he carried.

“I don’t miss the field as much as I miss those who fought alongside us Daniel.” My uncles face grow solemn, “Come now, lead an old blind man to the top of this mountain.” He pointed his cane directly at me. This startled me a bit, but I none the less took the pack off my back, and removed some rope which I tied to myself, my uncle, and Eddie in that order.

“Come non now, I thought only louts and losers used ropes on this hike,” chuckled Eddie. My uncle looked back with a grin on his face.¬†“Aye. Louts, losers, and now old men.”

___

At the end of the day we were all exhausted, and we had not even reached the most treacherous part of the journey yet. My uncle started to build a campfire has I prepared the tents. Old Eddie sat in the dirt and took a pipe out from his pack, loaded it with a neon purple herb. My uncle looked concerned “I can’t believe you still smoke that garbage.” Eddie sparked the bowl by snapping his fingers. “Witches and¬†wizards know how to have the most fun, do not let Daniel tell you otherwise.” It had been a couple years since I had last seen magic. My uncle found the stuff to be abhorrent and unnatural. Although Eddie’s magic seemed tame, my uncle still seemed perturbed by it. “No nephew of mine will spend his time with those charlatans. I haven’t spent the past eighteen years of my life training him with a sword and shield, just so he can go and learn some fancy tricks.” Everyone fell silent as Eddie continued to blow a shimmering purple dust out of his lungs. A few minutes of this silence fluttered by, until Eddie finished his pipe.

“You never called Elyse a charlatan when she mended your broken spine.”

My uncle, who was collecting stick around the camp at the time, stopped dead in his tracks.

“Let’s just get this meal ready, I’m sure we’re all hungry.” He muttered.

My uncle had no kids, and never brought any ladies to the cabin, at least not while I was there. He did once mention a woman he knew back during the War of the Lords. His stories never went on for too long though, as he worried his heart would give in from the pain of remembering.

The fire had started, and my uncle was boiling some venison stew in a small cauldron. It was a beautiful night out. The owls, crickets, and wind all sung in unison, creating a blissful melody. Eddie pulled a small lute from his pack, and began to strum along with nature. “Reminisce with me, Daniel.” My uncle smiled from the side of his mouth, “I think I’ll pass, dinners ready anyhow.”

We all slurped our stew furiously. Uncle decided it would be best if he went to bed early. It wasn’t long before we heard snores coming from his tent. Now it was just Eddie and I, sitting next to the dying fire. As I swallowed a chunky piece of venison, I noticed Eddie staring at me blankly. “I hope that you are more willing to entertain an old man who wants to recount his glory days.” I wasn’t tired enough for sleep yet, so I nodded and got comfortable.

“Good! Would you rather hear about when your uncle and myself were stranded on an island of cannibalistic women, or the Battle at Fredrickstead?” He stiffened up with excitement.

I had heard bits and pieces of the story of the battle. My uncle claims to have killed thirty two men in one day. While it interested me, who would miss an opportunity to hear about cannibalistic women? Before I could express my interest in the former tale, Eddie started.

“Fredrickstead was a small little hamlet south of the capital, but not as far south as Mount Hubris. No more than eleven lived there at the time I believe. Lord David’s forces had routed our men underneath the Dreary Peaks, so we fled under the mountains’ shadow towards the south. Five hundred, give or take, tired and beaten soldiers all stopped and rested in the tiny hamlet of Fredrickstead. It was almost too much for the town elder to comprehend. She had not seen war since her childhood, and was mortified at the thought of one coming to her home. With General Bergus slain under the Peaks, no one was willing to step forward and make a decision. Some spoke of fleeing, others cried for their mothers, and a good number¬†darted for the hills. By the next morning less than three hundred and fifty soldiers remained. To make matters worse, your uncle had taken a couple scouts to see if Lord David had caught up. He was a days march away. Panic gripped those who remained, and the hamlet’s elder, Maxine, begged us to leave. Daniel, our friends Gerald and Elyse, and myself decided to take action. We gather the men and the towns folk and devised a plan. It was soon discovered that the main function of Fredrickstead was stone carving. The people of the Hamlet would take massive slabs of stone from the surrounding hills, and create works of stone from them. Their most popular export being the millstone gave me an idea. After generations of carving the hills around the hamlet, Fredrickstead was at the base of a rather sizable valley. We would lure David’s men to the center of this Hamlet, set it on fire, and as they fled up the hills we would crush them with millstones we rolled down. The remaining men should be no issue, considering they would be fighting an uphill battle. The villagers protested, one even going as far as to try and kill Gerald. After being subdued, they accepted their fate. Daniel gave them the option to join our cause and receive reparations after the war, or flee south to safety. ¬†Only two remained, and alongside the army, we all prepared for the battle to come.”

                    ___

To be continued on 3/4/16

Waiting for the Impact.

It’s been about thirty minutes since my little brother James got up to use the bathroom. I wouldn’t be too surprised if he hopped the fence to be with his girlfriend for the big show. That leaves Mom, Dad, our cat Badger, and myself, all crowded around the television. Badger was the only one present whose eyes were not fixed on the images shown on the television. In one corner of the screen in a small box were three anchors, waxing poetic on the matter at hand. The focal point on the screen though, was the gigantic rock engulfed in flame, burning a hole in the seemingly endless blackness around it. This meteorite was headed straight for planet Earth. Our best and brightest all came together months ago to combat this foe, and only recently was it made public that they had failed. Six days ago if I remember correctly. Most of the world had already put this impending doom to the back of their minds, like myself. We had all assumed that they would find a solution, and we were all put in shock by the news that they had¬†not found one. The events that ensued were predictable. Mass riots, looting, world powers bickering and threatening to end it all just a bit earlier. All that settled down yesterday though, as people realized that there wasn’t much time left, and spending it on that nonsense was fruitless. Right now many families just like my own are all watching their televisions final newscast. Obviously the anchors and crews all deserve to meet the end with their families too. As the newscast drew to a close, a timer came up that read “12:00.” It began to count down and we sat still, watching the screen with blank expressions.

After the countdown started, my mother called James, telling him that although she wished he would be here right now, she understands why he left, and that she loves him. My father took the phone as well, hand trembling, fighting back some shaky demon from within. “I love you James.” He handed the phone back to mom, who looked towards me. I looked down, motioning my disinterest to her, “Tell him I love him too.” She relayed my message, hung up the phone and proceeded to lay down on the couch next to my father. They looked comfortable, and content. I was not. The true weight of the situation was not hitting me, and it annoyed the fuck out of me. It’s like my mind refused to accept that there would be no tomorrow. Grabbing my favorite shoe box, I headed outside and unpacked a small pipe and some marijuana from it. I smoked that weed in the hot midday Texas sun, scanning the pale blue horizon for a burning stone. To no avail, I ashed my pipe, and pulled out my phone. I figured social media would be dead, considering this should be time spent with your loved ones. I can’t say I was too surprised when I saw more activity on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat then I had in months. People posting pictures and videos of them and their loved ones smiling, laughing, acting like the world was not ending. Who were they posting these pictures for? No one would be here to see them in a days time. As I scrolled through Facebook’s feed, I came across my most recent ex. She was with her family, and seemed happy enough. That’s¬†when it really hit me.

I now realized the weight of the situation staring at¬†Veronica’s pictures. In less than a day, I would no longer see her face. The goofy smile she had as we laughed at the people walking past our table at the food court. I would no longer remember her scent, which was never too powerful or loud, but it was distinct. I would no longer miss her curling up in my arms at night. It had been weeks since our breakup, but I still yearn for her warmth. I guess it is not entirely bad, seeing that I would no longer have to deal with her lies. Like when she told me time and time again that her friend Pete was gay. He wasn’t. Those multiple slumber parties sure sounded fun. I would no longer have to deal with her hurtful comments and observations. Like when she told me I was the worst looking boyfriend she’s ever had, followed by a swift and insincere apology. It’s true she was a pretty awful person, but the time we spent together was magical. The true cost of the leviathan to come was now apparent to me. I do not believe in a God, so to me, this is it. After tonight, I will cease to have memories, feelings, and thoughts.

My last few hours consisted of me finishing “Lost” finally, eating mass quantities of food, and crying, mostly because of I disappointed I was with “Lost.” When the final five minutes finally came, my family and myself gathered on the porch. My mom watched the approaching meteorite, my dad¬†laughed at Badger playing with the insects, and I looked at my parents. Three minutes remained. My brother came scrambling up the fence. He wanted to spend the last three minutes with us. He handed me my phone, asking why it was in his girlfriends yard. I shrugged. Two missed calls from Veronica. I unlocked my phone, and sent her a message that read, “Hope you had a great last day, good luck in the future, I’ll always love you.” One minute remained. The read receipt came on, and I saw her start to type. Thirty seconds remained. She had stopped typing. I smirked, knowing she did not want to respond with another lie like “I love you too.” It was close now. My family got closer. I closed my eyes.