Thursday, March 29, 2012

Well, Hell...

The picture has nothing to do with the post as far as I  know.  I just like it.

No fun stories today. No foggy insights bristling with fuzzy logic, inane intuitions, or rampant chemical imbalances(I hope).

I just read my last two posts.

I am disappointed to find them rife with poor usage and typos, awkward, full of thingys, and otherwise an embarrassment of goofy errors. Yes, I know better than to let them go out that way. Ok, I mostly know better, some issues of sentence structure still elude me.

Don'tcha just hate it when that happens? Oh, that has never happened to you? Um, yeah, me either.

Mia Culpa. Next time I'll read it through another time, instead of just three or four.

Yes, ok, out loud.
Oh, and that other part that seems really odd, that's just how my mind works - I make no apologies for that.

I will be as Silly Putty, stretch some more, break, moosh together again, and bounce back somewhere near I hope to the often obscured and invisible writing path I persist in following.

I stole that Silly Putty bit from @johannaharness, fair & square, I think.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

He-Who-Must-Not-be-Trifled-With has tea with Huizong, Emperor of the Song Dynasty

An excerpt from WIP The Shift, my 2011 NaNo

 He Who Must Not Be Trifled With was back on the road. It was not really a road though, as it was actually a cow path through a pasture just east of Liberal, Kansas. He had taken some time off the trip to commune with the other more interesting denizens of the forest. This had given things out west time to simmer for a while. He had been careful to not let any more of the local people wherever he passed through see him. He knew that in this time, even more than in the past, the sight of a small hybrid dragon would cause the kind of stir he was just not interested in right  now.

 Although he often thought of himself as wyvern, probably because that was what his dear mother had been, he was actually not exactly that. He had too many legs, four of them instead of the usual two. He had fur instead of scales. He was much more intelligent than any wyvern who ever lived before. He could affect things from great distances if he so chose.

Andy, way out west, just outside of Colby, Oregon, a bit east of Portland, that bastion of high hopes, Murder Buy the Book, and awesome views was now learning to live with his new bestest friend, Bernard. Not a St  Bernard, but still a very large, friendly, slobbery and extremely(thanks to He-Who) intelligent dog. A  dog of great imagination who still kind of remembered having been a bear, and before that, something… else. He would get around to Andy and  Bernard later though.

Right now He Who Must Not be Trifled With’s feet were tired and bitchy. He had still not yet gained enough strength back to fly. He had forgotten how much he considered walking to be appropriate only as a leisure activity, a novelty, for more closely scrutinizing ground life. It was Not, decidedly not, in his informed estimation, an acceptible means of traveling long distances. At least he was getting his memory back, and with it, some of his former intelligence. He now knew why he had woken up after so many centuries of sleep.  It was about to happen again and there was, or was not, about to be a shift in the world of men.

One could say that it was a Good verses Evil thing, but he preferred to think of it as a moving forward or not thing.  The one he was going to go see, to teach, to protect and enlighten, would make a difference. If that one went one way things would move forward, as they could, to a new level of human thought and understanding, which in turn would affect the rest of the natural world. If that one were not protected, not shielded  from chaos and shown a new way, then things could go decidedly different.

 And of course there would be opposition. Like the plot of any good book or script, there seemed to always have to be that opposition. It was a question it seemed of maintaining the balance of all things. Besides, it was more fun that way.  To him personally, it would be no particular catastrophe if it didn’t go his, or perhaps their, way. He was used to things in this world not always working out to the most optimal, or the most benign way. He had seen evil empires come and go. He had seen  mass extinctions, continental drift, Pandemics – human and otherwise, all come and go again. He recalled his conversations with a certain Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty on the subject:

 At one point a a couple of millennium back Emperor Huizong in China, though they didn’t call it that there then, had sent out an edict. OK, more like a question really. He gathered all his advisers and far-seers from the land to ask what one thing would be true in all earthly mortal situations. They had gathered in their robes and their finery, deliberated, debated cussed and dis-cussed until many, many water buffalo had returned to the rice paddy, and of course, in the nature of all efforts to seek truth by consensus, had failed miserably to come up with  anything remotely resembling a right answer.

Huizong, a painter and philosopher of no small talent, needed to get back to a particularly nice lily, whose vibrant essence and delicate personage he had been attempting to capturein watercolors for a considerable time. The Wyvern had known that without this one, silly little saying, the Dynasty could not reach the next level in understanding the nature of being. Finally He Who Must NOt be Trifled With made an appearance in his austere and greatly enlightened self, before the Emperor. It was the utmost in privacy of course, as it would not do to be seen by the masses.

He had kept the Emperor on edge for a considerable and appropriate length of time. He found that the full toothy-venomous fanged smile was not needed here in this place of relative civilization(for that time). Rather, an understated medium faint grin was more than sufficient to keep the gentle(for that time) man’s attention without making any crass threats.

Finally He-Who spoke: “Do you want to know now? Do you really want to know?”  “Yes. Yes old friend, I feel it is important beyond my reckoning or surely you would not have come all this way through so much time and space, just to partake of my meager tea time offerings”. “Then I will tell you. It is…Wait, why Zhao Ji, is that a new kind of lily I see on the end table?” “Please!" said Emperor of all he beheld, except of course He-Who. "Don’t tease an old fool so unmercifully, you wicked teaser in the possession of all knowledge you!”(The emperor did tend to lose all cleverness when rattled in the most charming child like way) "I beg of you! I prostrate myself before you!” "Surely without your tutelage I and all my empire, tawdry and base as it must seem to you, shall all expire in the misery of vital knowledge Unattained, lost to all generations!"

“Heh, heh Zhao Ji, How could I refuse one so eloquent beyond both his years and his species?" smoothed the half Wyvern, many centuries Young Zhao Ji's senior and loving the rare attention (They had stopped calling Huizong that when he got to be Emperor, But He Who Must Not be Trifled With called everyone by whatever name He chose)  “Very well, young Zhao Ji,  it is not anything very complicated it’s just(pointing towards the lily) – This too, shall pass way.” “Of course it will, tea time will be over whenever we, I mean you of course, say that it is!” “But, Please, tell me!” “I just did.” said He Who-.  

“What?!”cried the Emperor, totally not getting it.  “I told you young Emperor. This. Too. Shall Pass”. “Well, yes, but – but , really I would think …wait! You are right!” And the wyvern was, at least  up to the level any human was able to comprehend at that time. Whatever you thought, whatever was happening, in it’s time, would also pass out of being, and be no more.

Oh sure, now days, at least as recently as that nice young man Al Einstein had said(such a  nice boy, and he too had passed) - As Al had said “In the end all is energy. It can be no other way.”  Something some of the more thoughtful of the human race were still wrapping their heads around, as the youngsters would say.

He who Must Not be Trifled With stayed a bit more, in fact spent the next fifteen years gently and patiently(well mostly patiently)pounding it through Emperor Huizong’s’s head that “This too Shall Pass”, while seeming almost insultingly simple, ultimately had far reaching philosophical and indeed scientific implications.

Then, just before He Who left the now truly old Emperor, he gifted him with the disturbing proclamation of “Unless of course you want to delve into physics, quantum and beyond, where everything will be up for grabs again in the One True Thing scheme of things. The Emperor was both laughing and crying at the same time as the ageless Wyvern winged his way off towards the west, where he said there was need of “some serious attitude adjustment”.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Face in the Woods

Little Head-Bob woke up. He could hear the wind through the oaks and the cedar trees. He could feel a draft coming in the hole to the nest. Spring here, his first, was still a little chill in the mornings. He was warm though,  huddled up with all his brothers and sisters so close. His mother’s silent appearance with a still warm squirrel was met with enthusiastic  hoots and rasps from four different adolescent beaks.

Just out the hole in the oak, where where they all sat digesting, was the remains of another oak, worn by weather and eaten by termites.  There was little left but a ring of bare trunk about as tall as an owl, and one almost flat side rising to about the height of a buck’s shoulder. The outer surface of this side, bark long gone, showed something else that fascinated Head-Bob, something he had never seen anywhere else. 

 It was the face of a man, prominent nose, eyes set deep under heavy brow and staring up, directly at the entrance to the nest. Little Head-Bob had never seen a man. All he knew was that this face, so different to him, was of something strong and fierce. Perhaps it was a spirit, some guardian  of the woods , perhaps one of those he heard sighing and whispering in the night.

On the far side of the small woods, other beaks were raising more raucous  voices, grating and challenging. They changed the feeling of the woods and indeed the air itself.  The Murder of Crows was awake and casting about for whom, as they say, it might devour.
Though it was normally his family’s habit to stay in the nest most of the day, they did  sometimes go out into the limbs of  their tree to watch and to listen to their woods. 

With his keen ears he could hear the distant sound of  the crows. He had never seen a crow either, but he had heard them calling through the woods. He somehow  knew their strident voices, heard first from this way and then that, meant nothing good. Still, he wondered just what all that  noise was really about.

Perhaps today was a good day to go for a  little flight. As he hopped to the edge of the limb and pushed off into the air he heard his brother and sisters rasping and calling in dismay at his abrupt departure. he stopped in a nearby persimmon tree to watch the remarkable progress of a tortoise crashing loudly through the remnants of last year’s dead leaves. He wondered how something so like a rock moving at such a slow pace could make so much noise.

He continued on across the wood, thinking about the tortoise, he had forgotten about the crows.  As he flew on, suddenly there was a crow, another entirely new thing to him, flapping from limb to limb, all the time cawing more and more loudly and alarmingly.  Another crow, then another, and another until  Little Head-Bob was surrounded by many crows, diving at him, hopping along the nearest branches as though in mock attack. 

He hissed. He flapped and spread his wings in warning display. The crows were not impressed or frightened. He dove out of the tree, right at two crows nearest, but they were too fast, to agile for him to touch. And still as he tried to get away from them, away from their noise, the crows pursued.

Little did he know, but would soon discover, he had just met his second greatest enemy and possible nemesis.  It was not uncommon for an owl to be continually and relentlessly harassed and pursued, both day and night, until unable to sleep or to hunt the owl would weaken, succumb and die. The crows had a system. They had numbers. They could, by working is shifts, keep up their siege well beyond the strength of any one bird to match. As the day wore on Head-Bob learned, bit by bit, of the nature of crows.

As he perched, his back up against the trunk of the tree, hissing and snapping at the crows, he began to pick up another sound. Some other unknown creature, was making its way into the woods. Though most of his attention was on the jeering crows, he could still track the sounds of the new thing enough to realize it was coming directly towards him. Was this, he wondered some new foe, taking advantage of his vulnerability to end his short life?

But when the creature emerged from a copse of cedars The young Great Horned Owl saw something he never would have expected, even more remarkable the murder of crows. It was a large thing, walking on two legs, covered in something not fur, not feather, nor even scales. It carried in its upper limbs something even more remarkable, a long shiny thing that smelled of fire,  some mineral, and somehow, some new definition of death.

As Little Head-Bob perched, his back against the trunk of the tree, transfixed by the shear strangeness of the thing below, it did a new thing.  It turned its head and, staring him straight in the eye,  showed him its face, showed him the face in the woods. It was the face he had seen all his life, carved in the stump by his nest.

The thing looked at Head-Bob. It looked at the crows. It looked at Head-Bob, and again at the crows, and then at the thing it carried.  Its face, as it watched the crows, took on a harder even more intimidating cast. It  raised the thing and pointed it at the crow nearest to Head-Bob. He saw it  hopping towards him on the limb above his. The world exploded. It ended with the sound and the fury of a thousand thunder claps. 

The young owl sat up in the grass below,  the crow lay dead a small way in front of him. The rest of the crows had taken off, but hadn’t gone far.  They were mumbling now in the next tree, to themselves, or the owl,  perhaps to the man. 

The man spoke, another new thing. He spoke to the crows. He spoke to the owl.
“You no-good sons a bitches are gonna learn to leave my owls alone!  And you, young feller, better get back to Mommy and Daddy while I instruct these miscreants and your gettin’ is good.”

Little Head-Bob stayed crouched where he was, unable to move.
The man, the Spirit of the Woods, waited one – two – three breaths. 

 “I mean leave! Now! And do try to pay attention to who’s around next time, would you?”

Little Head-Bob  jumped into the air and flew faster than he had ever flown. Behind him the sound of a thousand thunders came again, and again, and once more.  He went straight back to his own tree, back to his nest. He buried his face under his wing, overcome by too much fear and too much amazement, over the crows, over the man, the face in the woods.

Bob woke up. He looked around him at the cold dead remnants of last night’s camp fire. He looked at the sandstone before him there on top of the hill at the edge of the woods. Everything seemed different, more serious, and more miraculous than he had ever seemed to feel before. He had no idea why. There was something, some feeling … he just couldn’t remember.

 He got up, rolled his sleeping bag and started off towards the house. He wanted coffee, that first, best cup of the day.  He thought he might get his tools, go back up into woods today, work on that carving of his father’s face. The one he hadn’t seen in too long.