During some recent attempts at house cleaning, I uncovered some old pieces of writing from years ago. Some of them are from when I was very young. One of them was a piece I wrote when I was 15. It’s not something I have ever shared. I wrote it, filed it away, and never returned to it. I only made it 2 chapters in with an idea that has long since escaped me. I thought it might be fun all these years later to recover those two chapters and post them here in its original form.
What’s interesting about rereading this today is how familiar some of this story actually feels. And yet distant at the same time. Clearly I was attempting to capture something of what was inside of me at the time, and that obviously comes with a bit of existential angst. Why my internalized self came up with this character, these questions, and formed it into a horror story I would love to think more on. For the time being though it remains what it is. A very rough draft of a long since thought up and forgotten idea. And yet existing with something to say about hopes, fears, life and death.
Beyond space and time, scraping the very gist of valid reason, lies authentic vision. It reveals itself in dirigible form, one only needing to see and hear once before it becomes bound internally within your being, forming and informing your very thoughts and dreams. When it arrives it eats away, never leaving you with a moment’s solitude, blinding you or saving you from the truth of what is. Disrupting the present and leaving you to wander towards an uncertain future.
This is, on could say, as it was with her. She was just a little girl, bearing pigtails and a coy two piece overall. At the moment she stood with her head propped up against the trunk of an old oak gibbet, counting- Five, six… ten.
“Ready or not”, she shouted. The rest had scattered, hiding God knows where. Disguise offered the conjurer the benefit of the game, although she could argue the thrill of participating in the hunt was possibly the more enviable postion to hold. She wandered vicariously through the deserted street, the wind whistling around her as if longing to reveal a hidden secret. A sudden rustle in the bushes catches her attention and she begins a desperate and frantic dig through the thick, needle pointed twigs in an effort to uncover its source. Alerted by the human presence, a nervous rodent scampers from its shelter, clearly furstrated by the disturbance and pausing long enough to look back with a seeming look of disgust before continuing towards the safety of a nearby tree. The girl let out a sigh as she watched it climb the trunk of the tree and disappear into the branches. How simple it lives, she thought, spending its days rummaging for food, likely storing what it needs in one of these trees for the coming winter with rarely a concern for what might come tomorrow.
How easy it must be to live the life of a rodent.
Her years on this earth weren’t many, but oh how she longed for such an existence, to hold that simple sense of purpose that had could inevitably answer every question and solve every problem a rodent might have. Or to not have the burden of the questions to begin with. She looked back towards the street, reminded once again of the others who still hid and the responsibility she held to try and find them. The others temporarily waiting anxiously not to be found, while she remained determined to do the finding. If she was being honest, perhaps the most enviable position of all might infact be the thrill of being found. This at least removes any need to win and any fear of not being found at all, and reminds us that we are in fact still participants in the game. The game needs us. This is, after all, what allows the game to repeat itself with a newfound desire to hide or seek all over again. Yes, perhaps the is the most enviable position of all. But then the thrill of the search still beckoned.
“Christy”, came a voice ringing unseen from somewhere down the block. “Come for supper.” The shrill, punctiious call pulled the girl from her thoughts. It was her mother. She looked across the road towards a short, shallow creek that lied framing the horizen. Across from that river stood a stout and stately farm building, weathered from the years but still proudly boasting in the timelessnes of its architectural strength. A tall, brick laden chimney stood over top, reflecting staunchly in the gradually setting sun as it soaked it in a resplendent tranquility. It stood in this moment as if in a sedulous attempt to touch the sky. Looking one last time at the street and over at theadjacent field, where the others still lay silently concealed, waiting, she decided to pick herself up and carry herself over the thick brickets and out into the openness of the meadow, away from the game, away from the demands of the calling voice. The cool wind flowing with a soft reverence through her hair, she felt as though she could fly. She would leave it all behind. Who knows how long they might hide for, how long her mother might keep caling, but she would not be the one to find them, and, at least for the moment, she would not be the one to be found.
She ran until her legs would carry her no further. Collapsing on the brink of a plateau just ahead of the river, her chest heaved in an attempt to regain composure. The clouds lingering overhead sank slowly down over the horizon, the west winds carrying with them a wisp of frost. The birds fluttered overhead, stretching their wings in an overlapping maze of motion. She releaxed with her head laden on a rock, closing her eyes in a residing state. She pictured herself soaring over the highest mountain tops, brushing the snow capped peaks as her body sailed forward. Her flight introduced her to the capitvating beauty of nature, of creation, sailing into a valley filled with forested oak and spruce, over grand canyons, and through crystal blue and maroon waters.
Then suddenly it ended. She was back in the meadow being snapped back to reality. The old farm house stood still, looming in front of her, while whithered plants cluttered the ground and tree bases protruded partially from the rocky foundation. Able to rest and catch her breath, even for an instant, she realized how much she did in fact savor the chance to escape to become lost. Perhaps into something like life. Maybe into death. This is what thoughts of death must be driven by, she thought to herself. The revealing of a hoped for illusion, a dream of or a desire for what could be, of what seemed to be within ones reach but never yet a reality. A vision of the world set against the truth of what is. In this moment what was being reavealed was the longing of being found by the dream, while also being secretly terrified by the thought that it might never find her. Is this was death becomes? Life must be hidden in here somewhere, clouded by what is but driven by the hope of the dream, the illusion, the vision that feels lies outside of her grasp. This is the burden of the seeker. The burden of the one who is lost. This is the hope of one day being found.
She looked back up. The sky was starting to turn dark. What had been lingering on the horizen had now grown into luminous storm clouds gathering in the endless limits of space and time that allowed it it to form, continuing to roll across the endless expanse devouring all the light that lie in its path like a famished beast. As she lay in the field looking up at the sky, lightning began to reach its arm across the fields, bringing with it whatever light the clouds had since subsumed. A flood of rain began to fall as the air howled in angry defiance. As the night sky moved in, so did the storm. And as soon as the storm came in it seemed to retreat. That’s when she saw it. Cold, wet and shivering, she saw it, standing there staring back at her illuminated by the gowing moonlight and the setting sun. What it was she didn’t know, but whatever it was seemed to see straight inside her soul.
The slowly diminishing sun rays cast dancing shadows across the silent city streets of Jordan, Manitoba. The cool night chill had settled itself in, a breeze carrying with it the scent of a fresh rainfall. The storm had receeded, leaving the city soaked now in the moonlight. A speckled sk decorated the heavens, a calm allure amidst the chaos, contrasting the possibility of the morning with the inevitablness of the falling darkness now cloaking the world with its heavy embrace. Lights in homes were being turned off, most now settled in for the evening. Even those who had found a seat on an open patio to watch the lightning and feel the thunder under their feet were getting ready to pack it in. Thoughts of having to get up for the 7 a.m. shift lingered, memories of what it is to have to leave a warm bed behind for the chill of the morning dawn instilled in the minds of many. For the time being though, a reprieve. The last of the porch lights flickered off as dogs were called in from doing their business. Bedtime prayers, for those who participated in such rituals, were uttered, and children were tucked in, parents retiring to books and bottles of wine and brief moments of solitude. The routine of these nighttime rituals held within its grip the reality of another day come and gone.
Oak Street stretched from the north end and continued on as it cut its way through the heart of the city. Light from rows of lamp posts offered limiting vision, enough to make it feel safe should one need to find their way in the dead of the night. With the storm the streets tonight were quieter than normal, the silence of the night ruminating in the chance to finally speak unencumbered. That’s when the earth started to speak back.
Underneath the glare of the lampposts a gentle rumble could be felt, shaking the ground that kept them anchored and stable. Some loose fragments of gravel shifted positions, one lone piece rolling out from a freshly paved driveway only to find its life being sucked away as it dropped through a fresh crack in the asphalt. The sudden crash of hard metal colliding with the solid concrete of the road awoke a couple weary bodies, simultaneously dragging themselves over to where they could better observe the commotion. More crashes. More wide eyes waking. As these eyes took in the sudden turn of events unfolding, they could see a noticeable crack now forming in the road, proceeding to stretch a couple of kilometers southward up Oak Street and into the distance. All along the curb light posts were being uprooted and toppled, many ending up on nearby cars and roofs. The broken glass of shattered car windows now covered layers of tar existing from years of necessary repair. Alarms were screaming in terror. Some of the braver ones had run outside now to gain an even closer look, while others retreated further into the perceived saftey of their rooms, sheltering loved ones and comforting their children. Police and emergency units had since been allerted to the problem, promptly arriving to begin forming blockades at both ends of the sabatoged drive, evacuating occupied houses as they went.
Fire fighters were busy putting out the flames caused by exposed electrical wires, with more available security arriving on the scene and the desperate crowd growing bigger. What seemed to be out of anyones control was met with reassurances of safety that emergeny responders would soon have things under control. In the meantime, calls to remain calm were repeated. Then, almost as though someone had simply flicked a switch, a sudden silence overtook the crowd. The abruptness of the silence emerged like a wave, rushing over those who lined the street and immersing them in a haunting remnant of the recent memory of a night that once promised to lie undisturbed. Not a noise could be heard, not even the stray barking of a dog or the distant chirping of a cricket from the adjacent river. In the silence all eyes had turned towards a near-bye field that lay just beyond the river, a popular space for picnics and walks. A cloud of dust had arose from the ground, each disparate particle clinging together to form a single, indistinguishable, distorted image. The image at first, and at a distance, appeared to resemble something like a bull or a boar. As the shadows bounced harmlessly against the outlined image it began to move slowly up and down with the movement of the wind. Then, as quickly as it had emerged it suddenly disipated, returning to the earth from which it had formed.
It was no wonder those who had witnessed the event would fin themselves trapped in fear and questions, standing stunned in their still persisting silence, seemingly frozen in place and unable to move. Soon after a scream carried from the other end of the street, weaving its way through the silence and echoing against the neighboring houses. A middle aged women, a wife and mother, a daughter, a volunteer at the local human society and an employee for many years at a local bookstore, was being swallowed up into the now sinking earth. A sea of bodies followed suit, with hundreds sinking into the unseen depths of Oak Street as the once concrete form turned into a soft cushion of sand. As the last person was swallowed up by the ground, the street suddenly reemerged, reforming to a vision of its once refinished state. And once again the silence loomed thick in the air, able still to be cut with a knife. Save only for a lone girl left standing in the nearby field, alone and lost, nobody left to find her remainging in the distance, the world as she once knew it changed forever.