Friday 29 April 2022

Friends Work: The Beginning of the End

Hi All

Something a friend of mine wrote that I enjoyed.
Mud is disturbed, boots crush the ground beneath them. Every step pushes the ground deeper in, the ground in knowing desperation.

The wind churns and the sky flashes in desperate anger.

A coat flows defiantly in the storm, a desperate defiance.

The rain flees from the heavens falling desperately to an unforgiving  earth.

He walks, coldly, unwilling and yet eager. He walks in desperate need.

To the top of the hill, until he can see all before him, he stops and in the fury of the storm he waits silently and takes hold of the day, the chaos, the destiny before him.

The traveller  stood, and watched. He watched the world as it was now, he looked as the storm rolled ever forward. The storm wasn't a great destroyer, coming to claim the lands. The storm wasn't the end of all, the storm wasn't the fury of the heavens raining onto the the earth showing it's primal power. No the storm was fear.

Pure fear, ancient unforgiving fear, the type of fear that ends us, that brings us to our knees. This fear leaves us unable to move, cowering in the shadows, hoping that the dark will save us from the darkness, hoping that something will come, or that it will end quickly. This fear is the the dread of life, the thing that lies in the back of our mind, waiting to come forth and signal our end. This Fear is desperation.

This fear, this ancient fear, comes from the storm. The storm is afraid. The last desperate act of the heavens to wash away the earth and vanquish the coming end. This storm is the fear felt by the very heavens.

The storm is not enough.

Asar watches. He takes in the rain as it falls unevenly toward the ground, he watches the wind run through the valley before him, waving between the trees, and the hills. He watches the clouds gather in the skies, bringing all they have, all they can muster to force of the storm. He watches It all, he watches and he knows remorse. For soon it will all be gone.

He has travelled so far, he is weak, yet he stands in the fury of the storm, as it seems not to touch him. For the storm will fail, and then he will be the last line that stands before the darkness, and he to. He too will fail.

For it now comes that which the heavens dread. Now comes...

The Reunion.

I have come, I have come brother, friend, savior. Enemy. I did not wish it, I fought for so long, wandering far, as far I could go. I thought I could escape you, I thought I could escape time. I could not. I was drawn, drawn without my will, tricked my all and everything. I fought it, with all of I could. I failed, I failed then and I will fail again.

But I have come. This storm heralds me. I have come. Dear god, I have come.

The storm may not touch him, but the cold, the cold bites at him. Claws at him, every drop of rain, a iced dagger that leaves no wound. So on he walks, down into the valley. Down into the end of all.

Reluctantly, hesitantly he starts again he walks forward. The air around him, cold yet warmer than his fearful heart, his step heavy with dread, his breath, every breath savoured as the last. He walks.

The hills loom high on either side now. Towers of earth guarding against the unknown, the tops dotted with trees, watchmen in the night, watchmen in the dark. The leaves long fallen since the summer fled to the south. The ground soggy and muddied from the storm. Every step forward a triumph to be mourned. The clouds still on high, still darker the abyss, yet lighter than the coming dawn.  A scene of beauty to some, a scene of the truth of nature. Yet here and now, it is a hopeless scene.

Light's in the distance, hidden away tucked into the side of a hill, one then two then many. Like ashes in the fire they seem to dance in the distance, they draw him, summon him. Though they do not know it. They are lucky, for they cannot think cannot feel. They are empty and will not know the horror. They are but candles, and like all this soon they shall burn out and flicker into the darkness, but they, they will not scream when the wicker is spent.

One step then another, closer to it all. No escape, no hope. It will be done soon.

A house in the near distance, stone and wood. Crooked and overgrown the house comes into view. No windows to see, a blessing in this storm. Yet the door does not meet the frame, and the wind whistles through. A shrill sound it carries through the night. A light counters the wind as it peers through, barely it laminates the door. It is a old house, a broken home. A poor man lives here, a man forgotten to poverty and hunger. A man who might spare his bed for a few crumbs at the table. An unwelcoming place to stay. But a place to stay until the dawn. Until the last dawn.

A hand reaches up from the heavy coat, upon the door it lands, the sound cracks like a whip into the night and for instance the shrill of wind between the door and it's frame is broken. The door shudders and splinters at the force. A frightened whine is heard.

“Open, old man or crone. I have no harm to give, but I might have food to spare in exchange for your bed” It's been a while since he has spoken, for so long now he has just been a lone figure walking in the distance. He has not forgotten his voice. “Open I say, the door can take little more than a gentle knock, and this cold does not make me a gentle man.”

“ you say. I, I, I have little to lose I guess” A sorrowful laugh sneaks past the door.

A click disappears into the wind. The door scratches upon the floor as it opens. There stands a tragic figure, all broken and aged. Scarred and weak. His hands shake at the thought of the pirate at the door, his eyes clouded and grey. Thin cracked lips tremble from the cold and wind, wispy hair falls unevenly around his head. A dirtied garment wrapped around him in a pitiful effort to stay the cold.

“You said food” the wizened figure manages to let the words fall from him before coughing horribly.

The lone figure, the traveller  moves past the old man, a hand upon the shoulder takes him from his path. Over he goes the weak fire. He stares into it embers. It's unknowing embers.

A small squared room faces him, cracked walls, and broken bricks. An uneven table roughly made sat in the centre. Two chairs on either side. One covered in dust. To one side a small set of cupboards, one door loose upon it's hinges. Scattered and tattered belonging littered the floor and the table. Worthless trinkets, but the only companions to a lonely figure. At the far end sat the fire. carved into the wall and well used, it had burned brighter on many days. There was no bed.

“Yes old man, food.” He drops a pack upon the table and gestures to the old man. Take what you wish. No more is it a concern of his to feed.

Hurriedly the old man searches the pack, He grasps dried meat and though his teeth and broken and rotten he tears through the meat with a ferocity only hunger can bring. He drinks the water, the clean water, most likely his first taste of clean water in his vanishing memory. He eats and drinks and takes no notice of the stranger in his home. Home, or prison, a prison of poverty if there ever was a prison.

After a time the old man slows. His memory returns to the present, to his home and the stranger left alone sat by an ever weakening fire. A slight fear creeping over him.

“Thank you, I rarely eat. I rarely do anything. But I have to confess the thought of food took over me. And I may have been” A spluttered cough leaves him crumbs and half eaten meat scatters to the floor. “ I have, I have to confess that though I have eaten your food, but as you may see. I have no bed to offer”

A snort is his only reply.

“ I have a few herbs, somewhere. If you hadn't have come I might have eaten them, I could perhaps make us a soup. The fire is weak but it should suffice. As way of apology it's a much as I can do.” he coughs again, though he is sparred a full fit this time.

The traveller looks up, eyes uncaring, arms hanging aimlessly in front of him, he is almost unknowing, almost absent. Water drips from him and graces the dust caked floor. He nods in reply.

The old man sets to work, collecting and gathering, muttering to himself. He finds what water he can, he finds what food he has not eaten, what herbs he can find and makes what soup he can muster. The weakening fire somehow boils the water, a forgiving moment in the last of nights. He mutters and stirs and wonders about the traveller in his prison, his home.

He moves to table, and places upon it two bowls, he gestures to the seats, and to his surprise the traveller moves, a statue returned to life.

He slurps and averts his eyes, until finally the unknown figure speaks.

“This home, it seems so empty and heartless” the traveller thinks aloud.

He was as shocked as he was hurt by the words. He would have thought it rude, if it had not been for the bitter truth. “ It's not a home, more a shelter from the winds. I am a poor man, as my father was. I have no sons, no daughters to suffer the same fate.” The words ache his broken soul.

“ Well, well who sir are you? And why have you come here to this place? Not to remind an old man of his misfortune I bet. Though I be flatted the gods sent me someone if that were the case” The old man asked.

He thought about it, he thought about telling the old man it all. But he hadn't the strength to say the words. “Me? What does it matter? Tomorrow I'll be gone and you'll see me no more. I am here for a meeting, that is all there is to it in the end. I'll cause no harm. But I must have some rest. I'll lay upon the floor and gives myself over to the night if you mind.” A weak reply, undoubtedly insufficient, but all that he would say.

He moved to the floor as the old man muttered on, about life and it's cruelty and his gratitude for food.  The traveller stretched out upon the floor. Placed his hands beneath his rain beaten head and gave himself to the night, whilst the old man just sat there in meek confusion. Until fatigue took him into the night.

When the old man awoke the traveller was gone, but the pack remained. He wonder if he had been the real, the mysterious figure, the stranger. Maybe he had been one of the gods, giving an old man one kindness before he was etched from the world. He wondered until hunger took his mind once more.


“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” 
― Jane Austen