Hull And High Water

“the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

“events as yet unseen”

He had been shaken from sleep by a hand belonging to some thing that he could not comprehend. The hand had come at the end of a particularly tempestuous week with the warmth of new hope being chased by the storms rising up from the ground. Now he wandered on the keyboard of his life, choosing words that might describe the things that he may have seen.

The pre-deluvian world was coming to a close. He had not considered this as he started out upon his journey at the start of the week. For him, the clouds had parted and a languid ray of acceptance had thrown down his path. Some inner voice had whispered that his struggle was done, that it was time for him to put down the sword, or the pen, and just live.

And, in that moment, he was content.

He had carried the bundle of content to the place of learning. The content was wrapped up into a tight roll on the back of his bike as the sun arose. He cycled surely yet found time to appreciate the little things that nature had thrown into the fields along the way that he went. “Enjoy the little things,” the voice had whispered and he was even more content. It was only when the great road arrived with the faces of those inside that he took another moment to consider. Yet he, and his roll of content, found shared warmth.

In this manner, he navigated the first of the week’s days. The day of the moon was the day of the sun. For others, Monday was not so fair; tragedy had been visiting in its randomised reasoning and its victims bore the marks of its unwanted gifts. He tried to keep his roll of content to himself as to show it around could have been to invite envy or worse.

“Chairo,” the voice had whispered, “chairo.”

It was all Greek and his tongue did not stretch to it. Yet upon tasting the word, he rejoiced. He had reached the place of contentment and it had been with him all along.

“Chairo,” he sang as his peddles turned for his homeward journey. There was some sunshine within him, some cloud too, some warmth, and some cold.

Chairo. 

When he reached home, he stabled the bike and set about creating a feast for the family. He searched and searched the kitchen, the pantry and the cupboards until he realised that all the food had been eaten. He searched the house for signs of any of the three bears that may have wandered in, but none were to be found. The only thing left for the ‘feast’ were eggs. He counted them and was content that a meal could ensue.

Chairo!

That night, he slept with contentment. All the house slept. And the following morning rose with another sun. His wife and he were exhausted from deep repose and they questioned the reason over morning tea.

When time came for his daily journey to begin, he again brought the bike from the stables. He set off with a hummed tune that was to slowly disappear before he reached the gates of learning. During the day, he did not need to do battle with his wards who appeared to have tired of the struggle. Once again, he was content. But it was at that moment, that he realised with cold concern that he had left his tight roll on the bed that he had risen from.

“Chairo,” I said with more than a little caution.

Then the afternoon arrived and with it came a message. In those days they were called emails rather than the voice of God. The email promised much but was blackened when it reached his heart. He was to be tested for his ability to perform the tasks that he had performed so well for so long.

Chairo was the furthest thing from my mind.

The night, his displeasure oozed from him like liquid from a wound. He did not sleep well having used poor words to speak to his wife. She also shared his cobbled rest.

The next morning he left the bike in the stables and used the car. He took a cloud into the staffroom to share with the people there. He had fallen from a false state and was being punished for his carelessness.

Still with anger at his previous night’s work, his wife accepted apologies and gifted him with another email. It was the words that he had been waiting for, but thought that he would now never receive.

Chairo! Another place of learning in another kingdom wished to speak to him. All was well.

It was later in the afternoon that he discovered a plot by one member of my school to unsettle him. False words, wrong insinuations, damning connotations about his teaching.

He had little time to build an ark, but build it he would.  

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Chairo… 

 

The Piper 3 The Pretorist. Giving My Unpublished Book An Airing…

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Although the day had begun with a cold dew upon the grasses and shrubs of this foreign land, it had managed to climb itself out of its torpor and by midday it had become extremely hot. Petras told her that she needed to cover her head or else she would be struck by the sun. She knew that it was important to follow his advice but she had no additional clothing with which to make a protective covering. The cruelty of the land, however, provided the sought after material.

They had been travelling for just a few hours when they came across the first village. Village was a loose term for the burnt out remnants. Scattered amongst the ruins, Kate thought she saw piles of rags. She was firstly confused at both the sight of the destruction and discarded clothing. She turned to the boy for some explanation before realisation shone its harsh light upon her.

“But?” the question choked her thoughts as revulsion and horror flooded up from the deep pit of her stomach. She bent double and heaved upon whatever there was in her emptiness. The pain of the act wrenched her disbelief from her.

Petras had seen so much like this that now he was now blind to the horrors. For him, the piles of rags were just that. He had stopped considering the rotting corpses that lay within them. What Petras saw was the chance to get some cloth that would save the girl’s head from the unrelenting attention of the sun that was now burning towards its apex. He was already returning from his first forage holding his offering before him, when he saw that the girl was doubled over and trying her best to vomit, he thought that it must be because the sun had already begun to work its inevitable ways upon her.

“Here,” he whispered caringly pulling a goat skin filled with water from beneath his robe, “drink this, but not quickly.”

The girl looked up at him and her face displayed the streams of tears that had cut through the reddened dust that had settled upon her. She pushed the skin away.

“What happened here? What type of a world is this?”

The boy was puzzled momentarily, her questions were accusations and he did not comprehend them. She was staring past him, her gaze trapped by the scene beyond. He followed her focus and finally saw what she saw, smelt what she smelt.

“It’s Pan. This is what he does.”

Kate was somewhere else. She was back in her room, hidden behind the flimsy excuse of a barrier. Inches away from her, was the dark thing. She knew its mocking tone, heard its invitations. This was The Piper, the same menace that was sweeping across this other world. Pan was the child that The Piper had grown from. Pan was the devilish merriment that accompanied murder and The Piper was its adult embodiment. Even evil cannot deny time, she thought.

She knew death as she understood the carnage before her. This was the work of an adolescent consciousness, these corpses that were like leftover play things that had lost their novelty. This was the other side of the promise, the realisation of the world according to Pan. A thought struck her, if this thing could age, then it could die.

Petras had been reading her mind.

“You want to kill him don’t you?”

Kate’s eyes burnt with intent.

“If you truly wish to kill him, I’ll work with you.”

“Why does he do this?” she asked after a time.

“He does it because he enjoys it. He desires to turn children against their parents, against the world. He leaves the bodies as a reminder of his power.”

“Why do they follow him?”

“Because he makes them believe and want to be part of his family. He promises everything a young mind could wish for and all they have to do in return is to show devotion. The other gods, well they just sit on high, this one, and trust me, he is a god, joins in the fray. He is their leader and their father. He is their brother and the sharp stab of wonder that comes about when the impossible is made real. Pan is god of madness.”

Indeed, Kate believed him to be so. She believed in the world that he had managed to bring into being. She believed in the fact of The Purge and equally believed that this world, this ancient world in which she had awoken, was most definitely real. She could touch it and it could hurt her. But if it could hurt her, she surely could hurt it, even to the death.

As she was considering the implications of this new state, she noticed that the eyes of the boy had become alert to something. The air around them was no longer filled with the industry of insects or the occasional call of birds. The very air had stilled and she heard it; silence. Silence, complete and utter, as if the whole landscape was hushed in anticipation or angst. Kate felt the old fear return but controlled it. Petras had her by her arm and was pulling her down and into the cover of a partially burnt hut. She noticed, with sadness, the remains of an uneaten meal discarded on a table. Not even time for one last supper.

They waited crouching in their hurried hiding place, the seconds of time straining ahead of them. Petras, watched the open ground, covering all angles with the eyes of one who had survived the hunters. Not for the first time, she found herself giving thanks to whatever force had brought the two together. This boy was part of it, had always been a part of it, and their trajectories had been forced to intersect. He knew this world as Joel had known the other. If Joel was to be found then she was sure that Petras would discover him. However, more important was his ability to read the land and its signals of danger. She watched him and trusted his instincts. Something caught his eye and she too tried to locate it.

Beyond the larger pile of bodies, which she had mistaken for clothes, the village fell away down a hill that led to the valley in which the river ran. Anything approaching the village from this side would have to climb a rocky path that was mainly suitable for goats or adventurous youngsters. Whatever, was now on the outskirts of the village, was coming from that direction, keeping low and out of sight. Both her and the boy waited and watched. They remained suspended in their vigil for some time knowing that to break this would give the game away. The sun beat down upon the dead and living assured of its own safety.

Kate felt a tug on her sleeve and looked at Petras. His eyes had become more intent and did not turn to explain. Instead, he offered the slightest of nods, a gesture that directed her own gaze. At first she saw nothing, just the waves of warm air rising from the ground. Then she saw the object of his attention. The top of a head bobbed up from behind one of the outlying corpses. The movement was almost indiscernible and she would have missed it completely if Petras had not been there. Now she was able to see it clearly as it moved stealthily along the ground. After some more time, it raised itself onto its feet and Kate could see that it was human. It was a child even younger than themselves.

Still they watched it and their caution was rewarded when the child, having carried out its recognisance, did one final sweep of the ruins with a slow and deliberate circle and raised its arms into a wave. The signal made, more emerged from the hillside approach. Kate counted six and noticed that one of their number was an elderly man creaking in the sunlight.

“Don’t disturb the dead,” the man uttered,“ but see if there is anything that we can use. We need bread if there is any and maybe some wine. I have had nothing but river water for the past three weeks and I think that I have imbibed the very nymphs themselves.”

The old man laughed to himself but nothing rose from the group to whom he was talking. Instead, they made their way into different directions seemingly set upon answering their mission.  Kate and Petras kept low unaware that behind them a hushed pair of feet was making its way towards their position. Indeed, the only warning they received was the one that was cried out in alarm for the rest to hear.

Within moments, the entire flock were upon them. From nowhere, it seemed, they had produced rude but lethal looking weapons. Kate, who had not fully responded to the cry of alarm, found herself caught in a fierce headlock with the blade of a knife across her throat. Her assailant gripped the roots of her hair so that her throat became more exposed. Seeing this, Petras pulled back from his instinctive response, that was to throw himself upon the deadly attacker, and quickly searched for a weapon for himself.

The time it took for him to do this was enough to allow the rest of the pack to fall upon him. He lashed out with feet and arms landing punches and kicks whilst receiving many more back in return.

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Finally subdued, his face pushed into the dirt, he too felt the sharpness of cold metal against his throat. They had been undone before they had even begun.

 

 

 

 

 

When You Are Mad…

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There was once a wise king that ruled over his people who resided in a vast citadel. The king was feared for his might and admired for his wisdom. And all his subjects revered him.

The citadel had one source of water which was a well in the centre. In the mornings people would gather to pull fresh water from the well and in the evenings they would sit around it in the shade of palm trees. They would chat, share the wisdoms of their king and says thanks for the fact that they lived in such a peaceful place, at such a peaceful time.

But like all good tales, there was darkness waiting beyond the safety of the text.

Somewhere in the wastes, a dark shape was forming and, as the storms began to blow, it moved ever closer to its goal.

With winds and sand battering the walls of the citadel, the citizens took to their homes and locked their doors. Window shutters were bolted into place and the people of this great city settled down to ride out the worst of the tempest. Nobody chose to sit around the sacred well that evening.

During the night, the storm tore at the nerves of the populace and shredded their sleep. Nobody could ever remember such an event as this before. Nothing, not even in the ancient texts, could have matched the ferocity of this night. Eventually however, sleep came and the storm went.

The morning woke with a new day. The clouds of sand had travelled onwards to torment others and the world, though now laden with foreign sand, was returned to itself. The well, well it to had been affected. The last person to leave it the night before had been so afraid of the sandstorm that they did not properly secure its covering and this meant that a considerable quantity of the night’s detritus had become deposited in its confines.

The King shook his head at the state of things and warned his subjects that it would be unwise to drink from the ancient source. He told them that he would send out the city guard to find new sources of water that could be consumed whilst it could be determined if the well was still…well, safe. His people, who had always trusted him, were parched from the  night spent surviving the storm and some crept up to the well at the onset of dusk and began to fill their buckets.

“The King thinks that the well is poisoned,” they whispered, “but maybe it is his own wisdom that has grown sick.’

The next morning, a much larger crowd had gathered and the voices were not so whispered.

“The water tastes good. Here, try some. It is the King who is trying to keep us away from it, so that only he can drink from its depths.”

And word spread of his trick and the people, no longer his people, talked of ways to replace him.

“Why have a King who no longer thinks like his people?” they asked.

In the cool night breeze whilst waiting for his guards to return, the rumours floated towards the King’s residences and he became fearful of their intent. So, that evening, he set off from his courtyards and walked slowly towards the centre of the citadel in which the well was to be found. As he made his way with a golden goblet in hand, the voices stopped and all eyes followed.

A great crowd had gathered at the well to watch the once mighty king follow the popular intent. They watched as he slowly lowered the bucket into the confines of beneath and raise it so that he could dip his goblet into the golden liquid. Before he managed to get the vessel to his lips, he thought that he noticed the faces of demons surrounding him where once stood his beloved people. Nevertheless, he continued and took a fulsome draught of the well’s secrets.

His eyes were the first things to change. He had seen beasts, but now he too was a beast and the world around him rejoiced. The King was wise once more.

On their way back to the citadel, the guard heard stories of a strange walled city in which all the inhabitants had become things of madness; even the once wise king. It broke their hearts not to return to the place they had once called their home, but they rode on and found new places to live. 

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A time will come when the whole world will go mad. And to anyone who is not mad, they will say,

“You are mad, for you are not like us.”

 

The End And The Means…

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“Sir, is a nuclear war going to happen?”

He was a well-rounded teacher who had lived through this type of threat before. The Cold War had come and gone and then went on to slink around behind some bushes. 

“I don’t think so,” he answered in a fashion that suggested that he didn’t like thinking about it too much.

“But is says in the news…”

Did it say so in the news or was it just the news that kids invented to pass the time during the boredom of waking hours?

“…it says that Trump is going to fire his arsenal at them and they are going to do the same to him.”

They had a point.

“If there was a nuclear war, would school still be on?”

He was again on safe ground.

” I am pretty sure that if there was a nuclear war the school would be closed.”

A few sunrises appeared on the faces of those who were still listening.

“So, we wouldn’t have to come to school?”

“No…” he managed before a fist-pump of collective euphoria raced around the desks.

“RESULT!”

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They had a point.

 

Piste-Off…

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Woden’s Day has arrived in all its Norse finery. There was a time when this day was worshipped just as much as Fry-Up Day when all of the sops and left-overs from the week’s cooking were thrown into a huge greasy vat of pig-shavings and fried until all the evil and goodness had been banished. Archaeologists believe that this is why people at that time live longer than their fellow Earth-dwellers (twenty-one average years as opposed to seventeen rather less than average).

Recently, a giant Viking turd has been uncovered in York and it is believed that this is again evidence of a very advanced culture whose dietary habits and tastes match the very best of own own.

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Turds to one side. Woden’s Day is the centre of the work week which means that those of us on the hamster-wheel of life can look up, look back, and look ahead to the two slim days of relaxation after Fry-Up Day.

In my most shallow wisdom, I decided to name this day, The Top Of The Piste Day as I believed that all of us hamsters had spent Moon Day and Shoes Day climbing up that great edifice of the mountain face and now at Giant Turd’s Day we are ready to launch ourselves down the slippery slope and into the weekend. This is where we get Furs Day from as it is what is required on that cold mountain-top whereas Sitting day is what we do after a good pig-oil fry-up.

Unfortunately, Soon Day reminds us of our trials to come. 

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Bark at the Moon all day after that… 

My Blog Sucks…

 

via The Story Of A Blog…Readafterburnout.com