The wind carried him over the land, his thoughts rising and falling with the drafts. He sped where the wind sped, through the trees, between the houses, over the roads. He twisted in the eddies and spun in the currents. There was freedom here; Father Wind carried him with strong arms. He was a wind spirit. His essence darted between the flowers, carrying the pollen. His essence herded the waves, lapping at the shores. His essence was playful, curious, but ancient.
The wind spirit began to slow. Father Wind brought him to a hovering pause high above the houses that blanketed the landscape below. The sun was creating a delightful updraft that tickled at the spirit as he waited for Father Wind to whisper a task for him to perform. The updraft subsided and Father Wind drew the wind spirit closer to the ground, slowly descending until he floated over the back yard of a single storey brick house.
There was a swing set and a small kangaroo shaped see-saw sitting in the yard. A toy or two had been left on the ground and a lawn mower sat patiently in the corner. The spirit felt a tickle spark through him, his essence glowing with joy. He darted over to the toys and inspected them, tossing them around a little. He tried to wrestle with the kangaroo see-saw but found it too static and inanimate.
Father Wind began whispering to the spirit. The deep, endless whisper of his voice always filled the spirit with awe and dread. Such a mighty presence and yet so gentle. He had seen his father gently caress the back of the wonderer and he had seen his father savage entire landscapes and flatten entire forests. Both of those aspects were present in his voice, but he felt safe there in Father Wind's embrace.
The whispering lead the spirit to the back door of the house. The glass slider was tinted and the spirit found it difficult to see through to the room inside. Father Wind gave a gentle push and the spirit began to slip through the space around the door. Inside, outside, there was no difference to the wind, where did the air indoors stop and the air outdoors start?
The air inside was warm but still, the wind, having little effect on the enclosed space, was unable to flow and refresh the air inside. The spirit began to slow, he could feel the emotions that lingered in the air like perfumes. Some where tart and sharp, others were soft and sweet. Without Father Wind to move him, the wind spirit moved as though swimming, the warm air around him was amniotic in its warmth and texture.
A little boy sat in the middle of the carpeted floor. He was gazing intently at the colourful blocks he held in his hands. All of a sudden he brought them together with a forceful clack and began laughing. His laughter rippled through the air and tingled the wind spirit to the core. The wind spirit began to giggle, intoxicated by the young boy's uninhibited peels of laughter. Hello little prince the wind spirit whispered to the small boy.
Who are you? wondered the young boy. The spirit warmed at the child's curious forthrightness. Children always responded in kind, adults were too quick with words. Children just went with the flow, their minds far outstripping their mouths for expression. Even then, this boy looked too young to be talking much, if at all.
I am a wind spirit. Replied the spirit. What are you playing little prince?
These blocks make a funny noise when I hit them.
Do it again. Encouraged the spirit. The boy brought two of the blocks, a yellow one and a purple one, together with a loud clack. Again laughter filled the room and rippled through the wind spirit.
I'm going to have a little sister. Said the boy confidently.
The wind spirit shivered with delight. He could feel the expectancy and joy in the boy's heart over the idea of having a little sister. The spirit moved closer to the boy and enveloped him. The boy giggled but otherwise let it go.
The spirit peered deep into the boy's heart, letting the wonderland of the child's soul draw him in. He saw a lush green rain-forest, an ancient and spectacular place. The wind spirit entered the image and revelled in the scene's natural glory. He flitted from flower to leaf, leaf to rock. There was a gorgeously clear stream running through the middle of the scene. The rocks had been worn smooth and seemed to beg the spirit to jump from one to the other.
The spirit let the breeze catch him, bouncing him down the flow of the stream, the sound of the rock pools pouring into each other soothing him. He came to a larger pool, one where the water had time to sit and be still before continuing. On the edge of the pool, on a wide, smooth rock, there lay a King. The King was asleep, his countenance so peaceful that the spirit wanted to slumber as well.
The spirit felt the image pull away from him. There was a moment of sadness before he returned to the room with the child. A woman had entered the room and he could tell from the boy's reaction that it was his mother. She was a beautiful young woman and looked as though she had only just entered adulthood. The boy smiled at her and began to coo, going back to his blocks.
All of a sudden, the boy looked up at his mother. He looked worried, as if something had gone wrong. A moment later the woman's expression cramped as she bent at the waist. She was obviously feeling quite major discomfort in her abdomen. The boy sat and watched as his mother walked to the couch and sat down heavily.
“Hey sweetie.” she said lovingly but through semi-gritted teeth.
Is mummy okay? Asked the child.
The spirit hovered for a moment, taking in the auras of the room. The little boy's aura was a pale pink as it stretched out towards his mother. Even though the boy sat in his place and continued playing with his blocks, his aura was stretching out to her. The spirit could see the boy's little soul trying to hug away his mummy's hurt. It was at once both precious and sad.
The woman's aura was flickering. From the rich, deep, red that swam out to encircle her son, it would flicker to a harsh grey. The spirit began to shield itself as it saw the grey come dangerously close to black.
There was a third aura. This aura was tiny, barely present but immeasurably deep. At first the spirit didn't notice its presence because of where it was. It was surrounded by the mother's aura. The Aura was coming from the woman's stomach. Her womb. There was a baby, ever so young, not even showing in the woman's figure, bathed in a glorious white aura. The little prince was right, there was a little sister on the way.
The woman arched her back and her aura flashed grey again. The spirit watched in horror as the aura inside of her started flashing black.
The wind spirit kept his focus on the little aura inside the mother as it began to fade. Something wasn't right. He wanted to protect the little prince. The spirit swam over to the young boy, wrapping the small child in the spirit's own aura. The boy sighed, then yawned, then began to curl up in a drowsy little ball. He was still awake, but he was only barely aware of the hurried phone calls his mother was making.
The child was almost asleep when, as his mother lay weeping in pain on the couch, his next door neighbours came rushing in to help her. The spirit watched an older man, bathed in a deep and calm violet aura, swept up the young boy in his arms, patting him gently on the back to keep him calm. An older woman bent down to speak with the boy's mother, her face concerned but resolute.
Then everybody left.
The spirit tried to follow the young boy, but the boy was asleep now, and the spirit couldn't follow the young prince's thoughts. He tried to follow the woman, but her flashes of pain kept pushing him back.
The spirit moved to the glass doors to the back yard and slipped back through the gap. Father Wind picked him up immediately, throwing him high into the clouds, spinning him, disorientating him. The wind spirit let Father Wind take him over places he had never been before, or could not remember.
Things grew dark and the Fire Father slumbered before the wind spirit found himself tumbling back to the brick house with the glass sliding doors.
The spirit slid through the gap above the door and again swam into the room. The room was empty save for the blocks that had been left there by the little prince. There was a disturbance up the hallway as people came in through the front door. The little prince came in first, still being carried by the old man. His face was washed out and blank, his mind wondering off to another place. His aura moved sluggishly but remained the pale pink the spirit had seen before.
The older woman guided the boys mother in through the hallway and onto the couch, gently helping her sit down. The mother had been crying, streaks of hastily applied make-up painted a sorry picture on her young face. The spirit looked deeply into the ruddy ash of the woman's aura. It was alone, the tiny life inside her was no longer there. All that remained was a dull ember of what once was. Clack!
The little prince began to chuckle as he brought the two blocks together. The spirit took his focus off the woman and went back to the small child. His pale pink aura was back to its original strength, brightening and shimmering with the goings on of the individual blocks that he played with. Each clack brought a ripple through him, followed by the same shrill peels of laughter.
There was something different in him though. The wind spirit drew in closer, peering further into the boy. He saw it, the little white aura that had once belonged in the mother's womb now found it's home in the little boy's heart.
A year ago allegations surfaced of widespread masculinity in my government. These claims were made after the media misconstrued a leaked proposal by my office to establish what I've come to call the Global Life-Guard service. Although investigators tracked this leak back to a man that was under investigation for involvement in sports, there was no finding of a so called 'sports team' in that department.
Yesterday there were more posts made about possible masculinism within my government. I assure you all that such allegations are completely unfounded and I have instigated a full enquiry to verify this. The Gaian movement has not been forgotten. The barbarism perpetrated by males under the guise of masculinity will not arise again while I am in office. We have moved on from such ways.
I promise each and every person here that we will have peace without conflict. We will know no war. We will live without fear of violence.
I am often asked how my government plans to do more against the growing occurances of sport and violence by those that hide in the dark, by those so cowardly that they seek fulfilment through violence. The only thing we can do is to send the message to these people that they will be named, they will be shamed, and they will be kept away from society. We do not believe in treatment, we believe in solutions.
- Press Conference speech made by Jeffrod Marshall.
Tom rolled his head to the side to check Jessie's expression. Jessie was serious. The four of them, Tom, Chris, Mick and Jessie, were all jammed into the train's narrow four-seater. There were few passengers on at this time of day, a blessing if Jessie was going to start one of his conversations.
"That was vague." Chris replied.
"You know how in Baldur's Gate 2 how the protagonist's dad is the god of murder?" Jessie continued. There were nods all around. "Well, just because of that, he manages to walk around slaying heaps massive monsters and gets to sleep with practically every woman on the Sword Coast."
Tom wasn't about to dispute his logic. There were several layers of fantasy and mental masturbation that needed digging through first.
"I'm not sure if having a god as a father actually leads to getting laid man; Jesus' dad just got him nailed to a cross." Mick said. His head was tilted back and a poorly folded newspaper covered his face. His efforts to sleep under the newspaper were being hampered by the train's movement.
"Tom, what would you do if your dad was a god?" Jessie asked.
"Besides summoning a suit that fits?" Tom squirmed uncomfortably in the too-tight jacket he'd rescued from his brother's room. "I'd probably find something more interesting than working at a KFC."
"You seriously need to look into a good tailor Tom," Chris said, "you're struggling there aren't you?"
"Yeah," Tom replied. His arm was contorted painfully behind his back, forcing Jessie to lean out of the way. A wayward tag had begun to itch. "When did suits become a good idea? If my dad was a god, I'd go back in time, find the idiot that invented the suit and smack his head in."
"And then sleep with every woman on the Sword Coast." Mick prompted.
"And then sleep with every woman on the Sword Coast." Tom agreed.
The four sat uncomfortably as the train rocked on the tracks. Tom tried to concentrate on the Financial Review he'd brought but found the tunes coming from Mick's headphones too distracting. Jessie and Chris both sat quietly staring, their eyes seeking spots where they wouldn't make eye contact with the other passengers on the train.
"Did anyone find out how Nathan did it?" Chris asked.
"He hung himself." Jessie replied gruffly.
"Sorry, I just didn't feel right about going to Nathan's funeral and not knowing, I wasn't trying to be insensitive." Chris said.
"Would you res him?" Tom asked as he stared at the floor.
"What?" asked Jessie.
"If this was Baldur's Gate 2, would you use a spell to resurrect Nathan?" Tom said.
They all went blank for a moment. The silence allowing the train's noisiness back into the four-seater. Tom looked at them all, his face set.
Mick's face turned bitter. "He obviously wouldn't want us to."
"That's bullshit, if this was Baldur's Gate 2 he wouldn't have killed himself in the first place." Jessie replied.
"What, because you could go around whacking bandits with swords and rampaging through legions of elf chicks with your +5 cock of puberty?" Mick asked.
"No! Because he'd have better things to do than sit in an office all day," Jessie cried.
"Jesus Jess, we get it, you're pissed off, could you stop acting like such a woman?" Mick asked.
"I'm acting like a woman?" Jessie stood. "Since when did reading statistics and drowning yourself in music become more manly than wanting a battle to fight?" He jerked his bag out from under the seat and headed off down the carriage.
"Guys, we're going to a funeral, what did you expect? Everyone to be stable?" Chris asked.
The soft hum that preceded the train driver's voice clicked on. Their station was next. As they stood waiting at the door, Tom could see Jessie waiting at the next doors down, posture rigid and avoiding eye contact.
They left Jessie a wide berth as they got off the train. The road from the train station to the cemetery was lined with small houses with large yards, the kind of dwelling that you expect to be torn down in about ten years. There was enough space that the gap between them and Jessie looked awkward.
By the time they reached the open grass of the cemetery they had caught up with him. They all maintained their silence as people climbed out of the cars parked around them.
"Get in early for a back row seat," said Mick dryly.
The four of them stood at the rear of the funeral to give the family some room.
Tom guessed that the people filling the seats were all family, seldom-visited cousins and the like, that none of Nathan's friends would be able to identify. He watched their dry faces as they leaned towards each other making overdue greetings and insincere queries of good health. He probably knew Nathan better than they did.
Chris felt uncomfortable being around this many strangers. He just wanted to say goodbye to their clan-mate. He could have done it at home. There was nothing about this service that said anything about who Nathan really was. Nathan was a team mate, a friend and a dreamer. He could never have known Nathan as a son, but there was something horribly wrong about hearing so much about his former home life.
Mick listened to the priest go through the motions. Mick had a different eulogy running through his mind. Here lay Nathan, 24 years old at his death. He had never owned his own home, never finished his degree, never been married and never had children. He had spent the last 5 years of his life playing computer games. So had Mick. Was he wasting his time?
Jessie eyes began to redden and his throat begin to close. He stood back a step to make it harder for the other three to see he was crying. He could hear Nathan's uncle saying something to the congregation. Nathan was a loving son to his mother, a good student, a cherished sibling. Hell. No wonder he had no need for this life, it could only offer him platitudes and fake dreams. Jessie's heart gave out. Nathan was more than that. He was a housemate, he was a soldier, he was a knight in shining armour; he was a slayer of dragons, a conqueror of evil and a saviour of the world. In their world he was heroic.
When the time came for the coffin to be lowered, Nathan's mother was hysterical. Tom looked away from her just in time to see Jessie hurrying off behind a small clutch of trees, his posture giving away that he too was crying. Mick's expression was tense; Chris' eyes were fixed on the casket. His hands were tilted at an awkward angle. Tom's own stomach began to churn. He stopped paying attention to what everyone else was doing and for the first time since he'd heard the news, felt the pain he saw in the people around him.
The crowd had begun moving back to their cars. Tom saw Mick looking ready to go. Chris still stood staring at the grave. Jessie hadn't yet returned.
"Excuse me Tom?" Nathan's uncle asked as he approached.
"Yes?" Tom answered.
"Nathan's mother would like to speak with you just briefly before you go." He said.
"Okay." Tom looked around at the others. Tom approached Nathan's mother with Mick and Chris a few steps behind. She was hugging a relative, someone Tom had never seen before. She left the embrace with a tortured smile and a farewell. The instant she turned to Tom her expression fell, her face drawn under the weight of her grief.
"Why did he spend so much time with those stupid games of yours?" She cried.
Tom was dumbfounded. What did she want him say?
"Why did he bury himself in that computer? Answer me!" she had begun poking his shoulder viciously. Her hysterics were still building up.
"Ever since he moved in with you he spent more time with games than with his family! He spent more time with you!” Her ranting was now making a scene. “Why did you steal my son?"
"What?" Screamed Jessie as he stormed towards them. "How dare you blame us for what he did!"
Chris and Mick saw that Jessie was on the war path just in time to grab him and wrest him out of swinging distance.
"Those games were all that he had left! What the hell kind of family are you? How can you say you loved him when he chose death over what you gave him!" Chris and Mick began to pull him away. "If he'd had a decent real life he'd still be here! We'd still have our friend! We didn't steal your son, you bitch! You drove him to us!" Jessie screamed.
Tom turned back to Nathan's mother. She'd broken down under the tirade. Nathan's sisters crowded around her trying to calm her down.
"I'm ... going," Tom muttered.
That afternoon the four of them sat in a quiet spot of the cemetery. Tom and Jessie cried, Chris looked pretty choked up. Mick didn't cry; he stared off into the distance with an angry expression on his face.
A few hours later they stood around Nathan's grave. There was a group hug, some more crying, some words said. The enormity of the death in front of them drowned out anything they could have done there.
Mick and Chris began to walk away. Jessie couldn't move, he just broke down in more tears. Tom stayed to hold him up. Life could wait.
The dark haired one flicked the last ember of cigarette across the filthy stone floor. Both of them just watched it roll until it hit a decrepit scrap of wood. Neither of them moved for minutes. The dark haired man was known as the thief; his profession no longer mattered. The other man; a prince.
“So that's it,” said the thief, “game over?” His pursed lips feigning self pity. He was seated; one of his knees was pulled up under his chin. His other leg stretched out into a widening pool of his own blood.
The prince squatted facing him. His cigarette was still good.
“I promise,” said the prince as he stood, “it will be quick.”
The Horizon of Eternity.
He was leaking. The realisation was not as heart breaking as he might once have imagined it. The dry dirt on his lips was warm, sun baked and light. He purged the dust from his lungs, eliciting leg-jerking pain from his mid-section. His elbows tried to prop him up. It took 4 attempts.
The sound of the ocean replaced the ringing in his ears. The primal call of that water drove him to crawl. His arms pulled him length by length towards the edge of the cliff. His life spilled out behind him.
Whether it was the shot to the gut or the fall that killed him didn't matter. He died howling at the ocean, his life now one with the heaving waves.
BEGIN COMMAND BATCH: Open all the security streams from the past week 361 STREAMS OPENED - Indiv/Batch? Batch them together Select all the streams with me in them 56 STREAMS OPENED - Indiv/Batch? Batch them Narrow it down to the ones that are after hours 36 STREAMS OPENED - Indiv/Batch? Batch them all and stop asking me Use ArMAda to delete them, any copies, and remove all log entries about their existance REQUESTING ArMAda AUTHORISATION Just do it REQUESTING ArMAda AUTHORISATION 38935543-a3a-s1g 36 STREAMS, 481 COPIES, 56,778 RECORDS DELETED Thanks COMMAND NOT UNDERSTOOD
It makes me more than a little insecure knowing that you've entered a place where I could never follow. Watching myself sit here and nurture a diseased art while you go on to fight dragons.
I won't lie, as time went on we became less and less alike and our friendship turned to that petty emnity that comes from having no place in eachother's lives. I am sorry; my mind has soured further; I expect yours has too.
So when we meet again, assume my prostration. At least under that assumption I may appear to hold dignity. If you see me before I see you - pretend that you didn't.
It's no longer in the pipleline, it's out for the world to see.
Emotional Apathy All I was doing was a quick shopping run. It's perhaps 100 meters from my front door to the supermarket, there's not a lot to walk past.
I'd forgotten about the park on the other side of the intersection. It's not really that big, hemmed in as it is between 3 major roads, but it is central. I suppose that's why they chose it. The first thing I noticed was the voice on the megaphone. I looked up to spot a crowd that had gathered around a few small but colourful marquees. I couldn't see the speaker.
I heard words like 'globalisation' and 'politics' and 'your say'. I cringed. Yet another cause stirring up passions. I'm out of love with passion. To devote that energetic center of yourself to an idea has become painful. I block memories of causes gone by the wayside, taking my reputation with them.
There she lies She'd rolled over in her sleep. This time, however, she'd managed to lose the summer blanket that had covered her. All her nakedness was still and calm on the bed. The sun was hitting the bright yellow wall of the builing beside us; the light through the window cast a golden shade to the scene.
Her back rose and sank with each breath, each of them long and drawn out by sleep. The gentleness with which her hand lay on the bed incites memories of her touch. The cool air from the window hadn't found it's way into her dreams, not yet.
The curves of her form flow easily over the sheets. It's easy to remark that they are the curves as they are supposed to be. The lines of a woman, sacred architecture constant since the garden from whence we came.