Sunday, August 29, 2021

Excerpt From A Curious Confluence

 I have written several books.

All have stirred up amazing disinterest in the publishing community.

And who am I to argue with the market?

But those books were fun to write and they are a lot like children to me: I love each of them for what they are and what they could be.

My favorite of these children is an attempt at a novel.

Its premise is that a travel blog goes off the rails and, after some thrashing around about what is going on, gets augmented by a long forgotten, but not discarded, journal, and then a lot of time travel.  

I had a lot of fun writing it.

Here is a rather long excerpt.


“Why are you leaving me?  Are you going to forget me?  What about our dreams?”

He awoke with a start.

He just lay there and waited.

“Why are you leaving me?  Are you going to forget me?  What about our dreams?”

He had thought that these words that he had thought that he had heard just before dropping off to sleep had been a part of a dream that was coming over him with the advance of the sleep state.  But they had persisted.  And they had awakened him.  And now he had heard them twice again after coming awake.

“Why are you leaving me?  Are you going to forget me?  What about our dreams?”

That made it three times.

The words were not loud, but were loud enough to be heard over the sound of the waters of the river as they rushed by him on their way to the sea. They were not loud but their timbre of urgency made them as clear as if they were being shouted.  They were coming from some place a little into the woods that started immediately beyond the sparsely vegetated fringe of the sand of the beach where he had set up camp.  He wondered if they were the voice of one of the spirit ones that were known to wander the world, especially at night.  But they had a quality that made him doubt that.  They sounded like the words that might come from a normal woman.  He even fleetingly thought they sounded to be the voice of a woman he knew, a woman he had had to leave behind when he had been banished from the island by the elders.  But he put that thought out of his mind.

At the very least they were words that seemed to be coming from a real woman, not a spirit – or so he chose to believe – and that woman sounded as if she were not very far from where he was lying.  The fact that the whole situation would probably have not made any sense to him if it had been daylight did not cross his mind.  It was night and in the night things always changed.  Things that would not seem real became totally natural and believable.  That believability of events occurring in the darkness had been what had gotten him banished.   He had believed what he had seen and had described it to the elders of his people hoping to get an explanation of what it had been that he had seen.  Instead they had sent him away.

“At least” he thought with a certain irony “they can’t send me a way again.  I am away.”

And then for a fourth time he heard the words “Why are you leaving me?  Are you going to forget me?  What about our dreams?”

There was no moon; nor were there any clouds.  So the stars that smeared the sky in abundance provided a rather distinct, if somewhat subdued, light.  He had long since sundown acquired his night vision eyes and the additional illumination from the stars was more than enough for him to see well into the thicket that covered the area from which the words were emanating. There were even slight hints of shadows dappling the ground.

He rose from his fur lined dugout and stepped onto the beach.  He took the largest of the skins he had been using for bedding and wrapped it around his shoulders.  It was a clear and fair night but it was cold.  The starlight seemed to emphasize that cold.  As he crossed the fringe of plants and debris that marked the transition from beach to woods he heard the words again.  He headed in their apparent direction.  There was a rustle to his left as he entered the wooded area, and it was followed by another to his right and one directly ahead of him.  Perhaps he had disturbed the hunt of a family of foxes.  Perhaps it had been something else.  But once they had departed the silence returned and he felt himself completely alone once more.  Alone, he felt, except for the words.  They sounded forth again and this time they were slightly louder.  He was closer to their source.

The small trees and underbrush were quite dense.  He had to push branches and small and limber trunks about to make his way through them.  He wished that he had brought the adz to hack some of it out of his way.  But he hadn’t and he wasn’t going to go back.  So he kept thrusting himself through the underbrush looking for something, but not knowing what it might be that he was looking for.

After some minutes of struggle with the brush all the while hearing the words repeated the undergrowth began to become less dense.  Then it began to become smaller in size.  Then it opened into a clearing.  It was not a very large clearing because at the side opposite from where he had entered there was a barrier of significant size.  It was a vertical cliff of stone thrusting up from the floor of the clearing.  

And there was a faint but clearly present glow coming from it.

And then the words came again.  And they seemed to be coming from the same place as was the glow.

He went closer to the thing to see if he could see any more.

And he did.

At first he thought it must be some living thing – a nocturnal insect perhaps – that had moved as he had first approached the wall of stone.  But then he saw that if he looked where the glow was coming from he saw the source of the movement.

There was an image of a woman inside the stone.  And she was looking at him, or seemed to be looking at him – he felt the same connection he always felt when he was looking at another person – and she said “Why are you leaving me?  Are you going to forget me?  What about our dreams? And what about me? Tomorrow the elders will take me to the killing place.  I need you to help me.  I need you to save me.  I need you back to take me from them.”

At that moment he recognized her.  She was the woman he had left behind. The elders had forced him to leave with only his dugout and the bare necessities of survival. They had not allowed him to have the woman he lived with to go with him.  She was to be abandoned.   That was part of the punishment.  And it was viewed by the elders as a shared punishment.  The woman had lived with the man who had come back from his night under the giant oak tree with the dangerous story of things he had seen.  The woman therefore must have some part in the whole unholy affair.  So they had been forced to separate.  But he had not been allowed to tell her these things.  He had been forced to leave immediately upon hearing the sentence.

But here she was looking out at him from within the stone.  And she was speaking to him as she looked at him.  This time the words were different.

“A piece of this stone will bind us.  Take a piece of the stone.”

The cliff was a face of rock that was about ten feet or so in height.  In much later times a geologist might have described it as a layer that had experienced a sheer – a mass of stone that had, for some tectonic reason been subject to such a force that it had shattered vertically and part of it had remained in place and part of it had dropped, leaving the sheer face of the fracture line.  The layer that had been shattered in this manner had been a very large deposit of what that geologist might call flint.  And it was from that wall of flint that the glow was emanating and within that wall of flint from which the image and the woman’s voice were being seen and heard.  

There were also multiple shards of the flint lying at its base, strewn hither and yon in a totally haphazard manner.  And they all seemed to have the same glowing property as the cliff.  

He picked one of them up.

The glow pulsed from the cliff and within the shard.

“In this way we shall be together” he heard, or if not heard, sensed.  

“We will be together and you will save me”

A bat skittered across the space of air between him and the cliff.  In a moment it was gone.  Then there was another, and another.  Then there were many.  They flitted down from the trees and brush at the top of the cliff and into the space between the man and the cliff and darted at the cliff only to shoot to one side or the other, or up again toward the trees and brush from whence they had come or down toward the ground, darting upward just before actually making contact with the ground.  Several actually brushed against his arms, chest and face, ever so softly as they harvested the flying insects that had been attracted to the glow.

As he continued watching the woman she had stopped speaking.  And the glow gradually receded as if into the very heart of the stone.  And then he was alone.  Even the bats had departed now that the insect attracting glow had gone. 

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