And the Sun Will Rise – Part 4

Thanksgiving week, and I hope that all who have participated in the holiday enjoyed their time together with friends and family. We traveled to our daughter’s home and enjoyed a great day of fellowship and family. Of course, as always, had too much food, and dessert, which led to a food coma. We always vow that we will eat less the following year, but somehow the temptations are too great. And at the end of the day we left to return home, warmed by the home, the food, the companionship, and family. It is a small respite from the daily grind, and the storms of life.

This week is part 4 of the short story – And the Sun Will Rise, and we’ve left Jay with his discovery, and the realization of what he faces. Now what? Everything he has ever known is gone. Nothing in his life has prepared him for this discovery. Yet, he can either give in to what has been found, or survive. Many of us face natural disasters that take lives and destroy property. At the time leading up to the event we never thought it could happen, or if it did happen then we would have some kind of control over the situation. Yet when it does happen, we find it not so. It is during these times that we learn who we are and what we are made of. It can be humbling as we realize how little influence we truly have over the events that are taking place around us. While what has transpired with Jay is greater, still those of us who have survived nature at her fury can understand. If you are picking up this short story for the first time, I suggest that you go to the sidebar under November 2014 or to my webpage (fdbrant.com) where you can click on the links, and read the story from the beginning. And here for your reading pleasure is: And the Sun Will Rise – Part 4.

He remembered the storage place where a large number of emergency packs were stored, and he wasn’t far from where they were stashed. If he was lucky the cache hadn’t been discovered and looted, and he could resupply from there. He felt that he would need to take as much as he could pack, since he hadn’t a clue how long it would be before he would have a chance to resupply, or hunt, or whatever. So he went down the wall from the entrance – just a few steps really – since these emergency kits had to be reached quickly, if they were needed, and felt relief when the supplies, or at least the hidden entrance to the supplies, seemed untouched.

He pushed back the vegetation that covered the entrance, pulled open the large door, and climbed down the ladder into the cellar that lay beneath the wall that surrounded the village. It wasn’t a large space, and he knew that there was a similar one on the other side of the town. But as far as the location of that one he was unfamiliar. He had assisted in supplying this one and inspecting the kits to be sure that they were in good condition. In fact it had only been in the recent past that he finished one of those inspections so he knew what was here.

It was dark inside, yet with his intimate knowledge of the layout of this place, and where everything was located, he felt he didn’t need a light. Besides, the space wasn’t very large, and it would be easy to grab and go. With some speed he stuffed his pack as full as he could and began to leave when he remembered that there were a few weapons stored here also. He turned to the opposite corner and felt around until he located a bow, a quiver of arrows, replacement strings, and a few more of the knives. He really didn’t know what he needed since he had never been a warrior. Still everybody had at least had some basic training in the uses since they needed to hunt to supplement their food supplies.

Once he emerged from the hidden cellar he carefully closed it back up and re-covered it with the vegetation hoping that it would be overlooked, if the raiders returned to continue to strip the remains of the village. If it remained hidden then sometime in the future he possibly could return and grab some additional kits. The next thing he noticed was the sun was beginning to set. Where had the time gone? It couldn’t have taken that long to do what he had done? Yet the sun didn’t lie. It moved across the sky in its leisurely fashion each and every day, setting at the end of the day, and rising at the beginning of the next. Yeah, he thought, and the sun will rise. Well, if he didn’t get moving it might not rise for him.

He immediately headed out of the broken gate and retraced part of his route that he had taken the day before. Had it only been a couple of days ago, he thought, when I headed out this same gate to begin my big adventure? For him, with all that had transpired, it felt more like a lifetime. In that short time he went from a member of a family to being an orphan and none of it was his doing. He knew of a hidden area that wasn’t too far away – a place where he had played as a child. Yeah, as one, this place seemed magical and hidden, but now as a youngling and about to become a ‘dult, he knew better. Still it provided some protection, was out of the way, and was a place where one wouldn’t generally search for someone.

And before he knew it he was there. Slipping through the vegetation that blocked the small trail he worked his way among the boulders, and then inside. Sometime in the past the water had undermined these large rocks creating voids that as a child he and others had considered caves. It was here, when time was allowed for play, that they would have great adventures. Thinking of this brought a smile to him, although it was a sad one. He knew that none of the other children, no other younglings from his village would ever have adventures here again. Most likely he would be the last to spend time here in these hidden places. If one didn’t know they were here, and because of where they were located, no one would even be curious enough to see what could be here. So for now it was his refuge.

He could feel the emotions begin to overwhelm him again, and at first he fought it, but eventually, in misery, gave into them, and once again cried deep body wrenching sobs that further exhausted him. Despair rode high and he had no plans, no ideas as to what to do, where to go, or how to really survive. He had only faced the normal everyday problems someone his age always faced. Nothing had prepared him for what he was now facing. So once his crying subsided he sat there in one of those hollows not moving, feeling drained – spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Even though he didn’t feel that it was possible somewhere during this time he fell into a deep troubled sleep having nightmares and bad dreams from which he could not wake. He was chased, in those dreams, all night long, by unseen demons, and armies of horrible creatures. And however it happened, he somehow had been able to stay just out of their reach. Finally it was the chill of the dawn that brought him out of these dreams and back into the waking world. He found that he was still sitting upright, propped between a couple of those boulders. He found his clothes soaked in sweat, and he felt that he hadn’t slept at all. It was then, as he remained in the twilight between waking and sleeping that he thought he heard voices.

Oh if only everything I’ve experienced could be a bad dream. If it was, then he had to be in his camp near the top of the mountains. But if he was hearing voices, he couldn’t be there, and everything he saw, everything he remembered truly had happened. In the semi-darkness he reached for his pack and found it stuffed with the emergency kits and knew that it all had transpired, and everybody he had ever known was probably dead. So where were those voices coming from? And if there were voices that meant someone was in the area. And from the sound it sounded like many which could only mean the raiders were back. Had he stayed in the village another night instead of retreating to where he was, then he would have been discovered, and he suspected after that nothing else would have mattered. Now what?

He had to get away from here. Yes he probably could stay where he was for a while, but it wasn’t safe, and it wasn’t a place where one would want to stay. It was to be temporary while he figured out what he wanted to do. Well, with the return of the raiders, if that’s who they were, he’d have to leave and get as far away as he could. But he knew that he couldn’t leave in the daylight. He wasn’t the best at moving quietly, or flowing through the wilderness, and remain unseen. He would have to wait out this new day, and again those words from his uncle came unbidden into his mind, “and the sun will rise”, and it meant he had a full day to wait them out.

He knew that it would be an uncomfortable one, since where he was never was meant for someone his size. When small one could scamper through the small voids with ease, but now it had been a tight squeeze just to get inside. He hoped that whoever he heard wouldn’t go out of their way looking for survivors. He hadn’t fully thought about it when he made his way here, and because of his mindset he hadn’t considered the tracks that he would leave, and didn’t know if he had left any. In a way, the direction he came went along a well-traveled route, which had both gravel and hard packed soil. So there was a good chance that he left no sign of his passing, but could he be sure? The simple answer was no, but he couldn’t leave now and correct this error. All he could do was hope that he hadn’t left a trail.

He waited out an uncomfortable day hearing, many times, voices getting stronger as the raiders moved up and down the trail outside the wall. Fortunately none of them seemed interested in looking in his direction, and at no point could he discern how many, but it seemed to him to be a large group. He could hear the cursing when someone burned themselves on something that was still hot, and the laughter from others as they would rub it in. Eventually, and he didn’t know how or why, he dozed and awoke with a start a several times. During the times when he wasn’t frozen with fear, when the voices were near, or when he dozed, he wondered where they had come from. It was his guess, since they hadn’t come by him from the mountain side that they must have come out of the desert. But that seemed impossible. There was nothing out there to support anything. Well, that was the belief anyway.

With those thoughts he guessed that most likely, they only swung into the desert to locate hidden villages that would be using the desert as protection. And from the desert it would be easy for the raiders to locate these villages, which would stand out against the backdrop of the mountains. And once located determine the best time to attack and do what they wanted. With them running around the area of his village he felt that once it became dark he would have to retreat into that desert himself – that very dangerous desert where the rumors said that no one survived. It truly was his only chance for escape. And by doing this by night he felt that he would have a greater chance to survive. But, if he wanted to be honest, he really knew nothing about living in the desert at all.

After a long day, and with the night approaching, he made his decision. Soon he would work his way away around the village and head out into the desert and to his destiny . . .

And the short story continues on into December. In truth it does qualify as a short story since its length isn’t great enough to qualify as a novela. December, the last month of the year, and a sign that 2014 is coming to an end. For me the years move much too fast, and the end reached much too quickly. And it is the month that marks the beginning of winter, not that we haven’t been feeling the results of what seems to be winter already. Still it is a time that we look forward, nostalgicly, to the traditional celebration of the birth of Christ. A time where God answered his promises. Have a great week, and I hope to see you here Saturday for part 5 of, And the Sun Will Rise. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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Published in: on November 29, 2014 at 7:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Taste of History Past – Final Excerpt

With the editing complete, and the manuscript reformated into the necessary format to submit the story for conversion, there still are many small pieces that must be accomplished. Gone are the days of writing, editing, submitting it to a publisher who would turn it over to their editors, and with assistance from the writer make the final revisions. From there the story would be turned over to the art department, and advertising department, and once a strategy is conceived the book would be published and presented to the world. Now all of this falls on the author. And on that subject, I learned that one of the links on my webpage was broken. I’ve repaired it and now it works. Yes, I built and maintain the site on my own.

Much of what traditional publishing once did, no longer happens even if one is fortunate enough to work with a main stream publisher. Instead most of the work now falls to the author of the work. We, as writers, must maintain a public presence, have a webpage, be involved with social media, and actually do most of the legwork for promotion. And with the vast amounts of newly published material out there it is difficult to rise above, and be discovered. So each try their own way and hope what they are doing works. This is a difficult field to earn a living, and so far I would be more than a starving artist. It has cost me more financially than what has been earned. Yet, such is the life of an indie author. Still one has hopes that there are readers out there looking for such stories and haven’t found mine yet. The tenative release date for this work as an E-book is November 30, 2014.

The excerpt that I’m presenting comes from about 2/3rd of the way through the story. Much has transpired up to this point and Kal with his mate Jura are returning home, although the weather sucks. Cold, wet and miserable they have set up camp away from the main trail or road through the remote area, and were waiting out a cold, wet evening, and here they get a surprise visit from a stranger (In an earlier post I listed some of my favorite characters, and this stranger is one of them.). With this brief introduction here is the final excerpt for the book, A Taste of History Past, or That’s Another Fine Myth You’ve Gotten Me Into.

It was almost full dark and they huddled close to their fire trying to keep warm in the heavy mist. The heat at least kept them semi dry, but if the storm decided to change its mind and go to full rain then cold or not they would have to retreat inside of their portable shelter. As they stared into the fire, which for any who lived in the wilds knew was wrong, since it destroyed your night vision, they were half asleep. But, at this point, both were weary from the cold nights on the site and the time on the road. Unfortunately they were still quite a few days away home. It was then when both jumped when someone out in the darkness hailed them, “Yo’ fire!” They looked at each other and then out in the darkness and Jura moved to the portable shelter and both withdrew their long knives not knowing who could be out there. Then in the ways of their time Kal answered, “Come and set”, then he added, “But come friendly.”

This brought a chuckle from the unknown individual who within a few moments approached their fire, and to their surprise was riding a pack beast. Once in the light of the fire he climbed down. Again he chuckled when he saw their disbelief. “Get that a lot when others see me do this. I’m really surprised that others hadn’t thought about it. After all we’ve trained our pack beasts to carry our supplies, why not us also? Anyway, you’ll not have to worry about any others I always travel alone.” He looked at their camp with a practiced eye and smiled. “Well set up, defendable, and not visible from the trail – good, good.”

“If what you just said is true, how’d you find our camp?” Kal asked.

“Oh, I’ve spent a night or two here, and because of a delay I got here later than planned, and was actually surprised to find this place being used. Not many are around here this time of the seasons – too miserable.” He squatted down put his hands to the fire and smiled once again. “I really wasn’t looking forward to getting my camp set up in the dark and with it as wet as it is to get a fire going. But imagine my surprise when I found one already burning – can make one right curious.” He leaned back and sat cross-legged and continued. “Yeah, yeah, I know it goes both ways.”

They looked at him and guessed that he had to be twice their age, and was dressed in rough handmade clothing. He looked as if he belonged to the hills and grasslands, as if he was as much a part of them as they were of he. “Ah, I thought the two of you looked familiar.”

“Familiar, have you seen us before?” Jura asked from just inside of the portable shelter. “I know that we’ve never seen you.”

He then laughed a full deep laugh and said, “I’m never seen unless I want to be.” He then leaned forward before continuing. “You’re the two that has been traipsing out here in the wild lands, the outback. Lookin’ for something say I, and unknown to you others who were watching what you were doing and where you were goin’, with not a hint that you had that they were there. Well, I said to myself, this place is gettin’ crowded so maybe it’s time to head somewhere else. But I was curious. After all there hadn’t been anybody in those foothills that I could remember, other than a traveler now and then. And you were lookin’ for something – it was obvious. So I decided that since there wasn’t much happening anyway I’d stay and watch, and see what this was all about. Had to admit with everybody that seemed to be there it was almost too much for me. You see I’m a loner and prefer it that way. Don’t like people. Oh I can take them now and then, but eventually I have to get back and away, live off the land, and enjoy the solitude. Villages and such are just too noisy for me. So I’m happy with just my beast and this world around us here.” At this point he took a deep breath and shut up.

Jura and Kal looked once again at each other and then at this stranger, with Kal stating. “You say you were watching us, and those others, and nobody saw you at all – that’s hard to believe.”

Again he laughed. “Did ya’ see the ones who were following you all the time you were searching? And to think that not only were they watching you but another group were watching both you and this other. All I could do was shake my head, and you were none the wiser about any of this. And both of those groups were clumsy, thinking that they were good at what they were doing. By the gods I could have come into both of their camps and stole them blind and they’d been none the wiser. Thought about going in and shifting things around a bit, just to mess with their minds, but it was more fun to watch all of you stumble about thinking that you were alone and were good at living out here.” He again leaned forward and said, “Look, I don’t know about you, but my stomach thinks my throat has been cut and I have a few items I can add to the meal so let’s continue our conversation after we eat something. Besides I need to take care of her, my beast. Mind of I stake her over by yours. That way they’ll have a little companionship. After all they originally were from those wild herd beasts and are used to company, other than you and me.”

Silent for a moment after this one relayed to them what they had been doing for the last cycle of the seasons, Kal had to admit that they had thought the two of them were alone, but it had proven otherwise, and here was someone who thought it was a joke watching all three groups move through the wilderness. “Sure,” Kal said, “It’s okay, and what you just said is true. I know our beasts originally were of the wild herds, but that was a very long time ago. And . . . yes I guess you can join us, since you’ve almost invited yourself anyway. Besides it is a very miserable night and some additional company can’t hurt.”

Again this stranger laughed, “Okay then, it’s settled. I’ll go take care of the ol’ female and be back before you can get the pot on the coals.” At this point he jumped up and was out of sight into the darkness almost instantly.

Jura turned to Kal and whispered, “He really moves fast and is very quiet. I’ve the feeling that if he had wanted to do us harm that it would have been very easy, and we’d be none the wiser.”

What could he say, she stated it so well. “Yeah, but maybe this is a good thing. At least with another in camp it would be less likely that we’d be attacked by bandits or such.”

With a large smile on his face the stranger reentered their camp saying, “Ah talking about me are we. Not that I can blame you. But you have nothing to worry about me. In fact before you move out in the morning I’ll be gone and you’ll wonder if I was ever here. Mark my words, I rarely reveal myself to anyone, but I have to admit you’ve left me curious, and I felt that this was a good chance to maybe get that curiosity answered.”

“Why would you be curious? We were just out and about searching for some ancient site, that’s all, and we aren’t the only ones to have done that.” Kal paused, looked over at Jura and then back at the stranger, “Nothing unusual about that.”

“True, true, and if it had continued to be just the two of you I probably would have watched a while, and got bored and then moved on. But when these others were out there too and everybody following everybody it becomes more of a puzzle. Now I like puzzles and solving them. This wild world is full of them and they change all the time keeping me on my toes. Make a mistake out here and you’re dead, just that simple.”

“That’s probably true. And I guarantee that we were quite unaware of the others until we saw them following us when we were higher than they were and we caught them in the open.” Here he paused again wondering if he should say more, and decided while he was beginning to like this stranger he really didn’t know anything about him and it was still important to keep it quiet. Even though there was a possibility that Sabohl was dead, knowing him, there was just as much of a chance that he was still alive and biding his time. And, who knew, this stranger could easily be an agent of Sabohl’s who used different tactics to get information. “I really don’t know why. I just know that after we discovered them that they became more of a problem, and then that other one showed up and offered to help, and that’s really it.”

Waving an index finger at them the stranger again smiled and said, “Say what you want, but just from what I observed I know better. But stick to your story if you want. Besides what was so important about that place anyway? I’ve been there a few times – found some old pottery and places where fires had been built. Felt that this had been a place where some of our oldsters had lived temporarily. Nothing important though. Found other places with much the same stuff. Although, different stuff in the desolation. Tough dangerous area – no water, no game, no nothing but heat, dust and a land that looks the same no matter which way you enter; easy to get lost, easy to die, and none the wiser.”

Suddenly interested both Kal and Jura leaned forward with Kal asking, “You’ve been to the desolation? It’s a place that is shunned even today.”

“Yeah, it’s one of those puzzles. Yah see I haven’t always been the wonderer that I’ve become. I went to the learning centers; I know our history, and the myths surrounding the desolation. And it was a puzzle . . .”

“And you like puzzles!” Jura blurted out.

Laughing and slapping his leg with his hand the stranger said, “Yup, you’re learning, you’re learning. So I’ve been working the edges, been deep into the Sacred Mountains too – mighty strange stuff up there, mighty strange. Did you know that there are caves everywhere, and that there are a few where no beasts will enter? Not only that but they seem to have their own heat, and once you’re inside they seem both to glow with a soft light, and remain warm. Strange. Now I would have considered it something that didn’t need second thoughts if there had been only one of them. If we want to be honest we have no idea what this place can create and it could just have been a freak, some peculiar combination that created it, but I found many of them. Still there was nothing, no other sign, so maybe they are from some of our ancient ancestors.” He shrugged, “Who knows, not me. After all it’s another . . .”

Again Jura interrupted saying, “Yes we know, it’s another puzzle and you like puzzles.”

* * *

Next week I continue the short story, And the Sun Will Rise, part 4. It is Thanksgiving week, a time of family, a time of rembrances, a time of giving thanks for what has transpired in our lives in the past year. It also is 3 days from the end of November, leading into the last month of the year. Have a great week, a great gathering, and I hope so see you here on Saturday. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

 

 

 

And the Sun Will Rise – Part 3

The short story continues this week as Jay has awakened from a less than restful night. For all of us, unless we are the very lucky few, sleeping in other than our own beds makes for bad nights until we get used to the different sounds, the firmness of that bed, the feel of the room, and the differences that seem to creep into our subconscious warning us that something isn’t right. Still it becomes worse when we find ourselves sleeping on the ground. No matter how hard we try there always seems to be that one rock or pebble we missed which continues to dig into our ribs throughout the night. So how do you feel the next morning? Maybe like it would be nice to go back to bed?

So, when it speaks of a less than restful night we all can picture it. And I guess in a way that’s where the writer who is good at the craft will present, in the fewest words possible, the scene in such a way that we can personally relate, feel empathy for the character, and maybe understand who they are a little more. Still, in the stories that we read we are generally looking for more than just the ordinary, unless there is something special hidden there. We face the ordinary every day, and generally do not look for reminders in the fictional stories that we enjoy. Parts 1 and 2 can be found under the subheading in the right column under November 2014. And for your personal enjoyment is the next installment of: And the Sun Will Rise – Part 3.

Suddenly a heavy black cloud of smoke rolled in on him smelling the same as that day from the deep past. With that his mind was made up. The peak could wait. Something bad was happening and he needed to be there to head back. Quickly he packed, took out some of his travel rations and chewed on it as he carefully started his return trek. With the uncertain light he had to be sure of his footing, and because of this it was slow going causing impatience, worry, and dread to drive him.

Eventually he reached a point, as the skies lightened enough to see easily, and he, from his position, could overlook the valley where the town was hidden. It didn’t bring relief as it appeared that the whole town was burning, pouring out great clouds of that black smoke, which was climbing high into the sky in a dark column that was easily visible against the blue sky and the desert sands. Something horrible had happened and he wasn’t there to help. Why now?

Looking at the distance he still had to go he knew that there was no way that he could do much to help with what he was seeing. But maybe he could get back soon enough to do something – anything. And because that smoke was so heavy and visible he found that he was having difficulty concentrating on the trail. And as he continued to watch, he was feeling helpless at not being there, but stuck up here on the mountains. And it had taken him all day yesterday to reach the point where he had camped. At least going back down it should be faster. Still how much faster was the question for which he had no answer. It would be too easy to become careless, and if he injured himself, he would be useless to the village in its apparent time of greatest need. So he pushed as fast as he dared and watched as the rising of the sun continued to climb higher in the sky, the never-ending column of black smoke, and the trail, cursing the distance that still lay before him.

Eventually as the sun started to dip behind those peaks he was back on familiar ground and picked up his pace even though his muscles ached and his lungs burned from the exertion. As he came around that final corner to where he could see the guarded gate he stopped in his tracks with his mouth open. Before him was the gated entrance, only the gate was broken and barely hanging on its hinges. As he stared he saw something lying on the ground and as he cautiously approached saw it was the same guard that had passed him through this same gate the day before. When he looked closely he could see that his eyes were open staring sightless into the sky. At that moment he realized that this man was dead. It caused him to jump back for a moment. He had never seen a dead person before.

At this point with the shock of seeing this dead person he began to hear the roaring of the fire – the sounds of crackling and popping, and the overwhelming smells of burning buildings. He was almost afraid to go through the broken gate, beyond that wall, to witness what was on the other side. Yet, he couldn’t remain here either. The sun had set behind the mountain peaks and in the fading light the raging fire within those walls was becoming the dominant light.

Mentally preparing himself he tried to be ready for the worst that his mind said had to be there. And because he was young, his imagination was no match for what he found when he finally entered. Immediately he could see that most of the town was burning. A good portion no longer had the intensity of some of the other fires, speaking of having burned up what fuels was available. There were weird dancing shadows everywhere created by the raging conflagration that he saw before him. And everywhere he looked he saw bodies. Panicked now he ran towards his home, but found his way blocked by the intensity of the fires. Taking his time he worked his way around trying hard not to look at the dead.

Every once in a while, as he tried to find an alternate way to his home, the smoke would overwhelm him forcing him to his knees leaving him barely able to breathe. He found that he was choking and coughing heavily, with his eyes closed against the burning ash and smoke, causing his eyes to tear heavily as they tried to clear out the grit, and acrid smoke. And finally coming in from the opposite direction he found his home – well what was left of it anyway. It, as well as most of the homes that were close, were down to hot smoking coals and ashes. And where the front door would have been he saw his uncle lying dead face down. He sat down heavily not knowing what to do. Even though he didn’t want to admit it to himself, he knew that everyone he ever knew, all of his family, all of his friends, all of the townsfolk, and all of his plans, hopes, and dreams, were dead.

Tears were running down his face, and it wasn’t because of the wicked smoke. Normally he would have been ashamed of crying, but now he didn’t care. His body was wracked by the deep and heavy sobs that escaped his lips and he didn’t know how long he had remained in that position feeling the deep misery, the self-defeating blame, he put upon himself. Again, if he wanted to be honest, he knew that there would have been nothing he could have done to prevent this, or to survive this if he had been here. But his mind, his thoughts, continued to accuse him.

Where the night had gone he didn’t honestly know. But it was the heat of the day that brought him back to reality and when he looked up he could see that the sun was well on its way to the high point. He could remember Jon, the uncle that lie in death right here in front of him, always saying, “Bad things happen, and many times there is nothing anyone can do to prevent them or change the outcome. But the one thing one can always count on is, the sun will rise. And if that is so then one will find a way to go on.” He had to admit that the sun had risen on this day and his discovery of death and tragedy hadn’t changed this fact and presently this new day was almost half over. Although, if he wanted to admit it personally he really hadn’t noticed any of the passing time being so lost in his personal misery and what lay around him.

So much death . . . so much destruction – everything that he ever knew . . . gone, with no way to ever get it back – ever. Then panic set in when he suddenly realized that the ones who did this could return at any moment. And that brought other thoughts of why were they not still here? He stood up quickly and looked around in every direction. But with the heat waves created by the still burning fires, and the heavy black smoke it was impossible to see very far in any direction. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to do anything for the dead, and as far as he knew he was the only one who lived, but what to do? One thing for sure, he couldn’t remain here. So retracing his steps he returned to the broken gate that he had gone through two days before to begin his adventure.

Once there he hesitated. He had no plan, no idea where to go, had never been on one of the merchant runs, as they were called, had no idea how far away, or whether it was safe to make that trek, so he stopped frozen with indecision. One thing for sure his meager supplies that he had for his adventure wouldn’t last. He would need to prepare, and do it quickly, since the raiders could show up at any moment. And in his mind, he felt that it had to have been raiders. Still, the way he felt right now, maybe it would be for the better if he could join his family, his village, in death and be done with it. But if he did that there would be nobody to remember, nobody to seek revenge, nobody to speak for the dead, and he felt that somebody had to. And at this moment, as far as he knew, it could only be he himself. But what could one person do? Where did one go to find help, let alone seek revenge against the size of force that must have attacked this place? He had no answers, but if he remained here, then, in the end, it probably wouldn’t matter.

* * *

It seemed like yesterday and we were beginning this month of November. Yet, this short story started with that first Saturday, and this is the 3rd installment meaning that this month is moving along rapidly. We are only a couple of weeks away from the celebration of Thanksgiving, a holiday for giving thanks for what we’ve experienced over the past year, and knowing that the year is rapidly heading to its closing chapters. It happens much too fast. With the release of book 3 in the Survival series in the near future, I’ll be taking a break from this short story and posting an excerpt next week. It means that this short story will continue into December. Have a great week and I hope to see you here next Saturday. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

 

Published in: on November 15, 2014 at 8:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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And the Sun Will Rise – Part 2

It has been a busy week overall. The book, A Time of History Past is close to release. With all the editing complete it is now time to put all the small parts together so that it can be submitted, converted to the eBook format, and distributed. Yet there are many steps, after all the work on the manuscript is complete, before it is available. If all goes well, it will be out this month. I will announce the release date here in this blog, and of course, on my website. Add to this a major recovery of my wife’s computer. Her system ended up with a really nasty virus. It was an all day job bringing the system back. Keeping up-to-date backups are so critical. This was followed by my system being infected on Friday and the resulting work to clean it.

We left Jay leaving the village, heading out the gate, anticipating his planned adventure. So this week in part 2 we will follow him as he makes a few discoveries, ones that he didn’t expect but were welcome. If this story was published in a book of short stories it would be over 30 pages long. And again, if you are catching this short story for the first time I suggest you go to the sidebar on the right and read part 1 under the subtitle of November 2014. And now here is the next portion of, And the Sun Will Rise – Part 2.

Hours later, taking a break, he wiped the sweat off his brow, and looked out over the panorama that lay before him. What a view. It was as if he could see forever. He was partially surprised that there seemed to be a light haze hanging over the desert. Not only there, but from here the town lay within that haze making it virtually invisible – not that it would have been visible anyway. There were hills and such between him and his home now. Thinking about it he thought that it had to be mid-morning, and while he felt that he made good progress – he had stayed on the trails as he had been admonished, after all – looking up it seemed that those peaks were still far away. Although, in truth, he knew that it was an illusion. Well, I guess I’d better continue. Otherwise I’ll never make it to the top and really look out over this place. He honestly had never seen what the other side of these mountains looked like.

He found that the silence of this place was overwhelming. Even though he had considered the town a quiet place, there was always something going on, some noise, or some conversation. So, to be here where only the rustling of the brush, the sound of the wind through the trees, and nothing else, was a new experience. Heck, he could almost hear himself thinking. This brought out a laugh since he had been accused, much too often, of not thinking something through. And, if he really wanted to admit it, there was truth to that statement. But like so many of his age he would vehemently deny it, but know within himself that it was the truth.

* * *

The shadows were lengthening as the sun began to disappear behind those peaks he was trying to conquer. He really wasn’t too far from his goal, but the chill in the air, and those shadows were warning him that he had better find some shelter for the night. It really would be stupid to try to find a campsite in the dark. With reluctance he looked up at the distance he still had to go feeling the urge to just push through. But that was the foolishness of youth telling him to do so. And here there could be none of that foolishness, so with a sigh he began to search for a good campsite. After what seemed too long a time he found a rock face that provided a wall that he could use as a reflector for his small fire. The area was surrounded by numerous boulders partially hiding his camp from the rest of the world. And he had been told too many times that this was not only critical, but could mean the difference of him surviving the night.

The night crept in slowly and suddenly he realized that for the first time in his life he was alone. There was no one, just him and his small fire. With this realization he felt a brief chill, as the sensation ran up and down his spine, causing him to shrug his shoulders to shake it off. He could feel the goose bumps run up his neck and down his arms before disappearing. He hoped that he had enough wood for the night, but with his inexperience he had no way of knowing – truthfully this was the first time for any of this. Still the fire was comforting as well as warming. Picking a place between the fire and the rock wall he put down his sleep sack trying to remember to clear the area of all the rocks and small pebbles. Again he had been warned that without the standard bedding that each and every rock would be poking him throughout the night, and even with the padding that he had brought for that purpose it wouldn’t matter.

Again with it being so quiet he began to hear things creeping through the bushes, and when the winds came up, chilling him, and hiding those sounds, he felt his imagination running away with him. With his imagination doing this he began imagining all sorts of creatures and such that had to be watching him and his fire, waiting patiently for a time that they could come in and attack him. Even though he knew that all of this was just his imaginings, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t keep his mind from doing it. So he grabbed his long knife and small axe and kept them next to him as he ate his night meal he had cooked over his fire. Why did it seem, he thought, that the food cooked over an open fire appeared to taste so much better? Well, he had no answers.

While eating he stared out beyond the trees and saw a sky full of bright stars. So bright that he felt that he could almost reach out and touch them. In awe he stared at the raw beauty that surrounded him. Until this very moment he hadn’t realized that the lights, dim as they were, of the town didn’t allow one to see the stars as he did now. He wondered what other things he had missed because he lived in that village. Then one streaked across the sky disappearing somewhere in the distance. Wow, a falling star! He had forgotten about them. So he watched the skies more carefully trying to see more of them. But each time one would show he would catch it from his side vision, he always seemed to be looking away at the time it would arrive. Suddenly he awakened. He somehow had fallen asleep and looking around he could see his fire had burned down to ashes. Carefully he stood up, stretched, and added wood to his fire, placing a large log on it in such a way that it should last most of the night. He watched as the smaller sticks caught fire, and he guessed that it should remain burning most of the night. With that he climbed into his sleep sack feeling the comfort of the heat on his back from his fire and drifted off to sleep.

* * *

Jay awoke in the gray of dawn after a less than a restful night. He realized as he came out of a deep sleep that he smelled smoke. Through the fog of his mind he first panicked, which brought him fully awake. Then he smiled rather sheepishly, as he remembered that he had a campfire right next to where he was sleeping. So, of course he should be smelling smoke. It was then he realized that the odor wasn’t of wood burning from a campfire. He only remembered smelling this once before and he had been so much younger then. It was when the fire alarm had been rung in the square of their town. When this happened everyone was required to report and help suppress the fire. Being a child he hadn’t been let close, but remembered the house burning with flames coming out of the windows and huge clouds of black smoke rolling high into the sky.

As he wiped the sleep from his eyes, in his mind he re-lived that moment from his past. First, even with the distance that he was from that fire, he could feel the heat and it was unbelievably hot. Then the wind shifted blowing some of that evil smoke his way and as he breathed it in he began coughing immediately as it took his breath away. It smelled awful. It was nothing like the sweet smell of the smoke off the cooking fire, or those fires in the winter that heated the house. He realized that it burned his lungs leaving a rawness in his throat, and a raspiness to his voice. It had forced him to back away even further.

Now worried he stood up and looked down towards his town, the village, but knew that he really couldn’t see it. It was the only place that the smell could be coming from. In his hike to this point he had passed nothing that had been built. All that surrounded him was the natural world, so his conclusion was that something in the village was burning. Still, how did the smell get up here, he wondered. He was a long way away, and usually during the night the winds were going downhill not up. It would have had to been something pretty large to overcome the natural way of things. This pushed impatience upon him, and left him in a quandary. Should he head back and lose his only chance in the foreseeable future to climb this peak, or should he head back now?

* * *

So what is it that Jay is smelling? Is it really something bad, or could it be something else? For all of us, even if we are the type to go to a fortune-teller, the real future is unknown to us. And all of us have experienced those days where they have started out well, and have ended not so well. And until that bad showed up there wasn’t anything to indicate that the day would turn in the direction it did. Still, when the imagination runs wild, most times what is revealed, in the end, usually doesn’t happen.  Next week is part 3, and there we will see what kind of day Jay will be facing. Will it be okay, or will it be the opposite? Have a great week, and I hope to see you here next Saturday. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Published in: on November 8, 2014 at 8:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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And the Sun Will Rise – Part 1

Before I begin this week’s post I’ve learned that the predictions for voter turnout this year is or will be poor. I truly don’t understand this since we are dealing with the midterm elections. Are we as a people willing to allow our government to continue status quo? It is an opportunity to show our representatives that we won’t settle for the mediocre that has passed for representation. It is time for change in Washington, and by not voting we are stating that not only do we not care, but we are happy with how this country is being run. Remember voting is a privilege that others have died trying to get. And a word of advice . . . ignore all of the hype, and advertising, and look at the each candidate’s record. Enough of my ranting – on to this week’s post. 

For the month of November I’ll be posting a short story that is obviously broken down into a serial that stretches for all 5 Saturdays. In truth this is a story that could become a full length novel. It is a post-apocalyptic story that takes place long enough after the event that it is something that isn’t thought about or remembered. For our protagonist he is attempting to grow up being in his late teenage years and within a couple of years of becoming an adult or ‘dults as they are known. Many changes are happening to him that he doesn’t understand, but feels that as time continues to move that the understanding as to what is transpiring will become clear. Jay is about to do something he’s always wanted to do and is filled with the joy of anticipation, eagerness, and impatience to head out and accomplish this life long dream. And with this introduction here is part 1 of, And the Sun Will Rise.

Jay had worked hard to get the 2 days off, and to get the permission necessary so that he could finally do what he had always wanted to do. At least as far back as he could remember, which, if he truly wanted to admit it, wasn’t that far back since he was a youngling, not quite old enough to enter the world of ‘dults, who were too young to be elders. Still, he admitted to himself, he really wasn’t but a year or two away. And once this happened he would be required to leave all his imaginings behind. And while he knew that others had made the climb, that trek to the peaks that lay outside of his hidden town, hidden village, for him it would be a desire fulfilled.

He had always, again as far back as he remembered, stared at what appeared to be the dizzying heights those mountains presented. They always seemed to have a whiteness on top that never disappeared, reminding him of the few times that his family could afford to make frosting for those cakes which only were there during the family yearly celebrations for all surviving another year. Every year a different family member was required to provide the cake, and while it had always been a privilege, it was also a burden, since the necessary ingredients were not always available and were always expensive.

So his imagination always said that what was on top of those peaks were great amounts of that delicious frosting, although he knew for a fact that it was frozen water. He remembered that day when he learned that hard fact, and the disappointment was so great that he ran back to his shared room and cried. Of course he was only a few years old then – a child. A time when most of what was around him was a great mystery, of myth and magic, where his imagination soared to those magical realms back then, not that it had waned over time. But he had learned more, understood more now than he did back then. As time had passed him by, the veils that hid many of the mysteries disappeared and became real. He knew with these changes that he had lost something, but had also gained. But it also meant that he had learned a hard lesson for that gain. Life was full of compromises. And as you gained one thing, you would lose another – always trading one for another, always giving up something else to gain whatever one strives for.  Was the loss worth it? It was a question he couldn’t answer since he found that there was no way to go back and try the other direction.

While he hadn’t fully understood this concept, he was beginning to see it work in his own life. Just like this adventure he was taking. He would be trading his time to climb those peaks, to be alone, to test his strength and resolve, and be away from his friends and his family – and, especially that girl. He didn’t know what had changed but suddenly he found that he was attracted to girls where before it had been just the opposite.

He had been the runt of his family – small, scrawny, but quick. Then came that day when he realized that he was looking into his mother’s eyes instead of looking up to her. This was followed by a similar day when he did the same with his father. And now he towered over both of them by at least a head. In fact for whatever the reason, he became one of the tallest in his village. And while he hadn’t filled out yet, and had the awkwardness of learning how to handle his new body, he could feel the changes coming about that would give him strength and coordination. But that was for the future, as he found that he still did stupid things because of a lack of experience or not using his body right.

He thought that it had to be worse for girls, but very few talked to him, so he really had no way to know for sure. But it had to be that way. After all, for many years the only way one could tell the difference between them was the way they acted. But as they approached the time of ‘dults, their bodies changed shape. And, he had to admit, it was then he began to become interested in them, and at this point they seemed to become even more of a mystery. When he would have a look of consternation on his face because of girls, and his mother was around, he could almost see a secret smile on her face. And while he really never put her in the same place as these mysterious creatures, he realized later that she was. It was both a shock, and a revelation. Mom was a girl!

With these changes, not only to them, but to himself he found things happening that he didn’t understand, and could be embarrassed by them. Like that feeling in his loins if he let his mind drift in a particular direction. And he could feel something happening and it wasn’t something he could consciously control – giving away his thoughts, and if anybody was around to witness it, he was blush, feeling the heat in his face, embarrassing him more. Why was this so? He guessed that it was all part of growing up. He just wished that confidence was part of it. He felt so awkward and out-of-place especially when he tried to talk to girls. Some of his friends had no problem with this at all, and seemed to draw girls to them. While he could only watch from a distance and daydream about how it would be – could be.

The town, or village, where he lived was isolated, and as far as he knew unknown. It was that way for protection. When people left to trade with other distant towns they always went the long way that allowed them to approach these trading centers from different directions so nobody would know from where they came. It was a very dangerous world out there with raids and destruction happening all the time. He had been told about the roving bands of raiders and other bad people who only destroyed. He didn’t know what had brought all of this on, or whether it was something that had always been. He just knew that their safety was their isolation. With a desert on one side, and those mountains behind, their location seemed an unlikely place for a town to exist, and that had always been their safety.

Yet, such a location also meant that many of the items necessary for survival had to be purchased since it couldn’t be grown locally. Too little water, and too little workable land for the crops. They did have a couple of small mines where they dug out stones that others wanted. And it was this more than anything else that kept them supplied with the necessities. Again it was a curse because others wanted what they had and it was another reason for the care of keeping their town and its location safe, hidden, and unknown.

While such thoughts were always with him, today they were deep inside, as he headed out the gates ahead of the rising sun. From others he had learned that most who had conquered the peaks had taken 3 days to do so. He didn’t have that luxury of that additional day, so thought he could do it in the two days allotted him. If not, then he would go as far as time allowed before turning around and coming back. At the gates he ran into a sleepy guard who smiled and waved him on once he had been recognized, stating, “Be careful and watch out for those wild beasts. And I know you’ve been told and from the size of that pack I’d say you’re prepared, but I’m required to remind any who leave . . . You do have your emergency supplies, right?”

He shook his head, returned the smile and was out of sight pretty quickly. With the darkness he knew that dawn and the grayness of that time was just about upon him. For him his night vision was great and besides he was on familiar ground so he had no problem moving along. Shortly it would not be so and he might have to stop and await the dawn, but hoped that it wouldn’t be necessary. His impatience was driving him on, and he thought that while he was still excited and fresh that he needed to push as much as he could. Later when the going became difficult he could slow down, be careful. Heck, he had to be because if he got hurt there would be no one to help him. So with anticipation he pushed onward and upward.

* * *

Part two will be with us next week. Remember that as this story unfolds over the weeks that it can be found in the right column under the subtitle November 2014. Halloween has just ended as of yesterday. And we’ve all enjoyed the young children in their costumes saying the timeless statement, “trick or treat”, never understanding what the phrase means until later in life. But oh the rewards, and a time where they actually have permission to get all that candy. We enjoy the ones who are on their first trek into this magical time – the shyness that they show, and yes the fun when you see the lights go on when they learn that they can get something, a treat, for a few magical words. Have a great week and come back for the continuing story, And the Sun Will Rise. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Published in: on November 1, 2014 at 9:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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