Myths and Rumors

Welcome to Christmas 2018. If are reading this on Christmas day then you’ve already opened your presents, and the chaotic day has slowed to a comfortable pace. And maybe you thought it was time to go see what is out there on the web, and maybe a story or two to bring a smile to your face. Later in the day a Christmas dinner but for now that’s the future. Now is your time, a few minutes to yourself to enjoy family, the day, and a bit of nostalgia as you remember past Christmases.

As I’ve done, since this blog has existed, I’ve posted, on Christmas day, a short story which is about this time of year. And this year is no different. I actually begin to write these stories at least three months in advance of Christmas day. After all, it takes time, and work of course, to get the story created, and then just right to present. As the title to this post suggests, this is the name of this year’s story. As I stated with Sunday’s post I will give nothing away other than what little I stated in that same post. That way it is fresh and unknown with no expectations. So for your reading pleasure and for Christmas 2018, is Myths and Rumors:

I cannot say what started me on this, well for lack of a better word, quest, (But if I want to be entirely honest that isn’t necessarily true). I’m one who studies and teaches history. Not one who goes on useless and worthless searches. And I really considered this to be one of those. Still, as I sat here by my campfire, under the canopy of the night sky with the stars shining down, and by looking back to where this began I believe that it went something like this: I guess it might have been that night at the local watering hole and being under the influence of that fermented drink that they serve there, I believe again that it was then it most likely happened.

My friends and I were in a deep discussion about many of the myths and rumors of what the past held. One of the main myths stated that there had been an event somewhere before written history that spoke of a disaster of some kind that was to have been on an apocalyptic scale. Personally I’ve never seen any evidence of such. Still such things have a tendency to come up when that fermented drink is being consumed. It leads to passionate discussions, arguments, and, in my case, commitments.

Oh there were other such rumors or myths talking about large cities, the ability to fly, and to cover great distances on land in some type of conveyance that kept one comfortable. Then there was the one dealing with what our distant – very distant – ancestors celebrated every season around the time of the winter solstice. It represented a time of giving and had a name. Well to be honest most myths and rumors do have names attached. Otherwise nobody would know what you’re talking about. Well this myth’s name is Christmas, whatever “a Christmas” is.

My friends would say, “Johnathon Cane you know that there’s always a kernel of truth in those things. You’ve said so yourself, not only here, but when you teach.”

Well, this isn’t something I can deny since it is the truth. But back onto the subject at hand and that myth about this Christmas. It is said that this celebration was so big that there even was a town named Christmas. Well, actually these myths and rumors said that there was more than one. Every time I’d hear those comments I’d end up laughing. “Really?” I’d ask. “Next thing you’ll tell me is you have some wonderful lowlands for sale for a really good price.”

Somewhere along the line a challenge was put forth. I guess it must have been even though I didn’t necessarily remember. The next day I found myself dealing with one huge headache that hurt worse every time I moved. As far as what we had discussed and talked about the previous night, well, once again, it was well beyond my memory. It wasn’t until those same friends, (and I use that term loosely), over the next many days, asked when I would begin my trek to prove that this town of Christmas didn’t even qualify as myth.

I would reply, simply stating that whatever we discussed over the table at our favorite watering hole was to be left there . . . Even though these same myths and rumors had placed one of those towns north and east of us. I stated, “After all, we wouldn’t – couldn’t to be honest – solve the world’s problems, or really know what happened deep in the past before anything was written.” And, to be honest, any conclusions we came to were influenced by what we were drinking anyway.

So, why was I out here then? Why was I out in this wilderness, where only the wild beasts roamed, searching for a myth that most likely was just that and completely unprovable. Well, if I knew the answer I probably wouldn’t be here. Our time’s tracked with sundials and moon cycles, and I had left at the end of winter figuring to return a no later than the end of fall before winter began to turn things white and it being much too cold to be outside.

Judging from the conditions I was now heading into the beginning of summer which meant that over one third of my time on this search was gone and other than getting a nice tan and seeing a lot of country I had nothing to show for it. Heck, I hadn’t even found any sign that anyone had ever lived out here, let alone had traveled in this wilderness. It seemed that even trails were few and far between. In fact in some of the areas the forest grew so thick that one had to find ways around.

If nothing else the experience I continued to gain showed how diverse and beautiful this land was. Someday it might be filled with people, but that someday was many generations down the road of time. And as I sat by my warming and cooking fire before night truly settled in, these thoughts would continue to haunt me . . . Everything that I just talked about and showed you. And I’d continue to consider myself a fool for agreeing to this.

That is until one night after heading inland towards the east and following a somewhat shaky trail which ran through mountains that appeared to be of solid rock. Well, not quite solid since those alpine trees grew there. Still I could see that these mountains were young by their very jagged and rugged nature. There was a river close by that soothed one with the quiet sounds it produced. Since I would normally set up camp just as dusk was approaching, which I had, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

In a sense it had been an introspective day as I looked inward. Of course since I was in the wilderness I had to remain alert to the dangers inherent to such places. I’d more or less been close to this river for some time and it helped provide the food I needed to survive. And before it became dark I had cooked my meal of fish over the open fire. I must admit that it would have been nice to have someone here with me, but alas I was alone.

In retrospect I realize that it was probably stupid but there was little I could do about it. To have someone to assist and to cover one’s back would be the obvious reason. But there are others such as companionship during the trek, as well around the campfires. And then there probably would be the most important. If I actually did find something out here then they would be able to confirm it. And yes, I did find something.

Night had settled in when suddenly ahead and in the distance the sky lit up. With the mountains around me and the trees of course, it was impossible to determine where the light originated. It appeared to be actually somewhere in the forest coming up from the ground. I thought, impossible. This must be my imagination . . . Probably the moon rising or something like that. Yet I realized that we were at the time of the new moon, which meant no moon.

Trying to judge the distance I knew there would be no way for me to make an attempt to move forward in the dark and locate the source of this light. It would have to wait until the light of day. As I stared at this distant light it seemed to draw me, beckoning for me to come and see. It was like the Siren’s call. As I watched that light I realized it was much brighter than even our village put out. It sent chills through me. What possibly existed that might do this? I had no idea and no answers

And the night and surrounding forest remained quiet and peaceful . . .

I found that I slept well and was up before the sunrise. I searched, with my eyes, in the direction that I saw that fantastic light but it had disappeared. So after eating a hearty breakfast I packed and continued down the trail to whatever destiny awaited me.

It approached midday when I finally turned a corner on this almost nonexistent trail when things suddenly changed. No there was no gradual subtle shift from where I was to what I saw before me. It was instant. The trail initially widened and the surface of that same trail shifted from dirt to a hard broken grey-black surface, and then widened significantly. In fact we probably could have placed two carts side-by-side and still had room. It caused me to pause.

“So Johnathon”, I said to no one since as far as I knew I was the only one here, “what’s this all about?” I stood there wondering what this surface was made of but had no answers. One thing for sure it made the hiking so much easier. With the sun directly overhead there was little shadow to reveal much of what lay ahead, so with this easier path I picked up the pace. Soon I’d need to find a place to camp for the night.

Suddenly, and in the distance, I saw what had to be ruins of what I or we of our time would call a village. And this widened path or trail went right down and between those ruins. It left me wondering why and what such a place would be doing here literally in the middle of this virgin forest. Yet from the size it obviously had been thriving when people were here. It only deepened the mystery. I had taken off my pack to rest my shoulders so I picked it up from the ground and put it back on and quietly continued on into this strange and lost place.

It appeared that many of these, well for lack of a better word, shelters had been more than ground level. As if the ones who lived here had learned how to build upwards adding other spaces on top of the ones that were built upon the ground. It was a unique concept. I know that there were suggestions from my time that said such were possible and that it would simply require that the first level be built heavier to support the weight of the second level. But as far as I knew no one had tried.

Yet here before me was proof that it had been tried somewhere deep in the past and was successful and a common practice. So maybe there was truth to many of those myths and we were simply relearning and rediscovering ideas and practices that we had once known and was common knowledge. These thoughts caused me to pause and really look around. Unfortunately this lost village wasn’t close to anything, anybody, or any of the locations where there were a lot of people.

Not being an artist, and not having much to either draw or write upon I’d had to do the best I could with what I had. Unless . . . unless what? Unless somewhere in these ruins I’d be able to find something to use, some scraps of something that’d allow me to do a better job of recording all that was around me. I had the time so there was no need to hurry this. This meant I might do a thorough job of searching these ruins and maybe find out what happened here. Still this dead village couldn’t have been the source of that light I saw in the night. So should I go further to see if I might find that source, or would it behoove me to simply stop here and do a bit of research?

Again that stopped me. In a sense it had been that bright light in the night that had brought me here. And here might be the greater treasure as far as knowledge. That bright light was more a draw bringing forth a strong curiosity and in the end might actually be that Siren’s call drawing one onward never to find the source. Like chasing those images of water in the desert that always retreat.

So I decided to stay here. After all, if I wanted to continue on and search for that source I would most likely have some additional time to do that. So looking at these shelters from the deep past I headed towards one of the closest that was on my left. There happened to be a bench on the outside and so I sat there, carefully since I didn’t know if it would support me or not. And once I was satisfied with its strength I, once again, removed my pack and set it next to me, relaxing and just enjoying the peace, the quiet, the slight breezes that cooled the after zenith air.

The sun felt wonderful. In fact I suspect that I ended up napping as I awoke suddenly and realized half the after zenith had passed and the sun was well on its way to going behind those mountains that I had just passed through. It was time to find somewhere to spend the night. And that meant that I wouldn’t really begin my exploration of this hidden gem until the morrow. One thing for sure, I wouldn’t lack for wood for my campfire.

At first I thought that I’d stay right here in the middle of these ruins, but thought better of it. Who knew what might actually live in these long abandoned and collapsed shelters. So I retraced my steps back outside of this place lost to time and memory. Just outside there seemed to be an open area with nothing around. Simply the natural grasses with the trees off in the distance, leaving it to appear to be a safe place to camp – at least I thought so at the beginning.

So with practiced ease I set up my camp, and since I had a little more time before dusk settled in, I loaded up with wood so I might have a fire all night if I so desired. Looking off in the distance I saw something I could use to sit on, fetched it and faced it in the direction of this unknown village from the deep past.

Being a scholar it piqued my interest and curiosity wanting to know the history of this place, why it was here, and were there other such places close by. Of course there was no way to know, and to be honest I really didn’t have the time. I felt that once I was done exploring this one that I’d head back home letting my friends know that there were places where people had once lived. But I believed that this one I had found was just that, a place where people had lived, and nothing more.

After eating my evening meal, I smiled, as thoughts of what I’d say, briefly entered my mind. I mean, in the end, even if nothing was truly answered I’d gained experience and seen a lot of beautiful country. That alone made this trek worthwhile. I just wish I could have talked another into coming with me. So looking towards where the trees began, with my back to the ruins, as the light faded, and with the end of dusk these same trees disappeared into the darkness, I looked up at the fantastic display of stars in the sky. I have to admit that I never tired of the night sky.

I felt something, heard what sounded like a whoosh, and was struck by a strong wind that briefly swept over the meadow where I was camped. I watched as my fire leaned sharply towards those trees hidden in the darkness and flared higher before settling back down. What’s that, I thought. Turning back towards the source of the wind chills ran up and down my spine and I thought I’d gone crazy. “This is impossible,” I said out loud. I stood there staring. It was as if I grew roots and was unable to move.

These ruins that I had been in earlier this day were no longer ruins. It now was a live and thriving village or town, (as I learned later) lighting up the surrounding night in bright unnatural light. Looking to my right towards that trail I had followed to get here, well, it was no longer a trail. In fact it had become wide and covered in some substance that made it smooth instead of the broken surface that I’d hiked earlier this day. On that trail were strange wheeled . . . well, I don’t know what one would call them. I’d never seen the like.

I stared at these moving things, which had lights of their own that allowed them to see ahead. And the speed at which they moved was shocking. Even the fastest of steeds couldn’t move this fast. And as they approached the town they slowed. This directed my eyes to the village itself and I saw that there were many of these same things, again for lack of a better word, not moving, and seemed to be corralled in areas that were marked with white lines. I wondered if these things were alive, and those lines kept them there.

Then I saw one of the moving things pull into such an open marked area, stop, the lights and noise it was making ended and suddenly people got out of this thing, smiling laughing and conversing. I was seeing many of the myths coming true right before my eyes. It was then I began to hear music drifting with the night breeze, and as my eyes followed the light created by one of those, I guess I would call them mechanical moving things, I saw the sign at the entrance to this place, and it said: WELCOME TO CHRISTMAS TOWN.

I looked up into the sky and saw that same light I had on the previous night and was in awe of the power to produce such brightness. In fact it turned night into day. I found that suddenly I was being drawn towards this town, this place out of time. I wondered, if I did enter, would I be able to leave. I mean I’m from my time, and I saw this place in my time and only dust moved along and through those silent ruins. Not this vibrant and living place. If I entered would I be pulled into their world never to return to mine?

Yet the colors in the light produced, well I’ve never seen the like. I found that unconsciously, like that moth to flame, I had started moving in the direction to the entrance of this, this unbelievable place. As got closer I noticed that the people were dressed strangely. I don’t know how to describe it only that even they wore bright colors that matched the colors of those shining lights. I noticed that many of those same lights seemed to randomly blink off and then light again like the twinkling of the very stars above. How was this accomplished? What magic allowed such brilliance?

I found that I had actually approached to the very edge of this town and then like a shy child stood in the shadows drinking in all the sights, the music, and the very crush of humanity. I have never seen, until this very moment, so many people. Even if we had brought together the many surrounding villages close to where I live, for whatever the reason might be, it still wouldn’t be enough. These observations left me standing there in shock and awe.

It was then that the night breeze brought to me the smells of food cooking, and other such delights. This left me even more confused as I tried to understand how any of this was possible. I know that earlier this day I looked upon this dead “Christmas Town” with questions in my mind asking who had lived here, and why this was so far from anywhere. Yet, if I wasn’t dreaming, this place seemed to have none of the problems that I had associated it with earlier this day – no, none at all.

It was then that I noticed a booth that sat beside the trail those mechanical things moved on. And it was lit just as brightly as each of the shelters. It reminded me of the booths we used during our gathers where we would buy and sell, barter, and contract for services we couldn’t provide for ourselves. It was then that I realized that the one that was in that booth was looking at me. It was kind of a shock. I mean, up until that moment, I really didn’t know if what I was seeing was touchable, or that the ones who seemed to be in that world would see and be able to become part of my world.

With a smile and hand signals he beckoned me to come out of the shadows and come join him there at this particular booth. To say I was uneasy would be an understatement. I still worried about the fact – for which I had no proof either way – that I’d be able to enter this place and then return to my camp later. So with reluctance I slowly approached the booth and came out into the light. If this one was bothered by how I was dressed or where I’d come from there was no sign. In fact he continued to smile simply waiting.

As I did, come into the light that is, I stared at these shelters. They were beautiful, with the white fronts, large glass – yeah real glass – windows. And the amount of wood used to contrast that white made them the more enticing. Still that worry nagged me. This might be a trap. And if it is then I had already fallen under its spell, and was slowly being drawn in.

As I approached the booth I heard the one behind speak. He had a strange accent and some of the words were unfamiliar, yet I understood him perfectly. It was as if we were communicating on a different level, leaving the verbal as a simple support to be sure each understood the other. He said, “Howdy stranger, I’m Terry, and we’ve been expecting you.”

Now if such a statement did anything it did the obvious, sending chills up and down my spine and making the hairs stand up on my arms. “You’ve been expecting me?” I asked.

Here he smiled once again and said, “Yes . . . and no.” Then he shrugged. “What I mean is that we knew that a stranger in clothing different from the times would arrive. You see it was written a long time ago that such would be the case. I suspect there’s even a name – your name – attached. But, to be honest, it has been awhile since I’ve read it, and there’s been much that has happened since I last read it. Still all who live here know of it.” He canted his head to the side with that slight smile that showed curiosity before continuing.

“Now I know that you might consider this a trap of some sort. If what we have written is accurate then you are from our future, and we deep in your past . . . Meaning that if either I, or you move to the other’s position then we might never be able to return to our own time, remaining forever out of time, living in a place that we would probably never understand. Yet the truth is even stranger than that. Believe it or not this only happens – this shift in time – once a year. I know that a few days before the town arrives, wherever and whenever in time it will, that a bright light will light up the night sky – sort of a beacon to bring the chosen one here.

“Now I don’t know if you measure time the way we do but I’m sure that you do measure time. It might be by the seasons, or the cycles of the moon, or in many other ways.” Terry pointed over to the sign that stated, Christmas Town. “You see even this only exists for the last part of the year and as we approach the day of Christmas, then and only then does this shift in time happen. Call it magic, call it whatever you want or like, yet it happens. Whatever led to this is unknown, (there are thoughts on this), but whatever it is it does happen and we seem to arrive for a short period of time, somewhere in time, revealing our town to whoever happens to be here. And this time, stranger, it is you.

“It is always one person, and what is written always has one change. That change being the name of the person this is revealed to.” Here he laughed. “I guess it’s another reason not to remember the name that is written since it seems to magically change. Anyway Christmas has much myth attached to it. You will have a chance to experience much of what it is about during your night here. Still, and here I must warn you, once you find yourself back in your camp, nothing of this place will be with you . . . well, maybe something, but what will remain will be something only you will see and know.”

He now leaned on the counter that was part of the booth and asked, “So stranger, are you ready to come in and experience what your distant ancestors enjoyed? The joy, the celebration, the peace, the food – yes how can I forget about the food – and the gift giving that is all part of the celebration.”

What can I say? I mean what could I say; he had answered all my questions even though I hadn’t asked them. I felt a need to cross that line, to see what this town had to show me. So I answered, “Sure.” I had to admit that those twinkling bright lights were drawing me in and I wanted, honestly wanted, to see all of what was here before me. And I hoped that this Terry hadn’t lied and that when I awoke the following day that I’d be in my camp.

Terry smiled once again and signaled for a girl, who had to be somewhere between ten and twelve, and at the same time he handed me something that was on a chain. “She is Samantha, and she will be your guide throughout your time here. For you see this time is actually more for the children than adults, and this you will wear around your neck so all can see and know who you are. It allows everything you do here tonight to be at no cost to you.” Once again he laughed. “After all, you do not have what we use to purchase stuff anyway.” He then signaled for the two of us to get together, bowed, and pointed in the direction of the town saying with meaning, “Merry Christmas.”

Samantha smiled and said, “Welcome Mr. Cane.”

I know that he had stated that they knew who would arrive but I had thought this to be impossible. Yet without hesitation she had stated it. I looked at her with questions in my eyes and she looked down somewhat shyly before looking back into my eyes. I think that she knew what I was thinking and questioning. But did I dare ask since I had already been told? She reached up and took my hand and asked, “Shall we go? Our time here is limited and before you know it this will be only a memory with nothing to prove otherwise.”

She sounded old for her age. I wouldn’t have expected such a statement from one so young. And maybe that was exactly why she had been chosen. Anyway I nodded and she led me into this town. How can I describe what I saw and experienced? We went into most of the – as she called them buildings and stores – shelters that were here. I found that they were decorated just as brightly inside as out. And by being with this young girl and the medallion I wore around my neck I was able to sample much of the foods, and was given many small trinkets.

Each time we’d return to the street, and this was what she called it, not the trail as I would have known it, I’d stare at those wonderful strings of colorful twinkling lights that seemed to be around anything that that was above the ground – even the trees. And it seemed that the trees got special attention with brightly colored balls made of glass reflecting the very light that made it appear that the very stars from the night sky and been plucked and placed here for our pleasure.

The music, what can I say, it was surrounding us and she said that this was special music for this time of the year – again this was their way of measuring time. I was shown that book and there written within was a description of this night moving out of the flow of time and when I read my name written there, it literally took my breath away. How is such possible? I mean I had never been here, so how is it possible? No! Inside I thought, it cannot be, so I must be dreaming.

I learned that this came about because of a dying child sometime in their past and when this day arrived and the child has passed on to wherever we go after death something magical happened and this day became a day out of time moving for those hours during this special day to whenever it was deemed this Christmas Town would go. Who knows, it may have been the child’s dying wish. It was to be a gift for all time, and for the ones visiting it from the outside in their time nothing would be out of the ordinary. They’d arrive enjoy their visit here and return to their homes none the wiser to this other event, this unbelievable visit involving me, which was happening at the same time.

I saw excitement growing within this child and finally as the hours drew near to midnight she grabbed my hand and with some impatience pulled me back out to the street. Looking down at her I saw a big happy smile. She looked up and said, “It is time for the arrival of Santa Claus. Many consider him a myth but we know better.”

“So who is this Santa Claus?”

She smiled again at such ignorance. “He brings gifts and small treasures and leaves them under the decorated trees in the homes for the children. This is why this time of year is considered special for us.” Here she laughed, “After all, for a little longer I still am a child and it is a very special time for us as well as everyone.”

So we stood on what she called a sidewalk and waited as most of the people who were here. And speaking of people again I have never seen so many in one place or so many waiting for something that had this crowd almost breathless. Not knowing all I could do was wait. Then in the distance I saw a strange sight. Down that street came what could only be called a sled, something she called a sleigh, being pulled by what she named as reindeer – eight to be exact. In that sleigh was a man who had a white beard and was dressed in red. As the sleigh came closer it was obvious he wasn’t a small person.

Everyone cheered as he came abreast of them and there seemed to be smaller individuals with him that were tossing, out to the crowd, what appeared to be sweets of some kind. As this thing pulled even to the two of us the sleigh stopped and this Santa Claus looked directly at me. At that moment silence dominated this town. He smiled at me saying, “Welcome Johnathon Cane!” I was too shocked to respond, and after a nervous moment I bowed to him and he smiled and returned the gesture.

At that moment a cheer went out and the sleigh moved on down the street and in the distance turned a corner and was out of sight. At this moment Samantha grabbed my hand and began pulling me in the direction that this Santa Claus had gone. “Come on, we must go to where he will stop. While his time here will be short, since it is Christmas Eve, he will still stop long enough to give many here gifts.”

So with some reluctance I let her lead me. Shortly we were in an area that had to be the middle of this town. There was a huge tree in the center decorated just as extravagantly as the smaller ones I saw throughout this town. And I saw most of the people standing in a large circle which opened up when we approached. There was a breathless silence, one that spoke of anticipation . . . Of what I didn’t know.

Suddenly I realized that all eyes were on the two of us including this Santa Claus. He was sitting in a large chair and with that smile of his he motioned for me to come forward. I looked down at Samantha and together we approached him. There seemed to be such a peacefulness attached to him. He cocked his head sideways for a moment as if in thought. Then he said, “Johnathon Cane, you’ve been given a gift. Not one that can be placed in your pocket, or placed for display in your shelter, but one of the mind. You are a teacher and one who studies the past.

“So here before you is a taste of that very past. When you wake tomorrow you will still be near the ruins of this place, and you will wonder if you simply dreamed this.” He laughed, “Well, who am I to say it isn’t a dream? After all isn’t a dream simply another reality? When we are in a dream does it not seem real? And only upon waking do we know the difference.

“From what you’ve learned, studied, and yes even taught nothing would have shown you this. It is just for you.” He then had Samantha and me of course stand on either side of him and suddenly I was blinded by flashes of light. At that moment Samantha led me away leaving me unsettled by what this one had passed on and said to me. I knew I’d have to think long and hard about this night.

As we left I saw others lining up to see Santa Claus. And with most of the crowds here to see him the rest of Christmas Town seemed somewhat subdued and quiet. It was then I heard a bell ringing and I subconsciously counted the tones until I reached eleven and as the twelfth struck I was no longer in the town but back in my camp with the sun beginning to rise.

I thought, wow what a dream. I now looked toward those ruins with different eyes, and later that day when I explored them I was able to locate every place I had visited in that dream – if indeed it was a dream. It was then on the last day before I began my trek home that I found, in an inside pocket, a scrap of stiff paper. When I pulled it out wondering where this had come from I stopped. “No, no, this is impossible. What I saw and experienced had to be a dream!” Yet in my hand was proof that maybe it wasn’t and had been real. What was on that stiff paper was a small image with me, the man in red, and Samantha staring out. Both of them were waving and smiling with me standing there trying to understand.

I sat down in shock, thinking that this can’t be real. I turned it over and there on the back were these simple words:

Merry Christmas – Santa

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Sixteen Days to Christmas

As we approach Christmas day, and the day when I will present my annual short Christmas story, I thought I’d link back to one each week. This week I’ll link to one of my personal favorites, And it Came To Pass. This one and the one I’ll link to next week are Christian based stories. And to be honest Christmas itself is a Christian holiday. Still each country has their own way of celebrating the season and as such the traditions and the way of celebrating this time of year will be different. So these short stories are based on the way it is celebrated here in the US.

Of course all the Christmas short stories up through 2017 are available in the short story novel, Words in the Wind. Available in paperback and the Ebook format. Enjoy! and may this time of year be memorable:

https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/and-it-came-to-pass/

https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/

 

Published in: on December 9, 2018 at 10:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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Available Today!

I’ve released a new book, as of today, titled of all things, Words in the Wind. It’s available as a paperback, or in the popular EBook formats. I’ve titled it this way since all the short stories included in this novel came from this blog. So if you’ve loved and enjoyed the stories that I’ve presented over the years then they are now available in one place.

Eighteen short stories ranging from the contemporary to science fiction. And it includes all the holiday – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas – short stories. Personally I think the stories are great. Of course since I’m the writer it should be that way. I’m including an image of the cover, so no excuses if you really are interested.

God Bless, and have a great week – https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com

 

Published in: on September 11, 2018 at 6:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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Store Front

Recently I’ve been able to add a store to my website, https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/store/. For now it is limited to the US, and Canada. In the near future it will begin to expand to other countries. And as each one comes online I will inform the world through this blog as well as on the website.

Presently I have my novels listed as paperbacks. I, again, have plans in the near future of adding EBooks, specifically EPub to the mix. That way both hardcopy and electronic copy will be available. And while on the subject of novels, Words in the Wind is still on schedule for a September release. This is a novel of short stories. Again as time gets closer I’ll post the actual release date so you can know when it is actually available.

And yes, once the novel is available it will show up in my website store.

Published in: on July 14, 2018 at 6:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Coming in September

As time moves on for all of us I’m happy to announce that I’m on schedule for releasing a novel of short stories in the month of September. I believe the total count will be seventeen. As the time approaches I’ll post the release date so any who are interested will know when to look for the novel.

Whether you’re a longtime follower of this blog, rather new, or have just found this site, I want to let you know that the title of said novel will be, “Words in the Wind“. Funny thing since it’s the name of this blog. And the simple explanation for this is because what will be in that novel is the short stories I’ve presented here over the many years this blog has been in existence.

And while I do not, as of yet, have the cover for this novel it will be similar to the icon I use – namely a picture of a windmill. To me this represents this blog, the title of this site and the upcoming book, and writing in general. The book will be available as paperback, and in the two popular formats for EBooks – namely Epub, and Mobi. It should be available from your favorite retailer.

For each of the short stories I will provide an introduction that I’ve titled, Author’s Notes. The idea is to give some insight into the story, and possibly where I was and what I was thinking at the time I wrote the short story. The stories run the gambit from contemporary to science fiction, and includes a section where you’ll find all of my Christmas short stories by year of publication. In other-words from the earliest to the latest.  In this section I’ll also be including a couple of Thanksgiving short stories, and a couple that deal with a Halloween theme.

Overall it should be a fun read and novel that is perfect for those times when you don’t have a lot of time but still want to read something. And because of the varying lengths it means that it should fill any such time period no matter what you have available – God Bless! (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/)

Published in: on June 23, 2018 at 7:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Words in the Wind

Available now, three new novelsThe Ones Before, Discovery, and An Ancient Fire. All part of the Discovery Trilogy (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction). An adventure dealing with a time where mankind is finally recovering from a major apocalyptic event, and in the first two novels deal with a myth of a great people known as The Ones Before. Yet there is no proof they ever lived. It will be up to the present Head Keeper of the Past to either prove or disprove those myths.

Of Gods Strangers and Messengers, Science Fiction Adventure, ISBN: 978-1-946179-12-8 Paperback, (and the link to the webpage for this book: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction), and Unexpected Unplanned and into the Unknown, a Post-Apocalyptic episodic novel, ISBN: 978-1-946179-15-9 Paperback, (and the link to the webpage for this book: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) Both are available as paperback and in the EBook format. They were released on July 14,2017.

The Harsh Lands, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) is available as a paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-00-5, for Kindle, ASIN: B01N69YCCW, or in the EPub format ISBN: 978-1-946179-02-9. This novel is the complete Survival trilogy in a single book with a length of over 1150 pages.

Time of Isolation: (link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction)  Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-06-1, Kindle, ISBN: 978-1-946179-07-4, and Epub, ISBN: 978-1-946179-08-1. Desperate to Survive: (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-09-8, Kindle, ISBN: 978-1-946179-10-4, and Epub, ISBN: 978-1-946179-11-1, are available for purchase as of April 21, 2017. These releases are second editions with the novels revised and updated. At this time A Taste of History Past, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) will remain as a first edition and EBook only with this being the final book in the Survival trilogy.

The Woman in the Snow 2nd edition, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/christian-fiction). Contemporary Christian Fiction available now: Paperback, ISBN 978-1-946179-03-6, Kindle, ISBN 978-1-946179-04-3, and Epub, 978-1-946179-05-0)

* * *

And with this ping back you will be reading the Christmas short story from 2016. I have to admit that at times I draw a blank as far as a specific subject and how I’m going to approach one of these short stories, so I asked my wife for some suggestions. I try to write the first drafts at least a couple of months ahead of when I plan to post. That way if the original story doesn’t work I have time to write another. And so, The Ornament, is based on her suggestions. https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/the-ornament/

Words in the Wind is number twelve. And by looking at the title one should be able to see that it’s the same as this blog. So this novel will be one of short stories I’ve written over the years, and then presented here on this blog. It appears to be roughly fifteen short stories Some were written to be submitted to writing contests, even though in the end most never made it, (costs involved), and others specifically to be presented here on this blog. Then there were some that I wrote because the idea was there leading to the story.

If things go to plan, then there will be an introduction to each of the short stories similar to the introduction to this series of posts, and for which this post is the final in this series. As it stands at this moment I have no plans to go beyond book twelve. Yet, the one thing I’ve learned over the years is that this isn’t written in stone and it’s clear as mud as far as my future as a writer. I’ve found that I really do enjoy creating these stories, and the fictitious characters that live in these imaginary worlds. (In fact as I write this I’ve had new images of a possible story begging me to write it before I lose it.)

I’ve found that I become as emotionally involved with them, (the characters) as if they were real breathing, living people. And I guess in a way they are. I see them in my mind’s eye as they live their lives. Still in the end their world only exists between the pages of that novel. They have their challenges to overcome, as any of us, and live their lives inside a complicated world, just as we do in ours. The only real problem is their lives are static. Once the story is complete nothing changes.

I guess, in a sense we can say the same thing about us. Once our lives are complete, for us nothing changes beyond that point. The difference lying in the fact that in our world time continues to move on well beyond our short time here. In those novels, once they are complete, everything stops, and ends . . . at least until a new reader picks up the novel and begins the adventure all over again.

I haven’t decided how I’ll be breaking down the way the stories will be presented. What I mean here is; will it be chronological, (meaning when I wrote it), by subject, or possibly by the season the story was written for. At this moment I’m leaning towards sections dealing with the seasons, although not all qualify, so in the end it may end up being a hybrid.

With this post we wrap up 2017, and move onto 2018 where I’ll be starting a new and final series for this blog. It will deal with my personal road to self-publishing and being an independent or indie author. Have a great week and God Bless! (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/)

Published in: on December 30, 2017 at 7:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Child

Every year since I began this blog I’ve written a short story for Christmas and this year is no different. I’m foregoing the list of my novels that usually precedes the “post for the week”. If you’ve read my past Christmas stories you know that I usually try to approach them from an alternate direction dealing with the human condition, showing that there are many who don’t have what we have, and as such this time of year isn’t necessarily one of joy and happiness.

This year I decided to give the story a definite science fiction twist, so it will, at first, appear to be something that doesn’t apply. Still, stay with it and as you read the story it will become clear. As in most short stories,  one must build a living breathing world and do it concisely, and yet give it depth so that the fictional world feels real. If we saw this in a book it would be roughly fourteen pages long.

Please enjoy, The Child, and have a great Christmas season – F. D. Brant (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/):

She is my sister, the youngest of the family. She’s known as En to us, but to the community, the place where we live, she’s known as the child. I guess a little background here would let you know what this is all about. First off the one telling this story is obviously me. And my name is Fe. I’ve been told that it means iron, and because of the fact that only half of my siblings survived I was given that name in hope that it meant I would survive. I’m one of three surviving children of my parents and being the oldest put more responsibility on me. But to be honest it wasn’t a position by birth, as I was the second born.

My oldest brother only lived days before succumbing to what I’ve never known. I just know that whatever it was, in the end it took two others. Had we all lived then I would have been part of a family of eight – my sires or parents, me, three brothers and two sisters. Instead there was just my younger brother, and then the youngest being En. And because of the tragedy of family we’ve always been close.

I remember the day my sister came into the world and we, my brother and I heard the cry of a newborn coming from the room where mom had just birthed her. And shortly we were invited in to meet her. It was there for the first time that we learned some of the differences between females and males. Of course there’s much more to this, but at our age such was of no importance. Both my brother, and me thought that there had to be something wrong with this baby as she lay naked on mom’s chest. She was missing something between her legs and it was such a surprise. I mean I remember when my brother came into the world and he had what I had. So I thought that this was how every baby was.

Mom called both of us over – dad was there next to her and smiling – and we were shy about it. With the tragedies that had happened we really didn’t want to mention this obvious defect. But I guess moms can read their children because it seemed like she knew what we were thinking and smiled as she said, “Meet your new sister. We have named her En.” There was a pause and I could see she was trying hard not to laugh. Then she said, “This is the way girls are. It is one of the differences between you and her.” Mom did laugh lightly, although we saw that it hurt. “Later . . . much later you will see other changes that make girls different, but for now this will be the only one.”

Well, I had to admit, at that moment, it was a big difference. But after a short time it was something we didn’t even notice. Only that as she got older, began to walk, and get into our personal stuff, we had the normal arguments, small fights, and complaints that all children have. Still, there was something different about her. She was always smaller, well no surprise here since she is the youngest. But even here it seemed as if she would remain small. Then there were her eyes – always large, deep, and bottomless, as if she might see forever. She had a beautiful face that at times looked like mom, and other times reflected some of dad.

It was as she approached her fourth year that the reason for this other difference arrived. She had been given the gift. Yet for many who had received this in the past it had been anything but a gift. In fact it was more of a curse. It was when this gift manifested itself and was learned by the rest that she became to be known to our small village as the child.

Oh, I believe that it’s important that I break here and tell you a bit about our village – if one can call it such. Small is just about all one can say. And we are surrounded by desert. From what we’ve heard this world is almost completely desert. But for me personally I have no way of knowing or confirming this as I’ve lived here in this village, with the isolation, for my entire life. If we didn’t have visitors, now and then, coming from other areas that are protected from this great desert, then it would be easy to assume that we were the only survivors.

Don’t ask me why I use that word – survivor, because I don’t know. I can only say is that the word seems to fit. Maybe a remnant of a greater time in the past, honestly I don’t know. All I know is that this line of reasoning seemed right. Did I have any facts to back this up, or was there anything written in our history to support such a thought, no. It was just a feeling that I had. And I guarantee that there will be no way for me to travel beyond our lands. I do not have the time, the resources, or the need to leave and explore the vast desert.

Where we live is in a series of canyons – not large, but for whatever the reason they prevent the desert from encroaching here. To reach our lands, and the precious waters, required one to enter through a narrow passage that led downward into a series of narrow trails which were always shadowed because of the walls that rose to the sky. I suspect it was because of these features that kept the desert out.

Winds always howled down those narrow passageways. And sand would often pile near the entrances to the trails, but for whatever the reason would become less and less as one hiked through. Eventually they would open into the canyons where we lived. There was a small lake fed by a small stream that came from the living rock. And for as long as we had been here it had never failed. We prayed that it would always be that way. And when on those canyon trails leading to our village it was always cooler. In fact because of the small lake even with the full sun during the zenith it remained cooler than the surrounding desert.

It is here where we have our small herd, and where we grow our crops. And yes we even have a few trees, most bearing fruit of one kind or another. So we’ve never lacked for sustenance. While we’ve never had a lot, overall what we had met our needs. And in one of the side canyons we had a few mines. It was what we pulled from the ground that we traded with others. Still the traders only arrived once a year, and when it’s more often, which is rare, they would only show maybe twice more.

Why is this important to know? It is because the gift arrived after the departure of the traders, meaning that it would be at least another year before word got out that the gift had manifested itself once again. And to be truthful it was much longer than that before it became known. I’d like to say that this was something exclusive to our village but that wouldn’t be true. And once it arrived then many would travel to the village to seek out the one. But one of the issues lay in the fact that when the gift arrived it presented a different power to each that had received it. So in many cases once others had come to see the one they left disappointed because what had manifested would be of no use.

I suspect that in my sister’s case it would be the same. Still, at the same time what she had was really strong . . . So strong indeed that if she touched you during one of her visions, then you’d see the same vision. And you would find yourself standing beside her inside of those images. You knew it was her, but here she appeared to be different. As I’ve said I felt she would be small, and when she had attained her full measure she came only to my shoulders, and I am of average height. Yet, in those visions she is tall, taller than any.

I remember the first time I became aware of her ability. Like I said she was almost four when it first happened, and to her she thought that what she did was something everybody did. And being her older brother I thought that all of it was just her imagination. Then one day she happily pointed out towards the lake and said, “Do you see them? They’re beautiful!” (Beautiful was a word she was proud of, and always had carefully pronounced it.)

I looked and saw a few birds in the trees that were close to the lake and replied, “Yes, the birds are pretty.”

She looked at me as if I was crazy. She put her hands on her hips in an almost perfect imitation of mother when she wasn’t happy, which made me laugh. Then somewhat irritated she said, “I think they are horses.”

“Horses?” I know of horses, but the only time we’ve ever seen any was when the traders came. And I know that she had probably seen them at that time, but we had none and could afford none. I looked really hard and only saw the birds in the trees. It was then she pointed, followed by grabbing my arm.

I stood frozen because the moment she grabbed my arm the whole scene in front of me changed. We were standing on a large plain that seemed to go on forever. Catching my breath I saw, in the distance, large herds of wild horses wheeling and dancing, running and forming patterns as the colors shifted and changed. There seemed so many that it was impossible to know the size in numbers. Then she let go and the world returned to what I knew. I found I’d been holding my breath and had to let it out and begin to breathe again. I asked, “How’d you do that?” I was incredulous.

She shrugged and asked, “Do what?”

I guess to her it was a normal thing. I thought a moment, still shaken from what I had seen, and made a decision. Our sires needed to know about this. So I tentatively took her hand expecting the images to return but they were gone. I saw disappointment on her face saying to me that for her they were gone also. And so hand in hand we went back to our shelter. It was nearing the zenith meal anyway and both of them would be there.

When we entered En, seeing mom, screamed a scream of happiness and ran to her wrapping her arms around her legs, looking up into mom’s eyes saying, “I love you mommy!”

Smiling and looking down at her one and only daughter mom laughed and said, “And I love you too.” She looked up at me and said, “You’re back early. It will be a few before the food will be on our table. So take your sister outside and wash.”

I nodded and pried her off mom’s legs and we went to the trough outside and cleaned up and headed back inside. At this point I didn’t know how to tell them, so I waited while the five of us ate. Then I simply blurted out, “I think En has the gift.”

There had been some conversation going on between my sires, and suddenly it got quiet. My, well our father, looked at me and asked, “What did you say?”

I repeated what I said, and then explained what had happened, followed by the fact that her vision had only lasted a short time. They both looked at me and then at En, and then back at me. He asked, “Are you sure? Are you sure it wasn’t your imagination, or some game the two of you were playing?”

“No sir. To be honest I thought she was imagining something, but when I saw what she saw I knew better.”

He turned to En and asked, “What did you see down by the lake today?”

She really hadn’t been paying that much attention to what was being said as she was enjoying the food and was concentrating completely on the meal. She lifted one shoulder in a partial shrug and said, “Horses . . . lots of horses, and they were running and playing.”

“And where did you see them?” He asked quietly.

As if they were there all the time she replied saying, “Oh on the other side of the water. I couldn’t get to them because of that but they were having lots of fun and I really wanted to have fun with them.” At that point she went back to eating. We all knew that after the meal she’d be heading for a nap.

He turned back to me with questions in his eyes. “Okay son, did you see the horses?”

“Like I said dad, all I saw was the lake, the trees and the birds, nothing more. Then she grabbed my arm and all of it vanished and I saw great herds of wild horses.”

 

For the next few years we, as a family, tried to keep it quiet. Still we all had a chance to experience her visions, and I guess you can say that they did enrich our lives. Still, what she had been given wouldn’t help any so we felt that keeping it a family secret was the best. Then one day while she had been out with her friends she came home shaken and quiet. At that very moment we knew she had experienced one of her visions and from the look on her face, and the pallor of her skin, and the fact she had tear tracks on her face told us all we needed to know.

Mom, with concern showing in every part of her being asked, “En, are you all right?”

At that moment En broke out in a fresh bout of tears and ran to mom and clung to her. This was the first of many visions that followed that shook her, and to be honest, us. Up until that first one all of her visions had been pleasant, pleasing to our minds. None of us understood, at the time, what was happening or what these visions were. And we were sure that no one would be interested in the gift that only presented images that had no real purpose or use for the world as it was.

We were all together one evening when that first different one repeated. We saw the fear in her eyes as she stared sightlessly out into nothing. To see the rest of us gathered around and held onto her. What we saw shook us to our very core. When we had come together as a family we found ourselves standing on a mountain and we saw each of us next to each other. There was a strong wind blowing and while the air was warm, the breeze was cool. We sensed more than saw that something ominous was about to take place.

I stared out into the distance and saw what had to be what we knew as a city. Cities didn’t exist now, only in the past. We were too few, and the places where any might live and survive were even less. Suddenly the skies lit up with a blinding bright light right over that city, followed by a cloud of some kind climbing high into the sky. From this point of origin a large cloud layer rolled out in every direction hiding what was under it. And when we could see everything it had touched was gone.

Looking at the family and En I saw shocked disbelief. And then I, as I suspect they, realized that even here we wouldn’t be able to escape that cloud of death. Panic began to rise in all of us and we desperately looked for any way to escape, but there was none. Then as this cloud began to climb the mountain approaching us at a speed greater than any horse, or anything we ever saw moving, despair and dread filled us and as one we turned to run, and then we were back in our shelter.

We looked at each other surprised that we were back, and still alive. And then we all looked at En and saw that she was shaken and crying. These images were too much for one so young. How did one deal with such? How did one stay innocent? How could one not be destroyed from such images? We reached out and held her close. It was the only thing we could do.

It was later that I began to wonder what this image was all about, what did it represent? We hadn’t been there long enough to see what had actually happened to that city that was in the distance, and whether the visions she had meant anything at all. And the fact that she had no control over them, no way to suppress them meant that others like this one would arrive unbidden leaving her shaken, as well as any who happened to be in physical contact at that moment. And it was one of these incidents that finally revealed to the village that En had the gift. No it wasn’t one of the scary ones, thankfully.

It was a few years later during one of the celebrations that included dance, song, and fellowship. During one of the dances where the entire village would dance as one, with each holding on to each other’s hands, she had one of her visions. Suddenly, other than the ones playing the instruments everything went quiet. En who was in the middle with the other children, which included me of course, and all the grown ones on either side started having one of her visions, and fortunately it was one of the early ones she had many years in the past. It was of the vast herds of horses dancing and wheeling on the vast plains. And as quickly as it was there, it was gone, leaving the village breathless.

Fortunately nobody, other than the family knew who was responsible or what such a thing represented. For now it allowed, for a short time, En to remain anonymous since the whole village experienced the vision. It became the talk of the village for a long time. Eventually, as in most things, time and other incidents put it out of the memories of most. Still such cannot remain a secret forever. And in truth, this vision seen by all had leaked out beyond, and the rumors began saying that the whole village had been given a taste of the gift and that there would be a great chance that someone there would be the receiver.

Well, we knew that had already happened – we the family. We all wanted to protect En, but there wasn’t any way we could protect her from those visions. Visions that had to tear her apart inside as all that death and destruction came to her. Eventually, by the way she’d act and react, the ones around us began to suspect, and eventually know. We, the family knew that we wouldn’t be able to keep it a secret forever. Still, in a small part of our souls we hoped to.

One day we were called to the meeting area where the leaders came together. We were confronted with what had been observed, and asked to give answers to the questions. No it wasn’t put forth with suspicion or with fear. We were asked honest questions for which we knew we’d have to give honest answers. The one point we had to make, simply stated, was that the gift En was given would help no one. We guessed that what we saw when we were with her in those visions were images from the past. And as such would do no one in the present any good. And yes what she had was strong – strong enough that others, when in contact with En, would experience the same vision.

It didn’t take long for the word to spread beyond our village, and even though it had been stated that one here in this village had the gift this manifestation would benefit no one. Still it didn’t prevent many from making the trek from wherever they were to see and experience the gift firsthand. And it meant that somehow that our village would have to figure out how to support these additional ones putting a further strain on what we had.

Eventually the fervor died down. Since she, at this time, had no control over when these visions of hers would arrive, many would leave disappointed, and at times angry to have not experienced firsthand one of these visions. And this led to both doubt that she had the gift from some, and excitement from others because they had experienced and lived one of those visions. Eventually the archivists wanted to see, figuring that what she experienced might have truly been the past of this world. They wanted to write down what they saw.

In the end even they finally left. The problem, they learned, was there was no continuity, no way to tell what they saw through her visions was the past, and there was no timeline with those visions. So they had no way to know when or what happened. It was during this time that the visions became stronger, and when inside them one could use all one’s senses. Now they – these visions – were as real as looking out in the morning watching the sun rise above the horizon. Real as feeling the chill of the morning, and then the warmth as the heat drove that chill away.

Now you tasted the air, felt the humidity, sensed the subtle changes that happened when you hiked through an area. It was the smell of the greenery, the sounds of birds flying, the feel of the wind, and the moving of the grass in the grasslands as those winds created waves. And unlike before where you could only look where she was looking, one now could turn in any direction and see the whole world, and at times it would bring tears. Why tears you ask? Because what we’d see showed this world in all the beauty and variety that no longer existed. It made one want to spend all their time inside of these visions.

Yet, during all of this time, the visions covered large areas, great vistas, mountains, cities in the distance, and such – nothing up close and intimate. That would change later. Still, we appreciated what we saw. Unfortunately for her these stronger visions would wipe her out and she’d easily sleep two days before recovering. It was a worrisome thing. One so small had only so much energy to expend, and for whatever the reason, the visions seemed to require a lot.

Eventually the ones coming to see the gift trickled down to a few, only showing up with the traders, making it easier on everybody. And slowly as she grew up she began to gain control over the visions. No, she couldn’t manifest them on command, but she was able to shrink the areas down, make the scenes more intimate. And eventually we began to understand one of our yearly celebrations.

Here in this vast desert there are but two seasons and two major celebrations. And they, the celebrations, rotate around the growing and harvesting of our crops. The first celebration has to do with the plantings and the hope for a successful wet season – such as it is – to allow our crops to grow, and the last is after the harvest where we’d gather and give thanks for the bounty. Yet, here with this celebration another seemed to be a part of it, but had no direct connection to the harvest. It was the celebration of the birth of a male child.

Now to be honest, we always feel great with the birth and survival of a child, as death seems to follow as often as life. Yet, for whatever the reason this had more significance than this. And with reverence we, the whole village, and as I understand it, the whole world, would honor this child. And maybe, in the end, this is why En had those visions, even though it took years for her to learn how to control them.

And we really never understood why or when this portion of the celebration had become part of us, but it had always been there, and important. We felt that what this part represented is the future, since a child coming into this world held its own promises for such. If one traveled, which I mentioned I didn’t, then one would most likely see this celebration in exactly the same way everywhere, and at the same time of the year.

We, the village, were sitting around the communal fire, quietly celebrating this portion of the annual harvest celebration when I noticed En smiling, having that distant stare saying she was having one of her visions. She reached out and touched the ones on either side of her, and they realized what was happening. Shortly we were all arm in arm and enjoying what she was seeing.

So different from those of the past, as this was up close and personal, an intimate view of this same celebration, but at the same time different. In fact it was two visions with a small break between. It explained everything to us – everything.

First we saw what might have been a desert, but in a way not really. Then we slowly got closer to what had to be a village. What and who we saw, well let’s say it was different. We saw what might have been a star shining bright overhead, and in a place reserved for the animals a young woman about to give birth. And with that birth the air filled with beings that seemed to hang in the sky proclaiming the birth of this child – the very one we celebrated. To say we were in awe is an understatement.

This scene faded, and before we broke contact the second began and it was obvious that some time had passed as we were inside a room, which had to be part of someone’s home or shelter. It was night, and when we looked outside it appeared to be lit up with some type of artificial light. Something we didn’t have now, but we’d seen something similar in other visions of hers.

In that room was a tree, but of a type we were unfamiliar, and that tree was decorated and lit with lights of many colors. The room was warm and inviting, and there was music in the background. We heard the words, “For unto us a child is born”, and we realized it had to be that child we’d seen in the previous vision. It was then as we listened in awe, that the words spoke of a Savior, and at that moment we realized that this is exactly what we celebrated now. Even after all the time from then to now, this was still with us.

Then that vision too faded away and we were back. Looking around I saw that everybody was quiet, introspective. Now we knew, now we understood. We had a rare opportunity to understand, to see, and to tie it all together. That child had come into the world to save us, to show us the light that lit the darkness. It was God providing a way to bring us back to Him.

Thanksgiving 2017

Consider this a bonus since it’s Thursday, late in November. Most likely most of us here in the USA are gathering with family and friends, and for others heading out for a long weekend away from that daily grind. It is a time to give thanks for what we have, and to appreciate our families and personal relationships.

We normally feel the warmth of the home where we are celebrating, and the smells that will be filling the rooms bring smiles of past times. Maybe the time when you personally sat at the “kids” table and looked longingly at the “adult” table and wondered when you’d be able to sit there yourself.

I’ve been writing this blog for seven years and in that time only wrote one short story for Thanksgiving. So I decided this year to link back to it. So if you have a spare moment and want to escape into a fictional world, seeing this time of year through another’s eyes then follow this link back and enjoy! https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/returning-home/

To you and yours may it be a great day, and God Bless!

Time of Isolation, Chapter 9, Part 7

The Harsh Lands is available as a paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-00-5), for Kindle (ASIN: B01N69YCCW), or EPub (ISBN: 978-1-946179-02-9). This is the complete Survival Trilogy in a single novel, with a page count over 1150.

Last week we left the team finding Saige still alive after his fall. In many ways this accident is fortuitous as he discovers a hidden facility buried deep inside the Sacred Mountains. Still who built it and why is an unknown. To add to this mystery it is abandoned, and with the maintenance bots still functioning it seems to be in perfect working order. As Saige leads them they all feel like they’ve come home, and they are with what is familiar and common. It is a strange and unexpected feeling. Here, once inside of what appears to be a lunch room or cafeteria, Shellian spies what must be public restrooms and with her urging she and Seirra head out to see if they are still functioning. After all, to have real restrooms after all this time in the wilderness would be a luxury. And with this we close out part 6. (The Survival trilogy – Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past, and with the release of The Harsh Lands, are available from your favorite EBook retailer, with the exception of the Harsh Lands which is as described above.):

Shaking his head Saar said. “Now that is something I will never understand.”

“What’s that Saar?” Stone asked.

“Why is it that any time a woman wants to use a public restroom that they always must go in packs, or at least two of them? After all when we use them we just go. Sometimes it’s with another guy, but most of the time it’s just us, one at a time. But if there are at least two women, then they always tag team it.”

“I’ve never thought about it”, Stone replied. “But you’re right. I’ve never seen any of them go to one of these things alone.”

They sat at one of the tables that were anchored to the floor waiting until the women made an appearance from their trip. With no one speaking initially and all just looking around. “I would say that this place could seat maybe fifty or sixty easily”, Saar said. “And I suspect that whoever was here probably worked in shifts, so that means that this place could have had at least one hundred to one hundred and fifty people, if not more. What’s off in the other direction from that administration area Saige?”

“Don’t know really, didn’t have time to explore it yet. But my guess is, that’s it is the main way through. It wouldn’t make sense for the main thoroughfare to go through a place where people eat. But to have a place to eat close to the working areas makes total sense.”

“True, but working areas for what?” Stone asked. “While I know that we more or less just walked through that cavern I didn’t see anything that would constitute work.”

About this time Shellian came out of the restroom and quickly joined them at the table. “Hey! Guess what we found?”

“I hope an operating restroom.” Saar answered

Laughing she said. “Yes, and so much more. Care to guess?”

“Well a working restroom is plenty for me.” Turning to the others he asked. “I wonder how they did it? This place hasn’t been used in what seems forever. Yet so much of it appears to be in working order.”

Placing her hands on her hips and shaking her head she said. “You men always are looking at how things work, instead of just appreciating that it just does. Okay since none of you want to guess I’ll tell you. These restrooms are equipped with showers. The real thing and like everything else they appear to work and there’s hot water also. So I don’t know about you but I am tired of smelling like smoke and I for one am tired of smelling dirty bodies. So I suggest that the three of you go check it out and if yours are so equipped go clean up. Oh by the way there seems to be supplies of towels and believe it or not some type of clothing that whoever worked here used. So we can also get out of these skins and into something a little more comfortable.” She then turned around and headed back into the restroom.

Looking at each other for a moment they then got up from the table and headed into their public restroom. Pushing through the door they found a large area with the standard urinals, toilets, and sinks. But further in there was a section that held supplies of toweling and clothing, and just beyond that there were showers. Not waiting they stripped down, looking in one of the cabinets they found something that could pass as soap and went into the open shower area. Later, with the clothes provided in the restrooms they emerged feeling clean for the first time in what seemed like forever. But even though they had started their showers later than the women, the ladies had yet to emerge. “Wonder what this material is?” Saar asked idly, as they waited for the women to make their appearance. “You know I’ve forgotten how good a shower feels.” The rest had to agree, and to be out of those skins, which had needed cleaning for a while, but with nothing to change in to, they had to make do. Looking at the clothes that they were in, they found that it changed their looks, now not appearing to be a part of the primitives. The items were one-piece coverall style – making it easy to get in and out of. The material could have been paper, so they were a one-time use and then probably recycled. In the supply lockers all of this clothing was a simple light blue. It appeared to use some type of magnetic closure so there were no buttons or other type of fasteners. “I don’t know about you . . .” Stone said. “But I think I want to go check out the kitchen area. If this place is similar to the cities then they probably have food processors in there. I really don’t think that this would be an easy place to grow food. Although I bet with something this size they probably have hydroponics somewhere.” Looking around they saw that the women still had not emerged and so agreed with Stone. They all got up and headed into the kitchen area. The first thing that hit them was that everything was spotless, and no dust lay anywhere. It was obvious that it had been shut down with the idea that it could be a long time before anybody returned. “This will take some time to figure out.” Saige said. “This was a careful shutdown and it appears that the equipment has been mothballed, but with the idea that it can be brought back quickly if needed – which makes sense, as this would be one of the first places I would reactivate after returning.”

Shellian and Seirra finally emerged from the restroom and saw that the men were not around. “Now we couldn’t have beaten them out”, Shellian said. “After all I’ve never seen a man take a shower that he wasn’t out way before any of us. So I wonder where they went?”

“I think I hear voices over there towards the kitchen.” Seirra said as she pointed in the direction.

“I do think you’re right. Shall we go and join them?” They headed into the kitchen and found the men once again in deep discussion about something. “Okay guys what’s gong on?” Shellian asked.

“Wow! Look at you two.” Stone exclaimed. “Oh while we were waiting it was decided that we’d come in and check out the kitchen. After all we are just about out of what we brought with us. So it was a good time to check it out since we really didn’t know how long the two of you would be. But personally I can say the wait was worth it.”

Looking at Stone with askance Shellian asked. “Now what is that supposed to mean?”

Laughing at her look he said. “Now Shellian you have to admit that with the way we have had to live that none of us looked the best that we could. I am just saying that I appreciate the change. Besides it appears that you and Seirra had more choices in the one-piece outfits than we did. We had the choice of, oh let me see, one color, while I can tell there was a much greater selection for you – and I have to admit that they fit rather well also.”

Shellian had picked an outfit that was pale yellow and with her tanned skin it worked very well for her, while Seirra had found one that was a darker shade of green and again had done her justice. Stone continuing said. “It’s nice to be really clean again, and if I cannot appreciate what it does then . . .” He shrugged looking to the two other men for support.

Laughing Saige said. “Don’t look at us Stone. It looks like you’re doing a great job of digging your own grave right now, and besides I’ve never succeeded in winning when sparing with words with either Shellian or Seirra. So leave me out of it.”

Saar looking around at everyone just shook his head. “Okay guys not to change the subject, but to change the subject, we do need to figure out how to get this back on line so that we can use the facilities here.”

“Breathing out deeply Stone said, “Thank you Saar, and you’re right. But I think that Saige should continue to show us what he has found so far. Then we can come back and try and get this and anything else we need back on line. So Saige, if you would?” Stone then stepped back and gestured for Saige to continue.

Looking around at the other four Saige said. “Okay? If you are ready, let’s do this. Like I said before we were interrupted . . . not that it was a bad interruption.” He added hastily as he headed through them and led them out of the eating area through a set of double swinging doors and into a hallway. Looking down the hallway there were a number of closed doors on both sides. He turned left where there was only one door at the end. And like the one they had just gone through it was double swinging doors. Once through the door they found themselves in a large room with a single table and many chairs around it. There were some small cabinets around the perimeter and on the walls that the doors attached to. But the opposite side was all windows. But at the moment, with the soft light that was in the room, they could not see through them. It was now nighttime and completely dark out. So the only things visible were their reflections on the glass, or whatever the windows were constructed from. Glass first came to mind, but then they realized that unless it was tempered that regular glass would probably been destroyed by now. “Well I was going to show you the outside portion, but that looks like it will have to wait until the morning. I guess we should explore in the other direction from the cafeteria, dining area or whatever you want to call it, and see what exists in that direction. So far I haven’t found any living areas, but I suspect with the size of this place, there has to be.”

* * *

When the women return from the public restrooms the men are nowhere to be seen. And when the two groups come together Stone digs a hole for himself at which point Saar changes the subject, and saves him further embarrassment. And as the team continues their discoveries Saige tells the others what he has discovered so far. It is too late in the day to go back into the hidden valley, so the decision is to search another part of this facility. And with this we close out part 7. Have a great week and God Bless!

Time of Isolation, Chapter 9, Part 6

And with this post we close out 2016:

First and once again I’m announcing the release of my novel, The Harsh Lands – The Complete Survival Trilogy. It is presently available as either a paperback (ISBN:978-1-946179-00-5) or an EBook but only for Kindle (ASIN:B01N69YCCW). I’m still dealing with conversion problems transferring the manuscript to the EPub format. Once I’m successful then the novel will be available in all the popular formats.

And as I have been doing all month, I’m presenting links back to my previous Christmas short stories throughout the month of December. This one I wrote for 2015 and is titled, Time Shared, Time Lost, and this is seen through the eyes of a child.

https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2015/12/26/time-shared-time-lost/

Two weeks ago we left Shellian and the other three members of the team packing and heading in the direction where Saige fell. She has no idea if he survived the fall, or whether there’s even access to this hidden valley or canyon. And as they approach the area where the accident took place she sees Saige standing there. To see him fall and expect the worst and then find him apparently alive and walking is a shock. (The Survival trilogy, Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past, and now The Harsh Lands, are available as Ebooks, with the exception of The Harsh lines which is available as stated above.) And with this introduction is part 6:

Smiling although it hurt Saige said, “Now don’t just stand there with your mouth open say something.”

“Sorry. Ah, but, I saw you fall and from what I could see that valley was completely walled –especially on this side. There was no way out of there. So how’d . . ?

“How did I get out sis? Is that what you are asking?” He then turned slowly around and said to all of them. “Just follow me and all will become clear.” He then began to limp off in another direction beckoning them to follow. Shocked by seeing him it took a moment for the rest to react and begin to follow. Since he was moving slowly because of his injuries he was not that far ahead of them. Saar looked at Shellian and said. “He obviously has some injuries, but for someone who fell as far as you said he did, he seems to be in remarkable health.” Saige appeared to be heading straight for a rock wall. There appeared to be no reason for this action as there was no trail, and the area was somewhat exposed. Shrugging they tried to catch up only to watch him walk right up to the wall and then disappear from sight. It surprised them enough that they stopped in their tracks once again, and again stared. What was it that Saige had discovered? They quickened their pace and then when they approached the same area Saige made an appearance as if he had walked through solid rock and then asked. “Does something about this appear to be familiar?”

“Yes.” Saar stated. “Yes this appears to be something similar to what we are using in the cities to hide entrances. But why would such a thing be here?”

“A very good question and one I think will need some time to confirm. But my initial impression is that this, although obviously much older, is of the same technology that we use in the cities.”

“No. No can’t be. There’s no record of any of this here in these mountains. Yes I know I’m the doctor, but I always enjoyed history and it has been my hobby. Well, at least until our world fell apart.”

“Understood Saar, but before we really get cold let’s all step inside. I think that there are many surprises awaiting all of us.” He then turned and once again disappeared. This time they followed and found that they were standing on a large platform sitting above a large open cavern, and it was warm. When the warmth hit them they shivered a moment as the heat penetrated. “I haven’t had much time to do any real exploring here. And I know it is almost a miracle that I am even walking let alone standing before you. And I’ll explain my side of this adventure, but let’s take the ladder down to the floor. I can see by the size of your packs that you’ve brought everything with you. Would that be because someone lit the signal fire?” He saw them nod their heads. He then gingerly climbed down the ladder to another platform, and then continued the process through two other platforms before finally standing on the ground. Even though the light was dim, the whole cavern was bathed in the soft light. It was huge, and looking around there appeared to be many areas that had been modified for storage. One thing about it, whatever this was, it was not a small operation. It would have been easy to put their whole compound in here and still have room. Then it came to them that the volume of this area was enormous and yet the whole area was warm. That took some power and yet there was no sign of any. Looking down they could see Saige’s tracks from his earlier walk across the dirt floor. These tracks led away into the distance towards what they suspected were the valley that he had fallen into.

“Okay some explanations are necessary.” He said as he led them across the floor in the opposite direction of his previous tracks. “When I fell I thought I was dead. But after falling for about ten meters I was fortunate enough to fall into one of the many trees. The boughs of the tree broke my fall, and I broke many of the branches on the way to the ground. Then when I hit the ground it knocked me out. I don’t know how much time passed before I was conscious. But the first thing I noticed was the tree I had fallen through above me, and then realized that I had also fallen into a deep pile of needles which further broke my fall. No, as you can tell I did not come off unscathed. I have many cuts and contusions, with some of them deep, but at least none of them were close to a main artery so they scabbed over pretty quick. I have a large deep bruise on this leg and it’s why I am limping, and to be honest I hurt just about everywhere. Later Doc you can check me out to be sure nothing is worse, but overall I feel very lucky. I then searched this small valley for a way out. Found some things that just did not look quite natural and then found the corner of an ancient building, which led me to this huge cavern and then hearing all of you. I wasn’t sure of the way out so I climbed up and saw that there was an entrance there at the top. And for now you know the rest.”

They stopped briefly looking around the enormous cavern. Its height disappeared above them and it seemed that it went on forever around them although they knew it was an illusion. Near some of the walls there appeared to be small structures. Guessing, they felt that at one time these structures were probably a place where supplies had been stored. Again looking at them from a distance one had the impression that the owners had just temporarily stepped out and would be returning at any moment. Yet at the same time the place had the feel of age laying on it. “What is this place?” Saar asked to no one in particular. “And who used it and built those structures?”

“You got me Saar”, Saige replied. “As you know I have been here just a little longer than you, by no choice of my own I might add, so I truly know no more than you at this point.”

“Really just thinking out loud Saige,” Saar replied, “I’m sure that all of us are wondering the same thing. This building that you found, where is it from here?”

“Well before we stopped to admire the shear size of this place I was heading to it. Very little of it shows in the valley and I was surprised when I found the entrance to it. I expected it to be just a home, a place for a small group to live, but . . . well instead of just telling you, follow me and you can see for yourselves.” He then led them across the floor of the cavern to another wall that again appeared to be solid. Yet looking down they could see his tracks disappearing through the seemingly solid wall. Again another barrier like they were familiar with – identical in fact to the ones used in their cities.

Contemplating what little had been revealed so far Stone said. “I wonder . . .”

“Wonder what Stone?” Shellian asked.

“I know we have seen very little yet, but what we have appears to be very familiar. I don’t know or understand how all of this could still be functioning after all of this time, but it is. So there has to be some type of auto maintenance going on here. Otherwise it would have quit a long time ago. Still . . . still this feels like we are home, in one of our cities that are down below.”

“Yes, I think you are right Stone.” Shellian said. “It is, well it was like the moment we came inside that we immediately felt comfortable, safe, and yes like we were back in one of our cities.”

“That’s quite a conclusion being that we have seen so little of this place”, Saar replied. “But yes I can understand it and really have to agree. And truthfully, I cannot even tell you why.”

“Ready?” Saige asked. He could see that they were and so he went through the illusion and they then followed him. Before them was a set of double doors, which they went through. Once through they stopped again in awe with what was before them. Here they found a large area that could easily have been an administrative section. There were places to handle whatever supplies that would arrive in that cavern, and a section with cubicles for whatever business needed to be carried out. Behind the cubicles were a few rooms with standard doors identifying ones who were probably in charge of the operation. All of it laid out neatly making the different areas easily accessible for any that required the services provided.

“What is this place?” Seirra asked, “This is just huge. Why here in the mountains? There’s nothing here for something this size?”

“I can’t disagree. When I came into the building it stopped me in my tracks. I’ve really had very little time to explore it, but from what I have seen we are just touching the very beginnings of this place. Before coming into the building I realized that there was another problem and it was the trees. There was something very wrong with them. I don’t mean that they were damaged or dying or anything like that – well, other than the damage I did falling through one of them. But they are subtly different than any I remember seeing and are living around these mountains. That’s not to say that that they don’t belong here since plants and trees are not my specialty. Well, as we finally get back outside, inside that valley you’ll see what I mean.” He then led them down a hallway, which had a number of closed doors on either side. Finally ending at a set of double doors, which he opened, and walked into what looked to be a large dining area, and off to one side, an area that appeared to be a large kitchen. Then on the opposite wall a couple of doors that looked to be entrances into public bathrooms.

“You know what; I think I could use that.” Shellian said, pointing to the door for the woman’s restroom. “I wonder if it is still functional after all this time. And if it is it sure will beat using the bushes for our nature calls.” then turning to Seirra she said. “Shall we go find out?” They both left and entered the restroom leaving the men standing there.

* * *

Suddenly the mysteries deepen. What is this place Saige discovered? And why the abandonment? And what is it about this place that makes it feel like one of their cities, makes them feel safe? None have any answers. And as they begin to explore this vacant and abandoned facility they discover it has public restrooms. Shellian wonders if they are still functioning and suggests that she and Seirra go and check it out leaving the men standing there. And here we break.

And as a final bonus I’m providing a link to a MGM cartoon from 1939 titled: Peace on Earth.

May the new year be good for you and your family and have a great week, and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

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