Broken and Bleeding at the Stable Door

Donzela enters the barn
(evening duties are so peaceful )

Traveler is not in his stall
and something stinks of. . . blood?

A wizard!
(a bit young for a wizard, don’t you think?)
A savant
cut
bleeding in the bedding straw

She shrieks
Runs to him
Brushes the straw away
getting blood all over her

Two sisters arrive and scream at her to get away
They think he has hurt her when they see the blood
Donzela tries to lift him
then commands that they assist her

They reluctantly drag him through the wards protecting the residence
into the kitchen
onto the oaken planked cooking table

In a trice the savant is naked
The major injuries are staunched and poulticed
Medicines and spell parchment are sought, pilfered and applied

Donzela retrieves clean sheets and a serviceable blanket
When she enters the room the sisters are twittering like baby birds
She sends them to finish her chores in the barn
reminding them to look for Traveler before feeding the other mounts

One offers her bed for the savant’s recuperation
Donzela is not amused

Chen Lei

Chen Lei shuffles across the doorstep into his house. He surprises his daughter, Chen Xi .
“How is your mother?”
“Sir, she is still quite ill.”
“I have come home to care for her . . .”
“Sir . . . a man of your standing must not do such . . .”
“Gentle one, any man who would fault me for caring for my wife when she is ill is not worthy of consideration.”
Chen Xi embraces her father and they exchange chi for a long time. “Sir, you are wise.”
“None of it. When was the last batch of medicine brewed?’
“Moments ago, it is still fresh and charged with content. I was preparing to feed her when you arrived.”
“You have spent too much time in this house, as you are a worthy daughter. Go to the market and get the ingredients for dinner. Avoid Gen Gaou, he always charges too much for vegetables.”
“Sir, I would stay here . . .”
“No more of this. I am here to care for your mother, as she has cared for me. Obey he in this. Go to the market, but change into some spring trappings.”
“Sir?”
“On the way here I saw that young man . . what is his name?”
“Sir. I am embarrassed . . .”
“Young one, the present is always a gift and the future is only a promise. We must always prepare for the promise of the future. You are the future little one. Now go.”
Chen Xi shuffled out of the room. Chen Lei straighten his clothing, gathered the medicine into a tureen and stepped into the bed room.
“Hello, is my wife Ping here?”
“Husband, you are home early . . . I must fix you something to eat.”
“Yes, about that, I require that you eat . . .”
“Oh no, where is Xi?”
“She obeys her father in all things and is at the market gathering the ingredients for dinner.”
“She should . . .”
“About this eating thing you mentioned, please eat some of this.”
“Husband . . .”
“I am a man of some honor, am I not?”
“Yes, you are a good and noble man.”
“I am a good provider for this family, am I not?”
“I am honored above others . . .”
“And are my wishes to be ignored?”
“No sir.”
“Then please, Ping, please eat your medicine and care for yourself. You can not serve me and not serve yourself.”
“Husband . . .”
“Woman, you make me absent from court and the others will be talking. Let me help to heal you so that I may get back to my difficult job of service to the king and to the empire. I can not focus on the matters of state when I am silly with worry about you.”
She lifts her hand and brushes his hair the way she did when they were young. She sits up and takes the tureen. Knocks away his hand when he tries to feed her and starts to feed herself. “You are a stubborn old fool.”
“Madam. you might be correct. In matters concerning you my logic is often flawed.”

A Man and His Demon

by: William C. Burns, Jr.

On the evening of the day after Kota Tu Arye’s burial, Kota Cyon, son of the elderly healer, received a summons to the “Court of Thieves” to settle one last affair of estate.
As he entered the cobbled marketplace, the blue-white sun broke through the perpetual cloud cover. Everywhere, people paused in their transactions and shielded their eyes to look skyward. Sunlight was rare here on the water-covered world, Lao-Damia, and the youngsters cast off their cloaks and danced in the glaring light. The elders tried to look on with disdain, but a glint had appeared in their eyes also.
Smiling to himself, Cyon reexamined the address noted on the summons and quickly found the edifice of Das Mi, dealer in demons, new and used. The Aegis, guarding the entry, bowed in deference to the Kota’s lincoln-green robes, then smiled warmly and admitted him to the inner court.
“Kota Cyon, please be welcome and comfortable! Bring wine; what am I saying, this man is a healer. Bring iced tea, spiced? . . . No? Very good, be seated.”
“Das Mi, it is a pleasure.” Cyon shook the dealer’s hand and seated himself in the aromatic furs of the proffered chair. Both men maintained the customary moment of silence, allowing themselves time to gather their thoughts. Their drinks arrived.
“You are wondering about my summons, young healer. Yes, well, the fate of one demon, holding of your father, must be decided. He mentioned as much?”
“While serving internship at Creautal, I seldom communicated with my father. His illness had advanced when I returned and he was often incoherent. As executor of his estate I’m surprised to find he held a demon, angel or any other thing of value.”
“Well, about that . . .” Das Mi looked embarrassed and uncomfortable. He stood and motioned for Cyon to follow him, in response to the healer’s puzzled look.
They passed though an ornate door and down a short stair. The damp air was thick with the acrid smell of demon.
The dealer guided Cyon into one of the demon keeps. The leathery scales of the creature, writhing against the rough stone wall, were dull and some of the thorns cresting the head were missing. A shrill whine escaped its drooling mouth as it repeatedly raked blunted claws across the floor. Three of the delicate eye stalks dangled listlessly. The dealer remained silent.
Cyon moved to the head of the beast. It hid its face, turning away.
“Can it traverse the Path?” Cyon asked.
“Well, yes, it yet retains some virtues, but for how long? I haven’t a clue.”
“Perhaps you could barter the privilege of this beast and retain the profits for yourself.”
“Honestly, I fear that such a barter would be a liability to my business. In fact, the sooner you take it . . .”
“Das, I just received commission. I plan to minister locally for the next seven years and then perhaps barter for transport, to reach the Far Places. My father left many unsettled affairs and in the balance I have very little with which to compensate . . .”
“Kota, Kota, there is no charge associated with this beast,” interrupted the dealer. “I am mortal and as such I have no desire to incur the wrath of a healer. I may require your services someday. At such a time, I would see you smiling.”
“Well, I can use transport.”
“After all, you are Kota. Perhaps you can . . . heal it?”
Cyon was clearly not amused.

Beyond East Gate, in the rolling hills of Rewgen, the evening mist wrapped everything in a soft blanket of darkened fog. Cyon kindled the fire in the hearth before venturing out to the improvised grotto to assess his inheritance.
The demon lifted itself when he approached. It groaned and stretched its tattered membrane wings as he pulled down a bale of straw.
“You could at least be grateful I did not leave you to the charity of Das Mi, you filthy beast,” he said raking the fur behind its (his? her?) wings playfully. The throttling smell of the demon was only heightened by the moisture.
“What shall we call you? You have the power of speech, speak to me. Tell me your name?” There was no response. “Vector, I will call you Vector. Do you like that?” It huddled against the earthen wall and would not face him directly.
He sensed something of the afflicted thoughts churning through the mind of the creature. He poured the prescribed three measures of food into the massive feeding pot and checked the water, then stood a moment in silence, measuring his circumstance. Shaking his head after a time, he walked back to the warmth and light of the cottage, leaving the grotto door unlatched, as custom demanded.

The Call came five days later. Cyon, the only Kota with any chance of reaching the Fringe with haste, dropped his travel pack on the floor of the keep and approached Vector. Gently, taking the head of the beast into his hands, he stared into the three fixed eyes in the center of the forehead.
“Fainthearted beast, great is my need for your services. There is a little boy in the Fringe and he is very sick.” Cyon visualized the destination and impressed it on the seething mind of the creature. “You must take me there,” he said, at last satisfied it had understood. Vector tried to pull away. Cyon gently but firmly pulled the head back around. “Demon, stand.” It mewed softly and obeyed. Cyon snatched up the pack and mounted.
There was a flash, a clap of thunder and they were gone.
By what road do demons and angels take us? This is difficult to say exactly. Even those who have traversed the Path more than once give widely differing accounts. Human senses are so undependable and the passage taxes travelers beyond their limits. Two things can be said for certain. First, humans would have no access to the Far Places without the aid of the creatures. Second, angels take the high road, while demons take the low.
Cyon felt something . . . something other than the gut wrenching after-shock of traversing the Path. He slowly opened his eyes, finding a vast desert, dark with night. Looking up he caught his breath. A dazzling ringed moon, many times the size of his sun, hung above the distant hills, filling the horizon. The entire surface of the moon, obscured by cloud bands, ran the visible spectrum from ultra reds to incredible violets. The clouds of the moon whirled and danced at the whim of the distant winds. Three sets of rings crisscrossed the vista. One was barely visible because it was edge on and the other two were at various angles.
“Wrong! Vector, this is wrong.” Vector mewed in discomfort. The mind of the beast was slippery and hard to hold. Cyon fought his own anger as he re-envisioned their original destination.
“Why?” asked the demon, speaking for the first time.
“Vector, I’m gratified you’ve a voice, but this has to wait. We must go . . .”
“But, why?” it whined.
“Because, our assistance is required.”
“You won’t like it.”
“Do it!”
The flash lit the night desert and thunder rolled over the empty dunes.
The hovel of the sick child was abominable even by Fringe standards. The father, a self-exiled refugee from civilization, ignored the healer and beast when they arrived. The wife and mother threw open the door and dragged Cyon into the dim interior without greetings. A boy, about five years of age, lay in a small, freshly made bed.
“Vector, wait outside.” The beast complied.
“Please, your name?” Cyon asked, removing his travel cape.
“Mehetable, Mehetable Aryowade, and that, that was my husband, Urse. He doesn’t like healers.”
“Charming fellow. How long has your son been ill?”
“He got the fever three days ago. I thought it was just the faints, you know? But it got much worse. He’s burning up and I can’t do a thing for it. What do you think?”
“What’s his name?”
“Linwood, we call him Lin.” The mother appeared worried, while the father on the other hand, had looked extremely angry.
Cyon carried out the four rites of examination. There were contra- signs for all known diseases. He concluded the child had contracted a nova-virus, the kind that crop up on the Fringe all the time. He gave remedies designed to relieve the fever. Together, he and themother cleansed the boy. “Mehetable, have you ever received ministration of a healer?”
“Well, I was awful sick when I birthed Lin. The midwife at Central, Angela, she helped me.”
“Was she Kota?”
“No sir.”
“Might I spend some time with Lin? Alone?”
“No sir. Urse didn’t want you here, wanted no part of it. He’ll kill me if I leave you in here, alone. I’m the one what sent the call, this is all on my head.”
“You want to stay?”
“I insist. I must,” she said taking hold of his sleeve. Cyon looked into her eyes and knew the measure of her determination.
“Well, this might get messy. I need an assistant. Feel up to it?”
“Yes sir.”
“First, there is the ritual of preparation. I will be a moment.” Cyon assumed the position beside the foot of the bed. Moments passed as he centered. Mehetable watched silently. There was only one way to kill a virus. The boy would need quickened anti-viral bodies, produced in a living body.
Cyon stood, drew the cleansing breath and moved over the boy’s head. “I must kiss him,” Cyon whispered, then licked the boy’s forehead. Special senses in his tongue, mouth and mid-brain began the analysis. “And now I must prick his finger.” The mother drew back as he penetrated the soft flesh at the tip of Lin’s finger and squeezed out a ruby droplet. A stifled squeak escaped her when the healer put his lips to the drop of blood.
Cyon sagged, staggered and caught himself on the edge of the bed. The mother rushed to catch him.
“Ease me to the floor,” he whispered.
“Is something wrong, Kota?”
“No, no . . . well it hit me rather suddenly, but this is normal, everything is fine. I just need to sleep a moment. Cover me with the cloak, yes. Thank you. Watch over things for me?”
“Yes sir.”
The modified spleen and liver of the Kota produces anti-viral bodies genetically designed to seek out and destroy the invading antigens, while fortifying and regenerating the host. All this happens without the Kota’s direct knowlege, all in all, a pretty good system.
However, there had lately been talk of psychogenic diseases that could overwhelm even the healer’s fortified immune system. Of all things, this frightened Cyon the most. Such a disease could not be contained.
Cyon awoke hungry, which was a good sign, just a simple virus. The itch across his abdomen and in his wrists indicated that his immune system now held the healing agent.
Lin stared at the ceiling, fevered eyes glazed and uncomprehending. The Kota placed his hands on Lin’s temples and the flesh in Cyon’s hands opened. He pressed both hands firmly to keep blood from escaping. An artery and a vein crept from the incisions in his hands and burrowed into the temples of the boy. A tingling sensation along his left arm told him the anti-viral bodies were leaving his body and entering the boy. This one had been tricky, but the boy was going to be well again.
Suddenly, something struck Cyon across the back of the neck. His mind exploded in fireworks and he was falling into darkness.
Without fully regaining consciousness, Cyon tried to drag himself into a standing position. He had to reach the bed, something to do with the bed. Pain assailed him and his hands felt wet. There was blood on his hands.
“The boy!” he bellowed, staggering. He saw the bed, empty. The woman was in the corner rocking back and forth, weeping. Beside the bed, a pile of rags suddenly resolved itself into the stone-still body of the husband.
“Woman? Woman!” he shouted, bracing himself on the headboard of the bed. She did not respond. “What happened?” he asked, creeping in her direction. She was cradling Lin’s dead body. “Mehetable, speak to me,” he commanded.
“He came in . . . He promised to stay outside. He came in and he was wild. He hit you when he saw . . . and now . . . now my Lin’s dead. My little boy is dead.” She sobbed.
“How long?”
“What?”
“How long has it been?”
“Yesterday. It happened yesterday.”
“Noooooo!” shouted the Kota. He couldn’t breathe. He was numb with shock. Vector seized the helpless healer and dragged him from the hut. Then came the flash and thunder.
The hell ride went on forever. Faces whipped across a sky filled with fire. Voices chanted, whined and screamed all at once. The world was coming apart with a bang. All times were crowding into this place all at once. His mouth filled with the taste of bile and his skin felt like ice, though he was sweating. And then there was darkness.

His head began to clear. The demon had returned them to the desert world of the awe inspiring moon.
Cyon scooped a handful of sand and watched it slip through his fingers. The wind played with the sand as it struck the ground, making it dance. Had he come here yesterday or been here forever; only dreaming his other life, the life he thought was real?
Vector stirred at his side, but remained silent.
The wind twisted a vortex of dust and danced in the growing light. Distant voices hissed in the wind. Cyon contemplated the strange constellations lingering in the unfamiliar skies. They bore no resemblance to the skies of his youth. Just before sunrise he discovered the moon had an equally spectacular sister.
“How can you do it, Healer? How can you stand it?”
“What?”
“The child died.”
“I didn’t kill the child.”
“But you failed.”
“Yes.”
“Deep was your grief, deeper perhaps than even mine. I felt . . .”
“What is your grief, Vector?”
“We will not speak of this,” the demon hissed. There was silence.
“Vector? You know the problem with demons?”
“What is that Kota?”
“Demons just can’t let go. They know only one emotion and their whole existence centers around that one feeling. All of your thoughts are one thought, all of your memories are one . . .”
“Healer, how can I let it go?”
“Don’t fight it. Don’t give in to it. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. Just let it happen and let it end.”
The wind whispered over the sand.
“Healer, the sun will rise soon and the sands will burn.” Cyon looked at the demon. All the eye stalks were erect and there was a new luster in its scales.
“Where shall we go Vector?”
“Home, I would like to go home, healer.”

Dreamer

Rosa Lee opened the door only a crack until she saw me. She

unhooked the chain and pulled the door back full open.

“I guess you’ve come to see Mat’s place?”, she asked.

“Yes, do you have the keys?”

“Just a minute, I’ll get them,” I heard her moving back

in the house.

We walked across the field and up the driveway to Mat’s

house in silence. The salt air had that familiar bite and I

could hear the gulls crying off in the distance. I watched

her back as she moved. She was a lean woman, taut as a

guitar string. Her rusty hair whipped about her shoulder in

the afternoon sea breeze.

Mat’s house had not changed in the four years I had been

studying biophysics at Upstate. The clapboards, the bay

window facing east, the garret, the fence around the garden

on the western side of the house – all looked in good repair.

“Your uncle Mat was quite a collector,” Rose said as she

lead me across the porch of the house. Her green, catlike

eyes caught the sun as she held the door for me.

“It was one of the things that I loved most about him,”

she continued once we were inside out of the wind.

Once inside a tidal wave of familiarity crested over my

head and crashed down on my heart. Rosa must have noticed my

distress.

John, you OK?”

“Rosa, I’m confused. Mat was my friend as well as my

uncle, and I don’t understand what happened to him. I can’t

get mom, or anybody to talk about what happened. You were

his neighbor, did he die or something?”

“No. I don’t think anyone knows . . .,” her eyes drifted

to the window.

“Don’t give me that. A man just doesn’t disappear with

out a trace? Is he in some kind of witness protection

program? Why can’t I get anyone to tell me?”

There was a pained silence, broken only by Rosa’s shoes

as she paced the hardwood floor.

“With Mat gone this place is spooky, I don’t like to

stay in here too long. Do you want to see the garden?”, she

asked.

I turned away without speaking and sat in the empty bay

window. Unlike my Dad, Mat had been a source of intriguing

mystery all my life. There was kindness in his voice when he

spoke to me. He always had some gadget or rare

archaeological find to share when I visited him in the

summer. I had always tried not to pester him too much.

Mat encouraged me to go to school and achieve degree in

biophysics. He had become a part of my life and his absence

was like a new found cavity that I could not help but probe

with my tongue.

“John?”, Rosa whispered. I turned further from her.

“John I’ve seen you a couple of times but I barely know

you. What are you going to do? Are you going to by this

place when it goes on auction? Do you want the house, John?”

“Rosa, I can’t afford this house. I’m trying to

graduate from college, for God’s sake. I had to come back.

I had to come back and see what happened to Mat. Can you

tell me Rosa?”

“Does it hurt, John?”

“Yes.”

“Mat put together a rock garden about three and a half

years ago. I guess that would have been shortly after you

went off to college. Let me show you.”

I allowed myself to be lead through the empty kitchen

out a side door. Rose led me to the garden wall and fumbled

with the keys on the ring. After a bit she managed to open

the garden gate.

In the center of the walled garden, in a leveled and

graveled space, there was the most extraordinary collection

of . . . things.

“He used to wander along the shore and up in the hills.

Sometimes Mat would go far away and buy things. He even

contracted people to find things for him. He would get bits

of sea shell, little terra cotta figures, rounded stones,

crystals and place them here.

I could never see the pattern, but he did. He would

place a bit of bone say right there, and suddenly I would see

that it was perfect. What do you think all this is for,” she

said moving in a clockwise orbit around the edge of the

stones that divided the lawn from the garden.

Mount Rainier was barely visible in the distance and

I could smell and hear the sea crashing on the other side of

the far garden wall. The sun caressed the swirl of things

placed on the rippled gravel. Some things were bright and

shiny others soft edged and worn to a smooth mat surface.

At the western end of the garden lay a plate sized,

razor edged shard of midnight obsidian. I stooped down and

picked up the jet black rock. The edge was clearly sharp and

caught the sun’s light in a sliver of laser sharp rainbow.

I felt a chill run my spine whenever I looked at the

rock in my hand. It reminded me of a time, as a boy, I

had picked up one of dad’s ejected razor blades. I watched

in horror as the blade slid smoothly through my skin. I

screamed when the crimson blood poured out of my hand.

The cut had been more dramatic than dangerous, and I had

not needed stitches. It occurred to me now that the most

insidious part was that the initial cut had not hurt at all,

the real pain came later.

Rose stood silently at the eastern end of the garden.

She had lifted a globe shaped stone that was milky, white,

and iridescent in the early afternoon light.

“I always called this the moon stone,” she said.

“And what did Mat call this one?”, I asked holding the

dark stone for her to see.

“He called that the Shiva Stone.”

I returned the stone to its place. Between the two

stones lay an entire galaxy of things.

“Rosa, who has been keeping the garden?”

“No one, why?”

“Everything is still in perfect order. The sand and

gravel is undisturbed and no grass has sprouted between the

stones. Surely it has rained since he left.” I could feel an

edge creeping into my voice.

Rosa turned to run back into the house but I caught her

arm. I saw fear in her eyes as I pulled her around.

“I don’t know who fixes the garden, I don’t know who

cleans the house. I don’t know what happened to Mat and it

scares the hell out of me. I’m frightened John. It’s like

Mat is still here somehow, but I can feel that he is gone. I

don’t know how I know, I just know.”

I released her and she ran from the garden. Instead of

following her, I hunkered down and studied the garden until

my legs went to sleep. Giving up I limped into the house and

sat on the hardwood floor facing the bay window. At this

angle I could see something under the lip of the window seat.

It was a slip of yellow paper. I opened the seat and found

a yellow legal note pad.

Later that evening as I sat in the darkening house, I

read and reread the words on the paper.

John

When the student is ready

the teacher will be seen

The wind, a branch, even a stone

can be your teacher.

Are you ready John?

The note lacked a date and it was signed by Mat. I

folded it carefully and put it in my jacket pocket. I pulled

the jacket around me as I wandered through the house.

I was startled out of my reverie by the blast of a car

horn outside.

Rosa sat in her Ford and waved for me to come down to

the car. She looked embarrassed and a bit flustered.

“John, this whole thing gives me the jitters, would you

go back up and lock the house for me?”

“Sure.”

Later as we drove down the road, it occurred to me that

I didn’t really want to go back to my aunt’s right away.

“Let’s go down to Jackson’s for a burger and a beer.

I’ll call mom at Aunt Jaina’s to keep her from worrying,” I

said.

“No problem,” was all she would say. It was clear that

her mind was occupied.

We found a booth and gave our order to a waitress. Rosa

noticed one of Mat’s friends standing about the middle of the

bar. I told Rosa to go ahead and eat if the food came before

I returned. I walked up beside the man and ordered a beer.

“What you in town for, son?”, he asked.

“Doing research on a friend of mine.” I offered.

“Your friend got a name?”

“Mat, Mat Christopher, know him?”

The man turned away and walked out of the bar. Stunned

I followed and tried to catch up with him in the parking lot.

I called after him, “Look you don’t know me, but Mat was

my uncle and if you know anything about what happened . . .”

He stopped halfway into a car. His face puzzled and

pained.

“What’s your name?”, he asked.

“John Davidson.”

“So you’re John . . .” He looked hurt. He slowly eased

himself back out of the car and headed back into the bar. I

followed him in and directed him to my booth.

“Hello Rosa,” he said.

“Barry,” she returned coolly.

“You know each other?”, I asked. Rosa did not seem

very pleased to have this man at her table. He didn’t seem

to notice.

“Mat introduced us once.”

“Let’s get something to eat kids and then we’ll go up to

Mat’s house. I have some things to tell you,” Barry said

with a tone of deep resignation.

Later that night Barry bought a six pack and we headed

back to Mat’s house. We used Rosa’s key to let ourselves

into the house. Rosa was right, the place seemed very

peculiar somehow, especially with the sounds of the sea wind

made as it caressed the house.

After a time Barry pulled the first can of beer off the

six pack and began to speak.

“John, Mat mentioned you often, that’s why I recognized

your name. I must tell you the story,” His face grew

animated as he spoke.

“About three years ago I met your uncle Mat in Portland.

I have some friends that deal in exotic objects, and I had

heard that Mat was in the market. He wasn’t interested in

any of the things that I had, but there was this one stone,

he sketched it and described for me. I didn’t know anything

about it at the time, but I took the sketch back and showed

it around to some of my buddies at the wharf,” Barry acted

like a man trying to make a confession.

“One of my buddies mentioned that a similar stone had

been recently recovered from what appeared to be a Chinese

wreck off the coast of New Guinea. Well, money talks and

before the year was out Mat had his stone. He yelped when he

first saw it and ran out the matrix, that’s what he called

his garden. I followed him to see what he was so excited

about. ‘This is the key Barry, this makes the matrix

resonant!’, he told me.”

“Dusty and sweaty, after a few hours work, Mat looked

up at me from the matrix. He said ‘We have finished the

ritual at just the right time. Notice the Sun Father,

arrayed in his blood crimson robes, is just touching the sea

on the west horizon. The full and pregnant blue Moon Mother

is just clearing the lip of the horizon.'”

“Without looking at me Mat said, ‘Never again will such

a conjunction happen,’ his voice had taken on a strange sound

or something.”

“Never is a long time,” I said, “maybe in ten thousand

years we will get together and watch it again.”

“Mat said ‘I’ll make a note of it in my calendar. For

now we are witness to the sky and it is enough,’ and he was

silent.” Barry went paused for a moment.

“John, I’m sure you know that Mat was a very wise man.

He wasn’t just smart, he was wise, like the great

philosophers, the great religious leaders . . . Sometimes he

was spooky . . .,” Barry seemed on the verge of tears.

“Go on Barry.”

“Mat opened a door, that’s how he described it to me, he

opened a portal or passage or something. Hell, don’t ask me,

I’m just a stupid dock rat.”

“Excuse me?”

“Mat opened this passage in the matrix that went into

another place.”

“What did you see Barry?”, Rosa asked.

“In the garden, the matrix, all those things started to

glow in the twilight and I was real frightened. It was like

slow, violet heat lightning. This hole sort of opened up a

few feet over the matrix. There was this deep violet light

coming through and I couldn’t see him against the light. It

hurt my eyes to watch. There was a noise, or a sound or

something. I couldn’t make it out.”

“How long did this go on? How long was the hole open?”,

I asked.

“One moment the light was there, the next it was gone

and Mat was laughing hysterically. I asked him what was so

damned funny and he said that he was being tested. I would

have thought him nuts if I hadn’t seen the whole things

myself. When I asked him to explain, he said it was like he

had three wishes.” Barry looked drained.

“I know what you’re thinking John, but I swear it’s the

truth.”

There was a long sustained silence as we tried to sort

things out in our minds. The wind from the dark ocean hissed

at the windows.

“What happened after that?”, I asked at length.

“Well he didn’t say anything much just then, he did say

he wanted to sleep on it. He told me I could sleep on the

couch that was over there. I hounded him the rest of the

night with things I thought he should wish for. I am

embarrassed to admit that everything I suggested was selfish.

Mat was not that kind of man.”

“I slept late and it was around noon before I got up.

He wasn’t to be found. I waited and when I got tired of that

I went into town to uncover if anyone had seen him. I came

back here around twilight and found him sitting on the garden

wall that overlooked the sea. He seemed glad to see me.”

“He said, ‘Barry come here, I need a witness,’ and he

opened the passage again. The violet light was even more

intense this time. I had to hide my eyes.”

In a voice big as the sea he said, ‘I have come with my

first request,’ and there was a thunderclap.”

“I strained to hear. I figured gold was the best bet.”

“Mat said, ‘I ask man wise enough to advise me on the

next two requests!’

“Silver strings came up out of the ground and blue dots

came down from the sky. The bits and pieces looked first

like a wire model of a man, but it was soon fleshed out as

this little, shriveled oriental looking guy. Both Mat and

the stranger had started to glow themselves and the light was

so bright, I could hardly stand to look at them.”

“There was a rushing of wind, but I think Matt said

something about leaving you a note . . .” Barry looked pale

and frightened. I could see that the telling of this story

had been an ordeal for him.

“Why didn’t you tell anyone about this Barry?”, Rosa

asked with an edge creeping into her voice.

“Who would have believed me?”, he asked finishing the

last beer from the pack.

“Maybe there is no evidence, but a lot of people think

you killed Mat,” she accused.

Barry blanched. He held up his hand as if to fend off a

blow. “I swear, I didn’t . . .”, was all he said.

“Rosa?”

“Yes John.”

“Do you think Mat’s dead?”, I asked.

She was silent and so was Barry. Again there was the

sound of the wind outside.

“No, John. In fact I think Mat is still very much

alive.”

“I believe that he is out there somewhere, but I can’t

figure it out. Barry why didn’t you tell anyone about

this?”, I could see that Barry was exhausted.

“I was ashamed,” he said sinking down the wall.

“Ashamed of what Barry?”

“Ashamed that all I could only think of myself. Your

uncle Mat was a wise man John, a rare man nowadays. I’m glad

it was him. I would have really screwed things up.”

“I believe you Barry, why don’t you get some sleep?”

Barry curled into a fetal position on the floor. I

covered him with my jacket and walked with Rosa out into the

garden. The moon was setting in the west and the first light

of dawn starting to break in the east.

I couldn’t tell if she believed Barry or not.

I reached for her hand and her cool fingers clasp mine.

We leaned silently against the garden wall with our backs to

the ocean.

After a while I began to see a soft violet glow hovering

over the matrix garden in the remaining moon light.

Voyages of a Ship Named Heart

The Heart Comes

The Heart comes as silent Wind
On a winter day
Gone Grey

The Heart . . .
A gentle hand
Fingers brush the sky
The barren Tree
The revealed limbs quiver

The Heart
Faithful ship of the Line
It drifts just above the winter boughs
Reflected in the silver droplets
Shimmering in the fleshless branches

The Pilot
Captain of the Heart
Consults the maps in his hand
Looks . . .
Finds you watching

And gentle as a puff of breath
He brings his sacred ship to land
At your side . . .

Speaking Hope where there is no Light

The Magician moved
His hands a blur

He twisted Light out of Darkness
Conjured songs out of memories
songs filled words dark and true
and she sang

Songs of the function of Fire
the function of Rhyme
Speaking Love’s resilience
despite betrayal and spite

She sang
of the human spirit surfacing
from depths deeper than faith
where leviathans swim

Sang
of Order from Chaos
Life arising from the breast of Death

Speaking Hope where there is no Light
Miraculous deeds worthy of gods in times like these
New discoveries that lift the definition of human
like those of song and fire

Alive, the Breaking of Day ~ D’l Kyrug

Sunrise
or is it only the fever speaking to my sickened mind?

Sunrise
in tired eyes
and mist covers the lake
as shivers take my body once again

Choirs of angels
chorus of demons
deep harmonics of infrared and razor sharp ultraviolets. . .
Rainbows dance in the coming sun
I am weary
bleary and. . . strangely alive

Hands?
Yes. . .
Legs?
Oh yeah. . .
Let’s just sit here a bit

Darkness
holding on to my back
slipping around behind me
at the speed of dark
leaving its roots in shadows on me

Daybreak pours across the Face of the East
Golden liquid honey
cascading into my face, hands and
soul
Night retreats to the West

Oddly. . .
The cool of the Darkness
adds to the comfort of the Dawning Light

Balance

A glistening, glittering spider’s web touches everything
An array of light and shadow. . .
and somehow beyond understanding
I am alive

Alive!