Under

328206-7087x3543       Serenity and calm.

      I was under in an instant – my body slack, my mind alert. I could still hear their song. Even submerged under water, I did. My heart responded to the quality it harbored, overwhelming the rest of my senses to a numbing degree. I had but no resistance, though I wanted nothing more. The salty water stung my eyes, but on the contrary, perfected my vision. The ocean seemed carefully dissected as overlapping rays of murky gray sunlight reflected down through the ocean surface, illuminating everything to some degree of visibility. I saw pieces of my ship silhouetted against the gray glare, floating down ever so slowly, like feathers in a light breeze. The chamber of gold we carried had spread all over the watery expanse; chests of coins reflected against the sunlight only in a half-light manner, their glimmer unattractive yet beautifully so. It realized that the triumph of my hardships would now lay at the bottom of this here crevice, never to be chanced upon again.

      The Siren song changed pitch as my crew’s similar but visibly permanent slack bodies began to glide into view, surrounded by the most beautiful creatures I have ever seen. They seemed excited in their song. It almost looked as if the maidens consoled with the men’s untimely death, as well, brushing their hair away from their expressionless faces, placing webbed hands softly, so fondly on their broad shoulders. Pushing them down. Yet, all I could do was watch. They had this strange, fluid movement about them as they made their way around, their lips barely moving as they sang, rendering me paralyzed. Except for webbed hands and feet, two thin slits as a nose, dark, round orifices for eyes, bald heads, and gills on either side of their chests, they almost seemed human. Naked for the most part, they were covered in all kinds of jewels. Pearly brooches and rings hung from gold and silver necklaces studded with what seemed like diamonds. Stringy brooches with gold faces hung from pearly bracelets. Rings from all shapes and sizes adorned their long, slender fingers. They glittered beautifully as opposed to the murkiness of their shine. Their bodies were tanned, which seemed odd. Voluptuous and unique in shape, full and feminine. I could not help but feel anything but a burning desire – a new kind of hunger only sustained by its instant feeding.

      My world only got darker as my body floated ever so deeper, up until I reached the foot of the crevice that held sacred the Sirens who laid claim to my men, my ship and me. My back nestled on something hard, yet responsive to my touch. The Sirens had faded from view and their song almost lost its connection. Not quite, but almost. I did not even know how I managed to still be alive. It deemed unnecessary to breathe, yet mandatory not to try. I allowed my body to figure that one out while I pondered about my predicament here at the bottom of the ocean, surrounded by mounds and mounds of gold and jewelery and gems, without the means to touch it with my hands. There were more treasure than ten ships could carry. These women were busy. Just how many men died here, like this? Just how many more would there be?

      From above, a feminine silhouette enshrouded in what seemed a see-through dress floated down towards me, its arms extended. I remained unafraid and stayed curious. Her face became clearer as she came within easy reach. Emotion welled up inside me. If I had been able to see her above water, in daylight, she certainly would have had tears running down her face. She looked sad and scared. She was the only one with a thick head of hair, the only one who looked more human than the rest of her clan. She brushed her fingers through my hair, brought my face up towards her, and kissed me on the mouth. Soft and salty. My desire threatened to burn me alive. She took me.

      Afterwards, she vanished in a swirl of fine bubbles that burst against my face, like a caress. Gone.

      As soon as she vanished, I lifted from the ocean floor and the gold became nothing but a distant memory. So did the sad eyed girl. I floated upwards, the Siren song becoming stronger once again, captivating me in more ways than none. Serenity took hold and quieted the song, however, and I could bear to withdraw myself from whatever held me captive. Everything looked as if going backwards in time, reversing its course as I first saw it, baffling me all the same. My body became unhinged from its paralyzed state and I swam upwards. Towards freedom. The Sirens looked at me as I went, the baffled looks on their faces something to remember. I burst through the surface and my lungs filled with sweet, sweet air. My ship loosened from its rocky perch, pieces of it flying back in place and mending itself. My men burst from the water, lively as ever, and flew back on deck, my ship now intact. I drifted on the surface and observed as wind caught the sails, pushing it out of the narrow crevice that had initially seemed easy enough to pass through. My crew threw me a line, and I grabbed its end. They hoisted me out of the water.

      I looked back as my ship entered vaster oceans, caught by strong crosswind, pushing her forward and away. Heads bobbed on the surface around the rock we had slammed into after the Sirens began their song. I thought of the fair-haired maiden into whom I let my desire flow, instantly knowing what she might have been. In that regard, instantly knowing that the ship would be empty of all else other than my men and me.

      “Captain? We’ve lost the gold.”

      I smiled, and shrugged. “Onward, mighty men, for I have restored the balance that threatened to take our lives. Onward we go.”

Treadmill

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Placid waters silent still,

encased in panes of sunshine,

through which I see slow-moving lands,

riddled with knolls hollowed by time.

Tumultuous sounds deafened by my own,

hooves and laughter and blacksmith clangs;

puritanic dismissals meets frail subsistence,

and still I’m running, running into mighty pangs.

Unbroken ground slithers under feet,

though the world seems ever constant,

I try to run from all I see,

though everything follows in an instant.

I accelerate my pace to an abundant extreme,

my heart the one to wander,

of water and landscapes and creatures and else,

until you’re dragged asunder.

Destiny

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No matter how I try, I cannot rid myself of the image of Valley. It’s been seventeen years since I’ve seen her, though I still recall every fine detail that creates the form of her face, the length of her wavy hair, the curves of her magnificent body . . . the undeviating tones of her melodic voice. She was the embodiment of perfection, though a life with her would have been quite impossible. Quite impossible, indeed. She was different from the rest, different from our kind, although much the same. She had additional qualities that made her the exception in a way as to leave wonder and excitement as a persistent afterthought. I was seventeen when I first met her. She was bathing in a clear stream that bordered our estate to those of the neighbour, a winding brook that dissected a valley framed by dense woodlands. She was alone, naked, and singing a tune fit for the ears of a king, I’d say. Instantly mesmerized by her beauty, I silently waded into the stream, my gaze fixated on her pale shoulders that glistened with fine drops of water. My presence had already been known to her, for she told me in sweet smile that she expected me for quite some time. She seduced me that day; made me a man. What happened afterwards only day and water would know. And Valley, of course. Now, as I’m driving on unfamiliar roads with my wife chattering next to me – she excited of having picked the perfect spot for our anniversary – the thought of Valley popped in and out of my head, like some memory teasing me into releasing what I know, yet don’t remember. I frowned as my sweet wife indicated to a break in the forest wall that ran parallel to the road, familiarity something of a shock. Reach Manor, Guest house, Welcome! – My parents’ home before they sold it for something smaller near the city. Seventeen years ago. I looked at my wife, and the excited grin that brightened her whole face managed to set off some alarm within me. I followed a narrow dirt road, neatly kept after all these years; the trees had always threatened to overshadow its maintenance. I entered a big clearing that rose to the top of a large hill on which the big house stood, magnificent and grand. It looks exactly as it had since I last saw it. A little excitement replaced some of my anxiousness, after all. However, before I could go any further uphill, I felt a muscle flex within my leg, and my foot went down on the accelerator, propelling the car forward. My hands acquired a will of their own and steered us past the house, into dense foliage. Narrower spaces between trees and shrubs widened as we approached; the trees actually dragged itself away from each other to make a big enough space for us to fit through, leaving big holes in its wake, instantly covered to prevent the tires from falling in. My eyes widened as I recognized the place from the sunlight that filtered through the now moving trees. Nancy screamed and pummelled my shoulders with her fists. She did not have her seatbelt strapped. The car stopped suddenly, sending Nancy screaming through the front window; her slack body slumped across the hood. My heart almost stopped. Before I knew it, however, I waded into the stream, where familiar black hair surrounded a beautiful head halfway submerged in water. She winked at me, though something has changed. She rose out of the water, her outer beauty as the first time I met her, though the surface of her eyes were entirely black with a white pupil darting this way and that; the smile she wore vanished. “I knew you would come,” she said to me, her voice alluring yet with some hysteric undertone, as if she had been withholding a scream for years. “Who’s that?” she asked, looking over my shoulder at my wife. I looked back and saw Nancy stir from her position on the hood. I felt a surge of relief going up and down my body. “Do you know why you have come?” I slowly shook my head, my wife’s wellbeing the midmost point of my thoughts. “You promised, so many years ago. You are mine,” the nymph said, her smile as black as her eyes. She grabbed my arm, her grip as strong as that of any man, stronger, dragging me down. Nancy called out to me, and I suddenly remembered why I’m here. I made a promise to a beautiful girl once to be hers forever, but begged her to give me seventeen more years to explore the world first. She obliged, though she took the memory of my promise for herself, to see if I could keep true to her love. Instead, I met Nancy, fell in love and married. We saw the world together, the girl in the water but a vivid ghost. Now fate has made me return here, as it intended, to fulfil the promise I so foolishly made. The world knew all along what waited in store for me, it knew of the destruction it will create, it knew of the lovely Nancy it would devastate. Destiny is like an upside down tear drop. Life starts out fine, big and mysterious, to be explored and seen as it is. Destiny keeps to the borders, keeping you inside, guiding you down the righteous path, until it all ends within a thin point in future where sudden change or end is to be expected. The end always ends with tears. I looked over my shoulders to my wife, her eyes brimming with tears, and I formed ‘I love you’ on my lips. I saw that she understood, although she will spend the rest of her life pondering about what happened here today. ‘I’m so sorry’ I formed again, and this time Nancy only nodded before water engulfed the last of her image . . .

Vision

Xavier-Collette-NidhoggI have come to gnaw at your roots, Eagle, I thought as the ocean welcomed me, its refreshing density pleasant on my dry skin. I still have a long way to travel. I have been on land for a thousand years to replenish my strength after I have slain the other serpents who sought what I desire most. They had been strongest as one body, but I had the wit. After the battle, I became the sole survivor, but it left me very weak and vulnerable for sequential onslaught. I took to hiding. Now it is time to return for the final battle. You’re not strong enough, Nidhogg. Our defenses has doubled since you died, Eagle replied. Yet, here I amScared, Eagle? I thought menacingly, wondering whether Eagle was bluffing or not. He did that once before. The ocean seemed darker than I can remember, but a lot can happen in a thousand years. The ocean floor was jagged and fresh, dark and sinister. I ignored those trenches underneath where eternity seemed to fold into another. I passed coral reefs, vast empty spaces and caves. I passed vessels of unknown yet familiar origins, sunken ships I identified from before the great battle, and shallower trenches where golden substances glinted off weakened sunlight. You betrayed me, Eagle, I thought as I recaptured the moment Eagle sent the others on my trail. The battle had been in an ocean such as this one, only emptier, devoid of other life and natural features that seem to grow over time although no one sees. Eagle had been my only friend then, and he betrayed me. I betrayed you not, Dear One, for it is you who brought that down on yourself, Eagle replied earnestly. Was it not you who sought to destroy the tree? Was it not I who tried to protect it from your greedy teeth? I flinched and almost collided with a merry blue whale gliding its way through the ocean with a sullen downward cast of its big mouth. Its small eye regarded me with idiotic confusion, and I snarled. I need to destroy the tree, EagleCan you not see the danger its providing? I screamed. Can you not see that all hopes and dreams are based upon its roots? I passed a second whale, and I took a nip at it, though it probably felt nothing. A thousand years has done nothing for my anger. I still felt it burning inside of me like the red-hot center of earth where some of Yggdrasill’s roots ended. Is that a bad thing, Nidhogg? Yggdrasill has sustained life for millions of years, why does it suddenly have to be destroyed? Eagle said in a matter of fact way, the loyal subject that he was. I loathed him for being so blind, then again, he haven’t seen what I have seen. Suddenly all memory flooded back in an instant. The vision, the new ships underneath us, the great heartache, everything flooded back with force equivalent to that of a tidal waves, and this time I collided with something ovoid  shaped, spewing bubbles from its backside with skin as hard as I’ve never experienced. Almost like metal. It frightened me, this thing slugging in the water, as if planning, waiting. I knew I could break it in half, easily, but I knew that where there’s one, many others might be in waiting. You hesitated, Nidhogg. You ready to give up yet? Eagle asked. I noted some sarcasm, but decided to ignore it. You don’t understand, Eagle, you are all in danger of what is to come. You have known me all my life, yet you doubt me and I don’t understand why. I have seen it, the danger. You know the change the world has undergone, I even saw it buried under tons of water. The people don’t coincide with our beliefs anymore. They have grown beyond that. Big metal ships are coming this way, I have bumped into one shaped like a teardrop. Isn’t that ironic? It shoots fire. You know nothing can destroy Yggdrasill but the immortal from which it draws its life. Not even Hel can save you. I am the only one. That is why I went down to its roots all those years ago. If I don’t destroy the tree, the people will only prolong years of agony for everyone residing on Yggdrasill. Think of the creatures. Think of the nine worlds we might save by destroying the tree? I felt a sudden sting within my head after I explained everything to Eagle. The anger inside me vanished and made way for sadness. What if Eagle stays blind and decides to render me insane? After all, can I blame him? What if this is true, Nidhogg, what would the implications be? What will happen to the nine worlds? You must understand, your vision makes this very hard to believe in an instant, Eagle finally answered, and the weight that added to the pressure of the ocean lifted clean off me. Although Eagle did not give the go ahead, he could tell that his old friend saw this logically. You did not realize this, Eagle, but I give the tree its life. It sprung from me when I was wounded by the gods, as punishment for disregarding them. And yes, that makes me older than you, even though it seems that complicated. I suggest you evacuate the tree while I tend to its destruction. The nine worlds will be disconnected from the tree, but only as long as another tree springs up in its place. I will grow another one, but do not know how long that will take. It could be years. And I’ve seen its new location, too, although you will have to secure its property as to ensure no human trespass. If the nine worlds were to be destroyed, so will earth. You understand our grave situation, don’t you? The people will stop at nothing.  The new Yggdrasill will be situated in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean. The people will call it Triángulo de las Bermudas. I don’t know why, but they do. You have to believe me, Eagle. Do as I say or all will be lost. I’m almost there. I could smell the roots. I could smell it yearning to be saved. I could feel Eagle lift his hate towards me and cast it aside, too strong a word but nonetheless, and I felt free to wrap my body around every root that dug through the chunk of land that gave it its stand, every root that cut through the expanse of ocean, into the next earthly crust. Let it rip, Master, Eagle thougyggdrasil Wallpaper__yvt2ht, and wished me good luck. I pulled.    

Ashes

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Remembering a great fire, yes, indeed. Second and topmost floor, first hallway off the main stairs, apartment 21B. I remember it well. The door was an off-white color, yes, with rusted hinges and a faulty lock. Otherwise intact, right? Smoke billowed from under the door into the hallway, spilling down the stairs in solemn density, obscuring every tacky surface you would expect from a low-income apartment complex. It was four o’clock in the morning; your timing was near perfect. No one would have noticed until much later, until much too late. It was everywhere, was it not? The fire, I mean. Yes, it must have been, for I was there too. Although groggy, my memory seems coherent enough to make some sense. Great, orange tongues licked at your furniture in hungry destruction, bordered on only mild agitation for time allowed it to graze. It swallowed your heavy curtains as if drinking from a tap, for heaven’s sake. Yet, it found the courtesy to paint the walls a new shade of black. Must have been some kind of personal humor? The smoke, now that was interesting. It never came down to greet you as an old friend, as I expected, but churned across the ceiling like a massive ocean of soot. It only waded down to meet the floor when it reached the foyer, pushing itself out from under the door. Had you figured that one out yet? I thought not. I saw that Fire’s prowess astounded you beyond the point of no return, a return you were not willing to make. Am I right? Yes. You sat in the middle of the living room, your stare fixated on Fire’s mesmeric abundance. Like a fool. The intense heat singed the fine hairs on your arms, legs, neck, and you contemplated whether Fate understood your interference. You took control of your own destiny and showed it what you were capable of, without its help, of course. I mean, Chance or Fate is mere words to describe the outcome of conscious choice predated by previous actions, thus completing a designed series of events. Am I right . . . or wrong? Right? Wrong? No, wait, call me a fatalist, but the future is inevitable, my friend, no matter what choices you make to try to change that. Your fate was sealed the moment you were born. You started the fire, you decided to sit in the middle of the living room amidst it all, you decided on the outcome of your future, although the outcome was not yours to create. Just as your wife chose hers. Just as the doctors decided to end your daughter’s suffering from cancer before everything started to fall apart. The very beginning on the sequence of tragic events that would end with your inevitable future. Except, you and me both never imagined a liberator to arrive in time to come and change your predetermined quest, have we? That is understandable, at most. I get it. Inevitable. Your wife and child. I know how much you loved them, man. Hell, I have never seen such a love in my entire life, to be honest. I also understood why you wanted to end by the means of fire. Fire is what consumes a soul when loving so deeply, am I right? There was something symbolic you wanted to prove in memory of their existence, yes? I get that too, you sneaky bastard. In all the years of life on earth, misery has never acclimated to the weak of heart. We all know that. It never showed signs of remorse to the ones who could give their heart away as freely as you would give a sucker to a child. Yet, there you were, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the living room, rocking your torso back and forth with the gleam of firelight caught upon the surface of your tears, a flickering smile dangling from the corners of your lips, the strongest man I have ever met. Up until the world around you exploded with fragments of shimmering glass. I knew that you were so absorbed within your grief, the wanting and the expectation of seeing your beloved wife and daughter again that you did not at once notice the fiery bird swooping in from outside, its beady eyes fixated on you, its feathery body completely engulfed with fire of many a shade. In comparison with the bird, the fire you instigated looked like the shadow a big tree would make on a lovely, sunny day. Yes, it did. Magically, it started to feel like a protective shadow too. Instead of scorching hot tongues of fury, the flames quickly spread over the carpet, engulfed you, and tickled rather than burned. I remember the feeling. It came as a surprise. A surprise. I recall the glowing orange colors turning into a light blue hue with white sparks flying off its whipping ends as the big bird called out in . . . was it alarm or confusion? A spectacular entrance for our intervening friend, nonetheless. Not even Inevitability saw that coming, did it? Did it? No, it did not. The future, your predetermined future you created, screamed at us, at the bird, in raging fury. It wanted us so badly. I felt its rage burning although not fatally so. The bird was there. It was there and it was protecting us, do you remember? Like an angel, but without the glitter. It swooped around the room in wide arches; spread its enormous wings even wider before it settled its huge form over every exposed surface, dousing the blue flames with its own, before everything disappeared in a great flash of white light. . . When I came to, there were ashes everywhere. Someone was knocking on the front door. No, more like pounding with enormous fists or hammers, screaming your name. That must have been the crazy Landlord. Must have been, yes. I saw you lying on the floor, covered with ashes and debris. All your furniture was gone, unfortunately. That was your own doing, of course. I have no sympathy in that regard, idiot; however, you survived. Uhuh, you did. You were the lucky one who made it. Only luck could have interrupted the inescapable consequence of the expected. Luck is chance. Chance is fate. I saw the realization in your eyes when you rose from the ashes, probably light-headed what with all that was happening, probably irritated with the hammering on the front door, as well. Just a little bit, maybe. In the end, you knowing as well as I, that fate has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it, erasing what was, opening a door to what is, and perhaps constitute to the wellbeing of its occupants in the meantime. It cares for the beginning of something new even though you cannot see that. It cares for ends too. Fate is I, friend, and your denial made it my belief. The Phoenix broke that bout of confusion, yes. Why? I could think of only one reason, friend. Because she loved you. I recognized her, and I know you did too. We owe it to the woman, man. It is not your time yet. She was not part of the design but she made herself fit for long enough to save you. Yes, okay, I will stop talking. Put on some clothes and think of an excuse to explain this mess. Go on, live your life.