Morning has broken

The mist lay over the land like a comforter smoothing away the edges. Sounds traveled less at these times, but few beings knew this. Those who were nocturnal were already snuggled down, deep in their burrows. Those who were diurnal had not yet roused by this time.

The chill of the October air swirled about the massive buck, and steam poured from his nostrils. They tested the air, flared a bit at an uncommon scent. Sharp, like fear, like the smell of anger. His ears perked up now, alert to this new concern. He could hear nothing amiss, but his nose had never been wrong.

No one had appointed him protector of the forest. This was a job he had inherited when the last old buck died. Every forest had one – a keeper, a protector. He simply knew to patrol the boundaries,to protect the sanctity of the forest. Nobody else knew his task. It was silent, secret. He insured the peace of the forest home for all the residents –animals and plants.

The trees were his wards too. When he marked them with his scent he was bringing special attention to them – this one needed healing by being noticed. Or this one needed to be left alone by the other deer.

The moose and bear weren’t the same – theymarked what they wanted, when they wanted. No rhyme and certainly no reasonthere. But they were asleep in many ways.

He had the burden of being awake, and being alone. This was a task that was best performed with full attention, or not at all.

It was time to check out that smell. It wasn’t going away and it felt like it would only get bigger. He walked towards it,carefully, slowly, eager to not make a sound. His tall slim legs deftly maneuvered around the branches in the forest, placing his hooves precisely, no sound created to alert others. While he was unwilling to call attention to his duty, he was also unwilling to alert whatever was making this scent – not until it was time.

It took nearly an hour to make his way there. By then his ears could hear the noise. And then he saw it – some huge yellow monster, with round feet and a huge single arm, grabbing at the dirt in massive, greedy grabs. Another yellow monster, arms wrapping around 40 foot trees and stripping off their branches as if they were saplings. His eyes grew wide – what were these beasts who were eating his home? They were the source of the smell, that burning, the smoke, the terror.

The blood that ran through them was from the remains of animals who died long ago – long before this forest was populated with his kind. It was from larger animals, ones that lived in warmer times. The blood of these yellow monsters was made from death, from decay. And yet, the breath from these immense yellow animals would bring about the change that made life possible for them again.

The dinosaurs were having their revenge, now, a millennia later. They had been reborn as the fuel that powered these machines that were destroying the earth for mammals – making it too warm for warm blooded animals, making it perfect for reptiles and larger-than-life lizards.These ghosts had possessed the people, making them crave oil, haunting them to create gasoline, pursuing them to make more and more, to destroy more and more.

The ancient stag knew madness when he saw it. It had stalked his forest in years past. He knew it was a force that was beyond reason.It was a hunger, an emptiness, a vacuum. It was an empty void that could never be filled. Things could never ever be enough – food, power, property. That kind of emptiness only lead to more cravings, not less. It was like scratching at hives – it only made you itch more.

The stag returned to the forest and thought about what to do. The machines could be destroyed, but the people would only bring more. A show of force from the bigger animals – the bears, the mountain lions – would only bring hunters with guns.

The next morning he knew. He went to talk to the trees in that area and explained to them how they needed to give up their spirits. The wood needed to be rotten inside and for that the tree spirit had to leave. Then the wood wouldn’t be valuable anymore. Then he talked to the soil around the area, to soften up to the two legged, to make it impossible for them to scout deeper into the forest. Not quite as bad as quicksand, but better than mud for grabbing it shoes. Enough of that and maybe the people would leave.

He had no way to ensure they wouldn’t come back in the future, but by then he would be gone. Another stag would have taken his place as guardian of these hills, his home. Another stag would have to stand against this incessant encroachment, this greedy grabbing.

(Written early October 2018) (inspired by artwork by Dan McCarthy)

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Stories from the Sea

Alone, adrift, he finally knew. He understood what had happened and why. The forest was destroyed, burned to the ground. And yet – and yet it was still the source of the first house, the house that would lead to healing.

It took him a week to understand. A week at sea by himself, drifting in that small sailboat. How thankful he was that his mother had sent him to boating school all those summers ago. She’d spent many a day sailing with her dad when she was growing up and wanted her son to have the same skills. He appreciated it now.

At night he tied the rudder and slept under the stars And still the visions came – the house, that house, the one he would build, the one that would rebuild his town, and hopefully after that, the world.

He couldn’t see that far. His visions stopped after his mortal life was determined to end. He could reach just so far and then nothing, a grey mist covered his Sight. It was enough. He was content to know his purpose and live into its completion. Any more and he might have gone mad. Just enough for one person and one lifetime was plenty.

But still the visions came and still he couldn’t see how they were to be. He trusted that all would be revealed in time. It always was. Yet he also knew this was the biggest thing he would be called to do and his time was growing short. His parents both died young – albeit due to entirely preventable causes – causes he didn’t participate in – and he was mindful of the value of time. Perhaps he would live longer than they did – but perhaps not. Then again, even at 60 would he be strong enough to build a house? So he knew the time was coming soon for the fruition.

And then he saw it – the boat! It had been made from the very same forest he had sworn to protect! He was close to shore, close enough to swim in. In his joy, he began to hack away at the mast with an ax, delighted that now he knew the next step in his vision, delighted that it was coming into reality. This mast would be used to create the front door to the house. Now it all made sense.

(Inspired by art of the same name by Dan McCarthy)

Stories from the Forest

Evan knew he had to run away from the forest he had protected for so long. He built a tiny home there to keep an eye on it but the times had changed. The forest was on fire. There would be no investigation. Nobody (yet)cared about this forest, this special place, this future birthplace of the healing of his hometown. Nobody (yet) thought of this forest (any forest) as valuable, as necessary. A house burning, now they’d investigate that. That was property. There was the insurance company to appease. But this – this was seen as a wasteland, a wilderness. Because it wasn’t owned by people it was seen as not of value. It didn’t count because it wasn’t counted.

Evan had used this to his advantage to build his home years ago. How long had it been? The seasons had slid into each other one after another, faster and faster, so quickly that it didn’t seem but a blink of an eye and a decade had passed.

Time was like that for everyone, but especially for Evan. The Sight made it so time folded into itself like a Mobius strip, end and beginning the same, one continuous loop. He understood all too well what the Scriptures meant when God said “I AM the Alpha and Omega” but not well enough to explain it to anyone else.

They never noticed when he started living part time in the forest. He was often overlooked, ignored. Perhaps it was because he was odd, a misfit, and eccentric. He wasn’t dangerous, just different. There wasn’t a mean bone in his body. But he’d spent so long suppressing himself that he’d developed an allergic reaction, a reflex if you will, to having to fit himself into everybody else’s mold. It was like his soul was a size 14 and the only shoes he was offered were a size 8. It cramped him to shoehorn himself into their expectations, so he didn’t.

He wasn’t intentionally difficult, but he came off that way. So people avoided him, or overlooked him. At first this was problematic because he’d been taught he had to be sociable – that “no man was an island”. Later on, after innumerable examples of being let down by people he was supposed to trust, he understood. That “role” wasn’t meant for him, an outlier, but for them, the herd. It was meant to keep them safe, but mostly compliant and also. It wouldn’t do to let them roamon their own. They would get lost. And without their true GPS (God Positioning System) they’d never return.

He might never return to his home in the woods now. He couldn’t see how his vision of the House of Death (the treatment center) would come to fruition, but he knew it would. It always did. Now he knew only that he had to escape.

The fire had come up so quickly that he’d not had time to take anything. That was fine with him. A clean break was his kind of way after all.

He’d not stopped until he reached the harbor. The momentum of the adrenaline coursing through him was enough to make him run for several miles – enough to make sure he was well out of harm’s way. And now, with no further land before him, he stopped, breathless, to assay the situation. Roam along the coast? Or take the ship to parts unknown? It was time to have a chat with the harbormaster.

(Inspired by art of the same name by Dan McCarthy)