change is coming

The leaves whispered restlessly outside his window, disturbing the peacefulness of his slumber, and he propped open an eye with an askance glare for their daring intrusion.  The dream had already slipped from his grasp except for the distinct impression that it had been good.  The hour was still too early to see the leaves or even the branches they hung from and he closed his eye again with a disappointed sigh.  Dawn would not arrive for at least two hours but he had little hope of reclaiming the interrupted dream, “What are you going on about now?”

Though they continued to converse in hushed tones, the trees did not answer.  He attempted to push their murmurings and his own curiosity about what had set them astir away by rolling away from the window and throwing an arm over his head.  It was futile and he knew it.  After a quick count of ten, he rose to a sitting position and turned back toward the window to see if his eyes could perceive anything of value from the darkness beyond.

No wind accompanied the rustling of the branches so either a creature was clambering about the giant oak or the tree was truly talking to its wooden brethren.  Either was possible but the level of noise made it more likely that he was eavesdropping on the forest.  There was more than one tree in motion.

Finding his feet, he stepped to the window and leaned against the sill.  Crisp air greeted him.  His eyes continued to adjust but weren’t yet of much use.  His ears remained attentive, and with his mind now fully awake, he confirmed it was more than one tree quivering.  The sound was haunting and beautiful at the same time.

Just as dawn hinted at its coming arrival by warming the eastern horizon, the conversation came to an abrupt halt.  The trees returned to their stoic silence and he was left wondering what was so important the forest had needed to spring into action in the middle of the night.  It didn’t take much thought to come to a likely conclusion.  “Change,” he spoke to the morning.  “Change is coming.”

He had felt a tingling itch in his mind for several days.  Something was amiss in his hidden world and soon the cause would reveal itself.  Unhurried by the threat, or promise, of the coming days, he stayed at the window to watch the day unfurl.  The light stretched from the mountains at the edge of his vision to the tops of the trees that had pulled him from his slumber.  The sky spoke its own salutations in vibrant blue hues.  He sighed with contentment at the wonder of it all.


A question from Matticus:  Having recently published The Erratic Sun, I was feeling some pressure (though that isn’t quite the right word) to write something new… something of my own to publish.  I sat down and this came out.  What do you think?  Is it done, as is?  Or, is this just the start that I should turn into a full novel and publish?


Hear The Song

Image Credit: Bushnell

A gentle breeze sets the leaves whispering and bends the bows closer to hear their secrets, but the whistling rustle holds no truths beyond the ones they’ve heard countless times before.  Corresponding actions and routines transpire throughout the shaded forest, from the ears perking to tall grasses stirring.  The wind is the fortune-teller of the wild places, bringing tidings to those who care to listen, and those who know best always care to listen.

A raised snout follows the perked ears to taste the air and confirm the spreading rumor: night is coming.  Padded feet tread softly on well-worn paths to the singing rock, where the head will tilt again and raised voice will call to brothers and sisters in celebration of the coming hunts.  That running of brotherhood and survival is still some hours away, though, which is fine because the rock always takes time to climb.  Its layered granite can shed and splinter under paws scrambling for purchase.

A winged neighbor cries as it swoops low overhead, angry over being trespassed against, and then perches out of reach of snapping jaws to continue its admonishments.  This too is routine, and while not completely ignorable, is easily pushed from racing thoughts as the path curves to rockier terrain.  The squawks quiet and then disappear altogether behind heavier pants and the high pressure of the evening breeze sweeping across open land.  Small creatures scurry to safety, under rocks and into holes, as the singing rock comes into view.

A deep orange spreads from the edge of the world as the fiery orb of light slips from view.  The time is nearly right.  As purple caresses the edge of the color splashed heavens and then devours the sky, the breeze quiets and the forest below revels in the momentary silence and in anticipation of what is to come.  Padded feet carefully scale the ancestral trail and emerge on the smooth overlook.  The voice sounds immediately in songs of freedom and wildness, and the brothers and sisters respond in echoing fashion until the whole valley vibrates in beauty.

forever lost
Image Credit: Cashman

The gossiping brook, murmuring and whispering the deepest truths of the world in a language as old as the ground it crossed, ignored all suitors who ventured near.  The long years of its life had made it weary of the intentions of those who called upon its shores.  They would present themselves in awe of its beauty, praising the curves and hues the stream had been blessed with, but in truth they only wished to position themselves close enough to discern the ramblings of its ancient tongue.

From its bed, the brook watched the seasons change, never ceasing its incessant chatter.  The splattered colors of autumn covered the forest canopy, harried and hurried along by the reaching fingers of winter’s chill.  The bare branches swayed violently as clumps of snow released their hold and crashed to the still frozen ground when the first warmth of spring began to spread.  Vibrant green flares erupted as leaves shivered in the light summer breeze, the sun filtered through the dense foliage and sent tendrils of light and rainbow prisms spiraling into the shadows.   Warm days gave way to cooling winds and the greens faded as summer drew to a close to make way for the coming fall.

Year after year, passing as an eye blinks, and the brook stayed the same.  Mysterious.  Alone.  Stoic.  Fragile.  It wondered at its own mortality at times.  It pondered the truths it alone seemed to understand.  It continued to refuse all advances and prospects of love.  Until, eventually, it realized that it had a grand purpose in protecting the archaic language and the secrets held within, and it quieted its whispering until it ceased talking altogether.

The suitors stopped calling, and, in time, the brook, the language, and the oldest truths of the very nature of the world were lost.  The bed turned to dust.  The trees withered and died.  The seasons continued to pass but none witnessed the magic.  None cared.  None remembered the magic had ever existed to begin with.



The night settles in, wrapping the forest in a loving embrace, warm and familiar. Vines tangle and tighten as they close their ranks for the dark hours. Trees sway gently in an evening breeze that brushes away the triumphs of the day. Water drips from outstretched leaves to fall noiselessly into the soft ground. The moon and stars flare over the canopy and tendrils slip through to twist and dance in the gloom below.

Padded feet carry the hunters secretively down worn paths. Beacon eyes, green and split by pools of chaos, blaze despite the lack of light and sway in rhythm to the unheard movements. Those lethal orbs are the only evidence of the beasts’ passing and those who share the jungle hope and pray they never pause and take notice when journeys of survival cross.

Only the foolish and the mad venture away from the villages at night, when all else agree the thirsty eyes hold dominion. The occasional fool thinks it will be an act of bravery to prove their worth and defy the odds, even though the screams of previous fools must still echo in their memory. There is no accounting for the mad, who perhaps have simply lost the will to wake and struggle.

So, why, it might be asked, was I among the trees and stars that night all those moons ago, lost and not lost while the hours continued to slip further away from daylight? I wasn’t one to boast, to beat my chest and demand attention. I wasn’t so sure of my strength, speed, and cunning to pit my mortal body against the hunters of the night. I was not one of the foolish, which means I must have been mad.

I was mad.

And the beasts felt it when they found me, held me within their green stares of death, sniffed out my worth to them, and released me unharmed. My particular brand of madness was nothing they wanted to waste their time on. There was better prey, healthier for their souls, to track and devour. Though the eyes haunt me always, even during the bright days of long summer, they blinked out that night and left me alone with my thoughts and frailties.

I waited for morning, frozen equally from the cold, the terror, the joy, and the madness, before stumbling through the grasping vines and branches back to the safety of the village. There I was met by friends and family wielding spears. They turned me back into the forest for only the son of a devil, a witch, or a demon could survive a night isolated among the ravages of the forest’s heart. They wanted nothing to do with any of the possibilities, cursed me for mad, and exiled me.

I found a home among the beasts, not as an equal, and not as a threat or ally. I just existed. After a time, life grew easy again. Things were simpler. Truths were clearer. I began to enjoy the wild life under the canopy with the dance of the moon and stars. Perhaps that is fitting…

The madness remained.

my journey

 photo path_zpsec0973a4.jpg
Photo Credit: islandtime

The parched ground of the ancient forest crunched under my boots.  A trail of prints disappeared into the gloom behind me, marking where I’d come from.  Ahead, the path continued deeper into the hazy half-light filtering through the expansive canopy.  My eyes ranged forward until the trees and trail merged into the darkness.

Silence walked with me as all other living creatures had fled the dying forest long ago.  The quiet was eery and left my nerves sparking for every flickering shadow and hint of movement among the still branches.  It felt like I was walking on holy ground and every step I took was an offense to those who had come before me.  I half expected Shardik to rush forth in his madness for daring to trespass in his final hunting ground.

That particular bear had died, though.  I was certain of that.  But, that knowledge didn’t help ease my tension and edginess.  I expected trouble around every bend.  I expected danger lurking behind each gnarled trunk.  Each mile further from sanctuary my mind increased its sensitivity to light and sound.

My footfalls were deafening roars.

The odd spaces of sunlight allowed to carry through to the forest floor radiated blindingly.

And, still, I continued on, into the heart of the woods, into the darkest parts of my journey.

When they’d heard of my quest, the Elders had warned me that the world had moved on.  I believed them then, and I saw the truth of their statements all around me, but that couldn’t reverse my resolve.  Fate, or destiny, or perhaps madness, had decided long ago that this was the path I was supposed to walk.  If that meant I had to move on, as the rest of this part of the world had, then so be it.


This picture seemed like it belonged in the world of gunslingers, roses, and dark towers, and everything you just read sprang from that initial feeling.

What do you see when you look at the picture?  What do you feel?

Write it, link it to the current Once More With Feeling challenge, and post it so we can all enjoy your response.