Category Archives: My Stories

Flash Fiction: Rain

Rain

The rain falls so softly onto the battlefield; yet, oh so steadily. It has been raining for days and most likely hasn’t even considered letting up. Every drop falls slowly from the clouds above down to the green earth below. No, it hasn’t rained hard – but it seems to be staying consistent. Day in and day out, morning and evening – the rain continues to fall.

Of course, the battle itself is over. There is nothing left to fight for; the blood has been shed, the victory has been won, the spoils have been shared. The battlefield lies behind for most of us. The other soldiers left to enjoy their victory, leaving the rain to wash away the blood. One can’t be sure, but I doubt a single one of them looked back.

That is, of course, with the exception of myself; the soldier who can never leave this field. I fought so valiantly in the battle, leading my men on the front lines. Early on I took so many wounds that I quickly lost count. But I kept fighting nonetheless. In the end, I was a victor – I was liberated from tyranny.

Or so they said.

As the rain falls, I find myself sitting on a rock overlooking the field where my kin and I have fought beside each other, watching each other die. I wonder if the end of the fighting has truly come. Surely, some other day will arrive when humanity sees fit to use this field to shed blood again. Surely, the cause will be noble. Surely, the stakes will be great. Even more surely, brothers and close friends will watch in horror as their loved ones are taken from them right before their eyes.

No, I doubt this is the end of war. And I cannot help but question the point of it all.

Who are the victors? There are none. Who are the triumphant? There are none. Who are the great and glorious? There are none. Who are the defeated? We all are – every last one of us.

So, as I look onto this eternal battlefield, I pray that the end can somehow arrive. I pray that no more blood be shed on this battlefield or any other. I pray that the end of war can come. For the last memory of this battle that I can recall – that I will ever be able to recall – was an act that should not only have ended this battle but all battle’s to come.

Probably most strong and wise men will label this man a fool – I label him the Ender of War’s. I doubt this man was a soldier at all; though, he was very strong. He was probably little more than a farmer whose land just happened to become our battlefield. He was a victim. But when the battle came to his doorstep, he did not find it fit to pick a side and enter into the fray; no, he stood outside of his home and I can’t be sure, but I believe I saw a tear in his eyes.

I saw my captain approach him in the middle of battle and order him to flee or fight. Many men would have run away. Others would have picked up a sword and entered into the confrontation, but this man was braver than most. He simply asked my captain a simple question: “Is all of this worth it?”

Enraged, my captain pulled out his sword and held it to the man’s neck, ordering him to move to his knees. The man complied. My captain began lecturing this poor man about the nobility of our cause – the freedom that our fight would bring, the justice. The man just hung his head and cried before saying: “This is no freedom. There is no justice here.” Finally, the man looked my captain in the eyes and said, “Hate cannot overcome hate. Only love can do that.”

I doubt my captain heard these words even if the sound of them reached his ears. He did not pay heed to his man’s warnings and severed the head of the farmer.

I swear it, when I saw what happened, I threw down my sword and I shall never pick it up again.

The battle was over shortly thereafter and my captain was labeled a hero. My people were liberated. We were victors. As my countrymen, my friends, and my brothers left the battlefield, they chanted: “Freedom! We are free!”

Somehow, I know this is not true. Somehow, I know that the dead man who opposed my captain was the freest one of all.


Flashes Before Your Eyes

Inspired by stories from the TV Series, LOST

 

The desert floor was dusty and dry; not a lick of moisture hung in the air. The dark clouds settled low yet offered no hope for rain. Lighting flashed in the distance but it certainly wouldn’t crack open the skies to let the water fall on the burnt and parched landscape. Clouds of dust rolled along the countryside creating a light haze completing the darkness.

An old highway stretched for miles across the desert from emptiness to emptiness. Few vehicles found themselves traveling across it. Those that did were those leaving nothing only to arrive at nothing. The asphalt was old and worn down to sand – not from travel but from the erosion from the earth. Some highways wear and break down after carrying too much of a load; others wear and break down from not carrying enough of one.

Henry Adams found himself driving a ’69 Camaro down this highway. The roar of the engine and the tires on the asphalt created little stir in the air – just another lost soul fleeing a lost life. He hadn’t seen another vehicle for almost an hour but he most likely didn’t notice. He was half drunk and held a bottle of whiskey in his right hand along with the steering wheel.

Henry was a man just shy of middle-age. His dark, brown hair was long and unkempt. His face needed shaving but he didn’t yet have a full beard. His skin was dripping in sweat from the heat and exhaustion.

Tears filled the bottom of Henry’s eyes. He released his foot from the throttle and applying a small amount of break allowed his car to slow to a halt on the bottom of the desert floor. Holding his foot on the break he fell forward in his seat placing his forehead on the top of the wheel. His shoulders began shaking with sobs.

“It’s gone,” he cried, “I’ve lost…” the rest of his words were indistinguishable through the tears. He finally found himself whispering over and over again, “It’s all gone.”

The lightning continued to crash throughout the desert. The storm moved steadily – almost methodically. It made its way towards Henry’s halted vehicle. And when it made its way overhead it stilled and waited. An eerie calm filled the air.

And then another bolt fell and there was a great flash.

***

            Henry awoke in his bed. Or at least, it used to be his bed. As he opened his eyes a sense of confusion overcame him.

Gently, Henry lifted himself up. He was back in his apartment – the apartment he had lived in ten years prior. Looking towards his right he saw his roommate Samuel still sleeping.

Sweat poured from all the pores over his body. He could feel the dampness of the shirt that lay over his shoulders. Yet, when he looked down, it wasn’t the same shirt he remembered wearing in his car just minutes before.

He bolted from his bed and ran towards his desk in the office a room over. He was surprised to see his old computer sitting there. It was his old desktop that ran off of Windows 98. He cursed silently to himself as he turned the ancient PC on and heard the familiar whir of the desktop computer attempting to start. What was going on?

The dinosaur of a computer finally came to life and Henry looked straight at the bottom right corner of the screen. The date showed dim and pixilated: 2/28/02 – February 28th 2002. Henry cursed again, this time more loudly.

Leaning back in his chair, he began to think. There was something of importance to this day. It wasn’t just any day. No, this was the day directly following the worst mistake of his life. The tragedy that was his existence had begun only hours earlier. He had broken the heart of Sophia, the only person he had ever truly cared about. The days, weeks, months, and years following that fateful decision had been a spiral of depression mixed with drugs and alcohol. His decisions would eventually lead him out onto that desert road.

But was it all a dream? Henry let his mind fall into a deep state of thought. Perhaps this was nothing more than an incredibly vivid dream caused from making a dreadful decision.

“You in there, Henry?” Samuel asked shuffling across the floor and coming to halt in the doorway to the office.

Henry chuckled as he saw his old friend half awake with his eyes barely open and his hair sticking out in odd directions. “I’m fine.” Henry lied with a laugh.

Samuel cursed, obviously annoyed with being up at such an early hour, “Then shut up. You’re yelling and jabbering is enough to keep the sand man awake.”

“Yeah, sorry pal.”

A quick flash of light filled Henry’s eyes. He moved his forearm over his face.

 ***

            A flash and a crack of lightning woke Henry up from a slumber. He was back in his car out in the middle of the desert.

His face lay against the steering wheel. His foot had slipped off the break and the car was now idling slowly down the highway and drifting into the other lane. The whiskey bottle had fallen out of his hand and spilled over the floor. Henry cursed out of confusion and sorrow for his spilt alcohol.

Henry applied the brake to stop the car from rolling any further. He looked back into his rearview mirror remembering all that he had planned on leaving behind.

Why is this happening?

Another bright flash filled his eyes.

 ***

            “You okay there, man?” Samuel asked.

Henry found himself back in the office in his old apartment. But he was no longer in his chair – he was sprawled on the floor.

“What happened?” He asked.

“I don’t know man, you just passed out. You feeling okay this morning?”

Henry rubbed his forehead and tried to think. He certainly wasn’t okay, his head felt as if it were about to explode.

“I have no idea what is going on.” He said continuing to rub his forehead.

“Well go take a shower and I’ll make some breakfast.” Samuel said. Like always, Sam had an easy fix. “If you’re not feeling better then we should probably get you to a doctor.”

Henry gave a nervous chuckle. “No, I’m fine.” He replied, getting up and moving towards the bathroom.

He found himself staring in the mirror. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw himself. His face was clean shaven, his hair was short. He was also incredibly younger than the last time he had seen himself in the mirror.

What is going on?

He took his friend’s advice and had a short shower and then made his way into the kitchen for eggs and toast.

“I think I know what this is all about.” Samuel said as he sat down to join his roommate at the table.

Henry gave a polite grin, “And what’s that?”

“You’re feeling bad about Sophie.”  Samuel replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, “What do you think?” He asked sarcastically.

Henry didn’t look up, didn’t make eye contact. The name and the reality behind those words struck him to the core. “What do you know about it?”

“What are you talking about?” Samuel laughed, “You told me all about it when you got home last night. You were a blubbering mess.”

“Yeah, I guess I was.” He took a bite of his eggs.

“What I don’t get,” Samuel said as he poured some orange juice into a glass, “Is why you did it. I mean, if I’ve ever seen a man love a woman it’s how you love her.”

“I guess I just got scared.” Henry replied with surprised simplicity. Unbeknownst to his friend, he had had 10 years to think about it. “With her moving out of state and me stuck here. I just didn’t think we could last the separation.”

Samuel clicked his tongue and seemed to roll the idea around in his brain, “I suppose that makes sense. You were afraid that she’d break your heart so you decided to beat her to the punch broke hers instead – just in case.”

A dark glare formed over Henry’s face. He remembered this conversation now from all those years ago. He remembered this turn of events that was happening right now. It was like an incredible experience of déjà vu. He had ruined his closest friendship the day after he had ruined the life he had with the woman he loved.

“Like I said, what do you know about it?” Henry finally replied.

“Ah,” Samuel nodded, “I guess I don’t know anything. You’re only my best friend after all. The sad thing is, just yesterday morning you were talking about proposing to her – moving with her even. And then you just couldn’t follow through.”

“You shut up about it!” Henry ordered raising his voice and pointing the fork in his friend’s direction.

Samuel just shook his head, “I care about you too much to shut up about it. It’s not too late, Henry, you can still go back to her. I mean, she loves you man.”

Without even realizing what he was doing Henry bolted out of his chair and into the table knocking it over. He grabbed Samuel by the collar and pulled him out of his seat as he threw him against the wall. He got right in his face and screamed, “There’s no going back, Samuel! I’ve lost her! It’s all gone!”

Samuel, somehow and someway, maintained his composure even as he was pinned against the wall.

“You can always go back, Henry.”

Samuels face shone bright for a moment as a bright flash overcame Henry.

 ***

            The desert highway once again lay before him. The words mentioned by his roommate poured through his brain. “You can always go back, Henry.”

Tears welled back up in his eyes, “I’m too far gone, Sam.” He whispered. “I’m too far gone, Sophie.” He sobbed

The words still resonated in his ears as if he had just heard them only moments before. Had he heard them only moments before?

Henry glanced up and into his rearview mirror. He saw the highway that lay behind him. His eyes fell lower on the road before him. Chuckling, he thought of an old Robert Frost poem.

“What the heck” He whispered to himself. “Why not”

Henry put the car in reverse and began heading back the direction he had come from.

The road through the desert was a straight shot. The sun was bright and glorious as it reflected off his car painting a beautiful portrait on a dying landscape. Tears continued to flow down his face as he began to see the desert giving way to civilization. He still had miles to drive.

The lightning continued to flash overhead.

 ***

            “Henry!” Samuel screamed, slapping his friend’s face in an attempt to get him to come to, “Wake up!”

Henry was on the kitchen floor with his back against the wall. Looking up he saw that he was back in his old apartment with his roommate.

“What happened?” Henry asked.

“You just passed out, that’s what happened.” Samuel said out of frustration. “Here let me help you up.” He was able to get Henry up and put him in the only chair that hadn’t fallen over in their scuffle. “What’s wrong with you this morning?”

“If I told you…” he thought about it for a second, “Naw…you’d never believe me.”

“Try me.” Samuel insisted.

“I don’t know if I’m here…I don’t know if I’m…there.” Henry was trying to work it out for himself. “Ah, maybe I’m just going crazy.”

“Well I already knew that.” Samuel chuckled. Henry couldn’t help but join in.

“Moments ago…” Henry tried to start again, “I was ten years in the future driving in the middle of a desert. What’s happening here – now, this morning – it’s an old memory of mine. Its like I’m living in this memory.”

Samuel squinted, obviously not understanding.

“I don’t know…it’s just that…”

The flash returned.

 ***

            The car was skidding across the road. Henry awoke with a fright and heard screaming as he looked up and saw that he was about to hit another vehicle head on. He tried to react but he there wasn’t enough in time. His Camaro crashed head on with an SUV.

At first, everything turned into an utter darkness. But then flashes of light began to seep into his yes.

 ***

            Henry awoke with his head on the kitchen table which apparently had been righted. Samuel was walking back into the kitchen with two cups of coffee. “So you’re awake again.” He said as he took a seat next to his friend, sliding a cup towards him. “Look, Henry, I think we need to get you to a doctor. Something obviously isn’t right.”

“You don’t say,” Henry replied as he lifted his head off the table and began to rub his forehead.”

“Uh…Henry…” Samuel said with a start.

“What? Henry asked.

Samuel made a notion towards his nose.

Henry looked at him questionably and then did the same. A cold, wet feeling touched his index finger. He lifted it away to see blood. Cursing, he reached across the table and grabbed a napkin to clean up his bloody nose.

“Why don’t you try explaining again what is happening.” Samuel asked with a cool composure.

Henry chuckled, “I’ll try, brother.” He finished dabbing the blood with the napkin then sat it down. “To my memory, everything that’s happening now happened about ten years ago. The last thing I remember before all of this started was driving into the desert more than halfway drunk. In my memory, you and I aren’t friends anymore. I don’t even live in around here anymore. I threw my life away after what happened last night.

“Then, this morning, I woke up and I was right back here. But it wasn’t a dream. I keep…flashing back to my old self…well, my future self. And then I flash right back here. The last thing I remember, I was driving and I crashed because I’m passing out there just like I am here. I know you probably think that I’m crazy.”

“I already told you I knew that, Henry.” Samuel said with a sympathetic smile. “I can’t say I understand or believe what you’re telling me. But I believe that you believe it.”

“Thanks,” Henry laughed, “I suppose that’s a start.”

“So…about last night.” Samuel continued

“Back to that?”

“Back to that. It seems that’s where this whole mess started.”

Henry cursed, “I just don’t see why she has to move so far away. I mean, things were so perfect right now. Why did she have to go?”

“You know why, Henry.” Samuel attempted to console. “That’s where her family is, that’s where she had a job lined up.”

I was her family.” Henry insisted. “I could have provided for her.”

“Why didn’t you just decide to go with her?”

Henry swore again, “It’s not that easy, Sam!” He replied slamming his fist on the table, “What if she stopped loving me? Then I’m stuck out there all by myself.”

Henry’s own words struck him to the core. He was afraid that Sophie would leave him and he would end up being in a strange land alone. Yet, by throwing her away that was exactly where he ended up.

“So don’t blame any of this on her.” Samuel said, still calm but raising his voice. “This isn’t about her going or not going. This is about you being a coward.”

Without thinking, Henry’s fist went right into Samuel’s face. “Don’t you call me that again, you…” The light flashed before he could finish.

 ***

            Henry awoke in a hospital bed. He heard the beeps and the whirs of the medical room. He felt the scars on his face. He swore, finishing the sentence he had started. Looking around he saw the entrapment of the hospital room. Sobs began welling back up inside of him.

“You can never go back,” he cried. “There’s no going back.” He remembered the feelings of having Sophie in his arms; remembered running his fingers through her hair and the love he felt for her. But it wasn’t enough – for either of them. “It’s never enough.” He sobbed.

“Henry,” a familiar voice spoke in the doorway. A voice that seemed so far away – yet here it was.

He found the strength to lift his head. There, in the doorway, surrounded by the light of the hallway, stood Sophie. She was older than the last time he had seen her – but still beautiful. Her long, dark hair still found a way to shine. Her eyes still weakened Henry’s heart. Her voice still made his soul leap within him.

“Sophie?” Henry asked not believing his eyes and ears. He began praying that he didn’t flash back to his apartment.

“It’s me.” She replied, tears were welling in her eyes as well.

“What are you doing here?” The question wasn’t out of anger but rather joy.

She hesitated, “Henry, I’m the one you crashed in to.”

Henry’s jaw fell open, he couldn’t believe it.

“I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen you.” An obvious tear fell down her right cheek. “When I saw them pull you from the car…I…”

“You’re okay?” Henry insisted.

“I’m fine,” Sophie cried, “I just…I can’t believe it.”

“Sophie…” Henry started, “The reason that I was driving…the whole reason I was out here…all the way out here. I was going to find you. This…” he searched for words, “Sophie…maybe it’s a sign.” He began becoming excited.  “Maybe…we’re meant to be together.” He realized he probably sounded like a raving lunatic but he didn’t care anymore. “Maybe its destiny.”

Sophie’s tears turned to a full sob, “No Henry. Don’t tell me about destiny…you had your chance.”

“Oh, Sophie. I’m so sorry. If I could I would change it. I promise you…if I could. I was a coward, I’ll admit it. I…I’m sorry. But we can start over. This is destiny, this is fate Sophie. We get our chance to go back!”

Sophie’s voice turned cold, “No, Henry, we can’t. You had your chance but that’s gone now. I have a new life here. So don’t you dare talk to me about going back. I’ve put you behind me…And I don’t want to go back.” She finished as she choked the tears down and turned to leave, “But you’re right about one thing.” Turning to say one last thing, “You were a coward.” And those were her final words to him.

“Sophie…” Henry whimpered, “Wait,” he pulled himself out of the bed ripping out his IV’s. He began moving towards the door and started to call her name one more time.

But then a knife plunged through his heart. Not a literal knife made of metal – no, this knife cut much deeper than that. Henry would have welcomed the metal blade over what his eyes beheld in that moment.

Sophie walked into the arms of another man and the two embraced. A young child, no older than five, clung to her leg. The three of them held each other for a moment and then turned down the hallway to leave. One of Sophie’s hands held her husband’s, the other one held her child’s.

And there, Henry fell to his knees and wept. “You can’t go back,” he whispered. “You can’t go back.” He was sobbing uncontrollably when the flashing took him again.

 ***

            Henry woke up back in his apartment. He was lying on the couch.

“Don’t mind me.” Samuel told him as he sat in a chair not far from his friend. “I carried you out here to lie down so that if you fall you can’t hurt yourself.”

“She’s gone.” He whispered.

“I know” Samuel replied with sympathy. “But you can still change that.”

“You can’t change it…you can never change it.” Henry whispered with defeat.

“Well…that may be how things are where you come from. But back here in the past – which I happen to enjoy calling the present – you still can.” Stillness filled the air. “If what you’re telling me is true…if you’re really flashing back and forth between now and the future… well, then the only way that I can think of fixing it is to make this future of yours to where it never happens.”

“How do I do that?” Henry chuckled as if it were impossible.

Samuel smiled, “Go to her.”

A tear fell down Henry’s cheek. “Could it really be that simple?”

“There’s only one way to find out,” Samuel grinned

A new sense of hope overwhelmed Henry. It was kind of hope he hadn’t experienced in a very long time. Perhaps, just maybe, he could change things.

He jumped up and ran outside. Barefoot, Henry ran down the street towards the one he loved. The morning sun was bright – brighter than the flashes. A song began to play deep inside Henry’s soul as he reached Sophie’s apartment complex.

The run hadn’t taken more than ten minutes. When he got to the door he began knocking loudly. “Sophie! It’s Henry! I’m sorry!” His cries were filled with both sorrow and joy. “I’ll change it! I’ll go with you, Sophie! Just give me another chance! We can still change things!”

Henry hoped and prayed that she heard him. He hoped and prayed that if she did that this would work – that he could hold her again.

The door began to open and a light began to flash from inside – a light brighter than all the ones before it. The light began to flash and the thunder cracked – for the final time.

 

THE END


The Incident

The air was cool for a summer night. A light haze, almost like a fog, rolled into the valley. The air stood almost completely still – yet it almost seemed to have some kind of bite in it – as if it were ready to strike; the way a viper strikes when it feels threatened.  And it was humid – downright uncomfortably humid; creating a light mist. The full moon was out and the stars were brighter than ever. The night sky shone through the fog and the mist and the cruel air illuminating everything. The heavens and the earth seemed closer than ever. It was as if the earth and stars were reaching out for a comforting embrace in a time of complete sorrow and terror.

It was on this night that Jake Shire found himself driving home after a relaxing day at the lake. Jake always liked to take the backwoods roads to get anywhere; didn’t care for dealing with traffic, even just a little. Give him an old, country road and let them truckers take the highway as he liked to say. And so he found one of his favorite farm roads once he passed a relatively small town called Tulare. It was a rough and unkempt road but it got him to his home in Hanford just fine. At this time of night he wouldn’t have to worry about getting stuck behind a tractor either – that was a common problem on these types of roads in central California. The road had probably never been repaved and thus had been slowly falling into ruin since the day it was first laid down. Pot holes and chunks of loose asphalt paved the way. The spotted, yellow line in the middle of the road was faint and could hardly be seen in the mist.

Corn fields lay on one side of the road and dairies were on the other. The stalks of corn weren’t very high as it was still some time until harvest. The agriculture fields like this in the area provided pleasant homes for rats, mice, snakes, and many other creatures. A rat emerged from the field to the right side of the road and slowly and cautiously moved towards the road and the dairy on the other side. It stopped right before it stepped onto the broken pavement. Looking up, it sniffed the cool air attempting to detect a threatening predator of some kind. Even he was fascinated by the night sky that seemed so bright that evening. Fear struck the small creature and he almost darted back into the field from which it came. But it regained its courage and began moving back towards the road.

The rat moved slowly across the asphalt. It hadn’t quite make it to the center when Jake’s headlights shone further up the road. The small rodent froze upon this peculiar sight. The lights grew bigger and he could feel something large approaching. The old road seemed to shake underneath its small paws. In the last possible moment, the rat ran forward to the dairy on the other side. The front tires of the approaching vehicle barely missed him.

Jake never noticed the small rodent that he had almost killed. He struggled enough to keep his eyes on the old road hoping to see lights from Hanford begin to appear through the mist. The hour was late and he was growing so very tired. He knew he’d still be tired come Monday but it was days like the one he’d just had that made life worth living. Days where you could relax and simply exist. But now, the only place Jake wanted to exist was in his nice, warm bed. Home couldn’t have been more than five minutes away. The small town that he had called home for his entire lifetime would be coming into view at any moment.

The radio was playing an old country western tune that most people Jake’s age had never heard of by a singer they couldn’t care less about. Most people his age would take pop and rap over good old country music. As he was driving, he felt himself drifting into a sleep, jerking his head up every now and again just to see the next line in the road in front of him. The fact that he was slightly drunk didn’t help matters much. He kept trying to whistle to the tune in order to keep himself awake. He wasn’t worried though. As well as he knew the area, he could probably drive home from here in his sleep if he had to. That’s at least what he was trying to tell himself.

His head slowly began to droop down and his eyes were starting to close. Then, he caught himself jerking his head up quickly with a gasp. He quickly noticed a wrecked sports car on the right side of the road that caught his attention. He let his foot off the throttle to take a look. The car had run straight into a power pole and was easily totaled. He turned his attention back in front of him. A woman standing in the middle of the road shined bright in his headlights. Caught off guard, he had just enough time to slam on the brakes and turn the wheel sharply to the left. The rear of his pickup swung to the right, spinning the truck sideways. The sound of tires squealing filled the night air. As the truck skid by, one wouldn’t have been able to stick a piece of tissue between the rear bumper of the pickup and the woman.

The truck came to a halt. Jake swore as he tried to gain a sense of what had happened and where he was. He felt as if he were trying to wake up after a nightmare. But this was no dream. The truck had slid off to the shoulder of the road. He hadn’t heard a bump so he was pretty sure he hadn’t made contact with the woman. Looking in his rearview mirror, he vaguely saw the outline of the woman in the moonlight. Jake sighed with frustration as he killed the engine and opened the door of his truck.

Trying to hide his frustration, he stepped out and onto the wet pavement. The woman was looking at him as a deer looks into headlights. He noticed that the woman was probably only about twenty years old and she was actually fairly attractive. The bright moon and stars reflected off her golden hair and sparkled in her blue eyes. She was wearing what appeared to be a relatively expensive blue dress and high heels. Jake once again noticed the sports car on the other side of the road; once beautiful and surely valuable – now wrecked and worthless. It had to have belonged to the woman.

“Ya’ll okay?” Jake asked trying to override his anger with concern.

She just shrugged, hardly embarrassed, before asking in a very slurred speech “Can I get a ride back into town?” There was no doubt that she was way past drunk.

At first, giving her a ride home didn’t sound like such a bad idea; she was, after all, a very attractive, young woman. He chuckled at the thought. But any attraction was instantly lost when she leaned over and vomited all over herself. The stench of alcohol and who knows what else filled the summer night air. Jake took a step back and swore, trying not to throw up himself.

The young woman now had the vomit all over her dress but was too drunk to really notice or care. She burped and then excused herself before laughing hysterically and asking over again, “Do you think I can have a ride back to …” she stopped to burp and giggle again, “town,” she concluded.

He hesitated before stepping back and saying “I don’t think I can do that.” He was trying to sound as if he sincerely cared as he began moving towards his pickup. “Ya’ll better stay out of the road though.” He turned to go back to his truck but then stopped himself. He knew he couldn’t just leave this woman out here – even if she was a pathetic drunk. He turned back towards the woman. “I’ll tell ya what; I’ll call for someone to pick you up right here.” He pulled out his cell phone and prepared to dial.

The woman swore, “Don’t call the cops” She slurred then laughed again. “See” She said pointing back to her once nice car, almost falling over as she did so. “They won’t like that.” She laughed. “I’m just a little drunk. I don’t know if you noticed.”

“Well, I’m gonna go then. ‘Spose ya can do whatcha want.” Jake said putting his phone away and began walking towards his truck. He just wanted to get home.

“Wait!” She yelled stumbling over towards him. “What about my ride?”

Jake had just gotten back to the door of his pickup. He sighed and turned around, “Dang it, gurl!”

When she caught up with him she tripped over her own feet and fell into him, pressing her vomit covered dress against him. He almost threw up from the odor.

Jake swore, “What’s the matter with ya?” He pushed her away.

“Don’t leave me here.” She pleaded. She wasn’t laughing any more. Tears were beginning to fill her eyes and cover her cheeks as her desperation shined through.

Jake swore again and looked at his shirt and jeans noticing traces of vomit on them. “Git out of here!” He yelled at her and tried again to step inside his truck.

She lunged at him again, this time more violently, knocking him over onto the damp pavement. She then began climbing into the truck.

Pulling himself off the pavement, Jake grabbed her by the waist trying to stop her from getting inside. “Git!” he screamed at her.

She screamed bloody murder as he pulled her out of the truck. She was kicking and screaming and Jake had a hard time pulling her out.

“Git outta here!” He yelled harsher this time as he let her go, shoving her violently towards the ground.

The deadly sound of bone colliding with asphalt filled the night. Time seemed as if to stop as the woman and the pavement met. The sound of her skull slamming into the pavement filled the air and seemed to echo as if it could have been heard miles away. Every sound that had once filled the night seemed to cease. Not even the sound of insects in the fields could be heard. The only sound was the haunting echo of bone and asphalt colliding.

As her body rolled over from the force of the impact, the ruby red blood could be seen on the wet pavement where the back of her head had collided with the ground. It seemed to glow in the darkness of the night, making it the only visible thing. Her face, once smiling and giggling, was now cold and dark. Her eyes that once sparkled from the glow of the moon were now as lifeless as those painted on dolls for children to play with. Blood could be seen in her golden hair All signs of life were gone.

He didn’t know how to respond to what had just happened. His breath ceased as if he were the one to lose his life in that moment. He couldn’t get past the fact that the blood he witnessed before him was due to the work of his hands. But it was in self defense, he tried to convince himself. He was protecting what was rightfully his. But did that make what had happened right?

The horror of what would follow haunted him. He looked for approaching vehicles – expecting the police to pull up and arrest him for his crime. There was nobody approaching. The question now lay before him, should he admit to what he had done? Should he call for help and hope he would be seen as innocent?  The reality that there was no way that he would escape the consequences of what had just happened began to sink in. He could never tell another soul what he had done. So he left her. He left her dead body, her blood, and he would attempt to leave any memory he had of her. He would put it behind him, never speak of it again. Never speak of the blood on his hands. And so he climbed into his truck and drove away. It would be as if it had never happened.

***

The smell of liquor filled the room. Broken bottles of glass covered the stained and mildewed floor. Flies consumed a half eaten sandwich lying on the carpet. The apartment was dirty; it hadn’t been dusted for a year. The smell of rotting food, mold, and alcohol would have made the vilest of vermin uncomfortable.

A man sat in his recliner, a half a bottle of whiskey in his hand.  He took a drink and looked at the calendar on the wall. A bunch of X’s marked the calendar except for one day, that day. A year had passed since the incident on the road. With each day the realization grew clearer: When that woman had died, he had died with her.

Since the events of that dreadful night, he had learned the woman’s name: Kathy Meyers. He had researched all he could about the short life that she had lived, which wasn’t hard to do in a small town. She was twenty-one at the time of her death. Just a few years prior, she had graduated the top of her high school class. She couldn’t afford to go off to college even with scholarships, so she ended up working in a local diner, and later at a bar. No one had been brought to trial for her murder, but for all intents and purposes, the case was closed. There weren’t any leads to a suspect.

For the man in the recliner, the past year had been a living hell. He had tortured himself with the thought of turning himself in; hoping people would understand what had happened, but he couldn’t. He hid the skeleton in his closet and locked it up as if it were his very soul. Which was why he was sitting where he was, in that rotten apartment not fit for vermin, drinking the whiskey like there was no tomorrow. And it didn’t matter, he told himself, because he was already dead.

He belched and laughed, much like Kathy had done the night that she had died. He laughed again at the thought as he pulled himself out of his recliner. As he walked into the kitchen, cockroaches scattered for cover. He grabbed his car keys that had been ensnared in a spider web on the counter and walked out the back door into his garage.

Before climbing into his truck, he dropped the half bottle of whiskey on the garage floor, smashing the bottle and spilling its contents over the concrete. He just laughed as his bare feet walked over the glass cutting deep into the bottom of his soles. He climbed into the truck leaving blood stains on the floor board and accelerator. He opened the garage door as he turned the key. The engine roared to life. He pulled out and onto the road. His destination: that old country road, the road where Kathy Meyer’s life had tragically ended on that horrible night, one year prior.

***

It was about midnight when the police arrived at the scene. On a road just outside of town a pickup truck had collided with a family sedan. The truck had run a stop sign and t-boned the other vehicle. The driver of the tuck had obviously been drunk. He died in the incident. His body was thrown out the front windshield as he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

The sedan was found a good distance from the intersection. The hit had been high-speed and severe. The car had contained a family of three: a mom, a dad, and a one-year-old child. They had been returning from a family vacation at the lake. None of them made it through the impact.

In the home of the one who drove the pickup, the police found numerous articles about the Meyers murder that had occurred a year prior. One year exactly since the incident. They re-opened the investigation and the evidence led them to believe that Jake Shire had been the culprit. His sin was exposed in all its shame but not until after taking another 3 innocent lives. For consumed him, it did, the sin of his past. And no matter how hard he had tried to run, it had caught up to him and eventually cost him his life, as well as the lives of others. And that skeleton that he had hid so desperately in his closet was now his own.


Lord of Peasants

For Lewis Dean Sinift

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

–       John 1:14

Edited by Katrina Sinift

Although many do not remember it, there once was a great and powerful king in a distant land who loved his people as a father loves his children. In the northern regions of this forgotten soil, he created a magnificent kingdom filled with all kinds of living creatures – horses as swift as the wind, birds with voices of angels, deer as gentle as a loving mother. But of all that he crafted, the Creator King loved the humans most for he created them to be in his image.

The land that he created was saturated with great and wondrous forests, cool streams, and rich gardens. There was no dead thing in the entire land. Everything was beautiful, green, and alive. Soft hills rolled throughout the countryside. Extravagant and beautiful snowy mountains lay in the south with pleasant grasslands in the north stretching all the way to the sea. When the king saw all that he had made and how his people loved it so, he concluded that it was very good.

In the first years of this mighty kingdom, all the people loved the king intensely. The king and his people were always together in community with one another. The king would often hold grand parties in his wondrous citadel in the south, inviting all of his people to be with him. The king identified them as his children and as his friends. The people were affectionate to one another likewise. They loved and cared for their neighbors as much as they loved and cared for themselves. Everyone was equal among them. There were no lords or masters, save the Creator King. Everyone was joyful and the king knew that everything was as it should be.

As time moved on, new generations filled the land and started to wonder about and question their way of life. Their thoughts inquired if the king was truly necessary; seeing him as a pointless authority and believing that they could manage the kingdom just as well without him. They desired to do what they saw right in their own eyes. The king was aggrieved by the thoughts of his people but respected the freedom that he had chosen to give to them. When the new generations requested that he leave, the king obliged and left his home in despair. The people then began to rule themselves and no longer had relationship with the Creator King.

Togetherness began to break between the people in the kingdom and their communion turned to discord. The stronger folk turned to taunting the weak. Men started seeing women as inferior and commenced to ruling over them. Over the course of the age, the people cast out those that they characterized as being “Peasants.” Those given this title were exiled to a far-off land in the north. The Royals, as the stronger folk called themselves, claimed that it was for the Peasants own good and protection. They even claimed that it would have been the will of the Creator King that the Peasants no longer resided with Royals. And thus the Peasants and Royals were divided – as it has been such ever since.

As the years progressed, much of the land grew to be barren. The people no longer cared for the land that their lord had given to them and let it be laid to waste. The earth that remained ripe and green was kept by the Royals but what was parched and dry was left to the Peasants.

The land where the Peasants lived was a wasteland. Much of what the king had created was now desolate and broken – the grass, dead and dry; the rolling hills, barren; the landscape, lifeless. It was as if a painter had destroyed a beautiful masterpiece with just a few quick strokes of a brush. What beauty there once was became lost and destroyed. Sharp rocks covered the soil mixed with thorns and thistles. There was hardly any green left in the land and even the few things that still bore shades of it appeared just as lifeless as they would without it. The light green of the sage brush offered little hope or sign of life. If anything, it served only as a reminder of the fruitful gardens of distant lands that would never be seen again by Peasants.

A narrow river trickled through the countryside; its voice being the closest thing to music one could find in the land of Peasants. Many of the Peasants would meander by it, dreaming of where it might go and where it had been. They hoped to believe that the river offered life somewhere else even if it did nothing for their own home. Of course, if it did bring life elsewhere, it would suggest that somehow it had forgotten to bring it to them – but just the thought of life beyond death can strangely warm a heart.

The homes of the Peasants were plainly and simply built. Sheds, they were called – nothing more than a few hastily nailed boards thrown together to give the pretense of civilization. Old stables that once housed horses were turned into homes when they were no longer suitable for animals. Flies and other insects flooded the rooms and covered the faces of the children, mixing with dirt and tears. The sorrow of the Peasants could be felt in the air and the people were suffocated by it day by day.

The cruelty that humans can afflict on one another – in the name of what is great and good! For this affliction was done in the name of the Creator King! The name of what is right and just has been forever tarnished. For this became the reality of Peasants – not lush green gardens, not ever pouring streams! Rather, the sharp rocks, the thorns, the thistles, and all the dead things among a fallen creation! O’ what mankind can do with such beauty – what mankind can do to each other! Everything became loss, everything became dead. And thus all hope left the Peasants. They realized that they would live and die in the wretched land that the Royals had forced upon them. Every day they prayed for a savior but there was never hope that one would come. For only fools hope in the land of Peasants.

Yet it was in this land of Peasants that the Creator King, after leaving his home, went to dwell among his people. And he lived among them and became one of them.

Most never realized that the one true king lived among them for he did not present the appearance of a great lord. He dressed like a Peasant rather than one of the Royals. Dirt covered his face just as it did the faces of his neighbors. His flesh was beaten and torn. Scars covered his entire being. His dark hair was tattered and frayed. His unshaven face showed stains of grey. His eyes showed signs of weariness. His clothes were little more than rags loosely sown together. He blended in perfectly with the rest of his people. No one perceived him being anything special. In truth, he appeared even poorer than the majority. He did not have a shed to call his own. Instead, he lived in the homes of what friends he could find. The only thing that really seemed different about him was his willingness to love and accept others. This was a hard thing to find among the Peasants – one willing to serve out of love rather than profit.

The king would never hesitate to reveal himself to those who sought him. Many labeled him as insane when he claimed to be king – yet others believed in him. But whoever inquired of who he was would be told the truth. And the king entered into relationship with whoever desired it. Perhaps his closest friend was the Peasant named Adam.

One evening, before he knew the king, Adam trekked outside the village to an unkempt cemetery. He drew near to the grave of his wife whom he had lost the previous year. She had been executed during a Peasant trial. It was custom in the land that if a Peasant were under trial by the Royals, they could redeem their charge if they were to end the life of a fellow Peasant. Adam’s wife had been sought out during a trial and executed. Adam had not found peace since. His wife had been the only thing worth living for in his wretched existence.

On that dark night, Adam knelt by the tombstone of his wife and allowed his tears to flow freely. He grieved for his wife but also for his loss of faith and hope. He had always believed in the Creator King as a child and prayed that if there was a king beyond the wasteland of his home that someday the Peasants would be set free. But now Adam found himself doubting that a loving lord of any kind could exist. For how could there be a great and loving lord and king who could allow such evil to happen?

The king saw Adam grieving that hour and heard his cries. His heart was filled with compassion for his child. So he followed Adam that night to the gravesite and kneeling beside him, they wept together.

After some time, Adam asked the stranger, “Who are you and why do you mourn with me?”

Wiping the tears from his eyes, the king answered, “I am who I am – and I mourn because I loved her as well and I feel your pain.”

“How did you know my wife?” Adam demanded.

“Because I am the king and I created her,” he gently replied.

“I don’t believe you,” Adam alleged through his tears. “I don’t believe in the Creator King for I am so lost that I don’t rightly know if I can believe in anything anymore. I’m not sure that I even know this day what it means to be human.”

“Well then, I can teach you,” the king replied with a smile.

Adam reluctantly consented and welcomed the king into his home that night giving him food and a place to sleep. He only had one bed and offered it to his guest but the king genially settled for the floor.

The following day, Adam and the king went about their business in the village and the fields. Adam assumed he had seen the last of his friend so it was surprising when the king brought bread and meat to Adam’s home for dinner.

After the supper, the king inquired, “What do you desire to drink?”

“Oh, my guest,” Adam replied with laughter. “All us Peasants ever have to drink is water. Surely you must know this!”

“I know more than you can imagine,” the king answered returning a smile. His face then grew grave, “I know that the water which you drink is old and filled with dust. But this, my friend, is not what I inquired of you. What do you desire to drink?”

Adam thought of this before replying, “I have heard that wine is a pleasant drink. But of course, only the Royals can enjoy such luxuries!”

“Then so be it – we shall have wine,” the king affirmed. “Go to the well and bring some water.”

Even in his unbelief, Adam did as he was told. He fetched some water from the well and poured it into two cups, sitting one in front of his guest while keeping the other cup for himself.

“See, my guest,” Adam sighed. “All I can offer is what I have – water.”

“Look into your cup. Drink and see if you then believe,” the king grinned.

Adam obeyed and saw that his water had turned to red. Slowly, he brought the wooden cup to his lips and let the liquid drip onto his tongue. The taste of grapes was so sweet on his taste buds. It was the best thing that had ever passed his lips – it was like honey. He savored the wine for as long as he could before swallowing.

“I see now that your claims are true,” Adam said. “You are the king that I heard about as a child. Teach me, my lord, how to follow you – show me what it means to be human.”

And so Adam believed in the king. The two formed a strong bond and Adam followed the king wherever he went – and he was always welcome. They discussed life – the good and the bad. The king began teaching Adam about what it meant to be human. Yet, not all their talk was earnest. They often joined in laughter together. For the king was not merely Adam’s mentor, but also his friend.

One day the king told Adam, “You were not created to be alone. I will introduce you to some friends and we will be in community together.”

So the king brought Adam to the others who believed in and followed him.

“One cannot be human alone,” the king told his followers. “If you are to love me, you must love each other. If one of your sisters or brothers is sick, nurse them back to health. If they are hungry, feed them. If they are without shelter, house them. You would not let yourself go through these things – nor should you let others.”

And so the followers of the king entered into community and looked after one another. Each of them loved each other just as they loved themselves. Though the heartaches of life still came upon them, they never endured them alone.

Many of the king’s followers were still not satisfied. The Royals would often enter the village and destroy their crops and other works. They begged and pleaded for their lord to set them free.

“My lord,” Adam asked. “Will you ever redeem the Peasants? When will you overthrow the Royals?”

The king replied, “Know that these matters are being looked out for. Control what you can control. Remember, I would not be with you if I had forgotten you. You cannot control the treatment of the Peasants by the Royals but you can control how you love me and how you love others.”

So the king, Adam, and the rest of the followers engaged in each other’s lives and worked in their community. The other Peasants could see that there was something different about the followers of the king because they did not only care about themselves.

One morning the king went to Adam and said, “Come, let me take you to a place in the wilderness. No one knows of it but me.”

And so Adam went with the king to the land south of the Peasant village. The terrain grew steep and grew to be more like mountains. Green shades could be seen in the grass and soon there were trees as well. They passed over several streams and at last they found themselves engulfed in a small forest. Then king entered a small, dark clearing and sat down.

“My lord, how do know of this place?” Adam inquired. “This land is forbidden for us to enter.”

“Worry not, Adam,” the king replied. “This land is the land that I have made and it is under my authority that we are here.”

Adam sat down next to the king and they resided in silence for some time. Any instance that Adam began speaking, the king quietly and graciously quieted him. For hours they sat and just listened. The sound of the wind surrounding them created a peace. The coolness of the breeze on their faces strangely warmed their spirits. The sounds of insects and birds mixed with the hush of the wind and though there were no instruments being played – it was the most beautiful music Adam had ever heard.

After a great amount of time, the king broke the silence.

“Adam, of all the days you labored in the fields, of all the days you spent with your wife, when was the last time that you allowed yourself to simply exist? For it is in silence and solitude that you will find yourself.”

“My lord,” Adam replied. “How can I when there is work to be done?”

“There is always work to be done,” the king returned. “If you wait for the end of chores to be human then you will die without having ever lived.”

“But sire, haven’t you been teaching me – as well as others – all these days that your truth is found in togetherness – that we are not meant to be alone?”

“This is true,” the king replied in seriousness. “I do not ask you to live a life of solitude. But I tell you the truth, if you never take time to listen, how will you ever hear me calling? How can you hear when you do not listen? I do not merely call you to be alone – I call you to be alone with me. For I am jealous for you, as I am of all in my kingdom. I love spending time with each of you but so often you become so distracted. So I desire to spend time with you in your solitude where distractions are removed.”

“My lord!” Adam exclaimed. “What do you mean when you say that I do not listen? Every time you call I answer.”

The king sat in silence for a few moments longer but finally he answered, “My friend, a day is coming when I will no longer walk among you. It is in these times that I will ask of you to be still and listen for me. Never forget that even if you can’t see me, I am always with you. When you suffer, I am holding you and suffering with and for you.”

This brought tears to Adam’s eyes but he did not reply. Adam and the king spent the rest of their day in silence. They did not speak more words but rather just breathed and existed. When the sun began setting, they got up and returned to the village.

On their journey back, Adam finally broke silence and asked the king, “Lord, you could dwell anywhere that your heart desires. Why do you dwell with mere Peasants?”

“My friend,” the king said with a smile, “I love the Peasants. I never want you to be without me. Know that even during the darkest nights and the most painful hours of your life, that I am with you. My feet are cut by the rocks just as yours are. I bleed just like you do. I suffer just like you suffer. Thus, I know you even more – and now you know this. Adam, in life you will experience suffering, evil, and death – never forget that I experience these thing as well – and can overcome them.”

Adam was intensely comforted by these words. Yet, at the same time, he was puzzled by what the king had been saying throughout the day. Why would he leave his followers? And how could he say that he would experience death – surely the lord of the Peasants couldn’t die!

Word began to spread through the village of the Peasants of all the king had been doing. More and more people began following him. News of the revival in the village of the Peasants reached the ears of the Royals. They heard of the man who named himself king.

“How dare a man declare himself a king in our land!” they cried. “He shall be made an example of!”

So the Royals ordered their soldiers to the land of Peasants and searched for the one who claimed to be king. When word of this reached the ears of Adam, he began to fear for his lord’s life.

“My lord!” He cried to his king. “You must go into hiding! Surely these men will kill you without mercy!”

“Let come what may come my friend,” the king replied. “A day will arrive for each of us to experience death. So I shall experience it as well.”

“But my lord!” Adam protested. “All others deserve it! You do not! We are wicked and rotten people, we have all done terrible things. You, my king, are perfect!”

The king smiled at his child. “This may be true, but I am stronger than death and shall show it to you.”

So despite what Adam said and the warnings of the other followers, the king did not go into hiding. It was not long before he was taken captive and dragged to the center of the village to be beaten and bruised. His captors spit in his face, mocking him.

“You call yourself a king?” they challenged. “You’re just a filthy Peasant!” They laughed and cursed the king further.

Many of the Peasants joined in the mocking. Several of the king’s followers abandoned the scene and returned to their sheds in hiding; fearing the Royals would seek them out as well. But Adam stayed and watched as the soldiers ridiculed and beat his lord. How could these men do this to the only man who did not deserve it?

The king was brought to the point of total despair. His flesh was ripped and torn. He lay on the ground weeping. But somehow, through his busted and broken lips, he uttered the words, “I love you all.”

“Get up!” one of the soldiers ordered, pulling the king up from the ground. He spit in his face and then forced a sword into his hands. “Here you go my king,” he scoffed. “Kill one of these Peasants and show your loyalty to the kingdom. Choose any one you like – even a sick one will do. Maybe then we’ll set you free.”

This was, after all, the Royal’s custom in trials. The king became tempted in this moment – not out of a lack of love for the peasants – but the reality and brutality of death was laying heavy on him and he could hardly bare it any longer. He desired to use the sword on his attackers and show them that he was lord. But the Creator King knew that he must go through with death so that he could show his children that he was stronger than death itself. His eyes made contact with his child, Adam. Adam could see the pain and humiliation in the king’s red and bloody eyes. He would still love his king if he accepted the terms of the Royals – nothing would change his love for his lord.

But the king replied, “These Peasants are like my children. I would never kill one for I love them.” He then handed his sword back to the soldier.

The soldier laughed at the king, spitting in his face, “So be it,” he muttered as he took the sword piercing the king through his heart.

Adam watched in agony as his king fell dead and lifeless before him. He could see the blood pouring from the chest of the one he loved. He could not bear to watch any longer, fleeing back to his home. He tried to forget all that he had witnessed but the images would not leave his mind. In his bed he wept through the night.

Lengthy were the days after the death of the king. Adam and majority of the other followers still met but suffered deep distress. They could not help but feel forsaken by their lord. They wailed and they mourned together, but they did not forget the lessons that the king had taught them.

One day, the week after the king had died, Adam led the remaining followers of the king to the clearing in the forest that the king had revealed to him. They took their time in silence – listening for the king; praying that he would answer. When evening approached and the followers prepared to leave, they heard footsteps nearing in the forest. They feared that the Royals were drawing near. But it was soon clear that these were the steps of but one man.

The followers were amazed when they finally saw the man who was approaching and fell to their knees as they witnessed the Creator King alive.

“My lord!” exclaimed Adam. “How can this be?”

The other followers were just as awed. The king’s body still showed scars from his beating and execution. His clothing was still torn from the trial. But his face somehow seemed brighter than ever. He smiled at his friends and let out laughter.

“My friends,” the king finally replied. “I am the Creator King. Death has no grip on me. My foes tossed me into the grave but not even the power of death can hold me. Nor will it hold you if you put your faith in me. Do not forget all that I have taught you.”

“Do you mean to leave us, lord?” they asked.

“There are things that I must tend to.” The king replied. “Bur remember this: I desire above all else relationship with you – all of you. I have lived among you to show you that I am with you. Just because you cannot see me does not mean that I am not with you. Know that in your darkest hours I am right beside you feeling what you feel – hurting because you hurt. You have seen me suffer, you have seen evil afflicted on me, you have seen me tempted, and you have seen me die. But you have also seen me overcome those very things – the things you experience daily. Now you know that I can suffer with you and that I can help you overcome. Do not give up hope! Not even in the end! For I am with you and will return for you!”

The king embraced each of his followers and said farewell before disappearing off into the wilderness.

Adam and the other followers returned to the village and told the other Peasants what they had seen. They never forgot the love the king had showed them. In their darkest hours they remembered their lord and trusted that he was with them. The legends grew among the Peasants and they forever looked toward his return. The Peasants never forgot about him. They would always tell the tale of the great and mighty king who became a Peasant – the Lord of Peasants.

THE END


%d bloggers like this: