The Druid and the Flower – Ch 20

cigar Russ

Chapter 20 – Rule of Law

Book of Enlightenment
Deterrent or punishment
Intentional or accidental
Loose connections to questionable behavior

Maeve, her group, and her extended party of prisoners moved down into North Face Cove, the prisoners following the lead horse. They had freed up many of the packhorses using supplies on their outbound journey. Six of those now carried the prisoners. Folks came out to meet the arrivals. Maeve understood the community would still be mourning Maureen. Stan stood by the roadside. After tipping his hat to Maeve he focused all his attention on the prisoners as they moved along.

The silence of their passing was not lost on Maeve or the prisoners. All six lowered their heads—a funeral procession could not have been quieter.

The people of North Face Cove would have most details of their travels, some information provided by Stan and yet more from the two women who’d already returned with the load of weapons in the much faster and shorter boat ride. Their gathering was more to welcome back the comrades who had undertaken a task that they knew concerned them all.

The prisoners were placed in a tackle room no longer in use. The secure shed would temporarily serve the purpose of containing the prisoners. The lack of windows and only one door that could be easily secured and guarded made the shed an ideal solution in the absence of a formal jail. Three men were set to guard them, along with a few dogs who loved to hunt. There would be no escape.

Maeve had a brief chat with those who gathered around. She answered their most urgent questions and promised that once she’d checked out her homestead, changed into some fresh attire, and taken a good long shower, she would meet at the community store to answer any further questions.

Maeve headed off home. Claire met her as she walked in the door, and they exchanged hugs. Claire gave Hekate the prerequisite scratches. There was little need to ask of any happenings in her absence; Maeve knew well that Claire would volunteer any information necessary.

After she left, Maeve’s first thought once alone in her home was of Conor. She hoped his journey was going well.

I’ll not think about that now. For now, things needed doing. First she had to rejoin with the pack. She was not sure who they would want to see most, Hekate or her, but it would be an enjoyable event.

The hours swept by and she addressed the usual duties that were part of her return to everyday life in the cove. She took a break, and made a cup of tea in her favorite mug; already the feeling washed over her that she had never been away.

She headed to the community store in the late afternoon. A number of people had gathered, expecting her arrival. Maeve kept the meeting informal. She gave a short speech to set out all the pertinent details of their ordeal, as best she could remember. She added they were exploring several options to replenish their salt supply. She was confident the short term was taken care of, and the stockpile of guns would allow them to acquire their original quantities with some to spare for the efforts of all concerned.

She invited questions once she had finished what she intended to say.
Maeve answered the few questions offered, after which she asked Stan to join her in front of the gathering. She hugged him close, took his hand, and gave her attention back to those gathered. “I don’t express myself as well as Conor. I wish he stood before you now, and that he was the one to speak to us at this moment.

“Stan is shouldering the burden of an unbearable loss. He and Maureen served this community with love and dedication. She forfeited her life in a mission to right a wrong perpetrated on all of us. The people who did this to us have been found, and the prisoners will stand before our committee and be tried for their crimes.

“A new leader has been appointed in Bear Cub Inlet, the place where these prisoners lived. Her name is Erin and I believe she is someone who fully understands the gravity of what they’ve done. She’s agreed to rename her community Bristol Waters, in honor of Maureen. The name is of course inconsequential to our loss of a comrade, or the grieving that must be endured. I hope the future of that community bears witness to the wonderful person Maureen was.”

Maeve glanced at Stan, who gave the smallest of smiles. She could not hope for anything more. “Let us all take a few moments to remember Maureen.”
In the silence they all bowed their heads.

The gathering turned into friends talking to friends, exchanging opinions on events and the sharing of emotions pertaining to Maureen, Stan, Conor, and his team, and what else might be of concern.

Maeve went from there to meet with Patsy, who informed her that the power storage units had all but failed. Maeve took this grave news, promised to meet in the morning, and headed home to finish the day. Tomorrow was already begging to be forgotten—the trial.
She passed by the house and visited the dogs again, and then the horses.
With salt to be procured, prisoners to deal with, cells useless, Conor far away and likely in danger, the day cast a heavy weight. She chose instead to embrace the solitude and the oneness with her animals and nature; this allowed her energy to increase and her anxiety to wane. She allowed herself to pull a small veil over the concerns and the worries. She could do no more today. Tomorrow would find Maeve ready for the fight; let today set with the sun.

The first stars peeked out and she went inside and lit the fireplace.
She poured herself a glass of red wine, and watching the fire through the glass and wine, she gave her thoughts to Conor before drifting off into the evening.
The evening tucked her in, the wine allowed her spirit to unwind; home allowed her being to let the cloak of belonging cover her in the warm safety of home.

*****

The next morning arrived fresh and bright. A light rain had fallen overnight, giving a light wash to the land. What a beautiful day for such bad business! At least the greenhouses should stay warm for another day.
Maeve ate breakfast and headed down to the community store.

She and Conor served as members of the committee, though both were not permitted to sit in at the same time. They usually rotated in and out, but since Conor was not available it would be her duty.

The committee met, listened to and examined the evidence, explored the facts, the opinions, and expectations of all who wanted to participate. Anyone who would not give direct evidence was limited to fifteen minutes, but usually took less time as a matter of courtesy.

The prisoners had left the shed much earlier. They’d eaten and been offered what amenities they’d needed. They were now made to sit directly in front of the committee. Maeve informed the prisoners they were permitted to speak on their own behalf and ask questions to the other prisoners and the members of the committee.

None of the prisoners chose to speak.
All members of the group who’d accompanied Maeve gave witness to the events surrounding the death of Maureen. The evidence of the transport tire tracks was presented. Eli was asked questions regarding his part in the events. He now refused to speak. The people who had witnessed his original testimony informed the committee what they’d heard.

The hearing continued on for hours without rest. When the presentations were completed, the committee requested the prisoners to give witness to the evidence presented. None took the opportunity.

The committee discussed openly what they believed to be the facts, and their findings and conclusions were written down and signed by all members of the committee.

All received a verdict of guilty, with Aren and Eli being held responsible for murder as well as theft. The other members were also found guilty of planning to commit murder, considering they’d known or should have known the potential consequences of the poison their leader had instructed Eli to put in the water.

Aren and Eli received a sentence of ten years Island duty, and the four other men received four years of Island duty, the banishment to be carried out immediately.

Three boats were readied for the transportation to the island. The six men sat in the middle boat, tied to a tow ring in the stem of the boat away from the operator in the aft. The two other boats came manned by three people each, all armed, Maeve and Stan among them.

They headed out from the cove and into the bay. It was early afternoon when they reached Seal Island. A long dock sat at water’s edge, all made from rock. Halfway along the dock an iron gate blocked access with a chain and lock. Maeve’s boat docked first and they unlocked the gate and took the supplies they had carried along and placed them on the other side of the gate.

Every committee of every community who used this island had such a key. They did not want to worry about a surprise from prisoners as they dropped off supplies. So this afforded them a barrier, which had worked thus far.
No other prisoners appeared to be present on the island at the moment. Such an occurrence would not have made a difference. Once sentenced here, you were on your own.

Having unloaded the supplies, Maeve and her boat moved back a small ways from the dock. The second boat repeated the process. The prisoners received instructions to disembark and to go to the other side of the gate. The other two boats joined them at the dock and the gate was locked, the prisoners still in handcuffs on the other side.

Maeve faced them. “When I finish speaking with you, we’ll have you put your hands through the hole in the gate, and we’ll remove your handcuffs. No one else is on this island at the moment. This place is where most of our communities punish their most dangerous and heinous criminals. The island’s about two miles long and a quarter mile wide. No trees grow here; the surface is rock, sod, grass, and not much else.

“You know your sentence. If you wish to survive your time here you’ll listen carefully. The huts are made of stone and sealed with sod. The roofs are made of metal and will protect you from the elements; the pieces of metal have been cut into small enough pieces they cannot be used to create anything that will float. You’ll find a provision of coal and sod. The sod is more a turf and can be used as fuel. This peat is plentiful and I would suggest you begin to store for winter.

“We’ve left you fishing equipment and salt. I would recommend you also take advantage and begin to store for winter. A small pond and a natural spring can be found in the middle of the island, it’ll provide all the water you need.

“You’ll find no materials to make a raft. People before you have tried to swim. It’s doubtful your body could take the cold of the ocean for so long a swim this far north, but of course, you’re welcome to try. We’ve left you food provisions. They’re barely enough to sustain you for three months and certainly no variety. I suggest you learn to supplement by hunting birds and fishing. But once again what you wish to do is up to you.

“Ice packs will move in during the late winter months or early spring for a short time. You may be tempted to try and walk back. Such an endeavor would be a mistake. The trip would take you days, and shifting packs of ice might take you out to sea and not land. We’ll return every three months only to drop off a minimum of rations.”

Stan moved close to the fence and put his hands on the mesh. He looked at Aren and gave the gate a shake, which made Aren step back. “For nights to come I’ll sit and think of taking a boat ride to see you, my friend. Pray you don’t hear a boat coming your way in the middle of the night.”

With that the handcuffs were removed and the three boats headed back to North Face Cove.

Such a tragic necessity. Maeve understood the reasoning for the sentences; still the events reminded her that the road to heaven was most likely a dirt road. No matter how purposeful the journey, the dust still got in your mouth now and again.

The Druid and the Flower – CH 19

cigar Russ

Chapter 19 – Negotiations

Book of Enlightenment
The strategy of peace
Will best guide the necessity of war

Maeve took a deep breath, exhaled, and headed out the front door. She fired three quick shots into the air—a signal to her group they were in position and ready for the next part of the plan; also a wake-up call to a community that had committed an atrocity against her people.

Shots answered from every corner of the village. None of the shots came from the residents. The moment had arrived to get everyone’s attention. She went back inside and confronted Aren.

“There’s a couple of ways the next part can unfold. People will begin moving toward your house. They’ll be here in minutes, looking for your leadership and maybe weapons to defend themselves. I can talk to them. My slant on things will mean instant bloodshed—some of ours but mostly yours. The second way is you go outside and talk to them. We want all your men down on the beach by the flat rock.” Maeve pointed out his window. “Tell them what they must do. The women may stay and care for their children; they need to stay inside their homes for now. We don’t trust your women any more than we do your men, but we desire no harm come to the children.

“We plan to leave here within the hour. What we take and what we leave behind depends much on what you do next.”
Maeve went to the door and called Hekate. Hekate responded immediately; her hackles rose at the sight of Aren.
“Okay, Aren, your move.”
Aren continued to cast his eyes on the floor.
I’ll make the choice for you. “Go talk to your people.” She gave him a push.

Aren stepped outside as some twenty men came running up to his door. His hands went up to slow them down. “Listen to me. Listen to me.” He repeated over and over. The minutes went by; more men and women arrived, looking to their leader for direction. “I don’t want any bloodshed.” Aren kept yelling at the top of his lungs, while the grumblings continued. “We’ll all live through this, but you gotta listen to me.”

The crowd eventually began to quiet down and he lowered his voice some. “The salt we took some weeks back… They’re here to take it back. I’ll deal with this. Do what I tell you. Don’t do anything stupid.

“They got our weapons. They’re at every vantage point in our community with orders to shoot to kill if their directions aren’t followed. I need the women to take the children and go to the community center. Now!

“No harm will come to them. This’ll be over soon, and I’ll tell you when to come out. All the men, go down to the beach where the men with rifles are standing, near the flat rock.” He pointed.
Loud cries started up again but this time he was able to calm them down quickly.
“I’m dealing with their leader now. We’ll get through this. Do what I say. Now!”
Nobody moved. “Now!” he shouted louder.
The grumblings started up again but people finally began to break up and move toward their appointed destinations.

Two of Maeve’s men rode through the village in search of any men and women who had not assembled at Aren’s house, directing them to one or the other destination. Maeve opened the door and Aren stepped back inside. “Okay, Aren, where is our salt?” Maeve pushed him back into a chair.
“I don’t have your salt.”
Maeve whacked him across the side of the head.
“Aren, I don’t think you understand the severity of what you and your people have done. You brought a halt to an important part of my community’s ability to take care of itself. More importantly, you killed one of us.”
“I didn’t kill no one,” Aren yelled.
“You’re the leader of these people, are you not?” she countered.
He didn’t answer, and Maeve continued. “The leader’s responsible for what’s done under his orders. Your order was to poison us and the result was death; you’re responsible. Now, I don’t plan to spend a lot of time at this. Should I not get answers, I’ll simply burn half the buildings in this community, and take ten of your men including you, as prisoners responsible for the crimes against my community. You’ll all be taken back to North Face Cove, tried, and—I’m confident—convicted.

Might as well try what worked on Eli, fear.

“Now, where’d you hide my community’s salt? Last time I’ll ask.”
“I don’t have your salt. I bartered the salt with the Gaters down in Big Harbor City.”
“Okay then, and what did you get for our salt?” Maeve pressed.
“Well, not me, exactly. I mean… they didn’t know it was me. I used the folks in Track Cove to make the trade, and I gave them a fee for their services.”
“Wow, you’re a generous dude with someone else’s goods.”

Aren began to show the signs of defeat, casting his eyes to the floor. “We got a couple of boats for fishing and some traps. More importantly, we got a line of machinery and tools which will allow us to make furniture.” He swallowed before continuing. “Most of my men were involved with wood products before we busted out. So we figured we’d put our survival on building wood products.”
Maeve laughed. “You’re off to a poor start. You steal and kill, then you expect to use murder and thievery as a basis for starting a community. How are you any different than the people you escaped from?”

Aren hung his head. “We had no choice. To survive, we needed to find a start. I’m sorry it had to be your salt. The choice was your salt or someone else’s stuff.”
“Another way always exists.” Maeve stabbed him in the chest with her finger. “You’re used to being takers, like the people you ran from. Well, Aren, this time you get to pay. Tie him up and blindfold him.”

Aiden and Len grabbed Aren and tied his hands behind his back, and wrapped his head with a blindfold.
“Let’s get outside and get this done.”
Her men moved with her toward the door. Hekate followed closely beside Maeve, eyes everywhere and nose on alert.

The folks of Bear Cub Inlet were now separated into two groups. The men, with the exception of Aren, were now under guard down by the flat rock at water’s edge. The second group, consisting of women and children, was over at the community building. All the houses and buildings had been searched quickly for stragglers. They had decided missing the capture of a few was not important. The information they had gotten from Eli appeared correct. The key to this operation had been the weapons all being in one place.

Aren was placed with his group, still blindfolded and gagged. He was forced to sit near them but not with them. She wanted all to understand their leader was going nowhere and doing nothing. Her men on the shore and the group who had since come out from behind the rocks at the inlet would ensure they would all stay put.

Maeve and three of her people stepped up to the community center. As she entered, everyone shifted backward a few steps. Except for one—a dark-eyed young lady with her hands on her hips. She stared directly at Maeve and stretched her left arm out as if to protect those behind her. “You won’t hurt these women and children.” She spoke with more confidence than her circumstances allowed.

Maeve grinned in spite of the tension of the situation. “We’re not here to harm the children. We’re here because you stole from us and killed one of our people.”
The group gave a gasp. A flurry of whispers followed.
Maeve waited for the whispering to die down. “We won’t harm the children. You women know you’re responsible, as your men are, for these crimes.”
“We told them what they were doing made no sense.” The young lady had dropped her hand and was fixated intently on Maeve.
“What’s your name? Maeve asked.
“Erin, Erin Leary.”
“Well Erin, I’m Maeve. How much pull do you have around here?”
Erin stood up straight. “If you’re looking for someone to blame besides our idiot men, then I’m your woman. I pretty well direct all the goings-on in Bear Cub Inlet, while Aren and his men do all the work outside. And you can see how successful that was.”
“I’d like to talk with you in private.” Maeve looked around. “Once we’re done, you can come back and address your people.”

Maeve moved toward the door and Erin followed. “Everyone else stay inside. This will not take long.” Maeve made her voice soft and turned to the group to deliver her next message. “You children are safe. I’m truly sorry we have scared you. We’ll be leaving soon.”

Maeve and her comrades moved outside, Hekate at her heels. They moved out of hearing distance from the community hall; Maeve stopped and turned toward Erin. Let’s see what silence gets me.
Maeve waited and Erin began to talk. “We didn’t want to start out this way. Most of us who broke away from Big Harbor City did so because we hated our existence. We’d been planning this for some time. Aren and his men had found this old abandoned community. They’d talk about the place sometimes, when they were drunk. After a while the drunken talk became a plan. We all decided this would be our new start.

“When we got here, food was difficult to find. The storms and seemingly constant snow made for a difficult last winter. We lost many of our friends to sickness. We ate what the meager hunts offered and our resistance to any type of disease was at a minimum, as we existed at near starvation levels. We were able to hunt animals and do some fishing. As you probably know our men are used to stealing and gathering not fishing and hunting. We were careful not to steal from communities nearby and some of those communities helped us with food. One community gave us potions that helped with our stamina. They told us who you were and what you made.

“The men began talking about the need to get some type of products, which could be traded for equipment. Most of the men and the women had worked with wood while in Big Harbor City. Some light manufacturing and repair as the city attempted to become more self-sustaining; the ability of raids to provide anything of value without considerable effort and fight was deteriorating.
“The folks who gave us the potions gave Aren directions to your community, should they decide they needed more potions. They mentioned the big storage shed outside of the cove as a reference point to where you were located. This was an open invitation for Aren to steal.

“So you became the target. Many of us begged we meet with other communities and ask for help in exchange for work or a promise to return the favor once we became established. But the wishes of Aren and his henchmen prevailed. Aren said the task would be easy and no one would get hurt. He talked at length with the folks who gave us the potions. He pretended he just wanted to know about the ‘good people’ who made the potions. They didn’t realize he was gathering information that would facilitate his raid.” Erin paused, then asked, “Who did we kill?” She lowered her head.

She accepts the blame. Good.

“He killed a young woman.” Maeve glanced at her men. “He almost killed us all.”
“So you killed Eli?” Erin inquired.
“Eli’s alive at the moment,” Maeve answered. “He needs to be punished for his part in the crimes.”
Erin let her head fall again. “I’m so sorry and ashamed.”
Maeve let the silence stretch. “What do you think we should do about all this?”
Erin placed both her hands on her head. “Do what you must, but please don’t hurt the children.”
“I already informed you, I’ve no intent to harm children. They have no part in this.”

Erin took a deep breath as if to gather her wits. “We’re all to blame for what happened here. I’m pleased to see you do not blame the children; they are innocent.
“Please understand, we’re not all evil people. We took part in an evil scheme. Many of the people here have good hearts and a willingness to be good neighbors. You and your community must be compensated for the robbery and I agree the death of one of your comrades by one of ours is a most serious offense. Justice demands a price be paid.

“Taking us all back for punishment seems not to make sense, nor would burning our village, or whatever else you might be considering. You took our arsenal of weapons; keep them as payment for the salt. The justice for Maureen may be impossible from your standpoint. I can only suggest you take who was directly responsible, and of course Aren, as he initiated the events which led to Maureen’s death. Should you believe one of the women should share responsibility, then take me. I have no children. My opinion may not mean much, and of course you possess the might to make happen what you will.”

“Let me ask you a question, Erin. If Aren and the so-called henchmen were not here would you be able to run this community?”
“Like I said, I already run just about everything here. If he weren’t here, most of the community would follow me. Even should his henchmen stay here, the majority would follow my lead. Aren rules by power not by skill.”

“Well then, Erin, here is a proposal I’d like you to consider. First, for the murder and the attempted murder of my people I’d like to bring Aren, four of his men, and Eli back to my community. A likely possibility is they’ll be convicted of robbery and murder by the North Face Cove committee. Their sentences will be severe.
“You’ll not see Aren or Eli for perhaps many years. The others might be back your way in less time. There are no guarantees. I cannot vouch they’ll return at all.
Erin hung her head. “I accept that a price must be paid for what has taken place.”
“Second, we took all of your weapons,” Maeve continued. “We’ll keep half as payment for the salt, which we must quickly replace in our community. You may keep the boats, machines and goods you received from bartering away our salt. The machines will give you the start you need.”

Erin kept her head down. “Thank-you.”
“We’ll keep a portion of the other half of the weapons for the expense and time we expended to solve this problem. You may come to our community at any time to retrieve the remainder of the arsenal.” Maeve paused, but Erin did not respond.

“Should you try to steal from us again your women will be made to pay as well. I’ll assume you to be the leader of Bear Cub Inlet from this moment and hold you responsible for all actions. In one year you may come and meet with us, to make suitable arrangements for providing your community with potions you might need, assuming all else goes well.”

Erin nodded her head. “We’ve caused enough trouble. We came here to live a better life. The next time we meet it will be as friends.”
“Good.” Maeve added a nod of her own, and continued. “Maureen Bristol was the name of the young lady you people killed. She clearly paid the greatest price for the survival of your community—and I in no way mean to diminish what happened to your kinfolk during the long winter. You’ll change the name of your community to Bristol Waters. She gave her life for your fresh start. You may tell folks what you want as why you chose the name, but those of you who live here will all know the real reason.” Maeve looked Erin squarely in the eyes. “Are these proposals acceptable to you?”

Erin nodded. “I don’t think we’re negotiating. This is more your demands. We have little choice.”
Maeve held back her irritation. “Your actions gave you little choice in what was to follow. In my place you would reach a similar conclusion. Just because I possess the power at the moment does not mean I don’t wish to negotiate. I presented what I deemed to be fair. If you do not agree, please tell me so, and we’ll continue negotiation. As for the warning, that is indeed from a position of power. I take the murder of my friend and being stolen from very personally.”
Erin nodded. “We’re in full agreement.”

“Good, then the last thing I need from you is the name of the four accomplices who will keep Aren company, and we’ll be on our way.”
Erin nodded. “May I talk to the women briefly? I also beg you allow me to talk to the men before you take the five away. I promise what I have to say will be brief and supportive of the proposal you’ve given us.”

Erin spoke with the women and informed them a compromise had been reached. She did not mention five of the men would be taken away.
Maeve, her small party, and Erin returned to where the men were under guard. Maeve motioned for the blindfold to be taken off Aren, but not the muzzle. No sense in having him yelling a bunch of nonsense, which could only stir things up.

Maeve faced the group.
“Your community killed one of our people, attempted to kill a lot more, and stole a large supply of goods from us. I’ll let Erin address you for a few minutes and then I’ll tell you what I’ve decided.”
Maeve nodded to Erin. Erin stepped up beside her.

Erin took a moment to compose herself. “We’re all responsible for what happened here today. We’re all party to death and robbery. We accepted the bad decision the few made easy for us to accept—but a bad decision of our own doing nonetheless. The choice we made was a poor way to begin a new life—a life we wanted to be different from the one we escaped. What we did requires retribution; though retribution for having been part of killing someone might be impossible. We’ll live with the shame—each of us in a personal way.

“Maeve and her people have given us a proposal that I’ve accepted as reasonable and honorable. Aren, Eli, Ben Fraser, Stew Thompson, Olin, and Brian Witburn will all return with Maeve and her people and be tried for the crimes of our community.”

Men started to move forward. Maeve fired her sidearm into the air, and Hekate advanced with a snarl toward the men. “The next round will stop you dead. Now sit down and listen.”
The men sat. The grumblings died down.

Erin continued. “Maeve insisted I’m to be in charge. There are other stipulations I’ll explain to you all, once she has left. I want the four men named to step forward.”
They did with hesitation.
“Arms behind your back.”
Maeve’s men tied their hands as Erin stood in front of each one and thanked them for having to suffer the punishment of the entire community.
Each man spit on the ground in front of her but not at her, a sign perhaps they were already aware of her position and power.

*****

Maeve and her crew collected the prisoners and headed out of the inlet, glad to be heading home.

They recovered Eli on the way, and as the sun broke through the clouds at the end of a tiring yet uneventful journey toward home, they crested the hill leading down into North Face Cove.
They had left the cove with a resolve to correct a wrong. The resolution came with a lofty price; and what had yet to be done with the prisoners would bring no contentment or finality. Such is the way of retribution to any terrible event. The good of one does not negate the bad of the other; rather they add a pall of misery to each other, no matter how noble one side might be.

The Dawn of Magic

snow stormHey Folks. What follows is the opening scene of Book 2 – The Dawn of Magic. All comments will be appreciated. As winter begins to let go of its hold on us, I thought it appropriate to ask how my Book’s winter might compare to yours.

Chapter one – The Ride

The Medical Journals

Care of others
Does much to care for yourself

Ashima, or Shish, as she was affectionately referred to by her family and friends, could make the journey to Southern Point with hours to spare before the sun went down. The urgent request had come early this morning; an expectant mother was doing her utmost to bring a new baby into the world; and the mother was experiencing complications. The woman was now in her second day of continuing labor pain. The situation had escalated well beyond the prospects of a normal birth.

Shish had talked with her mom as to what herbs and elixirs to bring that might help with the situation; more as a comfort to her mom than having to do with any needed consultation. In fact, her supplies were packed and at the ready even before the communication with her mother commenced.

She had not seen her mom or dad in weeks. Maeve and Conor were busy with the makings of the Doctrine of Understanding. Still, every day Maeve would check in; and this morning Shish had contacted her mom in advance of that usual call, so as not to worry her mom later on should she not be able to make contact.

Though barely eighteen, Shish had taken many journeys with her dog team, and was comfortable and capable in this snowy wilderness environment. Gray Rocks Island was home to snow from early fall to late spring, if not early summer. There were some main roads that allowed the transports to move about. For the most part any travel in winter was best accomplished by dog teams and snow sleds. She preferred her dogs. The dogs enjoyed it even more than she, if their exuberance at the start of a run could give any indication.

The snow sled should be faster. She now wondered about that as she traveled along at the back of her dog sled. Had she made a mistake in taking the more primitive method of travel? The answer appeared obvious; yet it called to her that she and her team were least intrusive to the environment; what she gave up in time she would gain back from being in closer communion with the natural surroundings. More importantly, the work ahead of her might require a calm that was best served by this mode of travel. Her more logical reasoning also told her that a snow sled in this rugged terrain would have difficulty maneuvering the hills, marshes, dips, and massive boulders, often hidden by the snows. Speed here would kill you as fast as a molten fire at the edge of a volcano would burn you. No, her dog team was the right choice.

Those visions again. Darkness. Time gone still. She pushed the invading connections from her consciousness.

She needed to concentrate on the path ahead; up hills, around bends, roads forking left and right, all requiring her vigilance and a string of commands to her lead dog. The very essence of her soul resounded with the exhilaration of the ride, the need to reach her destination, the connection to her team, the movements of the sled, the palpable richness of being part of the journey and the environment.

Perhaps she was concentrating more on making quick progress than the joy of the outing, the circumstances being as they were. The quietness and the majesty of the pristine landscape were not going totally unnoticed, however. The deep forest of fir trees, covered in snow, stood out against the stands of naked birch. The craggy hills, chiseled and fractured by eons of nature’s tending, hid covered in a silky white smoothness—nature’s tablecloth to a formal feast of deep winter. The mountains off to her left reminded her of giant guards protecting anyone from entering; even the sun was forced to climb high before being allowed to view their west side. A gentle wind stayed at her back as they traveled.

Walker Bob – He’s on the move.

cigar Russ

……a little snippet from Chapter 2,  “Dawn of Magic” with Walker Bob, who first appeared in “The Druid and the Flower.”

The council had been in session since early morning. This was no longer a council room; it was a war room. War had been on the agenda for months. Walker Bob had amassed a great deal of weapons and power, and was now ready to use both.

“Boss, we know what we need to do; we just want you to understand what’s happening in the west. We’re worried we’ll have our back exposed as we move east and south.”

“Let me do the worrying. This meeting is over.The next time we meet, we move.”

Walker Bob took a cigar out of his pocket, and bit off the wrapper covering the head. He spit out the loose pieces; the larger piece of leaf bounced on the floor and slid against the far wall. The match flared as it slid against the side of his pants; his fingers rolled the cigar against the lit match, puffs of smoke bellowed from his mouth. He gave the cigar a twirl, took another puff and tilted his head to expel the smoke; a mushroom plume rose into the air and spread across the ceiling over their heads.

“I’m heading back.”

His personal guards snapped to attention and waited as he exited the room. He grabbed his coat from the hook and tossed it to a guard. Time for some fresh air. He could feel the heat of the cigar against the cool air. These damn things will kill me; unless death gets me first.

Snow

Winter

Snow

by

Russell Loyola Sullivan

It’s been some time when last I admired mounds of snow,
Limbs bending; hollows all around the trees where snow refuses to go.
I wonder about those holes.
As a child on crusty snow we would steer clear of such obstacles,
Sailing over the icy surface left by a cold rain upon the blessed blankets of snow.
Still, a bad turn, a slip of the runner on the slick surface now and again, gave us up;
And we would have to be pulled out from the jolt.

Long icicles droop down from the eves, evil things that point to heat loss.
They look like tons of weigh that might drag the whole house down.
I wonder why they changed.
Even with a mittened hand we would pull one from anywhere we could reach,
And savor the coolness and the refreshing wetness against our thirsty acceleration.
They were pure and as welcome as candy, one to be had whenever we wanted.
Water and ice came freely then.

Perhaps I compare too much; then again I might remember too little.
I feel the stillness and the great cover it gives to all that rests beneath it.
But there is an urgency pulsing inside of me that I must get back to life and living.
I should but understand there is nothing to get back to. I am the interruption.
When I am gone, and all who follow my way have gone,
The snow will still give up its beauty and its special gifts.
Perhaps then the snow will find who best to share its nature with.

One Last Time

sunrise

One Last Time

One last time to the Ocean side
One last time to see
One last time let the wind and tide
Bring memories to me

We walked the shores
I was yours
And you were meant for me
But the work of life
Is a two edged knife
That cuts with sad decree
One edge seeks to carve a path
To where the love might be
Gives the other edge a desperate need
To slice each lover free

Big sailing ships
Must sail
And sailors must roam free
When lovers part
Tides pull their thoughts
To much that cannot be
Seasons turn to memory
And lonely is the soul
Who waits each day by a dreary sea
A loving heart grows cold

Ocean storms
That howl the nights
Lay restless on her mind
Too many times
Down to the shore
Some piece of him to find
One cold grey dawn
Only wanting to be free
She let the waves that crashed the shore
Tell her love for me.

One last time to the Ocean side
One last time to see
One last time let the wind and tide
Bring memories to me

The Prison (Emotional warning)

pigPerhaps they don’t know I’m here. She looked down at her feet; the matted pieces of straw mixed in with the dirt on the floor. Bars on all sides, inches from her body. It was a cage of some sort, she could not remember being put here, or why she had been captured. All of her sisters were gone, and her mother; God knows what had happened to them.

She managed a glimpse of being placed here. She wasn’t placed, she was thrown in, slammed against the bars and then had passed out from the ordeal.

There was little light; maybe it was night.

The time rolled excruciatingly by. In a few weeks she lost track of time all together. The food she received was intermittent at best, and was always the same. No place to move, her food soon mixed with the feces and vomit, her young body reacting to the vile circumstances. She was never taken from her prison; a jolt of water spray would wash away the evidence of the inhumanity each time it piled up.

As the weeks and months registered the steady cruel monotonous repetition of filth and deprivation, her mind mercifully blacked out any trace of who she was. She would chew on the bars until blood rolled down her chin. Even the aches and pains of not being able to stretch or move turned into a dull acclamation and acceptance that life was far from being precious; that life was a mad dance with sublime loss of reason and spirit, a grueling multiple of uneventful continuing torture of a poor soul lost to existence; forgotten, alone, yet made to endure against all of hope.

By the time she was taken from her cage, it matters not. She no longer recognized the sun or the ground. Movement was a strange and difficult ordeal. The sores on her side where long since ignored, in their festering. She noted briefly in the next few days that the slop she was served daily was no longer given to her – not really missed, just a last notion of a life never lived.

She arrived at the pig slaughter house and gave one last cry as she left behind her misery.

Babe in the Woods

babe in the woodsFear is the great disabler.

The sixties, seventies were my “young man” years. I use that term loosely as “man” conjures up some affinity with maturity, wisdom and responsibility; none of the traits I was capable of exhibiting at the time. None the less I was out on my own at an early age, married way too soon, and very much ready to take on the world – well, the world I thought I knew.

I started with a “Big Eight” accounting firm in 1973 with a salary of $650 and not a care in the world. The big bad world consisted of work from nine in the morning until (most probably) nine at night, in winter months add the courses at McGill for the advanced diploma in accounting, and the prep to write the CA exams. Thursday meant drinks out, not too late; Friday, drinking began at noon, back to work until four, and then full tilt to a weekend of partying.

Lots went on the world: Vietnam, racism, civil unrest, drugs. But none of it came overstated. There were just the six and eleven o’clock news, which none my age watched, and not much else busted into our day to make us think we were not in a perfect world. Of course we had Charlie Manson, but he was an anomaly.

Then came the internet, twenty four hour news, twenty four hour weather (still can’t figure that one out), twenty four hour O.J, twenty four hour reporting on every calamity under the sun. And God forbid it should be a shooting, especially children; as the news will rain down on the world, the likes never seen before since Noah and his Ark.

When the media and blogs now run out of crisis to pander, well beyond the last remnants of road kill, they turn to telling us how much trouble we are in with our lives; how to spend our money, exercise, eat, live, have fun, cry, get depressed, order to take our pills in, when to sleep, get up, take vacation, how to dress, raise our children, the list of disorders we must have because of age. All of these things are merely filler until the next disaster can be flushed out and slammed into our consciousness with all the might, misdirection and fabrication as a Freddie Krueger movie on steroids.

Oh, the babe in the woods? That’s what we have become to let them do this to us.

ESCAPE

Book A Novel IdeaI want nothing more than to escape.

I don’t mean I’m going for good. I just want to escape for a short time. It’s a little like Friday night, or maybe Saturday morning. There has been five days of work and routine, playing by the rules; and now it’s okay to let things slide. A few hours out with friends on a Friday Night allows escape; a slow Saturday morning with family does that; a good movie does that; a fixed set of favorite tunes does that.

It’s also why I write. Okay, I know the little pieces that I post to my web site won’t take you far from reality. I do hope it suspends your serious matters in life for a few minutes. In those few minutes I pray to present a different thought, a different view of some matter that you might  allow to brush across your mind—maybe ponder and smile. If you do that then I have stirred your imagination, your view of the world. I know that will not change the world, but hey, it says we now have a common experience, even if your view might be different than mine.

I hope an entire novel allows an even greater possibility to escape and explore settings and people who might make different decisions than we ourselves might make; and give us a moment to set aside our life’s struggles, maybe even envision other possibilities. I say ‘hope’ as I cannot speak for everyone. I only know that when I write I want my reader to let go for a few precious hours and find a different place to be; find characters who they might love or hate; find a place to sit and rest a bit from the tribulations of life; get immersed in possibilities for change and understanding, struggle and growth. Yes, these are the things of our very lives; although I believe reading about it gives us assurance that we are not, after all, alone; that we are all connected and share many of the same experiences; hopefully on a lesser scale that what is required from the characters we read about.

Two Faces

opposites_attractThere is a raw unsettling awareness which rips the very fabric of defense away and leaves a body open to the dread of utter annihilation. It is so much more than a foreboding of calamity and disaster; for it gives not its moniker – it just is. It sweeps in quickly as if a polar wind had been plucked from the cold Arctic tundra and somehow sent swirling angrily into a sunny afternoon where at once the calmness of a summer’s day becomes a mad frigid dance with death.

What’s more it cannot be explained away. Indeed, it cannot be explained at all. Hope is immediately abandoned. Purpose has no purpose. All that sits with relevance and importance now pales against the absurdity of living, the useless maniacal struggle to move one leg in front of the other, one thought to follow the next, one day to follow another, a mundane repeatable procession of forgettable events and situations, soon lost to antiquity. Only despair remains. It is preordained as the sun might shine, the stars might twinkle in the evening sky, the air itself might allow breath.

There is a euphoric bewilderment to all of creation. Love itself seems plucked from the bosom of humanity and now wrapped around your soul. You are joined to the oneness of it all, the grand design, the sparkling threads of humanity, the eternal bliss of being. The connection is willful and real, such absolute knowledge of being together could not be conjured by mere desire

It cannot be fabricated by a wish. Nor need it be; for it comes when it is least looked for; it sits there and pounces on those open for its arrival. There is no end to how magnanimous its sharing, and no matter how much is taken there is always more. All it asks in return is the jubilation, the perfect feeling of serendipity, the mad embrace of a returned lover, the gushing fullness of a life with purpose and design. It is preordained as the sun might shine, the stars might twinkle in the evening sky, the air itself might allow breath.