Post by juliannawinslow on Dec 31, 2015 21:57:11 GMT -5
(Brought over from the original MPC forum site, without the retracted material.)
Having finished her soda and her study of the sitting room, Julianna was uncertain who to approach first. There appeared to be many interesting people that one might talk to. Should she talk to a professor? Or the woman with a puzzle box? And then there were those people who seemed very excited over something. Julianna hadn't quite caught on what exactly was going on, but it did appear fascinating.
Moving from the leather chair she had originally sat in, she moved to a table with two finely carved wooden chairs. Then she put her poetry book into her purse and pulled out a blank journal and her calligraphy pen set. On the first page she wrote The Book of Profound Thoughts and then wrote down something a counseling professor once told a class she was in:
Sometimes you won't have the luxury of choosing the lesser evil. Sometimes you can only choose which mistake you are most able to live with.
She asked Bernard if he had any perry for her to drink. Then she turn to the person closest to her and asked, "Would you mind writing down a profound thought someone had shared with you? I'm making a collection of them. Here is my pen for you to use."
Post by juliannawinslow on Dec 31, 2015 21:58:14 GMT -5
A few blooms fall to the floor as the woman starts at the voice interrupting her concentration. She then blinks slowly as she tries to understand what was said.
"Profound...that reminds me of a conversation from long ago..."
She declines the pen, preferring to use her bedraggled, ink stained quill. She dips the quill and pauses once more. When she begins to write it is evident that she paused for too long, having to dip the quill again after only a few letters. She scratches a quick sentence into the journal:
"The meaning of life is to give your life meaning."
She then begins to draw a simple vine around her statement in the journal.
Post by juliannawinslow on Dec 31, 2015 21:59:31 GMT -5
Julianna nodded in agreement as she read the sentence written by the woman. She paused a moment to consider whether or not it would be appropriate to ask her what meaning she gave her life. Instead, she decided to compliment her pen.
Post by juliannawinslow on Dec 31, 2015 22:05:43 GMT -5
She turns toward the bar, her movements bringing to mind the image of grass swaying in the breeze.
"Um, Bernard? May I have..." she trails off, having forgotten the name of the drink she prefers. He slides a glass towards her, already filled with orange juice and vodka. Her eyes grow wide with wonderment and picks up the vessel, taking an experimental sip. She hums contentedly and produces another piece of paper, blue this time, and deftly fashions another flower from it and places it on the bar. She turns back to Julianna and seats herself in the chair opposite.
"I would like to hear a story," she says with a shy smile.
Post by juliannawinslow on Dec 31, 2015 22:07:05 GMT -5
Julianna paused for a moment. Originally she had intended to share some old tale she'd found in her study of fables and fairytales. Such as when Death said he was going to take 100 people, and Worry took 900 more. Or the story about the young rabbi and the bird behind his back. But after seeing those beautiful paper flowers, Julianna wanted to give something she had created back.
She bit her lip for a moment. She had several story poems, which were relatively short, but a prose piece kept trying to come to her tongue. "Please indulge me," she said. "But a story I hadn't intended to share seems to be begging to told. I call it May They Whisper No More."
Post by juliannawinslow on Dec 31, 2015 22:08:02 GMT -5
I sit on a dune, watching the sands blow across the stone ruins. It flows over the eroded blocks and columns, like water over a shallow creek bed. For centuries it has been trying to erase the remains of the terrible mistake. The kind of mistake that eliminated an entire city.
The mistake was mine.
I suppose I am not a normal person. What am I? I am not sure. I might have known at one time, but the knowledge escapes me now. And I have no desire to retrieve it. I suppose if I remembered what I am, I would have to shoulder even more guilt for what happened here.
Instead, I come here every few decades and stare at the ruins and wonder why I am still alive.
It is wide, shallow and muddy. And like any other ancient river, it wanders through the arid valley. It was not always like that. I remember when it was a strong and young river. Deep and powerful, full of commerce and energy. In my mind I can still see the men poling their barges full of goods on it. They are all ages - old, middle-aged, young. Each one an individual and yet they have no names in my memory. They are merely the men on the boats.
Why I still see them, I do not know. There is no emotion to the memories, just a sense of importance and I do not know why.
I am fleeing now. Fleeing in an old vehicle that has seen better days. Fleeing like I had after it happened. My heart is beating fast. My breathing is shallow. I stop myself from looking wildly around for a threat. I do not remember what had pursued me back then. I only remember the fear.
I never rest during this part of my trip. For two nights I run from the formless demons of my soul until I reach another river. This one in its prime, though long ago it was merely a stream when I first threw myself into it and traveled downstream to throw off the pursuers I was certain were at my heels. There is no longer a small village at its mouth, but a thriving seaport. I find the airport and buy a plane ticket to a land unknown to those whose deaths I had caused.
I sit next to a window, turn from the other passengers and watch the tears fall in my reflected image. Once more the mystery demanded I acknowledge it and once more I refuse to unlock it.
It is a quaint little town, set in a green valley, barely touched by the history I carry with me. No, I will not tell you more than that. Heaven forbid you decide to find me. You are much better off never knowing that I carry a curse within me. Let me be that harmless woman who walks past you, who smiles and and holds open a door as you carry your groceries and go on with your normal life. Let me continue my little acts of kindness to atone for that which I had once triggered. Let me erase my guilt a little bit at a time.
I breathe a sigh of relief inside my apartment. I have made my pilgrimage. I should have peace for a couple of decades. My appetite returns. I can pretend I am one of you again.
It has been several weeks since my return and something is wrong. I dream visions of flames and screaming people when I sleep. And when I am awake, I hear words whispered in a language that ceased being spoken ages ago. For the first time during my cursed existence, the ghosts have come back with me.
I do not know what to do. I have always been able to leave them before by crossing the ocean. Why now are they also able to make the trip? Does this mean that I must live with them, after shunning their presence for so long? Have I not suffered enough for my sins?
The living who interact with me have noticed a change in my demeanor. I look haunted, they say. I am haunted, but I cannot tell them why. I am not even sure I can tell myself. So much I have forgotten.
I try to run away again. Someone suggested I take another vacation. I choose the other side of this continent. If I succeed in getting away from the voices and dreams, I will create a new identity for myself and start again. If not, I do not know yet what other options I have.
I stare at my reflection in the plane's window. Though I know the features by heart, it is a stranger that looks back at me.
I take the tour buses and enjoy the sights. The voices are not whispering to me. I feel safe. I begin to calculate my entry into this new life.
There is a loud noise and a young man runs out of a building, engulfed in flames. Horror grabs me and I run to save him. While I am beating the flames out with my jacket, someone is screaming. I force him to the ground and start rolling him back and forth, before I realize the screamer is me. I am shouting out orders to either people who cannot translate my words or to people who are no longer alive to follow them.
The EMT technicians take over. Someone in a uniform pulls me to a bench and talks softly to me. I finally tell her I am all right in English. She wants my name. I shake my head. I have no name at the moment. I have not yet started my new self, but I do not tell her that. I do not tell her anything.
They find my purse where I dropped it. In it they find my old identity. They insist I go to the hospital so they can make sure I am okay. I shake my head and tell them I will be all right. They give me back the purse and take me to the hotel I am staying in. I thank them and lock myself in my room.
There is a knock at the door. Through the peephole, I see a man wringing his hands. His hair is thinning and he is wearing thick glasses. Against my better judgment, I open the door to him. He smiles and introduces himself. He is Dr. Marty Hoffmeyer, an expert in ancient languages from Berkeley. He apologizes for his intrusion, but explains that he was intrigued by the langauge I was speaking in while I was trying to save the young man.
"I recognized some similarities to the Semantic languages," he says, "but not the language itself. What is it?"
"I really cannot tell you," I say. "I have no memory of speaking anything other than English."
The inquisitive professor countenance disappears and a stern glare fixes upon me. "You are lying," he says.
I fold my arms and regard him. I had not expect such bluntness from the man I saw wringing his hand a few moments earlier. "Think what you will," I tell him. "I will not entertain this conversation any further."
"You are not a Native English speaker," he says. "You are far too formal in your words. Where did you learn it? Cambridge?"
"Leave before I call hotel security," I answer. Dr. Hoffmeyer studies my face and then walks out of the room. Locking the door behind him, I ask myself his question. I cannot really answer it because I cannot decide whether to count when I learned Old English or its current incarnation. Besides, the memories are so fuzzy.
I sit on the bed, contemplating my future. Obviously I cannot make my new life in this city with Dr. Hoffmeyer around. I will pick another one. I look at the tourist information map I was given and study the possibilities. I am so tired. I finally decide this can wait until the morrow.
Post by juliannawinslow on Dec 31, 2015 22:11:04 GMT -5
Julianna pauses her story. "Do you want to hear more?" she asks softly. "You remind me of this woman, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps if I finish telling the story, I will know, or you will. However, the woman had a profound secret and I have no right to expose you if you have a profound secret too."
Post by juliannawinslow on Dec 31, 2015 22:15:27 GMT -5
I check out of the hotel. Outside is a bus going to the state's capital. The nightmares have returned. There are whispers around me. I assume they are from the other passengers. Then I listen closer.
Do not let him do this. You can stop this. You must stop this. He will listen to you. Stop this. No one else can. Stop him before he destroys us all.
The ghosts have found me. I must cross another ocean. I wonder if the ghosts still wander Asia. No. I should move to Australia. I will return to the quaint town in the green valley and make my plans.
My acquaintances worry about me. I look more haunted now than I was before my trip. Someone wants me to see their therapist. I thank them, but decline for now. If I tell a professional about my life, I will be institutionalized and the ghosts will never let me be. However, if I cannot escape them this time, I will consider it. If I must live with the ghosts, at least then I could talk about them. Sooner or later, someone will realize that I do not age. Perhaps I could pay for my failure by being a test subject. Nothing else has lifted my curse. But first I will try Australia. If that doesn't work, I will select an institution and commit myself. I have a whole planet to chose from.
I will have to liquidize my assets first. There is a knock on the door as I am going over my investments. I open the door to Dr. Hoffmeyer. He puts his foot in the doorway and emphatically pleads to speak with me. I am too tired to fight his determination. We go to my kitchen table. I stack my papers.
"I am sorry to impose on you, Ms. Lester" he apologizes again, "but I had to find you. I have to solve a mystery and I think you can help."
Perhaps this is the penitence I must do, I think wearily to myself. Yet similar acts have not released me. It would not hurt, I decide. I have my trip planned. My papers are being processed. I will not be Harriet Lester for long.
"Tell me your mystery," I say at last. "I will help if I can, but I make no promises."
He pulls out a cardboard tube from his jacket and lays its curled up treasure on the table before me. It is a rubbing from some artifact. The symbols are very familiar. I know the curve and lines intimately.
"Can you read this?" Dr. Hoffmeyer asks.
I lightly trace one of the symbols. "Yes, I can."
"What does it say?"
I read it out loud in the original language. He asks for a translation. I trace another symbol and slowly repeat, "In the House of the Sun, a madman reigns. He seeks to rule the Sun, for he will not humble himself to any power. The people cry for deliverance. They cry to me."
"How is it that you can read this?" he asks.
"I was the one who wrote it." I trace the next symbol. "I carved it into the floor of my private chambers late one night, under the chest that held my clothes."
"You're saying that you were this woman in a past life?" He sounds dubious.
"If one must physically die to have a past life, then no. I was not her in a past life. I am her now, before you. These are the hands that carved those symbols. These are the eyes that wept over them. I am she that did not stop the madman."
I look into Dr. Hoffmeyer's eyes. There is confusion in his face. I wait for him to decide whether or not he believes me. The confusion is replaced with a hesitant non-committal look. "Who was this madman?" he asks.
"My husband," I say. "He was a foreign warrior of note and I was the only child of the ruler of our people. When my father died, our people wanted me to choose a worthy king. I thought I had, but I was wrong." The whispers become stronger. There are low moans and hissing with them.
"He seeks to rule the Sun? What did you mean by that?"
"We had a way to use sunlight as a weapon. Not being of our royal line, my husband could not use it as I could. Instead, he found another way to control it, by denying it to our people - and more specifically by denying it to me." I am speaking of things I dare not even think on over the centuries, but the sight of my own handwriting has pulled me swiftly into the past. The voices are no longer whispering around me - they are screaming for deliverance. I can feel the stinging hot tears welling up in my eyes.
"He found a fuel that he could burn to block the Sun with thick smoke. It choked and burned the throat. Our only refuge was the night. Our crops were suffering from the smoke. We were only a step away from starvation. My people thought I could reason with my husband, but I failed. He would not listen to me."
"Madmen don't usually listen to reason," Dr. Hoffmeyer points out to me. "Otherwise, they wouldn't be mad."
"I angered him. I could do what he could not and he could not live with that."
"That sounds like more of his fault than yours," he says softly.
"I could have stopped him. I was the one with the royal blood," I whisper.
"He would not listen to your reasons," Dr. Hoffmeyer says. "The fault was his."
"I was the one with the royal blood," I repeat.
"That does not make you a god." His words paralyze me. The voices are swallowed in a roaring wind that Dr. Hoffmeyer appears unaffected by. I feel nausea and dizziness. He helps me lay down on the sofa. A few minutes later, he returns from the kitchen with a wet cloth to dab my forehead with.
Weakly, I look into his bespeckled eyes and say, "I could have killed him."
Dr. Hoffman is still here. He looks as if he has not slept all night. The voices are whispering again. I ask him why he didn't go back to his hotel room.
"I thought you were too distressed to be left alone," he tells me.
"Do you think I am insane?" I ask.
"I don't know what to think about that," he admits. "On one hand, it defies most things I believe possible. On the other hand, it matches everything Dr. Kayler found at the site he uncovered twelve years ago."
"Did I answer your mystery then?"
"Yes, to a point," he says. "James had found smudge pots, but mostly surrounding the city instead of in the fields and none within the temple. We also found references to them burning during the day, which didn't make sense either. He had hoped to find some proof that the farming technique was used in a long lost civilization, but all the evidence said that it wasn't an agricultural use. Of course, the most likely possibility would have been some sort of purification rite, perhaps to rid the city of some sort of parasite, but we found no evidence of an infestation. What we did find was references such as yours of a 'frothing bull'. For a while, I thought that perhaps the people were trying to cure their livestock of rabies, but the smudge pots weren't around the pens we found."
"Your translations were too literal," I say as I stand up. "'Frothing bull' was our term for a madman."
"I see that now."
"Would you like some breakfast, Dr. Hoffmeyer?" I ask.
"Please, call me 'Marty' and breakfast sounds wonderful."
Ignoring the whispers, I fix some eggs. Sitting down, I look at the professor. "So, Marty, do you believe me?"
"I don't think you are a fraud," he says. "You had no way of knowing I was in the area when that young man caught on fire. I didn't even know I was going to visit the nearby bookstore until fifteen minutes earlier, when I remembered I had seen an old text by a late colleague in there a few years back. And a fraud would have made it easier for me to contact them. Also, your nightmares are real and you spoke several old languages in them."
I stare at my fork. For a moment, a memory teases my mind and I realize that I could give Marty definite proof of my story. I shove it back. Not here. Not now. Not ever.
"Harriot, what is wrong?"
"You do not hear them, do you?" I ask.
"Hear who?" he asks.
"The ghosts of my people whispering for me to stop him."
"After all these years, you still hear them?"
"I used to be able to escape them on this continent," I explain. "The ghosts would not cross the oceans. I do not know why they came back with me this time."
Marty pauses for a few moments. "James Kayler did a lecture at a nearby university about a month ago. He brought an urn from the site with him and left it as part of an exhibit."
"You think the artifact brought the ghosts with it?" I ask, incredulously.
"Is that any more unbelievable than a woman who hasn't aged in thousands of years?" he asks.
I sigh. "Okay, you have made your point." I look at the clock. "I need to go. It is my last day at work. It would be bad form to miss it."
"You're leaving here?"
"I am going to cross another ocean and leave the ghosts behind. As much as I enjoy North America, I think I need to live in Australia now."
"And what if someone brings an artifact near you there?" Marty asks.
I shrug. "I can live in the Outback. The artifacts where in the States for twelve years before one came close enough for the ghosts to find me. If I stay away from the major universities, there should not be a problem."
"You can't spend your whole life running from the past," he says.
"It has worked for over five thousand years," I point out. "I will drop you off at your hotel."
The phone rings while I am deciding my evening meal. It is Marty. He wants to take me out to dinner. It is better than eating alone and listening to the whispers. When he arrives, he has another man with him - Dr. Alex Spearman from the university Dr. Kayler had done his lecture at. He is older than Marty and smoother in manner. I don't know what Marty told him, but Alex seems accepting enough of me. He does not act as if he thinks I am insane.
Against my better judgment, I ignore the darkness in my stomach and agree to see the artifact Dr. Kayler left. For a moment, I swear I could hear laughter in the whispers, but then I see a table of people near us celebrating. The mental stress is getting to me. Marty offers to stay the night with me again. He is worried about me. I refuse.
Post by juliannawinslow on Dec 31, 2015 22:18:21 GMT -5
At the university, Alex leads us to the display cabinet. I spot the urn on the middle shelf. It has my father's name on it. At one time, it held a sacred oil used for ceremonies. The ghosts are loud and angry now. I look around the room. There is no sunlight falling directly on the artifacts, but there is some streaming through the narrow windows on the south side of the room.
I put my hand on the glass and whisper, "Dal-la." The urn begins to glow as the beams of sunlight flow to it. The voices stop for a moment, before speaking clearly "ne-su-ob" in unison. My hand falls with my head.
Marty and Alex are speechless for several moments. Marty sits on a padded bench. Alex takes a deep breath. "Perhaps the texts are not embellished," he says softly. "Harriet, what was your name back then?"
"Dalluzami," I whisper. It is the first time in centuries I have heard it spoken by a living voice, even mine.
"What did the urn speak before you broke contact?" Alex asks.
"You don't need to translate, Dalluzami," Marty says. "I know what it said and it was a lie."
"How can you say that when you, yourself, have told me that I run away from my problems?" I ask. "I am a coward. I should have killed Ursamah and saved my people from his madness. I should not have been intimidated by his threats of violence. When my words failed, I should have acted."
"Could you have used your power without sunlight?" comes a voice from behind me. I turn to see a tall man walk into the room. "I came as soon as I received your email, Marty."
"Did you see what she did?" Alex asks.
"I saw only the end," he says. He turns and holds out his hand. "Dalluzami, I am James Kayler. I apologize for the discomfort I have inadvertently caused you."
I shake his proffered hand. "There was no way for you to know, Dr. Kayler."
"Please, call me 'James'. I would hate to be the only one not on a first name basis here." He gives me a smile. "I hope you don't mind my curiosity, but could you have used your powers without sunlight?"
I shake my head. "No," I answer. "Moonlight and firelight are too weak. I needed sunlight to work with back then."
"And Ursamah had blocked that. Could you have overpowered your husband physically back then?" James asks. I look at him strangely. He explains, "Marty and I have been friends for a long time. He told me everything. I decided that he was either telling the truth or he had gone mad. Either way, it was my duty as a friend to come."
"I see," I say. "To answer your question - no, I could not have physically overpowered Ursamah. He was a great warrior. I would have had to poisoned him to save my people."
"You wouldn't have been the only queen to have done so," he says. "But from what Marty and I were able to translate from the ruins of your city, it had only been a few days from the time the 'frothing bull' had started smudging the city, until he set it on fire. That is hardly enough time to plan and execute a proper poisoning."
I laugh. "You all want me to be innocent. Well, ask yourselves this question - why did Ursamah decide to burn the city that night?"
"You are far more able to answer that than us," Alex replies.
I smile and fidget a little. It is my own fault for putting myself into this spot. I begin to pace. "I had tried to talk to Ursamah one more time to make him see reason that night. I told him that he was nowhere near the ruler my father was. I told him I would not sleep with him nor bear him children as long as he acted like this."
"That was a very brave thing to do," Marty says.
I snort derisively. "Brave? When Ursamah came after me in his rage, I ran. When he burned the city, I was hiding in a stone cistern. While my people were being killed, I huddled in fear and cried. That is your bravery for you. If the gods were merciful, they would have killed me or even let me die of old age. Instead they keep me alive as punishment for my cowardice. I should have let him kill me, perhaps then he would have spared my people."
I run a hand through my hair. "I know what I have to do," I tell the scholars. "I should have done it ages ago. The gods demand a sacrifice and it must be me. I must return to my city and kill myself."
"I do not accept that answer," Marty says.
"Neither do I," says James.
"Well, your god is far more forgiving than mine," I reply.
"Perhaps your gods actually are waiting for another type of sacrifice," Alex suggests.
I look at the older man. "What do you mean?"
"Did you ever remarry?" he asks.
"No. Marriage to Ursamah was horrible enough for a hundred lifetimes."
"Then, did you ever sleep with another man?" Alex asks.
"I was my father's only child. Under our tradition, I could only sleep with a worthy spouse. Had I a brother or an elder sister, such things would have been acceptable - even encouraged. But I was - am - the only one with the power of our bloodline and I am required to keep it noble."
"To pass that power on, correct?"
"That was the general idea," I admit to him.
"Indulge me for a few moments more," the elder scholar continues. "Perhaps the gods are not keeping you alive to punish you. Perhaps they are keeping you alive to continue your bloodline - to bring your people back through your children."
"So, you are saying I should just find a man and conceive a child?"
"No, not quite," Alex says. "I think it is a very bad idea to let such power be passed on to someone who may be influenced by a bad father figure. I think you should try to find someone worthy."
"Dr. Spearman, I was the one who chose Ursamah," I remind him. "I really do not think we should trust my judgment in men."
"You were very young and grieving then," he replies. "You are far more capable now of choosing a worthy mate."
"And what if I make another mistake?" I ask.
"Perhaps that is the real fear you must conquer," James says. I almost challenge the notion, but I notice that the voices have gone quiet. I look around me in confusion.
"Harri-, I mean Dalluzami, what's wrong?" Marty asks.
"The ghosts," I say. "They are no longer whispering. Why have they stopped?"
"Perhaps it's because we have found the solution," James suggests.
I look at Marty. "At least there is no reason to move to Australia now," he says.
Post by juliannawinslow on Dec 31, 2015 22:21:59 GMT -5
They have talked me back into coming here - to the ruins of my city-state. For the first time in millenia, I have been willing to address myself as its ruler, while gazing upon its remains. My every word is recorded as we walk through the clay and stone. I refuse to enter the temple. Ursamah's remains are inside there. I have read James' notes on his excavation. The bronze circlet and armor were found on a skeleton still grasping the hilt of a sword. Apparently, he had killed the priests in his last moments of life. It is cursed ground. I have no desire to add more to what I am already cursed with. When I enter the temple again, it will be when I am ready to perform my sacrifice.
I wonder on how the scholars will be able to prove my authenticity to their peers. Alex says that they plan to work backwards. They will use what they get from me to find evidence they can present to the academic journals without asking them to believe in the supernatural. I like these scholars. They prize the truth above believability and yet are still practical.
Marty does insist on a visual recording of me using my powers. It will not be presented to the academic community, but stored with the rest of the records for some future scholar to reveal. His logic is that if another scholar after their deaths presents the evidence, it will not be as likely to ruin that person's career.
I stand in the city's square and begin. First, I produce balls of light in my hands and have them dance around me. Then I throw them and make them zip in and out of the surrounding ruins. Letting them dissipate, I play with beams of light next, sending those out like search lights into the sky. The rest of the demonstration is setting things on fire. It has been so long since I have truly exercised this power. I am obviously out of practice.
So, while the others take their notes, I practice on burning scorpions and other vermin in the morning. I deflect some of the light away from us during the afternoon. And I tell the ghostly whispers to hold their tongues, their peace will come soon enough.
My dreams are a bizarre mixture of the burning people and the men working on the river. I really do not understand the connection between them, save that both are in the same era of my past. Water and order in daylight. Fire and chaos at night. I cannot help but feel that they are connected, but how?
James is trying to read an inscription near the temple. I do not remember anything being written in the area, I suspect that later vandals had left it. The sun is too bright for us to read it, so I deflect the light from it.
I have made a mistake.
In my carelessness, I deflected the light into the temple and have awakened something inside it. In horror, I stand as I watch the dark smoke billowing inside and hear the harsh crackle of fire. James pulls me back to him and out of my shock. I create a wall of light in front of the temple's entrance. I hear a thunderous voice behind it, cursing me.
It is Ursamah's.
Alex and Marty are standing with me now. Alex suggests that we flee. James is searching for something to put out fire. He wants to fight this demon. I begin to create a box of light over the temple, but it won't stay without me consciously controlling it and I cannot stand there forever. Marty suggests I make the box smaller, to crush the demon, but I cannot go through stone.
Alex has finally convinced James that we need to retreat to the old river. He readies the jeep. I walk slowly towards it, keeping control of my light box as much as I can. About thirty feet from the jeep, my box fails and I run to the vehicle. Alex steps on the gas as James and Marty pull me into it. Behind us, the temple explodes in fire, smoke and a bellowing thunder of unearthly rage.
I do not dare look back, but the side view mirror shows me more than I need to know. Towering over the rubble is the fiery ghost of Ursamah, wielding a sword of flame. Marty asks if there is something I can do. I swallow and turn to look at the apparition. Taking a deep breath, I shoot light beams into it. Ursamah screams and shoots a fireball back. I have no idea what to do now.
We are at the river and it is pitifully lacking in the amount of water we need to extinguish the monster trudging towards us. Alex is hoping that it cannot cross it for some supernatural reason, but I do not think he is right. In frustration, I stand in the middle of the muddy water and demand for someone to help us.
There is a roar coming from upstream. We turn and see a deluge coming. James grabs my arm and we all get out of its path. It comes just as Ursamah reaches the other bank. Ursamah screams and hisses as the water hits him. When the level stabilizes, I see the ghosts of men in boats, traveling the river. They raise their poles and poke at him, but he retreats out of their range and shakes a fiery fist.
The men turn to me and ask me to lure Ursamah into the river. I understand now. If I can get him into it, he will be destroyed. I begin shouting insults at my late husband's demon. Ursamah was never one to let a slight go unanswered. He charges into the river to teach me respect.
But the men in the boats hold him there and the river devours him. I feel as if a huge weight has been taken from me. Giddily, I hug and kiss the scholars, my friends. That night, as our small campfire cooked our evening meal, I hear the whispers bless me and fade away.
Twenty five years has passed and the whisperers still stay silent. James laughs at the joy I have for aging. I count my white hairs as if they are the most precious treasure I have. I great each new wrinkle with delight. He tells me I am insane, but that it is a most delightful insanity I have.
Our son is graduating with his bachelor's degree in ancient civilizations tonight. He plans to be the one who will someday tell the world my story. As to whether he can make them believe . . .
Well, let us just say he has his mother's talent for enlightenment.
diggitydoodog: I've had dubious documents for 2 years now and finally went to work on it. Would anyone on here be willing to PM me the answer or post it in a spoiler so I can check the solution?
Sept 17, 2020 11:44:39 GMT -5
Todd: Did you hear about the dwarfish fortune teller who broke out of jail? Police are on the lookout for a small medium at large.
Oct 15, 2020 21:35:58 GMT -5
distantsmoke: It’s snowing here in NE Kansas! Yay!
Oct 26, 2020 9:51:04 GMT -5
Todd: I once went to a zoo whose only animal was a dog! It was a shih tzu.
Oct 27, 2020 18:20:25 GMT -5
rob: There are 10 types of people in this world: Those who understand binary, and those who don't.
Nov 17, 2020 17:47:10 GMT -5
AMH: Wow, I never realized that collecting and doing puzzles could make you a millionaire... If you were a billionaire !
Nov 18, 2020 23:54:06 GMT -5