sondersojourn

A collection of writings, essays, and thoughts.

A necessity

The Earth died. It wasn’t a grand thing, either. A slow death. Withering and diseased. It coughed and spluttered, grew frail and pockmarked. Truth be told, it took too long. In the end it was pathetic. A drawn out whimper, and I’m happy for the silence.

We watched it happen. From Mars, Eos, mining stations on Venus and research stations on Jupiter – billions of eyes watched Earth die. And we did nothing. For a long time we have been ashamed to call Earth our ancestral home. Or, more accurately, we’re ashamed of the humans who stayed on Earth. Sad things they were. Everything possible was at their feet and they wasted every opportunity. That’s why we watched without action. They didn’t deserve help.

The forests of Mars were born and fertilised by generations of our dead ancestors – their whole lives, even after death, went to a single cause. Survival. Survival of all, not the one. That’s what people from Earth could never understand. With no unifying cause, they became petty and weak. So, we watched. We watched them ruin the birthplace of our species. We watched them poison the oceans, burn the forests, and ravage the air. Each of these we have given countless lives and enormous sacrifice to achieve.

We’ll go back now they’re gone. We will inherit the Earth. We will care for it as it deserves to be cared for. We know the value of our ancient home – we know it more than they ever did.

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The Duat

Here I am, in the field of reeds. Finally, after a lifetime of searching, I am here. I know he is here too. I can feel him. Closer now than for many years, I feel his spirit.

Across continents of pain have I walked. Countries torn apart. Brother against brother. Son against father. Tyrants against it all. Yet out of this anguish a new order rose. A new creed. Despots fell, as always they must, by mine and my new kins’ hands. The infernos turned to ash, ash to dust, dust to new life.

I hope it was enough to balance the scales. My heart is heavy, and the feather so light. Here, in the fields of reeds, I will be judged. I will see you again, my boy, my child, my life.

Let us ride through the Duat together and sow a world filled with green.

Calm seas

Blood spurts out of my nose as my face crashes into hardened wood. Raw gashes from splinters spread across my cheek. Stinging with freshness, the pain is doubled from the constant spray of salt water. The noise is immense. Smashing wood, slamming waves and a roaring wind.

‘Calm seas don’t make a sailor’. That’s what Denric told me. His words echo in my head, barely heard above the fury of the sea. It was one of his better sayings. Or at least it contained the least amount of violence, debauchery or sacrilege. Wise words. Good words. Bloody useless words. I’d give anything for calm seas right now. At the very least a rest from the rain. What do I care for becoming a good sailor? I only wanted an easy ride, fast money and a chance at every girl in every berth I ended up in.

As it stands, I’m freezing my plums off with ragged shards of icy rain shredding my battered face. The wind picks up in ferocity port side. It bellows across the rigging, shaking it fiercely. My knuckles turn white clinging to the rope, my palms burning from the rub. Over the din I hear someone shouting on the deck. I look down to a mop of yellow hair whipping around in the wind. It’s Alyn, or maybe Eron, shouting up at me.

“I can’t hear ya, ya daft sod!” I scream down to him.

He takes a few strides towards the rigging, his strange lurching gait definitely makes him Alyn. As he moves to grab the rope the ship is struck by massive wave. Everything lurches violently. Screeching metal is joined by a piercing scream. Some poor bastard just got nailed by a loose cannon. Alyn had managed to hold on to the rigging before the crash. He looks up at me, cupping his hands over his mouth.

“Leviathan!”

My heart slammed against my chest, rapping against my ribs. So that wasn’t a wave that just hit us.

“Captain’s swimmin’, bosun’s calling all hands to arms!” Alyn shouted before limping off into the rain.

Well, shit. This explains the sudden storm and unnatural winds. But, a leviathan? Here? There’s not been one this far North in centuries – not since the covenant was broken. So much for calm seas. This is beyond what even Denric would call rough. Ain’t no making a sailor of me now. I’m going to die.

 

The Hollow

It’s strange being back here after all this time. The smells and sounds are the same – earthy and wild. The only thing that’s different is me. Where once we could all hide in the hollow, I now barely fit alone. Here, among the thicket and ferns, I’m taken straight back to that Summer’s afternoon. A mix of emotions rise and fall inside me. It was a perfect day, golden and pure. But, through the lens of time, it now holds a sinister hue. We couldn’t know what was to begin that day, what path we had started to walk. I suppose it was the last day of our innocence. Maybe on some subconscious level
we knew this, and embraced the final cry of childhood.

The root is still here. A gnarled, ancient artery of the vast undergrowth surrounding the hollow. Through all these years our names are still there. DB, FE, CT, JO, EP. Crude and rough. I run my fingers across the letters, lingering over the last initials. Melancholy, like I’ve never felt before, washes over me. And guilt. And shame. I sit for a while, the shafts of light that make it through the dense growth shifting down with the setting sun. I pull out my penknife and with deliberate, slow motions, I start to carve a line through the names. FE. CT. JO. I stop at EP. My hand is shaking fiercely, my eyes glistening. With a flash of anger, I slash through the last letters. A harsh and jagged line. My breathing is hard to control, heavy and laboured.

DB. That’s me. The only name that’s left intact. But what remains of that boy, who on that perfect Summer’s day all those years ago sat with friends and laughed and cried and made that binding pact, is yet to be seen.

Decisions – Part Three

Read PART ONE and PART TWO

PART THREE

Luck is a strange thing. No matter how bad a situation is, luck can always turn up and make things slightly better. It’s not always fantastic, but just that little bit more bearable. Luck, however, is not the magical and good thing most people think it is – it can be a right arsehole at times. Like now, for instance. I’m spending my night in damp, bloodstained clothes smelling of my own sick but, as luck would have it, this isn’t my first time sleeping rough. See? That’s the thing about luck. I currently consider myself ‘lucky’ because I’m not shit scared of being alone for the night on the streets. My ‘lucky’ childhood of sleeping under bridges and fighting off people ‘looking for a good time’ has at least given me some idea of what the fuck to do next.

I think about luck a lot, especially at times like now. I never get that good luck, that ‘won-at-the-races’ feeling or the ‘I-have-such-an-amazing-girlfriend’ one. Fuck that for a laugh. My luck is more the ‘barely-missed-an-artery’ sort from getting stabbed and the ‘cashier-didn’t-notice-the-bread-down-my-pants’ type. But there it is. Good luck is a luxury for the well off. My type of luck is the same for everyone as poor as me; mean, spiteful and mocking.

My spot for the night is a decent one. I’ll always be thankful to Pret-a-Manger and their hot air vents. Even now, when the warm air is making the smell of blood and vomit even more potent than it already was, I’m glad for it. This Pret is too far away from busy working areas for the permanently homeless to bother with, not enough foot traffic. For me, that’s perfect. My armpits itch from the scrunched-up newspaper I’ve got shoved up there to keep warm, salvaged from a nearby rubbish bin. Huddled up in a corner by the vents, I can’t stop fucking crying.

I killed him.

That’s what I’ve done. I killed that man. I panicked. A little man with a big man’s gun acting the hard man. A fucking idiot who’s going to prison just like his waste of a dad. What about the kids? I’m going to get caught, of course I am, but what will this do to them? At least they won’t be worrying where I am right now. I usually piss off for days at a time. But shit, I want to be with them now. I can see their faces plain as day. I can see how their lives end up just as worthless as mine. I did this for them, to get them something warm to eat for the first time in weeks. To maybe get them some shoes that actually fit. To give them some normality, as short lived as that would have been.

Blue flashing light suddenly fell across me. Fear spiked like a needle in my brain. Is this it? How did they bloody find me? My whole body is shaking. Massive, wracking sobs threaten to break my ribs. And then they’re gone. The light moves on and I catch a glimpse of an ambulance. I pull my hood up and tuck my arms in my jacket. Those lights weren’t for me. Not this time.

But when?

Decisions – Part Two

Read Part One here

PART TWO

Everything’s burning. My legs feel heavy and stabbing pains are shooting up my shins. I’ve been sprinting so hard, dragging air into my lungs hurts . How long have I been running? Where the hell even am I?

I turn off the road into a little park. It’s dark here and I’m alone, I think. I collapse onto the damp floor and immediately vomit. As I wipe some of the clumped sick off my shirt I realise my hands are covered in blood. I don’t remember touching the cashier, but where else could the blood have come from? I throw up again. More burning, but now it’s that acidic taste and scorch at the back of your throat and nose that happens when you’re heaving out bile and fuck knows what else.

Images flash through my mind. The cashier, crumpled on the floor in a growing sea of red. My hands, grabbing and slapping him. A woman I hadn’t noticed before, running out of the shop. The cereal box, smashed on the floor. My face of terror, reflected from the automatic doors. Then the light-dark, light-dark cycle of running past streetlights.

There’s nothing left in my stomach now. I’m retching dry air, my ribs contracting and bending painfully. What the fuck have I done. I try to wipe the blood from my hands on the grass, but it’s starting to turn thick and gloopy, stringing like strawberry laces between my fingers. Did the guy die? Am I a killer now? Shit. If I am, what did he die for, how much was that guys life worth? I reach into my pockets. Fuck. I left the money. I left the fucking money. Idiot. Idiot. Idiot. Nice one – I’m a murderer with literally nothing to show for it.

I forgot the money. I am well and truly fucked. I need a lot to pay back what I owe for the gun, and the guys I owe aren’t going to be happy to get shafted. I see my baby brother and sister in my mind. The whole bloody point of the whole fucking thing was to get enough to feed and clothe them. Now their hero of a big brother is just like everyone else in their life – scum, worthless and definitely going to prison.

The woman. Fear spiked through me. Whatever adrenaline left in my pancreas surged to my brain. Lightheaded, a dark tunnel descended on my vision. Who was she? Did she come into the shop after I shot the guy, or was she there the whole time? I hope, I fucking hope, she didn’t see my face. My whole body is shaking, shoulder blades jerking back and forth. A weird noise comes out of my mouth, part cry, part scream and part pure fear.

Flashing blue lights snap back to the here and now. A million thoughts shouted for my attention: are they for me, do they know I’m here, was I followed, am I paranoid, where the hell am I?! I push myself back between some bushes, willing myself to stop sobbing and stay quiet. Eventually, the lights pass, though I can’t relax in the slightest. I need to get home, but can I go back there? No, it’ll put the kids in danger. I can’t.

But what do I do?

Here I lie


I stare at the endless sky. Blue vaults stretching into infinity, forever. I watch over the land – land which owns me completely. I am the warden of this earth, the guardian of its bounty, the carer for its people. My people. My loves, my friends, my children. I am the soil, the water, the wind and the light. Ever envious, time threatens me with the end, but I am relentless. I am the great unknown. I am the force that you can’t see, the feeling of something not quite real gazing into your heart. Follow me, and you will never be lost. Darkness will never have a hold on you. Until the universe dies, always will I be here.

I stare at the endless sky, blue vaults stretching into infinity, forever.

The Current of Life

I don’t quite know what I’m trying to say or do here, so let’s roll and move and strive and see where the oceans take us.

The circumstances of my life is as a boat on the seas – I feel the chop of the water and the rocking up and down between swells. I hear the call of the deep and embrace it willingly. I smell salt, harsh and catching in my throat. I see the endless waves, the clear nights, the dead doldrums and energetic storms.

Nothing is ever certain. Nothing is meant to be. Nothing is solid. Nothing is real.

So let us cast away and never look back. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see how many times you could commit suicide? To throw yourself mindlessly into the unknown, the uncertain and the undreamed of? I yearn for it.

Here’s to rash decisions.

Here’s to living in the now.

Here’s to giving yourself to emotion.

Here’s to living life, and dying constantly along the way.

Dissociation

‘I don’t care.’ The words came out of my mouth, flat and empty. ‘Seriously. I do not care. Do what you want.’

This was not going how I had imagined. I had practiced this talk a hundred times, ran the words I wanted to say through my mind a thousand times more, but all I could muster was apathy. I couldn’t even meet her eyes.

‘Well, fine.’ She said, her voice as even and uncaring as mine. ‘I guess you’ve never really cared huh? I was just something to pass the time when you were bored, you never actually wanted me, wanted to be with me.’ Her voice was breaking a bit now, and getting louder. ‘I need to do what’s best for me. I deserve to be happy.’

That should have hurt. I want it to hurt. Why don’t I feel anything? I knew this talk was going to happen. Whenever I thought about it, whenever I thought it was going to happen I felt sick. But now, for some reason, I don’t feel a thing. Nothing.

Why am I like this?

‘You do.’ I said. ‘Of course you do. I’m sorry I couldn’t give that to you’.

She looked and me and laughed. ‘Oh OK, here we go. Always the victim aren’t you? For God’s sake give it a rest for a minute.’

I can’t reply to that. She’s right, I know it. I know I made her happy. I know we had great times. Why did I say that?

Why am I like this?

Silence stretched between us. Again, the words I wanted to say fumbled around in my mind, scared to come out my mouth. I’m good with silence, always have been. She isn’t.

She stood up and walked towards the door. ‘I can’t stand this. You’re not gonna say anything are you? You know, being all dark and miserable and brooding is OK sometimes, but right now it’s really pissing me off.’

I’m not any of those things. Confrontation paralyses me. I look at her, I look back down, I rub my hands.

She opened the door and looked back at me. ‘See you around. I’ll be there for you if you ever get over what’s wrong with you.’ I didn’t even look up as she left. I just sat there, staring at the floor.

So, she’s gone. All these words, all the things I wanted to say in the hope that she wouldn’t leave me, float around in my head. What a load of good they were. Why didn’t I tell her what she means to me. Why couldn’t I tell her she is my everything. Why do I cry and shake now. Why now, after she’s gone, do I actually feel something.

Why am I like this?

Cloud

A lone cloud floated lazily across the blue sky. Pushed by the gentle breeze, the cloud passed over two people lying in a grassy field. The wispy, cotton-white cloud momentarily blocked the blazing stare of the angry mid-July sun, creating a brief rest from the heat.

A girl lying in the arms of a boy glanced upwards at the lonesome cloud. Her eyes studied its drifting form. One second she thought the cloud resembled a great white kite, then a dog, then the earth itself.

‘The cloud is for us’. She said.

The boy grinned, a smile of true happiness. He pulled the girl close to his chest, feeling her heart beat next to his. Tall grass rose above their bodies, topped with circles of sunburst yellow flowers. Honeysuckle filled the air, mixing with the earthy scent that comes with lying on the ground. Bees droned between the flowers, zigzagging without cause, direction or reason. Butterflies, resting on the stalks of the tall grass, stretched their vibrant wings as if saluting the summer sun.

The cloud passed by, taking with it the shade it had created, letting light and heat to drape across the couple. In each other’s embrace, the pair watch the cloud slowly drift away, blissful and content.

Over time, and a long way away from the young couple, the cloud disintegrated. The memory it designed that day, however, was forever emblazoned upon the two young lovers, and held their love strong ’till the end of days.