The Gathering Hall Under the Garden After the End of Time

All the realities swirled around his brain as he dug in the garden removing weeds. The flowers that bloom in the spring tra la needed room to breathe, and the weeds were encroaching.

Suddenly, after he pulled a weed he knew vaguely as a whimsy root, a vast hole opened and he tumbled down a sudden underground slide that deposited him 20? 50? 100? feet below ground in a vast room that should have been pitch black but instead glowed with a warm but eerie glow.

“Step forth, young man,” said a voice from nowhere that came from everywhere at once. “Yes, you, with the dirt on your hands.”

He stepped timidly toward the voice — that is to say, he stood stock still, because he had no idea where the voice originated.

“Where am I?” he said once he found his voice again.

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Bring Me Back

“Bring me back,” he cried in his sleep. “Bring me back.”

“Floyd, wake up,” said his groggy wife. “You’re talking in your sleep.”

“Oh. What? Yeah,” Floyd said, as he responded to her entreaty and woke up. “Wow, that was so real.”

“No, it wasn’t,” she said. “I saw. You were right here all along.”

“You know what I mean, Jen. I was walking down the street in some city —”

“Sounds dark.”

“No, it was a bright sunny day. And this guy comes up, grabs my arm, and says, ‘Come with me,’ and I says, ‘I don’t want to come with you, I got things to do,’ and he just hangs on and says, ‘Come with me.’”

“Where’d he take you?”

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Two mugs in a bar

Bar © Teerawat Winyarat |

Two mugs in a bar — kind of an old bar, somewhat clean, but you know how hard it is to get an old bar squeaky clean. Maybe they’re old friends, or maybe they just happen to be sitting within earshot of each other at this particular moment.

The news is on TV, or maybe it’s some politicians arguing over what the gummint should or should not do and how people can’t be trusted so this has to stop.

One mug rolls his eyes.

“You know what nobody says anymore?” he says to anyone who will listen, or maybe to himself.

The other mug stares forward. The bartender dries a glass down the way.

“You know what nobody says anymore?” the mug tries again.

The other mug stirs from his reverie. “I don’t know,” he says. What does nobody say?”

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The idiot

Street © Jan Kranendonk |

Two men were in the middle of the street, one standing, one in a vehicle.

“You’re an idiot,” said one, standing.

“Are you calling me an idiot?” said the other, sitting in the parked car.

“You’re an idiot,” said the standing one from the middle of the street.

“Are you calling me an idiot?” said the other from the car that would be parked in traffic if there were any other traffic.

“You’re an idiot,” said the first, walking off the street and toward the building.

“You’re calling me an idiot?” said the other from the safety of his vehicle.

“You’re an idiot,” said the first as he walked through the door, and as the door shut behind him, he was heard to say, again, “You’re an idiot.”

Whether the conversation continued thus, I could not say, for then it was time for me to go my way.

But the words echoes long after, and I wish I knew what prompted the man to insist the other was an idiot — although come to think, he never did clarify to whom he was speaking, so perhaps we intruded on a soliloquy.

Fulfillment of the quest

© Demid |

Once upon a time a young man set off on a quest. He was full of hope and optimism and maybe just a touch of anxiety that he may not be up to the task. But he dove into the quest with enthusiasm and confidence and maybe just a touch of arrogance — he was a young man, after all.

Along the way he encountered trials and tribulations, an occasional monster, and occasional triumphs, and he met a fair damsel to spend the rest of his life with — uh oh, maybe not that long — and then another, this time for sure, and well, he made his way toward the goal as best he could.

One day, he was resting from an especially daunting episode and reflecting on it all, when suddenly he sat bolt upright in his easy chair.

“My God!” he cried. “I’m living happily ever after, and I almost didn’t realize!”

And so he was. He looked all around him, at the life he was living, and saw it all as if with new eyes.

A person writing his story might say, “The End,” at this point, but that moment was everything but.

Bones of a story

© Nejron |

Somewhere out there, a song was being played, children were dancing, and dogs were contentedly chewing on bones.

Our hero was pensive. She had been planning and waiting, and waiting and planning, and waiting to plan, and planning to wait, and finally the wait was over.

“Today, we act,” she told her small cadre of followers — no, “companions” would be a better word, or “colleagues.” These were good people but not willing to follow as much as they were willing to cooperate with the plan and collaborate, each for their own reasons, and then go their separate ways — well, except for that one with the gleam in his eye, who was not at all interested in separating when this was done. That was all right; she enjoyed the way they fit together, and their separation was always unwelcome.

And so, they all agreed to act that day.

When it was over, they celebrated, but not with an overwhelming joy, because the battle had taken one of their own, a victory made somber by the loss. Was she relieved that she had survived, and the handsome one with the gleam in his eye? Of course, and she felt a hint of shame that she thought, “At least it was that loss, not this one.”

Still, as they held each other that night, they pledged together that the loss would not be in vain, and they would work to ensure the day’s victory was a lasting one. It was the best they could do.

Two cows on a shelf

The cows smiled as they surveyed all that they could survey. It was a cluttered panorama with papers and wires scattered everywhere but, paradoxically, books arranged in a certain order and movie posters neatly placed on the wall.

“It’s as if he can’t make up his mind to be a cluttered mess or obsessive compulsive,” one cow said to the other. The cows didn’t have names because, as an impossible quasi super villain once said, they knew who they are.

“We must have an adventure,” said the other cow.


“Well,” said the adventurer, “there has to be a story to tell about us so people remember who we are.”

“Why can’t we be remembered as the two little cows who sat contentedly smiling on the bookshelf for years upon years and lived happily ever after?”

“Yes, I suppose we could,” said the other. “But something has to happen to make it a story. That’s what makes it a story: Things happen.”

“I don’t want anything to happen. It means change, and I like things just the way they are.”

“So do I. But wouldn’t an adventure be grand?”

“It depends on the adventure. Some are full of mystery and intrigue and peril, which are three things I’m not terribly fond of.”

“I see what you mean,” the other said. “But this could be an adventure of discovery and beauty and strange new worlds and new civilizations.”

“I’m not sure I like ‘strange.’”

“Now you’re just being contrary. Come on, let’s go.”

“You go ahead. I’m happy right here.”

“I’m not going anywhere without you. We are two peas in a pod.”

“No, we’re two cows on a shelf. And I like it that way.”

“Oh, all right,” the would-be adventurer conceded. “I was just saying.”

“But you got your wish.”

“I did?”

“Yes. We’re in a story.”

“But nothing happened!”

“Fancy that.”

And they did live happily ever after.