Challenge- Revised

Challenge- Revised



Chapter 1

One day, as I stumbled upon a clearing, I found, surprising as it may have been, a much-desired resting place for my weary bones.

I had been wandering the dense forest for so long, sleeping in the underbrush for only moments at a time, occasionally climbing a tree and resting in the boughs; running in some places, walking in others, and even crawling through the thicker areas, trying to get away from something, everything, nothing. I had forgotten the exact reason I began my trek, knew only that I had to keep going, keep moving, not stop for too long a time at all.

However, in that clearing, I felt an ease in the urgency to soldier on, a veritable lifting of the imaginary weight on my shoulders, and found I may actually have just a little time to reflect upon what brought me to this point.

I remembered I had been happy once, satisfied with not only my station in the game of life, accustomed to it, but also with life itself. Things seemed to be going well, with money flowing in and out of my pockets as usual, girls drifting in and being pushed out to make way for the next one. No one got hurt too much because we agreed at the beginning that there were no possibilities for long term attachments. I had my share of those in my past and wanted no more.

We could only be a temporary deal.

Most accepted it at face value, but as always, there were also those who didn’t want to give up so easily, wanted to stick around, asking if I cared, because they did. I have to say, I did care, I always have. I truly do love females of many sorts; not all, I freely admit, but many. But the idea of getting into another relationship just to have it turn sour and all the feelings reversed repulsed me beyond reason.

Then, she came along.

As usual, the instant attraction, the meeting of the eyes, the sly smirk lifting one corner of both our mouths, the frequent glances in one another’s direction to find the glance not only mutual, but also simultaneous.

Then the physical meeting, introduction, acquainting. It seemed so right: nay, not that it seemed right, but that it had always been so; ordained by fate, as it were.
I should have known right then, but I figured, “How hard could it be?” Famous last words, I know, but I had to spend more time with her, immerse myself in her presence, drown in her eyes, exist for her next spoken word. Still, I had no clue what it meant, nor of what would happen, or already did.
By all evidence, she had been affected to the same extent. (Yes, Affected or INfected, not Effected.) I had gone and contracted the illness I had so cautiously avoided for so many years, had sworn not to conceive again, even evicted several females from my life for having developed. The dreaded and accursed “love bug” had not just bitten me, but had near instantly devoured me, and I could not even say when it happened.

Cripes! It had crept back upon me; the probable reason for my escape, the beginning point of my urgent need to flee, to get clear, trying to find a way to be free, and wanting so desperately to go back. But I could not go back, couldn’t possibly return, had to keep going.

There, in that meadow, just as I had begun to feel “normal” again, the thoughts, feelings, even the memories started to catch up and I had to get moving again before I became lost in the ocean of emotion I feared instead of the glen of Zen I desired.

I had near escaped, almost evaded, but only temporarily forgotten. I felt tired, yes, exhausted, wiped out, but felt I had to get moving, and soon.

Standing, I surveyed my surroundings. With the forest making a barrier all around the edges, the glade itself looked like its own little sanctuary. The ground had a slight roll to it, the grass, so lush and green, grown to eighteen inches high, with several varieties of yellow, pink and blue flowers in patches making a colorful carpet. Several old oaks and elms stood scattered around and looked to be perfectly set apart to shade a building.

Such a peaceful, beautiful place, the kind of place she would have fit into perfectly. She had told me, just days before I left, that she could fit naturally into any place, any situation, any climate that one could imagine, as long as I stayed there to complete her.

I felt the hot wetness on my face, and the anger returned along with the sorrow. I knew once again part of what I had forgotten and didn’t want to remember. I felt rage for being forced to run, not able to help her, and the impotence for not being able to do anything to appease either.

Looking around, I imagined, unbidden, the log cabin we had discussed at length; the garden of roses and tulips she planned to keep; the separate building where I would do my writing. We had planned all that and more before all hopes and dreams had been ferociously torn from us.

Cursing the gods of memories and dreams, I stumbled as I dashed from the place I had originally seen as a refuge, only to find it as a reminder. Tears still wetting my face and stinging my eyes, I tore through the far side of the forest wall and began anew my failed escape.

I used the act of pushing through limbs and underbrush as a physical semblance of forcing away the thoughts and feelings that were invading once again, much the same as I had at the very beginning of this footslog.

I thought I had escaped to safety, that I had succeeded in putting behind me everything that I had not wanted to be immersed in to begin with and had vowed to avoid at all costs. The possibilities looked to be limited for any kind of future with her.

I felt I had to keep moving, put my mind back to the task of making my way through the forest: Push that limb aside, step over that vine, press through those bushes, climb over that fallen log, and soon the next step commanded all my attention.

A wall of rock materialized, impeding my progress. Quickly, I surveyed for the best path up, looking for optimum hand and footholds. I knew I needed rest before attacking it, so sat and closed my eyes for only a moment. When I opened them, dusk had set in, and I heard of the screams from my dreams echoing away.

Covered with sweat, as with every time I tried to sleep, I shook the thoughts of the images I couldn’t remember out of my head. I stood and looked at the cliff. I could see well enough to continue, the moon being just past full and the skies clear, so grabbed hold and hoisted myself onto the steep wall of rock.

As I began my ascent, I knew I needed more rest, for my legs ached from miles behind me, my arms and face were scraped from the underbrush and stinging from the sweat that invaded the fresh marks, and my hands were sore from moving countless obstacles from my path. With fingers and toes, I moved up, calculating which direction to go and testing each hold to make sure it would bear my weight before moving to another.

Ten feet, twenty, up I climbed; look up to see a path, down to move my left foot to place, test, okay; up to place right hand, test, okay, pull; look at placing right foot, check, okay; place left hand on next, check, okay. Move by move I mentally tell myself what to do to keep my thoughts currently active and not to think about (LEA!) her.

Unfortunately, with the less active movement of climbing, the thoughts began creeping in again. Voicing my irritation, I made sure of three of my support holds and used my left hand to pull the neckline of my shirt up and wipe sweat from my face. As I did so, while I had my eyes closed for one second, 1 second, the image of Lea invaded and would not dissipate, even after I reopened them.

Her long, blond, wavy hair framing her oval face and perfect complexion; the light tan that never faded or burned; her lips, so soft and kissable, with a smile that could bring happiness to anyone who saw it; the slightly upturned tip of her dainty nose and the way it wiggled ever so slightly when she spoke; her heavenly blue eyes, so clear even a hardened sailor would weep if drowning there, and to see tears of sorrow would break the heart of even the toughest Hell’s Angels biker.

A one-second flash and I saw all this and felt overwhelmed again to tears of fear and frustration. I grabbed fast to the rock and shook my head to clear my thoughts so I could begin climbing again, but to no avail. Her image remained, right behind my vision, as I began scaling the cliff again.

Halfway up, then most of the way, and finally I pulled myself over the top edge, rolling over onto my back, huffing to catch my breath. I knew I had to move, to get busy and not linger lest the visions return; but exhaustion took hold and pushed me into unconsciousness.


Chapter 2

The thoughts and images were chaotic, confusing, out of order. Flashes of both imaginations and memories blended, which served to not only disorient and bewilder, but also frighten me beyond comprehension. I could not discern which were false or which were fact, but it all seemed, as most dreams do, so real and convincing. All the stroboscopic effects flustered me to the point that I lost myself.

I awoke with a yell and once again covered in sweat. Leaning forward, I held my head in my hands, elbows on my drawn up knees, trying to will myself to calm down.
My skin felt sticky from all the secretions of the last few days, and muscles were at once stiff, shaky and sore. Spasms attacked various spots on my arms and legs and I felt unsure of stability or balance when I attempted to rise. I forced my body up, with intent to find some water. Maybe a stream or even just a puddle to rinse off the stench acquired by the days of exhausting drudgery.
As the sky brightened with predawn, I closed my eyes, drawing myself up as I inhaled through my nose. Arms stretching over my head to both relieve the kinks and further open my lungs. I exhaled slow, easing my arms down to my sides. I had to repeat it several times to calm the thunder in my chest and the pounding pressure in my ears.
As my pulse calmed, I began concentrating, listening to the sounds of nature coming awake to join me, trying to filter out miscellaneous noises to fixate on a possible direction to follow.
Through the chirping crickets and frogs croaking, the owls hooting and awakening birds beginning their songs, I detected ever so faintly the distant sound of water flowing over a bed of rocks. I tilted my head to hone in on the source.
When I had what I believed to be my bearings, I began trudging towards what I hoped would be a cleansing. As the sound of water became clearer, the sun broke the horizon to my left.
Through the trees, the telltale sparkle of sun on liquid flashed. The faint trickle had turned to a more audible rush.
When I arrived at the shore and looked at the clear water flowing by in front of me, I knew it would be extremely frigid. I removed my shirt and shucked my pants and shoes. Taking a deep breath, I fell into the icy water.
As I predicted, it felt like thousands of ice picks being driven into me at the same time. My breath, had I not been holding it, would have been denied me from the instant I touched the surface. Emerging, I could not help but shout, grunt and force myself to breathe, and thanked the stream for not being deeper.
I got the stench & filth scoured off well enough to feel refreshed, then grabbed my clothing and scrubbed them as well. Satisfied, I laid the garments on some rocks to dry, then myself on the bank in a patch of sunlight to warm up.
Oblivion grabbed hold of me almost immediately. The next thing I knew, the sun looked to be about an hour from setting. I finally got some peaceful rest, the exhaustion too much to allow me to continue.
Standing, I picked up my clothes and began dressing. My muscles were still somewhat stiff and sore, but I no longer had the feeling of being on the edge of a precipice waiting to fall in.
I looked around to reacquired my bearings, then did a few more stretches trying to stave off any more soreness than I knew would be inevitable.
The rumbling inside me reminded me I needed to find something to eat. I could not remember when the last morsel had been consumed.
Traveling upstream felt like the right way. Every turn I have taken has somehow felt right. I hadn’t realized until that moment that I felt drawn. Like something telling me where I had to go.


I am a fiction writer;

A creator of larger-than-life heroes of ages gone by;
Great wizards tainted, and those who resist them;

War between interstellar travelers, both on this planet and far away;
Alien races intent on the annihilation of any being not their own,
and weaker ones in need of a savior- as well as the One who becomes their savior.

Clashes with bad people and dangerous places, where only one can survive.

When you get to my writing, sit back, hold on, and enjoy the ride!