(Author’s note: Well, I did it. I got the full-time job. This means a little more security, and means a little more stability for my writing schedule. I am hoping to be back up to speed fully. Also, my health has taken a turn for the better, so I am celebrating. Enjoy today’s fictioneers.)
(Author’s note: I am attempting to get back into posting every week. It’s been tough, however. My job is demanding. Starting in December, however, it should be a lot easier as I switch my Wednesday fitness to Tuesday. So enjoy!)
We spent a few days at the rocky confluence of the two river, what we would later call the Ford of Light. We celebrated a major win there, repelling the legions back across the river and far away. Things were going well for all of us, including myself. We had victory, we were moving forward and taking territory that was once not thought possible to be taken.
A courier came to us with news that filled the masses in the camp with joy. Another of our divisions took over a fort, and were cleaning it up for a permanent use for all of our divisions. The fort was one of the Higher Legion’s forts, a difficult faction to drive out. It was done, however, and the fort was going to be rechristened Fort Antioch. An appropriate name, if I ever thought of one.
Eventually, our group had to make our way onward. We had more to do and didn’t want to spend too much time resting around. A small contingent stayed behind to secure the perimeter of the land and sanctify it, to make sure that the land would never fall back into enemy hands. They would later join up with us.
It was during our trek, through the high weeds of the plains that we would encounter, where things started to go a little haywire. At first, it was a mere stumble. One or two of us would walk a little too quickly and catch ourselves on some weeds. We’d stumble, but we’d eventually get back up. For me, I started to lag behind a little bit, as something was bothering me. Something wasn’t right with my body, and I told my fellow compadres that I may have needed to take a quick rest and get some water from the creek nearby. They asked if I needed someone to help. Chelsey even asked if I needed some help.
I told them no, that I would be back with them in a short while and that I wouldn’t be but a few moments.
I walked down to the creek to take in the water. Before I could even kneel down to lift some of the water, I felt the dizziness come. I stumbled to a nearby tree and held on for dear life, the vertigo and stuffiness in my face threatening to tear it apart. The feelings of helplessness and abandonment started to come quickly, and I held onto that tree for dear life. My life depended on that, and I screwed my eyes shut while dealing with all of the things that attacked.
That’s when I felt the pressure on the side of my belly, and the force that plowed me from the tree and onto the sandy ground. The forceful pain caused an ache to spread through my lower belly and down my thighs.
Suddenly, blow after blow rained down upon me. I barely was able to open my eyes, and when I did, I saw a large number of legionnaires ganging up on me and beating me something fierce. I knew each of the type of legionnaires that were hitting me, the color bands that identified their divisions.
A few of them wore red bands, showing they were trained in angry or lustful combat. A couple with yellow bands were trained to use guilt and shame, their blows hitting the soul just as much as the body. The ones that wore green were of the worry and envy wing, not as powerful but near lethal if left on a target for too long.
Each of them took turns beating. They used their feet, their hands, various weapons that they held. The beating was so fierce, I simply awaited my imminent death right there. But, just as it seemed like there was no hope left, I saw something magnificent.
I barely remember seeing it, but I saw fire at the end of a large log. I saw someone waving it around, and the legionnaires screaming in it’s presence. As the flaming club waved around, I saw one or two of the green-banded legionnaires get smacked in the face with a scepter.
The blows that were raining on me stopped, and the sounds of the legionnaires started to move away quickly.
I looked up at the people who had found me. I recognized the face of Chelsey, the scepter wielding woman of authority. The one who I liked to call “little sister”. She looked at me with a concerned and shocked expression, and looked over at someone else. I slowly moved my head, and I saw one of the guys who was in the backline in the last battle. I recognized Ilya, a man who was a soft-spoken man, but one of the firmest guys rooted. He looked down at me, and gave a smile.
“I’ve been where you are, man. We’ll get you taken care of.”
I felt myself get lifted up. I could barely see anything, my vision was so blurry. I could only feel things.
I was in the air, and I didn’t know which direction I was going. For what seemed like an eternity, I was on my back and being carried somewhere that I had no idea I was going to. The sun was beating down on me, and I felt my skin get quite hot as I was carried.
Suddenly, things got darker. I didn’t feel the sun on me anymore. I was able to perceive the sounds of different things around me, and small conversations.
“I need some help here. He’s been badly injured,” I heard Ilya say, “Maria, scrub up. I’m gonna need your help.”
I heard the bright voice of Maria, someone who I knew as a bright presence around the camp, reply in the affirmative as she moved around the area with what I could tell was an air of calm.
“He looks bad, want me to clear the air and make sure he’s surrounded well?”
The voice that I heard was one I recognized. He was my roommate in the tents when we slept within the camp. Nigel was a good man, someone who I knew as a healer of sorts. He was meticulous in his work, and put everything into it. When he told people that he was going to clear the air, he was not joking.
My eyes were barely open again, as I saw Ilya say a prayer of thanksgiving.
“Lord, we thank you for finding our brother here. We ask you for guidance, and declare that your hands will be on him as we work to help him heal. You are the great physician, and we ask you to guide us as we tend to our brother’s wounds. In your son’s name, Amen.”
I barely moved my head, and I saw Nigel close his eyes. He slowly waved his arms around, his hands like cups that moved the air around. A very soft green “mist” fell from the air around the surgical table, and a feeling of peace overflowed through the area.
Maria, the scrub nurse and the bright presence that helped to boost morale around, followed Ilya’s instructions, giving him the swabs with medicine and antiseptic on them. When he needed the healing balm, she was there to help him hand it.
I felt Nigel’s hand on my arm, firm and very warm. Ilya’s hand was on my other arm, hotter than Nigel’s and gripping very hard. Maria’s hand was gripping around my ankle, what I believe felt to be grounding me from all the other attacks that could have come.
A fourth hand came along to help grip my other ankle. I recognized the energy and scent immediately as that of my leader, Brian. I am not sure when he came along, but I just knew that he was praying and keeping me grounded.
I felt warmth, love, and understanding flow through me. I could feel understanding from Ilya, a combination of that and sympathy from Brian. I felt love and compassion flow from Maria’s hands into my system, and the friendship of Nigel mixing into the whole mess.
That was when I felt the intense heat that poured through my being, through my veins. The heat, and the peace that only came from the one I served.
I felt the muscles that were in knots and swollen from the beatings return back to normal. The puffiness of my face was reduced considerably. The internal pain I had felt slowly died down to a nothingness. My belly felt the rearrangement, the normalizing of my internal organs from where they were forced to where they needed to be.
Shortly thereafter, the heat stopped and the peace overcame the entire tent. I slowly sat up, my mind clear and eyes able to focus again. I felt forgiven, healed and nearly ready for battle again. Everyone smiled, as I swiveled myself off the medical table.
“Ilya, Brian, I need you two to do a favor for me,” I said, looking at both of them, “I need you to assist me if something like this happens again. I need you guys to make sure my accounting is correct and that if I don’t need something, I don’t get that something.”
Both men looked at each other, then looked back at me and nodded.
(Dedicated to the memory of all the students and passengers lost in the Sewol ferry disaster last week. Please make sure to play the music while you read.)
(NOTE: This is a work of fiction, designed to help people think about and work through their feelings regarding the Sewol ferry sinking.)
(Written on sheets of rice paper, and found on the desk of a fisherman on Jindo.)
Clouds. Happy as clouds.
That’s is how I see them now. All of them are in school up there, learning about love and life, learning their new assignments and how they will do new things. Learning, while in the cloudland.
I live in Sinyuk, just off the main coast of South Korea. My family has lived here for many years. That day will be burned into my mind.
I was on the shoreline, finishing the rigging up the nets that I would use for crab fishing during the night. I always do that after the day’s work is done. I was going to go to sleep soon, and wake up again in the afternoon to do the fishing checks all over again.
It was just after 8:30 in the morning when I went to my home and sat down for my supper. I ate, and felt good about the upcoming catch that would come in the night. I went to my room to pray and honor my wife. Long ago, we were a happy fishing couple. She died a few years back, and it was a sad time for me. But, still, I live on with her in my memory.
It was around 9:45 that I heard the phone ring. This was unusual, I didn’t normally get a call when I was just about to go to bed. I picked up the phone and answered like I normally do. It was Byeong-jun, the harbormaster here. He told me that there was an all-call for all fishing vessels, that a ferry was sinking just off Gwanmae.
It was like second nature to me. I was in the Navy during my days in the military, and whenever a call for assistance was made, it was my job to alert the captain and to help direct where we needed to go. I immediately ran out to my boat, and started it up. Or, at least I tried to start it.
I couldn’t start it. The boat that helped me check my pots did not start. And I needed to get out there and help out, as it was my duty. I got on the radio and called around to see if anyone was still in port and could use an extra man. My friend Sin-Gil, a very good man who sold fish for use in hoe called back and told me that all boats had gone. There were none left in the harbor.
At that moment, I stood in shock. And I started to cry. I cried because I felt like there was nothing I could do. As I dried my tears, I hurried over to the harbormaster’s office and volunteered to help coordinate the rescue boats. Since Sinyuk could not hold many people, we decided to send the rescued passengers over to Jindo, the closest big island that would get them to where they needed to go.
It was too late for some of us, and for a lot of those passengers.
As I write this, the count of the people that are dead is 84. There are over 200 more passengers still missing, and in my mind, likely no longer here. 250 of those passengers and dead are kids. Kids. Going on a vacation like they always do, every year. That sticks in my mind. A simple fisherman like me, who didn’t have much education, can see in my mind how a child’s eyes lights up when they are told they will be going to Jeju for a field trip.
Now, I see these kids as students up in the cloudland. Their fellow passengers who aren’t in school, they too are there. They’re assisting, helping out at the big school up in the cloudland. They’re laughing, with no pain or fear, nothing of what they felt down here. The young lady, the worker on the ferry who helped so many students that survived, I see her as a teacher up there. She’s showing them about what it means to be brave. Some of the other men and women who died, saving all those students, they’re up there as well. In the cloudland.
This tragedy is affecting everyone. I hear my friends, fellow fishermen, cry for those who are lost. I can imagine all of the parents, and the classmates in the different grades at that school in Ansan. I can even imagine the foreigners here, the ones who see this and whose hearts break for those who are gone. Every person in this country, whether a Korean or not, is affected by this. The dark cloud of sorrow will be over us for a while. The cloud already took a few people’s lives after this, and more will be taken before the cloud is lifted.
After today, I can no longer be here. I have family on the mainland, a sister and her nephew in a big city, with small kids of their own. I will take what I have earned, and go to them. I will help those small children as much as I can, to show them not to be afraid. To show them that there are people who are heroes, and that there will be a brighter day.
To whoever reads this: Whatever is here, sell and donate to the families of those who have lost everything. It won’t be much, but the house and the land are valuable. The boat can also be sold, all of the deeds are with the harbormaster.
Remember the kids and adults in the cloudland. They are the ones who we must mourn today.
(a stamp, an injang (인장) was embossed at the bottom)
I reached a milestone this past weekend with my 50th story that I wrote. It’s been an incredibly awesome journey and I am looking forward to many more stories to come.
I made a promise to myself that if I hit 50 stories, I would take 5 of the stories I wrote, edit them, then submit them to literary magazines and publications. So, as a start, I’d like to have my readers (y’all) choose 5 of my stories that I should rewrite/edit and submit.
Those who read, I’d like you to go through my archives on the right and pick those stories. Try to pick the one-shot stories, if at all possible. It’ll be easier to manage.
Also, I would like to add that the writing on my blog, at least for the next month, will likely be brought down to once every couple of days. This is because I am getting busy with taking my TESOL Certification course, and it’s going to take more time than I thought to get through everything. Couple that with having less time during my day to do stuff, and I just won’t likely be able to do things like I have until the end of July or beginning of August.
So, if anything, expect something every couple of days.
Happy reading, everyone. And I hope to see you all soon here and in reading land!
The sun was setting in the skies off the coast. The bright yellow of the sun sunk below the horizon, the sky starting to turn a firy orange with twinges of red. There were no clouds in the sky, the winds were calm, and the surf was very mild. It was exactly like a picture, frozen in a moment in time.
Paul Bernal sat top a set of rocks close to the ocean’s edge, looking out at the seas. He had come there for solitude, to calm the raging beast within himself. He looked out at the ocean, and felt the soothing splashing of the waves on rocks farther out. This was his place of refuge from the rest of the world. This is where he was able to do all of the things he needed to do. He was along the waterfront, right where he needed to be.
The rocks he stood on had a roughness that was pronounced. However, one spot seemed to be perfectly cut into the rock pile where it was smooth. The rocks formed two cylinders, which allowed for ease of kneeling when praying. And it was in those grooves that Paul put his legs, and knelt in prayer.
As he prayed, he thought about all that had happened in the day and even days as he prayed, the situations recounted in his mind as he brought all those cares up for prayer. The images from the computer screen that triggered his inner beast were being addressed in prayer, and how much he struggled with images that were more erotic and stimulating. While it had been a few days since the last time, he knew that he had to continue being in prayer and putting forth all the things that he could not keep inside.
He lifted up his troubles at work, dealing with all of the stresses of being a financial aid counselor. Hearing the hard luck stories and not being able to do much didn’t help his psyche at all, and lifting those cares up helped ease the pain that he felt.
For nearly 20 minutes, as the sun continued to descend beyond the horizon and twilight started to show it’s beauty, he continued praying. As he finished his prayers, he stood up on the rocks, and climbed down from them. Landing on the soft sand, he looked down and smiled.
“I’ll be back again, tomorrow. Be ready for me, Lord,” he said, staring out into the darkening skies and ocean. He turned and walked back towards his car, ready to head home and face another night alone.