Tag Archive: dreams

Magic exists. Who can doubt it, when there are rainbows and wildflowers, the music of the wind and the silence of the stars? Anyone who has loved has been touched by magic. It is such a simple and such an extraordinary part of the lives we live.” ― Nora Roberts

So come with me and take my hand and hold it tight, lets allow the stars to be our guides tonight,  taking us through all the things we’ve lost along the way before tonight. Where we’ll walk with me through starlit libraries and catch fireflies in big glass jars and dance like fools beneath the pale moonlight, in a meadow full of wild flowers where no two blooms are ever alike, let go of your worries, your discontent, instead remember what it was like to really laugh, to smile until it hurts, just let go and just enjoy the now. Let’s reignite that fires and the passions we lost we were kids and truer to ourselves. Back when we chased each other in the night, playing hide and seek with our friends in the dark.

So let’s denounce all the lies we’ve told ourselves and let’s rejoice and share secrets in the dark, let’s tell stories that will create a spark and let our imaginations run rampant and wild without constraints.

 Let’s take a moment to slow down, unplug and unwind, turn off the T.V. Put away the phone and lock it away in your nightstand and get up from the computer and go outside. Sit around a campfire with family or friends and share your stories and all the laughter and tears that live there as you connect. Let’s forgive past wrongs, let the past die and just forgive and let live.
Take a long bike ride, and let the wind whip against your skin and through your hair as you pedal and race faster than you ever before dared, feeling your pulse quicken with exhilaration as you live, really live, remember what it was like being a kid and not be so weighed down by all the burdens and past sins.Let’s forgive ourselves and start life anew. Ask yourself what eight year old you would think of you, the twelve year old you and you at sixteen, would advice would that younger you tell you? Let’s speak honestly, with strength, conviction, love and understanding. Let’s change everything and change ourselves and just disconnect from all the computer screens and cellphones and let’s talk to people like all the adults did when we were kids, when everyone in the neighborhood were their friends.
Remember how our bicycle’s warm golden eye would  protect us from the world of responsibilities and hostilities. Remember that feeling of the cool crisp wind blowing through your hair as you rode like the wind, believing your childhood would never end, feeling free, with limitless possibilities and dreams whirling around inside your head, before you were told to grow up and act your age? Let’s write stories of princesses living in white marble castles and of the heroes who come and save them from the old and mundane before we all go insane, and let’s remember the magic we once had and held oh so dear and always believed in with all our heart and souls before we’ve been showed and told all of the magician’s tricks, forever robbing us of that sense of wonder and disbelief we held so dear.
Remember the magic we were born into, even me despite all the struggles I had growing up in a broken home, with an abusive mother and the bullies that waited for me every day at school, who never let me escape their sight. Despite how many times I was knocked down, or how often I felt like I was just losing the fight, I always kept getting back up and I always kept my hope alive. I let my light burn and never hid it from sight. I still lived in fear that one day I would wake up and find that my friends were no longer there, a thought that was almost too much for me to bear. But even with all this and having only a small handful of friends that got me through high school, I can still tell you that I grew up in a magic time and was raised in a magic towns, amongst sorcerers, wizards, wicked witches and genies eager to grant my every wish. I saw this world that no one else could see and I thought it was funny how no one but me could see it or how we were all connected, ensnared and captured into in the silver filaments of this magic web. Weaved by the dueling spiders of chance and circumstance, knowing that everything and everyone mattered, it was my biggest secret, one that I’ve always known, one that I kept all to myself until now.
 I was seven when the world revealed itself to me, I saw magic in all things, I was five when I was sitting in my living room, with the tacky golden couches when I first tried touching magic for the very first time, attempting to make a quarter vanish and disappear from my tiny closed hand. I was certain if I concentrated hard enough, focused enough, I would open my hand to discover I had somehow manged to make it vanish I saw many magicians do. It didn’t matter how many times I would open my fist to find the quarter still there, because I could feel it, I knew the magic was around me and in the air and I could see all new beginnings, the present and the future and this story’s ending. I saw myself in ways I can never describe and I saw the simple truth in all things. You probably did once too; but you just don’t remember, or maybe you do, but you just forgotten.
See, this is my opinion; we all start out knowing magic, believing a blanket tied around our shoulders can make us fly and by night our blankets would protect us from the monsters that lurked in our closest,  under our beds and in the dark. We had this world inside of us, where a stranger could become one of our best friends, we believed and had faith in people and we all lived and understood  what it meant when the floor was lava and kiss could heal any hurt and we lived with no fear and we looked at people and just saw people, we didn’t discriminate, or hate someone because they were different than us, we accepted them, as they were and we eager to talk and get to know them. But we get the magic, the love and the wonder educated right out of our souls, we get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get told what to believe and even how to pray and when I was a kid, I would talk to God all the time and I would speak to him as I would a friend, like I would speak to you now. But we get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age, to grow up and to take off our magic capes and to stop stomping through the yard like we’re dinosaurs on parade and to put all our childish things away.

 And do you know why we’re told all this? Because the people doing the telling are afraid of our wildness and our youth, and because the magic we grow up knowing makes them feel scared, ashamed and a little sad of what they’d allowed to wither and die within themselves. Because after you get so far from it, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it, moments of knowing and remembering. Whenever you watch children at play and marvel at their imagination, when you’re outside and hear their laughter and remember when you used to laugh so hard while sitting in class and the more you tried to quiet yourself the harder you would laugh and even though you got in trouble you wouldn’t want it to have happened in any other way.

You feel it when you‘re watching a movie and find tears welling up in your eyes and it’s because in that darken theater, when the lights are down, that your disbelief is suspended for a few minutes or hours, you find yourself immersed once again in that golden pool of magic that dwells and swirls around in your heart, when you feel like anything is possible and when you touch it, you become filled with that same sense of wonder and mystery that you’ve always known, then you’re young again, with your imagination filling up and you find you still have hope an you still believe. When we were kids, we dreamed of changing the world, or saving it from all the wrong we’ve seen. Like the times you’ve witnessed someone being singled out, harassed, or discriminated against and you wanted to do something, but instead you hesitate too long, you over analyze, it’s like when you leave a darken theater after watching a good movie and your imagination runs wild and you’re still carrying those feelings it stirred up within your soul, until the lights come on and you step out into the hard sun and you fall back into a world of logic and reason all over again. Which further dries up that pool of magic within our souls. So when you see or witness adversity you shove your hands in your pockets and walk away, wondering what you could have done, believing it would work itself out in the end, telling yourself all the things you wished you would have said or done, as you walk further and further away to never see them again.

Which always leaves you wanting and a little heart sad, for you can never fully understand why this is. It happens all the time, when a song stirs the distant memory of young love and the future you thought was so certain, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a distant train passing in the night and you wonder where it might be going and what it would be like to ride its rails at least one time. It happens when you hear a piano playing softly and you become lost in the endless depths remembering what was lost and forgotten. It’s that time when you step up and beyond who you are and away from where you had been, it’s then that for the briefest of moments that you find yourself back in that magic realm, feeling like you did back when you were ten.

I know it’s hard and there are days when you feel like you’re miles away, spending a whole December hoping things will go your way and I stand here today, wearing my heart on my sleeve, telling you all the things that I believe and truth is every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, and some not. Things happen to us all the time, with hurdles we think we’ll never get over, or get by and for me it was my mother, High school, and then came the real trials of stepping out into real world, getting my first job, losing what was once my home, saying good my to good friends, wondering if I’ll ever see some of them again. But no matter where they went, to Afghanistan to fight in a war, or to warm beaches to relax under the sun, or suffering behind a desk in a day job that they hate, a part of me will always be with them, just as I will always carry a part of them with me. Some went on to become heroes while others just became lost.

But things change all the time, while some never do. And the truth is, life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, even when you fall in love honestly, for the world can still be a very mean, dark and nasty place and no matter how strong or tough you think you are, it will beat you to your knees just like it had me, the first time I fell in love and lost on the battlefield of love. Then when I found love again and once more I found I was one of two choices, but then I chose another path and simply walked away without word or argument. Believing if was meant for me, she would find me again, or chase after me.

My head was left bloody but unbowed. Yet I still loved her, didn’t want to see her hurt, didn’t want to cause her any pain or drama, I simply walked away.

I was broken and on my knees, knowing life would keep me there if I let it and that was a guarantee. So no matter what happens, take it from me, you can’t ever quit and you have to fight like hell to keep that light within you alive even when the whole world feels like it’s against you, you must always strive to press on to something more and never quit, no matter how much it hurts, no matter how sore. Learn to love what you got and not the things that you’re not. You can choose life and look up, or continue being a victim or whatever else it is you want to be. Or you can press on to something more, because if you call it quits and simply give up on live, you’ll never knowing how close you came to getting past those hurdles, to finding solace in a moment, when peace finds you while you’re walking barefoot through the grass with a pretty girl

And me…I just want to write, to change the world with my words and get people to read again, to discover the magic in the written word, that magic that has been buried in the hidden depths of in the soul of my readers. To remind them that your life is a story, and some chapters end, while others are just beginning, so if you ever think of ending your story prematurely, you’re robbing yourself and of those around you of the story of you and you’ll never see how things would turn out, or how it was meant to be. Remember that no matter where you are in the story, that the best ones have the hardest beginnings, and the happiest of endings. , because no one will ever hit you as hard as life can and will, but it isn’t about how hard you get hit, or how many times life keeps knocking you down, it’s about how many times you keep getting back up, keep moving forward; how much you take and keep placing one foot in front of the other, knowing the battles you’ll fight will be hard and that no one ever said it’ll be easy, but no matter what happens, or how many times you keep getting knocked down, never stop getting back up. And don’t forget that person you set out to be. Don’t get lost in stark and the mundane, instead look up and keep moving forward unto the dawn. Until you discover that the reward is a life well lived and realize it’s been made all the sweeter because you experienced the sour. So when your journey finally winds down and you look back, you’ll remember the lessons you’ve learned and finally see how far you come.  Discover that by weathering the storm, you have become a little stronger, wiser and just better for having just lived through it. You’re a survivor, a fighter and you’re everything you wanted to be and more.

So yes you may lose your heart’s desire along the way, which can be most tragic, but you can also find it and there is no greater joy than rediscovering who you are and you’ll be surprised where you go and just how far you’re capable of going. Yes, accidents will happen along the course, you may lose your way, which can be frightening if you let it, or you can embark on an all new journey of discovery until you find your way back home, and home is wherever there is someone who thinks and cares about you.So no matter where life takes you, always stay true and always be you, because this world is filled with its crazy mazes, obscene obstacles, and flashing lights all meant to confuse you, to test us, distract us and derail us from the very thing we set out to do.


Life and the adults of this world always seem to be in such hurry to grow up, to be professional, and successful, they forget to take time for themselves, to stop and smell the roses, to indulge their lost inner child. So they do their best to take our innocence and the essence of magic away from us, to make us just like every one of them, a person who never looks up, but always down, and always with that sad frown. Of course you never know it, until one day you realize you’ve lost something and you’re not sure what it is. It’s like being in a grocery store and smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” for the first time. It just happens.

These memories of who I was and where I’ve been are important to me, just as yours should be to you. They make up a large part of who you’re going to be once your journey winds down. I don’t want to be the person my parents wanted me to be. I want to write, inspire and be free. I love my father but he’s not the kind of person I want to be, because I just want to me. So I know I’ll need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic and get people to pick up a book and read again. So I need to know and remember who I was, where I’ve been and I want to tell you its okay to be a little afraid sometimes, it’s okay to explore the unknown, to think and live with wonder. Question the world around you, question everything, and remember today’s yesterdays, crack open a book and read under a tree on a lazy afternoon and howl and dance under the moon.

It’s okay to laugh and to be inspired, to live and marvel at this incredible thing called life, to see what we’ve been given. So the next time you hear a piano playing softly, close your eyes and think of me and consider my words and remember the magic you felt during your first kiss, remember the exhilaration of jumping in puddles and laughing in the rain. Remember how it felt playing in the fall leaves and take the time to walk barefoot through your yard and feel the soft grass between your toes and gaze up at the clouds and tell me what you see, for world is filled with magic and it’s all around us, all the time, it’s with you and me, within all of us.


            “Its two a.m. and I can can’t sleep again, so I decided to sit down in this computer chair and just start writing again, not really knowing where I’ll end, but the voices of the past are telling me where I should begin and trying to fall back asleep has lost its appeal, so I sit back and wondering if any of this is even real.” J Cooper.

I’ve had this passion for story telling since I was boy, I started off hating to read, but the words were quiet and persistent, inviting me into these whole new worlds, filled with both magic and wonder, offering me an escape from the place I didn’t want to be and making me wish I could always be as I was, free and carefree as any kid. I wanted to live forever as a child, to always find myself on one adventure or another, to explore the world with wonder and imagination. I saw castles, fortresses, crept past enemy lines, discovered lost and hidden abilities that I never knew I had and I never wanted to let any of it again.

In books I would lose myself completely in their pages, becoming momentarily lost in the books I’ve read, imagining what it would be like to discover a den of thieves and to don that invisible cape, to right wrongs, to save princesses, to become the hero I always wanted to be and to live in those moments, even if they lasted for just a moment. But I would carry those stories with me, with the characters often becoming my friends and would often occupy my thoughts as I drifted off to sleep. Habitually dreaming of meeting those characters who I loved, respected and admired, befriending or falling in love with them as we shared an epic journey, which would make me cling to sleep and those memories of dreaming long after my waking hours. Growing up I was found to be a quiet and introspective, spending long car rides just staring out the window letting my imagination run rampant, my thoughts wonder.

It’s these experiences and the memories that carry me through the long and lonely days. It wasn’t long after I fell in love with reading that I stated writing my own stories, creating my own characters, some of which I still carry with me today and write about. I was eight years old by the time I started crafting my own stories, with their twist and turns, sharing them excitedly with family, friends and the teachers who marveled over my creativity and originality, which motivated me to only write more.

I fell in love with words and the art that comes with writing your very own story, in your very own voice, putting yourself and working aspects of those closest to you and the ones you admired into the stories you craft. Of course, every story I wrote had characters born from different parts of me. Some were how I saw myself, while some were everything I wished I could be and who were still perfectly flawed, while others were mirror opposites of me and everything I believed in. They represented me as I imagined if I were to lose or forget myself, making the villains I would write all the more interesting and complex and born from the advice a young film maker gave me on a chance meeting when I was at Kings Island with my father, which is that even the most villainous of characters are never truly evil, most of the time they believe they’re doing the right thing.

My magic RingEven as a kid I believed that very few people ever thought of themselves as evil, less still ever wanted to be the villain. In their journey and in their eyes, they often saw themselves as heroes themselves. But every character has a journey, one that makes them who they are and often when I would sit in the car staring out the window I would imagine how my life would be with these different scenarios that often played on inside my head. Often wondering how I would have turned out if my father won custody instead of my mother, or if I stopped believing in God and fell in with a bad crowd, how would I turn out.

Then one day I sat at the dinner table, working on an outline to a story I was writing for my friends, when my mother asked me what I wanted to do after high school. And do you know what she said to me when I told her I wanted to be a writer? She laughed and said “You shouldn’t, your chances are one in a million of you being successful,” And I said “Maybe, I’m that one,” And she said “But you’re not, instead you should consider going in the military or getting into politics, because you have a better shot at being the President then you ever will being a writer.” She tried telling me I should give up on my dreams and to pursue a career where the financial success was more guanteed, she tried telling me to give up on the one thing that I loved, what made me feel alive and to simply give it up.

She didn’t care how much I loved to write, or that I felt like it was the one true thing that I could offer the world and how I dreamed of being able to change it. I know it may seem silly to you, but even back then I believed in words and if you could string together the perfect combination of words, you could save the world from itself. I was seventeen years old and I knew this to be true, because I’ve already seen the change my words had created in the people around me. I’ve turned enemies into close friends and my friends became my best friends, my brothers and all because of writing, which was the catalyst for everything. There were people who never liked me, who saw me as geek, a nerd, a loser, a fag, but I found my way with my words, sparking the sense of wonder of those around me, watching as they clung to every word I spoke and read to them the first page of my story, with my voice trembling and my hands shaking, until I looked up and saw all their eyes were upon me and leaning forward in their seats, with all of them listening to me, clinging to my every word. In the span of a few heartbeats and for the first time in my life, I had won over an entire room, I was thirteen then.

            Giving up on writing would never be an option and something that I always felt would cost me my very soul, because I had all these stories in me and these characters who wanted, needed to their tale to be told. And you know what I discovered by chasing my own dreams? My mother was wrong. And whatever she thought she saw in me was also wrong…Because I am that one in a million and so are you. We all have that something special inside of us, we’re born with storms, tidal waves, comets and forest fires raging on within us, we’re all born and gifted with magic and I for one was born in a magic time, in a magic world and no, not everyone could see what I saw then and what still see now. You see, we’re all born into this world of magic and wonder, connected my silver filaments of both chance and circumstance, and when I was child, I could talk to animals, sing to birds, read stories in the clouds and see my destiny in tiny grains of sand, the world was my magic ring and by its soft warm glow I protected, saved and changed the world countless times. Sometimes I was alone and sometimes I accomplished even greater feats with my brothers or the friends I made along the way, my world was in constant flux, growing and shrinking whenever friends came or went away, but no matter what, we were always connected by this web that connects and binds us all together. Friends, brothers, family and all the people we meet along the way on this journey called life, joining us, becoming connected, with some friendships lasting for only day while others forever. Learning slowly and over time that people will always come and go in our lives, no one leaves this world alive and those who leave us, leave behind permanent impressions and their fingerprints of who they were and what they meant to us on our very soul, for they may not always be with us, but their words will last forever in our hearts, the memory of those random strangers who came into our lives offering us their hand in friendship when we needed it, bonding in that single moment forever frozen in that one moment in time. The friends I made on vacation back when I was a kid, or more recently when I went to Fandom Fest in Louisville, Kentucky, making friendships I wouldn’t soon forget and all the like minded people I met, with the memories of who they were and the friendship we forged during my two day stay was and still is baffling to me, leaving me still wondering how and where they are now and if they ever got their flask signed by those two movie stars who we all loved and admired. Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery.


I apologize for the length of this post, but I didn’t feel like drawing it out over the next few weeks, partly because I really want to dive back into “The Scars of who we are.” Which I’ll now be able to enhance by adding a few pictures to the tale of my upbringing.

There’s something left here for me to see,
A person I have to be,
And I’m struggling to break free,
From the bonds that tie me to who I used to be,
But I’m stuck in this dream and I can’t break free,
So wake me up from this dream that never ends,
Haunting me, haunting me to my bitter ends…

                I was dreaming, but didn’t know I was and I couldn’t wake up, trapped in a prison of my own mind, living in a world that all my senses told me were real, I was living in a prison of wills.

Opening the door of the mansion, I was assaulted by the freezing winds that whipped against me, chilling my exposed flesh and sapping what little warmth my clothes offered me. Pulling my coat tighter around me and flipping up the collar to help protect as much as my neck as it could, I started down the walkway. Leaning against the freezing and howling wind, I fought to keep moving forward and not to retreat back into the house by fiercely hugging myself in attempt to stay as warm as possible, I can’t recall a time I had ever been colder.

Stepping out onto the driveway and making my way past the numerous snow covered cars that had been a part of our convoy, I spot Nick sitting in a jeep, all the way at the end of the torturously long driveway, I can almost hear him cackling over the wind and I shake my head, muttering, “Jerk,” Under my breath. Lowering my head to keep my face out of the freezing wind, I begin trudging my way down the unnecessary long driveway, towards the jeep, thankful he at least had it running, which meant there would be heat.

With the Jeep’s taillights coming closer in view and thinking of all the lovely ways I could pay my cousin back for making me walk half a mile in this weather, when I hear him screaming.

“Behind you, behind you!”

My eyes open wide as I glance up, seeing him hanging out of the jeep and standing up, with his hands cupped over his mouth as he screams and points to something behind me. My breath catches in my throat and I turn, expecting to find myself staring down a barrel of a gun, instead I’m greeted by a large black form hurdling towards my face. I don’t act, I simply react and bring my fist up, throwing all my weight into it and slammed my fist home into the snarling beast, just missing it’s gnashing teeth as I knock it aside.

Breathing heavily, I look down what I now realize is a large black dog, which was already bearing his teeth and emitting a loud rumbling grown from his chest.

“Get back,” Nick shouts and I glance up to see him pointing a 9mm at the dog.

“Don’t,” I order, signaling for him to hold with my right arm and keeping my arm extended to block whatever shot he had as I crouched down in front of the dog, offering him my other hand. The dog backs away at first and stares warily up at me and then to my cousin.

“What are you doing?” He asks, clearly irritated and worried I’m going to get my hand bit off by this dog.

“Making a friend,” I tell him and the dog sniffs at my hand, his nose is wet and cold against my palm, which he begins to licking my hand and nuzzling my arm.

“You’re insane,” Nick mutters and I do is smile because I know what I’m about to do will drive him nuts.

Standing up I order the dog up as well, grinning as it obediently obeys, so I tell it to sit and he does. Opening the door of the jeep I motion for the dog to climb inside,

“Get in,” I order and the dog excitedly whips past me and leaps up into the jeep and climbs into the back where he settles himself down.

“What are you doing? You can’t be serious?” Nick asks and I smile, waiving his questions aside and turn to climb into the passenger seat when it hits me and the feeling hits me all at once. I suddenly remember going to bed and I can’t remember waking up, or the days that followed the night where I stayed up so late. I could feel my heart beating painfully against my ribs and my breath catch in my throat, because I could feel the blistering cold winds that assaulted me, chilling me to my core.

“Hey, are you okay? You look like you just seen a ghost.” Nick’s words echoed and I turned to see him sitting behind the wheel of the jeep; the concern was evident and plain to see on his face. I tried to work my jaw to speak, but no words came out. Instead, I climbed into the jeep pulling the passenger door shut behind me. Immediately I could feel the change in temperature, the heat blasting out of the vents bringing circulation and feeling back to my face and fingers. I was dreaming, I knew it, but all this felt so real to be and I hadn’t questioned it until now, as I ran my fingers along the rough and cracked dash, before running my hand over the vents, feeling the hot air blowing against my hands.

“Are you okay? I mean are we ready to go?”

“Yeah,” I answered, “It’s just…for a second there; I thought all this was a dream.”

“This is no dream,” He retorts with a laugh and shifting the jeep into drive.  The drive becomes increasingly difficult the further we travel, It seemed the roads were littered with even more wrecked and abandoned cars and despite my insistence we keep to the roads, Nick eventually talks me into letting him take the jeep off road, a decision I would soon come to regret.

Braved the forest, braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own
Yet I’m helpless by the river

                It didn’t take us long to get completely turned around and lost by taking the jeep off road and seeing my unease, Nick offers me a present that he had stashed behind my seat. Skeptical, I slowly reach behind the seat, feeling the dog’s cold and wet nose nudge my hand, before I find it and pull it up and onto my lap. The rifle was a Sig 552. (I only know because after I woke up I spent an hour online looking for a gun that matched the one I dreamt about.)

“Where’d you get this?” I laugh, examining the rifle in my lap and running my hand along the cool, polymer frame.

“Oh, let’s just say I found it,” he says cryptically, grinning as he watches me handle the weapon, checking the magazine.

“Oh, it’s loaded.” He informs me.

“Do you really think we’ll need something like this?” I ask, testing the reassuring weight of the small assault rifle in my hands. The weight of the weapon did help alleviate some of my unease.

“Who knows, you said it yourself, people are scared and when they’re scared they become stupid.”

I laugh shaking my head, unable to figure out how he possibly managed to his hands on something like this and floored by the fact he actually gave it to me instead of keeping a weapon like this for himself.

Angel, angel what have I done
I’ve faced the quakes, the wind, the fire
I’ve conquered country, crown, and throne
Why can’t I cross this river?

                 It takes us roughly an hour to find some old dirt roads, which we follow, Nick loves it and is having the time of his life by seeing what our jeep can do, while the dog whines behind me and I can’t stop feeling this odd sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was wrong. It isn’t long until I heard gunshots and began noticing people with shallow and harden faces looking out from the tree line at us.

“Stop the jeep,” I bark feeling the dog’s cold nose nudging the back of my neck, before it turned to bark at Nick as if to reinforce my order.

“Stay down boy,” I whisper and the dog immediately obeys and lays down in the backseat, growling.

“Why? We’re fine.” Nick says confidently and trying to reassure me.

“I heard gunshots and I don’t if you notice, but there’s been people watching us from the woods.”

“And do what? Try the main roads again? You remember how bad they were right, besides we’re almost there anyway,” He retorts, and attempts to tell me that he knows what he’s doing and that I should trust him…But I don’t.

“I don’t care; I think we really need to turn around.” I snap back.

Nick disagrees and I reach over to take control of the wheel, when he suddenly breaks and I’m thrown forward into the dash.

Pay no mind to the battles you’ve won

It’ll take a lot more than rage and muscle
Open your heart and hands my son
Or you’ll never make it over the river

                “What-”I begin, trailing off as I see movement in front of the jeep, there’s roughly a hundred or more people coming out of the woods and in front of our path, behind them I see torches and the outlines of what I can only guess was a large encampment that they had formed to resemble something like that of a fort.

Before Nick can throw the jeep in reverse we’re surrounded on all sides and we notice that several of them are armed. Among them is a young man, with light blue eyes, and long straight blond hair. He looks like he could be movie star with his perfectly sculpted features. He reminds me though of a politician with how he moves towards us through the crowd.

He approaches my door and motions me to roll down the window and after some hesitation, I sigh weighing our options before I reluctantly oblige

“Hello,” he says, his voice sweet like poison and smiling with venomously with his perfectly white teeth.

“We’re just passing through if you don’t mind, or if it’s all the same, we can turn around head back the way we came.” I tell him, keeping my voice level, despite feeling all my senses screaming at me to get as far as I could from this man.

“Oh please by all means you should stay with us,” He offers and I adamantly shake my head in return.

“No dice, we’re in a hurry.”

“But aren’t you tired?” He asks, glancing past me at Nick, who looks to me and shrugs,

“You know, we have been driving for a while and I could use a little break.”

“No, I’m sorry, but we can’t,” I say as much to Nick as the blond haired man.

“Oh, it’s quite alright,” the man says pleasantly enough, “We won’t keep you if you’re in a hurry, but we’re all about to have dinner and we have plenty, why don’t you join us before you head back out on your journey?”

I take one look at the people surrounding us and something about them seems so lost to me and I look back over at the driver seat at Nick, who smiles back at me, giving me a small shrug of his shoulders.

“Hey, I could eat. I am pretty hungry.” He says.

“No!’ I snap, panic rising in my chest and I turn back to the man, whose words I can feel worming around inside my brain, searching for some way into my thoughts, making me feel violated in every sense of the word.

“I’m sorry, we can’t.” I say defiantly, fingering the cross I wore around my neck and silently prayed for my cousin’s and my protection.

“Oh? Are you going to let him make all your decisions for you Nicholas?” He asks, and my heart leaps painfully against my ribs as I turn to my cousin, feeling all the color drain from my face, as I see he’s pulled his gun on me.

It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
Open your heart and hands my son
Or you’ll never make it over the river
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

                “Nick,” I plead, looking him in the eye, I can see he’s struggling with whatever war that was raging on inside of him, his hands were shaking and despite the chill in the air, he was sweating uncontrollably.

“You always win, you always do. You always been better, better looking, thinner, with better friends, I’m sick of you always having to be this Saint all the time, like you don’t know you’re better than me.”

“Nick…” Is all I can bring myself to say to him, because in truth I’ve always thought the opposite and I know he’s always struggled with his weight and seemed almost envious of me because I never had that struggle, even though he’s always had better luck than I ever did whenever it came to girls and with jobs.

“I’m sorry, but I love you. You’ve been like a brother to me and if you have to shoot me, then shoot me.”

“Go ahead,” the man says, “Do what he says, shoot him all he’s doing is holding you back, that’s all he’s ever done isn’t it? Remember that girl and how she liked him so much more than you and how hard you tried making her look at you the same way?” He asks Nick.

“Do it if you must, I’m not afraid,” I tell Nick, and bring the Sig up and turn to the man pointing the barrel of the rifle at his chest, “If he doesn’t shoot me, I’ll kill you if you don’t let us pass.

(Nature, nurture, heaven and home)
It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
(Sum of all and by them driven)
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
(To conquer every mountain shown)
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

                The man looks agitated now, at me and at Nick who’s shaking and hesitating to pull the trigger and shoot me.

“Come now, listen to me and hear my words-“

“No,” I shout, cutting off as I pull the trigger on the Sig, feeling the rifle jump in my hands as it fired and I kept the muzzle aimed at the man’s chest. Though I may as well have been shooting him with Nerf bullets for all the effect the rounds had on him. He simply smiled, and his hand snaked forward lightening quick and snatched the weapon out of my hand as if I was no more than a child with a lollypop.

“See!” The man shouts raising his arms out to this sides and turning to address the crowd who was already marveling at how he survived several point blank rounds to the chest, “As I said, I am your true Lord and savior!”

“False prophet,” I growl over the roar of the crowd, but he hears me and turns on me, smiling vindictively as he shouts,

“Take them!”

(Braved the forest, braved the stone)
It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
(Braved the icy winds and fire)
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
(Braved and beat them on my own)
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

Before I knew it we were being swarmed and rough hands were dragging me and Nick out of the jeep, the more we struggled the more roughed up we would get, I eventually accepted the inevitable, while I could still hear Nick struggling and fighting them until they eventually beat whatever fight he still had out of him. We’re then dragged and thrown into a small cell, where we’re left to watch the blond haired man move through the crowd and I watch as a young couple offers him their newborn child.
I watch, unable to move as the man carries the child over to a alter, where picks up a bowl and I hear the child’s cries ripping through the night; involuntarily I test the bars of our cell. Our cell door and the bars don’t give and I watch helplessly as the blond haired man pours blood from the bowl onto the child’s head.

“We need to get of here,” Nick whispers behind me.
“I know,” I whisper.

“Hey, about earlier, I…I don’t know what came over me, I don’t think I would have shot you, but-“

“It’s okay,” I assure him; already knowing it wasn’t his fault.

“ It’s just, when he spoke; it was like his voice got inside my head and-“

“It’s okay, I understand.” I interrupt, turning around too look at him and seeing him scared and unsure of himself, a side of him and I don’t think I ever saw in him before.

“Do…do you think the others will come for us?” He asks, looking up at me and I fear the hopefulness in his tone and I know he’s scared.

“Would you want them to if they could?” I ask, gesturing to the blond-haired man as he begins addressing the crowd. I can’t make out his words and I’m surprisingly thankful for that small grace.

“Besides, they could have vanished by now like the others; we could be all that remains of our little group.” I tell him.

“Do you think…do you think that maybe we’ll get poofed out too?” (Poof being Nicks coined term whenever referring to the rapture.)

“I don’t know…” I tell him,

“But why wouldn’t we? I mean we’re good,” he says sounding as though he was trying to convince himself more than me.

“Probably the same reason why some of us vanished and the rest of us were raptured at different times. I think for many of us, we’re either being tested or we have yet to fulfill our purpose.” I explain.

“Well what’s ours? Is it to die here at the hands of these maniacs?”

“I don’t think so,” I tell him, “I think we may be here to give those who haven’t fully bought into this a choice, to show them there’s another way, a better way. So no matter what happens and what they say, refuse them and anything they may offer you.”

“Well, what should we do?” He asks, slumping against the opposite of the wall, defeated.

“Pray,” I tell him.

“Pray?” Nick echoes, “Why pray?”

“Why not?” I ask, feeling a smile tugging at the corners of my lips at the notion of us praying in this cell of ours.

“But what’s prayer going to do?” ” He asks.

“What won’t it do?” I ask him in return.

Shaking his head he stifles a laugh and asks what I’m going to do, so I tell him, I’m going to pray with him. So I get down on my knees in the middle of the cell and I begin praying. Then I hear a sob escape Nick’s throat and I feel his arms wrapping around me as he begins telling me how sorry he is for pulling his gun on me and for bringing us here. I pause in my prayer long enough to console him and tell  him that everything’s okay and I forgive him, then we bow our heads together and we both begin to pray.

Nature, nurture heaven and home
Sum of all, and by them, driven
To conquer every mountain shown
But I’ve never crossed the river
Braved the forests, braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own
Yet I’m helpless by the river

Angel, angel, what have I done?
I’ve faced the quakes, the wind, the fire
I’ve conquered country, crown, and throne
Why can’t I cross this river?
Angel, angel, what have I done?
I’ve faced the quakes, the wind, the fire
I’ve conquered country, crown, and throne
Why can’t I cross this river?

Pay no mind to the battles you’ve won
It’ll take a lot more than rage and muscle
Open your heart and hands, my son
Or you’ll never make it over the river

It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

(Nature, nurture heaven and home)
It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
(Sum of all, and by them, driven)
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
(To conquer every mountain shown)
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

(Braved the forests, braved the stone)
It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
(Braved the icy winds and fire)
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
(Braved and beat them on my own)
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

And together we’ll cross the river
And together we’ll cross the river

Nature, nurture heaven and home
And together we’ll cross the river
And together we’ll cross the river

Nature, nurture heaven and home
And together we’ll cross the river
And together we’ll cross the river
~Pucifer -Humbling River.

I listened to this song as I was working on rewriting what I first written down the morning after I woke up from this dream. Which because of my sleep addled mind needed a lot of work and still does. But if you’re still with me, I would like to discuss this song very briefly. To me, the first four lines are from someone who is looking toward heaven and proclaiming all their might and accomplishments and asking why they cannot enter, and what have they done to not be able to cross the river. The river is a reference to Christ and none may enter heaven except through him. As the person in the first four lines is speaking in past tense they are talking about their life.

Then the angel responds to them in the rest of the song (aside from the chorus in which both are speaking.) The angel explains that one does not cross the river by action alone, which is also based in the bible. Then the angel states that the hands of the many must join as one to cross the river, which is saying that only those united in Christ may cross the river, as anyone who joins in the body of Christ is united as one.

While I know most will likely disagree because this interpretation is of a Christian nature, just remember, I am not forcing you to believe in him, nor does he. He only extended his hand out and asked, “Will you believe and follow me?” No one who tries to judge your fallacies without looking at their own is a true Christ following Christian. Be you an atheist, or whatever. I welcome all, as Christ would have me do, your shortcomings are between you and him, not me; it’s just not my place to say or do anything about it.

The part of the hands of the many must join as one as well. Think about it, we have to look past each other’s shortcomings and join together in his body to cross the river. If you don’t share my opinion, fair enough, this is only what the song says to me, that the river is a reference for Christ, remember he was baptized in a river, and the bible says that blood and water flowed from him, it also calls him the fountain of life, and refers to his blood as the cleansing river, or flood. Which is where I got the River-Christ interpretation..

“And on the first page of our story, our future seemed so bright, but people are capable of such evil, even our politicians have their wicked schemes and the devil takes that to new extremes and I don’t know why I’m still alive, through all these battles and all the times I’ve lost my way, I’ve always found you there, in the grey, saving more than my life, rescuing me from so much pain and strife, even though you already died for me and set me free from the pain in my past, but you’ll always be my hero, even though sometimes it feels like I’ve lost my mind.”

I stayed up late the day before the world ended and the fear within me just would not abate, for the longer I dreamed the more deeply rooted I became, until it all felt so vividly real, I couldn’t help but believe it to be true, I was self-aware, I could think clearly and make my own choices. I wasn’t a slave to my dream, I was really me and I was leading a convoy through the desolate highways and bi-ways, leading with what I can only assume was by instinct, or maybe something more. Because I knew exactly where to go, I can’t explain how, or why, I just knew, without ever really knowing what we’d fine, but I knew we were heading in the right direction. But I was new to this whole leadership role I found myself in and I had doubts like anyone would, wondering if I was leading my friends and these people to their own deaths or not. I kept going everything that could go wrong, knowing it’ll all be on me and my head. If I got any of these people hurt or worse it would be my fault.

I was beginning to question the driving force that told me which direction to go and it was then one particular member of my group, who had always been a long time and very trusted friend found me after we had stopped to rest and push a few cars to the side of the road, with several others searching the various abandoned vehicles for supplies and whatever clues they could find to explain what was happening and why. So I was surprised when Becka found me amidst the hustle & bustle of our group moving about. She knew something was troubling me without me having to say a word and I’m usually so good at hiding my emotions, well except from maybe her.

“Everything alright” she asks and I pause in the middle of pushing a car off to the shoulder.

“No,” I confess, I could never lie to her and the truth would always come rushing out of my mouth before I even realized I was speaking. Seeing me this way and with my back to her, she rest a comforting hand on my shoulder.

“It’s okay,” she tells me, “We trust you.”

I laugh, shaking my head, telling her I don’t really even trust myself and she responds by pushing her way in front of me and forcing me look her in the eye, as she says,

“You should believe in yourself and trust yourself in this, you need to accept the role that God entrusted you with, no matter how scary or hard it gets otherwise everything will just fall apart and you may as well walk back the way we came.”

Her words hit me in such a way I’m rendered speechless and before I can respond, she turns and marches back to her vehicle leaving me shivering there in the cold. Sighing and considering her words I find she’s right and redouble my efforts to help move cars off the road. I never been much of a leader and less of inclined take compliments. It was my older brother who always told me that I was too modest for my own good and now memories of him and my family had filled my thoughts, even the ones I haven’t spoken to in years and I couldn’t help but wonder how they were handling all this, or if they even made it all.

After what felt like an hour, we managed to get back under way, and twenty or thirty minutes later I ended up I ended pulling into a very long driveway of a large mansion, recently abandoned by the previous owners. We didn’t know if it had been by choice or not, for upon our arrival we discovered that the previous occupants seemed to have simply up and vanished. Their home was left open for us to claim as our own, as they had left all of their belongings behind. Their loss proved to be our gain as we searched the mansion, finding some food, several clothes and to our surprise weapons. Our only clue to the identities of the previous occupants were that they had obviously been gun nuts, or doomsday preparers for all the good it had done them, for they were now nowhere in sight.

Taking a shotgun from the gun rack I found that I immediately knew everything about it, it was a Benelli M4 Super 90 shotgun, with a collapsible stock and a fourteen inch barrel.  Which I handed off to Becka and proceeded to give her an impromptu lesson in handling the shotgun and as I started to give her a brief lesson, one of the members of my church offers to take some people out and scout around the area. I agree and turn my attention back to Becka, teaching her how to hold it and warning her about the kick, explaining that she’d have to lean into it when she fires and because of the spread she’ll want to aim at the chest, because it’ll be her best target. She smiles at my instructions, looking up at me as if I was being paranoid and over protective.

“Do you really think all this is necessary?” She asks. I want to reassure her, tell her no and this was all just a precaution, but I don’t. Instead the truth begins flowing out of my mouth before I can even think of a suitable lie. I tell her that people are scared, afraid and that many will find themselves doing things they wouldn’t do otherwise. I tell her we’ll rescue those we can and protect ourselves against those we can not, then I steer the conversation back to her gun, explaining that this model holds five shots plus the one in the chamber, so she’ll have to be conservative with her shots and to remember to reload. She smiles and shakes her head at my instructions, but she humors me anyway.

I then take some time to teach her and a few others a few self-defense moves, just in case things get bad and I discover I rather enjoy teaching and conversing with my would be students. An hour or maybe more passes, when David returns with his group and I can tell by the look of him he has bad news. He tells us things are getting bad all over and that the temperature is dropping and with it the good will of those who had remained outside. Rioting had broken out and homes were being ransacked, families murdered or worse. Yet for some reason everyone seemed to skip what was to be our new home.“But we still need supplies if we’re to make it through the winter,” I tell him and he shakes his head sorrowfully and tells me it’s too dangerous for another group to go out so soon. Typically, I would agree and would stand down. I never really liked confrontations anyway, but I couldn’t let it go, I knew a group the size of ours wouldn’t last long off what little food we could salvage in the mansion and with no power, most of the food would spoil before long. David disagrees insisting I wait, but I know waiting is not an option, I know my house is stocked with canned foods, plant seeds and survival gear I had been obsessively collecting for the past several months, and it was as if I somehow knew this would happen without really knowing that the how, why or even the when. It was only a matter of time before someone; anyone would break into and raid my home.

I open my mouth to volunteer to go out alone, but it’s my Cousin Nick’s voice that cuts in.

“David, he’s right if we don’t do something now while we still can everything we’ve done would have been for nothing and if we don’t freeze to death, we will die of hunger.”

I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to be in my corner, because Nick is a talker, gifted with a silver tongue and the gift of gab. There’s a reason he works in sales and I’ve always believed he could sell ice to an Eskimo. It’s just who he is, he’s a talker and when he talks generally people listen. It takes Nick all of two minutes to convince David we should go out and I’m caught off guard to hear Nick actually volunteering to come with me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cousin like a brother, however he has a habit of being both lazy and selfish and it’s then that David decides to let him and me to go, but we’re to do so alone. But I feel like bringing Nick with me is a mistake, but I bite my tongue and keep my mouth shut, since he stepped up for me, I couldn’t bring myself to offend him, nor did I want to waste more time by arguing with him. I just pray I’m being overly cautious and I wouldn’t come to regret my decision of letting him accompanying me.

It doesn’t take us long to gather enough supplies for the road and I go to say Goodbye to David and wish him luck, when he hugs me and tells me to be careful. Then I hear I step to the door when Becka touches my shoulder and I turn to her and she looks so very, very sad.

“You okay?” I ask,

“Yes,” She answers forcing a small smile, “Ever since all this started, you’ve changed…it’s been good to see you like this and how much you’ve been stepping up.”

“Thanks,” I say awkwardly, I never been good at accepting complements.

She turns and glances towards the door and I half expect she wants to ask me to stay, instead she says,

“It’s really bad there isn’t it?”

“Yeah…but it’s going to be okay, we’re going to be okay” I tell her, “People are just scared is all and soon they’ll either wake up or decide to come to together as a community and for the good of all of us, or…they won’t…”

Becka smiles thinly, throwing her arms around me and I tense from the unexpected hug, reluctantly hugging her back, we had been friends for a very long time and sometimes I think she’s the only one who knows me better anyone else.

“No matter what happens out there,” She whispers in my ear, never lose faith and promise me, promise me, you’ll return safe and sound, I can’t lose any more friends.”

“I promise,” I whisper back, feeling like I was making a promise I couldn’t keep.

End of part 2.

Next: the Conclusion, what do you do, when you come face to face with evil?

I had some serious doubts about posting this, but…anyway here it goes.

          “Have you ever had a dream, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” – 1999s “The Matrix”

              For the longest time I had thought this was simply an interesting quote, written by a pair of very talented writers. Even though for as long as I can remember I’ve always dreamt in color and my dreams, have always been incredibly vivid and surreal. I have to admit usually when I dream; I very rarely ever dream that I’m myself. Instead I usually dream of stories, where I find myself in the shoes of the very characters I create. So for the longest time, it has been my dreams that have been my inspiration and is why I now keep a dream journal, jotting down whatever dream I have at the very moment I awake. Later I often go back and reference the page or pages that I had written and discover a story worth writing within the context of whatever it was I dreamt.

Without a doubt,

 I need your help,

 because I can’t figure this out,

And there’s so many things I want to say,

But there’s too many things still in the way.

And I’m just now beginning to see what it was all about.

Last night however was different. First being that as a sufferer of insomnia, I tend to be a night owl, who stays up late pecking away on my computer keys, sometimes I’m working on writing new pages for my story, or going back and editing the chapters I’ve already written, sometimes adding to, or taking out whatever didn’t fit, or properly work.

                 But last night as I sat down at my computer, ready and energized to get to work, I had that moment of absolute clarity we writers tend to get, when everything seems clear and you’re completely focused on your writing. In times like these, your fingers can barely keep up with your thoughts. Unfortunately for me, this is also when my eyelids felt incredibly heavy and after taking a moment to stare despairingly at the clock and seeing it flash 9:30 pm. I couldn’t believe it, because I usually have to force myself to fall asleep, which usually isn’t till 2, or 3:00 am. Then the more I tried to fight sleep, the more tired I felt, until I couldn’t shake it anymore and I ended up climbing into bed by ten.

                I didn’t think a bed could ever feel so comfortable, a pillow so soft and cool and as I closed my eyes I out like a light. The dream I had still haunts me even now, giving me goose bumps whenever I think, or talk about it. It was so real to me; even in my dream I began to believe it was real and I was me. I was outside and it was snowing, I could feel the freezing winds whipping against my clothes, cutting right through me, chilling me to my very core. I could even feel the snow falling and melting against my face and it was in this moment that I became self-aware in my dream and began questioning my own sanity. I had climbed into the passenger seat of a jeep that my cousin was driving. Immediately I could feel the shift in temperature, it was warm inside the cabin and after closing the door I could feel the warmth thawing my still freezing face. Rubbing my hands together to get feeling back into them, I bring my hands to my cheeks, feeling the warmth of my hands against my face. I vaguely remember going to bed and waking up with my throat feeling parched and getting a glass of water. But as I looked around the interior of the jeep and ran my hand along the rough and cracked dash I realized I wasn’t dreaming, ( Even though I was) and that I had stayed up late the night before the world ended. It had only been half a day since the end began and we had already left another human being to die and I could feel my conscious was eating away at my soul

It started out simple enough; I was out with some friends many were from the new church I started attending when something happened, a pulse of sorts managed to knock out every electrical device and as near as any of us could tell it happened all over the world and all at once. Nothing worked, watches died, cellphones became paperweights and most cars simply became lawn ordainments. No one really knew how or why this happened all we knew was that it happened and it happened in the middle of winter, making survival that much more of a struggle. At first however most people came together during this time, believing whatever happened was temporary at most; many believing it were a solar flare, or some other accident, with many believing it to be a simple blackout. Then people began disappearing, several from my group vanished without a trace and seemingly into thin air.

 It was during this that a realization hit me, that the tide of men would change and fear would win out to reason and the goodwill people were at first sharing with one another. Now I never was much of a public speaker and less of a leader. At most I would say I’m more of a loner, but I somehow found the tongue to stand up and speak up. To my surprise when I spoke, people listened (granted most were my friends and members of my church, but still) and I managed to pull everyone together. Working together we managed to find a few vehicles that could still start and we formed a convoy and began heading out of town, in search for a less populated place. It wasn’t long however until we discovered that people all over had been disappearing and the vanishings never happened all at once, which bred only more fear amongst us that remained because we never knew who would be next, or really even why. But I found myself driven to find a place for my group to bed down and to try and survive whatever it was that awaited us.

End of Part 1.