Remington had lost count of the number of times he had wandered among these stones. It had been so long that he’d forgotten which one was his. When was it? He could hardly recall. Yes, he did remember the Great Heathen Army. His grandfather had been felled by them at the Isle of Portland while serving under King Beorhtric. Remington himself was dispatched by one of their leaders called Ivar the Boneless, a thousand northern savages by his side. Was it at Wessex then?
It didn’t matter. Here he was as if he had always been here. That other life was so brief by comparison, it almost didn’t matter.
“Who’s there?” He hadn’t spoken in so long, his own voice sounded strange, almost as eerie as the woman who called to him.
“It is time, Remington.”
“Pray tell, for what, good maiden if that’s who you be?”
“You cannot see me. I’m calling from the other side.”
He looked around the stones and then some of the nearby trees, but couldn’t see this other side where she might be hiding. “Yet I can hear you.”
“Follow my voice, Remington.”
“Time’s up. You’ve waited long enough.”
Feeling a strange heat, so alien to him after an eternity of cold, he walked forward, heedless of any obstacles. “What manner of witchcraft is this?”
“I am no witch, good Sir. I offer you glad tidings.”
“And what might they be?” At first he felt fear, but it had been banished, and now he experienced curiosity. After all, he had already died once. What could harm him now?
“A new life.”
“Where does this light come from? I see no fire or torch.”
“Keep walking toward the light. That’s right. You’re getting closer. You’re almost there.”
Then it surrounded him like a down quilt, a soft light and warmth, such a comfort as he had never known before.
There are many tales about exactly when the soul joins the nascent body within the mother’s womb, so the one once called Remington did not know how long he remained within her body, nurtured and cherished. Though later he would not remember, he could feel the contractions pushing him head first outward toward birth and a new life.
I wrote this both for the Thursday photo prompt: Circle #writephoto hosted by Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo and Tale Weaver – #184 – Time’s Up – 16th August found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie.
Every Thursday, Sue posts one of her original photos as a prompt for any one to use to craft a poem, short story, or other creative work. The Tale Weaver challenge works similarly, except today, the prompt is the phrase “Time’s Up,” and writers are asked to limit their responses to 500 or 600 words. My word count is 377.
Both prompts reminded me of death, but since I’ve just finished a book with a reincarnation theme, I thought I’d reverse the process.
Oh, my fictional Remington died sometime in the 9th century. I used the events before the Battle of Edington as my source material.
8 thoughts on “Time’s Up”
Which book is that you’ve just finished? I presume we’ve seen excepts of its development here. Have you had positive response yet from a publisher? I haven’t yet seen any story from you that actually reverses the process of reincarnation — whatever that might actually mean. The present one merely focuses on a phase of one presumed process that is seldom pictured. I say one process, as if there are others, because this one envisions a period of a still-human soul that has been adrift and wandering for some centuries before being called by an outside unseen influence to re-enter the living realm. This is a mechanism quite different from the eastern karmic one that would somehow place a formerly-human soul into a worm or a butterfly or a cow or perhaps a fish; thence to work its way again upward through multiple reincarnations towards a human rebirth.
The karmic one doesn’t acknowledge, as far as I know, any state of a disembodied wandering soul — and if it did, it would likely consider that a higher state than the mere human one. Hence another human rebirth would likely be viewed as retrograde and a karmic punishment for some sort of failing. There is another mechanism of which I’ve heard, somewhat similar to yours above, which is held by the Druse, in which the departed soul immediately enters into a child being newly born — preferably a near relative of its own clan and almost certainly within the Druse community. I’ve never heard more detail than that, to know whether they envision any possibility that a Druse soul might enter any period of waiting, perhaps in an unconscious “sleeping” state, if there is no Druse child immediately available.
There is, of course, also the biblical model of no reincarnation at all, but rather of a single cycle of a soul’s existence consisting of its creation — presumably together with all other human souls in the family of Adam and at that time — followed by a jump across time to a period of life and death in a mortal physical body, followed by yet another jump across time to a period at the end of days to experience resurrection into an incorruptible imperishable physical body. One key distinctive element of this admittedly complex-sounding process is that it does not view cosmological existence to be open-ended and amenable to infinite cycles in which reincarnation could slowly work out issues of character and justice, but rather views this present existence as linear, finite, and structured with a discrete beginning, a process, and a concluding resolution that includes ultimate justice, only after which a new presumably steady-state structure will replace it that does not require reincarnation or even death.
I’m not sure, but wouldn’t the notion of actually reversing the reincarnation process have to be predicated on reversing the process of living? Thus an adult would have to shrink to child-size and infancy, and the soul would have to leave the infant to enter an adult that had come into existence via some yet to be defined process, and repeat the cycle. Alternatively, I suppose, a soul might depart a dying adult body to enter into a gestating fetus in an earlier time period, and the challenges it would need to overcome would be characterized by the problems of that era — possibly an era characterized by war, famine, pestilence, or widespread moral turpitude, or possibly an era of peace, plenty, stability, morality, and mediocrity in which becoming an outstandingly great character could be quite difficult. Thus the process reversal would be a regression in time — though I’m not sure that even *that* would suffice to fit the description of “reversing” a process of reincarnation. Care to try your hand at such a definition?
No, I mean finished reading. Sorry about the confusion. None of my stories have been accepted for publication yes, though one editor said a story of mine was “well received,” but didn’t fit their criteria, so that was hopeful. I’m still writing and submitting. About halfway through a story due at the end of the month, and got another one in the queue for mid-September.
James your last sentence was so beautifully constructed, a great take on this prompt and I thank you for contributing to this week’s tale weaver.
You’re welcome, Michael. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
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Reblogged this on Sue Vincent's Daily Echo.
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Really enjoyed this one, James.
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