Falling Down the Bardo

vairocana

Image of the four-headed Vairocana or the celestial Buddha who is often interpreted, in texts like the Flower Garland Sutra, as the Dharma Body of the historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama).

“What happened?” Daine Ramsey found herself in a tunnel of light. She had no idea how she had gotten there or where she’d been a moment ago.

“What do you see?”

The voice was unrecognizable. It wasn’t just that Daine didn’t know who was speaking, she couldn’t even tell if it were a man or a woman. It was more like listening to music but the music made words without a voice.

“Who are you? Where is this place?”

“What do you see?”

“There’s a light.” Daine tried hard to see the other end but it was so bright. “I see a path. Will it take me out of here?”

The “voice” didn’t respond.

“Hello?”

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Trailer to Heaven

rainbow

© @Any1Mark66

There’s lots of beautiful scenery in Utah as you drive down Interstate 15 but that one part of my trip didn’t have any. Just flat, dry desert and sagebrush. Sure, there’s the odd building or two, but nothing you’d want to stay in. Well, except maybe for that trailer sitting there just off the highway.

No pot of gold or leprechaun lives there, but all the same, everyday when the sun is shining, there’s a rainbow that ends right at the trailer, visible from any angle. What causes it? Beats me. No one goes near, though. Something happens if you try. It gets harder, like walking through water until it’s like walking through rock.

I drive to Southern Utah to visit Mom sometimes. She’s not doing so well. Dementia, you see. She’s the only one who knows why there’s a rainbow over that trailer, though.

“That’s the entrance to Heaven, Jimmy. That’s where your Dad went when he passed.”

I didn’t believe her but then I looked into her eyes. There were rainbows in them.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of January 16, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image at the top of the page to inspire you to author a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 174.

That desert could easily be found in some parts of Utah and most parts of Nevada and I have made the trip to Mom’s more than a few times. I didn’t want to write about leprechauns or pots of gold, so I had to think of another treasure. Fortunately, the answer presented itself.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Caged

cat

Snow leopard

They think I’m inferior because I’m in their cage. I’m inferior because I look differently, act differently, have different morals and values than they do. They think they are so superior and they laugh at me, calling me names because to them I’m just an animal.

I want revenge. I want to strike back, shove their vile lying taunts down their flabby throats.

No. That didn’t work the last time when we were the superior ones and they were in our cages. It never works because one or the other always suffers.

There are only two options. The desirable one is to co-exist, to treat each other with mutual respect and dignity. But how? We are so different and we are being driven further apart by radical extremists who each say one side must win for anything to be good. But that means the other side much be crushed under the victor’s heel.

The other choice is mutual annihilation. Let God sort out the bodies and start anew. God. They hate me even for that, believing they are the ultimate moral and creative force in the universe.

They may have me in their cage but we’re all in a prison.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of January 14th 2018. The idea is to use the image above to inspire writing a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

Normally, I’m pretty literal in my interpretation of the prompts, but lately I’ve been inundated with politically and socially driven rhetoric from both sides of the fence (as if there were only two sides). That, plus the false alarm stating that Hawaii was under missile attack really set me off.

Both conservatives and liberals seem to think that their side must “win” in order to save their country or the world or something. That means, they have to marginalize, denigrate, and “cage” those who aren’t exactly like them.

Sure, there have been differing political and social opinions ever since there has been civilization, but it seems like the past eight to ten years or so in the U.S. that it’s gotten much, much worse. I sometimes feel I’m on one or more groups’ “hit list” because of my views, or just because I’m old, white, and male, but I don’t doubt that others feel the same way.

So what options are there? Like I said, there are two. The first is to make an effort to understand each other and allow the moderate position, which is currently being violently choked to death, to grow larger again. Really try to see the other person’s point of view and why they feel so concerned about whatever issues are important to them (it doesn’t mean we’ll always agree, but at least we’ll understand that we’re all human).

The other is to destroy ourselves and let God or Mother Nature or whatever force larger than humanity you believe in (unless you believe humanity is the ultimate moral force in the universe) to take over and start again.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

They Will Run You Down in the Dark

kaleo

Icelandic band Kaleo

Oh, father tell me, do we get what we deserve?
Oh, we get what we deserve

From the song “Way Down We Go”
Songwriters: Daníel Kristjánsson Davíð Antonsson Jökull Júlíusson Rubin Pollock
Performed by Icelandic rock band “Kaleo”

The Eighth Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

It was said that Colton Boudreaux could trace his line all the way back to Cardinal Armand Jean du Plessis, more commonly known as Cardinal Richelieu. Of course this couldn’t be literal as the famous (or infamous) 17th century French Cardinal had no offspring, at least as history records. However, Richelieu did have those young men and women he favored (though he himself was favored by few) and he did strongly support the colonization of New France (in what is modern-day Canada).

Boudreaux more factually could claim a line to the descendants of Acadian exiles—French-speakers from L’Acadie in what are now the Maritimes of Eastern Canada. These were from the French colonists who settled in Acadia during the 17th and 18th centuries, some of whom are also descended from the Indigenous peoples of the region.

He was proudly Cajun, ostensibly Catholic, and secretly the head of one of the sects of the Van Helsing religious order, vampire hunters.

Continue reading

When Erica Walks in Darkness

portal

© Sue Vincent

Erica knew she had been down this corridor before but she couldn’t remember when. She wanted to stop, turn around, and go back the way she’d come, but she didn’t recall where she’d been before now. The corridor was cold but it felt warm ahead where the light was coming from.

“Come now, Erica. Don’t dawdle.”

A man’s voice. He sounded familiar but she didn’t know from where.

She took another step forward, then another. She stopped and looked down. A simple, white blouse, plain woolen skirt with the hem down to her knees, black patent leather shoes. She was dressed almost like a schoolgirl, but she knew she was an adult. Erica started walking toward the light again. Then she was at the entrance to the room.

Even standing at the threshold, it was hard to see. There was a fireplace, a piano, chairs, a small sofa, all early 19th century, all very expensive. The portrait over the mantle was of a distinguished gentleman. It was the same man who had called to her, who was standing just to the right of the very same mantle holding a drink in his left hand. He offered it to her.

Continue reading

The Deserter

bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl photo found on Wikipedia

“Son, your mother and I tried to talk you out of enlisting, remember?”

“I do, Pa.”

“Now things are a lot worse, Boy. I mean, where can you go? Just everyone hates you.”

Reid hung his head down, the features of his handsome, boyish face sagging under the weight of guilt and remorse. “I…I don’t know anymore, Pa. I mean, I don’t know how everything went so wrong.”

Ed Martin put his hand on his son’s shoulder. He could feel his body shaking, knowing inside his son was crying.

Continue reading

Crossover: The Expanded Version

ferry

© Ted Strutz

“The next leg of our vacation takes us on the ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria where we leave the U.S. for Canada.”

“Honey,” Glenn’s wife complained. “You sound just like a tour bus driver.”

In the backseat, eight-year-old Brittany groaned while her six-year-old brother Jackson rolled his eyes. They had been on the road for almost a week and would rather have been back home in Fullerton spending their days with their friends at the community pool.

“Just trying to brighten the mood while we wait to get onto the ferry, Sara.”

It seemed to be taking forever for the line of cars to move, but as Glenn and Sara looked out, they realized they had much bigger problems.

“Glenn, I thought it was the rain on the windshield at first, but…is everything…twisting?”

Everything around them, the cars and ferry in front of them, the pedestrians, roadway, the hills in the distance were all changing, becoming indistinct, as if they didn’t really exist.

Then everything abruptly shifted and shimmered, and then everything was different. Glenn had to grab the steering wheel tight because the car was now moving forward at 35 miles per hour rather than sitting still. They were part of a line of cars traveling on the Port Angeles/Victoria Bridge, crossing not only the Strait of Juan de Fuca but into another universe as well.

Continue reading

P is for Pig

p is for pig

© James Pyles

Dingos don’t consider themselves afraid of anything, but when dawn’s early light revealed an army of razorback pigs, each with a warrior mouse upon its back, charging at them, they yelped and ran.

At the lead was William the Kangaroo. “Pumba, send a detachment after them. Slay them to the last. The rest, stand guard.”

The head razorback, a jolly fellow in spite of his fierce reputation, gave the order.

“Can I get off now?” An extremely shaky Bernard, clad in leather armor and wielding a mouse-sized spear, quietly addressed his mount.

Continue reading

N is for Net

n is for net

© James Pyles

“Oh Bernard, I have a terrible feeling about Androcles. He should have gotten here days ago.”

“Now, now, Miss Bianca, I’m sure he’s fine. He probably just got tied up with something.”

At the edge of the monsoonal eucalyptus woodlands, Daniel watched the two mice, who seemed all too human, talking about their missing companion, the one who was supposed to stand guard to make sure the King didn’t escape their trap. They also seemed the two most compassionate mice among the group. Mickey showed no interest in what happened to Androcles whatsoever, spending most of his time with Minnie trying on each other’s clothes. The rest of the mice seemed just as distracted and frivolous.

“William.” Daniel called to his kangaroo companion.

“I’ll be right over, Daniel.” The kangaroo was talking to his sister Esmeralda. Something about not putting her son in danger again. She seemed really insistent.

Continue reading

M is for Mouse

m is for mouse

© James Pyles

“Hurry up, Androcles! We’re starving over here.”

“I’m coming, I’m coming. I’ve been hauling cheese over here for hours.”

The crew of mice who had taken the Lion unawares had been laboring all day. Of course, they had to wait for a number of days after its paw was impaled by the thorn-bush for the predator to pass out from exhaustion and lack of food and water.

Then they set to work.

Continue reading