In the land of the living dead, a piercing cry is heard.
The scream of a wounded bird.
In the Sacred silence, its pain a warrior hears.
Because its pain is his own, he sheds a single tear.
Walking with Creation, seeing nature flow,
He wonders how this pain can no longer be his own.
From the land of the Spirit, a voice rings clear,
withhold not yourself from those you hold dear.
For in the land of the Shaman you step within the void.
You bridge the Creator’s power, his rhythms you restore.
But His power cannot heal nor your destiny unfold,
Until you believe in yourself and your will is strong as stone.
- “Sacred Silence” by Nightstalker
Brett’s throat hurt. He touched dry tongue to cracked lips. When was the last time I had a drink? He wiped his hand across his chest and placed his wet fingers in his mouth. The salt burned his lips, but, the moisture soothed his tongue. The rough fabric of the threadbare mattress scratched against his sweaty balls as he sat. He blinked, everything was still pitch black.
“Who are You?”
“You’re another hallucination.”
“So what if I am. Humor me. Who are you?”
“My name is Brett Hogan.”
A deep growl filled Brett’s ears. “I didn’t ask what others called you. I asked, who are you.”
“Where are you?”
A large shaggy Grizzly bear, sat behind a campfire, inside a large circle of rocks. It lifted a paw whose tar black pad was bigger than Brett’s head and motioned to him.
“I can’t. I’m stuck in this room.”
Hard, sharp edges of rock bit into Brett’s ass. “Says, you. Since, you don’t know who you are. I’ll call you cub.” The bear drug its claws through the dirt. “We haven’t much time. We must dance.” The bear jumped into a lumbering gait around the fire, twisting and spinning.”Dance!”
Brett imitated the bear’s movements. He pushed his exhausted body to keep the bear’s dizzying pace. As he danced, rivers of fire ravaged his nerves. His muscles bulged. Brown fur sprouted from his flesh, his fingers lengthened, blackened and curled. He dropped his ponderous bulk onto his paws, lifted his snout and roared. The world shattered. The last thing he heard was the bear’s deep gravelly voice.
“We are Bear.”
June 2nd, Dear Journal, Deirdra broke up with me. She told me she went out with Steve while I was in New Jersey. She told me she fucked him. She’s fucked me three times in the last six months and fucked him on the first date? What the hell? I give her everything. I was as good to her as I know how to be and she threw me out with the other garbage. SHIT!
June 3d, Dear Journal, My pastor called today to tell me I was no longer welcome. He said I wasn’t a good influence. He wasn’t even man enough to tell me to my face. What did I do? I don’t drink or run around. I worked and spent time with Deirdra and the kids. Can my life get any worse? I’ll see Brian tomorrow. Maybe, he’ll know what to do.
“There he is.”
“Hey, Brian. What are you doing?”
The fat man pulled a metal rod out of a burn barrel. “Burning industrial glue.” He nodded to the row of sealed barrels behind him. “My dad went to an auction and bought a lot. These were part of it. It would cost a fortune to take them to a disposal site. So we’re burning it a little at a time.”
“It’s a hundred degrees.”
“I know, but it has to get done. It is rather peaceful, though. I brought Bernie out.” Brian pointed to the huge white bear skull on the ground. “I thought he would enjoy it. He gets tired of sitting in my room.” Brian went to a blue soft side cooler and fished out a beer. He tossed it to Brett before grabbing one and sitting on Bernie. “Pull up a stump. What brings you out here?”
“Deirdra left me.”
Brian grimaced. “I’m sorry to hear that. I know you cared a lot for her.”
Brett sipped his beer and stared at the ground. “I don’t know what I did wrong.”
“Nothing, You weren’t strong enough for her.”
“Women by nature gravitate to strength. For some, it’s wealth, others intelligence, for some it’s physical strength or status. The point is each woman decides what is strength to her and go towards it. You don’t meet her definition. That’s not your fault.”
“But, I love her.”
“No, you don’t.”
Brett choked on his beer. “What?”
Brian spoke with tenderness. “You have great feeling for her. You want to love her.” He raised his finger. “But, love is a commitment and she has refused your commitment.”
A tear slid down Brett’s cheek. “She’s already fucking someone else.”
Brian sighed. “If I remember right, She was married for several years, had two kids and then divorced. Right?”
“Then I would guess that the man she’s with is a few years older than her. He’s been divorced and has kids. Am I right?”
Brett refused to answer.
“She can relate to him because they have similar pasts. He has experience that you don’t have. Hence, she sees him as stronger.”
“How can I get stronger? You’re always talking about that Bard stuff. You could teach me.”
Brian sat back, his brow furrowed. “Brett, you don’t understand. It doesn’t work that way. Even if I taught you, there’s no guarantee you would get her back. I wouldn’t advise you try.”
“Brett, you don’t know what you’re asking. Win or lose her, the training is a life long commitment.”
Brett stared at the large man.
Brian stared back. “You’re not going to bully me. I’ll tell you what. Think about it for a couple of weeks. I mean, really think about it. If you’re serious, then we’ll discuss it. Like I said earlier, burning glue is peaceful. If you want to spend some time alone, feel free to come out day or night. Just be sure to put the lid on before you leave.” He placed the lid on the barrel and grabbed the cooler. “I have to make dad’s lunch. I’m doing burgers. Want to join us?”
June 13th, Dear Journal, Deirdra called to tell me she’s moving in with Steve. I’m going to Freya’s and Jay’s for dinner.
After dinner, Brett drove to Brian’s. He lit the burn barrel and sat on Bernie. Those flames are my life. After a while, he stretched out using Bernie for a pillow and watched the stars. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Really? Through clenched teeth, Brett growled. “I hate you ... You could have helped me and didn’t. You can take your will and fold it until it’s all sharp corners and shove it up your ass. We’re through!” Brett tried to calm himself and watched the fire.
Something was hitting his foot. Brian was standing over him. “Good Morning. C’mon to the house. I’ve got breakfast.”
Brian watched the smoke rising from the barrel, for a moment.
“So be it. Stand.”
Brian’s face was emotionless. His eyes hard and unyielding. “I told you that this is a lifetime commitment. This is your last chance. If you go back now, no harm, no foul. We’ll still be friends. If you go past this point, there is no going back. Do you understand?”
“You will take three vows. Two of which are life long, the third temporary. None of them will violate your morals. I will make three vows to you in return. Raise your right hand ... Do you swear that you will defend those who need defending and that you will harm none without just cause?”
“Do you swear to obey me unless I prove myself, by my actions, unworthy of your obedience?”
“ ... Yes.”
Brian raised his right hand. “I swear I will never intentionally mislead you. I also swear that I will do my best to teach you in a way that you understand. I further swear that I will never betray your confidences to me.” Brian dropped his hand and relaxed. “Now that’s done. Let me give you an overview. There’s three training tracks: Bard, Healer, and Warrior. Each with their own specialties. I’m starting you on the warrior track.”
Brett laughed.”You’re going to teach me to fight?”
“Warriors are more than just fighters, Brett. To answer your question, no. Martial training can be had anywhere. Martial arts, weapons, strategies, and tactics are all tools. I mold the person who uses those tools. You will learn levels of self-discipline that you can’t imagine. You will learn strength.”
Brian rubbed his belly. “Let’s go have breakfast. After that, I’ll teach you to meditate.”
Brett pushed back from the table. “Damn, that was the best cheese omelet I’ve ever had.”
“Thanks, I spent two years at a culinary school. Would you like some more coffee?”
“No, I’m fine.”
“Okay, let’s get started. First, you will never write down any of your lessons.”
“What? How am I supposed to learn?”
“You will have to develop your memory. I’ll teach you memory techniques that’ll help. Now, meditation is both a key and a tool. It will allow you to unlock your mind and body and use them to their potential. It will also allow you to channel magic.”
“Yep, Most of us are drawn to one form of magic or another.”
“What type of magic do you do.”
“I’m a Bard. I study all sorts. My favorite is High Ceremonial magic. I think you’ll do well with shamanism.”
“Simply put, it’s an elemental approach to nature magic. In fact, you can go ahead and start reading about it. Just don’t do any of the exercises you find until we talk about them. I’ll loan you a book to get you started.”
“You’re going to make me read a lot aren’t you?”
Brian laughed. “My boy, you have no idea. But, more important to you will be the practical physical exercises.” Brian raised his hand palm down and placed it level with Brett’s hairline. “Keep your head straight and look at the edge of my hand. Tell me when your eyes quit straining.” He moved his hand slowly away.
“Good, now touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Take a regular breath through your nose. Ok, hold it for one second. Now let it out, don’t force it. Wait one second, inhale. Keep going. If a thought comes in ignore it.”
Brett counted twenty-seven cycles before Brian stopped. “Almost two and a half minutes. Not bad. The next time don’t count. The object of this exercise is to teach your body to go into a relaxed aware state at will. Focusing exercises come later.”
“How did you know I was counting?”
“Almost everyone counts their first time. The conscious mind dislikes being quiet.”
Brian glanced at his watch.”That’s enough for today. I have to meet dad downtown. Practice until you can do it for 15 minutes straight. Remember where to put your tongue and eyes.”
“Believe it or not, that simple exercise is the foundation of everything else we’ll do together, Master it. Let me get that book for you.”
Brett woke with a start, his hand searching the bed. He turned over. She’s not here. It felt real. He got out of bed and did his morning push-ups and sit-ups. After his shower, He checked the acrylic paint on the small drawstring bag he had sewn the night before. Filling it with Half and Half tobacco, he shoved it in his pocket. On the way out, Brett grabbed a donut from the kitchen.
“A shoe string?”
“It’s all I had.”
Brian tossed it back. “Why did you choose that particular Medicine wheel?”
“I got it from Seven Arrows by Storm. It resonated with me and I thought it would be fitting for my tobacco pouch.”
“Good job. I was thinking. You need a garden.”
“One, it will draw you closer to the Earth. Two, it’s easier to gather herbs if you’re growing them. Three, after what you’ve been through, you need something to love that can’t hurt you. Are you still having nightmares?”
“They’re not nightmares. It’s waking up that’s the nightmare.”
Brian shook his head. “Brett, You can’t keep running from this. Deirdra’s gone. You have to move on.”
“I don’t want to. I love her.”
Brian grinned. “You know, one reason I choose the warrior path for you is your bulldog determination. It’s a warrior trait. But, you have to be careful. If you don’t learn to let go sometimes, it will bite you in the ass hard.”
“I thought we were going to work on Herbalism today.”
“Actually, we’re working on herb gathering. Did you bring new scissors like I told you.?”
“Good. Before we get started, How many push ups are you up to?”
“Sixty-three and eighty sit-ups.”
“That’s not too bad, keep it up. Meditation?”
“Twenty minutes a day for the last two weeks.”
“Excellent! We’ll start focusing exercises when we get back. Last question, are you spending time around others.”
“I’ve been hanging out a few times a week with Jay and Freya.”
“Good. You don’t need too much time alone right now.” Brian grabbed his bag and shouldered it. “Let’s go.”
The heat of Deirdra’s mouth was intoxicating. She pulled back and forth on his hips driving him deeper into her mouth with each stroke. He grabbed her hair and pulled her closer and himself deeper into the inferno of her throat. His balls tightened. Brett opened his eyes. Freya groaned as he shot into her throat.
“DAMN!” Brett’s body arched as rope after rope erupted from his cock and fell back onto him. He collapsed to his sweaty sheets. If she ever offers, married or not, I’m getting it.
When he had cleaned himself up, he sat on his small white meditation pillow. Closing his, eyes he took a deep breath and released it. He created a small twirling blue cube in his mind. Inhale. One ... Two ... Three ... Four. Hold for four and then release for four. Wait for four. Repeat. As he breathed, Brett heard a quiet hum. The spinning box disappeared. He could see himself, a tutu of pinkish purple light surrounded his waist.
Brett’s eyes flew open. He closed his eyes and breathed, but his meditative state had fled. He got up and wrote it down as one more thing to ask Brian about when they met tomorrow.
“That’s you becoming sensitive to your aura. Did you complete your meditation?”
“I tried. It shocked me too much. I couldn’t.”
“That’s understandable for your first time. Next time, keep your focus on the box. You have to learn to focus no matter what happens. Once you have that down I’ll teach you how to manipulate energy. Anything else?”
“Brett, the whole reason I vowed to keep your confidences is so you can have a safe space to grow. I might chuckle a little, but, I will never tell anyone. Give.”
“I was masturbating, fantasizing Deirdra was giving me a blowjob. When I looked down, it was Freya.”
“It means your subconscious is starting to move on. Good job!”
Brian waved his hand. “Never mind, I wasn’t talking to you.”
“We’re the only ones here.”
“I wasn’t speaking to you. I was speaking to your subconscious. Its going to drag you back into life, even if it has to kill you. Try not to go that far OK?”
“Now, describe Freya to me.”
She’s about an inch shorter than me with long, thick, curly, blond hair. She’s not thin, but, there’s not an extra ounce of fat on her. She’s fit, with large breasts, thin waist, wide-ish hips, and long legs. She’s pale white and has green eyes.”
“You’ve found yourself a Valkyrie. When are you going to fuck her.”
Brian laughed and slapped the table. “Don’t hand me that shit. If you’re not planning on fucking her you need to spend a lot less time with her.”
“My teacher taught me to never bet against biology as it almost never loses. You can put any fit man and any fit woman alone on an island together. If you leave them there long enough, they will have sex. Here you are a fit, young man who is also doing energy work, who spends a lot of time with a goddess. You also have to take into consideration that a married woman is not going to spend a lot of time with a single man unless she’s interested.”
“She’s interested in me?” Brett whispered.
Brian pointed at Brett. “See. I admire your dedication to your values, but, if you’re not going to fuck her quit wasting both of your time. Think about what you want to do and why. Remember, harming none without just cause includes their feelings.”
Brian took a sip of coffee. “Will you take me to the library? Dad took the truck and I have some books due.”
The air conditioning of the store chilled Brett as he came in from the humid August heat. He smiled at the cashier as he grabbed a cart. He had almost finished shopping when he turned into the last aisle. At the far end was Deirdra and Steve. She leaned in and kissed him. Brett stumbled. He couldn’t catch his breath. His vision blurred and started to recede. He ran from the store.
August 15th, Dear Journal, I can’t do it anymore. If anyone finds this, please tell my parents I love them and I’m sorry.
“I almost killed myself. When I saw her kiss him. I lost it.”
“What stopped you?
“No, there was this red house cat. I guess somebody abandoned it. Something about it broke my heart. When I finished crying. I just didn’t want to anymore.”
“Good.” Brian cuffed Brett on the head. “If you ever feel that way again. You WILL call me. Do you understand?”
“What else happened?”
“I fell asleep. When I went back to my car I met Deirdra. She won’t let me see the kids again.”
“How do you feel about that?”
“Not good, But something shifted inside me. It all still hurts, but, It’s a clean hurt.”
“It sounds like you’re finally letting go.” Brian laughed, “I told you your subconscious would drag you back into life. What else?”
“Yep, that night after I cleaned up, I went to Freya’s and we had sex.”
Brian clapped him on the shoulder. “See, things are looking up already. Her husband?”
“They actually separated a while back. She just lets him stay there for now.”
“Ok. So how was it?”
“Awesome, I didn’t know it could be like that.” Brett shined his nails on his shirt. “She wants more. What I don’t understand is why she’ll have sex with me but, won’t date me.”
“Hmm.You’re both coming out of bad relationships. I think, she wants the security of a good friend with the benefits of a closer relationship without the risk. As long as you’re both on the same page it’ll work fine. It probably won’t last long, so don’t fall too deep. Brian cleared some books off a chair and sat down. “To be honest, you’re nowhere near ready for a committed relationship. Enjoy what’s offered and focus on being the best friend you can be to her. Are you ready for the next lesson?”