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.”
.... There is more of this story ...