HVMXN BYND

ASHES

ASHES is an anthology style collection of writings. The collection is available here to be read in it’s entirety.

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I had mostly lost patience with the saliva dripping onto my neck. The serpents smoked cigars, and the cigars gave off a thick smoke. Everything felt thick because of it. It was a warm thickness, and the wetness of the saliva created a feeling I no longer desired to sit with. It seemed funny now, but desire was the thing which led me to this seat to begin with.

I pushed my chips outward towards the dealer, just like the start of any other hand, except I pushed out all of the chips I had remaining. There weren’t many left. There weren’t few either.  There were enough that it was more than a typical hand, but not so many that the action felt flashy or “High Roller-ish.”

As I stood up, the dealer asked, “Cashing out?”

“No,” I replied. “Just let it ride.”

“You’re leaving?” he asked.

“I’ll be around. Keep dealing me in.” This may have not made complete sense in retrospect, but his silence denoted acceptance of my request.

Perfect. The chips would hold a place for me. I needed to stretch out a bit. I needed to get out of this place. Pushing through the smoke, I wiped away the wetness from my neck.

If the picture isn’t clear, at this point, I am moving towards the exit of some cramped, stale, smoke filled casino in some desert somewhere. Leather skinned serpents move throughout doing serpent things: grunting, shuffling, sipping, smoking, laughing. I overhear conversations. They’re the typical serpent kinds. All parties are given ample time to speak, though no one listens. That’s the thing about these types, there’s an agreeable detachment.

On my way to the exit, I pass a washroom. I choose to step inside. I could probably use a bit of a wash so a washroom is the perfect place.

After immediately splashing a few handfuls of water against my face, I catch a glimpse of my own reflection in the mirror and laugh out loud. More times than not, I forget who I am. Surrounded by serpents and the casualness of it all, it is easy to do.

Breathing smoke and drenched in mouth droppings, it is easy to do. I don’t know if it is the typical experience of others, but the lack of acknowledgement of my presence, or at least my presence as an outsider, adds to my temporary amnesia.

Sometimes I’ll smoke their smoke. I have drank their drinks. I’ve even mindlessly listened to their ramblings and had a chuckle while sharing a story of my own. Maybe we’re not that different. Maybe that’s why they barely acknowledge the difference. What is the difference anyways?

I am able to avoid this question. I’m familiar with the thought, and I know it has led to quite the existential crisis in the past. No time for that. Not now.

I look in the mirror once again, as I thank it for the reminder. “Now straight to the exit,” I tell myself. I know there is a portal near, and I know I plan to find it.

The morning air was thick with fog. I could smell the odors that would typically be absent in their rise or fall as they hung in the wetness. Neither good nor bad, they were just present. The sun had began to rise. Blocked by the surrounding steel structures, it was only made evident in the peaking rays of light that began converting total darkness to scattered shadows.

Today, the world looked different. Fresh. Crisp. Clean. I had an appreciation for things that before would have probably gone unnoticed. I walked through the city with absolutely no destination. Enjoying the journey.

Focused on the moment, I knew where I was. “I’m right here.” By any standard definition of the word “where,” I had no clue. I had never seen this city before. At least not from this angle.

I had woke in a house full of things. My house, I guessed. When I went to the dresser in the corner of the room, I found an identification card. “CITIZEN,” it read in bold letters across the top. I looked in the mirror and then looked at the card. “That looks like me,” I thought.

I could read all of the information on the card, yet it seemed foreign. The language was mine. I could understand that. The collection of names, numbers and locations printed on the card had no significance to me though. No attachment whatsoever. I left it on the dresser and took to the street.

As I continued my walk, I noticed a park about a block down the road. Lush trees, green grass and a small pond, it was an oasis in an otherwise manufactured city. As I made my way into the park, the sun was slicing through shadows, illuminating the world more and more, little by little. The fog was still thick though, so it was difficult to fully grasp the vastness of the park. Sun, fog and shadows dancing in unison in the mystic wooded wonderland, all in the heart of the concrete jungle. It was quite the scene.

After about ten minutes of strolling and absorbing, I came across a garden. Unlike the standard urban garden: tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, parsley all laid out in meticulously over planned orderly rows, this garden looked to have been designed by nature.

Tall trees with gorgeous yellow fruit, so bright they appeared glowing, grew small branches out of their trunks, which served as a trellis for berry baring vines. Leafy lettuce like plants surrounded the tree’s base, all composed of various rainbow like colors. Small sprouts stuck out of the ground, so fresh that the dirt still lay on their leaves from their recent push through the soil.

Surrounding these young plants were the most vibrant and thriving rose bushes I have ever seen. Additionally, the thorns on these bushes were more than ten times larger than any thorn I had ever seen. The thorns all pointed outward, protecting the still young plants from any creature anxious to try a bite before the fruitful future.

The vibrant forest garden spoke, “Feed yourself.”

“Are you sure?” I questioned

“We’re here for you. For your nourishment. One yellow fruit is all you need. Don’t take more than you need, and, for you, we will be forever abundant.”

“Thank you,” I whispered as I so gently plucked the fruit. At the same time, the tree let out a slight exhale signifying the sacrifice it had made.

Eyes closed, I pushed my teeth through the fibrous flesh of the fruit. A spritz of the most magical juice landed on my tongue.

SLAP!

The fruit fell to the ground.

“What are you doing man?” A voice gasped. I looked to my right to see a man. Blue polo, khaki pants, brown shoes, leather belt, glasses, white skin, brown hair, not in shape, not out of shape, 40 in human years maybe.

“Huh?” I had a hard time focusing on him initially as my mind transformed from blissful peace to a state of confused disturbance.

“What are you doing? You some type of crazy guy?” His tone seemed alarmed and concerned.

“What?” I responded.

“Are you ok man? Look at you. You must be starving. What’s going on?” He nodded his head towards my feet. In my blissful engagement, I had slipped off my shoes. I was standing in a garden oasis in the park shoeless, eating a piece of fruit. Other than my shoeless feet, I was fully clothed and appeared tidy and well kept by any standard I was aware of.

“I was just eating a piece of fruit. The tree said it was ok.” In my confusion, my statement trailed off as if I was asking a question.

“O no man. That tree is wild. You can’t eat that.”

“Why not? What is it?”

“I don’t know man. Do you just go around eating things in the wild?”

“I. I don’t know.” One of us was absolutely mad. I knew this but which one.

I observed the man. Finger tip to brim of glasses. Adjustment. Nose wiggle like a rabbit. Little click chirp gesture with mouth. Head shake. “Ok. It’s him. He’s snapped out of it.” I thought.

“We need to get you some help guy,” he said. His sound of genuine concern was now an overly friendly tone. Like I was a child.

Thoughts formulated again, “He HAS NOT snapped out of it. What is going on?” I stood in silence.

“You must be in rough shape to be out here like this.” He dug his hand around in his pocket before pulling out a crumpled wad of paper money and a handful of coins. “There’s a convenience store down on the corner. Go get yourself a donut. A candy bar maybe.” Still fidgeting he pulled out more paper money from his pocket. “Here you go pal. Get yourself a soda too. You can’t be doing this. Out here in the wild eating stuff. It’s crazy.”

He handed me the money. Caught off guard by the unexpected show of generosity, coupled with my realization that, at the very least, to him I was the mad one, I extended my hand to shake his. “Thank you,” I said.

“O. Uh. Yeah. Ha. Ha,” He nervously uttered while waving his hands in front of his chest as if trying to decode what to do with my extended hand before choosing to ever so gently and quickly pat me on my shoulder with the tips of his middle three fingers.

“You just take care of yourself guy. Ok? It’ll be ok,” he remarked as he slowly backed away from me, creating enough distance to assure himself I wouldn’t attack, then turning and walking into the mist.

I glanced down at the fruit and kicked it towards the rose bush and out of sight. I glanced up at the tree. It let out a long, heavy, sorrowful sigh much more pained than when I had plucked the fruit from its body.

I turned and left the park.

Black boots hit the floor. I wasn’t sure how I felt. The truth: I didn’t.

Plop plop plop. Ink gushed from every lace hole and missing stitch.

As the black poured, I allowed. I had spent at least 7 years in the complete darkness. The small light that burns within nearly suffocated in every moment. Leeches hung from the body, and they sucked the light, the oxygen and the energy. They looted my temple. Pick axes plunged into the walls, tearing and searching for every last bit hidden inside the reservoirs within. Treasures from every life time taken. The wind smashing against my face. Never was I certain: was I falling or rising? I still do not know.

Everything I had now given. What to do with this shell? Had I purged or had I been robbed. Was this complete victory or ultimate defeat. How do we know. Full of energy and exhausted, I would wait.

It is gorgeous, how a soul can look like Black Paint. Clinging in the air. Mercury In Time. Marvelous.

I met God

He let me build Heaven

I met God

He let me build Hell

I met God

He let me burn Heaven

I met God

He let me burn Hell

It was All Hallows’ Eve in the desert. The full moon would be visible by night.

When I saw the lizard filling the gas cans, I knew we were close. He filled the final can and placed it into the open trunk. There were 3 total. SLAM. I waited until he disappeared into the opening in the wall of dust, the mouth of the desert.

I proceeded on a slightly different course, of course. The portal was discovered at noon. Better yet, the key, which hung next to a stone angel, was obtained at noon exactly. The key was the portal, but the note, which contained only a name and a number, told me the treasure waited on the island. I collected the key and drove east.

A 3 or 5 day journey: the path was simple, though the journey was treacherous. Things would grab and pull at me the entire way. It was somewhere near the arch where my battle would occur. Kicking and screaming, I was drained. Beyond my survival, that story contains no further significance.

I knew I had reached the island when I came to the bridge. It hung over a marsh, the likes of which I had never seen, and a beetle, about the size of my hand, fingers included, hung above the bridge. The beetle, unusually large, was enshrined in pure gold. Frozen in stillness, his buzz still hung in the air.

Proceed to the cabin and unlock the door. Use the key. The key is the portal.

The key made a sliding noise as the locking mechanism was rolled to the left before, “CLOCK,” the bolt removed itself from the equation. ENTER.

I entered the cabin. One room. Wooden floor. White walls. Sun lit. And a treasure chest.

It sat in the center of the room. I collected the chest. Holding it in my hands, thick black ink leaked from the cracks between the wooden pieces that assembled the container. Soon my hands were covered. The ink dropped from my hands onto the previously pristine floor. A puddle formed around my feet.

Excessive amounts of black ink pooling around me. I began to sink. I opened the chest. I stared inside. It’s contents clean, no signs of the black ink.

When I looked up, the shine was bright, and it was hot. Sand now replaced the ink puddle where I stood. Furthermore, it extended further than I could see in every direction.

The key is the portal; I was certain. I was uncertain what side of the portal I now existed in. Either way, I decided, I should hang the key and return the chest.

The black ink drips down; the ink drips through.

Have you ever stepped:

Beyond the limitations

Beyond the stress

Beyond the lies

Beyond reality

Where do you end up?

Reality speaks: “That was never me. That was chains and prisons. This is me.”

The future sings songs of the present. Dance lightly. Beyond the melodies, the past is heard screaming warnings of its imminent death. Pleading or rejoicing?

The past and future battle. Battle to integrate or battle to eliminate? The present standing in stillness. The gatekeeper and the bridge. What happens when the present allows?

The past and the future colliding.

I lay in a blissful slumber.

Unaware.

Detached.

Peaceful.

Free.

I hit the ground with a force so powerful, I was nearly certain I had arrived in the form of a comet, hurling with the power of 10,000 years of life weight into the hard barren landscape of this deserted land.

Even given the tremendous force of my cosmic impact, more painful was the suddenness of it all.

One moment.

Entangled in the loving beauty of nothingness.

The next.

Cast upon a wasteland of hot smoldering clay.

It has been 5 years since I left the glass house. I remember the wolves waiting, watching. Their hunger staring through the translucent barrier. Never did they expect such an opportunity.

As I stepped out, they attacked. Other occupants followed me through the front door, stopping within the safety of the porch. They cast stones and cast words at my back.

The wolves pulling, ripping, devouring. It had been ages since such an opportunity was given to them. Ripping, shaking, and blood covered, they would run off in delight before fully finishing the deed.

I would crawl. A hole would provide refuge. A hole is where I would wait, and wait I would.

Finally, I returned.

The wolves crouched at my approach. A fiery energy screamed, “Bite and you shall burn.” They understood.

The glass homes still stood side by side. Visually, not much had changed. The same people occupied the same spaces, yet something was different. The comfort of home, once a luxury, was now a trap.

When the first eyes fell upon my approach, all became aware. They stood staring through the glass. My survival was a threat to the stories that preserved their existence.

They began casting words, which looked like silent mouthings through the muting glass. The words echoed throughout their structures. The echoes grew louder. A vibration struck their eardrums. It was a shredding and painful screech. Pain. They became angry.

They gripped their stones. From within, all at once, they cast their stones. The stones stopped short of their target, slamming into the protective structures surrounding them. Crashing and shattering, glass fell like rain.

Screams.

Then silence.

The wolves stared.

We slammed into the portal. The precise speed coupled with the precise moment produced the precise result.

For an instant, I thought I died. Imagery of complete destruction around me flashed in my eyes. A concrete wall at 100mph. Better yet, a jet into a mountain.

I was certain I had seen passengers around me. I was certain we had met, yet I was certain I had never seen them in my life. Passengers liquidated instantly.

I continued floating across the hot sands. I could not touch the ground below, yet I was certain of the heat which it radiated.