This is quite an old piece I did in '05 from the save stamp, but I think it is a good introduction into my writing. Any thoughts would be greatly received, and I thank you in advance for taking any time you choose to give in reading it.
He wasn’t sure why he had ended up here. There was no urge or prior planning to explain his choice of destination. It was simply one of those things, when your feet go one before the other, and allow the rolls of cosmic chance to decide your turns. A left here, a right there, all leading to this place, he’d had no idea that there was a carnival even on. He couldn’t recall seeing any of the lurid and gaudy looking posters, with some manner of clown or other stereotypical resident, which would conjure a theme of entertainment and fun. Yet here it was nestled on some land, probably used the rest of the year as a tipping ground. For now at least, the place had been elevated to where people would want to be seen; a place where you could have fun without been a child with a wild imagination. Lines of blinking lights crossed this way and that, over the happy go lucky entrance. A giant pair of lips stretched apart in laughter, bearing the model’s teeth in excessive detail enticed the would be passer by into their carnival. Fun and excitement was guaranteed, so said the flyers that fluttered outside wooden fencing, layered one over the other as the destination changed.
He walked in, drawn by the tinkling red and yellow lights of tall standing tents and cross frame structures, the exposed bones of their creation. It was a world irrevocably changed from the one he could remember, the place swept clean of debris and rotting furniture. Sounds filled the air, past the physical form of the travelling show, and rising out above the tents; echoing where it could. Laughter rippling back from the wooden boards of the perimeter intensifying it, solidifying it in the air like a cool chill or shimmering haze, while the rides tilted and swung their occupants, screamed through their terror. Idly he wondered along the main walkway, through the crowds of families playing together and laughing as one. It was a world that he had been since forever shut out from, an experience beyond his understanding and past his expectation. He didn’t feel a loss to that which he never had, given the events of his life he felt content to simply be, a man of his own means and one of conscience too. But certain things were simply not in his nature to understand, a mind carved by nature to survive that which it was forced to endure, as a raging torrent curves the jagged edges of a stone; his life had forged him this way. That free and easy laughter of youth had never been a sensation that he had felt. But the world had its beauty, and he saw it in all places and in all moments, things that the rest of the world would only see in time. The love and natural affection of the families about him, the fragility of the moment, it had a transitory nature, life; those things we love the most would be but fleeting, memories one day in a life lived and all but spent. That must be the way of life. To live is to feel and love, and to not see those things for what they are moments and no more, gone and mourned all the more precious for their fading to shadow.
Despite all that had been he was neither jealous nor angered by what life had given him, merely not as perhaps he sometimes thought he ought to be. As an audience watches a stage, listening to the narrator tell all he knew in his hindsight of the tale, for them still to come. He wondered the fair; an observer of his fellow man, aloft and detached from the plot and its many ending twists to its final conclusion. Swimming within the raging tide of human experience he walked, drinking in freely the ocean like wealth of the moment. He was just another pebble on a bed of shoal, shaped to blend in. Yet among life’s flow something that caught his eye. A thing that whilst was not wholly unexpected in a carnival; it was something that was a rare sight in the modern world we occupy. In a world of cold numbers and statistical existence there lurked still, the eccentric ideal of the mystic, those arcane and ancient ideas forged by our ancestors, a canon of works that we see now as religion. Of all those religions, none so intrigued and engaged the mind as those arts forbidden to the enlightened. Those once called witches and the like, who had been burned alive for the sake of their immortal souls. Their arts now reduced to nothing more than a side show attraction in a carnival of lights.
The tent was unlike the rest, where the carnival celebrated light and the greatness of its intensity; the fortune teller lay abandon and bereft of light and hope. Revelling in her dark just as a predator might to stalk its kill. Yet despite the contrast to the rest of the place, and the manner in which it was supposed to feed our eyes with honey light, the dark and shadowy realm of their psychic was what appealed to him the greatest of all. He stepped closer feeling all the warmth and sound of those other tents fall away to nothing. He stepped onto the threshold feeling the dark beckon him closer, daring him to step within her domain, and see that which wasn’t meant to be seen, to know what has yet to come to past. He passed through the veil and into the land of the dead, the dry lands, where the shadows were more than the echo of their creator, and the winds whispers more than their howl. Hunched over a single candle sat a hooded figure. The epiphany of all that her kind were to the uneducated, a walking cliché and one from which he nearly reacted to, considering to retrace his steps back to the door, back to the light and fun that he lived vicariously.
“I have been waiting for you Adam…” The voice said, muffled, almost as though it mattered not to her whether he heard it or not.
“Long time have you been coming to my gaze, and yet here you arrive as expected, as promised, as you would.”
The man stopped, he was alone and here by chance, how could she know of him, his name?
“I know much that is hidden, now am I to show that which I already know or will you leave?”
“If you are a psychic don’t you already know if I am to leave?” Adam replied, feeling mentally smug at his tragic retort.
“True but how could we live in a world without a sense of free will, illusionary or not?”
Adam sat at her table, just as she said he would.
She was silent for a moment, her features obscured by the hood of her gypsy rags. Her frame not moving in the slightest to resemble life, had she not talked to him he could have thought her a statue or phantom. From beneath her robes there appeared a rectangle wrapped in a cut of silk or satin, reverently she revealed them from their arrest, muttering something to herself as she did it. The fabric was spread out across the table, revealing all manner of runes and forgotten litanies inscribed in the cloth. She placed the deck at the centre of the sigils and after a moment in a low voice said.
“Please split the deck as you see fit.”
“Don’t I have to cross your palm with silver?” Adam asked, he had only notes with him.
“I will have a payment. People seek me out for a purpose Adam, even if they are not aware of it. Consider that, as we see what the Fates wrote for you.”
Adam didn’t reply, nothing of consequence had brought him to this place and yet she had known his name, expected him she claimed.
The woman picked up the cut deck and dealt the first card. Adam watched on; there was always a death card in the movies and though it was an ill omen. They made a pain to assure their clients, that the card was also a sign that meant a transition or change. The picture that confronted him was far less inflammatory by comparison, a tall standing tower in the blazing night, a crescent moon looking down from above.
“The Castle, tells of ordeals past; the hardships of the past journey. Great woe and grief in the days of old, a mountain man made; besieged on all sides by those who would seek to take you apart, piece by piece. You have not had an easy life, one of pain and strife. Ultimately the castle represents triumph over those forces and the creation of something solid, sturdy and great in strength.”
Adam looked on further, deeper into that card seeing the details, to the bare bones of her description. She didn’t allow any further reflection on this before continuing. The second card showed a picture of a burning comet, its trailing tail that spat and shred its flesh, as it passed in the starry night sky.
“The hairy star, an ill omen in days since gone, but an omen only to those who wished you harm; it marks the end of their power over you, the loss of their control and the ill wind that brought about their own end. It represents the changing of favour or luck in the things that you do, or have done in this case. Those who wished you ill were themselves to suffer that misfortune.”
Adam looked to the deck as she drew a third card, laid down it showed a figure of a mighty leader or king, a chiselled form of muscle. The paragon of feudal kingship wearing the roman style robes beneath a chest of plate steel. The crown forged to serve as both protector in combat and elevator in court. All this was awash with reams and seals of imperial purple and sovereign red, with a sceptre in one hand and a burnished shield on the other.
“The emperor; in the light he is a leader of men and defender of the faith, defender of his brethren. He stands for justice, honour and kinship…”
She paused looking to Adam for a moment.
“But in darkness he is a tyrant, vicious and cruel; the destroyer of worlds, the whirlwind to which others are reaped to be sown once more. With the castle and the hairy star we see the path of those things gone, your difficult steps towards an uncertain life. The resolution becoming the bricks and mortar that was to be your rise to glory, despite all that you have suffered, all that leading to the moment of your ascension to the metaphorical emperor standing tall. The seeing to of those who would have destroyed you, lost to the revenge so long ago promised, so long ago seeded. But you aren’t a ruler of light. There is no love of your brethren, no connection to those around you who share your kingdom, and no love savoured or lost to prove that your heart beats still, except to sustain you. You speak and you see but there is nothing that burns in you to be free, no great desire or love. What is life without those things, how can you be alive if you haven’t felt the madness of love or the despair of its lost?”
Adam was silent as she cast her all seeing gaze to him from the cards, she knew him as only he knew himself.
“What is to become of you, will you be forever wretched and silent in the world of light or will you ascend above even this to become whole again. The final card is that which is yet to come, those things written in the ages since the creation of the universe itself.”
The final card was revealed and in its macabre and hideous guise Adam saw something of himself.
“The Reaper…Dr Time, the harvester of souls from this life into the next, for some he is a sign of renewal; the ending of one thing and the beginning of another. For others he is a sign of the end of all that which they hold most dear. What is it that you hold most dear Adam? What manner of thing or person could you not bear to be without?”
There was a long pause, in it Adam realised that it was a question that he was been asked and not a statement for him to consider.
“I don’t know, I never really thought about it to be honest.”
“How can you be prepared to meet what awaits you, if you know not who you are? All things flow as a stream does to an eventual end, a larger whole. Just as the stream returns to the ocean that bore it from the clouds, for us we return to that which we were before we were born, which we are always.”
“What is that?” Adam asked.
The tent peeled back, its detail falling away into the night. The sounds of waltzing rides and chiming bandit machines faded. Adam looked up to see her; the women of his fortune telling, her embrace tight around the left of his neck. The old wrinkled flesh of her appearance was gone, no more substantial than the tent she had sat in or the carnival around it, all gone; all of it nothing more than an intricate web to ensnare him, instead there was only the blue semi dark sky overhead, the shadow of the woods nearby, the waste land somewhere behind him. He knew that as he had explored the area in his youth. The crone eyes sparkled in the star light, the cold of her touch growing less as she drew from him his warm pumping blood.
She whispered to him touching his mind in their silent embrace. Lady death and her lover for the night she, a spider with a web of lights and sound to his unsuspecting fly. The faces of all those inside the carnival, came to him as his life rolled past his mind’s eye. The unknown chance meetings from a million different seconds of his life, all stolen to spin the visage of her web, even when she had been speaking to him she had given him the clues had he but listened to her. Now in those last few moments, he saw in her reading the warning. The only thing that he couldn’t live without had been his life, all else was material nothing more or less for his passing. Only his flesh would change for his death, and in that, her words poetic told him of what he could expect. The world went dark and he felt no pain, no anger; only the unknown of what was greet him on the other side of the encroaching black.
“There comes a moment in the day when you have written your pages in the morning, attended to your correspondence in the afternoon, and have nothing further to do. Then comes that hour when you are bored; that's the time for sex.”