Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The girl of his dreams

After his parents died, Andras was apprenticed to a mason. The mason was a harsh taskmaster. For Andras, life was a joyless grind with no hope in sight.

Then one night he had a dream. He found himself in a meadow with blooming wildflowers. And there he met a pretty girl his age, in a chiffon dress and lustrous hair that blew in the breeze. 

He never had a dream this vivid or breathtaking. They walked hand-in-hand in the piquant scent of the hyacinths. And then he awoke.

Willow was an orphan girl, slaving for a seamstress. Life was a joyless grind with no hope in sight–until she dreamt about a meadow with blooming wildflowers. 

Willow and Andras never met in real life, yet they discovered each other in their sleep, as they lay in separate beds, however many miles apart. They somehow wandered into each other's dreams. Night after night they found themselves together in strange, scenic, secluded places. Sunset in the real world was sunrise in the dreamworld. Sunset in the dreamworld was sunrise in the real world. They were living double lives. 

Willow contracted smallpox. As she lay dying, Andras vainly searched for her in his dreams. But after she died, she returned to him in their dreamworld. 

A year later, Andras succumbed to TB. After he died, they walked along a moonlit beach–beside the shimmering waves, beneath the glowing gossamer clouds. Having left the real world behind, the dream no longer ended when a new day began in the real world. Now they were in the dreamworld forever. Or maybe the "real" world was a nightmare from which they finally awoke. 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Magus

The bastard son of a magus, Logan MacGaraidh was born in Aberdeenshire in the seventeenth century. He never knew his actual birthdate. The Old Religion maintained an underground presence despite the Christian overlay.

Logan was raised Catholic, which sublimated the witchcraft of his Pictish ancestors under the pious veer of sacramental priestcraft. Yet the underlying affinity was clear: both were religions of magic potions, incantations, and enchantments. A magus in Catholic vestments. Although Logan was not a devil-worshiper, he inherited the powers of his shadowy father, whom he barely knew. 

Logan adored the wild misty landscape: the lochs, bluffs, rivers, and coastlines. He hiked the length and breadth of Aberdeenshire.

It was a hazardous time to be alive, for Catholic and Covenanter alike. The balance of power shifted shifted, with fatal results for the losing side–and each side lost. 

Raised by his mother's kinfolk, they were massacred while Logan was hiking. When he returned to his hamlet, bodies and burning buildings were left. 

Always something of an outsider, life in his beloved Aberdeenshire became unbearable with all his youthful friends and relatives dead. So he crossed the sea to Connecticut. 

While not exactly tolerant, religious life in Colonial Connecticut wasn't a life-and-death affair. For the first time he was able to consider the Protestant faith with a certain detachment. In seventeenth-century Aberdeenshire, conversion would betray your kith and kin. Religious affiliation was as much more or a statement of clan solidarity and loyalty than doctrinal conviction. But with all his relatives dead, and living in a new land, he no longer had that duty to uphold. 

He never took Catholicism seriously. A camouflaged version of his heathen ancestors. But Colonial Puritans presented a dramatic point of contrast. Reactionary, perhaps, but bracing. 

For the first time he could see more clearly how sorcery fit into a larger narrative. His father represented a mutinous band of fallen men and fallen angels while Christ and his saints represent the winning side. 

He didn't see the need to renounce his powers. All power ultimately derives from God, and he figured that he could use it for good. 

Owi to his natural affinity with the aboriginal heathens, he became a missionary to the Mohegan, Pequot, Nipmuck, and Narragansett tribes. At his first encounter he was attacked by Pequot braves, but he extended a finger to draw a ring of fire around the charging braves. Encircled by the wall of fire, glowing in the twilight, the assailants were subdued, and escorted him to their village. Rumor made him an instant legend among the tribes. 

Yet he was still an outsider. Colonial Connecticut never felt like home. His alienation was less about place than time. He left Scotland because it was too late to feel at home there, after the loss of his kinfolk. And he was now a stranger in a strange land. 

Rather than moving in space, he began to move in time–traveling into the future. He could always make a living as a history teacher, drawing on his firsthand knowledge of the past–although he had to disguise his source of knowledge.

Finally, out of curiosity, he returned to Connecticut in 2020. Apart from a few historic buildings, the populated areas were unrecognizable. He went back to a historic cemetery. 

There he met an archeologist and historian. As luck would have it, Effie had Celtic coloring–emerald eyes and flaming hair–which reminded him of pretty girls he knew from his long-lost homeland. 

She never felt at home in her own century, which is why she became a historian with a personal interest in Colonial America. Which is why she was poking around this cemetery. 

Many of the original graves were covered over, but from the remaining graves Logan could tell where to find the hidden graves. He pointed to a spot of ground, gave names and dates.

Scraping away the layers revealed the forgotten graves and flattened tombstones. She was puzzled by his uncanny knowledge. He also explained how one family was related to another. At first she was incredulous, but as she followed up on his leads in historic records, she received confirmation. 

Eventually he let her in on his secret, which would be unbelievable were it not for his inexplicable knowledge of the past. Not the past in general, but pockets of the past. Deep rather than wide. Provincial but detailed. 

A romance blossomed. Effie asked him if he was homesick for the Aberdeenshire of his youth. Did he ever hanker to return?

He said he no longer felt at home there after all his kinfolk were massacred. It was a ghost town. 

She asked him if he could take her back into the past. Back to the Aberdeenshire, but during a more peaceful time. There they could both start afresh. Make a life together. 

And so they did. They led a quiet life, so as not to unweave the future from whence she came. And when they died, they were buried unto a Celtic cross, to await the resurrection of the body. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Was blind but now I see

Jeremy had two kid brothers: Josh and Jesse. Jeremy was normal, but Josh was born blind while Jesse was congenitally deaf. As a result, Josh and Jesse were exceptionally close to Jeremy because he had to compensate for their sensory impairments. He was like Josh's guide dog. Jesse could navigate the world more easily than Josh, but had a harder time communicating with strangers. Josh knew his brothers by scent as well as the sound of their voice and footsteps while Jesse knew his brothers by sight. 

They went everywhere together, did everything together. They might of done that anyway, but their dependence on Jeremy made them inseparable. 

This situation continued into their upper teens. They were deeply involved in the church youth group. In the course of networking they discovered a man with a reputation as a healer, so they contacted him. 

The man said he had no ability to heal on the spot. If someone asked for healing, he prayed to God about that situation. Sometimes he got a sign from God that it was God's will to heal that person. When that happened he laid hands on that person. 

So he prayed about their situation. Months later he contacted the boys and said he had a sign. They got together. He laid hands on Josh and Jesse, restoring their sight and hearing.

The brothers were ecstatic. Each brother was now discovering a new world. In some ways the same world, but they had never been able to experience it by sight or sound before. They knew they were missing out on something. They only knew it by description. Now they found out for themselves.

Jeremy was very excited for his two brothers. However, because his younger brothers were no longer so dependent on their big brother, they began to do more things apart. In fact, they kind of resented having to rely so much on Jeremy over the years, so they relished their newfound freedom to strike out on their own without a handler. 

Jeremy understood, and tried to be sympathetic, but it hurt when he was left behind. In fact, at one point Jesse told him to his face that he didn't need Jeremy anymore. He just wanted to explore the world on his own. When Jeremy as a normal boy with a blind brother and a deaf brother, that made him extraordinary, but now he was demoted to being utterly ordinary. 

Jesse dropped out of church and drifted. Jeremy and Josh lost contact with their brother. 

Josh disapproved of Jesse's ingratitude towards Jeremy. He was thankful that Jesse took up the slack over the years. Although Josh relished the ability to see, and the independence that afforded, yet after he had a chance to do things on his own, he reverted to doing things with Jeremy. There was some adjustment. They were now equals. And that created opportunities to do things together they couldn't enjoy before. Different but better. 

The miraculous healing was a gain, but it carried an unforeseen loss, by breaking up the bond which the three brothers used to share. Jeremy and Josh continued to pray about Jesse, but at the time of writing, he was out of touch and out of reach. Jesse was easier to talk to when he was deaf. Now that he could hear, he wouldn't listen. He was deaf in a different way. Worse than before. Much worse.  

Friday, July 6, 2018

Death of a warlock


Ethan Mather was captain of the Lacrosse team. Athletic and handsome, with flashing amber eyes like a lion, and a mysterious magnetism. Amber eyes ran in the family. His father and grandfather had them, too. The other boys viewed Ethan with respect, admiration, and fear. It was dangerous to be his friend, but more dangerous not to be. 

He seemed to be able to read minds. And hex people. Not that anyone ever saw him or heard him hex another person, but if you crossed him, bad things happened. Uncanny things. Like the time he caught a classmate making out with one of his girlfriends. Next day the classmate was attacked by a swarm of bees. Hospitalized. Never returned to school. 


Ethan was a warlock. That was the secret source of his strange abilities. He could anticipate what players were going to do before they did it. A gift that also helped him win at poker. 

He didn't choose to be a warlock. He was born that way. He came from a long line of warlocks. A lineal descendent of Cotten Mather.

Yes, there really were witches in Salem. They infiltrated the highest reaches of society as mayors, judges, and governors. Their philosophy was to hide in plain sight. Gain civil power to protect themselves.

They infiltrated the church. Became ministers. Succeeded in defanging the spiritual power of the church by turning New England to unitarianism.

Cotten Mather participated in witch trials to deflect attention away from real witches. He targeted Christians. Witches feared Christian prayer. 

Warlocks had preternatural longevity, so they had to feign aging and death, then start a new life elsewhere. 


But the benefits were offset by terrible side-effects. Ethan's relatives suffered from depression, insanity, and bouts of murderous rage. Ethan suffered from hellish nightmares. Friendships were fragile. Ethan's kind were unforgiving. They could turn on each other. Joyless power. 


Ethan once had a conversation with a progressive pastor who dismissed the supernaturalism of Scripture as superstition and mythology. Ethan was amused. He wasn't an atheist. He knew, as only the Enemy can know, how true the Bible is. He was more orthodox than most churchgoers. 

He began to tell the minister things the minister had done that no one could possibly know about. The minister became alarmed. 


The countryside was haunted by a wolf pack. The devil's familiars. People sometimes spotted the pack in the meadows, at dusk.

One day, Ethan met Jasmine. When Jasmine was cycling at dusk, the pack began to encircle her. 

But Ethan happened to be jogging at the same time. He walked over to the alpha wolf. For a moment, they looked each other in the eye, then the pack took off. Jasmine was relieved, but puzzled by Ethan's inexplicable affinity with wild animals. 

She and Ethan began spending time together. She was pretty, with a winsome personality. A churchgoing girl. Ethan could sense that she was authentic. He ran through many girlfriends, but she was the first girl he fell for. She had something that was missing in his own life. A different kind of mysterious magnetism. 


One time she invited him to church. He was profoundly uninterested, but since it was a way of getting closer to her, he agreed.

Only, when he arrived at church, he couldn't go inside. With each step, he developed a raging headache and blisters. So he retreated.  


Ethan was at a crossroads. Would he return to his old life?

He arranged to speak with the pastor on neutral ground. He could sense that the pastor was authentic.

He explained the situation. The pastor said the only solution was to undergo exorcism. If successful, Ethan would be liberated, but lose his occult powers. A tradeoff. 

Ethan finally agreed. Although his powers were advantageous, they didn't make him happy. He felt a yawning darkness inside. He feared damnation. And he wanted to be with Jasmine. 


The exorcism was excruciating. Ethan passed out. When he awoke, he didn't remember what had happened, but he felt different. Weaker, but better. The nightmares were gone. His eyes changed color. No longer amber. Now they were just plain brown.


Adjusting to normal life was frustrating. Everything had been so easy for him. But now he had to rely on natural ability and hard work. Now he had to experience failure for the first time in life. He was bumped from captain of the Lacrosse team because he lost his edge. Still a good athlete, but nothing extraordinary. 

He and Jasmine married. His newborn son had brown eyes, not amber. Ethan was relieved. The family curse was broken.