Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sacred Spaces



My lovely new friend, Corinne Rodrigues, started a writing challenge a few weeks ago.  100 Words on Saturday is a writing challenge, to take a common phrase and write exactly 100 words about what it means to you.  Fortunately, she gives us until the following Friday to post something!  Sometimes it takes me a while to work it out, but this is a challenge that I'm really enjoying.  So without further ado...


Sacred Spaces


There is one sacred space no one ever mentions, I didn’t realize it was there until I became a writer.

We talk with words, we write with words, but it’s not only the words, is it?

All those tiny spaces between the words are filled with language too.

Every comma, every pause is a sacred space

Those spaces between the words are entire worlds of possibility

A language of eyes, body movement, intonation and inflection, hope and despair

It is the sacred space of communication, when the words aren’t good enough

The words are important, the sacred spaces more so.

WANDERER Part 28

Elune's Love



Zurak could only watch, stupefied and numb, with Oshi sleeping soundly in her arms.  She was safe inside the circle made by the blazing bonfires that kept the wolves away; the acrid smoke was so thick that it became an unpleasant flavor on Zurak’s tongue.  The dancers had been chanting for hours now, ever since the sated wolves moved off and the tribe could safely get near Taeyo’s corpse.

Her leg throbbed beneath the poultice and bandages, but Zurak would not have joined the dancers even if she was uninjured.  Dancing was for times of joy and the Wanderer’s joy had gushed out of her wound along with all that blood.  Watching Taeyo die so brutally felt like a punishment to Zurak, the wrath of an angry goddess towards her most faithful servant.

Elune kept taking away things that Zurak loved; the moon goddess took both of her parents and both of her little brothers named Taeyo, and for what?  Sola took something from Elune and Elune used Zurak to get back at her sister, it was all so pointless.  After the Well was claimed, the sisters would find something else to fight about and some other person would be forced to do the dirty work.

All the gods were churlish, childish beings; demanding absolute devotion without sympathy for those under their dominion and Zurak wanted no more to do with any of them.  She had sacrificed over and over for the glory of Elune only to be literally thrown to the wolves, and now she knew their secret.  The gods had no power, not really, they were just as helpless against the vicissitudes of life as everyone else, but they were bigger.  The gods had greater strength and used it to bully the small people like Zurak.

Zurak could not say any of those things aloud; she could not tell her family that she had changed her mind about Elune after they worked so hard to get her here.  Churashom’s tribe adopted Elune into their family of gods because of Zurak, they had altered their lives to accompany her on this journey and they had all watched Taeyo die together. 

The pyre was burning low, but the stench of burnt hair and flesh lingered around the clearing, filling up Zurak’s nose with the last earthly remains of her beloved brother bear.  The dance would not end until the last ember had eaten itself alive and Churashom never slowed down.  Taeyo had given his life to save the lives of Churashom’s wife and unborn child; Churashom danced to show his gratitude and respect.

Zurak watched the sun come up slowly, cursing Sola with hateful eyes as the pile of orange embers became grey dust for the winds to play with.  Oshi was beginning to stir, rousing Zurak from her vigil of anger; she got up to follow the other women back to camp because there were many preparations to make.  Once the fire was out completely, the men would carefully gather up the ashes; the women would prepare a ritual feast and they would all walk the ashes to the cave after sunset.

This was the night for Zurak to finally claim the Well of Provenance; to finish the quest that Elune started on the beach so many years ago.  This was the night that Zurak had lived for, planned for and cried for; but she thought this would bring her happiness and not eternal grief.  As she crossed the stream, seeing her blood still staining the grass around the boulder, Zurak made a new plan.



Taeyo’s ashes had been gathered into an elaborately decorated leather pouch; under normal circumstances it would have been the tribe’s leader Mohiwalip that carried the remains.  But Taeyo was Zurak’s brother, her protector, and Elune was Zurak’s god; so she held the pouch and walked alongside her father.  The torches they carried cast dancing shadows on the rocks as they moved up the path and chanted a traditional tribal funeral song.

This was the first time that the whole tribe was in the cave together; they stopped in the first chamber to say the first prayer of commitment before squeezing through the tunnel to the cavern of stars.  The lights from the torches sparkled off of the golden chunks that lined the streambed fed by the well, long veins of the glittering metal streaked through the walls embedded with milky crystals.  They said the second prayer together before Churashom climbed up into the well chamber with Mohiwalip and the tribe’s medicine woman.

The Well chamber was small, filled with the sound of rushing water and the gold glowed warmly beneath the torchlight.  Zurak had said very little since the attack, she was quiet still in the Well chamber as the elders led the final prayer of commitment.  Part of her felt like she was not there at all, that she was outside her body somehow and watching from a safe distance.  Zurak barely heard the prayers, it was all breath wasted on an uncaring goddess and Zurak would waste no more breath on gods.

Finally the prayers were over; once again Mohiwalip stepped aside to allow Zurak the honor of being the first.  If she could feel anything, it might be guilt for taking advantage of Mohiwalip’s affection for her, but Zurak was still numb as she reached into the leather bag for the first handful of ashes.  Tears leaked from her blue eyes again as the soft ashes reminded her of Taeyo’s warm, soft fur and Zurak did not try to stop them.

Instead she mixed her salt tears with the ash, forever binding Zurak to Taeyo, and knelt down beside the Well of Provenance.  Lowering her hand into the freezing water and releasing the ashes, Zurak claimed the Well in the language of the Wanderers.

“Since the rising waters stole the Islands of Savage Ice, we have searched on behalf of Elune.  We wandered in her name and at her bidding, but we do not claim this well for her.  I, Zurak of the Western Wanderers, claim the Golden Lands for the golden bear, I claim this well for the Wanderers and the monkey people.  This is our Well, this is our Golden Land, and it belongs to us now.”

With that, Zurak wiped away her tears and watched as the water carried away Taeyo’s ashes, to spread them over the land and anoint the dirt with her claim.  Her family would never know the truth and she would pretend fealty to Elune for the rest of her days, but Zurak would always know. 

The moon goddess already knew, but Zurak no longer cared.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WANDERER Part 27

The Last Expedition



The expedition to Amos Brandecker’s cave had been planned with the care and precision of a sensitive military mission.  The cave’s actual location had been kept a very strict secret by the CaveWomen, they had not even turned over the map when asked politely.  Pet would have burned it first; she and Tass had actually crafted a very good forgery –without telling Araceli of course.  But it had not come down to them becoming criminals, which was a relief to both women, because the court had ruled in their favor.

Amos had left three pictures of the cave behind; two of them were of wall carvings and one was of a wide vein of gold flowing through the stone.  It was because of the third photo that the cave’s location was being withheld.  Gold fever turned even the most rational person into a monster of greed; a monster willing to destroy anything that got between it and its quarry.  Prospectors, treasure hunters and adventure seekers were already searching for the cave, so the CaveWomen had begun a campaign of subtle disinformation.

It had been Tass’ idea, just some vaguely misleading and seemingly innocuous Tweets to throw the raiders of the scent.  The last Pet had heard, the most credible of the groups was searching well over a hundred miles away from the correct site.  They were digging in the wrong place, Tass had said with a happy smile and a nod to her greatest love, Indiana Jones.

Putting the team together had been a challenge, they needed to keep the group small for security reasons, but this initial survey required more than just gifted amateurs.  Two professionals, one a forensic archaeologist the other a geologist, with indisputable pedigrees were coming along.  Their long-time researcher Crandall had been invited, as well as a representative for the native tribes and Walker came on behalf of the Brandecker estate.

Fulstone had been invited too, he had been there practically since the beginning although it had been quite a while since he’d been caving.  The last two members of the team were a cameraman and producer from the Exploration Channel, it was a small cable upstart that had already featured the CaveWomen several times.  There was another team too, of roving airplane mechanics keeping sharp eyes out for anyone following the expedition.

After nearly two exhausting days of trickery, deceit and espionage; the expedition had set out in the gloomy morning hours.  Tass was the official trailblazer of CaveWomen, she had the map and the lead; even though she had never been to the site, her confidence in their route never wavered.  Everyone thought that it was Tass who followed Pet around, but Pet saw the humor in that mistake.  It was almost always Nastassja Romero going first.

Dawn had broken and the sky lightened around them in the weak, watery grays and pinks of sunrise.  The trees and larger rocks they passed steadily became less like dark specters and much more like trees and rocks.

“We should be coming to a stream,” Tass said in a low voice, not for security reasons though, it just seemed wrong to break the drowsy stillness around them.  “Maybe half a mile on.  Shouldn’t be far after that,” she said with a look to Pet.

Pet’s heart was already thudding, as much as she loved Walker; it was the runes that had captured her affections first.  They were a lover no man could compete with and Walker never tried to compete, he seemed to understand Pet’s obsession without needing to be told.  He had been on her side from the moment they had met, Walker had supported Pet all the way and she had cried like an infant when he asked for her hand in marriage.  No wedding plans had been made yet, but it was an expedition that Pet was looking forward to very much.

But it was this expedition that was her life’s work and the stream came into view just like it was supposed to.  Tass checked Amos’ map again and a more recent survey of the area before splashing across the water towards some large boulders.  Even in the dim light, Pet saw the worn glyphs at the base of one the boulders; one could have possibly been her rune at one time and the other was definitely a bear.

Tass led them around the boulders and up a small rocky slope, her sharp eyes had spotted the small, dark opening well before any others.  Tass poked her head through the hole and pulled it back out saying, “This has to be it.”

A text was sent to Chuy with the GPS coordinates and the team quietly set about getting all the equipment and bodies through the small passage.  It had taken almost an hour, but they were all in; Pet was already examining the trove of glyphs on the chamber walls, unable to focus on any particular one.  These glyphs were so varied, some looked like mere rude scratches while others were intricate and deftly carved, that Pet was positive that this was the work of an entire group of people.

She found her rune easily, it was the largest in the chamber and in a prominent place.  Pet was so happy that she could feel tears on her cheeks as her fingers traced the familiar lines and grooves.  Everything fell away from her, the conversations around her could have been a million miles away as Pet wondered about the hand who had carved all of those glyphs.  It was a trail of crumbs that had led straight from Point Reyes to this remote spot in the Sierras and it had to have been left for some purpose.

“GWENDOLYN!”

That snapped Pet out of her reverie; she turned to see most of the faces of the team watching her expectantly.  Tass had a different look though, “If you don’t mind, we have a cave to explore,” she said haughtily.

They were grouped around a tunnel that had been carved out by flowing water for eons, the stream was just a lazy trickle, but the tunnel was passable if they crouched down.  After making sure everyone was ready, Tass stepped up into the water and began beaming her flashlight into the blackness beyond.

The cramped tunnel wasn’t very long and Tass’ sharp intake of breath echoed easily around the group.  Pet started to ask what happened when she stepped out of the tunnel and the question froze on her lips.  This cavern was enormous and completely black except for the galaxy of stars twinkling brightly overhead.  Pet had seen many examples of bio-luminescence in pictures and on television, but never with her own eyes and the array of lights over her head was staggering.

Tass was already moving forward, she was not one to stop and ponder; there was more to find in this cave and she would not be deterred by fairy lights.  Both women had studied Amos’ notes thoroughly, they knew there was one final chamber beyond this one and Tass followed the water.  The night sky chamber ended at a lazy waterfall about four feet high, Tass climbed partially up to aim her light upwards and looked back to Pet.

“This is it,” Tass said as she climbed back down.

Pet was confused, “Why aren’t you going up?”

“Because this one is for you stupid,” Fulstone volunteered from behind.

Tass laughed and gave Fulstone a look of fresh appraisal, “When did you get so smart?”

Pet took a deep breath, trying unsuccessfully to slow down her heart’s beating, and stepped past Tass up the boulders towards her destiny.  The water was freezing cold, but not strong enough to push back against her as Pet shimmied through the passage.  The reflected light from her torch was a gleaming golden color and Petra just stopped; the source of the water was a spring pushing up from deep below.

Pet’s flashlight danced over the gold streaked rocks that lined the well and the clear water pulsing lazily past, gaping at the sheer quantity of the precious ore.  She latched onto the rock face and pulled her body all the way in, this chamber was not that big but Pet could stand up.  Her memory of that first cave in Sonoma rushed back to Pet, she remembered circling around slowly then just as she was doing now, but these walls were not as bare as the walls of the Sonoma cave.

That cave had only the one lonely rune, one first crumb of bread; but this cave was the entire loaf.  It was a feast of gold and ancient history for which Petra had no words, no sounds to offer in praise of such wonder.  The entire chamber seemed to be one tremendous vein of gold, it was the grandmother lode but that was not the treasure.

All of the gold in this cave had been worked, the walls smoothed down so that the carvings could be wrought in the precious metal.  The rune was here, all three versions of the rune Pet had found plus one more were inscribed around the chamber like points on a compass.  The glyph of circles was here too, beautifully etched but different from the other circles because this one had intricate carvings that seemed somehow familiar to Pet filling the interior.

But it was the bear rune that was most prominent, it had been carved to be practically life sized with the angular lines around the body.  Pet dropped to her knees beneath the bear to the familiar pile of stones right beneath it, these were not ordinary rocks though.  Every single one was gold, from the flatter pieces at the bottom, to the oval pieces of the second layer, to the carefully arranged tiny nuggets at the top.

It was a pyramid of gold inside a room of gold that gushed out gold laden water.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Gravity of Zen




Don't you just love that title?  I do, it has nothing whatsoever to do with today's post and I have no clue what it even means.  However, I couldn't come up with something good for this header, so I decided to get all pretentious and oogly about things.

Let's call it a writer's prompt, 200 words on the gravity of zen.  For you, not me; I already have something to write about :)

So, how are all my glorious Travellers today?  I hope this missive finds you all well and reasonably happy; because, despite my seeming setback of last week, my spirits are very high.  Obstacles are just gifts with ugly wrapping paper, and once the crying is past and the ugly paper shuffled off to the recycle bin, you can really appreciate what was inside.

This publishing hiatus has not filled me with the expected angst, recrimination and anxiety; I'm actually quite calm about it all.  Many lessons have been learned in the last few months; lessons not just about book publishing/marketing, but life lessons as well.  Now is the time to assimilate all that's been learned, take a fresh critical look at the manuscript and devise a new plan.

And now is also the time to say thank you; it is the time to acknowledge all the fine and generous people I have met recently.  It is high time that I was nice about something.  My tempers are fleeting, but they are too often represented in this blog and not an accurate portrayal of its author.  I'm not saying I don't get pissy, clearly I do, but I'm not an angry person going off on the general population at the drop of a hat either.

Despite my rantings about internet groups, a very gracious one has allowed me to hang around and pester them.  BBT Cafe is a great resource for indie authors and full of veterans with actual printed books that have sold more than 10 copies.  I found them during that first week of that blogging challenge thingy that I bowed out of, and my fumbling questions to the group have yielded good answers.

The woman who extended the invitation has become a good friend, we hit it off immediately and she has become a bit of a mentor.  Since Star Wars is something I like rather than love, I can't call Holly my Yoda.  I prefer to think of her as the Captain Picard to my Ensign Ro.  But most of the best recent lessons were learned because of her, both directly and indirectly, and I respect her opinions.

Because of her, I have (or am actively trying to) released my childish fears and prejudices about online communities and social medias.  I Twitter much more now but I still wish there was less talking at me and more talking to me.  If any of you have Twitter accounts, find me @CairnRodrigues and let's start a conversation because you know I would love to hear from you.  Yesterday I created my first board on Pinterest because I realized that it is a wonderful place to stash my gardening obsession.  That one is all for me though, not the Prospector, so I can show off the flowers, birds and thrifty creations in my yard.

I haven't found a use for Tumbl'r yet, but maybe one will reveal itself, maybe not.  I did put the first chapter of The Last Prospector up on GoodReads today, this was another site that I had been avoiding, so at least internal progress has been made.

There is another big project in the works that you will know about soon enough, it's taking much of my concentration but I am making sure not to rush things.  Patience is a life lesson that I have to keep re-learning.

Wanderer is almost done, no one has commented one way or the other about it, but I quite like it.  It was only supposed to be 28 parts long, but the story demanded an extra day, so there will be an epilogue on March 1.  It all started with Petra and it just doesn't seem right to not end with Petra, if you will so kindly indulge me.

There is one more big thank you that will not be forgotten, the most important one of all.  This one is for you, all of the Travellers who started this journey with me and all of the new ones.  Thank you for reading, thank you for sharing your comments and telling your friends about me.  It is a kindness that I won't ever forget.





WANDERER Part 26

The Claim


The Wanderers had been searching for the Well of Provenance for over a thousand years and Zurak remembered all of the stories told to her as a child.  Every Wanderer knew it was their duty to claim the Well for Elune, but since no one had ever even come close, there had been no stories about how to actually claim something.

Zurak assumed that her carvings into the rock around the Well were her claim and the tribe had been creating the claim for almost a year.  Churashom’s family had never done any carving, but many had taken it up after Zurak joined the family.  One of the uncles had crafted a much better stone chisel than the one Zurak had been using since the beach and her carvings had become much more refined.

At first, her new family was reluctant to mar the walls of the cave with their marks, thinking that the crude figures would be an affront to Elune.  But Zurak assured them that the moon goddess cared only for their intentions and actions, not artistry at all and told them of her first carving attempts that were less than beautiful.  Taking the time to carve into stone imbued the stone with your essence and the essence was left for the moon goddess, as proof of your devotion.

The Well chamber of the cave was not very big, only four of them could fit inside at one time and it could get stuffy when they were all working.  There would be another baby for Churashom in a few months and Zurak had been miserable for weeks now, her stomach was not happy to accept food and she kept feeling dizzy.  These things were perfectly normal, so Zurak was not worried, but she couldn’t get much work done.

Another wave of light-headedness washed over Zurak; she swayed slowly and closed her eyes to try and will her stomach not to retch up its meager contents.  She felt stiflingly hot and freezing cold at the same time; Zurak carefully set down her tools and told the others she was going back to camp.  She just wanted to lie down in the shade with some herbal tea and Oshi, perhaps even take a little nap.

She made her way slowly through the cavern of stars and slid into the cold water of the tunnel.  A ladder had been built inside the cave at the opening, Zurak paused to let the dizziness pass before climbing up and realized that soon she would not fit through the opening at all.  The sweet, fresh air outside immediately eased Zurak’s discomfort, but only a little and she made her way slowly down the rocks to the path.

Camp was now much closer to the cave, but they would be moving back to the hot springs when the seasons changed.  It was about a mile from the cave and worn path had been created already, Zurak did not rush because her feet were swollen and achy.  Feeling swoony again as she passed between the two big boulders near the stream, she decided to move off the path for a drink.  Zurak eased her body down next to the water and splashed some on her hot skin before cupping her hand to trap a drink.

The growl came from upstream, Zurak felt the low rumbling rather than heard it and her head snapped up to see a large grey wolf staring back.  Harshly silencing her panic, Zurak got back up to her feet; her eyes not leaving the wolf’s and her hands fumbling for a weapon.  She rarely walked with her staff these days, there was usually someone with her anymore and her arms were always full when they went into the cave.

But there were rocks lining the stream and Zurak’s hand grasped a heavy one as her own growl bubbled up from deep within.  Running was the worst thing you could do, there was only one wolf and camp was not far, so if she could scare the wolf off with a few rocks then she could easily get to safety.  She heaved the rock in the direction of the wolf with a furious howl, but it fell well short of the mark and the wolf barely even flinched.

Zurak saw the second wolf as she was reaching down for another rock; this one was on her side of the stream and moving in quietly.  The fear coursing through Zurak’s blood was threatening to spill out of her churning stomach as her brain rushed madly to plot an escape.  A third wolf was watching her now and Zurak knew there was little hope of getting away, the three wolves had encircled her, cutting off her path to both the cave and camp.

Zurak had little recourse, she had to fight for herself and the baby inside her; all she had were rocks and she began to fling them madly at the wolves.  The Wanderer screamed at the top of her lungs while hurling rocks, hoping against hope that one of the rocks would find a target and that her screams would bring help.  The wolves ducked each rock and steadily advanced towards Zurak, baring grisly fangs and snarling until they were close enough for her to feel their hot pants on her skin.

Zurak screamed Churashom’s name over and over as the wolves backed her up against a boulder; the first wolf sprang at her and Zurak kicked at it ferociously, feeling the rough fur against her bare foot.  The first bite pierced her leg right above the knee, blood gushed like a river as the wolf tore away Zurak’s flesh, she crumpled to her knees at the base of the rock, trying to hide behind her arms.

The wolves moved in as Zurak beseeched the moon goddess for help, for forgiveness about not completing her mission and to give her unborn child a special place among the gods.  Another angry growl cut through the wolf pack, Zurak opened her eyes to see the wolves turning to attack the bear.  Taeyo’s golden brown pelt shimmered in the sunshine as Zurak watched him take an angry swipe at the largest wolf. 

She was frozen by the rock as she watched her bear, realizing that Taeyo had never left her, never forgotten about Zurak even though they had parted so long ago.  He had followed her all this time and the Wanderer’s heart surged with love despite her fear.  Taeyo had drawn the wolves away from Zurak, back across the stream into the clearing, but now it was three against one.

Zurak began screaming afresh for Churashom, for anyone to come and help her.  The wolves would kill Taeyo and Zurak could not help him fight, she was weak and wounded, she did not even have the strength to hurl rocks that distance.  The wolves were winning the fight; Taeyo’s pained growls filled Zurak’s miserable ears as she watched her brother bear take bite after bite.  Tears flowed down Zurak’s face as she watched Taeyo, she hated the wolves, hated them for hurting Taeyo and she forgot her fear and her wounds.

Zurak began to charge across the stream, she could not bear to see Taeyo hurt anymore, but strong arms grabbed her from behind.  She screamed no, but Churashom held tightly, dragging his grief-stricken wife away from the danger as the wolves continued to attack Taeyo.  The largest wolf had his fangs dug in to Taeyo’s neck, the shaggy golden brown bear was keening in pain and defeat as Zurak watched the life slowly leave his body.

Wolves are formidable enemies and Zurak knew that any attempt to save Taeyo could cost the lives of her family members.  All she could think of was that day she had found the cub, mournfully pawing at his mother’s brutally savaged corpse.  Taeyo deserved so much more than this ugly end, especially since he had given up his life to save hers.

With sickening certainty, Zurak began to understand why Elune had brought them together in the first place.  In order to stake her claim on the Well of Provenance, the moon goddess would require more than mere carvings, the ground would need to be consecrated somehow.  Elune would require a sacrifice, a sacrifice of love.

Monday, February 25, 2013

WANDERER Part 25



Cave Woman Style


The sexy beast called fame had a ravenous appetite; it was a Kraken that Pet had unleashed on the State of California and not even she could call it back.  That beast had a life of its own now, a will of its own and a powerful hunger for justice.  No media outlet stone had been left unturned by the CaveWomen; they had been everywhere, told their story to all who would listen.

Support had come pouring in from all sides; many established academics had come over to Pet’s cause as well as her regular readers and every crackpot that had a grudge against ‘the man’.  Pet liked the crackpots the best, just because one was crazy did not mean that one did not have a valid point of view; those points of view were often overlooked by mainstream people.

Pet and Tass were grateful for them all, especially the academics who were arguing that the women had not once in all this time actually despoiled a site.  It was a growing trend among archaeologists to acknowledge that they didn’t know everything and that physically excavating a site was worse than not knowing.  With the advent of modern technologies, many new excavations were conducted without even digging up a shovel full of dirt.

Whatever monies that CaveWomen, Inc. had amassed had been spent on attorneys and legal fees, the expedition fund had been changed to the defense fund for the duration and Pet even considered selling the apartment building.  It hadn’t come to that, but it had come close and there would be just enough to cover the billable hours for this hearing.

Pet could barely breathe, her entire life hinged on the judgment of this court and she hardly even heard the testimony from a long string of witnesses.  Plenty of people had volunteered to stand up for the CaveWomen, people with pedigrees and regular degrees, people with credibility that did not like seeing the American Dream squashed by governmental greed.

Chuy Romero had needed to be restrained from taking the cave by force, taking a stand Bear Flag style and declaring actual war on the State.  While Pet and Tass did both love the idea, Araceli had practically smacked them all for even discussing that approach.  They would do this right or not at all, that was the judgment from the Court of Mom and there was no chance for appeal.

However, Chuy’s idea had given them the perfect symbol for their struggle, the Bear Flag.  California had been claimed by thirty three men in a bloodless coup one summer day in 1846 and the flag they created and raised had become the enduring symbol of California.  The CaveWomen had wrapped themselves up in the Bear Flag of the California Republic, they were trying to live the California Dream and Bear Flag T shirts were selling like hotcakes.

Both Pet and Tass wore those T shirts for the hearing, in fact there was a sea of grizzly bears inside the courtroom that was unusually jammed for a common hearing.  But Tass had been true to her word, she fought the State with every tool in her arsenal and then some.  Tass had made sure to bring her gang to this fight, it was a rumble in the judiciary jungle, bare knuckles and winner take all.  The gang members that could fit inside the stuffy hearing room were just a fraction of the gangstas outside, carrying signs and shouting at the news cameras for justice.

Pet knew that her time to speak was coming; the attorney was giving her a questioning look to make sure she was ready.  All those lectures and personal appearances had given Petra the tools she needed to stand in front of all these people and say her part.  She was still not comfortable in the spotlight, but she was the best spokesperson for CaveWomen in this matter.  Pet had practiced this speech for weeks, refining it and trying out variations on Araceli until she was sure it was perfect.

The courtroom quieted around Pet as the judge asked the attorney if there were any more witnesses.  The lawyer looked at Pet again; she gave him a slight nod and began to rise from her chair.  She couldn’t stop thinking about her parents, her father’s face rose up behind her eyes and that strengthened her resolve to win this fight.  She wanted this for her father as much as herself, this was Ray Brazil’s legacy that Pet was fighting for.

The bailiff swore Pet in and she took her seat, the attorney asked Petra if she had any statement to make about the case.  Pet closed her eyes for one last look at her father and took a deep breath.

“Ten years ago I fell down a hole,” Pet started, “and I found something.  I found a message written thousands of years ago and I have spent the last decade looking for more.  We do not want to own Amos Brandecker’s cave, we just want to look at it.  It is what we have done for the entirety of our search, we have looked but not disturbed.  Amos and his heirs want us to see the inside of that cave, the local tribes want us to see inside that cave.  Right now,” Pet paused to search out eyes in the room, “it seems that all of the world wants us to see inside that cave.  And all we want to know is why can’t we look?  What is the harm of eyes seeing the truth?”

A murmur of agreement broke out among the people, but not all of them were supporters of the CaveWomen cause.  A harsh male voice burst out of the audience, “What about the gold you greedy bitch?”

Greedy bitch?  Pet reeled on the inside as the judge banged her gavel and gave the order for quiet.  Petra did not have to be quiet, in fact she had the floor at that moment and she rose to her feet involuntarily.  She found the owner of that harsh voice and leveled her furious brown eyes on him.

“I don’t care about the gold,” she spat out, “when are you fools going to understand that the real gold of California is not in the metal or the movie stars?  The real gold of California is California itself, we live inside a treasure box and yet you demand more.”

The banging of the gavel tried to drown out the roar of voices inside the courtroom without much success.  This hearing was over, now came the truly hard part; the waiting.  The attorney said it could possibly take days or even weeks for the judge to decide, but it was only two days until they were all back in the courtroom.

The honorable Angela Dyson had made her judgment, “It is the opinion of this court that the State of California has no legal right to block access to the disputed cave.  The injunction is lifted with the caution that no one removes or disturbs the contents of the cave until such time as the legal owners of those contents are resolved.”

Sunday, February 24, 2013

WANDERER Part 24

Tunnel of Love


Zurak had been forced to wait all winter to see the cave; once it had been found the entire tribe decided it would be safer to explore after the spring thaw.  Even though she knew they were right, the waiting had been anguish so Zurak was being impatient with her family.  After being on her own for so long, the Wanderer still found it difficult sometimes to allow for the needs of other people.

But she needed to see the cave with her own eyes; Zurak had to find the Well of Provenance so that she could claim it for Elune and finish her quest.  Now her whole family was on the same quest, they had joined their lot to Zurak’s and embraced the moon goddess as she did.  Zurak had told her new family every Wanderer story she could remember since she had joined them, she told them over and over so that the stories would not be lost after she was gone.

Zurak did not fool herself though, she knew that the Wanderers were not meant to continue; it was not the will of the Goddess.  Her family’s blood would get lost in time, buried deeply in the bloodlines of the monkey people and few would remember the White Wanderers.

But Elune would remember, the moon goddess would never forget the people that she made.  Elune had given the Wanderers life and purpose and Zurak wanted to give her the Golden Land in return, as thanks for the gift of breath.  But it was more than that, once the Well was claimed and Zurak’s obligation to Elune satisfied, the Wanderer wanted nothing more than just to be.  She wanted to give her husband more children and travel with her family across the Golden Land.

The entrance to the cave was very small, just a passage between large boulders that didn’t look like much from the outside.  Churashom found it because he had been looking for the source of a large stream that seemed to spring out of nowhere.  But the source of the stream was buried behind the rocks and Zurak’s brave husband had figured that out, had gone looking and found the cave.

Caves called out to Wanderers like kinfolk, Zurak’s people were never afraid of the darkness of stone vaults even though caves held many dangers.  But Wanderers went into every cave they could find, leaving their messages for the other Wanderers and imprinting the Earth with their essence.

Churashom went through the small opening first to help the others in; Zurak practically pushed her husband down in her rush to get inside.  Fortunately, Churashom was an even tempered man, carefully helping his wife and chuckling at her eagerness.  They were a group of six for this outing, the three men who regularly explored plus Zurak and two of the slimmer tribe members.  Cave passages could be tight and Churashom’s young cousins were excited to help with this important mission.

The lit torches were being passed through the opening and orange-tinged shadows flowed on the walls around Zurak.  The echoing sounds of the explorers told Zurak that the chamber was quite big; she felt around in the dim to put her hands on the stone surface, as though she could not believe it until she felt the rock herself.  She heard Churashom and Nohalik; the younger brother was staying outside the cave in case of trouble, as they transferred the rest of the ropes and torches.

This first large chamber was the only part Churashom had seen when he found the cave, Zurak could hear the water running but none of it was in the first chamber.  She kept leaning farther and farther away from the group, anxious to go in deeper, even as Churashom grasped her arm gently to make her wait.  Finally, her husband was satisfied with his safety precautions and smiled lovingly at Zurak.

“Let us look Pretty Milk,” he said with a smile, using his favorite name for Zurak.

She did not need to be told twice and the exploration officially started.  Even though she wanted to run towards the sound of the water, Zurak forced her feet to go slowly and with care.  She had not seen the Well of Provenance in her vision, just the three chambers, but wells were full of water, so it was the sound of water that she followed. 

Soon the sound of rushing water was all they could hear as they made their way towards the back of the chamber.  The party was forced to stop at the back wall where the water was flowing from a small tunnel down through the rocks and beneath the chamber.  They all stood around it with their torches trying to peer into the blackness of the tunnel, but it was impossible to tell how far back it went.

“I am sorry Pretty Milk,” Churashom said softly, “we can go no further.”

Zurak’s head whipped around of its own volition, she rarely argued with Churashom, rarely had reason to be angry with him.  But he was willing to give up and she was not.  He and his family did not know how to swim; it was not their custom to invade the watery provinces of churlish gods.  Wanderers were practically born on the water and were taught how to flee from Tidalus’ wrath as babies; Zurak was not going to let Tidalus stop her now.

“I’m going,” Zurak snapped as she pulled off her clothes, “tie the rope around me.  I’m going,” she said once more with a firm look at Churashom.

Her husband sighed heavily and began to remove his clothes too, “We are going Pretty Milk, you do not wander alone anymore.”

Saturday, February 23, 2013

WANDERER Part 23




Injunction Junction


“But we have never harmed or stolen anything!”  Pet was furious, absolutely furious and not even Tass had ever seen Pet this worked up.  “In all this time, we have left everything as we found it, only taking pictures, rubbings and tiny little samples.  Where do they get off trying to stop us from looking?”

She was demanding answers of people who did not have them, but that did not stop Petra from glaring at them each in turn.  Araceli looked back with the knowing eyes of someone who had spent a lifetime working for the State from her chair next to Tass.  Pet was incensed with the State of California and even more enraged with herself, Pet cursed her decisions to publicize her expeditions because they had led to this.

The drawback to having a whole bunch of eyes looking at you was that a whole bunch of eyes were looking at you.  Fame is a sword with two sides and CaveWomen had courted that sexy beast.  They had brought this on themselves, but Pet still did not feel like they had earned this court order prohibiting them from visiting Amos’ cave.  The powers that be got wind of the alleged new find; they did not want the CaveWomen getting there first and this injunction was more permanent than the first temporary injunction.

But the cave was not on State owned land, it was privately held by the heir to Amos Brandecker’s estate.  Walker Keel’s ex-wife now owned that property but she was not the problem, Rita Brandecker wanted Pet to see the cave.  Pet had met her boyfriend’s former spouse on several occasions, the divorce had been very civil and there were three kids shared by them.  But since there was a very real possibility that indigenous carvings were in that cave too, the State was trying to usurp the site.

It wasn’t just the carvings and everyone in the room knew it, there was gold in that cave and that’s what the State really wanted.  Gold was what drove Amos Brandecker’s meticulous search of Central California, although it was not the value of the precious metal that interested him.  Amos was convinced that there was a mother lode, an undiscovered source for much of the placer gold that kept washing up in the rivers of the Gold Country.

Amos had not been an idiot though, and Pet wished she had followed his shining example, he had not broadcast his obsession past his own circle of family and friends.  Gold made everyone interested and Amos had no desire to start a second rush, he just wanted to find the lode, to see it with his eyes and be able to say he was right.  No one could say for sure yet what exactly Amos found, but he had taken photos and left a map. Amos had even composed a lengthy email to Pet, asking the CaveWomen to go on an expedition with him.

That was the email that Walker found, it was that email that sent him to the lecture and none of it would have happened without the fame of CaveWomen.  The sword sliced through Pet’s soul again and all the will to stand left her bones.  She sat down heavily next to Walker on the sofa and put her head on his shoulder, asking with tones of defeat, “What are we gonna do?”

It was so quiet in the living room that Pet could hear the faint ticking of Nana Bert’s old clock in the bedroom; it was a sound Pet could not sleep easily without and it seemed to thud right off of the walls.  No one said anything for a long time until Tass drew an impatient breath.

“We do what we ducking have to do,” Tass said, getting up from her chair.  “We put out the word, we get support, we gather evidence and affadavids and whatever other stuff lawyers love.  This is our cave,” she said heatedly to Pet while she poked her chest with a finger, “our cave.  No one is going to take this away from us, not without a fight.”

Pet stared long and hard at her best friend, Tass had been an appealing girl in high school, but she had grown into a lovely women.  All kinds of people were attracted to Tass, but it wasn’t because of her looks; those people were drawn to the fire.  Tass did not let her pretty face temper her, she refused to be put in that category of style rather than substance and she would fight with the fury of a dervish when unleashed.

Pet watched the anger building in Tass’ eyes and realized that the State of California had picked the wrong two girls to fight with.


Friday, February 22, 2013

The Box



We recently switched to Uverse from Dish, at first I was reluctant to do it because of the hassle but Clyde wanted the bundle that included a faster internet.  I'm glad we did it, Uverse offers me many more channels that regularly show reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as opposed to the no channels on Dish, so I'm ecstatic.

Other than that, it is the same old, same old; 57 channels and nothing's on said the poet-philosopher Bruce Springsteen.  Except that I have roughly 150 channels programmed as favorites, that would be three times the potential for entertainment, and still nothing is on.

That's an exaggeration of course, but only a small one from my perspective.  Last night I was chatting with one of my Twitter friends who was asking about the merits of Zero Hour.  Media Whore Ed, who is doing his best to move and shake in the Hollywood Fishbowl, and I both lamented the lack of good scripted television these days. We both watch a lot of reality programs, which is what brought us together, a mutual like of Survivor, but it seems that neither one of us would mind a juicy drama to dig into.

I am happy to see Survivor back, but my rule of thumb is to watch Probst at Tribal; I don't get interested until he does and so far, Probst is not.  I am actually following my very first Survivor, @MattBischoff is a cool one thus far, but if Jonathan Penner had a Twitter, I would have been on that train already.  The Amazing Race is back too, and thankfully with less obnoxious stunt casting this time around.  Thank you for that producers of the Amazing Race, you were really trying my patience.

One could argue that my standards are too high; but I will argue back that boredom is not a standard, it is a demon to be fought back into the depths of the hell from whence it came.  I'm not 'too good' for these shows, I am bored by these shows; mostly because I've seen them all before.  Usually done better.

Here's the problem with television, and every form of creative entertainment: there are too many outlets and not enough product.  If this seems reminiscent of one of my earlier blog posts, it's because the message is the same.

If you don't have anything of interest to say, please shut up.

Too many dogs are fighting for the same meager scraps and no one is getting a full belly as a result.  That is why there are so many stupid new reality shows about white trash families, Bigfoot hunters, small town security inbreds and that major idiot who humps trees every time he digs up a 12 year old coin.  No, I'm not watching any of that; I watch The Soup every Wednesday night for the digest version.

There are too many news outlets, so they have to create news; there are too many sports outlets, so they have to create sports; there are too many freaking educational channels and THEY are even making stuff up now.

And don't get uppity book people, snubbing your nose at the masses while pontificating about the sanctity of the written word.  Snooki published a book.  A book with words.  Snooki.

If you are looking to start your own media empire, here is some advice from me:  Empires are not built on landfills, if you erect your house on garbage, the garbage will become your house.  Good shows need time and promotion to find an audience, that has not changed since the entertainment industry was founded, but the current climate of immediacy makes everyone afraid to commit.

If you don't commit, why the hell should we?

Another Buffy reference, but a very important one.  The CW allowed Joss Whedon the time and freedom to find the people that they knew where out there.  That time paid off in a big way and birthed a critical and commercial success.  Fox, on the other hand, did not allow Joss Whedon the time and freedom to develop Firefly, which could have been bigger than the X Files for them.

No, they wouldn't support Firefly, but they threw money at the piece of crap that was Dollhouse?  Shockingly shortsighted.  Fox didn't have the patience to let their calf grow up and screwed themselves out of the cow's milk.  Oh yeah, and they took that milk away from a lot of thirsty folks.

Alright TV execs, we see how desperate you are to get our attention, you are practically hyper-ventilating and nothing turns a person off like desperation.  It's the first rule of dating, no?  So calm down and think things through, think long-term and set the bar a little higher for yourselves.  Be a maverick, set the trends, don't follow them because people respond very well to mavericks.

WANDERER Part 22



Golden


Zurak stood on a boulder near camp with Oshi in her arms and watched the shifting play of brilliant colors on the clouds as the sun set.  It was cold outside, almost mid-winter, but they were both warm in their furs and they now lived around a cluster of hot springs, so no snow had crept up on the tribe.  She could not name all the colors that she saw, but Zurak tried her best as she taught her son the Wanderer words for crimson, orange, yellow and purple.

Oshi was not yet two and still burbled more than talked, but it was the way of the Wanderers and Zurak had been telling him everything she knew.  The sunsets in the Golden Land were beautiful, it was a land that overflowed with beauty; so much so that it gleamed beneath any light that shined.  Zurak had traveled many years, she had explored with great care and, despite seeing so many variations of glory, still reveled in the new treasures that the Golden Land contained.

There were mighty rivers everywhere, some were wide and slow moving, tinged in dark green and hiding evil demons beneath their placid surfaces.  Others rushed furiously through canyons and over rocks, frothy white, churning madly in the spring melt and consuming all in their paths.  There were rolling foothills that burst out into seas of color when the winter passed and turned golden brown as the rain stopped falling; there were wide valleys full of birds and tall reeds swaying in the breeze.

It was a land full of trees and animals, a land of plenty and it had welcomed Zurak.  There had been challenges, many challenges and every day she had had to protect and feed herself with no help.  But there had always been food, there had always been some shelter and there had been Taeyo.  Much had been taken away from Zurak when her family died in the shipwreck, but much had been given in return.

Her vision the night of the Zonate ritual was never far from Zurak’s mind though, it was what had brought the tribe here.  Elune had taken Zurak past a series of landmarks until they reached an enormous cave near the base of a smoking mountain.  The geyser had been pointing in this direction and that was all Zurak really had to offer as proof, but everything else she had seen in the vision, she had seen with her waking eyes too.

Everything but the cave itself, Zurak’s memory of that was blurry and she only remembered that it was very, very big with a stream running through it and three chambers.  The Well of Provenance was in the last chamber and it had to be claimed for Elune, so that she would be bound to the Golden Land and not her sister.  But surely something so big must be very easy to find, Zurak had been confident of that.

She was still confident, but it was wavering now and then as days went by.  The men could only go out and look when the weather was favorable, it had been a mild winter so far but that could always change quickly.  They had built a strong shelter and had plenty of food for the winter, so there was no danger; and there was always plenty to do around camp.  Zurak spent her days tending the fires, cooking, weaving and all the other necessities of life while Churashom and the stronger men went looking for the cave.

They were usually back within two days and Zurak was lingering on the rock in the hopes that she would hear Churashom coming up the path.  He had left early the previous morning and Zurak very much preferred sleeping next to his warm body with their son cradled between them.   Her ears caught the light crunching of snow under feet, Zurak called out and was greeted by Churashom’s voice.

Oshi reached out for his father as soon as he came into view and Zurak scrambled off the boulder to meet the explorers.  They were all smiling broadly, especially Churashom as he held his arms out to both of them.

“We found you a very big gold rock for Elune,” he said taking Zurak into his arms and squeezing her.

The other three men laughed, Zurak looked over Churashom’s shoulder to see his brother Nohalik holding a large rock streaked with layers of gold and white crystals. 

“We found it in a very big cave for Elune,” Nohalik offered.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

WANDERER Part 21




All Academic



The irony of CaveWomen hitting the lecture circuit was that many of their venues were in colleges and universities.  Most of the presentations involved multi-media views of past expeditions with an emphasis on social media involvement, so they had become very popular with students.  Many faculty members usually turned up too, and most were fans, but a few came in to the lectures trying to stir up trouble.

Those were Tass’ favorites, and Pet saw that familiar gleam in her best friend’s eyes as Tass stepped into the microphone.  The fool had groused that the CaveWomen were ‘putting foolish thoughts’ into impressionable young minds and demanded that Pet and Tass explain themselves.

“Weeeellll,” Tass started leisurely, “we don’t think that putting thoughts into heads is wrong.  New thoughts are why all these kids enrolled at your fine school and any teacher worth his tenure that objects to thoughts that aren’t his own might want to reconsider being a thought-master and get over himself.”  The audience chuckled at Tass’ smug smile as she finished by leaning way over the podium and saying, “Just some food.  For thought.”

Pet briefly considered doing the humane thing and feeling sorry for the professor, but she was always uncomfortable in the spotlight and just wanted the lecture to be over.  Tass might be the face and voice of CaveWomen, but Pet was its heart and soul.  Pet was the one with the facts, figures and theories, so she brought the wood, but it was always Tass who brought the fire.  The lectures were very profitable too, and the money earned from them helped to fund CaveWomen’s grammar school presentations which were always done for free.

So in many ways, Pet had gone to college like Ray had wanted; she just did not do it the way her father had anticipated.  But she knew he would have been proud of her, she could imagine the look in his eyes from seeing the same look in Araceli’s.  Tass’ mother was extremely proud of both women; she had been running the business-y end of CaveWomen since its inception and attended as many lectures as she could.  Araceli was in the audience for this lecture at U.C. Davis, bouncing Chuy’s youngest on her knee.

Chuy Romero had cleaned up his act several years ago after an especially long stint in jail.  Tass paid his tuition at a trade school and now her big brother had a wife, two kids, a steady job and relieved mother.  Chuy was quite proud of his little sister too, both his little sisters for that matter, and Petra’s Glyphs had a very small, very unlikely hardcore fan base of aircraft mechanics.

The lecture was drawing to a close now, Tass was telling the audience where to find them online and directing them to the merchandise table where they could buy books and T shirts.  It would be at least another hour before they got out of the auditorium since many of the audience members wanted to shake their hands and talk a bit.  Usually, it was Tass they wanted to meet, but a few of the quieter ones always made sure to seek out Pet and tell her that they wished they were brave like her.

Tass was happily holding court surrounded by about twenty people while Pet gathered up the lecture materials, a couple of girls approached Pet and she even signed an autograph. The man on the fringes of the crowd kept catching Pet’s eye, he didn’t look much older than her except for his pure white hair.  His face was not heavily lined with wrinkles and his posture suggested a very fit body, so she wondered if the white hair was natural.

Out of nowhere, the man winked slyly at Pet and grinned as he took a few steps toward her, extending his hand.  “Thirty seven,” he said by way of introduction.

“I..I’m,” Pet stumbled before recovering gracefully, “huh?”

He laughed, “I’m not an old man, saw you staring at my wandering white.”  The man shook Pet’s hand firmly, which made her feel odd, and said, “Walker Keel.”

Pet realized she was still holding his hand and dropped it quickly, a bit flustered, saying, “I’m Pet, Pet Brazil thank you for coming to the lecture.”  That sounded very lame to her ears for some reason and there was a tiny awkward silence, so she rushed to ask, “What is wandering white?”

Walker laughed again, he had a very nice smile and it seemed as though the laughter came very easily to him.  “Just something my crazy aunt Ro used to say, folks in my family go white early, Auntie always called it the wandering white.”
Pet did not know what to say, but she really wanted to say something to Walker, to keep the conversation going for some reason.  Finally she asked, “Did you enjoy the lecture?

“Very much,” Walker replied, “although I am very new to this, I didn’t even know about you until last week.”

“What happened last week?”  Pet was curious.

“My father in law died,” he said with a sadness creeping into his green eyes.  “Former father in law anyway, he was a good man, an eccentric man.”  Walker then looked directly into Pet’s eyes, “He was a big fan of yours,” he said and held out a manila envelope.

“What’s this?”  Pet could not actually be less interested in the contents of that envelope at that time, all she wanted was to talk to this man for hours.  She then remembered her manners and rushed to say, “I’m so sorry for your loss by the way.”

“Thanks,” he replied softly, “my ex asked me to help out with his estate, which is what brought me here.  We needed to know that you were on the level, Amos could be a little trusting.”

Pet’s head snapped up at the sound of that name, “Amos is a great name, he must have been a great man, your father in law.”

Walker nodded, “He was, in his own way and I’m going to miss him.  Amos found something a while ago, I think he meant to get in touch with you but, well,” Walker quieted for a moment, “well, Amos got distracted easily.  I guess that ‘s the best way to put it.”

All of a sudden Pet realized that this was one of those moments, one of those defining moments in life and her definition was in that battered manila envelope.  That familiar pounding in her chest had been there since Walker Keel smiled at her; her hands were shaking as she opened the envelope and saw the photos.

All the blood drained from Pet’s face and she even swayed a little, prompting Walker to swoop in gallantly and steady her.  Tass had stopped talking, she was staring at Pet with concern as was her coterie of admirers.  Pet slowly pulled one of the photos all the way out, it was a rune; it was her rune but not just that, not by a fair distance.

Tass broke away from her crowd to come look over Pet’s shoulder and was quiet for several long moments.  Tass then said the one thing they were both thinking, the only thing that could sum up this unexpected treasure,” Holy shit fuck!”

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tough Enough

There are a couple of themes that arc through the series of books I am writing, one of which is very much on my mind today.  I have been putting this post off all day because it is the hardest one to write so far and I wish things were different.

But I don't want to live in wish land, and the people around me know that I prefer the truth, bitter though it may be.

Several people have read The Last Prospector by now, not a huge amount, but enough opinions that I really trust have come back.  The really great news is that they all love the story so far, they are loving the characters and how things flow.  This is a huge relief to me, they are loving about the story exactly what I love about the story and are encouraging me to give them more.

But those same people are also telling me something else, that their enjoyment in reading the book is diminished by technical errors and I have made a decision.  The Last Prospector is being removed from Amazon channels effective earlier today, I had Clyde do it, it was like slaughtering a child and I couldn't make myself press the buttons.

But those buttons needed pressing, it is the only fair thing to do.  The story is too good to be saddled with amateurish errors and it's a disrespect to book, author and reader to let it go forward as it is.

About that theme I mentioned at the beginning; good things are born from bad things all the time.  Obstacles only serve to make us smarter, tougher, more resilient and more clever than before, so this is not a defeat.  It is a tactical retreat, it's time to regroup and make a new plan, a more informed plan this time.

I have learned a lot - and I still need to keep educating myself - so it is time to stop playing at this and do it right.  Big changes will be coming, The Last Prospector will be back soon and perhaps released in tandem with the second book.  We'll see, I'm not deciding anything today except that it is time to start making good decisions.

I need to thank everyone who has been supporting the book so far, they've been sharing my tweets and blog posts and I appreciate all of them.  And I am still here for them, and you; I'm not going anywhere but I am deleting yesterday's post about needing readers.  Thanks to all who responded and shared, I hope I haven't let you down.

WANDERER Part 20

Brother Bear



The sun was beating down on Zurak as she lugged the heavy basket through the field of brown grasses towards the grouping of rocks near the tree line.  Churashom had offered to help her, had wanted to come with her, but Zurak knew this would be hard enough.  She did not want her husband to see her tears, but Zurak had to be brave because this needed to be done.

The baby swelling in her belly was Zurak’s first priority now and she was part of a family again, a real family of people.  Churashom’s tribe had welcomed the Wanderer; they thought her an animal shaman or powerful priestess even though Zurak had told them otherwise.  But they treated her with respect and affection, especially since she had chosen Churashom for a mate over three men from other tribes.

Thankfully, the group of rocks was already in the shade of a fragrant evergreen tree; Zurak put her basket down gently before sitting down in the shade for a brief rest.  She was not sure how to do this, but everyone knew it was for the best.  It was best for her new family and it was best for Taeyo now that he was fully grown.  Zurak kept her ears peeled for the sounds of predators, even though she knew her bear was not far off; the basket of food would attract many interested noses.

At first it was very difficult to spend time with the new people, they were afraid of Taeyo and Zurak would have to wait until the bear was off hunting to go and visit.  Churashom was the only one brave enough to actually come to their little cave, but even he kept a safe distance from the bear at all times.  But he did keep coming back, bringing her gifts of food and clothing, teaching Zurak his language and watching as she made her carvings in the rock walls.

The tribe had been moving south, but part of Zurak’s wedding arrangement was that the tribe would help her find the Well of Provenance.  None of the elders of the tribes believed such a cave existed, that they would know of it already; but Zurak was a Wanderer and a child of Elune.  She would marry no one, she would stay alone if that was the only way to fulfill her quest.

The people of the Golden Land thought Wanderers to be special, lucky even, so Churashom’s family had agreed to stay.  But there was one condition, a condition that Zurak could not argue with and that condition had brought her to the rocks with a basket full of food.  She had to say good bye to Taeyo, Zurak had to let him go.

There was a tiny fluttering in her midsection; Zurak instinctively placed her hand over it as though to calm her unborn child.  The baby had only recently quickened inside her; those tiny movements always made Zurak smile and try to imagine what her baby would look like.  Churashom was hoping for a strong boy with pure white hair even though his wife was dubious about that.  Zurak knew that the white hair was the first thing to go when a Wanderer married into the families of monkey people. 

The white hair would always come eventually to those who had Wanderer blood in their veins though, it would creep up on them as they aged to show the truth of their ancestry. Zurak wanted her son to have Churashom’s bravery and her faith in Elune, other than that, she did not care what her baby looked like.  But she did care about her little brother not eating her child, it was a very real concern so Zurak pulled her body up from the ground and began to make a clicking sound with her mouth.

She had not actually seen Taeyo in two months, the bear roamed around the area where the tribe was settled and would call out to Zurak from time to time.  She would always drop everything and answer the summons, but each time there was less familiarity in the bear’s eyes, less recognition somehow.  But Taeyo had grown into a strong bear, he was twice Zurak’s size now and his pelt showed the signs of a few fights.  The last time he had called out to Zurak, Taeyo had been badly wounded; she had been salving his worst wounds when the bear unexpectedly took a swipe at her.

That was the night the tribe decided that Zurak must end her relationship with the bear, she had been badly wounded by the swipe and it was time to part ways.  Zurak’s new father Mohiwalip had gently explained to the Wanderer that Taeyo had his own destiny now.  She had cried bitterly but not argued, Mohiwalip was right because Taeyo was never going to be anything but a wild animal.

But she wanted to say goodbye, Zurak knew in her heart that there was enough recognition left, enough love left between them for Taeyo to give her that.  Her nose picked up Taeyo’s rank smell well before her eyes and ears could find him and Zurak pulled the berries from her basket.  She called out to Taeyo as she arranged a pile of plump berries on the far end of the rock and waited.

It was just a few minutes before a shaggy golden brown head appeared from around the trees; Taeyo’s nose was twitching towards the berries but he kept his eyes on Zurak.  She could see the struggle behind those brown eyes, Taeyo was trying to remember why he shouldn't eat her and it was a struggle he was losing.  Zurak began to sing, it was a lullaby that her mother would always sing and a sound that always comforted the bear.

Taeyo relaxed at Zurak’s soothing tones, his eyes glowed with happy love for her as he shambled to the rock to stuff berries in his maw.  Zurak kept singing as she produced two enormous fish followed by a hunk of venison and a comb dripping with honey.  Taeyo grunted and growled happily as he consumed the feast, the blood and honey matting down the fur around his muzzle, with the happiness of a sated bear.

Zurak sat on the rock and watched her brother devour his farewell feast, she remembered that first day when she sat on a rock and watched the little cub eat her fish and felt the salt tears stinging her eyes again.  Taeyo finished off all the food, including licking the honey off of the rocks, before he sat down heavily on his haunches and stared at her.

The silence between them grew thick and heavy as Zurak stared sadly at Taeyo, he grunted softly and reached out with one paw as he regarded her with a cocked head.  She reached out with her paw too and asked gently, “You see it as well, don’t you?”

Zurak moved a little closer to Taeyo, so that she could feel his fur with her fingertips as she continued.  “The wise Elune gave us to each other so that we would both survive and grow strong.  You are my brother, I am your sister, but we are not of the same world anymore.”

Zurak could not stop the flow of hot tears down her face, she even forgot her fears for her baby in her grief and moved even closer to the bear.  Taeyo was grunting softly making Zurak want only to bury her face in his familiar warmth; she told herself to be strong, that this was what was best for everyone.

Zurak looked deeply into Taeyo’s eyes and said, “I can no longer come and meet you, no longer bring you food or tend your wounds brother.  It is time for us to part.” 

There was something in the bear’s eyes, perhaps it was only something that Zurak wanted to see, but it looked like sadness to her.  It looked like Taeyo understood her words, that he had already figured out the truth of them on his own.  The sun was beginning to dip down in the sky, Zurak knew it was time to go back but she lingered for a few more minutes to sing one last song.

When she was finished, Zurak stood up and very gently stroked Taeyo’s face one last time.  “I will always love you little brother, you will always be my family, no matter what.”  With that, Zurak picked up her basket and turned to leave.

The tears were flowing down Zurak’s face as she walked away from Taeyo, she could feel his eyes on her back and hear the bear’s plaintive grunts.  Even though her heart was ripping in two, Zurak would not look back; she would not be able to be strong if she looked at him again.

Taeyo was a bear, he belonged with the other bears and Zurak belonged to the monkey people now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Be Careful



It has taken me a few days to work this one out, but our directive this week was to write 100 words inspired by 'be careful'.

Be careful, my mom always said
Everyone always says it
Because I am heedless

I have a literal brain
It does not fill in the blanks
It hears only your exact words

Be careful, they say
And I am,
I am full of care

I carry my full
Where ever I go
I am always careful

Because you love me
And you care
You are full with me

You carry my full
I carry your full
We are careful

Because we love
Because we care
Because we're here
Because we're there

I'll be careful
As long as you care

WANDERER Part 19

Media Frenzy



“They can’t just take it away from us Pet,” Tass hissed, “those mucking bass Tardises.”

Pet didn't look up from the letter she was reading, “It was never ours, it always belonged to the State.”

“Why are you so calm about this?  Doesn't is criss you off?”

Petra was not angry, she had been expecting this and this was the reason she had held off making the announcement about the discovery of Bear Cave.  The cave was on land owned by the State of California and once that bear carving had been found, everything changed.  Runes were definitely not the work of the ancient natives of California so no one had cared about Pet’s expeditions, but a bear was something different.  That bear carving took the discovery from the realm of an obscure curiosity to a place of archaeological significance because the ancient natives did make carvings of animals.  Now it was officially protected and the only excavations would be state and native sanctioned ones that no one really had an interest in conducting.

However, Pet had seen all this coming from the very first moment she had looked down from the rocks and seen the fragments.  One of the benefits of being an outsider was not playing by insider rules and it had taken quite a lot of convincing along with some creative bribery to keep the hikers quiet until Pet was ready to reveal the cave.  But those hikers had kept their word; so Pet and Tass had plenty of time to do their own research before turning the cave over to the state.

Pet exhausted herself making sure that she wrung every possible drop of information out of the site before giving it up though.  There were thousands of photographs from all angles of the cave and the surrounding terrain; photos of all the carvings and any rock with even the possibility of a groove.  Samples of dirt, rocks, mosses and a host of other specimens had been collected and sent to the labs.  CaveWomen had even brought in a genuine scientist, a retired teacher from the area who was a longtime reader and supporter of the blog.

Dr. Garcia spent two days examining all the carvings before concluding that they were genuine and even suggested that all of the glyphs had been carved by the same hand.  A private geologist had come for a quiet consultation about the age of the glyphs, but even Pet had a hard time wrapping her head around the geologist’s findings.  She knew that the glyphs were incredibly old and even harbored the suspicion that they predated European examples by thousands of years.

Accepted history states that Christopher Columbus discovered the new world first in 1492, that no Europeans had come to the Americas before then and that it was still a ‘discovery’ even though there were people waiting for him when he arrived.  The gigantic egos that wrote history books were unconcerned about facts that did not support their story.  Actually, they were kind of antagonistic about those pesky facts and did their level best to hush the voices of dissent.

They had gone to war with Pet the very moment she had announced the finding of Bear Cave on her blog, which she had done without going to the authorities first and without asking the established order pretty please.  In fact, Pet had gone way outside of her usual comfort zone and sent out a press release because she knew there would be a surfeit of voices calling her a fraud, pretender or nutjob.-

The CaveWomen came out swinging with a full report including all the lab findings, photos and even the theory that the glyphs were carved at least five thousand years before Columbus was born.  But Pet would not fight in their arena, the odds were rigged in favor of the house and she did not have the patience for that glacial pace.  Pet and Tass took the fight out into the streets, if the scientists wanted to hang them out to dry then they would have to get past over a million readers to do so.  The best lesson Pet had learned from the computer age was that the only thing you needed to have credibility was to have a bunch of strangers saying that you were credible.

So she was ready for the fight, but it was not the fight that interested her.  All Pet wanted was to understand the glyphs, it was her life’s work, her calling and nothing would push her off course.  Tass however, was a different story.  Tass was a fighter, a scrappy contender who did not like to be pushed around or bossed around.  Tass was the face and voice of CaveWomen, Inc and she would happily go toe-to-toe with anyone who dared to call them fakes.

They were sitting at the table in the sunny kitchen, well Pet was anyway because Tass kept getting up to stomp around the room angrily.  “Well we can’t let them get away with this,” Tass fumed from near the sink.

“They have already gotten away with it,” Pet replied placidly, “but we got away with something too, don’t forget that.”

Tass sighed dramatically, “But what next Mahatma bucking Gandhi?  Do we just smile and let them talk all this Brit about us?”  Tass glared at Pet and sighed again extra loudly, “How do we know where to go next?”

Pet fished out a letter from the pile and held it out to her best friend, “We’re going to New York next.  David Letterman wants our help with a Top 10 list.”  Pet could only smile and then laugh at the flow of changing expressions on Tass’ face.  The scientists and academics could do all the criticizing they wanted, the people were speaking and those people wanted the CaveWomen.

Monday, February 18, 2013

This Is The Downside I Speak Of


Kiddie PORN!  I'm saying that loud and clear, just so no one confuses this with a rant about something inconsequential.  I watched kiddie porn last night, did you?

Shameless on Showtime is not one of my favorite shows, it falls into the same "better than nothing" category as True Blood for me.  I did enjoy the parade of guest stars on Shameless - I say did because I became a non-viewer of the show directly after the kiddie porn scene - and it was wonderful seeing both Louise Fletcher and Chloe Webb last season.  And did I mention Joan Cusack?  I just love her, she's a national treasure.

But last night, and now this morning, there is nothing you can say to me to get me to support those pedophiles.  And, if you are still watching after last night's episode, I'm going to think you are a pedophile, no joke.

If you're not familiar with Shameless, it is a remake of a British import about a poor family doing whatever they can to survive.  The Gallagher kids pretty much have to raise themselves since their mom keeps taking off and dad is an alcoholic/pill popping/deadbeat/con artist.  Oldest sibling Fiona has taken over for her parents and dropped out of school to raise her brothers and one sister.

Deb Gallagher, played by 14 year old Emma Kenney was brutally victimized in last night's episode by the producers of that show and, of greater importance, by her own parents.  Her story line involved Deb's first trip to the community pool, and what started out as a cute story soon turned ugly when the mean girls at the pool criticized Deb's flat chest.

The show truly lived up to its title during Deb's second trip to the pool, after she had taken her older sister's matching bra and panties to wear.  The pedophile director lingered on Deb's covered body as she sat by the pool and worked up her nerve, then skeevily showed her dropping the first towel and rise up so she could dramatically drop her second towel.  Then there she was, a 14 year old girl put on film for all the world to see in a bikini, constantly fiddling with the ill fitting top as it exposed the undersides of her breasts.

KIDDIE PORN

I am not a prude, I can look at tits, dicks, trannies and shoe lickers all day - as long as they are mature, consenting tits, dicks, trannies and shoe lickers.  But I'm a parent, I have a daughter who was 14 once, I was a 14 year old girl once, so I can say with authority that no 14 year old girl wants to parade around in a bikini for the historical record.

So why do her parents think this is ok?  Why do you think this is ok?  Aren't you the same people who keep asking why sickos are shooting up schools?  Because this passes for entertainment, Lindsey Lohan's meltdown is entertaining to you.  These children are abused in front of your eyes and it's ok with you.

It is not ok with me.  It was not ok when Madmen decided that Don Draper's adolescent daughter could play with herself on television, nor when that same child actress was filmed on a bed in her underwear.  NOT OK.

It is not ok for Will and Jada Smith to pimp out their kids on the red carpet, it is not ok to put children on reality shows.  These children are actors/entertainers second, they are human beings first and we seem to think those children are somehow different than ours because they are actors.  But they are just kids, doing what their parents are telling them to do and being forced to compete with adults in an adult field.

In any other industry, that would be called abuse, but since these kids are on TV, no rules apply.  It's only going to get worse you know, if no one says anything, if no one does anything.  In fact, it is probably already much worse than we know, because we are only seeing the successful children.  But what about all those others, the ones you don't see?

How many kids with fame whore parents in Hollywood are doing art films, student films, web projects, etc.? I wonder how many of those projects were never actually intended for mainstream audiences, I wonder how many of those fame whore parents gave their children willingly to pornographers and called it art?

The industry of children entertainers makes a lot of money, so you know the Hollywood types are not going to police themselves.  The star-making machine is very well known to devour the weak, which River Phoenix would be happy to tell you had he not opted to kill himself instead.  Shirley Temple was our first child star, and our first cautionary tale about child stars, and virtually nothing has changed since then.

Child actors are not commodities, they are people who are not given a real voice in what happens to them. They are the white slaves of the new millennium and they are paraded like slabs of meat in your living rooms.  

YOUR living rooms, not mine.  I'm taking the sanctimonious high ground on this one.