Celestial Navigations - "The Wimp"
ravenstrom
[whining voice]I live alone now. Most of my time I spend in my apartment. Just this morning for breakfast I had a bowl of Coco-Pops and some strawberry Kool-Aid with extra sugar. Almost every day I go out to the same park and sit on the same bench and remember the same things. I have a very good memory. I can remember things just the way they were. I remember this great idea I had for a painting. I thought of it all myself. My mother said, “Well, don’t paint in here you’ll spatter everything.” My father said, “Well that’s stupid. Don’t you know all painters are poor?” The psychiatrist said, “To be a great painter, you have to be neurotic and suicidal; is that what you want?” So... I gave it up.

But I’m glad I listened to my friends. If I hadn’t listened to them, just think where I’d be now...

The other day I was sitting in my apartment, looking out the window - it was drizzling outside like a runny nose. I’d just finished a bowl of Fruit Loops and a Cherry Coke with extra sugar, as I remembered this great idea I’d had. I was gonna ask this girl to marry me. I really liked her. But my friends said, “Well, you don’t want to do that. She’ll take away your freedom and won’t let you go anywhere.” Another friend said, “It’ll never work out. You’re from different backgrounds. Besides, all women are liars and cheats.” The psychiatrist said, “To bring children into the world is criminal. Besides, all marriages end in divorce. Is that what you want?” So... I gave it up.

I’m glad I listened to my friends. If I hadn’t listened to them, just think where I’d be now...

The other day I was sitting on my park bench out in the park. It was a gray day outside and the ground was all muddy snow like a baby’s diaper. Right out in front of me was a dead robin. It looked so sickening I almost threw up the bologna and margarine sandwich I’d had for lunch. And then I remembered this great idea I’d had for a business. It would have been fun and worthwhile too. My friend said, “Well, if you do that you’re going to have to get licenses and hire more people and pay extra taxes and you’ll get an ulcer.” Another friend said, “Well that’s stupid. Who’d buy anything you made?” The psychiatrist said, “If you’re successful, especially if you’re successful and make lots of money, you’ll be miserable. Is that what you want?” So, I gave it up.

Oh, I’m glad I listened to my friends. If I hadn’t listened to them, just think where I’d be now...

I went back to my apartment and made some pineapple Jell-O with marshmallows and extra sugar. And I thought, “Maybe-maybe I shouldn’t try to do anything. Maybe I should just follow other people.” I fell asleep. [end whining voice]


[purring growl,rumbling voice]The sun glows hot and bright...filling the empty sky with shimmering light. The light hits the trees and splits, sending shafts of light down to the jungle floor. Here amidst the dark foliage I can hardly be seen. My coat is yellow with black stripes. My eyes are black and lethal. My fangs are as long as my claws. I am one directed, uninfluenced and I live alone.

For some time now there has been a murderer in the jungle. He doesn’t kill to eat; he kills for pleasure and not even that cleanly. He tells the monkey he will help him and then sews his fingers together. He says he will help the bird then clips his wings. He says he will help the snake then ties his tail to a tree...then he stands smiling while the animal kills himself or dies of starvation.

I know whenever this murderer comes into my vicinity and I leave quickly. I do not want to confront this evil, he is of no concern to me. But the other day while I was hunting in the jungle - I realized I was looking behind me too often and I knew he was looking for me. It is one thing to be cautious but to be fearful is not my way. This murderer was making the jungle sick and suspicious and with the knowledge came the responsibility.

I could feel the wetness on my whiskers as I pushed through the ferns and dropped my head to take a drink from the pool. The birds sing in the trees. Monkeys chatter. A wild boar crashes away through the undergrowth. I know exactly what I want and exactly what I will do when the time comes. I sink back into the ferns to wait. The sounds of the jungle melt into the heat.

Then suddenly I hear what I am waiting for...a step...then another step. And from my hiding place I see the murderer approaching. He stops at the edge of the pool - lays down his rifle and black bag and scoops up some water in his hat.

I am crouched on all fours. My belly just touching the ground. My ears are flat against my head. I’m staring directly at him. Even now he’s smiling.

He senses something and looks up. We confront one another for an instant. He drops his hat, picks up his rifle. SPRING! He raises his rifle to firing position. [growling roar]

With one swipe I sever his arm from his body. He screams and raises his other arm to ward me off. But I hit him and knock him back and disembowel him with one swipe of my claws. His quivering body is dead before it hits the ground. The smell of fresh blood pumps into my nostrils. His body convulses once then lies still.

This animal is sick and diseased, so I will not eat it but I take its head in my jaws and drag it to an anthill and leave it. Then I take a long drink from the pool to wash away the taste.

The shafts of light are slanting now and soon it will be night - black velvet night. And I will prowl the jungle and hunt freely once again. [end rumbling voice]


[yawning] I wake up in my room. It’s awfully dark and it’s hot. I’d fallen asleep and my clothes are wrinkled and the marshmallows are floating in the melted Jell-O. And I wondered, how did I get here? Then suddenly...I had a great...new idea.[sounds of jungle,tiger roar]
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Celestial Navigations - “The Winner"
ravenstrom
I ain’t makin’ a move. I ain’t sayin’ a word till somebody pays me.

It wasn’t always like this, you know. As a matter-of-fact, I remember the first time it started.

I was walking down a street there, there was some guy standing out on the sidewalk looking at a vacant lot, had his head in his hands. I went up to him and said, “Hey, what’s going on here?” And he said, “Ohh God, I-I gotta build a house right here in a couple of months and I - and I can’t take I don’t know ...?” I said, “Hey look, you don’t think about it, you just do it. You get a shovel, you start digging a found-cement-the floors and put up the boards and the joists over on the roof and the sides and you get the plumb and electric cabinets and you move it around and a little of this and a little of that and there you are!” He said, “Wow...wow, do you think it’ll work?” “I don’t know, try it.”

A couple months later I’m reading in the newspaper. There it is. “New Directions in Architecture”. Did he invite me to the opening? No. Did he pay me? No. Did he say thank you? No.

Walking down a hallway in an office building, there’s a lady sittin’ at a desk typewriter, blank piece of paper... She’s got her head in her hands. I went over to her and I said, “Hey, what’s going on here?” She said, “Oh God, I got to write a book, a whole book. I need it in a couple of months. I don’t know what to do. I can’t think...what…“ I say, “Hey look, you don’t think about it. You just do it. Just sit down there and start typing. You know, you got the farm on the hill and the corn in the sun and the girl and they move around and the car breaks down. And the guy in the rain in the hay loft and move and the bad guys and the car chasing ‘em and the fist fighting and finally winning and the guy and the girl and the sun going down and moving around and a little of this and a little of that - and they you are!” She said, “Wow, do you think it will work?” I said, “I don’t know, try it.”

A couple of months later, I’m walking down a street see in a bookstore - there it is - “Book of the Month.” Did she send me a copy? No. Did she pay me? No. She say thank you? No.

Walking down the street - a guy’s standing out on the sidewalk got his head in his hands, “Ehhhh...“ I went up to him and I say, “Hey, what’s going on here?” And he said, “Oh God, I got a party here - 4:00 in the afternoon and I don’t know what do... can’t think...I just want to...” I say, “Hey look pal, you don’t think about it - you just do it. You get the, you get the tables and the table cloth, crepe paper and the balloons and move it and lights and the pool and the band and dip and the chips and move it around and a little of this and a little of that and there you are!” He said, “Wow, do you think it’ll work?” I said, “I don’t know, try it.”

The next day I read in the paper. There it is - “Party of the Year.” Did he invite me to the party? No. Did he pay me? No. Did he say thank you? No. So...I ain’t saying a word - I ain’t makin’ a move till somebody pays me.
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Celestial Navigations - "Road Train"
ravenstrom
Here in the outback, mate. There’s no time but what you make yourself. The road stretches straight as a dead dingo’s dong from one horizon to the other and from out here the other horizon is always up ahead. Sun coats everything with hot light. Red rocks and dirt stretched out to the sides, only movement in the air is coming in through the side vents and it’s coming fast because I’m truckin along at a steady 200 K’s pulling five trailers loaded with oil and guns and feed. A cloud of dust that would scare an Arab, billowing out behind me.

I drive a road train. The trucks here are half again as big as anything in America. The engine sounds like the whole startin grid in a NASCAR race. The bull bars across the grill makes sure that anything I hit is sucked under the wheels.

Don’t want a big red roo coming through the windshield like the last time. I just lit a smoke with one bloody hand when bloody boomerang crashed through my rear window, smashed through the windshield and sailed out across the hood. I watched it almost disappear in front of me then turn and head back my way straight on to me head. Without taking my foot of the gas, I ducked as it came back through the windshield and out the rear window. I sat up real quick so to keep her on the road and checked the rear view mirror.

There was a naked Abo standing on top of the first trailer holding a boomerang in one hand and a spear in the other. Never seen anything like that. His hair fro’d out behind him like the tail of a comet. His eyes were burning holes in me. I didn’t even try to break 'cause it takes five K’s to stop a road train, so I just pressed the pedal to the medal, as the yanks say, and tried to knock him off his perch. I just hope to God he didn’t throw that spear. I kept me eyes on the road. At 185 K’s I looked back up into the rearview mirror and he was gone, nothing. Just the hot wind blowing on the windows and the bleached landscape stretching to the horizon. Out of the side mirrors I could see me trailers starting to slide, from side to side, across the road. From up above, I would have looked like a sidewinder flying across the earth. I eared up on the gas a little at a time till I was able to start applying the brakes and after about 5 K’s I finally came to a stop.

I turned the engine off. Silence rushed in. I climbed out of the cab and stood looking back at the road that seemed to have stretched forever behind me. The road was empty. The sky was empty. The land around me was empty. Not a sound, empty space.

I walked the length of the five trailers checking tires and everything then I did hear a noise. I looked up to see the Abo standing there in front of me. I said, “ How’d you do that, mate?” He squatted down and I sat with him, smoked a cigarette, passing it back and forth. He told me that I had to stop training through his land. I should stop all together and get back to the land and feel the sun. Look at the stars. Talk to the animals. I should get back to nature and the loving mother of the land and preserve it and be nurtured by it. I should stay in the outback.

We sat for a log time with silence between us like a clear window through we looked at each other. I finally stood and said, “ I can’t stay here mate. I gotta get where I’m going. I can’t stay outback here.” He said, “ The next time I will stop you.”

We stepped through the silence and embraced each other. I said, “Good on you mate, I’ll be 100km for ya.”

I turned and walked the length of the road train, climbed up in the cab and started the mammoth engine that purred to me like me own mother, breaking the silence and then pulled away.

In the rear view mirror the land was empty as far back as it was in front of me. In about 5 K’s I was back up to speed. The roar of the engine fueled me very soul. The flat, hot landscape roared by. I drove straight for the horizon at 150 k’s an hour. I seemed to be heading straight into the sun that was setting way off down at the other end of the road.

Far off, way up ahead, a tiny speck appeared in the center of the growing red core of the sun. As I raced towards it the speck got larger. And I saw it was the Abo mate standing with his feet apart, his arms outstretched, a spear in one hand and a boomerang in the other. He was glaring into me eyes. I thought to myself, as I bore down on him, “So long mate.”, then he was gone as the giant hood of the truck obscured him. I hardly felt a bump when the bull bars hit him and he shot under the wheels and I shot ever forward down the road.

I had to get where I was going. I pulled down the visor to keep the low sun out of me eyes and noticed a movement out toward the hood ornament. A hand appeared, then another. His head appeared. He pulled himself up then stared at me for a second, then broke out in a wide smile. He pulled himself the rest of the way up, swung around and straddled the hood ornament. He took the spear from off his back and the boomerang from around his neck and threw them away. He turned and grinned at me and gave me an arm signal, come on. I took her all the way up to where the needle touched 200 K’s and settled in. His hair whipped out behind him like the tail of a comet. He threw his arms out, his mouth wide open eating the wind. I yelled out the window, “ Roll on, Mate! Roll on!”

The road train, the great road train with me hunched over the wheel and me mate riding on the hood, shot for-ward from in front of the boiling clouds of dust heading down the long road into the setting sun.
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Celestial Navigations - "The Coach"
ravenstrom
All right now. All you guys come on in here. Come on off the field - come right around here. All you guys just gather around here. You guys in the front kneel down so the guys behind you can see.

All right, now listen up. Listen up. Before we go out to the game this afternoon, there are a couple little items that I want to take up with y’all.

Now first of all, it has come to my attention that some of you people are going out on the - on the mountain tops or out into the desert and lookin’ up at the vast night sky. The vast night sky with the universe and everything and the stars and the planets and the infinity and eternity and light years - all that’s space and everything and then you’re comin’ back and you’re saying, “Oh wow, do I feel small and insignificant compared to the universe.”

Well, I want to dispel that rumor right here and now. Now here’s what I want you to do. I want you to take everything in your mind, just take it out and throw it on the floor - just take it out and throw it. Now, you can pick it up later if you want to but right now just take everything out your mind and throw it right on the floor. Now then, I want you to get into-in your empty mind there a black field...just a black field...black sky, all right? All right.

Now, I want you to lean down and pick-up about a million stars and I want you to fling them through the universe like that. All right, there they are up there sparkling. All right now I want you to lean over and pick-up about a million planets and I want you to scatter them all over the night sky. All right, now there you got it…right there in your mind...the whole night sky with infinity and eternity and light years and vastness and everything and there it is, right in your mind. All right.

Now then, I want you to start squeezing it down, from the corners, from all the - all the corners, just start squeezing it down - squeezing it - squeezing it on down till it’s about the size of a beach ball. Now I want you to take the beach ball and squeeze that down - just squeeze it on down till it’s about the size of a baseball. Now just squeeze it on down a little bit further - squeeze it on down till the whole thing’s about the size of a bee.

All right now, right there in that bee you got the whole universe. You got the stars and planets and infinity and eternity and the vastness of space and light years and everything. And all right now, just take that bee and stick it your pocket. All right.

Now let me ask you a question here...what is small and insignificant here - you or that bee that you have in your pocket? But I think we all, we all know the answer to that. So now when some dude comes up to you and says, “Wow, don’t you feel small and insignificant compared to the universe?” You say, “Hey. Now listen here dude, I got the whole universe in my pocket the size of a bee and I don’t ever remember which pocket.”

All right. Now then the second item of business that I want to take up is - that it’s come to my attention that some of you are-are padding your helmets. You’re padding your helmets. Why just the other day I lifted up some ol’ boy’s helmet down in the gym, dumped it upside down - about 35 or 40 preconceived ideas just fell right out there on the floor. Well, you cannot play this game with preconceived ideas because you gonna be lookin’ at everything through the eyes of prejudice. All you need to play this game is a good sound goal, a plan to get there, and keep your eyes and ears open along the way.

All right. Well looky here, it just about time to go out and play the game... So all of you take your helmets and dump ‘em upside down and get rid of all them preconceived ideas and notions and everything. All right. Now remember once we got on the field, keep your goal in mind, follow your plan and keep your eyes and ears open along the way. All right now, you guys want to win this game? Well, do you want to win this game? Yeeeaaaaahhh. All right, let’s get out there and win, hut-hut-hut-hut-hut..."
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Celestial Navigations - "Ice"
ravenstrom
I’ve never hated a place so much in my life. I had to get out before I succumbed to it. The Antarctic was no place to be lost and we were lost. We were all in one large tent buried in the snow, surrounded by a sea of frozen ice and snow. It was sixty degrees below zero outside. Inside, the little stove warmed things up to about ten below zero. We lay in our bags most of the time to keep warm. And we remembered our four friends who had disappeared into a crevasse a few days before along with all of our navigational equipment and all but one of the dogs. We were all pretty weak from the constant exposure to sub-zero temperatures and the rapture of being in a freezing, white, endless space. Someone had to try to find the way to rendezvous with the ship. It was then I said I knew which way the bay was and I would leave immediately, though I didn’t have a clue. I took a small amount of food, a sleeping bag, and some extra mittens. I wrote down our coordinates. Then I called to Bushman, the last of the huskies. We said farewell and just before we stepped out, one of my friends who could no longer speak, handed me a torn piece of paper. On it were written the words, “When you come back, we will be here.”

I stood for a moment looking from face to face. In their eyes I saw trust but no hope. Then I turned and Bushman and I stepped out into the blistering cold.

The Antarctic was in its six months of dim light. The sun sat on the horizon as cold and as bright as a star in space. The sky was low and gray, the light flat. A steady wind had started up, swirling the loose snow around my knees. The land was flat and straight as far as you could see in every direction but one. There, far off I saw the tips of ice spires barely jutting up over the horizon. I covered my face from the freezing cold and started jogging toward them. Bushman loped in front of me at a steady distance as though he was leading his team.

I looked back after about a mile…the tent had dissolved into the landscape. I was glad to be moving away from that place. And we kept up a steady lope to keep warm and cover ground. The landscape didn’t change as I moved through it and I felt like I was running through eternity and for a moment I had no hope.

We traveled for many hours over the snow and ice through the wind, until at last, right in front of me were the ice spires rising out of the ground like a forest of giant icicles. I was near exhaustion…so I found a place out of the wind against one of the spires. I unrolled my bag and crawled in. I invited Bushman in, but instead he dug a small hole in the snow and curled into it. I threw him a piece of jerky. I ate some too, and then tried to sleep…listening to the screeching of the wind through the tops of the spires.

I was awakened suddenly by a sharp crack! And looked up just in time to see the top of a spire break off in the brittle air and crash to the ground nearby. This was not a safe place to be but I thought if only I can get on the other side of this ice field…I had no plan other than that. Bushman sat there looking at me. I rolled up my bag, tied it to my back, and started snaking through the forest of ice spires.

Mostly, I followed Bushman. He seemed to know where he was going but he quickly disappeared. It was hard to keep going in one direction because I had to weave through the ice field. While I moved along I began to drift in my mind and I though of my friends back there in the tent. At least they were a little warmer and had some food. I thought of their trust in me. They were depending on me to reach the ship, tell it to wait, then go back and read the note. I thought of the ship…of all of us on the ship sailing away from this lonely desolate place…. of putting in at a tropical island somewhere north of here. Swimming in the warm turquoise waters, eating fruit and lying in the sun, the warm sun. I pictured it so clearly that for a moment I was there. And I thought this world is really quite small if you don’t have to travel through it in a body.

Suddenly, I stopped and looked down. There, at my feet, was a chasm. A slit in the earth disappeared down into deep blackness. I had drifted off and almost fallen into it. I looked around to reorient myself. The ice spires rose around me…the crevasse dropped below and the razor wind swirled though the canyons of ice. Just then a piece of the sun way off at the horizon peeked through the clouds and a beam of light caught the top of the spire nearest me. It reflected to another spire, then another, and another, until all around me shafts of light shot through and through the ice spires. A random network of laser beams hypnotized me with their sudden brilliance. And just as quickly they were gone. But I was too confused to move.

I heard a bark and there on the other side of the crevasse was Bushman looking directly at me. I snapped out of my trance. He took a few steps away then came back and looked at me again. He seemed to know where he wanted to go. And he definitely wanted me on the other side of the chasm.

I walked back several yards then turned and ran and leaped into the air! I landed hard on the opposite rim on my chest. For an instant my breath was gone and I began to slip. I caught the edge just in time to keep from dropping out of sight. But I couldn’t pull myself up. I kicked my foot into the side of the crevasse to get a toehold but it was too hard. I couldn’t hang on any longer. My frozen fingers were cramping and I began to slip. Suddenly, I felt something grab the top of my hood. There was a rip as Bushman’s teeth cut through the material, then he began to pull. My face scraped over the ice as he dragged me upward. I could hear him growling deep in his throat. I hung from his powerful jaws for an instant. Then I-I finally gripped an outcropping of ice and in a second I was lying on the other side of the crevasse.

The great dog sat in front of me panting. We looked at each other for a moment. Then I said, “Thank you, Bushman.” He wagged his tail then turned and began loping away. I jumped up and started following him through the maze of spires again. He quickly disappeared. I struggled along after him stumbling over the rough terrain, sometimes crawling on my hands and knees. My face was frozen stiff and my fingers and toes were numb. After what seemed like days of constant walking in the pale light, I stepped out of the forest of ice spires into a long, flat plain, white stretching forever in bitter cold. It looked like I was back where I started. Just then the howling wind brought with it the throbbing sound of a ship’s foghorn and I knew I’d made it out to the other side. I began jogging in the direction of the sound. A few minutes later I could see tiny lights up ahead. I ran faster and a feeling of triumph filled me. Then I stopped. Bushman, where was he? I looked back. The frozen landscape was empty in every direction. I called as loud as I could. A storm was approaching and the ship sounded its horn once more. I said a silent good-bye to my furry friend and ran toward the ship, the tears freezing on my face.

By the time I reached it, I was exhausted. They hoisted me up and took me up and took me to the officer’s quarters. It was warm and cozy and I told them my story. The captain was silent for a few seconds, then he apologized and said they couldn’t’ send a party back at this time. They were getting up steam to sail out to see where they would ride out the storm that was coming. They would be back in two weeks and I must stay with them and help them back when the time came. It would be suicide to stay in the storm. I agreed but I thought of my friends somewhere out there on the ice. I was afraid they would die without hope.

I bundled up and went back out on deck. I stood on the fantail looking off into the lowering clouds and razor-cold winds. The ice was closing in around the ship. Then I heard a noise and looked down. There was Bushman, standing on the ice looking up at me. He barked again. This great furry dog had saved my life and in an instant I knew what I must do. I ran below and got a compass. I wrote down the ship’s coordinates and left a note on the Captain’s bunk. Back on deck I tied off a line and slid down to the ice. I hugged Bushman and together we disappeared back into the storm.

Later the captain would read the note. It had been written on a torn piece of paper in a shaky hand. It said, “When you come back, we will be here.”
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Celestial Navigations - “The Tree"
ravenstrom
I live on a farm in Kansas. I grow wheat. Except for my two kids I think I love the tree in our front yard the best. It’s the only tree in that part of the country. You can stand on the seat of the tractor, look off to the horizon in any direction it’s just flatter than flat. The tree is the only thing reaching up to the sky. It’s pretty tall and the branches stretch out and the leaves form a canopy that goes over the house, kind of protects it. Once in a tornado, the barn ended up looking like a mess of scrambled wood scattered all over the place, but the house and the tractor and the pick-up didn’t have nearly a scratch on them. They was protected by that tree.

My kids was born on a hot afternoon. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky or a breath of fresh air. My wife had been in labor the whole night before and when they finally come she didn’t have no more strength and she died. We didn’t have nobody, no doctor or nothin’, just her and me and then it was just me and the kids. I buried her under the tree.

Well, I nursed the kids up and took care of them. Built a little platform on the tractor so I could take them with me when I was out plowing or harvesting or whatever. I told them stories. Oh, they loved to hear the stories, loved to hear about the heroes, about the great heroes in the world, the warriors, the industrialists, the great builders of cities, doctors and teachers and all that. They just loved to hear about the heroes. They’d get a real spark in their eyes.

When they was old enough I started taking them to school, about an hour there and an hour back, and I’d do that twice a day. And in between I’d be out plowing, or planting, or harvesting the wheat. Then it was they started telling me stories. They’d come back every day after school with stories about these great people, these great men and women that they’d read about. People who were out doing things, had great dreams and would bring them into the world. They’d get such a real spark in their eye. I was so pleased. I was so pleased that they had somebody to look up to and emulate.

I remember one day I was standing out there under the tree looking out at the golden wheat, under the sun, a little breeze ruffled, just like the wind across a lake and I said, “Boy, that’s just about the prettiest thing I ever saw.” They said, “Well, that may be daddy, but look at here.” And they showed me a colored picture of an orange grove in California with the sun going down behind the purple mountains with snow on it. Then they showed me a picture of an apple orchard in New York State and it had blossoms in the trees and flowers underneath. It was just gorgeous and I thought, well now those are pretty.” Those are really pretty.

Once I was out working on the tractor. I was working on the carburetor and that’s kind of tricky. It takes a little figuring. Takes a lot of figuring actually and they come running up and they say, “But daddy, daddy look it here, look at this!” And they showed me a picture of a bridge. This bridge, this great man had built and I saw it there spanned out across the river. It had cars and trucks and trains going across it, boats going underneath and white billowing clouds in the background and I thought; “Now that took some figuring! That took some real figuring. It’s not like some old carburetor. “ I was just glad they had these kind of people to look up to.

Now when they got a little older they started inviting their friends over. Well I looked at the house through their eyes and saw it a little shabby so I was out painting the door jams and the window sills one day, you know, kind of spruce it up a little bit. I saw them sitting under the tree and they was looking at something that was spread out under them with the sun coming through the leaves. When I was through painting I went over there and I looked down at what they were looking at. They was looking at a painting. There was beautiful mountains and lords and ladies and such. There was a castle in it and horses and lightning coming through the sky. It was real dramatic and I thought; “ Now that’s a painting. That is some real painting.”

A little while after graduation I packed a bag for each one of them. We drove down the highway where the bus comes by. We sat there waiting. Dark clouds come over and it started to rain on the windshield, but they wasn’t paying any attention to that. They was thinking about going off to the city. They were talking about it. They were going to learn these great things and listen to great people and go to school more if they wanted to, and go to great art galleries and to see what was going on in the world. They had their own careers they was so excited about. I was so excited for them. Then the bus comes. I give them each a hug and a kiss and as much money as I had. They waved to me out the window. I waved back, just stood there in the rain and watched the bus disappear down the highway.

Well, it was kind of quiet around the farm after that, with them gone. About a month later I got a letter saying that everything was going fine in the city. They had apartments. They had jobs. They were meeting all these people and going to art galleries and lectures and stuff and they was off on the road, off on the road to there lives. I was so happy for them. But I told them. Don’t, don’t write me no more. Don’t look back here, you just keep on going. Go on. Oh, they’re good kids and they’ll do well in life. I know that. After about a year of checking the mailbox everyday, even on Sundays, I decided I’d write them a letter. So I got a pencil and a paper and I sat down under the tree and I started out. I thought’ “Now, what can I tell them? about the three new acres I got, or the new batch of little puppies? Then I bought this shovel and painted the handle bright red, it was something to do. I thought, no. They don’t want to hear about that”. Then I thought I’d ask them about the great people they were meeting and how they was getting on and everything but, I didn’t know any body’s name or what they was up to. I finally thought of one sentence and I wrote it down. Course, I didn’t have an address for them so I folded it up and dug a little hole under the tree in the roots there and I put it down in the roots and covered it over. I figured maybe one day they’d read it.

That night, in my dreams, I heard a moaning and a groaning and a shrieking and it just shook my whole body. There were all these terrible sounds going on. When I woke up I thought, “ Boy, that was some dream!” But then I walked out on the front porch and it hadn’t been a dream. During the night, the tree had grown, I mean it had grown. The roots were stretched out under the ground all the way to the horizon and out under the entire country. The trunk just shot straight up, up past the birds, up past the clouds. From way up there you could look down and see the whole country. You could see the cities and towns and the rivers and lakes and mountains and trees. You could see all the production and the industry, creation and everything that was going on. Everything my kids had wanted and told me about. And the branches stretched out and the leaves formed kind of a canopy. They sheltered the whole country. I sat there for the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out what had made that tree grow like that. And then later, I thought about that letter I had wrote my kids and I dug down there in the dirt, but it wasn’t there. Instead there was a polished stone and engraved in the stone were the words I had written to my kids. It said, “ I Love You Very Much!”
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Celestial Navigations - The Wall
ravenstrom
“The Wall

I stood before the wall and it was a wall stretching to infinity in either direction. It was dark, it was thick, it was massive and it was solid. It was not something you could see into, rather it stopped sight and it was directly in front of me. And the dark clouds rolled in the sky above. I had heard that the wall was the end and when you reach it you are stopped forever and can only turn around and go back. But I had arrived here by my own choosing and I had no intention of ever going back... I was going through. I wanted to know what was on the other side. I am not a normal man.

I began feeling along the dark wall - feeling for cracks - any opening. Anything that might provide a handhold. I tripped over the occasional body of someone who had come to a dead stop. I could hear the moans of some who were still alive but could not move. And occasionally hands would grab at my legs and try to pull me down. And the dark, thick clouds rolled above. For weeks I continued to move farther and farther away from the piles of human wreckage, feeling along the wall for any opening. My clothes were torn and my fingers were bloodied. Scenes of love and home of my own sunlit dreams and gentle fields pulled me to go back. But I kept moving forward along the wall.

Then one day in a place so far away no one had ever been before. I felt a small hole. I quickly worked my finger into it and pulled. A tiny chink came loose in my hand. I put my fingers in and pulled again - I was feverish. Another piece came loose. I worked for several hours pulling and prying until there was a good sized hole and I could feel a jagged edge inside. I reached in and grabbed hold of it with both hands and using my feet as a brace I jerked with all my might. A large block came loose and pinned me to the ground. I struggled to get it off and finally stood up gasping for breath. I leaned over and reached into the hole and felt around. I could feel nothing. I had opened the entrance to a tunnel.

I gathered all my fortitude together and I crawled in and began wiggling my way through the narrow enclosure. At last some hope. For several hours I crawled through the dark twisting tunnel. I couldn’t see anything. I dared not stop for the claustrophobia would make me mad. I crawled and sweated and felt my way along on my stomach. I clung to the hope of finding a way out.

Then the tunnel ended. It just stopped. I began to panic. I couldn’t turn around. I had just started to inch backward when I heard a roar. And the small space was filled with dust. And the tunnel had collapsed behind me. And I was buried alive. I bit my hand to keep from screaming. I rolled into a ball and started to shake with terror. Then somewhere deep inside me I felt the cool resolve of a mountain breeze and I remembered my intention to move forward. Always forward.

With a ferocious energy I began clawing and ripping at the solidness in front of me. I scratched and dug until I could feel my strength failing. Screams of doubt and self-condemnation ripped at my innards like meat hooks shredding my intentions. With bloodied hands I stabbed into the mass once again. Only this time I was grasping at cold, cold air. There was a faint light ahead. With all my final strength I kicked out and broke through into the pale light of day. I fell out on the other side of the wall. A rush of cold, cold air almost took my breath away. I tried to calm down and regain my strength.

Then I slowly looked around me. I was in the winter mountains. They were deep with snow. Everything was white. The trees were obscured by heavy fog and laden with snow. It was snowing now. Visibility was about three feet ahead of me. And it was very, very cold. The only thing separating me from the subzero cold was a one-piece electric silver spandex racing suit.

I was standing in the starting gate of a downhill ski race. To my left the starter huddled in his heavy goose-down clothing. Behind me stood the formless shapes of the other ski racers, the snow piling up on their heads and shoulders. They were all staring silently at me. I adjusted my helmet and goggles and looked down. I could hardly see the tips of my skis because of the fog. “15 seconds.” The starter pointed at me. I placed my ski poles out by the tips. “10 seconds.” I moved my skis back and forth to free the wax. “5 seconds, 4, 3, 2...” I kicked out with my legs and shot forward into the fog that closed behind me. I skated a few steps, then folded it into an egg position to build speed. 50...60...70...80 miles an hour! I couldn’t feel the cold. I tried to keep my skis flat. The wind was pulling at me. A long sweeping right hand turn just as two flags ripped by me like telephone poles past a train and I shot out onto the steep bowl. Pounding over bumps, my legs like shock-absorbers. A drop-off coming up. No air. Stay on the ground. Faster time. Push down! Push down! That’s it. Damn! I missed it. I was airborne, still in a tuck - in the fog. I couldn’t see the ground.

Then suddenly I broke out of the clouds. The sky was black and filled with bright stars. I was racing at just under light speed out in space - infinite space. I was in a speed vehicle. Electric silver…long and extremely fast. The heavens were beautiful and vast all around me, dotted with bright stars. But I was interested only in the horse head nebula that was looming up ahead. I raced toward it.

Out of the clear and empty space I dived into the lethal clouds that make up the horse head. But something was wrong. The clouds parted and a planet dead ahead filled my windshield. I saw the blue seas and the green land masses. Luckily the planet was uninhabited because I was going to hit it. But I had an idea. I typed in max accelerate. The horrendous burst forward caused the corners of my mouth to touch my ears and the vehicle to elongate to needle thinness. I shot through the planet like an arrow, through a hot air balloon, splitting it. Causing it to fold in on itself and implode. The four remaining planets slipped their orbits and careened into their sun and the whole solar system detonated… dispersing billions of flaming particles in every direction.

No time to think of that now. I was mad. I’d miscalculated. And I didn’t often do that. I’d lost time and there ahead of me was the final speed run down the middle of the galaxy. I flew to it and halted but just for an instant. I tapped in mega light speed. I totally intended to win. The stars in the distance blurred, then were gone in a flash of light. Then I was flying blind as though through thick fog.

I stretched my legs down and felt my skis bump down on the ski slope. I made a sharp left turn, almost losing it, flailing my arms in the air. Up on one ski. Then pulled down and folded into a tight tuck bouncing across the final bumps and headed straight as an arrow downhill. I was out of the fog. The finish banner loomed ahead. Crowds of people cheered along the fences. I trailed wisps of fog behind me like streamers as I screamed toward the finish. The banner flapped in the wind as I skied under it and I slid to a stop. I’d made it! I’d done it! I’d broken through the wall of inertia and reached my goal. YEEEEEeeeeaaaaa..."

If you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything your heart desires.
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Return of the Goblin King - The Professor
ravenstrom
The class was crowded. Students everywhere finding seats, talking, lounging around. Though no sign of the professor. The board was blank and Toby being the last in the classroom, and not to mention late by five minutes after getting lost in the maze of hallways in the building, was surprised that a professor would be late for his own class. The schedule he had didn't have a name for the teacher, though the admissions lady had hinted that it would be a he. Toby quickly found a seat beside an older student who had his booted feet propped up on the desk. The man looked like an ageing rock star. The eyes were a bit shocking though, being as one was blue and the other brown. Toby looked up towards the desk of the professor to get some clue as to why the class was late starting. There on the desk was a pyramid of crystal balls, a small sculpture of an european goblin and a dragon claw stand with a bowl set in the palm under the claws, a bright red siamese fighting fish swam lazily in the bowl, the dragon's claw looked very real. There were tapersties and pictures along the walls dipicting fanciful creatures. There was a crash as some one bumped against a picture near the door and the large framed picture of an eye illusion maze dropped to the floor. The frame cracked and the "Ooooo"s and catcalls followed the student who did it to her desk. All this time the older man next to him hadn't moved beyond to watch the students with slight amusement. Noticing Toby watching him now the man looked at him with the particolored eyes. "What do you think? Barbarians? Trolls? or goblins?" A sly smile cracked the thin features of the man. "I think goblins." Toby blinked. Something about this guy now seemed familiar, but.....
The man stood up and made his way to the front of the classroom. Graceful in his, what Toby at least thought of as, leather and lace. Students still talking and mingling with no mind of the older man who now took up a position behind the teacher's desk. In a clear projected voice that held command, "Take your seats!" The students froze and all eyes took in the rock star look and the regal stance that this figure cut there behind the desk. "If we lived in jolly Olde Mythic England. Every one of you would have been eaten by Barbarians, Giants, Trolls, Ogres, and other nasties who would have loved a bit of Englishmen and women." He turned, as Students scrambled for their desks, now a bit perplexed, but knowing when to draw the line with teachers and amount of mayhem they can cause. On the blank blackboard he wrote in, what seemed like in the dim lighting of the area by the desk, glowing white chalk. "Professor Jareth Synn" under that he drew a line. Turning back to the class he looked over the class. "What a bunch of Goblins they have given me this year." He sneered. Toby couldn't believe the guy, but there was a glint of amusment there in the blue eye, so it must be something of a joke. Especially when one of the older students chuckled and called out, "Better Goblins then Muck Worts!" The professor smiled then, "Very true. I guess you were one of the Worts to make it back after last year's grusome ending?" Without further waiting he turned his gaze to the list of student names on his desk, which Toby could have swore wasn't there a few minutes or was it seconds ago.

Professor Jareth

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Return of the Goblin King - The first day of School
ravenstrom
Toby sighed. Going to college was for the birds. He was only going because his older sister said he'd love it. Sarah was always saying things like that. Course if he wanted to keep her from talking to him, all he had to do was ask who was the guy he remembered from so long ago. A night that Sarah changed towards him and the rest of the family. Shrugging he headed towards the orientation and then he'll get a on campus room assignment. He had taken up European Mythology. Which Sarah had wanted him to change to something like business science or something else mundane, but he didn't. It was that or do straight psychology. Either way he could do a major in either after this year. he entered the auditorium and found a seat near the back. Brushing his dark honey colored hair from his face which had slimmed up in the last year of high school, from the dimply baby face he had been cursed with through most of his life. Mother said he looked more refined now and his father said he definitly took after someone on mother's side of the family. Sarah just pursed her lips and gave him a nervous smile when they looked for the picture of this mysterious relative he looked like. Though they never could decide who exactly it was. The speakers approached the podium on stage and said their various speeches, then gave up the microphone to the next person. Then it was time for room assignments. He paid attention for his name at this point. When it came he noted down his room number and which building it was in and like the rest of the students living on campus made his way out of the auditorium to his dorm. He was lucky to have gotten one of the single rooms where he didn't have to share with another person. Though he was far from the dorm facilities. He looked around his new room and smiled. He'd be able to decorate it himself and neither Sarah or his parents could frown on his ideas for it. He dropped his bags on the bed and dug out a worn teddy bear missing an eye and a weird little creature of a toy that looked like a dust mop with glass eyes and a beaky nose sticking out from the center. He placed both where they could over look the room while he unpacked. "Well Lance and Grub? What do you two think? Prince's castle? Or Dungeon room? Either way we have it for the entire year." Both stared at him in stuffed animal incomprehension. He smiled and went out to the car his father had gifted him with to get the rest of the bags and books he needed to fill the room with. Not forgetting to lock the door behind him.
As soon as Toby left the two toys looked at each other. Grub blinked. His voice a high pitched squeak. "Lance, I know you don't approve of me, but Even my master wants to be sure of the young master's well being." Lance's stitched mouth moved a little into a frown, his voice was soft and a little rough around the edges from his age, which was much more then Grub's age. "Toby will never be what your master wishes of him. Sarah made sure of that." A bear of few words. Grub was not to be put off. "Toby will never be one of us. Master had other plans for the boy. If only the girl had listened." Lancelot frowned, but hearing the familiar foot falls outside of the room he frowned more. Grub and him returned to their positions as the door reopened to the baggage loaded Toby and the boxes he kicked a head of him.
The room quickly transformed from dreary institutional school dorm to a world of wonder as posters of mazes and illusion art filled the space. a Laptop Computer sat on the desk ready for the study sessions for the classes. A selection of books sat along one of the shelves that were not related to the school books piled on the floor. A schedule of classes lay on the desk and Toby finished it all off with a black light and a picture of him and Sarah in a silver and gold frame. He studied the picture of his honey golden hair, with darkly tanned skin next to his ebony haired, pale skinned half sister. His green eyes and her blue ones laughing at some shared joke as his mother, her step-mother took the picture. Sarah did well as an Actress for a small Thespian group that traveled. She hadn't wanted to leave initially, something about she wanted to make sure he was safe. Mother and father never knew about the night he had been kidnapped by some stranger in the night and the adventure Sarah had had in saving him from his captor. Though Sarah never talked about it, he remembered much more then she knew about. The voice, the laugh, and all the things the man promised him. Though what was promised, that he couldn't exactly remember. Though he got a crystal in the mail right before he came to school with a note of "promises remembered, promises kept". Sarah hadn't been home at the time. Though when she saw the crystal she paled and asked Toby to leave it behind while he was at school. He promised and the crystal sat in his room by the old labyrinth game. Though he did bring the two items he held close. The bear and the thing. Both were given to him the day after. One by Sarah, the other found under his crib. Both were his and he cared for both since Lancelot had been Sarah's favorite out of her entire bear collection. The thing though must have been dropped by the stranger who had kidnapped him so long ago. An ugly toy, but he felt attached to it. he patted grub on the feathery puff head, where he could barely feel the rubbery ears hidden by the feather wisps and fur it was made from. Taking up Lance to lay down and sleep getting ready for first day of classes.
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Return of the Goblin King - Cast
ravenstrom
Sarah - Young Woman, Toby's older Half-Sister
Toby - Young Man, Going to College, younger Half-Brother to Sarah
Lancelot - Teddy Bear, one button eye and very old once belonged to Sarah
Grub - Friend to Lancelot, has glass eyes and a beaky nose sticking out from it's furry mop-like body
Jareth Synn -
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