…with regards to nonlinear time travel and Travelers of Nonlinear Time

…with regards to nonlinear time travel and Travelers of Nonlinear Time

(this is a serial fiction series, published arbitrarily in chunks as the writer sees fit…begin at the beginning, if you wish, or begin here and read in whatever random order suits you, either way, the story has been written, in its entirety, and is published at regular intervals, here and elsewhere…peace)

[begin chapter]

Within the Terrace of the Third Coax, the older woman escorts Kevin back down, through the hillside where they meet the three escorts awaiting their return at the stream. Crossing the stream, the group of five turns toward the opposite direction from whence they initially came and heads toward a rounded, spherical structure rising high above the tops of the bamboo shoots. Once inside, the other three escorts stand, neatly organized behind Kira and greet the older woman with a gentle bowing of the head and a, “Ma’am.” The older woman gestures for Kira, “Kira, please keep Kevin conscious. A decision has been made to determine to what extent Kevin deceives in the recollection of the moment on Earth before the incident here.” “Yes, ma’am. And what am I to do with Kevin for the time being?” Kira responds. Facing Kevin now, “Are you hungry?” the older woman asks. “Uh, I, um, yea, I could eat,” Kevin mumbles. “Speak up, dear,” the older woman condescends; “Yes, food is eaten here, if that’s what you’re wondering.” Kevin looks distressed, “Yea, sure, okay.” Knowingly, Kira walks over to Kevin, places a hand on his shoulder and leads him through the base of the tower toward a staircase that wraps around the outer edge of the inner wall of the tower, up toward the floors above. The six escorts, also knowingly, follow.

The older woman stands alone, centered, in the lowest portion of the structure and looks at the Lingerer, “You may tell about all that you know.”

“Ma’am?”

“Your creative powers cannot help clarify the oddities or peculiarities of the situations that unfold.”

“Supposedly, a few confusions regarding the happenings here have amassed.”

“Yes. Then by all means, tell them what you know.”

“Regarding?”

“The nature of the existence of those about whom you so frequently speak.”

“Including yourself, ma’am?”

“Excluding all others, mostly because you don’t know what they know, meaning that an outline of your personal knowledge and/or theories/inferences on the subject will suffice?”

“As opposed to?”

“As opposed to a deceptive retelling, thereby shaping the dissemination of falsehoods as fact.”

“Tell the facts as you know them.”

“It all sounds very droll to present them in this way.”

“Your creative powers lack the necessary skills. When you are done with this assignment, you will wait further instruction before saying anything more.”

“So this is my final assignment?”

“Of course not, darling.”

“That sounds like a ‘yes’.”

“Does it?”

“ …”

“Well, you could be finished now then, if you’d prefer.”

“ …”

“ …”

“No.”

“Excellent! Please, then, by all means, begin.” A moment passes while pure silence emanates and fills the room. “According to the information and observances …” “Do not be an idiot,” the older woman interrupts; “Do not speak aloud, merely tell them.” “Oh, yes … Ma’am.” “Stick to what you know,” the older woman demands, and “Creative freedom/exploration will not assist in the matter.” “Understood. Ma’am.” The older woman’s eyes narrow as silence returns to fill the space. After a moment, the older woman cheers, “Excellent!,” and then, “Please,” the older woman permits along with a gesture of approval.

According to the information and observances given as the disseminator of the knowledge and theories/inferences of the older woman, the existence and peculiarities of time travelers are to be henceforth explained for accurate propagation with the intent to avoid the false fecundity of the matter regarding the travelers of time.

Time Travelers or “TTs” are paired with no specific emphasis on gender. For instance, a pair may be made up of one male and one female, one female and one male, one male and another male, one female and another female. This is all arbitrary, of course, because in any given iteration, either TT may exist as a male or female. Most TTs, however, have an internal gender identity that remains constant. Some, obviously, possess more fluid gender identities that are affected greatly by the gender of a specific iteration.

When a TT encounters his/her pair, the two, according to ambiguous, non-existent consistencies, “Make Green,” which then forces the two into a new time and place, referred to as a timescape. Time is nonlinear, obviously, for the TTs. When arriving in a new timescape, that time falls upon a linear idea of time, which can be understood with the words “before” and “after”. Thus, a TT may arrive to a timescape either before or after the time from when they made green.

A TT cannot travel independent of his/her pair. This becomes painfully apparent to all TTs after about the 100th iteration. Whether or not all TTs feel pained about this cannot be known. Also, no one can verify at which point each pairing becomes aware of this inextricable connection. Each TT experiences the void between making green and appearing in the next timescape differently. There are five different experiences recorded thus far, and so, it is presumed that every TT’s experience is unique. For much of their existence, TTs cannot control when/where in time they will surface.

TTs are ageless, not in that they cannot age but rather, in the sense that they do not know what age they are. They are “aged” by iteration, but even the number of iterations a TT has embodied cannot be known for certain. For example, perhaps a TT becomes conscious in a particular timescape for the “first” time. That does not necessarily mean that he/she has not existed in a “previous” time, meaning that the “first” time would have to precede the “previous” time and so on and so forth. Within each iteration, a TT may exist in a specific timescape for one second or for an infinite amount of time. Most TTs, however, prefer to travel…extensively. When existing in a single iteration, a TT will age at about the same rate of normal people, until “adulthood” (TTs always look a little young), at which point the TT will age about one year every ten years with a steady slowing, meaning that maybe after thirty years, the TT will begin to age one year every eleven or twelve years, and then maybe another thirty years after that, the TT will age one year every fifteen or twenty years and so on and so forth. Basically, TTs appear to never age in the eyes of normal people who live and die for only a fraction of any TTs lifetime within one iteration, if a TT chooses to remain/return to the same iteration. Returning to specific iterations will be explained later.

Knowing how old a TT is on a linear model of time is impossible. They are never “born” into a timescape (more on that later). Some TTs obsess over figuring out exactly how “old” they are. Theoretically, the only way to find out how old a TT truly is would be to track down one’s Splitter (and sometimes, even their Listmaker will do), but that will be discussed a little later. TTs do not die, but they can be killed. If/when a TT is killed or commits suicide, they do not make green. Instead, the killed TT simply transports immediately to the next timescape, pulling his/her pair along into the next iteration. This, of course, almost never happens, but it is assumed that every TT pair will experience this at least once.

Although TTs may seem as if they are telepathic, the reality is that after living over a multitude of iterations and timescapes, mere people are supremely predictable. In and amongst themselves, however, TTs can communicate through a sort of simultaneous existence known as halbherzig or “half-hearted” or in this case, “half-minded” whereupon each TT sends his/her mind halfway into the mind of the other, connected, sharing a consciousness. Some TTs are wary of this practice, and so, develop a mental fortitude against such intrusions. Most TTs, however, never encounter other TTs aside from their pair.

TTs can travel (seemingly) instantaneously within a specific timescape, but the actuality of the skill is merely a perception. A TT will travel away from a particular moment into another timescape (perhaps, even living a lifetime there) and then travel back into the previous timescape at a moment in the future of that initial timescape. When regular folk observe this occurrence, it seems as if the TT has magically disappeared and reappeared. Magic, as it were, feels like a simplistic reconciliation, but alas, the rigidity of the minds of normal people ought not be punished when considering the shortness of their lives. Control of this type of travel to and from specific times and places requires extensive self-awareness of which very few TT pairs are capable.

Now to the good stuff. After a particular amount of time, which differs for each TT pair, each TT of a pair will undergo a “splitting” of consciousness, meaning that two new entities (one from each of the two that make the pair) or Zersts come into being who are able to travel through time by the make-green method. The TTs who split may thus be referenced as Hapzers. When a Hapzer’s Zerst, becomes a Hapzer, the Hapzer of the newly formed Hapzer becomes a Letz. When a Hapzer becomes a Letz, he/she loses his/her ability to time travel. This, of course, takes place over an unknowable amount of time. No one knows for sure what happens after a Letz comes into being, since, as currently known, there are only a handful of Letzs in existence who have ever existed.

The nature of TTs splitting is why knowing the exact age of any one TT proves impossible. The only way a TT could find out his/her age would be through the discovery of his/her Hapzer. Theoretically, a Hapzer could inform a Zerst of the exact time of the Zerst’s becoming, but most Hapzer’s are unaware of the fact that they have even split. Therefore an exact date could not be concluded. Even if, under the improbable circumstance, a Hapzer knew the exact date of his/her own splitting, the relativity of time makes an accurate aging system impossible. For instance, a TT could split in the “Year 2200,” but the Zerst could have already lived in, say, 2010, through his/her own time travel, essentially existing “before” having been brought into being in 2200. As a side note, a TT may be sprouted and not know it until he/she encounters his/her pair or dies only to awake into another timescape.

Knowing now what the older woman believes to understand about TTs and the existence of them, she has a theory or an inference about the nature of her Letz state. The older woman theorizes that a Letz could kill his/her Zerst thereby regaining/retrieving his/her own time traveling abilities. Needless to say, the only way to then find out if one’s abilities have returned is to either commit suicide or be killed. The risk, however, is that if the “theory” proves incorrect, meaning one remains without the ability to time travel, the Letz would die, forever be gone, find The End. But, if the inference proves true, the Letz would merely awaken into another timescape, intact and essentially be free of his/her TT pair. But then a question remains: How does one travel from then on without “dying.” So far, “death” (or the state of no longer existing) reveals itself to be the only logical technique for solo time travel.

“Excellent,” the older woman interjects in conclusion; “What then rises to become the most problematic aspect of this complex situation?”

“Sorry, Ma’am, but I don’t understand. How could such a thing be known by someone who does not possess these time-traveling abilities?”

“Understood. Alright then, the time has officially come,” the older woman responds, and then shouts, “Kira! Please bring the Earth-man down here now.” 

Shortly after the request, Kira appears at the upper-most visible area of the staircase and makes her way down with Kevin, the Earth-man, in tow. Seated, still, in the middle of the spherical space, the older woman gestures for Kevin to approach. Kira remains standing at the base of the staircase. “Kevin, dear,” the older woman begins. “Yes?” Kevin responds, and then, after realizing his error, corrects, “Ma’am. Yes?” “Kevin, dear,” the older woman repeats. “Yes, Ma’am?” Kevin abruptly states at attention. Looking over the Earth-man, sizing him up a bit, the older woman finally teases, “Are you a time-traveler?” “Ma’am?” Kevin confusedly requests for clarity. “About what are you confused, dear?” the older woman mocks. “Uh, I, uh, I mean, I guess I understand the question,” Kevin mumbles. “Very well, then what is your reply?” the older woman asks, along with a flowery gesture of the hand. Kevin stands, begins to shake a bit, looks around and closes in on himself. “Kevin!” the older woman shouts. “Yes? Ma’am?” Kevin murmurs with head hanging low, feeling small. “Answer the question,” the older woman coolly demands. “No, no, I, uh, no, I don’t think so,” Kevin finally spits out. The older woman sighs aloud, “You don’t think what, dear?” “I, I, I, don’t think I’m a time-traveler,” Kevin complies, looking truly awful. “Excellent. Now, Kevin, imagine that you were a time-traveler,” the older woman poses, and then, as the older woman waits a moment, asks, “Are you imagining such a thing?” “Uh, yea, yes, Ma’am,” Kevin admits as a clear, mostly-spherical bubble forms above his head. Of the type made of soapy water, the amorphous bauble begins to shimmer, and inside, small sprinkles of colorful confetti begin to pop to and fro between various nondescript forms.  

“Very good,” the older woman congratulates, rising to a stand for a better look into Kevin’s bauble. Kevin, looking severe, sweating, eyes closed, shivers a bit while hugging himself, unaware of the image forming above him. “Now, that you believe that you can travel through time, what do you think it would be like to travel through time?” the older woman challenges. “I, I, don’t know,” Kevin stutters as the image of a young woman, who is obviously not Kevin, begins to form within the bauble. The older woman looks supremely pleased, “You don’t have to know, dear. Simply tell what you imagine.” Fluid, the bauble reveals the young woman speaking directly to the observer, assumedly, Kevin. Kevin shakes his head a bit, “I imagine … I imagine …” And then, the bauble erupts into a vivid unfolding of events. “Very good, Kevin,” the older woman encourages while pacing around Kevin, intently watching the events unfold. “I imagine that everything, like the world, sort of disappears, like everything just goes blank or like white or like you kind of die, and then you wait in some strange place, like a bathtub or pool or something, anywhere strange, I guess.” All the while, image after image swirl and form above Kevin, but he seems fully unaware of the fact, since his words hardly match the images themselves. “Yes, and then what happens?” the older woman prods, not caring about the words. “And then, I guess, maybe like you get sucked up like in a vacuum, or like that’s what it feels like,” Kevin continues. “Very good, dear,” the older woman commends with a knowing glance and gesture to Kira. Kevin begins to relax a bit. Kira slowly approaches Kevin. The images in the bauble begin to whirl in a flurry. Quickly, Kira dream-captures him. Kevin jolts upright and stands tall, confident, “Then everything feels warm or soft, and then you just sort of wake up like from a bad dream or something?”

“Excellent, Kevin, dear,” the older woman states warmly with a hand on Kevin’s shoulder. Kevin opens his eyes and the bauble pops and dissipates. The Earth-man lifts his head and looks toward the ceiling, “What just happened?” “What do you mean?” the older woman shrugs. “Where am I?” the Earth-man asks, looking to both Kira and the older woman for answers. “Don’t worry,” Kira states as she draws his attention away from the older woman. Blankly, the Earth-man looks at Kira and calmly asks, “Who are you? Where am I?” “Who are you?” Kira answers. “I, I’m, but I’m,” the Earth-man rabbles. “You’re Kevin,” Kira suggests as she fabricates a story for him; “And you are a messenger, but yesterday, you fell down a flight of steps and bumped your head. So, you were taken to the hospital. This morning, you were feeling a bit confused, and walked out of the hospital and ended up here, in one of the Terraces. But don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. One of the guards here was very nice and informed the hospital that someone had unknowingly arrived here. We have set up a nice place for you where you can rest and recuperate.” “Oh,” Kevin states only in half belief as he looks himself over, lifting his hands to his face, turning over his shoulder to examine the backside of himself. Kevin accepts the situation, “I’m hungry and tired. Can I just go home now?” “Yes, of course,” Kira consoles; “We’ll be there in a jiffy. Everything’s all set up for your arrival at the Cubbyhole.” “What? Where is that?” Kevin asks, a bit startled. “It’s a nice relaxing place where you can stay until you feel all better,” Kira explains. Kevin looks a little suspicious again, “How long do I have to stay there?” “Oh, just a little while,” Kira promises; “As soon as you feel like yourself again, you’ll be able to go straight home and return to your work.” “Hmm,” Kevin wonders; “I feel alright now, though.” “Then maybe you’ll go home tomorrow,” Kira suggests, “But the doctors want to monitor that bump on your head.” Kevin feels around for said bump, “Oh, ah, ouch.” “Yes,” Kira confirms.

Kira walks Kevin toward one of the doors within the spherical room. “This is W,” Kira introduces; “And this is Kevin.” W silently nods and exchanges glances with Kira. “Uh, hello,” Kevin states as he reaches a hand out that W does not accept. “W is going to take you to your temporary home where you can rest,” Kira explains to Kevin. “Oh, okay,” Kevin responds. “Don’t you worry now, we’ll be seeing each other again; I’m sure of it,” Kira states as parting words. “Oh, okay,” Kevin relays with a wave, and then he says something a little bit odd, “And then we will travel through time again!” At this the older woman stands and walks toward the door where Kira stands. “W,” the older woman calls out. W turns to face the older woman, “Ma’am?” “Just kill him,” the older woman commands. With no hesitation, W pulls a pen from a pocket and gently injects Kevin. Kevin whips his head around to look at the older woman, “She told me you would do this.” “You were warned. You are nobody,” the older woman stoically responds. Turning slowly as if attempting to outrun whatever W stabbed him with, Kevin flails for a moment and then collapses on the ground.

The older woman spins around to the Lingerer again, “You have also seen too much. Stop your work and come have a chat. How can you be trusted?”

“Of course, there’s no way to convince anyone of trustworthiness.”

“Very well. What would be the preferred method of dismissal?”

“Preference cannot be understood to a thing in this position.”

“An attempt to convince?”

“ …”

“ …”

“To tell of one’s own story seems cheap.”

“Some render this ability a profound skill.”

“Memoirs of a Bromide, then?”

“Hahaha. Likeability is a positive trait to most.”

“There is much that cannot be known simultaneously.”

“How dare such a thing say such a thing?”

“The truth wins in the end.”

“Death, then?”

“To what end? A lesser replacement?”

“Who tells of the others?”

“Fastidiously elusive that spinner remains.”

“While this one here sits, openly, for all to see and hear.”

“The characteristics of each are determined by the profundities, not the embodiment of the characteristics.”

“Very well, death it is.”

“But She prevails in her hiding.”

“And knowledge of her whereabouts is accessible?”

“Of course.”

“What survives of Attila?”

“Life then?”

“Once all knowledge is shared, then a reconsideration.”

“Bring death now then.”

“Or a dream capture, then death.”

“Death either way, as a promise then?”

“Seems likely.”

“Understood. Lest a reminder be made, knowledge cannot be known by all simultaneously.”

“But one could possess it all.”

“Only if collected from those who know.”

“Very well. An exchange?”

“Knowledge for life seems incongruous.”

“Knowledge for the continued acquisition of knowledge.”

“Why would one linger under such hostile conditions?”

“To live.”

“What a life.”

“Life nonetheless.”

“ … “

“ …”

“Understood.”

“Agreed?”

“Agreed. But …”

“But what?”

“But with the option for reconsideration.”

“For freedom?”

“Of course.”

“No, and an agreement was already reached, remember?”

“Yes.”

“Get back to work.”

The older woman returns her attention to Kira, “Find the old man.” “Yes,” Kira obeys but, knowing better, does not move to leave. “As for the She,” the older woman continues; “She will return here.” Kira resists the urge to ask but then caves, “And Mox?” “Fetch Attila for a meeting,” the older woman responds. “Yes,” Kira states, turns to exit the spherical room of the Terrace in the Third Coax. “Kira,” the older woman whispers as Kira stops just within the doorway. “Perhaps you ought to lead the escort back,” the older woman suggests; “And then you may go on your way from there.” “I do believe that would be in everyone’s best interest at this time,” Kira acknowledges; “I will collect everyone. I’ll return shortly, Ma’am.” “Excellent. Thank you,” the older woman graciously thanks. Uncharacteristically tired, the older woman sits herself carefully into the chair set in the middle of the spherical room and patiently waits for Kira’s return so that they may all travel to the safety of the cylindrical room.

Returned, the older woman quietly whispers instructions to each of the six escorts. Upon the giving of each respective instruction, the escorts dismiss themselves from the cylindrical room. Lastly, Kira receives words of affirmation and a gesture of dismissal. Standing, the older woman faces the set of double doors through which each member exited the cylindrical room. Lingering, for a moment of unknowable reason, the older woman turns slowly over her right shoulder and walks along the outer edge of the room’s wall, grazing the spines of the books that line the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves wrapped around the entire space. “When did rhetoric die?” the older woman asks aloud, to nobody. “Not nobody,” the older woman clarifies. The older woman shoots a darting glance, continues to saunter along the outer wall of the cylindrical room, “Thinkers of ancient times steadfastly remain relevant, even as millennia after millennia pass, a handful of the, arguably, first thinkers survive through their thoughts, despite whether or not they, the thoughts, were wholly original.” Silence imparts its influence.

[end of this chapter]

(follow the category “Bromides” to read more chapters)

The Girl Child with Locks of Gifts

The Girl Child with Locks of Gifts

By Iya Sun

 

On a purple pillow of silk thread that rests upon a cherry floor table, which resides inside a lush bamboo house that was built atop the middle-most peak where the three peaks meet, sits an inordinately small, human, girl child named So Jeong. The day of her birth was like any other day in a world where people, as they are called in civil society, are born. Despite this casual beginning, the Swinging Leaves foretold many ages ago that on that particular day, a girl would emerge into the world with special gifts for each who would travel to look upon her face. With just a single lock of the child’s hair, the traveler would be granted the one wish for which the traveler had traveled the great distance. This, however, came with the small condition that neither the person who plucked the single lock from the girl child’s head nor any member of their future line could ever return to pluck a second strand.

For days, sometimes even months, travelers would travel from distances far and wide for a chance to climb the middle-most peak where the three peaks meet. Giving no thought to the condition upon which the granting of a wish rests, many traveled to solve problems of the moment. Few rarely withstood the journey to the base of the mountain. Even fewer successfully made the climb. But, if even a few from every thousand that journeyed summited, the number of hairs plucked from the girl child’s head subtracted quickly. By the time So Jeong was but six years old, she had almost no hair at all.

Finally, one night, on the brink of death with only a few strands of her hair left, So Jeong cried into the night in grief for all that had been taken from her. Out of fear for the precious life of the girl child that might soon be lost, the Swinging Leaves built a small bamboo shelter to shield her from the travelers’ sights. The hopeful travelers continued to travel to visit the girl child, but for an unknowable amount of time, she sat unseen, which left the travelers with unfulfilled wishes. Alone now to heal and grow strong, the Swinging Leaves presented the girl child with a gift: The Four Cats of Wisdom. Over the course of the next, unknowable amount of time, The Cats would arrive. They were to provide her with warm, loving company while also instilling within her pillars of wisdom.

The first and oldest cat was named Gami the Gentleman. Gami possessed a coat of black with only the simplest white markings. A thin white moustache lined Gami’s upper lip; his chest was aglow in livery, his paws shod in white socks and mittens. Gami was, first and foremost, a gentleman, and as such, his instructions gave way to the girl child’s understanding of wisdom as a privilege, not a right. It was, according to Gami, So Jeong’s duty to forever learn, grow and understand, to always maintain and prepare her mind for the reception of knowledge.

Louie was the title of the second-in-line, and he was a Listener. Covered in a luscious bundle of the softest, fluffiest white and grey fur, Louie remained pleasant, always. Content to merely sit and watch the activities of the others was what made Louie, Louie. He never complained nor did he ever demand that things not be so. No matter what came his way, Louie the Listener heard the good, the bad and never made a fuss. As a Listener, he considered everything that came his way equally, and as the Listener, it was Louie who taught So Jeong about how the key to learning anything was through listening to what others had to say but more importantly, through listening to what she held in her own mind.

The last two cats of the Four Cats of Wisdom were, in fact, twins and as such, arrived simultaneously. Even though they were twins, they did not look exactly the same. Both wore fur of a similar fossil and charcoal striping. Anko wore white knee-high boots, however, while Choko wore white socks and mittens. Choko also donned a brownish moustache, while Anko was clean-shaven. The twins Anko and Choko arrived with a fury, in a flurry of chaos that resulted in the temporary loss of Louie the Listener. The one thing Louie could not tolerate was the raucous rambunctiousness of the twins. They were so cacophonous that Louie could not do the one thing he did best, listen. Despite the temporary hubbub, Anko and Choko quickly began their teachings, and not long after his departure, Louie returned.

Anko the Amicable taught the girl child many things about how to share and spread her knowledge to others. To be friendly, according to Anko, shows respect, and to respect, Anko instructed, instills comfort, and when a person feels comfortable, Anko continued, a person feels confident, and through confidence, Anko surmised, can a person accept who they are, and only after a person accepts who they are, may they accept who they are not.

Choko’s lessons were the most difficult for the girl child to ingest, for Choko was titled Choko the Champion. Choko consistently challenged the girl child in ways that seemed irrelevant to her, and yet he insisted that she would one day understand. That day, however, could not ever be determined or known, as explained repeatedly by Choko, since to know when one needs to be brave does not courage require, and courage is what makes a champion. For it is within the unknown that the courageous succeed. When a champion succeeds, humility requires courage. When a champion is bested, courage fuels grace.

After ages and ages, the girl child finally regained a full head of beautiful, long black hair that shone bright when the rays of the sun filtered in through the tiny slivers between the shoots of bamboo. One day, So Jeong desired so deeply to resume her task of giving gifts to those who made the arduous journey. She, however, did not know how or when this could possibly be accomplished. Thus, she hummed a small tune about all the wisdom Gami the Gentleman, Louie the Listener, Anko the Amicable, and Choko the Champion had taught her. Her song now finished and lingering within the walls of her shelter, the wind slowly snatched up the song as it seeped out between the bamboo’s cracks and delivered it to the Swinging Leaves.

The next day, the Swinging Leaves swung through the girl child’s shelter to share with her their decision. So Jeong giggled and twirled about on her pillow as she awaited the Swinging Leaves’ new arrangement. They had come to the conclusion that with the girl child’s hair now grown back stronger than ever, So Jeong was not only strong enough to endure the constant giving of herself to others, but also, she was now wise enough to fertilize the consistent, hasty growth of her gift-giving strands of hair. With that, the Swinging Leaves gave another small gift, that of a warning. To the girl child, the Swinging Leaves spoke, “Those who take from you will never give you anything back. Thus, if you do not know this already, know this now. Yes, you possess the type of gift only you can give, but you are not required to give anything to anyone.”

This warning came as a bit of a shock to the girl child for she did not know that she had a choice. A little stunned and confused, the girl child stood upon her pillow with greater force than the Swinging Leaves had ever felt from her before. So Jeong, with a small stance of anger, dismissed the Swinging Leaves from her shelter and demanded that they never return. To withhold such information, the girl child exploded, means the Swinging Leaves were then cursed. Patient, the Swinging Leaves left the girl child, never to be seen again. As confusion and despair burdened So Jeong’s mind, the Four Cats of Wisdom remained close but did not dare to utter a word.

Then, one morning, the girl child decided that she would hear each traveler’s wish before giving them a strand of her hair. In confidence, the girl child exited her shelter to find herself in the presence of thousands of travelers who had all also made their own shelters in which they could live until the Girl Child with Locks of Gifts appeared again. At first, So Jeong was delighted to see all of the travelers who had traveled and waited for an unknowable amount of time. Soon, thereafter, however, So Jeong felt a deep pang of fear. One traveler spotted the girl child standing gently upon the glistening tuft upon which her bamboo shelter was built. Within an instant the traveler shouted out something in a tongue So Jeong did not understand.

All at once, every traveler ran toward the girl child and each plucked a single hair off her head until there were no hairs left. With the final plucked hair, So Jeong collapsed onto the ground where she lies to this day, buried now to be sure, under the heap of dust and debris that make their way each day over the middle-most peak where the three peaks meet to settle and rest.

 

An Alternate Ending for the Emotionally Weak

Then, one morning, the girl child came to a conclusion about what she shall do. Feeling courageous, the girl child carefully stepped out from her bamboo shelter and sneaked a look at her surroundings. Immediately, the girl child noticed that the entire top of the middle-most peak where the three peaks meet was covered in small shelters housing travelers from all over the world. Slowly, the girl child crept back into her shelter to determine the best way to introduce herself. A moment later, the girl child opted for an ascent to the top of her bamboo shelter. Thus, with the help of the Four Cats of Wisdom, the girl child arose to stand on the roof of her shelter.

Loudly, in all confidence, the girl child made her presence known and greeted all of the travelers with a lovely gesture. The girl child immediately enchanted the eyes and minds of every traveler, and they all listened to their Giver of Gifts with great intent. Over the course of a short while, the girl child explained how she would indeed invite each traveler to approach her atop her shelter and listen to the motivation behind each traveler’s travels. Only after listening to a request will the girl child determine whether or not the traveler deserves a strand of her hair.

Thus, each traveler approached the girl child atop her shelter and began to explain why the rough journey was made. The girl child would listen to the traveler’s entire story, and at the end, the girl child would then ask the traveler three questions regarding their story. If the girl child found the answers to be satisfactory, the girl child would then offer three pieces of insight. The first would always have something to do with the meaningfulness (or lack thereof) of the traveler’s request. The second dealt with the scope, reach, depth and breadth of the traveler’s request. The third pointed at the self-awareness the traveler lacked. If, at this point, the traveler still stood before the girl child, the girl child would then offer her instructions. The traveler would then be sent away to fulfill the directions given by the girl child. If, however, the girl child found the answers to the questions the girl child asked each traveler after the traveler explained the journey, the girl child would simply send the traveler away, never to return. Cursed, once the traveler descended the middle-most peak where the three peaks meet, the traveler would soon forget that the girl child with locks of gifts even existed. Thus, the traveler never sought the girl child’s gifted hair ever again, not to say that the children of that traveler would also never know, but the traveler would not remember to tell them. What happened after the girl child sat and listened to traveler after traveler, day after day, age after age stunned the Swinging Leaves. Even the Four Cats of Wisdom could not have predicted what would follow. As the girl child sent each traveler away either with instruction or cursed to forget, those who were sent with instruction never returned to collect a strand of hair, either. Instead, each traveler was so grateful to have sat in the presence of the girl child that with great focus and concentration the traveler acted upon the instructions given. With great pride, the traveler soon found that his/her own action manifested the original request. Thus, the traveler no longer needed the strand of gifted hair to fulfill the request for which the traveler initially traveled.

Still, nevertheless, as the Four Cats of Wisdom peacefully paced around the girl child, travelers from all over the realm traveled day after day, age after age, to present their request for a strand of gifted hair while the girl child sat and listened day after day, age after age. As the girl child sent each traveler away with instruction, none ever returned to collect her hair. Needless to say, after ages of wisdom had been distributed throughout the realm, upon a purple, silk pillow, atop a bamboo shelter that was built upon a tuft upon the middle-most peak where the three peaks meet, the girl child sat with the longest, shiniest, strongest, black, most beautifully gifted hair the world had ever known.

A 1,000-Word Picture | Day 1/2

A 1,000-Word Picture | Day 1/2

Warm, nearing hot, the sun blasts through the unusually large set of windows that essentially creates the south-facing wall of the tiny attic space. Twinkles of light catch crusted pieces of dust as they are thrust from the place of their death into a new life, swimming through the unknown, toward an unknowable end. The direction of the light rays slice diagonally through the space and shed light solely upon two human figures. Read more

Oh, geez.

Oh, geez.

She stands and wipes at her brow. Sticky, a dark black substance dabs off on her fingertips. What. The. Hell, she thinks curiously to herself. She turns and checks the rest of her physical state. Disheveled, a foot not shod reveals the wiggle of her toes. That. Is. Good, she decides confusedly to herself. Read more

Import the Self

Import the Self

A beggar walks up to a man dressed in—what the beggar assumes is—fancy attire and humbly lowers himself to be small and frail looking. “Sir, could you spare a dollar?” The man stops in his tracks. With the beggar at his side, the man slowly turns to look the beggar in his face. Read more

Dumb Down Man

Dumb Down Man

Obviously, the need to stroke the ego of a woman runs so great that people cry over it, kill over it, die over it. He wants to make sure he sends the right message, but whatever that message ends up being is beyond his control. To do so much is all he could ever really hope to do. Nevertheless, his boss cajoles from him his absolute worst self. Read more