A protagonist embodying a great spirit lives in a perfect realm, a garden of Eden, a kingdom without death or evil or suffering.
This spirit meets an antagonist who tempts/beckons him into forbidden darkness. He has a dream about this antagonist and was told my an oracle to establish a kingdom in the darkness, and bring light there.
The protagonist goes into the cave and falls into an abyss and wakes up a boy. A very naive boy, who then learns about the world of men, and must conform to their rules. He assumes this is a dream, or apart of the destiny that he oracle in his dream told him about.
He’s exposed to the wickedness of man and tries to reconcile how good and bad can live together.
Eventually he gets older, still carrying a memory of his divine mission. He encounters trial after trial that shapes his character.
He tries to give up and escape into his old realm, only to realize it’s futile, and he’s grown too attached to the world of men.
He ends up falling in love with this world, and becoming the very thing he initially despised. His naivety is soiled with fornication of material earthly pleasure.
There is no harmony.
In the end, he faces his last trial, and sacrifices himself….
The Last Dream
And when, still muddy from the flood, the earth
had dried beneath the sunlight’s clement warmth,
she brought forth countless living forms: while some
were the old sorts that earth had now restored,
she also fashioned shapes not seen before.
And it was then that earth, against her will,
had to engender you, enormous Python,
a horrid serpent, new to all men’s eyes—
a sight that terrified the reborn tribes:
your body filled up all the mountainside.
- In the Beginning
In the beginning there was darkness. Chaos lived here. From out of chaos light was born. And these two gods would wrestle for all eternity. When lightness was born, life arose from all that it touched. In time the water would boil and rain would burst forth from the heavens, and the earth would slowly begin to froth with life as the seas churned and the land baked. From out of the earth a spirit of greatness sprang forth and manifested into the form of a lion. From this lineage produced a princely lion of great destiny. He lived in a wide valley surrounded by mountains in the heart of a great continent. In the middle of the valley was a ridge where this lion’s pride could see the entire kingdom from its perch. There was no suffering, no death, no evil. Reincarnation would transform life into life, and all living things maintained a perfect harmony with nature, a balance of giving and taking, of work and rest. Everything had its rightful and proper place. The creatures smiled on each new day that greeted them, always eager to fulfill their destined role in creation.
The princely lion would stroll about his kingdom, walking the perimeter of this expansive garden, taking stock of the animals he ruled over. And each day at sunset the lion would return to the pride on the perch and sleep.
Darkness was the time of chaos and the magic of creation.
One day the lion was sauntering along the streams outlining the valley when he heard a voice whisper in the distance. He perked his ears and stood tall. Looking around trying to locate the voice, he saw a cave and approached with curiosity. He had not seen this cave before, this small dark mouth in the mountain.
Hello, he called.
A voice echoed back, Hellooo
Who is there?
A friend, said the echo
The lion approached the dark cave and a snake smoothly slithered from out of the darkness.
Who are you? said the lion.
I am looking for a king said the snake.
The lion puffed his chest, I am the king
Wonderful! The snake said, we need a wise king. Will you come with me?
Where are you going? Said the lion
To take you to your kingdom, said the snake.
This is my kingdom, the world is my kingdom.
The snake laughed and the lion roared
How dare you laugh at me!
I’m sorry sir, but there is another kingdom, beyond yours
The lion did not understand.
You speak nonsense. Everything the light touches is my kingdom. I can see all the earth from my throne.
You are right sir. But there is a kingdom beyond the light
The lion grew curious.
Where is this kingdom then?
I will take you there said the snake, and he began slithering into the cave.
The lion stopped. He knew that no life was permitted to venture into the darkness, for this was the holy promise to the great mother earth, that light shall guide our steps, and without it, all is lost.
The snake paused and turned. Why, dear king, can you not go into the darkness?
The lion paused. Because the darkness is for sleeping and creation. The darkness is where the new day germinates.
You are right, said the snake. But your new kingdom lies on the other side of the darkness.
The lion was perplexed by this riddle. He looked over his shoulder and saw the sun setting behind him.
Be gone snake. You speak in riddles and nonsense. I am king of all the earth.
Very well said the snake.
The lion returned home and had a dream that night.
- The Dream
That night the lion fell into a restless sleep and slipped into a dream. In this dream he returned to the cave and saw the snake coiled upon its self, eating its tail.
Why are you eating yourself, Snake? You will die! said the lion.
The snake stared wide eyed at the lion and continued gnawing and swallowing at his tail.
The lion turned from the cave lifted his eyes to he heavens. The sky turned red and the sun turned black and darkness enveloped them.
Where is the light! the lion said.
I will show you the light, the snake echoed.
Follow me and I will show you the light…
The lion could not move his feet. All around him was blackness. Suddenly the light returned and the sun shone brightly overhead. It’s piercing rays radiated the earth, burning hotter and hotter, until the bush and trees burst into flames and all was engulfed in the roar of raging fire. The lion grew fearful and closed his eyes and produced a ferocious roar.
Suddenly a peace and coolness filled the air. The lion opened his eyes and he stood surrounded by endless dust and desert. In the distance amongst the waves of sand there was a mighty dune. He climbed the dune and peered into the distance and saw a mountain that seemed to crash out of the earth and pierce the sky, and below the dune there was a pool. Thirsty, he descended to quench his dry mouth and seek shade.
He approached the pool and saw a baboon next to a coconut tree, bathing in the sun. Trying not to disturb the baboon, the lion looked into the pool and saw, for the first time in memory, his reflection. His majestic mane blew in the dry wind while his emerald eyes traced the detail of his visage and admired striking gaze looking back.
How beautiful, the lion thought, completely entranced by his image. His thirst turned to a desire to consume the powerful image which seemed wrapped in a halo as gold as his mane, and he bent closer, to taste this reflection, and drink.
“If you drink you will die”, said the baboon
The lion seized, his longing interrupted, and he looked at the motionless baboon for a time, then bent to drink again.
“If you drink you will die”, the baboon said again.
“Who are you”, said the lion.
“I am a friend here to help you.” The baboon rose. “Do as I say and you will live.”
He climbed the tree and retrieved several coconuts and wove a rope from the palms and strung the coconuts around the lions neck.
What is this nonsense, said the lion. It’s heavy!
Walk to the mountain my prince and you will find more help along the way.
I need to drink, said the lion, I am dying of thirst.
Soon, said the baboon.
The lion was parched and exhausted by the heat. He looked at the cool blue pool in longing, then at the old baboon. Being in a foreign land he felt helpless, the first time in his life.
Very well, said the lion.
He began to walk towards the mountain. He continued onward toward the mountain in the distance, up the steep dune surrounding the pool.
****Back at oasis, the pool belched gaseous vapors and a carcass floated to the surface. The baboon, seated peacefully under the palm, opened one of his eyes and observed a dead lion float to the surface and sink back into its depths again.**** Expound. What’s the symbolism, how do I make this work?
The lion scaled dune after dune in the desert heat. His limbs were grew weak and soon he collapsed from exhaustion. The sun baked his gold fur and he closed his weary eyes.
“Foolish lion” said a voice
The lion opened his eyes
“Foolish lion who listens to monkeys”, the voice said again
The lion saw a small lizard crawl out from under the sand.
“Some king you are taking orders from a monkey” said the lizard.
The lion winced and tried to speak but his mouth was too parched to form words.
The lizard crawled on the lions back and inspected the coconuts.
“Silly lion, taking orders from monkeys. But you look like a tasty treat”, and he bit into the lions flesh.
Too exhausted to move the lion released a deep groan.
A shadow flicked overhead and in the next moment the lizard squeaked and leapt from the lion and jetted across the rippled sand.
A howl pierced the air and a plume of sand erupted where the lizard once was. When the dust settled the lion saw a large raven tossing the remains of the lifeless lizard into air and down his throat. The raven then turned to the lion and peered at this lifeless king of beasts. He hopped closer and, inspecting the coconuts, and hammered his beak into their flesh. Water began to trickle out.
“Drink”, said the Raven. “You’re close”.
He nudged the coconut closer to the lion and the lion lapped the refreshing coconut water. Life returned to his limbs.
“Rise and follow me.”
The lion rose and continued his march, while the raven flew overhead. Soon he reached the foot of the mountain, just as the sun was setting. There were large rocks at the base, crags and pointed peaks. He climbed the mountain and at the top he saw a large tree engulfed in flames. A voice spoke:
You must fulfill your destiny and step into the darkness, said the voice
The lion trembled with fear.
The voice spoke again, Bring the light and establish a kingdom, said the voice
The tree burned bright and the lion bowed his head and shielded his eyes
Go now, said the voice.
The trees flamed and roared louder and louder until suddenly silence.
The lion opened his eyes and was greeted by the morning sun. He stood and saw his pride all around him stirring in their sleep. The sun just began breaking over the horizon, illuminating the valley below.
What a strange dream, the lion thought.
He was disturbed by the dream. What does it mean? He thought of the cave and the snake the day prior. That day he roamed the valley like he had done so many times before, but he could not get the dream nor the snake from his thoughts.
He returned to the cave and approached the opening and called into it.
An echo rang back.
He began to walk into the cave, deeper and deeper. He turned and saw the light at the entrance of the cave appear as a small bright dot.
“Hello”, he called.
“Hello, hello, hello…” the echo called back.
He walked further and lost his footing and slipped and tumbled down the rocks and into a free fall. The lion looked up as he fell and the last trace of light extinguished into blackness as he plunged into the dark pit. Time stopped and the lion trembled at the thought of being lost and dying alone. Down, down, down he fell until he splashed into dark waters. His lifeless body, shocked with pain, paralyzed with fear, floated in the murky current. Beneath the waters was only the sound of whooshing and his heartbeat. Blackness bled into nothingness.
III. Waking Dream
The lion felt arms wrap around his body and pull him from the waters and onto shore. The sun warmed his body.
There were voices all around him, and he felt himself being pushed and prodded.
He opened his eyes and there were a pair of small, furless creatures, resembling pale monkeys, towering over him, standing erect on two legs, with tufts of white fur streaming from the tops of their head, and slender limbs with long fingers, and pink lips. The lion reeled back and splashed into the water. The small figures all cackled with laughter and pointed with glee.
The lion looked into the water and saw a reflection he did not recognize. ***Tie into initial gaze/reflection*** Instead of a golden mane, he saw a hairless face, with gold locks of hair. He was one of these fair, furless monkeys.
“William!”, the creatures exclaimed, “you scared us!”
William? Thought the lion. Who is William?
“Don’t swim so deep next time! You’ll drown yourself”, they chimed.
The lion thought himself to be in another dream, even more bizarre, so he relaxed and played along
“I’m sorry”, he said.
“That’s okay” they echoed in unison. “Let’s get dressed and go to supper. Mother is calling us.”
The lion looked into the water again and studied his reflection for a moment, opening his eyes wide in curiosity. He looked down at his small frail body. He was wearing a pair of shorts. He shivered and looked back at the female creatures. They began skipping off.
William, the lion thought to himself. What a peculiar name.
He picked himself up and began crawling forward before he realized how awkward this was. He looked at the creatures ahead, and raised himself on two legs, gaining his balance. He stepped forward and walked after the creatures.
The lion was now a boy, in a world he was not familiar with. He soon learned that these two creatures were called humans, and that they were his sisters.
He met his mother who was setting the table for dinner. “You’re a mess William! Get cleaned for supper and put on a new set of clothes.” William looked at his half naked body. It was smeared with dirt. Mud and grass protruded between his toes, what once were paws. He began to lick himself clean. His sisters began to squeal with laughter.
“William!” his mother said. “Stop being an animal and clean yourself up this instant.” She grabbed him by the arm and led him to the bathroom where she turned on the shower. She left and returned with a towel and some garments. “Clean yourself up and hurry down to dinner” she instructed before closing the door. The shower steamed the glass. William took his hand and smeared the glass to study his face. What a strange dream, he thought to himself again. I will play along. My destiny awaits.
William stepped into the steaming shower. It felt nice and rejuvenating. He rinsed his fleshy body and rolled around on the towel to dry himself. He picked up the clothes and put them on as best as he could figure. He returned to the table downstairs and took a seat next to his sisters.
His mother stood over the table and called “Dinner is ready!”
A large solemn human entered and sat at the head of the table.
His eyes scanned the table, inspecting the food and the beaming faces looking back at him.
“Smells great”, he finally said.
He sat and the mother lady began to serve him food. His pleasant expression turned to concern when his eyes found William.
“William, your shirt is on backwards”
William nervously looked down and back at the man, then at his sisters who howled with laughter.
“William almost drowned today!” they said
“Oh really?” he said, raising his eyes in curious surprise.
“Yes he was trying to touch the bottom of the blue hole and we had to go pull him up.”
“Don’t be so foolish, William”, said the man. “No need to show off.”
William felt a strange sensation in his face, and he blushed for the first time.
They said prayers and ate a marvelous dinner. William used his mouth, being unfamiliar with utensils, which earned him more scolds. ****Elaborate on this experience****
That night he laid in this new bed, and felt very alone. I hope I wake from this horrible dream, he thought to himself. He thought of his kingdom, his pride, his family.
Soon he fell into a deep sleep. ***What about his lion family and old kingdom? Should I elaborate more on this family and these dynamics? ***
- New World
Light filled the room and birds chirped nearby. The young lion stretched his legs and opened his eyes. He was not on his lofty valley perch. He was on a bed, in a room.
“Wake up William!” the voice of the lady said from downstairs. “You’ll be late for school!”
School? he thought. He shrugged and proceeded to climb out of bed, into the hall, and down the large staircase leading to the foyer.
The mother lady scolded him for not dressing himself for school and took him back upstairs to put on some clothes. She hurried him out the door with a paper bag and strapped a bag filled with a variety of leaves and strange wooden instruments which he were later called paper and pencils.
He and his sisters walked to school. There were large trails of smooth rock in every direction, straight and long, crossing with other trails. Marvelous structures of endless size and color and shape called homes lined these trails, called streets.
William arrived at school and encountered a large rocky plain where many children were running about, climbing, kicking balls, huddled in groups. His sisters ran off and he was again alone. No matter. They were all different shapes and sizes. William found a large tree and sat beneath it and observed the children. A large green caterpillar was articulating his way across some fallen leaves. William picked it up and examined its small face.
“Hello sir”, can you tell me where my home is?
The caterpillar raised itself and replied, “Dear king, you are at home. You need to make your kingdom here now.”
“That can’t be right”, said William. “My home is far away. I need to find my way back.”
“You will”, said the caterpillar. “But if you excuse me your highness, I need to finish my breakfast and began weaving my cocoon! I wish you the best on your journey”, he said, before leaping off Williams hand, and descending down a silk thread.
A bell rang and the crowds of children ran towards a large building.
A large monstrous woman came from behind William.
“Boy, it’s time to get in line!” William looked at her in confusion. She grabbed him by the backpack and led him to a line of children and deposited him at the back of the line. They were lead into a room and another lady with a beaming smile and large frizzy hair greeted them.
“Welcome children!” said the women.
They put their bags away and then assembled into a circle. William sat through this class largely mystified and confused. For hours they would rotate between listening to this lady and creating designs on paper with wax sticks, which they called penmanship. Then they would plant some seeds in a foam cup with soil, play with colorful blocks, and parrot back some words to the teacher. They ate food from their brown papers bags, had a nap on foam mats, ran around outside before they returned to parrot more to the large lady.
Then they were released from the school and children flooded the streets. William and his sisters and a small serry of children marched home, each peeling off into their respective homes on one by one until they said goodbye to the last child and walked up to their house. Mother was waiting on the porch husking corn. ***Tell more***
Grab a seat and help your momma with the corn.
William and his sisters husked corn and soon ran to play in the back yard.
William’s sisters, Jennifer and Nicole, would run through the woods with William, searching for the forests creatures. William would stop and speak to the animals and send them a message to bring back to his kingdom. None of the creatures could tell William how to return, but they all knew he was king, and respected him for his kindness, despite his boyish appearance.
William was an odd child, and the other boys didn’t seem to take to his weird ways, frolicking in the woods, finding wood creatures, and playing in the rivers. This is where William felt most at home. The other boys preferred these games on a magic box with buttons. Video games. Sparkling images would entrance the boys for hours, but William would grow tired and restless.
In his classrooms William would be more fascinated by the ant crawling across the classroom carpet, or examining the rainbows produced by prisms of glassware, or examining the surface of a buckeye he cracked from its shell. His teachers would grow more and more impatient with his inattention.
They soon consulted with his parents and took him to an elder called the Doctor. The doctor thought that William was sick, and had his parents give him a white pill twice a day. This would heal William of his preoccupations with nature and bugs and animals, and help him sit for hours while the teacher parroted.
The pill indeed worked. William was entranced every day after taking the pill. His wonder and enthusiasm soon waned, and he found himself greeted with smiles and good remarks from all the adults, but inside William felt like he was dying. He moved less and less, and could sit for hours for no reason, his mind attending to what was in front of him, or dreaming of his old kingdom.
Each night he would call out to the animals beyond his windowsill, the moths and bats and owls and fireflies, and tell them his story, asking them to find a way to pass along his message to his parents in his kingdom. Each night he longed for this dream to end, and each morning he woke to the humans ordering him around, get dressed, do your penmanship, practice your words, clean your room, eat your vegetables. (Lions don’t eat vegetables.)
As he grew older William developed into a strong, smart boy. His father was a military captain with a strong faith in a spirit he called the great father. He lived by the book, and William’s mother, a loving and kind woman, kept the house and fed the children.
When William wasn’t roaming the forests, he was sprawled out in his father’s library reading the encyclopedia’s and other books of his fathers. After he learned to read, William discovered how large the world was. These books contained all these stories of other kingdoms, other lives and countries and ways to live. William was fascinated and read voraciously. He would dream up all kinds of his own inventions and imaginative works, drawing elaborate schemes, devices, or images.
Williams father was an eccentric man, and the family was always moving to new houses to renovate and remodel before moving to another home, far away. William spent much of his time alone, in the woods, in books, or with his sisters. He was an odd child. Not like the others, but that’s expected since he was a lion.
At school William rarely fit it. His mane was transformed into long golden hair, and often the other children would laugh at him. What did a lion care for the opinion of these sheep, anyway.
On the playground a group of kids would take to bullying William, tripping him, kicking balls at him, and defacing his chalk drawings. William didn’t pay them too much mind until one day he saw them picking on someone else.
There was a new girl, named Claudia, from some country south of America, he was told. She barely spoke a word, and had half her arm missing; just a twist of skin on the stump, like the end of a sausage. The other children would laugh and point and treat her as if she was infected, never playing with her, and avoiding her.
One day in class, while William was inspecting the patterned crevices that collected small rocks on the bottom of his shoes, the teacher called everyone to collect in small groups for a project. They would be planting bulbs. All the children gathered together and collected supplies from the teacher. William dreamily scanned the room and saw Claudia alone in the corner of the room. He looked at the other children happily at work, and Claudia seated there alone, looking at the floor. His heart began to crush with compassion. He walked over and sat next to her.
They became friends.
This was how William was. As a prince charged with being the steward of all the animals in the kingdom, he felt a great responsibility to care for all living things, no matter what their appearance. As an outsider, in a strange foreign land, he was out of place, despite his princely disposition and the destiny that awaited him, and so he found company with others who were out of place, who were odd and didn’t seem to belong. Because of this, he was often ridiculed by troops of boys for no other reason than he was friends with everyone, the weird ones, and didn’t conform to the prevailing code of popularity. As he grow older, he found it more and more difficult to avoid these boys. They would often compete for space on the playground to play games, and William would find himself eye to eye with boys much older and taller. They would trip him, smash his makeshift toys, and throw his balls over the fence.
One day William was playing a ball game with the boys and a boy name Tyler kept tripping William. William grew more and more frustrated, and let his emotions take over. After he was tripped he got up and ran towards the boy, only to be tripped and pushed over. Again and again William got up, and again and a gain this boy tripped William and he fell to the ground, dirty and bruised. Tears welled up in Williams eyes and all the boys laughed. William got up and ran as fast as he could, all the way home.
William ran until his legs burned with fire. Tears streamed down his dirty face until they were dried. He ran until he could not run anymore, and collapsed in a large field. It was midday, and the rest of the children were still at school. The blue sky sparkled and the tall oak trees shivered in the wind.
William walked around the neighborhood, in backyards. It was quiet. Just the animals, the ants and aphieds, the ladybugs and katydids.
Williams father saw William sitting on the porch examining stones. His cheeks were red and streaked with tears for earlier in the day. Rather than scold him, he sat next to William and asked about his day, and how he had gone missing from school.
William chalked it up to being boring, but seeing the tear stained cheeks, his father knew better.
He implored him to tell. William couldn’t understand why children were so cruel, and why they picked on people and laughed at their expense.
Yes, and they don’t include me in their games, and when they do they trip me and laugh. They aren’t very nice and I don’t know why. I never did anything to them. I just want to be their friends. William looked at his squirming feet as he spoke.
I see, said the father. He studied William for a time, reflecting on the right words to sooth his son.
His father, being a hard man, wasn’t the soothing type. He was a pragmatic man. A principled man, with little tolerance for injustice, especially at the expense of his son, and so his prescription for Williams dilemma was about as reasonable as any military man could give.
Williams father wrapped his arm around him and assured him that these types of children are weak and cowardly, and that William must stand up to these kids. You can’t allow them to disrespect you, otherwise they will think it’s okay.
These boys are cowards, he said. Anyone derives pleasure at another’s expense is simply weak. You’re a good boy, William. You cannot let them treat you otherwise, so you need to stand up to them, and let them know that their cruelty will not be tolerated. You mustn’t never pay them attention. Don’t react to their laughter, but always smile and treat them with kindness. You must always stand tall, keep your head up, and your chest out. You are a Dare, my son. These classmates of yours don’t know what that means, but you have greatness in your blood.
William’s eyes were transfixed on his father’s face as the even tempered words flowed from his fathers mouth. Does this man know who of my princely lineage and the destiny that I was called to fulfill? William studied his father’s stern features, the strong brow that hung over his piercing unflinching eyes. For a moment, he felt connected to this man, as if somehow he too was part of this great destiny.
Do you understand me? His father said, interrupting Williams line of thought.
Yes, father. You’re right. I will stand tall, and be kind, no matter what… William trailed off, imagining this playing out the next day, but it didn’t take much to imagine how this would ultimately end, and he winced in pain.
But father, what if they don’t stop? What if they trip me, or push me?
Well, then that’s a different matter, my son. If they lay a hand on you, you mustn’t react. You do not cry, not a tear. I want you to stand up, and politely but sternly look them in the eye, straight in the eye with your head high standing tall, and ask them if they would please stop, and then I want you to calmly walk away.
William almost cracked a smile, for he thought it was a joke until his realized his father’s face remained serious.
But father, they won’t stop! They’ll just laugh at me!
They might William, but they might recognize your courage, and learn to respect you. You must teach them how to treat you by showing them what it means to respect yourself.
William thought about this for a moment. This made a lot of sense, but he was still skeptical, and just imagine the reaction of all the boys and girls when he walked up to the older boys that taunt and torture all the children, and politely asked them to please stop. He imagined the laughter, or getting punched in the stomach.
But father, what if they keep doing it?
Well William, you must give everyone a chance.
How many chances?
You give them three chances.
And then what?
His father bent down to Williams level and spoke slowly. If they do it again, I want you to do the same thing. Ask them to please stop in the most respectful and serious tone you can. And tell them, this is your final warning. If you continue to hurt me, you will regret it. And then I want you to calming walk away. Do not respond to their taunts or laughter. They will likely try to provoke you, but you’re stronger than that, and smarter.
William listened intently, breath bated, hanging on his father’s every word.
And then? Said William. And what happens if they keep it up? How will they regret it?
If, after you politely tell them to stop, and they continue to hurt you, despite your warnings…
Yes? Said William
His father grabbed him by the shoulders and looked deeps into his eyes.
William, I want you to walk up to them, and incapacitate them as quickly and forcefully as possible.
What? William said confused.
I want you to beat the living hell out of them. The first thing you do is punch them as hard as you can in the nose, so their eyes begin to water, and then can’t see what’s in front of them. Then I want you to punch them as hard as you can in the stomach so they can’t breath and have to curl up in a ball on the ground. Then I want you to step away, and make sure they’re okay.
William was utterly shocked. He was totally unfamiliar with violence. In his kingdom, there was no conflict. Maybe some squabbling over fruit or pastures or rivers, but there was always harmony.
William’s strength was always used to helping, never hurting. But the words of his father made a lot of sense.
If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. Once they start walking over you, they’ll walk over you the rest of your life, and others will watch and do the same, and soon you’ll be walking over yourself. You need to stand tall and respect yourself. It’s the only way others will learn. Remember, no matter what or who knocks you down, you get back up and stand tall and look it in the eye. You must be willing to fight for what’s good and right, William. For yourself, and for others. They need to respect you, and the only way they will learn is if they know how dangerous it is not to. Do you understand me?
William was nodded his head, fully aware of what his father was saying, and the potential consequences that played out in his mind. He knew his father was right. It scared him, but also gave him courage. I am a Prince, he reminded himself, and I have greatness in my blood, a destiny to fulfill.
You are never to hurt anyone unless you’ve given them these warnings and they continue, his father continued. Do you understand me, son?
William was staring off nodding.
Look me in the eye. I want to hear a yes, sir. Do you understand me?
Good, now clean yourself up for dinner.
Williams father gone most days, traveling for business. While he was home he would be working in his office, pouring over papers, talking on the phone. William would often wander in, just to be next to him, and rummage through his desk, examining all the instruments of business neatly arranged throughout the room, the paperclips and rubber bands, the stapler and scissors, and countless tools for drafting that William would use for drawing, a pastime he picked up since he was introduced to penmanship, and one of his favorite pastimes. With these new hands and dexterous fingers, he could manipulate drawing instruments to produce colorful pictures of his past kingdom, memories of the land and creatures he missed so dearly, which comforted him as much as it pained him.
Though this man was not his real father, he admired this man. His cold yet cordial demeanor commanded the respect of everyone who entered his company. His father was a very disciplined man, waking up long before William and his sister’s ever rose from bed to read in the study. Most often from a book called the great book. His new parents would read him stories from this strange book, exotic stories that often reminded William of his own kingdom, of luscious gardens filled with bounty from the great mother earth, of promise lands flowing with milk and honey, and most especially, heaven, a vast kingdom where all living subjects return and live for all eternity.
William was perplexed by some figures, however. There was a great father whom commanded worship from mankind on earth, and only if this devoted worship was earnest enough could someone pass into the great kingdom of heaven where we could join the rest of the great fathers subject, and continue this worship for all eternity. This was a very strange idea indeed, and while the stories from the book seemed to resonate with William, and seem so striking to his own kingdom, there were serious confusions this book needed to sort out. But this was to be expected, he reasoned. This land is strange, and so were these humans. The strangest and most perplexing stories were about the great father’s favorite general who was cast out of the heavenly kingdom, and sent to earth. William was terrified when he heard this story, thinking of his own situation, and how far he fell into darkness, leaving his kingdom, and waking up here, in the same place they call earth. This general ruled the earth, said the book, and gathered his own company of followers. He deceived men by spreading darkness. It was this darkness that not only hid the world from men, obfuscating what was right in front of them, but hid man from himself. William knew the power of this darkness, the originator of chaos. The greatest commandment was to stay in the light, and never venture into the darkness.
Despite the misunderstandings the book had about the Kingdom William was from, he found comfort in the book, and dreamed about the day he would find the new kingdom that awaited him, and return to his own land to seat at his rightful place among his pride, as was destined.
William’s father spend many hours a day studying this book, reading its passages, and discussing their meaning with other elders in the community. Every week they would ride early on Sunday and put on uncomfortable outfits and tight fitting shoes and comb their hair nice and neat and walk to a gathering place called church where a man claiming to be a messenger from the great father would interpret the book for the congregation, based on conversations with the great father.
William was patrolling the neighborhood when he came upon a group of boys in a circle. They were congregating on the steps. Curious, he approached the boys. There were small several frogs and toads in the middle in the middle of the group. One of the boys was ripping their legs off, flinging them onto the sidewalk, and laughing as they pulled themselves forward on their remaining two. William was horrified. He watched as they took these little toads and raised their hand to the sky and smashed them on the cement as hard as they could. Their delicate little mushy bodies would explode into a red stain. They’d pick up a stray leg, twitching. This was about the most evil thing he’d ever witnessed. He ran and cried.
- Crossing Over
William didn’t have many friends, but one friend in particular was named Jeffrey. Jeffrey was the youngest of a family of two older sisters. He was freckly and frail, with lots of toys. His sister’s treated him like a doll, forcing him to dress up and play house, despite his protests. Jeffrey’s house backed up to the raccoon river, one of the few places the adults prohibited anyone from going near.
One day William and Jeffrey were exploring the riverbanks, much to Jeffrey’s protests, when they came upon a large fallen tree that bridged the river. They had always wondered what was on the other side. They saw deer grazing and William became excited. He jumped on the log and ran across and encouraged Jeffrey to do the same.
Jeffrey eventually jumped up and made his way across.
Jeffrey and William explore. William talks to the deer (symbolism). They send him a message.
Clouds pass overhead and it begins to rain. Jeffrey get’s wet and upset and panics and wants to go home.
Yells at William and storms off.
William follows and the river is higher, and the tree is wet. William tells Jeffrey to stop, but Jeffrey, in his anger, refuses and marches across.
Jeffrey loses his balance and slips, falling into the strong current. William watches on in horror as his friend is swept away.
William follows along the shoreline, and eventually jumps in after him, grabbing hold and keeping him afloat while he swallows water. The raging waters take them downstream.
- Rising Up
William awakes to the sound of coughing. The sun is shining bright on his crusty skin. He sees Jeffrey climbing up the sandbank onto solid ground. William feels the cool water streaming under him, and pulls himself off the bank.
Jeffrey is very upset and yells at William. He hates him and never wants to talk to him again. William feels terrible.
Jeffrey walks off and William sits there.
****Elaborate**** William calls out in pain and an Owl appears. The Owl tells William that he must use courage and find Jeffrey and save him.
William gets up and looks for Jeffrey. He comes about noises in the wood, bangs and thumps, clanking and knocking. He cautiously observes a large wooden structure, and about a dozen boys. The structure is enormous, built in the middle of the forest, in a small clearing, extending far above the trees. He can see boys wheeling dirt from the inside of boroughs at its center, and climbing the lattice scaffolding around the structure and building higher and higher. He recognizes many of these boys. He decides not to venture any closer and slowly backs away into the woods.
Minutes later William hears a cry and commotion amongst distant voices. Jeffrey!
He runs as fast as he can back to the wooden fortress. He sees Jeffrey on the ground with boys encircling him, and Tyler at the center looking over him. Jeffrey’s body appears still with fear, but he’s barking at the boys in a feisty cadence, fueled by a mix of fear and frustration, but Tyler isn’t having it.
They exchange words and William sees Tyler bend down and pick up a big rock with both arms, and suddenly drop it on Jeffrey’s head. A brief scream before silence. Then muted, nervous laughter erupts.
William’s face begins to tingle and heart begins to pound as a a surge of adrenaline, of anger, of fear, of hopelessness begins to course through his body, and he runs to Jeffrey, shoving the boys out of the way. Jeffrey is unconscious. There is a massive gash where the stone landed on Jeffrey’s head. His eyes are half open, rolled upwards. He’s still breathing. Rage fills William and he stands.
What’s wrong with you! William shouted.
He needs help. Get up, get some help, he yelled. All the boys stood motionless. Tyler was staring dispassionately at William’s agitated desperation.
Did you hear me? Get help you idiots! He’s hurt bad!
William turned to each of the boys pleading, looking for a response, but they stood staring ahead, when suddenly William felt a sharp sting on his face followed by dozens of geometric shapes zooming in and out of his vision. He felt the ground beneath him and he focused his eyes on Tyler above.
Beat it you little fag. I’ll smash you too.
Remembering what his father had told him, William stood up and looked Tyler in the eye. Don’t you ever hit me again, or you will regret it.
Tyler shoved William with both hands and he fell over Jeffrey’s still body. William went numb. He was no longer scared. He wasn’t afraid of Tyler, or the boys, or death. He stood up with his head up and chest out and stepped toward Tyler and breathed in calmly. Tyler hesitated for a moment, unprepared for this confrontation. He looked nervous, and volatile, and desperate. Time slowed and the moment Tyler blinked, a blink that lasted just a moment too long, William had cocked back and with all his weight landed his fist square on Tyler’s nose.
Tyler fumbled backwards, covering his face. His eyes swelled with tears, and blood began to instantly stream. Rage filled his teary eyes and he lurched at William.
William cocked his arm back and bent down, just missing Tyler’s flailing arms, and with a combined force of Tyler’s thrust, William hooked him smack dab in the stomach. You could hear the air escape his insides like a dying animal. He was on the floor, in a ball, shuddering in silence. William stood over his body, fists back and tight, waiting for more. But there was none. Only silence. The boys looked on, aghast, mouths open. Then there was a large gasp, followed by several more, and whimpering. Tyler began to cry. He buried his face into the dirt as he hugged his stomach. Blood streamed from his nose and pooled beneath his head.
William bent down to check on Jeffrey. He was alive, but in bad shape. William lifted his small body and the other boys came to his side. They hoisted him up, William on one side, Cory on the other, and the boys led him to the way back to the neighborhood. They brought Jeffrey to the doorstep, then rang the bell and without a word, ran as fast as they could their separate ways.
William never told of that day. Jeffrey didn’t have any memory of the day, and the boys that helped him never spoke a word. Tyler showed up at school with broken nose, but he never told what happened. He did however come up to William on the playground at school. William was prepared for another fight, and he stood he ground. The children’s eyes followed Tyler as he walked up to William, face black and green and blue and stop right before him. Tyler apologized, and extended a hand. He was sorry and he wanted to make it up. He extended a birthday invitation.
They shook hands.
All the other boys bowed their heads and respected him. They saw his grace and his humility and the kindness, as well as his courage and power. He was their leader now, and they invited him back to their tower.
This tower was where they ruled, said the boys. Their own kingdom on earth. William was appalled to find animals in makeshift cages.
One day he arrived and there was a girl tied up in the bowels of the fortress. Who was this girl? Was she missing? William was furious and lashed out at the boys. Will they ever learn? He set the girl free and began to smash the fortress in a violent rage.
What kingdom is this? You destroy the forest, you cage the animals, you keep slaves? I want nothing to do with you. This is not a kingdom. This is destruction.
He storms off, leaving the fortress damaged, but still towering high into the heavens, like a monument to boyhood.
William finds his way home, overwhelm with emotion. It’s dusk and the last rays of sunlight stream into his room. A clack at the window gets William’s attention. He gets up and sees a dark raven and opens the window.
My dear Raven, I can’t take this world. There is endless death and cruelty. The Raven listened and nodded in agreement. You are right my sir. It’s a wicked place, but you continue to stand tall. The spirit will extinguish this wickedness soon and you must be prepared.
The following days it began raining, and raining, and raining, and for four days four nights it rained, until the basements were engorged with water, and the streets turned into rivers, and the whole neighborhood became submerged. Williams home was on the tallest peak of the town, and was the lone home on dry land. Their basement was flooded. The animals took refuge on their property, the birds and the deer and the bear and the squirrels, all hid in their yard and the forest just behind.
On the fourth day the rains stopped and all the neighborhood was submerged.
Weeks later the waters began to subside.
William explores with his sister.
They save animals, small rabbits and deer. They hear a yelling and amongst the trees half submerged, he sees a petrified baby squirrel clinging for dear life. The deep waters are dangerous. There is darkness in the depths, and serpents, long and lethal, called the black moccasin. Williams sisters huddle together and tell William he must save the small squirrel.
William takes off his shoes, and wades into the deep dark murky waters. He feels the ground beneath his feet, and jolts at every slimy stick that pricks his foot. Finally he arrives and gently clasps the squirrel and holds it gently above his head as the water laps at his chin. He makes it to shore and places the squirrel in the hands of his sister Jennifer and Nicole wraps it in their jacket.
William sits down sopping wet and black with mud and slime. He scans the black sea of water before him rippling ever so gently, observing a log floating on. His eyes land on a piercing gaze and he leaps back. A long slithering snake begins to emerge from the waters and head toward them.
William yells at the snake.
His sisters scream and huddle against the bushes, with no where to go.
William grabs his slingshot and plunges his hand into his pocket to retrieve a handful of smooth stones.
He loads the slingshot and fires, hitting the snake with a sharp thud in the side. The snake recoils and hisses. He loads it again and takes aim at its head, but strikes it in the underbelly with another thud. The snake coils and raises its shaking tail in alarm and raises its head. William loads his final stone and, asking the spirit of greatness to guide this stone, unleashes it at the snake. Like a homing missile it whirs and penetrates the snakes forehead, cracking its skull with resounding clap. The snake lurches into the air and spins uncontrollably, convulsing and swirling its body until it tied itself into knots and gave its final twitch.
William grabbed a stick and poked its scaly body. The black serpent looked about fifteen feet, longer than William and his sisters stacked head to toe. William grabbed the snake by the tail and dragged the lifeless beast back home. His parents were horrified, and scolded him, but to his sisters he was a hero.
XIII. New Beginning
Soon thereafter William’s family packs up and moves.
William is in a new school.