Sunday, April 28, 2013

When You Don't Know Up From Down

The kids could see the faint edges of dawn scrape against a peach sky.  They were crowded behind a rich, red rock overhang.  Petey wanted them to wait until it was light and clear before they ventured into a ghost town. And they needed a bit of a rest and a bite of food.   Who knew what was hanging around in that town?  The wind was howling even as the sun ventured over the mountains.

In a little awhile, they ventured into town.  They were walking slowly, being watchful, looking behind the doors and through the windows.  The town didn't feel exactly right, but nobody could identify what was wrong or why.  They clustered around an old saloon.  While the kids were still hungry and thirsty,   there was nothing fresh or alive available, and the tin cans were all dented and at least 80 years old.  Not inspiring.

Towards the back were two men, one was an old guy, with longish hair pulled back into a streaky grey pony tail. The other was younger, enough so, he could have been a grandson.  They looked like you would figure Native American men would look, if they lived on the a reservation in Arizona. They were sitting an ancient wooden table.  The younger man was tipping his chair back and you could see great bands of turquoise on his wrists and on his belt buckle.  

They ventured toward them.

"Hello, Grandfather,"  John-John said.

"Little Brother,"  Petey said.  The two men were sipping warm orange soda pop.  The morning sun was coming in the Eastern windows.  Dust motes danced along the sun beams,

"Do you know who we are?"  Little Brother looked at Omega with impudence and some amount of sass.

"I know what you are," Omega said.

In that instance both men blew up like balloons from the Macy's Day Parade.  Grandfather had transformed into the shape of an orange wolf with fire for breath and he was blowing smoke and flames towards Omega and the kids.  Little Brother became a snappping, vicious sea turtle, also orange, snapping  at every bit of flesh it could find.   They sucked all the air from the room, which made the kids choke and move away in order to catch a breath.

Omega held up his right arm, high in the sky, with his fingers fanned out.  "Stop," he ordered and the wind from the mountains and the deserts blew—the dirt devils— fanned out across the room.  Lightning followed by thunder, popped and snapped, inside the saloon.  And then it was done. Grandfather and Little Brother were gone, all gone.

"Who were they?!?" asked Cheryl, the girl with wide cheek bones and a beginning crush on Larry. "And how did you know their names?"  

"They were shape-shifters, medicine men who can change their bodies into wild and terrible animals.  They aren't the sweetest guys around," John-John said.  "We didn't, exactly, know their names  Native Americans can refer to each other, as relationship would indicate, like calling your mom—Mom.  I guessed at what their names might be."

"Is this place weird, or what?"  Cheryl asked.

"It's what  some people call a "thin place."  It's where things that belong in one dimension can slip into another.  The Irish were some of the people who noticed it first, Native Americans too.  Deserts can be Thin Places," Omega explained. "Sometimes churches can be that too.  Lots of people think that nature is a place to worship sacred things.  That's about right."

"Is this dimension thing dangerous?"  Cheryl asked, worried about Larry.

"It can be really, really bad or really, really good," Omega said.  "The good stuff is where Heaven sometimes touches earth and the people here in good ways.  Like if they are sick they can get better or if they are lonesome, they can feel loved."

"The scientists think that they have worked out mathematically that there are about 45 dimensions.  Sometimes the dimensions don't know there are other dimensions."  John-John said. "You might not know up from down.  For example the dimension that explains "length" doesn't know about or understand time.  So things can be pretty slippery.  In the confusion, weird things can happen."

"So, is Larry lost in this dimension?  Or is he lost in another one?"  Cheryl wanted to  know.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

When It Gets Tired Out; Where It Gets Scary, Story 1

Time comes in an adventure when all of the fun drains out of it.  That's where Omega, Petey, John-John, and all the other kids were just trudging, one foot in front of the other.  In the early, early morning hours, the only energy you have is either caffienated or made-up.  It doesn't last.

That where everybody was, after the real energy was gone, after the caffienated energy was gone, all they had left is will and determination, based on Larry's wondering foot prints, backtracks, miswhacks, and full trips round the bend.  Even that was on low and slow.  They were deep into the no-sleep, no-food funk.  

"Oh!  My! Gosh!"  Julie sputtered.  "Did you see that?!"

"What?"  John-John was instantly on alert.

"The oasis just blinked out.  The light is gone."

"Did we round any bends?  Or slip past a building in the night?  Is there anything that could block t he light?'  Omega wanted to know.

"Don't think so.  Do you see any dark shapes?"  Rick said.

"Oh, so very, very weird"  Julie said.  "Means somebody is controlling things.  And that can't be good."

"Let's just keep going.  I don't think distance away from the oasis is a bad thing.  Do you think we can find out way back?"  Omega asked.

"We got our phones," Suzie said.  Every single teen held up a phone."

"Oh.  Got it."  Omega said.  "I forget about that stuff.  Are we still following Larry's footsteps?"

"Yep," said Petey.  "I think there's an old ghost town out here, and we might be close."

"Are there actual ghosts?" Tim asked.

"Might be."  Omega said.  "Petey, John-John and I are from . . .  well, out of town.  There could be other out-of-towners."

"Yikes," said Julie.  

"Yeah," said Petey.

Monday, April 22, 2013

An Odd Little Event, Story 1

"Is it OK?"  Tim asked Omega.  Tim was the kid mostly likely to cause a ruckus somewhere, some how, some time.

"The glow?  If it is Alpha's doing, then it will be healthy and safe and beautiful.  If it's something like radioactivity, then it could be safe, like the radioactivity in a watch or a computer.  But it could also be very dangerous.  Whatever, I think we should be moving along.  Get a drink of water, get the sand out of your shoes, get moving,"  Omega was nervous.

A bang, maybe a bam. It was sort of a modified, organic blow up.  The top of one of the cactus was gone.  It scared the kids out of a year's worth of growth.  They were seriously befuddled.  Petey and John-John weren't helped by it either.  Everybody had to catch their breath.

"Wha. . . "  Suzie said, ducking down a little bit.  She was the curious one, and she reached over and touched the flesh of the cactus.  "It's really hot, like boiling water.  That makes no sense."

"It's like the cactus reached the boiling point inside,"  Rick said, "And when the water became steam and expanded, the cactus blew."

"Weird."  remarked Tim.  "Is Alpha in the business of blowing up cactus?"

"No," Omega said.  "He doesn't blow things up, besides he likes prickly cactus."

"Like he likes prickly kids?"


"Like kids who question too many things?"

"That's not an issue."

"Like kids who mouth off?"

"Likes them too."

"Kids who do goofy things?"  That was Tim.

"They are good to go."

"Just checking,"  Tim sighed.

There was another mushy explosion.

"Those things are getting boiling hot from the inside out.  Best be moving along.  We're as organic as a plant."  Rick said, leading the way out of the oasis.  He was getting too hot.

Then there was a giant sound of cracking, maybe, sounding like a rip in the cosmos, almost a screech.  It could have been a lightning strike, except for this—the sky was clear.  The cottonwoods along the creek banks had leaves tossed into motion by the  post-midnight winds.

A giant tree limb fell off, thirty feet up, almost a third of the tree,  landing hard on the packed sand.

The kids were seriously spooked by that point.  Omega was having trouble with his eyes.  He wasn't believing them.

"Oops,"  Omega said.  "That one was me."

"Maybe; maybe not,"  Petey said.  "This place is bad enough you got the glitches."

"We need to go,"  Tim said.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Creeping About, Story 1

The wind whipped the fire into a frenzy.  Popping sparks rose through the night, blinked out above the heads of the ten kids that surrounded the fire that kept them warm and mesmerized.

They picked up their backpacks and their coats and began to follow Omega, who was following Larry, the lost one.  With their flashlight, they began to track Larry's boot prints, over sand, over rocks, over bushes, along a path.  They couldn't see where they were going, the night grew dark and dense; they sorta traveled on a little bit of faith that the tracks would lead them to Larry.  

Maybe Larry went moon crazy. Maybe he got lost.  Maybe he got mad and just left.  There were lots of questions and barely any answers.

Three hours of silence, three hours of walking bunched together, three hours of really not knowing where they were or where they were going.  Petey was getting hungry; John-John was getting lost.  Omega said, "Keep the faith, children. I think Larry was headed to a little oasis up here a little ways. There will be clear, clean water."

And soon enough, there was a soft, sweet glow in the night and they were headed that direction.  They were able to see a little better there; there were a few trees, a little creek.  The kids downloaded their packs and stopped for a little drink and a quick rest.  

Everybody was perched on low rocks that they could use for seats while they caught their breath.  John-John said, "You know what's weird about this place?"

"What?" Petey said.  

"It's lighter here.  We can actually see, and the sun won't be up for two hours yet."

"That's true," Suzie breathed out.  "It's like there is flickering candle light here.  But there aren't any candles. . ,"

"Is that a good thing?  Or a bad thing?"  Rick asked.

"Don't know just yet,"  Omega said.  "It looks like Larry turned around a few times," He said, peering at Larry's cowboy tracks, "And then he hightailed it out of here, really, really fast."  Omega was looking at the sand float through the oasis as the breeze kicked up a little bit.  "I wonder what spooked him."

The wind whistled through the trees, sounding like people far away, moaning and crying.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Walk In The Night Air, Story 1

In the desert, the night air is kind and very soft.   The edges and the urgencies of the day have vaporized, opening up some real time for fun, maybe the sweetness of love.  Which is why the guys, Omega, Petey and John-John, and their friends were outside, late at night, after midnight late at night, talking and laughing around a campfire.

"I want to go there," Omega said, pointing to Osiris, a galaxy far, far away.

"How come you say stuff like that?" Petey asked.  "That's why some of the kids think you are plum weird".

"I am plum weird,  Petey,"  Omega said.  "You have no idea just how weird I am."

"Yeah, but you're still in high school and some weirdness is expected and necessary," Petey laughed.

"At least you were in the last time zone we were in," John-John said.  "We're in a new one now."

"Still high school, although we're in a whole new country," Omega said.

"Do we know these kids?"  Petey asked.

"Yep," Omega said.  "I know 'em all."

The other kids started to filter into the circle around the fire.  Some of them had long sticks and  hot dogs and marshmallows.  There was a big jug of lemonade.  Omega was hoping it wasn't laced through with alcohol.

"It's safe," Petey said.

"You tried it out without knowing?"  John-John said, a little judgmental.  He was always a little judgmental.

"I tried it out — to learn and to know,"  Petey said.

"You don't get to drive. . . anywhere," Omega said.

Suzie and Rick, the solid couple in the group, were looking around.  "Hey, is everybody here?" they asked.   "We can't find Larry."

Larry was the younger kid  everybody adopted.  Kids stood up and walked the spaces around the campfire, the cooking stuff, the pickups, and the dune buggies.    No Larry.

'I know he was here.  I saw him about an hour ago," Omega said.  "How could he just disappear?"

"Hey, look here,"  John-John said.  "Tracks.  Larry's cowboy boots. Looks like he just walked
away.  Maybe an hour ago.  If he was just going for a potty stop, he'd be back by now."

"Maybe," Omega said.  "We should go looking for him.  See where he went?"

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Something About Jesus as a Kid

I want to write a story.  And I want you to help me.  Particularly if you are a kid.

I'm sorta churchy, so I want to write about God, His son, and the buddies.  Something that's never been written before, something, rarely, if ever, considered.  I'm gonna give them some new names so you know that the stories are made up. Alpha, for the Big Guy.  Omega, for The Son, for Jesus.

Here's the thing, Omega is about sixteen, so his powers are not so well developed, and his wisdom is yet to fall into place.  He has a temper, he like girls, he likes stories, he likes to play games and jokes,  and sometimes healings happen which leaves him feeling flummoxed.  That's a word that means you are deeply surprised and you don't quite believe your eyes.  Things are not settled for him.  He has to choose whether he wants to follow in His Dad's footsteps or go his own way.

His Dad, Alpha, just likes him.  His Mom is always on his case.  Petey and John-John are  his best buds, but  Petey is a loose canon, and John-John is very serious and very smart,  you know what that means.

But Omega understands that sometimes kids can get into trouble.  Sometimes it is bad.  Sometimes it is real bad.  His job is to help them.

Since we are letting our imaginations tumble, we'll go to anytime and anyplace, we can go to other planets or other times.    The kids he helps can be quirky and unpredictable,  they can be a little stuffy and maybe sure-footed, they can be beautiful or not,  they can be pudgy  or skinny or somewhere in between.  They are not perfect.  Sometimes they will be funny.  We'll follow a story for awhile, until it resolves, and then we'll start a new one.

Here's where you can help:  you can suggest places and time, you can suggest characters, you can suggest plot and plot twists.  Leave your suggestions in the comments box.  You can also share your art work—somebody is going to have to decide what Jesus looked like at sixteen.  Or your photography.  Music maybe, if I can figure out the technology.

I'm the mom here, so there is one rule.  We respect everybody.  If something isn't respect, it'll just go away.  This is mainly and primarily fun, so I can't pay you.  But if I was a betting woman, and it turns out I am,  I'm betting that this will be completely wonderful.