Posted 01 August 2012 - 11:25 AM
That part of my brain must have died during the heart surgery. I can type, I have a little dohicky that will talk after I type. I think it is polluting my formal writing though, as style has gotten all non-english and run on. I'm having trouble writing, because I am writing like you speak.
I can sound like Frankenstein's monster if I try really hard.
It is on the map.
Not that any but a few people and nonpeople know where it is at, but the place itself is on the map. Not by its true name, no, not by the name given to it in the beginning. Not by its true name given to it by the old ones, who were here before we came, before we were driven away by the Europeans.
Another name, you can find it on a good map, or one of the many computer software programs that show such things. Look for an oddly high bank on the river between the state capitol and Port Williams, and for an odd creek that flows out of that bank. That is where you can find it, the entrance. We knew about it because we learned from the old ones, long ago. We had sense enough to listen, not like the whites that didn’t listen to us.
So, about half way between the state capitol and Port Williams, there is a high bank and an improbable creek that flows a short ways before going into the Kentucky river and it is on the map, but not by its right name. Don’t really matter what you call it, it is still the same place, one of the Gates to Hell, down near the river, off a sleepy Kentucky state road. A hundred and fifty years ago, it was near a busy river town, people selling and buying, drinking and gambling. There was even a shady house within sight of the place, where more than a few of those gambling winnings got spent before the farmers went back to their respectful wives. The shady house, was right on the creek. None of the shady house ladies ever bathed in that creek water, or drank from it. They’d walk the half mile to wash off the night’s fun, or have water brought in by wagon. Just because they were whores, didn’t mean they didn’t have the sense not to drink that water. People, the whites that came to the place after most of us had left, they had the good sense not to drink that water, which was a good idea, seeing that it flowed out of the rocks at the Gates of Hell.
Now days, there isn’t much of that old river town, at some time they built a road up and down both sides of the river, put a bridge up at Gratz. The river locks didn’t get used for much, people moved away. Some people not wanted anywhere else, and a couple of our kind always stayed near the place, just in case. This then, is the story of the Last Warrior, the last one to save the world, even if he didn’t care if the world lived or died. This is the story of the Last Warrior, who will be the Last Warrior until it tries to come through the gates again. Then, let us pray that there be another Last Warrior, so the world can keep going. The Gate, must remained sealed, the old ones knew that, we know that, and the whites don’t hardly ever know anything at all. The Gate was supposed to stay sealed with the blood of the seven virtuous souls, but that thing on the other side found a way around. Don’t know why it wants to destroy the world, you’d think Hell was enough for anything. Why that thing without a name, not even the old ones that came before could give it a name, knew why it wants to destroy the world. The old ones knew about the gate, we knew, even the whores pretty much had it figured it out. I suspect the whores had to think about something, so they’d not laugh in the face of the drunk farmers before they went back to their respectful and unsatisfied wives.
Now, just because that creek isn’t a nice place, does not mean people don’t go there. It is a big creek, flowing out of the valley side. Sometimes a biologist or caver sees this strange thing on the map, even the local boy scout went there when they got a outsider for a troop leader. The creek, does not look right, the water stinks, not much lives in it, what does is stunted or twisted or just wrong. The fishermen know not to fish near the mouth of the creek, the farmers know not to walk to close to the cave the water come from, and only a few biologist, geologist and a confused scout leader have gone into the cave in many years. They don’t like it, they make up reasons not to be there. The biologist looks around does not see bats or crickets or anything moving. The geologist does not see the rocks that should be there, figures it more interesting to look at the tailings of the old lead mine just over the next ridge, where barite and galena and sphalerite were mined. The geologist even will tell you that it was the old mine works, when too much lead and too much zinc got into the miners system that caused the madness and the murders. That makes more sense to most people, more than the truth. Now the confused boy scout leader, he’d studied the maps, he thought he knew what he was doing, but they got to the banks of that foul creek, look at the darkness from which the water flows, and he had the good sense not to go any further. He just shook his head, and they went fishing and swimming down where the whores used to bath, and a good time was had by all. Even the ghost of the whores enjoyed the company of brave young boys, and ghost gave them the most delightful dreams to prepare them for brides unknown.
No one goes into the cave, where the foul water flows out. Just never is a good reason to go, and everyone finds a reason not to go. Even if the geologists should have known better, that nothing in good Kentucky limestone should have caused that foul water. That the ridge is too narrow and the rock wrong to produce that much seepage. There must be something about that place, that Gate to Hell, that likes to keep people away. The geologist never looked at the deep passages near where the water flows out, never threw on his hardhat and kneepads and went looking into those holes. A geologist isn’t the right person to walk through those passages, into the place between worlds, to the gate where that thing waits to get into ours, and destroy all that we are, all that we have been, and all that we shall ever be. No, only the last warrior was the right person to go into those holes, into those passages. No, only the Last Warrior knew how to go past the seal of the seven virtuous souls, to confront the thing that was coming to destroy. Coming to destroy the water, the earth, the sky, destroy memories, destroy hope, destroy faith, destroy dreams, long list shortened destroy everything. The Last Warrior, had to stop that, even if he really didn’t care much one way or another if the world went on.
In the old stories, the hero were always great men, of flint sharp virtue and spirits of iron. They never feared, they never doubted, they did what had to be done no matter what. In the old stories, it could be that so many story tellers got some of the details wrong, as the stories were passed from father to son to daughter to cousin. The Last Warrior, he was a good warrior, he was a brave man, but he had doubt, he had sadness, he had regret. He wasn’t just a hero, he was a man, and thus that thing from the other side thought it would destroy him. Yet, he was a man, and sometimes that is enough. That thing, it has not yet destroyed the world, so being just a man must have been enough.
This is not to say he wasn’t a good warrior, he was. He’d trained for wars, he done acts of bravery and skill. He had a nonmedal for the mission he didn’t go on to get a downed pilot out who wasn’t flying a mission over North Korea. He’d trained and studied his part for a war that never came in his twenty years of service. He also studied to be the Warrior, in case that thing that waits ever tried to make it through. Yet, he’d also failed, he found himself retired but still young, his wife had grown tired of his never listening, never hearing her wants. He thought she was suppose to listen to him like his enlisted men listen to him. He thought he as a good husband because she had things, but forgot to give her what was important. A man that can’t make his wife content, is not worthy to be the Warrior, or so all the elders thought. They decided, a younger man would take his place, to be ready. So he found himself, with no career, no family and no more obligation to protect the world. He became lost, while the world went on.
He’d not fallen far, he was still who he was, he drifted, he sighed. He’d not yet learned that just because he’d done nothing wrong, that he’d also done nothing right. He trained some of the young ones in the ways of weapon and war, worked on the old family land cutting red cedar where chestnut had once grown. He gave his heart to none, yet respected what his ex-wife has asked. If nothing else had happened, he would have grown old, sullen and died alone. That was not to be, because on one winter’s day, he’d had a little too much to drink, and he had a few too many tears. He sat near his old house in the cold January sun and screamed to the sky, “Oh Creator, WHY?”. She who creates all things was silent, but that night as the bourbon weighed on his mind his grandmother came to speak to him. They were outside again, in the summer season, sitting next to the road watching the cars go by, drinking sweet tea with lots of ice. His grandmother looked good for a dead woman, her hair was finally cut right, not like that dang Miss Betsy who always cut it wrong. She had that same smile and laugh, that he missed so much since she died. He realized that happiest he’d ever been was that summer day when he took his bride-to-be, under those water maples, to talk and gossip with his grandmother, and drink sweat tea. They talked, in the summer’s day of that long January night, they talked gossip and he got updates of what distant cousins, dead and alive, were up too. He listen respectful, as any man should of his dead grandmother. Then she began to grow hesitant in her speech, like she always did when she had to scold a grandson. She looked at him with those deep brown eyes, and explain to him how he’d been wrong to disappoint that darling wife of his, and what he should have done. His grandmother was real sorry that he’d failed his ex-wife, because he’d not get the opportunity to ever make it right. After all, he had to go and save the world and die.
She told him what needed to be done, what must be done, and what could happen. She gave him a hug, and passed on her last visions of what could become. There were two path, neither would allow him ever to walk out of that place. He might save the world, he might not, but either path lead to his death, alone, outside of the realm of man, unable to ever enter the world of green and rain that awaits most of us. Save the world or not, that was not certain, but he'd be trapped in that place, between world.
He starred into the shadow, and the shadow as without form, without a heart to stab, without a head to crush. Hundreds, no thousand of small tentacles of nothing black swirled and twined, pulsed and writhed, seeking entrance into the world. He stood in its way.
So a moment before his death, he finally understood. He understood the flaw in his soul, the flaw in his life. He'd never, given his all, he never had given either wife his whole soul. He'd hedged, he was reserved, he wasn't willing to risk all. He was cautious, his life had made that clear. He could fight with skill, and block almost all the tentacles from reaching him, but each little wound, each touch of the darkness burned his flesh, destroying flesh and darkness in an acrid stench and pain. So it was clear, it knew his flaw, it did not think he was capable of doing what must be done. Somewhere, inside that mass of darkness, in its core, in its center there was a point. A small point, where the darkness entered into this place. All the branches did not matter, only the heart need be destroyed. He didn't have weapons to reach that heart, it would rip his flesh before he reached its heart, there was one way and one way only. His all. No regret, no fear, after all he died either way. So with his last breath, he screamed his true song, and praised the Creator, for this was a damn fine way to die. He raised his warclubs, and plunged into the darkness, flesh burned, flesh ripped, pain went on and on and one without end. He brought his weapon into the darkness, he brought all that he was, all that he could have been, all that he SHOULD have been. He was the weapon, finding that small hole that allowed this demon into this place between worlds, and it was enough.