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Al Howe

"Journey Part 01 - The Shrine" by Al Howe

SciFi/Fantasy text 1 out of 10 by Al Howe.      ←Previous - Next→
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You begin the journey...
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←- Journey Part 10 - The Castle | Journey Part 02 - The Doorway -→

Everything seems normal, the world passing by. The dim light intensifies and passes overhead, long shadows moving in the opposite direction, only to fade out... a continuing pattern of light and dark. Dazed, eyes fixed forward, you catch motion out of the corner of your eye... "What was that?" Your mind racing, goose bump chills all over... It looked human, it looked like it was beckoning to you. You turn to look where it was, but there is nothing there. A trick of the eye? or of the mind? As you look forward, another shadow flies over you. "Oh my gosh," you realize, "where am I? How long have I been..."

You move to the right and pull off at the next offramp, noting the name of the street, but not actually thinking of it as a word, more as a series of sounds, unthought. There are no signs of civilization, the road lit by the Moon only, so you pull over. "I must have a map in here somewhere," you think out loud, rifling through the glove compartment. No luck. Leaving the contents strewn over the passenger seat and floor, you turn the car around to head back to the freeway, but it is gone... or did you go the wrong way? and how long did you drive before stopping? There are no cross-streets, no street signs, no lights, nothing except this road. You pull over and step out of the car into the dark night air, frustrated, lost...

As your eyes adjust to the dark, you spy a glow a ways off the road, to the right. The moonlight slowly flashes on and off as dark cumulous clouds flow in front of the Moon, only to be whisked out of the way. A cool breeze blows around your clothes and hair. You approach the glow to find a graveyard, wall crumbling with age. The front gate, missing a hinge, hangs loosely open at an angle... rusty and creaking ever so slowly. The open gate and the warm glow from lanterns inside is eerily inviting.

You enter and realize you have been here before. The name escapes you, hanging at the tip of your consciousness. You follow well known paths, lit with the occasional lantern. Passing gravestones and monuments of concrete, marble, obsidian, and even gold, you realize there are far more than you remember, but the similarities are too much to ignore. Stopping at several finely crafted gravestones that you have seen before a calm feeling of peace overcomes you, and you feel like you are at home. A sudden rustling in the bushes to your left shocks you out of your comfort, and into a shaky reality. A little bit upset, you walk over to them determined to find the source of your sudden nervousness... a small animal? an errant breeze?

Moving the bushes aside, you realize they have overgrown a small dirt path that leads to a secluded section of the graveyard. You have never seen this before. You slowly push your way through, small twigs tugging at your shirt and hair as if trying to hold you. Stepping out on the other side, the bushes fall back into place as if hiding your passage. The small dirt path, unmarked with footprints, leads up a hill to a small grouping of gravestones, a light in the center illuminates the scene, shadows reaching all the way down to where you stand. Plants dot the sides, and ancient trees reach up into the sky like gnarled hands grasping for the Moon, which now is only visible as a faint glow behind the dense overcast sky. Crackling fills your ears as you as you carefully make your way along the path stepping on old dry twigs and leaves.

To the left, a faint hiss leads to, "I knew you would come..." The words sound as if played in reverse as they fade in... the reverberation leads into the words, like those of a spirit. Initially startling, they are strangely warming and soothing. You quickly turn, but there is nothing there... another trick?

You continue making your way, when from the right, "I've been waiting..." You turn quickly, a flash of shadow, or was it just the tree in the wind?

You come to a bend in the path, looking back and forth. "Who's there?"

"Have a seat..." You turn to see a form in the shadows, obscured by a black cloak. He moves forward, and you instinctively move back into something hard. Lost balance, the world falls away and the sky pulls in, the shadow is gone. Warm hands break your fall as they gently seat you on the cold concrete bench. You are sure the bench was not here before.

"Who are you?" You force the words out of your mouth, trying to hide fear and embarrassment, voice only cracking once.

A quick movement, and he is standing in front of you. He is tall, but you're not sure how tall... you can't tell how far he is from you. His whole body is covered in a black cloak and hood, with an intricate fine gold trim. The shadow of his hood covers all of his face except for his mouth, which appears to be smiling in the faint glow. "I am my present and my past. I am my future. I am what I am, and what I am not."

"But what...?" You are stopped mid-question when he lifts his dark hand up and presses his index finger against his lips. In a moment, he has faded out again.

You feel a warmth to your left, and a familiar hiss... "So many questions..." Warm breath blows against your ear... voice so close, how could his lips not be touching you? Then the same on your right, "I am within and without this reality," this time with a lift to his voice as he places his hand on your shoulder - so soft and warm as if skin against skin. He moves around to kneel before you, hands on your shoulders, his face inches away from yours. His mouth still appears to be smiling, and now amidst the black shadow of his face, his eyes become visible... darker than black, pools with sparkling stars as if reflecting the night sky. You feel a warm connection with this soul, formed when eyes met, connected. "Lie on your back on this bench," he says, as you follow his motions almost hypnotically. "Reality is not always what it seems to be..." he turns toward a sound from the beginning of the path and fades out in a instant. A cool breeze gives you goose bumps again, your back flat against the cool concrete. You look down to see that your clothes are gone... for how long? You leap up, mind racing... Another sound from the path's beginning, and something bursts through the bushes.

A round light moving along the ground, it calls to you, "who's there, what are you doing here?" A guard must have heard the talking.

You stand there covering yourself as good as you can, shaking, nervous, "I, uhhh..." Crazy thoughts running through your mind, some scary.

He stops about 10 feet from you, "didn't you hear what I said? What's going on here?" A burly fellow, looks in his late forties, a little overweight. He appears to be wearing sunglasses.

You try to keep yourself covered even though he keeps the flashlight fixed on your face. "I uhhh..."

"Look, I'm going to have to ask you to leave, or am I going to have to drag you out of here?"

"Can't you see that..." you start, but stop as he fades out. The shadow fades back in, and again you feel warmth inside and, strangely, are no longer embarrassed. "What was that all about?"

"Everything will make sense in time..." he says. "Shall we continue to the shrine?"

←- Journey Part 10 - The Castle | Journey Part 02 - The Doorway -→

16 Aug 200145 Nora <moongirl24@hot...com>
Very intriging and suspenseful, I will read the next chapter right now! Keep up the good work...
4 May 200245 Anonymous
Nice suspense... really leads the reader up to the next chapter! The only comment I have is that the second-person perspective throws off the reader, thus weakening your first couple paragraphs. Great job with POV, though! 2
10 Mar 2004:-) Emily MacKenzie
i disagree with the above. I think that the 2nd person thing makes it way more personal and powerful! im gna read on... im intrigued! 1
it'd be great if u (and any others) could check out my stories, becos i've only just joined elfwood, and i have no idea if my stories are any good or not! thanks
17 Jun 200445 Skytzo
Wow that made absolutley no sense at all whatsoever but whatever i liked it a lot cause it was really suspensful and insane just like me without the constant suspense- well ill see talk to you later cause im gonna read another journey of yours and leave a really fast comment and do you think im scary cause everyone else does!
22 Jun 200445 NES
*Evil laughter*
13 Jul 200445 Jesse James Cantu
Nice work drags you into the story especially if you have a very imaginative mind and can visualise...plus try listening to Enigma CD during it is awesome lol!
18 Dec 2005:-) Laura de Lange
Really nice, I'm hooked! Stunningly written and a good build up of tension.
10 May 200645 Edward Ramirez
The story was very well at grabbing my pulling my attention, with the suspension rising...*goes to the next section*
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'Journey Part 01 - The Shrine':
 • Created by: :-) Al Howe
 • Copyright: ©Al Howe. All rights reserved!

 • Keywords: Art, Cloak, Gravestones, Graveyard, Love, Peach, Shadow, Shrine, Surreal, Surrealism, Tree, Vampire
 • Categories: Magic and Sorcery, Spells, etc.
 • Views: 346

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More by 'Al Howe':
Journey Part 05 - The Ball
Journey Part 10 - The Castle
Journey Part 08 - The Arena
Journey Part 04 - Music
Journey Part 07 - Pond
Journey Part 02 - The Doorway

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