A Long Time Coming

It’s winter. Night. In a forest. You come across an abandoned house.

The house was dark illuminated by the full moon overhead that would peek out from behind the clouds crossing the nighttime sky.  No lights appeared in any of the windows and the night was utterly still and quiet.  I had been walking for hours and was cold and tired.  This was the first place I had encountered that might give me some shelter from the cold and snow that could start falling at any moment.  

As I came closer to the house I could see in the moonlight that it was old and run down, obviously not cared for and abandoned.  Approaching the front porch and steps I noticed that two were completely missing and the third did not look all that stable. I carefully stepped across to the porch floor gingerly feeling with my foot to make sure it would hold my weight.  I seemed sturdy enough so I pushed myself up onto the porch and found myself staring at the peeling paint on the front door.  Looking down the handle was covered in frost.  I tentatively reached for the handle and the bitter cold shocked me as my fingers closed around the knob.  Turning it slowly I heard the click of the and the door gently swung inward as I stood motionless staring into the black.  I hesitated standing trance-like, feeling like a sinner before the gates of heaven and afraid to enter.  A blast of icy wind quickly brought me back to the present and I again realized how cold I was. 

I stepped forward and into the front room before my mind could talk me out of it.  I walked slowly forward-looking around the room at the old furniture covered in dust grime and cobwebs.  The floor was littered with books and papers, lamps lay on their sides and I caught a glimpse of a rat as it quickly scurried away.  The moon light through the windows cast eerie shadows from the trees outside.  The wind blew and the shadows danced across the walls as if alive. 

Next to the long since abandoned sofa I saw an open book.  As I approached it appeared to be some kind of register with names and dates scrawled in it.  It reminded me of the old hotel registers that guests would sign when they rented a room for the night.  This was odd but intriguing making me forget my cold and tiredness.  I peered intently at the book bending down to look closer waiting for the clouds to again part and the light of the moon to filter in.  When at last it did I squinted intently to read the words.

The last entry was dated October 30, 1974 almost 40 years ago followed by the printed name, William J. Ralston.  My heart skipped a beat and my breath caught in my throat.  William J. Ralston, I whispered.  This could not be true.  I had always been called Bill but my mother had told me my given name was William, named after my grandpa.  William J. Ralston, that was my name right down to the J for James just like my grandpa. 

Standing in the icy cold I quickly recalled the stories my mother and grandmother had told me about my grandpa who had disappeared 10 years before I was born.  He had been fishing along the river in these very same woods in late October and had simply vanished.  Search parties were organized and there was never a trace of him found. I even remember the final story in the local paper about the search ending and how the man named William J. Ralston, my grandpa was presumed dead.

I felt my breath coming quickly and the air seemed to grow colder.  It was then that I heard the whisper that seemed to float on the wind. “Fishers of men.” Startled I quickly glanced around the room and it was then that I noticed the giant painting above the fireplace.  In the dark with the only light from the moon outside it appeared to be an outdoor scene in the mountains with a very large lake or river running through it.  In the center of the canvas was a large row-boat with 10 or 12 men at the oars.  Behind them stood a stoic figure all dressed in black staring straight ahead and pointing as if giving orders.  The scene was ordinary in every way but mesmerizing at the same time. 

As I stood staring at the painting it appeared to come alive and I could see the men straining against the current, hear the oars slapping against the water and the waves against the boat while the black figure screamed. Suddenly the figure turned towards me looking out of the painting and pointing directly at me. I could not move. It leaned further forward seemingly coming out of the painting.  Before I could react a skeleton hand shot out and grabbed my wrist and I was lifted off the floor. 

I could feel myself being pulled towards the painting closer and closer. As I entered the cold water I was abruptly shocked and gasping for breath.  The bony hand-held tightly to my wrist and an evil smile crossed its face.  As my head came up out of the water I looked into the figures face and it revealed only a skull.  I could not scream, but I struggled hard.  The figure then screamed  “I will make you fishers of men!” and then laughed the voice reverberating throughout the house as the wind whipped through the house. 

As I bobbed in the water beside the boat trying to catch my breath I looked out of the painting and saw through the window of the house.  Blinking madly, water running over my face I saw a star shining brightly in the night sky.  Oh Lord, I prayed fervently as i remembered the words of Jesus my grandmother read from the bible, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”  

“I believe!” I found myself shouting over and over.  It was then that I realized one of the men rowing the boat was shouting the words with me.  The black figure seemed to recoil from the words and bellowed, “No!”  The bony skeleton hand that had been gripping my wrist suddenly let go and I was grabbed around the shoulders by a strong-arm.  I found myself being dragged through the water by this unknown figure. Suddenly, the water cascaded over the edge of the picture frame and we were falling crashing to the floor in a pile of twisted arms and legs.

I slowly turned my head to look at the painting which now seemed to be just a painting exactly as it when I first saw it.  It was then hearing movement that I realized there was the other man behind me.  Turning I saw him rising and getting to his feet.  He was older but with a familiar kind face that belied the strength of his convictions.  He looked at me for a moment then smiled and said, “Thank you son, that was a long time coming. My name is William J. Ralston.”

~Mark Schutter ©2014

The above was written for Free Write Friday from the Time and Place Scenario image and text in italics at the beginning using what is called stream of consciousness writing, no editing, no proofing just writing! Please check out Kellie Elmore’s official site or click on the Free Write Friday Image for more information. Post your submission with a comment and link to your blog on Kellie’s blog, post on twitter with the hashtag #FWF, Facebook and join the fun!

 

 

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Born to Run (A personification?)

I was born to run
Wind in my hair
Without wings
I could leap over the moon

My power and grace
From within my heart
Beating steady
God set my rightful place

Wild and strong I am
Never shackled or chained
Nor tamed
I live because I can

My passion forever flows
A protective anger belies
Undying concern
A jealously for my own

My courage over the years
Ever shown in many ways
Facing death
Some would shed silent tears

A loyal companion I would be
To the very bitter end
Never doubt
History will someday see

A symbol for some of time past
I live hunted by those who covet
And hate
I wonder if my story will last

Standing as the days are done
Eyes fixed on the eternities
Forever proud
I was born to run

~Mark Schutter ©2014

The above was written for Free Write Friday using what is called stream of consciousness writing, no editing, no proofing just writing based on the following FWF prompt!

per·son·i·fi·ca·tion (pərˌsänəfiˈkāSHən) noun
1. the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.

Please check out Kellie Elmore’s official site or click on the Free Write Friday Image for more information. Post your submission with a comment and link to your blog on Kellie’s blog, post on twitter with the hashtag #FWF, Facebook and join the fun!

 

Escape; Rest Now

You find yourself in the lower level of an old ship. A calendar on the wall says 1682. There is a small window, and the view is nothing but open sea and a setting sun. There is a staircase and you can see daylight at the top…

as I continue looking up towards the top of the staircase the sky is a quickly darkening blue.  Slowly, I creep towards the stairs intently listening for any sound of their coming.  Up the staircase I climb, my bare feet barely feeling the cold of the wood ladder.  The only trace left is my bloody footprint from my the blisters and torn skin on the souls of my feet.  

I hear laughter and loud voices as I near the top.  They must be drinking again as there never seems to be an end to the supply of rum they consume daily.  I quickly contemplate my chances of success and realize it really doesn’t matter as I have no choice. And anything has got to better than this miserable existence.  Cautiously I peer over the edge and they are there about 10 yards away from the opening, most of them drunk, a couple are even passed out.

Without hesitating any longer I pull myself up and out of the hole and begin sprinting across the wood deck of the ship.  I do not feel the pain in my feet nor the aching of muscles from the numerous beatings and the daily physical jobs they have forced me to complete.  As my feet leave the edge of the ship and feel myself weightless, I hear a shout from one of them but the words are lost in the wind.  I fall quickly through the air towards the dark rolling waves below. 

The icy waters close around me taking my breath away and as I surface I shake my head looking for the ship.  I realize it is moving away as the strong wind in the sails is propelling it forward.  My beating heart is all I feel my body numb as the coldness overtakes me.  As I float on the swells I catch glimpses of the ship steadily getting smaller in the distance until it disappears.  I feel a peace at last and realize I am finally free, surrounded by nothing by water and a coming darkness.

I cannot feel my legs or arms but somehow I must be moving them treading water to keep my head above the rising and falling waves.  The tug on my leg seems out of place, making me wonder what just happened.  I realize that my left hand is searching for my leg under the water and there is nothing there only a warmth that rushes over my fingers that is out of place in the icy waters.  A second later I am pulled completely under the water and my world explodes in a brilliant white light and I hear the words, “Rest now.”

~Mark Schutter ©2014

The above was written for Free Write Friday using what is called stream of consciousness writing, no editing, no proofing just writing! Please check out Kellie Elmore’s official site or click on the Free Write Friday Image for more information. Post your submission with a comment and link to your blog on Kellie’s blog, post on twitter with the hashtag #FWF, Facebook and join the fun!

 

 

 

You must make the choice!

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

that pain and hurt is part of life and there are things you never return from at least not completely. Often you end up going in a different direction than you had planned. Like a river overflowing its banks during a flood creating new paths. Our lives are like this and often we know not where we are going, but sometimes it is enough to be going somewhere.

You carry the pain, the hurt, the confusion with you. Hidden deep inside it appears to all who see that you are whole, complete. But there is an uncertainty because you know you are not the same. The wound will heal but the scars remain like tracks across your heart. Sometimes they are numb, sometimes raw and bleeding.

You move forward, hesitantly at first but the image becomes easier and it becomes who you are. Streaks of light may illuminate the dark, casting shadows of memories. Of what might have been. There is a pull towards the light, a hope that still burns. However faint, the embers smolder promising a new tomorrow.

The light can grow and shine brightly. Chasing away the dark, chasing away the fears. Living in the memories is a false comfort with no hope for the future. To grab and hold the light blazing a new destiny is what we desire. To move, to love, to live we must make a choice. A brilliant, courageous and willing choice. I didn’t understand then, but I understand it now… I must make that choice.

~Mark Schutter ©2014

The above was written for Free Write Friday using what is called stream of consciousness writing, no editing, no proofing just writing! Please check out Kellie Elmore’s official site or click on the Free Write Friday Image for more information. 

Post your submission with a comment and link to your blog on Kellie’s blog, post on twitter with the hashtag #FWF, Facebook and join the fun! Get your write on!

The Protector (A short story for free write Friday)

Source: We Heart It

You suddenly find yourself standing alone on an unknown sidewalk in an unknown place. It’s night and snowing and the only other person around is walking away from you….

As I watch the silent figure grow smaller in the distance the softly falling snow illuminated by the street lights adds a mystery to the night.  I notice the red drops of color mixing with the white of the snow amidst the footprints she leaves that are quickly being covered by the falling snow.  The red mingles with the white to a soft pink as it is absorbed.

Where she is headed I have no idea but it really does not matter, I only know that I must follow so I did.  This is my mission, my destiny, whatever one might call it.  It is the only road I have ever walked and it is one that few people would dare tread if given the chance. Like a hazy dream I can remember my mother reading out of the bible as I lay quietly in my bed in the early evenings.  Her voice soft and caring as she would read and then explain to me what the words meant and the destiny she believed God had for me.  She had told me God had spoken a verse to her while she was pregnant that was especially for me and the calling that was on my life.

“The LORD will protect you from all evil ; He will keep your soul.” from Psalm 121:7, I would never forget that verse as she recited it to me often and I accepted it into my heart.  She also explained to me that this promise meant God would protect me, but that also I was meant to protect others.  It was so easy as a small child to believe in the unseen and trust my mother like one trusts gravity or the rising and the setting of the sun.  It is just as real as any solid object.  My life had continually born out this verse in so many ways that I had long ago stopped questioning.

As I followed the young lady I noticed the hunching of her shoulders and head pitched forward under the umbrella as she walked into the cold wind.  The drops of red that different people left behind had always intrigued me and even frightened me somewhat.  It was a privilege and power that most never ever witness.  The soul is a magical and mysterious place and the scars this life leave on it are unseen by most human eyes.  This gift was something I had never asked for but my mother had said, I had simply been chosen.

The city streets were quiet this night as the storm seemed to gather intensity.  Most people had chosen to stay inside safe from the cold.  She continued to walk, me following, past rows of nondescript buildings and storefronts.  Homeless people huddled in the doorways heads and hands buried against the freezing night trying to stay warm and sleep.  For these nameless people she paid no heed but simply continued to walk her stride never wavering.

The gift of seeing the pain of someone’s soul and the blood that continually dripped from the wounds that others and this life had inflicted, was both a blessing and a curse.  I carried within me the torture and ache that each person endured.  At times I was given the ability to ease that suffering, but those times seemed all too infrequent.

I knew it was time as my pace quickened slowly closing the distance between her and me.  With the rushing winds I knew she would never hear my approach so was unworried about being detected.  Even though there was no traffic she stopped and was standing at the intersection just ahead and waited for the cross walk light to change.  Approximately twenty-five yards behind her, I knelt down in the shadows of a doorway and raised my rifle. I felt the firmness of the stock against my shoulder as I pointed the barrel in her direction.

Looking through the attached night vision telescopic sight I was able to penetrate the darkness of night.  I slowly continued to raise the rifle above her head and into the blackness until I saw the dim flashing red light through the still falling snow.  My mind was calm as I slowly took a breath and exhaled my finger tightening on the trigger.  Within the cross hairs I could see the unmanned drone craft as it hovered silently some two hundred yards above her head monitoring her every movement.  A loud rumbling truck roared through the intersection as I slowly squeezed the trigger, firing the rifle and the craft in a silent flash of light disappeared.

The light changed to ‘Walk’ and she oblivious, began walking again crossing the street and continuing on towards her destination.  I knew she would be safe this night.  As I stood and silently watched her walk into the distance I knew my job was far from over.  There were others, there would always be others.

~Mark Schutter ©2014

The above was written for Free Write Friday from the Time and Place Scenario in italics at the beginning using what is called stream of consciousness writing, no editing, no proofing just writing! Please check out Kellie Elmore’s official site or click on the Free Write Friday Image for more information. Post your submission with a comment and link to your blog on Kellie’s blog, post on twitter with the hashtag #FWF, Facebook and join the fun!

TRUST – A #FWF Journey

trust[4]
Trust me was all that was said
I promise you joy
I promise you peace
I promise you hope
I promise you abundance
I promise you mercy
I promise you love
The words ring hollow in the cold night air
A thousand twinkling stars snicker at the fate
For to trust is the ultimate sacrifice
Of all the dreams,of what was
Of what could and might have been
Left with the reality of what is now
Living inside the memories
Safety is only false comfort
Remembrance of what was turns
Balanced on thoughts of yesterday
For within each moment is a choice
To fade out and fade away
Or to hold your heart open
And trust again

~Mark Schutter ©2014

The above was written for Free Write Friday from the word prompt  “Trust” using what is called stream of consciousness writing, no editing, no proofing just writing! Please check out Kellie Elmore’s official site or click on the Free Write Friday Image for more information. 

Post your submission with a comment and link to your blog on Kellie’s blog, post on twitter with the hashtag #FWF, Facebook and join the fun!

The Words I Wanted To Say

Under a starlit sky, land of a forgotten day now lays
Full moon illumination, shows a rocky path ahead
Down the ravines, past towering sentinels of evergreen
Ancient mythical words, creation screams with wonder
Whispers on the wind, words I can not comprehend
Trying to speak, my tongue dances behind my lips
A vision of you, rises before in silent beauty
My heart thunder drums, the love I feel escapes in waves
Lost inside my mind, you turn and quietly walk away
To hear you speak, the truth when we believe the lies
No regrets, O’me, O’life…
The words I wanted to say

~Mark Schutter ©2014

The above poem was written for Kellie Elmore’s #FWF.  The following is the speech, and it is your FWF prompt. What will your verse be?

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” — John Keating (Robin Williams) Dead Poets Society

Join the fun and post your submission with a comment and link to your blog on Kellie’s blog, post on twitter with the hashtag #FWF, Facebook and join the fun!