Sunday, January 28, 2018

DARK SPELLS & POETRY (Witch Burning)

Copyright (c) 2018 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.

By R. Peterson

“The entire family was ordered hanged by King Charles the Cruel,” Golif Tremble explained to Ludenia Bath as she searched the bodies in his cart with bony fingers, “half under the age of four … for vagrancy among other crimes!” The witch wasn’t interested in why the riffraff were slain … only the condition of the corpses. She swatted away a cloud of flies and cursed softly. The parents appeared to be squinting the instant their necks snapped, an ordinary acceptance of their bad luck. The six children showed dramatics. Their eyes were literally popping from their sockets along with their tongues … astonished horror brilliantly caught at the moment of death.
“I’ll take the lot,” she hissed.
The merchant was taken aback, wondering how the witch could carry so many and to what use the bodies would be put to. Ludenia thrust one skeletal hand into a bag that looked as if it had been sewn from a snakeskin and dropped coins into the merchant’s palm. “If this isn’t enough … say now or forever hold your peace,” Golif thought of his wife waiting at home … both women had murder in their eyes.
            “For another shilling,” he whimpered. “I suppose I could let you the use of my cart … as long as it is returned.”
            “That won’t be necessary,” Ludenia told him producing a small knife that gleamed in the gas lights. “I only want the eyes!”
Her hands moved like string-threaded bones as she cut each eyeball from its socket and dropped it into a glass jar. “Before the moon rises my kaulakoru silmät shall speak,” the witch whispered. Golif noticed her tugging on a long necklace hung around her thick neck with what looked like piano wire. Animal eyes started just below the pointed ears on each side of her head … bear, wolf, goat, cat and snake. There looked to be just enough length left in the wire to add eight pairs of human optics.
            “What of these?” Golif gestured toward his bloody cart.
            “Feed the dogs!” Ludenia smiled. “And hope they don’t want more.”
The witch was disappearing into the nighttime market crowd when Golif noticed the coins in his hand transforming into beetles. A large silver one bit his finger. “Stop that witch!” he cried. “I’ve been cheated!”
Later Golif was explaining his misfortune to the town constable. “She wanted the eyes for a necklace?” The officer was writing everything down on a slate board.
            “Yes. She called it a kaulakoru silmät,” Golif said.
The policeman put the slate away. “We’ll never find her now.”
            “Why not?” Golif was furious.
            “A kaulakoru silmät makes the wearer invisible,” he said.


She blindly bugged away the merchant’s price.
No witch has ever bargained very nice.
Weeds for words she deftly grew …
A trick because he wanted few …
Back to a hut bulged out with flies and lice.

When in the dark the stars began to rise.
She opened up the jar that held the eyes.
Untied the string … of note to ring.
Button teeth … close everything.
Then tore her jagged hands to make the ties.

Softly shining silver slippery scissors.
Watchful waiting waves was wheezing whizzers.
To cut the strings to loops that bind …
Fleshy scraps for crows to find …
And wet the knots between her smiling kissers.

The moon peeked out now hidden in a cloud.
With thundering voice words spoken really loud.
He called her name … a former sane.
No more laughing … in the rain.
Look not upon that hidden by a shroud.

The witch was prowling shadows by a moat.
To catch a herdsman walking with his goat.
She cut his throat from ear to ear …
Don’t walk alone you’ll never fear …
To heed this simple warning that I’ve wrote.


            The gate to the village was bolted with a huge wooden cross to keep out witches. Lamar Finch was awakened at three AM by an incessant banging. The retired magistrate and his wife lived in three small rooms above the entrance in return for their service. In his flannel nightshirt, Finch peeked through a round porthole in the door, to see who could be disturbing the city at this hour. “Let us in!” A distraught man driving the team begged as he tried to settle his terrified animals. “The depths of Hell have cracked open and I fear the agents of doom are upon us!”
            The banging on the door proved to be the lead horses ramming into it with their bridle bits and they thundered through the bloody gate when Finch opened it dragging the wagon behind them.
            “Thank God!” the man jumped from the cottage wagon as soon as Finch closed the heavy wooden door and secured it with the cross. “It’s been a long journey and with the full moon we decided to push on through!” The back door to the house on wheels opened and a cursing woman (no doubt the driver’s wife) and only lacking a fish-knife in her knobby hands, flung herself to the ground and lunged for her husband. “I’ve got knots on my head as large as chicken eggs,” she cried. “Who said we desired to be bounced from our beds and slammed against the walls in payment for your rash use of a whip?”
            “I never once touched the whip; these animals ran for their lives!”
The village was awake and people stumbled out of doorways and leaned from windows to hear the man’s tale. After introducing himself as Herman Baines, and accepting a tankard of ale, the man explained. “She appeared out of nowhere … standing in the center of the road! She wore a ghastly robe that looked to be made of human hair and with fleshless hands spreading fire.”
            “What robbers stop wagons at night in this way?” The Mayor pointed an accusing finger at Baines. “Is this the first drink you’ve had this night?”
            “I’m no drunkard!” Baines grabbed a lantern from one of the villagers and directed the candle light to the sides of the wagon, “and it was murder not robbery that she had in mind!” Black handprints made of charcoal were burned into the outside of the wagon as if some fiery demon had fought to get inside.
            Baines’s wife helped another, younger woman, climb from the wagon. The sun was just peeking over the eastern horizon. The crowd gasped as the first rays of dawn showed a stunning maiden with breathtaking eyes and hair golden as the rising sun. “Where are we mother?” the girl muttered sleepily. The old woman pointed at the ground and ignored her question, saying only. “Stay here, Elsie.”
            All eyes were on the girl. She looked about without interest until her green eyes happened upon Golif. She smiled and it took the merchant a moment to catch his breath. Nowhere in the kingdom was a girl more beautiful or desirous.
            “Where are the others?” Baines’s wife looked about helplessly. “There were three wagons when we left Leeds.”
Baines pointed to the sky about the village gate. Plumes of black smoke rose into the sky with blinking embers like stars being born. “Rising to heaven, I pray,” he said, “and not being dragged into the depths of Hell.”


The village men were smitten by her charms.
And Golif vowed to take her in his arms.  
He tried his best to make Elsie see…
His heart was filled with misery…
As suitors came from cities towns and farms.

The Baines retired with the sinking sun.
But Elsie said her day had just begun.
She sang and danced… in taverns bright.
Selling kisses … to the night.
Feeding feeling falling frolic fun

The mayor left his self-appointed throne.
And bid his clinging wife to stay at home.
He looked for poisons far and near …
To pour into good morning dear …
To marry twice then he must be alone.

Within a week the mayor’s wife was dead.
Choking on a spoon while still in bed.
While Golif bought … a new red coat.
Suitors sang the … poems they wrote.
To try to turn the lovely’s pretty head.

The town became a reckless burning band.
To try to win the maiden’s lovely hand.
Baines told them all to take her not …
“That shaggy bitch is all we got …”
And hopes poured out like hour glass ticking sand.


While the village men were consumed by rollicking nights and sleepy days, the farms outside were experiencing a time of terror.  A shepherd had a third of his flock butchered in one night and the rest a week later. Almost every cow in the countryside stopped giving milk and those who did delivered a foul red liquid that had the look and texture of blood. There were haystacks ablaze and barns burned almost nightly. It fell to the women to discover the source of the Devilry … the men’s attention was stolen by Elsie. A priest was summoned from the city and he determined there was a witch at work in the realm … and there would be no relief until the thing was discovered.
The men of the village seized on the idea as a quick way to end their own marriages and wives were accused of being witches for things a minor as burnt bread or mice hiding in cupboards. A stain on a dress became the mark of the beast and a wrinkled shirt a foul curse of old age. There were not enough fingers to point to the suspects. Many were accused but only a few found innocent. The fires of justice extracted screaming confessions almost daily. The entire village was poisoned. Wells were filled and new ones dug but still there remained the bitter taste of contagion. There were no natural deaths … only dark curses and clever murders.

            It was during this time that the king came to visit with a company of soldiers. He ignored the carnage in this part of his kingdom and was soon also smitten by Baines exquisite daughter’s charms. “She has stolen my heart,” the king thundered. “I am no man of justice if I don’t lock her in my bedroom for her crimes!” Charles the Cruel tried every trick to capture the young lass’s attention but like with all her other suitors she had a talent for disappearing just when a promise of romance was forthcoming. He informed the Baines’s of his intention to take Elsie back to his castle to be his consort and they were stunned. “His Royal Majesty must be mad!” Herman muttered to his wife. “I must forbid it … or forever settle my soul in Hell!”
That night the Baines’s wagon was burned as well as the loft they rented above the gatekeeper’s apartment. A company of soldiers stood by and watched. Only Mrs. Baines survived, running from the flames in a burning nightgown and throwing herself down the village well. She was pulled out the next morning, singed to a blistered baldness but lucky to be alive. Her poor husband was no more than a blackened pile of bones in the charred timbers. The king took pity on the widow because of her daughter and agreed to take her along with them as a castle’s kitchen helper. And Mrs. Baines held her tongue against the madness.


The screams came almost nightly in the town.
Mother pulled from well in sooty gown.
When every single witch is dead …
We’ll finally find our rest in bed …
The lustful men in love all gathered round.

They watched the king in fury take their love.
The priest prayed intervention from above.
When cruel Charles thundered … from their homes.
The men all gathered … sticks and stones.
He stopped and vowed he’d finally had enough.

The soldiers burned the town from spire to spire.
They sacked the church and set the moat on fire.
No living thing was let alive …
To listen to the reaper’s scythe …
As village town became a funeral pyre.

The king’s fine carriage rumbled through the soot.
As soldiers, servants trampled ashes foot.
Through farm and fields … turned black from green.
To carry home … a future Queen?
A land where rains of justice wasn’t put.

The city streets were turned into parade.
Rubber necks all strained to see the maid.
Such a lovely sight to see …
The mother filled with misery …
Such a disaster folly love has made.


            The exquisite Elsie kindled such desire in the king that he wasn’t satisfied to have her only as a consort. His lovely wife was discovered days later at the bottom of a tall stairway with a broken neck. Charles the Cruel wasted no time in announcing his upcoming marriage. The entire city was consumed by the elaborate festivities to come.
            Mrs. Baines was helping to tidy up after an elaborate banquet following the wedding ceremony. The king and his new bride had already retired to the royal bedchamber. “I must say,” one of the women helping to clean the tables said. “I would have thought that as mother to the bride you would have been given a higher station!”

            “Mother?” Mrs. Baines said. “This entire realm has gone barmy but that doesn’t mean I have to be part of the madness! Elsie has always been the family dog …. Nothing more. My poor husband tried to explain to everyone in the village but no one would listen.”

            Upstairs in the King’s bedchamber, Charles the Cruel watched from under the covers as his lovely new bride removed her clothing. “What a strange necklace!” the king declared.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen another like it!”
            “Oh really?” Ludenia said as she held up one of the eyes suspended inside a glass ball. “If you look closely you must see that some of these eyes resemble your own.”
            “That thing is ghastly,” the king declared. “Take it off!”
            “It’s called a kaulakoru silmät … to not see.” Ludenia told him as she loosened her skirts. “It gives the wearer the power to appear as anything. We are called invisible because people see what they wish to see. My new family loved their pet so much and I didn’t want to disappoint them after having rung the poor thing’s neck.” She rolled one of the glass balls in her fingers. “I’m afraid the human eyes in this necklace are from your poor brother and his family.”
            “My brother was no more than riffraff,” the king gasped, “the fact that he was older made him and his family a danger to my throne!”
            “My foolish sister was very happy being married to your poor brother,” Ludenia said, “and they had no desire for power or riches … still you wisely had the entire family hung.”
The king was still stricken by her breathtaking image. “Come to bed now,’ he insisted,  “and I will make you forget about your dear sister!”
            “I already have,” Ludenia said as she fumbled to remove the necklace last. “I worked very hard to get you to come to the village. You and I are much alike. We crave power and the riches power brings …” She smiled showing sharpened teeth and a reptilian face. “I do not intend to share my kingdom with anyone either.”

            The watchmen had just blown out the last lamps when a horrifying scream came from the king’s bedchamber … and it awakened half the sleeping castle. “Has Elsie bitten the king?” Mrs. Baines muttered. Then she rolled over and went back to sleep.


With thunder’s rumble shaking stony towers.
The witch Ludenia practices her powers.
At night with only stars for light …
She flies a broomstick, what a sight …
To scream above the fields where reason cowers.

By day she rests as beauty’s breathless Queen.
By night a phantom better left unseen.
A wink they sigh … a nod they die.
Tomorrow widows … all will cry.
For selfish rule with terror cruel and mean.

Ludenia Bath is pleasure for the eye.
Broken hearts un-mended often die.
To be her king means everything …
And murder is the price of ring …
For spellbound suitors for her hand do vie.

She dresses from her bed with sleepy yawn.
To become that which necklace places on.
kaulakoru silmät … wives smell a rat.
And wonder what … became of cat.
To mourn the winds of justice ever gone.

She lies awake with moonlight streaming in.
The cost of power often sleeps with sin.
Boney fingers stretch to feel …
Necklace on the window sill …
And waits for morning shadows to begin.


Sunday, January 21, 2018


Copyright (c) 2018 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.

Part  4
“Infinity times twenty-six.”
By R. Peterson

            Let’s go together somewhere you and I … somewhere we haven’t been for a long, long time. Let’s have an adventure. How about a treasure hunt? Let’s find something of great value and bring it back. I know, your mother told you never to talk to strangers let alone go anywhere with them and that is good advice. So let me introduce myself. I am merely a collection of thoughts transmitted to you from the past. Harmless for the most part … trust me.
How far in the past? That depends on when you are reading this. It could be minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, centuries, millenniums, epochs, periods, eras, and eons since I put these words on a page. But probably not; no more than a few days, weeks or months would be my guess. It doesn’t really matter. I wrote these words in the past and you are reading them in my future … in your now. My mind has traveled forward in time to connect with yours …. Pretty amazing … yes?
Before we begin our journey we must first know where we are and where we are going, otherwise how will we know when we leave or when we arrive? Space is created by velocity and time is measured by space. All known things in the universe are relative to each other, created in perfect balance and are only an infinitesimally small fraction of that which is unknown. All we know for certain is that we are somewhere in the middle of something very large … and getting larger. No matter where you are, you are no longer alone … I am with you. As to where we are going? Why back to the beginning of course. Back to the beginning of everything! What better way to remake you into what you most desire!
I will ask you to do fourteen very simple things as you read. When I ask you to do something it will be in bold print like this. Don’t worry … the things I ask you to do are very simple and can be (must be) done in secret to have the desired effect. This is about you and me and the inner workings of the mind … no-one else. If you find yourself reading ahead without doing what I asked please back up a paragraph and read and (do) again. This is very important. In order to go certain places and to open certain doors you must become something that I can control. I will never make you do anything you wouldn’t normally do. If you trust me, I will take you to the beginning of time to retrieve a treasure of immense value that you have lost … or perhaps you never knew you had.
When we finish, you will be on an emotional rocket-ship, soaring higher than anything in the world will ever lift you. You will feel a fantastic power inside of you for an hour, a day, for weeks or for months. How long you retain this euphoric feeling … will be up to you.
First of all I want you to be comfortable … relaxed. Some people might want to take a bath or a shower and put on warm flannel pajamas perhaps a pair of warm slippers. No one is going to see you and I want you to look/feel your best. Unless of course you’re in a large office or some other crowded area. In that case you probably are already dressed and looking your best under the circumstances. Other people can be so needy and stressful to your own well-being. Don’t think about them now if you’re not alone. On this journey it’s only you and me.  Are you ready for an adventure? If so read these instructions and then do them very carefully. This is very important. (1) Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Count slowly to three.  Exhale and then open your eyes.
 You are beginning to relax now. A very slight and very pleasant tingling sensation has just started in the tips of your toes and is now moving up your legs. Are you ready?
(2) Blink once … and we will begin.
If infinity exists it must exist in all things: time, distance, weight and size. Infinity is a closed structure without beginning or end. Therefore that which is absolutely the farthest away from you … is also the nearest. The largest and the smallest things are actually the same. The beginning is also the end and mass will eventually reach a point where it weighs nothing. If this doesn’t make sense that’s okay … you don’t have to believe what I say … just trust me!
We’re going across the universe and back in time to the very beginning of everything. Impossible you say! That would take exceeding the speed of light millions of times and a trillion lifetimes! That is true if we traveled in any conventional way … but we’re going by way of small … very small. The entire universe is as close as the tip of your finger.
(3) Close your eyes and tap your finger on your leg three times.
You are still conscious and very alert … but you subconscious is growing smaller.
(4) Continue tapping with your finger as you read.
Each time your finger touches your leg we get twice as small. The room you were sitting in is now as large as a field then a farm … now two farms … now four … eight … sixteen … thirty-two … sixty-four. We are now just a tiny specks melting through the floor. The splinters of wood that surround us are as large as tree trunks … now houses … then cities. Single cells in the wood are like huge caverns … then mountains looming over us. Microscopic life forms flee in all directions as we pass through their dimension.
We are in darkness where no sunlight can reach … and so we become the light. Clusters of molecules appear, grow huge and then absorb us. Still we go down … tinier and tinier … into the vast emptiness called inner space. Tiny specks of light appear glowing like stars and the distance between them in unimaginable. We are floating in darkness … warm and yet wonderfully cool … a place where dreams are made.
What we are seeing is the universe. Remember how I said the tiniest things and the largest were the same. We now have to move across the universe back in time to the beginning of all things … but how? The problem of propulsion still remains over vast and immense distances. The only difference is now we have an immense source of power far above us in another dimension where the entire universe we are in is just a tiny pin point on the tip of your finger.
(4) Raise your right index finger and lightly touch your earlobe. There is a rumbling sound in the far distance. Far below you in the vast darkness, where your subconscious floats, massive engines have started. Your heartbeat quickens ever so slightly; this is good. It takes an enormous amount of power to attain the velocity that we need, even on such an impossibly small scale.
(5) Gently make an X with the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
We are now enclosed in a clear glass bubble. Soft invisible foam surrounds us and conforms to our bodies. You feel warm and protected.  You are completely relaxed. Exhilaration flows through our veins as the rumbling sound grows louder. Massive reverse gravity boosters attach to the back of the bubble with a series of clinks and clunks and we are ready to begin. There is a faint vibration that tickles your toes as the massive engines power up. When you are ready to begin …
(6) Wiggle the toes on your right foot.
The acceleration is instant and without any resulting G forces. The tiny specks of light (stars) streak past us approximately two a second. We are moving through inner-space at twice the speed of light. We collide with something. Don’t worry it was not unexpected. You feel only a faint vibration in your legs. When you exceed the velocity of light you go backward in time. This is our destination … the beginning of all. Another collision and then another. Our mass doubles each time but without the effects of gravity there is no way to feel it. The collisions are coming two at a time … then four then sixteen. Our speed is increasing. Instead of collisions, each impact feels like one of a continuous series of vibrations. Because of the vast distances we must cover even this speed will not be enough. We must accelerate in multiples of ten!
            (6) Wiggle the toes on your left foot.
            The surge in velocity is awesome. Now instead of stars moving past we have distant galaxies zooming past at one-hundred times the speed of light … now one-thousand. The collisions continue. The horizon appears to be shrinking. Now we hear the whoosh-boom sound as entire galaxies crash together and are absorbed into our sphere. We are now impossibly massive. So much for that New Year’s diet right?
            From our three-hundred sixty degree view of the universe we see the edge of the universe and it is being drawn inward. We are now moving back in time at one million times the speed of light. There is a roaring sound as millions of galaxies collide and become much smaller objects moving toward a central point. Still our acceleration continues. Our velocity is now one-hundred million times the speed of light … now a thousand.
We see that we are near the outside edge of a vast circle being drawn inward. Rainbow beams of distorted light shrink and twist … disappearing into holes made of nothing. The mass of the globe we are moving in is nearing the limits of infinity. Still our acceleration continues. We have now reached a billion times the speed of light and we begin to slow as our velocity approaches infinity … but will it be enough?
            (7) Press your right foot against the floor.
            We begin to slow even more, but we are still moving impossibly fast. Shrinking … compacting. From all sides trillions of chunks of matter each more massive than a billion galaxies are coming together. Our combined mass (weight) is also approaching the limits of infinity.
            (8) Press down with both feet against the floor.
            We have to slow time even more if we are to witness the beginning or the end of everything … remember I said that all things related to infinity are the same. We are now just one huge cracked ball of fiery matter with ribbon-streams of colored light being drawn inward. Now there is no color to the light only white flashes as the ball of matter we are a part of shrinks.
All matter in the universe now has a diameter of less than a million miles … now a thousand … now a hundred … now ten. The roaring sound has now stopped and there is only silence. No light … no weight … no time … nothing … except …
            (9) Close your eyes take a deep breath and enjoy the feeling.
We are floating in an endless void without matter, space, time or energy. As John Lennon once said “there’s nothing to get hung about …” We can stay as long as you like … and we do.
You and I have never felt such restful contentment. Gone with energy and mater are all the stresses and worries of our world. But I promised you a treasure …. didn’t I?
You must realize that when all things are gone … matter, energy, time space one thing still remains … and it is the primary building block of creation.
Many of the foremost theoretical physicists in the world today believe that our universe is nothing more than a magic trick. And many claim to have proof. A Holographic Universe in essence means that the information that makes up what we perceive as a three-dimensional reality is actually stored on a two-dimensional surface, including space-time. This means, essentially, that everything you see, feel, smell and touch … is just an illusion.
When all else is gone what you have left is … imagination.
It is peaceful to look upon the vastness of nothing … a black blanket without purpose or demands. But you and I want more … in fact we want it all!
(10) Close your eyes, take a deep breath and imagine three swirling spheres being created in the darkness before you.
One of the spheres is bronze the color of a quiet desert at sunset. Another is silver like the dancing of moonlight on splashing night water. The third sphere is gold like a bouquet of camellia flowers reflected in a mirror. Each of the spheres has its own unique power … but you can only pick one … you must choose carefully.
(11) Close your eyes, take a deep breath and slowly count to three. Reach out with your mind and touch the sphere of your choice with the tip of your finger.
Even as you feel the sphere being absorbed through your finger you feel a restless energy forming. Infinity rests on the razor edge of beginning and end. Even the infinitesimally small weight of imagination when successfully used … has substance.
You feel the pressure building even as the globe you chose moves up the veins in your arm and covers your heart. The power and abilities you have longed for all your life are now yours! You shudder from euphoric convulsions of unaltered bliss … even as nothing explodes into everything!
First there is light spreading outward in a vast wave of energy. Newly formed subatomic particles of matter dissolve into radiation and strengthen the light. A few particles begin to cluster together and form base atoms. In less than a thousandth of a second trillions of particles begin to form the first crude elements Hydrogen, Lithium and Baryllium. The high temperature is still too close to infinity to form sustainable matter the elements quickly dissolve back into energy. We are spreading outward at the speed of light and the universe begins to cool.
(12) Close your eyes and count the breaths you take.
Even as you count you realize you are in an eternal and deep sleep. Your physical eyes are open so that you can read but your subconscious eyes are sleeping. It is the only way to endure eternity. The only thing that matters is the awesome power of the precious sphere that you hold inside of you.
After your first breath matter has formed and the first clouds of matter are born, it has been a billion years. After your second breath the clouds have begun to condense into stars … it has now been two billion years.
After your fifth breath stars have begun to cluster into galaxies. Vapor surrounding the stars has begun to form into planets and asteroids.
Near your tenth breath we are drawn into a spherical galaxy and near a newly forming star on one outside arm. A cloud of vapor rotates around the star and we are directed toward a fiery rock orbiting third from the burning mass of hydrogen gas.
Right after your eleventh breath the rock begins to cool and water vapor forms … it begins to rain in the atmosphere of the planet Earth.
On your twelfth breath oceans have formed and evaporated countless times … finally dry land appears and is sustained.
Plant life develops in the oceans and on land by the time you exhale for the thirteenth time some of the plants have un-rooted and became mobile.
As you exhale for the fourteenth time you sense the ages passing. Two hundred million years and the first animals move onto land. Another three hundred million years and dinosaurs rule the Earth. After another four hundred million years there comes a time of darkness and most of the life on Earth dies … but a very few survive. It is the beginning of mammals … and the age of man.
(14) Close your eyes and take a deep breath, count to three. This time open your subconscious eyes as well as your physical ones.

You feel wonderful and you should. You and I have traveled to the beginning to time and back again and we have both returned with a treasure. Only you know what your special treasure is.  You are vastly younger now than when you left. Time travel does that to a person. The next time you are running late for work and realize the bus has just left you, try thinking of the bronze sphere. Relax and use your newfound powers. Try imagining an empty taxi coming around the corner … it does.
The next time you are feeling lonely think about the silver globe turning inside you. If the universe truly is a hologram you have only to use your imagination. You smile and begin to dance as … your phone rings … and a friend invites you to a party.
You always feel hope when you think of the golden globe that surrounds your heart. Life is an ever changing vortex of magic, mayhem and madness … you have been to the end/the beginning and back … and love is only a heartbeat away!


Sunday, January 14, 2018


Copyright (c) 2018 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.

By R. Peterson

Allison Weatherbee was dusting shelves inside the mansion at the corner of Main Street and Galbraith in Cloverdale when her employer wobbled into the room using a cane. “What a strange little box,” Allison exclaimed. “I’ve often noticed it while I’ve been cleaning. Can you tell me anything about it?”
            “All things have stories,” Melania said. “Perhaps the time is right to tell you a small one of so many.” She settled into a comfortable chair and after a moment began to speak. Her young apprentice continued working. Melania’s voice was soothing and Allison felt like she was falling into a trance.

The Kingdom of Wessex, Islands of Britannia, AD 575.
Eight-year-old Adara Griffiths crawled with great care through the tall grass that lined a tree-shaded pond near the village of Dale. Even a stray breath will startle the wary. A small yellow bird, most likely a Finch, warbled on a low branch of an old oak tree near the water. A warning call to others? She prayed for it to be not. A crate filled with a dozen birds and a talent for haggling could yield two or more chinkers from the trader that visited the small village each season just after moon’s first wane. Was it wicked to capture that which was free in the sky and imprison it for life? She hoped not. There was great need at home since her father’s death and Adara desired that the precious Roman coins should fall into her own ragged purse.
A low rumbling came from the dark clouds overhead. Although having no wish to be rained upon, Adara welcomed the thunder. The sound helped to mask her approach. She was close. Fine feathers ruffled on the bird’s neck as the creature turned its head. Holding her breath, she focused on the place her fingers need to be gripping in the next instant - around the wings just above the tiny legs.
Now! The exact moment her hands flew outward, a jagged bolt of lightning lashed from the sky. With an axe-fall crack of doom and a sun crashing to Earth, it split the ancient oak asunder.
Adara sprawled on her back in the grass while hives of angry bees swarmed through her head and shook her arms and legs. The brilliant blue/white sky faded once again to dark azure gloom. How long she lay indisposed was unknown. When she staggered to her feet and gazed on the shimmering pond turned mirror by the darkened sky, she saw the yellow bird floating on the water. She lifted it from the pond with great care and regret. Beauty is gone with life and there would be no joy on this day.
The tiny feathered body was ice in her fingers as her hands heated. Excess warmth flowed from her hands into the lifeless form. First there was a jerk and then a beating heart. In an instant the bird was wiggling in her fingers.
A mystified Adara placed the fluttering yellow bird into the cage she had brought with her and secured the tiny door with a piece of string. She stared for a moment into the green mirror that had been the pond … shaking her head to dislodge a dream that wasn’t. Emerald eyes, too large for the fuchsia curls and rosy cheeks that enclosed them, stared back from the mossy water. Was this the work of Jesus lord or some sleeping pagan spirit? As her blind mother often said given enough time … all would tell.
She started back toward Dale, first with a joyful skip and then concealing a breathless memory …
She ran.


The crowded hamlet of Dale sprang to life in the misty morning. Mrs. Bean flung a pan of water from an upstairs window into the soggy yard and called “Gardyloo!” And her neighbor’s answered “Good day to you too.”
A coop of hens followed a rooster down a ramp. There were night bugs to snip, puddles to wade and a snapping yellow dog to outrun.
Hobbling Charles turned as he smashed wood for a fire, careful to balance the heavy mall with his twisted leg. “Where is your coat and hat, Miss?”
“Don’t need them if you can dodge and dance with the drops,” Adara told him.
Three pigs had broken their pen and were rolling in the only deep mud they could find. You could hear an angry swine keeper’s wife scold her husband as she roused him from sleep. “No mush for you until those beasts are sorted!”
Spencer Dun was leading several cows with one hand. “Help me with the milking and I’ll give you a cup,” he promised.
            “I’ll be there before you have them in the barn!” Adara smiled.


Adaline was climbing from a straw mattress when her daughter opened the door. Adara saw the yellow crust in her mother’s eyes as the woman’s splayed arms searched for a garment. “Was that thunder … is it wet out?”
            “Only a spittle,” Adara told her. “I don’t mind. Spencer has promised milk for my aid. I’ll be back to make your porridge.” She opened wooden shutters and slipped the new bird into a cage with six others hanging from a leafy limb. “Don’t worry little one! You’re with friends and I’ll return with seeds and perhaps a little grain.”
            “Another Finch?” Adaline said as she pulled the smock over her shoulders. Her eyes stared at a point beyond her daughter’s shoulder. “Sorry they’re not hens. We could use the eggs.”
            “The trader doesn’t want chickens for his marvelous little chest,” Adara told her. “He wants yellow singing Finches to please his lady on the hill.
            “But these birds don’t sing!”
            “They will after I teach them,” Adara laughed as she skipped out the door. “After all, it was their patient mothers that schooled me … la la la … la la!”


Spencer Dun was having trouble locking a large wooden collar over one cow’s head when Adara dashed into the dark barn. His right hand was wrapped in cloth. “Are you injured?”

            “More blood than pain,” Spencer said with a grimace as he attached the yoke.
Two cows stood in stalls munching dried grass. Adara soaked a rag in a bucket of warm water and cleaned the teats.
Spencer unwrapped the cloth from his hand before he picked up a milk pail. “Snagged it on a bent nail in the fence post,” he said. “I hope it was only rust … and not witched!”
“I don’t see soap bubbles pouring from your mouth,” Adara giggled. “Perhaps you escaped the dog’s bath!”
She finished and walked over as he positioned his stool. “Does it need sewed?”
“Tell me no,” he said as he extended his arm and looked the other way. “I’ve too much work ahead to become a tapestry!”
Adara felt the strange warmth once again flowing down her arms as she examined him. She was careful not to make the injury worse. Her fingers were as hot as sausages spooned from a pan. Like a reflection on rippling water the gash in his flesh stopped bleeding and then was made new.
            “What have you done?” Spencer stared at his palm looking for the vanished wound. His astonished eyes flashed both relief … and some unknown fear. “What have you done?”


Adara was as confused as Spencer when, after a quick stop behind the millstone, she walked home with a small jar of fresh milk under her arm. Her mother was thrilled at her daughter’s industry and thought the cream would make the morning’s porridge even more delightful.
After breakfast, Adara decided to give the birds their first music lesson. She whistled two notes one low and one high and then dropped a tiny speck of ground wheat into the cage. One of the birds swallowed it in an instant. She waited a little longer this time and then repeated the notes … two birds turned their heads sideways at the sound. This time she dropped two grains into the cage. There was a flutter of wings as the Finches consumed what was there and looked for more. “Are you going to stare at that cage all day?” Adeline scolded. Adara wondered how her mother seemed to know exactly what she was doing … even though she couldn’t see.
“Animals are like small children,” Adara said. “They must be trained with love and patience.” Just then a knock came on the door.
Hobbling Charles stood hopeful on the stoop holding his hat in shaking hands; behind him Spencer rubbed his palms and stared at the ground. “Excuse me Miss, but Spencer has told me of your marvelous enchanting abilities. Such a thing would be beyond belief if I hadn’t been with him when he lost battle with the nail.”
            “I don’t believe I have any magical power,” Adara told him. “I’m not sure what happened.”
            “It’s my leg of course,” Charles blushed. “It’s been twisted since birth and I wondered if you might have a look see.”
Adara felt the same warmth flow from her hands as she examined the malformed leg. Charles’s shouts of joy were enough to set all the caged birds fluttering as he danced out the door.
Later just as she coaxed a first chirp from a Finch before dropping a seed into the cage another rap came on the door. Ruth Small stood hugging her son, Heath. “It’s his poor ears,” she said. “Can’t hear a thing unless you shout right into them!” Adara noticed a large pile of stacked firewood and a can of milk next to the step as she bid her neighbors come inside.


 So many people visited the Griffith’s house they were forced to move to the town square because they had no room. The commoners were eager to show their gratitude. Bags of grain, tanned leather and numerous household goods including gold coins stood in piles next to Adara as she worked her magic, even though she never charged anything for her healing powers.
There was one face in the village that wasn’t smiling. Bishop Rent stood in the doorway to his church dressed in elaborate beaded and gilded robes. He scowled as he stared at the commotion going on down the street. He had always been the most important person in the village and now he felt slighted. “That which comes not from God comes from Satan!” he hissed. He gazed at the piles of riches stacked next to the girl and his eyes were filled with murder. “The souls in this village and all their wealth belongs to me,” he grumbled, “and a mere child is about to lead them astray!” Suddenly a wicked smile crossed his face, causing him to look even more reptilian as he drew a sharpened sword that had been hidden under a loose board beneath the pulpit. “But by the grace of the lord … I’m not going to let that happen.”


Word spread of the young girl’s talent and the village of Dale took on a carnival atmosphere. People were dancing in the streets. Merchants from all corners of the realm came to barter their goods including the trader who had the special box that Adara was collecting and training her singing birds for. “I don’t have twelve Finches yet,” Adara told him, “and not all of them can sing.”
“It’s just as well,” the trader hung his head. “A rich man needed the suave inside the box to remove the moat from his blind daughter’s eyes and there was no way I could refuse him.”
Adara was heartbroken and made the trader feel even worse. Suddenly he brightened.
            “I don’t believe there was anything special about that glass jar of paste,” he said. “I think it was just animal fat mixed with crushed flower petals and a bit of oil. The real magic is the chest itself. I was told that anything you put into the carved box somehow becomes magical.”
            “Really?” For the first time in months Adara had real hope.
            “Besides,” the trader said. “With your healing powers I’m sure you could make your mother see again.”
Adara looked at her hands and then smiled. “I do believe I could.”
The trader took the small empty chest from his bag and Adara agreed to trade him the singing birds that she had already collected for it.


It was late when Adara finished healing the visitors and the trader followed her home to collect his birds. “You must be careful,” he warned her. “Many important people covet power and they will not give it to you without a fight.”
“Helping others is a good thing,” Adara said. “Why would anyone not want that to happen?”
“Greed is a disease for which there is no cure,” the trader told her. “It twists men’s minds and turns them into thieves and murderers!”
After the trader left, Adara went to her mother’s bed. “Sit up I want to try something,” she said.
A minute later her mother saw light for the first time in years. They both examined the intricate carving on the box and agreed that it was magical. There was joy in the tiny house and Adara and her mother both slept soundly. They didn’t hear the cries of terror across the countryside as dozens of farm animals were slaughtered.


Adara and her mother were both awakened by shouting coming from the street. When they looked outside they saw a group of soldiers coming from the church. The soldiers kicked open the door and seized Adara. “What are you doing?” her mother cried.
            “Your daughter is to be tried as a witch,” they said.
            “But my daughter has only done good things with her powers,” Adaline begged them.
            “Tell that to the farmers who have lost their stock,” one soldier pointed.
The streets were filled with furious farmers driving carts and wagons into town. The backs of the carts and wagons were filled with dead animals … sheep, goats, pigs and even several horses … all had had their throats cut and had been drained of all blood.”
            “This is the work of Lucifer!” Bishop Rent stood on a box in the angry crowd and pointed at Adara as the soldiers dragged her from her house. “Whosoever does not the works of God works evil. By day she heals a few scratches. By night she drains the blood from our livelihood. How long before we ourselves are murdered in our sleep?”
            “No,” the young girl pleaded as they led her away but some of the villagers were already throwing stones.


            There was no normal church services the next day. Bishop Rent spent hours preaching to the masses. Every foul thing that had happened in the last eight years was blamed on the girl who he claimed was in league with the Devil. Adara was asked by several prominent citizens to tell them where her powers came from. She didn’t know and with tears in her eyes told them so.
            She was asked by the Bishop to read a passage from his Latin Bible and was unable to do so. “She reads not because she knows her eyes would burn as pitch!” The Bishop thundered. The people in the crowd began to murmur and several agreed with him … although not all.
He opened his scriptures and read loudly from the book of Exodus. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live! These are not my words but the words of God!”
Bishop Rent fell to his knees and began to pray. A moment later the entire village was silently praying with him.
Hobbling Charles who was now just Charles was the first to stand. He was keenly aware that he now had two good legs. “What shall we do with this girl whom we have known all our lives?” he asked.
            “Burn her!” a voice in the back answered.
            “Yes, burn her,” Bishop Rent said.


            Adara was tied to a post in the village square. Her mother was finally dragged away as the townspeople piled dry branch limbs and sticks around her. “You people have been blinded by the tongue of a serpent,” she screamed. Indeed the people seemed to be in a trance, walking about carrying loads of wood with no mind of their own. All the while Bishop Rent preached from his black book, praising the citizens for obeying God’s will and doing God’s work. As night fell, a mountain of wood surrounded Adara.
Bishop Rent asked her if she was willing to confess to being a witch. The poor girl was so terrified she didn’t know what to say. “I’ve always loved this village and the people in it,” she told them. “If I have harmed anyone … then I am truly sorry!”
            “She confesses and begs to be released,” the Bishop shouted as he held up the corpse of a lamb that had been butchered. “Shall we give the Devil quarter in our village?”
            “No!” the angry crowd shouted.
            “Then may God have mercy on her soul,” The Bishop whispered as two of his guards brought torches and started the wood pile on fire.


            The smoke burned her eyes and Adara almost welcomed the flames as they began to burn the wood around her feet. She could see her mother held by two guards at the entrance to her home. Adara was determined not to cry out in pain. It was better for her mother to think that her death had come easy. Within minutes the pain was so great that she had to bite her tongue to keep from shrieking. Her shoes caught fire first and then her dress. Strangely though, as her hands heated, the pain would recede only to start again.
            Suddenly the trader was standing before her covering his face from the flames and shouting so that he could be heard. “This entire village is stricken by a kind of blindness,” he yelled. “A blindness brought on by trust and betrayal!” He was backing away; the heat was too much to bear. “Use your power to cure the village,” he screamed.
            Adara spread her arms outward, and she was no longer healing herself. She thought about every face in the village, men women and children that she had loved all her life and she willed them to come out of the darkness and into the light. The flames were in her hair now and she had become a human torch. Still she urged the heat to spread from her fingers even as the scorched flesh fell from her face.
            The villagers were stunned by the radiating heat. Suddenly it was as if their own eyes had been opened. The guards released Adaline and she ran to help others now frantically trying to put out the fire with buckets of water. It was no use; the fire had gone too far. By the time the flames were extinguished there were only ashes where there once there had been innocent love.
All eyes were now on Bishop Rent. The people were horrified by what the man they had trusted had cohered them into doing. Spencer Dun appeared holding a bloody sword high in the air that he had found hidden in the church. “It appears a wolf has been in our flock and we never knew,” he shouted.
The Bishop fled to the forest but a hundred villagers chased him with hoes, scythes and pitchforks. He was about to board a boat for the shores of the continent when he was caught. They say his blood washed up on the beach for several days.
Adara’s mother was stricken to her bed with grief and it was days before she was able to stumble to the blackened pile of scorched wood in the town square. All that remained of her lovely daughter was a small mound of red ash the color of dried rose petals. She scooped up the ashes careful not to leave any behind and placed them in in the carved box that Adara had wished for for so  many months.
            After a time the village got a new Bishop who had a pure heart of compassion and gold. After hearing the story of Adara the carved box rested in a place of honor behind his pulpit. For more than eighty years the box became a shrine to innocence and virtue. Flocks of Finches nested in the trees surrounding the church and their constant singing was marveled at by many. After that time the box once again came up missing and as it is with all things it was once again lost for a time …
“There are many stories of the Ombré … and this is just a small one!” Melania’s eyes closed and she appeared to be sleeping.

Allison nodded as she carefully placed the carved box back on the shelf, then she turned her head and wiped a tear from her eye with the dusting cloth.