The Trees Remember

Dappled light warms the nutrient soil
through dew laden boughs,
wreathed in the scent of pine
and rich, dark earth – I stand;
Barefoot.

The vibrations of the forest speak to me;
It’s whispers – a thousand soothing voices –
fill the lingering silence within my soul.
An endless web of living roots
hum contentedly beneath my feet –
stretching infinitely out in all directions;

Ancient
Knowing
Eternal

I feel others in the dappled shade
all around me
Family, Friends, Fellow souls;
all seasoned travellers
in the endless cycle of existence

Within the forest, I am more myself
Than I have ever been.
– Part of it –
A single, shining facet
of it’s immense soul;
gone for a time, but never forgotten.

The Trees remember and they sing my name.

At last, a reindeer approaches,
Her antlers draped
with silken strands of green moss,
and small, snow-white blossoms;

Sister
Mother
Guide

Somehow, I’ve known her
for longer than I’ve known myself.

I raise my hand,
smooth, silver-brown fur.
Soft and warm beneath my questing fingers.

Her gentle breath brushes my face,
sweet grass and chamomile.
We’ve had this meeting a thousand times.
– A Million –

Unchanging
Familiar
Reassuring

I know our sacred ritual,
just as I know she will wait with me here,
beneath the sheltering boughs.
Until the time comes
for my spirit to travel
– Once more –


If you enjoyed reading my work and would like to see more of the same, please also consider donating to my Kofi fund via the following link… https://ko-fi.com/bfauthor all purchases and donations are very much appreciated.

©Bernadetteflynnauthor.com 2019

Lost and Found

I stood in front of the rather shabby looking reception desk waiting for the hostel owner, Evie, to return with my passport.

 At least the hostel was clean, which set it apart from many of the others I’d visited in my time backpacking around Australia. Innisfail hadn’t been on my travel agenda, but money was tight and this working hostel had received glowing reports from the backpacker community.

 Evie, middle-aged and rather plain, but friendly enough to make a person forget any other shortcomings, bustled back into the room and handed me my passport with a welcoming smile.

 “Welcome to River View Eilidh. We’re thrilled to have ya. Alright. Come on back then.” She grabbed a key from one of the hooks behind the counter and motioned for me to follow.

 Like most people, she pronounced my name ‘Ee-lid’ instead of ‘Ae-lee’ but I was well used to people struggling with the Celtic spelling.

 I followed her down the small corridor toward the back of the building complex.

 “Ear ya go.” She paused in front of a door with the number 5 painted on it. “Ye’r a lucky one! This room sleeps six but t’night ye’r pat malone.” She handed me the key. “Hooroo then. I’ll catch ya on the sunny side. Work starts around five so be sharpish with yer brekkie.”

 She left and I let myself into the small spartan room. Like the reception, it was clean and functional, but I was knackered from the long journey. I dropped my bag next to the closest bunk, kicked off my shoes and fell into a grateful slumber.

 5 a.m. arrived far too soon. The stomping of heavy work boots past my door woke me.

 “Shit!” I grabbed my phone from the pocket of my bag and grimaced. ‘4;45’ glared up at me from the screen.

 “Double shit!” There’d be no time for the shower I so desperately wanted. For once I was glad I’d slept in my clothes. They were a little creased, but they’d do — traditional backpacker chic.

 I pulled a brush through my hair and slapped on some deodorant. Hopefully, the work would be outdoors so no one would notice my less than sociable hygiene.

 Stuffing my wallet, passport, inhaler, and room key in my pocket, I scurried from the room and followed the sound of clattering dishes and mumbled conversation.

 Breakfast, or ‘brekkie’ as Evie had called it, was a chaotic affair. I found the hostel kitchen outside underneath the communal deck. The hostel provided free pancakes and syrup each morning, and at least twelve, sleepy-eyed, backpackers were jostling for room at the hotplate.

 “Here you go.” I turned to find a tall, dark-haired girl smiling down at me. Before I could respond, she handed me a shiny, green apple.

 “I…erm…thanks!”

 “Don’t worry. I’m not a morning person either. Usually, I’d be wallowing in a cup of coffee right about now.” She grinned and I found myself grinning back.

 “You said ‘usually,’ what’s different about today? …I’m Eilidh by the way.” I took a grateful bite of the apple and followed the girl over to a nearby picnic bench.

 “I’m Annie. It’s nice to meet you!” She sat down at the table, tucking her legs up on the bench beside her. “I haven’t actually been to sleep yet.”

 “Well, that would certainly do it!” I laughed, taking a seat.

 By the time breakfast was finished, it was time to leave for work. Annie had told me she worked for a building contractor who needed an extra hand on his cleaning crew.

 A cyclone had swept through the area only a week or two earlier. Thankfully, no lives were lost, but the damage to buildings and crops had been considerable.

 She asked if I wanted to give it a go and I gladly accepted. Starting new jobs was always a little stressful, it’d be nice to have a friendly face there to show me the ropes.

 Five minutes later, we jumped into the back of a battered-looking flatbed truck and set off to the site.

 We drew up outside a huge, blue-washed house about twenty minutes later. Annie climbed down from the back of the truck, holding a hand out to help me down.

 “I envy you your long legs right now,” I grumbled. Annie laughed.

 “Trust me, you wouldn’t be saying that if you’d ever had to take them shopping for jeans!”

 The contractor walked around the truck to where we stood.

 “Okay girls. It’s hard yacka, but it’s good honest work. I’m all for equality, so don’t expect to be treated different for bein sheilas.”

 I nodded and he beamed at me.

 “Right then! Smoko’s at ten, any questions just ask Warri. He’s the big blackfella…bit of a tightarse, but fair dinkum. He’ll see ya right. Annie here can tell ya what’s what, she’s a corker and it’s not her first roo shoot.” He patted me on the shoulder. “Hooroo then. I’ll catch ya later on.”

 I was still translating that mouthful, as he jumped back into the truck and sped off down the street, windows down and music blaring.

 “Is he…always like that?”

 Annie laughed again. “Jackson’s a little rough around the edges, but his heart’s in the right place. Come on, I’ll show you where to start.”

 The job involved shoveling cyclone debris and rubble into wheelbarrows and then emptying them into a large, battered, blue skip. The cyclone had really done a number on the house. The roof was lying in a smashed pile in the back garden, and the smell of damp, rotting plaster inside the house was unpleasantly pervasive. I found I had to plan my work to include regular fresh-air breaks to avoid feeling sick.

 The morning was uneventful, aside from an encounter with a giant huntsman spider. Annie had screamed her lungs out from where she was working in one of the back rooms. Warri and I dashed to her aid, only to find her, perched on a rickety wooden chair, brandishing a broom at the poor, terrified creature.

 Warrigal Anggamundi, Warri for short, was a stoic sort of man. He rolled his eyes and gently took the brush from the shrieking girl, shooing the impressively-huge spider out into the garden and effectively ending the drama.

 Lunchtime came, but I’d only managed to bring a cereal bar which I’d snagged from the hostel vending machine.

 Leaving the others to their sandwiches, I pocketed my less than appetising lunch and headed back out into the garden to explore some of the battered outbuildings.

 I loved nature, even the eight-legged variety, so I was hoping to find more unusual creatures hiding in the outbuilding’s dusty interiors.

 The first two I poked my head into were pretty uninteresting, lots of cobwebs, but no captivating fauna. The third one looked as dull as the other two at first, it had a few broken bottles, some water-damaged children’s toys and a large pile of debris from where the roof had caved in.

 I was about to leave and move on to the next when a small movement caught my eye. I took a couple of steps into the room, and heard a snuffling noise coming from behind the pile of broken tiles and cracked timber.

 “Hello.” My voice was barely a whisper as I didn’t want to scare whatever was back there. I skirted the pile, but at first, all I could see was yet more rubbish. I slowly reached my phone out of my trouser pocket and turned the torch on.

 The beam of light illuminated a large pair of scared, yellow eyes.

 “It’s okay…I won’t hurt you.” The creature cringed back, pressing itself tightly into the corner of the room with a terrified high-pitched whine.

 Remembering the cereal bar in my pocket, I unwrapped it and broke a piece off, gently tossing it over to the leaf litter at the creature’s feet. At first, it hissed at the offering, but after a moment or two, it gave a long deep sniff.

 Not taking its large eyes off me, it leaned forward and slurped up the piece. Delighted at my success, I broke off a second piece and tossed it over. This time, I aimed for directly under the hole left by the collapsed roof. The corner was dingy, so it had been hard to make the creature out. I’d guessed that it must be some kind of dog because of its long fur and pointed snout, but as it moved into the pool of light my breath caught in my lungs.

 What on earth was it?! It had long dark fur much like a dog, but that’s where the canine similarity well and truly ended. Its long-pointed snout was covered in greenish scales, like those of a crocodile and its feet were webbed like a duck’s. Its tail was long and flowing like that of a horse, and it had two large, grey tusks protruding from beneath its upper lip. It was like someone had got their hands on the god clay, and gone to town with it.

 I heard Annie calling my name outside but I didn’t want to chance leaving, in case the strange creature disappeared before I could show it to her. I broke off another piece and threw it to the creature to distract it, and called Annie’s name.

 The creature flinched at the sound but it was clearly starving and it pounced on the third piece dragging it back a couple of steps into the shadows before devouring it with gusto.

 Annie appeared in the doorway, followed closely by Warri who must have joined the search when Annie failed to find me.

 “Eilidh? What are you doing in here?” Annie glanced nervously about, no doubt looking for more man-eating spiders.

 “I found something…something strange. Look…” I broke off another piece of the quickly dwindling cereal bar and tossed it again into the pool of light.

 There was a short pause and then one webbed foot poked into view. Another pause then, forgetting its fear in the face of its hunger, the creature trotted forward to claim its sticky, honey-coated prize.

 “Struth! Take a breather for a sanga and a cold tinny, come back an there ya are, mad as a cut snake, feeding a frickin Bunyip!”

 Warrigal’s eyes were wide as saucers as he stared in horror at the small scruffy-looking creature. “That things oldies’d spit the dummy if they found ya.”

 “Feeding a what?”

 “Bunyip…Dangerous fellas that live deep in billabong country. Must’a bin dropped ere by accident when the willy-willy passed through.”

 Annie and I both looked at the odd little creature. He didn’t look dangerous in the least. Even his little tusks were dull at the ends.

 “Can’t stay here. Got a crate in back, should fit the little bugger though.”

 I felt a surge of fear for the poor little thing.

 “You aren’t going to…hurt him?” It was meant to be a statement but it came out more like a plea.

 “Nah. I’ll jes drop the ankle-biter back off where his oldies’ll find him. They jes tryin ta live, same as us folks.”

 Half an hour later with the baby bunyip secure in his makeshift cage, Warri calmly waved goodbye and headed off in search of a suitable billabong.

 Annie and I stood in stunned silence for a few minutes just trying to process what we’d seen.

 “No one will ever believe us back home you know.” Annie ruefully said at last.

 “I’m not even sure I believe us!?” I replied with a shrug and a smile. “So bunyips really exist then…I wonder what tomorrow will bring?”

 “As long as it’s not another huge hairy spider then I’m happy!” We both burst into fits of giggles, grabbed our shovels, and went back to work.


If you enjoyed reading my work and would like to see more of the same, please also consider donating to my Kofi fund via the following link… https://ko-fi.com/bfauthor all purchases and donations are very much appreciated.

©Bernadetteflynnauthor.com 2019

Harsh Reality

How cruel it was, that fateful day
When Reality came to call
No pause for invitation
He didn’t stop at all

He strode right in with muddy feet
And trampled all my dreams
Grabbed up my secret bag of hopes
And rent it at the seams

With desperate hands I scrambled
To try and catch them all
No matter how my fingers flew
I couldn’t stop their fall

I managed to snatch one or two
But crushed them in my haste
And when I opened up my hands
They crumbled into waste

Their ruin broke my heart in two
I sobbed out my despair
But Reality walked out the door
As if I wasn’t there


If you enjoyed reading my work and would like to see more of the same, please also consider donating to my Kofi fund via the following link… https://ko-fi.com/bfauthor all purchases and donations are very much appreciated.

©Bernadetteflynnauthor.com 2019

Eteroa: A Second Chance

[This story is also available in audio format via my online Bookstore]

As Tane stood on the rocky crag at the topmost point of the Star mountains, he could clearly see the place where blue ocean waves kissed the stony shore out beyond the lake-studded plateau which lay below him.  

Papua wasn’t a large island in comparison to the rest of the world, but what it lacked in size it more than made up for in beauty and diversity. It was the centre of the world; the vast cauldron from which all life had sprung countless millennia ago.

Dawn’s first rays caressed the crowded canopy which surrounded his vantage point, and a cloud of steam began to rise into the still air, as the lingering droplets from last night’s rain, transformed back into the fluffy, white clouds which had birthed them to the land. The sight leant even more credence to his cauldron analogy.

It seemed like only yesterday when he had stood at this very point, viewing the earth in its infancy and marvelling at all of the countless possibilities that would arise to shape its future. The one possibility he hadn’t considered though, was the almost complete destruction of his creation by the very beings which had been born from his seed. The beings that he, so naively, had charged with being the dedicated caretakers of his living work of art.   

Oh, how misguided he had been.

He turned and began to descend the mountain, large strides eating up the miles between him and Kemea lagoon with each determined step.

As the god of forest and light, there wasn’t much that Tane couldn’t do with his own two hands. He could birth trees, plants and even animals from the dark, rich soil in his isolated valley home, and breathe life into them with just a drop of his vast power. The one thing that he hadn’t been able to do was to create a fitting mate for himself.

He had first visited Eteroa, the spirit of the island, many millennia ago. The primordial spirit resided deep beneath the dark, blue waters of the lagoon, which were now shining up at him from the plateau below. A few more steps and he was standing on its lush, green banks staring out across the mirrored surface of the lake.

He felt doubts rise once again, within his chest. Ordinarily, deities didn’t possess the capacity to doubt their actions. Doubting one’s self was a mortal affliction, driven by human emotions such as ‘guilt’, and ‘fear’. But most gods hadn’t been the cause of such terrible and all-encompassing devastation. The last time he had visited the lagoon, it had been to ask Eteroa to create for him a mortal wife. The island had happily granted his request, and Sisiroha, mother to the entire human race, had been born from the waters. Their mating had been blessed with countless genetically diverse children, who had gone on to form all of the different races which, until recently, had inhabited the earth.

In the beginning, life had been good. He had dreamed of fathering human children who, blessed with the transience of their mortality, would truly cherish the world which he had created for them. In return, they would pass on the sacred knowledge which he had imparted to them, to each future generation of his growing family. Together, they would see the earth realise its full potential.

For a while, his dream became a reality. His children lived in harmony with the land; only taking what they needed in order to thrive. Ensuring that, for every tree and plant they pulled from the earth, they gifted back double in the form of precious seeds; carefully tended under his nurturing sunlight. For each animal slain, to provide their food and clothes, they would put aside an offering of feed to give back to the herds throughout the cold winter months, when fresh food was scarce on the ground. It was a paradise, and Tane had congratulated himself on a job well done.

In time, though, even the gift of longevity provided by Tane’s power was not enough to prevent nature from claiming back the mortal body of Sisiroha; freeing her soul to travel to the Summerlands beyond the veil. It was in that moment that Tane’s heart ceased to beat, and he discovered something which no divine being had ever encountered before. The feeling of loss.

Seeing that his creation was safe in the hands of his children, he retreated from the world. Falling into a deep and dreamless sleep, until such a time that his heart would mend.

Centuries passed in the blink of an eye, but his heart still refused to beat. Eventually, Tane realised that slumber was not the right cure for his loneliness. He returned to the world he had so lovingly crafted to seek solace in the collective light of the children he had been so proud of. But, in his absence, his children had forgotten almost all of the lessons which he had taught to them; their knowledge becoming more diluted with each generation. Greed, sloth, envy, arrogance and hatred had bloomed within their hearts, turning them away from nature as they fought for material superiority over each other. They had soon forgotten that they had ever lived in harmony with the land.

Tane had wept bitterly to see the sheer destruction which his children had wrought upon the world in his absence. Logging and industrial farming had all but scoured trees and plant-life from the earth, and the use of chemicals and genetic engineering had corrupted and weakened almost every species on the face of the planet – if not eradicated them completely.

The oceans and waterways were choked with a substance called ‘plastic’ which Tane, to his horror, learned was formed from the ancient liquid remains of dead plants and animals. A process which turned his once beautiful and vital creations, into something so unnatural that even the passing of countless centuries couldn’t return their desecrated remains back to the natural cycle of the earth.

It wasn’t just nature that his children had turned their backs upon. It seemed that, in their unending quest for power, they had also forgotten the important bonds of family. They had tried to oppress and gain control over each other, based solely on meaningless divisions; like the level of pigment in their skin, their sexual preference, or even by the doctrine and dogma of the myriad new ‘world religions’ which had sprung up.

Tane could still see the shadow of his teachings, lingering at the very core of each of these new ‘belief systems’, but many of his children seemed to ignore even the ghostly remains of the knowledge which he had so carefully imparted to their ancestors. Instead, they used their ‘allegiance’ to a particular faith as a crutch, in some misguided attempt to give themselves a false air of superiority over others. Some even went as far as to use their own twisted doctrine as some sort of ‘divine justification’ for their countless sins. At this extreme, all trace of his loving message had been erased.

By the time he had returned from his slumber, there were only a handful of human bloodlines left. The vast, diverse and disparate beauty of his children had been pared down through war, famine, and disease. Those that had somehow survived the carnage of the terrible wars, which had struck their brothers and sisters from the face of the earth, were already sick and dying from the poison of the chemical and nuclear weapons which had marked the beginning of human extinction.

Seeing the broken bodies of his children littering the scorched battlefields, now marring the earth’s surface like open sores, Tane’s silent heart had clenched painfully within his chest. How had it come to this? He had vowed to himself, that he would never again create another being in his own image. And for a time, as the planet slowly began to heal itself under his gentle care, that was enough. But, as the centuries passed, Tane came to realise that trying to forget, wasn’t enough to make up for what his absence had allowed to happen, nor to mend his twice-broken heart.

He thought of his beautiful Sisiroha, and of the deep, unfailing love and devotion which she had held for each of her children and their descendants. Surely, any being capable of such unconditional love, was also capable of becoming everything that he had dreamed?

And so, with renewed resolution, he stepped forward and entered the waters of the lagoon. Cool waves danced against his legs as he waded further out, not stopping until the water reached his waist. Raising his hands, palms facing downwards, he gently placed them on the shimmering surface of the lake.

“Eteroa, spirit of the land and guardian of all who dwell upon it, hear me!” He called, feeling the water vibrate and shiver beneath his fingers. “Hear me and awaken, I ask your counsel and a blessing.”

The hum of insect activity surrounding the lagoon ceased, and Tane waited in the silence. Moments passed, but he didn’t move from his place in the shallows. At last, a gravelly voice reached his ears.

“Tane, God of Forest and Light, what would you ask of me?”

The voice was dry and ponderous, but, despite Tane’s previous reservations, the spirit didn’t sound angry, so he forged ahead.

“When the world was still young, I came to you in this place and asked you a boon… do you recall our meeting then?”

“My memory is longer than yours young Tane, and my age far greater. Yes, I remember the meeting of which you speak… now, what would you ask of me this time?”

“No more and no less than I did on that day, Great Spirit,” Tane replied, subconsciously holding his breath as he waited for a response. The seconds ticked by, each one an agony.

“After what your children have done to our world, you would dare to ask this of me again?! Why? Why would I grant you this boon a second time?”

Eteroa’s voice rose thunderously, and the waters of Kemea shook and danced all about him.

“Please, oh wise spirit of the land, do not lay my sins at my children’s feet. It was my own negligence, which brought us all to this end, and my children paid the terrible price of my conceit. I should never have left them, still so very much in their infancy, all alone with the whole world clutched in their small, fragile hands.” Tane paused for a moment as a swell of painful emotion threatened to choke him.

“If you feel that someone should bear the weight of your punishment for this crime, Great Spirit, then I offer myself up to your mercy. But, before you make your judgement, I ask that you please hear my proposal.”

The waters stilled, and silence returned to the plateau.

“Granted. Speak your piece, and I will consider your words.”

Tane bowed respectfully, making sure not to remove his palms from the surface of the lake.

“It is true that I come to you once again asking for a human mate. When I first woke and saw the destruction of all I had once loved, I vowed to myself never again to make the same mistake. As time passed, though, I realised that the only way to truly correct the mistakes of the past, is to begin again; this time ensuring that I am the dedicated father that I should have been from the very beginning. In addition, I would like you to take my memories of all that has been, and to pass that terrible knowledge to my mate. In this way, my new family will grow from out of the ashes of my slain children, hopefully never to repeat the mistakes that lead us to this end.”

“That is a heavy burden, indeed, for a new soul to bear. Are you certain you want to place such a weight on your new mate’s shoulders?”

“I am. I will sacrifice a portion of my power to ensure that she doesn’t become overwhelmed with the knowledge all at once. I will take responsibility in gently revealing the truth, piece by piece. In this way, I will share the burden with her… supporting and guiding her, as I should have done with my children.”

There was a rumbling sigh, as Eteroa carefully considered Tane’s words.

“Alright, God of Forest and Light, you may have your second chance. Be warned though, this time the earth itself will hold you accountable.”

“Thank you, Great Spirit of the land. I will not fail you or my family a second time, I promise you that.”

The water began to glow with a radiant white light, and Tane waded forward to the centre of the lake, using his power to keep himself waist-high even in the deepest parts.

As he reached the centre, the light began to coalesce, drawing in on itself to form a large iridescent sphere before him. Reaching his arms into the centre of the sphere, Tane took hold of its precious content and, as he did so, the light began to fade.

The lonely, broken man, more human than god at that moment. Gazed down at the sleeping woman in his arms. “I will name you Kemea in memory of your birthplace.” He whispered to her, as hope once again welled within his breast, and his heart uttered its first stuttering beat in millennia, in answer to her own.   

If you enjoyed reading my work and would like to see more of the same, please also consider donating to my Kofi fund via the following link… https://ko-fi.com/bfauthor all purchases and donations are very much appreciated.

©Bernadetteflynnauthor.com 2019

Coming soon…

Karen Chance’s new book – due to hit the shelves on 10th December. The Cassandra Palmer and Dorina Basarab series are without doubt two of the best I’ve ever read. Karen Chance is a wonder and has remained one of my all-time favourite author’s for more than a decade now. Her character and plotline creation are second to none. Definitely well worth a read.

The Soundless Hush

Sometimes at night I fall asleep
To all embracing black
And other times – right at the brink
My senses call me back

The soundless hush of gentle white
The crispness in the air
It doesn’t need to make a sound
To tell me that it’s there

The window beckons temptingly
All decked in glistening lace
The view that greets me through the glass
An unfamiliar place

All harsh lines covered soothingly
And blanketed with care
No single mark to mar the scene
Or show what once was there

As if the earth is written new
Its pristine canvas waits
In peaceful contemplation
Till the sleeping world awakes


©Bernadetteflynnauthor.com 2019

Savour the Synchronicity

Savour the synchronicity
of nature in the Fall
The way the leaves redecorate
In deference to its call

The way the wind, so gallantly
Lends a helping hand
and sends them soaring through the air
‘Fore guiding them to land

Feel the crispness in the air
when Jack Frost comes to town
and decks the barren branches
With his lustrous eiderdown

The brightly blushing holly
Worth braving every thorn
The way the fire crackles
and offers up its warmth

How morning mist envelops
A landscape dressed in dew
That burns off ‘neath the Autumn sun
And leaves the world renewed

The vivid blaze of sunset
when colours drench the sky
The scent of snow upon the air
‘er southward, swallows fly


©Bernadetteflynnauthor.com 2019

The Exchange

“Wolfran haunch… git yer fresh wolfran haunch right ere! Five trills a kilo… Goin fast! You won’t find no better deal this side of Kantar!” The man’s booming voice made Lorne cringe, as he made his way through the bustling market place on Amari 4. He’d always hated market day. The heaving mass of sweating bodies crammed inside a sweltering space — fit for around only half their number — made his skin crawl and his head ache fiercely.

If only Eddie would move with the times and get himself a decent relocator! But then, Eddie was a Vulg, and Vulg’s were a notoriously skittish species; technology really wasn’t in their wheelhouse. Even something as low tech as a simple cell regenerator, was looked on with an overwhelming degree of suspicion and distrust. Lorne had even brought up the idea of moving into the relocation racket on a couple of occasions, but Eddie had just shut him down cold, saying that he had no intention of handing himself to the enforcers on a silver platter. It was ridiculous! Everyone and their cousin, from Amari 4 to Iridion, knew that, although the enforcers monitored all on-world transportation signals, relocators worked on a completely different principle. They were nigh on untraceable — even if you somehow managed to get your hands on the source machine.

“Damned Vulgs!” Lorne muttered to himself, rolling his eyes as he squeezed his way past yet another overflowing cart — fresh fish this time… at least that’s what the badly scrawled and misspelt sign claimed. Personally, Lorne had his doubts. The ripe smell made his stomach churn, as the day-old bagel, which had the audacity to try and call itself ‘breakfast,’ threatened to make a final curtain call. He bit it back, the acidic taste in his mouth only adding fuel to the fire of his irritation.

“To hell with Eddie! If I had any sense, I’d just cut ties with the odious little scum-sucker once and for all!” The words should have made him feel better, but they fell short… mainly because they rang about as hollow as an Urok’s skull.

Eddie was a lot of things – most of which would turn a man’s stomach more so than invite a closer acquaintance – but there was one thing that Eddie was not… and that was a liar. Ignorant and repulsive, yes, but if he said he would hook a guy up, then the little sack of black-hearted bile would do just that… so long as there was enough ready trill in the exchange to make it worth his time, of course.  

He needed Eddie… or, rather, he needed what Eddie had. That didn’t mean that he couldn’t curse the stars above, that the repulsive little Vulg just happened to be the one person on this godforsaken rock who’d manage to get his grubby little claws on one!

It was sheer luck alone, which saved his ass as he ducked into the alleyway entrance to Eddie’s black-market dive… well, that and the superior might of the renegade bagel, which chose that same moment to forcefully insist that they part company.

With a groan, Lorne staggered over to the stack of broken crates, which littered one side of the narrow, cobbled walkway and noisily launched his partially digested breakfast into the overflowing refuse channel which ran sluggishly along its length. The barely moving wastewater disappeared into a storm-drain just outside of the doorway to Eddie’s shop — a doorway which was, at that very moment, belching out what seemed like an endless stream of hard-faced, chorium-plated enforcers.

Lorne would have tried to slip back out into the crowd, which was still jammed together like red-faced sardines in the main drag, but apparently the bagel wasn’t quite done with him yet.

“What do we have here then?” One of the men said, walking over to where Lorne was leaning miserably against the slime-covered wall.  “Just anuva ‘skaghead’, Sir. Damned place is crawling wiv em. Magister needs reportin ta the top brass if yer ask me…”

“…but I didn’t ask you, did I, Oiler?” The commanding officer’s words were somewhat refined, hinting at a high-born past perhaps — in Lorne’s experience, those ones were the worst; sadistic devils to a man. He also kept his tone smooth and low, but there was no missing the underlying threat in them. He had witnessed the reality of that threat one more time than he’d ever wished to. The man called Oiler gulped audibly and fell silent.

Lorne kept his head firmly lowered; he couldn’t chance being recognised by one of the men. He had sworn to himself more than a decade ago that he’d never surrender to what the enforcers termed ‘justice’ ever again — not while he still had breath left in his body. The enforcers liked to pretend that they were ‘guardians of the allied planets,’ but all they really were, were a group of corrupt mercenaries. These days, it wasn’t even all that clear if the powers that be had hired these crooks, or if the enforcers had just amassed enough dirt on them, to keep them firmly in their place and not asking any questions. Lorne was betting on the latter.

“Is Oiler right?” The commanding officer grabbed his shoulder and forced Lorne round to face him.

“Sorry, sir, I… I’m just sick.” The man clearly wasn’t buying his show of humility, and he reached a gauntleted hand down to grasp Lorne’s chin, clearly intending to force his head up so he could get a proper look at him. He had to act fast! Only he had no idea what to do. He was outnumbered by at least six to one, and that was if there were no more of the hulking psychopaths still inside. 

“Sir… please, I… I…” He stuttered, stalling for time and trying to play into Oiler’s insulting assessment of him being just another skag-addled waster. The commanding officer growled under his breath, patience nearly at an end when the gods decided to smile down on Lorne for the second time that day. The tepid breeze changed direction, bringing the foul stench of fermenting fish along with it. Within moments it had engulfed them.

Several things happened at once; Oiler bent over double, coughing and choking. The commanding officer dropped his chin and raised his hand to his face to try and ward off the terrible smell. And Lorne, stomach heaving once again, bent double and found to his surprise that there was still some contents left in his stomach, even after his earlier argument with the stale bagel. The fact that said contents was now colourfully adorning the commanding officer’s shiny black boots was less of a blessing. It earned him a metal-fisted punch to the gut and left him lying, gasping like a beached plovak, in an unidentifiable puddle of filth on the ground.

“I think we’ve seen all we need to see here. Oiler!”

“Yessir?” Oiler smothered yet another wheezing cough, trying his best to stand to attention.

“Gather the men. I want the whole squadron back at the citadel and ready for debriefing before noon; tardiness will be met with an hour in the stockade!”

“Sir! Yessir!” Oiler choked out between another bout of uncontrollable coughing.

The commanding officer wiped his soiled boots on Lorne’s shirt, then gave him one final kick to the stomach before stomping off into the hastily departing crowd. No one gets in the way of the enforcers, not unless they want to pay with their freedom — or, in quite a few cases, their lives.

Oiler barked orders to the rest of the squadron, and they all marched from the alley without giving Lorne so much as another glance. He’d been lucky. A few moments later, he was alone again.

Clutching his abused stomach, he pushed himself painfully to his feet. If a couple of bruised ribs and a sore gut were the only take-aways from an encounter with the enforcers, then a man could count himself truly blessed. He’d never complain to the fish vendor again, that was for sure! The man’s less than hygienic practices had miraculously saved the day… or, at least, they had done so for Lorne. As he staggered through the open doorway, he couldn’t miss the fact that Eddie and his goons hadn’t been quite so lucky.  

The place was absolutely coated with the distinctive blue-black sheen of oily Vulg blood. Eddie must have had guests too as there was definitely some dark purple in the mix as well — Andurian perhaps. It was impossible to tell, though. Whatever had been unleashed in here had pretty much obliterated anything it hit. A long string of stinking slime dripped down from the ceiling and landed on his shoulder. Lorne shuddered. That the enforcers had got their hands on a weapon powerful enough to do this level of ground zero damage left a sour taste in his mouth, and it sure as heck wasn’t the bile this time.

He picked his way across the gore covered floor to where the battered remnants of Eddie’s desk lay. Three of its legs were in splinters, and half of the top had gone, but one of the drawers was still intact, and Lorne held his breath as he carefully pried it open.

It contained some coffee-stained pages, a number 2 pencil, and an assortment of rather unappealing looking candies; clearly, Eddie had a sweet tooth. Other than that, the drawer was empty. Lorne’s heart sank. It wasn’t there. He’d come all this way, had his ribs kicked in, and it was all for nothing!

“Damn!” He kicked the broken desk, smiling grimly as the last remaining leg snapped off, and the whole heap crashed to the ground. It felt good to release some of his pent-up rage, so he kicked it again, harder this time.

“Damn! Damn! Damn!” The impact hurt his foot, sending pain shooting up his leg, but Lorne didn’t care. Eddie was gone. The enforcers were gone. There was no one, and nothing else left for him to take his ire out on; so, the desk was going to take his abuse for no other reason than that, other than him, it was the last thing still standing.

It could have been the fifteenth kick, or maybe the twentieth that did it — Lorne had long since lost count, focused only on the desk’s complete and utter annihilation — but suddenly there was a loud clicking sound, and something fell down from under the desk to land in the sticky mire on the floor.

Levering the desk over onto what little was left of its scarred surface, he could see that there had been some sort of hidden compartment in its underside. The small, well-concealed door was now hanging open, but still wedged inside, was a fat roll of notes and a small, velvet pouch.

Lorne’s heart skipped a beat in his chest as he carefully extracted the roll and the pouch from their hiding place. He stuffed the notes into his pocket without bothering to count them — he knew by sight alone that there had to be at least ten thousand trills there, but he had much more important things to focus on. Gingerly he undid the cord on the pouch and peered inside.

“Thank the gods,” his voice was barely an awed whisper as he reached in and plucked the unassuming, silver device from within its protective folds. He stared down at the ionic breather, feeling moisture well in his eyes. Such a tiny little thing, but it was the final key in securing his family’s freedom from this god-forsaken hell hole. Talia’s weak lungs had tied them all to this place, and to the costly medicine, which he and her mother had basically had to sell themselves into slavery in order to procure. With this little device, their savings, and Eddie’s little nest egg, he, his wife, and daughter could finally afford to leave. It looked like the slimy little Vulg had come through for him after all.

Thinking of Eddie reminded him that something else had fallen from that hidden compartment. Trying not to think about what he was sifting his hand through, he searched around in the puddle of slime until his fingers located the small cylindrical tube. Wiping it off on his already filth-stained trousers, Lorne squinted down at the writing etched on its side;

‘Dr Orris’ patented cell regeneration wand’ the small silver letters read. Lorne couldn’t suppress a grim chuckle.

“Why Eddie, you progressive, dark horse of a Vulg.” He shook his head and grinned. “I’ll just hang on to this if you don’t mind, old chap. It’s not like it would do you much good in your current state, after all.” He pocketed the device and the pouch containing the breather and walked back out into the stinking alley. Elbowing his way back out into the crush on the main street, he turned in the direction of the shipyard to book passage for his family on the first passenger ship he could find, which was heading to the outer planets.

As Lorne walked, he felt his spirits lift, and he began to whistle an upbeat tune. Perhaps market day wasn’t all that bad after all.


If you enjoyed reading my work and would like to see more of the same, please also consider donating to my Kofi fund via the following link… https://ko-fi.com/bfauthor all purchases and donations are very much appreciated.

©Bernadetteflynnauthor.com 2019

The Glass Castle

A poetic retelling of the meeting between Saint Collen, a 7th century warrior monk, and Gwyn ap Nudd, Celtic god of the Otherworld, leader of the Wild Hunt and guardian of the dead.

Glossary

Cymru – (Come – ree) the original Welsh name for the country of Wales.

Saint Collen – (Coth – lenn) A 7th century warrior monk, who later went on to become an Abbot. Collen didn’t take to abbey life, and so he spent much of his time travelling from place to place, and preaching the Gospel to the people he met. For a time, he became a hermit and lived at the foot of Glastonbury Tor, and that is where this poetic retelling finds him.

Gwyn ap Nudd – (Gwin – ap – Neeth) Celtic god of the Otherworld, leader of the Wild Hunt and guardian of the dead. Gwyn also features in Arthurian legend, and at various points throughout the Mabinogion (a collection of the earliest prose stories native to Britain).  

Tylwyth Teg – (Tell – uth – teyg) Welsh fairies.

Annwfn – (Ann – oo – ven) The Otherworld, which is said to be located deep beneath Glastonbury Tor. The Tor is also thought to be the location of Avalon, as described in Arthurian legend.   

Caer Wydyr – (Cayr – wid – er) One of the entrances to Annwfn and the ‘Glass Castle’, after which this poetic retelling is named. It is said to reside on the very top of Glastonbury Tor.

There once came a man to Glastonbury Tor, Collen of Cymru was his name.
His cross well shined, though his robes were poor, and a hermitage he claimed.
Neath his vestments beat a soldier’s heart, though he’d cast his sword aside;
in pursuit of a higher calling, ‘neath God’s grace, he’d e’er reside.
But in new-found devotion, he soon forgot, that while his God claimed the skies,
there are ancient beings who walk the earth, and their dominion there abides.
In time, there came to Collen’s ears a conversation strange,
in which two men spoke of Gwyn ap Nudd, and praised his noble reign.
They claimed him ‘Lord of the Wild Hunt’, ‘King of the Tylwyth Teg,’
‘Ruler of the Otherworld’, and ‘Guardian of the Dead.’
“What madness is this? Be still thy tongues”, Collen did decry,
“Tis surely demons of which you talk, your souls they seek to pry.”
“Hush now, Father,” the first man said, “For Annwfn’s reach is long.”
“From Caer Wydyr, it’s Lord sees all, and he’ll not acquit a wrong.”
The men departed, and sure enough, that night, there came a knock.
“Gwyn ap Nudd commands thee meet, at noon atop the rock.”
But noon, it came and went again, Collen stayed within his cell;
he wouldn’t risk his mortal soul, for these minions of Hell.
On the second morn, came another rap, and again, the messenger’s call.
“At the peak of the sun, be atop the Tor. Please heed my Master’s call.”
But Collen wouldn’t venture out, beneath the midday sun,
to meet this ‘Warden of the damned’, his faith was too hard won.
Day three dawned bright, but sure enough, the messenger returned.
“Go ye not today, Collen, His ire you will have earned.”
With each day’s passing, a fear had grown, within fair Collen’s breast,
it seemed that no amount of prayer would spare him from this test.
Collen took up his sacred flask, and with holy water did fill,
then placed it safe upon his belt, and left to do God’s will.
When he arrived atop the Tor, Collen’s eyes went wide,
for there he found a castle fair, not barren countryside.
It was the most enchanting place, but his trepidation grew,
as he passed the gleaming Honour Guard, all decked in red and blue.
At last, he saw a courteous man, atop the castle gate,
who bid that Collen come inside, lest his Master have to wait.
He passed by hordes of minstrels, all making a merry tune;
comely youths on shining steeds, maidens – fairer than the moon.
Finally, he reached a chamber – at its centre, a gilded throne,
upon the throne sat Gwyn ap Nudd, who bid him feel at home.
Not seeing any other course, Collen took a seat,
and was promptly offered the richest fare that he could ever eat.
Gwyn told him that, as honoured guest, luxury was his due,
that his wisdom earned him their respect, and every courtesy too.
“I will not eat leaves off the trees, as I know your tricks fair well.”
“I will not sup on fairy food, lest I damn my soul to hell.”
Gwyn just smiled politely, and sent the serving girls away,
“How about my Honour Guard? What think you then of they?”
“Their uniforms are good enough… for creatures such as that.”
Collen replied and reached his hand to where his flask was at.
“Good Sir,” Gwyn asked, “I beg your leave, to ask what you might mean?”
“What possible offence give they, that I have left unseen?”
“The choice of colours!” Collen said, “did you think I wouldn’t know?”
“Red for burning and blue for death, your demon natures show!”
With that, he leapt up to his feet, brandishing his flask,
and shook the contents all about, so ardent in his task.
The next he knew, King Gwyn was gone, as was his royal court;
feast and castle, maids and knights, no sign left to report.
To this day some still swear, that Collen banished Gwyn;
that holy might and pure of heart combined to vanquish him.
Others know a different truth, that King Gwyn still abides,
within his halls beneath the Tor, where departed souls reside.
They say that Gwyn had noble aims, inviting Collen in;
that his intent was to explain, and try to learn from him.
How sad it is that such a truce could well have been in reach;
that a little understanding could have helped to mend the breach.
The lesson that I take from this, is when in foreign lands,
it’s best to wait, to show respect, and offer up your hand.

Afterword

The name ‘Gwyn’ is traditionally translated as ‘White’, ‘Fair’, ‘Holy’ or ‘Blessed.’ Within the Celtic tradition, things/beings which are seen as intrinsically good, or spiritually enlightened, are often associated with the colour white, or more literally with emitting such a light or shining in some way. Someone with this trait would be seen as possessing a divine inner light or radiance.

Gwyn ap Nudd tended to be given the raw end of the deal, as many early Christians often associated his realm as being synonymous with Hell. This was far from the truth of it. Annwfn (or the Otherworld) is considered to be a light and blessed place, more in tune with the Elysian Fields of ancient Greek legend. It is a place inhabited by gods, immortals (such as the Tylwyth Teg – welsh fairies, and the Gwragedd Annwfn – a race of female water spirits connected to rivers and lakes), and truly good or noble souls from amongst the human ranks.

Gwyn is also said to have assisted King Arthur in the hunt for the great boar, Twrch Trwyth, an impossible feat without his assistance, as well as several other tests. In some texts, Arthur and Guinevere are even rumoured to have taken their rightful place at their ally’s side in Annwfn upon their deaths.

Long and short, being the person responsible for the gathering of human souls is not an easy thing to live down – even if you are also the one bearing them, at their predetermined time, to a place of beauty, rest and protection… just ask the Grim Reaper! It’s a hard job. It takes someone with great purity of heart and strength of will to do it well; and in Celtic myth that someone is Gwyn ap Nudd.    

The events which take place in this poetic retelling, are taken from Lady Charlotte Guest’s translation of the 16th century Welsh ecclesiastical manuscript, ‘Buchedd Collen.’

This tale is usually told as if St. Collen successfully banished the fair folk from Glastonbury Tor, but continued analysis of the original text has found little to actually evidence this claim. Rather, it seems to suggest that it was, in fact, Collen himself who was banished from the fairy court for his disrespectful behaviour in the face of Gwyn’s hospitality, and not the other way around. Indeed, there are accounts of Collen, despite his alleged victory, becoming deeply dismayed by the whole exchange, to the extent that he prayed to God to guide him to a new place where he could live out the rest of his life in peace and seclusion.  

As with many of these old tales, they have been re-written several times, and so there are several, very different perspectives at work here; this poem merely conveys one of them.

Also, as a point of interest, the colours which Collen seems to find so much issue with, likely have a far more benign interpretation. Red has, for as long as memory, been considered the colour most associated with the Fair Folk. It is associated with both magic and ‘otherness’ – no demonic ‘burning’ in sight. 

As to the blue, which Collen saw as representing the coldness of death, Glastonbury itself has a close connection with this colour. The word ‘Glas’ in Welsh means blue/grey, and there is evidence that the people who inhabited the lakeside village back in the Iron Age were known for producing a high-quality blue coloured cloth.

Danu Forest, in her book on the subject (Pagan Portals – Gwyn ap Nudd: Wild God of Faery, Guardian of Annwfn) – which served as much of the inspiration for this poetic retelling – suggests that, rather than being demonic and evil, these two colours simply represented the court’s proud ties to both fairy and to their mortal, Glastonbury-born ancestors.

Sadly, Saint Collen did not have access to all of this information back in the day; perhaps if he had, things would have turned out very differently indeed.

News and Moon News

Here is another fun little piece written by my father – it seems he is on a roll! Enjoy…

News and Moon News

By A. A. Moss

[Earth, 27th September in the year 2019.]

Nasa has failed to locate the Indian lunar lander, ’Vikram.’ The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost touch with the craft as it approached the south pole of the lunar surface earlier in the month. It is still not clear as to whether it landed or crashed. Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has scanned more than ninety-two miles surrounding the targeted landing site, but it has not as of yet managed to locate the craft or any residual debris.

Vikram was launched on the 22nd July 2019 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota – an island off the coast of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh – taking several weeks to reach its final destination, it was scheduled for touchdown on 6th September 2019. 

[Lunar Surface, 27th September in the year 2019.]

The Momble’s Unidentified Landed Objects Team (ULO) has announced that another object has fallen from the sky. The object appeared to be only slightly damaged, with many still usable parts. It seems that this sort of occurrence is becoming commonplace these days.

As most Mombles know, these occurrences began fifty solar cycles ago, when the Momble Gatherers first discovered significant amounts of mechanical debris, which had mysteriously arrived on the solar side of our planet. All of the debris was gathered together and suitably processed, becoming a matter for the history books.

This latest discovery, however, was a surprise – landing, as it did, in a previously unlittered sector of our world. ULO Gatherers have released a statement confirming that this find had been especially fruitful; with many of the parts being disassembled and re-utilised. The flat, tile-like structures have been used to create a beautiful patio area in the South Lunar Park, and the dish-shaped pieces, into an attractive water feature.

The questions which still exist, however, are; Firstly, where did these articles come from and secondly, what was their original purpose? We may never know.

And that is all for tonight. More from us at Momble Southern News, tomorrow.