August 24, 2006

Clouds of Apocalypse

I wrote this narrative more a decade ago. It is taken directly from a real dream (an oxymoron?) my brother (and best friend) had. The dream profoundly changed him and called into question the state of his soul. The story is meant to go from reality into the dream and back to reality.

The rain. It began its slow cleansing march up the dusty valley somewhere west of the Middle Child's house. An incredible solid wall of water from earth to sky. The boy stood alone on the porch of the soiled white house that squatted beside the road, watching the whirling wind twist the leaves to pale undergreen and the water advance down the hill changing dry gray pavement to a shiny black streak streaked with rivulets of new mud. The division between the gray and the black is a straight edge of glistening cleansing water. Where the storm has passed the world is vibrant and alive, breathing anew, glad to be free rid of the ubiquitous dust.

The rain smell. That smell of newly turned earth saturated the air flooding the child with ancient memories of other storms that always smelled the same. Not the smell of burying earth. The earth smell of plowing, sowing, pushing the seed deep. The charged air is the calm turmoil that the boy always imagined it would be like in the eye of a hurricane. This is not a storm of malevolence but of replenishing. The Middle Child thought of mighty Mjolnir ringing the heavens with the hammering thunder, sparking the lightning as Thor forged his fury. The clouds are sooted cotton filling the horizon. The turbulent grace of a summer storm has the boy more alive than he has ever felt. The storm essence rushes into every pore, every sense, flooding his being as nature can do to those young enough to know the sublime. The raw grandeur charms him, holds him enthralled, standing alone on the porch.

The rain dream. The clouds. The memory, once triggered, took the boy back. To the brink. Of many things. Three nights earlier he dreamt dreams of desolation. It came upon him. He fully understood the grave reality of his experience. This dream was not. It was more, it was is the searing manifestation of the inescapable reality of mortality. Through a paned window, a portal, the wall between two worlds crumbling. Fierce clouds. Black beyond black. Writhing, coiling, twisting in a fury spawned in the death throes of creation. More than clouds. Snaking clouds of blinding wrath and immobilizing fear hailing the advent of the blade blindly slashing into the Middle Child's dream reality. The full force bore down, filling his senses, his soul. Every fear, every hidden hope flooded with the awesome, all impinging dread. Forgive me.

He stood his ground till it melted away pouring over the edge of the abyss his feet stuck as his legs changed to earth. Unable to turn away knowing he would possess the knowledge of the storm. The blackness enveloped him like a dark suffocating blanket then he saw his being drawn away up through a long long dark tunnel tube, twirling swirling faster and faster with traces of faces and demons that looked familiar. Then the plunge into the thick tangible well of black fear, quickly reaching terminal velocity, sensing the hard bottom rushing up to meet him then suddenly dropping free of the black clouds only to see the earth, terra cognita, Dies Irae, so close the worms were crawling. This time he did not awaken.

Beside him his future niece slowly coiled into a fetal ball in the center of a patchwork quilt. Unable to grasp, to contain, the approaching apocalypse. The Middle Child caught, in his eye, to the right, as he stooped to touch the girl, brightness bright. From the depths of a well wrought chest escaped a light that the storm would never darken. Hope. A panoramic rectangular three dimensional canvas in motion, painted by the vision. Mottled doves, in full flight, pause before his face then disappear in a cacophony of motion. He turns to fully face the light. Sky blue and clear. Ground green and firm. He knew. He could keep his back to the storm. Become light. It nurtured his hidden hopes and shadowed those fears best left unexposed. He awoke in tears and in laughter, on the threshold of a scream. Remember the epiphany. The mask of God peeled away. A soul touching, no a soul wrenching intimacy that few survive, the final personal knowledge of certain death and possible redemption.

The Middle Child stands on the porch, in both worlds, the natural one purified by the rain and the unnatural one forever tainted by the emotional filth and physical squalor inside the house, thrust to the brink of manhood, his mind slowly releasing the dream vision for the reality, trembling as the memory pauses, watching the water further erode scars in the yard and the sky dusk not from the storm but from the waning purple and gold sun as it finishes its zenith, scarring up the sky, sliding down to the horizon on this the day of the summer solstice.

The mother, brought from her stupor by water in the windows, appeared in the doorway black in silhouette, a solid caricature with hair flattened and disarranged by sleep, haloed in clouds of spent smoke.

"Bo?" It is the mother's name for him. The boy hates it.

The second son did not respond. With his mind still full of visions of desperation, no longer able to face the hopeless despair, he turned to face the spent fury of the storm and the solidity and hope of the road.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the stroy and was intrigued by the process of the one page that also is marked in a way appropriate to the story itself. I look forward to more from this series.