Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Cauldron Presents: Beyond Realms by Brian Bigelow

My friend Brian has such a wonderful way with words. An eloquent storyteller with a flair for suspense, I have enjoyed learning this wonderful artist and how skillfully he uses the craft. Ladies and gentleman, I now present Beyond Realms by Brian Bigelow.
 
Being hidden far away, the Princess will have to return through time and space. Being controlled by another, the King becoming no more than a shadow of himself. Only a single tear from someone pure in spirit would break the spell and set him free. Step into another world, a place beyond the present, as you journey through the world of "Beyond Realms."



Around her, the fog continued to decrease with every step she made. As it got brighter her eyes finally adjusted and the brightness became less painful. She was glad for the relief that came with it because it felt like she had the beginnings of another migraine. The last time she had one of those headaches she had to stay in bed for two days the thought of which wasn’t very appealing to her.

Soon, the fog faded away to a mild haze and she could begin to see some indistinct shapes. A few more steps and the pea soup she had been walking in had completely gone. What she was seeing now brought her to a sudden stop. She found herself standing near the top of a beautiful grass and sedge-covered hillside to her complete and total surprise. It confused her to find herself in the place she was now at. She pinched herself on her elbow to make sure she wasn’t dreaming it.

White branches pointed up in many places from the deep carpet that was covering the hillside. More verdant rolling hills extended out into the distance. She couldn’t get over how wild this place looked. It reminded her of some of the nature pictures she had seen on some wall calendars. Knowing such a place existed, and actually seeing it, were two very different things in reality. As her eyes passed over the shin high grass, the only shadow she could see was her own. It was obvious that a mower hadn’t been anywhere close to this place, and most probably wouldn’t ever either.
Trying to correlate this place with her life experiences was impossible. She’d never been any place that was like this. It even smelled different than what she was used to:  clean and fresh. There were definitely none of the odors she was used to in Los Angeles here. She breathed in deeply as she tried to understand what was going on.

Turning around, she looked up toward the top of the hill. She could see the ruins of some rock walls that must have been intended to be fences. She also saw what was left of a stone building with jagged square openings in the side that was beyond her comprehension. The openings looked a little like they were windows, but where was the glass and the casements she expected to see? The heavy stacked rocks the building was made of didn’t give her any answers to her query.

Looking up into the bright blue sky, she saw a few puffy clouds were floating by lazily. The color of the sky was particularly startling as she was used to seeing yellowish-colored pollution-filled smoggy skies. There weren’t any contrails from passing planes either.

Then she really began to wonder what this place was where she now found herself. It looked strangely familiar, like she had been here before, almost like she was experiencing déjà vu. Yet, at the same time, it was so very different from what she knew except for a few memories of an Iowa farm she once visited when she was much younger.

There were no buildings, sidewalks, streets, cars, or trash to be seen anywhere around her. She realized she didn’t hear any of the noises of the city either, which was very odd. There were no horns, engine sounds or stereos. Only the sound of the wind rustling through the grass reached her ears and it sounded loud with the absence of any other sounds than her own heartbeat. I must be having some weird twisted dream of some kind. I just don’t understand any of this. She closed her eyes and shook her head to try to wake up and clear the image. When she opened her eyes though, the expansive green landscape of rolling hills was still there.

Taking a deep breath, she felt more alive than she had for a long time and filled with pure energy as a sense of wonder filled her entire being. It was as if her spirit had been renewed completely in an instant. This place was so amazing, she was awestruck. She wanted to go exploring and see everything that was around the area and she was sure there was plenty to see. Deciding that the stone walls and empty building didn’t interest her all that much, she looked down toward the bottom of the hill. It looked like it held some promise and just maybe, once she was there, she would be out of this almost constant wind that was buffeting her.

She made her way down through the sea of tall grass. The way it impeded her movement, it felt like she was wading through water as she strode along. An overwhelming impulse to wander because of her curiosity seemed to impel her and was guiding her in the direction she was travelling. If asked about it, she couldn’t have explained the desire. Even if it took the rest of her life, she wanted to explore everything this place had to offer her. There was so much that she wanted to be able to see. And if it was all just a dream she wanted to hurry to see as much as possible before she woke up.

Reaching the bottom of a small valley she walked up to the top of the next hill. Cresting it, she could see what looked to be a copse of trees down at the bottom of another valley. By now, the bright sunshine was making her feel really warm so the shade the woods offered was enticing. As she walked down the hill a pair of meadowlarks were singing somewhere off into the distance. She figured they were presently roosting in the trees below.

Further down the hill she heard a rustle off to her left. To her delight, a red fox peeked out in curiosity from behind a short bush. Its little nose excitedly wiggled as it tried to smell her from a distance. Once it satisfied itself about the girl it bounded off across the landscape. She couldn’t help but stop and watch the beautiful creature leaving. The blaze of red appeared to undulate as it fled through the tall grass and weeds until it finally disappeared from view.

She stopped for a moment and watched the place she had last seen the fox. Then, she heard a screeching cry from above. Her attention was grabbed and she looked up into the sky. What in the heck is that thing? At first it looked a lot like a bird until it got closer and could see that it wasn’t. It wasn’t like anything she had ever seen before except in fantasy movies.

Small wings flapped on either side of the elongated body. It had a reptilian head and a long tail was extending out behind. When it was directly overhead she noticed the scales that were covering the length of its body. A mixture of fear and awe held her in place as she watched it fly off into the distance. She couldn’t believe that it was real. Is that…can that be… that can’t really be a dragon, can it? It screeched once more as it crested the next hill and disappeared over the other side.

Standing there for several minutes with her mouth gaping wide open she watched the place she had seen it last before it disappeared. Mulling it over, she tried to come up with anything else that fit what she had just seen and nothing did. She’d just seen something she was sure was impossible. At least that’s what she tried to tell herself. Slowly, she became aware of how vulnerable she was out here if it came back. She recomposed herself and decided she needed to find some cover, the sooner the better. She continued making her way down the hillside toward the copse of trees. As she got closer more of it was visible and it was actually part of a ribbon of treed forest.

The ground was becoming noticeably rougher the closer she got to the woods. Here rocks were peeking up that she had to struggle over. Several times she fell down and felt bruises forming on her knees. By the time she made it to the trees she felt thoroughly exhausted.

Standing under the canopy she breathed a sigh of relief since she was no longer in the open where that dragon would be able to find her. She found a log lying on the ground and sat down on it to take a little breather. Rubbing her knees and stretching out her legs she looked around and listened to the birds singing. On a nearby branch, a pair of mourning doves were cooing and nestling into each other. She thought about how romantic the pair looked together.

Feeling tired, and no longer quite as hot and sweaty, she wanted to lie down and maybe take a little nap. She knew she had to get moving though since there was so much it was obvious she didn’t know about this place. Staying there was probably not the best option considering all of the various creatures she was seeing in the vicinity.

It was just a matter of time until she saw a wolf or a bear. There could possibly be something even worse coming to investigate. It crossed her mind for a moment to ascend the hill and spend the night in the ruin but then realized her knees weren’t going to want to cooperate with her. Groaning, she got up and began to push her way through the dense undergrowth.

 Brian Bigelow
The author of:

Fiction:
Beyond Realms (children's, epic fantasy)
Hall and Muscato Publishing

An Ill Wind Cometh (horror)
Authors Allies Publishing
 
Rip Tide (horror)
Horror Bent (horror)
Macabre Moments (horror)
The Visitation (horror)
The Sea Witch (sea adventure)
The Box (children's)

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