Friday, September 21, 2018

Omens and Dark Tidings

by Jack Bates (writer), Alameda, August 20, 2010

Credit: Roger Barker
Dark Tidings

It was a cold windy ominous day, the typical day for omens. When the small sparsely inhabited island in the South Pacific, that Jack had finally found, is thrown in only dark tidings could result.

It was a cold windy ominous day, the typical day for omens. When the small sparsely inhabited island in the South Pacific, that Jack had finally found, is thrown in only dark tidings could result.

The trek across the South Pacific, treacherous as it was, had turned out to be extremely profitable. They had dodged the many close calls with the South Sea Trading Company, the Chinese Port Authority, and seemingly every other port authority in this hemisphere. Jack had lost some good men, hardened pirates each and every one. That was not considered entirely bad, since now their bunks were filled with loot and fewer men meant larger shares for the survivors. Jack and his surviving pirates finally found themselves at an uncharted island that was to be their bounty’s final resting place.

The whole of the island could be taken in by turning a circle from any one point on the island. There were a few small palm trees, beautiful white sand, the ocean for as far as the eye could see, and one small hut. Each of the pirates who came ashore, including Jack, were staring at this one small hut. There was no sound of life on the island. No birds, no lizards, nothing but the sound of gentle surf on the soft white sand.

A soft glow emanated from the hut’s one window. Smoke from a small fire curled around the edges of cloth hanging in the door way and from a small hole in the center of the roof. The smell was sweet, hinting at cinnamon. Jack advanced toward the doorway at a slow determined pace. Then Jack did something he never did before or since this encounter. He dropped his weapons to the ground.

The Sword of a Thousand Colors, named for the countless gems that encrusted the hilt, pommel, and guard that he had won in a duel to the death with a Persian Prince. The last time this sword touched sand was a long time ago, in the hand of that defeated Persian Prince on the Arabian Peninsula. This was not a weapon that a man set down. This was a weapon that became an extension of a warrior. It now lay on the white sand to Jack’s left.

Kuala Lumpur’s Dagger of Destiny lay to Jack’s right, blade buried in the white sand up to the indestructible crossbar of the same freakishly light and sturdy metal that the blade was composed of. The hilt of platinum encrusted with sapphires sparkled as the light of the setting sun was caught by the Diamond of Destiny that the dagger was named for. The flawless diamond was said to clear the fog of the future and able to guide one through any and all dangers. Tell that to the guy who never woke when Jack slipped out his bedroom window with the dagger in his belt.

The sight of their leader dropping his weapons of lore carelessly to the ground gave Jack’s Pirates reason to pause. Ten men in all, they were worth a hundred times that many, looked to Jack for an answer.

All Jack said was, “Stay”.

With that, Jack continued his determined pace to the door and slipped around the edge of the cloth as if he were smoke himself. Then he was gone from sight. Jack's path to the door was erased by the wind. The light from the setting sun captured in Jack’s weapons of lore was the only sign he had been there at all. Jack's men shivered as a chill of foreboding crawled up their spine. But they obeyed as they always had and sat down to wait.

On the other side of the cloth Jack found more smoke. The scent of cinnamon hung heavy in the air. One could also distinguish a hint of sugar cane and cocoa. Jack could see the cinnamon hanging from the walls and ceiling. There were dried fish and other sea life, hanging as well. The bare necessities were what this entire hut held. The floor was an extremely out of place Persian Rug that sat directly on the sand. The single room was only a few strides wide and housed but one occupant.

There was a small, old, ragged looking woman sitting at a tiny table. She sat opposite the cloth covered doorway watching across the table as Jack entered. The table, in the exact center of the room, supported a large bowl half filled with liquid. The old woman was staring intently at the liquid in the bowl. The liquid was cloudy white with tiny dark bits floating in it. As Jack moved closer he sat across from the old woman and waited.

Jack was wondering why he didn’t have more thoughts racing through his mind. Why was he acting this way? What prompted him to drop his weapons like that? Then she spoke, “All your questions will be answered before you depart this island”, never once looking up. With that Jack sat back and waited, again.

Still staring at the swirling white liquid the old woman began to speak, “You have come here seeking to leave something that does not belong here. You have lived a deviant life and crossed one to many powerful individuals. I am not here to pass judgment, for that has long since occurred. I am here to deliver your penance!” at that the ground shook, thunder clapped and the smoke in the air grew thicker.

Pointing at the liquid in the bowl the old woman droned, “Look now at the future, not your future, but that of your offspring!”, compelled, Jack bent closer and saw that the black bits and swirling liquid were moving faster. Then he saw past the liquid to a scene of depravity and despair.

After the scene played out Jack whispered, “This is not what I have wanted for the future. This is not why I have risked everything, the entirety of my life. This can’t be.”

For the first time the woman looked up, her eyes bright, full of life and hope for the first time in many, many years. Jack, leaning over the bowl never saw this look. He never saw the tear his mother shed for him as she spoke, “Look now. Watch and see how you must atone to save the future.” Compelled once more, Jack leaned farther over the bowl.

This time the scenes etched themselves into his mind. He was seeing what had to pass to allow for a successful future. Not his successful future, but the one for whom he worked so hard these past years. The future was for one that his mother, who decades earlier, foretold would come. The future descendant that he was to help succeed was now left in jeopardy. He had time to right the ship yet, barely. Figures, Jack thought to himself. Ride the wind, walk the edge of the blade, that is your life. This is no different from any past impossible feat accomplished! Ah, but he will take after me, he will!

The images forever burned in to Jack’s mind, he leaped up knowing what needed to be done. He strode out of the hut never turning to see the look of mixed concern and hope that lingered on his mother’s face. Never knowing what she had sacrificed for the future. What son does?

About the Writer

Jack Bates is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on Omens and Dark Tidings

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By Jack Bates on August 20, 2010 at 03:33 pm

I am considering using this as a prologue to a book, we'll see how that goes!

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By Theresa H Hall on August 20, 2010 at 09:05 pm

I wonder why he did not recognize his Mother.

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By Jack Bates on August 23, 2010 at 07:57 pm


Thanks for asking that. That is part of the hook for the greater tale, so I did something right! I want people to be asking that as the tale unfolds.

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