“Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner.” 
― Neil Gaiman 

Short Stories

'Be a voice, not an echo' 

The river runs deep

 

Like thieves in the night we tiptoed through the ancient alleyways of Varanasi, as if on our way to some clandestine rendezvous. We walked with the mindful intent of not waking the living or the dead, however our efforts were hampered as rain from the previous night had made the ground slushy.
The contained excitement of the group was palpable and I tried to calm myself. ‘Breathe Tina, breathe’ I whispered.  All my senses were heightened in this foreign environment, alleyways full of holy men, beggars, cows and stray dogs. Surprisingly all in innocent slumber, oblivious to our intrusion. 

    

We were a mishmash of strangers from every corner of the world drawn together like moths to a flame. All under the spell of some invisible weaver, who had skilfully knotted and tied the past and the future to draw us into the present. I could smell a thick soup of loam rising from the mud, coupled with animal and human waste, but strangely it did not bother me. Nothing could dull the exhilaration I felt to be finally here, at the age of 58, answering the call I have heard since my childhood. I lingered towards the end of the line eager to savour every detail.


We came to a fork in the road and I was surprised to see a soft indigo light framing the faces of many sleeping cows, they were all sorts of sizes, shapes and colours. I heard the comforting tingle of a bell and got lost in thought, looking at my muddy feet. I wondered whose footprints had been imprinted on this dirt before me, perhaps Marco Polo, Gandhi or even Jesus. Were the seeds of modern humanity planted here in this sacred place?

 

We walked a little further taking a turn left, just as the first rays of morning light cast a golden hew over the array of temples and mosques. We then arrived at a square surrounded by Banyan trees. At that moment I could feel the energy of the group shifting to euphoria as we saw the first glimpse of the mighty Ganges. It all felt so surreal, my heartbeat quickened and I put my hand on a tree to confirm I was actually there.  I was struck by the vibrancy of her pallet, the generous richness and depth, where life and death surrender and co-existed in perfect harmony.

 

Looking down first so that I didn’t miss anything, I spotted some locals gathering on the holy Ghats, the steps that line the banks of the river. Some were in prayer or meditation, lost in their private sanctuary.  Some were waist deep in their nakedness, pouring the silky liquid over their bodies.  My heart softened when I saw an elderly couple holding hands and dunking their entire bodies into the grey water and then tenderly wiping each other’s laughing faces . A mixture of tangerine, pink and golden light covered her length and her width now and as the sun rose, I felt a profound sense of peace.  It was like I had journeyed all my life looking for home,  somewhere the veil would be lifted and all would be revealed. To explain it to family and friends was difficult, I just knew it in every fibre of my being. I reasoned it was not logical, but here now I could not dismiss it as youthful fantasy or vague dreams of Indian princesses and exotic places. 

 

It seemed like only seconds had passed but then I was aware of many more people surrounding me, filling up the square and the steps with great speed. I was encased by wide eyed children all trying to gain my attention, wanting for me to buy their floating candles and marigold necklaces "gifts of thanks for the mother" they said repeatedly, almost as a chant.

Our guide ushered us to the waiting boat and my feet sunk into her fleshy core. Hands came from nowhere to help me on board and then as my muddy shoe came into contact with the bottom of the vessel, for one earth shattering second it happened. I was transported under the murky water and I realised some unfathomable fragment of my consciousness was looking up from the depths. I saw shafts of light and the black ash floating in her rhythm. I sensed her vastness and I felt safe in her essence, blissfully wrapped in her warm belly.  In that frozen second in time the clarity was so pure and  I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had been here many times before, and at last, it all made perfect sense.

 

Just another day in the office

Kathy cast her weary eyes upon the motley crew of could be murderers. She had been up till the wee hours of the morning, wrapping the last of the Christmas presents. Earlier that evening she had made a last-minute, midnight dash to the shopping centre, much to her disgust.  Kathy liked to make a close analysis of her potential purchases. Does it have any scratches; is it faded, dirty, overpriced? nothing escaped her attention. She had agonised for weeks over suitable gifts for her 3 nieces and 2 nephews, whose ages ranged from 4-8. In the end after close scrutiny of all the facts, she finally decided to purchase them all a copy of Mary Poppins.
 
What had just happened Kathy thought, had her mind drifted from the task at hand? This was a strange occurrence for her; usually, all of her senses would be on high alert.  Her gut instinct would kick in within seconds of arriving at the crime scene. She had unwavering trust in it and it was never wrong.  This secret weapon was the cause of much annoyance of her peers in London. Her male counterparts in particular watched in dismay, as he climbed the ranks of Inspector Sargent much faster than any woman or man before her. This feeling was not a gentle passing nuance but more like plyers, knotting a piece of chain wire.  She had this gift, or some would say curse since an early age and she could always spot a fake within 20 paces.
Kathy accepted this part of her nature with unwavering faith and consequently solved crimes at a lightning speed. But not this time, something was different; she waited a few seconds, nothing, nil, nada, zilch a big fat zero! What was happening was she too preoccupied with Christmas cheer and gastronomical delights?
 
She took a deep long breath, “focus, Kathy, focus” she whispered under her breath. She re-examined the details and as always started to formulate a motive. Rapidly, she crossed off her mental list of unlikely causes for such an abhorrent act. Kathy had always been quite dogmatic in her view of crime, good versus evil, white versus black but lately grey had started to sneak in, even if it was through the back door. Quiet little nudges villain or victim? Hero or coward? The lines were getting blurry and even if she did not want to acknowledge it, her body was speaking volumes.
 
Kathy’s top motives list was now completed:  greed, revenge, self-defence, anger, mental illness or her favourite, a crime of passion. Where was the CSI team she thought?  They were taking their sweet time to get there, probably indulging in the last of the egg nog. She looked into the embers of the inviting fire and then at the stark contrast of poor Clive’s cold lifeless corpse. Or was Clive really deserving of her sympathy, was he a violent, abusive drunk who took out all of life’s frustrations on his long-suffering wife Suzanne?
Was Gillian the loving sister who adored her brother and wished him good fortune on his financial legacy or was she consumed with bitterness? Then there was Andrew, the teenager neighbour working for Clive, why had he left school? Did he have anger issues or was he a sensitive soul, being bullied and could not take it anymore? Oh and Geoff the over exuberant cousin, finally a nudge from the pit of her stomach! She knew he had not committed the act, but he knew something, was he protecting someone? Questions, question but no answers all she could see was opaque.
 
Kathy had spent the last 5 years in London but had decided to return home to rolling gentle hills of Badgers Rift, even if it was to be for a short time.  It’s not that she disliked the hustle and bustle of the city, but as with every turn of her life, her restless spirit was always looking for a new adventure. She had made a few good friends but inevitably felt a little on the outer even with them, just hovering on the edges never quite fitting totally in. Like the stork had delivered her to the wrong planet and she was on a never-ending journey to find home.

For as long as she could remember she had always felt like this, even with her own family. She was the youngest of three daughters but was often asked in jest, if she was adopted? Her sisters were blonde, blue-eyed amazons, whereas she was 5’2” on her tippy toes. They had long golden locks where Kathy had short black hair cut in a pixie style, that framed her almond eyes perfectly.  Her siblings had petite size 8 figures while she was a shapely 12. Her shoulders were broad like a swimmer and she had taken great pride in being the unbroken arm wrestling champion of her local co-ed primary school.
They were sweet and placid where she had a sharp tongue and a steely gaze that had been known to make a grown man cry. Her parents embraced boisterous, energetic nature even though at times it bewildered them. Her sister’s loved and tolerated her, but as they grew older their differences created discord within the family. Kathy felt and voiced openly that they had both just settled for dull, dreary husbands, the 4.5 bedrooms on the 3.5 acres, the 2.5 children, 1.2 pets and don’t forget the 2 land rovers! The next 20 years nicely, safely catalogued. But if her time in the force had taught anything, it was that no one was ever safe.
 
She was really feeling annoyed now, where the hell was the team, they should have been there by now. As she observed her suspects again she pondered if they too had settled. Had they been conditioned into believing they had no choice? Were the cards they were dealt the only ones in the pack? Had they surrendered to a life full of quiet desperation?  Her brain pounded relentlessly against her head, but yet more questions! Kathy shut her eyes only to hear a faint whisper above the roar, asking, where they all just prisoners of their self-imposed jails?

 

The Light Keeper

Ned Kelly was a guardian of the light on the edge, existing on the fringe, popping and locking from one dimension to another. He was the unseen that danced amongst the shadows that kissed the light.  Like an actor changing from one character to another the protagonist in his never-ending novel.  Here on Taruvia A, the role assigned was as an Avatar, working for the Ashtar Command. His presence was vital for the future of the whole planet, who depended on him and a handful of other like-minded gifted individuals. The word Avatar did no sit particularly well on his narrow shoulders, as he thought it was a very loose term, depending on which dictionary and language one sought clarification. In his mind, he was a normal, ordinary Taruvian who just happened to have a very old soul. To a casual observer; he looked like an insignificant desolate figure, sitting cross-legged on a handwoven mat, encased by a sea of stark lifeless snow.  To Ned it could not be further from the truth, for his outer and inner worlds were bursting with vibrant colours, movement and sound. His goggles reflected the violet and tangerine rays from the descending suns. Orbs of all different shapes and sizes were floating in an intoxicating wave of sensual movement.  He could sense the playful elementals, hiding amongst the undergrowth on the edge of the pristine forest.  The wind cut through the leaves of the mystical Bigonji Trees, which created an ethereal, hypnotizing melody of sound. His third eye revealed spirals of rainbow coloured cosmic energy cascading down the distant mountain top.
 
In one fluid movement, he turned at lightning speed sideways to catch the flurry of a Muffle, burying itself in the snow. They were small, long-haired rodent creatures who were masters of camouflage, even though this skill had become obsolete on Truvia in the last decade.  The tips of his generous lips held the trace of a smile, as he pondered, what sort of Moon Juice he must have been partaking when he volunteered for this assignment. He sat back down, and immediately shards of ice clung to his robust black beard. He closed his eyes, stilled his mind and inhaled the pure bittersweet air that filled his lungs. Ned’s began the Pranayama breathing technique and within minutes his heart rate and breath became so slight that he could have been mistaken for a frozen corpse. Feeling the earth below he became one with rhythm, the perpetual motion she emitted. He felt the warmth rising, bit by bit until his whole body was a molten wave of liquid heat.
 
Tranquil, he directed his mind to focus on the other side of the planet, where he could connect with his spirited mother for a short time before his next solitary watch.  He could see she was otherwise engaged and not receptive at all to his call.  She was busy chatting while preparing the evening meal of the day, of wild rice and vegetables. Over the years the community had raised their vibration so that the need for food had almost diminished and they now only required one meal a week.  Their consciousness was becoming so pure that their bodies were able to replenish themselves directly from the source. Most Taruvians appeared to be in their mid to late thirties, as years of self-improvement had raised their vibration so that the ageing process had all but ceased.  They simply chose when to proceed to the next dimension. Generally, they elected to leave around the age of 400 mortal years.  A rare few even had become proficient enough to visit the higher realms with their existing bodies and back home, therefore rendering them immortal. This was the new Paradigm of true freedom, where they could exist as their birthright had intended, as Divine beings of the Light.

 Ned recalled the reason that had led him back to his roots, the year was 1994 when an unimaginable astronomical event occurred. Taruvia A, was in an elliptical orbit around its dwarf Taruvia B the dark shadow star, when Taruvia B re-positioned as close as can be to Taruvia A and then at the exact same time Venus in an extraordinary alignment joined them. This allowed the Vortex of Taruvia A to be opened and the dense energy of the dark shadow star to pour into her. That was 311 years ago and after a collaborative Galactic effort, led by the Ashtar Command their mission was almost complete.
 
 For many years they had been sending light through the Vortex of the Goddess to earth to assist the humans to raise their vibration from the dense, dark 3rd dimension to the much clearer 5th-dimensional vibration. Ned had spent much of his time as a human, and his mood became pensive as recalled a plethora of faces and images of what he had seen and been. His last incarnation on earth had revealed much of the missing puzzle.  He had chosen to awaken on Earths the last cycle deliberately to assist, with many others, in raising the consciousness to the fifth level. The old order of fear based mentality was finally coming to an end; this indeed was a very special and important time in Earth’s evolution.
 
 So dense was the vibration that he did not fully comprehend who he truly was, until his mid-forties. When his Kundalini energy finally arose, it was with such great speed that it almost sent him insane. His ego-mind had trouble comprehending all of the new information being downloaded. He was told he had requested to be fast-tracked and again wondered what moon juice he had been on!  After 5 months of confusion, physical and emotional pain his chakras were realigned and back to their balanced and perfect state, his pineal gland was recalibrated to optimum level and his additional 10 strands of so-called earthly junk DNA, were reconnected and aligned. The veil of illusion was clearing, no longer stuck in the matrix, he was able to focus, intend and manifest. Ned was taken to the Celestial Realms to the Akashic records where he viewed and felt every emotion of his one thousand and eleven lives. He likened it to being plugged into a mainframe of the universes largest computer……… on speed!  As amazing as it seemed, this phenomenon appeared to take only seconds and the data was completely absorbed into his comparatively pea-sized brain.
 
He saw his many life forms including lower forms such as algae and grass, then progressing on to animals, eagles, wolves and dolphins. He had been a pregnant woman on the Mayflower, beggar child in India, a high priestess in Lemuria and a Roman centurion.  He had even a bushranger on a large island in the Pacific Ocean, his records showed that he had much potential in that life; maybe that was why he selected the name Ned Kelly again?
Most intriguing was his time-spent in the late 1800s in the Andes, with a group of advanced humans called the Omni. There he learnt and saw many amazing things. He realized that he was constantly evolving, like a tumbleweed gathering bits and pieces, soaking up his experiences. Morphing into a bigger version of his/her self and all the while time and space stood still and he just kept moving through it.
 
His awareness was bought sharply back to the present, by now the area was covered in a blanket of impenetrable dark. It took a microsecond for his crystal blue eyes to turn opaque and adjust to his new environment. The hairs on his arm stood upright, his breathing became laboured and he felt sheer terror of the animal in every cell in his body. Being a highly evolved empath certainly was never boring and this uncomfortable scenario just came with the territory.  He took a few moments of intense focus, to cut the cords rendering him incapable of any movement. Once his normal senses had resorted he took a whiff of the air and easily sniffed out the old dark wolf. He ran with the speed of a cheetah, yet he made no sound, almost as if his feet were floating just above the snow. With pinpoint accuracy he found the animal on the edge of a clearing, stuck in a thicket of wild Artic Quintana.
 
Before approaching the terrifying beast he changed into a lower life form, to alleviate further stress his humanoid appearance might cause. Even though most life forms had evolved, a few mutants still had the remnants of primitive DNA.  The animals’ eyes were full of panic and starting to glaze over; speed was of the essence. He was well prepared from his many past experiences. Ned knew full well his ancient adversary would show no mercy and swiftly assimilate with the animal. He gently moved closer sending soothing waves of sedative energy directly into the animals’ heart space. He responded immediately, his breathing slowed and its pupils were becoming more responsive. Feeling the animal soften in his arms, gave him the confidence to change back to his normal form. Sweating from the intensity of the exchange, he then took his glove off and placed his left hand on beasts’ forehead, covering its three eyes. Ned then directed the violet transmuting light emanating from his hand to the animal's brain and then projected to its whole body. With his other hand, he untangled his hooves caught in the undergrowth. He allowed him to recover from his trance-like state, before releasing him back to be assimilated back to the cohesive world from which it came.
 
Ned sat for a while to realign his own energy and felt his head chakra opening to let in a stream of divine golden energy. It was directed straight to his heart where it exploded, sending ripples of sheer elation throughout his whole being. He then smudged the immediate area with Dragons Blood sage and repaired the broken vines. Ned gave quiet thanks for a successful save and the opportunity to serve. The light was restored to its full magnificent splendour and his joy was palpable. He chuckled to himself as he now remembered why he had requested this mission. He knew from the very depths of his soul this was where he was meant to be, keeping the light, the Light Keeper he smirked…….well for now anyway!
 
 

Tina Cardillo
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