Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Field

They called it Mast Park; we called it the Field.

By day people littered the manicured grass, played on its courts and in its playground; strolled along the exercise trail of wooden beams and searing steel. But by night, as the gate closed, as the last picnicker and jogger left, its orange lights and abandoned benches twisted into an ethereal and sinister Elysium. The gaping maw of its bathrooms twisted in like a maze to a black hole. Lights cast a halo of gold onto jagged steps and fluttering swings. The tarred path led to a twisted haunted wood where lights bounced in the deep trees and beasts howled in the thick darkness.

When the gate closed Mast Park ceased to be and the Field awoke.

The Field bled into the subconscious of those who lived next to it. During the daylight sanctum we played, ran, and walked the paths along with everyone else. But at night, when lights danced in the deepening woods and bestial shrieks sang into moonless skies...we watched from shuttered windows and prayed; we prayed that a chain link fence would keep the Field at bay.
    It was a mystical place where one could easily imagine dryads and pixies astride stray dogs as fairies fluttered like moths among the golden lights. Their chirping wings beat like a hummingbird's heart; their laughs twinkled like wind chimes in a summer wind. It was a place of old life, dark mysticism; where humans were intruders.
The Field played into my dreams night to night. Legs of curiosity, guided by a dreamers passion, carried me from a peaceful slumber into the Field.

The sky was aglow from a blocked moon; red-gray clouds painted in broad strokes across the horizon. Shadowed things on midnight wings glided above as my legs trudged on. Like rusty spires, the roofs of the apartment, of our homes, stood sentinel like a gate to reason. I could turn back, but yet, I wouldn't.

I followed a sense of wonder to the fence, a thick ivy wrapped gilded wire that served as protection and border. Then I stepped beyond it and across the threshold to wonder.

The thin maple and oaks by day were gone, replaced by wooden behemoths with dangling branches. Leaves of gold, silver, bronze and copper adorned every branch like jewelry. An ivory bridge of golden rails crossed over a stream where once an asphalt path led to darkness. Birds chirped as fairies giggled and over the southern sky the bright glow of dawn cast a glimmer upon every blade and every gossamer wing.

But it was to the east and north the night stayed. Red eyes of primal hunger watched my dreamer's steps from darkened pines. Whistling winds rustled my hair as voices gossiped in my ears about wicked deeds.

I strode to the woods on shaking legs as bats bristled on conifer tree tops. Wolf born howls served as a dirge to my passing. With each step my flesh prickled from chilled dew and cool dread. Through the branches like a window to sanity I saw the condos of gray and bleak; sister homes to those of the rusty spires. I'd traveled far, yet a voice urged to press onward.

Steps of hours or years led me to a clearing. The condos of gray encircled a temple of marble, with broken columns and inhuman statues. Beasts howled behind me, urging me up the steps; my reason begged me to awaken.

I took the step. Then another. Sweat beaded along my brow. I stepped again, and again, until finally I stood on a dais of polished obsidian. Its blackness reflected back at me, showing the dreamer, the traveler, and moved like rippling water beneath my feet.

I gazed upon the dais and witnessed movement on the far end. My eyes fell upon the ebony throne made of charred bones and stretched human flesh. My eyes begged to look away as my mind turned cloudy from it all.

But the movement again.

A rustling of cloth on bones as something ancient strode from the throne's shadow. Yellowed eyes in a sunken skull, wisps of white hair billowing like webs from Methuselahs web, and it came to me.

Its clawed finger pointed to me and a single ancient word croaked from dead lips, and my heart ceased. Shuffled steps approached my dying body. Wolves howled as the winds screeched in my ears.

But as my body fell like a dead leaf, my heart thumped a single beat. Eyes of desperate need fluttered open and as the onyx floor flew to my face I awoke.

The sun shone through a torn curtain. My chest ached. Sweat saturated pillows and sheets tossed aside. It wasn't real. It was not real. Downstairs my brother laughed. Outside a car roared by. I closed my eyes and thanked the other me, the traveler of dreams, that the dream ended. The memory faded. I held my head, breathed deep, and stood.

I winced as I brushed aside the curtain. My eyes sought sanity from the madness of night's journey. But the chain link fence stood, thin as before. Joggers raced over the asphalt trail. Toddlers swung in the swings as parents pushed. The park was as it ever was.

Yet I was changed. I would be forever altered by the dreams of the Field. The traveler of dreams would always wonder: was it real or had I been visited by madness? Time would tell...

Mast Park still exists, so too does the Field. And so too does the magic. 

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