Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Death of ?

A short story by Joseph V. Potocny

Let us go back in time as far as our minds will travel till when this war began and the battles raged on day and night for centuries.

Our setting is in times of old, set among the rolling tree lined hills and grass lands of a land known as the LAND OF DARKNESS. Through the glens ran rivers filled with fish and clear waters and lakes that sprawled across the land.  Many a village dotted the landscape with one mighty fortress in the center of all that could be seen. The villagers went about their daily business of selling goods, cleaning their shops and homes, repairing their roofs and greeting one another. In the background one could hear the noise of battle, the clashing and crushing of metal and the helpless cries of those engaged in this never ending war that seemed to have no rhyme or reason to it. Yet one could hear the roar of cheers and adulations being boosted upon the victor as the gayety of the event went on. For years the war raged with hardly a person caring who was or was not winning; only that it gave them excitement in their otherwise hum drum lives.

Then came a cold and blustery fall day, the skies were darkened and the winds swirled throughout the land. The reviewing stands were filled to over flowing with crowds of frenzied on lookers. It was difficult to see what was taking place through the dust and debris flying in the air. But yet all in attendance cheered and screamed and ate all that they could and laughed among themselves. Suddenly two hours past the rising of the sun in midday sky the clouds began to part. The massive clouds of dust seemed to clear and a quietness never before felt in the Land of Darkness could be felt. People closed their eyes, covered their mouths and ears as they gazed upon the carnage that years of battles in this war they really cared nothing about could be seen. DEATH was all about the land, where it was once green now it was scared and torn by the ravages of the war. Ones they had known for years were among the slaughtered and dismembered bodies that lay for the scavengers to feast upon.  But not to worry, they were safe in the stands and had others to talk to and while the time away.

Suddenly could be heard the thunderous ponding of the hooves of a mighty beast coming towards the field from the east.  All turned their eyes and cheered wildly and appeared a mountainous mass of a steed black as coal with what looked like the very smoke of hell coming from its nostrils. His mighty hooves gleamed in the sun and as they hit the ground one after the other a shaking and rattling of the stands could be felt by all.  The crowds went wild, when atop this mighty mount sat the Black Knight.  His dark plumage all twirl in the wind, armor black as the night and gleaming. His battle axe hanging on his side, a might mace stuck in his saddle. As he rode towards the crowd his lance stood tall in his mighty arm, with his colors of red trailing behind it.  He slowly made his way to the east end of the jousting pad and sat so tall and mighty that he seemed to block out much of what could be seen.

From the west end of the battle field a soft but mounting laughter started to be heard.  All eyes turned toward that end of the field and there they say the cause of this gaiety.  Standing there on a Roan Steed was a war torn and embattled knight. His stature was not even half that of the Black Knight.  His page even had to help him stay steady on his charge.  The crowd could hardly contain themselves as the starter slowly made his way up the tower to play his part in this drama.  As he neared the end of his climb the weather seemed to change, a chill entered the air and the skies seem to darken, by this time night was starting to fall.  The Starter reached the top of his post he showed the white cloth to the Black Knight, who dipped his lance in acknowledgement.  He then turned to the old knight and he dipped his lance toward the starter and almost dismounted.  None of the money changers would take bet on this battle; one could plainly see who the victor would be.  The starter dropped his cloth, the Black Nights mount could hardly be contained waiting for the cloth to strike the ground. 

The Cloth hit the ground the massive beast reared and roared a mighty sound and the smoke of hell came forth from his nostrils. His mighty feet hit the dirt with such a force that the earth cracked, mountains trembled and the reviewing stands did weaken. Forward charged the Black Knight with his lance lowered.  The Old Knight sat himself right and lowered his lance and started his charge. Suddenly seeing his braveness and lack of fear the jeers started to turn to cheers. They charged towards one another in the dimming light and met with such a clash as never before heard that many fell out of their seats. A cloud of thick and dark dust was swirling in the middle of the field. The sound of metal ripping, wood snapping and the cries of pain and horror could be heard. Then all went silent. No one knew what had happened. But slowly the tail and hind quarters of the Black Knights mount could be seen. Soon the knight and his entire mount were standing tall at their starting point. Where was the old knight? A light rain and breeze came up and the center of the field could be seen. There laid broken battle axes, maces, the Black Knights sword and the proud Roan Steed. But the Old Knight was not to be seen.  All were just besides themselves, how could this be? Then one cried out look. As all looked to the west end, there standing in the setting sun was the Old Knight; how he was able to stand no one could phantom a guess. But yet there he was standing, with half a shield, leaning on his sword and bloodied beyond belief the battle that had just been fought.  As the last rays of the sun cast across the field the Starter raised his hand, the Black Knight raised his shield and so did the Old Knight. Down came the starters hand and like a blur the beast from hell was racing towards the end of the field. The Black Knight lowered his lance, which was already drench with the blood of his opponent and took deadly aim. Darkness fell just as the two met once again. This time the collision had a different tone to it but still there was so much dust and in the darkness hardly a thing could be seen. Finally, after what seemed like years the moon broke through the clouds and the wind swept across the field once more, to reveal the finality of this battle.

There at the west end to the amazement of all, laid both the Black Knight his charge and the Old Knight.  Pages ran to the scene to see what was and signaled to all that both were dead.  The crowd demanded the helmet of the Black Knight be removed so they could see who this valiant warrior of so many battles and years was. However his face was so deformed and twisted and hair all in knots that no one could tell who he was or where came from. The Old Knights page removed his face plate to reveal his master, instead of a face a spiral plume of bluish white smoke ascended to the heavens. As is raced upward a great sound could be heard and then a burst of silver, gold and white flakes fell towards the earth. All could hear the words clearly, I Am Free, finally.  The flakes fell across the entire battle field and all that laid there was consumed as if it never was.

All looked to where the Black Knight and his companion had laid upon the field.  A twisting wind blew across the spot and there where they had lain was written: My Name Was Alzheimer’s.  The crowd now knew what they had not done, but one lone soul sacrificed their life to do.

God Bless & Keep You & This Country of Ours!
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