Dark Souls

This is my fate. I cannot remember my first death, nor how I came to be locked in this ancient asylum. My memories are slowly fading, I fear I grow more hollow every day. I can still recall a tale from my homeland, Astora. It speaks of the creation of our world and the legends of the Lords. As I sit alone in my moss-covered cell, I recount the story to the cockroaches, my only company.

—=== In the Age of Ancients, the world was unformed,  shrouded by fog.  A land of grey crags, archtrees, and everlasting dragons.      But then there was Fire.  And with Fire came Disparity.  Heat and cold, life and death, and of course…  Light and Dark.
Then, from the Dark,  They came,  and found the Souls of Lords within the flame.
Nito, the First of the Dead.  The Witch of Izalith, and her daughters of Chaos.  Gwyn, the Lord of Sunlight, and his faithful knights.  And the furtive pygmy, so easily forgotten.
With the Strength of Lords, they challenged the dragons.
Gwyn’s mighty bolts peeled apart their stone scales.  The witches weaved great firestorms.  Nito unleashed a miasma of death and disease.
And Seath the Scaleless betrayed his own, and the dragons were no more.  Thus began the Age of Fire. But soon, the flames will fade, and only Dark will remain.  Even now, there are only embers, and man sees not light, but only endless nights.
And amongst the living are seen, carriers of the accursed Darksign.===—

Yes, indeed. The Darksign brands the Undead.   In this land, the Undead are corralled and led to the north, where they are locked away in an ancient asylum, to await the end of the world.

I was awoken by a noise above me. A shuffle of footsteps, the clanking of armor, then a loud thud as a corpse of one of my more hollowed fellow inmates hit the ground of my cell. I looked up to see a man in the armor of the elite knights of Astora looking back at me. Before I could shout he was gone, vanished as quickly as he had appeared. My attention was drawn to the corpse on my floor. After an examination I found a cell key and quickly tried my lock. To my surprise, it opened and I was free.
My cell was at the end of a long hallway. This place was decrepit and half in ruins. Fully hollowed inmates, mindless undead who had have lost their humanity, roamed the corridors moaning and ranting. I caught a glimpse of a horrifying demon gaoler through a barred window. It was hideously corpulent with an enormous gut and posterior. The beast was at least three times my height and heavier than a dozen horses. It waddled on two stubby legs and shook the ground as it made its rounds. I hid and waited until it passed on to another room before I continued down the corridor. Something was compelling me to escape this wretched place even though I knew there was nowhere else for me to go.
Soon I reached a courtyard containing an extinguished camp fire in the center. It had human bones in it. As I approached the pyre I felt a strange compulsion to touch it. The instant my hand came into contact, the bonfire went ablaze. I was not burnt, but the fire was hot. I rested a short time but soon grew wary of being found, so I continued to explore the surrounding area. There were more hollow inmates on the loose, whoever that knight was must have freed some of them as well. Some of them may have been guards at one point, now they are insane sentinels who attack on site. Luckily, I found an old shield and a sword and was able to defend myself against a few belligerent fellows.
On the upper terrace of the courtyard I was ambushed by a former guard who rolled a giant iron ball down a flight of stairs at me. He attacked with a blunt short sword, I quickly dispatched him. The ball had smashed through the wall at the foot of the stairway and revealed a small room on the other side. As I through the broken bricks, I was shocked to see the knight who had given me the key to my cell. He was lying in a heap of rubble on the ground and up against the wall. A large hole in the ceiling allowed a beam of light to enter the darkness and spotlight the dying man.
As I approached he spoke to me in a gentle voice with the familiar accent of Astora
“Oh, you. You’re no Hollow, eh? I’m done for, I’m afraid my insides are damaged and I’ll die soon, then lose my sanity. I can feel it coming. I wish to ask something of you. You are a godsend, to come at this moment. Hah hah. You and I, we’re both Undead. Hear me out, will you?”
I agreed to listen to his request.
“Thank you. Regrettably, I have failed in my mission, but perhaps you can keep the torch lit. There is an old saying in my family. “Thou who art Undead, art chosen. In thine exodus from the Undead Asylum, maketh pilgrimage to the land of Ancient Lords. When thou ringeth the Bell of Awakening, the fate of the Undead thou shalt know,” He winced and began to shake. “Thank you for hearing me out. Now I can die with hope in my heart. Well, now you know. And I can die with hope in my heart. Oh, one more thing. Here, take this, an Estus flask, an undead favorite. It should prove useful.”
The knight handed to me a glowing, golden flask and another key.
“Now I must bid farewell. I would hate to harm you after death. So, go now… And thank you…”
I thanked him for freeing me and for the equipment, and left him alone in the dark.

end, May you rest in peace.

May you rest in peace.

Basement Rock

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/daily-prompt-we-got-the-beat/

          I spent a good amount of time in basements as a youth, the majority of this time was spent “jamming”.  I lived in a village of 300 people in northern Wisconsin so there wasn’t much to do, especially in winter, except get lit or jam out (or both). Pretty much all of my friends had basement bedrooms which became hangouts or practice spaces.  Sometimes in summer we would be exiled to a garage by the parents who had been stuck listening to our racket all winter.  “Racket” is a very good descriptor of the “music” we made.  No one ever took a lesson.  We played on jury-rigged instruments and ancient amplifiers.

         I was a drummer in two bands in high school.  One was a hardcore punk rock trio called “OddJob”.  The other was a quasi-garage, 70’s rock influenced, semi-improvisational, blues and hard rock collective with seven or eight revolving members with no real songs or name, although we did call it “Northern Lights” for a while.  Both bands were amateurish at best but we all played with a lot of heart and soul. 

With OddJob we played at local punk rock “shows” completely organized and executed by young people mostly under 20 years old.  It was really cool, I don’t think that kind of thing really exists anymore.  There were some very talented kids in the area and  a few very good bands to play with.  We recorded a few demos, (the first 2 in a basement) and an EP cassette in a home studio.  It was a great time, it was a seminal experience and I learned a lot about the world through the punk rock community. 

Northern Lights was very different.  It started out as my friends who lived in the village of Haugen, WI.  They all wanted to be AC/DC.  This was in the mid-90’s.  I was getting into punk rock and couldn’t stand “butt rock”, but they were my friends and I would play with them anyway. It wasn’t really a band just something fun to do while getting loaded. Playing with OddJob, I got a better sense of timing and song structure and it rubbed off on the Haugen guys.  It eventually mutated into a kind of collective rather than a band, with other people coming over to play and party.  Sadly, even though most of those guys are still close, we all just kind of grew out of it after jobs, wives and kids came into the picture. 

I’ve been in a couple other bands too, but these two were my first and the ones that made me who I am.  I want to go into more detail about all of the bands I played with, but I don’t think anybody is going to read this anyway.  If anyone reads this and wants to know more I will, it could be damned interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A – 1

“What’s that awful smell?” Henry thought before he opened his eyes. He had been dead asleep a few seconds ago, but as soon as his eyes focused he new something was not right. As he slowly rose to sit up on the bed, he spied the source of at least one of the components of the offending odor that woke him. It was an ashtray on the night stand, overflowing with cigarette butts. Another component of the stench seemed to be originating from the bed itself, the sour stink of sweat and dander.
“Where…?” his thought trailed off in his head as his brain suddenly became alert and tried to process his environment. His head nearly spun off as he looked about the room. Nothing looked familiar to him. Then it hit him.
“This isn’t my bedroom” He thought.
As he scanned the room again, a feeling of dread came over him and he felt the first throb of a headache.
“What the fuck happened last night?” He asked himself.
The room was small and unkept. There were clothes of varying levels of cleanliness in piles around the floor. Next to the bed was a cheap night stand on which sat the smelly ashtray, as well as an assortment of change, a glass of water, a reading lamp and a generic alarm clock radio that could be well over twenty years old. Nothing looked unusual, but everything was unfamiliar. As his headache grew, Henry held his head in his hands and tried to recall the previous night.
He felt a wave of nausea hit him as the memories unclouded in his mind. It was a stream of vague but regretful things. A dark and loud bar, strangers’ voices, a youthful bartender pouring shots of something colorful, a drunken drive to parts unknown, and Lisa’s face.
“Oh shit,” Henry cursed. “I need to get out of here!” He thought.
Henry sprang from the bed and realized that he was stark naked. He grabbed the nearest pair of pants he assumed were his, and as he put them on observed something strange on his leg. The dark of the bedroom and the shock of being in that unknown place had kept him from noticing earlier. It was a tattoo, a big one. It took up almost his entire calf, from knee to ankle. Then he saw his arm. In a state of awe, Henry pulled his pants up quickly and sought out the bathroom.
“How did this happen? How drunk did I get? How am I supposed to explain this?”
The bathroom was a shabby place as well. It seemed hard to believe it was a young women’s apartment, either she had a male roommate or was a complete slob. There was an abundance of hair clippings and soap scum in and around the sink. The toilet’s porcelin had yellowed and so had the seat, one of those one-time plush but now flattened and cracked toilet seats that pinch your ass when you sit on it. He was beginning to think this may not be Lisa’s place.
It took Henry a few minutes of confusion and intense staring in order for the image in the mirror to make sense. It was him, his reflection, only different. His hair was shorter and less balding. His ears had huge holes in the lobes and hung limp. He was also covered in tattoos, both arms and legs with a few more here and there. A strange depersonalization hit him and suddenly he felt as if he were looking at a stranger.
“Who is that? Who am I? Is that me or am I me?” He pondered for a minute or two.
Then, as suddenly as the feeling came, it went and his mind was filled with more pressing issues.
“What is going on? How did this happen? I must be dreaming.”
He pinched himself but did not wake up from the dream. He threw water on his face, smacked himself hard and looked back at his reflection, but nothing changed.
“Still here,” he sighed.
After a long drink straight out of the faucet, Henry remembered the he was in someone else’s home and might not be alone. He stuck his head out the bathroom door.
“Hello?” He asked loudly. “Is anyone here?”
There was no reply.
The combination of headache and nausea had grown enough to overpower the search for answers. Henry was familiar with the typical hangover, but this was something beyond the normal experience. He wasn’t sure if the normal cure of aspirin, water and crackers would work on this one, but it was a start.
He opened the medicine cabinet above the sink and saw some tylenol in the back. As he reached in to grab the aspirin, his hand knocked a prescription pill bottle off the shelf and into the sink. Henry reached down to pick it up and his eyes were immeadiately drawn to the contents.
“Vicodin? Nice! This will help.” He thought, as he turned the bottle to read the label.
Hydrocodone w/Acetaminophen 5/500mg
Dorsett, Henry C.
6901 Seaward Rd. Apt 7 Madison, WI 54777
Henry stared at the label, dumbfounded. He read the label three more times.
“It’s…mine?”
It made no sense. His heart was pounding as hard as his headache, and his mouth became dry as a desert.
“Wisconsin?”
A million thoughts raced through his brain trying to think of a rational explanation of how any of this could be possible, but nothing made sense.
“What the fuck is going on?” He asked himself again.