May 30, 2011

Chapter 5: The Stag Warrior Reawakens.....

The ground was cold and damp with dew. The smell of dandelions, and the sound of cicadas he heard as he awoke this particular morning told him it was spring, probably close to summer. His eyes fluttered for a moment, trying to adjust to the early morning sun. Why did it never seem to be cloudy in the morning? Just once, he thought, he would have liked to wake up without that fireball in the sky stabbing him dead in the eyes EVERY single day.

"Screw this," he thought to himself, and rolled over and attempted to close his eyes again and go back to sleep. The sun however had OTHER ideas, as the sunbeams on his back warmed him beyond the point of comfortable sleeping, and within a few minutes he was sitting, with one knee up, and with the opposite hand, he propped himself up to survey his surroundings.

His still cloudy, sleepy mind took a second or two to remember where he was at the moment, but then his gaze fell on a few stone outcroppings he had seen before he made camp. The thoughts realigned themselves and one word came to him: Singleston. This was one of the two large provinces in the land of Being, the other being Marrydom to the west. To the south was the smaller province of Couplesland.

Most people traveled between the provinces as they progressed along their journeys, as he had been doing, but here in Singleston, there were those souls who had chosen to remain here all their lives, traveling only within the boundaries of this province, and were content to do so. In the center of the three provinces, not actually situated in any of the them, was the city called Meets. It was the place to go to find companions to take with you on your journey, and it was also one of the main places that those same companions (or yourself) would choose to leave one another behind, and continue on with other companions, or strike out alone. There had been many times when he had gone there, and found companions, but this time he had done the latter, and had taken his leave of several people whose journeys and his no longer converged. He had left Meets several weeks, perhaps months before, and had made camp here many miles to the east. Why had he slept so long? Or had he been awake, and just not been paying attention? His thoughts went back to where he had been up to this point, and to where he planned to go from here.

Singleston was the province best known for its freedom to do as one pleased, the laws were quite lax, and as long as you did not harm anyone or their property, the law enforcing officers would leave you alone. Here there was no one to answer to, no one to explain why you did something, or why you didn't do something. Here you were free to socialize and befriend anyone you wished to, and no one said a word.

There were various villages and towns scattered throughout the province that each catered to a particular form of entertainment, which was something else Singleston was known for, it could be an exceedingly fun place to be.

Gambelot was a town situated on a hilltop, where the weather was always bright during the day, and at night, the sky was just as bright as the lights from the casinos, lots of casinos, beckoned all to come try their luck at games of chance. Streams of money seemed to flow from everywhere, and the people of the land of Being flocked to it. The sounds of coffers opening up and spilling their wares could be heard for miles. Ching-ching-ching-ching-ching! Some people got on a hot streak, and won often, and then they would make Gambelot their permanent residence, playing the games day after day, night after night, still hoping for more, waiting for that "big win". Still others would see their luck run out, but still make the city their home, as they would try to win back what they lost. Most people only stayed for a short time though, and maybe made or lost a little money, but had fun, which was really the point. The Stag Warrior had devised himself a little strategy upon his few visits there, years ago, which was of course to budget his funds. And, only betting a little at a time, thereby not losing a lot if he lost, but still having the chance at the big prize should he win. He had had a wonderful time on each visit, once winning a sizable amount of money, and on another occasion losing some, but much less than he had budgeted to lose. The memories of both occasions brought him good feelings every time they crossed his mind.

Screamanshout was one of the largest towns in the province, at least in the area of land it encompassed, to accommodate the gargantuan structures sprawled throughout the landscape. Here one could be thrilled and amazed, and even scared out of their wits, just by looking at the town's main attraction, amusement parks, and their rides, hundreds of them, of all shapes and sizes. Huge steel girders held up every imaginable type of rollercoaster known to exist, twisting and turning back on themselves, one ride nestled inside and around the next, so that distinguishing one from another became impossible when viewed from afar. To enter here took nerves of steel, or, as some put it, a death wish. The safety record, however, was in fact quite exemplary, the death toll quite low. Considering the volume of patrons and the ongoing construction of even higher, faster, and of course, more expensive 'coasters, having only lost a few hundred people in the 100 or so years of the city's history was thought to be due to both a lot of luck, and the rigorous maintenance schedule that was mandated when the city was first planned out. As with all the other towns, people had decided to make their homes here, and stay for months or even years at a time. Every day they would try a new ride, or maybe bungee jump off the cliffs on the north end of town, and take the chartered planes and go skydiving. This was where you wanted to be if you wanted to go to a haunted house too, as there were several streets full of them.  Their owners would periodically change the routes customers would take as they traveled through them, or the scary things that popped out at random intervals, to keep the people interested. This was one town the Stag Warrior had only visited for one day here, another day there, as he encountered it on his journey, but such thrills he did not find appealing for long periods of time, and he had moved on after having his fun, as did many others.

The town he perhaps remembered most, however, much to his chagrin, was Boozeburg.  He had been through there MANY times, at one point staying for the better part of 10 years. In Boozeburg there had been liquor stores and bars, and every type of alcoholic beverage imaginable could be bought and consumed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And all you needed to drink your choice of inebriation was having the money to buy it. This, like the other towns, saw patrons from all over the land of Being. The town itself was split in half, where one side saw sunlight all day during the day, and clear skies at night, whereas on the other side, the weather was often harsh, cold, and it rained a lot, making the entire place feel constantly damp and dreary. The smell of wine, spirits, beer, and various mixtures of vomit and urine would gag the unsuspecting passerby, and many a soul would avoid that side of  Boozeburg at all costs. Men and women of all ages would sometimes spend every dime they earned from their employers buying and consuming copious amounts of alcohol, leaving their debts unpaid, their houses and relationships in disarray, and their children unfed and often unattended. This was often where those who were not happy with their journey would come to drown their sorrows in a glass of bubbly. Those who felt alone, having spent their whole lives in Singleton, and who had not found a lifelong companion at Meets were here. Those who lived in Marrytown and Couplesland however, sometimes came for a visit, to the sunny side of town, to celebrate together a happy occasion. They would come, have their party or celebration, and then leave the next morning. Sometimes however, some patrons would linger, keeping their companions stuck in Boozeburg as well, but only as concerned and often disgusted observers.

The Boozeburg experience was not something he remembered fondly, the Stag Warrior himself had been one of those patrons first from Couplesland, and then later from Marrytown. His companion didn't seem to have a problem being there with him at first, but things got worse and worse for them financially, mostly due to periods in which he had no job during his stay in Boozeburg. His relationship with her soon began to deteriorate, and then, as he remembered it, he finally got up and left Boozeburg, but then also left her, she was just not compatible with him at all, and had he been paying attention, he would have seen from the start that she was not. Funny how the alcohol had him feeling good, but all the while he went there to drink it because he was not feeling happy with HER.

Shaking off his reverie, the Stag Warrior set his mind on where he was going next. There were a lot of other places to go in the land of Being, and Singleston was a big place. Now that he had a stable job, and was not going NEAR Boozeburg, he decided to set his sights higher, to "settle" less often, to go out and make something better for himself. Too many times before he settled for being with companions who were not traversing the same path as he, or being ok with living in conditions that he was not happy with, but now those days were over. "I want to learn to play the cello." "I want to have a place of my own." "I want to learn to cook good, nutritious meals." The thoughts came clearly and quickly.

He got up, dusted off his pack, and began to walk, this time with a little more spring in his step.....this journey was about to take some turns for the better.