The Morning Fog
One morning, I was traveling on a road with other weary cavaliers of the pre dawn hours. The jaguar sun was nowhere to be found. Most mornings, he would already be in the sky, prowling the safaris of the far reaching horizon. The blue sky had been erased and painted with the cold, leftover ashes of a once warm fireplace. The winged fowls of nature were scared to fly about in the foreign apparition that had slowly crept in during the night and blanketed everything. A certain feeling of hopelessness prodded my brain because I did not know if everyone had been sucked into a hapless void, leaving me to wander in this strange land all by my lonesome. Was I the only soul footing about in this misty shroud?
My mind continued to roll its calloused fingertips across the hard surface of my soul. I knew there was a wizard somewhere in his high towered castle, looking down on me, stretching his hand and magical staff out over the tree tops. I could hear him casting a spell on the countryside that I was journeying through. The paranoia crept inside my thin suit of armor, and I let the warm wash over me like a toddler wetting the bed in his sleep. With my shield in one hand and sword in the other, I surveyed my surroundings for the winged beast that the crafty sorcerer had sent. They were hunting a vast sea of souls that morning, and I happened to be another piece of flotsam in their black, salty sea. I longed to make safe passage and sailed forward with as much persistence as I could conjure. To be part of the immortal round table, I knew my courage needed to surpass my unwillingness to ignore the fact that I actually possessed it in the first place.
I began to see tiny hints of light coming at me from a distant yonder. For a reason that is only known to those that have danced in a foggy morn of the such, the sight of flickering lanterns calmed my spirit. I continued in my approach and saw boxed candlelights swaying on a weather beaten carriage. My eyes blinked for a split second, and the lanterns that were dangling from the stage coach had transformed into two glassed globes on the front of a model-T. I shook my head, rubbed the dryness from my eyes, and drank the lukewarm bean brew from my witches cauldron. When I refocused my line of sight on the lights of other courageous travelers, they now appeared to be moving about in wheeled transports similar to mine and at the pace of metal horseshoes on slick cobblestones.
I started to curse the morning fog that had been conjured up during the twilight, awaiting the moment when all the travelers would wake from their slumber and be cast into its premeditated spell. For miles on end, I knew the dragon that I was trying to avoid was swooping down and snagging other poor fools who were sneaking through the cleared timber like I was. I knew the black magic wizard was looking down at us from behind his crystal ball, chanting in his archaic tongue, hoping our souls would give him stronger yield in his book of sorcery. I knew my mind had to be sharper than the dull sword I carried. I needed to make my way out of this cloudy mystery before I fell victim to its many perils. There was only one option left for me and other travelers who try to brave this kind of mythical mist. I strapped my aged shield over my back and ran, never once looking back to see how sharp the dragon’s claws truly were.
The weight of the armor made me sound like a tinkling can when I ran on my heels. Each time my knee caps and elbows bent in motion, it sounded as though someone had filled my armor covered body with a couple of heavy stones and pushed me over a mountainside. If anything, I was attracting more attention then I was deterring. I shook my head, rubbed my eyes, and realized that I was no longer a knight in pale armor fleeing mysterious, mystical creatures. In the batting of an eyelash, I was now seated on a stagecoach drawn by horses. I slapped the leather straps on the backs of the thoroughbreds as a gang of bandits rode our tails. The metal shoes on the hooves of the horses clopped harder and harder. One of the wooden wheels hit a rut that had been carved in the blazed trail, almost knocking me off the hard wooden seat I was sitting on. My eyes began to water so I blinked. I soon realized that I was no longer riding on my stagecoach but was now seated in a dated model-T. I swerved the Tinkertoy car left and right, dodging random bullets that were being carelessly shot from behind me. Jars of distilled liquor rattled in my backseat. I wondered how long I had been a notorious moonshiner, trying to escape the lawmen with each shipment that was ready for delivery. I debated drinking some of the devil’s brew to ease my own conscience and burn away my common sense, but something gained my attention in front of me and never relinquished it.
A massive orange globe started to tear through the hazy distance and illuminate my surroundings in a fiery wave of brightness. Minuscule pieces of fog started to evaporate around me. The light unclasped the fog’s clammy grip on the battlefield I was dredging through. My car struggled to claw at the pavement that passed underneath it. I heard a loud jolt while I meandered through the ghostly cloud. The blazing sun was so warm and bright, I hypothesized that I would be reaching its surface in a matter of minutes. Behind me, I could hear the dragon’s wings swooshing near the roof of my car. I could hear the wizard chanting louder and louder as though his increasingly forceful pitch made his spell more effective. I could hear the horses neighing as the wooden carriage they pulled rattled from side to side. I could hear bullets zinging by, bouncing off the outside shell of my car. I clenched my teeth and braced myself. Perspiration grew on my forehead and lower back. I had waited numerous lifetimes for this moment.
When I emerged through the white thickness, I opened my eyes and looked around me. My heart continued to beat a thousand beats a minute. Everything on this side of the fog was functioning like it was the upper echelon of the twentieth-first century. It appeared as though the people in this land were having a normal day of ordinary accordances. I saw travelers heading toward the clouded hell I had just driven through. I debated on trying to stop them from falling on their own sword like I almost had. I mustered enough courage to look in my rear view mirror and see if there were any other survivors emerging with me. That is when I saw something that still haunts me to this day.
In the beams of absolute sunlight, I saw the tail of the dragon slowly slip back into the blanketed abyss. He had snagged another knight and had him clutched in its sharp talons. I saw the sorcerer point his magical staff in my direction and move it around in zig zag motions. The aged wizard swung his ragged tunic around and crept back into the dampening shroud I had survived. I saw horse carriages and stage coaches of innocent pioneers galloping at full pace in hopes the bandits would give up on them and cast their attention on another victim heading in the opposite direction. I saw people brandishing guns while hanging out the doors of model-T and other old fashioned cars. They slammed on their brakes and skidded to an angled halt as they let the moonshiner cross the imaginary line of where their jurisdiction ended and the criminals freedom began.
I wiped tiny beads of fear from my forehead and settled down in my cushioned, four wheeled womb. I cracked my window for some fresh air. The only thing that would bring me back to my senses would be the unadulterated inhalation of oxygen. I looked in my backseat, and I did not see a sword or a shield. There were no lantern lights to hang on my coach. There were no jars of shine that my drunk father and uncle were trying to deliver across state lines. There was only one thing left from my allegory besides the nightmarish memories of my epic thrall that I had been thrown in at such an early hour.
The morning fog.
It would return another day and try to reclaim my soul, and I knew I would have to battle it again in order to survive. The real question was this.
Would I be ready?