Many Sons to Glory

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: August 20, 2019

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Submitted: August 20, 2019

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Many Sons to Glory

by

Jeffrey W. Waller

(a short story about a dream)

In a dream, I am. Utter darkness surrounds me. A voice speaks to me without sound, telling me things that I must know, but the words are unclear. My guardian is with me. I sense it, though he is unseen and silent. I know that he is here.

The voice that speaks to me is some other, a spirit, but not my guardian. But who is it? What is he trying to tell me? The words are being repeated, patiently, softly as a whisper. Finally, I understand. The voice tells me that I may ask my guardian his name, and if he is there, he must tell me. It is the one thing that I do know, my guardian is with me.

So, I ask, “What is your name, Guardian Angel?”

Without hesitation, he answers, “Aiden! My name is Aiden! You are my charge and my blessing. To you, and you alone do I answer. You may call upon me when all others fail you! I will give you peace…and hope.”

The dream ends suddenly. With it ends all memory of what it was, save for one thing … the name, Aiden. And, even that fades as a new dream begins. The contrast between the two dreams is as day is to night. The mood of joy from the first changes to foreboding and anxiety.

Oh, the horror! How can I describe the place I now see? This heavy shroud of dread that overcomes me as a dense fog. Where am I? Afterlife? I was at rest … peaceful … asleep, it is a dream, I think … or, no, perhaps I am dead, or is this the dream … the memory of … what?

All is confusion! Did I die? How so? I have no sense of having lived! Who am I? There is no sense of identity. It cannot be a dream. It is too real … too intense. Perfect solitude! It is so quiet here…and ever so calm. What is this unearthly place? Death?

Have I been here before? Yes, I have! It seems too familiar to be otherwise. But, to what end was I here? If I was here before, then what of the dread of death? For if one can return to a place, it must be that he may also leave it. If then, to be here is not to be dead, then what? What is the occasion … the purpose?

I cannot tell. I only know that now I am cold and fearful. If I am dead, then where are the angels? Bring on the angels! I demand it! Alas, there are none … though there is the unshakable feeling that I am being observed. Aiden?

The only light I can see is the pale, soft glow that so closely surrounds me as if the light were attached to my body, emanating. Beyond, footsteps away, is only darkness … nothingness. And, what is this dim light around me? A low, dense fog clings to and covers the ground. It lays there, quiet and still, as if frozen. It is illuminated only enough for one to know that it exists.

There is no source for the light. There is no torch … no candle … not even a spark can I see. No sun or moon is here. It makes no shadow. All, is that same terrible, ghastly pallor, whether real or imagined of the lifeless world of which I am prince.

And, how did I know of angels? Have I been taught this? Who taught me such things? There are no answers, but there is a distant memory of something that I was told once. I can almost reach out to it, to bring it to me, but again the meaning evades me … another dream perhaps.

So, I wait here, invalid and motionless. My consciousness abides in my soul, separate and apart from my body. The soul drifts somewhere above the body, and I see downward through the eyes of the soul. The body that is me is in its view below, asleep. My soul seems to hover, lovingly watching my own face, expressionless.

Suddenly, my own eyes open and they peer upward, though unseeing. In a thought, in a flash, I comprehend that the soul must remain with the body. For, if I now float away, I am forever apart from it … and I lose life! Somehow, I must return.

My soul must go back into the cold thing beneath it. I stretch downward, desperate, yearning! With unseen hands my soul reaches downward, fighting the unknowable force that tries to tear me away toward … death. Then, as quickly as the lightning bolt must travel, I return to my body and the view I see is upward … but of only a cloud of darkness.

Again I say, why am I here in this strange, dark realm of silence where there is but one distant sound … the soft, almost imperceptible, thick, liquid thud of … footsteps? A drum? No, perhaps it is a heartbeat. Before the dream, as my eyes awakened, there was no sound as this.

All was silence. Is the sound my own making … my own heartbeat? And, if it is my own heartbeat, then I sense that I am alive! It must me mine! I claim it for myself! I proclaim that I am alive!

Release me from this unknown state! But, there is no air … or no sensation of air … no movement. So, if no air, then I am not breathing … am I? How am I conscious of that fact, that I am not breathing? Am I trapped here? Must I remain forever?

What cruel event has placed me here … here in this prison of deprivation? This … thing whereon I lay … is this a stone? Is it some table? Yes! It is a stone. Yet, when I reach out slowly to touch the stone there is no sense of the feel of it. My fingers contact nothing. I sense no surface … only the image of the surface. I do not feel the hardness of the stone, nor what should be the cold, cruel temperature of it. I feel nothing!

There is a fine layer of dust on every surface. The dust moves weightlessly in thin, wispy clouds as I wave my hand over it as with the furniture of an ancient and poorly-cleaned home. Ah, home! Where is home? Is it now this terrible place? Is this my home? How can I face eternity here in nothingness?

There is no color here … no joy… all is blackness … shades of gray. Dismal … desolate … sorrowful … despondent, but it is more than that. It is a sense of being out-of-place … in a wrong place. In this dwelling there is such insufferable melancholy I feel that if it were a living thing, it would be a loathsome, vile, slithering creature to be slain at all cost.

As I struggle to stand myself up beside it, the only quality of the stone that I understand, is that it is raised, flat, featureless. I know the shape of it now … familiar and unpleasant. Upon some other stone it rests … a box of some sort.

To above the waist in height stands the stone. In length and breadth it is the shape of a mausoleum. The observation threatens to convince me that I have in fact died. I look, but there is no name upon it to tell me of the poor soul who lies here. Is it me? Is this my home? My grave? Then, why is there no name?

Did the bearers not know the man they laid to rest? If it is my grave, then what of the sound of the heartbeat? Home? Oh, will someone tell me who I am! … or else, tell me who I was! Am I doomed to remain here, ignorant of the things done by me in life … whether they be adored or detested, noble or malicious, victorious or catastrophic, I must know!

Am I to face a judgment, and shall I face it with hope or with despair? Am I doomed or saved? And, how long have I been here? I can only recall as far as my memory goes of being in this place … minutes … years … centuries, who can tell? There is no sensation of passage of time. Torture! Agony! Please, let me go home!

Ah, home … a pleasant thought! I must think and remember the place. I am sure that if I can recall the answers then I can find my way back. I refuse to remain … though I wander the darkness for eternity, I refuse to remain.

There is no one here but me. No one is here to tell me the answers to my questions. I remember nothing. I am here, and that is all that there is for me … that I am here. What brought me to this place? What tragedy it was! Might I not ever leave? Might I never wander away from this stone?

And, what is there … in the darkness afar off? Are there other souls here … other tombs … or, is there only the darkness? Are there perhaps those that have had enough of lounging near the crypt … wandering, lost in a cold fog. Might one sometime appear to me, in a moment or in an eon, with both of us glad to have learned something of the unknown.

Oh, Lord! Please send your angels to rescue me from this, the depths of despair! If this is to be the fate of all who live and breathe then how terrible it is that the good must bear this intolerable sadness alongside the wicked! Show me your glory!

But, wait! Just there … in the distance! Did I see a bright flash of light? … or was it just the flash of the memory of something that once was? I cannot tell. Was it the flash of a bolt of lightning? Did I perceive the muzzle blast of some primitive cannon? Glory that it be so! And, for a brief moment, there in that distant ball of light, something else was visible.

What was it? There was no sound to give me a clue. So, I can but stare … my gaze fixed on the place where I know some horizon must be, if only I could see it. I dare not move lest I miss another beacon that is yet to come.

What must I do? Must I remain here and watch? Need I go toward the memory of the flash of light, dependent on my senses to guide me? And, what if I lose my way? In my mind, I review what it was that I saw.

But, how could I have imagined it … that of all things? Why would that be the subject of the imagination? Could it be some dim reflection of memory? No! It must have been real! I insist that it must have been real. I ponder the question.

Hold! There, as suddenly as before, another brief, distant glow of light … at a different place, I swear it. I sense that it was closer to me and clearer, though I cannot imagine how I could know for certain. I do know for certain that there was something else there … something was in the image that came to me in that instant. It was something moving … something waving…a flag! I saw a flag!

And, there, again came another flash. This time it was to my right hand, and less distant. There was not a flag there. It was something else … a ship, perhaps … a building, and smoke. It begins to come back to me … the past … who I am … why I am here. It is more than a mere I begin to see my purpose.

What flag is it that I saw so far away? What ship did I see? What building? Do I see the past … something that I was a part of? Is it, yet to come? None of that matters! It is destiny!

Will I hear my name called? Call for me, for here am I. Will I know my name when it is called? How can I know it? No, I will not wait! I cannot risk that misfortune … to miss the call! I must go! I sense my feet beginning to move in the direction of the commotion … plodding at first, perhaps even unwilling.

How far have I traveled? I cannot tell. I look behind me and there is nothing. Not even the stone slab is visible to give me a sense of location and direction. My only hope then is to go onward. I turn back toward the lights, but in the darkness the course is lost to me. I have taken my eyes off of the goal.

My steps falter having lost all resolution, and all sense of direction. Then I see another flash of light … and another. Men are there … yes, by the thousands … millions … and horses! Are there chariots and spears? Cannon?

It is a battle! I am gone too far now to return, and too close to resist the attraction. I resume my progress toward it … the direction to it is sure to me now. I go there with the sureness of the swift flight of the arrow. With each step, I am ever more sure of the need. With each step, memory returns. My sense of being! My sense of purpose!

I feel the presence of others running toward the conflict. I am not alone! Glory to our great cause! We are as an army rushing forward against the enemy!

Hold! What is that? The image is changing. A thousand ships of steel approach a shore. Men are running across the beach toward the high cliffs … oh, the horror! The glory! Bombs … machine guns … great flames!

I am closer now and the scene before me has again changed! Men are fighting in the war-torn streets. Ruined buildings are everywhere. My vision moves forward through time, and the time is now! Still closer, I am now, and the once-hidden horizon is clear to me. From out of the darkness of doubt, I am emerging.

I am running now, toward the fray. I hear the sounds of the battle, but it is yet to be. With joy my ears come alive! I am ready for the fight! My companions are closer to me now! Their recognition of me is in their eyes just as it must be in mine.

My feet swiftly carry with them the hope of our cause, though I know not what it must be. And, now I know the reason that there was no name on the grave. It is because I was not lost. I was not dead! It was because I cannot be lost. It is because I am not the singular spirit of one man. I am one with the spirit of all of these!

The anticipation of the battle quickens my pulse. My breath yearns for the smoke-filled air over the battlefield. I am the warrior! I am the soldier of truth! I am the immortal spirit of the fighting man whose life is offered on the altar of the cause that is greater than himself.

I am every man! I remember all!

When the great men of valor marched with Charles Martel in the Battle of Tours to rid the land of those that came from distant lands for the Umayyad Caliphate, I was there!

When the New World colonies fought against the tyrannical King of England, I was there!

When Emperor Napoleon met defeat at Waterloo, I was there!

When the slave was freed at Shiloh, I was there!

When the armies of the madman were defeated at Guadalcanal, at Iwo Jima, at Anzio, I was there!

Wherever good men fight against evil, I am there!

What great battle is it that I run toward? I cannot know, but I am ready. My only cause is the cause of what is right, and good, and proper. Run with me, Aiden! To the fight we fly!

I know where my home is. It is not on some stone in the darkness. My name is not written there! My home is wherever there is the fight against tyranny … against dictatorship … against evil.

I know that when I enter the fight, victory will be mine as ever it has been. Even if by my death, victory will be mine. I am home! What uniform do I wear? It matters not! For my cause is just! I wear the clothing of the patriot who yet lives for the cause, of the patriot yet to be born, and of the one who has died for it, because we are all one.

Brothers? No! More than that! We are one! I am all! We are one spirit! We are the Spirit of Man; the free man, the righteous, and the man who yearns to be free, rising to fight the battle against oppression and fascism. I am the oppressed, and the defender of the oppressed.

I am the Sleeping Giant, awakened to destroy the invaders. There! There is the cause! I see it made plain to me! Anarchists seem to prevail because of lies, but the patriot is arisen to know the truth! The patriot is awakened! Against those that would take away freedom, the battle cry is sounded!

To arms! The clarion blares from the ramparts! The gauntlet is thrown down! Build a wall! Join the fight! King Xerxes sought to take away life and freedom of three hundred Spartans and Leonidas, King of Sparta at the Battle of Thermopylae. Xerxes demanded the Spartans throw down their weapons. Leonidas said to Xerxes, “Molon Labe!” Come and take it…if you can!

The End


© Copyright 2019 Jeff Waller. All rights reserved.

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