The Key to The Gate

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Oh, just read it.

Submitted: March 19, 2008

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Submitted: March 19, 2008

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One day, I was walking along a path in the forest with good company, good food in our sacks, and good wine. Well, actually, I was there not to picnic, but there on a purpose. A purpose big enough for me to write this, and big enough for you to read this. Or never to read it. I don't know. Do you know? What was I talking about? Oh, yes, well, it started with me getting the old friends together again under my roof. Several years before, when I had lived just eighteen years, I went off from dear old moms and pops, and built a cabin of my own. They cried and begged me not to go, but I went anyway.
So I sent them all a letter, even though it might have been more fun to make a day trip through the village and gather them all up. They left their individual affairs and met me there, at mid day, when I had finished my morning chores.
The first one to arrive was Mickey, the shoe maker's apprentice. Most of the time he acted like a male horse in heat. He was tough, able, and ready. But he also was capable of being very kind indeed, and was the best of friends to me, if not to anyone else. He walked into my garden, trying to frighten me, but I heard his heavy boots all the way down the path.
" Careful," said I, " You'll crush my tomatoes." But he had already destroyed several of them with those boots. His face looked dissappointed, for he was trying to be sneaky, but he never succeeded.
" I have brought you something." he said, and tossed me a sack of light contents. " The Great Hawk has blessed us, brother."
" He has indeed. What is this, old friend?"I asked. I stuck my hand into the sack and pulled out fine ground leaves of tobacco. I smelled it, much to my nostril's satisfaction.
" Something from you garden, then?" I said, and smiled. " That is very nice of you," I continued, " I'll give you some wine and it will be like a trade, eh?" He nodded his head in agreement.
" When will the others get here?" he asked.
" Whenever they can I guess."
So we walked out of the garden and into the cabin, and made sure he was comfortable, We had wine, a great bottle of red wine, and smoked his tobacco out of long wooden pipes.
And suddenly there was a clamor at the door. And then another, until all who were supposed to attend, indeed were presently attending.
Around the room, there were five of them together, for the first time in a long time. There was Mickey of course. There was Donovan, a younger one. He grew weed on the side of the mountain and sold it, then smoked the rest. He was drunk off the stuff all the time. It didn't bother me, as long as he didn't expect me to give up my wine and tobacco. And then there was Sally, and we called him that because he was an over-emotional fellow, especially compared to Mickey. He didn't mind that we called him that as long as it remained in good sport, and it did. Jackie graced us with his presence. He was a 'pretty boy'. He designed clothes and sold them in the market. And last, but most certainly not least, there was Guy. He was the funny one, who aspired to be so, and it never was as cheery or fun without him.
I disappeared into my private room for a moment, and reemerged with a sort of miniature treasure chest. The room was captivated for a moment.
" What is that Sull?" asked Sally.
" Well the funny thing about this little chest... Well I had a dream," I said.
" Oh here we go." said Mickey.
" Hey!" I said, " I'll hit you with a stick!" and that made him quiet. Guy was snickering.
" The stick will just break off on Mr. Muscles over here." Guy joked, and squeezed Mickey's bicep to intentionally make him uncomfortable. Sally started laughing, then so did everyone else.
" I had a dream," I said, once the joke was over, " that this here chest was in my wardrobe when I was getting dressed. And there was this here key inside. And once I showed someone the key, they immediately tried to take it or buy it, at least... So I looked everywhere, in my dream, until my parents showed up, and took me to the place where the key would let me in. And it was real erey like, they showed up to my cabin, and said, ' Come on Son,' and took me in their carriage. They didn't say a word to me for the whole trip. Then they let me out, and there it was: A black wrought iron gate between two lengths of white bricks. And there was a great commotion in that place like a bunch of lights flashing all around and people screaming bloody murder. And even though I was afraid, I opened the gate." I paused in the story for a moment.
Everyone was looking at me strangely.
" What was inside?" asked Donovan.
" Well that is where I woke up." I explained. " But this chest was sitting on my chest, you see, like it was supposed to be there. As if it had materialized itself out of my dream."
" Truly this is horseshit, Sull. Guys, don't believe him, it's another trick to get us to look stupid." said Mickey.
" I think he's being serious." said Sally. " It's a gift from the Great Hawk."
" It could be anything really. Someone could have put that there while you were asleep. You could have woken up for a second and saw it, then dreamt about it." said Donovan.
" Why would anyone do that?" asked Guy.
" Did you say it was black fence and white bricks?" asked Sally.
" Yes, I did, why?" I said.
" There is a place like that in my town." explained Sally.
" Is that right?" said I.
" Would you like to travel back with me when I return?" he asked.
" No," I said, " I want us all to go together." The comment made the room fill up with tension.
" Sull," said Mickey, " Let me talk to you for a minute, come here." So I rose from my single chair and sat next to him on his couch. He put an arm around my shoulder, trapping me there.
" Now, we are friends, right?" he asked.
" Of course Mickey. It's you and I to the bitter end." I said. He leaned in to whisper so that the others might not hear.
" Then why do you insists upon dragging me with your idiot companions? Look at Sally, he cries if a branch cuts him, surely you see I can't stand him. Donovan is so far gone all the time... Jackie and Guy are OK I guess." he said.
" Oh come on now Mickey," I said, so that everyone could hear, " It's almost my birthday. You all owe me a favor." I paused to fill my wine glass, and then suddenly became very serious. " Well I will be honest. I'm frightened. How could this place exist, and why would I dream of it if I had never seen it before? And why would I wake up with the key?"
" Don't be scared!" declared Guy, " I'll protect you!" and he held my wine bottle out like a sword. Everyone laughed except for me.
" It is a dangerous road, in all sincerity. There have been sightings of strange things about." I said.
" Nonsense. I travel that road all the time. I've never seen anything." said Sally.
" Likewise," I said, " you all should come with me."
I searched their faces around the room, looking for nods. Guy nodded, and Sally did too. Then Jackie nodded after he saw that Guy did. Donovan reluctantly agreed, and then there was Mickey, sitting with his arms crossed.
" Don't let him come if he's going to be a sour pickle the whole way." said Donovan.
" He won't be." I said. Mickey shot Donovan an angry glance, which he met by sticking out his tongue.
" Damn it," began Mickey, " I will go."
" All right!" I said. " Everyone have a drink to Mickey!" I raised my glass.
The rest of the night followed just the same as any other gathering of old friends might. We drank until we were falling over, laughing in blooming outbursts, and smoking until the house was not unlike a cloud.
Then sleep came without asking me if I was ready to go to bed. The next thing I knew I was awake again as if in a minute's time. My friends were all laying around, asleep. So I drew myself a hot bath, and when I had returned a few of them had stirred into waking. So everyone eventually began to scramble to get all of their things packed and ready. And it must have been somewhat frustrating experience to have just unpacked the night before and have to repack in the morning.
I had a light breakfast; Toast with rich butter and a cup of Earl Gray. The others nearly ate me out of my own home when they were done packing. Then one by one, we loaded up, tied our laces extra tight, and began the long walk.
There is a main road that goes around the circumference of our city, so that the country folk can ride to the outlying villages from the proper city. A main road bisects it, going east and west. That main road goes all the way west to Sally's home. Someone might think that the only way to make it to that main road is to follow the outside loop. Yet only the rich, bored, or ill-informed travel it, while the rest of us travel the countless trails through the forest. However, the trail that cuts diagonally west is famous for being dangerous and home to strange things.
Neverminding that, we took the trail. It reached it's southern end not far from my cabin. As we were walking, everyone got into their own groups.
Mickey and I walked out in front, while Donovan and Sally walked only slightly behind. Jackie and Guy traveled far behind, inexperienced travelers and easily distracted. We took this reportedly dangerous trail, then stopped about a quarter's length into the forest to cook some lunch.
It was a bright clear day and there was a gentle breeze flowing through the pine needles and making the trees sway drunkenly about. If you have not seen this or heard this, you must immediately do so, so you can see how relaxing and perfect it is.
Once they were all caught up and in one place, we sat down and began a fire. Then we broke bread, drank wine, smoked, and then rested.
" I could sleep here all afternoon." said Jackie.
" Then why don't you?" asked Guy, saying then, " and maybe the wolves will carry you off and make you one of their own." And how he laughed. Jackie laughed too, and belched.
" I've been talking to a new girl in the market." said Jackie.
" OoOoh!" howled Guy.
" That's good." I said and laughed.
" Is she pretty?" asked Mickey.
" I don't know really. I need you fellas to see her and tell me what you think." he said. We were all perplexed by this.
Sally could not stay still. He walked about, away from the group. He was nervously checking the forest around us. Donovan knew what was going on.
" I talked to your friend Sally for a while... I think he feels that he needs to protect us." he explained.
" Let him protect us from nothing then." said Mickey and scoffed.
Jackie retrieved his guitar from his pack, and started strumming away as we had a last cup of wine. Guy played a harp, and played it in harmony with the guitar. After a minute, Donovan started to improvise a song, although he wasn't the best of poets. And as far as I can remember, it went like so:
" By day we journeyed far and wide,
Far from kings, tax and tithe,
Oh isn't this a lovely dream?
Nothing is as though it seems.
For I may be a fool and a drunken lad,
But I'd rather have this than what I could've had.
I fear no man, woman, or even beast!
Life's about friends, joy, and fiests!
Oh sweet spirits guide me through this test,
And show us the door, the way to the West!" he sang.
A tear streamed down my cheek. I was moved by his lovely words. Mickey looked at me as if he were ashamed. For once I did not care.
" Should we be off then?" asked Mickey.
" Sure." I said. Sally had just returned from wandering around. We were all set to go. Sally was the only one with a nice horse, since he traveled the most. The rest of us were on foot. It surprised me when he did not mount it, instead walking it over to me.
" It's a fine horse!" I said. " What is the name?"
" How could I name her?" he said, " She knows her name." He took the reigns and handed them to me.
" Here," he said, " You can ride her."
" No, I couldn't." I said.
" I would rather you have her than see that you get exhausted." he said.
I smiled. Simple Sally, he doesn't care about himself as much as others. So I rode the horse, with the others more piled in. The woods were growing darker the farther in we rode.
And after we traveled an hour or two from where we had stopped, there was great amount of rustling on the forest floor around the path. Mickey and Donovan made ready their bows and Sally drew forth his claymore.
The horse was nervous, and trying to get me to run with it. Instead we slowed and anticipated and ambush.
And what great pleasure I had to see a group of the most beautiful women step out of those woods. Not a one wore clothes, and by the Great Hawk, their bodies made my breath run short.
They walked all around us, hypnotizing us, putting their hands on us. And without a word, they were gone. 
So after we had thrown off whatever had paralyzed us, we moved on. The trees began to thin out, and eventually the cobblestone road due west was found.
" Let's have a bit of dinner before we camp for the night." I said.
But we had never noticed how light our packs had gotten. And when we reached in, there was nothing to be found. They had taken it all. So we slept with our bellies and spirits empty. I was awoken several times by the travelers on the road, with their sounds of merrymaking.
Together we traveled well into the afternoon, trailing behind a group of crusaders, and being followed by belly dancers. One could hear the music of both.
The cuisaiders were saying, " Glory be to the Great Hawk!"
The dancers were singing, " Glory be to the refugees!"
And how we laughed at the phlight of both groups. But then the western town was found, all were silent. The white wall was laying just on the other side of town. I turned to my friends, their faces looking up at me from the ground.
" I must go alone." I said plainly. Clearly their was objection in all of their faces. But then each of them came up to say good bye to me, after I got off the steed.
Mickey approached first, saying, " I don't know why I have always felt so... negative, angry perhaps. Maybe I was just afraid... afraid of that strange road."
" And nothing bad happened did it?" I asked.
" Nothing too bad... Are we still brothers?"
" Of course. Until the end." I said.
Donovan approached, saying,
" This little trip has given me much to think about... I feel that maybe I spend too much time on the mountain... Perhaps I will travel more often. Would you care to come with me when I do?"
" You spend too much time on the mountain, because you are haunted by slain brethren, I think. It is not my right to try and judge you. Go forth and travel without me. I will be there when I can." I replied, and smiled.
And then gentle Sally said,
" What can I say, that you do not already know?"
" I don't know why you live all the way out here, instead of in a cabin next to mine. You've given up on me I think. Then again, the difference between us has always been that you need me and I don't need you. But all of that is reversed now. And I may be stuck this way forever." I said.
" Well, you never hesitated to let me go." he said, and went home to his village, to his wife.
Jackie came up to me and, " Sull, you are stupid." and smiled.
" I know." I said, and laughed.
" Jack...don't forget that all the pretty girls are ugly." I said, and he nodded.
And Guy, of course, who didn't know what to say.
" It has been good. Fun for the most part." he said.
" Indeed it has." I said, " Take care of yourself." I turned away from Guy and addressed them collectively:
" I will see you all, soon. Swords and bows cannot destroy the love I have for all of you."
So I walked down a little path to the wrought iron gate and retrieved the key from it's hidden safety in my sock. The whole time I was afraid my friends would take it, but none of them tried.
I unlocked the gate, and much to my surprise, I found a small and tranquil cemetery inside. The grass was a bright green I had never seen before. And come to think of it, the sky looked much like it had been painted with oils.
And there it was, a grave that had my name on it.
It was that moment that I realized that life really was a lovely dream, and we were all just pitching stones at a mountain. And what bright colors this world is made of, this world of chaos and injustice, this world of masterwork and virtue.
Let the kings melt their golden crowns, and give the pieces to the poor!
Let the fences and walls be knocked down, so the horses may run!
Let the trees grow tall, and the rivers run deep!
And let all the men and women live together, love themselves, and love eachother!


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