Tales of Alexander Grimm

Closer Than You Think

In the deep dark of a castle I knew not to exist, this strange descendant, this Solomon Grimm, led me barefoot through a series of mysterious passageways. I was somewhere in the byways making up the underbelly of somewhere in between our world and the next. Could I tell you where I was going? No, of course not. Did Solomon explain it? I’ll let you guess (no).

To just find out about this place, to find out anything about this Solomon, I had to wait. It irked me. But at least he did offer me a cup of coffee. It happened to be my favorite roast too, something dark and oak-e and nutty and smoky. I sipped and followed behind this barefoot man. His robe swayed with his steps in an oddly familiar motion.

In the dimly lit byway I caught a glimpse of something on the back of Solomon’s robe. That insignia on the medallion which started my journey, the one I found with that page, was printed near its bottom. As Solomon took me ever deeper into the heart of not only this castle, but the whole mountainous Cloudlandia, thoughts of this man’s role in the Flickering brewed. That’s all I could think about. I paid little attention to the way that we went, the levers pulled to reveal underground waterfall-blocking bridges, floating light orbs of any color which seemed to whisper beautiful songs in my ear, and anything else that might have been there and should have demanded my attention.

I couldn’t handle it. The rising steam forged a writhing tension in me. It writhed and writhed until the tension grew taut, strung in me like a harp. Just like on that first day, when all this began. I dropped my mug (of course) and snatched his robe in my hand. “What is this?” I snarled.

He turned and I looked more closely at him. I drew back, eyes wide and mouth ajar. What I saw was not some far removed being within my own bloodline, or some maniacal old sage of a man. What I saw was me, bearded and wrinkled me. How didn’t I notice it before?

“What is this?” I repeated slowly (I hate repeating myself unless it is for emphasis). (The emphasis was needed). “Who are you?”

“The resemblance is uncanny. That’s what people always told me. Said I walked like you, spoke similarly, even my raw thoughts seemed to process in the same ways from what those closer to you could tell.” He spoke with an eerie tone, removed yet nostalgic. And creepy. “They said the same of him.”

“Him?”

A smile flashed on his face, then it faded. “You read it. The page.”

“No. I mean yes. I don’t understand, that can’t be.”

“Mikolai is closer than you think.”

Here? Now?

Solomon’s Gate

Among the cotton castle of this sky world I dubbed Cloudlandia I found a man. I found more than that, but the man was even more curious than the magic-wielding giants who lived there.

The further I walked into Cloudlandia, the more form it took. At first it was a land of white and grey cotton, rolling together to form a thundering castle with a moat arcing of lightning. Yet the closer I came, the more form it took. There was water which did not run, it floated. There were waterfalls, but they were still and clear and silent. There was the lightning moat, beneath it were raging dark clouds, constantly writhing. But there was also verdure. Grass of a lush green, leaves of deep purple. The purple reflected in all the water and with the lighting gave a mystical feel, as if the place was not already mystical enough.

A strange fire burned but did not move. I stood near it. It gave off no warmth. It was frozen, but not in ice. No, it was still like the water. It rested on top of a small pillar, an obelisk or totem engraved with images of swirling things and creatures with tentacles and other things which I have never before imagined or seen.

Another fire Stillfire stood just thirty meters away. Between them was something I didn’t notice before. It was so large that I thought it was another piece of this strange land. An ivory gate, gilded with azure and gold, reached high into the sky. Still the castle behind reached higher.

Something in me churned. It carved out a pit in my stomach, but instead of filling with tension the pit filled with wonder. Without my realizing it I reached, as if beckoned by the gate or drawn by something on the other side, and touched the Stillfire. When I realized what I had done I drew back, bracing for the pain of the burn. But the fire was without temperature. It was not hot, nor cold, nor the same as the air. It was nothing. Or it was something else. And something else it was. It was a small sphere of another dimension, a portal into a magical or spiritual realm, but I didn’t know that then.

With my touch the flame moved, flickering. With that a great rumble came. The gate drew back, allowing me to see the other side. The flame danced and changed color until the gate was fully withdrawn. Then it paused, still again, but its color was two. The center of the Stillfire was silver, and its edges were rose gold.

My attention quickly drew toward the gate, demanded by the presence of a man. His beard was thick. His hair was long. We had the same eyes. He wore no shirt and was tattooed with some sort of glowing ink. His legs were covered with, well, pretty comfortable looking pants. I’d call them elephant pants. His feet were bare, of course.

His voice had a familiar cadence. Almost as if it were my own brother talking. Something about hearing it, I didn’t like it at first. But, for some reason, I had to listen. “My name is Solomon Grimm. And I am a great descendant of ancient past.”

Yes. Descendant. Not ancestor.

Before I could answer, he spoke again. “Come in. I’ll answer half of your questions. Or less. I don’t always remember what was written about you.”

I shouldn’t even have to say it, but I will. Of course I went in.

Guardian’s Curse to Cotton Hope

Why is it always when I have coffee?

And I’ve had so many plans for it. It could have been any of them! But they all failed. Sometimes fate just won’t even let me pretend that it’s my puppet.

Two and a half months after seeing that temple, it finally happened. Ten weeks of searching ceaselessly, anxious fervor, relentless failure, and whatever other sad and frustrating thing. Nothing. The whole time. Nothing.

Good thing I’m a writer, though. I just promised my editor I had some magic in the works. I didn’t, but he bought it. Until he didn’t and suggested I do away with whatever it was consuming me.

Do away with it? If that’s your suggestion, then you don’t understand. Ha! Good thing I didn’t do away, because it finally happened. But when it did, it was wrong. So horribly wrong. Tears and disgust still hit me just thinking about it–I’m no soft daisy, I was in the war. I’ve toured the harsh desert, the thick jungles, and the places I’m still not allowed to speak of, all soaked in blood. I’ve seen more life leaked from mankind than a thousand others my age will see in their entire lives. I have seen hard enough things for my eyes to swallow. This was worse.

Anyway, I couldn’t control this. The Flickering, I mean. So…

Whether the world was coming to me or I to it, I couldn’t say, all I could say was that when the aroma of blood and rot rub hard against your nose, it leaves an impression.

Salt, metal, must, mint, the stinging stink of marsh, the waste of some once alive thing, and the smell of grief strangled my olfactory glands. I heard it too. Grief’s cry, I mean. Her lonely wail, stricken with no other truth than the hardest ones in life to bear, was more ceaseless and more determined than even my wanderings to find the gate. I could even hear the grief in the wind as the land itself mourned this catastrophe.

The once alive thing, it was giant, it was armored, and it was slain. Best I could picture, it was hope ravished. The hints of what was before–it had the looks of a colossal, half-mechanical, half-stone flesh, guardian, but now it was dead along with all those it failed to save–still lingered. But only just. The rest of this realm was blackened by time, death, corruption, and all the other masters of cruelty and chaos. But not just these masters. It looked and smelled of the flame. I looked to it without blinking. Burned down, razed for what purpose? I couldn’t make a single guess.

Mountains of crumbled towers, no longer smoldering, laid in a waste so thick that cities could fit inside. Corpses, rotted to half mush, accented the air with a nearly ineffable aroma. All life was ruined. Evil won here.

As my unsuspecting eyes remembered all I had known in our world’s wars, reconciling it with this place, silence hung. It sharply entered the air, the wail of the wind ceasing abruptly. But that silence soon diminished under something else; my single guess. Suddenly those whispers from long ago, the one that started all this, crept through the silence, awakening something within me. “Mikolai,” was the whisper, and I along with it.

My brow tensed, drawing down over my eyes, furrowed over my clenched jaw. I will find you.

Then the Flickering. I’ll be brief about it. The sun changed hue twenty five times or so, in a flash, before setting on amber once again. The clouds reconstructed themselves, like some sort of cotton set of Legos, until they formed a castle in the sky.

While that amazed me, I noted the ground was now wet, and my shoes–yes, the cognac ones, my favorites–were dunzo. Ruined as the land I just come from. That place left a scar. At least it was only my shoes, and not me. Worth it this time. I didn’t care about my favorite shoes or losing my coffee, because the Flickering did not take me home, no. It took me here, to this new place. Two places in one day? What was here?

Destiny’s Beckon

First steps, or almost

No thing could strip my mind from it. The humming of that wretched piece of metal. Oh yes, it shouted unsolvable mysteries of origin into my pride, crying out to be known, yet ever eluding me. The noise and bluster of it haunted even my dreams. And I couldn’t be rid of its voice. Nope, because I was trapped by it. It, this thing I couldn’t trace the symbol of, no matter how many times I looked in any text or on any website, even the dark web. There was no historicity, no proof it existed aside from what game my mind played on me when I gazed upon it or tried to let my mind rest. Do you even exist? Am I just your puppet?

But more than that, the call of that man possessing that voice, the one which made my pitter pattering  heart jump, swarming my mind and flooding my blood with coursing fear, still shook me. It called me from my complacent life, from my comfort, and into what felt as fated rivalry. If not rivalry, then curiosity in its purest of forms.

And that page…

Maybe the page is for another day, for what has been inscribed upon it changes all. I’m not sure it’s yet time for its words to be spoken. Or if I could tell of it accurately. My understanding of it still isn’t so full as empty. I tried to write it down, I did. But every time I’d freeze, some invisible chain pulled taut to keep my hand from staining the page with ink. My restless hand has failed many times to write about. So, no, not yet.

Ah, then the Flickering it is.

The Flickering is my personal jargon for whatever it is that happens when reality warps and I’m sent through the gate to endless realms.

Two days after I found that story on my porch. Lets start there.

It was coffee time by my watch. Just to be clear, I don’t wear a watch, I’m not that kind of guy, but my tongue yearned for the earthy delight of roasted beans. I had a professor once, who used to say, “coffee is the water which flows in the river of life”.

Yeah, it must be.

My determined hand reached for one of my canes–my favorite one, the one with the spiraling wood of dark and light colors, crested with intricate engraving of the fierce and majestic lion. Its mane swirled down into the dark and light woods, lacing them with swirls of its own–and off to feed my hungry soul I went.

I strode–well my stride may be more of a hobble, but it was a mighty hobble for someone with a cane. So I hobbled mightily toward the closest coffee shop to my house at that time. There was one just across the street in Lynchburg VA on Greenview Dr.

Bean Tree, a wonderful place french pressing every cup.

I’ll skip standing in line and get to the important part. With my cup in one hand, and cane in the other, I stepped toward the glass portal leading to the cold realm of the outdoors–urban outdoors, the mountains only appeared in the background.

As I pushed the door open, the Flickering intervened. Dark sky blinked to being in flakes overhead. The ground shook and boiled and popped, jumping and bursting into deadened grass lining carved marble-esk walkway. But the golden and brown and grey grass didn’t keep my eyes. Not even the purple sky with sea foam colored sun kept them. No, they were drawn to it. The symbol.

My cane dropped from my grip and bounced off of the path, echoing slightly. My coffee fell from my grasp in nearly slow motion fashion, spilling onto the ground, emptying the cup. Something I’d later curse myself for–I hadn’t even taken a sip yet!

That same symbol I deemed insignia foreign to me was no longer that. It was no longer a strange and unique medallion of the unknown. At least it was less unknown, I still didn’t know anything about it except that it was here. It existed, and was sculpted into the archway that was this dark entrance to abandoned stone building–more of a temple. The sole spire in the middle was high, the layers of floors reached to varying widths, the speckled grey and tan stone mingled with black. Two large statues guarded the entrance. This symmetrical structure seemed as if all things came from that opening and went on back for who knows how long. It was as if it were pulling me to it, drawing me into itself. Yet as I took my step, it all vanished. Thus, I was left in our world with only more that immense curiosity. How does this all fit?

Consider me beckoned, Destiny, for I am coming. I will find you.

Then I looked down.

I crouched to grab my cane, but more importantly my empty coffee cup. There was no spilled coffee. It stayed in the other place, the purple world, the world of sea foam colored sun as the gem of the sky, and the place ruled by that temple. Sure, I mourned my lost coffee, but something else was blowing on my neck, making the hair stand on end. Something else–nagging realization–made me wonder.

I left it there. Could I also take? Would I or should I take? Curiosity raged as I considered where to find the hole between the worlds. Could I go back? Could I control it?

Stories of Worlds: Dawn

The journal of Alexander Grimm, the primal excerpt, and the fated Genesis to the discovery of his tales.

The golden fingers of the Sun grasped at my eyes as morning so wished me awake. Though, for some reason, as much as she wills men to wake, she never seems to let us see properly. Not at first anyway. Not until the blessed drink is drank.

Consuming my first cup of coffee, I started over toward the front door. The thought of this morning’s paper rubbed interest and wakening against my hazed mind. With eyes so determined to read of the world’s problems that they would make even cancer–for I know it’s of little use to destroy and burden myself with these same problems daily–infectious, and uttered words in a still sleep-drunken jabber, my boisterous feet carried me out the onto the porch. As I seemed to forget my cane, my “psychosomatic limp” made the trip slightly uneven in pace.  But I paid no mind to it.

At first, all I could do was deeply inhale the cool blowing wind and let my eyes flirt with the morning mist now dissolving from the ground. My body lingered in the teasing chills and romanticized the potential of the mist. Then I looked down.

A story was laid on my porch. A letter, really, and a medallion. And upon my shoulders my conscience has placed my need to tell it. So harken. Heed the wisdom of it. Hopefully it does you good. More than it did me.

Just as I touched the parchment, reality flickered. All things faded, no world, no ground, no sky, no home, and no color remained. Just infinite and eternal blackness. But something was there in the darkness, yes. One thing along with me. A whisper. It seemed to come from all places. Once and all the fated voice said was, “Mikolai.”

The image of a man appeared. Only a moment. But enough to catch it. His snowy gaze searched into my soul. He peered into my being with it, simultaneously dissecting me and urging me. Then my world faded in. I stared, surely with wide, or at least hard, eyes, as I rubbed my thumb over both the letter and the seemingly humming medallion.

I hobbled back inside as I poured over the metal and the page. Maybe one day I will share them in greater length to you. Not today. No. All I could care about was not the story on the parchment, not the strange metal with insignia foreign to me, but that fated man. Who was he? Where did he hail from? Who or what was Mikolai? I traveled to many worlds to find out. Never forgetting, always seeking. His eyes still haunting me all the way.

I am Alexander Grimm. These are my collected tales as far as they seemed necessary. If you should discover them, know that you were meant to. I sweat to consider the weight of this. This, the dawn of my exploration into the worlds. Divine providence was set for the proclaiming of these previously unknown or hidden places and peoples. This is an irrevocable meta narrative in which we take our roles.  Me the narrator of ancient–or maybe not so ancient, I don’t know, I hesitate to assume time works in the same fashion amongst the between of the worlds–tucked away knowledge. You the audience of grave importance to me. These things are in motion and cannot be changed. So, again I say, harken.