by Brad Dawson
The Bard meets with an old friend.3/29/15
|A trip to the city was never bad, but certainly was draining. In life, The Bard had little experience with living in highly urban areas, and even in death all the steel and concrete put him on edge. What drew him back time and time again, however, was the architecture. Archimedes was the Earth’s gift unto the divines, and The Bard could only marvel at the designs he was seeing. Art and physics were being pushed and tested, creating unique homes, stadiums, hotels, convention centers, monuments, and more. As he passed the local wonder, a fountain portraying the Archangel Michael of lore, The Bard flipped a few coins into the water, giving a few prayers for the good guys, wherever they were. No matter how long he stayed in the afterlife, it seemed he couldn’t understand how everything worked. Philosophers of all ages would gather day after day, trying to determine the answers to these questions, but succeeded more in arguing than answering.
The general consensus was as such: the afterlife existed beyond the worlds people knew and lived in. Souls would come and go, each leaving with some purpose and returning with stories to tell. Beyond those two truths, all else was determined by the individual, it seemed. To many an ancestor, what The Bard looked out upon could never be viewed as heaven or the like, but everyone seemed happy. For a moment he thought about pursuing the topic further, but knew that he would be joining Plato, Aristotle, and the others in an endless discussion, and cast the idea aside. There were some closed communities here, which belonged to members of one faith or another, but for the most part, it all overlapped and became one.
What was most confusing for most people, upon reaching the afterlife, was the revelation that all faiths were true, and all divines existed. This usually came from another resident telling the newly deceased, or that person running into Buddha playing golf with Jesus. While not as great a shock, many were confused about the lack of morality here. Men like Genghis Khan and Adolf Hitler, renowned for their sins, walked among saints like common people. Every once in a while there would be a movement to create some form of justice system in the afterlife, but as justice was no more than a human creation, alongside morality, good and evil, and so much else, this movement would die out rather quickly. Even avatars of sin like Satan walked free, chatting away with other beings. The Bard thought of it like Shakespeare once said, that we are merely actors on a stage, and that the afterlife is simply off the stage. Who one represent in life carries follows them offstage, but it is not necessarily who they are. Many were surprised to find Hitler a renowned artist upon arriving, and it was there that The Bard met the man himself. Calm spoken and undeniably charismatic, they had a few drinks at a club, followed by an intense game of chess.
The Bard shook himself from his memories long enough to take note of where he was, and after noticing that he was several blocks away from his original route, turned around to correct his path. A train passed by overhead, cars and buses populated the streets, and the sidewalk was crowded with people. None of this chaos appealed to The Bard, and he determined that his time in the city had gone on for long enough. He took in a deep breath, and closed his eyes. Voices and sounds faded away, until at last everything was silent. Then he let out a breath, and opened his eyes.
A familiar sight met his gaze. A small house surrounded by trees, simple in design and with a small garden out front that had been overgrown ever since he had found the place. Home. He walked down the gravel path and hesitated before opening the door. Nobody was waiting for him, no one had before, and no one would for quite some time. At last he moved the piece of wood aside and entered his home. The interior was as he remembered it, clean, sterile, and boring. A large bookshelf occupied one wall, and a bed the other. Between them sat a table and wood stove, coupled with a cabinet. On the table sat a handful of books, all written and published by his hand. There were several new stories to record and re-tell, and he sat down, drawing a pen from his pants pocket. He worked in silence, as it always began, writing word after word about the life he had witnessed. A young man, faced with a simple question about divine intervention, and the resulting conflict that ensured as an answer. The entire story would probably take about three books, an endeavor that The Bard looked forward to. To many, it would be mere fiction, but they were memories shared by a few individuals. As the first few sentences came to a close, the pen dropped and outside the wind began to pick up. It was time.
After navigating around the mess of a garden, The Bard looked over his back yard, a near endless field that remained well kept. It belonged to no-one, but the locals used it as a sort of park, where games of football and soccer were played every day, and lovers would meet at night. Now, at sunset, the last few games were wrapping up. It was a serene sight, and a few familiar faces waved at The Bard, who smiled and waved back. This was where he could find peace, certainly. A single man came over with a grin, sword at his waist and a clean leather vest. The arms were sturdy and strong, noticeable even under the cotton shirt he wore. Contrasting completely with the rest of the outfit was a pair of blue jeans, but The Bard knew the man well enough to know he didn’t care about the mismatch.
“Hail, Telamon,” The Bard spoke, “You seem to be well.”
“Please, call me Zen.” Telamon replied, “Just as I am Zen, you are a Bard.”
“Very well, Zen, you mind helping me with your story a little?”
“I’ve got plenty of time,” The man answered, “Due to a promise to a friend.”
The Bard smiled, knowing that they would get around to that at some point. The man once known as Telamon had quite a story, and The Bard was more than happy to record what had happened. He had been ducking in and out of the world of Urbellum, where Telamon’s story took place, for about a year now, but there had been a few gaps in his presence, which the two were going to fill in tonight.
“Well, my place is right over here.” The Bard told his guest, pointing over his shoulder. “Shall we get going?”
“Sure thing.” Telamon agreed, “Let’s go.”
Together the two men walked, and as they did so, the wind tugged and pushed at the both of them. Two friends meeting up once again after years of silence. Both in life and death, nothing could compare to that feeling of rekindling a fire between souls.