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The Piasa

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posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 02:39 PM
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A short introduction, I suppose, would be slightly necessary. Tragedy has recently found its way into my life a few days ago and while I have connected with so many wonderful and caring people on ATS who have helped me so very much, I still find myself needing to be distracted as I attempt to pick up the pieces. One of the ways I distract myself is through writing. And I have been doing a lot of that. I've often visited this thread in the past, lurking and reading a lot of the poetry and stories on here, thoroughly enjoying myself and how talented you all are. I just completed this short story. It's based on an actual experience I had as a child visiting the town of Alton, but I added an element of fantasy at the end. It will be my first time posting in this thread, so thanks ahead of time to any that read this.

The Piasa

I can remember the first time I saw him; red eyes, blood-colored wings, gilded scales and all. I can remember the everlasting impact I thought he’d have on me; granted, I was only seven, but it’s as true now as it’d ever been back then. These sorts of images cannot simply be elapsed and thrown away. Because of their inimitability, because of how outlandish it really all is, the images just stay there, locked away frozen much like the beast was on the cliff side. For a beast of his size, it’s no wonder he so easily overtook the bluffs as his home; it’s no wonder that he was able to plant himself within the memories of a child. Much like a parasite, he burrowed into my thoughts and dreams, I being the host. Was it truly such a bad thing, though? At the time I wasn’t sure and in the end when I left, not much was going to change.

My grandmother promised for weeks to take us to the bluffs. For several years, my sister and I had heard much talk over the small town that rest just beyond the Mississippi River. “Alton’s a town chest deep in history,” she’d always say. Or, “You’d be hard pressed to find any place more amazing and mysterious. There’s a hundred years of history for every inch of water in that river.” I recall how astounding her accusations were to me; I vividly recall attempting to imagine Alton’s history in layers and depths like the Mississippi. If it was ever astonishing to someone how sizes and measurements were greatly exaggerated in the eyes of a child, they surely would have laughed at the wideness of my eyes. The river, while she may not have been that wide, she was certainly very deep. Grace, my older sister by sixteen months, was far more excited at the idea of visiting shops and eating. I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to have that river deep history resting just beneath my chin.

It only takes roughly thirty minutes to get to Alton from where we lived in Saint Louis. You hang some lefts and rights through the city and before you know it, you’re crossing a bridge so large and so golden, you’d swear the entire thing was being held up by the rays of the sun. Oddly enough, I believed this to be true for many years having only ever heard about it up until this point. The road she drove us down was Great River Rd., I found it to be aptly named because I’d never seen neither a rode nor a river so great.

The bluffs were unequivocally mesmerizing; so much so that it dwarfed the picture I’d had floating amidst my thoughts about how deep the river water could’ve possibly been. The very tops of the bluffs were lined with trees, the likes of them not sporting very many leaves in early January. The only thing that could manage to reach the sky any more closely were the eagles that day. Never again in my life would I be able to identify such a vast difference in nature. I’d seen bald eagles at the zoo plenty of times prior. But now, now was different. They weren’t clipped and stationary on some fake wooden branch; they were free, free to roam the sky. I wanted to be like them. I remember how easy they made it look, as if it were the simplest of notions to humbly spread your arms out wide and take off into the sky. I wondered what they were thinking about, all the way up there. Their heads would poke around as they made circles through some low-lying clouds, as if they were searching and navigating for something that I wasn’t quite certain of.

With my little forehead pressed against the car window and little clouds of fogginess forming right beneath my nostrils, I remember the slight pain I felt when my neck jutted sideways when my grandmother’s car came to a stop. We were in a parking lot, empty and cold. I remember her remarking on how no one was there, as if it were a good thing to have the entire place to ourselves. We unbuckled and stepped out into the winter air, the likes of which felt fierce and biting beyond the scarf I’d wrapped around my small face. The winter air found along the Mississippi had a reputation for being unforgiving and I was beginning to quickly see why.

Grace and I trudged in what felt like mere inches, very slowly and painfully following after my grandmother, who not only was faster than us but also seemed significantly unaffected by the cold. With both of us clenching our eyes shut for fear of our eyeballs turning to ice, we both were quick to open them the moment we heard our grandmother shout, “There he is! Take a look at’em, why don’t you!?”

And there he was, scarlet eyes and fangs just sitting there balanced along the riverside bluff. For a creature so titanic in size, it was no wonder his claws were so very enormous; he’d need them to merely possess the perching capabilities needed for such an endeavor. I wasn’t exactly sure what to think of him; surely, he was part human because he had the face for it. However, at the same time, he possessed physical attributes that would indicate he was some kind of reptile or bird. I was certain he had scales, but at the same time his wings definitely had feathers. And his tail, the way it tangled all around his animal-like body, behind his large antlers and long beard, sent a shock down my spine that forced a gasp out of my mouth as opposed to words. He was a dragon, surely I’d deemed it so.

As I stood there, eyes glued with permanence upon this peculiar creature, my sister was the first to ask, “Are we going in there!?” It took a shake of the head to bring me from my daydreams, and it was then that I noticed the caves she was motioning to. Just to the right of the cliff side painting, a cavern had secured a pathway through inward towards the darkness. A nod from my grandmother made her all the more ecstatic, while for me, it made me all the more frightful that I was entering this dragon’s territory. Telling myself it was merely a painting did little to stifle my juvenile fears. Hearing my grandmother explain to us the history of the scaled bird and how the Cahokia natives had painted one in its very likeness as a possible means to warn travelers that they were entering Cahokia territory only further piqued my curiosity for what the strange creature truly was. “Legend has it that the bird lived in these caves, sitting and waiting for the next wandering traveler to eat,” my grandmother cooed, no doubt entertained by the bewildered look on our faces.
edit on 4-8-2017 by ReyaPhemhurth because: (no reason given)




posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 02:40 PM
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[continued]

While many would’ve looked down upon it, my grandmother managed to find a portion of the fence that bore just enough space for us to fit through. She told us to keep quiet about the adventure in its entirety, for not only would we have been in trouble with our parents, but the local park rangers would not have been too happy either.

I still remember exactly what the cave smelled like. Like sodden earth and still water. I can’t remember the last time it’d rained, but the entire cave felt dank the moment we’d stepped into it. The cavern ceiling surpassed our heads eightfold and I swore anything we whispered echoed through its depths for what sounded like miles. I intensely recall my other senses strengthening due to what my eyes could not behold. After turning what I could only liken to a corner, the cave opening could not be seen behind us, nor could the light flooding through it. The only thing before us was dark, dark and nothing. My short arms could only hope to reach out and possibly catch hold of my sister’s shoulders.

I should have been scared, I thought as the darkness loomed on. If I were at home in my bed, there’s no way I would have gone to sleep in such conditions without some form of nightlight or white noise. When no one was whispering, I could neither see nor hear anything. All was still. Instead of cowering, I harked back to the countless stories my grandmother had told us growing up about our family’s history. She would tell us of our lineage and ancestry and how hundreds and hundreds of years ago, our family belonged to the Cahokia tribe. I wasn’t yet old enough to fathom the full-rooted Native American blood that coursed through my veins, but I swore even as a small child I felt a strange sense of belonging that very second I reached out in hopes of finding my sister. Instead of finding her shoulders, my fingertips found what felt like scales. I reservedly felt along them, taking in and attempting to decipher what it was my senses were beholding. With a mouth wide open, I gasped, startled and frightened, the gasp soon drowned out by a rough and lowly voice calling to me, “Welcome home…”





edit on 4-8-2017 by ReyaPhemhurth because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 03:05 PM
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Whew ! A bit haunting, but nice.

Family is family.

Thank you. S & F.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 03:11 PM
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a reply to: SIEGE

Thank you so much...that means a lot to me.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 03:18 PM
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Thank you for sharing your lovely writing with us, I enjoyed it. But, I wonder if the ending is truly fantasy. Here is a picture of the Cahokia 'birdman' which I found looking to learn more about the Cahokia peoples history. Sometimes instances like this makes me think we pass these bits of information down through DNA.



en.wikipedia.org...

www.lithiccastinglab.com...

I hope you can find a place of love and peace.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 03:25 PM
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a reply to: InTheLight

The history and still widely unknown-ness of the Cahokia people has always fascinated me, ever since the day I wrote about above when I first went to Alton. We also visited the Cahokia mounds....even as a seven year old, I was so captivated by it. Thank you for posting the information above...I love anything to do with learning more about them.

And thank you, so much, for the kind words and the support. I'm glad you liked it. It helps distract me.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 04:21 PM
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Bravo! I enjoyed your weaving of this intriguing tale! Thank you!



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 04:48 PM
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originally posted by: Night Star
Bravo! I enjoyed your weaving of this intriguing tale! Thank you!

Thank you so, so much.


I am really happy you liked it...thank you so much for reading, I really appreciate it..



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 04:50 PM
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I enjoyed that Reya. Very nice. S&F.



posted on Aug, 4 2017 @ 04:57 PM
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a reply to: angeldoll

Thank you so, so much.



posted on Aug, 5 2017 @ 03:53 AM
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a reply to: ReyaPhemhurth

I enjoyed it very much and thank you for taking time to share it with us.
Hoping you find peace.



posted on Aug, 6 2017 @ 08:25 PM
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a reply to: ReyaPhemhurth
Thank you for sharing this with us Reya. You do have the gift for writing and I look forward to reading more of your work.



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