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By and By ( A short story )

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posted on Jan, 22 2011 @ 02:54 AM
Tonight my back spasmed and I wound up taking my prescription pain medication. The story below will probably illustrate to the uninitiated why it is that I do not do so very often!

Enjoy at your leisure, ATS, the meanderings of an uncommon mind.

By and By

The world shook. Like a dog shaking off an infestation of fleas, a frenetic spasm of motion seized upon the whole of this world, painting everything with a Brownian tinge, and the world shook. And, for one man, this changed all.

The first thing that Matt Browning Jr. noticed, upon regaining consciousness and opening his eyes, was the darkness. A fraction of a second later he noticed the rest. He could not move his limbs. The pressure touched him everywhere, like the unwanted attention of strangers in a crowd. He fought for air, but could scarcely tell if his lungs were getting any. He struggled to move, but his attempts to fight only caused slight, wet, suction cup sounds. Through the haze of a growing panic Matt suddenly realized what had happened. Matt suddenly knew the reality of his current situation...

Matt was buried alive.

"Put it together man, put this together..." he thought as he forced his racing mind to focus... Put it together.

The rumble of an aftershock caused the walls of his tomb to push down upon him, almost mocking his attempt to clear his mind. Put with panic comes adrenaline, and adrenaline is a strong ally.

The last thing Matt could clearly remember was being at the lake with his wife Ashley and their five year old son Trey. They called him Trey because Trey was another way of saying "three" and the child was actually christened Matt the third. Matt, after naming the kid, realized that two Matts' in the house was one too many. The three of them had taken a picnic to the lake, in the Central Californian foothills and were having one of the best days that they had shared in a very long time. Trey had contented himself with exploring the small, pebbled beach, at the base of a large hill. Matt and Ashley had spent their late morning and early afternoon watching their sons joyful play, holding hands with one another, and were beginning to remember just why they'd fallen in love with one another what felt like all those years ago. Matt had just said something playful, and provocative to his beautiful bride, about his ideas on how they should spend the coming evening, and had turned away with a grin. He began to walk towards the Hibachi grill they had packed along with them, so that he could start the fire on which they would cook their lakeside banquet of burgers, hot dogs, and pineapple wedges, when the world had suddenly gone out of focus for a moment. And then everything went black.

A mudslide. It had to have been a mudslide.

Oh God... Ashley and Trey. the obvious facts hitting him like a brick wall, God.... no.... please God do not let them be buried too.

The realization of his families possible plight, combined with his claustrophobic circumstances reached into Matts mind and found a deep, ancient, hidden place. An animal place. Even as more aftershocks vibrated him around like chaff in a sifters screen, Matts focus became unnatural. Once, in an old movie, Matt had heard the words fear is the mind killer. Now, on some base level, beneath thought, beneath emotion, Matt understood. His mind flashed fractured images into his psyche...

Ashleys' eyes... that soft blue with those tiny gold flecks that just seemed to somehow push it all over the top. Those eyes and how they could see into him. Such a beautiful woman. A woman whose heart seemed to make her outward beauty seem almost irrelevant. Once, at a dinner party, a drunken friend had brought up the subject of religion. And though Matt normally avoided these debates as if they were leprous, this friend eventually asked Matt if he could show any proof at all that there might actually be a God. Matt, even though being far from a religious man, simply looked at his friend, pointed at Ashley, and smiled.

The argument ended there. The love on Matts face was enough.

And Trey... What a marvelous thing children can be... And Trey was a marvel amongst marvels. Matt was positive that a more pure soul, than Trey, had never existed. The kid was so full of energy, curiosity, and wonder that Matt could barely keep up with him. Trey asked a thousand questions a day, as most kids his age do. But Trey, well Trey paid attention and almost always remembered the answers he was given. Treys mind was the kind of mind that connected the dots. The kind of imagination that could see beyond the "what" and into the "could be". And Treys "could be" was always beautiful and insightful. His eyes were the eyes of innocence, and the being who saw through them was worth every ounce of gold, every paltry faceted stone, and every dusty book in the entire world. Even if the kid said "Helpichopter" when he saw a whirly-bird in the sky... Well it just made him all the more special. Especially to Matt.

Matt was fighting against the crushing pressure of the walls against him when the next aftershock hit. To his surprise the tremor seemed to somehow alleviate the pressure bearing down upon him, from above, as it were liquefying the very Earth. And Matt managed, with much effort, to move upwards a few inches. The lack of circulation seemed to be getting to him though, and his limbs were numb and distant. It felt as if he might as well be trying to will the legs of another to push. Yet he persisted. With every ounce of his being, he fought. For his family he would do no less.

If Matt could have stepped outside of his own mind he might have noticed that his universe, in a very, very real sense had gotten much smaller over these last few minutes. Less than an hour before he had been a good enough man. But a man nonetheless. And a man of his times. He worried about money, work, and bills as much as (and maybe even more) than his family. Often if there were time he could have spent with his wife, or with Trey, he'd opt, instead, to spend it surfing sports or news sites on the Internet, or watching "the" game on TV. Once upon a time "the" game was a special occasion. It was a rare meeting of two particular teams, or one of those annual sporting events that we all get wrapped up in watching. These days "the" game was whatever happened to be on any number of sports channels or broadcast networks once the televisions "on" button had been pushed. Matt had fallen into the trap of caring for a lot of the wrong things. A fate that seems to claim us all,. at one point or another. That weird world where "me" starts to matter more than "you" or "us" and it is a very hard habit to break once it is begun.

The irony, you see, is that by falling into this hole, he was forever released from that other. His true, sincere, and penitent prayer was that he'd get out to find Ashley and Trey OK. If God would just grant him this one thing, Matt would never stray again. He'd never lose sight of the real priorities. In fact all that he could even begin to bring to mind was those priorities. Everything else had simply faded away. The fear had come and gone and it had taken the garbage with it.

More tremors, this time feeling substantially more violent. And more progress upwards. The earth, which had swallowed him, now seemed to be second guessing its choice and was hacking him back out in fits of coughing. Matt waged war against his numbed limbs, forcing them to expand and contract. Like some kind of mutated snake, he rippled his musculature to generate locomotion. He felt like he could tell his fingernails to flex and relax, and they would. Every cell in his body became a means to an end, and Matt sought to master each and every one. The pain was excruciating. The very sinews and fibers of his frame attempted mutiny with each and every passing second. And with each attempt, Matt flogged and willed them back into submission. The very ideas of death and failure had left him. Matt only knew instinct. And his instincts relentlessly commanded him to fight and to rise. Air... blessed air was nearby. Matt knew he would reach that air.

For what seemed like hours this process went on. Matt, barely human anymore, writhing and twisting his way towards his goal... the sickly, earthy walls of his prison alternately threatening to smother him and then seeming to aid and abet his cause. Hours that might have well been eons. Time that transcends expression or understanding. Time spent in the nothing. Time spent in the jaunt. "Ashley, Trey, I love you. his mantra. Ashley, Trey, I love you. the sole remaining reflection of Matts once might ego. Ashley, Trey, I love you. the truest singularity. The totality that overcomes all else. The core.

Another spasm and shudder and Matt, on some base level realized it... the temperature on the top of his head altered by just a fraction of a degree. With this the animal side of him dug even deeper... pushed even harder... taxed cells for energy in ways the body was never meant to. Matts pulse was racing. His blood pressure was spiking. And yet he was totally unaware of these things. He was not even truly aware of himself anymore. Ashley, Trey, I love you.

Matts head broke through his prison. At first just a bit, but quickly more was free. The earth, as if in a rage, rumbled and seized upon him like a vice. The tomb, it seems, was reticent to give up its prize. The rejected meal seemingly, upon consideration, wanted once again. But the tomb was not to win today. Help awaited mat. As his body began to break the surface, hands reached out and began pulling him free.

It was all going so fast now. Ashley, Trey, I...

The rescuers pulled Matt free up to his shoulders. The aftershocks were now coming more and more frequently. It seemed that the danger was great. The risks immense. But the reward.. The reward...

Now Matts arms felt the kiss of fresh air, still matted and cold from the burial. All so bright. All so cold. All of it so confusing.

Suddenly Matt felt his waist and legs pulled free. The more purchase his rescuers had upon him, the faster they were able to release him from his wet and dark purgatory. Matts mind had mostly ceased thinking in words and had regressed to something even less than image. Abstracts of joy, fear, panic, over layed a bizarre sense of calm within Matt. Somewhere within this cauldron of thoughtless thought, the alien, and yet familiar form still lingered.... Ashley, Trey...

On some primal level, in a way that most of us could never understand, Matt understood that he was now free and being carried. Distantly, it seemed that something struck him. There were people with suction devices trying to clear the earthy obstructions from his mouth and nose. And then a sound broke through the self imposed silence that this ordeal had brought upon Matt... words that he could almost comprehend...

Mr and Mrs Sadathia, it's a girl...


On an early morning, in a Central California town, a beautiful woman, dressed in black, with the most captivating golden flecks in her eyes, holds the hand of a small boy beside a grave as a coffin lowers into it. And a man named Matthew Janson Browning Jr., joined by his loved ones, leaves home for the last time.

A few hours later, in northern India, an infant girl, named Nishtha Sadathia, is wheeled out of a small hospital, joined by her loved ones, to begin her first trip home.

A very wise and beautiful soul once said Will the circle be unbroken. By and by Lord, by and by...

edit on 1/22/11 by Hefficide because: obligatory Heff typo

posted on Jan, 22 2011 @ 02:57 AM
reply to post by Hefficide

great story. and heres a poem that took me 3 days to find:

Ladies and Gentlemen, skinny and stout,
I'll tell you a tale I know nothing about;
The Admission is free, so pay at the door,
Now pull up a chair and sit on the floor.

One fine day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight;
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other.

A blind man came to watch fair play,
A mute man came to shout "Horray!"
A deaf policeman heard the noise and
Came to stop those two dead boys.

He lived on the corner in the middle of the block,
In a two-story house on a vacant lot;
A man with no legs came walking by,
and kicked the lawman in his thigh.

He crashed through a wall without making a sound,
into a dry creek bed and suddenly drowned;
The long black hearse came to cart him away,
But he ran for his life and is still gone today.

I watched from the corner of the big round table,
The only eyewitness to facts of my fable;
But if you doubt my lies are true,
Just ask the blind man, he saw it too...

posted on Jan, 22 2011 @ 02:59 AM
reply to post by Hefficide

That was really good! I was engrossed and I have to say... I didn't see that coming!
I love that!

posted on Jan, 22 2011 @ 03:29 AM

Very good twist there. S&F man

posted on Jan, 22 2011 @ 11:49 AM
That, sir, was wonderful! You had me mesmerized, and I surely didn't see that twist coming

(psst..take your meds more often)

posted on Jun, 6 2011 @ 01:42 PM
reply to post by Hefficide

Great story Heff , Thank you for sharing it .

The ending came " full circle " , Which has always been my major foe when writing short stories,

Well done !



posted on Aug, 3 2011 @ 04:12 PM
This was a thoroughly enjoyable story from start to surprise ending.

I do hope your back has gotten over its urge to get all your attention. I haven't seen you around for a while and I sure do miss seeing your humor on the boards. Hurry back!

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