He felt unsettled, no, that was not the word, disoriented, no, not really that either. He shook his head trying to figure what he was feeling, but it seemed to be just like he was subdued or drugged, in a miasmic cloud of not quite there, stupor-ness. As he shook his head his eyes came into focus. It was dark, but not too dark for him to see. He strained and the dark and thought to himself how great it would be to have more light, and suddenly a dim glow spanned before him, lighting up cool brick walls. He looked behind him to see the source, and found nothing, but as he looked down he saw dancing globes of light circling his hand. He raised his hand to his face and the globes followed, illuminating his crisp features and high cheekbones.

He raised his hand higher and thought about the light, only to see more and more details appear as the light brightened and brightened, until it became a white glare.

“Ooops”, he actually said and thought himself how about low again, and the light subsided back to the dim glow that was there a moment before. He waited a moment for his eyes to adjust from the near sun brilliance that had been there a moment before and examined his surroundings. The bricks were cast and cool, a stone fortress of some type, a door beckoned in front of him, while no windows or other features seemed apparent. Above him the bricks formed a dome and sealed the room in with formidable rock. It could be a cell or room in an ancient castle, or a gun room in some modern dream home. Without getting out, he could not tell. There was nothing else in the room that caught his attention, so he went to the door.

“Off”, the light remained, a little flustered he imagined it turning off and he was in near darkness again. He soon realized that at the top of the room a small hole reflected light from somewhere outside, this had given him his light before and now. Moving silently towards the door he felt for the latch until his hand successfully closed around the small handle. The cool crisp steel was knurled and felt old as he turned it and felt the latches click and the door give way. He opened it slowly and stayed behind the door as it slid backwards into the room.

The door opened to a small hallway, and he slowly peered out and checked for movement. The hallway was dark, but he could see light at the end through a moon shaped rune in a door. He crouched and moved outward to the door. This door had a similar handle and before he touched it he peered out the small rune shaped hole, and saw the starry night and a flicker of flames licking a series of rocks in the near distance.

He opened the door and it again pulled inwards, as he stepped out cautiously he looked up and side to side quickly to see if anyone was close, but all he saw was emptiness and the cold stones of the building. He walked towards the firelight, cautions with his steps. Looking down he noted the sandals he wore and thought to himself he had never worn sandals such as these, nor had he word the tunic he had on, was this back in time? He heard the pop of burning green work and crouched behind a rock. There was breathing, and grunting, and he was not sure of what else, strange sounds that he could not make out, and a grinding or clanging of steel.

He slowly peered around the rock to see a woman chained before the fire with her arms bound overhead. From his viewpoint he could tell she had her legs free, but she could not lower or more her hands easily. She wore a tunic similar to his, only it was cut much lower, either by design, or by the rip and tear of an unseen assailant. Her legs were lithe and he could see she was near perfect even from his quick look. Her fiery hair shun with a life of its own in the wandering lashes of light laid out by the large fire.

Peering further he saw her assailant, or captor, or perhaps her soon to be devourer as he noted the near monster gnawing on a bone while leaning against a rock. He figured the giant stood nearly 8 feet tall and was built like a mid-size tree, thick and hard. Loose skins covered his body, perhaps from bears he had snacked on for fun.  This was a nightmare in any form.

He looked back at the bound woman and could see she saw him and peered deeply at him with her steel blue eyes, calling to him, beckoning, wanting him to be there, to free her, and something else. There was a sparkle in her eyes he had seen before, he struggled to remember, to know, but it eluded him.

He needed a weapon, he turned and scanned the ground, but there was nothing he could easily see. A few rocks and little else littered the ground. He could see the building still there behind him and wondered if he had missed anything as he left. His mind raced and he knew his point of origin and the walk here had been as empty as the ground before him.

He glanced around the rock again and noticed a pile of bones near him, most would be useless against the brute gnawing on some rotting piece of flesh, but there was a femur that may have enough strength to make a dent. He saw her again, peering at him, this time she struggled with her chains a little and the goliath looked to her, allowing him a moment to dart forward and grab the femur, then return to his hiding place.

The bone was strong, but had no heavy weight. The surface of the bone was pitted with teeth marks and scratches and was cool to his hand. He felt the weight and slapped the bone on his hand, and knew this would be only partially effective, but he had to act. He heard a loud crunch and slowly glanced around the boulder to see the behemoth adding even more wood to the fire, making the flames dance even higher.

Determined to save her he watched as the monstrosity turned his back to him and crept out of his hiding place, bone in hand. He walked softly in the sandals which felt as though they were silent extensions of his feet, and worked his way up to his quarry. 5 feet, 4 feet, he could now smell the monster, and the smell was more frightening than the look of the beast. With both hands he swung and bashed the femur against the monsters skull, only to have it break in half as it struck. As it turned the man beast swayed as though hurt and unsure, but he did not wait and with the remaining bone swung again to the head, glancing off. A huge arm swung at him and though he pulled away, still managed to catch him on the side, throwing him a few feet. He hurt with the impact, but regained quickly as the giant lumbered towards him.

Jumping up he looked to the girl and saw her brow furled in concern. He looked to her hair, then the fire, and ran to the fire, grabbing a loose log that had not yet caught. He hefted it and spun a wild swing, hitting the monster squarely in the head again as it approached. It was to no avail, the monster howled in pain, but pushed him clear of the circle of light, nearly 10 feet into the air and 20 feet beyond the flames. His back hurt, his side hurt, and he really felt pretty bad. He could hear the massive mound of muscle and sinew bounding towards him and really wished he could catch a breath. Could this be his end? “No”, he thought to himself and looked to the bounding lummox, raised his hand and thought “bright” and the light returned, he squinted as the blinding light halted the creature in his tracks, grabbing its eyes in pain. He puffed, and stood tall, grabbing a lungful of air, and ran to the thing, hoping he could knock it over, push Push PUSH, he thought and as his hands hit the beast he felt a jolt of power and saw the creature take its turn in the air. Amazed at himself he saw the monumental mass rise near the flame and shake its head. Something new crossed its gruesome visage, and right away he recognized that look, the look of fear.

He took another lungful of air, and was beginning to understand, he walked forward towards the fire, and the massive man-beast looked at him, fear turned to rage as it launched towards him. He glanced at the woman, who now smiled knowingly at him, and he simply said “no” and swatted his hand in front of him.

The beast was knocked back again, “no”, and again the beast forced back, “NO” and he pushed it back again towards the building “In” he thought and the beast was forced through the door. “enough, and the massive door closed and was lit for a moment by the brightness of molted stone as the building sealed.

Another breath, he turned to her. She was smiling. He walked to her and looked at her, eyes bright and shining. Reaching up he unlocked her shackles and her hands fell down around his neck, pulling him close. She smiled, and kissed him, as he kissed her. She pulled back.

“Thank you”, she said. She kissed him again, holding him tightly as he felt her warmth. Their bodies were close, then closer and he felt every curve of her body close to him. His mind was reeling with impossible thoughts as his tongue entered her mouth, her felt her relax and fold into his arms as the heat between them rose beyond that of even the fire raging near them. Her hands found his and the pain that he felt a moment ago was gone, as they kissed more and more deeply he felt like a raging volcano himself. He closed his eyes, and was once again in his apartment.



A Forever Promise

Alice Suth looked over the mound of dirt below her. The fresh brown soil was dark and seemed more like coffee grounds than the top of a grave. Alice wiped the tears from her eyes again. A hundred people had walked by and paid their respects. They had come and gone as Alice watched over the grave as a silent sentinel, patiently guarding the memory of this person. Samuel had been her friend for only a short time, and she had wanted so much more. Alice always felt they had time. There would be time for tomorrows, time for love, for passion, for excitement, and for the peace both of them deserved.

Alice remembered only a few months ago when they were walking out of their office building. The two looked to the sky together and saw a shooting star fly by, the tail glistening in the sky like a million fireflies. That night she had wished for a miracle, and told Samuel that she needed his help.

Samuel had been curious and leaned against his Black Sportscar as she considered how to explain her plight. She was stuck with an abusive boyfriend, he had made her life hell, and terrified her to a point that she could barely function. She needed help and had no one to ask except Samuel.

To Alice it seemed like they had known each other forever, but she had actually met him in a meeting for a group of investors only a few months before. As he took over the meeting he helped everyone see different points of view, his, theirs, and in the process built a point of view that worked. To Alice, Samuel was driven to succeed, and he would do whatever it took to keep his word.

Alice had begun talking to Samuel. She was instantly attracted to his power, and to his presence. He was constantly helping her learn, and worked with her often to show her new ways of solving problems. All the while, he was a gentleman, and all the while Alice began to fall in love. Alice was terrified Chuck would find out, or worse, Chuck would beat her for the affront. Chuck was all about Chuck, and nothing more.

Alice found herself fantasizing about Samuel, and a life where she could truly love him, but as she came home each night she was reminded of reality and was forced to be that person that Chuck needed her to be. She was treated as a trophy, a property to be cherished, but not respected.

When Alice was moved into a new position, Samuel helped her understand the role, worked with her, pushed her forward and she shun brightly while he sat to the side, not needing anything but her smile. It appeared to Alice he had feelings for her as well. She would tease and ask in their short moments where he taught her about this and that, and he would smile and not answer.

Chuck had heard about Samuel from someone who worked with them both. Alice did not know who, but he promised he would hurt her if she ever talked to him again. That brought her to that night, with Samuel leaning on the shadow of a car, waiting for her to speak.

“Sam,” she started, “I mean Samuel, I, I don’t know what to do. I need to disappear, my boyfriend is going to hurt me, he may kill me, and I don’t know what to do. I don’t want you to get involved, but I don’t know who else to turn to for help.”

Samuel looked into her eyes, his hazel eyes glistening greenish brown in the light of the halogen lamps over their head. His car looking like a portal to another dimension, sparkling like it had a million black diamonds spread on its skin.

Samuel gazed at her powder blue eyes, she pleaded silently, “Please, I will do anything for you if you just help me get away.”

“What about your job, your friends, all the things you are?” Samuel said.

“None of that matters,” Alice said as she walked a few feet to the end of the parking lot. She looked down the hill, “He could drive here any moment, and I don’t know what I would do.”

Samuel spoke softly from behind her, “I would keep you safe.”

Alice turned, “and we could leave here together?”

Samuel turned her around to face him, his face strong but soft, “We would leave her together if it is what you want. Is that what you want?”

Alice looked into his eyes, they were mischievous, and powerful, and mysterious and intelligent, “I am not sure.”

Samuel looked deeply into her eyes, “It starts with a promise.”

“A promise,” Alice asked

“Yes, A promise,” Samuel said. “I will trust your word and you will trust mine. In the end, we will both fulfill our promise, and find our way.”

“What kind of promise,” Alice asked.

“What do you feel,” Samuel asked peering deep into her eyes and perhaps even her soul, “Promise what you feel.”

Alice had lowered her head that night and cried, then looked into the eyes of a man who had helped her and lifted her up to the clouds. A man who was selfless and gave of himself, and a man who was always trying to do the right thing. Alice looked into his eyes and said, “I promise if you help me, I will love you with all of my heart for the rest of my life, no matter what.”

Samuel looked into her blue eyes, “I promise you I will set you free from your current life, and in the process, will love you and all of who you are for the rest of my life and beyond, no matter what.”

Alice looked at him with her blue eyes, a tear forming in the corner, and he picked up her hand, “Shake on it now, and when the time is right, we’ll seal this promise with a kiss.”

“What if, well, what if you can’t free me,” Alice asked looking down.

“What if you can’t love me?” Samuel asked. “Whoever breaks the pact will die, plain and simple. Either way, the promise will be fulfilled. We have promised the rest of our lives, if the promise is broken, the life will be done.”

Alice was dumbfounded. He shook her hand again and she shook his, they made a pact, and she had promised all she was to a man she hardly knew, a good man, a great man perhaps. She felt panicked for a second and then realized, perhaps this was all a good thing.

Alice considered that moment those two months ago as she looked down at the mound of dirt, and the crisp marble tombstone. The words were simple on the stone, “No matter what…” with Samuel Smith, and his birth date and a death date of only two days ago.

She stopped crying, and let her purse fall to the side of the simple black dress she wore. The pearls were pure white on her neck, and the veil hid her face from all but the closest observers. She had stood for nearly two hours, and now the site was empty, and the cemetery was quiet. Only the occasional worker could be seen in the distance. She looked at the grave with reverence and heard the throaty roar of a car near her.

Alice turned and saw the ebony sportscar car she saw only a few months ago, sitting in the parking lot, looking at the stars. She walked to the car, and the door opened. Samuel Smith stepped out and looked into her eyes.

“Your service was beautiful, over a hundred people were there,” Samuel said.

“Yours was too,” Alice said, lost in the moment looking deep into Samuel’s eyes.

“Ready to start a new life?” Samuel asked with a smile.

“I am, but we have to seal this promise,” Alice said in a mischievous tone.

Samuel was mesmerized by her blue eyes, he had never felt what he was feeling now. A promise of a future, of passion, of love, and excitement. A new life for them to live, new names, new places, and new adventures, but it all started with them. Samuel lowered his head to Alice and kissed her, their passion sparked, and they felt as though the world was going to explode around them. They knew it was just the two of them, and this moment was just a new moment in a new series of moments to be reveled in, and enjoyed.

They separated, and Alice looked up at him, “I will love you with all of my heart, for the rest of my life.”

Samuel spoke softly, “I will love you and all of who you are for the rest of my life and beyond.”

He opened the car door for her, and walked around to the driver’s side, got in and put the car into gear, they looked at each other, with new hope in their hearts and souls and as one said, “No matter what.”