By John Andreula
Ty couldn’t tell if what he was looking at was a monkey, or a sloth, or some sort of marsupial. He craned his neck and squinted his eyes into the darkness.
He definitely had never seen any animal like this before.
The beast slowly and deliberately clambered across the pine covered branches of the black spruce just ahead of Ty’s gaze.
The animal’s coat mimicked the hues of the tree and the darkness beyond it. Ty could make out the movement amongst the wood and needles, but only glowing eyes on a black face could be clearly interpreted by his vision.
The animal paced across the front face of the tree. Whenever it paused its movement to change directions the dark face appeared to float in midair. Its eyes stayed locked in a stare with Ty’s own.
Ty rubbed his stomach. He wondered if he had eaten some poisonous berries, or some bad meat somewhere along the road. Perhaps it was too many of those seeds he had foraged and had been carrying around in his overstuffed tan ruck stuck.
This was the fourth or fifth vision he’d had since that night with the fire snake.
How many weeks ago was the first? he pondered quizzically.
Ty had experienced some hallucinations in the past, once after eating some strange mushrooms, another time he had come down with a mysterious virus. That trip was awful. He thought he might die, or at the least never mentally recover. Shortly after seeing those visions of horned demons and succubi, his body broke its fever and he recovered.
These recent visions were different than any others in his past. Foremost, they didn’t include his brother, his horse, or the days of his youth. Furthermore, they all seemed bent on communicating with him. Each spoke of some girl, and apparently he was the only one capable of helping her.
This chameleon-primate bounding across the spruce was no different. “What are you?” he spoke to the floating black face. His own was painted with a skeptical expression.
The camouflaged beast paused its repetitive stalking. Its glowing eyes followed a white moth as it fluttered by. For a brief moment Ty could see the moon’s reflection instead of multi-colored reflections. The eyes returned to survey the young man.
“Yoooou’ve beeen out here soooo lonnng…on yoooour ooooown, younnnnng traveeeelerrr.” The animal’s lips didn’t part, much less move. It seemed to be speaking directly into Ty’s mind.
“Yoooou’ve forrrrgotttennn whaaaat it’sss like toooo beeee with peeeeopllle,” it continued, “Yoooou’ve forrrrgotttennn whaaaat it’sss like toooo beeee a perrrrsonnnn.”
He scoffed at the ambiguous animal’s accusation, but he didn’t deny it. “What good are people anyway? They either hurt you…or leave you….or both….” Ty’s voice trailed off at this. His stare remained fixed on the beast, but his expression betrayed that he had become lost in his thoughts, or his memories for the time being.
“Thatttt’s truuuue. Thatttt’s reeeeelaaaationnnnshippppp’s…But withoutttt themmmm yooooou willlll nevvvverrrr knooooow love….Nor pure gooddddnessss.”
It went on, “Yoooou can nevvvverrrr tuuuulyyyy knoooow yourrrrselffff.
Ty rolled his eyes at this apparent creature of his mind’s creation, or whatever it was. “I don’t care about your girl. I don’t want anything to do with you, or whoever, whatever you are.”
“Thattt’s why weeee havvvven’t approoooacheddd yoooou assss our truuuue selvessss. Sheeee saidddd weeee wouldddd scarrrrre yoooou off.”
The primate looked off into the dark woods behind Ty. It took a moment for Ty to realize its gaze had followed the sound of dead pine needles and twigs crunching on the ground. Ty looked off toward the sound as well.
It was too dark to make anything out. He looked back to the animal in the tree. It’s still, black face faded until all that was in Ty’s line of sight was just the branches of the spruce. The sound of the brush crackling returned. Ty jetted behind the tree he was just standing in front of.
“I’m done playing with you, traveler!” a man’s voice called out from the direction of the sounds.
Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Steps took the sounds closer and closer. The man was approaching the tree Ty had hid behind.
“Come out, coward!” the voice returned, more forcefully this time, “Be a man for once in your life!”
Ty yelled his replied from his cover behind the spruce, “Who’s the coward? You’ve been stalking me…like some….some rabbit!”
“This is ridiculous,” the man said to himself. And then to Ty he said, “Gigi says we need you. The Writer says we need you. I have half a mind to leave you out in these woods to rot. I had you pegged for a loser that second night, with the wolf.”
Apparently the visions weren’t just in Ty’s head. “How do you know about that?”
Silence was the man’s only reply for the moment. He thought about how much more to tell the traveler, then continued, “The snake, the wolf, the bats, this sloth; all of them were me. They were my creations.”
Ty’s eyebrows scrunched up. He considered all he heard. “What are you talking about?”
The man chuckled derisively, “What am I talking about? Sheesh. Kid, you really have been hiding under a rock.” Then a little lower, and to himself the man went on, “I really have no idea what she sees in him…”
Ty poked his head around the side of the tree. He finally faced the lean, tall man. Everything below Ty’s left shoulder and chest remained hidden behind the tree’s thick piney base. “I have a gun! I’ll shoot you!”
“Traveler, I happen to know for a fact that you do not have a gun!” the man replied.
He was wearing a white long sleeved button down dress shirt. It was buttoned all the way up to the top. He wore strange jeweled metal cuff-links on either sleeve. His khaki slacks were an awful shade of tan. They were wrinkled and somewhat dirty, particularly on the knees and seat.
“The writer told me so,” he continued on, “She also told me I might spook you if I confronted you directly. She said you might run. You don’t want to run, do you, traveler?”
Ty continued staring at the man who was dressed in very strange clothing for someone out so deep; here in the woods of Prince Albert National Forrest in Canada. He didn’t move, so the man kept talking, “Listen…I don’t know why you’re on the run, and frankly, kid, I don’t give two shakes.”
“The name’s Glitch. I’m one of the Effected. Have you heard of my kind?”
Ty stared blankly, and then gave in to his curiosity. He shook his head ever-so slightly to indicate he didn’t.
“This kid is hopeless,” Glitch said softly to his feet. He raised his head and did his best deadpan. “We’re like the fucking X-men; Wolverine, Professor X, those guys. There’s something wrong—different—with our brains. We can—ehhh—do things.”
Ty processed what Glitch was saying. He still said nothing. and then blinked. When he reopened his eyes he was holding an AR15 across his arms.
His mouth opened into an O. He dropped the rifle and jumped back. The gun landed with a thud on the kindling in front of his feet.
“Jesus!” Ty shouted. A owl whoo’d, and then flew off in haste. “Where’d that come from?”
Glitch smirked mischievously. “Unlike that gun, young fella, you sure are dense.”
Ty eyes dropped from the man back down to the gun on the ground, or at least, where it should have been. Nothing was in the spot where the rifle had landed except the dead brush.
“Holy-moly!” It was the only response the younger man felt was apropos for the moment.
“Yeah,” Glitch agreed. “Pretty cool for sure, but my stuff is mere parlor tricks compared to the others. You need to come meet my tribe.”
“My tribe. There are others like me. Well, that’s not exactly true.” Glitch thought to himself for a moment. “None of them are like me…but they certainly all are special. What is it that you do, traveler…besides running away? What’s your ability?”
“It’s…” Ty clenched his lips shut. He was deciding if he should give Glitch anything. “It’s Ty…and I don’t do anything…At least,” uncertainty crept into his voice and onto his face, “not that I know of.”
“Well that’s just wonderful.” Glitch frowned to express his disappointment. “Anyway, Gigi wants to meet you, and the writer thinks you’re important to our cause.” Then, a bit quieter, and again to himself, Glitch intoned, “I had more ‘n half a mind to let you rot out here in the woods.”
Ty couldn’t make out the man’s mumbling, “What was that?”
“Nothing.” Glitch grimaced as he took another look at this would-be savior. “Shall we get going?”
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” Ty resisted. “I’m perfectly content out here in the middle of nowhere. I’m happy being nobody.”
“You’re happy, huh?” Glitch smirked again. “Nobody’s happy. We’re all just trying to survive. The writer gets it wrong sometimes, you know. Sometimes she doesn’t get the whole picture. She is certain you are special—important—somehow.”
Glitch paused and thought about what he had just said to Ty. He rolled his eyes. “I think she’s wrong. I think you’re just another loser.”
Ty ignored the challenge. “Who is this writer?”
Glitch’s demeanor seemed to change. He appeared pleased for the first time during this encounter. “Now you’re asking the right questions, kid. It doesn’t matter though, if you don’t come and meet her.”
Ty hesitantly stepped out from behind his tree. He stood out in full view. His dirty face visible in the moon’s glow. “Alright, I’ll come along. If I even see one uniform, or if I don’t like how you’re looking at me, I’m gone!”
“I believe you, traveler,” Glitch replied.
“Stop calling me that,” Ty refuted the strange moniker.
Glitch doubled down, “Why? It’s what you do. It’s who you are.”
Ty considered this, “Maybe, but it’s still a stupid name.”
“We’ll have to work on it.” Glitch shot a tender smile at the younger man. Maybe he would warm up to the lad. “It’s 1800 miles south to Colorado. We have time for a drink or three before we hit the road.”
“But I don’t drink,” Ty responded.
“Things change,” Glitch said with a look of certainty. Suddenly, his face appeared worn and tired to Ty.
Glitch leaned against a dead aspen trunk and watched while Ty packed up his meager camp.
The two left on foot before the sun rose.
Dreams Begone is part of an ongoing fiction epic called The Dreamer.
The whole story starts here.
Look out for more of The Dreamer coming very soon!
John Andreula is a writer and dreamer residing in the foothills of Colorado.
More of his works of can be found at:
Reach him for commission work or media requests at: