Breath slows. Body temperature lowers. Some say you
should visualize electric lights, others a restful time in a park or forest.
Myself, I choose simply to rest in the void of nothingness. To experience the
bodily sensations of slowing my breathing, deep breathing through my diaphragm,
it is the quiet still moments after epicness when I need my center the most.

Flip down my hood and let the rain drizzle onto my
whiskered scalp as I lower into a lotus position, yes there is drying blood on
my arm and leg, I feel the bruise forming on my right cheek and the blood drip
slowly from my left ear where the ring was ripped out. Getting to old for these
moments, pre-meditation moments when I battle some death defying world saving
endeavour. Herne said it was the moments before and after combat when it was
most important to be centered and rested. This battle had been sprung on me,
who would have thought that would have been possible.

The robin lands on the roof ledge and looks at me. “Rick”
Yep back to normal the animals are talking to me. My spirit animal, at least
one of them, is a robin. Some would say what a lame animal, but really they are
quite industrious, territorial and protective.

Kind of like me. “Robin, long time.”

“You have been not seeking
us as of late.” This is true, Herne my monastic mentor had recently ascended
into Nirvana and I did not feel the need to be connected with the spirit quest
anymore. The amulet glows warm against my heart, it had bonded to my chest 26
years ago during a peace march in elementary school to ward off nuclear war,
but never emerged until my teen years. The jade stone is shaped like a dragon
head and the lore says it was the same amulet that Uther Pendragon wore when he
unified the tribes of Wales. Great power courses through it, giving me the
strength of 10 men, ability to levitate, allows me to heal quickly, be
empathic, and to move with supernatural speed and agility.

It is the PenDragon stone, and yes that is the name I
took as a hero, for a time it would wrap me in full armour and the media took
to calling me the Bionic Knight, but as I aged the amulet just became more and
more one with me, until my abilities became inherent to my person, so now I
simply carry a luchadore style mask to usually pull on, but tonight there was
not time.

“Herne is gone, but another will arise to guide you.”

“Okay, hate to break this to
you Robin, I’ve been dancing this dance for 18 years now, battling my villains,
new and old, protecting this city, Camelot[1], and all I get is more and
more aches.”

Robin swooped up. “Another guide is awaiting you, Uther
Pendragon.” Damn stupid bird, I am not Uther, the name is Richard Leighton
Wales, my spirit animal keeps trying to convince me that I am the reincarnation
of King Uther, who came through Morocco to unite the tribes way back when, the
pre-cursor to the Arthur Legend. I don’t believe in reincarnation, actually to
be honest I don’t believe in most of this crap that has become my life yet
perhaps I am just a little too nice as I keep going with the flow. But then we
do need to save the world.

Rise from the lotus, and descend from the roof of the
building into the alleyway. Need to start keeping the mask in the back pocket
again. Believed my days were done with the new hero in town, young hot shot.
Yet here I am unable to pass the torch in spite of there being a newly arisen
powerhouse.

A brisk walk to catch the bus home. Camelot has been
quieter for the last year, but having taking out the psychotic clown, actually
it was a temporal loop that had brought the son of Medusa and Zeus forward in
time when I was 18, but the one that had taken the name Death Face fell to his
death at the fish hatchery, I tried to stop him to actually bring him to
justice…it was that last big case where Herne vanished. The rumour was
ascension, full actualization of the soul. Where it left me was a year
searching my soul about whether or not I was the hero I always said I was, or
if I had actually let D.F. die, I pray to that deity I do not want to believe
in that I am not that callous in regards to human life.

The store front is for a Spiritualist store, my life
partner, Susan Damascus, she who believes the hooky that I wish to keep away,
our small apartment is in back of the shop and on the other side of the store
is the chapel space and office, she offers services for a movement called
Unity, it is part of New Thought or something like that one day I should really
pay attention when I am sitting there on a Sunday morning.

She’s asleep on the couch, the television is droning
silently on the blue screen when a DVD stops playing, laying across her is Eric
Butterworth’s Break the Ten Commandments.
I kiss her lightly on the forehead.

“You stink, go shower.” Not even a kiss back just being
ushered out of the living room. Since the analog signals died on the Canadian
airwaves we have been without “television” but have enjoyed CBC news radio, and
being our own network thanks to the public library. Currently working our way
through Lexx, Little Mosque on the Prairie, and Stargate: Atlantis. The new guy
in the city reminds me of Ronin a little, big, strong, silent and, as I step
into the washroom today’s Metro is by the toilet, front page: MYSTERY MAN KILLS
3 ROBBERS what?!

A picture of the city’s new hero, the media has yet to
dub him. He has at least a foot and a half on me and at least 150 lbs, of
ripped muscle. Cascading long hair, beard and has slaughtered 3. I know he has
taken a rougher approach than I have in dealing with the criminal element,
severely hurting and/or crippling individuals, but murder? Even if they are
robbers, that is uncalled for.

I scan the article the three are believed to have been
the local bank robbers within the city who had already robbed 14 banks,
injuring two. They had entered what was to be their fifteenth bank when
the…Reaper…catchy name, killed them and left after decapitating each one
and mounting their heads on make shift pikes along the bank tellers bench.

I slump against the bathroom wall. Maybe this year of
lying low had been a bad idea. The new protector of the city was far from
heroic. He was taking the easy way out; much like the death penalty takes the
easy way out. The article asks if this slaughter will be a deterrent, and it is
already proven that capital punishment deters nothing it just escalates the
violence level.

This city is about to come unglued.

The hot water hits my back
and feels good, the muscles start to unwind. The blood rinses off with ease,
the cuts aren’t as deep as first thought and already starting to heal, my
amulet is glowing duller than it has before could it be reacting to my more
dull mood? Or is it seeking a new owner?

Towel off and pull on Mighty Thor pyjama pants and a
Camelot Lancers hockey jersey from the Alberta Junior Hockey League, our team
that we take in every chance we get. As PenDragon I had actually been invited
to drop the seasoning opening puck on five different occasions.

Susan is sleeping quietly
having already transferred to the bedroom. Why so ear—ah the clock is flashing
1:00 a.m., on my bedside table a flyer with today’s date and…shit…it was
her first night of the Basics of New Thought, I told her I would be there, and
instead I was stopping—can’t even remember the guys name. Some third rate
villain that the newbie could’ve taken out (quite literally unfortunately). I
am a supreme bonehead with that play.

I kiss her shoulder gently and she shrugs away from me.
Okay, couch time it is. I move to the living room. Click on the television and
the DVD let’s see what she was watching. What
the Bleep do we know?
Starts playing. Hmmm… She had just purchased this
for a movie and potluck night probably watching it first to see if there were
any good topics she should be good to draw out of it.

I stifle a yawn…

The
screen is suddenly blue again stating the Sony logo. The couch is lumpy and,
why is there a Grey standing before me. A little alien. “Hello PenDragon.”

            “Who are you, where am I?”

“On
a journey, you see you are fighting against the flow of a mighty river in your
soul.”

            Fighting against the flow of a
mighty river, what is this wonky alien talking about? I am going with the flow.

            “No, you are hiding from the Source
of all that is, the Source that exists within you and all around you, and that
everything exists within as well.”  The
room is shifting and flowing around me.
We are now in the midst  of what
appears to be a typical Alberta farm, standing by a well. The Gray is standing
there with a cup of water, doesn’t he know you can light that stuff on fire
here. “I assure you it is safe to drink, it is the living water.”

            “Look Mr. Spock, I don’t know what
you may have heard, but I left that Christian crap behind, they are an abusive
flock.”

“Do
not get the message confused with the messenger. Do not get the river confused
with the well.”

            The cup is in my hand, it is
wonderfully cold as I feel the heat beating down on me as the farm melts away.
I stand in a desert. This is trippy weird. Weird like how my friends in high
school described the green alien guys in Toy Story when they dropped cartoon
acid before going into the $1 theatre to watch it.

            But I am thirsty. Where is The Gray.
I take a sip…

“AHHH!”
 The floor is harder than I remember. My eyes
focus on the television as I watch water react emotionally. Where…I am home.
That was weird. My amulet is glowing brightly.

“Rick! Turn the fucking light off!”

“Power down.” Say it, think
it, nothing the stone won’t stop glowing what is happening. I see Susan step
into the living room and gasp as I feel myself tingle away.

“Ric—“ is the last thing I hear. . .


[1]
Camelot is located 80 km NE of Calgary, AB

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