I write EPIC FABLES on Universal Human Themes.
EPIC FABLES are simply told stories that also hold a larger context within the Worldwide Historical Record, and Human History, at least in terms of Anthropology and Sociology, always includes man's best friend, the steadfast K9, for beyond that there's only Prehistory, that is Archeology.
Here's my EPIC FABLE detailing how this most ancient and enduring of relationships between Humans and Dogs initially came about, and with a Science Fiction twist, of course.
It's included in my compilation of Short Stories dealing with the Elastic Limit of Time, TALES of the ELASTIC LIMIT, and as an aside, the book may be enjoyed in three different ways:
1) The Short Stories can be read at random, for each EPIC FABLE is a contained piece, standing on its own,
2) They can be read in sequence for a larger, Chronological Narrative of Human History,
But, given Time is linear,
3) The chapters can also be read backwards, for the Larger Narrative is the same regardless of direction, and that's why each EPIC FABLE has two titles.
By these criteria, this Epic Fable is either the last chapter or the first, or just an interesting short story about Time Travel.
Hope you enjoy, thanks:
How it all Started
The Short History of Dogs
The young upright man, in reality still only a boy, had smelled the cooking meat from quite a distance. It was compelling. The wafting aroma was mesmerizing, faint at first but unmistakable, growing only stronger with each tentative step that he took, tearing away at his empty stomach, forcing him ever forward.
Finding himself in unfamiliar territory, the youngster was understandably leery, but also being very hungry he continued through the thick underbrush with a determined purpose, in an unending quest. He knew he had to find nourishment or he would die. Then who would tell his strange story?
He’d eaten little the day before, too agitated by the gathering to come, for it was the first such endeavor that he’d ever been permitted to accompany. Due to his age, before this his never-ending chores of toting water from the river, or dragging tree limbs for the ever-present fire had always been in close proximity to his clan’s current, well-defended enclosure. No excitement there, to be sure.
Of course, the youth had often longed to join in one these gatherings, seemingly a hopeless wish, given his tender years. Still, he dreamed of the day for it was his undeniable path, as it was for each of the clan’s boys. His time would come.
Then, on one of his last wood collecting expeditions he’d found a heavy branch that made for him, with little augmentation, a fine club. All of the mature upright men had admired this new weapon, hefting and swinging it, testing its strength and balance. Each had been impressed by the unexpected discovery.
His uncle, headman of the clan, was most pleased, taking the find as an omen predicting a plentiful gathering. As a consequence, he allowed his nephew to join the upcoming venture. Sadly, this snap assessment had proved a mistake.
All gatherings were, and always had been unpredictable things, the outcomes ever in doubt. Still, the clan’s most recent location was extremely bountiful and of late all such expeditions had indeed been successful. Each time the upright men had returned from them both cheerful and fully laden with meat.
The gathering party took to the great river before dawn, paralleling its meandering path, following the clan’s standard operating procedure. Several times along the way the uprights noticed promising footprints of the four legs at the water’s edge, an event that engendered much excited interest. However, nothing came of them as they petered out once the ground became firmer inland from the river’s bank, and so the determined party had returned each time to its previous route.
Gathering from the four legs was the best possible scenario for they could be beaten off their kill with little trouble. Often this kill was a large animal. The four legs were formidable, always hunting in numbers that employed coordinated attack, and this strategy was highly effective in bringing almost anything down.
Yet, if they were attacked with sufficient preparation, successfully employing the tactics of surprise and overwhelming forces, the four legs would quickly relent and run off. The gathering party would then divide their efforts. Some would butcher while the others stood guard, encircling the kill, protecting the periphery of the grisly action.
The four legs always took a dim view of this, of course. They never retreated very far at first, but hung at a distance growling and snapping at each other in their displeasure over losing their kill. At some point though, compelled by hunger, they would be off in search of more game, and often this occurred before the meaty prize had been hacked into smaller pieces suitable for transport.
Other hunters in the area, such as the deadly long claws, were not so obliging. They were to be avoided at all times, for backing down and running away wasn’t in their fierce nature. No, they attacked to protect their kill, and they were much larger, highly aggressive and so more dangerous than the four legs were.
Fortunately, their deeply resonate growl and loud, piercing cries could be heard at great distance and usually the ferocious creatures could be given a wide berth. Of course, this was not always possible and chance meetings sometimes occurred. When they did, the standard outcome never favored the upright men.
The long claws had very long teeth, too.
The clan’s ancestors had learned all these hard-earned lessons well, ages ago in the olden times. They hadn’t been forgotten in the great interim since. Many well-known and oft repeated stories told of such horrifying encounters.
No, the four legs were clearly the best choice and the clan always preferred gathering from them, but where were they now?
Late in the day and far from home, the weary upright men turned a sharp bend in the river only to find there a large horned one lying dead on the bank. Nothing seemed to be near it, although it was evident that the fresh carcass had been fed upon. The group advanced with alacrity to investigate, but only when they were up on the beast did the shocking truth become known.
Behind it, shielded by its very size, rested two sleeping cubs of the terrifying great one of the forest. This was a most surprising turn having frightening consequences, for before the upright men could react, the cubs’ mother broke from the nearby scrub. Very large and bristling, she was already snarling in anger at this intrusion, berserk now in her attempt to protect her young ones.
The startled group of gatherers was no match for her massive claws and great bulk. Several of them were immediately mauled before they could move away, and more were quickly run down and dispatched as her cubs, awakened by the unknown sounds, began crying loudly in fear. This event propelled their mother into a true frenzy, and she viciously lashed out unhindered by any thought, fueled only by her terrible rage.
The young upright boy, proudly clutching his fine new club, had been among the first gatherers to reach the dead horned one. Soon he was caught with a tremendous, backhanded blow from the giant, swinging paw of the great one of the forest, who was madly thrashing about consumed by her impassioned slaughtering. It was as if a tree had hit him, and he was thrown unceremoniously into the great river.
This alone had saved him.
Of course, the youth couldn’t swim, none of the upright men could. The always churning and never-ending river was very much viewed as a mystical thing by the clan, and so they had yet to even learn how to fish. But the boy, stunned, had nevertheless somehow floated to a passing log that bore him downstream, and thus away from the horrid carnage still viciously transpiring on the now overly-bloodied and gory bank.
After some time of desperately clutching about the log, he was rudely deposited ashore after his transport was beached while traversing a long bend in the river. The exhausted youngster had pulled himself further up on the bank and collapsed in a heap. It was then that he smelled the cooking meat in the distance.
Naturally the boy was unsure of his location, but that didn’t matter. He had to eat soon or he would never live to find his way home, if that were even possible now. He began to move, honing in on the enticing scent of roasting flesh.
Evening was near, and approaching swiftly. Soon he wouldn’t be able to discern anything in the quickly growing gloom. Next, however, he saw the piercing light of a fire in the distance, shrouded by the surrounding forest.
The calling aroma was strong now. It turned his empty stomach into knots. He crept closer taking care to move as quietly as he could, always forward towards the illumination beyond, which at this point was enveloped by the deepening darkness.
At last he could see the entire scene through the underbrush. A fine campsite had been laid in a small clearing rimmed by huge boulders. A giant fire, blazing away, cast flickering shadows against the rocks and shrubbery around them.
He saw no one about. It seemed the whole area was deserted. He did see the meat though, sizzling on a spit very near the fire, a huge hunk dripping tasty fat.
Who would leave such a treasure unattended?
Instinctively he reached for his sharpened butchering stone, a most valued object that everyone carried during a gathering, a highly-prized implement carefully chiseled with precision to fit the owner’s hand. He found it missing as was, of course, his fine new club. He should have realized that the unforgiving waterway had already swallowed both of his precious tools.
The young upright man next judged himself not only lost and alone, which he was, but now totally weaponless as well.
Yet here he was wrong.
His finest instrument, possessed by every member of his clan as well as those scattered about like them, had been minutely honed through time itself, from the very beginnings of his kind. It was a natural development unique to the now fully defined species, and no other living thing possessed it. Nothing came close, not even the lumbering, flat-headed men in the area who were generally so similar in other ways to the uprights.
This singular, superior weapon, at present being furiously employed to assess the situation, was his very large human brain.
This particular circumstance, however, was difficult to understand. Where was the owner of the meat, he wondered? And why had they left such an item unprotected?
Upright men cooked their food, of course, but they weren’t the only ones to do so. The flatheads had fire as well, and they, according to the clan’s ancient lore, were the ones who’d first unlocked its hidden secrets. And they could be fearsome.
At last he could stand it no longer. He broke through the brush and dashed to the spit, thinking only at first of grabbing the roasting meat and beating a hasty retreat. Yet, after laying hands on the greasy haunch, he instead had a much better idea.
The boy sank to his knees and bit into the still sizzling flesh. Nothing had ever tasted so good to him, and he moaned in delight as the succulent juices dripped down his face. Despite his earlier trepidation, he sat by the fire and ate with gusto, unconcerned now with what might happen next.
After savoring several mouthfuls he reconsidered, thinking again of dashing off with his purloined meal, but he didn’t. He was so exhausted he found that he couldn’t move, only concentrate on the task at hand. He reasoned if the food’s owner did return and killed him, well at least by then he’d die with a full stomach.
While munching away, he heard movement in the brush, the sound of someone approaching. The youngster, still chewing as fast as he could, sat in place and awaited his fate. At this stage, no other viable option was left open to him.
An upright man then appeared, but unlike any that he’d ever seen before. He was very tall, as tall as a flathead, but unlike them he was thin and dressed in a bizarre fashion. He wore no stitched animal skins but some kind of covering that aside from his hands and face totally wrapped him, clinging tightly to his body.
“Welcome,” he said, but the boy didn’t respond.
The newcomer then held out his arms, his palms open and pointed toward the youngster, who had stopped his mastication at the action. After a few seconds, the strange upright man dropped his hands. Then he smiled.
“Welcome,” he said again, and this time the interloper replied.
“I’m hungry,” the young boy related, as if that would explain everything. It did. The upright man smiled again, and then sat on a large stone at the edge of the firelight.
“I know,” he answered. “I cooked it for you. I knew that you’d make your way here, to this clearing, tonight.”
The boy’s eyes opened widely as he considered this. Could it be so? Then with a shrug he commenced his meal, knowing now that no immediate danger awaited him.
Yet, after swallowing his latest mouthful, he asked, “How?”
Now the sitting man considered. He rearranged himself and, crossing his long legs, he leaned forward. After a bit he answered.
“I know much,” he stated as a fact. “I know that today was your first gathering, and I know the result. This adventure will make for you a fine story to tell.”
At this the boy only grunted. How would he ever get back to his clan, and how would he tell his story if he didn’t? He knew not.
Again he sunk his teeth into the roast but without frenzy now, in a slower and more deliberate pace, still thinking.
The stranger spoke no more, for the present only waiting for the boy to finish his meal. He understood that the youngster’s mind was racing, trying to comprehend. He was content to sit and let him try.
Soon enough the upright boy was satiated, his stomach now overly full. Still chewing his last bite, he stared down at the meat in his hands. Then he held it out to the stranger, offering the leftovers but the man shook his head, declining.
“Take it with you, on the morrow,” he said. “Just head back to the river and follow its bank, but moving against the current this time. You’ll be home by nightfall.”
The boy nodded. It made sense. He would do so.
Then he thought of something else.
“What of the others?” he asked. Of course, this question referred to the ambushed gathering party. Here the man, while giving no answer, answered all by his silence.
The boy sighed, already knowing the truth. He’d reflected on the horrific episode while clinging to the log in the river. The great one of the forest was the most fearsome thing known, and the females were ever tenacious when their cubs were involved.
He thought first of his uncle, and then the others, the best uprights in his clan, each gone. Who would gather now? How would they ever survive this horrible loss?
The strange man understood his concerns. He felt sorry for the boy, but only in a peripheral, disconnected fashion. He had to remain above the fray, so to speak.
After all, time does march on, and always it will have its due.
“Other clans would welcome you,” he said, in a comforting tone. “Your women and children are a wonderful asset, and greater numbers help insure the future. You must lead them, your clan, to another clan, and so save them.”
The young upright was rendered speechless by this bold suggestion. How could he lead them, or what was left of them? He was just a boy, lost and helpless.
“You now have a powerful story,” instructed the man, “for there’s a grander purpose behind it. It has meaning beyond the event itself, a lesson to be learned. So they will listen and agree with your assessment, why wouldn’t they?”
“What purpose?” asked the incredulous youth, who certainly saw none. The whole thing was senseless as far as he could judge, the gathering nothing but a colossal failure. He boldly looked the man in the face, awaiting an answer.
“You must change the way you gather meat,” calmly said the stranger, as if it were only a foregone conclusion. “Another way must be found. A better way.”
A moment went by, the boy deep in thought.
“How?” he asked for a second time.
The strange man then slowly stood and, after holding out his hands in reassurance, he stepped over and sat closer to the boy.
“Why do you always chase the four legs away?” he quietly asked. “They are the ones that find your meat, after all. Do you not have to go out and waste your time locating them all over again, when the next gathering is needed?”
Now the youngster was really confused. How could you not chase them away? The hard-earned carcass was their prize and they didn’t give it up freely, without some sort of altercation.
He began to answer as such, but the man cut him off by continuing, “Why not instead give them some of the kill? It’s easily done for they never run far, and you know this to be true. You could just throw them some of the meat.”
“Why?” blurted the boy. “It’s our food then. Why give it away?”
Again, the stranger smiled, understanding the boy’s perplexed state. Change once made could take hold quickly, but embracing this choice often required great amounts of time to accomplish. Yet, small steps were still forward progress.
“But if you gave them some they would stick close by,” he explained, “and they’d gladly follow you home if you fed them along the way. Then you wouldn’t have to find them when the meat was gone. Once you stop feeding them they’d just go off in search of more, yet you could then follow them, is this not so?”
“But they are killers,” said the boy, now the one trying to explain. How, he marveled, could such an absurd thing even be contemplated? This was not the established way.
“But do they kill,” asked the man, “after they’re chased off? Do they attack you as you butcher the carcass, as the long claws would? No, they just get angry and then move on.”
The boy shook his head. This was too much. It was unheard of.
“That’s never done,” he stated flatly, as if it closed the subject.
Again, the stranger paused. Another approach was needed now, that much was evident. He held one in reserve, of course.
He leaned in some and quietly asked, “How did the upright men first come by fire, I wonder? There was a distant age, long ago, when you had none, is this not true? Many stories from the olden times say as much, do they not?”
The boy had to admit that this was so. Everyone knew that the uprights had stolen fire from the flatheads, for they were the only ones who knew how to make it. As such, keeping the fire lit was always a prime concern for the clan.
Sometimes it did go out, of course, a big problem. Other clans had to share then, but they only did so after some price had been paid. Finding fire in the forest was always possible, it had happened before, but it wasn’t very likely and the more prudent course was to make sure that it never died in the first place.
But the boy, young as he was, had made this vital connection. Things change. Even the oldest of established ways must have been new once, he currently saw.
Yes, now he understood that change was very real, and perhaps inevitable. The day’s bizarre events had proved as much. And he certainly didn’t wish to repeat that particular change if he could help it, not if it could be avoided, that is.
So, he mused after reflection, “Perhaps this would be better.”
Then the young boy causally made another, most crucial connection. It was one that went beyond the moment at hand, critical as it turned out, to the very future of his entire species. And this simple train of thought would soon beget profound historic ramifications, for the conception easily defined by example the most important, pertinent tenant of humanity itself.
“Well,” he said at last, “I guess I’ll never know unless I try.”
It turned out that he did try, and he succeeded, too. Once his decimated clan had effectively joined with another, the novel procedure was instigated and it proved most advantageous. The four legs indeed followed the gathering uprights home, and they hung close by until the meat was gone, as predicted.
Gatherings then became hugely profitable. After the clan took to the forest, almost at once the four legs would find a scent and, with little trouble they would then run some prey aground. Abundant meat was thus found every day.
There were also other benefits to the new arrangement.
The four legs were wonderful sentries. Nothing in the night could creep up on them or, by extension, the clan. They still kept their distance, but the animals inherently understood the advantages too, and they protected them.
Living near the upright men supplied a safe environment in which to raise their young. True, their kill was taken from them, but the meat they were always given was enough, and this was their main concern. They stayed.
There were only five of them at first, a small pack consisting of an alpha couple and three juveniles, two males and one female. Soon enough more pups followed. This event was viewed as a good omen by the clan, and it was.
Then, after several seasons had passed, the four legs one night raised a cry in the dark. The hair-raising shrieks of the long claws were soon heard in the distance. A loud altercation then ensued, very brief but brutal, then all was quiet.
The next morning the boy, who was now a strapping teenager, found at some distance a dead four legs, lacerated by the long claws. Her pack was nowhere to be seen, having run off in angry pursuit in order to harass the retreating perpetrator. The boy was unconcerned by this as they often ran off and, he knew from experience that they would soon return, demanding more meat.
It was then that he discovered the pups, newly orphaned and whimpering in the grass. They were young, hardly weaned, and almost without thinking he took them inside the clan’s fortified enclosure. They became instant celebrities.
Again they were five, four brothers and a sister. They snapped and growled much, but due to their tiny size they posed no real problems. That soon changed.
The two largest males, angling for dominance, became a danger because they consistently wished to demonstrate their fierceness. Within weeks the boy, again without a thought, clubbed them both. That left two males and the female.
These pups grew and in time joined the pack outside the upright’s base. While not really tame, at a distance they interacted much more with the clan, and were even permitted entry into their enclosure if they wished. They were easily tolerated there, if not provoked by being approached too closely or quickly.
Once the young female bore pups, being proud, she brought them in for inspection, and they became instant celebrities, too.
Again the boy, now a man in earnest, clubbed the most vicious babies, and the offspring of the tamer survivors were more tolerant still. This now, entrenched protocol continued unabated. By the fifth generation, taking less than ten full seasons, the newest born pups, while hunting every day in the forest, stayed every night within the enclosure, content if still irascible at times.
The boy, currently a fully mature man, realized they now preferred the company of the uprights to their wilder kin, still ensconced at the encampment’s edge.
Ten more seasons came and went. The boy, having lived nearly thirty years, was now an old man. He had many good dogs by then, and they all loved him.
One day he sat on the great river’s broad bank. The scene was idyllic, shaded with the air neither hot nor cold, but he was thinking of another instance along the water’s edge. That particular time, he recalled, had not been so pleasant.
He was remembering the day it had all started.
Then he heard someone approaching and the strange, upright man appeared, stepping from the brush. He looked exactly the same, as if the passing seasons had no hold on him. They didn’t, of course, for he was a time traveler.
“Well, my friend,” the man said to the one who was once only a lost and hungry boy, “you have done much good work. I knew that you would. Does it please you?”
The old one, pausing to consider, reached over and scratched the ear of his nearest companion, which wagged its tail in response to the tender action. Then the upright realized that none of his dogs, before ever vigilant, had reacted in the least to the stranger’s advance. Yet upon short reflection, given the context, the upright man knew this wasn’t a surprising circumstance.
“I am content,” he announced at last, “for the clan has much meat. And I’m amazed that the dogs now love and protect us. So yes, I’m very pleased that a change was made, and that it was you who found me in the forest so long ago.”
This sentiment caused the time traveler to laugh aloud. He sat near to the upright, as he had done the last time. Then he caressed the dog stretched prone between them.
Again the animal wagged its tail, thumping slowly this time.
“But you were the one who found me,” the tall man pointed out. “You could have given up in the river, or at its bank. Yet you didn’t relent, only bravely pushed on.”
The old man hunched his shoulders, replying, “I was hungry.”
They both enjoyed this banter, each chuckling some.
After a time the old man asked, “What will happen now?”
“More change,” was the time traveler’s answer. “It is always so. It will always be so, forever.”
The old man nodded, knowing it was true.
“But how?” he probed, wishing clarification. “What new changes come? What will happen next?”
The stranger leaned in, again as he had done at their last encounter, and after a bit he answered with, “The upright man is a strong animal, and he thinks. Now he can hunt, not just gather. So, he can provide for, and protect himself well.”
The old one nodded.
“But when an upright man takes himself a family,” came next,
“he will always protect them, too.”
The old one nodded again, adding, “Yes.”
“The families of his kin are also his family,” the stranger next explained, “for they are related, and when many such families join they become a clan, as yours did. Each member of this clan is now also his kin, for they are all connected in some way. So a man will protect his clan as well as his own, for they are the same.”
“Yes,” the old one said once more.
“Now,” the man said, “you have dogs in your family, and they will protect you too, for they are a true part of your clan, as well. Because of them, your clan will become much stronger. Other clans will do this also, and then all clans will grow stronger.”
“I see it,” nodded the old one, but next he saw something else. It was another correlation. He didn’t like its portent, but still he understood it well enough.
“They will squabble with each other for the best meat,” he predicted. “They will fight over the finer ground that has it. And soon they will club each other to acquire it, in order to provide for, and so protect their family.”
“Yes,” the stranger concurred, but then he added, “Yet, at some point certain clans will join together, forming a tribe, and things become very different then.”
The upright man was surprised by this assertion.
“These new tribes, they will not fight each other?” he asked.
“No, they will fight,” was the answer, “that’s not my meaning. I mean that tribes fight for a different reason, a new reason. Tribe members will do battle for those not related to them, for in tribes there are many that aren’t connected by family ties.”
This new concept once more took the old one aback. Who would fight for those who weren’t related? Then he thought of his beloved dogs, so different from the upright men and he understood, again making the proper connection.
Next, once seeing the consequences, the old man expanded upon them. Yes, he easily sensed the broader implications involved. His very large human brain, ancient by current standards still worked, and it worked very well.
“Such new tribes, after growing ever stronger, will then band together?” he asked of the stranger.
“In the far future, yes,” was the answer. “Tribes become states, and states become mighty nations. The strongest of these nations will grow further still, becoming vast empires.”
The old man was amazed by this insightful declaration. It was a great vision, no doubting that. He was humbled.
The stranger slowly stood, and added, “All because of the dogs, my friend. It will happen because you made this vital connection and took them in. Everything now changes because you tried something different by thinking in a new and unexpected way.”
The astounded upright sighed after this lofty pronouncement. He turned to look at the time traveler before him. Again he hunched his shoulders, adding a wistful smile.
“I was hungry,” he reiterated, as if that explained everything.
It did, and the tall stranger then walked away for the last time.
I employ Classical Myth in all of my Epic Fables of Time, by using archetypes of course, but also numbers, both of which are essential to the accepted formula.
For a writer, Myth as a literary tool is all-powerful given it’s usually an unconscious connection, and this unique contrivance opens up vast opportunities in storytelling, for when skillfully practiced Unconscious Myth produces reactions and provokes feelings that may not be readily understood, and that’s a wonderful creative device leading to unexpected situations and outcomes.
Use of this imaginative stratagem as an enhancement to the plot is therefore limited only by the artist’s finesse, so to speak.
To actuate this standard formula, archetypes (often called prototypes) are paramount in Mythology for when these easily recognized stereotypes are utilized they tell the backstory by virtue of their universal nature, therefore the author has no need to explain the underlying significance, for the connotation is already understood by virtue of the existing collective experience.
For example, this very short story from the book TALES of the ELASTIC LIMIT contains several Classical Mythical Aspects, with the worldwide ethos of water and the apple being easily apparent given the prevalent cultural symbolism each already holds.
Other facets are not so obvious, namely the social archetypes displayed, the numbers engaged and then plugged into the formula, and also the numerology used within the paragraph structure itself.
By exploiting the Magic of Myth, it’s expected these commonly understood elements will quickly engender a simple, but also engaging atmosphere within which the ultimate point of the Time Traveling Story can be presented, and I’m hoping the reader will agree.
Here’s the Epic Fable:
The Adroit Advantage Taker
The History of Turning Things Around
There once was a little man whose nearest neighbor was very clever. This neighbor had learned to split trees along the grain, a neat trick considering there were no metal tools. He used wooden wedges pounded by wooden mallets.
If that weren’t enough, he’d learned to join the planks he split. He somehow notched the ends to interlock, as the fingers of your hands could. At last, employing judicious use of rawhide strips, he then invented the storage box.
This opened up lots of possibilities. Thin boxes with a strap made a strong shoulder-held carrying case while thicker boxes could be dragged, again using straps. Dogs could pull a good load this way, or people if one didn’t have a dog.
But the clever man’s neighbor owned a nice ox, and it was always in high demand to pull the plow of his fellow farmers. He was lucky he’d inherited it from his mother’s brother, someone he’d never met. This uncle was from a distant land whose people had first tamed the massive, but now docile beasts of burden.
Years before, his mother as just a child had been taken as a spoil of war, but that conflict had long ago been resolved and the unknown uncle had held no other heirs.
The hereditary ox was a marvel for, although their use was known, they were scarce and therefore hard to come by. The little man’s animal was the first, and so far, the only one in the area. This rendered it a most valuable commodity.
The man’s clever neighbor had made for him a big box for his ox to pull, and the large bovine could drag much with it, also a service of high demand. Yet at some point, the bottom planks of the box would always break apart under the strain. His neighbor had given him many replacements, but they broke, also.
Next he’d tried strapping hides to the bottom of the box, but while helping some, this action had failed to alleviate the problem.
This current state of affairs would soon change though, and all because of him. After much consideration, the little man now thought he knew how to remedy the situation, and it would be easy. Yes, he was very clever too, or so he thought.
Always a heavy thinker, the diminutive man, who was leading his ox that was pulling the box, came to a brook. It was hot out. He stopped to water himself and his beast, and they drank deeply.
“Are you hungry, my friend?” asked a nearby voice.
Both the ox and his startled owner looked to a tall stranger, who sat holding a large apple on the opposite bank of the gentle stream. Then the oddly dressed man held up a sack made of stitched animal skins. It was lumpy and heavy looking.
“I’ve aplenty,” he said with a smile. “They’re large and very sweet. Your ox would think so, too.”
At this time, tasty apples were hard to come by, for not all such trees created palatable fruit. Yet, planting the seeds of those that did never produced an identical crop, instead just growing many variants. And, the knowledge of grafting vegetation, the only way to assure a standardized yield, would remain hidden for eons.
So, a while later the men sat side by side with their feet in the cool water, each one savoring an apple. The ox had already eaten three in rapid succession. Now it was more than content to stand in the brook and slowly chew his juicy cud.
The little man was explaining his big idea to the stranger and, indeed it was a simple one. Why not attach limbs to the bottom of the box? These limbs, he pointed out, would run the length of the structure, and thus keep it off the ground.
This, he was confident, would be a great improvement changing everything. The limbs would then drag the ground, not the ground on the box. What could be easier?
Yet the stranger acted as if he didn’t understand, making a face and shaking his head. Of course, he did understand. He understood many things, and most were concepts the little man beside him would never know, or even know of.
This stranger was a stranger in more ways than one for, unknown to his simple companion, he was in fact a time traveler currently occupied with a critical mission.
He picked up a flat rock and handed it to the little man. Then reaching about, he picked up two short, nearly straight sticks. These he handed over, also.
“Show me,” he requested.
The little man placed the sticks parallel on the ground between them. Then he put the rock atop them. Next he demonstrated, by sliding the rock over the twigs.
“Problem eliminated,” he pronounced, pleased with himself.
“This is good, yes,” the stranger agreed. But then, after taking another bite of his apple, he added, “I see another way, though. It’s a much better way of pulling things.”
“How? he was asked.
The determined time traveler took hold of the rock. Instead of sliding it over the sticks as his counterpart had done, he moved it in the other direction. He pushed it against the twigs, which now twirled neatly underneath it.
“You’d use logs,” he advised. “You and your helper just need to find some way to attach them. Is this not a better solution?”
Making the connection, the little man agreed, and said so.
He soon hurried off most anxious to try out this novel idea, naturally to be claimed as his own innovation. His clever friend, he knew, would somehow work out any complicated details. So, he pulled on his ox that pulled the box.
The now contented stranger, still eating his apple, was smiling.
TIME TRAVEL LITERATURE is always highly scrutinized by its rabid devotees and often labeled mere FANTASY if it lacks ‘Hard Science’ that fails to address the normal, inherent pitfalls of the genre such as Paradox, Alternate Timelines or a set, believable Working Theory and Hardware, etc.
Yet, I often employ this very distinction as MISDIRECTION in the EPIC FABLES on the ELASTIC LIMIT of TIME, by setting up a ‘Fantasy-Like Scenario’ that proves not to be the case when the resolution is later revealed.
I find this Literary Device very effective, adding a larger, unforeseen twist to the overall TIME TRAVEL plot.
For example, here’s the INTRODUCTION to PIERCING the ELASTIC LIMIT.
It seems to portent a very Fantasy-Like story.
Of course, after further discovery, one learns that it's strictly SciFi, after all:
It had been hot of late, oppressively so, with little wind to speak of. The worst of the day’s stifling heat was past, but it was still uncomfortable outside. The summer sun’s abundant radiation, earlier absorbed by the earth itself was now rising, the warmed ground freely releasing its heretofore-trapped energy.
The humidity was thick and constant, hanging in the air. It clung to the body as a glove would, enveloping, embracing. One could easily, physically feel the clammy atmosphere’s presence surrounding you, as if in a sauna.
This seasonal pairing was nothing new, as it was always hot and humid during the summer months. Yet the copious sweat generated by virtue of the high temperatures provided no accompanying cooling relief, for it was so sultry that any produced perspiration failed to evaporate. This was nothing new, either.
Nevertheless, the boys were enjoying themselves. A dozen or so of them were running around the giant magnolia tree centered in the deep lawn of the spacious back yard. Each was shirtless and most were barefoot, although a few youngsters had on flip-flop-type sandals or scruffy tennis shoes with no socks.
All were wearing shorts of some sort, typically hand-made cutoffs of one type or another. Many of these were well-used jeans, relegated to the task because their now absent knees could no longer hold patches, but there were some old sheared-off dress pants too, also well beyond their better days. A few of the boys wore only frayed and faded swimming trunks.
The trunks were dry. Swimming wasn’t in the game plan for the neighborhood boys today. The nearest available pond was a few miles off, and no adult was inclined to drive the dusty road leading there in this stationary mugginess.
Besides, in this heat walking that distance would be quite a trek, especially on the way back. Any respite achieved by swimming soon would be bleached out of you by the return trip. The kids would just be worse off for the effort, not better.
Still, one never knew. There was always the hose or sprinkler in a pinch, but the playing boys were unconcerned. They had a different agenda scheduled for this afternoon.
From the screened porch on the back of the house the man and the woman were looking at the youngsters in the yard below. The oscillating fan on the corner table gave them little comfort. It just blew the steamy air around.
“What,” asked the man, “did this doctor say?”
The man’s daughter turned her head to look at him but he didn’t notice this movement. He still stared towards the boys beyond, hectic and excited in their play. He appeared tired, although she knew there was little reason for him to be.
“There’s no change,” she answered him.
Her father didn’t react to this unhelpful statement. He looked as if he hadn’t heard it, but she knew that he had. He was elderly but still engaged, and he didn’t miss much.
She drew a breath, adding, “He may never change.”
This announcement caused him to purse his thin lips, but again he didn’t respond. How does one respond to such news? It was nothing but a waste, a sad, sad waste.
“The bastards,” he spat at last, as if it were the doctor’s fault.
Finally he turned his head and looked at her, demanding, “How, if they can’t explain it, do they know he will never improve? They can’t even say what’s wrong with him. And they’re the experts?”
She met his eyes, unafraid of the truth. The last few years had steeled her. She would never be the same.
Long ago her sense of surprise had given over to despair, and then that despair, deep and hurtful, to anger. But that was gone now, too. Over time she had become a realist, had been beaten by circumstances into being a realist in order to survive the total ordeal, to continue on in some normal fashion.
Her father knew this, of course. It was another thing that he didn’t like. It was just one of the many things that the man couldn’t reconcile, or even begin to reconcile.
“He’s not backward, I tell you,” he emphasized with a stony face, as if to convince her, which was moot as well as ridiculous. “He’s got insight sometimes, and humor. How do these so-called professionals of yours explain that?”
“No one,” she said slowly, hitting each word more for emphasis than for information, “can explain anything. That’s the point exactly.“ And then, continuing in her normal cadence, she added, firmly but quietly this time, “You know this.”
His reaction was a grimace and a sad shake of his head. He realized that he was beaten, and to no good end. The boy was just an innocent, a bystander of the unknown.
The whole thing was beyond pointless.
She looked out to the huge magnolia, its leafed limbs thick and to the ground, showing no trunk. It dominated the equally expansive back yard, long ago trimmed of any other trees or shrub. The surrounding lawn, large, newly cut and lush from over-watering, framed it nicely.
The boys were busy playing about the tree, screaming and laughing at each other. She knew that he was down there, although she didn’t see him at first. Then she saw his older brother in the branches and knew that he had to be close, and she was once again grateful and relieved that he was always well looked after.
“He’s a wonderful kid,” her irate father said with vehement finality, and mostly for his own benefit.
“So is his brother,” she answered him with equal vigor. “They’re both good children. You know that, also.”
The adults watched from the porch as the young boys, by ones and twos, disappeared from view by melting within the leafy boughs of the giant tree. It was the perfect playhouse, a natural fort they loved and used often. Inside the periphery, the long branches lost more leaves the closer they came to the smooth, ancient trunk of the magnolia, and this created a dream-like setting.
The bulk of the sun’s relentless rays were cut off there but it was easy enough to see within the shadows. It was also a little cooler, the air still and contained, buffeted from the outside heat. It was a sanctuary, and they all relished the calm it engendered.
The branches were numerous but spaced far enough apart to afford easy seating for all of the boys. They were quiet and waiting now, dispersed about and looking like hanging ornaments placed there at random. Most were smiling, either to themselves or with others, in quiet anticipation of what was to come.
The older brother moved to a well-worn seat on a limb near the fort’s center, across from his younger sibling, who sat on another branch. This boy’s arm was curled around the tree trunk, hugging it close, his cheek pressed into the bark. His eyes were vacant, widely open but staring off at nothing.
The younger boy’s face was also unique among the assembly, as currently his alone was unsmiling.
Once seated, the bigger brother extended his arm behind him and kept it there, waiting. Several of the boys then passed an old quart pickle jar between them until it reached his outstretched hand. He slowly raised the jar up and then about, using a steady and deliberate movement for all the boys to see.
The clear glass revealed that the jar was not empty.
The old man now sat alone. His daughter was resting, seated in the next room, stealing a few minutes before her daily dinner routine began. The only sound was emanating from the fan running on the porch, rhythmic and constant.
He was still looking out at the backyard scene but his attention was elsewhere. The man had faced enormity before, and in myriad ways. But this circumstance was different.
Now there was nothing to debate, or fight.
It was true that in his long history he had grown in ways which he had not, could not have conceived beforehand, but that insight gave him little solace now. His extensive life experience, rich and varied far beyond the norm, yielded in this instance no commiserate wisdom. And his best tool, his brilliant mind crammed so full of knowledge, was useless against this onslaught.
Unaware of what he was doing his hands tightened on the arms of the chair, his long fingers gripping, the tips digging in. There had to be a reason, an explanation, there had to be. In his long experience, there always was.
Inside the tree fort, the older boy moved the jar before his brother’s face, breaking into his field of vision. He held the vessel by its hole-poked lid, leaving an unobstructed view of the large insect inside. It crawled, its six legs slipping, with a deliberate but awkward pace about the contained circumference of the pickle jar.
For the first time the younger boy became engaged. He first intently peered at the bug behind the glass and then about at the other boys, as any normal kid might do, to see if they shared his sense of awe. They did, but for a different reason.
“Can you do it?” his brother whispered. “Can you do it now? Can you call the angel here, now?”
“Oh, sure,” the smaller boy answered him. He also whispered, and adding a nod of his head he followed with, “It’s easy to do it now. It gets easier every time.”
“He says yes,” his big brother announced in a louder voice, to everyone. This anticipated news was well received by all those present. Each of them loved to see it.
The older boy adjusted his grip to palm the jar proper, while he used his other hand to remove the lid. His sibling uncurled from the ancient tree trunk and extended both of his hands outward. He interlocked his fingers above the open rim.
The brother holding the pickle jar next shook it with a slight but firm flick of his wrist. The large bumblebee inside stopped its ponderous routine at this abrupt interruption. After a few seconds it tested its wings with a buzz, then took flight and in slow circles rose into the younger boy’s caged fingers.
The elder brother then leaned back and removed the now empty jar. He waited, as all the anticipating boys did, with gripped attention. He also loved to watch this show.
The insect, now buzzing in earnest, bounced about inside his kid brother’s palms, investigating the new area created therein. The bumblebee was easily visible to everyone through the gaps in his fingers but most of the youngsters adjusted their stance some, so as not to miss anything. It would not be long now, they all knew.
In the house the old man’s daughter was restless, her magazine doing little to distract her from her current demeanor. Tossing it to the side table, she saw a framed picture there of her parents in an earlier age, and realized once more how much she missed her mother. They had been very close, but more so her mother had always handled her father as no one else had been able to do.
Her now absent parent had been the strongest person that she’d ever known. The woman had been unshakeable. Nothing had ever taken command of her destiny, despite the tempestuous nature of the life that she and her husband had long shared together.
Against all odds the intrepid pair had never been defeated, but now that her mother was gone, it seemed as if her beloved but tormented father was slipping away, also.
So it was he that she feared for most now, not her sons. No, she knew the boys would make their way despite the difficulties. The brothers had a suitable trust fund in place, and future contingencies had been planned for.
True, her younger child proved more problematic, but she knew that both of them would cope in their own way in the long run. The woman was not so sure of the old man on the porch. She had never known him to be so bitter, so hateful of life.
Nothing in the past had ever affected her parent in such a devastating and relentless way. It was not like him. He was lost in his misery, but she was at a loss as well, in terms of helping him alleviate his now endless suffering.
Yet she was the one who had to be strong now, not only for her boys’ sake but also for her father’s. She had to be, for there was no one else left to care. Once more she yearned for her mother, the firmest friend that she’d ever known.
Within the tree fort the anticipation was palpable. All eyes were glued on the young boy. His arms were held aloft, his concentration still focused within his fingers that contained the slowly hovering, buzzing bumblebee.
Suddenly but almost imperceptibly at first, the scene began to change. The atmosphere about the boy’s hands became distorted and the visual detail there was lost, replaced by an ever-growing brilliance that slowly permeated outward. The temperature within the tree’s limbs dropped a good ten degrees.
Every hair on every boy’s neck now stood to attention as they watched, and all of them, as if each rehearsed to do so, held their collective breath at the unfolding spectacle.
As the distortion grew to encompass the youngster, the sound began. It was a shrill, sharp note that increased in volume until it approached a near painful level. Then, with a pop the relentless tone ceased and the distortion became complete, enveloping what had been the boy but what was now only a blur of sharpened radiance in the area of where he once was.
The new image then started to form. Faint at first, it quickly drew richer in detail as the seconds passed by. The angel emerged just where the boy had been, shimmering with slow motions within the ever-undulating distortion.
The figure’s lips were moving but no words were projected, and none heard. It looked about in a distracted sort of way, as if it were searching for someone or something, all while the muted mouth opened and closed. The angel’s dark hair, thick and unruly, radiated with light as his large head slowly articulated.
The image, now floating in space, was striking to see, but imprecise. The fluttering likeness resembled the reflection that would occur within the ripples of a wake-filled pond. Yet it appeared backlit, starkly framed within the glimmering brilliance.
It was this illumination that the old man on the back porch first noticed. Out of the corner of his eye it pulled him from his absorption, his defeated musings. He leaned forward in his chair, all of his concentration now engaged by the piercing light filtering through the inner depths of the massive magnolia.
The leaves of the giant tree were in motion he noted, moving in a slight, erratic pattern even though the wind was not blowing. The juxtaposition was eerie and seemed out of place. The twitching foliage danced in perfect syncopation to the droning beat set by the oscillating fan still purring behind him.
Without his knowing why, his heart began to race. Responding to the adrenaline already flooding through his body, the hair on the back of his neck shot up. Yet his attention, now riveted was in fact slowed, his focus piercing, honing in.
Then the realization struck him.
His daughter was still in the next room when she heard his anguished cry, guttural and stilted. It scared her. She thought that he was having some sort of an attack, perhaps his heart, she feared.
He was standing when she reached the threshold, still looking toward the tree. His face, handsome even given his advanced age, was taut. He turned to look at her as she leaned against the doorjamb, a horrified mask now framing her own features.
“No,” he said in reassurance, “I’m alright.”
This accomplished nothing, for she was still upset. But as she glared at him searching for an explanation, she observed a change in his demeanor. He became calmer, his aspect relaxed.
Then he did something, something that he had not done in ages. In hindsight, she had thought she that she would never see him do it again. Her father smiled at her.
“Everything’s going to be fine,” he said.
“What do you mean?” she asked him, incredulous.
He turned his head, once more glancing at the tree. The strange light within it had faded away, and its large leaves were again unmoving. It all made perfect sense to him now, it all fit into place.
“I understand,” he answered. He crossed his long arms, at last satisfied. Then he added, “I know what’s happening."
Epic Fable Fans,
Well, this was interesting:
I'm reissuing my books and eBooks with revised website info, so I Googled myself in order to compare any 'before and after' effect in the list of links, and this image came up.
It's quite the departure from the last time I checked when there was just one picture of me above the listed links (the one I used on all of my books) and I was unaware of how many pictures of me in this Timeframe now exist within the public domain.
It's apparent I need to keep a closer look for if many more creep up, to be safe I'll have to redeploy into another Current Reality, something that I have occasionally been forced to do as explained in all the books.
Ha, now I guess it's just a matter of Time...
I'm posting this for my good friend, English author Eloise De Sousa, who is very interested in getting children to read, as am I.
Her adult books are great also, so please help her in our combined quest.
For some reason the book marker didn't load but you can get one by following the included link, thanks:
Blast Off with Space Dust - Day Four
We have landed in a time and place where tales of the Elastic Limit would entertain and inform the likes of Little One to no end. With Big Ox steering us clear of any dangers, what might we see whilst we visit this amazing place?
Though Space Dust can’t merit itself with the title of epic fable, the nature of this story encompasses the compassion of human nature and how we, as adults, can assist and teach the young how to overcome adversity with that empathy. If Big Ox started out with the intention of being an adult presence for Little One without any thought given to Little One’s dilemma of missing Mum, the day would have been stretched out in agony and poor Little One would never have enjoyed an adventure out in space. In fact, there would be no story to tell without Big Ox steering us in the right direction.
Forever searching for Mum, our little friend takes comfort in the companionship and kindness demonstrated in Big Ox’s patience. Their adventure through space reaps the reward of adventure, education, fun and overcoming the pain of separation.
And now, as a reward for your continuity through time and space with our little adventure, how about a freebie? We all need to mark our place in this world, whether it is in what we do, or where we mark our reading page in a book. So, to help that along, here is a downloadable copy of a book marker with Big Ox and Little One in their special canoe.
Thank you for stopping by and finding out a bit more about this special story crafted for the local libraries to support their Summer Reading Challenge. Please click on the link below if you haven’t already ordered your copy of Space Dust.
Click here to order your copy of Space Dust.
Do send in your pics and reviews of the book, or any of the others. I’d love to share them with the rest of the readers.
If you would like to find out more about my books or about me, please click on any of the links below:
Thank you for joining me. Tomorrow, we will be visiting Trent’s Worldwhere a smile is always included in his week. See you there!
Visit my author page at http://eloiseds.com
Follow my blog at http://eloisedesousa.wordpress.com
I write EPIC FABLES and have covered that term in a past blog dealing with Literary Jargon (https://www.howardloring.com/blog/literary-jargon-defines-the-epic-fable).
Today’s endeavor concerns yet another unique term, the ELASTIC LIMIT of TIME, encompassed in all of my Time Travel books and used in each of their titles.
For my purposes, the phrase ELASTIC LIMIT is also jargon, for it has a specific, technical meaning pertinent to the theory that I employ in all of my EPIC FABLES.
These EPIC FABLES explain that in order to successfully Time Travel, one must first understand the true Nature of Time, so that it may be manipulated to permit the phenomenon mostly, but not always, by employing hardware designed for the purpose, all of which is fully covered in each of the books.
My interpretation of the true Nature of Time has also been discussed in a past blog, found here: https://www.howardloring.com/blog/the-true-nature-of-time.
Both this theory and the hardware involved are therefore encapsulated within the set jargon of the ELASTIC LIMIT, but the term as I use it has another, broader meaning, given the phrase is also a Metaphor for the Human Imagination.
Utilizing this interpretation, the novel BEYOND the ELASTIC LIMIT, could also be named BEYOND YOUR IMAGINATION.
As well, the novel PIERCING the ELASTIC LIMIT could be entitled BLOWING YOUR IMAGINATION AWAY, while TALES of the ELASTIC LIMIT, holding twelve Time Traveling short stories, could be interpreted as FEEDING YOUR IMAGINATION.
As an aside, the image attached to this blog is a wall painting that I created in a Past Reality, one that depicts the exact moment the elusive ELASTIC LIMIT of TIME is breached, and the small red object above my arm is the Containment Room, an integral part of the machinery involved, which is fully explained in the books.
My EPIC FABLES on the ELASTIC LIMIT of TIME utilize MYTH, the set rules of storytelling, and mostly I adhere to the system described at length by the late Joseph Campbell, who gleaned his basic points from various sources that came before him.
According to the predominant theory, MYTH as a literary tool is all-powerful because it’s an unconscious connection, or can be, that is.
Given this hidden aspect, MYTH moves one in unseen ways and this fact is most satisfying in literature, for it can be exploited to astonishing effect, slapping you in the face as it were, or coming from left field, especially if you play the established formula counter to form, which is what I do in all of my TIME TRAVELING books.
The conventional rules of MYTH are now well recognized but no egghead in some Ivory Tower dictated them, rather they were slowly honed through vast durations of TIME spent crafting the Art of Lore.
After all, spoken language predates written by some five millennia and that massive span of centuries engendered more than enough repetition and trial and error to fully perceive what techniques are most efficient in terms of gripping and engaging, effective storytelling.
That’s why when written language did emerge the rules were already set, and Homer, for example (who in reality may have been several different people), is preeminent not because he invented the craft of storytelling, but because he had learned these time tested lessons well and employed them very early on to great effect, at least in Western Literature.
Indeed, all good storytellers use MYTH whether they realize it or not, for if it’s an alluring tale the MYTH is always present, and that's why it can affect you as it does, in ways that you may not understand nor be comfortable with, etc.
Ever experienced a movie, play or TV show with great production values, suitable acting and direction yet the effort was just not satisfying, for you felt it was somehow lacking?
Chances are the MYTH therein was ill used, perhaps the stereotypes mismatched or not resolved properly, and often the numbers involved are off, a huge but basic mistake.
Numbers are VERY important in MYTH, again an unconscious commodity that can be manipulated ad infinitum, and as a literary device is only self-limited for an author.
I’ll discuss what I call the ‘magic numbers’ of MYTH at length in a later discourse, but for now I’ll stick to the fundamentals:
MYTH, being unconscious relates the back-story, and this practice relieves the author from the burden of doing so, which tends, I believe, to bog things down, or can, at least.
In my opinion, as a writer you can’t flow if you’re stuck in minutia, and given I construct TIME TRAVELING page-turning adventures, I prefer instead to engage the awesome power inherent in MYTH, thus alleviating this normally abundant technical problem altogether.
As well, MYTH is universal and so can be applied universally:
Everyone has been unlucky in love, hated the job or felt to be at the end of their rope, but most have also had hope, joy at times and occasionally at least, a sense of purpose or duty; these are basic human situations innately understood by all.
To actuate the formula, there are many set ‘types’ in MYTH, prototypes or so-called archetypes, stereotypical figures that everyone can easily recognize, and so their basic motivations are already comprehensively established by the nature of who they are.
These can be such universally recognizable characters as the hero or villain, the innocent victim, the wise one who helps (and this could just be knowledge or magic gleaned along the way), the comic or trickster, the sidekick or warrior, etc.
Likewise, to be effective as Literature, any unfolding action (the quest or journey, overcoming some obstacle, any comedy or tragedy involved) must also follow the set dictates of MYTH, and again I’ll deal with these various aspects on another occasion.
The point is that successfully engaging MYTH inherently enhances the plot instead of impeding it, ensuring an appealing and satisfying tale, and this enriching protocol is always generously applied to all of my EPIC FABLES on the ELASTIC LIMIT of TIME.
Literature has jargon, the specialized language of any Discipline.
Therefore Literature, as a Discipline, holds its own terminology:
A Fable is a simple story with a moral, or a moral lesson.
An Epic is a bigger story with a greater point.
My Epic Fables on the ELASTIC LIMIT OF TIME are both.
A Short Story is just that, a contained episode, while a Novel has a deeper plot plus character development.
Conversely, in an Epic the plot itself is secondary, and the real storyline is how the characters themselves change, for it's not what they do exactly, but who they become as a result of what they do that’s the paramount point of the endeavor, jargon wise, at least.
The circumstances depicted may be different, but in any Epic, the situation itself is always transferable, and so always recognizable.
And Epics by definition do relate such universal, human transformations, for every reader, no matter who they are can successfully relate to them, and ever in ways that will be easily understood.
Given we all experience these same conditions it's inevitable, humanity wise, and always has been.
After all, everyone has felt distress, has lost at love, faced daunting obstacles or held the onerous view that they were defeated and looking at the proverbial end of the rope.
Equally, almost everyone has been happy, felt joy, experienced love, had no qualms of the future or sadness in the present.
As such, in my Time Traveling books, I find no need to overly describe such personal circumstance when everyone is aware of them already, by virtue of an inner, empathic connection.
So, my EPIC FABLES are simply written, but soon unfold to explore and encompass these larger complex issues.
And speaking more jargon, all of my Epic Fables are also Redemptive Tales, dealing with basic philosophical concepts such as truth and justice, good and evil, “Might makes Right vs. Right makes Might” or if a bad thing can ever be used for a good purpose.
As in any Epic Mythology, flawed characters are forced to evolve as a result of their quests, gleaning insight into these universal human constructs to which everyone can relate.
Each must grapple with difficult personal choices, and hard decisions forced by dire circumstances always yield unforeseen consequences, challenges that must be met and overcome, and all contained within a page-turning adventure often utilizing true history.
Yet, as in any Fable, the narrative style is simplistic, with the action being layered with fast-paced sequences often presented through flashbacks and proceeding from different points of view.
But in the end, each major character learns a moral lesson, and develops a personal morality, again universal conditions which are explored through a simply written narrative.
And still more Literary Jargon:
The novel, BEYOND THE ELASTIC LIMIT: AN EPIC FABLE employs classically defined Myth, a story dealing with real or imagined ancient gods who hold dominion over human activities.
Also employing Myth, the novel, PIERCING THE ELASTIC LIMIT: AN EPIC FABLE can also be defined more properly as Folklore, fiction based on real characters, as well as Legend, traditionally considered stylized portrayals of actual historic events.
TALES OF THE ELASTIC LIMIT: EPIC FABLES contains twelve Short Stories, again employing Myth, Folklore and Legend.
These Time Traveling books can be read in any order, all being stand-alone Historical Fiction, Adventure, Mystery, Detective Tale, Saga and Love Story, yet all of them relate and explain the others, therefore the reading sequence chosen determines the order in which the hidden backstory connections are revealed.
Of course, despite any jargon employed, the ultimate proof of good storytelling always rests in the believability of the final product, and whether the attempt is an enjoyable experience as opposed to a heavily laden, burdensome narrative requiring firm effort to complete.
So, as both Epics and Fables, my Time Traveling yarns on the ELASTIC LIMIT are by nature easy reading, and cover interesting and eclectic subject matter unique to the established genre specifically, as well as Literature generally.
At least Jargon wise, that is.
TIME TRAVEL involves History, it can’t be avoided; sometimes it’s concocted in order to fit the story line, but I take a different approach.
My EPIC FABLES on the ELASTIC LIMIT of TIME, two Novels and a compilation of Short Stories, employ true HISTORY placed within an authentic context, and the situations described therein are all accurately portrayed.
The best response I've gotten from using this protocol are from those who don't, as a rule, read HISTORY and are thereby un-expectantly pleased by this aspect, which after all, is only secondary to the overall TIME TRAVELING plot.
Here’s a partial list of Historically known figures and documented events I've covered, with the appropriate book title (BEYOND the ELASTIC LIMIT, PIERCING the ELASTIC LIMIT or TALES of the ELASTIC LIMIT) capitalized:
Neolithic (Ancient Humans):
BEYOND, chapters 1, 3;
TALES, Part Three (chapters 9, 10, 11, 12)
Early Human Society Forms:
BEYOND, chapter 1, 2, 4, 5;
TALES chapters 10, 11, 12
Religious Belief Codified:
BEYOND, chapters 2, 5, 10;
PIERCING, chapter 5
Rise of Agriculture:
BEYOND, chapters 2, 5;
TALES, chapter 11
BEYOND, chapters 2, 5;
TALES, chapters 9, 10, 11
Discovery of the Wheel:
TALES, chapter 10
Written Language Begins:
TALES, chapter 9
Language as Symbols:
PIERCING Part Two (chapters 4, 5, 6);
TALES, chapters 6, 9
Archimedes of Syracuse
(Higher Mathematics, Scientifically Applied Warfare):
TALES, chapter 8
Julius Caesar vs. Pompey the Great (Rise of Empires):
PIERCING, Part One (chapters 1, 2, 3)
Henry VIII (Age of Modern Sailing Ships, Onset of Science):
TALES, chapter 7
Politics of Elizabethan England:
PIERCING, Part Two (chapters 4, 5, 6)
Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare
(Classical Literature Established for the Masses):
PIERCING, Part Two (chapters 4, 5, 6)
Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Felix Mendelssohn & others
(Classical Music Rises to the Fore):
PIERCING, Part Three (chapters 7, 8, 9)
Thomas Jefferson (Age of Fossils, Modern Higher Education Established):
TALES, chapter 6
Albert Einstein (Science Accepted as an Established Discipline):
TALES, chapter 5
History of Commerce:
BEYOND, chapters 2, 4;
TALES, chapter 9, 11
EXPLORING HUMAN CONCEPTS:
Good and Evil:
All of BEYOND
Business Run Amuck:
All of PIERCING
Evolving Human Society:
TALES, Parts Two and Three (chapters 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
TIME TRAVEL EXPLAINED:
Theory and Hardware Needed:
BEYOND, chapters 7, 8, 9;
PIERCING, chapters 9, 10, 11, 12;
TALES, chapters 2, 3, 4
TALES, chapter 2
Loops in Time:
BEYOND, chapters 10, 11, 12;
PIERCING, Part One (chapters 1, 2, 3, 4);
TALES, chapter 2
BEYOND, all chapters;
PIERCING, chapter 12;
TALES, chapters 2, 3
As a writer of TIME TRAVEL books, I employ my own, unique definition of the NATURE of TIME, one neatly couched within the parameters of what I term the ELASTIC LIMIT.
The genre of TIME TRAVEL clearly involves two separate aspects, language and usage (plainly understood terminology as opposed to skill in employing such) but beyond these components, for a basic starting point of any lucid discussion on the subject, TIME as a concept must first be defined, for doing so makes or breaks any story’s scenario and therefore its credibility.
While few think they can fully understand the minutia of TIME itself, given personal experience of TIME passing, most people do believe that they know more or less what it involves.
Yet the FOURTH DIMENSION is never one set, fixed phenomena that acts in a standard fashion, and that’s where the common confusion resides, at least in reference to the aforementioned items, that is.
For historically, the flow of TIME has been understood as existing in two distinct ways not just one, and as each example acts very differently, most problems involving TIME TRAVELING plots stem from trying to mesh these two conflicting points of view, or not being aware of any distinction between them in the first place.
I’ll adhere to this standard interpretation, simplistic but telling:
Is TIME a Loaf of Bread, or is it a River?
Or, instead of River insert Hallway with multiple doors, or a Roadmap holding many connecting routes.
So, does TIME ‘flow’ in a point to point sequence, one PRESENT after another PRESENT and so on, as the recurring pieces of sliced bread in a loaf,
Does TIME act more like a River, where any current taken then becomes the PRESENT and so leads to various other possible pathways, with unending potential PRESENT choices up for grabs depending only on the several directions you could take?
Once the NATURE of TIME is defined using this simple distinction, the listed concerns then become moot, for any apparent theoretical conflicts are no longer in play, or at least they can be explained in a rational way that enhances the plot as opposed to using plots that under scrutiny fail to pass the test of credibility.
As such, any good TIME TRAVELING story can be filtered through this lens, and the lesser examples can be as well, with the differences thereby becoming apparent and understandable, as opposed to just being confusing, or simply boring.
But using either of these two standard definitions always has inherent disadvantages, leading to pesky things like PARADOX or unworkable theory or hardware, so I take another approach to avoid such pitfalls inherent to the genre:
TIME is a Bundt Cake, circular in NATURE.
Or rather, it’s much like an unending Corkscrew, still possessing a liner flow and direction, but no longer within a single, set dimension.
As well, according to my Theory, a moment in TIME is not static but in constant, erratic flux, always expanding and contracting within an exact threshold known as the ELASTIC LIMIT, and this fact coupled with the Circular Nature of TIME permits TIME TRAVEL, given your Hardware is up and properly running.
In my books, all EPIC FABLES on the elusive ELASTIC LIMIT of TIME, many other things are of course covered, which I’ll expand on in future posts, but these different NATURE of TIME distinctions are always taken into account, and so they aren’t a distraction to the overall narrative as experienced in so many books involving this most interesting subject.
The man, the mystery, the time traveler, and epic fable author