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Prose by 91816119

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November 2, 2010
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He went to sleep a man and awoke a jaguar. The feline form felt like coming home, and as soon as his eyes opened he could see that he was indeed back where he belonged. Sunlight filtered through the canopy of leaves above, splashing across his mottled coat in warm patches. He took in a breath of humid air, held it, savored it.

Nothing here but the buzz of insects and the call of monkeys. The time of searching had come. He swished his long tail back and forth behind him as he padded across the damp soil, reassured by its presence that he had entered that state of twilight reality where answers could be found.

His pink nose twitched, drawing in the jungle's rich scents. Under the earthy smell of decaying leaves was another, a distress call sent up by nature which he must answer. He followed it until he found the clearing.

It was a lifeless place, black and smoky but no longer dangerous after the passing of the fire. The game trail he trod opened into it accompanied by a pair of decorations that he took several moments to study. The skulls of the buck and doe were stark and clean, but there were no other traces of the bodies. He stepped onto the ash-laden soil, sending tiny black puffs of fine dust into the air with each pass of his massive paws.

A single cloven-hoofed trail led away from the living jungle. Deep tracks overlapped the delicate marks until his eyes rested upon his quarry at last. The soft brown eyes of the marsh doe regarded him for but a moment before she was off, embraced by the cloak of ash sent up by her hoofbeats. He pushed himself to follow her, knowing full well that this was the body of a sprinter while hers was designed to run a marathon.

Long-legged bounds took her to the bank of a rushing river. She balked, ears flicking and eyes rolling as she turned to face her pursuer. The land on the other side of the river was green and healthy, preserved from the wrath of the fire. He knew what he had to do. She must go there, where it was safe. He would use her fear to herd her away from this dead place.

The doe leapt out of reach before he was close enough to touch her, rising into the sky above him and hanging there suspended with her spindly legs outstretched like the crucified Christ. Blue feathers erupted from her body until they consumed it and he could see her no more in the storm of blue that surrounded her. When they fell away they revealed her reborn state, the gralha-azul with its brilliant sky-blue plumage and clever eyes masked in black. The bird beat its wings against the still air, soaring away from the place filled with life to head deeper into the charred wasteland. He followed.

She would not look down on him as he struggled to keep up. She only had eyes for the flock that lay ahead of her. She merged with them and was lost in the group of blue-and-black birds. Still he followed, setting a steady rhythmic pace with his short and powerful legs.

His tongue lolled from his mouth as his paws slammed into the ash again and again and again. Here there were no trees to block the sun's rays from striking his golden coat. The river at his back, there was nothing but flat black land up ahead. Flat land that terminated in a cliff's edge which the flock effortlessly soared past.

He watched them go. A village lay at the base of the cliff, a lively place untouched by the fire. The flock descended on the market where people walked and bought and sold, as they did on every other day. They touched ground in an explosion of feathers and grew until their forms towered over those of the people surrounding them. Monsters with the heads of caimans and the bodies of young men and women took their place and pounced hungrily on the villagers.

Screaming filled the air as the monsters stalked and killed the defenseless. The humans ran into their homes, and then the men stepped out with guns to protect their families and the tides turned. The monsters fled before them, or attacked in a desperate attempt to save themselves. They were cut down in a volley of bullets, few surviving to limp their way out of the village.

From his cliffside perch he felt a gentle breeze tickle his ear. A voice spoke to him.

Have you seen enough?

Reality flooded into Mateo's waking mind with such force that he gasped and sat up in bed, though exhaustion quickly pulled him back down. Deep calming breaths helped ease the transition. Worried that he may have disturbed his wife, he turned his head and was relieved to see her still sleeping beside him.

There would be no more sleep for him tonight. His mind was restless, picking the vision apart and trying to decode its various components. The room was cold, and the snowflakes fell outside like ashes spewed from an icy volcano. He did not need to see past the window blinds to know it was still snowing. It had snowed yesterday, it was snowing now, and it would snow tomorrow. Mateo missed the jungle, but his wife would miss her own home more and that was reason enough for him to stay here.

He had no doubt that the doe was the missing girl. She must still be alive, and in trouble, just as her parents feared. A pang of grief hit him as he thought again of the suffering his friends were going through. Many young werewolves lose their way when they first begin to experiment with their shapeshifting abilities. At sixteen the life of a rogue must seem liberating for some, especially those who feel isolated and wish to pull away from the grasp of their parents.

He hoped they would not ask him to recount the vision to them. He always warned the people he helped that these visions were complex and personal puzzles, but they usually wanted to hear them anyway. Then they would scratch their heads, ask him if he had the answer to the question they had brought him, and go away feeling disappointed with the vagueness of the interpretation. Sometimes he wondered if it would not be better to never have been given the shaman's gift.

Where was the girl? Who was she with? Could they help her before it was too late? The overall feeling he got from the vision was dire, and indeed he had told the parents that an answer, however clear, may not be enough to save her.

Mateo analyzed the symbols presented to him for days afterward, resting and meditating while the energy drained to summon the vision replenished itself. While the girl's father searched for her he provided her mother with the interpretation. She thanked him, tears in her eyes and prepared for the worst even as she hoped her daughter would be found before giving in to the wrong desires.

The girl's body was identified the next day. She was found in a small pack of young werewolves executed by the Pack's Hunters in a park, where they had hidden after savagely mauling a jogger. The gun is the only way out after a rogue exhibits such behavior. Very few are given second chances.

Mateo attended the joint funeral held for the wayward teens. Their ashes were released into the wind to mix with the snow and return to nature. He could not bring himself to look at the girl's parents for fear of seeing the disappointment in their eyes.

That night he lay awake in bed, asking God what use a vision was if it only revealed an unchangeable future.
For the :iconyouasthenarrator: music prompt: Silent Hill - Never Forgive Me, Never Forget Me [link]
Character: Mateo Azevedo, the modern shaman [link]
When a rebellious teenager belonging to a werewolf couple who are friends runs away from home the parents come to Mateo for help, hoping his vision-dreams can tell them where she is.

This is a very pretty and also slightly creepy song. I listened to it on loop for 67 times while writing this, which amounts to something like 2 ½ hours. I was pretty tired of hearing it by then. :XD:

This is my first attempt to write about Mateo’s spirit abilities. He was born with the ability to have ghosts contact him and give him messages in dreams, but after defeating Sombra he gained other abilities. Several beings visited him in a dream and told him that they would allow him to ask questions about the past, present, or future, which would be sent to him encoded in symbolic dream-visions. He believes these beings were angels sent by God, but some other members of the Pack are less convinced of their pureness of origin or intention.

I love writing about dreams. =D Many of my stories are based on my own dreams, but this one is not. I simply put together the symbolism in a way which I thought would make the most sense to Mateo based on his background. His visions nearly always take place in the jungle, where he is in his jaguar form.

I have been told that my endings can be too abrupt. I tried to flesh it out with enough detail on things such as how he perceives his own abilities and is effected by the emotions of others, but I’m still going through a bit of writer’s block. The last piece of prose I wrote was on the 19th. :XD:
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:iconsilverinkblot:
The first line is fantastic. It grabs the attention right away and makes you keep reading on. Love it :D

Honestly, you totally sold me into this world - I didn't question why he had become a jaguar, he WAS a jaguar, no explanation needed. You wrote the natural world beautifully; there was so much detail and texture and I would have been happy to keep reading that alone.

I was a bit confused later down the line - did the deer become monsters with blue feathers, or are those two seperate creatures? I think that could be a tad clearer. The transfer from dream to reality was just a little abrupt, but it still works just fine.

I feel like I've stumbled into a bigger story, so any missing details I can chalk up to that I think (like how long he's had this power - the hero origin story essentially :XD:). You've written a solid take on a character with dream-visions and done a great job at avoiding cliche with it. Awesome job :D
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:iconsilverinkblot:
SilverInkblot Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Featured in my last journal of the year: [link] :D
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:icondailylitdeviations:
DailyLitDeviations Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2011
Your wonderful literary work has been chosen to be featured by DailyLitDeviations in a news article that can be found here [link]
Be sure to check out the other artists featured and show your support by :+fav:ing the News Article.
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:iconpanthershade:
Panthershade Featured By Owner May 11, 2011  Student Writer
This is cool!!!
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner May 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks. =)
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:iconpanthershade:
Panthershade Featured By Owner May 11, 2011  Student Writer
You're welcome! You can check out some of my stuff if you want :)
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:iconravensscar:
RavensScar Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
This is very nicely done. Your imagery is great, and the entire piece has a strange, surreal flow to it. The answers - and the questions they raise - at the end do an excellent job of rounding the piece off, too.
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. =)
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:iconravensscar:
RavensScar Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
You're welcome. :)
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:iconfakekraid:
FakeKraid Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
I have to say I'm pleasantly impressed with this piece. You handled the imagery with panache and skill. But, even more importantly, you didn't overplay the emotion. You allowed the events to speak for themselves, giving the reader a chance to empathize with Mateo on his own terms, and not on yours, and the reward is a piece that quickly draws in the reader and holds him there for the duration. I would happily read more about this character, and if you want any detailed suggestions about your prose, I'll try to help as I can.

I am just getting started on prose-writing myself, but I am quite good at analysis and suggestion - it's the nature of my education. I'm very much at home with expository and persuasive writing, but all at sea in the task of writing engaging prose. I wish I had your talent, but the next best thing is to help you improve yours.
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much. =) The other stories featuring him are collected here [link] if you think you would find them interesting.
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