The Three Feathers - The Magnificent Journey of Joshua Aylong

BOOK: The Three Feathers - The Magnificent Journey of Joshua Aylong
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Other books by Stefan Bolz:


The Fourth Sage

Dark World
— A Novella

The Dawning of the True Self

The Gate of Time


In Progress:

The Fourth Sage — Revelations

A Path Across Time

Georgia and the Dragon — The Complete Read Aloud Book


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The Three Feathers


Copyright 2012 by Stefan Bolz


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form, except for brief quotations in reviews, without the written permission of the author.


2nd Edition


Cover by Matt Maley



For You



“The goal of the journey is neither the journey itself nor its end. It is but the companions we collect on the way.”

– Joshua Aylong



Once upon a time, a young rooster lived on a farm on the eastern shore, somewhere between the Tundra-like highlands to the south and the lush low grasslands of the north. His name was Joshua Aylong. Joshua led a comfortable life watching over the hens in his coop, protecting them from predators and announcing each new day at precisely 4:45 AM. His feathers were red as the sun rising over the mountains; a deep red on top and a more orange color toward his chest. His tail feathers had a bluish hue to it which gave him the appearance, depending on where the sun hit them, of a tropical bird rather than a rooster. The hens loved him for his striking colors and he, being a somewhat smart and self aware bird, knew it and loved every minute of it, basking in the attention. You could see him more often than not walk around inside the pen, his head held high, strutting his stuff among the hens and chicks of his flock.

But at night when all was still, when the busy pecking and roosting and strutting around quieted down, when the last rays of sunlight disappeared behind the Great Lake to the east, Joshua felt a longing inside him, a longing he could neither explain nor talk about nor even fully grasp. It was just there whenever the noises of the day ebbed down to stillness; when the rustling and bustling inside the coop stopped and all was quiet. The longing was like a pull or perhaps a push at times. From where he did not know. It dawned on him one night, somewhere between midnight and 2AM when all he could hear was the distant waves breaking onto the shore in the moonlit night—it dawned on him that he was looking for something. Something bigger. Something wider. Something …vast. Something more than what was in front of him each day and every day after that day.

At that moment, when the moon stood high over the darkened hills and the silhouettes of the other chickens in the coop were all black against the window, he decided that he had to go and find whatever it was he was looking for. It all seemed very clear to him. He thought he would just stand on the highest perch inside the pen, spread his wings and in a combination of jumping and pushing his wings down hard several times he would fly out of the pen and land on the other side. From there he would just walk.

But two minutes and twelve second after he first had the thought of leaving, he became distracted by a noise from outside the coop and he forgot all about it and, suddenly tired, he fell into a dreamless sleep from which he woke at 4:44 AM, like clockwork, to call out the next day.

Nothing noteworthy happened over the next few months, at least nothing that was a departure from the daily routine. Joshua had forgotten all about that clear and cloudless night and his decision to begin his journey. Only once in a while, sometimes while picking for food or settling a quarrel between some of the hens or while strutting around in the pen showing off his colors, you could watch him stop suddenly as if trying to grasp a distant thought, a fleeting feeling or a trace of memory from somewhere. Then it was gone and he continued with whatever it was he was doing at that moment. Until the dreams began.

They were foggy at first, indistinct and you could barely call them dreams. More like mysterious clouds that were solid only on the edges. But over time an image carved itself out of the fog like a figure sculpted from clay by invisible hands. Joshua began to see what looked like an immense cave. The massive walls of it extended for miles in all directions and one could only see the lower parts of them going upward toward the ceiling that was in itself invisible and lay in mystery and nothingness. As he walked, all by himself in the vast cave feeling the ever changing ground under his talons—from areas of very fine, almost white sand to large plates of flat rock covered with silvery gray moss—he seemed to move toward a certain point far in the distance. Each time he tried to focus on what it was he was looking at, he woke up. Each night he tried anew and in time he was able to get closer and closer to the shape in the distance. He began to think about the dream during the day and the hens in the pen began to talk among themselves about his absent mindedness and his, at times, lack of focus on what he was doing. Once during an especially vivid dream he thought he saw a large feather in the distance but the image faded almost instantly, leaving him wanting it even more.

During this time he started to peck at the other hens more frequently and more harshly than he intended to, not knowing where this sudden increase in frustration came from. His daily tasks meant less and less to him and the joys he usually experienced during the day faded and were soon exchanged for a sense of hopelessness and despair. “What’s the use,” he thought more often than not. The hens swore that the colors of his feather coat became less brilliant during that time and his proud and at times almost charismatic presence lessened to the point of non existence. He wanted for the dream to stop. He wanted to just be left alone rather than wander every night endlessly through the vastness of the cave moving slowly toward something in the distance that seemed to stay out of reach forever. Sometimes during the dream he thought he should turn around or go in another direction but there didn’t seem to be another place in the tremendous cave that felt like there was something of value except in the one direction he was going toward.

At some point he reached a river. Its slow-flowing water was crystal clear and of deep turquoise. He walked beside it for a while. One night he dreamed that he would just sit down next to it and die right there. Let go of his feathers, his flesh and skin and bones. Let go of his memories and thoughts and all that he was. But as hard as he tried it didn’t work and, even though he felt more dead than alive, he didn’t seem to be able to give up completely.

And then, one night in deepest winter, after fresh snow had fallen onto the hills above the farm and the land below and the cold crept into the coop like large tongs of frozen ice, the image in his dream suddenly became clear. He knew he was still a distance away but he could make out the cave wall more clearly. He saw that what he at first thought was just a lighter coloring on the wall, was actually a smaller cave adjacent to this one whose ceiling emitted a slight glow as if there was, behind the thick walls, a massive source of light. As he drew nearer, he saw that the light made the walls nearly transparent and, in looking even closer, Joshua saw small threads going through the transparent crystalline stone like veins. The steady glow illuminated the cave just enough to see what was inside.

When he entered the small cave, small only in relation to the vastness of the larger one, he was stunned by the beauty of the patterns in the walls and ceiling. The vein-like threads were like rivers in the earth observed from high above. There were small indentations of darker color shimmering in shades of blue that looked like large bodies of water, deep crevasses changed to mountain ranges interspersed with green and aventurine patches that looked like pastures. He felt the strange sensation of looking down on an incredibly detailed, magnificent landscape rather than looking up toward a ceiling of stone. Joshua briefly experienced vertigo until he adjusted to the upside down view. He had never seen anything like it and in no imagination or past dream had he ever seen such beauty.

And then his gaze followed the turquoise shimmer of what looked like a great river, down toward where the ceiling met the floor. There stood a cylindrical stone, deep black and smooth like polished quartz. At its top lay three feathers. When he looked at them closely, they seemed to change their colors, first reflecting his own palette, and moving through the spectrum of the rainbow from deepest green to yellow and blue. He could not keep his eyes off them. He thought them to be the most precious things in all the universe and it was then, while he dreamed, that he experienced for the first time what it meant to be fully loved. It overwhelmed him and he woke.

It was still dark in the coop. As he looked at the hens on their perches in front and beside him, the intense feeling of love he had felt in his dream spilled out from him and into the coop and for an instant longer Joshua loved all of the hens with the same all encompassing love. He even loved the perches themselves, the walls of the coop, the hay-covered floor, the window and the night beyond. There was no being that was not enveloped in his love. For a short moment longer he felt that it encompassed him completely and then, like a shooting star disappearing in the night sky, the feeling lingered a moment longer and dissipated. It left him empty, cold, and lonelier than he had ever felt before. The warm bodies of the other chickens in the coop could not give him warmth or company or help him close the wound in his soul. He was alone.



The days and weeks that followed were nothing but grayness—gray days, dark nights and a chill wind from the sea that wouldn’t let up. The snow that remained was brown and iced over. The food had a stale taste to it. And while the hens and half-grown chicks were busy scratching the patches of grass and dirt looking for worms, Joshua just glanced at them impatiently, disturbing their peace whenever he could. He was jealous of their content lives. For them it was all about finding food and water, scratching the soil and laying eggs. He could not find any satisfaction in it anymore. He was overcome by a sense of restlessness during the day and sleeplessness by night. As much as he wished to go back to the dream, he could not find a way there. It eluded him to the extent that he tried to day dream to bring the images back into his mind—the images of the three feathers on the black cylinder of stone.

He increasingly saw the coop as a prison rather than a safe haven and a home. He found himself gazing longingly through the fence and toward the world beyond. “I need to find them,” he thought to himself one day. “I have to find them.” Joshua could feel the unrest among the hens when he jumped up onto the highest perch of the pen. For a moment he thought he should just stay with them, protect them, settle their quarrels, and strut his stuff in front of them as he always did. But something inside him knew that he would not be able to do that anymore. And when this something, this force inside him, swelled up and grew and became utterly unbearable, he opened his wings and jumped.

It took him several flaps to reach the height of the fence. At the last moment he almost didn’t make it but he pushed and put everything he had into his final flap. Then he was past the fence and landed on the other side. The hens came toward him, wanting to follow him, but couldn’t understand that there was now a barrier between them. He was unreachable. He was free. A rush of excitement filled him as he walked away from the fence. One more time he looked back, pushing down the feeling of regret. Then he turned his head and concentrated on the task before him.

Joshua didn’t have the slightest idea where to go but he thought that he would cross the large meadow first and find shelter under the trees in the thick woods beyond. The other direction was water and he did not want to walk along the beach, out of fear of being too exposed. As he stood at the edge of the meadow looking far across to the other side he suddenly wasn’t so sure anymore. Did he really just fly out of the pen and leave his home, the place where he was born and grew up in; the place where he had lived all his life? It seemed silly all of a sudden. Why did he do this? He couldn’t find any logical explanation for it. For a moment he was torn. Maybe he should just go back. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. But as he was here now, he thought that he might as well see what’s on the other side of the field. He could always come back.

BOOK: The Three Feathers - The Magnificent Journey of Joshua Aylong
7.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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