Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dreams Part II:

The White Panther raced through the jungle. In addition to the power of prophecy, the White Panther had been gifted with great speed and endurance. For a normal person foolhardy enough to make the journey alone, it would take several days to make it to the temple. The terrain was tough, the jungles almost impassable at places. He knew these jungles. He knew where the trees thinned and opened up onto a great savannah. His pace quickened. It was still morning when he sighted the temple. He slowed his pace to a reverent walk, where he could easily be seen and judged as one who comes as a friend and ally.

The temple was unlike most African structures. It was a stone pyramid with the entrance near the top and very ancient looking. It spoke of old days when an advanced civilization once stretched across the lands. Now, only a few places like this stood as reminders of those times. He saw a white woman with blonde hair come out of the entrance and looked down at him. He raised his hand in a friendly greeting.

“Hail Fantomah,” he cried. “Keeper of the Old Ways. Beautiful Destroyer. She Whose Gaze is Death.”

He couldn’t see it, but he was sure she smiled. She turned her back to him and went inside, an invitation that was free to approach and enter. If he had been unwelcome, she would have come down and met him at the foot of the pyramid.

He jogged up the steps and entered the temple.

“Hello Fleet Footed Cat,” she greeted. “You have come to see the Lady of the Cats?”

The White Panther nodded. “If it is at all possible.”

“I was told you’d be coming. I’ll be leaving you to your prayers.”

With that she exited the temple.

The White Panther lit the braziers and sat cross-legged on colorful rug. He closed his eyes and opened his other senses to the world around him. He could hear the birds calling outside as well as the crackle of the flames. Smell of smoke tickled his nostrils, tinged with the manure that fueled the flames. A slight breeze drifted in from the eastern doorway. The sun rose to mid-day and slowly drifted to the horizon as a half-moon rose and stars came out and progressed across the sky. And the sun rose again, dawn breaking. And, the White Panther sat with his eyes closed, his breathing regular.

“Greetings young one,” purred a feminine voice. The White Panther opened his eyes and saw that a tiger had entered temple. The cat, which belonged in another country entirely, slowly morphed into a lioness and then it stood on its hind legs, taking on a more human form until what faced him was a slender tan beauty though with the head of a cat.

“Your countenance is troubling,” she said.

“I dream of war, of death, of destruction. Of this land, of these peoples. Of myself.”

“I know. It has been foretold. Dark days have long been coming though we had hoped they’d pass us by. What would you have me do?”

“An army will be coming to this land and destroy everything we know. Unless you and the gods do something to stop them before they reach these shores.”

“Ahh, but we have done something my child. Who do you think gave you your dreams? Gave you your powers and others like you? An army of death comes that will take an army to stop them. And, we have given you the means to gain that army if you are willing to raise it.”

“What about Fantomah? Is she part of your army?”

The cat goddess looked at him and looked as if she was smiling slightly.

“My army, yes. Yours, no. Her power is vast but only because she is tied to this land itself. She can only leave here if she so chooses to give up the ties that bind her here. But, there are others, plenty of others, some on different realities than the one you see. It is they that will be your army if you can convince them.”

“Why must I convince them? You have given them their power, can you not command them to serve?”

“Foolish child. You cannot command devotion, loyalty, courage, or faith. I can inspire and show the path, but it is up to each to choose it.”

The White Panther nodded, sensing the truth of her words. “So be it,” he said and bowed his head. When he looked up, the cat-goddess was gone. He knew his next stop. To visit the so-called Jungle King who was building a very modern city on the coast. He’d have ways to contact others. He got up and walked outside, seeing Fantomah walking up the steps of the pyramid.

She smiled. “Did you find the answers you seek?”

“Yes, though not the answers I wanted.”

“A gift is a gift,” she said.

He nodded. “Farewell and live in peace.”

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Prophetic Dreams

Early 1941, the nightmares started. Bob Paxton who billed himself as the Oracle in his private detective business was used to strange dreams. He had come to rely on seemingly prophetic dreams to help in his cases. He told himself they were just his subconscious picking up clues and signs that he wasn’t aware of. This was different. It wasn’t anything he was working on but with the clarity his prophetic dreams usually had, full of color, sensations and smells. There was a radio playing Christmas music, houses decked out in holiday ornaments and he heard the sound of airplanes flying overhead. The dream shifted. He could hear gunfire and bombs exploding. People were yelling. The acrid of smoke stung his eyes. He saw ships, several of them. A battleship in the harbor was on its sinking, a column of smoke rising like a dark snake into the sky. He saw flying men, flying men who were afire. He was under water but not drowning. Bodies of dead sailors, many in their underwear drifted by. Hundreds of dead faces flitted by, floating in the water. His stomach lurched and he woke with the taste of bile in his mouth. He thought of the mystery men he saw in the dream. He might be able to contact the Flame through his police contacts.

The hero known as the White Panther was also plagued by prophetic dreams. In his dream, he saw strange jungles not like his native Africa. He saw American soldiers fighting Asian soldiers. Among the Asian forces, there were monster men of varying sizes and deformities. Some stood twelve feet tall, others covered the ground quickly hunched over on almost all fours. They had clawed hands and foaming fanged mouths. They seemed to be led by a man in colorful armor, holding a sword. They swept over the American forces, brutally slaughtering them to a man where the monster-men showed cannibalistic tendencies. The jungles changed, he saw them swarming through African jungles, wiping out whole native tribes, killing the men and children and stealing the women. The various jungle lords banned together, some he knew but more he didn’t, but it was too late, the Asian armies too strong with the monster-men to be stopped by men armed with spears and arrows. Plus, the enemy had allied themselves with various witch-doctors and shamans whose authorities that the heroes had challenged for so long. The evil tribes followed them, the jungles burned. The temple of the cat-goddess was thrown down. With the shamans banded together, they called upon ancient blood and death magic and legions of the dead crawled from old graves challenging even Fantomah’s great powers. Scores fell but even she was eventually overcome.

The White Panther woke. He had been gifted with the power of prophecy, he knew how to read dreams and recognize a prophetic dream from a simple nightmare. He first went to the river to bathe and purify himself beneath the light of the moon. He sat on a grass mat facing the rising sun and meditated on what he saw. He rose, knowing what he needed to do. His dreams were of what would come to pass if he didn’t take action, but the future was not set in stone, just the path the world was already on. He would visit the cat-goddess, she could help.