FREE Andy Crowley Preview: Chapter 4!

The voice in Scott St. Pierre’s head was synthetic, like Max Headroom — except rather than being frenetic and disjointed it was melodious and soothing. It had a strange accent as well. Had Scott possessed even a modicum of life experience beyond hockey and the mall, he would have discerned that the accent was a bizarre hybrid of south-side London Queen’s English and midwestern American drawl.

To the football players gathering around the two opponents squared off for fisticuffs, the voice was so intoxicating it made them forget it was coming from Scott’s face.

“Ahhhhh look who it is, pet.” Whoever now occupied Scott’s mouth seemed to be talking to himself. “Do you recognize him?”

The words had a delicious vibration to them like the nigh imperceptible tinge of a rock synth melody.

The football team’s heads all swung to look at Nick. Anxious for his response. A mystery was unfolding.

Nick’s face had ceased to be his. In its place there was a seething mask that wore a hundred years of utter hatred for a bitter rival.

And Nick’s next words were no less alien to the huddle of football players now fully assembled than was the suddenly alien caste of his face.

Nick Morrison spat the words at St. Pierre.

“You will be vanquished by this hand! I swear it beast! Upon the thousand souls each, of the thousand children of Allfather Ra and by all the pharaohs of The Martian Solar Dynasty, I swear this!”

Then Scott St. Pierre and Nick Morrison both clutched at their chests in agony and collapsed unconscious to the ground.

“Everybody –” Coach Patterson started to say before he saw Andy Crowley running down the hill toward them. Then he and the entire football team also collapsed into unconscious heaps on the field.

As the haze of the spellcasting cleared “the blue mariner is coming” began to echo through Andy Crowley’s mind again.

“Nick!” he cried as he kneeled over the unconscious body of his friend –nay his brother.

“Omega Alpha. Alpha Omega.” He muttered repeatedly under his breath.

“Not yet, man. Not yet.”

Andy Crowley Saga

Chapter 3

“How could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?”

~ Plato

Deborah Holcroft rolled onto her back and stared at the Journey poster on the ceiling over her bed. She smiled to think of Andy calling them bubblegum even though he had admitted to her once that they were a guilty pleasure. She hadn’t stopped thinking about him since that thing with Steve St. Pierre on the bus.

She worried she had gone too far: that she had sent a signal about how she felt that she couldn’t take back. He had been her best friend for as long as they could remember, but lately (and very much to the dismay of Lori and Tracy) something had awakened in her. Andy Crowley had become her everything and she couldn’t help but suspect he felt the same way about her.

She couldn’t even bring herself to go to Club Cedars tonight. Her friends had nearly lost their minds about that. Cranked to eleven over a rumour that Nick Morrison had said he might be there, they had begged her to go. She smiled to think of their disappointment. She knew he wouldn’t be there. It was D&D night at the Grayson brothers’.

Her girlfriends’ obsession with Nick Morrison grated on her. She often wondered if they only hung out with her because she lived two doors down from him.

Deb had known Nick as long as she had known Andy. The three of them were like family.

It traumatized Deb’s friends that she did not worship at the altar of glorious Nick Morrison with them. The only thing more ghastly to them than this were the rare moments when she hinted to them that she found Andy Crowley interesting.

She rolled over and closed her eyes. Conjuring Andy’s strange, different-coloured eyes, she searched them for even a glimpse of the mystery and marvel they had seen where others could see only the plain, everyday world. She tried to summon the charge to her heart she always felt on those occasions when he had gathered her hand in his to lead her to something outrageous she would never have thought to look for herself. She wondered if he only ever let his guard down for her and the corners of her mouth curled up into the relaxed smile of the face freed from being the mask held for others. Her eyes smiled along with her mouth and fell shut. The amethyst calm came upon her then. Her consciousness let go.

Then, in the starry amethyst expanse most think is merely the back of their eyelids, she was falling, slowly and peacefully, with no prospect of ever hitting the ground. After she had been falling for so long she wasn’t sure she was falling at all, there was the feeling of just hovering. Nebulae of purples and blues were all about her. Stars of every colour were everywhere. She had a flash of insight that she was a star too – a green one. And then she saw the Baku Gate.

To the fading consciousness that was Deborah Holcroft, the gate could have been miles high – or was it microns? She had no way of really knowing for she had no frame of reference here in the dream realm. Indeed she had no idea how large or small she would be when she would take on her other form.

She let herself drift toward the gate.

It consisted of two enormous columns, both in the form of the Baku, the eater of nightmares. The Baku had the head of an Asian elephant, save for the large, kind and gentle eyes of a cow. Its body was that of a powerful tiger. The enormous Baku columns were carved from what looked like the stuff of the moon – a luminous green-grey stone pitted and scarred with what must have been years stretching back through unknowable depths into an eternal past. At the feet of the Baku there were billions upon billions, of flowers, trees, mushrooms, and all manner of plants carved into the same stone. Above their heads, in the subtly sloping arch of the crosspiece, there were birds, butterflies, pegasi, bats, dragons, and all manner of flying beasts, uncountable in their numbers.

Just as she had done so many times before, she floated through the gate, which also floated in the void. At its threshold, the feeling of having a body gradually returned, and though she did not know it, for she had forgotten by this point that she was Deb Holcroft in her waking life in another place, this body was not at all like the one she had left sleeping in her bed in Corbyville.

First, she saw the leather boots and intricately engraved metal grieves of her legs. They were tinged with a fuschia coloured light, shimmering silver with the strangely warm crystalline frost of the dream realm. Then, her gauntleted hands. She reached back and wrapped grey-furred fingers into the flowing, swirling rich purple silk of her cloak and her other hand went to rest lightly and assuredly on the falcon-headed pommel of the sword that hung at her side.

She was mostly humanoid in appearance – a beautiful, stately woman, tall and strong. Some would say handsome – but in that way that does not compromise femininity. But she also had the features of a timber wolf. Her face was completely human save for her eyes, which were a piercing ice-blue with tightly dilated pupils, and her ears, which were pointed and sloped back. Her hair, a flowing mane of grey was braided in two strands tied at the back in the style of the Morphean Guard. Her body was generally humanoid as well, save for the transition to grey fur below her elbows and knees and her clawed hands and feet.

Having just awakened and dressed, she walked with the assured, purposeful gait of a military leader toward the Morphean Citadel to receive her orders. The more rapid passage of time in the dream realm meant she would live about a day for every hour Deb slept. She was determined to address the failure of their forces at the Jotunheim Intersection last week, but something was interfering with her train of thought. On this night something buzzed in her mind and prodded at her consciousness, pleading for its attention.

Certainly no sorcerer by any measure, she felt safe enough from any would-be malicious eldritch influences this close to the citadel’s mages and so she heeded the call of the quiet, persistent voice. Telepathy was a common mode of communication in the dream realm, and though she did not recognize the voice in her head – her soldiers’ training in the use of telepathy told here enough to know it meant her no harm. It was feminine, kind, even somehow familiar.

“You know full well that it is not the way of the dreamer to recall what transpires in sleep – but you will remember this. You must,” it said to her.

She felt no fear. She was powerful here. She addressed the voice with conviction.

“Do not dawdle. I conduct the essential business of the Morphean Guard and tolerate your intrusion into my mind for only this moment,” she said it firmly, in the manner of one experienced in the finer points of leadership and military command. “I have urgent affairs to address in the short time afforded me. Be brief!”

“Yes of course,” the voice said. “You must remember this when you awaken —

Beyond rational explanation, the words that followed felt important and reverberated deeply into the mind of the one who heard them.

“Nick Morrison will die. Andy Crowley will know what to do.”

She noted this, though in the life she knew here, she did not know who Andy or Nick was. She simply knew that whoever she was in the waking realm would likely know them. And though she had sensed that this must indeed be a matter of some import, she was a dream warrior with a more urgent calling than any of the petty things she knew in her other life. From her perspective here, the other world was the dream she forgot every evening – just as this life was the dream she forgot every morning.

The other realm was a warless, bloodless, happiness she knew nothing about. For here she was Sherle-Peregrinus of the Morphean Guard, commander in the vanguard force at the Siege of Dreams – defender of all souls within the realm of Sanctuary from the entroloper hordes that would see them subdued and beholden to the Abraxas.

“I will remember this,” she swore and meant it. For she was true to her word. She even pulled the legendary falcon sword at her side from the lip of its scabbard as she said this: a gesture of her order that assured dedication to the keeping of an oath.

“Considering the matter at rest then,” and with her patience spent, she topped the steps to Morphean Citadel and entered the grand hall that had become the impromptu throne room of the queen of the dream realm herself.

The Holcroft’s was the oldest house on the River Road. A bungalow covered completely in climbing ivy, it was the kind of place that was creepy and haunted to more modern sentiments but earthy and magical to those one might call old souls.

A wide veranda ran the whole span of its face and the property was covered with trees that shaded it even from the barest light of the bright country stars.

Andy had transitioned fully into the emotionless, detached state of Mushin (no-mind) by the time his bike skidded through the darkness into the Holcroft’s driveway. In a maneuver he had perfected in the variable gravity of the astral plane, he forcefully braked his speeding bike, went into a handstand that became a somersault over his handlebars and soared into a running landing. He had cleared the stairs onto the front porch before his bike hit the ground. Deb’s white cat, Aleister, slept in a chair on the covered porch. As he knew it would be, the light in Deb’s room was on. He tapped on the window. She would know it was him.

The window flew up. Deb was wearing an oversized, white Platinum Blonde T-shirt. Any other time, Andy would have rolled his eyes at the shirt.

“Andy! It’s game night! Why are you here?”

He had to think fast. He couldn’t tell her he had been inside her head and had seen what had frightened her. His greatest fear was having her discover he could do such things.

“I saw your light on and wondered why you aren’t at Cedars.”

“I had homework and didn’t feel like it. The girls were getting to me.”

Andy smiled. “I’ll bet,” he said. To him, Tracy and Lori epitomized blind, sleepwalking submission to conformity and conspicuous consumption. It was bad enough in people in general, but systemic forces of oppression seemed intent on making it obnoxiously acute in teenage women.

Andy was anxious to get to the matter of the vision that had frightened Deb. He had a suspicion that it was serious. And if he was correct in his hypothesis — it was a matter of life and death.

“Are you okay though, Bear?” Only Andy used this nickname for her. It was his own mispronunciation of Deborah from way back when they had shared a playpen. “You don’t seem yourself.”

“I just had a really bad dream.”

“Cool,” Andy said excitedly. His eyes widened under raised eyebrows. It didn’t come off as insensitive. He wanted to stay in character. He was worried it was already suspicious enough that he had just appeared here at this precise moment.

“Not cool at all!” there was no anger in the words, she knew Andy would be curious. Dreams and nightmares were right in his whacky wheelhouse of wild, way-out and weird.

“Andy –” her eyes filled with tears.

“A beautiful girl that looked like she was made from moonlight told me something terrible.”

“If it was just a dream Deb, why are you so upset?” He had seen the girl too — and though he had only seen her second-hand, as though through smoky, carnival glass, he had surmised as well that she was beautiful — like Jane Weidlin from the Go-Gos he thought. The absence of colour in the luminous dream-girl’s nature hinted at something to Andy — something altogether terrible.

But he had not heard what the moonlight girl had said. Curiosity consumed his attention and he was ill-prepared for what happened next.

The tears in Deb’s eyes burst forth and she threw herself into Andy’s arms.

“She told me Nick is going to die.” Deb had found refuge from her fear — just as she knew she would — in Andy Crowley’s embrace. The relief she felt was complete and as though to fill the void left by that fear departed, another feeling swept over her then.

But in that same moment, a dark chill ran through Andy.

“Nick!” His mind roared. “No!”

Instinctively, he put his fingers into the dark curls of Deb’s short hair and held her close. He did not have the presence of mind to know it, but he had re-entered the state of Mushin.

No-mind.

Love.

Love is the ocean in which the mystic, entirely immersed, swims like a fish. Acknowledging another so completely that attention on the fabrication of self ceases entirely is why love and bliss are one and the same.

Andy felt the physical unity between him and Deb now — and in defiance of all his mystical training, he felt an irresistible longing to succumb to attachment. His biological nature, his adolescence, took him.

The preeminent compulsion of The All — the drive to create and procreate, whether it be of art or life, in that moment become manifest in these two.

Every paradox Andy Crowley had ever explored was dwarfed by this one.

Was not his desire to not desire Deb Holcroft a desire as well?

She was flawless and beautiful to him in every conceivable way. Her raven black hair, too curly to part and feather like the other girls, was cut short and perfectly contrasted her untanned face. Her small, kind mouth and thin perfect nose submitted to the primacy of the soul of her eyes, timber-wolf-blue and wise, shining into the world and seeking out naught other than that same light, which shone from him.

“I love you, Andy,” she whispered into the pentacle on his RUSH concert shirt. Reflexively, he pulled her closer.

He loved her too. But he could not say the words. Fear caught them in his throat just shy of his lips.

“And I know you love me,” she said.

For an eternity that straddled joy and terror, they hovered beyond the world like this. Silent and uncertain upon that crossroads, theirs then was that timeless tortured blessing and glorious curse.

Eventually, “Don’t be afraid,” were the words that wound through Andy’s confusion out into their world of two.

Those words were enough for Deb today and Andy felt her smile through his shirt.

“It was just a bad dream,” he sounded genuine, though, increasingly, he did not believe they were true. Having dodged a bullet with Deb, his mind returned in earnest to the matter of Nick. He felt a pang of guilt that what had transpired between him and Deb had shoved the matter of his best friend’s death into the background.

Though Deb could not see it, the indigo light of his third eye came upon his brow and penetrated the veil between the planes of existence. Resting his chin upon the curls of her head and savouring the fragrance of her hair he struggled mightily to interpret the mythical references spelled out in Ogham: the Druid runes. Across the planes in a glade upon the realm of Fey, he read them now. They were carved into a birch tree, likely, he surmised, by the ancient and powerful Tuatha de Danan.

When he found what he sought, his soul froze. His fear was confirmed.

The monochromatic luminosity, the friendly, alluring feminine voice Deb had described, he had seen too. He wondered if she had noticed the other hallmarks. If she had, he assumed, she would not have discerned their significance. Even having seen the seven-pointed star broach, the fly-plaid, and the silver megaphone he had needed more to be sure. The Ogham of Fey had confirmed it. Deb had indeed seen a banshee: the Fey realm’s harbinger of certain death.

He swallowed hard.

“Nick will be fine,” Andy Crowley lied to the one he had just now discovered for certain was the love of his life — or rather, the one who would be were that possible for one committed to the ancient arcane disciplines.

“I know,” said Deb. She trusted him and was afraid of how much she had just risked sharing with the most important person in her life.

“I’m sorry,” suddenly and awkwardly she pushed him away and rolled her eyes in an attempt to make light of everything that had just happened between them.

Andy knew she was embarrassed about telling him how she felt and it made him feel that much worse for not telling her he loved her too.

“It’s cool Deb.” The smile he forced looked ridiculous.

“Totally,” he added only to fill the awkward silence that followed — and to add cover to the fact that now, he had lied to her twice.

It wasn’t cool at all that Deb had told him she loved him.

And it wasn’t cool at all that a banshee of Fey had told her his best friend was about to die.

To be continued

What is the Glass Grimoire?

”Just like the prophecy said he would, he came from magicless Earth…

Andy-1

‘It was a rectangle of light that could tell him anything anyone could ever want to know. The fruit of Eden, dreaded in prophecy from the dawn of the multiverse.”

The Banjoman, was solemn as he pondered the implications of What he was about to say. His bright eyes dimmed and he parted his red gunslinger mustache with the fingers of one hand. Then he whispered the words as though they were an affront to reality and should not have been uttered.

“It was The Glass Grimoire.”

Read the Andy Crowley Saga

 

 

Andy Crowley Saga: Chapter 2

“I’ve never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

~ Mark Twain

 

From the kitchen table, Nick Morrison watched leaves all the colours of roaring flames meander down to settle like Viking funeral boats onto the river.

He had made short work of his book report for Mr. Latimer and pretended he was still at it for the benefit of his mother in the living room. He and Andy had read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit way back in Grade 2. There was likely no book either of them knew better. It – along with The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion – had been something of a religion to them in their adventures across the forests of Foxboro and Corbyville. Indeed, painted in elegant silver strokes on the dark blue mailbox at the end of the Morrison’s driveway was the word Imladris. It meant Rivendell in the Sindarin tongue of Tolkien’s elves: a place of refuge and reflection for weary travelers.

He closed his English binder and put his pen in his pencil case.

“All done! And exquisitely reasoned and presented as usual. I’m off to the Grayson’s for D&D,” he yelled into the living room. He was sure to amplify the D&D part for his mother.

A monotone “Have fun,” came back from his dad. Nothing from mom. Her disapproval of the game was well known and Nick reveled in it.

Pulling on his new Quinte Saints football jacket, he grabbed his set of red translucent dice off of the Players Handbook on the bench by the door. They were marvellous to him — like sacred gems from the dawn of time. With effort, he worked them down into the pocket of his too-tight Jordache jeans. He checked to make sure his player character sheet was still tucked inside the book.

He hollered over his shoulder as he left.

“I’ll leave the axe I’ve been sharpening in the garage. Demonic possessions and all. Can’t be too careful.”

His father’s laugh made Nick smilewhiskeyand he savoured how much that laughing would irritate his mother.

The Morrison’s porch door opened onto the same gravel driveway the Crowleys used. Andy was there strapping his Adidas bag to the crossbar of his BMX bike with Bungie cords. Nick’s eyes seized immediately on the purple, velvet bag at Andy’s hip. Its gold cord was threaded through a belt loop in his jeans. The bag, which had once held a bottle of expensive Canadian whiskey, now held the Dungeon Master’s dice. Nick looked quickly away. He didn’t want to think about them, for those dice would determine the fortune and fate of Argwain Cirth, His eighth-level, half-elf ranger.

Faded, pockmarked and rounded at the edges, they were from the first basic D&D set TSR released in 1977 and they were the only dice Andy Crowley had ever owned. Andy had gibbered on to him once — in that way of his — about how they were The Platonic Solids: the fundamental geometric forms of all reality. As usual, he hadn’t really listened to Andy. All he knew was Argwain Cirth’s destiny would be decided by them — and that made them the most fearsome artifacts conceivable.

He didn’t want to think about that.

“Did you get your Bilbo-ography done?” He said, knowing full well what Andy’s answer would be.

“Bother burgling and book reports and everything to do with both of them,” Andy said in his best Bilbo Baggins Shire accent. “I’ll write it Monday morning.”

Nick frowned. He knew Andy better than anyone except maybe Deb, and had always lamented his best friend’s unwillingness to play along — to fit in. He had tried for years to get him to give a shit about his marks at school; to wear something other than concert shirts and Levis, and to take some sort of interest in girls and sports. All of his efforts had been to no avail. After Andy had quit smoking and lost weight last summer, Nick had hoped high school might spur some kind of change. But two weeks in, Nick worried now more than ever about what kind of future his best friend was setting himself up for. Even worse, he had taken to thinking they were doomed to grow farther and farther apart.

Andy had been through a lot. His dad’s drinking, His mom’s church-thing. Who in Hell left their kid to be raised by his older sister? Nick thought. Mr. and Mrs. Crowley had been like parents to him too. It made him sad to hate them. The whole thing was a mess. Was it any wonder Andy was such a malcontent? It was all made worse by the fact he was the smartest person Nick knew. “Smart all the way back ’round to stupid,” his mom always said. And she loved Andy like another son.

Nick thought better of challenging him to do his school work again. After all these years it had never gotten him anywhere. He thought of bringing up what had happened on the bus with Scott St. Pierre. Deb had told him at the mall. Funny he thought. He and Deb always seemed to talk about Andy at the mall — a place he refused to step foot in.

It was game night after all. Why pontificate on homework. But Nick could not quell the creeping sadness that swelled in the back of his mind. The chill in the air, the earlier dusk and the fallen leaves swirling about them didn’t help.

All things end, a voice inside him said — though he felt the words more than heard them.

“Nothing too mind-bendy, for poor Mr. Latimer if you can manage it,” He said. His sympathy for Andy’s teachers was genuine. “No comparing Beorn’s lodge to the night you spent on astral plane with the mayor-of-hyena-people-town’s harem.”

“Gnolls,” Andy muttered matter-of-factly as he straddled his bike. A C-3P0 Star Wars card clothes-pinned to the forks chattered over the spokes as he started up the driveway.

“Hyena-people? Shameful!” Andy admonished over his shoulder. “Read your Monster Manual son.”

Smiling at his best friend and his Dungeon Master, Nick launched onto his pedals in a standing drive into the wake of flaming leaves Andy Crowley tore down the driveway to the River Road.

 

Andy thought of Nick as a brother and was sure he always would. The two of them, along with Deb, had grown up together on the River Road. But he knew Nick was struggling with their friendship lately.

He had always known Nick would be successful in the way society measure success. Nick Morrison was handsome, athletic, smart, and disciplined. The girls loved him. The coaches loved him. The teachers loved him. That their fork in the road would appear on the horizon had been as certain as the return of a Canadian winter.

Andy recalled the time they raided Mr. Morrison’s liquor cabinet and he had told Nick how much he was enjoying Michael Moorcock. Nick had cried blasphemy against Tolkien — a betrayal of their sacred brotherhood. The alcohol escalated things to the edge of a drunken brawl. The whole matter — especially considering what he’d seen booze do to his father — had unsettled Andy so much, he hadn’t drunk since.

High school seemed to be accelerating the inevitable, and Andy had been meditating on this frequently. There was no point in grasping. Attachments were the bars of the prison that kept us from truth.

If you have a problem that has a solution, what is achieved by worrying about it? If you have a problem that has no solution, what is achieved by worrying about it?

Besides. It was game night.

 

“Total bullshit!” Dave slammed the palms of both his hands down onto the flimsy, green card table. His freckled face was as red as his hair. “I sneak in, AGAIN; set off a trap, AGAIN; barely make a saving throw AGAIN — he lunged for the Marvel superheroes thermos on the floor by his chair and took a gulp from it. Then he winced and bellowed, “Then it’s all big people treasure. ALL THE GODDAMN TIME!”

Every one recoiled from the spray of rye whiskey and ginger ale that delivered his angry words. For a moment, the musty, teenage boy smell of the Grayson brothers’ rec room took on a tinge of gingery rocket fuel.

“Say it! Don’t spray it, asshole!” Jason Baker yelled. “And slow down!” Dave was notoriously obnoxious on an average day — exponentially so when he was drinking.

“Treasure is not everything, halfling,” A calm suddenly came over everyone at the table and they turned to revere the words of the Dungeon Master. “For Brudo Thornshrike of Moonsmoor has learned much in the grey arts of stealth and lockpicking. And despite his incorrigible demeanour and frequent pettiness, he has more than shown his worth to his companions of late,” Andy paused for dramatic effect.

“Brudo Thornshrike’s small stature may limit his access to the spoils of war, but experience is a treasure in-and-of-itself — and so our halfling thief has risen a level.”

Dave’s expression went blank and everyone at the table braced for what they new came next. Jay and Dave Grayson (there always seemed to be more than one Dave) seized the opportunity the pause presented to reach for their drinks on the floor, and in so doing, avoid getting sprayed again.

“Seriously?” he asked. His disbelief was genuine. “10th level already?”

Ian Grayson hoisted a beer over the center of the table. “To Brudo Thornshrike!” he hollered and the party cheered.

“Weasel, snake, creeper, swine and drunkard!” Ian embellished. Another roar went up from the group. Brudo’s was the most enthusiastic of all. He drained his thermos and slammed it upside down on the table. Polyhedral dice and lead miniatures of a thief, a ranger, a cleric, a druid, a magic-user, and three fighters were sent every which way.

Andy was happiest in these moments. He looked at the dice scattered across the hexagonal map — a yellow four-sided, red six-sided, green eight-sided, blue twelve-sided, and a white twenty-sided.

Though few knew it, these dice were modeled on The Platonic Solids, the fundamental forms of reality. Andy wondered if, when used in the manner he used them every Friday night, they were generating new realities on planes within the mind. He wondered if, at the very least, they functioned to dissolve — even to a minuscule degree — the constructed everyday identities of his friends around this table as they shifted their energies into other selves experiencing the inner planes.

Was he a missionary of mysticism? Were his friend’s unwitting disciples toeing the thinnest edge of a wedge into the realm of the only true faith possible: the Eden of belief in no belief where transcendence of dogma and delineation alike bestowed ultimate grace. A realm of peace and a joy beyond the relative confinement of this realm’s nonsensical conceptualizations: countries and races, political affiliations and religions, letters and numbers — self and other?

His dice were his witch’s wand, his wizard’s staff — the veritable keys to — call it Nirvana, call it Valhalla, call it the Kingdom of God, found just the other side of the putting away of childish things.

Then, suddenly, his mind exploded. Something was wrong with Deb. The terror she felt assailed his wits. And in flash, he saw through her eyes what frightened her.

Frantically, he gathered his dice and dropped them into the purple bag at his hip.

“Nick, you should stay,” He said it like a command and Nick’s face darkened.

“See you guys,” He managed as he bolted for the door.

They’d seen it all before.

Rolling his eyes, Nick drained another bottle of Black Label. With Andy gone this would be the perfect opportunity to pitch the guys on changing game night from Fridays so they could go to the dances held at Club Cedars just down the road. He knew Andy wouldn’t like it, but in that very instant, like a damn that had restrained more river than was possible for far too long, he let go. For the first time in his life, he felt the relief of not considering what Andy Crowley thought.

He liked it.

They’ll see it my way, he thought.

Then, with a confidence and deftness that amazed everyone there, Nick Morrison, slammed the cap off another beer with the edge of the rickety card table.

 

TO BE CONTINUED
in Chapter 3
Friday, October 5
7:00 p.m. EST

The Creed of the Council of High Midwives of Atlantis

“We are fortunate,” said High Midwife 12. “Our government and our religion share our only laws, or commandments if you will. There are only two.”

And she bowed her regal head.

“Never harm

Never deceive

And by so doing

Exist as God

As Love.”

“Never Harm. Never Deceive.” the crowd in the room echoed back. It startled Andy, and the twenty-sided in his hand pulsed its desire for battle into his palm as a dull wave of painful cold. “CEASE!” he roared at it. He wanted to fully soak in the life-altering beauty of this place.

The Atlantean matriarchy, the Midwife Council, was rabidly environmentalist, and their sole agenda, spiritually, intellectually and academically, was to ensure the most vigorous, enriched, joyous lives possible for their society’s children. They had perfected the art of nurturing a wonderful, fulfilling life in harmony with one’s environment.

The most beautiful, moving music he had ever heard filled the streets of doomed Atlantis. The colours were magnificent! Exotic hybrids of Ancient Venusian and plant life and aquatic life of Earth decorated the streets of living coral. The glow of the Oxygen producing Venusian lichen on the walls of the enormous cavern. The grace, the soul-felt kindness, the genuine empathy, all of it stole Andy’s heart. Tears welled in his eyes.

And all of this, they had shared with Plato.

Rivendell by Rush came upon his mind then. He opened his third eye to soak it all in.

What a contrast, it seemed to Andy Crowley in that moment, to Pharaoh Mhotunkhamen IV’s approach to ruling the Martian Solar Dynasty.

Yin and Yang, man. Yin and Yang. 

In 1984, to avoid becoming a god,

a teenage, rock n’ roll, outer-space wizard
must become a man

“The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of understanding”

~ The Kybalion

Andy Crowley cared more about Dungeons & Dragons and rock n’ roll than he did about grades and girls: nothing too unusual for a teenage boy in 1984. That he was a sorcerer destined to rule over all reality, however, was unusual enough to attract some very unwanted attention.

From a quaint riverbank on magicless Earth into the sorcerous bedlam of the wider, wilder multiverse, join Andy Crowley; Kip Kilroy of Mars; Jasco of the realm of Fey; and the enigmatic Banjoman of Limbo, in a race for the one chance Andy has to defy his dark destiny…

… The Glass Grimoire.

Revised from reader feedback.

Read the Andy Crowley Saga

Andy Crowley Saga: CHAPTER 1

“All know the drop merges into the ocean. Few know the ocean merges into the drop.”

~Kabir

 

Always, the freezing water poured in. Then, after the reflexive gasp for one last breath, every muscle stiffened in terror. Always, thousands of horrified screams came. Always, they were rife with hatred as much as fear.

“Atlan-Kol!” they screamed and he did not know what that meant. “Serpent!” they screamed as well. This he understood for it was in English tinged with some unrecognizable accent. And always, Andy Crowley knew somehow that the way they said serpent meant betrayer — and that, by betrayer, they meant him.

Then the handsome man would appear — a mariner in both style and comportment. At once alien and somehow familiar, he wore a dark blue cloak trimmed in silver embroidery. Always, there was the battle to retain dignity in the presence of this man in blue. Always — in the end — there was the loss of that battle and the shame. Then, finally, mercifully it seemed after the anguish of drowning, there was the peace of oblivion beyond the threshold of the construct of self in the embrace of the truth of The All.

The dream did not distress him now as it once had. Observing his breath, he fixed his third eye on Boromir’s horn on the Fellowship of the Ring poster over his bed. This was every morning now. The drowning dream happened every night.

The smell of bacon meant Ruby had come home last night. Excitement at seeing his sister pushed the dream completely from his mind.

From his vast collection of concert shirts, he chose Pink Floyd for today (they were Ruby’s favourite).

He just hoped she wouldn’t try to talk to him about mom and dad. Pausing for a moment he lamented his broken parents. Then he resolved to live in the moment. Why would he let even a fleeting thought of them befoul his mood? The drowning nightmare was behind him (at least for today) and the bliss of bacon was in his nostrils.

In his hallmark high-top sneakers, worn loose, tongues out, and laces suspended miraculously just this side of flailing every which way, Andy Crowley bounded down the stairs for big breakfast with his big sister.

~

 

Andy felt no malice for the people who facilitated the monstrosity of high school. He knew they meant no harm. But, understanding the damage it did, he could not help but resent the institution itself. As a learned mystic, he knew its true function: indoctrination into reductionism. By fostering the propensity to delineate reality into conceptual constructs, wolves in sheep’s clothing had rendered the masses vulnerable to the indentured servitude and conspicuous consumption that perpetuated and maintained the gilded cage they called civilization. Religion, countries, political parties — even the delusion of the distinct self — all served the same elite agenda: reduce the middle class to ego-drones stitching together costumes with shit from the mall paid for by selling their labour for a pittance.

He was not completely above humanity’s expulsion from Eden, but he had already learned enough in his esoteric research to resent what he saw. Going to school, he had surmised, was a lesser of evils thing. There were few other tolerable alternatives in this society and so it made sense to work on not being resentful about having to participate in the petty, narcissistic nonsense of it all.

For now, he took to listening to music to distract himself from his estrangement from his culture and he found some escape from it in philosophical conversation with the malcontents in the smoking area and at the arcade. Andy Crowley’s true education was such that he was an empathetic and compassionate soul. He did have friends; and his neighbours Deb Holcroft, Nick Morris, and the guys he played Dungeons & Dragons on Friday nights had become even more important to him after his parents had left him with Ruby.

Today had been a successful one as far as high school goes. He had skipped physics without getting caught and had reclaimed high score on Mario’s Bros. at the arcade.

His mind was free to spend the bus ride home mulling over the drowning dream and the man in blue again.

Having become somewhat accustomed to the once overwhelming horror of drowning he had begun to piece together the notion that the man in blue, the mariner, was calling to him. More and more Andy was getting the impression that the stranger wanted him to accompany him somewhere. Was this a breakthrough or was it wishful thinking? A plan to visit the astral plane where it intersected with the realm of sleep began to form in his mind.

He leaned his head against the rattling window and thought of slipping into meditation to enhance his objectivity on the matter.

This too was a problem he had come to understand about Western culture in his training. The diminishment of awareness of truth and reality resulting from over-emphasis on selective perception of conceptions used to fabricate and sustain ego.

Meditation was at the heart of the mystic’s education. Mindful awareness of the present moment was the basis from which manipulation of probability (a practice known as sorcery) was possible. Andy had given up smoking in the summer going into Grade nine because he found his meditation sessions went deeper and longer without the nicotine in his system. And since meditation was the only means by which he could access the aetheric echo of the ancient library at Alexandria, enhancing his capacity for it had become his highest priority. He had quit drinking too. Seeing what booze had done to his dad had made that even easier than giving up cigarettes.

Quitting smoking — or perhaps, he hypothesized, the unconscious refinement of his physiological systems from being such an accomplished meditator — had rid him of all the baby fat he had lugged through most of elementary school. Such was his transformation over the summer that Andy had begun to attract the attention of girls. Not that he would notice — or care. He regarded sexuality as contrary to his commitment to development as a sorcerer. Suffice it to say, two weeks into his first year of high school, some of the girls had taken notice of the new Andy Crowley.

To make matters worse, Scott St. Pierre had noticed that the girls had noticed.

The bus hadn’t even turned out of the school parking lot…

“Anzy!” St. Pierre’s voice pierced the headphones of Andy’s Walkman. Even Geddy Lee’s vocals cranked to ten couldn’t keep it out.

In Grade Two, Ray Barker — noting Andy’s challenges with his weight and his proclivity for black and white baseball-style concert shirts — had come up with the monicker “Andy Panda”. Over time, after Andy’s passive responses, first to that name, then to the punching and kicking that eventually accompanied it, Scott St. Pierre had come up with “Andy Pansy”. Evolution being what it is, this came to be shortened to just ‘Anzy”.

Andy had come to accept it. Violence is anathema to mystic sensibilities. When the bullying came, he just considered the source. Pity was more logical than revenge. Forgiveness was the stuff of salvation. Detachment was the stuff of enlightenment. All was one. Antagonism was contrary to the ultimate truth of being.

But today was different. He was not himself. The shit with his parents. The nightly drowning, death, destruction, and hate. No, he was not himself at all. And something was wrong. Something was physiologically, primally wrong.

Andy Crowley removed his headphones, leaned forward against the green vinyl seat in front of him, and hung his head to hide his face. Closing his eyes he caused the perception of the arrow of time to slow for him relative to everyone else, not just on the bus pulling out of Quinte Secondary School, but on the entirety of the blue-green jewel called Sanctuary across the multiverse, but known only by variations on the name Earth by its native inhabitants.

He had never attempted what he was about to do outside of the magic circle from the Clavicula Salomonis he had carved into his bedroom floor and filled with powdered iron and silver when his parents moved out.

And though only an instant passed for everyone else, what felt like a lifetime of suppressed fury cascaded into Andy’s mind. A lifetime of judgment, diminishment, and ridicule all at once.

“Atlan-Kol!” roared in his head. “Serpent!” A father tortured by reductionism and consumed by the false solace of alcohol; a mother tortured by reductionism and consumed by the false solace of church. A sister who felt she needed to take their place and should have been enjoying her youth instead of feeling the weight of that responsibility. The mariner in blue. The terrifying, sleepless nights. The consumerist indoctrination and fashion show that was high school.

With labels and divisions we will make them sad and lonely and afraid, and if they are sad and lonely and afraid they will shop.

He’d had enough.

He reached into his pocket and fumbled through the five Platonic geometric forms he always carried there. He found the 20-sided icosahedron, squeezed it in his fist, and extended his forefinger, third finger and pinky into the Shunya mudra that would help open the heart chakra. Turning his consciousness inward, he hurled himself headlong toward the center of his being. Leaving the annamaya kosha of the physical plane behind, he rocketed beyond the vijnanamaya kosha, beyond even the manomaya kosha, into the anandamaya kosha. Had he not trained so rigorously to resist the allure of the bliss to be found here, this is where the journey would have ended. From here he hovered at the mouth of the Moebius bridge beyond which the delta quanta churned in the probability vortices at the very heart of spacetimemind. Here, at the edge of being, the thin sliver of the patchwork of concepts that had become the construct known as Andy Crowley resisted another overwhelming compulsion to let go of the nonsense of self and so know ultimate truth. Here, nowhere and everywhere at once, Andy curled his toes over the edge of the abyss where deepest within and farthest beyond were indistinguishable; where imagination and manifestation were interchangeable equivalencies; where thought and reality were one and the same. Focusing his intention to summon the delta quanta across the Moebius bridge, then channeling it through his aetheric body and on to the material plane, he would twist form and fate alike to spell out a new reality in accordance with his desires. Subtly, he shifted the 20-sided die in his pocket while the finger that pressed it against his palm sought out the grooves of the number 20 that was engraved in one side.

Inaudibly, he began mouthing the incantation that would cause every one of Scott St. Pierre’s teeth to fall out all at once.

When the pad of his middle finger found the 20 the die grew cold in his hand. So cold there would have been pain — were pain possible here, beyond all such labels and concepts.

A wide grin split Andy Crowley’s long angular face.

None on the bus saw his strange eyes — one, the blue of a sunlit ocean, one, the colour of roaring fire reflected in Martian gold — roll upward and inward to connect with the true sight of his third eye. Only the white eyes of the wizard’s gaze would have been seen by his schoolmates. But his head was down. His eyes were closed. And his long pale gold hair hung about his face. The darting indigo glare of his twitching, penetrating third eye came then upon on his forehead.

Suddenly then, as though across an incredible span of spacetime, like a lightning bolt into his soul, he heard Deb’s anguished voice. In an instant, reason returned and that small part of him that remained Andy Crowley rather than all things everywhere, remembered where he was and who sat beside him on the bus.

Paradoxically collapsing downward and exploding upward onto the material plane of everyday, waking existence, he silenced his mind, gathered together his identity and returned.

What had happened! A momentary lapse of reason? Hormones? Had he really just let a schoolyard bully push his buttons and reduce him to this!

Andy didn’t have time to admonish himself. This failure of discipline had already almost cost him everything. Deb could never know what he could do. He must maintain his composure. Detach. Forgive. Let go.

“Anzy, can speak for himself.” he heard Scott say.

“Jesus Scott, you need to let Grade Three go,” said Deb. “Do you need Nick to kick the shit out of you again?”

Scott St. Pierre’s face blanched before it reddened. “I need Anzy to fight his own battles, Deb,” he said.

“You need to not be a loser, Scott.” As Deb said it, she noticed Scott’s eyes surveilling the bus behind them. He was looking for Nick and when he discovered Nick had stayed at school for basketball, the situation was going to get worse fast. Deb shot a nervous glance at Andy. His head was down against the bench seat in front of them. His hands were I his pockets. Everyone would think he was cowering. But she had known Andy Crowley longer than she had known anyone else. She was catching a really scary vibe. Was this day he lost it? He could not maintain his legendary composure forever. Especially someone who had been through so much. Deb’s heart ached for him. She determined the best course was to keep Scott busy.

“Why don’t you –,” Deb stopped short when Andy casually sat up in his seat.

“Scott,” There was not even a hint of anger in Andy’s voice. Quite the opposite in fact. Cool wasn’t the word for it. Though he had almost whispered the words, every eye on the bus was on him now.

“Sit down.” If possible there was even more serenity in these words. A shiver ran up Deb’s spine and she wasn’t sure if it was a good shiver or a bad one. It was something completely new. The way Andy talked made her think of Sir Alec Guinness in Star Wars. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

Scott’s jaw went slack such that no words could come into it. His face was a mask of bewilderment. Then, with a muffled grunt, and a quizzical jerk of his head, he just turned, sat down, and tried to disappear into the worn green vinyl of the bus seat no one ever shared with him.

As though it was the only choice they had, everyone else on the bus turned away and pretended to go back to their own after-school conversations and plan-making. But Andy Crowley knew different. He knew all the murmuring on the bus was about him now.

Deb’s expression was one of astonished approval. She pressed her lips together in that tight smile that says I have no words in a good way and she gently shook her head to convey amazement.

After a long pause “You rock Andy,” was all she managed to say. And for Andy Crowley, the way Deb Holcroft — his friend for as far back as his memory went — patted his knee said way more than words ever could.

What’s happening to him? She thought; and the confusion she felt in that moment was the very best kind: that dizzying, disorienting turmoil that is more delicious than distressing.

Andy Crowley went back to listening to side two of Hemispheres by Rush. He tried desperately to ignore what he had seen on Deb’s face.

Is it possible? He thought. He really didn’t want it to be possible. Not really.

He had to focus. With his breakthrough on the mystery of the mariner in blue, he didn’t have time for Scott St. Pierre. He didn’t have time for any of the collection of nonsense that was high school. He didn’t have time to fall in love with –

Then, in a moment of honesty with himself, he knew fear. No matter what he told himself, he would always have time for Deb.

A new kind of panic set in. A pleasing panic with tinges of bright green magic on its edges. Then, in spite of himself, Andy Crowley grinned as he watched Scott St. Pierre get up and walk off the bus. No middle finger to the crowd. No smart-ass comment today. He didn’t even look back.

~

TO BE CONTINUED
in Chapter 2
Friday, September 7
7:00 p.m. EST

Andy Crowley Saga: PROLOGUE

 

“The infinite mind of The All is the womb of universes.”

~ the Kybalion

 

The wild-eyed sea captain dropped to his knees on the white beach and savoured the caress of the cool wind on his sun-ravaged face. Closing his eyes, he let the rush of triumph consume him entirely.

Three of his haggard crewmen and the rowboat they dragged onto the sand were all that remained of his Arcturian clipper and her crew of eighty-five that had disembarked from Denlar.

How long had it taken him to get here to claim The Glass Grimoire: the prize of prizes? More than a year to be sure – but the specifics now eluded his ruined mind.

He fell into the hot sand and wept. His crewmen, having secured the landing craft, dared not approach him. Instead, they sat on the beach to watch the remaining third of the Sojourner – their home and their curse – slip beneath the Cartigian Sea.

The sailors whispered to one another about starting to look for wood but decided instead to stay where they were lest they incur the wrath of their now-wretched master.

The captain regarded the tree line of the tropical island. Blue pines, 200-feet-tall, lined the beach. Were it not for the heat and the murmur of the surf, he could have mistaken the scene for a memory of his childhood in the Northern realms of Plaxus Main. The thoughts of his youth fanned the fire in his heart to a roaring flame. He put a hand on the Culduran cutlass at his side and launched his emaciated, nearly naked form to its full height.

With failing vision he scanned the beach and spotted the peninsula roughly a mile distant. It lay about ten feet across and stretched about a quarter-mile out to sea. At its farthest reach, a solitary pine clung to the rocks. Bent seaward by the wind off the island’s mountains, it pointed like a gnarled sea hag’s finger out to the sea.

Without heed for the crewmen sitting behind him in the sand, he took the first step in the last leg of his journey toward his destiny. The pain of the scars of battle, the agony of thirst and starvation, and the torture of a conscience fragmented and rotten by the things he had done to get to this moment were forgotten. Now, there was only his future – the glorious future of one bold enough to finally possess The Glass Grimoire – a future of vigorous health and unlimited power.

Out on the peninsula, his hunger for his prize took him in earnest. Were moisture available to his dehydrated body he would have wept tears of joy, would have slobbered like his lost ship’s beloved mastiff while he scrabbled frantically across the rocks on bleeding hands and knees.

When finally he came upon the tree, no capacity for pain or suffering remained. There was only a vacuous kind of ecstasy — and a sensation entirely new to him, touching gently, enticingly, upon the fringes of his mind.

Squatting, and slack-jawed now, finally, he regarded the mysterious, ancient tree with the awe of a religious zealot come face-to-face with his god.

It had grey bark that was not quite silver in that glorious, subdued patina of heirloom armour, ancient and proven. Though it was said to be old beyond reckoning, it was thin and whimsical in form. Working up the courage to reach out to a low-hanging branch, the mariner found the needles to be soft to the touch. They were a green that reflected the sea, but with an inclination of the eye or a change in the light of the sky they could also take on a cool tinge of blue.

Then, the gentle touch he had felt encroached inward through a slow-swelling madness. Reluctantly at first, he accepted it into his mind, for it was soothing and inviting.

And he knew then that the mind that was touching his was indeed the legendary intellect of The Grimoire itself.

Through the wonder that had replaced the ecstasy, he now felt that it was sharing with him. Kindly, politely, it began urging him to stop being who he was. It appealed to him to forsake his delusion of self – the delusion of all humanity. The sea captain’s mind began to sing with notions he had never before even begun to entertain: no beginning or end, no here or there, no me or you, no us or them.

And though he was at peace in his mind, he began shaking violently. Walking became difficult on the uneven footing of the rocky ground. His vision tunneled to a pinprick. Then, beneath the ecstasy of victory mingled with the grace of the mind now in his, a subtle fear emerged deep within.

He struggled over the rocks and around the ancient pine to stand with his back to the sea. Some portion of his mind, perhaps the small sliver that was still him, reflected on the beauty of the ocean for the last time. And then he saw it.

The Glass Grimoire.

It was embedded in the tree about four feet from the ground. A glass rectangle with slightly rounded corners, it was roughly the size of a deck of cards, though stretched along its height. A thin border of grey metal rimmed the flat glass. It was much smaller than he imagined it would be.

It appeared as though the tree had grown up around it, embracing, nurturing and protecting it over millennia. He thought on this. Perhaps the mind of nature coveted the vast arcane knowledge contained within the Grimoire as fiercely as did as the minds of gods and men. Now that knowledge, and all the power that came with it, would be his.

He reached to The Grimoire and felt it connect with him even before his finger touched the glass. There was an otherworldly chiming sound that was almost mechanical.

Then he – at least he as he had regarded himself since childhood – was gone.

The sensation was not unpleasant. For in that instant he was everyone, everywhere, everywhen. There was a blinding – or was it totally illuminating – light. Then there was nothing – or was it everything – just with all the borders removed?

The only witnesses to the end of the captain’s quest were the whistling blue Cartigian seabirds. And caring not at all about what had transpired, they saw the decrepit waif of a sea captain transformed instantly into a cloud of sparkling white sand that was borne upon a swirling breeze to be laid upon the beach with the rest.

The crewmen who had not dared disturb their master’s final triumph experienced the same momentary peace before they too became sand upon that beach.

Within the tree, beneath the rectangle of glass known for millennia across the multiverse as The Glass Grimoire, a small symbol appeared: a stylized fruit. It was grey in colour and rendered to convey that a bite had been taken from it.

The Grimoire did not belong to this brave captain or his men. It belonged to another man: a man who would not be born for another eight thousand years.

For a few more seconds, the bitten-fruit icon remained behind the glass.

Then, the quiet chime sounded again and it was gone.

Andy Crowley Character Illustration!

With Chapter 1 only days away, I am thrilled to present the final Andy Crowley illustration by Victoria Gavrilenko.

AndyCrowleySaga_Insta
Andy Crowley by Viktoria Gavrilenko. Copyright 2018 © andycrowley.com

Chapter 1 manifests August 3 at 7:00 p.m. EST.

Read the Prologue here.

And if you think Andy Crowley rocks, please help him roll by sharing it with friends!

Andy Crowley Re-Rendered in Reality

With only two weeks until relaunch of the Andy Crowley Saga, I am excited to tease the culmination of the work Viktoria Gavrilenko has been doing on character design for the archetypal 80s teenage rock n’ roll outer space wizard, Andy Crowley.

The following sketches were only the beginning of a big step forward for the weekly pulp serial of mysticism, melancholy, and mirth. I look forward to seeing the massive cosmic cast of characters realized by Viktoria’s supernaturally talent mind and hand!

Andy-2Andy-3Andy-1

Wait until you see the final full-colour piece later this week!

In the meantime, as I try to build audience for the new site, please consider reading and sharing.

And, if you haven’t yet, you can read (and please share) the prologue here.

Prologue