Xeno Hemlock


The Wagonner

The road was murky. The fog would not clear despite the futile attempts of the god of the wind to clear it up. The dark could not be penetrated and the goddess of light had become exhausted. The silence was terrorizing instead of peaceful, no song from the Muse could cheer me up.

I was commanding the wagon, horses chosen from the best of breed and wheels fashioned from the finest of trees. My passengers, men and women from villages I've traveled to, were all lounged in the box, sharing space with my map, books, and food, essentials to my journey. Unaware of the difficulty that was ahead, they were sleeping, exchanging jokes and gossips, and even nibbling from my stash every now and then. Though the map had indicated a pleasant travel down this road, some unknown force decided to make this trip the opposite.

A joke went too far and the laughter bothered one of the horses. I stopped the wagon, inspected the box and called out a burly man named Buck. “Hey you, your jokes are not funny and are often at the expense of other people. Get off! You're frightening the horses.” I left Buck at the side of the road, the horses calm and alert once more.

The god of the wind huffed and a small area was cleared of fog. The goddess of light lit a candle, a small yellow dot against a black canvas. The Muse played Pathétique, I felt sprightly .

The sound of pages being torn from the books substituted the road's eerie silence. I stopped the wagon, went back to the box and called out an overly dressed woman named Coney. “Hey you, you have no respect for people's ambitions. Instead of supporting, you go ripping off their dreams. Get off! You can never replace those pages.” I abandoned Coney at the side of the road, what was left of my books safe from malicious hands.

The god of the wind puffed and a wide area was cleared of fog. The goddess of light created a light bulb, a young sun flaring up in the vast galaxy. The Muse played Moonlight, I felt carefree.

Glass shattered and metal clanged. I stopped the wagon, returned to the box and called out an overweight man named Deli. “Hey you, you've been eating the food out of schedule. Your gluttony has broken the cookie jars and spilled stew on the floor. You only look out for yourself, without a care nor a thought for the others. Get off! You will make hungry of us all.” I dumped Deli at the side of the road, the remaining food will need to be rationed.

The god of the wind blew a breeze and a large area was cleared of fog. The goddess of light erected a street lamp, a sturdy sentinel now on the lookout for crime. The Muse played Leichte, I felt light-hearted.

There was yelling in the box. A heated argument broke out between two people. I stopped the wagon, rushed to my remaining passengers and pulled Norman and Dick away from each other's throats.

“I was sleeping. He stepped on my toes!” an angry Norman exclaimed.

“He was snoring and woke us all up!” Dick countered.

“Both of you, get off! You do nothing but laze around here, Norman. You always cause trouble over simple things, Dick. You both disturb the goodwill and the peace,” I told them. Norman and Dick were ditched at the side of the road, the box now free of snoring and fighting.

The god of the wind called forth a gust and a vast area was cleared of fog. The goddess of light conjured a fire, surrounding the wagon with light and heat from its burning flames. The Muse played Hammerklavier, me and the horses felt buoyant.

“How long before we get to the destination?” a woman called out to me. I halted the wagon, walked to the box with a spring to my steps. A lady named Susannah Leyland had been waiting for my arrival. “How many hours more before we arrive there?”

I pointed a finger to the side of the road. “Hey you, you've been wasting time just waiting. Get off! See for yourself how long from here to the destination and how many hours it shall take.” I deserted Susannah.

The god of the wind called forth a zephyr and the road was finally fog free. The goddess of light courted the sun, the night had surrendered to the day. The Muse played Spring, me and the horses felt joyful.

No longer was I shouting “Get off!” for there was no one else left from my passengers. I traveled for hours and hours and the horses kept me in good company. When we stopped for them to drink, I picked a book and touched the unread pages. Rationing the food was not a problem at all. We slept in peace, no snoring not even neighing. The map was right all along. The journey was indeed pleasant after I had forsaken the wagon's passengers.

Cover image: Horse by Jelle