Eyes widen, full moon directly in front of him, a pleasant sight. Dirk feels the warmth of a fire, hears the crackling of the wood. Must have been out for some time. Going back to darkness, but for a few seconds. He wakes with horror to think that he died and is now awaiting judgment or worse. Nothing, nothing but an old cowboy sitting on a log with a plate filled with meat and vegetables. The old man’s mustache shook as he chewed thoroughly and his beard too as he swallowed. He just sat there, not paying much attention to Dirk nor his condition. The old man was a skinny fellow, but looked like he had been through many rough times from life. His big nose was a bit red, a bruise perhaps. Dusty old jeans that swayed whenever the wind blew gently across. Jacket and shirt showed signs of wear and tear. This guy mustn’t have changed clothes for a long time.
Dirk slowly got up, putting his hand behind his head, trying to feel for any wounds. None, in fact he was still in one piece, no tears or gashes. Breathless, he turned to the old cowboy with questions running through his head.
“Wh-what the Hell just happened?” Dirk spouted out with still in disbelief with all that happened. The old cowboy stopped eating, put down his plate and picked up a small cloth to wipe his mouth. Then looking up with a smirk and said “Found ya”.
“You just found me?”
The old cowboy put his eyes on the fire, and back to Dirk.
Dirk stood there for a few seconds, then looked around to get a hold of where he was. There was a large rock towering over them, probably seventeen or nineteen feet high, but not too wide. Same damn ground you can see for miles on out, and nothing else. No signs of lights out in the distance or any wild life. A few rocks and some tumble weeds scattered about, nothing else.
“What about the demon?” he asked as Dirk looked back at the old cowboy, “That thing got me! I know because it hit me hard and I was out!”
The old cowboy chuckled, picked up a small stick to move the hot logs around and glanced back at Dirk.
“No demon when I found ya and no horse either” he replied as he went back to focusing on the fire.
Dirk remembered hearing the horse galloping away, and the demon’s grin. Something must have happened, he tried to remember. A force that knocked him off, the horse, darkness, a struggle. A struggle. His hands on his mouth, thinking the unthinkable.
At first a whisper, catching the old cowboy’s attention.
“An angel” Dirk said a bit louder. He raised his arms in the air, “Praise the Lord!” he yelled with excitement. The old cowboy chuckled again and said “Boy, if it were an angel then I would’ve seen some feathers and I didn’t see any.”
“Well Hell’s bells, old man!” Dirk replied with sarcasm, “You study angels?”
The old man cocked an eyebrow with a smirk, “Nope, just this land”
Dirk continued to look around, trying to get a hold of where he is exactly. Still lost, but didn’t want to show it off.
“You’re lost and you know it” the old man said to enforce the idea on Dirk, “But I’m not, and we’re in good hands. For now.”
Dirk spun around when he heard “For now”, showing off a confused look. “What do you mean ‘for now’, old man?”
The old man sighed, took a glance to the east, then back to Dirk. “We’re in good hands because this is sacred land that you’re standin’ on” he said following a smirk, “Come on, we gotta get going. We need to head east to see a friend of mine.”
Dirk said nothing, for all he could do was nothing. Everything that had happened to him now was out of his control.
As he got onto the horse, feelings of joy and sadness flowed into his mind and heart. A moment of silence, then slowly they went out of darkness and then into light. As they rode into the blinding light, visible images of reality settled in. First it was the soft grass, then the calm black ocean off in the distance, and finally the endless blue sky above.
While this story is the property of Eric McVinney, the title and references from any Sonata Arctica song belongs to Sonata Arctica. Distribution to any unauthorized persons are prohibited.