Who You Are

With but few exceptions, it is always the underdog who wins through sheer willpower. -Johnny Weissmuller

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Alasdair Galloway
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Who You Are

Post by Alasdair Galloway » Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:14 pm

The soft melody being sung by the small creature inside the cage covered by cloth caught my attention. The high-pitched voice didn’t subtract from the haunting beauty of the song, which I thought as gibberish; yet I could tell whatever was hidden inside was happy. I listened until the kindly old shopkeeper returned from the back of the small, but densely-packed store full of all sorts of antique and unique curios.

“Here, young man. Found. Only one on the planet,” he said before placing the item that drew me here into a simple paper bag. I exchanged my currency for the bag, smiling gratefully to the old man.

“Thank you. I’m glad someone knew what it was, let alone had what I was looking for!” I could hear the enthusiasm in my own voice. The search for what was now in my possession was more difficult than I had anticipated, but I was not going to give up. Not when it came to this.

I left the shop, waving back to the owner as he ran bony fingers through his long white beard and smiled at me. I thought I heard the creature underneath the covered cage squeak a “goodbye” as well. It warmed my heart.

I would need that warmth. The shop was in a location of the city I was unfamiliar with – cold, dark, and with rolling fog that felt unnatural. I wasn’t sure how I even got here in the first place, and my uncertain feet began carrying me in the direction which I thought I came from. The shop vanished as I walked away, engulfed in the fog… and I found myself wondering how I even found it in the first place. Lost in these thoughts, I was only snapped from my reverie by a call of help that came from around a nearby corner.

My first instinct was to investigate from a distance – to be able to prepare myself in case the person needed help. Maybe someone else would get there before me. But that is not valiant; that is not knightly. If I wanted to live up to that goal, I couldn’t be the frightened, fragile boy that I still sometimes saw myself as. Another shout for help was answered with a response of my own: “Hold on! I’m coming!” I yelled as my feet quickened their pace into a run.

The fog lifted as I rounded the corner and ran into the alleyway, but the darkness grew. The temperature dropped, and my breath left a long trail in the air behind me as my lungs puffed from the exertion of running. I got closer and closer to the cries of help, and just as I turned another corner, they suddenly stopped. Instead I saw a sight which I had prayed to erase from my memories.

Quickly averting my eyes while the the darkness moved around me; the unearthly whispers crept through the black and slithered into my ears.

You’ll never be him. You’re weak. Coward. Where were you when he needed you? You really think you’ll ever compare? You’re nothing. You were an accident. Second best; second loved. They resent you because you have his face but nothing else. Imitation. It should have been you. It’s your fault. Just give up now. Why keep trying? You’ll never amount to anything… not like he would have. You think anyone cares about you? Do you really believe that gift will mean anything? You’re worthless. Meaningless. You can’t stand against what’s coming. If he couldn’t, what makes you think you have any chance? You’ll be just like him in the end. Scared. Alone.

My eyes held shut tight as the voices wormed their way into my head. The bag was clutched between my arms as they hugged it into my body. My lips moved but my voice had no sound; all I could do keep trying to speak to drown out the venomous words until eventually my voice emerged and was the only sound that existed.

I took a chance in opening my eyes and found myself in a familiar alley close to the run-down apartment complex that I called home. Somewhat confused, I opened the wrinkled and torn bag held in my hands to inspect the would-be gift inside and found that there was some damage done that would need a bit of mending. With a few wobbly steps, and using a nearby wall for balance, I began the slow walk home; I spared a glance behind me, searching for either the person that had cried for help or the owners of the sinister voices or, God forbid, the… other thing.

I felt the exhale of my involuntarily held breath when there was nothing but the empty alleyway at my back. My pace quickened as I hurried toward the safety of my apartment. I needed to do something – anything – to keep my mind busy. I needed to keep those thoughts that needled in the back of my head at bay. I needed to put this behind me and focus on something else. I needed to forget the names I heard whispered to me; the names that were the last thing my brother wrote:

Gog and Magog
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Less Than

Post by Alasdair Galloway » Thu Dec 20, 2018 4:58 pm

You’re a pale imitation. A cheap copy. An inferior wannabe.

I tried to keep the words at bay as I exited the portal from the Isle. That coat of Phil’s had done something to me during the duel; it touched me, and in my mind I saw my brother as I found him that day. Except he was talking. Saying things that I was afraid he thought but kept to himself out of pity. Giving life to the fears that sometimes consumed and crippled me.

Nobody cares about you. No matter how much you smile or try to be kind. They just humor you because they feel sorry for you.


The words sounded exactly like the voices from the other day as they crawled through my brain. I barely spared glances to each passerby as I hurried home, worried that they would all eye me with contempt and disdain… That they would see my weakness and call me a fraud.

Never before has the run-down apartment complex been such a relief to see, nor my shoddy apartment such a welcome refuge. I managed to hold myself together until inside, where I could build the walls around me to keep the images and thoughts of my brother at bay. Safe, away from the judgmental looks of others; from my own insecurities and fears; from the thoughts of rejection; from the names that still rattled in my thoughts as a both a mystery to be solved, and a threat to be prepared for.

I want to be just like my brother was. But I know that I need to be better. What I don’t know is if I have the courage or strength for it.
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God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

Post by Alasdair Galloway » Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:13 pm

After the conclusion of the Christmas Day Mass, Alasdair began the walk to his apartment. During his return home, he could hear the carols echoing through the air, the harmonious voices could be easily mistaken for a choir of angels spreading cheer and joy to all. They sang his favorite carol.

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ our Savior
Was born upon this day,
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray:
O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.


The song was beautiful, and it was enough to bring a hint of a smile to his face, but it was one that was born of sadness. Christmas Day was a complicated time for the young man; he had so many fond memories of it spent among his family and with his brother, but it also brought the most tragic moment in his life. He would never be able to untangle the emotions from each other.

After stopping to feed his horse and pet turkey, he returned to his not-quite-run-down-apartment. Alasdair had decorated the place modestly for the holiday, with only a small roughly three-foot tall tree with flashing lights near his workstation. Beneath the tree was one solitary present, lonely with faded wrapping that had its once bright shimmer turned into a dull luster.

Alasdair sat next to the tree with his legs folded under himself. He reached for the gift and placed it in his lap before lifting the card upon it which read:
“To: Alasdair
From: Niall”

Alasdair didn’t untie the bow which held the straps in place, nor did he tear into the wrapping as if he was transported back to childhood. He instead had the same debate with himself he had every year since he received the gift. If he opened the present, he would be destroying the last remnant of the cheerful memories of Christmases spent with his brother. If he opened the present, maybe that would give him closure that evaded him to this day. He sat as he did every Christmas since that final one with his brother, alone except for the warring factions in his head.

The final line of the carol hung in the air, the only thing to disturb the stillness and silence in the apartment.

O tidings of comfort and joy.

These tidings were absent for Alasdair on this Christmas Day.
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Words of Wisdom

Post by Alasdair Galloway » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:59 am

How long had he been staring?

Alasdair blinked to snap himself from his mini-daze. It had been hours since he sat with the small device in his hands, trying to work up the courage to press a button and activate it. It was his phone, but not really a phone (those cost money); an invention of his own making which could tap into the airwaves, ley lines, radio wave, telephone lines… and almost anything else which floated in that unseen spectrum all around. Alasdair thought about the improvements he needed to make to it, or the adjustments to make it more stable… he thought about anything that would keep him from pressing his hovering thumb down.

He didn’t call on Christmas. He wanted to. Christmas had always been a time for family, but not always a joyous one. Christmas was often when a young Alasdair would be at his happiest, but it was also just a day after Christmas where everything changed. Nothing felt right after that day, years ago, but still they would come together and try… try to repair that which could never be fixed.

He still loved his family, still kept in touch – though not in person, or not even through a telephone call, or any facsimile of one. But he blamed himself, and through that, assumed everyone else blamed him as well. He wasn’t his brother, but he was trying so hard to fill those shoes… and it never felt like it was enough. But they had always told him they loved him no matter what, and that if he ever needed anything, they were there for him. They wanted him to be happy, they said.

After a few more minutes, or maybe another hour, he closed his eyes and dropped his thumb. Before he could change his mind and cancel the connection, an image appeared: an older man with long white hair and a goatee, wearing eyeglasses that were likely as old as Alasdair himself.
“My boy!” the face shouted in a thick Scottish brogue; he was already smiling, with wrinkles creasing around his eyes.

“Hey, da’,” Alasdair replied with a lift and small wave of his hand.

“We got what ya sent us fir Christmas! Yer ma’ loves it – her back feels so much better! And Caelan jus’ loves what ya made him! Plays with it all day an’ makes the other boys jealous!”

“I’m glad to hear that. I’m sorry I didn’t call. I was –”

“It’s all right, lad! I’m sure ya had good reason. Now I’m sure that ya called fir good reason, so lay it on your dear ol’ da',” the man grinned, although he was too close to the screen for Alasdair to see most of it.

Alasdair’s lips curled into an uncontainable smile as he rubbed the back of his neck before responding, “I need your advice, da’. It’s about a girl I met – and she’s amazing. Actually, amazing doesn’t do her justice. Let me tell you about her! Her name is Max…”
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(Nothing But) Flowers

Post by Alasdair Galloway » Fri Jan 25, 2019 2:58 pm

“Epiphyllum oxypetalum.”

The botanist appeared surprised, not so much at the request, but at the specific term used. “You mean the queen of the night? Pretty impressive you knew what it was really called.”

Alasdair beamed a smile toward her; he had practiced many times in reciting the name, and this was the first time he was able to get it out so clearly – without a stumble over any part of the words. “I only know that because my girlf – the girl I’m dating told me what they were. And then wrote it down.” He was careful with his words, not wanting to jinx anything. Besides, he was still confused as to how it was confirmed when people were officially named boyfriend and girlfriend... Is it automatic after some period of time? Is there a discussion? Does someone else have to christen the term?

The botanist gestured for Alasdair to follow her from the storefront back through the doors into the large greenhouse located in the rear. Alasdair guessed that the greenhouse must have spanned miles with the sheer size of it; it contained multiple levels and he saw no end as he walked the grounds, surrounded by colors of every shade. The smells mingled together, creating a unique fragrance that would never be able to be captured in any artificial essence. Led through various turns and passages, the botanist eventually came upon the requested cactus, which was stored in a greenhouse with a desert-like artificial environment.

“You are aware that this isn’t the season for them to bloom, and when they do, it is only for one night? They wilt when the sun rises,” she cautioned Alasdair while allowing him to look over the selection. “So if you’re planning on giving them to someone, they aren’t going to bloom for a while and you may not know when. They take a lot of work to keep up, so they’re not really romantic flowers. You sure you don’t want roses or lilies instead?”

“No,” he answered with a shake of his head. In scanning the cacti, Alasdair beamed a smile as he found what he thought was the perfect one. “Thanks for the warning, but I’ve got this covered.”
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The Sun Never Stops Setting

Post by Alasdair Galloway » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:27 pm

“I think I’ve got it, Trip!” Alasdair shouted, his excitement unable to be contained as he put the finishing touches on his newest invention. Trip didn’t say anything back, because Trip was a baby turkey. A baby turkey that Alasdair fitted with a device that translated his gobbles to words, but – being a baby turkey – Trip still wasn’t much of a conversationalist.

“So you see,” Alasdair continued, undeterred by the fact that Trip wasn’t really listening and was aimlessly wandering underfoot, “This can sort of rewind the hours when anything is placed inside. So if something only happens at night and never again, I can have it replayed so that it happens, well, maybe eternally. Hopefully. This is actually a tough build.”

Alasdair wiped his hands together before tripping over Trip, but he managed to catch himself on the table before falling completely over. Trip gobbled, “Sorry.” The inventor smiled and gave the turkey a pat on the head, and then some blueberries for treats.

“The way her face lit up when she saw the sunset…” He stared off into the distance while recalling that moment from the Governor’s Ball. “She was so lovely. She’s always lovely, but right then, that sense of wonder that I saw. I want to give her that again. So now the question is how…” Alasdair mused to himself, tapping an index finger over and over on his chin. After a moment, he reached for a pencil and set it to a blank sheet of paper on his workbench, scribbling out thoughts and ideas as quickly as they formed in his mind.

An artificial sunset would not do; Max deserved the real thing. And then, after hours of scrapped designs and frustrated pacing, inspiration struck when Alasdair looked back over the first invention. “Capturing a moment of time… Oh! I’ve got it!” he exclaimed, and immediately set to work. When Alasdair set his mind to something, there was very little that could slow his momentum, and even less that could stop him: not the laws of physics, not any scientific impossibilities, and not any rules of magic; and still the young man hadn’t yet realized how much he could create… or how dangerous he could become.

All he was knew was that he wanted to see that astonished look on her face at least one more time.
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Bury a Friend

Post by Alasdair Galloway » Sat Jun 29, 2019 5:48 pm

Aries is broken. Aurora is shattered. The armor encasing you is splintered and fractured.

The world burns as bodies fill the street. You see the lifeless eyes of your friends next to those of gods; mortal or immortal… it doesn’t matter here and now, at the end of everything. Still, you remain determined to finish the fight. It is your responsibility, and you can’t fail. Not while there are still stars in the sky.

Except… this shouldn’t have been left to you. This should have been left to him. He was always the stronger one. He was the fighter. He was the one who would have prevented this. But somehow they got to him. Maybe they showed him a vision of this very moment and it drove him to madness, or maybe they infected his mind to plant sick thoughts inside his head. You sometimes think that you’ve been infected with the same. Why else would you have those thoughts? Why else would you give up all you have for him if it could bring him back? Why haven’t you yet? Your selfishness? Your misguided faith in yourself? The thought that you could prevent this from happening?

You try to push those thoughts down as you have done so many times before. The only thing that matters is stopping the god-killers – the living embodiment of oblivion. You can make something to bring everyone back. You can go back in time. You can still save everyone.

Then you see the last star - your star - in the sky extinguished, and your heart dies along with it.

Now you welcome the end. You feel the same despair as he did. You look for the noose, just like he did. You tighten it around your neck, and…

The nightmare ends.
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