THE JOURNEY, ARCHETYPE IN A POP SONG STRUCTURE • by Daniel Ausema

The family’s frightened glances wandered the spaces behind them, until a crash woke them to the danger ahead. A terror bird stalked among the shadows, its curved beak pointed their way. Irenne picked up two children and ran while Taidge grabbed their third child under one arm, his wood-ax worthless in his other hand. Claws scraped his back. A beak tore the leaves just above his head. “In here!” Irenne called, voice scarred by the pain of her own wounds, and Taidge pushed through brambles into a low cave. The terror bird squawked its anger and ran off after easier prey.

***

Twisting, slipping, spinning, sliding, hiding, running. Every journey is the same shuddering of terror and calm, fear and rescue.

***

Avoiding terror birds became their goal until the shadows reminded them why they fled in the first place. The bony shadows of trees reached for them. Irenne and Taidge mumbled spells of warding, but tendrils of shadow reached through the cracks, caressed their minds, their children. At an ancient ruin they stopped, formed a circle. Dusk’s shadows, their enemy’s most powerful weapons, leaned over the frightened family. A prayer from her grandmother, a spell from his uncle, a whisper of wind that brushed the children’s lips, and the shadows fled, driven off. Briefly at least.

***

Casting, praying, crying, fleeing, reaching, falling. Each journey is the same battle against shadows, fight against fear.

***

A high span of stone curved over the forest. The family climbed, scared of the pursuing shadows, arms and legs scarred by the beaks of terror birds. Screams chased them up the incline, screams of dying trees, of angry birds, of bloodthirsty shadows. Their own children cried too, but they couldn’t stop running. How old this bridge? It must have stood for centuries, high over the quick river. Irenne and Taidge dodged crumbling craters, prayed the stone would hold them. Taidge called lightning to banish the shadows as night fell. Irenne summoned mist from the river below to swallow those shadows that escaped. Pebbles slipping beneath the soles of their shoes, the family finally descended to the new land on the other side.

***

Unfamiliar trees welcomed the family. Shadows with no hint of malice hid beneath their branches. Still Irenne walked carefully, holding one child by the hand, a second asleep against her shoulder. Taidge led the other, his wood-ax in his free hand. Nothing attacked. Nothing pursued. They didn’t relax, but for the first time since their flight they began to hope for a day when they might relax, easy beside a cool lake or deep in a quiet forest. The wolves showed no interest in the humans. This new land seemed to welcome the wanderers, and they looked for a perfect place to end their journey.

***

Resting or racing, climbing or descending, fighting or accepting. Each journey diverges as it slips through dreams, from land to land.


Daniel Ausema has a background in journalism and experiential education and is a stay-at-home dad. His fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous publications, including Every Day Fiction, Nemonymous 7, Raven Electrick, Fictitious Force and Reflection”s Edge. He lives in Colorado at the foot of the mountains.


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