Our intrepid wanderer finds himself on murky shores. He's no idea how he got there or what's in store.
He gathers all of himself that he could muster and begins to trek left—spilling bits of himself every few steps.
He's become unraveled, he thought, undone. Now this clearly will not do. When he arrives it must be of his own doing—collected and stable.
Neither the whims of the tides nor the push of a breeze can he allow to direct his course. Of course, it can only be his own two...what may only conceivably pass for, feet.
Slightly unhinged he's jawing to himself, discussing the familiarity or lack thereof in the stars—not the fish he keeps tripping over below him, but in the Pisces above.
He wonders again about his arrival—assuming there was one to begin with. He entertained the possibility that he'd been here the entire time, but it didn't return the favor so he stopped.
He found pleasure in letting the water gently graze him as he walked, but with each lap he grew fainter.
He needed salvation, vindication, and a good drink. He remembered a chat from a time he can't recall with a man wearing an albatross shawl. He staggered on, sadder and wiser for the fractured memory.
He shuffles on, an almost being, being pulled toward an end. A bit misguided, much like the waves reaching for the moon. In this sentiment, he tries for a running start to nowhere but just comes crashing into the sand instead.
Collecting his parts he stands again. Taking a moment to stretch, his tattered sanity flutters in the cool ocean breeze. Facing fathoms he tries to fathom the phantoms veiling his memory. Finding no fruit in his efforts, he totters on.
As he trudges through sand and time, he tries to sift through his memories, but only finds them at best grainy and fractured like glass.
Every fragment feels charged with determination and he feels the vestiges of an explorer’s spirit. Despite the ignorance pertaining to his arrival, the setting never felt truly foreign to him. He knew well the feel of the waves and the winds that carried them to his legs. The why was hopelessly lost on him.
A sight just ahead nearly knocks him back in revolt. He sees the head of a man, his face contorted in a grotesque bliss. This wretch’s eyes are salt dried and cloudy, his skin is cracked to shards giving way to a dumb grin of rotted teeth dripping putrid dribble on a whiskered chin. Below this head, his bones were arranged so as to spell “No-body”. The vile mass is tied to a mast erected in the sand, oblivious to all but the song of the sirens haunting his mind.
Shivering and unwell, our well-turned traveler turns away and continues gloomily down the beach. With the cresting waves, more memories come flooding back and a sense of unattained glory comes washing over him. He can’t shake the feeling of a hunting man denied his prize.
His labors at the edge of the world have begun to incite a type of hunger. Weary eyes blearily searching ahead spot a mass in the distance. He spies an old man; whole this time, in body at least, dragging a giant fish, which is less so, to shore. Deciding to approach the stranger in hopes of a bite, he makes his way over only to find the old man towing a fish frame picked nearly clean.
When he asked the old man why he would be doing this, he merely muttered something about a promise between man and fish. It appeared one was to remain with the other until the demise of both.
The old man and his fish dragged on from the sea.
Our lost soul sat for a while and considered demise and the realm he was in.
He wondered to himself what this place might be. Considering the scenes that have played before him, a concern began to gurgle deep inside.
Playing back all that's recently transpired a surge of panic wells up around him.
A wave of terror crashes into him as he comes to realize he sits not at the beach of some boundless ocean but instead is seated at the table for the banquet of the bygone.
Horror stricken and drowning in tears borne of his grief our stranded sailor cries out. He tears at his hair and pounds his fists. He pleads against the sands, beseeches mercy from the moon, grovels at the growling sea, and begs the stars for an intercession, but he finds no empathy from those of which he grew so fond.
Hell hears no holler but the wails of lament.
No, he thought as he sat there. This could not be Hell, for he was no man of great, or even minor evils.
It was also quite apparent that he was not strolling the Elysian Fields among heroes and god sons.
This was a realm of another sort altogether but no less haunting for the difference.
Thunder claps in the distance. He gets himself up to seek shelter lest the rain add to his miseries.
His drifts along his beach until his path is quite nearly blocked. In front of him sits a man leashed about the neck to an enormous beached whale. The animal, though indeed beached, lays in a pool of blood, harpoons skewer its sides, standing out like masts, making it look like a ship run ashore. It glistens white in the glow of the moon.
The sitting man looks satisfied as he, with eyes closed and grinning contentedly, pats his prize.
Horrified and desperate to know of what strange place to which he is condemned our capsized captain asks the man what black and grim island has he washed up on.
The man's smile widens. Although he keeps his eyes closed, he replies:
“This is the wasted land of wasted plans. Marooned dreams search for lost gleams thrashed blindly overboard from the decks of biremes and triremes.
This is where a man comes when he is consumed by what he allows to drive the course of his life.
These, friend, are the bowels of desire.”