When I was only ten, my life was turned upside down. An entire childhood was stolen by the great disappearance of Uncle Bruce.
My parents frantically drove down to the police station. My father recounted the events to the officers, who studiously took his statement. Last known to be driving from Goose Creek towards Hiltonhead.
“I just spoke with him… before he set out,” my father said, with his face buried in his palms. “I knew something was wrong when he didn’t answer his phone…”
A crack in my uncle’s case came twenty-four hours later — the Walterboro Police Department found his old LTD Ford, abandoned on the shoulder of I- 95, keys still dangling from the ignition. He never made it to Hilton Head…
A month came and went… exhausted, stressed out, and with no leads, my parents had all but given up hope of ever finding my father’s brother. The detectives presumed him dead. There was never any closure. Nevertheless, I guarded a shred of hope that one day he would turn up.
A year turned into ten. Now in my twenties, my family never recovered, and my father’s health slowly deteriorated. Ironically, his final stroke came while he was driving. Once more, I found myself standing on the shoulder of the interstate near Hiltonhead, SC. There on the metal guard were two white crosses.
My mother tried her best to make up for the absence of his presence. She had resolved to shake off the trauma which had plagued our household and start a new life. However, three years later she lost her battle with depression. I heard my sister screech,” Mom wake up!!!”
Yet another scene which shall be permanently transfixed in my mind, as though a camera in my brain decided to make it my wallpaper — My dead mom… and a pill bottle dumped onto the nightstand.
I was asked to give her eulogy. I did my best as I stumbled through it, trying to find the right words.
The only family member I had left was my sister. However, with our parents gone, she did not feel the need to pretend we were ever close. I am still unsure to this day if she believes the events I am about to share.
A random feeling of déjà vu kept weighing on me. Standing on the six feet social distance arrow in the check out line, my eyes fixed on a front tabloid. “Man Claims Alien Abduction!” The headline read, with a fuzzy black and white photo. Even though fifteen years had passed since I last saw him; there was no mistaking it — it was my uncle Bruce. He had not aged a day….
Without hesitation, I set out on a road trip to the location captioned underneath the picture. I committed the name to memory, “Fenwick Hall.” I chanted it to myself repeatedly, as several mile markers blurred passed and bounced off my side mirrors. To my surprise, Fenwick Hall was not a concert hall auditorium for performers. Fenwick Hall was an in patient care facility, less affectionally referred to as an asylum.
Before the nurses allowed me to see the man I believed to be my uncle, I had to sign a patient confidentiality form, remove all my jewelry, and set it in a plastic bin.
My face must have portrayed the bewilderment of my childhood, mistaken for concern for my relinquished objects. The nurse smiled at me, “Don’t worry, you will get them back once you sign out. We ask visitors to remove any sharp objects on their person. To protect the visitor from the patient. May I see your picture ID?” I silently confirmed my identity. “Yep , that’s you,” she chirped as she pressed a button and buzzed me into a hallway.
I was greeted by the shift change orderly. “Hello, we are happy you have come, we were unaware our long time resident had any family.” He escorted me into his room, and a cold chill ran down my spine when I caught a glimpse of my uncle…
He was sitting up in bed. Frantically, he scribbled in a black and white checked notebook. He had grown long, knotty dreds, down passed his shoulders, and he had not aged a single day.
He finally acknowledged my presence, squinting his eyes up at me, as if trying to place me.
I broke the silence. “Uncle Bruce, it’s me, Daniel!”
A warm smile stretched across his face. Something was familiar about his grin. It was the same as my father’s; and I must have reminded him of a younger version of his brother, because that was the first thing he asked. “Where’s Robert?” He said.
I really did not want to be the one to tell him of his brother’s passing. So I avoided the question all together.
“Where have you been?” I asked curiously.
As soon as the words left my mouth, I realized I did not really want to talk about that either.
Instantly, I changed the subject, “Just give me a hug man!”
I will never forget how good it felt to be hugged by him. It was like hugging my dad. I did not care what scam he was playing with the “abducted by aliens” theory.
My dad had always told me, “Your Uncle has always been a bit of a con-artist.” I was just happy he was back in my life again. He must be working some angle for a disability check…
Soon, I discovered he was one hundred percent serious!
“I am not talking little green men! It’s nothing like that, Daniel. “ He repeated urgently.
When I brought uncle Bruce back to my downtown apartment in Charleston, we did not talk much. However, he made himself comfortable on my old beat-up couch. As if he was on auto-pilot, he retrieved his notebook from his bag and started to scribble notes. How peculiar it was! He would just write and write…
Our morning ritual never deviated: I pressed the coffee, and we talked over the steam, “Ahh! Breath like a dragon, aye Daniel!”
I nodded with a smirk at his comment.
My alarm went off, and that was my cue to leave for work. Uncle Bruce never flinched, like he wasn’t present. His mind always transfixed, in the margins of his notebook. Only pausing to sip his coffee and wipe dribbles of expresso off the crisp white pages. He would give himself a pep talk as he crossed out words and added others.
As I worked in my home office, I heard rustling of papers, and groans of annoyance.
When six in the evening came, my IT job was finished.
I entered in the living room. To my surprise, my uncle had not moved from the couch. His checkered notebook covered his eyes, and the pages flipped with each breath. I decided to wake him, “Hey, man, you hungry?” I asked.
I saw the startled look in his eyes. “Yeah,” he muttered. We ate in silence until he broke the gap with our first real conversation…
“How are your parents, bud?”
“I don’t know how to tell you this? But they have passed…” I stuttered.
He then reached for me, and held me close, soaking my hoodie with tears. But I was stunned by how quickly he recovered, muttering to himself, “There must be a way to merge this timeline. My brother can’t be gone!”
In a frenzy, Uncle Bruce set his mind, to the pen, letting ideas flow…
How curious. I rolled my eyes… Eventually, I am going to have to address this living situation, I thought. He doesn’t seem interested in establishing any independence — he just stays in and keeps writing. Nothing else…
My curiosity finally got the best of me one day, and I asked, “Hey Uncle Bruce, man, what are you always writing about?”
With darkened circles and puffy eyes, he tilted his head in confusion at my question. He deliberately set his pen down, passive aggressively on the coffee table. Then, frantically, he started searching through his scraps of writings.
Finally, when his hands grasped what he had been looking for, he paused, then drew a deep breathe. After what seemed to me to be careful consideration, he handed me the notorious checkered notebook – the one he had shoved way down between the couch cushions, where he guarded his deepest thoughts.
“Isn’t this the one you had on you in Fenwick Hall?” I asked.
My uncle grinned, “Start with this,” he said, monotone.
“Okay man, thanks… good night, man.”
The notebook felt cold in my hands as I climbed into bed, touching the base of my orb light. I opened to the dedication page.
To all the wizards and witches of Wik.
I flipped to the next page, titled: Imprisonment With the Wizard of Wik
As my finger tips brushed over the handwritten title, my exhausted mind began to play tricks on me as the letters began to glow.
I must be tired, I thought. Yeah, that’s it… just stress and eye strain…
I shook myself awake and tossed it haphazardly on the nightstand as I sat up to read…
“I could feel the curves of the road. I saw the flash of I-95 out of the corner of my eye. I could feel the thump in my chest as I pressed the break to the floor…
“I spotted a man, tapping a white cane in front of him… listening to engines as they hummed past…
“Do you need a ride?” I heard my voice echo from the rolled down window…
“The old man shooed me… “Go away!“
Out of pure concern, I pulled off on the shoulder and stepped out of the truck, insisting, “You shouldn’t be out here on the highway, you could get clipped by a car. Let me take you to the nearest gas station.”
“I don’t need help, go away!” The man growled.
“I could feel myself growing impatient, the urge to get in my truck and peel out…
“A great darkness smothered the hood of my truck as the shadowy mist seeped through the vents. I looked towards the sky, and what I saw was unbelievable! I had to rub my eyes in disbelief. Hovering twenty yards above me was a silver UFO.”
“Get in your truck, don’t look back!” The old man barked…
“But I was in shock, my feet firmly planted. The old’s man voice was drowned out by a ringing in my ears…
“A multitude of humanoids surrounded us. I could feel panic rise inside my chest. A trap door sprung from the underside of the vessel, landing with a thud against the asphalt.”
“They referred to the old man as “Enoch, the seventh from Adam.” Confused, I stared blankly back and forth at the two.”
“One of the humanoids placed their boneless, pointer finger against my temple…
“This action flooded my brain with memories that felt too good to be true…
“Long ago, Enoch was abducted and assimilated into the alien race. He has been able to elude his captors… They had a king over them, known as the “Lord of Paradox.” The old man was a fugitive, famous for his travels along several dimensions, with intent of recruiting an army of storytellers.”
“I have traveled through many dimensions! My planet many of time mistaken for a star, because of its dim glow. But I say, there is no brighter star than the star of Alar.”
I could read no more. My uncle had gone mad.
About a week after I read through the pages inside the notebook, I heard footsteps behind me, while locking my pickup door. My neighbor Mrs. Marley approached me like a ball of nervous energy. She kept eyeing my front door before finally speaking up, “ I saw a strange old man in your house, and I am sure he isn’t your Uncle…”
I was relieved my uncle had made a friend. Nevertheless, I dismissed Mrs. Marley’s claims as I fidgeted with my keys to unlock my door.
Mrs. Marley, being the nosy neighbor she was, peaked her head in, commenting, “Daniel, I didn’t see anyone leave?”
“Hey, Mrs. Marley, could you describe the man to me?” I acknowledged her feelings of concern.
She looked up and pinched her chin. “He was dressed in a long dress robe. A walking stick in hand, that he kept tapping on the ground. Around his neck was a strange necklace, with some sort of madallion.. like a white dragon claw sphere, holding a glassy opal sphere. He was muttering to the stone, like one of those people who go to those cosplay conventions you rave about. Well, if you see your Uncle, tell him I said hi!”
I nodded, bewildered, and wandered into the living room, expecting to see my uncle passed out perusal.
I searched the entire house. To my surprise, my uncle was nowhere to be found. I checked to see if he left me a voicemail.
All of his belongings were gone, except for a tower of notebooks.
I didn’t know what to believe anymore…
Had my uncle truly gone mad, or did the events in his notebook actually take place? Who was this strange man Mrs. Marley saw?
I did a quick Google search to see if there were any independent reports of UFO sightings during the time in question. Several articles popped up which peeked my interest, but to this day I do not know whether they referred to the same events.
The sinking feeling that I was utterly alone crept in. I could do nothing but stare out my living room window.
Shortly before reuniting with my presumed dead uncle, I had been struggling with finding purpose and self worth in my life.
I had chosen to throw myself into work, desperately trying to make ends meet. I had no time for a social life.
I think my social skills scare people sometimes. I went on a first date after months of being single. I tried my best to not tell her about the apps I build, or my uncle’s checkered notebook.
She would ask , “What do you do for work? “
I would respond, “ I build apps.“
“What do you mean you build apps?” A confused look on her face.
I guess people think apps just come from the Gods?
For a brief moment, during my uncle’s stay, I had felt myself beginning to feel less lonely. He gave me someone to confide in. I had gotten use to his presence in my life. Now, with him disappearing on me again, I did not have much hope he would come back.
I guess that’s part of growing up. That didn’t mean his absence hurt any less.
Tears had always made me feel better. As everyone knows, eyes are windows to the soul. So I let them flow freely and unabashed, gazing through them to view the night sky.
I began to wonder if my uncle’s story was true, and; if so, where in that beautiful sky he could have been?
A brief flicker of a comets tail, a sense he was answering visually.
I turned toward the notebooks on the table.
As I picked up the notebook, a folded sheet of paper fell to the floor. The words, “To Daniel” were legible script on the front side.
The letter read:
I have done my part, these notebooks should serve you well.
I know once you read my work, you will understand, as I, too, have come to the understanding of my place in the universe.
I have selected you to answer a question which has intrigued mankind over centuries.
Promise me, these words will be passed on for all who need magic in their lives.?
Oh, and Daniel, do not be sad, as I can promise you — we will see each other again when the paradigm shifts.
If you write it, the Wizard of Wik will come.
And so… I read all the notebooks. And, just as the note said, I understood. It was not long before I, too, was seized by a writing frenzy. I quit my job and began writing and editing full time.
There is a powerful wizard who inhabits the realm of the stories of man.
His story — his origins and existence — goes beyond all human life. A powerful wizard, mirrors the glory of stories told by man. His hearts desire is to recruit new storytellers. A single voice alone, can be defended. However, several voices carry powers outstretching the boundaries of imagination.
Who is this special wordsmith? No other than the Wizard of Wik. This unearthly humanoid has circled the planet many a centuries. A self proclaimed mentor among all forms of royalty.
Wik is no conqueror of man, but a liberator of entire nations. He possesses a talent of whispering common sense into many ears of influencers through menology.
With each passing decade, the storyteller’s power intensifies.
The mission he is undergoing is massive. This rare creature has the ability to shape any narrative, all while merging days into nights, times and dimensions. Will he use this gift to shape and enlighten generations to come, or will he succumb to social pressures and start another uprising….
Original concept by Daniel Perley – revised by Saroyan Coles
Many thanks to Saroyan Coles for bringing life to this story, for believing in the Wizards mission, and for blessing us all with her poetry. She is not the poet, she is the poem.