|A Change of Direction|
It is said: That to be a good follower, you must have a good leader. And nowhere is this more important then the field of law enforcement. Outside of this realm, leader's who are appointed to act as a rubber stamp can't do major damage. But in police work such a leader is a danger to all. Lori spent her whole life trying to use her innate abilities to better her little corner of the world. And even though continually prevented from those of affluent authority she continued her struggles. Choosing to follow the path of a street cop, she made the wholehearted attempt to live up to the motto: protect, and serve. But the reality of small town politics dictated she had to serve under a rubber stamp.
Now as she looks out the small school bus window she ponders her future, the memory of that meeting with the chief echoing through her mind.
"That's true patrolman. You don't have to do anything. You don't even have to work here. There is a long list of people who want your job. People who will do as they are told!"
"Chief! You cannot order me to do an illegal thing!" I "WILL NOT" charge anyone with a crime, when that crime does not exist!!"
Patrolman! That is insubordination! I have been authorized to place you on immediate suspension until a hearing can be scheduled for your termination! Now get out of here, and leave your credentials with the sergeant. Also I am very pleased to inform you that the Attorney General's office is completing an investigation of you! And from what I hear, you're out of here. Why don't you do yourself a great favor? Quit now, and stop deluding yourself. You where never made to be cop. If nature intended such a thing you would be from a better family.
Lori's mind return's to the world as she find's herself back in the Park's parking lot. Getting off the shuttle bus, she experiences the freshness of the early spring air as it embraces her. Walking to the boat launch she takes in her surrounding's, getting the feel of the environment. Watching the actions of the people around her, she shudder's and closes her eyes. "I've got to stop this!" She stop's in mid stride and puts her hands to her eyes. I have got to stop seeing everyone as a criminal." Looking up to the sky like a child pleading for help:" I have been with corrupt people for too long! There has to be a way to end this!" Composing herself, she walk's to her canoe. Kneeling next to it she look's over what will be her home, and transportation for the next five day's. Even though she goes through the motions, her mind is far from what her body is doing.
"Every thing OK, ma'am?" A deep voice asks, shaking Lori from her stupor
"Huh? What?" Lori look's up into the dark eye's of a park ranger kneeling across from her.
"Is every thin OK? You look lost." He say's in a calm, and smiling tone.
"Oh.... yeah.... Just making sure!" Lori quickly look's down and start's to fidget with tie down's.
"As I can tell, you've done this before. The ranger calmly say's in an impressed tone. You have every thing stowed properly. And I see some innovation's that I have never seen before."
"Thanks." Lori retorts in an embarrassed tone. "It's just...." trailing off as she look's to the river.
"Yeah. It is kind of high for this time of year. So far no one hurt." "But are you sure your OK?" The ranger say's in concern.
"Yeah! Yeah I'm OK. It's just... It's a personal problem that I got to work out." Lori say's in a somber tone. " I always found the river a way to work out solution's to my problem's."
"I see." The ranger said as he stood up. Smiling. "There's something you should know ma'am."
"And what is that?" Lori asks apprehensively, looking up at him.
"All nature has its protector's. Who knows? Maybe you'll run into one who can help you with your problem."
"Sir." Lori say's smiling. "The way my life has been, I'm not counting on it!"
Putting on her life vest, and helmet Lori pushes the canoe into the water with the help of the ranger. She ferries into the current, turning around waving to the ranger. The current was not fast, but the ranger was amazed at how the river took her onto itself. Like a mother collecting her children to herself.
The ranger watches Lori as she paddles down stream, and around a bend out of sight.
"What's wrong Mike?" Another ranger asks as he walk's up.
"I don't know?" Just that I feel that girl is about to go on a bigger journey then she expects."
"Is that the Shaman showing, or just your hunch?" The other man say's smiling.
"I think it's both!" Mike say's sighing deeply. Looking to his partner "What ever it is she'll have to face it alone. Only she can choose how to walk her path."
"You know Mike." You scare me when you talk like this." As the other ranger looks around he slap's Mike on the shoulder. "It's pretty calm now. Let's get some coffee, it look's like rain coming up."
He leaves Mike standing there staring at the river. "You know." He say's to himself. "Some time's I scare myself too!" He turns, and walks to the ranger station, stoic, contemplative. Not understanding what his feelings and insight's are telling him. As Lori paddles on, she too feels's something. That gnawing feeling that something drastic is about to happen. "Oh god!" She moans; " I have got to relax!" "The hearing is scheduled for next week. I can't go on like this!" Lori feel's a shudder as the water turn's rough, and her canoe is taken into the first set of rapids. Her attention is suddenly brought back to where she is. Paddling into the current she maneuvers the canoe through, and comes back to the serene calmness of the forest. Looking around in the calm she finally notices that she is not alone. The bird's singing in the dense woods. A family of hawk's watching her from their tree top perch, a doe and her fauns drinking at the shoreline. They look up at her, and then go back to drinking. "Strange?" Lori mutters. "They didn't even flag." She look's down into the deep, but clear water: She sees the bass, trout, and other river life swimming along with her.
As she continues down stream, a soft gentle rain starts. Lori, lay's back and let's the water wash over her, the steady and gentle rhythmic throb taking her mind to a peaceful serene darkness. Drifting with the slow current Lori feel's herself shedding her fears, her soul merging with the tranquility of the river. She is suddenly jarred awake. She sits bolt upright, and then, staring into the face of a large rock, she comprehends what happened. . Sighing she pushes away, and head's for shore.
After setting up camp, the rain stops. A campfire slowly burning itself out, she look's out onto the river. The glass like sheen mirroring the stars and moon, Lori sees logs, and tree limbs as they float tranquilly with the current. She takes in the calming memorization, as the water lap's the shore. The hoot of an owl brings her mind back to her ordeal. Laying back onto her sleeping bag she look's up at the heaven's, sobbing;
Why is it you don't let me use what you gave me? Rolling over, looking into the forest she continues. "I must be damned! What else could it be? From he first moment of my being, I was damned to the torments of hell! Lori buries her face in her arm's crying: " It's eternal isn't it. No beginning, No ending, and my life just one torment after another."
Tearfully she return's her gaze to the river. "Maybe if I'm lucky I won't get back. But then that would end the torment and that will never happen. You wouldn't permit your amusement to end would you?!" During this tirade of self-abuse Lori eventually cry's herself asleep.
Now morning, Lori wakes up to a cold wet tickling around her nose. Opening her eye's she startles, and pushes away from the source. Her mind waking up she notices two otter's watching her from on top of a large rock. A third swimming out of the river, where Lori had just thrown it. Shaking her head she wakes up. "What's happening?!" She mutters. The otter's jump on her and begin to play with each other, and her. The one just coming out of the river hop's to her lap and like a dog shakes the water onto Lori. "Hey I didn't mean it personally", Lori protests smiling.
After several minutes of this Lori sets up for breakfast. "So. What will it be?" She asks her newfound friends. "Powdered eggs, or powdered eggs?" Expecting them to run off she is surprised that they all line up, and sit down waiting.
"OK!" She tells herself. I'll be waking up soon, and find myself on the Psych ward. She puts out a bowl, and piles some food into it. The otter's scurry up and begin to eat. Shaking her head Lori begins to talk with them as they all eat. "Well? Come here often? I'm just passing through myself. So what's the summer like around here? After breakfast and clean up Lori looks to the crystal blue sky, the morning sun now fully over the horizon. For the first time since her suspension she feels peace. Her new friend's finish eating, and curl up on her lap. Looking down after several minute's she find's that she was petting them, and they lay curled up in her lap like contented kitten's.
"What is happening to me??!! This was a mistake to come here. I'm just setting myself up for another fall!" Looking up to the sun she angrily retorts: " NO!! Not this time! I know your going to screw me again; so you better find another source of amusement! She shoos the otter's off her lap, and pack's up the canoe. The otter's watch her from the shore as Lori paddles down stream.
Shaking her head Lori mutters to herself; " This whole thing has been a mistake! I should have just resigned. When I get back that's what I am going to do. Resign!!! Hopefully that'll take the AG off my back. For what ever reason why they where there to begin with." Paddling faster she continues the self-degradation: "I'll be what I was supposed to be! Some type of dependent, ignorant fool! Looking up to the sky she screams: " Do you hear that! You win! I'm going to be what you intended! Now what are you going to do for amusement!!??"
Looking back onto the river she sees the next set of rapids approaching fast. Lori mentally prepares herself, and goes head long into the white water. A drop of several feet suddenly comes up, and she is thrown from the canoe. She is slammed head and shoulder first into a large rock, the force cracking her helmet. Dazed and numb the current takes her farther down stream. And is again hurled into rock's. Lori feel's the distinct snap of bone breaking in her lower legs.
Like a rag doll the river takes her and carries her broken body through the foaming white water. In what seemed an infinity, Lori eventually find's herself floating in calmness, her body slowly developing the intense fire of pain. Dazed, and hurting she succumbs letting the current take her. Coming onto the shallow's she looks around her surroundings. Blood dripping into her eyes, and the now white hot pain racking her body she finally passes out.
Coming around Lori start's to feel pain rack her body. With every second the pain grew. And with each second she gain's another level of concessions. With tear's welling up in her eyes she start's to get up, but is gently stopped.
"Hold it girl! Just lay back, and let us see what the damage is." A gentle and reassuring voice tells her.
Opening her eye's Lori finds a man with a stocking cap, and sunglasses smiling down at her.
"It look's like you took a good tumble girl! What where you thinking about when you hit those rapid's?" A female voice asks her from the direction of her feet. "Who?? What??" Lori sputter's, looking down towards her feet. Lori sees a woman standing waist deep in the water.
"It's OK. You're going to be OK now. The female voice say's. "Just lay back, and let us see what has to be done." The woman say's in a reassuring voice.
"But who....??" Lori starts in a pain-toned voice.
"I'm Pete, and this is June." The stocking capped man tells her. "June here use to be a doctor."
"Use to??!!" Lori replies
"Well that's another story." June say's laughing. "But! This is going to sound stupid. Where exactly does it hurt?"
"ALL over!" Lori gasps. "I'm Lori, she sputter's as water is choked out of her throat. "How did you find me?"
"Well. Ve have vays ov vinding out!" Pete say's in mock tone.
"But you did do yourself some damage Lori!" June say's butting in. Your leg is broken. Your shoulder is dislocated, and you have a closed skull fracture." June motion's for Pete to hold Lori, and then grab's her shoulder jerking it forward. A very distinct crack is hard, and Lori jump's into Pete's arm's.
Lori screams and then start's sobbing. "Sorry." June say's. It had to be done. June then goes to Lori's leg. Gingerly picking it up she looks at Lori with a sympathetic smile. "Ready!" June asks. Lori knowing what must be done nod's her head, and hold's onto Pete. June pull's fast and hard. Another crack is heard; the bones in her leg being re-set. Lori eyes widen, and she open's her mouth to scream. But the pain so intense, she only gasps. Pete feel's her hand squeeze his, and then going limp, as she passes into unconsciousness.
Lori notices the star's as she wakes up. Looking around, a campfire is blazing, and a pot over it. She feels a dull throb permeating her body. She start's to get up, and stopping half way. Wincing, as the pain in her head grows. Causing her to feel like it's going to explode. She gently lay's back down. "OH god!" She mutter's, looking up into the night sky. "What's wrong? I said you win! What is this; some last minute fun?!
"I see you back form the void." Pete say's.
Lori slowly looks around, and sees Pete on the other side of the fire. June is there also. Laying one her side, above Lori's head, her body against several shrubs.
"I would rather have stayed there!" Lore say's disgustedly.
"Now why would some one like you; Want to stay in oblivion?" June asks smiling.
"It's a long story." Lori says in a forlorn fashion.
"Well you'll tell us when your ready." Pete says. "But for now it's time to eat." He say's and motions in dramatic fashion. Catching Lori's attention.
"And while your doing that." June say's smilingly. " I am going to put some of this suave on your head. It'll help heal the concussion." June comes up behind Lori.
Lori wenches as the putrid smelling ointment is put on the cut above her ear. "That stinks!" She say's in a disagreeable tone.
"Well? What did you expect? Star Trek." June retort's laughing. With that Lori also laughs.
"NOW that is better." Pete say's smiling. "You are beautiful when you smile", he says, as he hands her a bowl of steaming food.
Getting down around the fire June asks Lore what she does for a living. Lori between bites, tells her; "I am... or was a cop."
"Was" June exclaims. " Pete here was once a cop also. And there some thing I come to conclude: Once a cop, always a cop."
Lori looks down into her bowl, sullen and dejected, again tears coming to her eyes. "Then you must be one of the chosen."
"Chosen?" Pete says. "Far from it!" What June is neglecting to say is that I left my department some time ago. I found another jurisdiction. Or should I say, it found me." Smilingly looking at June. Pete look's back at Lori, and notices she's crying. "What's wrong?" He asks sympathetically.
Lori puts down her bowl, and wipes the tears from her eye's. "It's OK Lori. You can trust us." June say's in a comforting tone. "What's wrong??"
In between sobs Lori starts her story, the suspension, the upcoming hearing, her life. "No matter what I did, what I shown I could do. I was not permitted. If the chosen families could not do it, or know about it, it didn't happen, couldn't happen, and it wouldn't happen."
Pete looks at Lori:" Sounds like they where all tests."
"Tests??!!" Lori exclaims.
"Yeah test's." June exclaims. "The way it sound's your about to get a new job."
"New Job." Lori quips back. "The way my life is, it'll be making license plates. After all isn't that I was put here to do!" To be some type of gutter person." Lori begins to yawn, and suddenly just fall's to sleep.
"You never know Lori." June say's smiling. "There are things in the universe greater then those who tried to keep you down." Pete smile's and puts a blanket on the now sleeping Lori.
"Lori? Lori?" A female voice calls out in a singsong way. Lori hears her name, first at a distance then gradually louder. Opening her eyes, Lori sees June's smiling face. "Well good morning. And how do you feel?"
Lori sits up, and then remembers the injuries. She goes to touch her head, and feel's no pain in doing so. Looking at her arm she stammers: "It work's!!??"
"Well of course it works." June say's in mock insult. " I haven't lost any one yet while I was out here." "Time for breakfast", June says, this time in mock elegance, and aristocracy.
Lori sees that she is again waist deep in the water. "How long have I been...."?
"Out." June says.
"Well you took your header yesterday morning. But now it's time to eat." June puts out a bowl, and then looks behind a rock. "Well. Go ahead. Take it to her." Lori watches as an otter comes out form behind the rock, and nudge the bowel to her. Amazed, Lori look's around, and sees two more come out; huddling around another bowl, June put out.
"Those look familiar." Lori smilingly says.
"They should." June say's still smiling. "They where your wake up call yesterday morning."
Looking down on the otter that nudged the bowl to her Lori, in an expression of OOPS's. " Sorry. It was.... well.... I'm just sorry." The otter nuzzles her like a kitten; Sort of like saying It's OK. I would have done the same thing." While they are eating, June brings up the conversation of the night before. Lori stops eating, and again tear's welling up hang's her head. "I know how you feel." June say's. "Both myself, and Pete come from the same background." "But we have found another way!"
"But my life..." Lori cries out.
"Lori." June says in a comforting tone. "There are things in the universe that you have yet to experience. But you will. And very soon, you'll understand everything. You say you lost all hope, and your going to be what you say: They intended you to be." "I have news for you girl. THEY are nothing!" Lori sobbing, sits on the ground. The otter's slowly go to her and nuzzle her like kittens. June continues, "If they where of substance you wouldn't have continued as you did."
"So what does that mean??!" Lori say's through sobs. " I still have the same problems." Looking out onto the river Lori morbidly proclaims: "It would have been better if you would have left me to die!
"Now Lori!" "There is something you have to know now." "About myself, Peter. And yourself." June says her tone, and expression now serious. Just as she completes this, both women turn to the water as they hear screaming. As they search for the sound, Lori spies two young children floundering in the water. Without a thought, Lori run's head long into the water, and brings the two children to shore. She looks them over searching for injuries. Finding none, she wraps them in the blanket that she used during the night.
The children getting warm at the fire, June calls Lori to her who's now in the tree line. Lori walk's to her, and is mystified by June's smile. Now in the tree line, June asks: "Well??" It then strikes Lori. She look's down. Her broken leg is healed. Stunned she jumps, and walks around.
"How????" Lori stammer's looking into June's smiling face. Lori's attention is brought back to the children as she hears them holler, "MOMMY! DADDY!" Looking onto the river she sees a raft with the ranger who she was talking to the day before, and a man, and woman. The couple jump out of the raft and swim to shore. They grab the kid's, and embrace them tightly, as both parent's cry.
Pulling on shore the ranger gets off, and check's the children out. They tell him of a woman who swam out and brought them ashore. The mother, through tears, and smiles asks where she went. The children just shrug their shoulders. The ranger smiles and tells the family of what he had told Lori the day before about the protector's of nature. The family after awhile found their composer, and getting into the raft travel the river down stream, and back to civilization.
"Like I said. Once a cop, always a cop." June says, as she watches the raft disappear down stream. "You see Lori." "You have what is necessary."
"For what??!!" Lori say's now in unsure tone.
"For doing what you where destined to be." "Protecting those who cannot protect themselves. What would have happened if you didn't do what you just did? Think about it! What are you feeling now? Do you really think your chief, or even those who kept you down would have done this?
"I....I...." Lori stammers.
"No Lori!" June say's compassionately. " They wouldn't! Because they only have an appearance.
YOU! Have something above them. You have a destiny."
Lori attention is distracted to some bushes rustling off to her side. She look's and sees Pete come out. Smiling Pete tells her: "Congratulations! You passed the finale test."
"Tes..." Lori stops in mid word, and stands with her mouth open, a shocked expression on her face. She stands there rooted to the ground staring at Pete.
"What up. Is there a bug on me???" He stops and begins to move around in comical fashion. Pete is without his hat, sunglasses, and clothes. He now's show's his true form, that of a cervine. Lori falls sitting on the ground, in shock. Pete walks up to her: Lori?? Lori?? Earth to Lori, are you there Lori??
"Huh??? Wha...????" Lori stammers, that thousand-yard stare in her eyes.
June giggling comes out from behind the bush she was behind. "You know Pete. That's the same look you had when you saw me."
Lori looks behind her and sees June in full form. From her waist down, she passes the body of a copper head snake. "Lori." June say's continuing her statements. "As I said you have destiny, and now it's time to follow it." Lori looks at her with the same stare. "Oh my!" June say's sympathetically. "I think we should have done this a little slower."
Pete snaps his fingers in her face. "Lori. Hello. Lori, you can come back now. The Twilight zone is closed now." Lori shakes her head, and rub's her eyes as she comes out of her trance.
"What??!! Who are you???" Lori questions.
"We are the protectors of this forest." Pete says smiling. "As are you."
"ME!!" Lori shouts.
"Yes you." June say's smiling. "All your life these put downs, and suppressions where tests from nature, and the creator. You had to perfect you abilities and talents in a harsh way, in order to develop you true self. Especially for what now lies ahead."
Lori looks at Pete. "You said you were once a cop?!"
"I was." I came here to get some type of direction. I was having the same problems as you. A supervisor who was supposed to retire in a year, and that was four year's ago." Pete say's laughing. "I came here, and fell down a cliff. Broke my back. June found me, and mended me. And like you, I rescued two elderly people from a cliff." "You see Lori." Pete say's, now in a serious tone. " YOU are to be the protector of the river. You have been chosen for this from the moment of your existence. "
"But what if I don't want to." Lori asks, hesitantly.
"I tried that rationalization." June starts. "You'll'' be hounded and tormented by your own guilt. You would come back, and then accept what you are supposed to be." "You said that you didn't want to go back, that you were giving it all up."
"But how??" Lori asks.
"You will enter, that of which you will protect." A woman's voice says, coming from behind the three. Lori look's and sees a beautiful woman come from the woods, her hair that of leaves, and vines. The woman's eye's dark, and wondrous. "Welcome home Lori." The woman say's in a motherly way. Smiling she tells Lori in a reassuring tone. "I am nature." It was I who chose you for this task. As I have chosen Pete, and June."
Lori feel's all her fears, her anxieties, her hatred suddenly leave her soul. She feel's the warmth of belonging and peace envelope her as nature explains what she truly is.
"Do you remember Lori how you use to feel like a part of the river while you were growing up. How you always found solace here when the mortal world would rebuke and torment you because of what you possessed. But now, that feeling of joining is now to become a reality."
Lori now looked at the river, the calmness, the peacefulness. It was somehow calling to her. Calling her to come home. For the first time in her life, Lori find's trust in another person. "How? "What must I do?", Lori turning to the three around her, the expression of belonging coming to her face.
"Just enter that which you will protect." Nature says smilingly. "You will be changed by the river to the form that would be appropriate."
Lori turn's looking at the river. She felt in her soul, a voice. A voice gentile, and loving calling out to her. Lori removes her boots, socks, and pants. Getting up she removes her shirt, and under garments. Wading into the river, she felt a sense of truly being home. As she enters the deep water she dives, and rests on the bottom. The water should be like ice, but now to Lori, it's warm and loving.
As she lies on the bottom, a pleasurable experience comes over her. She feels the skin between her ribs open, and her developing need for air is no longer a concern. She looks and sees gill arches had formed. Now amazed, she looks over her body, and discovers other changes taking place. From her lower stomach down, her body is growing, scales forming over the skin, fins growing from her hips. She watches in amazement as her body elongates out between her legs. A sudden jolt, and she feels a stretching in her back. Rolling over in the water she looks behind to see a dorsal fin growing from her spine. Now hovering over the bottom Lori looks at her elongating tail, as fins grow at the end. Her legs detach, and float down stream. Lori sees her new form, that of a Caesg. Her new body showing the multi colored scales of the rainbow trout.
After a while Lori comes to the surface, and is greeted by June, and Pete. Nature is there and she too embraces her new daughter. She is told that she will learn, and protect the river and those who use it wisely. For a few days Lori is educated by Nature, June, and Pete on her new life.
Several weeks later Lori meet's with June and Pete. They talk of the past weeks, and other topics just like any other group would. Pete hands Lori a newspaper. "I thought you would want to see this." Pete say's with a smile. "A ranger put it on the rock's where your canoe, and leg's where found."
"Lori looks it over and smile's to see a duty picture of her on the front cover. "Officers memory laid to rest." Was the headline. Lori reads out loud. " Intense search.... Only legs found.....Memorial with full police honors....."
June buts in: " OK now read the story below."
Lori looks down, and break's down in hilarious laughter. A picture of her former chief being led to a magistrate's office in hand cuffs, in full uniform. "Abuse of power... Tampering with evidence....Falsifications of official documents...." "Well Lori say's through tears of laughter. He does make a great appearance, doesn't he."?