The first time he saw the vision of warriors and kings, Bryan Norris was in the cereal aisle at the Whole Foods grocery store. The place was full of narrow aisles, brands he'd never heard of, and bad indie rock getting pumped through the sound system. Bryan never shopped at the place. Not only was it overpriced, it was also pretentious. But last week he'd turned thirty, and the day after, he'd gone to the doctor for a checkup. It hadn't been his idea, and he'd thought he could get through the lecture on cholesterol and blood pressure without it affecting him. As long as he could run his five miles three mornings out of seven and get it up whenever he wanted, what was the big deal?
As it turned out, though, Bryan couldn't get the statistics about heart disease off his mind. Why, oh why, had he read that stupid brochure? He'd always been a little paranoid and just a touch of a health freak. He knew the doc was likely full of shit and scare tactics, but changing a few things about his diet probably couldn't hurt anything, other than maybe Bryan's taste buds.
So there Bryan stood, staring at rows upon rows of boxes screaming their organic, nutritional content and trying to read a label over the wailing of a baby on the other end of the aisle. The Nutty Health Crunch had raisins and cranberries, and Bryan liked fruit well enough, he guessed. The other option seemed to be made mostly of shredded cardboard. He held the bag of horse feed masquerading as granola in one hand, and the other hand rested on the shopping cart's disinfected handle bar. Later, he'd remember his last normal thought was about cutting down a tree and gnawing on the bark and whether that'd be about the same thing as eating the cereal.
And then, like someone dropped him into a surround-sound, three-hundred-sixty virtual reality theater, Bryan stood on a battlefield. Gone were the mother, the infant, and the female vocalist crooning about love and loss over the PA speakers, and every other indicator that Bryan was safe and sane. He couldn't feel the cart's handle, but he could feel a heavy-as-hell hilt in his hand. He didn't have granola; he had a bloody, tattered banner from the fallen enemy. Each step was exhausting. It was hard to move, and Bryan looked down. He wore armor, but it wasn't like armor in his Xbox games or like in pictures of King Arthur and the Round Table. This was dull, blackened metal accented with dyed leather, rough hide, and white fur. It smelled like rotted meat, and it was gashed, torn, and stained. The bitter wind struck him, and Bryan didn't think he'd ever felt such cold. It was so real, so visceral, and then the body he was in began to move without his conscious permission.
Bryan panicked. He was trapped inside this body that was not his body, but that of a... warrior? Prince? Someone important and old and hungry. He could hear thoughts that were not his thoughts, and he could feel emotions that were not his own.
Bryan yelled to be let out, to be let go, but the warrior in the fur and the armor kept walking, right through piles of mud and nauseating, steaming muck. Moans and yells of men rose up from the hillside. A thick fog obscured the landscape, so Bryan could only see a few hundred yards in any direction, but all he saw through the stranger's eyes were the slain.
-- from "Choose" by Kelly Wyre