Chapter Three: Talisman
Gray dawn was just beginning to filter through the ravaged remains of the rambling temple when the little mouse was awakened by an abrupt and terrific jolt. She discerned a vibration in the earth and a deep, distant reverberation penetrated her perked and quivering ears. She scrambled to her feet, peering frantically about, attempting to determine what new threat might be approaching and preparing to flee in whatever direction would offer her the best chance of security. The ground began to tremble more strongly, and she commenced to dart frenziedly from one spot to another, unable to settle on a location which would shelter her from this nameless, incomprehensible enemy.
A ceiling stone, already perilously loosened by depredations of time and weather, crashed resoundingly to the ground, narrowly missing the panic-stricken mouse and causing fresh paroxysms of fear to erupt within her trembling breast. Nevertheless, this particular and intimate danger was at least familiar and understandable, and the realization cleared her mind enough to allow her to conceive a concrete plan. She rapidly searched about for somewhere in which to hide herself, an overhang or covered space in which she could cower, and saw the cyclopean column of stone upon which she had landed the previous night. As the tremors intensified and more masonry plunged to the floor of the temple, she sighted an opening between two fallen blocks at the base of the column and made a mad dash for it.
Reaching the comparative safety of the tilted stones, she spun about and peered outward, watching as dust and grit filled the air, filtering through the strengthening rays of the sun. The rumbling of the earth continued unabated, shifting but not collapsing the blocks which formed her covert. Throughout the interior of the temple, everything seemed to be in motion, jerking and dancing to the relentless beat of the earthquake's drum, the percussion of the planet.
Lost in the greater cacophony, an almost imperceptible grating sound was emitted by the shimmering violet talisman as it slid slowly toward the edge of the swaying stone column. It slipped over the lip and dropped to the sloping pile of scree, striking it at an angle and rolling downward.
The mouse watched mesmerized as the torus rolled to a stately stop directly in front of her and, wobbling, settled slowly to the floor. It appeared to her to be gleaming with an inner light, and she stared at it, losing herself in its depths, becoming completely oblivious to the gradual cessation of the fury of the seismic disturbance.
An inexplicable interaction commenced between the tiny creature and the glimmering object. The talisman pulsed with radiance that shifted through a spectrum from lavender to deepest purple to indigo, and was mirrored in the luminous, liquid orbs of the hypnotized little rodent. As in her dreams, she witnessed sweeping vistas of space and time, and watched as a black void enveloped her and myriad planets swept and rolled beneath her. Shapeless, misty entities seemed to flit and float through the illimitable ebon distances, and she could not tell whether they were ignorant of her presence, or if she was an object of their furtive regard.
Quivering, she convulsively paddled her limbs in a futile attempt to escape this mystifying milieu into which it seemed she had been swept. Her heart throbbed rapidly in her breast, and her thoughts fled in all directions as she sought to make sense of the senseless.
Abruptly, the scene before her shifted, and she found herself floating above a field of golden blooms. Blissful calmness slowly spread through her as she watched beautiful butterflies flutter from flower to flower and bumblebees buzz somnolently between the blossoms. Gradually, she became aware of a subliminal rhythmic thrumming that lulled her and communicated to her confused mind a pleasant sensation of well-being. At length she became convinced that she was safe and that there was nothing to fear.
Her sense of heavenly peace lessened, but did not entirely dissipate, as she slipped slowly from her entrancement and looked about herself. Memories of the lately ended earthquake returned to her and she peered suspiciously from cover, but saw nothing but dust drifting down through the hazy sunbeams. She ventured out and cast a wary eye about her to assure herself that there was nothing further to fear. Once more she engaged the full range of her senses, nose, ears and eyes all keenly attuned to the ambiance of her surroundings.
Her survey completed, she glanced again at the lustrous talisman which had so captivated her. As she did, a decidedly unmouselike thought occurred to her. She hurried to a long, thick shred of bark which had detached itself from a nearby vine and grasped it with her tiny teeth. Dragging it back to the violet object, she crept into the round hole at its center and began to force her muzzle under the rim, attempting to lift it enough so that she could crawl under it. As her nose came into contact with the rounded inner surface of the talisman, she felt a momentary tingling, a faint echo of the feeling which she had experienced as she sprawled upon it the night before.
With a modicum of difficulty, she managed to insinuate her body into and through the narrow central opening of the talisman, drawing the end of the stringy bark behind her. She moved to the other end of the string and took that too tightly between her teeth. She tugged at it to more accurately gauge the amount of resistance she might be expected to encounter. To her great surprise, while not weightless, the object did seem to be capable of being moved with a minimum of effort. Gratified, the plucky little mouse began to tow the talisman steadily in her wake.
That's today's installment, my friends. As I have begun to relive this little tale, the feelings that impelled me to write it in the first place seem to be rising again, and will perhaps aid me in continuing the journey when I reach the point at which it became difficult to continue. I reached a nexus of sorts from which plotlines extended in myriad directions, and I lost my way.
You've probably noticed that what I write tends to be over the top, but I have no editor, and even though I have read some books on writing in which the authors encourage me to treat my baby mercilessly, I find it really hard to do that, and become overindulgent with myself. But hey. Warning - it's only going to get worse as the tale goes on.
My influences are too numerous to list, but among the towering stacks of my favorite authors are H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, Frank Herbert and Jack Vance, Isaac Asimov and Fritz Lieber. I'd like to think they would smile indulgently upon me and not sneer too often.
Thanx for listening. May we all someday meet the Light. Peace.
All content copyright Malcolm Mott 2005