MARIAH HAD HER THIRD.
<Photo courtesy Eastman Kodak Co.
For those of you who may have wondered, in the upper left of the picture (this is from Camera 2) is part of our local baseball stadium, Frontier Field, named after the telephone company that was bought some time ago by Global Crossing (you may have heard of Global Crossing; it was our local Enron.) The stadium was paid for mainly by the taxpayers, and has yet to turn a real profit. Ain't life grand?
Chapter Ten: Rainbows in the Mist
The rolling thunder of a riotous, roiling river intruded itself insistently into the fog that enveloped her stymied senses, but as she had never before encountered a large quantity of running water, the clamor became just one more element of her mental disarray. She continued to stumble blindly onward, unaware of the fact that she was perilously close to the edge of the raging, ravening torrent, swollen now from the recent rains. One of her paws skidded on a slick, slippery pebble at the water's edge, and she sprawled full length into the savage stream. The shock of the cold water and the buffeting of the churning currents brought a measure of cohesion to her befuddled thoughts, partially negating the effects of the hallucinogenic mushrooms of which she had partaken, and she began to windmill her little legs furiously in an attempt to regain the safety of the shore. She struggled valiantly, but her tiny muscles were not designed to battle a force so ferocious and elemental, and she made no discernable progress toward her distant, beckoning objective.
As she floated down the foaming freshet, barely able to hold her head above the water, she goggled as a loose bit of bark, lying at the water's edge, was swept up and whirled out into the fast-moving current in the middle of the rampaging river. She paddled desperately toward it, hoping to reach it before it was carried away, out of her reach. She just managed to clutch at it with her front paws as it sailed swiftly past, and it towed her along with it for awhile, like a kite with a strangely shaped tail, before she was able to scramble atop it, exerting her aching muscles in a mighty spasm that exhausted all of her last stores of energy. She collapsed upon the lifesaving bit of flotsam, thankful to be alive but unable to do more than hunker down and glare fearfully around as the banks of the swiftly flowing stream sailed unceasingly by.
Far, far overhead, the sky began to brighten as the rising summer sun spread its brilliant beams over the landscape like the leading edge of a lake of lava flowing slowly down the flank of an erupting volcano. The freshet tumbled viciously along its course, bearing the hapless little rodent, cowering on her bit of bark, inexorably along, spinning and tossing the ramshackle raft like a cup on a crazy carnival ride.
She had spent the waning hours of the night in a daze, petrified by the circumstances of her predicament, fearful that her little scrap of bark would be dragged under by the rushing waters or possibly overturned, throwing her back into the chilly current where she would most certainly perish. She had no idea what she was going to do, simply clinging to the small and flimsy raft, watching the rising sun form rainbows in the mist above the center of the tumultuous torrent, allowing fate to carry her wherever it would.
Peering longingly at the shore that she knew she had no hope of attaining, she saw that, downstream from her, a large branch, which had broken off from one of the trees beside the bank, had fallen directly into and entirely spanned the stream, extending some of its smaller branches into the water below it as if trawling for tasty fish. A glimmer of hope entered her mind, suggesting to her a remote possibility of escape as her little craft bobbled along, wallowing now in the cruel and writhing waters of the mighty torrent. As the bit of bark swept beneath the hanging twigs, she gathered her remaining reserves of strength and leapt to safety, convulsively clutching with her claws at a thin but sturdy limb and swarming up it as fast as her little legs could propel her. She reached the refuge of the upper surface of the lifesaving limb, and paused for a moment to observe as the small piece of bark, waterlogged at last, sank beneath the rapidly moving current.
The rather rumpled little rodent scampered down the great length of the branch and reached the farther shore of the swift, surging stream, collapsing upon the blessed ground for a long minute before looking around for somewhere to hide herself. Spotting a brushy clump of stalks, she scurried to them and secreted herself among them before sinking into an exhausted state of unconsciousness.
Phew! I hope I imparted to this chapter some of the headlong nature of what I was imagining as I originally wrote it, late last year. My affinity for alliteration must be obvious by now; I just can't seem to help myself. This chapter represents the halfway point of Lona's story to date, and I am really going to try to coax my inner mouse from the dim, dusty recesses of my brain to see if I can find my way forward through the murk.
Until next time, Peace.
Story content copyright Malcolm Mott 2005