"Times of sun and clouds"
<Photo courtesy of Eastman Kodak Co.
Mariah seems to have settled into 'motherhood mode'. She will stay mostly in the nest & on the eggs until Kaver comes to relieve her. Bonnie figures Kaver will be on the lookout for pigeons feasting on the popcorn dropped by clumsy baseball fans.
Chapter 14: Knowledge
Afloat on an ocean of darkness, endlessly drifting in the stygian realm of Morpheus, the insignificant soul shuddered, hopelessly lost and forgotten by the legions of the living. The unrelieved and unending blackness swallowed any promise of redemption . . . . damnation and despair the only expectations.
Then . . . . a light! A single scintilla of salvation! A blinding beam from which to draw encouragement! Forward to the light!
Another soul! A fellow traveler in eternity, treading the same waters, perhaps willing to provide companionship on the long, dark road? Hasten, oh please hasten! Do not let this slim second of infinitude slip ineffectually away!
Was she awake or was she dreaming? Where, what was this alien domain, this dreadful place? How had she come to be here, how transported from the commonplace to the chaotic? What should she do, where could she go? Drawn from an endless expanse of ebony and propelled into a pulsating, pearly mist shot through with twining threads of countless colors, she wandered, lost and alone, in a welter of confusion and turmoil.
What? Where am I? What is this? Who are you?
Be calm, little one. Too much, too soon. We have time.
I've seen you before, I think.
Where are we? What is this fog?
You are not yet ready, little one. We must move slowly, or you will be harmed. For now, accept that this is real, and that you are safe.
This is very confusing. Can you not tell me anything? Who are you?
My designation would mean nothing to you. Suffice to say that, like you, I am a small, simple mouse . . . . although, unlike you, I am not free to roam the world.
I don't understand.
Nor should you be expected to. Were I to explain all to you, in a single meeting, you would not only be no wiser, but your mind would surely suffer irreparable harm. You must be properly prepared to receive the knowledge you wish and require. We will meet many times, and slowly you will learn all I have to teach.
You speak as my father did, but you do not resemble him. Do you know him, or are you he in a different guise?
No, I am not your father; neither do I know him. But in time I may come to fulfill that role, if you are willing. Now, little one, we have talked enough. You must rest and gather your strength for the trials ahead. But before I go, I must apologize to you. I truly did not intend to burden you with things that should not concern you, but I am weak and I have been alone for so long. Sleep now . . . . we will talk again soon.
Chapter Fifteen: Home
She awoke physically refreshed, but her mind was clouded, choked with the residue of her journey through unknown realms of . . . . what? She had no name for the phantasmagorical illusion in which she had been immersed. It had possessed nothing of reality about it, that thick, crawling fog with the sinuous strings of color spiraling endlessly through it, like worms winding their way through the secret spaces of the earth. She would have been absolutely terrified, had it not been for the other, the one who had shared her strange voyage into the unknown, who had soothed her shaken thoughts by virtue of its very presence.
What had he (was it a he? She thought and felt so) meant when he had blamed himself for the bizarre events which had so recently befallen her? How was it possible that she even possessed the ability to entertain such queries? She had so many questions spinning in her mind, so many peculiar ideas for which she had no good explanations, that her head was beginning to hurt, her brain throbbing with the exertions she was forcing it to endure.
With a prodigious effort, she relinquished her attempts to gain further understanding of occurrences which were thoroughly inexplicable. To distract herself from further introspection, she set about examining the spacious confines of her new nest, which she had been fortunate enough to discover the night before, hidden at the terminus of a crack in one of the walls of the temple's entry chamber. Pale, crudely hewn stone comprised the walls and low ceiling formed, no doubt, by violence - the massive blocks of the temple shifted and sundered by one or a series of earthquakes that frequently plagued this heavily forested upland plateau. The resultant space was irregularly shaped, roughly rectangular but with elbows of rock poking into the central portion of the cavity, giving the illusion of two small rooms joined by a wide doorway. A thin scurf of fine dust coated the floor of her retreat, not enough to bother her sensitive nostrils but enough to show her the ghostly tracks of her own feet.
In one corner of the farther cell, a section of stone floor had shattered and upended, exposing an expanse of dry packed dirt which with diligent effort she could excavate, allowing her to dig a more conventional burrow if she wished.
She eyed the small pile of brown, walnut-sized fruits she had gathered on her trips back into the clearing. They had been lying, loose and scattered, all over the ground, probably shaken from the treetops by parrots browsing among the branches. The sweet aroma of the strangler figs permeated her cozy confines, tantalizing her and making her mouth water. Very soon now, she would be unable to resist and would definitely make a fine meal of a few of them.
Lying in the corner at her side, the glimmering talisman reminded her how she had faced a real dilemma in deciding how to fit it into the narrow passage that led to her chamber, but, literally surveying the problem from every angle, she had finally reached the conclusion that, by standing it on end, she could just fit it into the constricted tunnel. Grasping the edge of the object with her teeth and wedging it against the wall, she had gradually managed to maneuver the talisman into a vertical position, pushing it into the crack and down the corridor to her nest, where she let it settle to the floor before shoving it into its corner. Having successfully completed that task, she had set out again to spend the rest of the night furnishing her haven with the basics, which she knew to be readily available just outside the temple.
Now, nestled snugly in a large ball of soft kapok fibers, she surveyed her little domain, relaxed and happy that she needn't worry further about being a stranger in this strange land. She could explore at her leisure, now that she had a home.
I feel as if I should say something about the story, but I'm not quite sure what. It was at this point that I began to realize that the story was morphing into something other than a light fantasy about a mouse. I had more trouble seeing the way ahead, other than to note that it was moving in the direction of speculative fiction. A story arc suggested itself, and I followed it to a point at which a new and troubling aspect introduced itself, one that caused me to wonder if I had gotten in over my head. At that point I stopped. I guess time will tell if I begin again. There are a few more chapters for you to peruse and perhaps enjoy, and you may come to realize my dilemma.
Story content copyright Malcolm Mott 2005