By Fernando Herrera Jr.
First of all: thank you for opening this book.
Second of all: Know that this is only the first half of the story. Thank you.
The Temple in the Sky
And the Misinterpreted Foreign Pirates
The Secret Aviator and His Riddle
A young boy climbed up the dangling vines that hung high by the walls of his chateau. At 1: 30 AM, he crept through the window of his princely bedroom and fell upon his bed to a lovely dream. He awoke from at 10:28AM, wrapped by his luxurious, silky bedcovers. The morning sunlight flickered through the curtains upon his freckled face, and as he stood up to close them, he heard a speedy knock on the door…
“Master Jasper, breakfast is ready…”
13326 Chesapeake St. was once the setting of an extravagant mansion that might as well have been ripped out from the pages of a book of fantasy. It was a magnum opus of a residence inspired by the British architectural concoction from the late Victorian era, which fuses the styles of the old European villages from the medieval period. A château of a scale and a diamond in the rough of an address, it presented a novel, white wrap-around front porch, which exhibited its warm, soft brick walls that proportioned some square, terra-cotta panels, with an arched side passage leading to an inner court and a back house. Its detailing was largely confined to the treatment of its picturesquely-disposed windows, with small-paned upper sashes and plate glass lower ones, monumental chimneys, many white painted balustrades and slate roofs; and at the finale—a lush, beautiful garden of wonderfully amalgamated florid-plants. This “Queen-Anne-Style” mansion was located in the wealthy coal town of Bramwell, West Virginia—a cute caricature of the “matter of fact” (please excuse my language), “boring” late-twentieth-century-architecture of “perfect function” and “neo-expressionism.”
Here was the setting of the holiday home of Jasper Wilbur Covington, a boy the age of ten—three months from eleven, to be precise—a freckled boy with jumbled up red hair: the result of a Caucasian concoction of very much Anglo and a bunch of bits of northwestern, European cistrons. Average of height for his age (“but a bit too skinny,” said the girls), he was “awkwardly cute:” awkward bone structure that was too much like a square, a cute nose like a button linked to a thick bridge, pretty but beady eyes that were as blue as gems sheltered by long orange-lashes, long ginger squiggles for hair that hid his scruffy brows, and insipidly pink lips that didn’t pout. He was that type of child one couldn’t help but notice for his unique appearance.
On a blustery weekend of the gloomy October, 1921, Jasper secretly escaped his holiday residence at 11:45 PM to his humongous “secret-playground of forking runways:” “The Covington Private Airport and Aviation Academy,” which was, quite opportunely, about a twenty minute bicycle ride from his temporary domicile. Inside the pilot’s cabin of one of his father’s small airplanes, he played a game which he had ingeniously titled, “The Aviator.”
You see, Jasper was a boy of luxury, casually accustomed to the fine commodities of the high-class society (the bourgeoisie or the crème de la crème, if I may) who therefore held endless of gratis entrées to any fountains of fun his frivolous spirit would often pine for. At his tender age he had experienced more than the plebeian people of our society probably will in their entire lives of mediocrity.
All of which was possible because of his father, James Covington, a filthy-rich billionaire-banker and aviator who had inherited his fortunes from his “forgotten” father, Jasper Covington Senior, a self made billionaire-banker and Doctor of anthropology.
Being a gentleman who was raised by strong family principles, James would see to it that his only son would be exposed to the marvelous wonders of the world. As pundit as his refined icon personified to appear, he still held the rare and otherwise impossible luxury of superfluous leisure-time to accede; so in a sense of false virtue, he became a “pseudo family-man.” Allow me to elucidate: Like many privileged men who jock the erudite do or did, he bore a deficiency in sapience and therefore misinterpreted the true concept of pedagogy and family ethics: he would see to it that this unmerited boy of his would be vilely granted with most of the family’s surplus cornucopia (note, without merit): thus, blemishing his son profusely. He turned him into a spoiled brat, is what I mean to say.
Young Jasper traveled around the world in company of his father and by the age of ten, had practically, in his own aplomb terms: “been there, done that.” James even taught him how to fly an airplane. After all, he did posses his own private airfield. It became Jasper’s portico playground of soaring control towers to the world; his to explore as he wished. Yet, with the immeasurable possibilities granted by his billionaire status of sheer opulence, still, for an unclear rationale, he remained a bored little boy. A possible origin for such enigma might have been that his little heart happened to beat continuously steady with rebellion; and perhaps even more so, that it was stuffed with a sort of vapid mischief; not to mention another underlying fact, that he happened to possess a rare and insatiably crude appetite for adventure. Due to his opulent but boring status, to him, the rest of the world became as dull as his own life; and for this grim-some of reasons, he preferred to dwell in his own little world: a world crafted by his thoughts and sculpted furthermore by his flamboyant imagination. He wanted more of that which to explore, more of that which the world was oblivious to, and more of that which people could not explain with sane logic. Indeed, explore the world further he would; beyond his own expectancies, rather; in his own aplomb terms: “seek the unknown, find the impossible, and prove it genuine.”
During holidays, his imagination flourished upon the notion of flight by the assistance of an authentic airdrome. After dark was when he would secretly make his wild escapades and play for as long as his perky heart desired. That particular night, he would exhaust his perky heart at precisely 12:52 AM, once coming to the glum realization that he was too slaphappy to continue on his pretend flight to Nepal. So, he took off the aviator headphones, along with the aviator goggles, put on his fine trench coat, and grabbed his brown leather backpack that contained the following exploration devices: a magnifying glass, a pair of fine binoculars, a compass, a small black radio, exactly three dollars and ten cents in various coins, a “Swiss” army-knife he stole from his father’s cupboard, a small black and white photograph of his beautiful mother, a paper bag containing his uneaten lunch, and his two favorite books: The Count of Monte Cristo and Alice in Wonderland (those books could thoroughly sum up his character). He escaped the lonely airport by shriveling his little body through a small rupture on the western lateral fence of the airport limits where his bicycle awaited.
Twenty minutes later, he climbed up the dangling vines that hung high by the walls of his chateau. At 1: 30 AM, he crept through the window of his princely bedroom and fell upon his bed to a lovely dream. He awoke from at 10:28AM, wrapped by his luxurious, silky bedcovers. The morning sunlight flickered through the curtains upon his freckled face, and as he stood up to close them, he heard a speedy knock on the door…
“Master Jasper, breakfast is ready…” It was the family butler, announcing with the utmost cliché accent of a proper English man.
“Oh, alright Jeffery, thank you. I’ll be right down.” I wonder what’s for breakfast, he wondered, as he swiftly pulled up his brown, checkered trousers and buttoned up his white, French-style, casual shirt; after which he ran into the bathroom to splash a whisk of cold water onto his face; but only before he sprinkled some of that water onto his jumbled hair; and all of that, just before taking a sharp comb and swiping it firmly through the dampness of his long, red curls. Once his face presented the necessary buff to join his refined family in early banquet, he tumbled down an elegant spiral stairway and into the vast dinning room, where his mother, father, and two little sisters (and Jeffery the butler, of course) waited impatiently for his arrival…
“Eggs Benedict? Again!? Gees. I shoulda known. It was Lucille’s suggestion again, wasn’t it?” he stated with a whippersnapper’s tone.
“No,” little Lucille humbly responded.
“Yes it was. They’re your favorite, you little twerp. Every Saturday morning you beg for the Eggs Benedict. You know I hate them! I hate that starchy glop! But you don’t care what I like, do you?” Jasper’s irritation was irrational. For unknown reasons, he utilized every opportunity that emerged to annoy his little sisters.
“Now Jasper, dear, where are your good manners? No need to get so rowdy at such early hours. Be nice to your sister and sit down and eat your breakfast,” spoke his mother.
Jasper’s father usually excused his wife’s rambling literacy with these words of his own improvise: “she’s only a blonde.” At which point, James gently set down his fork and spoke firmly while masticating, “Jeffery can prepare you whatever you want, Jasper.” To what his mother responded with a glare of annoyance.
“Spinach omelet—extra cheese, extra mushrooms… please,” he instructed to Jeffery.
“As you wish, young master—spinach omelet coming your way… Two eggs… three eggs… perhaps four?” Jeffery asked while picking eggs from a heaping basket.
“Three will be fine. Thank you, Jeffery.”
“You’re quite welcome, young sire.”
Five minutes later, a sizzling half-moon omelet was set atop the beige, sateen napery in front of him. He inhaled its volaille aroma and poked at it with a silver fork. When he did, a clock from rooms away knocked loudly announcing 11:00 AM.
“That clock is always so loud. Why don’t we get rid of it?” Jasper asked his parents.
“What? Bloody no! That grandfather clock belonged to your grandfather. It has sentimental value,” his father responded.
Jasper shrugged and went back to his omelet.
After breakfast, Jasper played in the vast garden of azonic plants at the mansion’s finale. He played a game which he ingeniously titled: “Edmond Dantès and the Pirates and their Quest for the Cristo Treasure.” He dug a deep hole into the loose soil of the garden, and unexpectedly hit something—hard. Although the Cristo treasure never was actually buried, nor was it necessary to use such wooden shovel, Jasper didn’t really have an undersea cave to play in, so that delightful garden would have to suffice. He struck metal to unknown metal with the metal spoon of the wooden shovel (cling!) and hunched to uncover the unknown thing with his hands. He spaded the dirt away excitedly (like a mischievous hound might burrow for a fleeing rabbit), until he uncovered a small metallic chest about the size of a shoe box. He took it and wiped the crusted dirt off with his sleeve, rubbing the top facet to reveal these neatly encrypted words: “OPEN ME: WILBUR” Well, that’s definitely the plan, he thought. “Hey, that’s me!” he yelled. But however will I unlock your little lock? he wondered. Oh boy. Real treasure! The box was locked with a silver lock that was also encrypted, except on its backside instead, with tiny words he couldn’t read; but for a hitch such as this he was readily equipped: From his vogue leather-backpack, he swiftly pulled out sleek magnifying glass and took a gnarl peek: “TO OPEN THEE: YOU MUST SEEK THE RED BLOCKS: WITHIN THE PARTICULAR STOCK: YOU MAY FIND A GOLDEN KEY: THE SMOKING PINNACLES ECHO THE UTMOST DECREE: AND BESIDE THE BIG CLOCK: WHICH ECHOES A KNOCK: YOU SHOULD SEEK OUT THREE”
“Oooh—what do you know? A riddle,” he said in gaily fashion, whilst applauding queerly in delight; but only because he presumed that there wasn’t anybody near those premises who would be able to catch a glimpse of his flamboyant reaction. I’m quite good a solving these, actually, he thought, lying to himself. “Let’s see: red decree, smoking pinnacles, golden key, in the stock… Oh bother, this gibberish makes no sense at all!”
“Hey Jaspy, whatcha got there?” A girl spoke from a few feet away, peeking out of some tall, colorful shrubbery. She appeared to be about his age. Jasper dropped the chest in startle but quickly realized who she was.
Daisy was pretty and he appreciated it. He was quite the appreciator. He appreciated and loved the way her goldilocks always coiled upon her tender shoulders, the way her large eyes bore such a pretty chartreuse—a shade of green that was speckled with bright gold—the way her nose was so knavishly refined, and the way her opaque freckles wonderfully contrasted against her ever-flush cheeks: freckles he described as “cinnamon sprinkles” because he loved cinnamon; he hated his own though, because in his own terms they were more like “paprika sprinkles” and he didn’t like paprika; but he did like the girl’s beautiful scent: It was sophisticated, like that of his mother’s sophisticated friends. There was a reason for that: the perfume she wore was not her own. Although Daisy stole her mother’s expensive perfume, her unique scent did not confine to that, her own sarcoid perspiration fused with the artificial scent of the toiletry to bare a unique redolence that Jasper knew too well: something in the midst of angel sweat and spring’s efflorescence. Jasper’s great puzzle: Did she wear it for him? He did not know. Lastly, Jasper’s favorite mandibulofacial aspect of his lovely, were the cute, very light, yet very pink lips; even though they were always chapped, and even though he was much too young to kiss them; and that he always wanted to do. He was quite the little deviant, in fact. The only thing left impeding such glorious course of action was his mother, Meredith, for she would surely spank him if just he ever tired anything so. In fact, she did so very often, sometimes at dinner parties she would host when he would crawl under the table with his spy-kit—the magnifying glass, more specifically—and sooth his perverse, prepubescent curiosities by a game he had ingeniously titled: “The Inspection of Mother’s Friend’s Dresses.” They did always tend to wear nice dresses. “Such nice dresses,” he would say in a fleer (see if you can decipher that on your own, since I would rather not go into detail for the posh style I wish to wield). And so his mother would then expose his little buns right there and then, whilst the company’s perception, in bare exhibition to the amused guests, upon the table, even. How dare she? The iniquity! But in her defense, she wouldn’t do so too hard, so it hardly hurt, if that. But those gossip women would always laugh at the risible scene. Meredith had a very constricted sense of privacy, see, and it showed with this type of dissipated actions; but Jasper did not, for he was quite the opposite, actually: an abashed-overly-self-conscious-imp; so he was left humiliated much too often. For that, he scorned her. It wasn’t that he felt she was overreacting with her punishments, he new he deserved it, but mostly that he didn’t understand why she wouldn’t wait for the company to leave—why she wouldn’t perform the castigations in private. In her defense: as self-conscious as Jasper was, he was also extremely docile, such scolding was necessary to keep such a brat in check. But no matter how hard Jasper tried not to get into trouble, his depraved curiosities often took the best of him; therefore, he frequently ended up as a chagrined brat with rosy bottoms. All of which has been noted to suggest the inevitability of a game which he had ingeniously titled but had yet to play: “The Kiss of Daisy.” Today is the day.
He glared at the girl and asked, “Daisy! When did you get here, how long have you been there, and why are you so sneaky all the time!?” The boy’s flush was as obvious as the girl’s golden ringlets, which coiled below the rim of her extravagant, pink Edwardian-Hat. That pretty hat happened to match a pretty, pink, polka-dotted summer-dress. The poor boy couldn’t have been more mortified because alas for that moment, as suggested previously, he had antecedently developed a little crush on the pretty colleen-preteen; and that bombastic clapping of his sprouted by his reaction would have definitely been revoltingly sissy for even the most severe of merrily boys—whom he was definitely not, he figured.
“Well, I have to be sneaky because I’m playing Sherlock Holmes, and Sherlock Holmes was most definitely… sneeeky,” she spoke swiftly and astutely (which she was), and with the utmost preteen of girly tones—the type that almost squeals.
“You can’t be Sherlock Holmes—Sherlock Holmes is a boy. Don’t be silly, little girl.”
“Silly? I’m not silly… and I’m almost as tall as you… and I am certainly not a little girl.”
“Well, you’re certainly not a little boy, either. And what, you also play the violin now?”
“Well, as a matter of fact… I do. Hey! Do you want to play detectives? You can be Professor Moriarty—easily—and I shall most naturally portray the cunning character of Sherlock Holmes.” She spoke very properly and debonairly for such tender age.
“No way! You can be Mrs. Hudson, I’ll be Sherlock!”
“Forget it,” she said in dissonance with her arms crossed. There was a short pause until Daisy’s attention set on the chest once again. “That thing, what is it?” she asked while pointing her little finger towards the metal chest—arm all the way stretched.
“It’s a treasure chest I’ve just un-buried, but it’s locked. Look: my name’s on it, and there’s a riddle on the back of the lock. You see?” he said while flipping it to the back.
“Wow, it really does look like a treasure chest—a very small treasure chest—but looks real. Oh boy, real treasure!What does it say? Let me see!” She grabbed the magnifying glass and took a look for herself. “Hmm…let’s see here… red blocks… within the stock… smoky pinnacles, the decree, big clock…” she muttered in examination. “Hey, aren’t treasure chests usually made of wood?”
“Not this one.”
“Well, that’s mighty weird. Do you really think there’s booty in here?” she said while taking the chest to her ear and shaking it swiftly. “It doesn’t sound like it, really. Why, it sounds more as if there may not be anything inside of this at all.”
“Well, whatever’s inside, if anything at all, we won’t be able to know—we need the key to open it first.”
“Let’s go get it!”
They walked over to a fancy white bench that was set against a tall brick wall, mostly draped by hanging vines. Much of the grass was shaded by neat little trees. The birds chirped at the clouds and the bees serenaded the flowers while the squirrels scattered through the grass and up the trees. The children sat down to concentrate on the lock’s little riddle.
“I think I know where it is.” Daisy spoke as cunningly as Sherlock Holmes.
“The key, I think I know where to find it.”
“I said: I think I know… and Sherlock would’ve deciphered that so called riddle by know.”
“Okay, so where is it then… Mrs. Sherlock?”
“Well… you’re grandfather left behind a big clock. Didn’t he?”
“Ok, look dummy.” She hooked her right arm around his neck and pulled him towards her, as she pointed to the riddle while holding the magnifying glass with her left hand. “Beside the big clock, which echoes a knock? What does that sound like to you?” He just stared at her clueless. “It’s somewhere near you’re grandfather’s clock. It knocks when it hits the hour, right? And what is a red block?”
“You mean, the “Red Block” puzzle game from France?”
“Serious, Jasper? That’s the best you can do? Bricks, Jasper! Red bricks! What is made of red bricks?”
“The walls from this garden? It’s in the garden!”
“Ugh, you really are hopeless. Smoking pinnacles, Jasp! What has smoking pinnacles? C’mon Jasper, you can do it. Think, boy.”
“Uh…” He looked up at the mansion and answered, “Chimneys!”
“Yes! Hurray-hurrah! You got it! Haha.” She applauded merrily in delight.
“It’s in one of the chimneys? There are at least five chimneys in my house. Let’s start from the biggest one. It’s in the first living room. C’mon, let’s go.”
“No, Jasper. We start with the one by the clock.”
“Oh yeah. In that case, do you think it’s in the chimney or in the clock?” Though this was more play than actual effort for the children, the reality was that indeed they had deciphered the riddle, thus, the whereabouts of the secret key to the lock (or the girl had, anyway).
To better understand the contents of the mysterious chest, we must travel back in time, and thousands and thousands of miles away, to an ancient city that was well alive four thousand years ago, and perhaps even longer so.
It had been understood amongst this city that a boy’s old uncle, The Great King Ayar-Cachi, would soon brand him as the novel heir of the throne. Apaec [a-peck] (the boy) however, wasn’t particularly pleased by this news because he did not want to be king. I am too good for that burden, he thought, and far too young. The underlying principle for the pessimistic feelings towards such omnipotent of positions was caused by Ayar-Cachi himself, the current king, who just as Apaec had been chosen by his predecessor due to his talents at an early age. He was a fine young man with much potential to do well, and was more than willing to begin his era of reign over the grand city. Unfortunately, however, like many kings before him, his desires to do well quickly withered away. He became ruthless, lazy, selfish, and did not care about anything outside his temple. Most of the government was executed by his royal council. He led a dull life as ruler, sitting on the throne for years and years, which eventually triggered his profuse aging. He ate more than he could metabolize and slept more than he could ever dream. He became fragile, fat, ugly, and grotesque in appearance. Long gray hairs erected from his big ears and broad nostrils, and a long silver beard covered most of his wrinkled, haggard face. This was nothing close to what the young Apaec had in mind, though he too had much potential to do well. Apaec was an “echt-perfect-anatomy.” I suppose this brings up the question of whether beauty is relative or not, because it is ordinarily understood that people have different concepts for beauty. However, this should not suggest that nature does not apply laws. Allow a mo pause please, if you may, and consider this pompous concept: two types of Hominidae beauty pertaining exclusively to the physical: one when the inevitable laws of nature evoke your senses and order them by unimpeachable control to become uncontrollably aroused to whatever degree one’s genetic stock postulates upon, regardless of one’s genic bespeaks, because in agreement with the natural laws of beauty, it is the “echt-perfect-anatomy” (example: fashion models and Hollywood actors who are unquestionably beautiful); and the other, when likewise, one’s genetic factor’s postulates upon, but is, in lieu of the echt, a composition of one’s mind’s concoction of whatever of the “echt’s” fragments of an apt beauty that may or may not be legitimate for it is but a mere illusion of a desire that dwells within one’s libido (example: the infatuation that one develops for people one admires for their “relative” appearance: scent, personality, flesh, verbalizations, hair, etc.; who may or may not be an esthetic beauty, but one agnizes them to appear that way for the libido needs: what is popularly known as “chemistry”).
And so Apaec was exclusively the first type: a type of “renaissance boy,” if I may: a type of genius and a type of physical ace: the “echt:” handsome of wild features: unique South-American Amerindian-lineaments. He owned a “jewel:” a mesomorphic frame that could’ve been compared to that of the immortals, if there ever was (“he’s so sinewy,” the gossip girls often schmoozed); a sharp, sculpted face: high cheekbones, a thick bridge that was linked to a curvy nose, a high forehead that was always hidden under thick, black, wavy bangs, dark, enchanting, immaculate, big black-eyes that were scarcely broadened, never less red, always red, red, red, pouty lips, and needless to say for the obvious indigenous derivations, tan or bronze—which ever you prefer. He spoke with a charming, deep and smooth vox (“such a cute voice,” the admirers who appreciated would often opine); charismatic in character: never cruddy, always descent, gracious and courteous; eccentric of personality, which was likely due to a minute case of bipolarity (“he’s so weird,” the fibbers would opine, but they all liked him regardless); comical but not too comical: enough to remain out of the buffoonish domains (“we all know that a buffoon is never attractive,” animadverted the vox populi); superstitious and broad of mind: practically “unshockable;” showy of valiance; intelligent and cunning; aplomb with boys and romantic with girls; poetic with terms and jaunty with gesticulates; and possessing a rare talent that allowed him continuous debonair confidence—All of which neatly crafted his chipper character: the epitome of a male paragon, if there ever was—yes: “male paragon” would be the fair to middling articulation to describe his persona. Well, perhaps not as unadulterated as evoked. And that was one of the reasons why he wanted to become a god: because a mortal: an earthborn: a regular human like him, you and I (assuming that you are): cannot, and therefore will never (in no time in the past or future, to be clear), embody a paragon specimen; for perfection is not a human virtue: not for the body, not for the mind, so an illusion of our loins is all we can accept. But whence deprived of physicality and animalism and one is afforded immortality, the nonpareil can be transgressed. Perhaps a dogmatic concept, yes, but this concept is what Apaec accepted and it is what he craved.
This is his chronicle:
Earth, more than a thousand years ago (circa 100 BC), where deep in the rocky lands of Peru lays a valley where the Pampa Colorada sands meet the rivers and streams that flow from the Great Andes. Immersed deep in this green and lustful, untamed-valley of the Americas, once prevailed the people of Nazca. It was a grand city of architectural elegance depleted with pyramids and temples of symmetrical harmony that were predominately adorned with the lavish colors of blue, red, green, and gold. Golden statues of mythical gods and creatures decorated the temples and ball-courts, which in tune, were furnished with colorful flowers and draperies of hanging vinery. For many generations the vast surrounding terrain was plentiful and adequate for farming. Nevertheless, during this troublesome pre-historic period, the land was lingering through a worrisome epoch of drought. Consequently, systems of underground aqueducts and reservoirs were engineered by the inhabitants in order to maintain and harvest the lands. Common folklore amongst the indigenous natives apprised that the gods were infinitely watchful of them from the heavens and would protect them at any cost. They believed that the gods were spirits of their ancestors chosen by their creator, “Huiracocha,” to run the equilibrium on earth.
Huiracocha: “The Supreme God of Creation” was their all-mighty powerful God. After the first thousand years transpired within the dimension of time, a reservoir containing all the classes of energy in the universe was naturally formed. From this reservoir, brethren of powerful beings immersed and Huiracocha was one of them: the most powerful by far. Huiracocha longed for a son more than anything, but because he was immortal, he could not breed—or at least not immortal gods. Cosmic in magnificent powers—practically invincible--he was the supreme of Gods in the entire universe. Yet, he had one little hitch: he could not bare an immortal child. But for this calamitous predicament, he had an ingenious scheme: being as powerful as he was, he could render a miniscule fraction of himself to generate multiple sums of spirits. There and forth he called upon his lover, “The Goddess of the Rain” and commanded her to divide herself into sums of more spirits. Afterwards, he created the Heavens and “The Land of the Four Quarters” which was earth as the Nazkinians knew it. He sent the spirits down to the lands to reproduce and multiply, and for every one thousand years, a son would be formed from the energy that the spirits generated. The spirits of The Four Quarters, in time, would gather enough energy that would be fused into a high-lord, and the resulting high-lord would be Huracocha’s son. However, after the first thousand years went by, when his first son was born, Supay infiltrated the Supreme Lord’s temple and killed the newborn.
Supay: “The Unsavory God of Death” who had betrayed his brother by killing his son was jealous of Huiracocha’s super powers and his magnificent creations. He intended to embezzle the Heavens and the Four Quarters for himself and rule them at his own will. He knew that killing Huiracocha would be the only way to take the place of the Mighty High-Lord and take control of the Four Quarters, but Supay alone was not powerful enough to destroy Huiracocha. Consequently he single handedly began to kill the Gods, one by one, and drank their blood. This way he could retrieve their powers. For this, the High-Lord banished his brother Supay from the heavens—forever. As a result, Supay wandered for one hundred years in the “dimensions of nothingness,” until he created the world of the dead, and that is where he dwelled. When the ‘unworthy spirits’ died, instead of reincarnating into a new kindred spirit of the Four Quarters, Supay would seize their souls and utilize them as his slaves.
According to this belief, each mortal on earth was inhabited by a spirit which would in time be judged according to its worth. The “worth” consisted of noble deeds and “Karma-like” energy collected by each spirit during their stay on Earth. This was based on the declaration of the High-Lord himself. You see, the Nazca people possessed a “relic” that they believed mustn’t be tampered with. It was a placard type stone that according to legend, had been encrypted by the Mighty High-Lord at the beginning of time. The declaration was the single law that every spirit on earth was to live by. It was the declaration by which the Kachatin had lived for thousands of years until they vanished from the face of the earth.
Kachatin: To this date, whatever happened to them remains a mystery. However, the people of Nazca believed that they had been spoiled by greed, and hence, taken by Supay to serve him as slaves in the world of the dead.
The first Nazca people were a nomadic tribe that settled at the Pampa Colorada after the vanishing of the Kachatin. They found the placard amongst other artifacts and kept the placard with the belief that it was set there by the gods. It stated; “Every spirit in the ‘Land of the Four Quarters’ who seeks glory shall find it in heaven upon meeting the required deeds.”
Amongst these kindred spirits lived a curious young boy named Apaec, who was a member of the royal family of Nazca. Full of integrity, yet rebellious at heart, he possessed the rare and insatiable appetite for adventure and was considered illustrious amongst his people. Although roughly fourteen years of age, he already surpassed many of the adults in his clan with his physical agility and strength, and for this reason, he was the youngest member to accompany the “Kapras” in their dangerous expeditions to the outskirts of the land.
The Kapras: A prestigious clan-like cavalry trained virtuously for battle. However, they were also committed to capture prey and gather all types of precious merchandise for trade. Though the Kapra were impressive and numerous in talents, they were only a mere division of a larger regiment called, “The Soldiers of Tupac Nanu,” who were divided into ten main sectors. They served as the city’s loyal protectors. If Nazca ever ran into the unfortunate fate of being attacked, they would come together as one army and honorably serve the city as warriors.
Every night Apaec begged through prayer to the gods that he would not be the next successor to the king’s throne. Rather, he covertly yearned to be chosen as a god. It was his dream that one day he would live amongst the gods in their world. He imagined the grandiose heavens as a majestic land where the rivers of immaculate water flowed across the landscape and the evergreen trees extended high beyond the mountains into the midst of the cotton-like clouds. That was where he wanted to be. The notion of adventure seemed to be the only thing that caught his flourishing, young imagination. Although he fantasized of the magnificent world that lay beyond the mortal realms, he did not long to live there for the sole purpose of leading a life of lavishness. He could experience that on earth as king if he wanted to. His intents were virtuous at heart because he felt the most appealing aspect of an immortal life was the chance to rid the gods’ neglecting of his people. He felt that the gods were careless in not providing the sufficient essentials for the Nazcas and he didn’t understand why. They didn’t send enough rain for the crops to grow or enough animals for the people to hunt. In Nazca, as long as he could remember, food and water were a scarcity. There never seemed to be enough of anything fruitful in the land and many people would often die of starvation and illness. For those reasons he would be the grandest of the gods, because he would let it rain down on earth as much as the people desired. He would keep them safe from the illnesses that came during the winter and he would send them enough animals to hunt. It would be the happiest era ever known to the land. He was sure of it. He was also sure that The High-Lord would be pleased by his actions and would then reward him with many more powers. In his mind he would become the most powerful god ever to exist… except for the All-Mighty High-Lord of course… and his loyal brethren of subordinate High-Lords.
Common folk tales of Nazca spoke of a place where the divine beings came down from the heavens to take those, “worthy” away. The flats where this would take place were called, “The Holy Sites of the Offerings.” Deep in the desert of Nazca valley lays the mysterious lines that the Nazkinians believed had been carved by the deities into the earth. The lines were the figures of sacred creatures from the great rainforests of Peru. Great rituals took place in these flats, and the creatures were offered to the gods as gifts. The rituals were intended as a calling to the deities, a calling for them to appear on earth to take away the worthy spirits. The Kapra were ordered by the king to collect the sacred creatures that included spiders, lizards, monkeys, llamas, dogs, hummingbirds, and all specimens that had been carved into the lands. However, the Kapra were not in charge of delivering the creatures to the gods themselves. Their job ended once they handed the alms over to the Cahuachi people.
The Cahuachi People: A mysterious cluster of crazy old witches, magicians, wise men, curators, prophets, necromancers, etc. Although infamous for their alleged practice of magic, they were very important to the Nazca. Indeed, one could even say their importance exceeded the king’s council. The daring might even suggest that they exceeded the king himself. They were the magic people of Nazca who possessed the ability to cure illness and diseases. They were also rumored to exorcise people who had been possessed by wandering spirits of evil. They were the committee that held the ceremony of the chosen spirits, the ceremony that selected the spirits who would become deities. This was the principle reason why they were so especially esteemed amongst the Nazca. If anybody knew anything about the gods, it was the Cahuachi. They resided in the forbidden and dignified ceremonial City of Cahuachi, and that, was where the darkest secrets of Nazca were kept. It was Apaec’s idle hope to uncover these secrets to find the truth. To him, it had become an obsession to enter the Forbidden City and uncover its profound kept secrets.
On the outskirts of Nazca lay the vast rain-forests that stretched out for hundreds of miles across the Peruvian mountains. This was where Apaec and his two beloved friends spent most of their childhood, deep in what would in time become the great Empire of the Incas. It was at this precise location that on one cold winter morning of what a modern calendar would read as December, the fog was thick and it blanketed two young friends: Micay and Khuno, who were sitting under a bulky old tree waiting for Apaec to arrive. They sat alongside on a massive tree branch that had fallen ages before. Micay was Apaec’s childhood companion, they had grown up together and were practically inseparable. He liked her. She liked him. She was about three inches short of Apaec, but Apaec was tall, hence was she. Her frame was the skimpy type: tan, attractive, lean, and preteen. She had long, black hair, of course; pretty, “feline-like” black eyes, of course; and that is all you need to know about her at this point. Her physical attributes will be described further anon; likewise will her character. Apaec and Khuno, in the other hand, had quickly developed a friendship in the Kapra clan and were becoming very close. Khuno was a behemoth warrior. That is all you should know. Likewise, his attributes shall be described anon. And so, the three friends formed a special bond and spent most of their time together in the forests. It had become a routine that they would wake up extra early in order to share breakfast with each other every morning before they would do their chores. They took turns hosting this traditional breakfast with help from their mothers, but on this particular morning, it was the first time Khuno would prepare the meal. He belonged to a large family of farmers that lived on a house located on the outlying areas of the city. It was a big cozy farm-house built of cut stone and adobe, and it was far from the noise and rowdiness of the city. A perfect area to enjoy a nice picnic…
“Now where do you suppose he is? And what‘s taking him so long?” Micay asked Khuno impatiently, with her soothing, feminine voice. “I’m starving and I don’t care to wait anymore, I’m gonna eat.” She took a wooden bowl, and poured a steaming stew from a pot, filling her bowl to the top. Then put the pot back down carefully, and blew on the soup to cool it down. She proceeded to close her eyes, inhaled the aroma, and gestured in delight. “Mmmmmm… this smells wonderfully,” she said in satisfaction.
“Well then, I’m not waiting either,” Khuno said with his deep, over-androgenic voice, filling his bowl to the top. “You know, he’s probably still sleeping. He’s always late for everything because he’s lazy and he can’t get up.”
“Yep, same story every morning. I don’t feel guilty at all for not waiting, we always have to wait, and you know he wouldn’t wait for us—he’s such a pig, he couldn’t handle sitting beside a boiling pot of delicious pig-stew, without at least trying it,” she said, slurping the starchy substance from her wooden spoon.
“You know? The soup’s gonna get cold soon, but that’s his own fault. You know, what he should do is get married—a wife would surely discipline him,” Khuno said.
Micay looked up eagerly and set her spoon in the bowl. She said, “Hey that reminds me—did you know Apaec has been betrothed to a girl named… uh… Cuca? The youngest daughter of Kekken, you know, from the potter family of Cava?”
“Oh yeah, he did mention that last week.”
“Really? He just told me that last night. Shows what I matter to him… hm! Well, anyway… what do you make of this?”
“Oh… well, I’ve met her before. She’s friends with my cousin, Ixta, and she’s really nice… a little too nice, I think. She never curses or anything like that—very polite, very proper… yet, she’s daring and adventurous at times—quirky, I suppose. You know what I mean? I remember this one time: she built a trap of wooden spikes she sharpened herself and successfully captured a jaguar—‘just for the fun of it,’ is what she said. She then skinned it and turned it into a leather kilt, which she proudly wears now. She trots about with a jaguar’s tail on her butt! She’s quite the extravagant character—but that‘s just the way the Cavas are…” He laughed and continued, “Me and the boys—we make fun of her because when she walks, her hips swing back and forth out of control. She has no idea. It’s actually pretty funny… She does have very wide hips.”
“Is that so? Is that what you stupid boys do? Just make fun of us girls? That’s despicable!”
“Haha! Actually, that’s exactly what we do—talk about the antic that is the amusing anecdote of your beings.” He snickered to himself and continued, “We always blather on about you, especially.” Again, he snickered teasingly.
“What!? Really? What do you say about me?” She was peeved at the idea.
He laughed and said, “Silly girl, I was just kidding. Us erudite boys are much too genteel to gossip about gimcrack. We leave that to you—flibbertigibbets… And I would never talk about you, much less behind your back… anyway.” He spoke debonairly, mimicking the vocabulary style of the monarchy, as intent to impress Micay.
“You better not, Khuno… and well… anyway… is she pretty?” Micay asked, grinning and snippy in gesture.
“Actually, she’s absolutely beautiful! Her face is entirely animated and she’s very well rounded for such teen. Not to mention, she’s admirably voluptuously sonsie. Us boys like that in a girl,” he said while looking at the sky in a sigh. “That’s why his mother chose her, you know. She’s rumored to be the most beautiful girl in the entire city. All the boys are in love with her. The-they have no chance though. Their families don’t have enough to trade for her. You see, a girl like that is very sought for. Indeed, they aren’t gonna give her up that easy… haha -- but Apaec… oh boy… he’s gonna be an all-mighty king -- you know. Any family will be more than willing to plight their daughter to him—or daughters, for that matter. That masterpiece of a female—she’s gonna be our queen someday.” He took a pause, smirked crookedly, and continued, “Hey, didn‘t his mother once say that she wanted you—”
Her glare immediately broadened in alarm. “Don‘t even think about it!” she loudly interposed. “Don’t ever bring that up! I would never marry that lazy, monkey-faced moron! I don’t want to be his stupid queen… eeeeeew!” She shivered in disgust and added, “The simple thought of it sickens me.”
“Wow… Is he really that bad? My sister likes him. She thinks he’s… cute.” He laughed.
“He has a big nose. Well, it’s not that, we’re best friends. You see, it would be too weird… and… I don’t want to have anything to do with his… monarchy… or whatever. You know he’s gonna make a lousy king anyway… and it seems to me that the one who’s in love with that bimbo… is you—says I.”
Khuno laughed and took another spoonful to his mouth. He muttered with a mouthful, “She’s not a bimbo, and I guess I do wish I had the likes from her. I’ve fancied Cuca long before Apaec even laid eyes on her… And about the monarchy, I guess nothing’s gonna change in that department. Innit true..?”
Before Micay could respond, Apaec appeared out of the bushes from a small path.
“Well, well, well, speaking of the death god, look who decided to show up—late, as usual. Finally! Whatever in the world took you so long?” Micay asked impetuously.
He gave them a big smile and said, “Well, I can see that you’ve missed me.” He walked over and sat next to Micay’s right, leaving her in the middle of the two boys. He poured himself a heaping bowl and indulged. Moments later, there they were, sitting under the tree, each of them enjoying a hot bowl of soup…
“This is great, Khuno. How did you make this?” asked Apaec, stuffing his mouth with the steaming, bluish stew as it dripped off his face onto his lap.
Khuno then scooped up a cup of it from the pot and filled Apaec’s bowl to the top once again and proceeded to answer, “It’s simple: just collect the yellow and purple grain from the maize and mash it with potatoes; then make a soup out of it with the herbs we collected yesterday from the meadows; throw in a bit of chopped guinea pig, a pinch of salt, and a couple of red chili peppers. That’s it!”
“It’s not simple—you just make it sound simple,” Micay interjected as she wiped the chowdery drops off her sharp chin, with her thick, woolen sleeve.
“Yes, you do… ooooh it’s still boiling,” Apaec added.
“That’s because I finished it right before you got here,” Khuno explained.
“I think your mom made it,” Micay said teasing him as she giggled.
“No way…! My mom is still in bed. I made it with my bare, beautiful hands. See?” defended Khuno as he displayed his stained palms, still blue from the maize.
“Well, I don’t care who made it, but whoever did must be a god,” joked Apaec who stuffed his mouth once more.
“Haha… Do you think the gods know how to cook?” Khuno asked Apaec.
Apaec turned to Khuno and responded with a skeptical gesture, “Well I’ve never thought of it. I assume that they have to. I don’t think Huiracocha does it for them.”
After a long pause Micay added, “I think they do. The gods must know how to do everything.”
“Only THE GREAT HUIRACOCHA knows everything,” Apaec stated with a tone of seriousness.
After a short pause, the three finished the last driblets of their stew. Khuno glared down at the grass with a concentrated look and mused, “Heh… the Cahuachi people know everything.”
“What do you mean?” Apaec asked with clear intrigue. “What do you know about them?”
“I… uh… nothing” Khuno stuttered. “I know as much as you do.” He glanced at Apaec and looked back at his empty bowl. He then threw it down to the grass and flicked his spoon into it. “I learned about them with the Kapra just as you did.”
“Well then… why did you say that? And you stuttered.” Apaec accused as he looked fixedly at him with a frown.
“I didn’t.” he defended without taking his look off the frosty grass.
“Yes you did… you know that you did. Now tell us what you know.”
“I don’t know anything!”
“Yes you do. I know you do. You’re lying! I can tell that you are… now tell us!”
As Apaec’s frustration grew so did the tension among the three and Micay was caught in the middle. She stood up gently from the trunk, placed her bowl down on the grass, and looked at Apaec with heightened eyebrows. Then she proceeded to walk to a rock a few feet away from the trunk. She sat down facing them and placed her hands in between her legs for warmth while listening calmly and quietly.
“So, are you going to tell us? We are your friends, aren’t we?” Apaec pressured looking towards Micay.
“Yes of course you are. I’m sorry… it’s just that I can’t.”
“What do you mean… you can’t?!” He shouted. “I would tell you and so would Micay! Right, Micay…?”
She simply frowned and shrugged her shoulders.
“You don’t understand… I made a promise,” explained Khuno.
“A promise, a promise to whom…?” The boy asked in frustration.
“Ugh… nobody, just forget it. Look, we should get going. I have to go back home and start my chores. My mom is probably awake by now.”
“Oh-noo, no, no, no… we’re not going anywhere until you speak about this. Now speak up!”
Khuno looked up at them for a moment and sighed. He then said, “Apaec… I… ugh... Why are you so stubborn? You can’” He paused for an answer but Apaec just stared with his big eyes. “Look… fine… very well… here it goes, but first, you both have to promise me that this will never be spoken of, not even to your family, your mom, or anyone… ever! You have to promise me that. Promise on our friendship,” demanded Khuno.
“Yes, yes of course. I promise… I promise on our friendship,” said Apaec immediately.
They both turned to Micay as she glared at them with a crooked smile. She timidly said, “I promise.”
“On our friendship,” insisted Khuno.
“Yes… on our friendship. I won’t tell,” she said.
“Very well then, if you must know,” he hesitantly started, “I… made a promise… I made a pa… puh-promise to… theeee… Cahuachi people and… I was in the Cahuachi temple. There… Happy?”
There was another pause, but this time even longer as Apaec and Micay looked up at each other in shock. They couldn’t believe it. Somehow Khuno had made it into the sacred temple of the Cahuachi.
“But how?” asked Apaec. “How did you do it? It’s impossible. Only the elite members of the councils are allowed to contact the Cahuachi at their temple. There’s no other way.” He stared down at the grass with a stunned look on his face and slowly looked up at Khuno.
Khuno glared at him and stated firmly with a trembling voice, “Yes, there is a way… you know it Apaec.” Khuno swallowed and took a deep breath. He looked at them as he stood up and proceeded to say, “I have been chosen.”
The young prince gazed at him with distressed eyes and a long silence followed between them. Neither of them knew what to say. They just sat in shock. Only the chirping of a few birds, the faint barking of a dog, and the sound of the wind filtering through the leaves could be heard. After a long minute, Micay licked her lips and finally spoke softly to bring Apaec out of his state of shock. She asked: “When did this happen, Khuno?”
He took a moment to respond. “It happened many days ago during the rainy season. I was to head to the mountains with a group of Kapras and herd back some alpaca for its wool. Instead, we were directed deep into the jungle for a three day hike in search villages where we could develop trade treaties. We didn’t know why or what was happening. We just followed the strict orders from the chief. We had traveled for many miles into the thick of the jungle and it seemed as if though we weren’t headed anywhere soon. The jungle was as thick as it gets, we couldn’t see the sky or even three feet ahead of us. We had to carve our path through the jungle with our blades. I knew that wherever we were headed, was either a secluded place or the chief didn’t want us to know where the path was… for some reason. Then, just as the clan was becoming restless and frustrated from the puzzling circumstances of our journey, a magnificent city was uncovered. We arrived at a point where massive walls erected high up from the ground for many, many feet. They were white walls built of shiny stone. I had never seen anything like it. The chief went ahead of us and stood in front of two tall gates made of gold. He said in his thick brut voice, ‘Welcome clan to the magnificent City of Cahuachi.’ It was about dusk when we arrived and I—”
“For the love of God! what was it like, Khuno!?” Apaec interjected.
He paused and looked up at the trees while he recollected his memories. He then continued, “It was majestic, but it wasn’t very big. Very clean… very white—and the walls were built high with a smooth stone that seemed to shine. It did shine. I remember the rays of the twilight sun bouncing off the walls and disturbing my sight. There were many gardens that were very well kept. They stretched vastly in front and inside the building. The greenness of the gardens complimented the whiteness of the buildings. It was beautiful, guys, unlike anything I had ever seen before. I don’t think that even the great king’s temple is quite as beautiful. I imagine the gods may live in a city like it. Anyway… we walked up to the main temple stairs and—”
“How many of you were there? “ Micay interrupted.
“About thirty of us,” he responded, “we walked up a set of stairs into the first courtyard. It was empty. Only a few dead orange leaves withered about on the white tiles of the ground. We then walked across to a big golden gate. It was decorated with bizarre facades and odd symbols encrypted all around the edges. We stood there for a while and we could hear hundreds of faint voices in the next yard… or at least I thought it was a yard. People were chanting, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. We all just stood there for a while looking around in amazement at the sheer beauty of the temple. Then… finally… after a long tedious wait, the gates were opened… and this my friends is when it began to get strange. I mean, we walked into what appeared to be some sort of amphitheatre or something, and once again, the strange facades appeared all over the place. Statues of really peculiar creatures adorned the stage, and they were all made of gold! Solid gold! Apaec! They shone so beautifully, I wanted to touch them but I was afraid I wasn‘t allowed to. The seats were filled with hundreds of the Cahuachi. It could’ve been the entire city. They were all sitting in a circle, all of them chanting in a strange dialect. I have never heard anything like it before. They all stood up when we reached the center and ordered us to sit, but there weren’t any seats around us so we had to sit on the bare floor. It was dark by then and fires were lit along the walls. We were illuminated. The fire’s light reflected off the golden walls and the whole damn place was lit-up with a golden hue. That’s when an old priest walked up to us, but he could barely stand. He carried a silver cane and was assisted by two more men, who were probably also priests. The Cahuachi were all wearing long white tunics with blue decorations. Others were wearing blue hoods with long colorful cords wrapped around them. The old priest with jaguar masks came up to everyone single one of us and stated something, but once again, I didn’t understand the words. He picked up a small wooden bucket that was burning from inside and motioned for us to inhale the smoke. We all did. I began to cough profusely and my eyes became irritated. I looked around and all of the other Kapra were also coughing.” He paused for a moment.
“Yes go on. Then what happened?” Apaec pressured.
Khuno looked over at Micay who still patiently sat on the rock with her hands in between her legs. She gave him a faint smile. “I can’t remember what happened after that,” Khuno said.
“What?” asked Apaec, “how can you not remember?”
Khuno looked at him uneasily and responded, “Well the next thing I remember after the smoke was waking up on a bed in one of the rooms from the temple. It was a cool, humid morning and I remember feeling ill, I was very thirsty. I sat up on the bed to look around for water, but the room was empty—well, except for the bed of course—but it had a very big window on the right side where I could look out and see a small courtyard. There was a fountain in the center and grass covered most of the ground around it. It looked like bright, green pelt. I walked over to the fountain and leaned over to scoop the cold water into my palms and took a sip; it was so cold, the tastiest water in the world. I drank as much as I could and splashed it on my face. I wanted to bathe in it. It was very cold but I didn’t care. The place was silent—almost too silent if you ask me—couldn’t even hear birds or anything, just the sound of the water running beneath me from the aqueducts. I looked down at my reflection on the water and I saw a woman’s face just above my right shoulder. Startled, I turned quickly with water dripping down my face and gasped. Right there in front of me stood an old woman dressed in a shiny blue tunic. She was barefoot. Her body was frail and her voice trembled when she spoke. She told me I had been chosen and that I would take my place in heaven very soon. She spoke of ceremonies that I would be part of, but I could not tell anybody of this, not even my family. She made me take a solemn promise that I couldn’t speak of. She told me that if I did, I would be in grave danger. So I did, I made that promise. But I broke it, didn’t I? I don’t care, you guys. I care more about our friendship and besides… I know that I can trust you. I wanted to tell you. Deep down, I had to. I needed to tell somebody. I needed to get it out of my scruples. It was driving me crazy. And what are they gonna do anyway: chop my head off? I’m an honorable Kapra, they wouldn’t dare harm me. The king would see to it that they are punished. However, regardless if they find out or not, it doesn’t matter. I am leaving because I’ve been chosen.”
“Wow, Khuno… then what happened?” asked the boy impatiently as always. “What then?” he added.
“Nothing happened—she told me to leave and that I was to be given further instructions by the chief in the next few days. I went home and told my mother I had been herding in the mountains.”
“Wow, I can’t believe you were chosen,” Apaec told him in a smile. “Ha-ha. Hey, maybe I can take your place. Ha-ha-what do you say, huh? I kinda look like you, don’t I? Right Micay…?”
She was leaning forward with her chin resting on her right palm in the thinking position. She looked up at Apaec and told him firmly, “No you don’t, stupid. What are you—blind? Khuno is taller than you and he is much more tan; and he has facial hair and you don‘t. Besides, he’s better looking than you.” She said teasingly as she looked up at Khuno with a smirk.
He then responded, “Hey! Why are you on his side? He’s only taller than me because he’s older, and I’m going to have a great beard when I get older, you just wait and see.”
Khuno interrupted and told them, “You two, stop fooling around. Can’t you see what’s happening? I’m leaving home. I’m not sure exactly when but I fear it is soon and I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave my family or my friends… you two. What am I going to do? I can’t even tell my mother. If I tell her she will want to speak to the Cahuachi people. And I can’t tell my brothers and sisters either, they’ll tell her. If my mom finds out, she’ll try to keep them from taking me. Do you see? I am leaving home and I don’t really have a choice. Do I?”
After a long pause, Apaec finally broke the silence and asked, “Why have you been chosen to be a God? You’re only seventeen. How could that be? What have you done to deserve this? You have to be older in order be chosen.”
“I don’t know, but it has something to do with the day I was born. The woman told me I was special because of my birth date,” he shook his head and continued, “but I don’t understand what that means.”
They all were lost in thought for a while. None of them spoke until Micay stood up from her rock, walked towards Khuno and gave him a hug. She looked up at him and said, “Look… everything’s gonna be all right, Khuno. I promise.”
She stood on the tips of her toes and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Khuno looked down at her, took a deep breath, and said: “Yes I know… I shouldn’t worry about it too much. If I am to be a god… then… so be it. It must be great, right? I will see you two in the divine realms when it is your turn, and my family may be there in the next life, right?”
Micay looked into his eyes and told him, “I will do everything I can to meet you up there soon… and Apaec too… right Apaec?”
He stared at them and told Micay, “I bet I can beat you to it.”
Khuno then smiled and said: “Thanks guys. You’re the best.” He paused for a moment and added, “Well I should go now. My mother must be awake already and I have to help her peel the maize. It’s gonna take all morning.” He walked over to Micay and gave her a tight hug. He then pulled back but still held her by the shoulders. He looked at her in the eyes and ran his fingers through her long black hair. “Goodbye Micay,” he said calmly.
Apaec was standing only a few feet away from them hunched over to his left. He glared at them with an expression that could only be described as: “the reaction for witnessing a ‘morally-objectionable’ scene.”
Khuno then turned over to Apaec as Apaec quickly raised his eyebrows and yelled out, “Don’t you even think about running your despicable, ugly fingers through my beautiful hair, you sicko!” he curled his lip in disgust. “I’ll see you around, Khuno.” he concluded and threw him the wooden spoon he had been fiddling with.
Khuno caught it, smiled at him and said: “All right, man, see you around.” Khuno turned around to collect the rest of the bowls and spoons as he looked back and signaled goodbye. He walked away from the scene following a small trail that disappeared into the thick vegetation of the forest.
Micay and Apaec stared at each other in awe for a moment. Micay then turned back at Khuno before he disappeared in the distance and yelled out to him, “Thank you for breakfast, Khuno! It was delicious!”
He responded, “My pleasure. You better come up with something better next time!”
She turned back to Apaec and said, “Well, you’re very rude.”
Apaec simply shrugged his shoulders and raised his eyebrows. “And why are you such a grumpy brat? Is it because your lover is leaving you?” he asked teasingly.
She looked back at him angrily and punched him on the shoulder. “What are you talking about?” If her face hadn’t been so tan, her blush would’ve been visible on her russet cheeks.
Apaec simply laughed at her and said, “You know exactly what I mean.” Again he teased, “Ohhh Khuno, you’re so strong and better looking than Apaec, take me in your arms… ahhhh”
She stopped and punched him two more times on the shoulder, this time harder. She then mumbled, “I was only joking when I said that.”
Apaec’s face seemed to fill with delight and he quickly asked, “Really? So you don’t think Khuno is better looking than I am?”
She rolled her eyes at him and answered, “Ugh, I don’t know. I don’t look at you idiots in that way. That’s enough of that! Khuno is about to leave and all you can think about is your looks? I think you’re jealous.” She smiled at him and shook her head.
He gave her a countenance of disgust and responded, “Meee, jealous? Puh-lease… I couldn’t care less.”
They walked alongside the path of the fields and headed homeward. Apaec picked up small rocks to throw at the hummingbirds. “Micay? You know how Khuno was talking about the temple and how pretty it was and all that stuff?”
“Yeah, I wanna see it. It sounds amazing. Maybe when you become king you can get me in.” She giggled.
“I’m not going to be king, Micay. No way in hell. I was just thinking… you know how he said it was white and there were golden statues all around? And how the gardens were very well maintained and the fountains had clear water? And also how the Cahuachi wore long white and blue tunics?”
“Well, do you remember the crazy old beggar who lived on the streets near my house?”
“Yeah, I do. I always tried to avoid him. He was very rude and he smelled so bad.”
“Yeah, well I used to talk to him.”
“What… why? You’re gross.”
“Don’t say that. If he wasn’t so crazy, he would’ve been alright. He would always talk to me about his life and stuff. He told me once that he had been a member of the king’s council, but he was then imprisoned in a city made of gold for things he didn’t do. Can you believe that? He was crazy for sure, I thought. I never really believed anything he said but I always liked to hear his outrageous stories. He loved to talk to me. He thought I was his friend. Well… the only reason I talked to him was because my mom always sent me to give him the leftovers of the day. He even told me that he had seen the gods with his own eyes.”
“Wow… He was crazy.”
“Is crazy, Micay. He’s still alive. My mom told me that he left to live in the mountains because he claimed that the Cahuachi were searching for him. That loon… He still comes down sometimes. I’ve seen him around. Anyway, the reason I brought him up is because he described that city to me… and the curious thing about it was that he described it just like Khuno. He went on about the white walls, the gold… everything! I think he was even more specific. Don’t you see, Micay? How could he have known all of that? Nobody would know, especially a stinky-old-bum.” He took a pause and said firmly, “Micay, I think he was telling the truth.”
She gazed at him confused and asked: “Are you sure? You really believe him?”
“I never would have, Micay, but he just knew too much, it couldn’t be coincidence. It’s impossible that he could’ve made it all up. No way. He knows. He’s been there. I think he knows a lot more and I’m gonna find out.”
“You’re crazy, Apaec.”
“Maybe, but I’m gonna get to the bottom of all this. Why must they be so secretive, huh? They’re hiding something, Micay, Something very important. I know it.” They walked for a while down the path without saying a word until finally the girl spoke, “Well do you know where to find him?”
“My mom knows. I’m going to find out from her. I think she’ll tell me.”
She stared at the ground as she walked and after a minute she looked up at him and said, “Fine, then count me in. We’ll go up into the mountains and find that old man. We mustn’t tell anyone about this… well maybe just Khuno. We’ll leave tomorrow at dusk. You find the route to his home and I will tell Khuno. Maybe he will want to go with us. I’m sure he wants to know what he’s in for. You go find out where he lives and we’ll leave tomorrow. How does that sound?”
He looked at her as a tear of joy ran down his face and his eyes sparkled with glee. “Micay, this is the greatest moment of my life! You are the greatest friend I could ever have! I can’t believe you actually want to come with me. Get your stuff together and we’ll leave tomorrow morning.”
The Brick Box
Back in Virginia—or perhaps, the time yet to come in Virginia (in relation to Nazca-time)—Jasper and Daisy excitedly ran into the house, stopping at the chimney next to the grandfather clock. It was in a pleasantly dimmed hall with Renaissance tapestries and various rustic furniture of antiquity. The floor was wooden and neatly polished. It shone. Beside the big fireplace at the base of the chimney the children were kneeling in inspection.
“So, now what?” asked Jasper.
“Well, it says to seek out three. I assume it means three bricks, Jasper. Do you have a hammer?”
“Well, I need one!”
“My dad has one!”
“Go get it, boy!”
So he started to his feet and ran away in search for it. One minute later, he came back with it. She took it and began to dab on the bricks, checking the sounds they emitted. She dabbed them consecutively as they were juxtaposed, one by one: “knock, knock, knock, and thump!” they sounded.
“Just as I expected,” said Daisy with her cocksure attitude.
“Listen, stupid.” She batted it once more, “thump!,” it sounded again. “This one is hollow,” she said.
“Now, go get me a screwdriver. Fast boy!”
So he started once more, sprinting with excitement to his father’s study to get the toolbox.
“Not a Phillips, get a flat tip!” she yelled.
He halted and slipped on the shiny floor as he fell on his bottom. “Ouch!” He rubbed his bottom to palliate it. It was one of those falls where one bumps the coccyx and the pain oscillates through the spine with a flagitious tickle that sends the soul on a temporary jaunt to respite. That type exactly is what he felt. He was excruciated by the coccyx but was too embarrassed to cry (though tears did brim). So he disguised his anguish with an insouciant posture. What’s a Phillips?” he asked.
“The one with the cross—don’t get that! Get the flat one!”
“Oh, ok!” So he started again—came back a minute later in gasps. He crouched in pants and handed over the tool.
“Thank you, boy.”
Kneeling, she took it with her right hand, took her left hand to her mouth, breathed onto her pricked at nails (she was a nail biter) emitting moisture on them, polished them swiftly by her chest with the cloth of her dress, gave Jasper a sleek glare, and rolled up her sleeves mid-way in preparation.
Jasper was too giddy to even think straight and couldn’t concentrate on assisting her. He wasn’t sure what he wanted the most: to find the key, to ease that pain by his buttocks, or to play that game with Daisy. He presumed that the finding of the key was inevitable with such brains for an accomplice but the game was not so sure to go that well; though he knew he was bound to do it eventually. His campaign options: 1. right then and there; 2. tomorrow; 3. months after; 4. maybe years after; 5. never—No! Veto the fifth! But whatever option he did choose, he understood that by his naughtiness, it was inevitable, eventually and indubitably. He had done more hazardous things before; this was to be a cinch, theoretically of course. However, he wasn’t so sure whether she would like it—or if she even wanted it in the first place. And as he knelt contemplating about the “ifs” and “whats” of his risky campaign, he happened to glance at her, which triggered his apprehension of the reality that he was incredibly, curiously naughty. So the limits of curiosity were right there and then breached. He would go for it right then and there. Option “1” would be the one. As he knelt beside her, she agitated her arm with a type of flinch that brushed his shoulder. It gave him chills of screaming meemies. He was as close as he could ever be without invading her “private aura.” That sweet scent from that perfume and her sweat he could smell. It was especially strong that day. Maybe she did wear it for him. The thoughts that ran through his head: “Will she be mad? Will she hit me? Will mom spank me? Will Daisy tell on me? What will dad say? He’ll be proud. Will she kiss me back? Why am I doing this? I’m only ten. My friend kissed a girl, but he’s eleven and a half, and she kissed him first. Maybe I will wait till next year. What if she slaps me on the face? That’s what girls do in the films. But she’s not like those grown ups. She’s nice... sometimes. I will wait. But she’s so pretty. I want to now. I can’t wait. I want to know what it feels like right here and now. Yes, I will then, right here and now.”
So he scooted towards her and leaned in while she kept busy with the hammer. Taking the deepest breath he ever had, he gulped, whilst she turned to him and smiled with glee. Their glares locked. The boy’s absorption was so intense, he even noticed her pupils dilate by the dim brilliance. He looked at her lips: chapped as usual. Roughness and cracks never looked so appealing. She said something. He felt her halitus collide upon his face. Her breath smelled of grape lollipops. He tried to assemble the words she had just uttered and tacked together this: “Boy, you’re handsome. Sweetie, I wanna kiss.” But his mind was too perturbed to comprehend her actual words, for what she had really uttered was: “Boy, you’re so dumb. Good thing I’ma real whiz.”
The boy convulsed in nerdy giggles and murmured this in wavy pitches: “If you say so,” then closed his eyes and puckered his lips for a grape kiss.
“Why does your breath smell like cheese?” she asked.
He opened his eyes to find her profile. She was concentrated on the brick.
“I had an omelet,”he responded. “Is that bad?” he asked.
“No, omelets are good. Your breath is bad.”
“I’m sorry,” he said while taking his scooped hand to his mouth and breathing onto it, for obvious reasons. He rucked up his face in disagreement with the cheesy aroma.
“It’s fine, boy, just don’t talk at my face that close. Now, go get me a pop,” she ordered.
“Because I’m parched. Hurry, boy! I haven’t got all day!”
He was a bit daunted by her rudeness but he started to his feet once more, anyway, and sprinted to the kitchen. He always wanted to please her, so he obeyed her like a slave. While he was gone, Daisy got on with the business. She took the driver with her right hand, the hammer with the left, set the tip upon the brick’s ridge (the cement part), and began to chip away. By the time Jasper came back running with the soda in hand (like a chipper puppy with a stick), Daisy had already ejected the brick from the chimney. Still kneeling, she was holding it in her arms—as if holding a baby—and studying it like she had done with the chest. Commoved, she turned to him and said: “Oh, give it here!”
Jasper handed her the bottle of cream soda. She took it and downed it with gusto, completely tilting her neck and bottle upright—bottle base vertical to the ceiling. However, just before she consumed the soda in its entirety, in a boisterous manner, she flung the glass bottle to the floor and spit out the fluid in bursts into the air. With a look of concern, Jasper stood in perplexity. She wiped the bubbly fluid off her face with her sleeve, looked at him with a sort of dread, and asked with anxiety, “Why was it popped?”
The bottle spun behind her, flowing foam out of its mouth.
“Huh?” he asked, perplexed.
“You popped it! Why was it popped?”
“Uh-uh-I-I-I did it f-f-f-for you.”
She began to wheeze as if ill with asthma and asked: “You tasted it, didn’t you?” She spoke with furor. The chartreuse of her eyes seemed to radiate fury—if looks could kill.
“Eeeeewwwww!” She squalled loudly (as little girls know very well how to do), then wiped her mouth with her sleeve, and puckered up in disgust. Then, in an alarmed manner, she took to her feet in a sprint towards the bathroom. Jasper gulped and scratched his curls, then inflated his cheeks to the max with chagrined air and eventually proceeded to get some fabrics to clean the mess for his lovely. She came back some minutes later marching to him with an angry glare. Daisy then got all up on his face (like the bullies at school knew very well how to do) and stated with deterrence and grape aroma: “Don’t you ever drink from my pop again without telling me.” She gnarled the phrase with anger and lisp, sprinkling saliva onto his face. He noticed her teeth grind with anger.
Afterwards, she knelt back down by the chimney, heaved in a sigh of complain, and took the brick once again to get on with the business. Shaking it by her ear, it rattled with dampened, tiny thumps.
“Oooh, hear that? It’s in here,” she said.
So much for that game he wanted to play…
Back in Nazca, Apaec sat at the dinner table with his mother, feasting on a red, hot, roasted, pig leg. The room was dark. The dawning sunlight barely let in enough light through the small windows, enough for them to be aware of the food on the table, without the need of torches. He indulged in what he knew would be the last hearty meal before his departure to search for the old beggar. His mother admired him affectionately from the other side of the table. She had two, long braided pig-tails hanging down her back, and wore a tunic made of finely patched alpaca wool. It tucked into a colorful skirt that stretched down to her ankles. Wrapped around her head were many colorful cords and two long feathers of red and blue (that might have belonged to a parrot) stuck out on her forehead from between the cords. Needless to describe furthermore, she was young and beautiful. How young? Well, it is irrelevant to the story but if you must know, she was twenty-seven--which was quite normal in those times--to have a son of fourteen at such young age. Patiently, she sat watching him eat, and was surprised at the amounts of food he stuffed himself with, but still complied in giving him as much as he wanted. Food was not a scarcity in the royal-household, and she spoiled him happily.
“Hey there little warrior, are you planning on giving yourself nightmares?” she asked calmly.
Apaec looked at her while nibbling on the roasted leg and replied with a mouthful, “I am a growing boy mother.”
She smiled at him and responded, “Yes, of course you are dear.”
He swallowed a big gulp of water from an old wooden cup, took a deep breath, and asked, “Hey mama, you know that old man? I don’t remember his name but he was a beggar, and you always helped him. You told me he did not deserve—”
“Kusco?” She interjected.
“Kusco—his name is Kusco.”
“Yes of course, now I remember.”
Confused, she paused for a moment and asked, “What do you wish to know about him?”
“I just always wondered why you were so nice to him. You seemed to be very fond of him. I always assumed you were very compassionate to the poor, but then, why didn’t you? --See, what I mean to say is that I don’t understand why you never helped all the other beggars. Take the crazy blind man for example. I don’t recall you lending him a helping hand. What made the old Kusco so special? And why do you know his name?” He mumbled with a mouthful.
She had become skeptical. She looked at him as she took a drink of water from her rustic, wooden cup, and sighed. “I know his name because I knew him when I was a child. He was a very dear friend of my father… He was also a very important member of the council. I simply feel sympathy for him, and try to help whenever I can.”
“What? He knew my grandpa? And you say he was in the council? That’s crazy! What happened to him? And, Where’s his family?”
She looked at him with slight suspicion and answered, “That my dear, is a question, to which I do not have the answer. I’m sorry sweetie, I never asked.” She took another swig from her cup.
“What kinda friend are you..?” He asked snickering at her arrogantly, and added, “Well, do you know where he is now?”
“Yes—that I do. He left to the mountains of the south,” she said, pointing behind her with her thumb as she drank more water.
“Yes mother, I know that, but where in the mountains exactly?”
“Are you planning on visiting him, my dear?”
“Mom, I’m just a curious boy.”
“Hmm… well let’s see… if you take the path that leads you into the corn fields of the south, and follow it all the way to the end of the meadows, you will eventually arrive at a creek. I believe he lives in the woods on the other side somewhere. He must live close to that creek. That, I assure you.”
“Is that all you know, mother?”
“Well, what is it with you? Don’t you even think about going up into those mountains, young man, you will only get yourself lost. Why would you want to go up there looking for him? What for? You never liked him from what I remember.”
He laughed at her and replied: “Oh mother, do you really think I would risk my beautiful life to find a stinky old beggar whose name I couldn’t even remember? I’m just very curious as to what he is up to these days.”
“You watch your language now, mister! Show some respect. That man...” she paused and reconsidered, “…well I’m sorry, my dear, but that’s all I know.”
“That’s all I know, Apaec. Now finish up, it’s getting late.”
He mumbled in mockery.
“What was that now?” she asked,
“Nothing, mother.” He gave her a big smile.
The next morning, Apaec awoke from his bed to find a couple of big black eyes staring down at him.
It was Micay standing from the edge of his bed. She gave him a big smile and said: “I was wondering when you were gonna get up, you lazy bum. Let’s go now. We need the entire morning if we are to return by dusk.”
Before he stood up he asked her: “How long have you been standing there, you weirdo?”
Giggling, she told him: “I’ve been standing here all night… and you’re a loud snorer,” she teased.
He was chagrined for quick moment, but then realized that she was obviously lying. He said to her firmly with a frown: “Micay, you’re a weirdo.”
“I kid, you moron. I just got here and I was observing how much you resemble a monkey.” He stood up off his bed and gave her an angry gesture.
“No I don’t,” he responded firmly as she giggled. He stretched his neck up to see behind her and asked, “Hey, where’s Khuno?
“He’s not coming. He’s gonna be out with the Kapra all day… hey, how come you don’t have to go, Apaec?”
“I was never informed of any expeditions taking place today. Besides, I only volunteer, remember? I’m not obligated to go yet because I’m too young. I haven’t taken my vows… and I wouldn’t have gone anyway. I wouldn’t miss this for anything in the world.”
“Well that’s too bad. I have to deal with you all by myself now… Eeeesh!”
“Ha! You think you’re the only one upset about this. I have to listen to your pesky voice all day long. It’s not gonna be fun for me either.” Apaec shook his head and then gave her the news, “Apparently the old man was a dear friend of my grandfather before he turned crazy. That explains why my mom was so nice to him all the time. However, when it came down to his whereabouts, she knew pretty much what we know. Or so she made it seem,” he said suspiciously while looking up at the ceiling. He tapped his finger on his chin and continued, “All she said was that he lives up in the mountain behind the creek.”
“You mean the creek behind the potato fields?”
“Yes, that’s the one.”
“Well I know where that is. I’ve been to that creek many times.”
“Yes dummy, I know where that creek is too, but have you taken a good look at that mountain? There’s a jungle up there! And it’s a very big mountain that just happens to be surrounded by more, even bigger mountains. And I think I should also mention the fact that they are all covered in even more jungle!” he said, badgering her in a sardonic manner.
“Yes stupid, but do you suppose he lives far from that creek? I think that if we follow it up hill, we just might find a pretty, little path. It’s likely he has made one by now. Do you agree?” Micay asked.
“Hey, you just might have said something useful there. You could be right! He mustn’t be very far. He does come down here often, and he is very old. He wouldn’t dare make the effort to walk down here that much—if it was too far. Its rough territory you know. We are bound to find evidence of his trails nearby. I say we go for it! We search around… without wandering off too far… and… if we are not successful, we simply return home and try it again another day.”
“Perfect. Sounds nifty. Good plan. Let’s get going then.”
They walked across the city to the forest beyond it and found the creek, which they followed up stream into the thick of the forest. They hiked for hours and hours, but found no sign of the old beggar, or the path that supposedly led to his abode. Later that day, just before dusk, they no longer knew where they were. The darkness had gained upon them after hours of wandering in circles, and they were helplessly lost deep in the jungle. They began to lose all hope, and were scared of the dangers that crept along in the darkness. But then, just before the sun could set completely, they spotted an immense tree—a bountiful tree that offered the kind of branches one could sleep on. It was climbable, and the branches were large enough for them to lie on. However, before they could call it home, they would have to make certain that it was not a district of rampant monkeys. They tested it by taking large rocks from the ground and threw them hard against the branches up above. Only the exotic twittering of birds and the flapping of their wings could be heard as they flew out. The thick branches were covered with slimy spores and moss. They could feel it on their palms as they grabbed the notches and grooves of the tree. As they climbed higher, they felt their hands ripping through the cobwebs of the spiders who resided in the crevices. Climbing as high as they could, they eventually reached the most comfortable branch they could find. The moon was full. Its light shone through an aperture of the leaves down upon them. It was enough light for them to be aware of one another. It was the perfect spot. Yet, they could not sleep at ease with the thought of wild animals lurking below on the jungle grounds. The night grew darker and sounds of the forest seemed to get louder. Growling was heard from a short distance. It most certainly belonged to a great feline of the rainforest. But one fowl snarl rang out through the chaos of the jungle grumbles. They were so startled by it Micay jumped up and nearly fell the long way down to the heavily vegetated bottom. Apaec grabbed her by the arm before she could fall.
She screeched a loud “eeeek” and threw herself into his arms. “I’m scared.” she cried while holding him as she nestled into his chest.
Having his arms around her gave him the subtle urge to sentinel her. So this is what it feels like to be a man, he thought to himself. He held her tight caressing her back as he ran his fingers through her hair. He felt nervous—as he never had before, and a tingling sensation prickled down his spine as the adrenaline began to pump to his chest and down to his stomach. For a brief moment, they had forgotten that they were sitting high up on a tree, in the middle of a cold jungle. A soothing calmness filled their spirits, and they fell asleep in each others arms. But after a couple hours passed, their dormant state was rudely interrupted by a loud roar. This time, however, they were not startled. Instead, they just opened their eyes to find each others desirous stare, a stare that gave them a thrilling sensation of charm. The leaves and bushes were ransacked below in a destructive manner, but even that wasn’t enough to break the intensity of their moment. Apaec witnessed what he could only describe as: “the sight of the most beautiful, gleaming pair of eyes he had ever seen.” It was inevitable; he simply could not help himself. He stared intensely and admired the structure of her face. He studied the geometry of it: her thin nose that rested above her sharp chin, and the way her cheek bones protruded through her dark flesh. She must be the most beautiful girl in the world, he thought. His heart beat rapidly while his temperature arose to the highest degrees, and he felt the heat of his body rushing to his pectus. Time seemed to slow down. His leer then found its way to her lips that were as pink as a rose petal. And by that truth, the borders of temptation were breached. He slowly inclined to kiss her. She sat calmly, looking into his piercing, dark, black eyes as she licked her lips to moisten them. But just before their lips could lock, a piercing cry was heard…
“At laaAAST…! You are mine!”
The interruption was crude, and in that split second, the magic of the moment had been lost. Apaec and Micay sat in utter silence as they listened to the sounds below. They heard what sounded like a song—a terribly bad, senseless, poorly improvised, monosong:
O’ Pussy-cat, smitten, you were.
O, Pussy-cat, smitten, of fur.
Black-black, nimble-black, nimblest of the world,
As nimble as a squirrel.
I have you now for my feast, and ever more for my chow,
And now that you have deceased,
You are the size of a cow.
A tunic of fur I will gladly sew,
Out the remains that you will bestow.
Ouch! Lookie here I have stubbed my toe…
Heavy coarse chuckles were heard. “Aaaaaah--there you are, my dear… looook at you, so helpless and DEAD! MuahaHaHA…[cough…]” An old man began to choke as he hunched in coarse gasps for air.
“Listen!” whispered Apaec to Micay.
“Who is that?” she whispered back.
“I think it’s him. We found him. Who else could it be? We’re in the middle of the jungle and he‘s crazy.”
“Its sounds more like he found us,” she said.
“Shhhhh… listen…,” he whispered.
Below, a black jaguar lay dead in a trap, and an old man celebrated his capture. They looked down searching the floor, but it was too dark to spot anything. They could only listen and wonder what was happening down below. An old man whistled a snappy tune while he rid the dead body of wooden spears. The remnants from a wooden trap he had set. He was a lanky, gangly old man with a thick beard and a crown of gray hair. He had a wide nose, small eyes, and thick eyebrows. He wore a headband, a gray and blue knee-length tunic, a leather belt, and grass made shoes. On his shoulder, lay a strap from a leather pouch he used to keep herbs and berries he picked from the forest. Sitting on the tree branch, Apaec and Micay concentrated on the pitch black floor until, suddenly, Apaec noticed flickers of light flashing from below.
“Look Micay!” He whispered.
The flickers of light quickly turned into flames and the area was lit. Light reflected from the man’s bald head. The old man had ignited a torch made from a stick and woolen cloth. Micay leaned forward from the branch to get a better look and as she did, her hand slipped on the moss and she tumbled face down on the branch. It made a thump sound and the man was startled. He looked up pointing his torch towards the branches and yelled out in a deep, raspy, old voice: “Monkeys ahoy! Monkeys, I know you‘re there! Stop harassing me!”
“Monkeys..?” Apaec whispered.
Micay responded, “See? I told you—you look like a monkey, especially sitting up in this tree,” she said, poking fun at him.
“Very funny,” he responded sarcastically, nudging her shoulder.
“Monkeys!” the man yelled again. “Get down from there! I will share with you if you’d like. There’s enough here for a whole family!”
They both looked at each other simultaneously and loosely chuckled, but quickly silenced themselves by covering their mouths. There was a short pause.
“Leave me alone then, monkeys. If you’re not hungry… then go away!” he said making signals at them.
Micay shouted back, “We’re not monkeys!”
The man fell back on his bottom in utter shock and dropped his burning stick. Frightened and confused, he grabbed his torch again and managed to stand. Looking up at the tree he squinted his eyes and asked in a trembling voice, “Who… who’s up there?!”
“We’re lost… and we need help!” shouted Micay.
There was a long pause and then the old man shouted back, “Oh… oh, very well then, come down here!”
“All right, we’re coming!” she said as they began their descent.
“What in the name of the gods are you doing up there at this time of the night? Do you realize how dangerous it is to be here? Where did you come from?” he spoke crackly.
They made their way down and jumped to the ground once low enough. He frowned as he looked at them and aimed the torch at their direction.
“You’re only younglings, you are. Where are your parents?”
“We came up here looking for you, Kusco, but we ended up lost.” said Apaec.
The man squinted at Apaec and blinked rapidly. He studied him thoroughly for a few seconds until his eyes grew big in surprise.
“Is that you, little Apaec? What in the name of the gods? It is you! You’ve come to visit me, have you? You sure have grown into a fine young man.” He looked at them and tilted his head. “Your mothers must be worried sick! You two shouldn’t have… you are crazy for coming all the way up here. You’re very lucky I happened to be in these premises. The gods must be on your side.”
They looked at each other caught in a fit of laughter. Micay then spoke, “We’re just happy we found you. We had lost all hope.”
He studied her face for a moment and asked, “Apaec! Is this your girlfriend? My child, I knew you would do well. Your family’s reputation precedes you. Now, what is your name, young lady?” He raised his right hand up to greet her.
“Uh… it’s Micay. Pleasure to meet you, sir, but I’m not his girlfriend. I’m just his friend,” she said smiling as she shook his hand.
Apaec looked down at the floor in embarrassment and mumbled, “Yes, she is just my friend, Kusco… and well… it’s good to see you, old friend. How long has it been?”
“Too long, of course…! Now don’t change the subject! What is wrong with you, son? Do you not like pretty girls or what? What is it with you? Why, when I was your age, I had the prettiest girls in town just kneeling at my pretty toes, begging for a piece of Kusco. You hear that, son? Begging! I was definitely a ladies man in my time. I was… definitely. When I reached the age of twenty-five—my precious prime—I had eleven wives!” he remarked, as he slapped Apaec’s forehead with the exsiccated, chapped palm of his hand. Apaec felt the brittle skin shards of Kusco’s hand prickle his forehead. Some of them, actually, were left stuck to it.
Micay took her hands up and covered her mouth in surprise. She released a giggle that filtered through the space between her fingers.
“Ouch! What was that for?” Apaec rubbed his forehead to sooth it.
“To show you a lesson.... Now listen to me very well, young prince. You are going to marry this girl. You hear me?”
Apaec looked over to Micay and she looked back at him disgustedly. Apaec frowned at her and shrugged. He loudly stated, “Absolutely not! She is my friend. Besides, I am already betrothed to the daughter of Kekken of the family of Cava.”
“Well… we will find out soon enough.” He chuckled. “That girl is your cousin. Oh, and don’t forget to invite me to the wedding ceremony.” He winked at Micay and chuckled to himself. His lashes were so long and smutty, they almost served as Velcro and stuck together. This complicated the simple act of blinking for him, so he frequently twinkled his eyes in twitches. “Now, let’s get moving children.” He picked up a leather pouch he had dropped on the ground. He then looked over to Apaec and demanded, “Young prince, grab that panther’s hind legs over there and drag it over here.”
“What are you going to do with it?” Apaec asked.
Kusco looked at him, closed one eye, and said firmly, “Why… I’m going to eat it of course, and when I‘m finished, I shall make me a nice fur tunic. I will look very handsome.” He chuckled as he tried opening his eye again but it wouldn’t, so he took two fingers to spread open his aperture.
“What? You can eat these things? Are they good?” Apaec asked with a bit of skepticism.
“Eww!” added Micay.
“I don’t know. I’ve never had black-panther. I’ve only had regular panther. I suppose we will find out, won’t we? It’s a good thing I bumped into you… now there won’t be any leftovers for the vultures.”
“What is a ‘regular panther?’” asked Apaec. “And I don’t think I can eat that.”
“Yeah, me neither,” Micay added.
“Oh, you will. You see there aren’t any food markets around here and you will be hungry in the morning. To answer your question, Apaec: regular panther is not black but is… well… dammit! I forgot! My memory fails me once again. Maybe the black-panther is the regular panther. Or is it the white?” Kusco stood there confused, scratching his bald head and continued, “Oh yes, now I remember! The regular panther has black spots, and is orange…. Oh, no, no, noo…, never mind that. That is a leopard!” He chuckled. “Llamas! My mind has become muck.”
Apaec then walked over to the carcass and grabbed it by the hind legs. He pulled but it was too heavy. It didn’t budge an inch. “Ah! It’s too heavy, Kusco. I can’t, I need help. You really think we will be able to drag it all the way to… wherever it is we’re going?”
“Weakling. You have the muscles of a little monkey. When I was your age, I was as strong as two warriors. Pity, age has caught up with my brawns. Just wait here for one minute. Here, hold this.” Kusco handed over the torch to Apaec, then turned and disappeared into the darkness. The teens had no choice but to stand in the utter darkness, contemplating the mottles of stars on the apertures of the high branches above them.
“Now, where do you suppose he went to? Micay asked.
“I have no idea,” Apaec answered.
A few minutes went by without a sound from Kusco, and then, when the two were becoming a bit anxious, the faint rumbling of the branches were heard. They grew louder and Kusco appeared in the distance holding a rope. Behind him, tied to it, was a six-foot-tall, white, Peruvian llama, and a type of wooden raft apparatus on wheels was tied behind it.
“This creature here is my llama.”
Micay smiled and said, “Oh how cute… what’s his name?”
“It’s a she, and her name is Bad Ugly Llama. You can call her Bad for short. She is strong and will drag the black-panther with us, and you, Micay, can mount her if you’d like.”
“What kind of name is Bad Ugly Llama?” asked Micay as she giggled.
“Well, she’s definitely not a good, pretty llama. She kicks me sometimes and when I fall asleep she spits on me. A good llama would not do that. And look at her, she’s as pretty as my grandmother was just before she croaked. That’s not pretty at all.”
Micay and Apaec stared as he bounded the panther’s hind legs to a rope that was attached to the llama. He then lifted the animal with all his might and squealed. “Apaec, I need some help here.” Apaec went over and picked it up from the other side. They set it on the wheeled, raft apparatus.
“Micay, would you like to get up?”
Micay proceeded to mount the llama and then pet her on the neck. She said, “good-bad, that’s a good-bad-llama.” She giggled at her own silliness.
“You’re a weirdo, Micay. How far off are we?” asked Apaec.
“About a couple hours down that way. We should make it before the sun kisses the peaks of those mountains,” Kusco said while pointing to his left, which was to the east.
“But I’m so tired,” Micay complained.
“What are you worried about? You have a comfy ride,” Apaec quickly responded.
“She’s bumpy,” she answered.
They walked for a few miles while Kusco served as their personal jungle-guide, rambling on about the creatures of the feral rainforest. The sun had begun to rise as they came across a small little cabin made of wood and stone. It had been built in between a crowd of trees. Vines, branches, and leaves from the jungle foliage had naturally attached to the roof like a spider’s web. The cabin itself seemed like it was part of the jungle. “This is it, kids… my humble, little home.” He made a gesture to welcome them in and said, “Welcome children, please… make yourselves at home.” They made their way in to a living room with the floor covered in leather mats and fur carpets. There was a small wooden table in one corner, and on it was a grass made basket filled with various exotic fruits. The ceiling had been built with precisely measured wooden beams that were set across the stone base and palm leaves had been meticulously thatched to create a thick, dense layer of roof. The walls were made of stone blocks, and two large windows were on each side. They were covered with dry palm leaves which served as curtains. Kusco stood behind them as they both took a moment to study the living room. The llama then entered the room and turned her head to look at them. She spit on the floor and began to make her way to a second room toward the back. “You see? Bad llama! Don’t do that to our guests, you demon animal!” The llama then turned her head once more and spit for the second time. This time, the projectile of llama-spit directly struck old Kusco’s left eye. He squint his little eye and shrieked, “AAAHhhhh! She’s done it again, she has! You llama from hell! I’ll kick you where you stand!” And so he did just that: walked over to the llama and kicked her on the back of her shins, yelling out profanities and making gestures with his fist. He took a woolen cloth from the ground to wipe his eyes and looked over to the teenagers who were standing a few feet away. They were caught in giggles. The llama then left the room with a waddle for a trot.
“That llama from hell,” he mumbled. He pointed to a hall at the back of the cottage. “Apaec, go into that other room over there and bring back three stools for us to sit on,” he demanded. “I’m going to start a fire outside so we may have ourselves a nice feline for breakfast.” Apaec walked over to the room and found a set of wooden stools that were neatly placed side by side. The rest of the room was filled with clay pottery that had been beautifully painted with colorful patterns and symbols. He took three stools and walked back into the living room where Micay was waiting. He placed them one by one on the ground forming a circle. Micay proceeded to have a seat while Apaec walked over to the table and took the basket of fruit. He took a plump, green cherimoya and handed the basket over to Micay but she refused to take it.
“You should ask for permission. Very rude, Apaec,” she promptly uttered in bitterness.
“What are you, my mother? He told us to make ourselves at home, if I remember correctly, and at home, I would eat the cherimoyas.” She rolled her eyes as he took a bite. The fruit’s juices oozed down his cheeks as he took a deep breath as to gesture his enjoyment. “Heavenly,” he muttered, then wiped his face with his sleeve.
Kusco entered the room dusting his hands off, looked over to Apaec and said, “I see you’ve found your way into my delicious cherimoyas, have you? And they are so ripe, are they not? They are definitely a summer fruit, but still, during these cold winter days, they are quite satisfying.”
“Heavenly and scrumptious. Thank you,” he replied, nodding his head in satisfaction.
“Are you not hungry, my dear?” Kusco asked Micay, as she sat contemplating the basket of fruit. “Go on now… take your pick. This jungle here is exceedingly abundant with fruit. You mustn’t worry, child… take as many as you wish… please…. for this lovely morning, you are my distinguished guests,” he said to her smiling.
She quickly sank her dainty little fingers into the basket and picked the greenest one she could find. She obliged her craving, and made a similar gesture that Apaec had moments before. “Mmmm… thank you, Mr. Kusco. They really are very delicious.”
He crackled, “Oho-ho… please… my child, just call me Kusco,” he said with a smile. He then took a seat, grabbed a sour-sop fruit for himself, took a bite, and puckered up. “Oooh, this one’s very tart… I’ve started a fire outside, and in a bit, I’m going to need help from you two in skinning that feline. We shall have ourselves a breakfast fit for the gods. Indeed we will.” He indulged in the fruit gnawing and swallowing. “But now that we’ve settled… in the mean time… while the fire builds… [gulp] would you two mind telling me why you ended up in that big-ol-tree?”
They swallowed their mouthfuls and Micay spoke first. “Well, you see… we came looking for you because we heard you stayed in these mountains. We thought we could find you so we followed the creek behind the meadows for many hours, but never found any signs of you. The creek led us to an immense water fall, but it was impossible for us to climb the cliff, and we had grown frustrated so we decided to turn back. By this time, we only had about five hours to make it back. Thing is, the pond from the waterfall had many streams leaving from it and we could not remember what stream we had been following in the first place. We simply followed the wrong one and became lost. The sun set and we decided to camp, and that’s when we found that big tree. That’s pretty much it.”
He gazed at them dubiously and said, “Yes, I understand you were lost, but what was the reason you came searching for me in the first place? Your mother, Apaec, is the only other person who has ever been benevolent to visit me.”
“She has? I knew she was keeping things from me! I shoulda known!” Apaec shouted, while pounding his fist into the stool.
“She knew all along exactly where to find you. She just didn’t want me to know! Why would she keep that from me, Kusco? That sneaky lady! ”
“She was only looking out for me, Apaec, and you of course. My whereabouts are to remain a secret. I told her never to tell anybody, for my life is at stake.”
“A secret, but why?” asked Apaec. “Why are you hiding from the Cahuachi? You always told me stories about the Cahuachi, remember? That’s the reason for our visit. We want to know why you ran away… what made you leave the council?”
Kusco paused for a moment, took a deep breath, and began to tell his story, “Apaec, as you must now be aware, you are to become the next king of Nazca. I pray to the gods your time will come very soon. Your uncle is taking his last breaths of air, and for that reason, you must know the truth about the Cahuachi. This information is sensitive and you two must never speak of this to anyone. Micay, I trust you can keep a secret. If you are to become the queen, you should know this, too.”
She looked at him as her eyes grew broad. She was embarrassed, but could not bring herself to deny it. She did not want to upset the nice old man. Apaec turned to her with a crooked smile and slowly shook his head.
He signaled to her to just “go with it.” She then spoke, “Yes of course, Mr. Kusco. I would never do anything to put you in danger.”
“Thank you, my child. Now listen to me very carefully… Apaec, many years ago, before you were born, your grandfather Kennet and I took our positions in the royal council. He was a very dear friend of mine, you see, and I knew him very well. We had a plan for Nazca. We wanted to eradicate the dividing line between the Cahuachi and the Royal Council, to bring them together once and for all. For many generations, the Cahuachi have controlled the ways of the city and things have not changed for the better. It is we, the citizens of Nazca, who have the right to choose our gods, not the damn witches of Cahuachi alone. I believe that is the sole reason why there is never enough rain or food in our land, and that may also be the same reason why there are evil spirits lurking in the midst of our city. There lays the key to the solution of our problems. The Cahuachi are not wise in their decisions, and for that, beyond any shadow of doubt, we are inevitably doomed. We have the right to know the location of the Site of the Offerings, and the arrival dates. Many years ago, I organized a great assembly at the king’s court to present our ideas, but the Cahuachi grew outraged. They wanted nothing to do with our audacious propositions. They argued that they acted under the strict orders of the mighty lords, and that the lords would not be pleased by any disregards to their ruling. Powerless, we went to the king for help, but you see… and you’re going to have to pardon me for this Apaec, but your uncle is somewhat of a lethargic pig. It was us, the Royal Council, who actually executed policies. Your uncle is a lazy-buffoon, who simply couldn’t care less about the citizens. And so, I took it upon myself to personally meet with the High Priest of the Cahuachi in a last attempt to persuade them. But once again, I was completely turned away. He wouldn’t even see me, so I left empty handed. Your grandfather Kennet and I then made a bold and risky decision that would prove to be the end of our rightful place in the council. I suggested to Kennet that we secretly follow the witches to the forbidden site, in an attempt to contact the divine lords ourselves. We promptly plotted our mission, but quickly realized that in order to acquire the holy dates we would need to infiltrate the Cahuachi stones of data. We knew that the archives would have to be concealed somewhere inside their temple and somehow we would have to trespass the Forbidden City walls. It was clear we would have to be incognito, so we acquired white Cahuachi tunics, custom made for us by the councils’ tailors. Two days later, we departed on our crusade and successfully breached the golden-gates. Everything seemed to be going according to plan. The thing was, well, you see… Cahuachi City isn‘t too big, hence, every witch, recognizes every other witch in that blasted city, and for that solitary reason, our cover was quickly blown. We were taken as prisoners into dungeon for many months, and you’re not going to believe what we found. Only a few small windows high up on the walls let in a bit of light. Other than that, it was an infernal human-cocoon. The dungeon was crammed heavily with prisoners form Nazca…. and the only thing that most of the ‘prisoners’ were guilty of… was being oblivious to what was really happening outside in Nazca. Amongst the muddle and agglomeration of feculent human bodies, we found some old forgotten friends. Many who had gone mad from the malevolent state of their dooming prospects… but a few were able to render clarity to our bewilderment. We were told that most of the prisoners were peasants from Nazca villages who simply had the misfortune of running into confidential information, and were wandering amongst forbidden areas. For that, they were imprisoned and kept in the dungeon for many years, until their hearts would eventually give out. Other prisoners had actually been Cahuachi affiliates themselves. Isn’t that something? They were labeled as traitors because they had killed a fellow comrade or had become discordant to the laws of the witches. The last type… ha! You’re not going to believe this one—they were the most shocking of all! They were worthy-spirits who had been chosen, months, even years before. Preposterous! They were never taken to the heavens! Can you believe this? They were crudely deceived. They were indisputably lied to. It must be the worst place on earth… imaginable. It was hot and filthy. The place was like hell. There is no need for the Unsavory Death God to have created hell… this was more than fitting for the likes of it.” He turned over to Micay who was staring at him with immense intrigue and said, “Now Micay, what I am about to describe is not appropriate for an innocent and kind hearted spirit as yourself to hear. I kindly suggest you step outside for a moment. I do not believe this is suitable for your innocent little ears.”
Puzzled, Micay responded, “But sir… I… I don’t really care how abominable your story may be, I wish to listen. I am going to be the queen… right? I think I deserve to know, and I’m gonna stay put. With all due respect, Mr. Kusco, I’m not going anywhere.” She looked over at Apaec for support.
Apaec felt proud because Kusco felt that he was mature enough to listen to whatever inappropriate story he had in store, but he didn’t want Micay to be hurt, so he answered: “Kusco, whatever it is you have to say, I’m sure Micay is prepared to hear. She’s my best friend and I know she’s gonna be just fine. I assure you, Kusco. Go on, please.”
Kusco scratched his thick gray beard. He then looked at Micay as he squint his eye, sighed, and then spoke, “Very well then, but don’t say I didn’t warn you, princess. I presume you are right. As the future queen of Nazca, you have the right to know the truth… you should be aware of the atrocities these servants of Supay are capable of.
The Golden Key
As Daisy rattled the brick by her ear, she asked for the hammer, took it, and batted the brick. It broke in irruption, projecting a chip into Jasper’s right eye. “Aaahh! He yelled in pain as he took his hand to his wounded eye. Daisy laughed. Jasper stood erect for a moment and then began to sprint to the bathroom again, but he slipped and fell into the fireplace, face first, whirling ash into the air. Daisy covered her mouth startled, but couldn’t help giggle. Eventually, he stood up and shook it off like a wet dog. You can imagine the mess. Meredith was in a parlor near by reading a magazine. The commotion sent her to inspect the scene. She arrived with the magazine in hand. Her reading had been interrupted. She would be upset, for sure.
“What’s going on here?” she asked, perplexed. But once she saw that her son was black, she understood. “My goodness! What in heavens have you done!? Jasper! You get over here right now, mister. What have I told you about meddling with the fireplace? Oohhh-you’re in big trouble now.”
She went over to the poor boy and took him by the ear (the perfect slab to grab), and pulled him to a chair that was set beside a coffee table. She set him on her lap, face down, exposed his buns to the air, and performed the infamous, slapping ritual. She did it by rolling up the magazine and using it as the castigation instrument. As usual, there were spectators—or spectator—in this case, Daisy. For the first time, Jasper cried. It hurt, perhaps not his little buns, but defiantly his big pride. Afterwards, she let him stand but ordered him to clean the mess before he could get away. Daisy was till standing as a solo spectator. In whimpers (like an abashed puppy with its tail between its legs), Jasper went off to get a broom.
“I’m sorry you had to see that, Daisy, but he’ll never learn if I don’t.”
Daisy simply shrugged in impassivity, then walked over to the mess and picked up a little key—the golden key. She wiped the silt off with her dress, polishing it, and placed it in her pocket, patting at it. She pranced like a dilly out to the garden where the chest awaited to be unlocked.
The Beggar’s Crusade and the Misinterpretation of the Foreign Pirates
Now… where was I—the regular panther—the leopard? Oh yes, of course. The cursed dungeon! Well, as I was saying, there were hundreds of men and women—and you can imagine the stench of the place—it was unbearable. A miasma of sweat and fecal matters permeated the ill-sated cocoon. I was able to seize a little corner which I called home… and I lived next to your grandfather on the bare grime, where everyday we would talk about escape. It was horrendous, children. Men fought for the little food they fed us, and the poor, helpless women were abused like animals. Some were raped, murdered, and even fed upon. I recall one day when a group of savage men raped a poor woman and beat her to death. Once she lay dead, they proceeded to tear off her flesh with their long sharp-nails. And then, without remorse, they ate her. Just like that—raw—like a jaguar eats its prey. It was a crude and disgusting sight. A few days went by and the savage cannibals became very ill. They deserved dying in that dungeon for their monstrous actions. They all died within the same week and their bodies rotted quickly because of the heat. I remember the stench becoming so unbearable that in order to block it we wore our torn up clothing around our faces. It kept us from vomiting. The guards did not remove the bodies for many days. Many moons went by and we survived eating only very small portions of corn-bread, and little cups of egregious soup. We were given filthy water to drink… but it was barely enough to survive.” Kusco looked down at the floor and put his hand to his mouth in disgust. He appeared to be ashamed of himself. He continued, “Sometimes… we had to drink our own urine just to stay alive. I was a member of the royal council, and yet, there I was, sitting on dirt and stone, in a diabolical death chamber, drinking my own piddle. The witches have no hearts. They are not like us kindred spirits. Why, they are not spirits at all. In fact, they are dwelled by demons, they are. I did not understand why the gods would allow such atrocities. Were they not aware of them? And then… after many nights of pondering and deep meditation, like a stone, it hit me… on the head—hard. At first I though I had stumbled on a battering cogitation. But then, I realized that the mad man that lived across from me had actually thrown a stone at my head and broken my meditation. Regardless, it triggered something. I realized something: the gods weren’t anywhere present in that dungeon. Many of the prisoners were chosen as gods… but then, what in the hell were they doing rotting in that dungeon? I realized the witches had been taking their places all this forsaken time. Those bastards! Do you understand what I’m telling you?”
Apaec answered, “Yes… but… how could that… how could that be? All this time, you mean to say that… every single worthy spirit was kept a prisoner?”
“Precisely! And utilized as slaves too! Who do you think built their magnificent temples and palaces? He chuckled. “It wasn’t the Cahuachi—that I assure you. Can’t you see? It was us! Citizens of Nazca like you and me were kept as slaves! but not any longer, children. This is why you, my dear prince…, you will be the next rightful king, and you must put an end to these atrocities. And now that you have learned the truth… you must do the righteous thing.” He took a deep sigh and continued, “To conclude, after months of imprisonment, we were finally let out. However, we were not freed. Instead, our hands were bound together with thick ropes, as we were forced to walk mile after mile beyond the limits of the jungle, right into the desert. We walked under the ruthless heat of the summer, until we arrived at The Site of the Offerings. That is where they lined us up. Right next to the offerings, as if we… ourselves were offerings. Like the animals!” Distressed, the old man stood up to have a drink of water in order to clear his throat. He sat back down and asked, “What have you heard about your father, Apaec?”
Apaec sat puzzled for a moment not understanding the relevance of the question. Regardless, he answered: “Well, I never met him. He died before I was born. My mother always said he was a good man, and I know that he belonged to the Kapra. She also said that he left during a winter on a long trade expedition that went bad. There was some sort of disagreement between the foreign merchants and the Kapra and he was killed in battle.”
“My dear Apaec, I regret to inform you, you have been deceived. You are under a crude misconception. However, do not blame your mother, for she told you this merely for your own safety… Apaec, do you wish to know the true story of your father‘s unfortunate death?”
Shocked and incredulous, Apaec sat frozen in his position nodding his head. He said, “Yes, of course. Tell me. I wish to know. But you mean to say that my mom lied to me? My mother has been lying to me all this time?”
“I’m afraid so, Apaec, but again, you mustn’t be hasty in judging her. She was only looking out for you. It was indeed for the best of reason that you did not find out… You see, the trade expedition never took place. Instead, your father, along with a group of Kapras, was led into Cahuachi City. There, he was ‘cleansed’ by a high-priest and informed he had been chosen…”
Apaec and Micay turned to each other in terror. Kusco continued, “Afterwards, he was taken to the Site of the Offerings where… Apaec, I’m terribly sorry to inform you… but your father was killed—” Apaec sat on the stool, staring at the ground in astonishment. “—They sacrificed him because they wanted his young, clean blood. You see, they drank his blood, and then fed upon… never mind that. The Cahuachi believe that in order to be chosen by the gods you must be clean—that is, worthy, for one must not carry iniquity in their bloodstream.
“For those inglorious hoodlums knew their souls weren’t nearly worthy enough to be chosen. That is why they drink the young blood. Do you understand? They need the unpolluted blood of the actual chosen spirits to mask the foul and contaminated blood that flows through them. That way, when the gods do arrive at the site, they are deceived by it, and they take the witches by mistake. They have been cheating the system all along! And, do you want to know how they get away with all of this? How they deceive even the great, all-knowing, mighty High Lord, Huiracocha?” He chuckled taking the last bite from his fruit, and continued, “This is the illicit work of Supay, the Unsavory God of Death.
“If Lord Huiracocha is indeed as all knowing as we claim, then why is he blinded from the Cahuachi doings? When the scoundrel of Supay drank the blood of his murdered brethren, he gained special powers which allowed him to affect the Four Quarters to a certain extent. He was able to affect the Four Quarters by … ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………explain relationship between supay and cuhauachi-the benefits each party gains with their alliance. Cuhachi become gods, supay becomes supreme ruler of four quarters- rules the universe with the cuhachi as his minions on earth. explain how the gods do not see the dead bodies at site of offerings ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………The Cuhuachi revealed their true heartlessness when they formed their alliance with Supay. The Cahuachi also sacrifice human offerings for Supay. They worship him, you see? He is blinding the gods from the evil doings of the Cahuachi. It’s his strategy to rid the Four Quarters of Huiracocha’s spirits. He wants to take power of The Four Quarters—to somehow utilize our spirits as agents to breach the heavens and ultimately overpower Huiracocha. In simple terms, the death servants sell their souls to Supay and become his servants.
“The Cahuachi hold sacrificial ceremonies on certain holy nights during winter and summer—nights when the gods descend from the heavens to our world. On one of these nights, we were bound by rope, taken to the Site of Offerings, and then lined up next to the animals. Then, another group arrived—the Kapras, and your father was amongst them. That’s how I know about your father’s death. I witnessed it. Fortunately… well, fortunately for me at the time, I was able to cut through the ropes with a sharp stone I picked up with my dainty toes on the way to the site. They were concentrated with their rituals and luckily I wasn’t spotted immediately. I was able to sprint towards the cliffs and make my way into the jungle before they noticed my absence. I had escaped the Cahuachi. However, being a prominent member of the Council made it easy for the witches to realize exactly who was missing.
“I stayed in the jungle, knowing that the servants of Supay would be searching for me in Nazca. After exactly thirty days of living in the thick of the jungle, I returned to Nazca, only to find that my family was missing. I assume they figured I had died in the jungle but they needed to cover all of their bases. They probably had guessed that I had spoken about my theories to my family before I left on my journey. They feared my family would speak out and, in turn, ignite a revolution from the angry citizens. They simply went in and took them! I never saw them again. It’s been over fourteen years, you know. My wife and children were innocent. They didn’t have anything to do with this, but the Cahuachi demons didn’t care. They then defiled my reputation by making up an outrageous story of how I had gone mad and killed my family. The people of Nazca were told to capture me and imprison me. That is why I lived on the streets. I let my beard grow long in order to disguise my youthful, chiseled face. What a pity! However, I was foolish to think that I could hide my prominent, beautiful features with facial hair. It only worked for a while, until some keen-eyed peasant recognized my heavenly eyes and sent out a message to Cahuachi.” The old man ran his sly fingers through his silver crown of hair and continued, “They came searching for me and I escaped back into the jungle. I built myself this fine little-cottage. Not too bad-eh? I moved the boulders and heavy stones with the help of my bad llama, my only companion ever since, and used that cart on wheels over there… and that my dear friends, was the chronicle of my crusade.”
There was a long silence between them. The three sat there in deep thought. Apaec was the first to get up. He walked to the door, looked back at them, and exited the living room without saying a word. Everything he had just heard had been overwhelming. Micay then looked over to Kusco in shock. She had just realized something extremely significant. She gasped, “My goodness… Khuno!”
“Excuse me, child, what was that?”
“Khuno…! He’s my friend. My goodness, he, he was chosen, just like Apaec’s father! What’s gonna happen to him? Kusco! What are they gonna do to him?! Apaec! Apaec!” She shrieked. “Come back!” She was hysterically and breathing heavily.
Kusco looked at her concentrated. He said, “He was chosen you say…? How long ago…?”
“It-It was two days ago, well, I mean… two days ago when he told us. I think he said it was during the rainy season… yes, the rainy season. Yesterday morning, before we came here looking for you, I went to see him, but he wasn’t home. His mom told me he was out with the Kapras on an expedition. That’s why he didn’t come with us.”
Kusco sat concentrated and deeply sighed. He said, “Hmmm… I’m sorry to inform you of this, my dear, but I believe your friend is with the witches. These are the rainy days when they practice the rituals at the site. How old is your friend?”
“Seventeen,” Micay quickly answered.
“Of course! Oh no… I’m terribly sorry my child, but I fear he will be sacrificed. They want his blood,” he said as he looked at her fixedly.
“No… NO, they can’t! He… he’s…” She began to sob uncontrollably into her lap. She murmured, “I love him.” She then looked up at the old man and said, “We have to save him! We have to… This is wrong. They can’t kill him. We have to do something!”
“I’m afraid it might be too late. They need his blood before the gods arrive at the site. They usually sacrifice during the first week. They start off with the young ones.”
“Well then, we must leave immediately,” Apaec said firmly from the door. He had been standing by the door the whole time listening in on their conversation. “How far away is this place Kusco?”
“It’s about three days. It’s beyond our territories—the desert flats behind these mountains.”
“Then you must lead the way, old friend. Please, we cannot do this without you.”
“Children, I’m sorry, it’s much too dangerous. We can’t just go in there and take him away. It’s not that simple. They’ll kill us all!”
“I don’t care. We can’t just sit here and let him die! We have to at least try,” Apaec insisted.
Micay, still sobbing in her lap, then spoke, “He’s right. We can’t just stay here. We have to do something. It’s the very first step to end all of this. We have to go. Look Mr. Kusco, with all due respect, we‘re going to rescue him with or without you, but without you, it will be nearly impossible. I assure you, we will only get ourselves lost.”
Kusco shook his head and said, “Look, you can go down to the city tomorrow and inform the Kapra about this—”
Micay loudly interrupted, “No! We can’t do that! We’ll be wasting precious time! He could be killed during that time. We have to do this alone, there’s no other way. We need you, Mr. Kusco… please help us!”
Kusco stood up from his stool and walked over to look out his window—as to catch a breeze to aid his nuisance. He flicked the remnants of the devoured fruit outside, and hesitantly agreed with a thick mumble, “Very well then… what have I to lose anyway?”
The Sacrifice of the White Panther
Three bitter nights later, on the infamous desert flats, and after a long journey through the jungly mountains, the night was gloomy and overcast, supplemented with a cool stormy-breeze that chilled the teens to their bones. They were capped by the eminent humidity (that was a rare treat in such arid desert) that fed to the eeriness of the atmosphere. Yet, there they were, two beloved friends, observing the peculiar ritual on what would become the most interesting night of their lives—a night they would never forget. They were laying face down on the ground and leaning over on the edge of a cliff, looking down at the bizarre ceremony that they had only heard of; but there it was, it was real, as real as the risen hairs on their skin. They could hear the heavy beat of leather drums that pulsated with the faint chant of the magic people. They could see them dancing aberrantly on the carved paths. Small fires had been placed strategically alongside these paths, and a few more superior fires culminated the illumination of the site. The chanting soon developed into screeching and howling, and the dancing became that of something else—something much more of eccentric. The eeriness that congested the atmosphere could have been slashed with a blade. Kusco was already down at the site, hiding between the tall rocks searching for Khuno. He was equipped with a sharp-stone blade, a long wooden spear, and most significantly, his tenacious courage. His plan was simple: once spotting the young boy, he was to scamper in and cut the ropes that bound him. Afterwards, they would make a run for it. It was a simple plan, but it was also a hazardous and lunatic plan. It was definitely the only plan they could improvise in such a short notice. What else could they do? The old man had firmly instructed the teenagers to stay hidden on the cliffs while he went down to carry out the mission. He would meet up with them afterwards back on the cliffs and they would all run away into the massive maze of the untamed jungle.
Meanwhile, on the high cliffs…
Apaec and Micay laid face down trying to distinguish what was happening down below. They saw the people herded like cattle into a straight line for sacrifice, just as Kusco had described. The ceremony had begun and Micay squinted harder as she strained her eyes to see who was first to be sacrificed. “Gods!” screeched Micay as she grasped Apaec’s left arm, “The sacrifice, Apaec…! Look: It’s Khuno! It’s him! Look: They’re gonna sacrifice him!” she gasped. “He, he, he… aaah, it‘s Khuno! I know it‘s him!” Her voice trembled.
“Are you sure?” Apaec asked.
“Look: he’s laying face down and they’re going to sacrifice him!” she yelled again “Apaec, it’s just like Kusco said…” And then, abruptly, the motion they witnessed was as obvious as the daunting expression that animated their young faces. A Cahuachi witch who wore a bizarre horny-mask dripping with blood (an uncanny amalgam of creatures of the jungle) held a long, heavy blade high above his head that too, was dripping in blood, gripping it with both hands. He violently swung the long blade downward and decapitated the boy. Blood splattered upon the mask. The head rolled off the flat stone and bounced on the desert floor, stopping supine. Micay could’ve sworn it was looking right up at her. There was a long pause and Apaec and Micay stood in shock. They couldn’t believe what they had just witnessed: the horrendous assassination of their friend: a mere, innocent juvenile. Micay shrieked and gasped for air. They felt the warmth of their blood rushing through their veins and the adrenaline that throbbed by their knotted stomachs. A few minutes passed and they could still see the headless body of the boy who had, only a few days ago, prepared them an exquisite breakfast. “We have to go Apaec!” she told him as she broke down crying.
“No, wait,” he stressed, “wait… we have to wait for Kusco.”
“Pleease! I’m scared!” she replied and began to scream. “I want to go home! They killed him! [Heavy gasping] Oh-god, Apaec… they k-k-killed him!” She stuttered in hyperventilation.
She forcefully grabbed his arm, threw herself into his grasp, and drained her tears into his arms. He held her tightly and told her firmly, “Be quiet, Micay, they’ll hear us! Now, are you completely sure it was him?”
“Yeesss!” she screamed. Her face expressed utter fear. “How could you not see? Look: it’s that damn white-panther! You can make it out even from up here!” she yelled.
“I… I’m not all that sure, Micay. We have to make sure.”
“No… please! It’s too dangerous.” She panted and whimpered continuously, barely making any sense. “What if they see you? What if they sacrifice you too?”
“They can’t! I am Apaec. I am royalty. I am too important. Can’t you see? They wouldn’t dare. I have to go, Micay.”
Micay looked up at him, still in his arms, and said: “They don’t know who you are. What makes you believe they know who you are?”
He looked down at Micay, holding her in his arms as he wiped the tears off her cheeks with his sleeve. Then, suddenly, thunder struck hard and lighting flashed across the desert sky. It began to rain, lightly at first, but quickly turned heavy. They were drenched. He stared deep into her eyes as the driblets from his forehead trailed down his cheeks and dripped onto her face. Whilst, he uttered, “Micay, you’re gonna wait right here. You understand? Wait right here.” Slowly, he began to release her as the flashing continued and the rain fell, penetrating harder with every second.
“No, please don’t leave me,” she whimpered while briskly tugging on his shoulders once again, before he could walk away.
Apaec took her delicate little hand and lead her into a small cave. “Wait here, Micay… I’m just going to take a quick peek. I have to make sure it’s him before we leave, so stay under these rocks and wait for me. You’re gonna be just fine. I promise. I’m gonna be right back,” he said firmly as he walked away from her. But Micay held onto his hand tightly, as a last attempt to keep him close. She knew that Apaec never kept his promises and worried so. It worked for a moment. The boy suddenly stopped and proceeded to walk back to her. He grasped her passionately in his arms and then embraced her tightly by the waist with his hands. Then, seized a moment to admire her beautiful face, took a deep breath, and muttered, “Micay, as long as my heart is beating, I will never let anything bad happen to you (he lied again).” The boy inclined, thereupon kissing her. The teens locked lips in a long impassioned moment of enchantment. He then took his index and middle fingers to her bottom lip that was rosy and plump, and brushed it, delicately as possible; subsequently, sliding them down by her cheek, sweeping off the excess water driblets from the rain. “I love you, Micay,” he murmured. Her gaze broadened with shock as she released a few delicate whimpers. A single tear ran down her cheek, fusing with the raindrops on her chin, as she stood on the tips of her toes resting in his arms. Apaec released her, causing her dainty body to drop an inch to the ground, and in the end, left the cave, disappearing into the darkness of the hostile storm. She watched the flashing silhouette of his dearest friend linger away into the tenebrous distance. That single kiss would be the final and treasured gift she would grasp from her beloved friend. Tragically, for years to come, it would prove to incite the haunting of her most precious memories.
Apaec escalated down the cliff at a fast pace: running, jumping, and even crawling at times. As agile as he was, he made it down quick and crept up to a heap of tall boulders where he took cover. The witches were close; he could hear their drums and their chant growing louder. About thirty feet separated him from the site, and from a small aperture between the boulders, he was able to see them. By this time, at least thirty beheaded bodies lay down supine, juxtaposed on wide flattened-stones. The ground: soiled red from the draining blood of the headless cadavers. The heads: scattered around the bloody muddle of grime. He was horrified by the brutality of the scene, so he covered his mouth promptly, silencing his whimpers. Shaking in fear, he felt a thrill run through his body as goose bumps arose on his bronze cutis. The night was cold, and although completely drenched, he felt hot. He also felt his heart beating at an enormous rate. If the rain hadn’t made him wet, his heavy perspiration would’ve done the trick. While he scanned the scene, he found exactly what he hoped wouldn’t be true: the headless body of his best friend laying on its back. Whilst, he noticed the instantly recognizable, white panther tattoo that sealed the undeniable truth; his hands still bound together behind his back; blood dripping out from the neck as the rain washed it down to the ground. If the tattoo hadn’t been enough proof of the body’s identity, about two feet away from the body, he found Khuno’s head lying on its side, eyes wide open looking directly at Apaec. He choked for a moment and covered his mouth. He couldn‘t help but gag as his eyes were filled with tears. Turning around, he sat on the ground, resting his back on the tall, flat boulder. His breath was steady, and he inhaled deeply as to sooth his internal pain; knowing he would have to deliver the undeniable truth to Micay. He regretted leaving her. Apaec had taken a good moment to calm down before he made his way back up the cliff wondering what Kusco was up to. The old man had apparently not recognized Khuno, even with the detailed description they had given him. He was not hard to miss; he was the biggest one of the pack: tall and tan, long black hair, a muscular build, the unmistakable white panther tattoo on his bicep, and yet, he did not spot him. Or maybe he had been spotted by a witch? What if he too was now in ropes, down with the rest of the prisoners? Apaec wondered. He felt guilty for not having assisted Kusco on the mission; but the old man had been stubborn, and he demanded they stay on the cliff. Now, one of his best friends was gone... forever.
The Treasure to End All Treasures
Jasper ran out to the garden to meet with Daisy, who was already kneeling beside the chest.
“Daisy, wait for me!” Jasper yelled out, as he ran to her.
“It fits! The key fits perfectly!” she responded.
“Wow… Open it! Hurry!” he ordered excitedly.
“Ok, here we go…”
She tried turning the key clockwise first but it was impossible to turn, so she turned it counterclockwise then. It rattled and clicked. The chest popped its top open with a spring. Cool air that smelled like alloy arose from the chest and onto their faces. A little bag of brown paper sat atop. It was tied shut with a thin red cord. She took it by the top and uncovered an opened envelope that lay underneath it. Inside of the envelope was a sheet of India paper gone opaque-yellow by age. It had beautiful calligraphic writing on it. She handed the bag over to Jasper and proceeded to read the writing. Written with on the paper were verses of black ink that had been meticulously, skillfully, and beautifully transcribed with great penmanship:
A daunted artist erst observed and felt
The silken cutis and skimpy soma,
Inhaled the spellbinding lush aroma
And thus forth fathomed that it nymph is svelte.
His amort soul swooned then in utter melt,
Whilst the tongue unhinged his vicious stoma;
Ne’er could glamour like da Vinci’s Mona,
Equate to the effervescence he dealt
By a bacchanal of ten butterflies
Which whirled about scrupulous loins of might.
But he had done so once and twice and thrice,
Till befit addicted by poison spice.
Passion, soar, did not bide, he had to fight
A tyrant fiend with gist as cold as ice.
A cordial heart was breached erst long ago.
It did so whilst a tyrant fiend attacked
With a postiche bow and acute arrow.
Thenceforth he fled and precious things he packed.
He sailed afar forthwith attempts to act
To hide his soul, the essence of his plight.
So bumpy storms he swept, the boat he tacked,
Past the wind, towards the clam shores to respite.
Upon the sand he fell to sooth his might;
Supine, his eyes were filled with rays of gold;
Saw the sky of blue and the clouds of white,
Mystic realms that spoke, mystic lands of old.
Yet precious things forgotten wept within:
An unkept heart… sorrow did… henceforth brim.
“Well, that’s draggy. Doesn’t make any sense. The words are silly. What in the world is… dissstaff… g-gist? And what’s in the bag? Open it!”
Jasper untangled the red cord and opened the little bag. He peeked inside, then put his hand in and picked out a yellow seed.
“Seeds? Now why in the world would anybody bury seeds inside a chest? What good would that do? You cannot plant a tree inside a metal chest! This is nonsense!” declared Daisy. She was baffled.
“They look like apple seeds but yellow” Jasper said.
He put the bag on the grass and went back to the chest.
“What else is in there? he asked.
“There’s only some books and these little containers of this weird stuff.”
“What is that stuff?” he asked.
“I dunno. Looks like… liquid metal.”
“No treasure. It was too good to be true. This was all probably my granpa’s stuff,” he said, looking at the ground in disappointment. He dropped one of the seeds to the grass and crushed it with his foot.
“But why did he bury all this stuff? These books aren’t even in English and they’re all hand written.” Daisy said while flipping through the pages one of the books.
“Well, now what?”
“You tell me,” she replied.
“I’m just gonna give it to mom.”
Though the children had been utterly disappointed by the ostensibly futile contents of the chest, the reality was that the items found in that mysterious chest were in fact a treasure: the treasure to end all treasures, practically: a treasure so precious and so fragile, that if used under the right noesis, the very essence of the macrocosm could be tampered with. In the wrong hands, the grandest of all evils could be unearthed.
They placed the items back inside and closed the chest as it was before, then ran into the house searching for Meredith. However, she had gone to the neighbor’s with the girls, probably to gossip about other neighbors. James was gone for the day—out for a day of golf. So the only other people besides Jasper and Daisy were Jeffery, who was cleaning up the kitchen, and a robust African maid, who was mending something upstairs. Therefore, Jasper took the chest to his room and set it upon a drawer. The children forgot all bout it and took to other games for the remainder of the day. The day eventually expired and Daisy went home. Jasper then went to bed.
The morning after Jasper had to pack his stuff to leave the town to the suburbs: the setting of his real home. He had forgotten the chest on the drawer. He mentioned something about it to his parents on the drive home but they were always very apathetic about things their son had to say. Consequently, the chest went unnoticed by them for years. Jeffery had found it that same morning, thought nothing of it, and simply placed it in Jasper’s closet. So months and months went by, and they amounted to years, and the years eventually amounted to Jasper’s seventeenth birthday.
It was on the nice, tepid twenty-second of April, back at the mansion in Bramwell—the garden to be precise, that Meredith had arranged a cute birthday party for him. The lucullan garden was vast, labyrinthic, floridly colorful, and shaded by a galore of neat and grand trees. Scattered about the garden, exquisitely arbitrarily, were Romanesque, human statues, many white benches, cute fountains, and at the center of it all, an enormous fountain. Since it was early summer, Jasper was out of school for the next couple of months. He didn’t have many friends, and the few he did had not attended for unknown reasons, so most of the guests were actually Meredith’s friends. Some of his cousins and second hand family members had attended, but Jasper didn’t really know them well enough to be social.
His mother dragged him around introducing him to his aunts and uncles. “Isn’t he the handsome fellow?” Meredith would ask the aunts, though most of them did not agree. Jasper didn’t think he was, either. He was incredibly self-conscious about his appearance—his body in particular: He was six-foot-two inches tall, yet weighed only 136 pounds. You do the math. Not the brawniest of boys. His skin was as pale as a plucked turkey, yet freckled to the dermis; but he did have a type of particular attractive something about his appearance: that once “awkwardly-cute” boy had senesced into a different awkward type of good looks: not an obvious beauty, which is so sought for by the ordinaries, but more of a type of imperfect beauty with much more character and eccentricity, a type that takes much more observation and insight to be acknowledged. Not the ordinary of folk could appreciate one like his. To elucidate: a “perfect beauty” might be that of a model in a magazine; but sometimes too much perfection can be a bit bland; imperfections add character and thus, interesting, engaging allure. Consequently, because the ordinaries are ordinary, he was ordinarily labeled as “slimy.”
After all those years, Daisy had filled in very well. He appreciated it. Remember, he was quite the appreciator. He appreciated the way her long golden locks still coiled upon her tender shoulders, and the way her face had developed with sharp edges and a rosy flush. She was no longer a pretty little girl but a beautiful young woman. So there he sat on a bench of the garden, beside a neat tree, and beside a fountain, observing the guests socializing from a significant distance: the children running wild through the garden’s stone paths, dogs tugging on a forgotten sweater, the ladies sitting around one of the tables talking while laughing about things that weren’t funny or important, and the men sitting around another, talking about even less important matters. He was bored. He was always bored. The only thing that cold make this day his day was Daisy. So he sat in eager wait. She was late, two hours to be exact. It was now almost two in the afternoon and the time for the luncheon banquet was approaching. He contemplated on how he never did play that game and how disgusted Daisy had been about him drinking from her soda. He wondered if that had only been due to a phase of a little girl: a silly little girl who was grossed out by any germs that were not her own; maybe now would be different; she might have grown out of that; boys would certainly be of her interests by now. He tried to picture her in his mind, closing his eyes for a better semblance. But his imagination could never be enough. He wanted the real thing. He wanted her real features in front of his own—that face with that angelic smile and that dilly giggle that would provoke tingles in his loins. While he thought of her, his heart beat increased. He was a nervous wreck. He wondered what she had gotten for him: what present or presents she might have conjured up for her best friend—or he thought he was her best friend. Maybe a kiss? That would be the gift to end all gifts. No! The gift to end all gifts would be Daisy as my girlfriend.
“Jasper!” He heard it coming from his right shoulder. He felt a warm halitus collide on his neck. It smelled of grape lollipops. He inhaled the warm scent of an angelic fume by his expanding nostrils. He turned slowly and found her smile: teeth that were like pearls that had been perfectly graven into a perfect dentition. Her eyes appeared even greener than the leaves of the trees behind her, and the golden speckles were even gloder than the rays of the sun behind her. There she was: his lovely, his angel, his goddess—even more beautiful than the pretty girl he remembered and had captured in his imagination. But those locks did not coil upon her tender shoulders—not anymore—not today—but no matter, different was good: Her hair had been magnificently done into a type of chignon that exposed every square inch of her pale, yet, blushy face. The felinity of her eyes had been accentuated by an umberish, glittering pigment that complimented her yellow dress very well. It was a type of chemise without sleeves. It hung barely above her breasts, tugging on the summits, exposing most of her upper chest, which too, was glistening by the forenoon sun. He followed the trail if her arm all the way down to her hand, which was bound to another hand, and noticed how hairy and coarse it was—how the blonde hair curled up long—wait—what? That’s not beautiful! What is this? A hairy hand held by my lovely? He followed the trail of the brawny arm all the way up to a rigid face of a young man. And who is this imbecile?
“Jasper! Happy birthday, honey.” She gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek, then took a gift box from the young man and handed it to Jasper. “And this is for you. I hope you like it.”
Jasper opened the box and pulled out a book. “The Great Gatsby? Thanks, Daisy.”
“It’s supposed to be amazing. I know how much you like to read. I hope you like it. Oh, and this is my boyfriend, Scott.”
His heart disunited the arteria coronaria and broke like a vase made of china into hundreds of little pieces that stabbed at his chest. He then took a deep gulp to swallow back in his pride because it was trying to escape through his rima oris. A few little whimpers escaped.
“Jasper? Are you ok?” She grabbed his skinny bicep and shook it to get his attention. “This is Scott, my boyfriend.”
The fact that she said that again caused his pride to escape for good. Hard it would be to get it back.
The fellow had his arm stretched out to him attempting to shake hands. Jasper was barely able to snap out of his traumatic shock and lift his hand to greet the lad. He gripped it so hard, Jasper’s fingers cracked. He was a great looking guy with practically perfect features. Probably some idiot Jock she had picked up at school. He looked like a model from a fashion magazine, especially because he was sporting fancy, aviator sun-glasses, a navy-blazer, and a pair of immaculate, neatly pressed, white pants.
“N-n-nice to meat you,” said Jasper.
“The pleasure is all mine, sheik.”
Sheik? thought Jasper. What is this guy?
“Heard all kinds a’ stories bout ya, mate—a little too many, if ya ask me.” He chuckled and simpered.
So, he’s an Aussie, Jasper assumed. “Really?” Jasper asked.
“Yep. My favorite is when you nippers found that treasure box filled with books… haha… You kids got so exited. Precious.” He chuckled.
Daisy was caught in a fit of giggles in the near background. Jasper mused and looked at Daisy who was already looking at him with dubious grin. She asked: “Whatever did happen to that chest? And did you ever find out who it belonged to?”
“No. I completely forgot about it. I mean, I did remember, just didn’t care to ask. I wonder what happened to it.” He looked at her with scruple.
She smiled as her eyes broadened and swiftly jumped to Jasper and griped him by the shoulders. It was the closest any girl had ever been to him--and Daisy wasn’t just any girl. She spoke directly onto his face, leaving a temptingly short distance between her face and his. The sweet scent of grape lollipops he could smell so well and the warm halitus of her breath was as humid as a summer day in Palm Springs. It made him feel quite uncomfortable. It didn’t help that Daisy was a sprinkler when it came to speaking. “This sounds like an adventure! How fun! It has been years since we went on an adventure! Let’s find it and try to decipher those books… which I now realize were probably somebody’s diaries! Maybe your grandpas. Think about it! They were all written by hand and they were scribbles. C’mon, let’s go look for it! What are we waiting for!? Where could it be!?” She spoke with high enthusiasm.
Jasper had no idea what she had uttered, for he was much too concentrated on her lips that were as close as they could ever be without touching his own. He remembered that game he never did play and wondered. But that blighter was standing beside them and he would definitely put those guns to use if he even tried anything so. He had lit a cigar and was huffing and puffing, as oblivious as Jasper was to what Daisy was saying. The smoke from his cigar fused with the grape scent and it reminded Jasper of his father’s hookah. It made him cough onto Daisy’s face.
“Eeewww!” she shrieked. “Why do you smell like cheese?” she asked.
“I-i-i-i had an omelet for breakfast,” he replied.
She laughed at him while she clinched the base of her nose. Scott held his cigar up to Jasper’s face and asked: “Ya wanna take a hit off this panatela? It’s Cuban. Delicious. Farthest thing from a stogie, if ya ask me.”
“Uh… no thanks.” He hadn’t an idea of what a stogie was. It wasn’t that Jasper was completely against smoking, though he did hate the awful smell of skunk, but more of his complete inexperience in smoking. Though he had had many bubblegum cigarettes in his childhood, he had never smoked in his life and he didn’t want to embarrass himself in front of his lovely. If the mere secondhand smoke had made him cough, an inhale would certainly stifle him.
Daisy, in the other hand, was more than willing. “I do!” she shouted out. She took it and took a deep whiff, then inhaled clean air before exhaling the smoke. She appeared cool while she did so and apparently knew what she was doing. She then exhaled the smoke gently and smoothly onto Jasper’s face. He rucked up in disgust and let out a tiny cough--that was more like a squeal--as his eyes began to moisten with tears of irritation. Daisy laughed and handed the cigar back to Scott.
“Jasper, lunch!” yelled Meredith from yards away.
“Oh, we should go eat,” Jasper suggested.
“Yeah, for sure. I’m hungry,” Daisy replied.
“Yeah, me too,” Scott added.
“We’re gonna finish this and we’ll be over there in a bit. You go ahead, Jasp,” Daisy said.
So Jasper walked away from the couple, thinking of how sexy Daisy looked with a cigar in her mouth. He never figured a cigar as an apparatus to compliment or enhance feminine beauty, but then again, Daisy would always look good no matter what she did. She could make mathematics a sexy subject if she wanted to. He turned to glance at them while he walked down the angling landscape and noticed Daisy leaning onto Scott as he wrapped his thick, long fingers around her narrow waist. Covetous warmth filled his lungs. He hated Scott because he had in his possession Jasper’s greatest treasure, and Jasper felt that Scott would never be able to appreciate it as he did. Jasper didn’t know Scott but he assumed enough to believe that she did not mean to Scott what she meant to him. It wasn’t fair. He had fallen in love with Daisy years before Scott even knew she existed and that imbecile had come along and taken the most precious prize life could offer a sane, intelligent man. But an imbecile would never know that. Jasper went on and had his birthday lunch.
Two teenage girls—who were no older than fifteen—took a seat directly across Jasper. They were quite the unattractive hoydens, thought Jasper. The one to his left had a tremendous nose that resembled that of Napoleon Bonaparte’s, and was dressed like a farmer; and although the other was dressed much more appropriately for her gender, she had an egregious case of acne that resembled a chronic illness. It reminded Jasper of Hansen’s’ disease. Her face resembled that of the pictures of people with leprosy his anatomy teacher had showed his class. He noticed they happened to be quite interested in him. They were very obvious in the glaring, giggling and whispering of coquettish tittle-tattles.
“Hi Jasper, I’m Rita,” the one with the Napoleon nose said. But before Jasper could respond, Daisy walked up and asked them to sit elsewhere because she was Jasper’s best friend. So the girls did so and left to sit elsewhere.
“So, what do you say? After lunch let’s go inside and search for that chest! Would you like to join in the search, Scott?” Daisy asked.
“Uh… I suppose I can browse around for a treasure chest,” he responded as he stuffed a chicken sandwich into his mouth.
“Yay! Now, where do you suppose it could be…? Jasper?
“I don’t know. I think Jeffery might have put it away somewhere. I’ll ask him.”
“Ok, sounds good!”
“Well, you guys go ahead and finish up. I’ll go find him. Just meet me inside when you’re done.”
“Good plan,” she responded.
Jasper took off from his chair and went into the house to search for Jeffery who wasn’t to be found at the moment; therefore, he decided to look for the chest himself. He searched the house--in the spare bedrooms, outdoor sheds, basement and attic. Thirty minutes later, after a conspicuous search, Jasper found himself in his bedroom ransacking his wardrobes and armoires. As he shut the armoire door he looked behind to the closet and wondered, then walked to it but stopped midway with Daisy on his mind. He wondered where she was and why she had not gone inside to meet him, so he decided to go outside and get her. He walked out of his room to the long corridor and slowly passed door after door as he ran his fingers by the wall. The screech from of his sliding fingers and the squeak from his steps on the wooden floor were the only sounds emitted in that lonely corridor at the time. But as he approached the stairs and calmly took the first step down, rumbles caught his attention and caused him to halt midway. He expressed a look of dubiety while turing his head up to the corridor to what sounded like a series of thumps and masculine grunts followed by a sort of knocking ruckus amidst feminine groans and indistinct speaking. It developed into smothered moans and sounds of forceful stifles. Jasper became alarmed at the notion of barbarity against Daisy and ran upstairs to the room where the noises were coming from. The boy couldn’t help but think that the imbecile might have forced himself onto Daisy, for she was beautiful and an imbecile might not have the self control it takes not to act out his desires. So he turned the knob aggressively and forcefully propelled the door open with a loud smack. A shirtless Scott turned his head to Jasper as he pinned a topless Daisy by the wrists down on the bed. Jasper ran towards them and slapped Scott on the face knocking him off of her. “Get off her, you Imbecile!” he yelled angrily. He pushed him off the bed and then began attacking him on the floor, bitting and gnawing at his neck and ears. Daisy stood up and threw herself onto Jasper’s back ordering him to stop. “Jasper, no!” she yelled. Scott overpowered him and violently threw him against the wall. The force was so great it took Daisy down to the floor. She screeched in terror with an aghast expression and fell on the ground hitting her head. Jasper quickly regained his footing and took charge at Scott once again, but this time Scott was able to take control of Jasper’s arms. Therefore, Jasper kicked him on the shins a few times.
“What do you think you’re doing!” yelled Daisy from the floor as she covered her exposed chest.
In an ordinary situation, Jasper would’ve taken the time to appreciated Daisy’s breasts, but because he was in a state of shock, he was barely able to notice she was topless. He was so distraught because the only fights he had ever taken part in had been imaginary fights with imaginary Japanese ninjas. So his heart flooded with adrenaline as he gasped in pants. Daisy placed her arms around Jasper’s abdomen from behind and pulled him away from Scott. She noticed how skinny he was while pushing him onto the bed and ordering him to calm down. She then turned her back to Jasper and began searching for her dress under the covers. Once she found it, she slid it back on. As Jasper sat in the edge of the bed, he could only look at Scott with intense wrath.
Daisy took his face with both hands and forced his attention to her. “Calm down, you idiot! What’s your problem? Listen, I’m sorry you had to see that but that’s no reason to act this way! Stop this doltish behavior.” She spoke to him with strict mandate as if she were his mother.
Out of tremendous gasps, he was able to mumble a few words: “He was-he was... [gasp] he was...”
“No, Jasper. I wanted him to. It was consensual, you idiot. He’s my boyfriend, remember?”
Jasper didn’t know what consensual meant but was able to read between the lines. “But... but then why were you yelling like--”
“Ugh! Jasper! Are you stupid? You Imbecile!” She screeched, clinching her fist and shaking it at the ceiling with frustration.
“So you were...”
“Yes-yes, I was!”
“But... you’re not married, Daisy.”
“Jasper, it doesn’t matter. What, were you born yesterday?”
By then, Scott had put his shirt back on and was standing in the corner of the room with his arms crossed watching them with a moronic face.
“You once told me that you were going to wait until--”
“I know what I said! Now, shut-up! Jasper, I am engaged! Not that this should concern you in any way... but if you must know, we are getting married.” Daisy spoke with obvious discomposure.
Scott nodded is head and took out a cigar from his pocket, lit it, and began to smoke. Jasper and Daisy paused to glare at him for a moment but then continued.
“Oh. I see,” Jasper muttered.
“What, you’re not happy for me? Why, you’re quite rude,” she shrugged.
“No, i am. I mean, congratulations. It just-just came as a surprise--that’s all. I’m sorry about all this. So, when are you getting married?” He looked at the floor with evident disappointment.
Daisy turned over to Scott and took his cigar. “Give me some of that,” she said as she put it in her mouth. She exhaled the smoke and said: “May 22nd. On a Sunday afternoon. At the Chaplin Chapel, downtown. Honey moon in Rome.”
Jasper inhaled deeply and released a sigh, then turned to them and said: “Well, I’ll be getting outta here. I’ll leave you two alone. Sorry.” He began to walk away with an embarrassed composure.
Scott nodded with agreement.
“We’re leaving, Jasper. We can’t stay. Look at Scott’s face,” she said as she caressed it. Scott’s face had been scratched up and a bruise was quickly forming on his cheek. “I don’t want Mrs. Covington to find out what you have done--she’ll spank you,” she said with a smirk. “You never were violent, Jasper. This came as a surprise. I suppose considering your heartfelt intentions, it was kinda sweet. I forgive you.... and so does Scott.” Scott’s eyes brows broadened. “Oh, and don’t tell her i’m getting married, please. I want to tell her myself another day,” she added.
Daisy left with Scott for the day without further incident.
Afterwards, Jasper went downstairs and found Jeffery busy with the dishes in the kitchen. He took a seat on a chair and greeted him: “Hi Jeffery.”
“Hello there, young master. Happy birthday, son. Good time?”
“Yes, it’s been fun. Thanks.”
“What’s going on?”
“Nothin. I wanted to ask you something.”
“Oh. Well, go on at it. You can ask me anything you’d like. I am quite the walking encyclopedia. You know, I spend most of my time off in my room studying whatever I can. Anthropology is my favorite. Have you been in my room lately? It’s more like a library.” He chuckled as he washed his hands.
“Yes, it is. A museum, rather. You have a buncha weird artifacts laying around.”
Jeffery snickered. “Yes, they are all my findings on the trips I took with your grandfather.”
“Well, this isn’t really an academic matter. It’s more of a family matter... about my grandpa... kinda...”
“Oh bother.” A sort of dread filled the butler’s eyes. “If you want to know about his whereabouts, master, as i’ve told your father countless times, I truly don’t know. You see, the last trip he took, he didn’t mention it to me. I didn’t know about it. In fact, we were supposed to leave to the Bermudas a week after his disappearance. I told the police everything I knew then.... and I certainly don’t know any more now.”
“No, Jeffery. I don’t think you know where he is or what happened to him. This is more about a chest that belonged to him--I think.”
“Yes, a small chest I found buried in the garden a long time ago--like seven years. I left it in my room one day when I left home but It wasn’t there when I came back.”
“Oh dear, that was a while back. A small chest, you say? It belonged to your grandfather, you say?”
“Yes, a metal chest about the size of a shoe box.”
“Hmm… why yes. I do recall now. It was an odd looking thing. I believe I set it in your closet. Quite heavy. Where did you say you found that thing?” he asked while drying his hands with a cloth.
“I found it in the garden—buried.”
“Buried, you say? Now that’s odd. A treasure?” He took a seat in a chair beside Jasper.
“Hardly. That’s what I thought. I opened it. Just a buncha papers and weird looking seeds. That’s why I forgot about it. It just wasn’t interesting for me before back then, but now, I’m curious as to what it really is. It must be important if he felt the need to bury it. I just don’t understand. He owned banks and the most secure of safes. Why would he bury it in the garden? Me and Daisy think they may be his diaries. Most of it was written in another language, though.”
“Well, your grandfather was a grand linguist. He was fluent in Greek, German, Spanish, all the Latin languages and knew a bit of the indigenous languages of the Americas like Zapotecan and Uto-Aztecan.”
Jasper glared at him in bewilderment. “Huh,” he muttered.
“He was an anthropologist who was fascinated with Mesoamerican cultures. The Aztec, to be specific. Perhaps they are hieroglyphs he was studying.”
“That makes sense. I couldn’t read one word of it… or hieroglyphs,” Jasper said stuttering the last word in difficulty .
“Yes, but why in the world would he burry it? That doesn’t make any sense… unless…” Jeffery excogitated with a grin staring at the floor.
“What? Unless what? Jeffery?”
“Well, before he disappeared, he began to make frequent trips to Peru. I became quite involved with his studies. I became somewhat of his assistant apprentice and fell in love with the subject of anthropology myself. I was immensely drawn to his studies. I traveled with him on several occasions. They were very exciting times for me… but then he disappeared and I can’t possibly afford trips like that, you know. He took his final trip on a Sunday, I believe, early June, never to return home. His plane was never found. It is believed that he crashed somewhere in the Atlantic. But before he disappeared, he became fascinated with Nazca, an ancient City in Peru. Jasper was witty, you know. He became outraged by immature theories of narrow minded and culture blinded archeologists and scientists, so he began to travel to Nazca to study ancient lines whose uses and purposes remain a mystery. I remember he talked about something, something big. He said it was top secret and he couldn’t speak to me of it, not until he ascertained the complete facts. I suppose he did not trust me to keep his findings secret… or simply assumed it was too much for me to handle. I’ll never know. But he said he was onto something, something very big, something so big that it would become one of he greatest discoveries in the history of humanity, something that would rattle the very essence of the human race. “If I play my cards right, I will go straight into my grandchildren’s history books!” were his exact words. I don’t know what he meant by that. He had turned quite hysterical. He was obsessed with his work—perhaps possessed, and he began to suffer from paranoia—even. He thought he was being watched by the government at all times... and I believed him. There were definitely many archeologists who were intent on bagging his findings. Whatever artifacts he had in his possession were treasured by the anthropologic world. This house was once ransacked. Nothing was taken… but whoever broke in here was looking for something in specific, maybe that chest. Perhaps he felt burying it was the safest thing to do. I believe he was being perused and perhaps staged upon by the feds. I think he really did find something of immense significance, something that was too big--too big even for him to handle, something he shouldn’t have been tampering with--that’s for sure. Although this may be a bit farfetched, master, but I did consider the possibility of an organized assassination by a federal agent who was trying to shut his operations down. You know, stuff like that does happen out there… and your grandfather was a very important man--both in the archeological world and banking. A government conspiracy? Who knows. Son, whatever’s in that chest may just be exactly what he found. Oh dear, my heart is going crazy. I’m a nervous wreck. This is all too much for me. I am not as young as I used to be. Well, what in the world are we waiting for? Let’s go get that chest! I do know a little bit of the Nahuatl.” He chuckled as he adjusted his shirt collar.
Jasper could not be more giddy. This was exactly the type of adventure he had always longed for. All those child games, this is what they were all about. A real mystery he and his friend could solve. This one wouldn’t be a game; it would be the real thing.
They found the chest right where Jeffery had left it: in the closet on top of a cupboard that was hidden behind hanging garments. They studied the contents and found that one of diaries had been written entirely in english. Jeffery read that poem and realized something significant about the date. “He came back...” For a short moment, he stared at the paper with distressed eyes. “This was written three years after he disappeared! This means that he’s okay, or was, after he disappeared! He came back! He came back, Jasper! He didn’t die! He wasn’t assassinated! Oh dear, this is wonderful news! I should inform your father immediately! But where in the world did he go? Why didn’t he inform anybody? Something big is brewing here. He returned three years later and buried this chest. Remarkable.”
“But what does it mean?”
“Who knows? Only he who wrote it knows its true meaning. A poem is that of depth, a depth of the poet’s spirit that is forged upon paper with esthetic. We may interpret the lyrics otherwise and garble its essence… or in this case, gist.” He chuckled. “But I consider this to be a love poem. I can tell by the volta of the dilemma which seems to be a heartbreak. I think he wrote it to your grandmother after she left him. Your grandfather then left the country… in search of his ‘true identity,’ as he put it. I followed him around the world. I was his consort. We returned after three years but after five months he disappeared—never to be heard of again—that is, until now. This poem proves he came back.”
About a month later, on the sunny afternoon of May 19th, Meredith was relaxing on a leather couch in a parlor reading a magazine and enjoying a chilled, gin martini. She rested her bare feet upon a cushy footrest while clinching her toes to add to the quiescence of her leisure. She had noticed Jasper had been acting a bit peculiar for the past few weeks. He scarcely left the house and was spending a lot of time with Jeffery in his room. This afternoon was no different. She heard Jeffery’s door open and knew it was his because his bedroom was two rooms beside the parlor and it had a particular creak of its own. As she took a sip of her drink, she noticed Jasper swing by the parlor through a narrow aperture of the tan curtains which covered the glass sliding-doors of the entrance. “Jasper!” she called out.
He entered the parlor. “Yes, mother?”
“Where are you going?”
“You never go out. Where are you going?” she asked while bitting off the garnish olive from a spear.
“Just to the shops with my... f-friend,” he stuttered.
“What friend? You don’t have any friends. Daisy is your only friend. Are you going out with Daisy?”
“No, mother,” he grunted.
“Well then, where in the world are you going? And with whom?”
“I’m just going out to buy... buy some stuff for school with my friend Greg.”
“Greg Newman? Oh really? In May?” She smirked at him. “You go on and and leave with Greg Newman... who happens to be in Hawaii with his parents, by the way, and shop for school during the summer,” she jeered at him, never looking away from her magazine.
Jasper gulped, realizing he had been caught in a lie. “I’m going out to buy Daisy a wedding gift. There. Happy? I’ll be back later.”
Meredith gave a baffled look to him but disregarded his lie and let him leave.
“Make sure you get her something nice! Do you need money?” she yelled out.
“No!” he replied.
“Weird kid,” she muttered to herself as she took another sip of her martini.
Later that afternoon, Daisy arrived home from tennis practice. She ran upstairs to her bedroom to pick up an outfit and then to the bath, but before she could shut the door, she heard her mother call her from the living room downstairs. So she walked back down to it and noticed Jasper sitting on a couch. “Oh, hey you. What are you doing here?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “I just wanted to ask you out for lunch.”
“Oh, what’s the occasion?”
“No occasion. Just haven’t seen you in a while.”
She laughed. “Okay, well, that’s sweet, but I was about to get into the bath. Howbout you let me bathe and I meet you at your place in about thirty minutes? I’m very clammy from tennis. I won’t go out like this.”
“I’ll wait,” Jasper responded.
“If you want. Go up to my bedroom, if you like. The view is nicer. Sit on my balcony. There are a few books and magazines on the coffee-table.”
He agreed and went upstairs. Her bedroom was large and clean. It was obvious the maids were on top of it. She had a fine collection of European furniture: brightly festooned cupboards and wardrobes made of burnished wood that matched her queen-size bed. The bed was dressed in puffy burgundy covers and matching pillows. The walls in the room, just as the rest of the chateau-style house, were of a gravelly, gray stone. As he waited, he perceived no interest in the balcony, thence began to pry around the bedroom looking around at the girl’s belongings. He noticed a few family portraits on the walls, and smaller photographs of her friends, who happened to be mostly attractive men, set about on her cabinets. He also noticed that he wasn’t in any of them. She had a few candles and neat plants set around as appurtenances, but the bedroom was mostly arranged to match the rest of the houses embellishments. Juxtaposed to a tall clock, a chiffonier with an enormous mirror on top and wide drawers was set. One drawer was slightly opened and he noticed a white, thin cord dangling loose. He decided to set it back in. As he did so, he noticed how neatly the garments had been folded and set inside. He was naturally, curiously naughty, so a peek inside was ineluctable. It came about as a pleasant surprise to him that that precise drawer happened to be occupied by Daisy’s undergarments. He smiled and picked a pair of white, florally knit panties by the thin band. One of the bluntly unknowable wonders of mankind: “Why must the perverted man inhale the female pantie aroma?” That’s what Jasper was asking himself as he took the immaculate, silk cloth to his face--and though he had not the answer to that, he found himself more than wittingly, instinctively forced succumb to such obstinate of a praxis. His intentions in folding it back as it was before were futile, so he stuffed it back in as he could. As he did, Daisy entered the bedroom dressed in a white polonaise dress that revealed a colorful underskirt. She wore a towel wrapped around her head. He swiftly shut the drawer with a thump and stood in a military-like-erect-stance.
“What are you doing?” Daisy asked while she shifted the towel on her head.
“I-it was open. There was a string. I put it back in.” She gave him an uneasy gaze. “That was a quick bath,” he added.
“I didn’t want to make you wait too long.” She stood beside her chiffonier as she took the towel off her head and looked in the mirror to brush her hair.
As she stood in front of the mirror, Jasper scrutinized her backside, admiring the narrowness of her waist brandished by the tight bodice. “You look beautiful,” he said in a soft voice.
She turned her neck and gave him a quizzical glare. “Thanks,” she mussitated with a soft voice caught in a titter. “Though my hair is a mess... and I have yet to powder my face.” She released a faint giggle.
“I know and that’s how I like you best.”
“If you say so. Are you coming to my rehearsal tonight, Jasp?”
Jasper fondled the right pocket of his pants as if searching for something. He had no response to her question. Instead, he had a question of his own: “Daisy?”
“Yes, dear?” He knelt down behind her. She could see his reflection in the mirror. A long, tense moment followed, until finally, Daisy broke it by asking: “What are you doing down there?”
“I-I am asking you to-to marry me.” His voice trembled.
Daisy dropped her brush to the ground. She looked at her reflection in the mirror with a flabbergasted expression, then swallowed and turned to Jasper who was kneeling beneath her chin with an open engagement box in his right hand. He took the ring and dropped the box to the ground, then took her left hand and slipped her engagement ring off and replaced it with his. She inhaled deeply. There was a long pause once again. Birds chirped and leaves rustled into the bedroom through the open balcony doors. “Jasper,” she finally murmured.
“Marry me, Daisy. I love you.”
“Jasper?” she murmured again as she stood aghast for a moment. “Jasper! How dare you? Are you mad?” She began to gasp.
“If-if madness is what drives me to love you, then-then, yes... yes, I am-I am mad. I am m-mad... mad about you, Daisy. I’ve had this sort of madness malady which has poisoned my exuberance ever since childhood... and it has developed, Daisy... thereof forthwith like an irrevocable physiological disfunction... or illness, rather... yes, an illness which cannot and will not be cured... but can be treated... treated only by a very rare substance... a-a sort of elixir... a precious antidote that exists only on and by the surface of your beautiful lips. I need to kiss them every day until the day I die or else my soul will wither away into bitter nothingness. Marry me, Daisy.”
She glared at him with a sort of dread as he knelt so pathetically helpless under her chin with his fingers clinching to her skirt. He continued, “I’ve never loved anyone before. You are the only girl I’ve ever loved... and love like this I have for you does not happen twice. It is of the rarest kind. I may not know how to please a girl... yet. I never have before. But for you, my beloved Daisy, I have a god-given talent. I will be an amazing lover for you. Give me your lifetime to show you... to prove it to you. Leave that scoundrel of an imbecile named Scott. He is as dullard as a toad.”
Her breathing increased of tempo and her glare broadened. It seemed as though Jasper’s genuine terms had been futile. “You are speaking of the man I love! How-how dare you?! Jasper! I’ve never seen this side of you. Who are you? How could you?! Why didn’t you express your romantic intents with me before? These feelings, if genuine, were never conveyed to me in any way. It’s too late now! I’m getting married in days! Fool!” she paused and continued, “Either way, I don’t feel the same way as you in whatever way. I never will. I never have. We are not meant to be. No, I will not marry you Jasper Wilbur Covington!”
“Please forgive me. I didn’t figure you would go off and marry so soon. You’re so young. I always pictured us getting married as graduates. I thought you were brighter than a dilly to marry a simpleton like that. And are you even going to school anymore?”
She screeched as she struck his face with rage. “That does not concern you! I am getting married with the man I love and that’s more than you need to know!”
“But how could you be in love with that? Daisy, are you expecting? Is that it? Because if that’s the case I--”
She screeched. “You... bastard! How dare you judge me? How dare you judge me?! Who are you to judge me?! Did you ever consider my feelings? You barely even know him!” She was stifling with rage. “You’re mad--MAD! Get out! Get out of my room! Get out of my house! Now! I don’t ever want to see you again! I hate you! I hate you, Jasper!” She shrieked with such fury, her cheeks turned scarlet and tears filled her sockets. She slid the ring off and threw it at his face. It poked his eye. Jasper simply stood up and ran out of the house, never turning back and leaving the ring he had bought behind. As he ran across the front garden, he sobbed like a little girl as Daisy watched him leave the residence from her balcony. She was weeping upon the bannister.
A few days went by after the incident and Jasper and Daisy had not seen each other since. Both Jasper and Daisy had decided not to tell anyone about the incident. Jasper wanted to spare the embarrassment and though Daisy was furious at the irrationality of Jasper’s stunt, she was till very fond of him. They had grown up together, after all. In one way or another, they both loved each other dearly. Daisy had picked up Jasper’s ring after he left and was going to mail it to him once she got around to it.
A fancy wedding with a medieval theme was taking place on the lovely Sunday afternoon of the twenty second of May. “Don’t they make the marvelous couple?” Daisy’s mother whispered from the front bench to a stocky lady sitting next to her. “Oh, most certainly, they do,” the lady replied, wiping a tear from her eye with a handkerchief. Jasper had not attended. Daisy noticed.
The priest continued the ritualistic ceremony: “Wilt thee have this Woman to be thy wedded wife, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thee love her, comfort her, honour, and keep her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live? The man answered with a coarse voice: “I will.” As she stood on the altar beside her fiance, potential husband to be in seconds, the priest uttered to her a very sensible question to which the paradigm of onerous answers she would have to reply: “Wilt the have this man to be thy wedded husband, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt the obey him, and serve him, love, honour, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?”
She looked deep into the groom’s eyes as she heard the question evanesce by her ear. But a wishful teenage dreamer such as she had envisaged that question multitudinous of times. It had configured in her nous permanently like a physiological brand. All those years she had so easily assumed yes would irrevocably be the answer to the question every girl dreams with all of her heart to answer one lovely day with a magical yes, and the day when that dream should come true, she found herself to be a dumbfounded fool without a magical reply. If we are but fools in love, then that was her case as well; but she realized then, while looking into the emptiness of the cold eyes in front of her, that the lovely foolishness that had possessed her was not excited by him and most certainly not meant for him. His features were too plain and simple: a dull mug that was synthetically appealing, but that would inevitably become tedious to admire sooner or later: not one she would want to endure for a lifetime. His eyes were too beady, his lips were too pallid, and his skin was awfully coarse and pale--he was superficially a beautiful bore--but that wasn’t all--she also realized then and there that he really was an imbecile who was as dullard as a toad--he was boring even to be with--he could not make her happy until death due them part. That man was barely a figment and representation of a lovely aspiration she had dreamed once upon a teenage fantasy. High society had blinded her from real love because of its required criterion. He was actually a fraud committed to her by her voguish, worldly mother.
Ten seconds had gone by. An uncomfortable tension had aroused in the atmosphere of the chapel. Grunts and lulled coughs echoed through the long alley. She pictured Jasper standing in front of her in a tuxedo uttering the exact words he had that afternoon when she had so convincingly denied him. Those words had finally begun to sink in. She ran the childhood memories she shared with him through her mind and giggled. She smiled at the priest and then shifted it towards her mother who was sitting near by with a terrible expression, and lastly, at her groom as she murmured to him this: “I’m sorry I realize this now, but we’re not meant for each-other.” She paused for a moment and added with much emphasis on the not: “I will not.” She hopped off the alter and began to run as fast as her long dress allowed her to do so through a narrow chapel aisle, removing her shoes and lifting her dress above her ankles. Every single head turned, but her mother and Meredith were the only two who chased after her. Meredith reached her first because she had been sitting further back. She pulled on her dress and yelled: “Daisy! Are you mad?”
Daisy calmed her pace but didn’t stop. “If madness is what drives me to love, then yes, I am mad!” she said with laughter.
“What are you talking about? This is crazy, Daisy! Get back up there and get married!”
“I will, Mrs Covington. That, I will. But not today... and not with him. I am in love! I am in love! Can’t you see? I am in love! I love him. I really do. I was blind all of this time... but I can see it now as clearly as the sun... and I see him. I am marrying your son, Mrs Covington!” She ran away laughing.
Meredith halted and asked quizzically: “J-Jasper..? Why?”
Daisy ran across busy streets and through convoluted alleys, not really knowing exactly where she was headed to. She did, however, lose everyone on her trail. A taxi cab nearly hit her as she ran across another street. It stopped in front of her. She pulled the back door open and jumped inside. “13326 Chesapeake St!” she ordered to the cab driver. “Please!” she added. Twenty minutes later, the cab pulled up beside the curb of Jasper’s place. “Wait here, please. I won’t be long,” she said to the cab driver as she shut the door and ran to the front gates of Jasper’s chateau. The only thing left to do was climb over the tall gates. She found that climbing ten foot steel gates was quite the difficult task when wearing a long wedding gown. As she ran across the front gardens, she slipped a few times and dirtied her dress. Once she arrived at the front doors, she found them to be unlocked and made her way inside. “Jasper! Jasper!” she cried. The African maid arrived to the living room with a cloth in her hands.
“Madam? What are you doing here? Why aren’t you--” she asked.
“Jasper! Where is he?” she interrupted.
“Madam, he has gone. I believe to your wedding. By god, you are a mess, my dear. Look at you. You look like you’ve just arrived from my country. Let me clean you up.”
“No! I’m fine. I need to talk to Jasper. Please.”
“But he isn’t here. If he’s not at the wedding, well, I don’t know where he is, madam.”
Daisy had no choice but ask the maid for some money. First: to pay for the cab; and second: to rent a hotel room where she could spend the rest of the afternoon alone and in peace. She asked the maid to inform the family that she was fine but she needed to be alone for a while and that she would not take more than a day. The next day, when Daisy did arrive home, she found a letter on her bed that had been labeled: To Daisy. She read its contents:
I was a fool to believe you could love someone like me. I have gone in search for my soul. I know what it all means now... my grandpa’s stuff. Do not bother searching for me. You will never find me where i’m headed. I hope you have a wonderful life. I really do. I shall return someday. I will always love you, Daisy. Au revoir.
X a good friend
She began to weep into her arms on the edge of her bed...
The Grotesque Silhouettes and Their Foreign Hoard Coffers
Moments later, caught in a frantic episode of hyperventilation, Apaec realized that Micay was still waiting for him in the cave. As he began to stand, he was blinded by a flash of light coming from the sky. A loud, reverberating “hum” permeated the atmosphere. It was so loud that the bouncing sound waves caused small rocks to rhythmically bounce on the desert landscape. He looked up immediately as it flashed again and again, rapidly and repeatedly for many minutes, faster and faster, until, it eventually became distinct. The light was so lucent; it lit up the entire sky. It seemed as though the night had abruptly come to an end; and he thought the God of the Sun must have been near. It hurt his eyes so much; he covered them with his hands; yet, even then, the light still gleamed through his palms, so he buried his face into his lap. Many minutes went by and the light did eventually fade, and when it did, he stood up and began to make his way back up to the cave. Running as fast as he could, he wedged himself through the crevices of the high cliffs searching for the easiest way up, but he still wasn’t able to see clearly for many more minutes. Consequently, he stumbled on rocks and boulders, falling many times and injuring his limbs. Then, just before arriving at a clear passage, two dark silhouettes appeared in the distance. They seemed to belong to a couple of excessively tall and lanky men. He halted completely before them but slipped and fell on his bottom. It was too dark to make out their faces but he realized they could not be human; they were too tall and unnaturally slender. Haunted by the scene, he quickly retreated running away from them, only turning back once; and from the corner of his eye, he realized they had not followed him; but he wasn’t going to let that stop him…
Apaec ran with all of his might and eventually made it into an open passage where he found something he could not understand. He witnessed the inconceivable: what he could only describe as a large jumble of perfectly measured, geometric shapes made from a shiny matter (like that of a polished metal). Immediately, he knew, they too were not of his world, so he stood in awe staring at the figures that were as tall as trees. Slowly, he walked over to the first one: a huge rectangle that stood up vertically. On the walls of it, he noticed markings: simple shapes consisting of squares, triangles, circles, rectangles, zigzag markings, etc., that were intertwined to form a meticulous pattern. He touched the wall and ran his fingers on the smooth surface. They squeaked as they left a smudge. It was cold and it was the smoothest surface he had ever felt. Then he ran his index finger, feeling the rifts of the shapes, and as he did, he heard a dimmed, bell-like sound coming from inside of the structure. “Deeeeng,” it hummed vibrantly for a few seconds through the wall. The square outline opened outwards, jutting-out slowly until it made a stop. The “deeeeng” was heard again and a vague blue light shone form the inside. It allowed him to see his own reflection on the wall, as if though he were looking at the surface of water. He saw his own face like he never had before: clear with a vague hue of blue from the light. He stood for a moment glaring into the reflection, allowing himself to admire his young, handsome face. He was amused by it and his curiosity overwhelmed his caution; therefore, he decided to take a peek inside.
The last imaginative thing his ingenious mind would ever conjure was exactly what he discovered inside: hundreds of shelves of the same matter previously remarked, set equally apart throughout the structure. On them were baskets, baskets heaping with fruits and plants bunched up against the corners. Nothing had ever puzzled him as much before. The only explanation his naive mind could conclude was that they were gifts for the gods from the Cahuachi, and that the structures were the means to transport them up to the heavens. He was wonderfully excited by the idea and he thought that the rest of the structures could contain animals or even people. Curiously wandering about the area, he began to hear indistinct chattering sounds coming from what seemed to be a short distance: perhaps voices that were not common to him: not normal; instead, squirmy and extremely high pitched amidst ripples of twittering and twitching, like that of the insects of the jungle. They grew louder and louder as he realized they were getting closer. “The gods!” he gasped frightened. He was not sure of what they would make of his nosy tampering with their craft, so he decided to hide. He looked around only to realize there was no way out. It was a dead end. The only possible exit was the same way he had entered, but that was exactly where the sounds were coming from, and that was exactly where the mysterious silhouettes had been. There were no rocks or trees big enough to hide him, so he did the only thing he could do: crept inside the structure through the narrow opening. The opening closed and trapped him inside. Naturally, he assumed he would be able to open the door again just by pushing it out. It was completely dark--the blue light had extinguished once the door had shut. He listened carefully for the voices but they had silenced. Only a tiny buzzing sound could be heard. Goose bumps surfaced all over his russet flesh because of the very low temperature. The are inside was large enough for him to comfortably walk around but too dark for him to be aware of his surroundings. But he decided to walk anyway, only to strike his forehead with a steel beam from the shelves which he could not see. He tripped and fell to the floor hitting the back of his head. This time, it was much harder than the last and he fell unconscious.
The Ship Transport
Hours later, he awoke to the same darkness that had inhibited his senses before. He had not a way of knowing how long he had been unconscious for; thereof, he stood up disoriented, only to hit his head once again on a solid beam set directly above him. He shrieked in pain while holding his head. The scream echoed, reverberating through the walls and space of the structure. He remained idle for a moment, eventually stretching his arms in an attempt to feel his surroundings (as a blind-man would with his cane). He stood up, this time with more caution, and began to walk until he felt a cold wall, onto which he pressed hard with his hands. It didn’t budge. He tried hitting it, kicking it, and even launching himself against it, shoulder first, yet again, it remained idle; ergo, he became horror-stricken by the chilling intuition of his isolation. The familiar adrenaline began to bubble over his humor, and the rush decomposed his former, eager curiosity; thereof, he felt daunted by his vanishing convalescence. A loud, trembling “hum” vibrated once again through the walls. The room violently quaked and he felt the massive weight of pressure take him down to the ground. It was sudden and he felt paralyzed as he lay supinely flat on a metallic woven-floor, completely immobile with his arms stretched to the sides, enduring the massive force for twenty minutes, until, in due course, the pressure began to diminish. The sensation then became something else: that of the complete opposite: he felt lighter as his ears popped, whilst his body arose to the ceiling heights. It can’t be—it’s absolutely impossible! he thought. He was incredulous at the notion of “floatation” in midair; not withstanding, the idea that it could all be a dream never crossed his turbulent state of mind. It was too intense to be a dream. He tried grabbing on the baskets of fruit on the high shelves, attempting to stop himself from rising all the way to the top and was able to clutch the edge of one large basket which was heavy enough to stop him. He was close to the wall. He could feel it with his left hand as he took hold of a beam above him, gripping it with both hands, thrusting his body as hard as he could and kicking the wall. He repeated this procedure many times, ultimately denting the wall. A cracking sound echoed thoroughly throughout the structure. He kicked it a few more times, draining his strength, until, finally, he broke through. The difference of pressure from one room to the other created a vacuum effect which flung his body out of the smaller room and into a much larger one. The suction was so intense, it rapidly flung out many fruits and baskets with him, flying out accordingly, until the pressure was equalized in both spaces. He ascended at a fast pace amidst the medley of exotic fruits. Airborne, he began flipping and turning chaotically in all directions and eventually crashing onto the ceiling of the larger craft: a vast room filled with the same shapes he had found outside on the desert ground. Evidently, they had been transported. The new room was also dark, but rays of dim, diffused, lipid light flickered from the walls and the ceiling of the structure. The walls appeared of metallic alloys, copper and silver in color, with different netted patterns. In that bizarre structure, the laws of nature seemed to have been broken, for instead of walking on the ground as nature on land intends, one could walk on the ceiling—upside down—if opting to do so; but the boy opted to crawl on the ceiling instead, making his way to the nearest wall. Once there, the intense vibrating began again, but this time it was much more turbulent. It seemed to be happening all over again but this time it was inverted, becoming heavier as he descended all the way down to the floor of the craft, slowly at first, but accelerating faster the farther he dropped, until he hit the ground—hard.
It took him a few minutes to recover, but once the pain soothed, he did stand and then walked to the wall in search of an opening; but there wasn’t one; still, he searched the wall back and forth without success; but did, however, find a square outline similar to the door he had opened before. So he took out his index finger and proceeded to run it on the top rift: “Deeeeeng,” a familiar hum. Just as he expected: the square outline was indeed another entry. It opened, flapping upward and outward; again, he was suctioned out of it and flung high up in the air; hence, falling face down to the ground—hard.
The Gateway Sanctuary
He was outside of the craft by this time and could distinguish that it was around dusk, but he was no longer on the desert flats. It was freezing cold; thus, he had evidently been transported somewhere far from the desert. Tiny snow flakes drizzled softly against the flat, white, icy, stone ground he laid on. A tremendous body of gray clouds encompassed the skies and lighting stroke boisterously in the midst of an imminent, monstrous storm. He had never experienced snow before and therefore presumed he was amidst the clouds (which was in fact true) somewhere near heaven (which was entirely out of true). He stood up and tried to maintain his balance—his feet gliding backwards on the ice. It seemed as though everywhere he ventured, there was some type of overwhelming suction taking control of him. Once again an overwhelmingly powerful vacuum sucked on him and he was lifted twenty feet off the ground. He felt a spine-chilling delusion of his skeleton being egested from his body. Upside-down, in a three second lapse, as he descended, he witnessed the following: “Some few yards away, stars were visible: hundreds of stars as bright as they would shine during the night; in fact, he did see night: he saw the outline of a large horizontal rectangle which displayed the image of the night sky; in front of it, a huge silver structure shaped like a disk blasted blue flames from its center rim. The disk then disappeared into the image of the sky and the rectangle closed, shrinking in size at a supersonic rate, until it disappeared; immediately releasing a tremendous flash of piercing light.”
He fell on the ground once again and slid backwards for a few feet on the icy ground nearly falling off the edge because he was barely able to hang on a rift of the massive ground’s blocks that composed it. As he hung from it, he was able to turn his head, only to realize he was indeed high up somewhere in the middle of the sky. With all of his strength, he pulled himself back onto the ground where he proceeded to lay down and recover his poise as soft snow fell upon him. At that point, he felt vanquished, but his priority was rest, everything including the coldness ceased to exist.
Once repossessing his audacious spirit, he regained his posture and logically attempted to make sense of it all; but he couldn’t really, for his prior nine-hour long experience was excessively illogical to begin with: it was not an adventure that he could easily explain by keeping within the borders of common sense. Being of those archaic times, to a young Nazkinian as himself, the matter of magic might have been the most appropriate course to describe the occurrences of the mysterious incidents. Nevertheless, magic was not feasible enough for the likes of his clever mind. As nimble as he was, he figured that the most reasonable rendition to his fateful episode might have been the actuality that he had been unintentionally transported into the marvelous realms of heaven. But then where are all the magnificent lords? And why is it so utterly blustery and tenebrous around here? This wasn’t at all the way he had imagined the grandiose heavens to be. In fact, besides the fact that it was surely below freezing, the unpleasant environment of his whereabouts resembled more to his idea of The Land of Death—the infamous Dark-World-of-Supay. As he stood in the intense rain, the monstrous body of gray clouds whirled around him blinding him form what lay beyond the realms of the storm—the goose bumps never fading from his tawny flesh; actually, the iciness in the atmosphere caused them to perch even stiffer. He felt weary and ill and his breath was heavy yet his lungs felt peculiarly empty. Never before had the effortless act of breathing proven to be such a difficult task. Wherever he was, he knew it wasn’t a kind place for the likes of a mortal.
It was morning by now but the panorama was livid gray from the monstrous blanket of clouds that besieged him. However, while turning around to explore the site, the thick gray fog from the clouds began to clear. He walked a few yards ahead while the rain settled into a more tranquil state. He took a few more steps, and just as he concentrated on his field of vision (like the exposure of a vast panorama at the end of a foggy precipice), a high wall was unveiled. “The Lord’s temple!” he gasped. It was as high as the tallest trees of the forests, plainly built, with white stones that seemed to have been polished flat. It wasn’t adorned or painted and there wasn’t a visible entrance from that angle, nor were there any windows. He walked to it and felt the smoothness of the wall. It reminded him of the Cahuachi temples his friend Khuno had described to him and Micay. It was a puzzling structure indeed. He glanced to both sides of the wall and noticed that to his left was a dead end that led to the edge. To his right, however, he distinguished a narrow ledge, just about wide enough for him to clinch to the wall and shrivel his way through. Not having any better ideas, he shriveled his agile body for many feet, subsequently reaching a large half-circle platform. Relieved, he sighed and rested his hands on his knees gasping for the little oxygen that was available. Because the air was so utterly thin and cold, even the tiniest of efforts resulted in the exhaustion of his bristle body. By this time, the signs of hypothermia had begun to set in. he was shivering and felt inebriated with a lingering pain which throbbed inside his chest; which in turn was accompanied by intense throat soreness. Once refueled of enough stamina to continue in his curious adventure, still in an inclined position, he slowly turned his head to the right and discovered an entrance about ten yards away. It was a simple, dark chamber without a front wall that was as tall as the wall before and roughly about ten yards wide. He walked the few yards that separated him from it and entered an alcove. It was too dark to see even passed a few feet of the entrance. He proceeded anyway until he hit a wall which he examined thoroughly in search of openings, but there were no apparent openings. Frustrated from the baffling circumstances, he wandered about the area. Absurd, he thought, what is the point of all this building? It’s nonsense! There is no point to it. “Lord, if you’re here, please do, give me some sort of sign, for I don’t know what else to do!” he cried. After which he calmed down to wait for an answer, but there was never such reply. Again, he browsed the sight and wondered, I know! Maybe I’m at the back of this thing. Maybe if I go around it, I may find the entrance! He did find another narrow ledge at the other end of the half-circle, and so once more he shriveled his way through trailing it to the end, but it was another dead-end that directed to the nothingness of the sky. Helpless, the boy spent hours of precious daylight thoroughly examining the limited areas he had access to until the inevitable darkness of the winter night fell in. His fierce shivering had suddenly gone away, but he stumbled a great deal due to a very poor stability, muscle coordination and sluggish thinking which fogged his brain. His cerebrum was undergoing the first stages of amnesia. The boy was running out of time. In a matter of minutes his body and mind would give out and instead give in to stupor and eventually certain death.
Back at the half-circle platform, which he was convinced had to be the site for an entrance, he decided to take one more look inside the solitary chamber of dark creepiness. Once again, Apaec found himself feeling the smooth surface of the plain white wall which seemed to serve no purpose once or ever. This time, however, he did notice something that he had overlooked the previously: a simple marking above the wall, barley noticeable in such darkness. It was situated precisely on the center of the upper rim: an overhang the stuck out for about an inch or two. Above it, a narrow aperture wide enough to fit a finger through--or his at least. It was too high for him to distinguish the figure which it formed, but he could tell it was some kind of emblem similar to those that adorned the king’s temples. Usually, such symbols had religious significance or were symbolic depictions of the gods. Most tended to mark locations, or were intended as cipher guide indicators to secret chambers. He wondered if that could be the case there as well. If only it wasn’t so bloody high! he thought. Alas to the boy, the fact of the matter was that there was absolutely nothing of utility in those premises that the boy could handle as leverage. But once again, his witty brains proved dear: the ostensibly unsolvable predicament became an entirely decipherable enigma because he realized then that with the mere agent which was his slender body, he carried the utmost essential of tools for such a hitch: precious agility. With the last bits of energy he possessed, he walked over to the right wall of the small chamber and knelt down in the starting position (as if to commence a marathon). He sprinted with all his might to the opposite wall and jumped four feet before hitting it, rebounding on it with his feet, springing backwards up to the ceiling as he gripped the narrow overhang and slipping his skinny fingers in the fissure. Hanging from it facing towards the outside of the chamber, he waggled himself to the center. The marking was only inches away from his face and he could clearly see the figure which it formed: a tiny symbolic depiction of a gate. It was enclosed in a box which he could tell was some kind of push button that barely protruded--the key, perhaps. With his fingers barley dangling off the edge, he managed to pull himself up to press it with his forehead. Immediately after Apaec’s forehead made contact with it, it automatically pushed itself inwards making a loud trembling noise (like that of rolling boulders). He then released the ledge and dropped to the ground with ease, landing in a bowing position. The wall in front of him instantly began to open slowly and outwardly from its center to its limits. He had finally opened the door he knew had existed all along. It opened ten feet wide and inside--more darkness.
The Cerulean Chamber and the Hydrogen Portal (being edited)
Apaec entered the next chamber that was noticeably warmer and pitch-black dark. Another chamber...? He thought, annoyed. The walls behind him shut hard and he was trapped inside a ten-by-five yard cubicle. He burrowed himself in one of the corners and rubbed his body as intent to recover as much warmth as possible. In shivers, he felt a little better, and his clothes were able to dry somewhat by then, so he stood up to continue. Taking his first step inside however, his foot fell three inches downward which caused him to trip into a shallow level of water. He pondered of how the water could’ve gotten in that room, maybe there was a leak which let in the rain. It triggered his apprehension of thirst; so he dipped his head in the cold water and gulped in delight, until he felt completely, and freshly re-hydrated. A chilly sensation stung his body. The water was extremely cold. It seemed to be flowing. He could hear the streaming sounds of the smooth current and he wondered what could lie on the other side. “Huiracocha?” he spoke. “Are you here?” His voice echoed throughout, but whence it faded, besides the sound of a mellow stream, the little room remained silent. Whilst taking a couple steps forward, he noticed a minuscule bluish glow that blushed from the bottom fissure of the next barrier. It was simply a thin streak of blue radiance, but it proved there was something more on the other side. “Finally, something significant!” he yelled. As you would expect, he knelt down to peek inside the narrow gap and notice that the water current seemed to fall inside. As it had become habitual, he swiped his thin fingers through the blue crevice thinking it would be an easy access, like all the prior entries had been before. But nothing of that matter happened and therefore he remained trapped. He spent an entire hour walking back and forth form each of the walls to the next, carefully examining them, and meticulously inspecting every single square inch area of the room, looking for a key, or something of importance to aid the unwanted internment—unsuccessfully. Great, now I’m trapped in this little dungeon forever. It’s impossible to get outta here. God…? I think you might have misunderstood my prayers. He surrendered and sat down against the wall with his hands submerged in the freezing-cold water. Feeling feeble and vexed, thinking of what else to do, he realized that his narrow options seemed exhausted. He was now very ill, very hungry, very wet, very cold, very exhausted, and very helpless. How in the world did this water get in here anyway? Where’s the leak? He thought. The boy glanced around the ceiling searching for a crack, and then looked down where the water seemed to fall into the crevice. Applying pressure to the ground with his hands, a segment of the ground where he sat on slid in rumbles like a plate under another level. A ten-inch fissure was formed and his bottom fell inside. Of course! Why didn’t I think of this before? I’m so good at this. I am a genius, he lied to himself. He smiled and peeked inside to find an extremely dimmed, blue lit room that was directly below the room he was in. He became aware that the water never really fell, but instead, simply flowed (curiously upside down) and onto the ceiling of the room below. In fact, the room below was entirely upside down—curiously. Apaec stretched his long neck and stuck his head inside gazing in a state of curious marvel.
At that precise instant, within the infinite dimension of time, it was exceedingly probable, that by the resulting statistics of a mathematical equation calculating the levels of perplexity in the universe, he was very likely to be the most perplexed boy in the entire universe. He didn’t understand why the water did not fall, or anything else for that matter. Naturally, as queer as his day had been, he assumed that he too could probably walk upside down on the ceiling, and therefore crept inside. Indeed, queerly, he did not fall; he was crawling on the water upside down; but the notion of “upside down” is rather relative, and in actuality, in that new cerulean chamber, the dimensions had changed to omnifarious modes, for he was now “right side up.” He stood up and found ten feet in front of him a type of disk shaped instrument with unknown markings on it. It looked like nothing he had ever seen before. It was made from the same stone as the structure he was in. To the right of it, he found a brown leather pouch with straps, and beside it, a small notebook and a pen. He didn’t know why or what they were for, but he took the pouch anyway to inspect it. It was quite heavy. He pulled out the following objects in given order: a compass, a small black radio, various silver coins, a metal blade, a small black and white portrait of a pretty, but very pale girl, a paper bag containing a petrified sandwich, a petrified apple, three unwrapped chocolate bars, a loaded gun, a letter, two small paper-backs, a pair of fine binoculars, and a Christian rosary; all to which the boy was entirely ignorant of their functions. Magic instruments of the Gods! They’re gonna want them back, they probably forgot them here. He decided he would take them with him to wherever it was he was going. Maybe the Gods will reward me for returning them, He thought enthusiastically. He set all of the items back as he found them and placed his arms in each of the straps: the pouch attached to his chest like the women of his people carried their new-born. He then took the note-book and curiously flipped through its pages. Endless symbols after symbols that he couldn’t read were written on each page. But still, he concentrated deeply as if he knew exactly what he was doing. It was almost completely covered in this foreign writing, except for the last twenty pages or so which remained blank. He turned to the last page that had been marked and found a detailed illustration of the disk object that lay in front of him. Around it were more symbols and markings. The only thing he could read were the obvious arrows the suggested a turning motion on the disk. He noticed that for every arrow drawn, simple thin lines were marked beside them, and so that for every other arrow, there was a different sum of lines. He considered them to be numbers and began counting them. About twenty feet behind his position, behind the opening which he had crawled in through, he found, two, four sided beams standing about fifteen feet high, and about twenty feet apart, juxtaposed, with a cerulean flame that quietly and placidly blazed on each of their pinnacles. What in the world is keeping you lit? He pondered as he ran his fingers through his thick, wet hair. Those blue flames were obviously the cause of the blue illumination. He shrugged his shoulders and returned to his nosy fiddling of the note-book, intending on deciphering its meanings. It seemed as though the arrows indicated the turning of the disk and he wondered… Turning back to the disk, he placed his right hand on it and turned it as the arrow indicated. It budged and made a loud click which echoed through the chamber walls. Dumbfounded, he turned it two more times, as the markings signaled. For every line beside the arrow, he clicked the disk turning it back and forth for many times as the arrows and lines indicated, until he suddenly felt a familiar chill on his legs. The water was rising fast as a strong blast of wind gushed through the chamber. It whirled violently around him. With the book still in his hand, he was being powerfully suctioned backwards. “Ah-here we go again!” he cried. He then placed the note-book inside the pouch to keep it dry and he was lifted off the ground into a water barrier that was formed between the two beams. The beams concentrated the water into a thin barrier which Apaec was submerged into and all the way through. He was turned upside down and violently thrown out the other side, hitting the wall—hard, and fell unconscious to the ground. The water splashed down onto the ground a returned to its normal calm flow. The room became peaceful once again.
About twenty or so minutes later he awoke from his state of unconsciousness. He stood up rubbing his head, looked over to the disk, and then to the beams and thought, now what was the point of that nonsense? Once again he found himself trapped. He thought of going out the same way he had gotten in, but he knew that would be pointless because the walls had shut and he didn’t know how to open them, so instead he decided to find an exit to this blue chamber. He followed the water flow to the opposite wall behind the disk structure and saw that it ran up into another divide on the top corner. He climbed up the structure and jumped until he reached the crevice. He didn’t have to hang on too long because gravity took his course and pulled him down on the ceiling. The room was apparently symmetrical in gravity. Just as before, he applied pressure and out he went dropping ten feet onto a narrow path made of white stone. It was only four feet wide with no rails. He would surely plummet to his death if only he would lose his balance. He followed the path to a latter of steel which he climbed until he reached the top and found himself exactly where he had begun: the half moon platform. He sighed in frustration but immediately collapsed near the edge in complete exhaustion and fell asleep. He slept the remaining hours of daylight and through the entire nigh, and nearly froze to death. He felt ill and rotten, the way he felt when he drank too much chicha at the night parties with his friends. He wished that was the case but it wasn’t. He was not drunk—he was but merely alive—in extremely poor health from the extreme low pressure and oxygen. It had been too long and the poor boy did not have much time left before his body could no longer endure the dire circumstances.
Moments later, he opened his eyes to find a blurry silhouette of what appeared to be a bird—a very big bird—the biggest bird he had ever seen—roughly the size of a llama. He stood up realizing the possibilities of escape: nil to one. This was that one: his only chance to make it back down to The Four Quarters and back home to his comfy bed. He sprinted towards it, draining the last little bit of energy he possessed but the monster bird turned its neck and became aware of his presence. It flapped its enormous wings and began to fly away, but Apaec did not cease; he ran to it and grasped his only chance. He jumped off the edge, stretching his long, slender body, reaching out with his hands and grabbing on the creature’s long, white tail-feathers. It let out a tremendous squawk and rapidly tumbled to the sea with the boy hanging on for his life. They accelerated to the ground for a thousand feet, spinning out of control, until the mighty, avian creature was able to regain some composure. It then flew elegantly with Apaec hanging on to its feet. They descended the last mile left to the sea. By then, the bird didn’t seem to care he had a boy hanging from its feet, it just descended casually. Apaec could see the sea down below. He had only heard rumors of the vast blue blanket of the sea; he was now directly above it. The tremendous ocean grew closer by every second, until it was but inches from his toes. The creature let Apaec dip into the water in intent to lose him once and for all, but the friction form the crash caused it to lose control; so it went in with Apaec. They plunged into the water but Apaec never let go. Then, the bird swam out with Apaec still attached by its feet and flew to the sky. A hungry, monstrous, sea creature followed them out and jumped as high as it could, snapping its jaw and missing Apaec’s feet by an inch. They flew for another two miles until they made it safely to shore: a hot sunny beach of the finest of white sands. Apaec ripped off his winter garments because he didn’t like how they fell when wet, and fell ill to the sand. The bird waddled away into the thick vegetation of the land, but before it was out of sight, it turned its big, orange beak to the boy, snapped it in a sort of “vengeance,” and disappeared. The creature could have easily fed upon the boy, but for unknown reasons, a snap of his beak was its revenge for the feathers it had lost by Apaec’s plucking snaffles. The boy was vanquished.
The Magical Fruit for Reverie
Apaec took this opportunity to re-capacitate from his ill-assorted condition. He had endured the drastic changes of atmospheric pressure and temperature, along with the extreme thirst, the vicious hunger, and the deep despair of remote seclusion. Even though he was young and vigorous, and boon of a great physical form, it was still a miracle he had come out of it alive. He collapsed on the white, sandy beach underneath a branchy tree, which blocked him form the heavy sunlight, and then fell asleep. Two hours later, he awoke to find a mysterious world. His stomach rumbled as he realized it had been days since that delicious black-panther breakfast. Therefore, he blazed his path into a labyrinth of immense trees and colorful flora in search of something to eat. The timberland seemed to unbelievably radiate with luminosity of its own, almost simulating sublimation. It was an extravagant caricature of the forests of earth. Far towards the horizon, globular hills of golden wheat could bee seen, and they really were golden. The place seemed so barren, even the dirt didn’t seem dirty. The woodland ahead was green and mossy with undergrowth shrubbery that was roofed by a massive carpet of fog that blinded him of his immediate forefront; but he continued, nevertheless, encouraged by his provocative appetite. As misty as it was amidst, some spotted dome tops of abnormally sized mushrooms peaked out ahead, and their blue dapples radiated the implausible impression of glow. Around them were vast weaves of odd looking trees that tangled in quilts of cute little ringlets. They comfortably sheltered some pink colored creatures that bounced about the carpet of murk. The invisible birds chirped rather tamely as if harmonizing with the billows of green fireflies that whirled just about. It was soothingly damp and cool, and a soggy, pine-like aroma suffused the mood. What peculiar enchanting woodland of the odd. Could this be heaven? He pondered. Nah-it’s much too dark. After hiking many miles deep into the labyrinth of the murky woods, he ran into a mysterious cabin, completely dark, seemingly abandoned, ancient looking of dark rotting-wood and dingy cracking-windowpanes. The trees around the forest were so thick; they modified the daylight into dark-night: the woods were practically as dark as night. He stepped up to the first window and peeked inside, squinting for a better look. It appeared to have been ransacked by rampant apes. No righteous person could call such a wreck home. But he considered it, at least for the day, a place where he could rest at peace and recuperate. Therefore, he stepped onto the small broken porch, creaking the soggy wooden floor, taking the rusty handle and softly pushing it, whilst noticing moisture on the door. He touched it. It was cool. His fingers were stained red. It was fresh blood. Whoever or whatever it belonged to couldn’t be too far. Dead or alive, the blood was fresh and the wounded or moribund creature would surely be near. He dare not step inside. The bloody creature might be in there, might be hostile, might be hungry, might be big, regardless if it needs my help or not. He didn’t know what to expect but he didn’t want to find out. Thence, he stepped away cautiously, slowly, backwards, tripping on the steps and falling onto a puddle of cold mud [plop!]. He was terrified because he instantly (naturally) assumed it was blood; so he let out a moan, a moan which he silenced immediately with his hands. He squirmed in fright, muffling the sound as he could, gagging, as he always did when beholding the bodily red-fluid. If all that hadn’t been enough to shoo him off, to his left, he noticed rising smoke. A fire had been extinguished not too long ago. He looked over to the cabin, whence a bellowing, roaring, ape-like moan, amidst a long gnarly-growl was heard from inside; likewise, amidst rumbles of smacking and cracking of wood and breaking glass. Someone or something chilling was definitely aware of his snoops. He moaned once more in utter terror and ran away from the scene with all his fright. He clearly heard a door that swung violently behind him with a piercing thwack. He ran fast, never looking back, stumbling in blunders, tripping to the turf, immediately standing and continuing his race until his heart began to ache. He then slowed. His knees, face, elbows and limbs, all scratched and bruised (slightly bleeding) from his little mishaps. He began to scan the area around and found a small cave that had been carved into a monstrous tree: an accommodating cave where he sat and rested silently, trembling in dread. He listened for that unknown creature, but the woodland was loud with twitters and grumbles of its own: crickets, hooting birds, amongst miscellaneous chaotic sounds; all of which pulsated intensely at his eardrums. After a while, once regaining somewhat of composure, he decided to continue. He walked for miles, finding an auburn, flowering bush, which thrived of mauve and crimson, anomalous emerging fruits. It was an inviting glow. They were spherical, prickly, temptingly glowing (literally), and they radiated so marvelously against the auburn leaves. Clearly, they stood out form the jumble of the enveloping umber-green foliage. “Magic fruit,” he mumbled as he picked one of them, peeled the skin, and devoured it savagely without prudence. It was the single most delicious thing he had ever put in his mouth. It dissolved easily and melted into the stoma of his tongue. It was so tart, so sour, so sweet, and so juicy. Furthermore distinctly: electrically stimulating: bliss, considering his lavish appetite. A vibrating tingle enveloped his mouth and his taste buds were electrically stimulated. It excited his nerves, casing them to palpitate and burst with a tiny voltage which prickled along his spinal column and up into his cerebrum. He was entranced in a sheer moment of euphoria. Moments later, he found himself glaring at the forest roof of intertwining branches which spun rapidly before his own eyes. He felt lightheaded and woozy as his body began to itch profusely, and big red hives arose on every inch of his bristle, teenage frame. He fell to the ground, shivering in an entranced state of delusion that had been triggered by the hallucinogenic, electrical toxin of the orphic fruit. He began to imagine, beguilingly, hexed by the luscious poison, dream after wicked dream as he doze unconscious from his milieu for three evocative hours, and perhaps more; and out of the chaotic confusion of the thick, muddled bizarreness of dreams, there was one single delusion that was enthrallingly sufficient to perpetually inhabit the turmoil of his memories. Within it, he lay against a familiar dripping wall, yet again, contained by an engaging dark-chamber of false virtue: cool with an unperturbed ambiance and fragrance. His left hand held by his left-behind friend Micay, who in a bewildered manner, pointed outwards and spoke so reverberating: “So long my beloved friend… I have appeared in your thoughts merely to orate to you of your eloquent quest for the clandestine.”
“Micay! It is you! Oh, how I have missed you! Touch me lover. Hold me in your arms…”
“Do not come any closer, fiend! Look at the walls: they are sodden of barren, hydrating waters.”
“Look again: the single egress, and beyond it… the white panther awaits in the secret pentagon-portico of elevated beams. Look once more: cerulean-blazing-pinnacles transversally placed along an abysmal spiral-stairway of shimmering white-pebbles. Alluring, is it not? Go on inquisitive child, take a look; abscond your placate status, cease your due omnipotence, and follow the effervescent white-cat; thrill your erroneous pious zeal for the unknown and oblige your covets, my love, for this is your only chance. Grasp it; it is your own keep.” Obedient, he did as the girl said: exited to the engaging juxtaposed-trail of the indefinite stairway. He did turn back to adieu, but the girl’s dark eyes grew irate in tears which spilled whence sating her sockets. She held her arm out to him and spoke in lament, “Curiosity killed the cat nine times. Did you know? I will witness opprobrium on behalf of your absence. I will experience vicissitudes to my entity and ultimately grapple with imprisonment, on behalf of your absence. I assure you, the garden of forking trails is not the rapture which you seek. Please, I beseech to you: do return. Do not disappear from my incorrigible world! For you, my love, you are the one, the only, and all that tames my contentment. Can you not perceive it? I am irrevocably in love with you, beautiful boy; so I beg you furthermore, do not ever more despair my forlorn soul.” She fulfilled her terms as a monstrous body of water violently shattered down upon her frame and washed her away in disintegration and fusion with the exploding waters. He ran to the twirling stairway and followed the white cat down. He was led all the way to the foundations where amidst a puddle of blood, a headless body of a boy lay supine; beside it, the head of his friend Khuno glaring up at him with lifeless blood-shot eyes. Subsequently, he fiercely awoke in horrendous disarray. For years to come, that dire reverie would prove to incite the haunting of his most precious memories.
That was odd—senseless! What is the meaning f all this? Lord? How and when did Micay get so weird? What in the world just happened? He thought terribly distraught from the strange episodic nightmares. He was in awful shape because the intoxicating inebriation was still polluting his mind. For that reason, the forest appeared magically vivid and enchanting with lurid, rich and intense but false colors. Despite the fact that he was still hallucinating, he was well aware of his surroundings, so he walked miles after miles in the dark murky-forest, until he eventually came upon a fierce river of rapid currents he dare not cross. Instead, he followed it up-stream by the riverbed, trudging for a few more miles as the forest seemingly became friendlier. The dark thick-foliage became thinner and lighter, and the previous heavy blanket of fog which had blinded him from his forefront became more of a radiant mist that allowed him to perceive the more distant of settings. The light from the sun was then able to flicker through the apertures of the branches and leaves. It’s beautiful, he thought.
The Last Socialist Town of Pippolas
Moments later, sometime around noon, a teenage girl sat upon her flannel suited bed with pooling tears that satiated her sensitive sockets. She wished for a better room, for a better house, a better family, and perhaps a better time. She wished that her adored grandfather wouldn’t have had to take the place of her unknown father. She wished she had known her parents and that her baby brother would have grown up to inhabit the empty little-room upstairs. She wished to somehow recuperate the doomed naïveté that had been copped by a languished vitiate goat of inamorato. Besides the crushing solitude that besieged her, she also hated the poverty stricken town she was forced to call home. It was on an early afternoon of fall when the young girl had grown bored of her long, draggy weekend. It was Monday and she wished she was at school instead of her hot, damp, and sticky bedroom weeping and with nothing better to do. But it was summer, therefore, school was quite out of the question. Her best friend Luca was out of town visiting an unknown uncle, or something related to an unknown relative. She couldn’t really remember for she never was particularly a listener, more particularly the inattentive type. Therefore, Luca was her diametrical protagonist. She was also her best friend because she was her only friend. A girl as shy asher never would be accustomed to camaraderie. So she sat there on a rigid mattress, in whimpers, considering what to do with the remaining hours of a nice afternoon as she peeked out her window and noticed a nice sunny day. Such a nice day, she thought, right before a white, avian creature caught her attention. She observed it as it disappeared into the vanilla horizon. What a large galipot that was. Must be leaving the forest ruins, she figured (The galipots were a rare and endangered species of prehistoric dragon-sized birds native to that land). The ruins sound delightful right now. I may read this book, she decided.
So she grabbed a thick book off her bookstand-cupboard and ran across the meadows and into the forest lake, in route to the Secret Ruins of Pippolas: the setting of her favorite bridge: the oldest bridge near town and her secret escape from the uneasy reality of her wretched settings. She hopped into an old boat she had found once and assumed ownership of. I’m not stealing--just borrowing. Besides, whoever thiis boat belonged to is surely an ancient mummy by now, she figured. She rowed through a swampy lake with trees for a roof until reaching the old bridge. Now, this is much better, she thought as she sat down on the edge of the treacherous, old, wooden hanger. She inhaled cool, clean air of the forest and smiled as the wind breezed away the remaining tear drops of her flush cheeks. She took out the pebbles from her pocket she had collected on the way and threw them down to the thrashing waters of the river below. As she did, a young boy who was walking below her no more than a few yards away caught her attention. Oh dear, that boy has been dipped in mud. Whatever for? And he’s coming this way, and he walks like a zombie. I wonder what he wants… Oh bother, he’s ugly. Goodness, he’s hideous! He is a zombie! She stood up to run away from him. He really did walk like a zombie—the result of extreme fatigue; so, for a good reason, she was frightened; and the mud didn’t help either, nor did his gonzo appearance. It wasn’t that he was particularly ugly, in fact, he was very handsome, but to an alien, he looked like a freak.
Meanwhile, Apaec followed the riverbed for about a mile and found an old wooden bridge, atop which he spotted the young girl that could’ve been his age. She was sitting on the edge of it with her feet dangling about. The strange girl was awkwardly pale and wore a thin, sapphire gown that seemed to glitter with the diffused rays of the sun that were filtered through the thick foliage. She held a book in her left hand and was skimming stones on the water with her right hand—or at least he thought so—that is, until he realized that skimming a stone on rough waters was impossible. He looked at her for a while from below as she threw the stones into the water. She hadn’t noticed him yet. He took a few steps approaching the bridge, but by then she had heard the cracking of the alluvial-soil he stepped on. She looked at him curiously from the bridge as he walked closer and closer and followed his approach with a stare. He made it to the end of the bridge and walked slowly towards her, until he was but only about five feet away. Her eyes broadened in alarm as she stood up from her position and began to skedaddle away. But the fragile wooden-slabs and beams of the bridge did not withstand her weight--it was anciently dangly, it easily collapsed. She grasped the edge of a dangling slab but failed to hang on, screaming as she plunged the twenty feet into the violent bursting-waters. Without a second thought, Apaec hurriedly took off the leather pouch and dove after her into the piercing, cold waters. They were carried by the heavy current for a long way up-stream. He intended on reaching her and swimming to safety, so he swam with all his might to her until he was close enough to grab her by the arm; whilst he spotted a long vine that floated on the river and grasped it, finally reaching her and pulling her and himself to safety. They crawled onto the mud of the river-bed and rested supine for a few minutes, hyperventilating from their fatigue. He noticed curious creatures that resembled jaguars and monkeys peeking through apertures of hanging branches from trees that roofed the forest, but he was too tired to care. Under normal circumstances, he would have been extremely curious of the bizarre nature of the fauna and flora of the surrounding milieu, but this case was most certainly not normal, therefore he simply closed his eyes and fell into a short nap. Although Apaec’s intoxication by fruit had practically faded to a nil, he was still dangerously unwell from the previous harming events. The mysterious girl stood up but fell back to the mud, moaning in pain--her leg had been severely wounded, for it was bleeding heavily. Apaec awoke from her moans and realized she was in pain. So he stood up to walk to her and then lifted her up in his arm. She stared at him with an intense, odd wonder muttering out words of an unfamiliar tongue: “Ala te jiago dota?”
“I don’t understand,” he replied.
“Jiago dota? Eh? Bliagga dor eneto dotehm.” The girl pointed, signaling a way. She was frightened from his strange appearance, but nonetheless, she needed his help. She understood he was foreign as much as Apaec understood he was a foreigner in a strange world far away from home; however, he had not an idea of how far he really had wondered off. Apaec noticed the girl had strange, crimson, cat-like, and poky, furry ears (think Bobcat). Not beside her cheeks, as a normal human from home would have them, but on her head, rather, like a cat. Her pale flesh was very light of an olivish and orangish tinge. It appeared amphibious with undistinguishable pores. He admired her awkward beauty whilst he felt a tickle on his arm. He gasped in startle. It was a furry crimson-tail like that of a feline, slithering in waves and brushing his exposed-left-shoulder-blade. Yet, as bizarre as the bushy tail was, her eccentric eyes were the most intriguing facet of her being. They had but a mere speckle of hazel where the black pupils he was so familiar to should have been. A beautiful angel. I shall take her to God. He took her everywhere she pointed, resting every mile until they arrived at a rural, wooden dock by a lagoon of calm waters. There, he found a small boat afloat—rustic and alligatored with old pink-paint. She did not need to instruct him of the plan, for he fully understood it. So he carried her onto it and slowly paddled for mile through natural tunnels and channels of the vast, swampy lake of murky waters. The water, alike the forest, seemed to sublimate with whirling steam. It was like entering the crater of an active volcano; perhaps not as hot, but definitely as humid and brumous. It was practically impossible to see past even a foot—like sailing through a cloud. In utter dampness and incredulity, they glanced at each other in awkward trices for the entire way. The “cat-girl” laid on a wooden slab, signaling to him the way to wherever it is she was headed. She did so, eventually conducing to a plutonic flat precipice that was nebulous of limits. It was of crystalline texture, like granite, but blue and mottled with purple instead of the familiar grayish, earthly colors. Very queer. Heaven is close, I can feel it. He spoke to her: “Don’t worry angel, I will get you home safe.” To what she responded with a sort of pule, probably from her pain. As the mist began to clear, he noticed some very tall gates that served as the threshold to a mysterious cave. Beside them—an old man--another cat-person sat on a stone with a fishing pole in hand—fly fishing. As they approached, the old man opened the gates with a pull of a handle. As they entered the dark tunnel, Apaec raised his sight to the sky attempting to view the peak of the cliff, but it went on too high and he could not tell where it ended. Therefore, he turned his attention to the man who was smiling at the girl, whilst mumbling something friendly. He then turned to Apaec while flinging the pole at the water, but as they locked glances, the old man’s wide smile faded to a shock that could also be the result of witnessing a ghost. His distraction led him to miscalculate his fling and catch the back of his bald head with the hook on the line. His cigar fell to the water, and he followed in anguish. The girl gasped. Once inside the cave, a shady-town surfaced, unlike any he had ever visited before—a type of warren with canals that dispersed like veins. The water was calm, and by and by, the bed became broad and broader as they navigated through. By the bed there were cute cottages. A hot, humid aroma suffused the environment. The girl remained musing, so Apaec did not stop rowing. One of the strange aspects of this village was that trees grew as bountiful as they did in the timberlands alfresco. Strange for the fact that sunlight could not possibly breach the plutonic mountain they were in. She conducted him by aiming all the way across the vast cave, and out to the other side of the mountain, to another village, that in contrast to the cave village was alfresco. The cave was the only passage to it because the mountain that was shaped like a rectangle was in between.
Constellation of Libra, Gliese 581, The Ruby Cotton Galaxy, on the planet of Polis, 9th of October 5030, 7:32 PM on the evening of the boy’s arrival…
Three old bearded brothers by the last name of Trouffle sat side by side on an old, burgundy leather-couch. The first two were of a short stature and stocky proportions. The third one on the other hand, was noticeably taller and lankier—baring more features of the traditional Pippolian. The couch was set against a sturdy, un-painted stone-wall, and rested on a thick, dusty maroon-rug that was set inside the waiting-room floor of a small infirmary. They sat with their muddy, leather gumboots resting on a petite, wooden coffee-table that was lit by only one solitary, dim lantern. The eldest: Chapwook Trouffle, the second youngest: Etticus’goone Trouffle, and the youngest: Harggot Trouffle, were caught in the middle of an unfathomable quarrel…
“Now where do you suppose he came from?” Chapwook asked with a deep, thick, aged voice, as he tapped the old lantern attempting to fix it.
“I think the more appropriate question is: ‘what the hell is he!?’” E’goone replied with a smoother, more gentile tone, while stroking his thick scarlet mustache.
“He’s a spy from the blasted hoodlums of Aledren, I tell yo!” Harggot firmly compelled his answer with a groggy and croaky pitched voice.
“A spy…? But he is merely a child—a teenage boy, no older than the tender Adonia,” Chapwook responded.
“I wouldn put that pass ‘em. They’s capable of such immoralitay,” Harggot affirmed.
“Don’t be foolish old man. What we have here is something much more fascinating. Historical, I might add. Hell! This might just as well end up written in next year’s history books! That sick boy we have lying in that room is nothing less and nothing more than an extraterrestrial being!—Not of our world. Maybe of the divine world.” E’goone declared.
“Blatherskite! And you’s callins Harggot foolish? That’s a bunch of wishful and pretentious gobbledygook. You would love that to be the case. It would certainly ease yo monotony, wouldn’t it? He’s nothin more than the product of a grotesque mutation—probably the result of the toxic Aledren wastelands,” Harggot retorted slapping his crinkly hand on the table.
“Don’t be irreverent! Have you heard him speak? That is no ordinary tongue. That is an unknown foreign dialect—not from this world—certainly,” Chapwook acknowledged crossing his arms.
“He’s a foreign, mutant freak from Aledren,” Harggot insisted with a crooked smirk, twitching the left side of his curled mustache.
“Harggot, you know very well that boy is not of our nature. Stop your nonsense and arrogance. That boy is foreign and you know it. Now, we need to figure out what we’re going to do with him. What if that mysterious tongue he utters is the language of the divine? I feel this is much to pivotal for us to tamper with. Whatever the nature it may be,” E’goone suggested.
“Let’s hand him over to the decree affiliates, let theym take care of him.” Harggot proposed as he sank his left hand in the pocket of his faded navy-blue coat.
“The control division? They’re just law enforcement. That won’t do any good. They won’t know any better than us what to do.” E’goone countered.
“Very well, let’s taka him to Aledren thein. He’s therr experiment anyway. He probably ran away cause he didn’t like theim. I woulda darn the same. Their may be a generous reward if we return heim. Ya know whatta mean?” Harggot responded puffing smoke as he lit a thick cigar he pulled out from his pocket.
“The Aledren are never generous—not with us. Look, I’ll take the boy back home with me until we can figure something out. You both need worry no more of this matter. I shall take it upon myself to see that this boy is well taken care of… And turn that thing off you insolent fool! Can’t you see we’re in a sanatorium!?” Chapwook shouted while flicking the cigar from Harggot’s mouth.
“How dare yo flick my cigar!? You insolent ol’ froth bag!” He bent over to pick it up and continued, “Why I oughtta–”
An attractive woman about the age of twenty appeared from a doorway and interrupted the dispute. The three men hastily stood up and took their caps off in courtesy, exposing their shiny bald-heads and ginger colored, furry little ears. Harggot hastily extinguished his cigar burning a hole through the broadcloth of his coat and placed it back into his pocket, whilst regaining his elegant stance. “Good evening, doctor,” they greeted her in nervous synchronization.
“Good evening, gentlemen.” She spoke with a soft and arresting womanly-voice. “I have good news. I am pleased to inform you that dear Adonia is no longer in severe hemorrhage. Actually, other than a few bumps and scratches, you’re little girl is doing just fine. I have stitched her most sever wound and she is no longer in pain. Her knee was fractured, so she will not be able to walk for at least a couple of weeks, but with the assistance of a good wheel-chair, she can resume her activities in just two days rest. I will bring her out in just a minute.”
“What about the boy? How is he managing?” asked Chapwook concerned.
“Well, he’s not too well, but he could be worse. He’s been asleep for the past three hours and has kept a high fever of 103. His blood pressure is extremely low and he has been suffering from intermediate lapses of ventricular tachycardia and arterial fibrillation. It looks as if he barely came out of hypothermia. His blood pressure has steadily maintained a 70/40 mmHg—which is dangerously low—and he is in the early stages of gangrene—that’s why his skin appears blue and puffy. That poor boy, he’s even abiding minor frost bite. I have placed him in the revascularization machine. It will help his blood vessels recuperate and reverse necrosis to boost his healing. It seems to me he has experienced rapid changes in elevation and temperature within a very short period of time—very unusual. Either he was submerged into deep levels of water or he has been exposed to extremely high altitudes. Regardless, it’s a miracle he’s alive. He’s a tough kid. You know, he may as well have saved Adonia’s life. She told me the bridge collapsed and that he jumped into the rapids after her. As sick as he is, he rescued her from the river and then carried her home all the way from the quinquennium ruins.”
“Oh yee sure… what a coincident, he jus happen to appear outta nowhere at the precise time the bridge collapsed. It’s a divine, miraculous occurrence…! Hail the brown ugla-boya! Whoopeedeedooha! He is the expected messiah! Preposterousness! If ya ask meself, I think he had somethin to do with it. Yo know… with the bridge collapsing,” Harggot sarcastically and arrogantly suggested.
“Well it’s a good thin no ones askin ya, Harggot! Yee blasted pirate,” E’goone countered mockingly. “The bridge was ancient and you know it. The boy did just happen to be at the right place at that right time. It was nothing less than an exceptional, providential episode to which we should all be grateful for—a miracle indeed. Thank god for the boy. His feat proves he has kindness in his heart. Now listen here you old scoundrel, you better stop with your ugly enmity before I rip that single little hair of yours off your polished bald-head and tie it around your pouty, little beak!” E’goone threatened with a low and hoarse, dire tone in his voice as he clinched his fist at Harggot. “Any ideas as to what he might be—Miss Arietta?” asked E’goone tenderly, completely morphing his tone for the likes of a lovely lady.
“Well, Mr.Goone, sir, I’ve examined him thoroughly and I think he may be anthropomorphic in nature. Clearly, he’s a sapient class alien. You see, I’ve tested his blood and placed him on the weighing scale—barely weighs 140 pounds. That’s very light for his height and proportions, compared to our Polian boys about his age who probably weigh at least 170 pounds. This may suggest that the world he came from has a slighter, stronger gravity force, and probably higher atmospheric pressure than our own. I think his body may have a difficult time adapting to our gravity. He is an AB phenotype—I traced large quantities of immunoglobulin antibodies and he has white and red cells just like we do. I also found a very low density in his skeletal marrow. I also ran his body through the electro-magnetized radiator for a photographic plate. He has a strong heart that beats extremely fast, but that may as well be due to his malady—and his organs seem to be in place, but his brain is slightly larger than ours. So besides the obvious physical differences, he’s practically anthropomorphic—could be of sapien descent. I did not trace any forms of viruses or diseases, and in fact, he’s a very healthy boy. I think he’ll recover just fine. Any ideas as to where is he going to stay?”
“I’m going to take him home with me. He can take up the spare bed-room,” Chapwook answered.
“Oh… well, that’s good. I will be willing to take care of him in the meantime. Any thoughts as to what you will do with him?”
“Well, for now, he’ll stay with us—secretly of course. Miss Arietta, I hope you can keep a secret.”
“Bad idea,” Harggot mumbled nonchalantly into E’goone’s ear.
“Oh, my dear Chaps, don’t you worry, my darling, your secret is safe with me,” the doctor responded. “Thank you my child. It’s for the best that this is kept between us, at least whilst we figure out what to do of this little predicament. I have a feeling this is going to prove a very difficult assignment. I believe that his transportation was accidental and I fear he will not be able to return home… not for a while,” Chapwook answered.
“Yes, of course. I understand. Do you suppose he will adapt? I mean, judging by his garments, he looks of archaic times. What should we tell him once he learns our idiom?”
“I assume we will have to tell him the truth. If he is to stay, he will certainly have to adapt to our ways and technology. He can’t go about living here in sheer oblivion. It is our only alternative. He is young, therefore he’ll learn our language quickly—and when he does, we will introduce him to our society and culture. He will attend school like a normal boy and live a normal life. I will do as much as I can to care for him. I owe it to him. After all, he did save the life of my last grandchild.”
“He isn’t your son, Chappy boy. Yo plan to fill your lost Pillotin’s shoes with him, dontcha? He’s not one of us. Do reconsider, old-man. What happens when they come back for him? Have you thoughta that, wise main?” Harggot asked.
“Nobody’s coming back for him. They have not the slightest clue of his whereabouts. I guarantee his transportation was unintentional. And I do not plan to replace him as my son! Have you no heart? This boy will be heartbroken once he finds out the new circumstances of his reality. He will never see his mother or father or the rest of his family, ever again. That poor boy left everything he ever knew behind forever. He will suffer more than you can even begin to comprehend. It’s the least I can do as a sincere person.”
“He’s right, Harggot. What is wrong with you? Have you no ethic? We have to take him in as our own. It is the right thing to do. That is what the lord wants. He is welcome in my tree as well,” E’goone added.
Harggot observed them with his miniscule eyes. His breath was heavy and he was annoyed; but he did have a heart; he was just an angry-old-pessimistic-sour-puss; in fact, they were all excited from the idea of keeping the boy. None of the Trouffles were fortunate enough to have grandchildren. Besides Adonia, there were no other Trouffle children left. Chapwook had lost his only other grandson during a war, along with his only son and his wife. E’goone was married but never had children, which of course made it quite difficult to have grandchildren. Harggot, likewise, was married—and he in the other hand had a daughter but she hadn’t married and her youth was quickly withering away. The boy could certainly fill the spot for a much wanted Trouffle grandson. However, there was one obstacle they had to outdo before they could call him their own…
“And what do we do when the Aledren decree bust in through your door and demand a license? You’s can’t hide that boy foreva. That would defeat the purpose of keeping him in tha first place. You’s gonna keep him locked up in that little cottage of yours Chappy boy?”
“He’s not my child. Therefore I need not such breeding license. They can’t demand a license for a boy who isn’t mine. You know damn well that those licenses were only created to stop us from reproducing in the first place. They want us obliterated. It is their most humane tactic they could conjure. That boy is not a Pipp—they won’t want him gone, or dead for that matter.”
“Oh ma dear naive little Chappy, after everythin them demons took away from our people, and yo personally, yet yo still remain optimistic. I mus say, I admire yo sanguinity, ol Chaps.” Harggot said while shaking his head.
“Times have changed, brother. In the last fifty years, during the revolution and after the war, the word has become more aware of the injustice from Aledren, and it’s only a matter of time before they render to our cause. Once the news of this here boy spreads around the world, we will be in focus of the international broadcasting medium. That boy will then be untouchable to the Aledren. The world is more humane than you think, my dear brother. The world will protect him from the claws of Aledren. Their ways have blinded you from the genuine likes of the rest of the world.”
“The world? The world is a cruel place, Chapwook, yo know it is. Have yo already furrgotten yo fama— ”
“All right now, you two—no need to fuss about that right now. And where are the wives? Mr. Goone? Mr. Harggot?” the doctor interrupted before things could get out of hand. She knew the brothers well. They were known to get rowdy between touchy quarrels.
“Why, they are at home, probably watching the operas, as usual,” E’goone answered.
“Yep, they should be cookin instead. Those good for nothin felines, I’m probably gonna have to go out for dinner tonighta. Like every other nighta,” Harggot added.
Now don’t be rude Mr. Harggot. I know Guadaloopin to be a great cook. She is more likely to be mending to the chores at this moment,” the doctor said. “My question was: Why didn’t they accompany you here?”
“Oh, Miss Arietta, they do not know of this matter. We do not need them worried. They get all hormonal when they worry,” E’goone answered.
“Heck’s yeah! That darn Guadaloopin gets craza when she’s anxious. Lass time our puppa went out missin, she ran out the house into the street yellin like a mad woman. Chalupin! Chalupin! That’s the name of our puppa. For three days she became a sobbin, good fur nuthin feline. The blasted puppa came back, but I never wanna go through that again. I don’t even wanna to imagine what this would do to her,” Harggot said.
“Well, I see now. I should’ve known,” the doctor said in giggles. “Allow me to bring Adonia out here. Wait just one second.” She went back in to the corridor and into the room where Adonia lay. She was brought out to the waiting room by the doctor in a wheelchair. The pretty girl had a fantastic smile. She spoke with a cute, timid, and girly voice, “Hello uncle Goone, hello uncle Hargg—daddy.”
They smiled back in harmony and knelt down to give her a hug. Harggot pulled out a tattered bouquet of red flowers from his pocket and handed them to her with his arm all the way stretched, “Here you are sweetie pie, I picked these from ol Loopin’s garden. I hope yo like em.”
She grabbed them and took a snivel. “They’re beautiful, and they smell wonderfully—thank you uncle Hargg.”
E’goone was not the type to be outmatched; therefore, he pulled out a small, silver wrist-watch and handed it to her—arm all the way stretched. “I’ve been working on it for a long time now. It was to be your birthday present, but I suppose the occasion could not be more appropriate. Besides, your birthday is only a month away. Do you like it?”
“Oh… wow, it’s fantastic! Thank you so much uncle Goone,” she told him as she tightened it on her left wrist.
E’goone turned to Harggot with a smirk of mischief and winked in taunt as Harggot furiously buttoned up his coat. Not to be outdone, Harggot began to check his pockets, in search of something of worth to give to the girl, but a poor blacksmith would not likely carry more than a few coins, a dirty cotton handkerchief, and a rusty cigar-torch. He was unsuccessful and simply sighed deeply in defeat. He glared at E’goone and clinched his sharp nose as his beady eyes and curly mustache rapidly twitched in fury.
“Well Miss Arietta, as we stand here, forever grateful of the magnificent medical assistance, and blessed with your heavenly charms, I must present to you my further adieu, for I should in fact return to my coppersmith duties. I am a busy man indeed and the old lady awaits,” He kowtowed by her feet, slipped off her rubber glove, and gave her pale dainty-hand it a smooch that tickled her.
She giggled, “Mr. Goone, you need to trim that prickly mustache of yours.”
Harggot followed and exaggeratedly mimicked his older brother’s gentlemanly feat—quite poorly.
“I too should liberate ma company from yo glorious and angelic presence…. Miss Arietta…” He bent down a little too far and caught the doctor’s gown with his head. He took a good look at what lay beneath—involuntarily of course, and stood up to kiss her hand but failed, tripping on his untied boot-strings and taking the doctor down with him. She shrieked and fell on top of him as the poor man embarrassedly squealed. He stood erect in discombobulation and said, “I’m sorry Miss Arietta! I furgot to tie meh boots!”
She stood up patting her gown to release the dust, “It’s quite all right Mr. Hargg. You worry not now, dear,” she said while laughing. They all laughed.
E’goone placed his arm around Harggot and let him out of the infirmary. “You old buffoon,” he said to him chuckling.
For thousands of years, the Pipps were infamously branded for their eccentric religion and presumed witchcraft. It was forbidden and more officially against the laws of Aledren for anyone to marry a Pipp yet alone breed with them. In fact, they were not even permitted to breed amongst themselves, at least not without a “breeding license.” However, the price for only one of those licenses was too high for even the wealthiest of Pipps to obtain more than one of. Therefore, very often, the lower class Pipps would spend their entire life savings on one license. Consequently, their population began to severely diminish, even after the segregation war which obliterated more than fifty percent of their people. By that year, they barely reached the mark of ten thousand and were segregated by the Aledren to their origins: the ancient lands of Pippolas. Therefore, many Pipps lived and died without utilizing their god-given right to reproduce. The town was located off the northern coast of Aledren: the supreme capitalist nation and exceedingly developed industrial capital of Polis. Pippolas was mercilessly ruled by the authoritarian, so called, egalitarian regime of Aledren; however, the inhabitants of Pippolas secretly considered themselves Socialists.
For an entire year Apaec learned their foreign ways. He cried for many nights, and just as Etticus’goone had alleged, the boy was heartbroken as he endured months of immense suffering. He cried so much his eyes were always irate and his cheeks were always scarlet. For months after gloomy months he was ever so sad from the terrible notion of melancholy. It took him roughly one year to become fluent in the Aledious tongue. He adopted Chapwook as a father and befriended Adonia. The Trouffles became his new family and the residents of Pippolas would come to know him as Apaec Trouffle. The “Lumen Pond School of Zenith” would come to know him as “the alien student.”
On this so called Polis, Pippolas was alive—not well, but alive. It was a small waterfront town built upon a land mottled with small and vast lagoons of swampy warm-waters: a buccaneer’s dream land: a labyrinth of tunnels, channels and waterways complete with pirates, merchant traders, sailors, coppersmiths, blacksmiths, fortune tellers, etc. The Pipps, as they were known by the outsiders, were tall, lanky, olive of skin and of scarlet fur. They were categorized by the rest of the world into a sub-human race, simply for their unique appearance and peculiar beliefs. They spoke, or used to speak a secret language. A secret language that legend whispered to have magical powers: the original language spoken by the gods. The race was believed to be the primal of Polis: the original race. For that, they held great pride. I might have said ethnicity, but ethnicity pertains more to that quality or affiliation of cultural ties, rather than genetics. They were a race because they were genetically in a different stock. It is well opined that to compare is not a good thing, but who cares. For the sake of comparison: On Earth, race could be defined in two terminologies: 1. the human race, which is all of the human inhabitants of earth; and 2. people who are believed to belong to the same genetic stock. Allow me to toss here some genetic stocks:
Amerindian: Any member of the peoples living in North or South America before the Europeans arrived
Caucasoid: A person with pale skin whose ancestors spoke Caucasian languages
Mongoloid: Of or pertaining to or characteristic of one of the traditional racial division of humankind including especially peoples of central and eastern Asia
Negroid: A person with dark skin who comes from Africa (or whose ancestors came from Africa)
Indian: Sometimes included in the Caucasian race; native to the subcontinent of India
Slavic: A race of people speaking a Slavonic language
Yellow: An Asian race
--All of which (goes without saying), pertain to the human race, or better yet, human beings of earth. One might naturally assume that on a planet that is seven to eight times the mass of earth, the Hominidae races might multiply sequentially. However, considering the available terra firma on Polis, which is only five percent, the surviving races (that I will toss here in just a bit, and define) happen to be, by sheer coincidence, seven:
Aldeiretan: A Herrenvolk person with light azure skin and white to gold fur who comes from Aledren (or whose ancestors came from Aledren)
Pippolianic: A person with pale olive skin and scarlet fur who comes from Pippolas (or whose ancestors came from Pippolas)
Proconsuloid: A behemoth troglodyte with olive skin and scarlet fur who is thought to be extinct
Natatoroid: A person with insipid, gray skin with no fur who may or may not dwell in the ocean
Amphibiad: A person with pale, yellow skin with no fur and humanlike ears who lives on land but breeds under water
Scorceroid: An endangered giant with dark skin who carries electricity through the blood-stream
Gnominoid: A dwarf person that is fully coated in thick azure fur
--All of whom belong to the homo genus spectrum. Later that morning, Apaec was officially introduced as a new student in a traditional ceremony that took place every monday morning in one of the school’s courtyard. He made it through the first day without mentionable incidents. In his first year at the school, Apaec became somewhat of a celebrity because of his “unknown,” foreign status.
An Unlikely Bond of Companionship
Only some weeks after his arrival, in low spirits, Apaec laid on a stratum of miscellaneous scrappy-blankets and pillows given to him by these accommodating strangers he had by ostensible chance stumbled upon. Luckily, they were very good people. Lord knows what might have been had he otherwise stumbled upon a more “innovative” and perhaps more “competent” ménage, for it does rather seem that when it comes to pious righteousnesses, the plebian folk always tend to accommodate to the more humanistic values. Burritoed by the woolen sheets, lying on that stratum bed set on the cold-bumpy-bare cement floors of that dreary bedroom, in melancholic moons about home, he lay sole and supine mewling his heart away. The lonesome girl downstairs couldn’t have been more curious. It was clearly past her bedtime but her eyes would not shut. The notion of that strange alien boy, that same strange alien boy who had jumped into the river to save her, that same strange alien boy who caused her to fall in the first place, that same strange alien boy who she believed was the friend she had been wishing for, and that same strange boy who was of an ugly, dark, lusus nature was obliterating her sleep. Hence, she crept out of her bed in tippy-toe gaiting, approaching the stairs, flashlight in hand, and enthusiastic, inquisitive bric-a-brac in an amiable frame of mind. She tippy-toed up a spiral stair case and all the way down a dark hall that led to his old wooden door. Then she placed her hand upon the doorknob. First, she thought she would knock, but then figured that she might wake him had he fallen asleep; second, thought of calling a “hello,” but figured he wouldn’t be able to understand what she was saying; therefore, in the end, she simply pushed on the little rusty handle and the door was opened ajar. She turned off the flashlight and peeked inside but it was too dark to see. So she clicked the flashlight on again and pointed it in aim at his bulk. She peered inside, allowing no more than her thin little neck to pass. He lay still in a burrito of blankets with but a nose poking out. She stood gazing at his bulk, until he eventually moved and peeked out to her because he heard the squeaks of the door. She was startled and quickly shut the door in gasp [thump], then clicked the light off. She stood by the door for a moment and began to tippy-toe back to her bedroom. That is, until the door was opened entirely and Apaec’s head peered out of it. She stood in slight shock, bewildered, though she could not see him clearly because it was dark. Her eyes grew broad and her jaw dropped. She blinked and clicked the light back on again shining it at Apaec’s face. He covered it with his hands to block the light. She said, “Hello.” He said, “Rimaykullayki.” She followed him inside and flipped the switch of the bedroom lantern on. He lay back down on his bed, supine, and she knelt beside him, noticing his puffy, sallow eyes. He was in obvious blubbers, and for that, she consoled him dearly. She stayed with him for hours, holding him in caress, until she became too sleepy to stay awake. She didn’t want her grandfather to find out about her snoops so she went back to her room. It was the first step in the forming of an great bond of companionship, a bond she had always desperately yearned for.
Supper with the Trouffles
The next day, Adonia proved her gastronomical talents in the kitchen by preparing a generous medley of foods and beverages. The dinning room was humble, narrow and cold with pallid walls that were deteriorating with age. Some old wooden cupboards, a big clock, and a few paintings of sea related themes decked the old den. The dinning table was narrow and long, and just like the rest of the house, built of ancient wood. It wore a dirty-motley-knit-stitch flannel-mantel upon which cups and dishes were set. They were packed with bizarre foods and bubbling beverages that steamed and sizzled. Apaec’s entrails rumbled like clashing stones, so even though he hadn’t an idea of the nature of the unfamiliar foods presented to him, he indulged in them blithely because they tasted amazing. He sat at the end of the table facing the girl who sat at the other end. The rest of the family and Miss Arietta Gloom occupied the rest of the seats. The doctor had been invited for dinner as a gratitude gesture for her troubles the day before on the evening of the boy’s arrival. The Trouffles were poor and couldn’t possibly afford medical services; the doctor was also poor and couldn’t possibly afford to give away medical services; but the Trouffles were her friends--close friends--and she would always help them whenever she could. In fact, she had never accepted more than a humble meal or flowers as meek gestures of gratitude. She was a good doctor indeed.
Apaec never had seen such pale skin or such furry little ears atop someone’s head, much less, such bizarre looking eyes. The kings and priests back home wore jaguar masks and garments, but they were always pretending. These were real. These “animal people” were not pretending. They were as real as the reverence burning in his gut. They stared at him deeply. They did try not to be so overt, but just as anybody tries not to stare at a misfortunate deformed beggar, it was impossible not to have. But they didn’t think he was deformed; in fact, they just thought he had quite the amusing physiognomy. They thought he was interesting, enkindling, fascinating, and transfixing. He stared at them too, and he did try not to be so overt; but just like he tried not to stare at the misfortunate deformed beggars back home, it was impossible not to have; but he didn’t think they were deformed; in fact, he rather liked their amusing physiognomies--he thought they were cute looking, different, and spellbinding--especially the girl. He liked the ashy-blue color of her skin and the way her eyes had not an iris encompassing the light-olive pupil specks. The furry little-ears colored of ginger laying atop her head were quite outrageous, but he liked them too. He wanted desperately to communicate with her. The girl didn’t think he was deformed either. In fact, she rather liked his visage. She liked the rich, burnt color of his skin, and his odd bone-structure which was sharp and edgy, and at points, awkwardly round, the way his eyes bore big black irises around the gloomy black pupils, and the long, black, scruffy hair which almost hid his eyes. His “snaily” ears were quite outrageous, but she liked them too. She thought he was cute looking, different, and wanted desperately to communicate with him.
Apaec dug into his grub with animalistic vigor. The Trouffles made their attempts at communication, mostly by gesturing signals, pointing at foods, and drinks in offering. Their honest hospitality calmed Apaec and made him feel welcome, although the overwhelming feeling in his gut was still fear. Not for them, but for the uncertainty of his fate. He ate and listened, not attempting to comprehend, but at the peculiarity of tongue which they spoke. They talked about his appearance, about what he must be feeling, about how he would adapt, or whether he would adapt at all. They also talked about the possibilities of his transport. E’goone came up with a rather good theory: “That boy is the Lord’s disciple and has been sent down to Polis for the rendering to the Pippolian salvation. He is our savior. Let us venerate that foreign boy.” But Harggot had a good theory as well: “That boa mus haa been placed here ba aliens as an experiment. They wanna know what happens to an alien boa in an alien planet. Hell, they probably filmin us from a space broadcastin satellite as we speaka. We’se going to be famous in some unknown planet. Pity, I cannot gain from their exploitations. It’s probably a new Television show or a documentary, or some wacky, scientific experimentation.” Miss Arietta had her own: “Why, if you ask me, I think that boy wandered far away from home and fell into a form of dimensional portal.” Adonia however, didn’t have a theory, but she did have an enthusiastic thought about him. She thought her prayers might have finally been answered: that boy could fill the vacancy for a brother and the alter ego she had desperately longed for.
A year passed and Apaec grew familiar with his new life and family. However, long months went by before a night could pass without the boy shedding a melancholic tear. He had left his family and friends behind without leaving any explanation of his whereabouts--but the most frustrating matter to him was not being able to know what happened to Micay and Kusco. The most difficult person to be without was his mother. What had she done without him? How could she have coped? She figured him dead for sure.
So, by then, Apaec had learned the Pippolian language fluently. Chapwook took responsibility for his education and did a great job at it. Every morning while Adonia was off at school, Apaec would sit inside Chapwook’s studio to learn all there was to be learned. Sooner than later he caught up with Adonia’s academic level and was able to attend the Lumen Ziggin Pond School of Zenith or the L.Z.P.S.Z.
It was a cold, foggy morning of January when Apaec would attend class for the first time. He stood outside of the house waiting for Adonia. She came out with a smile and took him by the hand.
“Ready?” she asked.
“I suppose,” he replied with a nervous mumble.
“Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”
“Sure.” He wrapped a mustard yellow scarf around his neck and began to walk.
They walked through the forest until arriving by a railroad. There, Adonia took a seat upon a large rock. Because the trees were so monstrous, little sunlight actually touched the mossy ground. About ten minutes passed, until finally the ground began to tremble. It reminded him of when the foreign people arrived at the desert in their crafts back home. A far away grumble was heard. “It’s coming,” Adonia said. Apaec peeked into the railroad and noticed the train’s light approaching. It arrived and stopped opening the cart’s door’s upwards. Inside, about thirty students stared at him as he entered. He took seat next to Adonia. The train sped for thirty minutes, mile after mile, at about 70 miles an hour. All that was visible through the train’s windows were trees, trees and more trees. Then, after about thirty minutes, the train began to slow its pace. Apaec stared at the trees that passed by the window like speeding cars running the opposite way. When the train began to slow, the trees became clearer and he began to notice they were becoming smaller. As the train slowed to fifteen miles an hour, it crossed a colossal bridge. The enormous panorama of the school could be seen through the windows of the train. Apaec saw the massive towers and walls of the school and sat aghast at the magnificence of it. The edifices which had been built with cut stone (like a castle) seemed to stretch out for miles towards the horizon, until it his eyes could not see what lay beyond the fantastic realms. The morning sunlight was reflected on rivers and ponds around the school. When the trained halted completely, the doors opened and the students flowed out of it seamlessly.
Tram after tram arrived by the train as students with different colored uniforms hopped in to their assigned trams. Apaec felt Adonia hold his hand and pull him off. “That’s ours, over there,” she instructed pointing to an olive colored tram. “All these trams go to different divisions of the school. We’re lucky. We only have to ride this thing for ten minutes. The high-school students have to ride for at least thirty more minutes. And the poor college students--see that building all the way over there?” She signaled all the way to the horizon to a barely noticeable structure that peeked out of the fog. Apaec nodded. “That’s the University. This is the only track... and this is the closest it gets to school... so they have no choice but to ride all the way over there in a tram like this one. That’s why there isn’t any college alumni around right now--because they’re all already half way there. The first train picks them up an hour before us. It’s gonna suck when we get that age.” Apaec thought to himself that could be true but he wondered if he would still live there then. Maybe by then he would have found the temple in the sky and perhaps Chapwook would have found a way to get him home.
Ironically enough, Apaec’s first period was astronomy. He entered the class a few minutes late, right after an introductory lecture by the instructor who was an activist Pippolian and happened to be fanatically fond of nature. He wore very dull colored clothing and had a long, red beard. With a voice that resembled a goat’s moan, he began: “Welcome children to a new semester. As you know, this is astronomy B, and in astronomy B we will be talking about our galaxy--The Ruby Cotton Galaxy. This here I have in my hand is a very magnificent term paper turned in to me by an accomplished student I had a few years ago. He is now abroad working on his thesis on the modern string theory. I will read it to you because It’s very appropriate to this class’s theme. It goes something like this--” He pulled a paper out of an envelope as he cleared his throat and continued, “A sorcerer—the sorcerer sits atop his cloud, spoon in hand, stirring his brew amidst for sure: a brew of bugs, a brew of mammals, a brew of us and them; the young, the old, the smart the dumb; love and hate, peace and fury; chemicals of materials and materials of chemicals; elements of beta, elements of gamma, the purest of Ylem, of course; rocks and boulders, fruits and poisons, slime and grime, fungus and flowers and chemical showers of toxic rains. Here lays that universal question that many have forged, for decades perhaps—and as of today, may be socially accepted as a sapient thought; because according to science and astronomy there burns about 100,000,000,000 stars in the Ruby Cotton Galaxy alone. The oppugn? Here: Life on a planet besides our own—not necessarily intelligent—just alive. How may we figure? Here: By logical elimination, let us take 25 percent of them, which then leaves 25,000,000,000, including red giants and white dwarfs, dying or warming. We can get an approximate number of stars with a Polis-like planet and the number of planets with possible life: 370 known worlds orbiting their masters other than our own. “Exoplanets:” Only one more of than the digits of your hands put together have been photographed: worlds so strange, so queer, that we cannot suppose how they appear. An example? There is a planet that whirls 260 light years away, with a year that lasts from Monday morning to Wednesday night. Another: a 150 light years out, has a tail like a comet because its colorful atmosphere is being blasted away. The remains of once omnipotent stars, shrunk to a spinning atomic nucleus merely the size of Pippolas can be found wandering amidst the eternal darkness of the space continuum. Planets much like our own, benighted, as Polis will someday become, flung out of their orbits and expired forever. Out of the 25,000,000,000, assuming 10 percent are as young as our sun, preferably white dwarfs, the number then decreases to 2,500,000,000. They would be burning livid, and more or less, about the size of our sun. The age would suffice to create planets with the debris that flow about the colorful nebulas. Of those 2,500,000,000, 10 percent may actually form planets. There are thirteen planets in our solar system, going by the shift in the respective star. Most of the interstellar planets found by researchers have been determined to be humongous and much larger than Polis. Roughly 250,000,000 stars have planets the size of earth and roughly ten percent of those stars may have rocky type planets. This brings us to 25,000,000 stars. Let us assume these planets orbit about the habitable zone, where conditions are cool enough to sustain life. Polis is 96,000,000 miles from Sun A, close enough for us not to freeze, or maybe far enough for us not to burn, but definitely close enough to render just the right amount of sunlight, heat, and radiation for us to breath. Out of those 25,000,000, ten percent might have planets in the habitable zone: so 2,500,000 planets with a narrow chance. These planets may have that clairvoyant potion of the Sorcerer’s brew. And just to be a little more prudent, let us eliminate some more and end with 250,000: The grand finale? Not. Because the space and time continuum is flighty by nature, therefore, as of today, some might just be expired, and others might be in their early awakenings. We end at 25,000 by process of logical elimination. The grand finale: So, 25,000 stars with planets orbiting them, and one of them, out of all that jazz, happens to sustain intelligent life: Gleese 581 to be exact: a red dwarf star with a spectral type M3V that is the 87th closest known star system to our sun, a star that travels through many constellations: a third the mass of our sun, and about 20.3 light years away, there gravitates Earth: A far planet that tugs on Gleese 581, within its life supporting, habitable zone: about seven times the mass of Polis: a planet. It is called Gleese 581d by astronomers: 95% water, 5% terra firma. But that 5% is equivalent to almost the entire terra firma of polis. By scarce probabilities, it became alive: five moons at satellite, orbiting its host in 66.8 days, a year far shorter than our own. Earth timeframe: unknown...
“Any questions?” A young boy raised his hand. “You, son. What is your question? Hmm?”
“Is the sorcerer god?” The instructor was distraught for a moment. “Because my mom said that teacher’s aren’t allowed to talk to us about god in class,” the boy added.
“Uh... well, no. This was a research paper turned in by one of my students a few years back. The sorcerer, as he calls this creator thing, is just what he refers to whatever created--” He stopped and continued, “--Students... this is not the point, you see? You’re missing the whole point of this paper. The point is that it is very possible that there exists life out there... somewhere far beyond our galaxy... or maybe not too far.”
The same boy interrupted the professor, “You mean like that brown boy who appeared outta nowhere last year?”
The teacher squinted as he scratched his beard. He cleared his throat once again. “Well, we don’t know where he came from. He may just be a product of nature’s adaptive---”
He was interrupted by Apaec who then entered the classroom. A loud commotion followed.
The school was a complete academic center that had been founded by a revolutionary named Lumen Ziggin. He was a renowned architect who was responsible for most of the modern urban planning of the capital of Aledren. Though he was an Aledren, on a trip to Pippolas, he fell in love with a young pippolian girl who was assigned to him as a servant. He married her on the same trip and had a daughter with her after a year. Because he had broken the law, he was left without a choice but to stay in Pippolas. He retrieved all of his fortunes from Aledren and took them to Pippolas. There, after only nine years, his wife and daughter were slain by a racist Aledren gang inside their home. Needless to say, Lumen was completely ravaged for life. A paladin at heart, he decided to commit the rest of his life to take his revenge as a vigilante. Thence, he singlehandedly avenged the murder of his family. He slaughtered the entire gang within six months, one by one, killing them off like flies. For this, he was labeled as an outlaw and a price was set on his head. For the remainder of his life, he lived as a fugitive as he fought intensely for the rights of the Pippolians. He was eventually assassinated at the age of thirty-five by a Pippolian traitor who was bought by the Aledren regime. But in his will, he left a plan pending--a plan for an international academic center--a school that had all grades--every single grade from preschool to doctorates. He left billions of currency to his followers who used the money to build the most outstanding academy that Polis had ever seen. Before that, Pippolas had not a way to finance such institutions, therefore children were home-schooled by their limited parents. The Ziggin followers built it upon Lumen’s 30,500 acre property which was also left in the will. The school, which resembled more a magnificent castle, had been designed by lumen himself--an architect of great prestige--and for that reason, it was a beautiful landmark and just like the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, was considered a wonder and treasure of Polis. Imagine three medieval castles set in the middle of an untamed forest, built side by side and juxtaposed to three more, all of which were connected by tremendous walls, massive balustrades, and enormous towers--towers that were impossibly tall--ponds and lakes surrounding them in mottles and trees as tall as buildings sheltering most of the school property--and within the main structures, lush, beautiful gardens and courtyards fit for the monarchies. Because the school had been built by Pippolian workers and with rightful Pippolian currency, Aledren was not able to interfere in the marvelous project. The funds were more than sufficient for the colossal project and the resources were more than abundant. In less than four years, the school was completed. Once the school was up and running, it was maintained by the Pippolian people and likewise funded by the people for the people, and the fees would be equal to all people, regardless of citizenship. For that reason, this particular center was the school for all kinds of races and classes of people. For Lumen’s request, the school’s staff could be of any race and any citizenship. People all around the world migrated to Pippolas in order to attend L.Z.P.S.Z. Donations were continuously made by patrons around the world. It was a wondrous mecca to behold.
The day after, Apaec arrived home with Adonia. Harggot approached from a path.
“Apaec!” he cried.
“Yes, Harggot?” Adonia left the scene.
“Whatcha gonna do right this moment?”
“Well, howbout you come over to ma tree an let me teach ya the sport at which I am a master.”
“What’s that, Harggot?”
“The martial art of Tunkah. Soon you will have to taka da physical education and the boys will make fun of ya if you don’t know any Tunkah,” he said while putting his arm around Apaec.
“What is that?”
“It is the martial art of our ancestors, it is. Magic art.” They walked the path to Harggot’s residence.
“Magic, you say? You mean, like sorcery?”
“Not quite, my friend. Has Chapwook told ya bout my trophies?”
“What trophies, Harg?”
He grinned and mumbled to himself: “That old-selfish-scumbag.”
It took them five minutes to arrive at Harggot’s treehouse. Hargott led Apaec to his backyard where there was a region of flat grassy-ground.
“Let me tell ya bout when I was bout yrrr age. See, look at ma scars.”
He lifted his shirt exposing a severely scared abdomen.”
“Goodness, Harg, what happened to ya?”
“Why, these here are ma battle scars. You’ve heard of the revolution, have ya?”
“Well, I was the Pippolas brigadier general. I led infantries into the thick of it. We had no intelligent weapons or guns. All we had was our fists, swords and courage. We lost many people. Too many people... but lord knows it was necessary. But that’s another story! Don’t ask me bout that! I was tellin you bout when I was your age. I was the reigning champion of Tunkah all throughout my youth and well into my middle age. That’s why I was scouted by Lumen himself--flesh and blood.”
“Well, sure you heard of him.”
“He was responsible for the revolution?”
“One hundred percent! He was a dog-garn national hero! A legend! That man was a true paladin. An’ he picked me out of one thousand men to lead them all. An’ now Chapwook wants me to teach ya bout the art.” He dug his hand into a leather pouch he had hanging by his belt and pulled out an earthy grainy-substance.
“What do ya mean, what for?! So the kids won’t make fun a’ ya! That’s what for! Now listen here, you brown boy: If you let me teach ya, if you let me learn ya everything I got, if ya learn my way, you learn the right way, and if you learn the right way--mark my word boa--(grunting the last terms with furor)--you will be invincible,” he said clinching his fist and crushing the unknown substance.
Though Harggot was a little taller and heavier than Apaec, he was still a small man, and Apaec could not fathom him as a warrior. In fact, he couldn’t see Harggot intimidating a squirrel if he tried to. Apaec figured that once he peaked manhood and filled into his mature frame, a mere push of his could knock old Harggot down to the floor. He thought Harggot might be as big as his grandmother.
“You see this I have here in my hand?” he opened his hand exposing a substance that looked like dirt.
“Yeah. That dirt?”
He laughed loudly. “Dirt, you say?! My boy, you have a lot to learn, you do! This here is nothin more than the fruit which the lord planted in the Pippolas forest with his bare hands more than fifty thousand years ago!” He tossed the substance into his mouth and swallowed it, and then proceeded to take off his shirt. You see my veins, boa? You see that? That’s my blood pumping. Now look closely.”
Apaec was surprised to find that although Harggot was a very slender man with a small frame, he also had very toned muscles. He then concentrated on the vein. Indeed, he could see blood pumping through it. Never before had he noticed that even in the sinewy men of his tribe. As he looked at it with intrigue, he noticed Harggot’s breathing becoming much heavier and the vein began to bulge. It looked like it was about to explode. Then, Harggot’s muscles seemed to billow like balloons and his skin turned golden. He couldn’t believe his eyes. “Now check ma spine!” he ordered. Apaec looked to his spine and saw that his vertebras began to protrude like knifes out of his skin. Apaec squalled. “It’s alright, boa. Only hurts a little. This here what I just ate was pure locus pulp which has been distilled to its finest elements. You see what this did to me? This is my avatar. My superhuman form. This here fruit has no effect on anyone else but us Pipps. Who knows what it’ll do da you.”
“Let’s find out!” Apaec cried.
“No, son. For all we know, it could poison ya! We will have to experiment with smaller doses. Miss Arrieta is working on a finer product. We will test it on ya later. For now, I will teach you the basics.”
“What are the basics?”
“Yep. Natural ol’ breathin!”
“Lay down on the ground, boa!” he ordered.
“I said, lay down! Take off your shirt first!”
“Here? But it’s cold and the grass is wet.”
“Do it now! Don’t be a sissy!”
Apaec proceeded to take his shirt off and lay down on the mossy turf. He felt the cold dew on his back.
“Now, I wantcha ta close your eyes and breath calmly and slowly. Feel the cool air pass through your lungs an’ the oxygen filter to your blood an’ then flow up to your brain. Can you feel that?”
“Uh... I guess.”
“Whatcha mean, ya guess! Can ya feel it or not!? Can ya feel the oxygen flowing through your veins an’ up to the brain!?” “No.”
“Good boa! Course ya can’t! Don’tcha go tellin lies! But when you can feel that, then you will be ready.”
“Ready for what?”
Apaec had no idea what Harggot was talking about. He already figured Harggot a bit out of the ordinary but he also felt much respect for the old man. He could feel that Harggot respected him too even though he was still a boy. That made Apaec very sympathetic to him. So there he lay on the wet ground waiting for further instructions. As he lay, he could see the ceiling of the forest--immense trees which let through very little sunlight. Avian creatures flew from one brach to the other and curious monkey-like creatures peeked through the apertures of the trees at them. A sense of wonder filled Apaec’s senses. This world was definitely more wild than the world he had left behind.
With eyes closed, Harggot stood about a three yards away from Apaec with his arms stretched to the sides and his head tilted backwards. “Breathe with rhythm, son. Feel the rhythm of the wind an’ let it guide yo breath... an’ when it does, discard it. Smell the different scents an’ recognize each of them an’ then discard them completely. Listen to the sounds an’ then discard them completely, too. Concentrate only on yo breathing an’ nothin more. Try this for five minutes an’ then open your eyes an’ tell me what yo felt.”
Apaec followed the orders and opened his eyes five minutes later. “I didn’t really feel anything, Harggot. I mean, I could feel the coldness of the ground and the wind and all, but nothing particularly special.”
“Very well. I want you to do this exact procedure every day for the next three months. But you mustn’t miss one day. In three months we will see if you are ready for the next stage.”
“What’s the next stage, Harggot? And how will we know if I am ready?”
“It’s body sculptin. You are a twig, Apaec. You need a’ git some muscle on that stick of yours. An’ we will know you are ready when yo feel somethin particularly special.”
Coming from Harggot, that didn’t really offend Apaec but he understood his point.
This was only the beginning of an unimaginable plot one hundred years in the brewing.
To be continued...
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 24.12.2009
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