Saturday, July 13, 2013

Worlds within Worlds #9.2



'Tell me how you got here. You and Sam. How did you come to be in Fol Huun's healing pools?'
The peak on which we sit is easily the tallest between here and the sea which, thanks to the lack of trees, I can see. It seems to go on forever before colliding with the sky.
Maak-em-ay-are-see is fascinated by the view: 'The horizon must be at least thirty kilometres. Are there other islands out there?'
'Kewid pro ko,' I remind him.
'Ah ... okay. It's all a bit messed up in my head, to be honest.'
'We have time. We can give ourselves a thousand breaths here before looking for somewhere to sleep.'
'And food ...'
'And food,' I agree. 'Give me the water, yes?'
He hands the water bag over to me thoughtlessly, already lost in his puzzle of memories. I take a moment to wipe the wooden spout glued into the leather before squeezing a trickle of liquid into my mouth. The bag was a good find, discovered in a storm-blown glade not too far inland from the first. A tattoo that I recognise winds slantwise across it: this skin's owner had belonged to a gang that had some repute in the Race.
'I know how I died. There was a fire in the Sanctuary – Sam ... he set fire to the Book, and the fire spread. I choked on the smoke. It was ... horrible! Worse than the choking after I got out of those rock pools.'
'Fish breathe water,' I agree. 'Not men. Did you die and then wake here?'
'No ... no. There was a time in between. I remember floating away from my body, towards Sam ... and then Sam was with me ...'
'He told me he died,'
'Did he? I asked him, but he wouldn't talk about it. I remember that I was ... happy, content. I would have been happy to fly away from that room, with Sam, forever. But Sam ... he was angry, man! There was something else – someone else? It wasn't my uncle, I'm sure of that. Sam was angry. He chased after the other one, dragged me with him – like he had a towing rope buried in me and I had no choice but to follow.'
He reaches out to take the water bag from my hands, and lifts it to splash the warm liquid over his face.
'Don't waste it!'
'Sorry. I don't remember much else. Sam pulled me round his body and then ... into his arm? There was something in his arm: it scared the shit out of me, but he headed straight for it, after that thing ... and then I was here. Floating.'
'In the healing pool ...'
Somewhere deep inside me, the story feels – right, good; as if I've unravelled a knot on my guts, a reminder of something needing to be done, now done.
'So what's the story with the healing pools? Every time I die, I'll go back to them and be reborn?'
'They are Fol Huun's gift, yes ...'
'Fucking marvellous! Immortality – I can really live forever!'
'We do not die. We exist for the Race.'
The man seems to have lost interest in my words. His eyes have glazed in a kind of wonderment. I am concerned enough to check around our vantage for dangers: more than one kind of creature uses miasmas in the air to calm their prey.
'What was your world called?'
'Huh?'
'The world where you and Sam lived – what did you call it?'
'The world is ... The World. Or Earth. Planet Earth.'
'Not Uekh, or ... Tintuun?'
'Maybe in another language. The French say "le monde" – every language has a name for the planet. "Terra" is another name. What did you say just now? The pools are someone's gift?'
'Fol Huun's gift.'
'Fol ... I've heard that name! I remember it from somewhere – something my Uncle told me? It's hard to remember everything ... and my memories feel all jumbled up.'
He has my full attention now. You'll need extra ears for this story, my Inner Voice tells me.

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