Friday, March 1, 2013

Toa dreams of fire, so writes the writer named Todd.

She dreams of a world flat, without trees or fore-mountains and a fire burning in the distance. It is from a crater, self contained now, burning too quickly, too hot to devour the whole of the forest, but there are miles, so it looks from where the writer sees, of white ash and an ocean of heat waves and ossified trees, and plants, and animals, frozen mid step --if they could be--horrified a strong breeze would take them away, fertilize the world with their ghosts.

Toa was safe, at first, but the curiosity gnaws at her stomach, makes her hungry when she isn't. It whispers to her, pushing away her grand parents with breathy what ifs and, finally, she can no longer resist.

Toa planned for her journey meticulously,  three spears and so much vine, wrapped around her legs and arms and tummy and chest, all  tested --swung on from on tree branches -- limbs flailing as she sailed into the river with a gleeful splash.

Todd writes three, then four, then seven challenges for her, and she over comes each in turn.

First is a nest of snakes. Toa can barely face them, she is scared and sickened by the writhing mas of reptillian venomousness. They sense her heat as she tries to sneak past, and they slither hissing and striking, but her vines, for climbing the crater's edges, are thick and there's so much snake fangs do not find her skin, or where they do it is a gentle push and not piercing; it tickles a little. Eventually, fast, and smooth with her fire found and no need for secrecy, Toa reached the edge of the domain of the snakes. At the edge, Snake, the Snake of all Snakes, uncurled and Toa thought a tree had been possessed, like legends her aunt told her, one moonless night when she refused to obey her parents, refused to sleep. But it was Snake. They talked for a long time, winding around each other, coiling carefully, catastrophically, conversationally. Toa had only truth, but she kept it on her tongue, and Snake was so secretive, so circling, that it missed her spears, two down one up, that when it constricted quickly at the end of their conversation the tips sank into Snake's belly like fangs and it sprang off, bleeding and hissing, snarling, and so Toa passed through the entwined, wet domain of Snake and into a brightly floral part of the forest she had never experienced before.

This flora was sorphoric and disorienting, but again the spears saved Toa from stopping. Recall, dear reader, that the tree sap of the upward pointing spear is a stimulant and an aphrodisiac. As Toa slid into slumber, the spear tip penetrated the back of her neck, moist from the somnambulant environ the sap swept through her system, waking her, clearing Toa's thoughts. This flora wasn't some hidden other world! This flora was a small patch within her greater forest and Toa had been so seized by the pollen she'd been wandering in circles! Invigorated, mind racing but clear, it took Toa minutes of straight walking (heel toe, heel toe, heel toe) to leave it.

But a forest creature had been stalking her, and as Toa pushed through the radiance of the sorphoric flower patch into the gloaming forest proper, the satyr made his move. He was loud, and came at her with a smile and radiant palms and a grin like all her friends back in the village and the sap still slathered Toa's senses so she and the satyr did what Satyrs and their stalked do. She woke, refreshed, to the smell of cooking peacock eggs and fresh salmon and something earthy and field-like that Toa had never tasted before. The Satyr smeared mashed salmon on a slab of the field-like stuff and handed it to her, carefully and they ate better than Toa had eaten in years. Toa stayed with the satyr for a full week before her Grandparents found her, and in her dreams on successive nights they took turns and whispered, very carefully, very thinly, very pullingly, about the crater and the infinite fire and The Octopus. On the eleventh day, as Toa wound her ropes around her limbs The Satyr grew angry and, eyes narrowed took up a spear. He declared, "You'll be back" in his thick vowelless accent. Toa blinked at him, tears streaming from them both and then he was off, bounding back they way they came ten days ago. Her grandparents nodded invisible for the moment, and smiled at each other.

By the early afternoon, with her rope wound proper and her remaining spears and sated hungers, Toa once more set off toward the crater.