Into the Wilderness - The Search for Curly
Into The Wilderness
The search for Curly
Part two of the doorway to hell series
Jim Dunford found himself alone again, on his own in this strange world of Eden. After only a week or so on this strange planet, named in the Bible as the place where life began; a week of learning and enlightenment, he had lost the only friend or companion he had in this strange place. During this time he had formed a bond with the strange pink, hairless, wrinkled being he called Curly.
What he got from him was about the same as one gets from a dog - pure unconditional love, adoration and companionship. Now that was all gone. He had nearly gotten them both dropped into a pit of fire; whether it was hell or not; he had no clue. He had always doubted it's existence; attributing it to the church's campaign of forced compliance and control through fear. Regardless of what it was, he had saved them both, and for that, he had gotten slapped across the face by his friend and dressed down by the damn voice in the sky - the Google God - self proclaimed "God of all there is".
"So what now? He spoke to the sky. He heard no response. Nothing; not a peep.
"Oh wait," he said impatiently, "OK Google, Isn't that what I'm supposed to say? OK Google. What's next? What lies ahead? Where is Curly? Where is my friend? Is he even alive?
Answer my fuckin' question!"
He didn't expect a response to his indignation and was not disappointed with the resulting silence.
"Guess I hurt his feelings." he said out loud to no-one at all.
In any case, Jim knew it was useless to stay here, so he continued walking off the path, blazing his own trail into the wilderness; searching for his best friend. More importantly, he was leaving the doorway to his home planet - Earth, behind.
He walked along in the same general direction that Curly had bounded off to, after demonstrating his displeasure with Jim. He had to find his odd little friend, and he wouldn't rest until he did. He walked through a field of wheat that was chest high. He saw the wheat moving here and there, and heard the chattering of some sort of wildlife, but he wasn't afraid. Whatever was in the field around him, he had an intuition that they were merely curious and didn't pose any threat. It was weird though, to question something in his mind and not have an immediate response pop into his brain. It had been sort of an ongoing commentary or lesson that had been going on, both in and out of, his head. He told himself he must be in a GFZ - a Google Free Zone. For whatever reason, the being, the force of the Universe, was ignoring him. He really was on his own now.
As he came once again, to a wooded area, Jim dove headfirst into this self reliant existence. He started looking around for a place to make a shelter for the upcoming night. Sure, he could just think a log cabin into existence for himself, but that would go against his new mission of self-reliance. He found a stand of three palm trees leaning toward each other in such a way as to form a tee-pee of sorts. As the three suns of Orion continued their ceaseless March toward what he'd now come to consider as the western horizon of Eden, Jim set about gathering logs of oak. These he leaned against the palms until he had enclosed an area with a twenty foot circumference. At the very top of the structure, he left a one foot opening which would allow him to have a nice fire in his sturdy shelter. He wanted a fire for the warmth, the light, and the protection it would provide. Plus, it was just what you did when you were surviving on your own in the wilderness. You made shelter and fire. He started building his fire like his Dad had shown him some fifty years earlier. First he made a small pile of tinder using dried palm fronds. He knew from experience that these were like gasoline. On top of this small pile of palm fronds, he made a structure much like a smaller version of his tee-pee, out of small brittle twigs. On top of this he placed some thicker branches. This he set on fire using the only cheat he allowed himself, some long fireplace matches. Once he had this burning, he added bigger, fatter branches, one at a time until he had a roaring fire of branches. He cautiously added logs to this, one at a time, so as not to smother the fire he had worked hard to build. When it did rain later on that night, he was glad that he'd taken the additional step of covering the outside of his shelter with green palm fronds to allow any rain to just run off. As a result, he was dry and thanks to his fire, he was warm. Because of this level of comfort that he'd created for himself with his very own hands; when it began to rain hard, he stripped off his clothes and stepped outside.
He had always been a "nature boy", preferring to swim naked wherever possible and at every opportunity, taking a shower with pure, unadulterated rain water. But this was different. This was a spiritual experience. Here he was, in the Garden of Eden, as naked as Adam, getting showered with beautiful indigo rain. His body felt invigorated. He knew the water on this world had restorative properties. His skin tingled, much as it had the first time he had thrust his arm through the mysterious doorway so many days ago, but this was not as uncomfortable as that had been. Again he allowed himself to dream an indulgence into existence; This time it was in the form of a bar of natural soap, that smelled of coconut, pineapple and mango. He washed himself off and shampooed his hair with the soap. When he was done, he stood there enjoying the feel of the rain. It was then, as he glanced around at his surroundings in the rainy darkness, that he saw all of the eyes looking at him. It seemed that everywhere he looked, from close to the ground, to approximately his own height; even up in the trees, there were sets of eyes looking at him. This freaked him out some, and he retreated back to his shelter and dried off next to the fire. Again, despite having the power to think anything into existence, he passed on the idea of having a towel, and allowed his body to dry naturally by the warmth of the fire. He wanted to be as primitive as possible in this trek he was on. He decided he would forego his clothes for now, which was a good thing; as they were nowhere to be found. It was almost as if his powers were ahead of his thoughts, eliminating his clothes before he decided to go without them. Like John Lennon had said, "Strange days indeed! Most peculiar Mama!" In any case, he couldn't get much more primitive than this.
After he was dry, he took some of the bigger logs that he had stockpiled; and he was glad now that he had; and stacked them next to the door to his shelter. Whoever or whatever owned these eyes, they could stay outside. He lay down on a bed of leaves and moss that he'd already made, and fell fast asleep. That night he dreamed of Curly, running through a field of tall green grass, fleeing in terror from some unknown, unseen threat. In his dream, Jim reached out to help his friend but was unable.
When he awoke the next morning, he was rested but uneasy. It was still raining, so Jim threw more wood on the fire and considered what to do about his missing friend Curly. He had no clue what to do other than follow his intuition, which led him strongly to consider a break in the trees in the opposite side of the small clearing he was camped in. When he'd first stepped into the clearing, his eyes had gone directly to this spot, as if there was a sign attached to the trees.
In any case, he was not going anywhere now. Sure, he could make the rain stop and the sun shine, but he knew there was a reason for the rain. He knew the rain had a purpose - for the environment, and more importantly, for him. Jim was meant to stay put for a few days. He wanted to go right then, before Curly got too far ahead of him, or worse, came to any harm. But he would let Mother Nature guide him, in ways only she could muster. So it was, that he had meditated, sitting naked on his bed of moss in the lotus position, his cupped hands resting on his thighs, facing upward, ready to receive knowledge from the universe. He opened his mind, trying his best to commune with the Mother spirit, and seek her wisdom and guidance. He didn't feel any response but when he opened his eyes, he saw what he could only assume was a sign. There, on the ground, in the exact center of the shelter opening, grew a lone mushroom.
He got to his feet, walked over to the opening and picked it. He knew exactly what it was. It was called Amanita Muscaria and they grow at the edge of pine forests everywhere. His best friend, Dave Mellor, who was as straight laced as could be, had told Jim of smoking them with the cook at an Appalachian Mountain Club Lodge where he worked for the summer. He said it had made him trip and that he'd seen visions. Jim had never dared try this, since when he'd looked it up in the Encyclopedia Britannica, then on the web, when that came along, they were classified with the same puzzling description - poisonous/psychoactive. He always wondered if that meant "If you eat this, you'll die, but before that, you'll trip your balls off," or did it mean "You'll trip your ass off. You won't die but might wish you had?"
Jim carried it back to his bed and sat down with it. Turning it over in his hands, he examined the strange white spots or growths that dotted the otherwise red cap. These "shrooms" had graced many album covers in the sixties. He snapped the stem off and discarded it in the fire. The spots were raised up areas, or possibly growths, very similar to warts. He thought, quite possibly, that these might be the psychoactive component, but he wasn't sure. He did know that certain Native American tribes had used them in their religious ceremonies for millennia, sharing pieces of mushroom cap in much the same way a Christian priest shares a communion wafer. The natives viewed it as a surrogate for the body of the great spirit who resides in the sky.
Jim noticed that the gills on the underside of the mushroom cap seemed to be falling off, so he reached his thumb in and gently scrubbed them off. Again, he followed his intuition. There was still no Google voice, but he knew it was the right thing to do. Next he placed the cap onto a rock at the fire's edge, trying to dry it out so it would burn. As it dried, Jim sent his thoughts out to it. He asked it to guide him on his vision quest, and to help him have a safe passage into the spirit realm or wherever he ended up traveling after ingesting it. He thanked it for appearing to him, and for helping him. He then reached out and took the cap from the stone. He held it up high in both hands as a priest would do.
"Thank you Mother for putting this in my path. Thank you for guiding me in my quest for knowledge. Please guide me to my friend so that I might save him." He spoke his prayers to the sky. He felt a slight vibration in the mushroom; only for the briefest of seconds.
He lowered his hands, broke the mushroom in half and ate each half slowly, almost like they did in church, with the sacrament of communion. He sat still thereafter, staring at the flames, waiting for it to take effect. He watched intently as the flames began changing colors and dancing for him. He watched in awe as the flames revealed themselves to be individual beings of fire or light, dancing their interpretive message to him, seeking communication with him on a cerebral level.
It was then that Jim realized he needed to go outside and talk to the rain. He walked out into the ongoing downpour. As if to welcome him, the rain momentarily increased its volume and intensity upon the land. He stood there with his arms upraised toward the clouds. He enjoyed the feeling of the rain on his naked flesh. This was not the same rain he'd played in as a kid. This was a different chemical or ionic composition. It was still water, but as he'd learned from swimming in the beautiful lake, the water here had definite restorative properties. His skin tingled with each drop. It almost seemed as though the rain was caffeinated and each drop was carrying a coffee buzz directly to his skin. His body felt invigorated. His entire being felt alive and integrated with nature and the cosmos.
He noticed all of the different colors of the Universe present in his mushroom enhanced vision. The trees and vegetation around him were glowing now; not with green, but bright electric colors; blues, reds, purples, and ethereal colors that no-one knows the name of. He discovered that his vision now seemed to have undergone a ten-fold enhancement. He now saw the microscopic world in all it's intricate natural wonder. His eyes had been unlocked and he found himself able to see into each and every drop of rain. He now saw, as the Google sky voice has told him, that there was indeed life in each raindrop. There were not just minuscule microbes and diatoms, but galaxies full of life. He saw now, that each drop of precipitation contained it's own universe, chock full of minuscule galaxies, each containing hundreds of billions of planets; each no bigger than an atom. Each of these tiny microscopic worlds were bursting with trillions of infinitesimal, conscious, living, breathing, thinking beings. He knew that cognizant life existed at all sizes and scales. He realized then that as he reveled in the wonderful feeling of the invigorating rain, he was a mute witness to a vast, immeasurable loss of life. Here he was, enjoying the rain in his altered state of consciousness, while each rain drop; as it hit Jim's skin or the ground; resulted in unfathomable destruction and loss of life. Each falling raindrop represented a vast extinction level event for the untold life within it. Jim began to shed tears at this realization. He saw then, that very similar universes existed in the salty water of his tears.
This affected him profoundly, as he realized the enormity of life, both seen and unseen. It was all a great circle, like a wheel with many spokes, or a snake biting it's tail. He began to dance then, which was totally foreign to him. He'd never been much of a dancer, and in fact, avoided it at all costs. He always joked that he was a great dancer in the real dance of life that took place between a man and woman in a darkened room. He began moving slowly, moving his arms and legs in a jerking fashion, almost like a man in the throes of a seizure. He moved his clumsy limbs this way and that, moving in some sort of unison with the ever present song of the universe. He began to loosen up, losing his inhibitions and began wiggling his hips and thrusting them back and forth, as if he was a male stripper in search of dollar bills. He got his rhythm on and danced, or more accurately, gyrated, whichever way his spirit led him to. He began chanting now, in what sounded to him like a long lost native American tongue. He had no idea what he was saying, but knew it was of profound importance. So he danced. He danced as if his life depended on it. Deep down in his universal heart, he knew his life didn't depend on it, but other lives did. He tossed embarrassment and self-consciousness out the window, and shook and moved his entire body, in sync with the rhythms of the Universe.
He kept this up until the rain stopped. By then, many hours later, darkness approached. He was winded, and would have been sweating, if not for having danced in a downpour. He knew he had been physically and spiritually cleansed, and that enormous numbers of life forms had died on his very skin so that his body was cleansed. Then the clouds opened up, like curtains, sliding open for a performance. The darkening sky disappeared and was replaced by a movie. Jim saw a view of the mountains he had previously seen - the active volcanoes where the pterodactyls flew. As he watched the scene, every item of scenery was continuously changing colors, like a psychedelic cartoon. It reminded him of Pepperland, from The Beatles animated classic, “Yellow Submarine”. What he watched was from the perspective he would face if he was flying. He could see there in the valley between the two volcanoes, there existed some sort of primitive village. He could see a small cluster of odd huts made from the natural materials that were provided by the mother planet. He saw beings too, lots of them. They appeared to be humanoid, but somehow different. He couldn't ascertain exactly what that difference was, for his attention was drawn to something else. This large group of beings seemed to be clustered around a circle. They were gathered around another, lone being. This one had pink skin and even in a hallucinatory state, viewed from a birds perspective, he recognized his friend, and he was in trouble.
"Curly!" Jim screamed at the top of his lungs, and in his vision, he saw him look up, as if he had somehow heard him. Then the vision was gone, and the beautiful starlit sky flickered into View.
Jim wasn't sure what to do right then and there, so he made his way back to his shelter, noticing again, the many sets of eyes watching him from the forest. This time they were multicolored. Inside the safety of his shelter once again, Jim revived his fire, stirring the burning embers up and adding a few logs until it blazed once again. This done, he lay back on his bed. There didn't seem to be much else to do but lay back and enjoy the heat and the multicolored psychedelic spectacle that danced across his vision. He was glad he hadn't died from eating the mushroom.
He wasn't sure if he actually fell asleep or not. It seemed as if the visions and hallucinations kept on and perhaps transitioned over into his dreams. Like some crazy lucid dream, it was like he was actually awake and guiding his own dream. In any case, his eyes popped open and he was jerked into befuddled awareness, as he heard a loud roar. He lay there, looking straight up as his shelter took off like a rocket, in a burst of flames and thunder, like the ancient "gods" had once done on Earth. He lay there, not moving, but watching as one viewed one of the many rocket launches in Florida, tracking it as it sailed across the sky, towards the distant volcanic peaks of his mushroom trip.
He blinked his eyes a few times and sat up, taking stock of his real and unimagined surroundings. His shelter was gone alright, but not into space. The sturdy logs of which he'd fashioned his shelter, instead lay splayed out, like rays of a circle, with Jim at its center. The green palm fronds he'd added for waterproofing, also were splayed out in a similar fashion.. There seemed to be a pattern to the remnants of his destroyed shelter, as though each piece had been methodically placed. It struck him then, that the wreckage of his tee-pee resembled a giant lotus flower, with Jim at its center. He noticed something else too. He was no longer alone.
Looking around, he saw that he was entirely surrounded by a group of hairy primates. Jim got to his feet, and as he did so a great uproar arose from the hairy hominids as they threw themselves on the ground. He didn't quite understand at first, why they did this, but then it hit him. He was a tall white guy with white hair and a white beard. They thought he was a god. They appeared to be hominids or Cro-Magnon. They appeared to be just like modern humans. They stood upright, had the facial features of a modern Earthling, save for one fact. They were covered in a growth of sparse, thin brown hair, except for their butts and privates, which were hairless and stuck out like some sort of target. The females also had breasts that were also devoid of hair. On the whole, Jim thought it looked kind of comical. He knew there was a natural reason for this, but still, he chuckled.
As the great voice in the sky had done for him, he motioned for them to stand up. First he knelt down, to be at eye level with them, and then held his hands out and stood up, motioning for them to follow. He had no idea what to do next. On instinct, he raised his right hand, showing them he held no weapon. Then he had this flash in his consciousness of all the paintings of Christ, seeming to portray him in a similar fashion. "Jim!" he proclaimed out loud, touching his chest as he did so. A chorus of human sounding voices echoed back, "Jim! Jim! Jim! Jim!" getting louder and louder as more and more of them joined in. Then there was much commotion among a large group of stronger males. There was much babbling, as they clearly communicated in some spoken language. He noticed that most of them were holding spears or clubs, and this made him nervous, until he realized they were forming a hunting party. He walked over to them, the crowd parting to let him pass. He gestured for one of their spears, and taking it, took up position in the center of their group. When one of the leaders started running off into the brush, the rest of them spread out and followed him.
Jim ran with them, wondering just exactly what they were hunting. He found out soon enough. Up ahead, the leader gestured with his hand for them to halt. He locked eyes with Jim and motioned for him to join him at the front of the group. Jim realized that this was a position of honor, and joined him at the front of the hunting party. He realized now, that he would be expected to take part in the kill, perhaps making it himself. He hoped his spear throwing skills were up to par. Squatting next to the leader, Jim saw why he had made them stop. About fifty yards ahead, a giant stegosaurus lay on its side, dead. Most of the large bony plates that stuck up from its spine, had been devoured, no doubt for the blood and rich marrow they contained. Then he saw what was responsible for this. There was a large group of raptor dinosaurs of some type, feasting on the carcass from all angles, tearing huge hunks of meat off with their ferocious, razor-sharp teeth. They were basically six or seven foot tall birds. They were covered with bright jungle green and white feathers. The males had bright red feathers covering their heads, which also sported two very obvious mating crests. They actually had wings too, attached to their small "arms" though it was obvious they were ornamental only.
Jim had never hunted before and he certainly had no desire to be a raptor snack. Their huge beak-like mouths, studded with ferocious rear-facing teeth, would cause anyone to pause. He didn't though. He stepped forward, spear in hand, and walked ahead to where the ravenous beasts were completing the circle of life. He walked right up to them and was immediately challenged and menaced. Jim stood there looking at this thing, as it bobbed it's head this way and that. It seemed to be doing that thing that dogs do when they are not sure what to make of something. As it did this, it clicked it's teeth and brandished it's wings, spreading the flightless appendages out to appear bigger and more menacing. This thing could easily bite Jim's head off, and here he was, facing it down. Jim started weaving back and forth, bobbing his head up, down, and all over the place as he locked eyes with the ravenous creature., holding his gaze as he slowly maneuvered his spear.
"Boom shaka laka laka! Boom shaka laka laka!" Jim yelled out, seizing on the creature's surprise to thrust his spear forward into the creature's midsection. However he hit it, the raptor went down fast. It seemed to be dead before it hit the ground. Jim was glad of this. From behind him, the hominids repeated his cry, and rather than ambush their prey as they usually did, they charged them straight on as Jim had done.
All told, they killed five more, before the remaining predators disappeared into the jungle. The lead hunter gestured to Jim, that they should return to camp, while others called out to the females to come retrieve, clean, slaughter and cook their bounty. Jim grabbed his by the feet, taking a foot in each hand, and began pulling it like a sled. The leader gestured towards the females, but Jim brushed him off and pulled his kill back to the village. He noticed the other successful hunters scrambling to drag their kills back as well. Some of them actually fought over the rights to drag meat back to the village. Amused at this, Jim thought that maybe he had started a new tradition here.
Back at the village, he sat on the ground next to the females to watch them. He didn't sit there long before four pretty big males brought him a chair they had made while the hunt was taking place. It was really more of a throne. He sat in it and nodded to the four men, giving them leave. He watched as small groups of females gathered around each carcass, and began processing them. First the feathers were removed, and put in woven baskets. The larger tail and wing feathers were put aside for ceremonial purposes. Then the creatures were gutted, cleaned and cut into manageable pieces for cooking. This only took about forty-five minutes. They were that effective and organized. They began carrying the pieces of meat in blankets, toward a well used hearth where a male was trying to strike a spark to a well structured fire. Jim imagined a lighter into existence. This one was in a metal sleeve, with an old style Boston Bruins bear logo. Before anyone could see that he had anything in his hand, he reached into the base of the pile of tinder, twigs and sticks, and flicked his Bic. To them, it looked as if he had snapped two fingers together and made fire. They began snapping their fingers like he had. They began babbling like crazy; backing up and bowing to him at the same time. He held the lighter out to the fire builder and showed him how to use it. The male looked like he had just held a star in his hand. He dropped it and waited for Jim to pick it up. Jim retrieved it and then lit it several times, lighting a twig on fire to show him. This time, when Jim handed it back to him, the fire starter eagerly took it and began flicking it, making sparks, but not quite getting the proper way to keep a flame burning. When he finally did, he held it up in the air to thunderous calls of wonder and amazement. As the fire got to burning pretty well, the hominid held the lighter in his hand, turning it over, marveling at its silvery sleeve, examining closely, the bear logo on its side. He ran his fingers over it, unsure what it signified. He flipped it over again, and examined the spoked B of the modern day Boston Bruins logo. To him it appeared as a strange symbol in the center of a star. It seemed obvious to the hominid that this logo represented the great beings from the sky, that came to visit and now lived among them at a place beyond where the three sky fires kissed the ground each day, before the dark lights turned on. Jim knew in time, they would worship the giant B as the sign of God.
The females in charge of cooking, now came forward. They bowed to Jim and quickly went to work, setting pieces of raptor meat on the rocks surrounding the fire. These were sizzling in no time and they used sharpened sticks to periodically turn each piece of meat so they were cooked evenly. Some of the other females began dancing around the fire as they placed clusters of what looked like some sort of root vegetables in the ashes at the edge of the fire. There was lots of activity now as others brought bunches of large, sturdy green leaves to the cooks. One of the older females called out something that most surely was a word, something Jim guessed must have something to do with dinner. A line began forming, and one by one, the beings stepped up and received a hunk of meat wrapped in a leaf. The veggies were left in the fire for later, after the meat. Jim noticed how quiet it had become. No-one was eating. All eyes were on Jim, apparently waiting for him to take the first bite. He picked up his enormous piece of meat, for they had given him what could only be called a king's portion, and held it out toward the crowd, before taking a bite. It tasted amazing, almost like a cross between chicken, turkey, and pork, marinated in honey. Still, none of them ate. He guessed they were waiting for him to say something, or give them permission. He got to his feet, held his hunk of roast dinosaur meat up in the air, and called out to them.
"Tastes like chicken!"
He took a big bite and motioned for them to eat; bringing his fingers to his mouth. Then, an elder, covered with silvery gray hair, stood up, and with unsteady arms, held his portion of meat toward the sky. A cheer rose up from the rest of the group; more of a roar than anything, and then,
"Boom shaka laka laka! Boom shaka laka laka!"
At this, they all began devouring their meat, while the females laid the cooked vegetables on a mat of leaves, serving Jim first. Jim chuckled to himself, thinking that these obviously intelligent beings might go on, one day, to worship the great spoked B in the sky and proclaiming that old sixties rock lyric, as some sort of blessing. The vegetables did turn out to be potatoes, that had a taste not unlike French fries. The other root vegetables had a taste like roasted cashews, and were delicious.
When everyone had enjoyed second helpings and any mess was cleaned up, the females and children danced and sang in beautiful sing-song voices that reminded him of the music of the Universe or of the lonesome call of a long lost love from across the river of time. Jim sat with a group of elders to honor their wishes and traditions, and also because he wanted information. So after they had enjoyed the dancing and singing women and children for a good amount of time, Jim got right down to business. First he cleared an area of dirt on the ground. Then, as the old men watched, he took a sharp piece of stone and scratched a rudimentary drawing of his friend Curly, in the dirt. They all looked at his dirt scratching as if to say, "Whatchoo talkin' about Willis?"
Seeing their confusion, Jim went to the edge of the forest, momentarily, and returned with several pink orchid petals, which he proceeded to tear up, and carefully placed the pieces inside his dirt picture, trying to color it pink. A couple of them seemed to get it then, and began excitedly communicating with each other, before one of them picked up the stone and drew a picture of his own in the dirt next to Jim's drawing.
What he drew was unmistakable. It was something Jim had seen in real life, out on the path, and in both his hallucinations and dreams - the valley of the twin volcanoes. As if to confirm Jim's understanding of this, the elder hominid tapped both the drawing of Jim's little tree hatch-ling, and that of the mountain peaks, before waving his hand away and pointing in the direction of where sunset was. Jim sent his mind out in that direction and he knew his friend Curly was out there; in danger, but safe, at the moment anyways.
After telling the elders thank you, and hearing them repeat it back to him, he headed over to where his shelter had been. The crowd parted for him, creating a path for him to walk, and filling in behind him. He was surprised to find that his tee-pee had been rebuilt for him. Welcoming smoke curled from the hole it it's roof.
He stood there looking at it, shaking his head. When he'd seen how the logs of his shelter had been splayed out in a perfect circle that morning, he had known it was a sign from the Universe, that his time among these beings was coming to an end. He was, nevertheless, glad to see it rebuilt, so that he had a place to rest for the night. As he was about to enter his shelter, he stopped, turned, and addressed the crowd. He wasn't really sure why, but it seemed appropriate to recite the words of the Earthly poet, Jim Morrison. Raising his hands to the sky, he spoke to them the words he had first heard in 1973.
"Now night arrives with her purple legions.
Retire now, to your tents, and to your dreams.
Tomorrow we enter the town of my birth.
I want to be ready."
He knew they wouldn't understand a word of this, but it somehow seemed appropriate. He was answered back with calls of, "Jim! Jim! Jim! Jim!" He turned and ducked into his cozy, warm shelter. Inside, three females awaited him. In addition to rebuilding his shelter and fire, they had hung strands of fragrant flowers everywhere and assembled baskets of fruit on the floor, on which they had fashioned a gigantic bed. It was obvious what they were here for. Evidently, they were part of his tribute - a gift from the village. They began looking at his "package" and giggling with anticipation.
Realizing what was afoot, and wanting no part of it, Jim cupped his hand over his crotch and shook his head vehemently, saying "No no no!" over and over. But then he questioned himself. What made him think they would even understand what we Earthlings consider a universal sign of no, or negative? He rolled his naked, primitive self away from them and busied himself, sampling some of the wonderful fruit they had assembled for him.
This proved to be a big mistake. Barely thirty seconds later, if that, he fell into a dream. He rolled over onto his back in front of the three amorous females, and found himself clutching the side of a palm tree, almost forty feet off the ground. He was so startled he almost fell. He looked around, scanning his surroundings, but he knew full well where he was. He was wherever it was that Curly was currently being held hostage. He had noticed in his mushroom trip, that there was something odd about the beings that had captured his wrinkly pink friend. He now noticed that these beings were green! There were a large number of them gathered around a large stone structure. It resembled a bench, or maybe a bed. He could make out a channel, running around the edges of this thing, and he realized with horror that this was a sacrificial altar. Torches burned in a circular perimeter around this altar. A green being, decorated with some kind of animal fur, held some sort of ceremonial dagger or sword, and menaced Curly with it, as he pulled him up forcibly and made him lay down upon the altar. Jim could see his companion's face and the abject terror upon it.
Suddenly Jim found himself pulled down on the ground and held in place, like a defeated wrestler to the mat. He struggled and managed to break free. He found himself facing, not a group of enemy creatures, but the three females on the bed they'd made on the floor of his shelter. As before, they giggled, but now there was something different in their demeanor. He noticed their tone had changed and their giggles were now those of knowing appreciation. The look in their eyes seemed to be a mixture of thanks and lust. He had a feeling that during whatever kind of trip they sent him on with their strange fruit, that he had most likely conceived a new hybrid generation of these strange hominids. Strange fruit indeed, he thought to himself. That night he truly slept. His brain and his consciousness, truly rested. He didn't dream at all. He didn't need to.
The next morning, when he exited his tee-pee, followed by the three females, there was loud roaring and cheering. He heard his name chanted over and over. He noticed the three females had been absorbed into a larger group of females, all chattering eagerly for some details of how the mating had gone.
He met the elders and gestured to his chest, then to the twin volcanic peaks visible above the tree line. The eldest one nodded his head while another sent out a call for a group of hunters to follow. After what he'd seen in his dreams and hallucinations, he welcomed any help he could get.
Before leaving, he sought out the three gracious females from the previous night, and gave them each a crystal on a leather necklace. Into his hand he'd popped the three necklaces; one with a quartz crystal, another with a smoky quartz crystal, and the third, with an amethyst crystal. Despite the fact that he didn't remember anything, he thought it was appropriate that he did this as thanks for their "gift". He wanted to be sure to appear grateful so he wouldn't offend them in any way. By doing so, he knew he had cemented their status among the villagers forever. He next found the fire starter and presented him with a box of disposable lighters. He found the lead cook and presented her with a restaurant grade cutting board, meat cleaver and carving knife. He showed her how to use them on some meat she was preparing. She threw her wrinkled, hairy, old arms around him in a big old bear hug. When he stepped back, he saw that she had tears in her eyes. This made him feel good. He knew this would make her life a bit easier. To the eldest of the elders, he gave something he had made with his own two hands the previous night as they watched the fireside dancing. He presented him with a walking stick he had fashioned from a broken spear. He had skinned all of the bark off, revealing the honey-colored hardwood underneath. Jim had burned the end in the fire some, and then ground the charred end in the dirt, rounding it off. Running up and down the front of it, Jim had carved his best effort at a New England Patriots logo, affectionately known as "Elvis"to adoring fans. The elder took the walking stick with reverence, clearly honored to hold in his hand, something made by this powerful being known as Jim. He ran his aged gnarled fingers across the carving, brightly colored with sharpies he had blinked into existence just for this. Jim pointed to it and said, "Patriots! Number one!" before pointing his index finger up. To the elder's understanding, Jim had just told them of his supreme father in the sky, a great and powerful being named Patriots.
After completing what he felt were necessary formalities, with these kind, primitive proto-humans, Jim and a large group of hunters and followers, set out to find his captured friend and companion. They walked through the forest at first, following game trails. There was no thought of hunting though. They needed to be as stealthy as possible. After quite some time, the trail they were on, crossed a larger path, more like a wagon or cart trail, which allowed them space to walk two abreast. They followed this path for quite some time, until they came to a bright area, as the forest path opened up onto a vast savanna that stretched all the way to the village of those who held Curly. Rather than expose themselves to enemy sight, Jim led them all through the edge of the forest, where it curved away from the well traveled path, but still toward perimeter of the village. It was probably a good thing too, as Jim noticed movement in the tall grass adjacent to the path, as some soft of creatures moved through it.
Jim and his band of warriors slowed now, moving as quietly as they could. Therefore, they were quite surprised to hear the loud squawk of what sounded like a crow. Jim followed the sound and saw, not a crow, but something entirely different. The creature he found himself looking at was about the same size as a crow, but seemed more like a small theropod dinosaur. It stood on two legs, had two puny front legs or arms, a long neck and a beak-like mouth full of teeth. Attached to its arms were real wings, unlike the ornamental wings of what they'd hunted and eaten the night before. This was covered in the most amazing feathers. They seemed as if they were devoid of color, but at the same time, seemed almost prismatic, displaying all of the colors of the color spectrum of this planet. It almost made the bird invisible to its surroundings. In the jungle, it appeared in multiple shades of green foliage one moment, and the various shades of brown and gray of the tree trunks another moment. It almost seemed as though it's feathers were very similar to the wings of a dragonfly; clear but almost acting as a prism. It crowed at them three more times, almost like it was talking to them; Or warning them. As it flew off, it almost seemed to disappear as it's wings seemed to turn to the same blue as the sky. Jim had a good idea it was an archeopteryx, one of the first birds. As it flew off in the direction of the village, he wondered if they might be like the crows in Stephen King's novels, which were always spies for the evil Crimson King. Whatever the case might be, he felt a strong sense that these should be avoided at all costs.
Not too long after, they finally came to a break in the primeval forest. There was a clearing with more forest on the other side. What grabbed Jim's attention though, was what appeared to be a river of fire running through the clearing, blocking the group from the outskirts of the enemy village. Jim looked both ways and seeing no sign of life, he began heading down the embankment toward the river. Two of the hunters grabbed his arms, trying to stop him. He could see the fear and apprehension in their eyes, but he had to go on. He had no choice, if he wanted to save his friend. He shrugged their hands off him and slid down the embankment. Something he had noticed while looking at this from the forest edge was the complete absence of heat from this apparent river of fire. He was able to get up right next to it, but that did not end his puzzlement. Standing there alone, he found himself, not on the banks of a river of fire, but what seemed, at close range, to be a river of molten gold. In reality, this was not accurate either. There was still no heat. As he dropped to his knees, the hominids behind him began chattering loudly, obviously trying to warn him, and make him stop.
Oblivious to them, he grabbed a pebble and tossed it in. He was surprised to see it bounce along the surface and float downstream. He stood up and found himself a dead tree branch. He walked back to the rivers edge and, as he had first done with the doorway that brought him to this strange world, he thrust the stick into the liquid gold. He found this was not a simple thing to do. Because gold is so dense, he had to force the stick in and hold it there. The natural property of the stick was to float, due to its vastly lower density. The fact that gold has a higher density than water, meant the river was resistant to anything sinking even partially. It reminded him of what it feels to try to hold a balloon or a piece of Styrofoam under water. He pulled the stick out and examined it. There didn't seem to be any damage at all. He took the branch and threw it into the water. It merely slid across the river and ended up on the opposite bank.
Jim decided to throw caution to the wind, and thrust his hand into the strange liquid gold. It was a very odd feeling, like holding a handful of mercury. Just a handful seemed to weigh about ten pounds. He poured it from one palm to the other, marveling at this heretofore unknown physical state of the most precious metal in the universe. He began to notice a peculiar feeling in his hands. They almost felt more supple and stronger. He looked closely at both hands. They were free of the scars he'd had from five years work as a "tin knocker" fabricating and installing duct work. His left hand had sported a particularly gruesome scar across it since 1977, since he'd ripped it open working alone on the roof of Narragansett Electric in Providence. Of course, he'd only had one band-aid and he'd bandaged it up with duct tape and the napkin from his lunch. No time for stitches. Work came first.
Now that proud badge of his indestructible youth, and all others, were gone. He stuck his left foot in, forcing it under the surface for just a few moments before examining his ankle. The first time he'd jumped off the white bridge on the Barrington River, he'd brushed up against a barnacle-encrusted bridge piling, tearing his ankle open good and deep. He'd gotten seven stitches from that mishap; and now that nasty scar had been virtually erased by this strange, apparently restorative liquid gold. On impulse, he lay forward and immersed himself in the strange river; or at least he tried to. As he discovered, it was nearly impossible to do anything in the river but roll around in it, or float completely on its surface. Even doing this, seemed to restore him. He noticed any age related freckles, blemishes and wrinkles were gone. His entire body felt replenished and invigorated.
He stood up now, knowing the time had come to move forward and save his friend. He gathered his courage and stepped out onto the surface of the golden river. Rather than touching the river bottom, his feet only sunk an inch or so. He turned to see the hominids on their knees at the edge of the forest; bent forward, with their arms and foreheads touching the ground. He waved goodbye to them, then turned around, continuing his journey forward. Behind him, he heard the assembled hominid friends softly chanting, "Jim! Jim! Jim! Jim!"
He chuckled to himself, thinking that one day a religion might spring up around his very self, the strange son of the sky god "Patriots" who came to live among them, giving them fire in the palm of his hands, and walking atop a river of the sun's fire.
He stepped across to the other side, feeling forty years younger, knowing that the gold had sorted out, strengthened, and restored the polarity of every atom in his physical shell of a body. A path awaited him on the river bank and he followed it without hesitation. He felt like the king of the world and nothing could, or would, keep him from his mission. Soon he would rescue his little buddy and they would be back on their way, down the path of discovery. One thing he noticed right away, was an abundance of feathered spies. It seemed as though each tree hid, and was home to, a very large flock of archeopteryx. When they rose to the sky almost as one, and headed toward the village, Jim started to wonder if perhaps Mr. King was right. That supposition, along with any shred of doubt about King's words, vanished in an instant, when he heard rustling in the forest behind him. He turned around, expecting to see the reluctant hominids joining him. Instead, he saw nothing but empty woods.
When he turned around, he probably would have shit his pants, had he been wearing any. He now found himself face to face with another vastly different type of humanoid. This one was decidedly reptilian in nature. It seemed to possess each of the attributes that homo sapiens found fear in. It stood about six feet tall and had green skin. It's midsection - it's stomach and most of its back was covered in scales. It's forearms, feet and lower calf's were also. It's toes and hands were webbed, ending in claws. It's entire head, including its face, was also covered with scales. There were two ridges on it's skull which flexed up and down; puffing up and displaying a bright orange, before relaxing and taking on a bluish green color. Jim had a feeling these ridges served as a sort of warning to potential enemies. It's face had an abbreviated reptilian or lizard-like shape. It's huge dark eyes had the vertical, elongated, pointy pupils of a snake. It was eyes like these that had struck fear and terror in the hearts of Earth men since the dawn of the current species of mankind. Jim knew inside that his human brothers on planet earth had faced these terrifying beings many times in the hidden depths of Earth's history. What sucked the breath out of him though, was it's mouth. It was more of a maw, than something so delicate as a human mouth. It almost seemed to grin at him, displaying a mouth full of needle sharp teeth, like an anaconda. Slime dripped from its mouth as its forked tongue darted in and out, sampling Jim's essence from the air. Jim's eyes bugged out even further at this, and he suddenly found himself grabbed from behind, by the scaly minions that had popped from their arboreal hiding places.
The being in front of him, turned and began walking toward their village. Jim found himself alternately pulled and pushed along the path by clawed reptilian hands. They hissed and clicked at him as they moved. Forked tongues flicked out, tasting Jim's scent, and trying to discover more about this mostly hairless, white-skinned man they had captured. Jim was beside himself with fear. Any thoughts he might have had of having an advantage over these upright walking reptiles, vanished to the back of his mind. He felt their claws digging into the flesh of his arms, as they roughly forced him into their village. He felt a coolness on his skin and realized blood was streaming down his arms from several deep wounds. This seemed to excite them. He noticed their cranial crests now shone bright blue and were flexing up and down excitedly, swollen with blue reptilian blood. All around them, more of these reptile hybrids came out of their huts, flicking their forked tongues and hissing at him, tasting his blood in the air.
Their homes seemed to be more underground than above it. Each of the beings that appeared, seemed to ascend some sort of ladder or steps, before emerging from an opening in the side of a sloped roof made of piles of sticks and greens. As they moved forward into the village, the crowd got bigger and bigger. They made some guttural sounds that Jim thought must be a spoken language. It reminded Jim of some of the middle Eastern languages. Up ahead, torches lit up a central area, where the core of the crowd had gathered. In the middle of this, tied down with vines, sat his little hairless pink buddy.
"Curly!" Jim screamed, and saw his head jerk right towards him. Across the crowd, they locked eyes. He could see the poor critter; the strange flesh and blood being, that grew on a tree, jerking excitedly at his restraints. He heard him squealing in a mix of excitement and terror. He bounced as much as he could; trying desperately to break free and run to the safety and protection of his human friend.
"Jim loves Curly!" he yelled to him, hoping to calm him down. He was relieved when Curly did so, and repeated the comforting phrase back to him. As they got closer to where he was being held, and locked eyes again, Curly could no longer contain his excitement and fear. He began struggling against his restraints more vigorously than before. Jim was horrified when the snake man that was guarding Curly, began whipping him with what looked like a strap made of animal skin. Seeing this and hearing his pink friend scream in pain, Jim lost his damn mind! He tore himself away from the reptiles, tearing his flesh open in the process, and inciting some sort of blood rage in them. A horde of them, grabbed Jim and lifted him over their heads, letting his blood rain down on their excited faces, before slamming him roughly down on a stone pedestal no more than fifteen feet from his friend.
He looked again at Curly, hoping to calm him down. His wrinkled pink friend saw only fear in the eyes of his human friend. As he struggled even harder, some sort of commotion erupted at the back of the crowd. It seemed like some sort of fight had ignited. Jim figured the scent of blood, and no doubt, pheromones of fear emanating from the two warm-blooded captives, was inciting them toward even more, perhaps deadly violence. Whatever was going on, seemed to be spreading around the outer perimeter of the crowd. Then he heard a sound which filled his heart with hope.
"Boom shaka laka laka! Boom shaka laka laka!"
Jim watched with eyes the size of saucers, as a brown wave of hominids exploded into the reptilian bio-mass. Spears and rocks filled the air, as did the mingled shouts of the two species of humanoid hybrids. He tore away from his captors again and ran toward Curly, determined to rescue him while his captors were distracted by the invading hominids. He got to within five feet of him, when a gang of reptilians descended upon Curly. Jim watched them in something beyond horror, as they tore at him, tearing him apart in a blur of blood, flesh, and pink skin. They tore at him with claws and teeth, devouring him, even as he screamed, "Jim!"
Jim stood there, dead in his tracks, watching his only friend succumb to them, and feeling the bloodthirsty crowd start tearing at his own mortal flesh. He felt a circuit breaker flip in the darkest reaches of his brain. He threw them all off him and began screaming at them.
"Noooooooo! You motherfuckers! You goddamned motherfuckin' piece of shit assholes! Fuck you and the snake whore that hatched you! Piece of shit, goddamned asshole bastards! Fuck all y'all!"
He felt something rise up inside him; some sort of primal rage that he didn't even know he had. He jumped to where Curly had been, found a group of them that were smeared with his blood, and tore each of their heads off. He pulled the arm off of one and began beating the crowd with the bloody club. He felt something happening to his body. He felt as if he had just walked into a burning building. He looked down to see his skin turning bright red, then black, before splitting and peeling off, like some nasty, burned potato chips. Underneath his decimated flesh, he saw fire; not flames, but the pure, unbridled energy of the universe. It looked like he was literally a piece of the sun in human form. He heard an unearthly, inhuman moaning, which got louder and louder, until it reached the dull roar of a tornado. He knew it came from within him somewhere. He didn't know how. He felt himself growing, expanding, until he stood about thirty feet high and towered over the village. He saw that his hominid friends had retreated to the forest, and he smote the village. He breathed out fire upon them. Ribbons of flame leaped from his fingertips as he went from dwelling to dwelling, burning the roofs and destroying those that lived inside. He incinerated the entire village, destroying any vestige of reptilian life it had once contained. As if this wasn't enough, he advanced over to the edge of the river of gold, urging the hominids ahead of him, back to their village, before turning and sitting down on the surface of the river. He concentrated all of his spiritual energy toward one goal, and one outcome. He looked up toward the sky and saw a streak of light in the dark sky. He watched with extreme satisfaction, as it brightened from an initial streak of light to an enormous ball of fire, as bright as the sun, lighting the night before slamming into what remained of the reptilian village. Nothing would ever live in this spot again. When the localized explosion ceased, he got up, walked to the river bank and lay down. He fell into a deep sleep to the sound of remote chants of "Jim! Jim! Jim!"
He awoke many days later. How many days; he had no clue. He saw that he was back to a physical being once again, but the rocks around where he had slept, were charred black, and appeared to be vitrified, as if they had been baked in a kiln.
He had barely breathed; had barely had time to take stock of his surroundings, when he was struck down with the most intense sadness and grief. He sat there and cried softly, and to himself at first, then wailing loudly, sharing his grief with the world; letting them know a very special friend had met his end here.
After staying in the very same spot for a week, grieving and ignoring numerous gifts offered up by the villagers, he finally stood up and made his way to where the reptilian village had been. He stepped through the break in the forest where he had been captured, and faced an enormous crater that was already filling with beautiful blue spring water. He sat on a rock and wondered for a while, thinking of his poor innocent friend, and the brutal end that had befallen him. He tried to remember the adventures they'd had, including the last one, in the aftermath of which, Curly had slapped him and run away. He sobbed at this, saying out loud, "I'm so, so, so sorry Curly. I didn't mean to scare you. I certainly didn't mean for this to happen." He gestured toward the crater. He spent the whole day there, feeling his lost friend around him. He made a roaring fire and slept there on the ground, where his friend had died. That night, Curly haunted his dreams; first slapping him across the face over and over, then repeating "Jim loves Curly" into Jim's face before slapping him again.
In the morning, when the three suns had risen, he was already hard at work. He'd awoken to find the crater had already nearly filled with water. He thought water of the new lake had reached some sort of equilibrium with the pressure of the underground aquifer, preventing it from overflowing the rim of the crater.
Around midday, the hominids showed up en masse, and almost as if they'd read Jim's mind, they'd spread out into the forest, digging up small trees, and beautiful plants and flowers. They'd transplanted them along the perimeter of what he now thought of as "Curly's Pond". It would be a place of beauty and peace, in honor of his friend who had been destroyed in such a brutal fashion.
While they were busy with this, Jim found himself a big oak log at the edge of the forest, and rolled it to the edge of the new prehistoric nature garden, not too far from the path that had once led to the village of the lizard barbarians. He dreamed himself up a hammer, draw knife, and two wood chisels. He used the draw knife to quickly skin the bark off the big log. This done, he set to work carving a sort of inlaid plaque in honor of his fallen companion. He took his time, and carved a very detailed, completely accurate representation of his pink friend. Next to it, he carved the following:
Dedicated in loving memory of Curly.
Trusted friend, companion, and traveling buddy.
Let this place stand in peace, tranquility, and remembrance forever.
Jim stepped back and considered what he had created. As an afterthought, he knelt down and carved one last thing:
JIM LOVES CURLY
The tears flowed like rain after that, in a cathartic release of grief. When this had subsided, he stood and bid his hairy friends goodbye. The old female cook brought forth a generous portion of smoked raptor meat, wrapped in leaves. The elder came forward, and motioning for Jim to bend down, he placed around Jim's neck, a lanyard which held a beautiful carving of a raptor. It was made from the bone of the very raptor that the great hunter Jim had taken down at the beginning of the hunt a few nights past. Jim took the man's hands in his own and thanked him profusely. He looked him in the eyes, noticing for the first time, the cataracts which covered the man's sight. He wondered how in the world could he have possibly carved such a thing of beauty. As if he had read Jim's thoughts, the gray haired old hominid pointed to the sky and uttered three words in perfect English:."Patriots Numba One!"
Jim smiled upon hearing this, said a final goodbye and walked into the night. He walked through the dark woods until he reached a bit of a clearing, where he lit a fire and bedded down for the night. That night he dreamed he was Captain Kirk on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, looking at a succession of scenes of Doctor McCoy bending over mortally wounded people and reciting his signature line over and over. "He's dead Jim".
When he awoke, feeling the warmth of the three suns on his face, he got up and cooked himself a healthy breakfast. He did this, not out of hunger, but because of the comfort he hoped it would bring him; for he was sorely in need of comfort after what had occurred. It brought him little comfort though. He had a hole in his heart the size of the Grand Canyon. All the food or other comforts in the world couldn't patch that up.
He walked for miles, lost in his thoughts. He blamed himself a million years to Friday, for Curly's death. He thought of all the things he could have avoided, or done differently, to prevent it. He also played back in his mind, the slap of fear or anger, his dead friend had delivered to his face. He felt the lowest he had ever felt, and he wished himself dead. He wished some damn dinosaur would eat him in one bite. Or maybe a pterodactyl would carry him away to it's nest and tear him apart and feed it's toothy babies. He didn't want to live anymore and the thought of a prehistoric bird tearing him him limb from limb, as his friend had been, almost seemed appropriate. Tit for tat, he reasoned to himself.
He spent the rest of the day in a mix of profound grief, depression, and guilt, at the way things had turned out. Anyone that's ever raised a dog, from a puppy to adulthood, and had to go through the eventual loss of that companion, will understand the level of loss and pain he felt. The fact that Jim had been so close, not more than five feet away when it happened, only made things worse. He could never erase what he had seen. It would remain forever scarred into his cerebral tissue. In the midst of this wondrous Eden, he was in his own personal place of darkness, from which there seemed to be no hope of escape. He didn't know for sure if he wanted to go on anymore. Maybe he should turn around, find that damn doorway, and go home. Who cared if the doorway lettering proclaimed it to be Hell or prison or both. He knew what to expect there, regardless. He knew the rules; understood the routine. And now a dark voice in the dark depths of his mind, questioned whether he should even do that. Why bother? Why not just sleep? He thought it was the same voice, or thought center, responsible for all the dark and negative feelings, fears and depression; responsible for sapping his spiritual energy and will to live. It was dimming the light in his very soul, darkening his once bright aura.
Unintentionally, he gave in to this train of thought, and spent an unknown number of days just laying around one of the mattress plants, and keeping busy by tending a fire that needed no tending. Jim noticed it got dark, then light again, a number of times, but he didn't keep track. Why bother? When he did sleep, it was pure hell. He saw all of the close up, gory details of Curly's death over and over; Saw the hope in Curly's eyes change to resignation and terror as they tore him to shreds. But most of all he heard Doctor McCoy AKA "Bones" admonishing him over and over, "He's DEAD Jim!"
Finally, in the midst of all this, Jim snapped. Tearing himself from this dream, he threw himself on the ground and yelled, "No he's not! He is not goddamned dead! No he motherfuckin isn't! He is not dead!" he screamed till his throat was raw. "He's up ahead. He's right behind me hiding in the bushes somewhere. But he's alive. Hell never die!" he screamed in tears. "He lives right here! Right fuckin here!" he pounded his chest. "And you can't get him there! You can't hurt him! You can't hurt ME! I am of the light! Now git! Get the hell outta here and back to the filthy, dark cesspool you were born in! All the power of good in the universe commands you to retreat, in accordance with the ancient laws!" He had no idea what he was even saying, but it sounded right.
Something happened then. Jim felt brightness and warmth within him, like a cloud bank had dissipated within his heart. He opened his eyes to the brightness of day; but something else was different. It was as if a veil had lifted. Everything was so bright. There was a pallet of deep rich colors surrounding him. Beautiful flowers and orchids were everywhere. The air was full of their heady scents. Jim felt as if he had been locked in a smokey barroom all night, and had just stepped out of a side door into the fresh air and bright sun of daylight. He breathed in deeply and felt invigorated. It almost felt as if Mother Nature had pulled him from the darkness and into her bosom. He felt alive again. A tingle in his third eye told him he was right. He sent thoughts of thanks and praise to the mothering, nurturing force of the universe, and he felt himself kissed on the inside. It was a beautiful feeling. He felt cleansed. It felt as if his energy field had been realigned somehow.
He gladly walked on now, appreciative of the renewed hope he felt, and for the beauty that surrounded him. He felt once again, that he was in sync with the power of the universe. It seemed as though yelling at the darkness had somehow vanquished it.
Then he saw something which took his breath away. Up ahead, he saw one of those fetus trees, like the one Curly had hatched from. Sure enough, he could see a few of the plant based amniotic sacs hanging from its weepy branches. As before, they seemed to be all different sizes. Some looked on the verge of hatching or birth, or whatever it might be termed, but there was one that got his attention. One of the plant based sacs seemed to be vibrating, rocking from side to side like some fetal pendulum.
Jim almost turned away, not wanting anything to do with it, but then he felt himself running to it, almost unaware of what he was doing. He didn't really even mean to. It was almost as if his legs had gone rogue, and were running of their own volition. He found himself coming to a stop next to the strange tree. He couldn't take his eyes off of this one particular bouncing baby. The moment he stopped, the prenatal inhabitant of this bouncing tree sac, seemed to lose any inhibition or shyness it might have been expected to possess. With a loud, almost sickening "pop", the wildly gyrating gestational sac burst open, spilling it's flesh and blood, wrinkled, pink inhabitant on the ground. Unlike before, there was no hesitation, no post-natal confusion on the part of the newly hatched critter. Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. It jumped to its feet and ran to Jim, yelling as it did.
"Jim loves Curly! Jim loves Curly! Jim loves Curly!"
Jim felt tears of happiness running down his cheeks, as this strangely familiar, wrinkly pink critter jumped into his arms. It squirmed deliriously in Jim's arms, licking his face and arms, like a puppy licking his master after he'd been away all day. He squealed in delight, almost howling with love and excitement. Jim was in a state of shocked disbelief. He could not believe. He would not allow himself to believe. He hurt too much. This was just some cruel trick by dark forces trying to hurt and discourage him. He would not fall for their deceptive shit; Not ever! All of his denial melted away though, under the relentless "puppy kisses" the small being planted all over his face. Jim couldn't understand this. He had seen Curly slaughtered, torn apart and devoured before his very eyes. He had seen the spark of life leave his eyes as he perished. This just couldn't be; Or could it? He held it out in his arms and looked at it more closely. Other than the fact that it was smaller, it looked exactly like Curly. He saw a familiar spark in its eyes as it smiled at Jim. He told himself it had to be just that it looked like his lost friend. In fact, they all must look alike. When the little critter spoke again, all doubts melted away.
"I'm trying to think, but nothin' happens!"
It was a phrase he had taught Curly; a quote from his namesake, Curly Howard, of The Three Stooges. These strange critters might grow on trees, but memories didn't, however.
"Curly?...Curly?...Is it really you?" He asked.
"Jim loves Curly! Curly loves Jim!"
The answer, combined with the others, dragged Jim from the precipice of doubt and sadness. Tears of pure joy and love ran down Jim's face as he gave in, accepted the truth and blubbered like a baby.
"I love you Curly. I'm sorry you were hurt. I'm sorry you were....killed. It was all my fault. I'll never do that again! Never! I'll never let you go; Never let harm come to you." He planted his own kisses all over the newly reincarnated Curly. He got down on the ground and just lay there, letting Curly run and crawl all over him, licking him as a playful pup does his master. Jim lay there, enraptured by the return of his little friend, considering this strange tree. While he had originally thought of it as a fetus tree, he now thought he was wrong.
"You might wish to consider it as a companion tree." A long absent voice from the sky answered him. "Only the companion soul meant for any potential traveler, will reanimate and hatch."
"Hey! Where ya been? Vacation?" A slightly cocky Jim asked of the Google god.
"There are times you must stand on your own two feet and handle the consequences of any action you might take; any occurrence the universe dictates. What you have just been through, was another very vital test of your character; your judgment, perseverance, and decision-making skills in the face of adversity. You handled yourself admirably."
"Isn't there a written test I could have taken? I mean, this was pretty fucked up, if you don't mind me saying so!" Jim answered back.
"Hey, whattya want me to do?" the everyday Joe, supreme force of the universe answered back. "I just gave ya what was in your own mind. These trials and tribulations gestated in your own imagination. You faced and conquered your own fears without my advice or counsel. In a way, parts of your adventures seemed like Hell to you. Maybe Hell resides in you as well; Not a place, but a state of mind, or consciousness. Maybe self doubt and blame are at the forefront of your own personal hell. You conquered them and made an amazing choice, cursing the forces of darkness at the back of your consciousness, and banishing them. They won't be back. They are not allowed in unless you let them."
Jim considered these words and felt good about himself for the first time in many days. Hearing all of this from the friendly voice in the sky, gave him renewed confidence and self esteem. Now, just laying on the ground with his adoring Curly, he truly felt on top of the world. He felt home again.
Little did he know, that just a few days hence, he would be on the verge of death, himself.
To be continued...
2/3/17 - 2/13/17 SRB
© Copyright 2/13/17 By Stephen R. Bonniol. All rights reserved
Curly - loving friend and companion
© 2017 Stephen R Bonniol