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The B and B of ethereal mysteries... - James

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October 31st, 2006


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10:32 am - The B and B of ethereal mysteries...
Good morning Livejournal, and a good morning it is indeed, for I shall now share with you a story which perhaps you would not believe if I were to stand and tell it to you with a straight face, over a cup of coffee, surrounded by gossipping mothers and screaming children...but here in the world of imagination and cyberspace you can read and believe what I have to tell you...

When I left the cottage of that happy couple I once again found myself on the road, inspired by the joy of their life, and by the countryside which, in the slight mist and overcast gloom, seemed to be green and ethereal - a land which did not belong to the arid Australia which I knew.

I was in no hurry to get home, to get back to Sydney. The life I had been living seemed shallow, and I wondered to myself what I had been doing all these years - striving to find meaning by drinking away my nights, and wasting my days posing as a writer and producing nothing for all my talk. I resolved there and then to finish my book, to go home and rethink my plan...but that is another story, and one far less interesting than the one I am about to tell...

I passed through many little towns, past many cottages, and I wondered what stories they held. I should like to return one day to ask, for in this place, time seemed to stand still, the paradigms of this universe seemed to stand alone from the world which we know, and one felt as though possibility existed in the very air, and all you had to do wass breathe for a wonderful and beautiful life to open up in front of you too.

When it was evening I realised that I would soon have to stop for the night, and so I kept a lookout for somewhere to stay. Seeing nothing after an hour or so, I decided to take out my area map to see if there was anywhere listed on it. To my great surprise, I noticed a tiny symbol, half hidden beneath the lines of the contours of the mountains, and of the few spidery roads which wound their way through them. A bed and breakfast, here in the middle of nowhere.

Following the map, I turned where it said I should, onto a road which looked like it was not often followed, and saw a small sign declaring that I was indeed on the right route. I wondered why someone would create a bed and breakfast here, but put that thought aside, for logic was not a creature which inhabited these lands.

Dusk fell, and my car puttered along the dirt road, not finding any semblance of habitation. I began to wonder if this place existed, if it had perhaps burnt down, or had been envelopped in the endless fog and possibility which surrounded it. I was thinking of turning back, for surely there would be another town not too far down the main road, for many of them were not even marked upon my map.

Before I did though, the end of the road loomed in front of me, and I screamed to a halt, shattering the silence with the pain of my brakes. There was not sign of anything, just the mountains looming all around me. I seemed to be in a valley, and the road stopped, suddenly, for there was nowhere else for it to go.

I got out of the car, to wonder why there was a road leading to nowhere, and why the map and that small and faded sign had told me that there was something down here. Darkness was falling fast now, and I had to make a decision. The side of the mountain in front of me was drenched in my headlights, the foliage illuminated, looking unreal and deathly pale in their light. I thought I saw a flash of light to my right, and turned, but saw nothing, and thought it merely my imagination. But then, again, on my right, a definate swirl of light, standing out from the darkness, leaving trails in my retinas.

I switched off the car lights, and after a moment of adjustment, I saw them all around, swirling instances of light, now here, now there in the rapidly darkening valley. I ran towards one, to see what it was, but it eluded me, darting out of reach. I ran to where it was now, and again it moved. Swept up by some childish impulse, some inate desire to hunt, or play, or discover, I ran after this speck of light, and it itself gathered more, until I was running after a cloud of luminescence, through small ways in the mountain which I would have never otherwise found, going deeper into the heart of this hidden valley.

It led me then, into a space, more marvellous than I could describe to you: a valley within a valley, a space surrounded by steep mountainside and undergrowth, but open to the now star-filled sky. The cloud burst and dissipated, its participants each finding their home in this place, and sitting there like living decorations on a fairy-story which was real. There was a small lake at one end of this valley, with a waterfall trickling into it, creating music. Surprised that I could make this detail out in the dark, I approached it in wonder, and saw myself blurred in the slightly rippling surface.

Wondering what could be causing this faint glow that surrounded me, for surely it could not be those little creatures alone, I looked instead to the rocks surrounding me, and saw that it was the very essence of the valley which was causing this light. I was amazed, and went to closer inspect this phenomonen. As much as I would like to report a magical occurrance, a valley shrouded in luminescence, I found instead what I could only deduce to be phospherous - to deduce this my memory looked to Jules Verne, and Journey to the Centre of the Earth, otherwise I may indeed have been mistaken.

I looked then at the small creatures, from a new and scientific perspective, and saw that they were covered in the stuff, and they would otherwise have been the plainest of moths, but with this mineral they became objects of ethereal wonder and mystery.

I had lost any sense of time here, and had forgotten the purpose which had led me here, and so, when from the pool behind me I heard a splash, I turned, starlted from my revery. At first I saw nothing but the faint shape of the moth fading from my retina, but this shape merged slowly, as I became accustomed to the light, into the form of a small human child, the colour of its skin melding into the shadows behind it.

I didn't know what to do, and felt like a trespasser, having stumbled into this small world by pure accident, as though I was sullying its existence with my outside thoughts and actions. But I had no need to fear. The child, picking its feet delicately from the water, came towards me, and took my hand. There were no words spoken. She, for, as she came closer, I saw that it was a girl, pulled my hand slightly, and took a couple of steps, looking to me to follow her. I did so.

She pulled me towards the pool, and took two steps in, until the water was lapping around her skinny thighs. I hestitated then, wondering whence she had come, and where she was now leading me. I looked briefly behind me, but saw nothing but the faint glow of the little valley, and a few moths drifting lazily through the air, their reflections in the water distorted by the ripples caused by our disturbance of it.

Thoughts flooded my mind, one after another, images of death, drowning, and nameless wonders... and I too waded into the water. The girl smiled at me, her white teeth a stark contrast to her skin and surroundings, and she led me further. The water was cool, but the firm determination of her hand reassured me as the water came up to my stomach. Her head was barely above the water, but still she continued with that same serence air which seemed to permeate the whole region. I felt small fish darting around my legs, and saw them, glowing too, like everything in this valley.

The size of the pool being as it was, it was not long before we reached the overhanging rocks where the waterfall had dug its gentle descent, and here I thought that we could go no further, but she did not hesitate, I thought that she would walk headlong into the rocks, but she did not stop, and before I had time to comprehend, we were in a large space, a cavern, lit with the same glow as were the rocks outside, for I presumed that we were now on the inner of the outer. I looked back, and saw a large hole, with water covering it from the outside world like a shimmering curtain, reflecting light and any curious people who did not know it was there.

The girl led me then, out of the pool, and along a glowing passage, winding slightly up. We came to another space, and with a sharp intake of air, I had to smile. From a small hole in one side of the room, for room it was, I could see the small valley clustered below me, an untouchable haven. The room itself contained what appeared to be a bed, and food, and water. As I looked, the girl suddenly snatched her hand away from me, and ran off, and for a while the only sound I could hear was the pattering of her feet in the dark, slowly fading until the silence was total.

I sat on the bed, and I ate the wholesome bread and fruit and the like which had been set out for me. With one last look at the valley, I closed my eyes and fell into a rich sleep, my body absorbing the strange forces of the air to rejuvinate itself.

I dreamt. I dreamt of the valley. Laura was there, bathed in moonlight, and she was smiling at me. She ran to the pool, and kicked water at me, laughing, her laugh ringing around the walls of the valley, like the peal of a bell, calling the pious to worship. Like those many, I followed the sound. I ran towards her, and grabbed her hands, to know that she was real. She smiled at me, with such a sweet sadness that it broke my heart, the knowledge that this could never again be, and even here our time was ended. The little girl came, and solemnly parted our hands, placing mine by my sides, and taking Laura's in her own, and leading her away. I thought she was leading her to the same place where I was now sleeping, but they kept walking, and the descent was steep, and soon the girl had dissapered beneath the waters, and I cried out as I watched as Laura was once again lost to me forever.

I crouched by the water, my head in my hands, the pain once again fresh and unbearable to me.

A tap on my back, and I saw the face of the girl staring intensely at me. She, this black devil who had stolen those moments of happiness from me, those moments which I would never, ever again be able to hold. I made to grab her, in sudden anger, but she just stepped back and shook her head sadly, as if saying that it was never meant to be. My anger subsided as fast as it had appeared, and she gestured to the other side of the little valley. I looked, and even as my sadness was welling yet again, my heart skipped a beat and pushed it into the past, handing it to the healing powers of time here.

For now Claire stood there, looking confused, as if she had been picked up and placed her through no will of her own. I looked at the girl, and she nodded at me, and flitted away into the shadows. I got up, and walked towards Claire. She spotted me, and her confusion seemed to grow. My heart sank, and continued to sink, into the ground, pulling me with it, pulling the valleys down into this pit of despair. She looked on, her confusion turning to horror, and she reached out her arms to me.
"James!" she screamed, and I grabbed her, and the hole which had been evelopping me spat me out, disgusted at the joy which flooded me with her touch.

It was the only word spoken that night.

In the morning, I awoke to find myself in a small cave, on a rocky ledge, with the remains of fruit and a few crumbs beside me. After a moment of confusion, I remembered the night before, and I remembered my dream, and I ran to the window to look at the valley in the daylight. But there was no window. The only light was that from the phosphorus, and running out, I found myself beside the road, by my car where I had left it that night.

In panic, I ran around, trying to find that opening where I had followed the shimmering cloud to find such wonders last night, but in vain. I wondered then at the state of my mind, that I could believe with all my heart that such a thing had happened. I slowly put my hand in my pocket to get my key, ready to drive away forever, to turn myself to the authorities as a delusional wreck. What I pulled out was not a keyring which would open a red MG. At first it gave me rather a shock.

It was a fish, small and limp, and still slightly damp, and glowing.

I smiled.

I drove back to the main road, and saw no evidence of that small sign which I had seen last night. I looked in my road map, and there was not a trace of any symbol proclaiming a bed and breakfast.

I drove on, thinking of what other wonders this region would hold, and feeling glad that it had taken me into its folds, for a night at least, and was determined that one day, I would return here, and give myself completely to the mystery and wonder of the land.
Current Music: Belle and Sebastian - Beautiful

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