Ch 11 ~ Frost on a Pumpkin
Ophania rested midway along the length of her whisk. Her eyes burned red and then transformed to green, then purple, then a deep grey in homage to the mood and tenor of the hues that painted the landscape and colored the air around her and her clan. Great strands of her blackened purple grey-hair lofted in the wind; as they rose and fell, they rustled like the leaves of the redwoods. Ophania, like her many sisters this night, was rendered invisible in the trees by the changing colors of her skin and of her garments. Lightrays of the same red-green-purple-deeply grey colorband wound themselves around her breasts and back; her hips and buttocks. The colors shifted and blended to mimmick and please the natural or unnatural order of things, the natural or unnatural order of the many present, such as they all were, in the Origin.
As she surveyed the ground, her mind burned. Ophania and her many sisters lived these lands. They claimed the upside-down skies and the soupy primordal foundation. They brooded for lifetimes in this place and had come to know the fullness of its lore. They had waited for more eons than Ophania could recall…which were a great many lifetimes since she and her sisters had existed from the beginnings of the Origin. A highly unnatural day, indeed, her thoughts rumbled inside her mind as she surveyed the woods that Ophania should discover two men – mere mortals – she thought with mild amusement, and a butterfly journeying through the land. Her eyes gleamed along the path of their travels: a lengthy, winding path; a path not without peril. She shifted her weight on the shaft of her whisk and thought, with some bemused irony, that the worst peril for these travellers, Ophania knew, lay in wait within in the uppermost treeroots. With her.
Sister, an unspoken voice hissed through the air, pushing impatiently through the leaves. Now, sister? Less a questioning; so very much more an urging. Yes, yes…sister, another unspoken voice curled through the air, urging the first voice forward. Soon a multitude of unspoken voices tripped along the upsidedown roots and pummelled the night sky. Their calls clammering intensely; their sound mimmicking a poignant rhapsody like a flock of birds that bleat into the night.
Too soon, Ophania calmed, yet replied in unspoken tones that betrayed her own growing impatience but that was quickly overpowered by a stronger wisdom which Ophania carried and yielded…sometimes like a club. Too soon.
They spoke in their thoughts — this tribe, these sisters — undetected by anyone but those who freely commanded the unspoken language. And so they chattered at length in the night air, expressing their urgency and desire and great disappointment at Ophania’s resolve.
Dryst hesitated in his mind. He thought he had heard…he would have believed before, but…He spun his eyes around the forest, stalking out the sound…the whispers…
Humhaaa, Ophania’s eyes widened. Indeed, she thought with some pleasure. Now?, the clan rejoined the pursuit of their want. Not yet, Ophania growled to quiet them. Yet she smiled Humhaaa and blended her gender at will, co-mingling male and female as was her want to do. Particularly for an Eternal who waited in solitude amongst noisy, impatient sisters who roosted in the uppermost tree roots while watching the endless pale of the night seep into the fabric of this world. It dripped of coldness, more than not, but these travellers cast a light that infuriated and aroused. Ophania softly licked her lips. Her tongue dwelled there, nestled within the seam of her red, then green, then purple, then deep grey mouth; her mind dwelled there for a moment within the pleasured memory of her most recent co-mingle. And her cheeks – which transformed colors just like the rest of her – lifted into a soft smile.
They will pass, Ophania said without words. The path will lead them astray…as is our want, sisters. They will pass this night.
The upside down trees, with their tangled roots pushing against the sky, echoed with wailing winds and grumbling breaths as the Clan of Ophania exposed its displeasure at the wait.
Spence clicked his tongue against the back of his clenched teeth. “I keep fighting the urge to go back, kid,” he said at last. “This place has a definite creep factor to it…no mistake about that.”
Dryst listened. Every now and then he peered upward, but not too often. It was more his mind that searched the skies. And now this, from Spence. He wasn’t sure how he felt about this confession. For anyone else, he could understand not wanting to be here. For Dryst, there was no alternative. He chose to be here and would stay until he found Mya. But for Spence…what must this journey be but more of an immense curiosity… No, Dryst didn’t buy that. This was not a journey for the mildly curious, not for those who would stay home, safe within their confines, safe to watch as a spectator any travels that were to unfold, safe behind the down-filled silk toss pillows strewn about their sofas. No, that couldn’t be it for Spence. Besides, Dryst reminded himself, the old fox had been here before.
“I retrace the path,” Spence continued as they walked on. He muttered in a stream of thought as if talking to himself, as if entirely forgetting that he was not alone, “…thinking I will find the key. Thinking the answer will become apparent. Some things change. Altered here, a bit different there. But the essence is unchanged. And things aren’t any clearer to me than they were at the first pass. Or the second pass. Or any other pass.”
“Any other pass,” Dryst repeated, not understanding. Here, the butterfly whispered. Many of them. Watching.
Dryst listened, his insides stirred from an unpleasantness that he wasn’t entirely sure he comprehended.
Spence paused as they walked. Their footfalls sounded ever so much louder to Dryst…uncomfortably so. He worried their travel through this forest in this night would soon be given away.
Here, the butterfly whispered again.
“I thought,” Spence continued in a disturbing voice, “I would force myself to do this. It’s not easy. Facing into this….massive unknown. A bit of surrealism. How can any of this really be? Where does it all really lead? To the grace of something higher?” Spence sputtered a chilled, incredulous laugh. “If this is that ‘something higher,’ we’re all in for a heap of hurt down below.”
Dryst quietly said, “What are you getting at.” He was not going to allow Spence’s sudden lack of calm to rattle him…but he felt something about to emerge from this ramble of his.
“There is disorder here, kid,” Spence replied. “Don’t you feel it? In the air? In the color of the sky and the earth? In the freaking milky way that we nearly walked over. Disorder,” Spence said to confirm his own view. “Or maybe this all seems ‘right’ to you?” He glanced nervously over to Dryst, then looked ahead as they began to curve with the path.
“The trees…the trees alone,” Spence whispered with an unsettled awe, “upside down…a beautiful forest of trees, a lovely fall scene…but upside down? It puts frost on my pumpkin, kid. I shudder to think what magic created all of this.”
“You’ve retraced this path,” Dryst said calmly, gently steering him back to this statement. “What is the key you’re looking for. Is it the portal.”
Dryst came out and said it.
“What will they do with it, kid,” Spence said with little inflection in his voice; almost defeated; definitely fatigued. They had travelled through time and space, dimensions and worlds. It was a hard trip to make.
“What would ‘you’ do with it, kid, if given half the chance,” Spence asked, then nodded his head rapidly. “Oh, I know what you’re doing with it now. And there’s nothing more noble than that.” He paused and moved his lower jaw from side to side. “But say your gal –”
Spence inhaled a chuckle. “Admire your loyalty, kid. I truly do. But say…Mya…” he emphasized, “was never abducted. Say she was perfectly safe and sound at home, and you two were about to make love, or you had already made love…”
Dryst blushed and cleared his throat.
“Oh, kid,” Spence replied, “You never said that. You hardly betrayed any intimacy. Don’t worry. Just say, is all I’m sayin’,” he explained, “Say that everything was fine and you felt no sense of urgency, like you do now, to alter the very fabric of the universe. And say that under those circumstances you stumbled across the portal and all of its power…what then would you do…”
The butterfly’s wings stiffened. Dryst narrowed his eyes, hoping to be able to more clearly see the expression that Spence carried on his face, but the night air was dark and swirling. The purple-grey colors pushed back and concealed all definitions, revealing only a disguised intent and a flatness of purpose. And when Spence spoke again, the same revealing exposed itself.
“…you could do anything, kid. And no one,” Spence struggled to continue as if suddenly consumed by an internal battle. “No one,” he whispered hoarsely, “could stop you.”
Humhaaa, Ophania’s throat exhaled and the speed of the winds increased. She arched in the winds along the whisk and melted her eyes back into the gaze of her co-mingled self. Her tongue twirled between her lips; her hands ravaged her co-mingled form…and her cheeks – continually transforming colors, reflecting the mood and tenor of the Origin – twisted into a pleasured smile.
National Novel Writing Month: Chapter 11 total wordcount: 1600 (not including this notation). Total total count: 17,600. (gasping … seriously seriously seriously whimpering…am not at all sure where this story is taking me…well, kinda, but wow like who are these people?!?!!?!? Actually I know very well who the most important people are.)