Under the Green Sun of Slormor
by Bertil Falk
Table of Contents
appear in this issue.
Chapter 2: The Dead Spot of Slormor
part 2 of 3
Now I saw that the speckled water was not smooth as a mirror. Huge, ugly bubbles emerged from the bottom of the canal and burst like boils when they reached the surface. They were emitting a rotten cloud, which listlessly spread across the water, giving out a repulsive odor of decay and smuttiness that mixed with the offensive smell that was predominant in the heavy city.
Watchfully, Parvrin regarded the bubbles. I discerned a trait of fear in her thin face. Her coal-black eyes were staring, and her gaze assumed the sharpness of a diamond as she scanned the bubbling surface.
”They're awake,” she said, as if I knew who she was talking about.
She must have observed that I did not understand a thing, for she added, “Slushers,” in a would-be-wise way. “The slushers live at the bottom of the canals, and they eat anything and everything they find. They emit bubbles that burst when they reach the surface.
“For want of food, they're always hungry. They've most probably already sniffed us. They can feel flesh and blood through water and mountains. I'm afraid that we can't cross over right now. They're too alert. They're already coming up to the surface. They tire easily, but if they get something to eat, then they're unrestrainable.”
The Slushers were obviously a new side of Slormor, a non-vegetarian, meat-eating side, unlike what I had come across so far.
A cascade of water dashed in over the boat. Parvrin moved aside and called out to me that I should retreat from the edge of the quay.
We both withdrew. A dripping, doughy gray substance pulled itself up on the edge. It was speckled with something that looked like red nerve fibres or veins. The loathsome object rose about two meters into the air. It had no trace of a face, nor eyes, nor mouth, only slobbery slush. The stink from its outlets became more and more insistent. Then it fell back behind the edge with a big splash as its pasty body fell into the water.
“Now,” Parvrin cried and rushed back to the edge, down the stone stairs and into the boat. “Now we must act quickly and row across to the other side before it revives.”
I caught hold of the oars that rested in their locks and began to scull with short, rapid strokes. The small boat rushed faster and faster ahead. I did not see what was ahead of us but behind me, which actually was in front of me, the water bubbled as shapeless slushers emerged and pursued us. It made me sick.
I heard Parvrin screaming in the bow and heard strong blows. It did not make me feel easy. I did not dare turn about, but I understood that Parvrin was using the stake to work at something, probably the Slushers.
We had covered more than half of the distance when a Slusher caught up with us and gushed up over the stern of the boat. We were going to capsize. With an unintentional scream I ceased rowing and used the oar as a weapon. When I hit at the mushy stuff that came streaming in over the stern, I found to my surprise that its consistency was solid and not at all as pasty as it looked.
The bow, where Parvrin now stood, was pointing towards the sky as the Slusher weighed down the stern. It was alarming, to say the least; the boat would capsize any second. I hit the speckled enemy as it pressed harder and harder and... lost its grip. The boat turned a somersault: a veritable flip up, up into the air.
And for a fraction of a moment, as the boat hung upside down over the water, I saw that the water was literally boiling. Then the boat slammed to the surface but right side up.
“You injured it,” Parvrin said, “and now its mates are fighting over eating it. Hurry up!”
I seized the oars and rowed like a madman. Behind me it seemed as if the cannibalistic Slushers indeed were uncontrollable, as Parvrin had predicted.
“Easy! Take it easy!” Parvrin shouted, but it was too late.
The rowboat crashed into the stone wall of the canal, and I heard the wood, rotten to the core, collapse, and I felt lukewarm water running in around my legs.
“Hurry up!” Parvrin urged.
I leaped up on to the low quay, where she stood waiting for me. At the same moment, one big kitchen midden of Slushers attacked, and the boat sank when they fell upon it.
“One obstruction passed,” Parvrin said with a wry smile.
I interpreted her statement and her smile as meaning that more obstructions remained before we reached the presumed place of Slormor's dead spot.
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Copyright © 2007 by Bertil Falk