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Under the Green Sun of Slormor

by Bertil Falk

Table of Contents
Chapter 3 appeared
in issue 275.
Chapter 4:
The Moons’ Play of Colors
on the Opal Lake

part 1 of 3

While driving home from his grandson’s baptism, the hero walks into a space-time trap and is spirited to the world of Slormor. It is a tired world, populated with beings who eke out an existence. To them neither life nor death seems desirable.

As the hero tries to find a way back to his own world, a little girl, Parvrin, becomes his companion and guide. She shows him that under the green sun of Slormor, things are not always as they seem. A series of strange adventures leads him back to his grandson’s baptism, where a kind of final explanation — if explanation it is — leaves him astounded.

Another step and it was a brilliant, flower-fragrant night with two moons shining...
— Somtow Sucharitkul

The dried-up ocean bed was sloping upwards, and we saw it narrowing into a road ahead of us. It became thinner and thinner and ultimately ended in stairs leading straight upwards into the mountain. Parvrin was cheerless. I felt more at ease than I had ever since I’d gotten caught in this unexpected situation. I had accepted the state of things and in some way reconciled myself with my... my what?

My fate?

It should have been pitch dark, but the rock faces and stairs seemed to be luminous black. We wandered in a dusk of velvet of varying intensity. It was the same air, difficult to breathe, that I had breathed ever since I entered this existence on the fringes of... of what?

Of my own life?

What did I actually know about Parvrin? Not much! I knew she had a gur, but what was a gur? Since I was dressed in his garments, it must be a human being: a man? But was it a relative? Was it a guru, a teacher?

I dismissed the thought: similarity of words must not confuse me. I decided to ask her at a convenient opportunity, but not right now, when she was in such a melancholy mood.

The stairs never seemed to end. We walked and stopped to take a rest. Our breaks became more and more frequent. Sometimes the stairs led diagonally upwards; sometimes the steps meandered in peculiar whirls downwards only to once more take a turn upwards and merge into a spiral, which sometimes went dead straight upwards and then swung aside and, like a drill hole gone askew, once more went upwards. And all the time there was this oscillating obscurity, sometimes grayish, sometimes like mother-of-pearl.

I felt a vague movement in the thick air.

A breeze?

A draft?

Maybe only my imagination.

“Do you know where we are?” I panted as we paused on a landing.

Quietly, she nodded. “This must be the stairs leading to the valley of the Invaders.”

“Are the Invaders bad or good?” I asked.

She bit her lip. I had not seen her do that before. “They’re like all of us. They’re victims of circumstances.”

Victims of circumstances! This was a dying world. Dried sea beds, canals filled with unhealthy liquid, feeble-minded beings hardly capable of dragging out their existence. And the city by the pond of the water lilies that fell apart at a touch. If I only knew where I was. Canals and dried ocean beds!

In the beginning of the 20th century, that would have argued in favor of Mars, but after visiting the Red Planet, that hypothesis went down the drain. This was possibly Mars as it could have been had NASA not bothered to send space probes to the planet.

Or were we somewhere on Earth? In a secret valley that had never been discovered? Incorporated in some form in the air of an unseen crack or hidden like a tick inside the skin of Earth? The world I had wound up in was Slormor, but what was Slormor?

Our watertight bags were almost empty when we discovered water.

“Look,” Parvrin said and pointed at the mountain wall along the stairs.

A drop of water! One drop, two drops!

Soon there were more of them. When we sat down for a rest on a crooked ledge, the drops had formed a rill that ran unceasingly along the granular cliff face. Was it melted snow? Or rather condensation? The kind of water Parvrin would have netted with her Sven Hedin traps? Parvrin filled up our bags and bottles, and we drink our fill.

“Who built the stairs through the mountain?” I asked her.

“Don’t know,” she said.

“But you do know that it is leading to the valley of the Invaders?”

“Well, that may be more a guess on my part.”

“And what does the legend say about the savior?”

“The one who will save us will come from the heavy city. He will come across ocean beds and waters on the way that takes the deliverer to the valley of the Invaders, or something like that. But it also talks about volcanoes and unknown lakes and about some other things, which I don’t really remember very well. But the rescuer can’t do it alone. The rescuer must have a companion.”

“A guide?”

“No, it’s rather an assistant, a follower, but not a guide. It says something about a stranger, but the language is somewhat blurred. It’s not known what the stranger is supposed to be. It can be the rescuer, the companion or...?”

“Or what?”

“Someone else.”

I was a foreigner in this world. I had a companion. It seemed as if I really were their deliverer. The thought stimulated me. I must not disappoint them. I must not shirk my divine task. My thoughts surprised me. The word divine had I not entered my thoughts since I went to Sunday school.

Once more I perceived a draft, as if a mild wind were carefully sweeping down upon us from above, and now it was not my imagination. For the first time since I had gone astray in my existence did I feel the sensation of a real draft of air.

Proceed to Chapter 4, part 2...

Copyright © 2007 by Bertil Falk

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