Under the Green Sun of Slormor
by Bertil Falk
Table of Contents
Chapter 4 appeared
in issue 276.
Chapter 5: The Klörtser Ride
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.
“We’d rather just wander,” said Kelse. — Jack Vance
The attack of the Belyrs totally surprised me, but I am not sure if Parvrin was surprised. We were ensnared in ropes and carried away from our retreat along paths in the crater wall that I could not even see. But the beings, who were green-tanned — whether by the sunshine or the glowing lava, I do not know — saw a track where I saw nothing at all.
If Parvrin was right — and there was no reason to doubt it — my fate was to be buried alive in an unknown world far away from my own existence. I would never see my newly baptized grandchild grow up. I would never more meet my son and his wife, and I had seen my mother for the last time. I conjured up in my mind’s eye the picture of her tending to her orchid plants while my son cheerfully commented on her gardening.
Grandmother and grandson loved each other, and it was as if there were no place for me in between. There was no chink in their love where I could be wedged in. Love had jumped across one generation. That is not supposed to be unusual. But what do I know? I am not a family psychologist.
My world was perhaps not that much better than this partly dead place. Here was superstition and groups confronting each other, exactly as in my world. Did they have corruption everywhere as we have in Sweden? I had not seen it yet, but what I had seen was sinister enough.
We would be buried alive.
The girl Parvrin’s transformation into a young woman was not only unexpected, it was traumatic. Who was she? Was she what she appeared to be? What did she mean by saying it was thanks to me that she had changed?
I was hanging and swinging under the stake that had been stuck into the net and was being carried by two Belyrs. And at that moment I very much doubted that I was the deliverer the legends talked about, the one Parvrin had caused me to believe I was. I wondered if she still believed that old wives’ tale.
Strictly speaking, I had always known that life and living are meaningless. But my zest for life had always been stronger than this knowledge. The fact remains: in the long run there is nothing that can be considered meaningful. I will soon die. That is of less importance; but after me, my children will die, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren. They will all die.
All the talk that one continues living in one’s children is bullroar. The opposite is true: rather, one continues dying in one’s children.
To the extent that continued living is relevant, that relevance gets thinner and thinner. The dilution is a fast thing. On average, after six generations only 1/64 of your genetic input still exists in your great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren.
In the next generation the share is reduced to 1/128; then to 1/256, 1/512, 1/1024. At that point ten generations have elapsed. Where is my afterlife in that kitchen midden? At that level, my genetic inheritance co-operates and competes with the genetic inheritance of 512 women and 511 men.
At the same time, everything is perishable. What is the use of relics of culture the day the sun dies and the solar system comes to an end? Someone protests that it will take a very long time and will not affect us. Without knowing it, the protester actually puts a face on the fact that everything is meaningless.
What about a life to come then? Believe whatever you want. Alas for all who expect a Paradise, where the butchered boar Særimnir every morning is resurrected to be butchered and eaten again; alas for them, awakening to find that they will have none of it.
But nevertheless, the will to live, the lust for life are there. The fact remains that even when you give up and lie down, after a while you get to your feet and continue.
And with death at hand, the will to live has an ugly ability to assert itself in every possible way. Then, rational arguments about how meaningless life is have no relevance and are of no use. You will fill life itself with the missing meaning.
And when it comes to the sticking point, your genes mean something in the long run as well. Without them future generations would not have been what they will be.
And right now, at that moment, caught in a net and hanging from a stake carried between two beings, with my hands and feet in snares tied to the stake, I was being carried like a stretched bow between my stomach and the ground.
And I wanted to live at all costs.
I had expected them to perform more rites, sing new songs, dance and drum, and in all ways display that the trespassers should be sacrificed. But nothing of the kind happened. Instead, they unceremoniously dropped us onto the sand. We were released from the nets and forced to sit and watch them dig a huge grave.
“We are being sacrificed; no?” I asked.
“We’re not being sacrificed, we’ll be buried alive as soon as possible. They want to get rid of us.”
I understood that the Beryls intended to deal with us summarily in order to rid themselves quickly of the impurities that we were.
I looked at the watchmen. They were lightly dressed in clinging, spotted clothes and they moved flexibly. They had the characteristic necks slanting without transition into arms in the form of shoulders. Their ultramarine limbs and the their auras made them look transparent, which of course was an optical illusion.
“You should think carefully,” Parvrin suddenly said. “You’re about to bury him who will save Slormor.”
All activity ceased. The shortest of the Belyrs turned to Parvrin and said in a melodious voice: “The Savior?”
“How do you know?”
“You all ought to sense it.”
The short one was silent. He regarded Parvrin, then me, and then Parvrin again.
“If one of you is the Savior,” the short one said, “then it doesn’t matter if we bury you. The Savior will survive. That’s what the legend says. If none of you survives ... then none of you could have been the Savior.”
“But look at him,” Parvrin persisted. “Don’t you see that he’s of a different kind? Different skin, square corners instead of a neck going straight into arms.”
The Belyr did not respond, and the digging continued. Belyr hands caught us and carried us to the edge and threw us into the sandpit they had dug. Then they began to shovel sand over our heads.
I drew myself up and treaded the sand but I was getting nowhere. My body just sank into the sand at the same time as sand was thrown onto my head. Parvrin got hold of my arm and we were together as the sand enclosed us. I got a mouthful of sand.
Copyright © 2007 by Bertil Falk