Under the Green Sun of Slormor
by Bertil Falk
Table of Contents
Chapter 5 appeared
in issue 277.
In the World of the Hoverers
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.
There was wind on his face, and the air was bitterly cold.— Alfred Coppel
A slow comfort rocks me. The plain is like a prairie ahead of me, an extension without end and with horizons wherever I turn. There is nothing else but extension, and I walk to and fro without being able to make up my mind in what direction I must walk in order to reach my goal; and I do not even know what that goal is. My comfort is warm and soft and pleasant, and I realize that once again I am dreaming.
When I raised my head from my warm bed, Parvrin sat up straight, she, too, peeking out from her bed. The cold in our pit immediately surrounded my head and brought me wide awake.
“The blizzard?” I asked.
“Has almost ceased,” Parvrin replied. “Not wholly, but almost. We’ll take it easy and wait.”
In silence we drank our water and ate our black bread.
I heard no sound, though the wind should have been heard where we were sitting. And we were both silent.
Then it happened.
A clear and distinct signal!
In the form of “For he’s a jolly good fellow.”
Startled, Parvrin looked down at her breast.
It was my mobile phone hanging in a necklace around her neck that was ringing.
I snatched the mobile. “Hello!”
I heard a rattling sound, a strange voice, speaking a peculiar language I’d never heard before. “Prenburt eke din ajkal thinhmik ke bare me,” the voice said; a feeble male voice.
“I don’t understand,” I replied. “Who’s speaking?”
There was silence in my ear.
“Hello! Hello!” I called out.
Parvrin looked at me, her gaze wondering.
“Allo!? Allo? Kån hä?” the voice repeated.
I handed the mobile phone to Parvrin. “What’s he saying?” I asked.
She put the phone to her ear as she had seen me doing. “He says that they’ve succeeded in getting to the statues of the Marvirs and that it’s only a question of time until they reach...”
“Who do they mean...?” I began, but broke off as I realized that the voice was talking about us: Parvrin and myself. “And who’s saying that?” I continued.
“Now it’s disappeared,” Parvrin said. “I think it was an Invader.”
“Why do you think so?”
“The language,” she said. “The dialect; and they talked about us.”
Thus, wireless telephony did exist on Slormor. The discovery made me eager and I began to ask Parvrin.
“Oh,” she said, “the old ones had some kind of ability to talk through the air.”
“Obviously the Invaders or some others still have that capacity,” I said and looked at the mobile phone hanging around her neck. I took it from her and tried to phone my son. It did not work. Contact with Extra-Slormorians was probably not possible. Now I understood that the Invaders were on their guard and that they expected we would approach them.
“Can we do a flanking movement of some kind?” I asked.
“We can’t do anything but continue straight ahead,” Parvrin answered absent-mindedly.
Something was on her mind.
I hung the mobile phone around my own neck and wrapped myself in the embracing bed. Its warmth surrounded me like a mother’s womb. I regarded Parvrin, thought of her transformation from a small girl, small but bold and crafty, and how good it was.
The discovery that the mobile phone functioned and that this world had a wireless system of communication was both alarming and promising. But this damned excursion of mine, this hunt for this world’s equivalent of The Holy Grail was getting on my nerves. And the uncertainty! Never knowing where I was!
“What do you know about other worlds?” I asked Parvrin.
“Other worlds? What do you mean?”
“Other places, other planets?”
“Like the stars in heaven?”
“The stars,” she said, “are pasted on a rotating plate that Morfola made when She created Slormor.”
“The sun and the moons?”
“Free-standing sources of energy shedding light upon existence,” Parvrin replied.
“And what’s outside that rotating plate?”
“How do you know?”
Parvrin gave a sound that might have been a sigh at this bombardment of questions. “If you climb the peak of Slormor’s tallest mountain, then you can see across the edge of Nothingness.”
I must have looked surprised, and she must have learned to interpret my expression when I got surprised, for she answered before I asked: “Because the mountain Sladorsnyra protrudes through the rotating plate; it carves through it like a knife when it rotates. But the incision, where it cuts, closes itself at the same time as the plate rotates with the stars.”
I understood that the conception of the world on Slormor was more related to the ancient world views of Earth than to modern science. I did not argue. I just listened.
Thus, we sat hour after hour until Parvrin said that the blizzard had calmed down. With united efforts, we succeeded in pushing aside the roof of butterfly branches that served as a hatch above our pit. We were hindered by the blue snow that had fallen on it.
It was day. A strange lustre arose as the green sun spread its emerald sheen on the bluish covering of snow. The trees looked as if they were blown in blue glass and penetrated by the heat of the verdure of the sun. The klörtsers had already whisked themselves out of their pits.
An ice-cold wind cut like knife-edged icicles across my cheeks. I started to shiver. I shivered more. My body shook.
I looked at the statues.
The statues of the Marvirs.
Their polished surfaces gleamed. They seemed to be made out of blushing marble. They were a couple of meters tall and stood on pedestals that wriggled in confusing movements around its core. They were all shapes of a dwarflike stature: statues radiating will and power — willpower.
Gradually their necks sloped into arms that ended in a pair of slender-limbed hands. I recognized them: the statue at the bus station in Alstad. But to my disappointment their backs were not hollow.
I raised my eyes up to the steep side of the nearest mountain range, which was much taller than the one we had been whisked up to. My anxiety was unwarranted. We sat inside the soft heads/bodies and, embedded in this warm existence, we traveled while the klörtsers rotated their tentacles. We went with sufficient speed up along the snow-clad mountain wall.
This steel-blue snow reminded me of the pale shine of the blue moon on earthly snow. But while in the green sunshine it assumed a purple color over the expanse of the whole wall. From the pinnacle, we saw the mountain chain stretch seemingly endlessly to the left and to the right. An enormous depression lay ahead of us: a valley filled with a mucilaginous vegetation that wobbled like an enormous glob of jelly.
“That’s where we’re going,” Parvrin said, and I gave another shiver when I saw this dough with a consistency of a snail’s track.
“Beyond this forest is Blood Lake,” Parvrin said. “A lake the color of blood. The path leading to the lake is lined with obstacles, and we have to break through them. When we’ve arrived at Blood Lake — if we get that far at all — we must try to get out to Consolation Island, where the Voice of Silence speaks.”
“What about the Invaders?” I exclaimed. “Where have they gone?”
Parvrin looked at me with eyes that seemed sad. “We may never meet the Invaders,” Parvrin said. “They always retreat. Nobody has ever met them. They’re the shyest beings that exist. Nobody knows what they look like. We’ve only perceived them. But one never knows. Perhaps...”
“Now you tell me?”
“I’ve sort of hinted at it,” she said and her voice was irritable.
Parvrin made a gesture with her hand and the klörtsers rotated their tentacles and disappeared the same way they had brought us.
“They’ve done what they can do,” she explained. “They would get stuck in phlegm if they tried to go down into the doughy forest.”
“How about us?” I wondered. “Won’t we get stuck in that slime?”
“That would be better than anything else we could be caught in,” Parvrin said.
From her belt she produced the richly colored bandanna-like piece of cloth with an embroidered dragon, the cloth she had pocketed before we set out on this journey from the heavy city. She shook it carefully, then folded it up again and put it back inside her belt. “One never knows when it can be useful,” she said.
Parvrin was now totally transformed into a mature woman. I somehow seemed to remember meeting at some time. The question “Where?” burned like a red-hot coal on the tip of my tongue, but I could not get it out. Instead of asking her, I remained silent.
“Shall we continue?” she asked.
Always this journey, constantly breaking camp. Ulysses’ wanderings, the journeys of Lucky Peter, the Wandering Jew, the odyssey of Leopold Bloom, the Flying Dutchman, the the return of Pier Gynt, the Damascus wandering of the Unknown, Indra’s daughter walking the earth, the trek of Frodo, this paranoid and panic-stricken quest for an elusive goal and a meaning in the absurdly meaningless and inexplicable.
Copyright © 2007 by Bertil Falk