Under the Green Sun of Slormor
by Bertil Falk
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.
“Dimly, like the daybreak glimmer of a sky long wrapped in fogs, a sign of consciousness began to dawn...” — George Allan England
Like a green orange, the emerald-colored sun rose above the plateau of the Hoverers. The green rays played between leaves and branches concurrently with the easy-going wind. We were served delicious fruits that melted in the mouth and treated the taste buds with pleasant aromas.
We took leave of our hosts, when they carried us to one of the footpaths between the treetops, and we continued our wandering. The road we would take had been pointed out to us, and we walked and walked. All this walking caused me pain. My legs were tired. In accordance with the decision I had made earlier about decreasing the pace, I tried to walk at zen-trot, but my gait was tottering. The footpath stretched between the tree-trunks and slanted vaguely downwards. After a couple of hours we were on Slormoria Firma.
Now we were in an airy forest, completely liberated from the sliminess that had met us as we descended into this part of Slormor the day before. But it was no longer as warm as it had been. We were surrounded by trees looking like beeches, tall with shadow-like trunks that were smooth like gray marble with strains of brilliant-black spots and wide branches spreading and interweaving with each other to form an iron-colored carpet, which hindered the precious stone-green light from penetrating too deeply between the leaves.
A verdant shimmer was the only thing the emerald sun was able to cast, and it was like a cobalt-green haze fretting in the gloom. Small, strange forms of life moved on the ground, which was strewn with dead leaves out of which minor flowers of different kinds forced themselves in order to lap the negligible blood-green shimmer that reached them. The air began to turn cool.
A small thing with ferrety shining eyes darted as quick as a weasel through the crumbling carpets of leaves. It moved on rotating balls, which it could change into different sizes adapted to the ground. The round extremities enlarged as the animal passed over a pit and diminished when approaching an incline. The animal resembled a cross-country vehicle with all kinds of parrying suspension devices to cover broken ground.
Elegantly, the animal, provided with fur like that of a cat, rolled along on its wheel-balls. Small winged insects shone forth in the sun-green shimmer, and occasional sounds were sometimes heard: angora-colored sounds like that of a creaking board, but also those more like sublimated chirps from a computer on which Microsoft Word had stalled.
Through this forest, the path meandered between the trees. We were sure it would take us in the right direction, and we wandered and wandered without rushing.
Walking at a slow, rhythmic pace puts the brain into a measurable, changed state of consciousness. In obscure nooks, where we withhold our innermost thoughts, forbidden impulses live. I gave a shiver. Staying in this foreign world raised alarming clouds of dust among repressed memories, which had lain unmoved for decades.
I remembered Ulla, six years old, a tiny, chubby thing, wrapped up in clothes that only permitted the cold, red tip of her nose to peep out above a mouth that consisted of a stroke under a pair of blue eyes framed by eyebrows, white with hoar-frost. She used to come and fetch me every day. Now she stood there on her skis. I was forced to put on my own Yule-gift skis and obediently push myself along with my ski poles, following her to the ski slope. I actually did not dare go downhill on the slope, and I said, “You first!”
She rushed headlong down the first crest and went down into the depression. at full speed she continued up and across the mound. And then she went vertically down to the road, where one of her poles got stuck in a bare birch branch. She pitched headlong through a snow obstruction made by a snowplow and landed in the middle of the unpaved road.
She was not run over only because there were very few cars on the roads around Yuletide of 1939. WW II had broken out a few months earlier. The war broke out on a wonderfully beautiful summer day, when we sat outside our house in the white-painted suite of garden furniture with openings between the bars in the table as well as the chairs.
Suddenly Wailing Winnie, which was at the top of a noteworthy building where many years later a well-known writer would commit suicide by starting his car in the garage, began howling with breathy bellowings. All the family except me rushed up and inside the house. I sat where I was with my partly finished bilberry juice, and when my sister came running out, she called out that it was war. Germany had marched into Poland.
There they turned on the radio. Since there only was one single radio program in those days, so called public service, which at least this day justified its existence as a supposed public utility, for all who turned on their receivers got to know that Hitler’s hordes were on the march. Not that it disturbed the family father. On the contrary, his turd-brown color deepened with happiness.
When Ulla precipitately rushed downhill, I stood there and considered whether or not I should follow her. I remember it clearly. However, I could not recall whether I actually followed my urgently attentive admirer, if admirer she was. But later that same winter, when she no longer was in the picture, I devoted myself to downhill skiing at that place. When I returned to that spot many years later, then resting in some nook in my memory, I gave one of my shivers.
The ski slope is dangerous now, as it was then. In any case, I admired not only her courage but also her being cheeky, a trait that on another occasion got her to answer back when the older boys on their way home from school passed by sometime in January 1940.
They rubbed snow over her face. I stood by her side and did not dare let out an unguarded word to defend her. For I knew that it was her words, her bickering, that had triggered the snow rubbing she had just experienced at minus twenty degrees Celsius (we had not even heard the word Fahrenheit).
I stood there by her side, helplessly yellow while the boys moved on, pleased with their performance, and Ulla stood there howling at the top of her voice, her face filled with snow. I do not know why, but the memory of all this, which had happened in another world in a past millenium, gave rise to a pain that I had hardly realized I still was capable of feeling. Maybe it was connected with the awkward knowledge that I had cut a poor figure and that I should have come to her defense and that this pain was exaggerated by the fact that it not could be undone after more than fifty years.
The girl rapidly disappeared out of my life, since she returned to her mother and father in the city. She had only been out on loan to her maternal or paternal grandparents for a short period this freezing winter. And now? More than a half century later! Was she still alive? Or was she ashes in a pot or soil in a grave?
Copyright © 2007 by Bertil Falk