Under the Green Sun of Slormor
by Bertil Falk
part 1 of 2
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.
Some change at once went through them all, as if this had really happened, and they were all conscious of making a party together in a hollow, on an island. — Virginia Woolf
The fog slowly poured forth across the enormous glade in the forest where the path had come to an end. It was a different fog. Like looking into a multi-colored glass ball where the colors are winding around each other, there were snakes coiling themselves around the colors where the meandering comes off on me, my clothes, a clammy minimum, the palpable but intangible body of the haze.
In it, a graceful condensation of tender fairies seemed to dance. The tops of their toes never touched the ground as their sharply transparent movements outlined their diaphanous contours against the pale silence. This silence, its turn, allowed only the sound of dripping water to pass along as if there were a tap leaking all on its own out here in the emptiness.
I looked around for Parvrin and glimpsed her shadow-like shape, which mixed itself with the tightening fog in a gray and quiet way. Through this blurred vapor, the emerald blood of the green star still permeated fumblingly and turned the fog into a kind of smoke that still tightened as the hot haze loosened its grip.
A nebulous towel embraced our minds like foam dissolving into a pleasant vagueness, and I allowed myself to be seduced by the streamless language of the opalescent mist. This wily turbidity cannot be good for one’s soul. Here one expects foghorns. On tenterhooks, I groped forward into this gray-speckled silence, but it is as if my five or six senses are not adjusted to this state.
What is the use of eyes when there is nothing to see? Ears when there is nothing to hear, except for dripping water that gets weaker and weaker. I sniffed, but there was no scent, only moist air filling my nostrils. The feeling of dampness was there, and when I opened my mouth, a gurgling sound emerged, a guttural sound, the meaning of which I well understand.
I felt eased, for it meant that my power of speech and my hearing ability were both intact. And my perception of touch was no illusion. The vaguely outlined shape of Parvrin was quite close to me. She walked with a calm I envied her.
It became more difficult to breathe again. I was in the grip of asthmatic dread. But the fog slowly dissolved, and in an association that goes without saying, I heard in my mind’s ear the flute composition by Carl Nielsen placing itself like balsam around my mind.
A shepherd landscape emerged out of the many-colored mist. High hills and smaller mounds, verdant and basking in the green sunshine and in the midst of everything a ruin, which like a mysterious Glastonbury Abbey outlined its decayed contours against a setting of rolling... well, of rolling what?
Clumsy milli-wheelers, long like boa constrictors and articulated at every pair of wheels. Smoothly, they slid about in the landscape, grazing stubble-fields. Parvrin told me that those ten-yard long animals were tame plösers, a rare species, the spews of which — a kind of ruminated mush — was a dainty that commanded anything and everything at the market in the heavy city.
A young girl, beautiful and with the characteristic slopes instead of shoulders, was walking among the plösers, singing an incomprehensible song that caused Parvrin to turn red. The lyrics were of a kind she declined to translate to me. And for the first — or was it the second time? — I asked myself the question as to how they reproduced on Slormor. Did they do it as we do on Terra?
The girl turned out to be a plöser shepherd. She drew away her plösers to another pasture. Curious, I walked to the ruins of the Gaudi-like complex with its rounded edges and soft convexities. I entered through a collapsed hole in the wall. Inside, there was a strange scenery with irregular walls, moss-grown and overgrown with flowers that had taken root in joints and cavities. It was like entering a graveyard without graves. Treelike structures spread out their branches, some of which were bare and ending in something that looked like soft hands, while others were furnished with leaves and flowers and ending in something that looked like claws.
“Don’t stop here!” I heard Parvrin’s voice behind me.
A gossamer veil pillow laced out of empty nothingness settled like a lilac-colored curtain above us.
Everywhere, high windows yawned with emptiness — except one, which was covered with stained glass forming a mosaic of pictures: black and red dragons that swing exquisitely above a flourishing field of corn. It is not an ordinary church window I see, but a living picture out of the past, when Rurkan ruled and with his three heads’ six eyes gently looked out across Slormor while his grandson Skurkran planned his wicked deed to kill his grandfather.
I had stopped, but now Parvrin pushed me.
“Don’t stop! To look at that stained glass is enough to make you bewitched,” she said and I was stirred up from my thoughts and picked up speed.
Parvrin ran past me. Wrapped in dusk, I saw how the lilac-colored veil descended on us, and I realized that it probably was dangerous. Did the ruin never end? I saw no end, and I soon understood that it depended on that we already were outside on the other side of the ruin. The lustre pursued us.
Parvrin caught my hand and dragged me on. At a run, we rushed forwards and were soon inside the forest again. I turned round and saw ghastly lilac forms surging to and fro across heaven like the aurora borealis. To and fro, and suddenly the lilac forms were sucked back into the ruin.
Parvrin slackened her pace. “That was a close one,” she said. “You should not have rushed into that dilapidated thing without asking me. We were lucky to get out. Had we been percolated through that lilac filter, we would never have become ourselves again.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
The track meandered between bushes and trunks, tall grass and termitary-looking hills. Before us an opening in the landscape loomed, and we were at the end of the forest. I stopped at the edge of the forest and breathed a deep breath of perplexity.
Ahead of us eternity stretched in the form of a crimson-red lake with the consistency of a bloodbath. The lake glowed with the strength of a red-hot ruby. A vague wind caressed its surface, which moved in a slender, elongated and slow groundswell. A subdued, lapping sound came dashing in on the shore, only to withdraw with a resigned sigh.
On this water of fire, a small group of kidney-formed animals bobbed up and down concurrently with the swell. They were no bigger than full-grown cats. Their eyes were metal balls, and they had small, funny horns. They were furnished with paddles, extremities they used for locomotion.
And there, out in the lake, far away, but nevertheless visible, was Consolation Island. It hung like a mirage across the surface of the blood-gorged lake, covered with a jungle of vegetation of all kinds of colors.
“That’s where we’re going,” Parvrin said. “That is, if the time is ripe.”
I had no idea what she meant.
She turned to me. When I looked into her black eyes, the hypnotic ebony eyes of a cobra, it gave me a thrill. Her bony, beige neck sloped straight down into her arms and she smiled.
“If the time is ripe?” I repeated.
“If the time is ripe!”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I’m talking about the crucial moment.”
Standing there, her sloping neck-arms in bold relief against the emerald-green lustre, she was magnificent. Transformed into a mature woman in her best years, something completely different from the gazing brat with black, maybe precocious, but anyhow not very lively eyes. And with a grayish and mute face, who together with her friends had assaulted me in the heavy city... how long ago was it?
Only a moment or an eternity ago? My apprehension of time was in a state of dissolution. It had of course not happened right now, but long, long ago. And where had I seen this woman before? I looked across the sanguine mirror: a victim, yes, certainly a victim of thoughts, both contradicting and captivating, likewise inflammatory and premonitory. What was I supposed to do here?
Would it not have been better if I had lain down to die instead of devoting time to what was by all appearances incessant madness? Could I longer doubt that this was not a dream but a reality, which I suffered through no fault of my own... Of my own?
Was it not my own curiosity that caused me to stumble into the back of that statue in Alstad that spirited me into Slormor? Should I not have devoted time to unreasonable detection instead of curiously sniffing at the back of a statue that stood where it did not belong?
“Don’t fall into thoughts of hopelessness,” Parvrin said. She obviously saw what was going on inside me. “We’ll go to the island. If possible, things will be resolved there, perhaps even find an explanation. And if something does go wrong, I have my embroidered piece of cloth, so please don’t despair now that we’ve almost reached our goal.”
“It wasn’t here you said that we were going when we started,” I said. “How do I know where you’ve taken me?”
“Trust me. No, I didn’t lie for you. It’s only that as we have moved on and I’ve grown and matured, the target, the goal, has changed shape and color and character and moved ahead of us. Now we are almost at our goal.” She paused, adding: “Perhaps!”
To penetrate into the unknown, to pierce through the secrecy, to disclose the inner hearts and farthest frontiers of everything, is that perchance not the characteristic of human beings? And was there not with Parvrin much more than a glimpse of a traveler, who always sees the goal beckoning in front of her? I regarded the mirror, red as fire, in front of us.
“And this lake of blood would be the threshold?” My voice vibrated with distrust.
“Let’s assume so. Come now.”
Copyright © 2007 by Bertil Falk