Kara Kum – Chapter 5

Chapter Five

Her trance was broken when she tripped over a stone. As her face hit the ground she became transfixed with terror. This was not the place she knew. All around her was hostile desert. Mound after mound of nothing but sand. Not knowing what else to do, she picked up the stone. Maybe this would offer her some clue.  It was an odd stone, like nothing she had ever seen before; smooth all over and the deepest shade of black. It had a sheen to it but it was not shiny.

She turned the stone over and over in her hand, trying to think of what to do next. When she fell she had been turned around; she now faced her tracks in the sand. She realized she could just follow the tracks back to her area. A smile graced her lips as she got up and began retracing her steps.

A feeling of self contentment came over her. She was quiet pleased with her cleverness, until she saw the second set of tracts which cris-crossed hers. She stood at this cross road for a long while. It became unclear to her which tracks to follow.  She nervously turned the stone over and over in her hand. Suddenly she felt the stone move of it’s own volition. The stone began to pull her toward one set of tracks. The sensation was so unsettling that she let go of the stone. It floated in the air in front of her. She reached out to the stone and grabbed it. It began to pull her, again she let go. She wasn’t sure what to do, to follow the stone or not. The stone flew around her head as she sat and thought about her dilemma. Finally, she reasoned that because she could not decide which way to go, she might as well follow the stone. It seemed like the only solution.

For a long while the stone pulled her along. They passed through the desert into a wooded area. There were trees all around them. The trees reached high up into the sky. The sky was a rich deep blue like the sea. The air smelled sweet and moist. She could hear the sound of birds singing and water babbling. Under her feet was a thick layer of leaves that rustled as she walked through them. All these new experiences were amazing to her. She became delirious with happiness.

After a long while the stone slowed down and then stopped pulling. This was a welcome development, as she was becoming tired and hungry. They stopped by the stream that she heard babbling. The water was  sweet and cold, very different from the water in the fountain that was in her area.

There were bushes covered in berries along the stream. The berries where a dark purple in color. She had never seen food like this, she put one in her mouth. This new taste was so alien to her she quickly spat it out. It was as if her mouth didn’t know what to do with the taste. She was very hungry. She recognized that this was the only thing around that resembled food. She picked another berry and popped it in her mouth, quickly squashed it with her pallet and swallowed it. After a couple more berries she decided she like the sensation of eating berries, and gorged herself on them.

After eating her fill and washing it down with the sweet stream water she realized that she was exhausted. She made a bed of leaves and laid down to go to sleep. Suddenly she felt a tapping on her hand. It was the stone. She opened her hand, and the stone nestled into her palm. This was very comforting and she fell fast asleep.

The next morning she woke up and felt the stone in her hand, it felt very warm. At first it was a pleasant feeling, until it started to burn. She let go of it and a loud noise came out of her mouth. The stone flew up passed the trees into the sky.  She watched it go way up until she could no longer see it. As she looked up at the sky she saw that it was no longer blue but an odd greenish gray. Clouds had formed in the night and a storm was coming. She had never seen the sky look this way, but she had an overwhelming sense of fear.

Suddenly the stone was flying around her head. She reached out and grabbed it. It pulled her very quickly. She ran with her arm extended in front of her. The stone pulled her through bushes and almost into trees. There was a loud crack of thunder from the sky. This made the hair on her neck stand on end. The stone was pulling her into what looked like a wall of rock. By the time she realized that there was a opening, she was already inside a cave.

They spent the day inside the safety of the cave. All morning she watched the storm. It was very exciting. There were flashes of light and loud claps of thunder. The most amazing thing was all the water. Gobs and gobs of rain fell from the sky. As she watched the storm she began to relax, this was her first chance to think. Visions of her area floated in her mind. She started to think about the young man she had communicated with. He was very different from the normals that had moved in front of her window over the years. She thought about his face, it was striking. She closed her eyes to see it better.

Suddenly, the stone tapped her on the head, she opened her eyes. The stone flew to a dark part of the cave, then flew back at her. It whizzed around her head then went to the dark area again. She was not sure what to do, but decided to follow the stone.

It was not clear to her why the stone wanted her to go to the dark part of the cave, until she saw that there was something or someone else in the cave with them. She thought that this being had not noticed her. She hid herself tightly in the dark and tried not to make a sound. The being had an unusually large head. Its face was white, with dark areas around its eyes. It was wearing a shiny green gown.  She watched as this being sat down and opened up a small sack. Out of the sack came containers of all shapes, sizes, colors and materials. From the containers came odd foods, that smelled strangely enticing. Suddenly the being looked right at her. She could feel it’s eyes piercing her, scanning to find out who or what she was. “You may join me, if you like… there’s more then enough for two” it said. It then put at large apron around it’s neck and began to eat. It ate in a very delicate manner, except crumbs fell from it’s mouth all over the apron. She stood in the darkness trying to figure out what it had said. Its voice was not like the voice that told her stories in her childhood; it was melodious but sharp at the same time. She finally realized that the being knew she was there and had beckoned to her to join it in eating. The stone hung in the air in front of her, she reached for it and it nestled into her hand. She took this as a sign from the stone that they would be alright. She stepped out from the darkness and looked at the being. It smiled a wide smile, as food fell from it’s mouth. She smiled back and tried to say ‘thank you’ but it came out garbled, “khant uyo”. The being laughed at this and pointed to a spot on the ground across from it.

All the food smells had made her realize that she was hungry. As she sat down her stomach made a loud rumbling noise. She smiled at the being and tried to say ‘thank you‘ again, this time it came out ‘kyant huo’.  She knew from the stories she was read as a child, it was important to say thank you. Again she tried, this time she said,’tank houy’. The being smiled at her and said, “Your quite welcome my dear, I am the April fool, the Guru, and I’m happy to have a dinner companion. Now please stop thanking me, sit down and eat”.

She started with a small piece of cheese. It smelled sweet so she took a small bite. It had a very odd consistency and made her whole mouth feel strange. She knew she could not spit it out. She tried not to think about it and swallowed. She realized that this was a food that was best after it was swallowed. It made her whole mouth have a good taste and feeling.

“What is your name?” the Guru asked. She watched the words come from its month. She had never seen and heard anyone speak before, the experience was sort of disturbing. She knew that the normals did this all the time she would watch them out her window, this was how they communicated. But to see it in person made it difficult to decipher the words. Also the Guru kept looking at her when it spoke, this made her feel very self conscious. She looked at the Guru and smiled, she had no answer for its question. But this response seemed to satisfy the Guru.

They went back to eating, and next she tried a piece of chocolate. This smelled wonderful, and it tasted even better. She squeaked with delight after she ate it. The Guru said,”You like that, it’s called chocolate. Don’t eat to much or you’ll be sick. How about some wine?” It took a couple of seconds for her to register that the Guru asked her a question. She had no idea what it said, she reasoned it was a question whether or not she wanted more or different food. Not sure how to respond she smiled.

The Guru reached into the bag and pulled out a bottle of red wine and two elegant flutes. She had never seen drinking glasses before and her head tilted as she looked at them. The Guru opened the bottle and poured. She was amazed by this site, pointing to the empty glass she asked “Wat tis?”.

“Why it’s a champagne flute, a glass,” the Guru responded. Glass, this word she had heard in the stories, but the stories never described what it would look like.

The Guru poured wine into her glass,”This is wine.” The stories were always talking about wine, in some cases it was a good thing, in some it was evil. She first sniffed the wine, it smelt musty. She took a small sip. It was another new and interesting taste, she drank down the glass. The Guru said ,”Not so fast, you’ll get woozy.” The Guru poured her another glass. Again she guzzled it down. She started feeling warm and happy inside. She handed the Guru her glass for a refill.

The Guru looked at her and said,”How about some water this time.“ It went into its bag and got out a large water bottle, and poured her a glass. She took a sip and realizing it was water was very disappointed. She felt she could not complain, as she was a guest. She smiled sheepishly and had another piece of chocolate. After she swallowed it her stomach started to hurt. She realized that she shouldn’t have anymore. She looked for a place to make a bed and found a indentation in the floor that was the perfect size. She laid down and went fast asleep in a matter of minutes. The Guru covered her with a shiny pink blanket and went off to find a place for itself to sleep.

That evening she had a dream that she had many times. The area in the dream was always the same but what happened in the dream was always slightly different. In the dream she was a child and sat in a very cramped room with a window, looking down at a ballroom. She was dressed in a gray unitard with a tight fitting hood. There were beautiful people in the ballroom below her. They were dressed in elegant clothing. Again she could see them but they couldn’t see her. A beautiful woman in a red dress walked into this party and all eyes turned to her. The red dressed woman stopped suddenly and looked up at her. She then could see through the eyes of this woman, she walked about this party talking to people. They all understood what she was saying.

Suddenly the woman began laughing and she was back behind the window. But this time the walls of the small room were gone, she could see that the ballroom was round and that she was in a catwalk that circled the room. She began to hear voices. Chattering like birds. A group of children appeared from around the bend. They were all dressed as she was. She joined them and began chattering as well.

It was as if they were waiting for something. Next from around the bend came an older child dressed in a black unitard. He was pushing a steel cart with a cake on top. He carried a large knife with him. He smiled at everyone and they all became quiet. He started to cut the cake, when he cut into it blood began to pour from it. The children all screamed with delight. She pulled away from the group and started running as the children began to greedily eat the cake. As she ran she heard the woman in red scornfully laughing at her. She woke up with a start, but quickly fell back to sleep.

The next morning when she woke up, she had a stomach ache and a headache. She looked around the cave to see the Guru was gone. It had left her some things. The pink blanket she had been covered in. It was a very warm blanket. She wrapped herself tightly, and it felt very comforting. There were some containers with food in them.  There were also some shoes like the Guru wore. She had seen the normals wearing shoes and had always wondered what it would be like. She put them on, while they were a perfect fit, she thought they were constrictive and took them off. She looked at the other things that the Guru left her. There was a small bag like the one it had, but this one was pink like her blanket. She put the shoes inside the bag. Just like the Guru’s bag, things that were large out side, were small inside the bag. There was also a pink gown, she put it on, it was very comfortable so she decided to wear it. She left behind her gray-green dress, as it was torn, dirty and she decided after seeing the pink gown, ugly.  She collected everything into the bag and decided to go find some water, she was still not feeling well.

When she got outside the cave, it seemed very bright. She became dizzy. She sat down for a second and realized she didn’t have the stone with her. Suddenly it whizzed out of the cave and began circling her head. This made her all the more dizzy. She reached out and grabbed the stone out of the air very abruptly. She got up, gathered her newly acquired belongings and headed to the stream.

When she got to the stream she drank some water which made her feel much better. Soon the stone began pulling in her hand. As much as she didn’t want to, she dutifully followed.

They walked along the stream all day. Finally they stopped. She sat down exhausted. She put the stone down next to her and ate a small meal from the food the Guru had given her. She wondered what happened to the Guru. Where had it gone, was she going to see the Guru again?

The stone began to whiz around her head. This was very annoying to her. She wanted to rest with her thoughts. The stone whizzed away, she followed it with her eyes. It stopped short and spun in the air. On the ground below the stone there was a snake. She froze with fear, it was a large snake and could easily make a meal of her. It coiled it’s body, and she became very afraid. Suddenly it struck at it’s own tail, it began to devour itself. She watched in horror as it ate itself until it was nothing but a head and a small piece of body. Then with a loud “pop” it was gone.

This scene was very disturbing to her. She sat in shock for quiet sometime. It grew dark and she realized she needed to sleep.

Shortly after she fell asleep she began to dream. In the dream she was standing in the train station that her window look down on. She looked up where her window should be, but could not find it. The young man she had connected with, padded her on the back and said,”Come on, let’s go”. She looked up again where her window should be, and for a brief moment she saw herself standing in the window looking down at the station. This vision was very comforting to her. In a brief moment she was on the train.

She looked around the train at the other people, they were all standing avoiding each other’s gaze. As she looked at each individual she heard their thoughts. One woman was chanting in her head, “I am beautiful”. A young man was praying, ”Please God, send money to me so that I can pay my rent.”. An older woman was thinking, ”I’ve done all that I can do, I should just leave.”

At the far end of the train she saw a figure wrapped tightly in a coat, hiding it’s face. When the figure saw her looking, it revealed itself to be the Guru. It smiled at her, and sent a thought to her, “Hello my dear. “ She heard it’s voice in her head. She smiled back. The Guru continued, “Have you figured it out yet? It’s quite a riddle my dear. How can you be here and looking out your window at the same time?” She hadn’t thought of this. The idea hit her like a  blow to the head.

The young man said ”What’s wrong?”. She looked at him and could say nothing. She looked back at the Guru, it’s laughter raddled around in her head. She woke up to find the Guru sitting across from her laughing. “Quiet a dream my dear”, it said. It began to laugh and then it disappeared.

She sat there alone, trying to think what the dream meant. She thought that maybe she had just imagined the Guru sitting across from her. Then she heard it’s laughter again. The laughter seem like it was coming from nowhere and everywhere, at the same time. It rang through her head, then faded away. She didn’t know what to think. After awhile she grew very tired trying to figure it out. She fell back to sleep and did not dream again that night.

The next morning she woke up tired and hung over. She did not want to walk, she did not want to even stand. The stone pulled out of her hand and spun in the air in front of her. She sighed deeply, and got up, collected her things, snatched the stone from the air and prepared herself for another day of following. The stone broke free from her grasp and spun in front of her. She reached out to grab it again and the stone flew just out of reach. She began to chase the stone and the stone led her down a path. In her frustration, she yelled violently at the stone. Finally the stone stopped. She grabbed it tightly.

A feeling of being watched came over her. She looked up to see that she was standing in front of a beautiful tent. There were two very large men standing outside the tent, guarding the entrance. They were both trying to stop themselves from giggling. She looked up and smiled at them, and they both broke into laughter. There laughter was infectious and she began to laugh at herself.

Suddenly a beautiful young woman emerged from the tent. This woman was unique looking, she had green hair, she wore a crown and a long fur lined gown. The two guards stopped laughing and resumed the usual stoic look that guards are known for. “I am the Princess.”, the beautiful woman said then added, “Who are you?”.

The stone wiggled out of her hand and spun between the two women. “Margiana’s stone!”the Princess said as she grabbed the stone from the air. “And why do you have this stone? Who are you? Why have you come to see the goddess?”The Princess walked slowly around her. She tried not to move, she felt very afraid.

“This dress, where did it come from? You window rats usually wear those drab smocks? Have you seen the April Fool? Did it give you this?” the Princess poked her hard in the ribs, indicating her gown.”Do you have an answer?” the Princess stopped in front of her. She did not know what to do. The Princess flipped the stone to her and she caught it, and put into her bag. “You’re all the same, never speaking. I will take you to Margiana, you have her stone, there must be some reason for it. Follow me.”

The Princess led her into the tent. The tent was huge inside; it was not that it seemed larger on the inside than it did on the outside, it actually was larger on the inside then it was on the outside. There where people everywhere inside the tent, they where dancing and doing all sorts of acrobatics. There were trapezists flying through the air. There were unusual looking people dressed in unusual looking costumes. They walked by giant animals with unique smells. It was very noisy, and there were lots of things moving all at once. It made her dizzy and disoriented.

“This way,” the Princess pulled her through a curtain. It was a dark room, and very quiet except for the sound of water softly running. “Wait here” the Princess said and then she left.

The floor of the room was covered in pillows. Shiny silky pillows. She tried to sit down on one of them but slid right off on to the floor. She smiled at her awkwardness and stood up and tried another pillow; again she was on the floor. She started to laugh at herself. She began to make a game of it standing and sitting, sliding on the floor. She became hysterical, tears of laughter ran down her face. After a while she surrender to the pillows that playfully mocked her and laid on the floor laughing.

Suddenly she felt something brush past her leg. Then this thing climbed on to her chest and started to make a  very loud purring noise. She looked up to see a soft furry cat face looking down at her with half closed eyes. The cat reached down and kissed her on the nose, then began to clean it’s paw.

The cat was very heavy on her chest. She laid very still because she had never been this close to a cat. She had seen them at times out her window. She was unsure what it wanted from her. After a short while the cat laid down. It’s purring vibrated in her chest, it was a very unusual feeling. Every time she tried to move the cat dug it’s claws in. They laid like this for a long while, finally she heard the voice of a woman calling out “Hello”. Then a soft light went on and she could see the yellow cat looking down at her with a wide smile on it’s purring face. “Ell-o” she called back hoping that whoever belonged to the voice would be able to get the cat off of her.

The woman who called hello appeared above her and said, “Hello, has my kitty been entertaining you?” She picked the cat up. She began kissing an nuzzling until the cat could no longer take it and wiggled out of the woman’s hands. “Hello, I am Margiana, goddess of Joy. I understand you have my stone.” She sat up and looked at the goddess. Margiana was very beautiful, and had a playful mischievous air about her.

“Do you have a name?” Margiana asked her. “Well, we’ll have to give you one” the goddess said, and with that stood up and helped her to her feet. Margiana led her to a big comfortable pillow that they both could sit on and not slide off.  “What sort of a name would you like?” Margiana smiled “O.K., I’ll name you then”. She thought for a moment, “Pneuma”. Pneuma smiled, she thought this was an odd sound to describe herself. Margiana then got up and said, “Lets go celibrate your new name.”

Out in the tent a loud, lively, drunken party was going on. There were naked people hanging from the trapeze. Half dressed clowns staggered about offering drinks from there flasks of whiskey to all who passed by them. They came upon a group of two men in leotards, a woman dressed as a cat, and a little man in a tux. These people where eating some strange smelling mushrooms. They offered some to Pneuma. Before she could take them, Margiana pulled her away and said,”Do not eat or drink anything these people give you.”

They pushed though the crowd and came upon a small shiny green tent. Pneuma recognized the material, it was the Guru’s. She pulled at Margiana and pointed, “Rugu, pliar fool.” She knew what she said made no sense. She pulled Margiana over to the tent and went inside. Sure enough, sitting on a hammock swing that wasn’t attached to anything, was the Guru.

“Guru!” Margiana said gleefully, as she moved in and hugged the odd being. “I knew you must be in the area.”

“So I see you two have hooked up, do you like the gown I gave her?” Guru asked.

“Yes, looks fimalur.” Margiana said. “We  were just about to go join the party, do you want to come?”

“Yes, you know I’m always up for a party, but first…. let’s celebrate with a little libation” with that the Guru pulled out a bottle of wine and three glasses.

“She can’t have wine, can she? Won’t it change her?” Margiana asked.

“No she’s ok, it’s the blood that changes, and she’s already had wine, there is no turning back now.” Guru said as it passed out the wine.

They all drank down there wine quickly. Pneuma put out her glass for a refill. The Guru smiled as it pourd her another glass. She glupped it down, so fast she ended up with a large red mustdash. She flashed a big smile which made the Guru and Margiana laugh.

“Lets go” Margiana said. The three of them left the tent and joined the party. They walked around, visiting different tents each on had a slightly different theme to it, but they all had a party going on. Finally stop by a tent where people where walking over hot coals. People who had realized that they where dead, walked over the coals with great ease. Those that thought themselves to still be alive, screamed in pain.

The Guru turned to Pneuma and smiled, “My dear I want you to walk from one end of the coals to the other.” Pneuma smiled and walked over to the coals. They where glowing red hot. She didn’t really know the danger that she was in and therefore was unafraid. Suddenly the stone emerged from her bag and began to spin around her head. She grabbed the stone and stepped on to the glowing embers and felt a twinge and a tingling in her foot, which she did not recognize as pain. She walked foward, and as she did the embers flamed up around her. The flames rose up and started licking the roof of the tent. She was engulfed in flames.

At first she saw a bright light, which faded after a second. Then she saw was a woman walking in the desert. She realized this was an image of herself, the image got closer and closer until she could see her own face, she had never seen her reflection but oddly, she recognized herself. She felt herself fly up and ended up floating over a corn field. Large plumes of gold came off the corn and went up toward the sun. She could hear birds singing very loudly, and could smell the purfume of flowers. She pushed herself foward into one of the golden plumes and floated up into the sun. Inside she could see nothing but white. The song of the birds had changed to beatuiful singing. She closed her eyes to enjoy the sound. Slowly the beautiful voices faded and she was somewhere else.

She heard the Guru calling her, she headed toward the voice. As she turned she saw a woman walking thought the flames toward her, the women walked by her as if she wasn’t there. Pnuema felt herself fading, she watch the women walk off the coals and fall to the ground in front of the Guru. “Seth”, the women said. The Guru smiled as it looked down at her, “So, at long last, you have found your voice.”  Margiana took a deep breath and said, “I think I’ll have that glass of wine now.”