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Saturday, 22 September 2012

Part Five - The Wanderer

 Part Five

The Wanderer

“Here you will find the portals that will carry you to the dualistic natures of your alternate selves.”
Around me I see stony hedge of archways spaced in a spherical arrangement. There was one particular arch prominent from the rest as it seemed to be the largest. Other than this, The Gateways seemed to be in some sort of deep slumber or hibernation, and there was this fleeting notion that I had just stepped into the cave of a sleeping beast and should take care not to wake it. Within the center of this circular configuration of stone stood an altar of sorts, upon its pinnacle was a vacant spot, like an empty basin. I had the urge to fill it, but I didn’t know what could.
“To proceed, you must make your intentions apparent,” my Guide gestured to the apex of the altar.
“I must fill this basin?”
“Yes, as it once was before, it should be again.”
“But what could fill it?”
“Perhaps an item, a device, or particular ingredient?” with this suggestion a heavy mist materializes around us, it monopolizes the atmosphere and turns the structures and forms into vapour. I peer in all directions but soon The Gateways vanish in the fog. I no longer feel my Guide’s presence.
The fog around me condenses, it assumes a different form, a different nature, and I feel it against my skin like a thousand needles and pins. It blinds me, so I raise my arm to shield my lenses and strain to perceive through partially shut eyes.
Yet soon, it subsides and I realize that it was the sand carried by the wind in the desert I now find myself in.
It is night, and the Seven Moons levitate aloft in a sky pockmarked with iridescent spots, sitting amongst smudges of nebula and other gaseous clouds illuminated by the suns around and within it. The radiance of these moons light up the environment with a mystifying glow. The sand seems to sparkle as the soft rays reflect off its surface. Ahead of me, behind me and all around me tall dunes surround, like the sand castles of megalomaniac kings trying to surpass each other in a perpetual struggle to dominate this barren wilderness. The wind carves them into suspended waves and ripples. This land holds a mysterious calm, and if I listen carefully I hear the faint whispers on the breeze mention this to me.
They tell me to seek out The Oasis, to follow the brightest star in the welkin, and I trust them. So my feet follow the suggestion of the breeze and the direction of the star. The foot prints I leave behind are swiftly smothered by the breeze like a trail of bread crumbs devoured by ravenous birds the moment they fall to the ground, leaving no impression on the land. Could this wasteland swallow me up in an instant? Could it add me to its treasure chest of secrets? And if it would, could anyone know where to find me?
Ah, yes- this seems like the ideal location to burry something in a sandy vault.
I look to the guiding star as I summit a dune; it sparkles with a prominent vivacity- even though I cannot see my Guide I sense his voice upon the breeze and see his image in the star and I do not fear wandering astray. I marvel at the splendor of this star, and as if to acknowledge this it suddenly flashes. I stop to consider the peculiarity of this and that’s when I notice palm fronds gently swaying in the night breeze just beyond the summit of the next sandy castle.
The Oasis- could this be the sandy vault I seek?
Upon clearing the dune, I see a small spring surrounded by lush ferns, palms, and even grassy patches. I also see a figure hunched in front of a fire that flickers and distorts the shadows it casts into a misrepresentation of their true forms.
The man suddenly notices me with a sort of pleasant astonishment to find another soul roaming these dusty landscapes.
“Ah Stranger! Welcome to The Oasis! Come, sit with me, the fire is warm and the water is sweet!” he says with jubilation. He wears a turban around his head and a scarf that covers his face; revealing only his eyes. He wears the traditional garment of the Bedouin nomad caravans that drift across the deserts, but his accent I cannot place. His camel rests upon the lush grass beside him and before him his scimitar returns to his eyes the soft light of the fire. “You must be weary from your travels,” he says as he fills a canteen with the water from the spring, “this water carries within its currents the Fluid of Rejuvenation, drink.”
He offers the canteen. I take it, noticing a strong urge to quench a sudden thirst. I drink graciously.
“Th-this is water?” the purity surprised me, what was this strange liquid?
He looks at me with inquiring eyes, then I suddenly notice them sparkle and smile as he realizes that I’m not testing him with rhetoric. He laughs and this leads me to believe he is a gentle man, benevolent and empathetic, “Yes,” he says, “This is water- although in this desert, it may seem to you as more of an elixir perhaps.”
This couldn’t be, after all I hadn’t been roaming the dessert long or lost, and never did I feel an urge to be rescued. Yet this water seems to create its own need.
“What are you doing here? I didn’t expect to find another here.”
He laughs again at this, “Well of course, Stranger, it is the desert!”
Naturally, but this is not what I meant; other than my Guide I expected to find no one else present in these realms- unless…
“Who are you, good sir?”
“Only a humble desert wanderer in search of his treasure.”
“You seek a treasure?”
“Yes, one lost to me a very long time ago. My wish is to retrieve it if I can.”
“How long have you been searching?”
“Oh many moons now, Stranger, although it is tricky keeping track of time is such a timeless space where the sun never rises and the night remains unending.”
“How do you know your treasure lies hidden here, in the desert? Could you be searching in the wrong place?”
“Hmmm,” as though this was the first time he considered this possibility, “No,” he suddenly concluded, “It can only be here.”
“You seem sure.”
“I have to be, my treasure could be just over the next sandy peak. I cannot submit to defeatism at this time- especially since I feel myself drawing closer to it now more than ever before.”
“You do?”
His eyes smile again and he points to the brightest star in night sky, the same star that lead me here, “It appeared,” he says, “not long before you yourself did.”
“You take this to be an omen?”
“Stranger, the only things that change in these deserts are the shifting sands, so when something else changes I notice it as more significant, if only because it’s not just another dune altering its shape,” he laughs at this.
“Suppose your treasure is in this desert, you could spend an eternity searching for it and still never come across it.”
“That’s okay, I have an eternity to spare.”
“I seek a treasure, of sorts, too- we could possibly assist each other in our searches?”
“I could do with the company, my camel is good to me but he makes tedious conversation,” he chuckles.
We set off into the dessert with the Guiding Star before us.

-From the journal of a Phase Drifter

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