Excerpt from NEW WORLD
It took only Jualina to pull me along over the ground and into the Antiquities Cave. As I floated up and over rocks, debris, and sand, the others kept pace, following from behind while conversing as to my state of being. Words I heard were, “demonic,” “devil,” “possessed,” “charged,” “enlightened,” and some others I couldn’t make out because of the buzz. They all wanted to talk at once. A raised hand and “That’s enough!” by Tualina put an end to the guessing game.
The Antiquities Cave is surreal in that everything suspended in ice appears alive and in motion. It doesn’t help I’m floating along, giving the impression it is I who is standing still and what I’m watching are scenes from a movie. I shut my eyes and concentrate on preventing lifeforce energy from escaping. My fear is that once I open a channel, I won’t be able to stop the transfer, which is what happened when I melted my mom’s mirror. Back then my anger nearly caused my death. So, what if, when I open a channel this time, I can’t control how much lifeforce energy drains from my body? Will I die in my attempt to save the two brides? Kriss’shon and I never discussed this.
Jualina brings me up alongside the ice wall where the two pods sit in suspension. As I look in, I gauge how far in I’ll have to melt the ice in order to reach the brides. I figure maybe five-six feet. Of glacier, case-hardened ice. None of this matters. When I’m out of energy, I’m out. Simple as that.
My audience, standing but feet away, observe me in earnest. Tualina steps forward.
“What do you need us to do?”
“Ready the blood. The sooner it gets in their bodies, the better chance they live.”
“You never gave us blood.”
I think back. Remember talking about it. Laying there watching as Edeaoin had walked down to the beach to fetch more fish bladders. And, no, I hadn’t given blood.
I turn my attention and angst on Edeaoin. “Where’re the bladders? We need to draw blood. Now!”
Edeaoin points. “Left them at camp.”
“Well, get them!”
Edeaoin hesitates, then bolts for camp. In what seems an eternity to me, but is minutes in reality, he returns, bladders and needles in hand.
“Where’re the tubes?”
“Told you. We don’t have tubes.”
I grab a hollow reed from his hand. Although small in diameter, they’re quite long. “These will have to do.”
I look around for something to lay on. Nothing. The tunnel is exactly that; a smooth-walled tube. Unlike the caves I imagined (and dreamed about) up on Rainier, which were scalloped from steam rising out of the volcano, this cave has been hollowed out by the flow of water, grinding through the ice cube as if an enormous boring tool had been used. I hand the needle back to Edeaoin and wave him aside.
“What’re you going to do?”
With the Glass Clan in audience, I step forward, place my hands on the curved ice wall, and attempt to slip into trance. The murmurs emanating from the girls behind me is distracting, especially since their voices echo through the chamber. I yell, “shush!” and all becomes quiet. Except for the breaking of waves on shore. I key in on the rhythmic beat, achieve singlemindedness, and direct lifeforce energy into my fingers and beyond. In short order, I find myself cold and drenched. But there in front of me, is a shelf, wide enough for me to lay down on, and I do.
Because I’m cold, I’m having to use energy to keep my core temperature up. I motion for Edeaoin to bring me the bladders and needles.
“Careful,” I say. “Poke the needle in the bladder.”
We all watch as Edeaoin inserts the needle into the bladder. I marvel at his intuition to turn the needle like a drill bit, while puncturing the bladder’s skin. I pinch a vein on my arm until it rises, make a fist, and nod to Edeaoin to get on with it. He inserts the needle into my skin. Misses the vein. I yank it out.
“Try again. And this time, pinch the vein, so it can’t move.”
Edeaoin stalls. “Don’t know if I can do this.”
“Yes, you can. Go. We don’t have time to waste.”
Edeaoin follows my instructions, pinching the vein with his fingers and at the same time wheedling the needle into my skin and into the vein. I hear a shout from the girls as blood spurts into the bladder. Edeaoin’s face breaks into a wide smile, as though he had just performed surgery and saved my life. His smile disappears as I give him further instruction.
“Another bag,” I say. “Once this one gets full, you’ll need to pull it and stick me again.”
“Can’t we just remove the bag?”
“No. Keep the needle inserted in the bag. Make sure it doesn’t spill. We’ve got to use the same set-up to transfer the blood into the brides.”
Edeaoin pulls the needle from my arm, hands off the blood-filled bladder, and reenacts the procedure. I watch as the blood drains from me. No one should ever give more than a pint of blood. This is what the nurse had told me. And here I’m doubling that. What will happen if I can’t get up off this shelf? And melt enough ice to free the brides? I assuage my concern by reminding myself that I now know how to extract energy from the ocean. What difference will a day make to the brides? After all, they’ve been locked in suspension for over seventy years.
And then it happens. As I watch the bladder top off to near full, my vision clouds. Darkness creeps in. And I black out.
I wake to the moonlight shining into my eyes. While lying in the open-air cabana, which the Glass Clan erected out of bamboo spears and broadleaves for me, I can see three-hundred and sixty-degrees. There’s enough light to make out detail, and from what I can see, everyone is tucked away and sound asleep. Below, some distance, I hear the pounding of the ocean’s surf. I think back and remember I had passed out after the second donation of blood. While lying on the ice shelf in the Antiquities Cave. So, how’d I get here? Carried, I imagine, by Edeaoin and the girls.
I try to rise, but simply do not have the energy to do so. Which is alarming. How am I to melt ice if I can’t even get out of bed? A rustling in the broad-leafed roof catches my attention. There, tucked into the corner is a mother monkey with her infant. The baby is using its mother as a hammock, resting on her chest. The tranquil scene serves to quiet the upheaval within me.
In due time, that will be me; mother caressing and protecting her child. Two bodies so attached they could be one and the same. I rub my stomach that’s becoming a bump, and at once feel guilty for putting my child in harm’s way. How am I not more concerned for my child’s welfare? When I think about it, that I’ve been pregnant for over seventy years, it doesn’t compute. It’s as if I stepped out of one world, languished in suspension, unknowing, unaware, and stepped back into another world. And, yes, I tell myself, that’s exactly what happened.
How? I don’t know.
What I do know is the baby, after lying dormant for all of those years, is now growing. I feel him – for isn’t that what the Record of Ancient Matters prophesizes; a male? – quickening. Movement within my belly. Maybe not a kick, but certainly something abnormal. Which tells me my child is on track with his development. But I haven’t a clue as to how many months along I am. When will I give birth?
I fall back to sleep relishing the prospect of becoming a mother. Not to just any child, but the visionary leader of the Lemurian nation. And then the nightmare begins.
I walk out of the dense forest onto a high plateau. There, off in the far-off distance, I see Atlantis, in all its glory. A city set high on a mountaintop, reaching for the heavens, where light never ends. I can hear music and the chorus of the borough’s inhabitants, rumpus and uninhibited, drugged with euphoria. Incessant fireworks splash the background, puncturing the fabric of the firmament.
But my eyes do not rest on this spectacle, for before me I see a cross. And on the cross hangs my son, HeIs. His face lies gaunt, his torso bruised and bloodied, his chest sliced open. It takes everything I have to not turn away, to approach, to bow my head, and to pray for his quick delivery from life to death. This I pray, Almighty God, amen.
I hear footsteps approach from behind. When I turn, I see Nani Doris, and the Sons and Daughters of Belial, all standing there, mocking smiles pasted on their faces. Even though its steaming hot, they’re outfitted in their customary trench coats.
Nani approaches alone. She stands out from the rest, for she is a rare beauty, adorned with crown and cloak, and a gown fit for a queen. But when I look down, I see bare feet, and attached, in lieu of toes, are the bodies and heads of snakes. Ten in all. Slithering back and forth, their tongues flicking, their beady eyes mirroring my face, one which is horrorstruck.
For how am I to best my enemy when she is the devil incarnate? Must I sacrifice my one and only son? In the same manner as our Lord Jesus Christ? So good will prevail over evil? Am I not but a schoolgirl? Who simply stepped off trail?
Yes, I’ve mastered vampirism, the ability to transfer and manipulate lifeforce energy. But so has Nani. And so, too, has her tribe of derelicts. Maybe even better than I. It’s true I have been gifted with the Holy Grail of life, but what good will it do anyone once I’m dead?
I chose this path, step by step, even bullied my way into being chosen as the surface equal. Yet, now, in this minute of reflection and culpability, I am disheartened by the odds. I’m a lone child. Before me stands the abyss of the netherworld, and I’m to do what? Douse the hellfire? Banish the fiend to eternal death? Me? This little girl from the sticks of Minnesota?