Fantasy Fiction posted April 22, 2014 Chapters:  ...4 5 -6- 7... 


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AND WHAT'S BEHIND WINDOW NUMBER ...

A chapter in the book The Trining

THE POMNOTS

by Jay Squires


My apology to those who haven't read chapter five of The Trining for this necessarily l-o-n-g summary. Please do take the time to read it. Then you can romp merrily through Chapter Six ….
 
Doctrex possesses an uneasy ownership of his new body. If Axtilla's words are true, he had killed himself and immediately his consciousness entered a new body on this plane.
 
The Kojutake light show begins with a long arm of swirling colors that comes toward them and then retreats. The light show intensifies. Whenever there is a lull, Axtilla gives him a history of her people beginning when there was only darkness (the dark force). Then a dot of light appears. She later describes the dot as Kyre, the author of the Tablets of Kyre that her people live by. Other dots of light appeared, representing science and mathematics and history. The sources of light had to hide themselves from the darkness (which felt threatened by them). They formed the Encloy. At its peak there were 50,000 members and supporters of the Encloy. A signal event called the Bining occurred five generations ago, when over thirty days of darkness all the members of darkness, as well as those who didn't have the faith to totally commit to the forces of light, were swept up into the Kojutake.
 
The history lesson is interrupted by a horrendous roaring and rumbling of the earth that knocks them over, then retreats. As they are recovering and he is attending to her, she points above and behind him, terrified, crying, "Kojutake!"

 
Chapter Six 
 
 I edged in beside her at the log and, dreading what she was urging me to look at, I slowly brought my eyes around to the left and up. "Oh, my God!" I gasped.
She swallowed. "We must take it all in, Doctrex," she said, her breathing shallow and rapid. "Our lives depend on—on remembering the lessons from all we see."

The thin, diaphanous membrane stretched out over us all the way to the mountain and off to the left of it, as far as I could see. On the other side of this membrane, where a sulfurous yellow fog drifted and swirled about, an enormous reddish-brown object throbbed against the sheath. The fog first enveloped it, and then released it. A flurry of blurred movement lunged toward this—this—it was a heart! In a fogless moment, the bear-sized former owner's carcass lay grotesquely on its side with gaping chest cavity. Whatever the attacking beasts were, they were first swallowed up by the fog and then disgorged from it. There had to be at least ten of them. And the fury of their mission was carried out in a soundless pantomime. They made another series of lunges, ripping into the heart, pulling away dripping shreds. The blood, dribbling down from the flesh, made tiny holes in the membrane and, continuing through, fell like scarlet rain to the ground where spumes of steam sizzled at their points of contact. I watched as the membrane instantly healed itself where the blood seeped through.

I only now remembered what she said. "How can I not take it all in, Axtilla?" I asked her, keeping my voice down. "Who are those—those—"

She held up a hand and we watched as one of them scooped up the last of the gelatinous heart and another the rear leg of the carcass, and lumbered into the yellow fog, the rest following. "We have some time while they are feeding. It's the Pomnot's highest aspiration, filling his belly. Another fact to tuck away."

"That's their name, Pomnot?"

"Pom, dark; not, force."

"Who are they, though?"

"The tablets tell us they are the advance guard, the disposables. They are the members of the Dark Force that were swept up during the bining to do the bidding of Kojutake."

"Wait! You said that was five generations ago. These wouldn't be the original—"

"It can be dangerous for you to compare everything that you see here with your former home as a frame of reference. There were no female Pomnots. Generation is in measurement of time only. Here there is no procreation, as you know it, among those of the Dark Force. There were no female Pomnots," she repeated emphatically.

"Well, that can't be!"

"But it can. It is as I say. You see how violent they are when they feed? They live off the wild beasts on their plane. And when the animal life isn't available, they kill and eat each other. You must watch them without judgment or criticism, watch and learn from them. They will be our first encounter."

"Do they know we're here? I mean now? Can they see us?"

"Of course they can."

"What's stopping them from tearing through that membrane and coming after us?"

"That's the first productive question you've asked. You saw what happened when the blood dripped through the skin …."

"Skin?"

"That's what it is. It's alive. It separates organisms. It heals itself."

"Okay. Which is what it did when the blood dripped through."

"The healing is rapid. It has to be, to keep the organisms from destroying each other."

"So it keeps the Dark Forces from invading you and your people."

"But, it doesn't judge; it's not moral. It just exists. It is. The skin is incredibly strong and dense, while at the same time flexible. Did you find it strange that with all the violence on that plane there was no sound at all? It was completely blocked from our plane."

I nodded but my mind was elsewhere. Something just didn't fit. There were some inconsistencies that needed to be addressed: just as soon as I could tie them together. Something with the soundlessness. Soundlessness … Sure!
 
"Axtilla," I said, gathering my thoughts. "Earlier, when I mentioned the aurora borealis—remember?"

She cocked her head. "When Kojutake first appeared from behind the mountain?"

"And, even before when we could see the glow around the mountain."

"Okay." She had a puzzling smile on her lips.

"It wasn't just the light show. There were loud, rumbling sounds along with it. How could the sound penetrate the skin, then, but not now?"

"Exactly," she said, getting excited. "Now we're on a constructive course. We need to keep exploring questions like this. Later, when we encounter the Dark Force, we mustn't let emotion rule our reason."

"So explain."

She was enjoying this, having fun with it. Or, with my lack of understanding of it!

"So, let's explore it, Doctrex. It's a key to so much. We don't have a lot of time, though, so please just listen." She closed her eyes as if to organize her thoughts, and while I stoked the fire she explained with some difficulty: "The skin, guarding the integrity of both planes—remember there is no good or bad to the skin—is always above us. High above us during the daylight hours, nearer at night. The light show, as you called it, was the first stages of Kojutake. It was completely silent to us. The rumbling and later the wind that almost blew us away … those were the forces on our plane. I think—though this isn't supported by the wisdom of the Tablets—I think it was a power display by the cognitive part of our plane … though the sound part of it would not be heard on the other side of the skin."

"So, the Pomnots can see us, but they can't hear us or penetrate the skin and hurt us." It was not a question, more of a statement of understanding on my part to which she apparently felt no need to respond. I imagined them looking down from their shroud of yellow fog and wondering about these two strange people, leaning against a log. I turned to her and gave her my most mischievous smile.  "So, you have complete confidence in the skin?"

She returned an incongruous smile. "I believe I made that clear to you."

"They can't touch us...."  Again, not a question; a statement of fact.

She addressed me with a tilted head.

Leaping to my feet and shaking my arms wildly toward the skin, I shrieked my best imitation of an Indian war cry. I danced around the fire, thrusting my fist at the Pomnots and whooping at the top of my lungs. Then, I adopted the demeanor of a Gorilla. Standing there, legs spread, I glared into the sulfurous fog, trying to catch sight of a Pomnot and began pounding my chest and hurling a voice that was somewhere between a Gorilla and Tarzan.

Axtilla must have thought I lost my mind. She stared at me, her jaw slack. Then, as I was watching her with a grin on my face, I saw her look of wonder change to one of horror. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a blur, and turned to see the membrane stretching to the breaking point toward me and the huge opening and closing jaws of a Pomnot pushing into it. I nearly fell into the fire trying to scramble back in retreat. Before I could pull completely out of danger, I felt the nudge of the Pomnot snout against my chest just as the membrane began to spring back to its starting position. It withdrew so rapidly that it slingshot the Pomnot into the yellow fog.

All this happened so unexpectedly that laughter bubbled out of Axtilla's throat and she bent over, holding her stomach. She was trying to say something through her laughter, but the words weren't cooperating. She kept trying and she touched her face, but it again overtook her.

I smiled and waited. When her words didn't come I started mine. "In the name of science, my dear Axtilla, I risked my life to test a theory--and what do I get for it? Laughter!"

It was true I was testing a theory. It wasn't true that I thought there would be any risk to my life. I wasn't being heroic. I just had to know how much of what we saw on the other side, which was on the surface terrifying, was of any real danger to us. Was it all smoke and mirrors? Illusion? The other lie was that I was miffed by her laughter. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Ever since I heard her hilarity over my bruised thigh, I craved to hear her irrepressible merriment again. It was so spontaneous and unguarded. But, I also remembered my interpretation of a tender moment, back then, urged me to put my hand on her, to touch her. The reaction was electric, and I didn't want to expose my vulnerability again, just yet.

I waited, still smiling.

She was about ready. She was able to sit up straight again, though she was struggling to keep her face serious. "I'm sorry,” she said, and then her mouth spread into a grin." But, but, you should have …" She started giggling again and recovered. "…should have seen your face!"

"Well, I'm aware that—"

"Oh, Doctrex, when the only thing protecting you was the skin—and still the Pomnot bumped up against you, where—" She nearly fell back into her mirth, but stopped short, "where was your theory-testing then?"

I had to agree with her that the scientific environment I set for the experiment might have been a little flawed.

"You were terrified! Weren't you?"

I grinned. "Well, a little, I suppose."

"But, you know what was funny, what really kept me going?"

I didn't.

"It was first watching the vicious beast propelled by the skin, flying through the air and into the fog. I was imagining the other Pomnots in there with him laughing like I was, until they could hardly breathe. How funny was his little experiment?"

"Well, I guess that just shows you there are clowns on both sides."

She glanced up just for a second, I thought to claim the meaning of clown. "Sometimes," she said, "being a clown is what we need."

We settled into a warm, comfortable silence. I wanted so much to touch her. I needed to go slowly. Slowly.

I tried to remember her words from just before I performed my antics. She was explaining to me her theory of how the cognitive powers of our plane exerted its brawn against the plane of the Kojutake. It was doing it on a monumental scale, just as I had done against the Pomnot and the Pomnot did against me.

There was still something troubling in her explanation I couldn't put my finger on.

Axtilla emerged from her silence. "Though the Tablets don't tell us about the need of one plane to exercise power over the other, what it does tell us—and it is what we must heed when we have our encounter—is that the gift of madness is given to anyone who finally enters the unsettling noise of the other plane."

"The gift?  Did you say gift?"

"Kyre was not without a sense of Irony."

"Or, he was being literal."

She blinked rapidly, but didn't comment. I thought about something she kept emphasizing. She said a number of times, when we encounter the Dark Force…

"Axtilla, tell me … Since the skin separates the integrity of the two planes, and it keeps those beasts from tearing through the skin to get us, and since we have no intention of going through and attacking them … what are we even worried about? It's just a light show after all. It's a play. Why don't we just sit back and enjoy it?"

"But, you don't understand, I don't have any choice: I have to go through to the other side!"
 
 
 
 


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