Surrealscape # 6

A backyard celebration. Japanese lanterns peripherally strung, throwing out lovely muted colours. Tinkling laugher sprinkles sporadically, a light rain above or below or on the shoulders of guests advancing to a lovely wine-drunk. This small but opulent green space contains the crowd, gathered for a night of jollity. Lucile and Lucretia are the beaming brides. They are radiant. Every lady who passes by compliments their yellow-and-cream silk gown. Bronson the cheetah is repeatedly congratulated on his good fortune of winning not only one but two beautiful wives. His parents are the proudest of all. They think these dove-skinned conjoined twins are the jackpot. They have traveled far to meet them, from the planes of a continent across the ocean. Unacceptable to miss the wedding of their only son. The groom’s extended family has also flown in for the occasion. Lions; giraffes; scaly serpentine fellows– all traveled to attend Bronson’s magnificent new-world marriage. His godparents, an aging giraffe couple, stretch and breathe in the foreign smells, their necks and legs finally unwinding from the cramped quarters of the plane. The brides’ side, composed of humans only. Despite the interspeciality, there is a swimming ease to the interactions. Little girls – although no one knows to whom, exactly, they belong – run screaming, chasing, absorbed in their little girl games. Sharp squeals slice through butter-soft conversations…but the adults, too absorbed by their own rhythmic dialoguing, do not notice.

Lucile and Lucretia are the most absorbed of all. They are discussing hypothetical syllogism with a distinguished invitee, the famed logician and their former undergrad professor, Doctor Torrini Pavloroti. Spotted husband is nearby, engaged by his godparents, secretly eavesdropping on new wives’ conversation, trying to grasp. Always quietly insecure about his low level of education, he now feels a distracted pang of inadequacy. Godmother is prattling:

“Isn’t she I mean aren’t they just enchanting? You’ve done very well for yourself, son. And this lushness! Leaves look delicious enough to eat. Do you think they’d mind…?”

The women live in lush environments, they always have. A gift since they were quite young, this cultivation of paradisial surroundings. Snatches of external-world verdure and bright blooming infiltrated their childish personas, and now, in maturity, it radiates from the inside-out. Lucile is the botanist; Lucretia the landscape architect. On the latter’s left bicep, flowing over to her neck and back, lies a thorned rose tattoo. It sprawls. Reds and pinks and dark greens, hints of orange in the petals’ centers. Lucile’s right bicep mirrors the pattern. Thorny vines meet each other over the vertebrae of their partly-shared spine. As they talk with the professor, this tattoo grows surreptitiously down their back, down legs, off their body to the garden floor. Twisted rose brambles grow and grow, upward and outward, until the whole company is surrounded. Everyone is oblivious. Presently they are in the midst of a veritable forest. Only the little girls notice. Only the little girls, and a cheetah cub named Berio. Leaving adults behind, they turn into the wild excrescence of green. Their adventure begins.

After wading a while through the soupy underbrush, Berio and the girls stop to look around. Kapok trees are everywhere, stretching and slouching. Their roots: sprawling, gestural worms. Their roots: thick, half-melted intestines, spilled over and congealed into the ground. As children and cub look at the branches, they notice little creatures. Little baby owl-creatures, innocuous-seeming and fluffy. They’re lined up along the branch limbs. Every last one sports round, black spectacles. Some wear miniature top hats. Berio is intrigued by their rotund bodies, their fluff. He wants to capture one and keep it as a pet. He goes up to a branch, sticks his sleek spotted nose near. The girls are more clever, more cautious. They yell to him,

“Until declared friends, all are our enemies! Do not trust them! Do not stick your sleek spotted nose near, unless you want to lose it!”

Berio pays them no mind. His small paws are on the low limb. He sniffs at the critters delicately. It is then that he perceives the holes. Full of holes, the wee fellows are! In his mind’s eye he sees epic battles with all-mighty hole-punchers. Holes, punched, clean through the wing! Clean through the breast! Clean through the brow! Quite unruffled, these birdie-things seem, by the punctures replacing organs with air. As Berio sticks his nose closer still, the nearest birdie’s beak swells – eight sizes bigger in point three of a second – reaching to swallow his head! The cub’s claws retract in surprise and he falls.

Curious cheetah lands on his feet, but the damage is done. Each creature-y individual in every row has turned his attention toward the gang below. Flexing their magical muscle, they display in flashes how their beaks grow and shrink so quickly that the eyes seize only a flurried pulsing. Next, many pairs of eyelids open, then close, over many pairs of glowing orbs. Bellies turn translucent, internal yellow lights shining outward through fluff. Bespectacled, hole-punched and lit up.

“What nonsense!” shrieks one of the girls.

The young ones are in trouble. This successive “turning-on” seems to be the precursor to combat. Indeed: beak-pulsing, blinking, glowing wee birdies are hopping off branches to re-form their rows on the ground – three, four, five rows deep on every side of Berio and the girls, who cluster back to back in a protective circle. Frightening noises cascade into their ears – the plllubt plllubt plllubt of bodies plunking to ground; the squiiiiih and GROOUW accompanying the contact, as tiny or giant mouths expel gusts of air.

They run. Breaking through the ranks, they run as fast as they can. Following, the creepy creatures. It is a great chase. After some minutes, the girls begin to spot wedding party guests here and there. They are leaning on tree trunks, glasses in hand, utterly absorbed in their conversations. The girls call out to them.

“Please! Can’t you see they’re after us? Why don’t you notice? Why don’t you help?”

Guests do not respond. They do not hear; they do not see. But somewhere nearby, Lucretia’s laughter tinkles. Or was it Lucile’s? Since the owl-critters have caught up, they do not stay to find out.

Near collapse, Berio and the girls arrive at a place in the wood where ground is no longer solid. Instead, a boiling mud soup confronts them. It is quicksand: drenched by rains and heated by sunken fires, gurgling in gluey pleasure. The kapoks adore it. They have thrust their wormy roots into the churning goo as if it were part of a luxury spa for aching appendages. The girls spy hope – humped wooden bridges criss-cross in front of them, receding as far as they can see. Bits of rotting plank will make for precarious travel, but the youngster troop does not have much choice. The fluff-birdie army is closing in. Little hands close around other little hands as they tackle the bridges. Berio brings up the rear. The bridges get higher and higher, the more of them they cross. Soon, the girls think, we must break though the cover of trees. Never tiring, the army marches behind them. The pursued are kept on their toes – birdie beaks being grown occasionally large enough to cross the space between them and nip at the heels of whoever is last at that moment.

Up, up, up, and then –

“What in this holey earth is going on?” the young one at the head exclaims. They have found themselves at a bridge already crossed – it is, in fact, the first and lowest bridge they came upon, so many hours ago. It is also the most dilapidated. The bridges have circled back on themselves: a strange loop. How M.C. Escher-like of the builders. How unfortunate for the little girls.

A crumbling sound is heard, and as the three girls in front turn, they see the two behind – they see Linda and Wesley’s arms go flying up as their bodies go zipping down, through a jagged hole in the abruptly-collapsed beam. Down, down, down, in the brown they drown. Screams and sizzles punctuate their zippage. This is no good. No good at all. Now, hefted on top of their previous worries (“how to escape strange bridge looping; how to escape boiling mud; how to escape owl-critter army; how to escape forest and get back to the safety of the known”), is the anxiety of informing Linda’s and Wesley’s parents. And their parents? Who knows their parents?

Soon they hear adult voices once again. The laughter. The glasses. Each tinkling rings in at different pitches and frequencies. Sound waves bounce off and modify each other. Waves bounce into the girls’ ears, the cheetah cub’s ears, from somewhere nearby. The churning sludge has turned back to cold, solid ground. The trees thin, and they step out of the woods onto a wide plane. The brides and groom, all other wedding guests are there. A red, donut-holed sun shines down.

“There’s another one – in the sky! No, no, make it go away…” one of the girls, pointing. Stripes of sun on the plane are weaker than normal due to the star’s reduced mass and diameter, its punched-out piece. Blue sky patches frittered with clouds can be seen floating through the hole. No adults are aware of the once-more change in scenery.

Lucile and Lucretia are in conversation with the Professor; it is modus tollendo tollens this time. Berio and the girls, mouths agape, watch trees in the forest behind them reshape into thorny rose bushes. Bushes shrink, retracting into twin brides’ tattoo. Their three-dimensional nightmare adventure becomes once again only coloured ink on skin. The girls feel cheated. Then the backyard, Japanese-lanterned, rises up from the plane, encompassing everyone. It is a completed circle of scenes. Lucretia and Lucile lean in for a kiss with Bronson. No one else sees – not the groom’s parents, not the Professor, and certainly not the groom himself – but the girls see. They see: a miniature forest growing, thorny and cage-like, inside the groom’s chest, around his heart.

~ by kingzoko on June 28, 2010.

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