| 12/13/2016|| 2|
Written by Shoy for the CCSF 2016:
It's a short story that refers to Creatures mythology surrounding the Shee's departure from Albia and the concept of the Journey (as you might have guessed from the title.)
Shoy has also provided us with the following Wiki links:
Anyways, let's start with the story!:
I was only a child, and the stories of the Journey they told me made me stare open-mouthed in awe. The older Norns, so much wiser than I, had all taken their journeys across Albia; perhaps that was why they were so wise.
No, not perhaps: there was no question about it. I’d seen an uncle of mine leave us, brash and young, to return a few days later a completely different Norn. It changes you, the Journey, in ways which none of us younger Norns quite seem to understand, but which every older Norn, every Norn who has completed that journey, understands precisely. It was like some kind of secret language shared only between the elders of our race, and the rest of us couldn’t understand it, for we simply didn’t know the words.
I’ll admit, I’ve always been scared of the Journey. What could it possibly do that could change a Norn so much? I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to be changed. But at the same time, a curiosity burned within me, and each passing day, each time a new Norn returned from their Journey, only added more coal to the fire. And sooner or later a blaze gets too big and too hot for its boiler: that day, for me, was yesterday, when I stole off under the gentle rays of the sun and out into the unknown.
It was scary at first: I didn’t know what was out there or where I was headed. But once the initial apprehension faded, I bounded along, gawping at the sights around me and eager for what the next few kilometres would bring.
I didn’t stay that way for long. I’m lost now. Leaving home doesn’t feel nearly so carefree when you can’t remember the way back.
And that doesn’t even barely describe it. It’s easy enough to say “I’m scared”, but that doesn’t express the sheer weight of a boulder rolling about in your stomach, the dryness of your lips, the tremulous pressure building in the back of your throat that you have to keep swallowing down lest it find its way out as a scream. The way your paws, your toes, your arms, shake and shudder like an earthquake is wracking your very soul.
I know that cowering here, wherever here is, where the sky is blocked by stone and a river rushes by my feet, isn’t going to achieve anything. The only option left is to go further into the unknown; it can hardly get me more lost than I already am, after all. But minds are fundamentally irrational; I think I’m beginning to see that as I sit here in the dark, still as a lump of stone, not moving though every logical part of me tells me I need to go on.
Sleep. I’m so tired. I promise I’ll go on, but first I need to sleep.
A long, narrow face with bulging eyes peering down at me.
Its voice came to me clouded, dulled, like how all the sounds are muted underwater. I couldn’t make out what it was saying, and, even so, the tiny bits I could catch sounded like some unrecognisable language.
The creature the face belonged to towered over me. I could see its expression: it regarded me with distaste. It looked down on me.
Then, like a beam of light slicing through fog, eleven of its words came through to me:
We made you. We can leave you here if we want.
I jolted awake.
My breathing was erratic, my lungs gulping down the air. I crept over to the underground river and splashed my face. Bloody hell, that water was cold, but it did its job of waking me.
What was that dream? It didn’t feel like a regular dream. It felt more real than that. It felt, even, like a memory: like something that had happened to me once. It all felt so familiar and so true.
But nothing like that had ever actually happened in my lifetime. I’d never ever seen strange long-faced creatures like that.
Was this just a really weird dream? Was I delusional?
Was this part of the Journey?
Maybe I could find out if I kept going.
I picked myself up, climbed into the bamboo lift I’d taken to get here and pressed the up button. I still had no idea where it would take me, no idea if it could ever bring me home, and that thought still made me quiver. But, I think, in this case in particular, the destination is not nearly as important as the Journey.
Thank you very much for this story, Shoy! I personally found it very interesting! It reminds me a lot of those "tests" often seen in fiction where in order to properly come of age, members of a specific society have to go on a specific journey which is often quite dangerous and magical in order to be accepted as a member of whatever society is in question.
"One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back."