The land stretched long and flat in front of her. The wind pushed in all directions. There was nobody else around.
She spent a moment admiring the vast emptiness around her, the freedom it signified. There were no restrictions but those of her body and her soul seemed to be trying to free itself of that too, pulling at her with manic energy to go, to find, to see, to everything. The vast empty land stretched onto eternity.
But still she paused, wondering at the infinite loneliness and the cruelty of nature.
The wind pushed in all directions. She picked one and walked.
Time seemed to drag on and then to speed up suddenly, until she couldn’t grip it anymore and the landscape rushed past her, quickly and mercilessly, a roaring flood of change.
These moment were rare, and perhaps she even imagined them. It was hard to tell how far she had walked until she looked back and realized how different this land was from the one she had started in.
At some point she passed a man obsessed with ice.
He was a nothing man, a face like any other. He was the kind of man you recognized from somewhere, the kind of face ubiquitous in dreams.
In colder times, he had ruled a large expanse of frosted wasteland. From it he build a towering kingdom made of snow and ice. It could be seen from a great distance, shimmering like a great diamond.
Time had changed the frost to sand and the glimmer of ice into the mirage of heat.
There was no ice here anymore, but the man still tried. Every night, he piled the ice in his freezer into a large tower, aching to rule again, to get his kingdom back. And every morning the ice melted.
She walked on.
It is possible he is still there.
She wondered if she would always be alone.
The land teemed with life, with animals and plants and other people, but none could touch her. They remained always far away. Most changed with the landscape. She carried a pack with her. It changed also, but she pretended she didn’t notice.
She passed a forest where the trees could talk.
All the trees shared a common root, from which they could not move.
But they moved amongst themselves, trading tree trunks though the root exchange system.
Snippets of conversation reached her as she walked by.
Well shed your pine needles all over my new canopy why don’t you.
Bartender, another sugar water for the table!
I’m visiting my mother on the other side of the forest today and it’s a goddamn hassle on the root system these days with these damn oaks travelling 24/7.
Every year the solar bills get higher.
The funniest thing happened…
These damn maples springing up all over the place…
Aw, that is so sweet!
I could synthesize.
A new bog opened up near by, want to check it out.
There’s just genetic differences between oaks and maples…
Well, I just don’t think it exists ok.
The forest stretched on, humming with conversation.
She walked on.
The lake stretched out beyond the trees, smooth as glass, treacherous as ice.
She approached it. A glass canoe rose smoothly out of the water. It seemed like magic. The calm of the water drew her on, the life behind her pushed her in. It seemed peaceful. She had been walking for so long, it would be nice to sit down.
She stepped in. The canoe remained absolutely still. It felt cool, even cold to the touch.
As soon as she sat down, without a single untoward motion, the canoe began to glide swiftly through the water. The lake was silent. The water parted like fabric. Not a single wave.
The trees could no longer be seen. The still, glass like water surrounded her on all sides.
“Where am I going?” she asked to nobody.
The water stretched perfectly smooth, shining like beautiful blue glass. It overwhelmed her. She was severed from the land. For now that was peaceful. But it cut at her too.
The canoe went on. She wanted to fall asleep, let the journey carry on without her. Sleep did not come.
The day passed and night drew on. There was nothing but night in front of her. All she could hear was the rushing of wind.
The land called to her on all sides but she could not see it. The canoe rushed on, soundlessly parting the water.
Hesitant, she reached out of the canoe, drawing her hand closer and closer the the water. She was afraid, but not with the trill of fear that draws action. The fear paralyzed her. There was no spray, no forewarning. She could not do it. She drew her hand back, ashamed.
She heard the land call out to her. She shook her head, prepared to say goodbye. The rushing of the wind was all she could hear.
The sound shattered the silence. She shook her head violently against its remains.
Then she screamed:
She plunged her hand into the water. It was as cold as ice, it pushed her back against the canoe. The warm air stung her hand.
Anger surged through her and a sudden need for vengeance rose up.
She stood up against the canoe. It rocked. Spiderweb cracks spread across its surface. The warm night air drew around her, cloying, like cotton.
She screamed again. Nothing in particular. The cracks spread through the surface of the vessel carrying her through the cold dark water.
The vengeance rose up, tantalizingly out of reach. She dove into the water after it.
She awoke on a beach. The water spread like glass in front of her. A glass canoe rocked on its surface.
She stood there for a moment.
A moment longer than she should have.
She turned and walked back into the forest. This forest was silent, she was alone in the journey back to her land. She could feel it calling her.
Some time later she noticed the spiderweb scars running down her body like lace.