Friday, March 24, 2017

The Half Shaman in Space: Am I Me Again?

Am I Me Again?

Wake. Am I me again? I stretch. My legs still feel too long. Too straight. I run my hands over my breasts. Still too much flesh. I’m not myself. 
"This is not the growth chamber"
I open my eyes. The light is dimmed. Other than that it’s the same place. White white white beyond the podium. “There are a heap of people gone.” In fact, only about half the statues remain. “None of my friends knew me or they would have woken me, got me to come along.” 

"Each is blind to the others"

 Tears start for my eyes. Mongoose blind to me when he woke? I recall my suspicions while we travelled. Don’t remember who lay them to rest. Mongoose possibly. 

From the shadows in the corners come sounds of scratches, crying, swearing. “How do I get out? How do I get out?” 

How come I’m not blind to the others? I want to ask. But I pick something global with which to test the mysterious entity. “This is how you make it night? Dawn? Dusk? How many hours between?” Silence as I look round. 

Glimmer of the mirror. The situation is so unreal that for a second I think the figure studying its reflection is me. It has an animal shape, I realise. Dark fur all over.  An ape-like hunch. Serious disbelief in its stance. 

Other people having the same problems means I’m not being singled out. Which is a relief and which encourages me to be reckless. I turn onto my side. “Not getting up till I am me.” 


I wake. Open my eyes. I’m surprised that I slept at all. I’m alone on the platform. Every other statue is gone. Will I see them again?

My legs feel shorter. My breasts are bumps, how they should be. I roll over and up, survey the scene. 

I’m not even wearing the bit of flimsy I had on before so I put on my pants and long shirt lying creaseless in front of me. “Where’s my belt?” 

"You came without a belt"

“That’s true. I remember that now.” Lotor’s prison authorities took my belt before shutting me in the white cell. I take up the shirt’s hem and tie it around my waist to make a capacious horizontal pocket. Not that I have anything to put into it. 

My stomach rumbles. “Is there any food?”

"Not in this hall"

“Right.” I bet everyone else asked that too. Pretty slim pickings before we came and it seems we were remade with that hunger intact. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Half Shaman in Space: Waking Again

Mongoose Totem animal
On waking after the shuttle flight from Lotor, Jeb finds herself in a strange white hall, on a platform of statues. She finds Mongoose among them and tries to wake him, to no avail. At last she can only hope that he'll wake her when he wakes ... 

In my dream, Mongoose does wake. He glances down and steps over me, hops down to floor level and walking toward one of the white walls disappears into it.

I’m so frightened I shudder and wake.

The great white tile-shining hall is alight with a time of day I might as well call morning. 
Mongoose is not breathing beside me. Then I remember … he was standing. Without looking in his direction—I’m so so afraid—I feel for his animal-feet.  

 I don’t feel him. The dream was real?

I stand up, the better to flick my gaze over the podium, animal to animal, corner to corner, end to end. He isn’t anywhere among them. Among us. I sob.

I want to find him so desperately that my eyes want to bulge from their sockets trying to see him, somewhere, in this shining … white … nothing. I ignore the mirror newly installed opposite the podium because Mongoose is gone and what could possibly be more important than that? I call him and my voice echoes tinnily from the hard shining surfaces.

His weaponry and his pack are gone too. My voice clatters and falls, and I fall to the carpeted podium. 

All the time I’m noticing that there’s no sound other than me crying. No change in the light surrounding me. 
There wasn’t a mirror anywhere in the hall the first time I woke. 
There is now, and no other change except that Mongoose is gone. I run my gaze over the rows, everyone else is still here. All of them still in statue-mode. 

I’m the only one awake. That mirror is meant for me to look into.

"To see how I have improved you," says a room-sized voice. 

I didn’t hear that.

"I replaced your chip with a newer version, as well." 

I suspect something so dreadful that I am pulled to the mirror. I rise, walk, squat to jump from the podium, walk up to the silvery rectangle. 

The mirror reflects someone I don’t know. Almost I try to look beyond her. 

"Isn't that much better?"
The young woman in the mirror is willowy, I think they used to call that kind of shape. The hem of her tunic brushes her mid-thigh and her legs are straight and smooth. No lumpy legs on this girl. Her tunic is cinched at the waist with a narrow gold belt and her chest, too, is well-proportioned.

I have the irrational desire to rip off the mirror-girl’s tunic to see the real girl beneath. I twist and turn to see what her back looks like. Her hair falls in luxurious waves past her shoulders, in a pointed golden fall to the middle of her back.

She makes me sick she is so perfect. 

Her eyes are a piercing green. Her eyebrows are gold which means that all her body hair is also that same sickening gold. Forget seeing her naked. “No wonder Mongoose left without me. He didn’t recognise me.” 

I turn, walk, climb onto the podium and curl up in the mongoose’s square. 

"You aren't pleased," says the entity.

I try to fall asleep. Maybe if I wake out of a different dream, Mongoose will still be here … or we’ll still be in the shuttle, him beside me. What is this place, anyway?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Half Shaman in Space: Waking

Having hit a hard place in Monster-Moored, Part 2: Mongrel which has resulted in a swag of research to be done, I'm switching my posts back to The Half Shaman for a bit.

The Half Shaman in Space: the bit of space as seen from the shuttle
At the end of The Half Shaman

After I have pressed my hand against that jamb and thought my goodbyes toward them all, Mongoose and I go back to the command room with its glassy-looking dome. “I am totally comforted that you can be up here with me,” I say. 

Mongoose smiles. “Told you, I’m your love-struck loon.” He squeezes my hand. We lie down, sweatily holding hands the whole time. 

I slot the transponder in the depression for it on the arm rest. A dash dash dot dot flickers through its sequence. A dash dash flickers on Mongoose’s arm-rest. The mattress moulds itself around us. A pair of hoods come down from somewhere above and we cover our faces. 

We breathe the cool fresh air spurting from the hoods. 

I hear the shuttle’s starter engines scream.

I feel the shuttle spinning faster and faster to gather power to escape the steep-sided valley. 

I feel sleepy.

Mongoose does too, I can tell because his hand slides from mine. 

Before I start to worry that I can’t feel his hand, the most amazing scents drift from the hood. Spices and flowers, things of Earth my mother told me about. 

I dream.

The Half Shaman in Space begins here:

I’m aware. I’m awake. My breathing sounds loud. The space I’m in sounds big so I’m not in the shuttle. I fall … only a short distance. 

My legs seem too long. 

I feel around me. Carpet or something under me, my hands and my thighs. Then I realise … I don’t hear Mongoose breathing beside me. I don’t feel him. Snap! I open my eyes. 

Mongoose isn’t beside me! 

I’m wearing a thin white tunic. 

Mongoose isn’t beside me! 

I kneel up. Stand. 

I’m in a group of animals, still-as-statues, sitting or standing or frozen in a leap. Each on its own brown carpet square on a raised area in a huge white hall.

What is this place? Where’s Mongoose? 

Tiled white walls. White ceiling. White floor below the … podium? 

Among the statues I see animals I know. There’s a meerkat. A puma. A bear. A woodchuck. An orang utan. They are all life-sized. 

No. They are all the size of human beings! There’s a thylacine with a front paw that is a different brown to the other. In the square next to the place where I was is a mongoose. 

Sweat springs from me and is soaked up only where the skimpy tunic touches me. Everywhere else it rolls down me. I’m clammy in seconds. My heart hammers in my chest. 

The furry animal mongoose is up on its hind-legs and is wearing a sauger-hide belt with a curved panga hanging from it. A familiar-looking dagger is strapped to its leg. I’m sure they are my Mongoose’s tools and weaponry when I see his leather pouch with oil stone and cloth in it nestle in the small of the mongoose’s back that Mongoose keeps in his pack so I can hold onto his belt. 

I want to touch the furry mongoose, is it real? And I don’t want to touch it. What if it is cold as death? What if it is warm? All that fur. It looks fierce. Angry. Red mouth open in a snarl. 

Behind where I was is a meerkat. He wears similar weapons to Mongoose’s weapons worn by the mongoose. Next to him and behind the mongoose is an animal I don’t know. I have too many mysteries already. I turn back to face into the direction that the mongoose stares into. The front. 

In the square beyond mine, I see the back … I walk around it … of a wild dog. A jackal wearing Jackal’s gear, I fill in for myself. I walk on. In the next square is a woman with a blond plait. It is Isis. Leader of the smaller group that joined us in the Yellow City. She is herself. 

I remember that she never told us her Totem. 

As soon as I think that, I’m crying. I know the animals. I’m spurting with tears. I jump back to the mongoose. Sobbing, I hug his knees. “Mongoose! Wake up, Mongoose!”

 Finally, I lie down. Curl around his feet. When he comes back to life, he’ll trip over me, find me there.