Storytime: Good Boy.

August 13th, 2014

Paul was a good boy, Paul was a fine boy, Paul paid attention to his elders. So when Paul was out one fine morning standing in the dawn and feeling the sun tickle him, and he heard the wind whisper: “follow-me, follow-me”…
…Well, he followed it. Can’t get much more elder than that, can you? You can’t. And because Paul was a good boy, a fine boy, a boy who paid attention to his elders, Paul followed it
Over the hill
Across the dale
Down the valley
Up the ridge
And through the trees to the water. Where it left him.

But Paul wasn’t alone for long. As he sat there, huffing and puffing and watching the surf wash in and out, he heard the waves roaring: “come-here, come-here, come-here!”
So because Paul was a good boy, a fine boy, a boy who paid attention to his elders, and because the waves were so very very elder and wiser than he was, he
Waded out through the surf
Paddled through the breakers
Cut himself quite painfully on a reef (ouch!)
And swam, swam, swam, swam, swam, swam, swam, swam, swam until his legs were numb and his shoulders were screaming and it was starting to feel like less effort to just let the water fill him up and take him away.
Then he touched the beach with one hand, then the other, and it was the warmest, softest thing against his cheek. If it had been edible, he’d have devoured it.

But Paul had no time to rest. A soft little sound was bugging at his ears, tugging at his brain, coughing at his thoughts. From up the hill, from the big dark thickets, the trees were creaking at him: “this-way, this-way, this-way…”
These were no little shrubs, no upstart ruderals. These were old trees, grand trees, the sort of trees that the plant kingdom lived in cowering fear of. Titans of green whose shade choked acres and whose branches out-thickened the trunks of their tiny brethren. Not as old as the wind and waves, but oh so old, oh so much older and elder than Paul, that good, fine, obedient boy who listened to those that were wiser and more experienced than he.
So Paul hauled his aching body to its feet, muscles muttering and cursing at him with foul, ancient tongues, and he
Put one foot in front of the other
And the other
And the other
Tripped over roots
Snared himself in branches
Wallowed in poison ivy
Stepped on a marvellously-coloured snake, which bit him
And finally, finally, finally he was in sunlight again. At least he thought it was sunlight; none of the colours he’d seen over the last leg of the trip were probably real, and the sky was starting to melt into the ground. He very much wanted to sit down and focus on trying to stop spinning for a while.

But Paul couldn’t do that. Because at that very moment a noise emerged from the dull roar of his accelerating heartbeat that was presently filling his ears. It was the long, low groan of the earth itself beneath his feet, the oldest thing he came into contact with day to day. “Here. Here. Here.”
Paul was a tired boy, an ill boy, a boy currently subject to hallucinatory images from sleep deprivation, hunger, thirst, and severely inflamed venomous snake bites. But he had always been told to mind his elders.
So he walked



And crawled

To a little ledge on a big cliff that shook when he laid his lacerated, bruised belly upon it. Far below him and spread out from here to there was all that he had travelled – the hills, the forests, the waters, the valleys, and at the very farthest point his own home, a tiny dot what seemed like a thousand miles away. Even through the haze it was beautiful, and Paul felt smaller and more special and fragile than he’d ever known before.
Then the ledge caved in.

It had been a good day, a fine day. And as the sun set over the land, the old old heartless things of it slipped with calm confidence into night-time, murmuring and whispering and rustling to one another in their own words the same message, over and over.
“Just another seven billion or so to go.”

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