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Piqued - A Toki Ponist Adventure
Chapter 11: Bear-it

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lon li pakala pona e tenpo.
Toki Ponist Pu

Instead of heading straight down the mountain, they walked around almost aimlessly. Julian demanded a rest. He had been silent for most of the hour, but now he sulked. The goal had been a simple one: to take the boy down into the valley. Then he could find his parents with the help of the authorities. He could have asked the stone balancer to notify the police. Maybe, he should have done something similar at the hiker’s rest-stop. He had done none of that.

They rested at a small cave entrance just off the main path. It was now well into the afternoon. If he was going to make a plan, this would be the right moment to do it. They sat down and within minutes Julian had fallen asleep on Tipi’s lap. He set him on the soft forest floor and stretched his legs. The small and shallow cave overlooked a deep valley. He climbed a rock close to the edge to admire the view. He could hear water rushing down below. Tipi closed his eyes. Loneliness. One wrong step and you plummet to a certain death. You are the top stone of a precarious rock pile and you know you will fall if you wait long enough. But you will also fall if you move. You connect only to the rest of the world trough the tip of your toes. So many choices, but no options. Frozen in time and space, but with every passing second, the soil crumbles further beneath your feet.

The thin interface where interesting matters collide with meaning diminishes into an isolated point where nothing can happen anymore. This singularity triggered a memory from before the toe incident. Tipi still did not know when or where it was, but he had been walking on some sort of mountain. The bedrock was not like here in the Alps. It was black and crunched like glass. The shorts he wore and his bare legs were black too. A geology student took him on a tour up a steep hill. This turned out to be an active crater. He had looked down into the smoking pit with the most putrid sulfuric smell. It surprised him so much that he had almost passed out and fallen into the damned pit. On one side of the narrow crater rim there was the deadly pit, on the other side an almost equally deep drop, down the glassy rocks. To make matters worse, the wind had not suddenly picked up. He had ducked down to the ground, clinging to this ridge for his life with death lurking on either side.

He walked back to Julian, who was still fast asleep with a loud snore unbefitting of a boy his age. After devouring one of the remaining lunches, he collected a heap of leaves and branches and sat on it to meditate. But the intensity of the last few days, the exertion from the hike with an untrained body and the blood diverted to his stomach to digest the second schnitzel, caused him to doze off within seconds after closing his eyes.

“You’re piercing the event horizon, you are remembering again,” the familiar voice in his dream said. It came from the female figure standing behind him, while he was looking out on a rainy street. “Try to find me, dough-boy,” she said. Tipi turned around but saw only the other side of the wet and empty street. “I’m always behind you, no matter how you turn, “ she giggled. But he was not giving up. He found a shopping window and searched for his reflection and that of the woman behind her. Both his and her reflection were not there.

“Sorry, dear chap, physics doesn’t work that way here.”

Rain poured down on the dreamy asphalt.

“You still don’t remember me, do you?”

“I don’t,” Tipi said.

“There was a time that we were on a stump of land in the middle of the ocean and we both looked at a mountain that was not there. It existed, yet nobody could see it but us. And here you are on an actual big-ass mountain and you are clueless, you are just not seeing it.”

“See what?”

“That’s the thing,” the voice said. “I can not show you something you cannot see.”

“Then make me see.” A name rose from a dark place in Tipi’s mind. “Ra-, Rashiva? Is that your name?”

“Hurrah! But it is Kalisa.” Kalisa said. “I knew your brain would resettle in old patterns and kick me into your memories again.”

The downpour of the rain thundered in monsoon cadence. Its noise drowned out the words of Kalisa. “Shit,” Kalisa said. She yelled into Tipi’s right ear. “Wake up Move!” She shoved Tipi in the back in front of the headlights of an oncoming bus.

Tipi gasped for air when he woke up. The twilight sun pressed on his spirit. He looked for Julian but could only see the impression left by someone no longer there. He hoped the boy had not wandered off again, especially with darkness upon them. Tipi crawled up and moved into the dark shadows on the rocks with the view of the valley. He shuffled step by step towards the edge.

Tipi took a deep breath and spread his arms to stretch his aching back and limbs. From the shadows he heard a deep sigh and saw small arms imitate Tipi’s stretched pose. He smiled to himself. Julian was still here. Everything is okay.

It was quiet except for the sound of the wind in the trees. They were free from the thick aether in the big city, filled with the ambitions and concerns of people. There is no free will there. We all have to swim in the mucky waters of the dirty fish around us, and this propels us into making all the choices in our lives. We window dress it in a veil of self-development, as if our own volition did it.

But here the air is lighter, thinner. All the influence of others washes away. We’re a fish swimming in clear waters. What felt like loneliness just this afternoon now feels like free range to free will. Or at least, the free will illusion is the strongest here. Crisp thin air, bliss.

Julian spread his arms one more time and let himself fall forward over the edge. Thin air would be more like a fish trying to swim on dry land, convulsing. Tipi leaped after Julian and grabbed his foot as they rolled down a few meters down the shallow slope, grinding to a stop before the slope became too steep.

After what seemed an eternity. Both sobbed on their way up the rock and towards the darkening cave mouth. “What the hell were you doing?”

“I want it to stop,” Julian said. “If I can’t make it stop, I’d rather…”

“No, no, no, don’t say that. Jesus Christ, you scared the shit out of me.”

There they sat hunched into themselves in silence, rubbing the grazes on their knees. After a huge long sigh, Julian looked up.

“Who’s that?” he said.


Julian pointed into the cave. From the darkness within, a shape emerged. Crows cawed in the background. The shape stretched out its arms.

“No,” Tipi said. “It can’t be. It’s, it’s…”

The figure emerged from the cave into the dim light of dusk.

“Julian, this is Kalisa,” Tipi said.

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