Piqued - A Toki Ponist Adventure
Chapter 30: The mountain
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sina ken toki kepeken uta wan taso.
– Toki Ponist Pu
When Joakim opened his eyes again, he was with Julian in the cage.
“Look at what you made Hansl do,” Joakim guessed Dieter said to him. “He’s the nicest one among us, and you got him to use violence.”
“Not much of a guru if I can’t bring out new potential in people,” Joakim said, rubbing his chest where he the hammer left its mark.
He noticed Julian had stopped pacing the cage like a polar bear in captivity and was sitting in a corner with his arms across his knees. Joakim crouched down to his level. “Are you alright?” he asked, but all he got in return was a sob.
“Where are his parents?” he said to the four men in the room on the other side of the cage, Hansl, Dieter, and Friedrich, but also Alex.
“Back in Austria, I suppose, at their wit’s end,” Dieter said.
“We’ll make amends to them, I promise,” Hansl said. “It was a mistake to use the boy, like I always knew.
“I see a young boy traumatized for life. You will need to do a little more than feel sorry for his parents.”
“He might have been dead by now, staying at home, doomed like the rest of the planet,” Friedrich said. “Let us not forget we are the good guys here, stopping the demise of humanity by evil O-ka-hōʻailona.”
“What happened, Tipi? I don’t remember,” Julian sobbed when he saw Joakim by his side.
“Thanks to the phone you gave to Julian, once we recovered him using our contact with child services, we could contact you directly.”
“So it wasn’t the publisher after all,” Joakim said.
“Of course not, silly,” Kalisa said from a terminal on the other side.
“Kalisa. You’re free! Get me out of here,” Joakim said.
“I’m sorry, Jo. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” she said. “Remember, I am not your personal locksmith.”
“Then kick their asses!”
“I wish I could if I were on the right side of the cage.”
“But you are on their side of the cage!”
She eyed him down. “You know better than that. The question again is, what are you going to do about this situation. Don’t focus on what you can’t do but what you can do.”
Joakim inspected the cage. It was empty except for a chair and Julian whimpering in a corner. The bars were steely and sturdy. He could try to argue his way out, he could have the lab-rats have his way with him, or he could not have been put into this cage in the first place.
“There you go,” Kalisa said, as if reading his mind.
“Okay, let’s try that again. Are you with me?”
“I’m with you all the way,” Kalisa said.
Joakim positioned himself in the center of the cage and reiterated all the steps he had so many times before, for the first time. As a beginner of the question “What is it like to be a mountain?” on his mind he let himself fall into the fictional realm, in a search for Gary The Storypolist.
“What is he doing?” Friedrich asked.
“Meditation,” Alex said. “Connecting to the silent whole so every problem dissolves, and every person gains insignificance in exchange for the importance of the all.”
“Fine,” Friedrich said. “If that shuts him up. Can we start?”
Dieter nodded. “Yes,” Hansl said. “I’m activating the implant.”
But Joakim was already in another realm altogether. He perused the bookcase of Gary’s library.
“No time to dillydally, Joakim,” Kalisa said, who was standing at the lazy chair across where Gary was sitting, or snoozing rather.
Joakim walked to Gary’s chair.
“Hey, Gary!” he said. “We need you.”
“No you don’t,” Gary said with sleepy eyes. “You can do it all by yourself. Yarn your tale, storypolation will do the rest.”
Joakim sat down and held Kalisa’s hand. He started with the denouement, resulting from petting the dog, he pulled out five different contradicting Q-factors, threading them retroactively into a multitude of hooks. Mixing metaphors into similes and alliterating his allegories, he created a parody of subplots. He introduced a narrator, with the voice of a ghostwriter with its own soliloquy full of run-on sentences. Soon, his draft was becoming a whirlwind of satire opening a rift in space and time.
He reached with his hand through the rift. Loud quacks accompanied his arm through the rift and solidified into a token that Joakim placed on top of the humming surface. The rift pulsated and grew one last time to human-sized proportions before it would collapse. He squeezed Kalisa’s hand. She squeezed back. Something then squeezed his other hand. “I will tell you what it is like to be a mountain,” a voice said and then pushed Joakim into the rift.
“Humanity is dying out,” Joakim said. “And nothing helps to stop it. We’ve got to destroy the machine.”
He crouched and picked up a wrench. With his arm lifted, he walked towards the machine.
“Don’t,” Hansl said.
“Stop, Joakim,” Kalisa said inside his head. He gripped the wrench. “Are we sure we are doing this?” she added.
“Do you have all the information to rebuild this machine in your world?”
Joakim lowered his arm. He looked at the machine, which was still humming. Hansl had put ornaments on top of the machine. One was a penguin, the other was a du—“
Joakim ducked. He heard the whoosh of a hammer going overhead. Now it was his turn to swing the wrench into the knees of Hansl. While Hansl fell to the floor, Joakim rose and bashed the wrench into the machine. He tore the speaker set in two, pulled out wires left and right and jammed the wrench into the server bays, wrecking it to pieces.
The machine stopped whirring and lost all form of contentness.
“I will take it from here,” a voice crackled from within. Joakim’s talking self dropped into a pool of void. Kalisa floated down with him. They dissolved into the larger being. Together they fell the earth’s core as their belly, the mantle as their organs and its crust as their skin. And their skin itched. They wanted to scratch it. They have been wanting to scratch it for so long. And now, they had the arms and legs to do it, and also the interdimensional powers of Kalisa to travel the energy veins, and the powers of storypolational space warping.
It was now time for the skin cleansing to begin. They rose. The machine no longer functioned, but it had been nothing more than an interface, a front, a mask, a middleman for communication. Dark clouds converged above the base. They shifted position to the pacific ocean bedding. Then they shook it causing an indiscernible ripple on the ocean’s surface, but one that would grow out to be a massive tsunami in a matter of hours when it it would hit land. They then shifted to Changbai Mountain in southern China and northern Korea. From deep within their being, they pushed up the entire subterranean reservoir of molten rock, which caused the crater to explode and turned Heaven Lake into an enormous cloud of vapor and ashes that would cover the country in meters of scorching and suffocating ash.
This is what it feels like to be a mountain. The stupidity of all humankind burning like a fungus infection on your irritated skin. The short-sightedness of one-day flies in the face of eons. A virus that takes its host, multiplies, and then sheds their host. This is what it is like to be a mountain. He returned to O’Killain base and melted the patch of ice between the station and the mainland, plummeting all their supplies and transport planes into the ocean. I am finishing what you started. It feels like washing the skin with soap. There is nothing good about soap for your skin, but it cleans all the dirt and pests, nonetheless. They paused for a moment. They saw that all the pests had left the lab. Behind the bars of a cage, one little pest remained. They moved in to squish the bug, but then the little pest spoke.
“Tipi,” Julian said. “Mum says soap kills both the good and the bad germs.”
“You can’t oversee what I can, tiny nothing,” they said. If you have the knowledge of eons and have seen continents drift, separate, and rejoin. I have not only seen civilizations rise and fall, but entire classes of flora and fauna. If you had the natural forces of the planet, the imagination of the fictional realm and the energetic power of the Kalisa–Joakim symbiosis, then you would see that the simplest solution is to wipe the whole crust clean.”
The pest spoke back. “You may be superstrong and I can’t fight you. I couldn’t fight my parents, only flee. Does that mean I deserve a poor parent?” It continued when they remained silent. “You may see everything and everywhen, and I see only you, now and here. What is simple to you is complex to us. Does that mean it is, in fact, simple, or much more complex than you think?”
They sat down and grounded themselves with the earth.
“A wise weirdo once said to me: you’ve got to earn simple. I don’t think you’ve earned it yet.”
But the solution had been so obvious. On the scale of eons and on the scale of the galaxy, what did humans matter? But what did they matter on the scale of eternities and the scale of supercluster galaxies? Did the puny stardust speckles not form them into the proud earth he was now, the only of its kind here to have such dynamic crust-life, while the others had returned to the static balance of rocky steadfast lifelessness. That is what it is like to be a mountain for a human.
They split like a crevice, it as the fertile soil, Joakim as the arduous worker, Kalisa as the force of hope, and the fiction-verse as the noise that allows for both fear and fun to fester. Together as a unit there is only simplicity, separate they form dynamic complexity. Resilient, adaptive, and constructive.
Joakim, waking up into a hellish whirlwind of post-dream echoes of short-lived memories, spun a story of epic proportions, tearing space and time one final time. They jumped through it as one and came out as separate.
In the daze of the moment, a phone rang. Joakim answered. It was Piran.
“Tipi!” he said. “You’ll never guess what I did.”Read the next chapter