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Piqued - A Toki Ponist Adventure
Chapter 31: Disconnect

You are reading a chapter of the novel Piqued - a Toki Ponist Adventure. The novel is part of a larger universe, explore the rest here.

toki ike li ike ala e ona la, jan sona li sama jan nasa.
Toki Ponist Pu

A girl ran and ran until she grew tired and fell down in the sand, glistening from the worked up sweat. She wriggled with her arms and legs and dug herself into the warm sand that stuck to her sweaty skin. Soon, she would take a dive. Everything was wonderful. ale li pona. Her skin was dark from living under the sun, but she was paler than the other islanders. Her hair was brown too, and if looked at with a critical eye, it could be reddish as well. She blended in well with the fine-grained pale sand.

“The birds fly slower every year,” she thought, for no particular reason. Then she saw something surprising on the beach. The word sin sung around in her mind, which next to new also meant refreshing. It was free from the English meaning of the word sin and the potential unpleasantness of surprises.

She walked over to the bundled surprise on the sand. She saw Kalisa wake up with sand on her lips. A heap of wooly animal furs wrapped around her body and released their hidden fragrance in the hot overhead sun. Salt water from the ocean tickled her knees when it swelled and subsided.

Pakala,” she croaked.

The eyes of the small girl, not older than seven, gazed into Kalisa’s cursing yet dehydrated mouth. Then she ran away and hid behind a bush on the other side of a grassy dune, following Kalisa’s every move.

o awen!,” Kalisa had tried to call out but graveled with the rawness of a car engine failing to ignite.

The girl saw Kalisa unwrap herself from the animal skins and drink from a water container fetched from her satchel. A few minutes later Kalisa was on the move on the island. The girl did not consider alerting the other islanders, because there had never been a need before. She followed Kalisa from a distance, like she had been following around animals around the island many times before.

Kalisa knew where she went, or else she would not move with such forceful action. She saw Kalisa grab fruit from the communal food table and then bolt away when other islanders approached. With equal reserve for being noticed, the girl plotted a course to stay out of sight of both Kalisa and the other islanders. More or less at the center of the island, in a secluded, bushy area, Kalisa halted. She unfolded a small shovel from the same satchel that had produced the water bottle. What more could be in there. The girl crawled closer and closer, going from bush to bush, careful not to make any obvious unnatural sounds.

Kalisa dug for a few minutes. Lights of different colors illuminated the inside of the new hole in the sand. The girl’s scouting curiosity now exceeded her hunter’s mindset of secrecy. She crawled even closer until she sat next to Kalisa looking at a magical stone emanating sunlike energy.

Kalisa glanced to her side. “jan lili mi o lukin,“ she said to the girl, inviting the little girl to stay and observe. The girls saw Kalisa hoist up the magical stone with her bare hands. She had expected it to be burning hot, but Kalisa handled it as if it was cold to the touch. Kalisa put the stone next to her in the sand and rummaged in her satchel again. This gave the girl more time to inspect the stone. It contained patterns that could have been writings, but it resembled nothing like the few writings the elders had shown her. The form of the stone was something the girl had never seen before. Jaggy like rocks could be, the object lacked stonelike randomness. The thing was regular, like other things she knew, such as flowers and trees, but without the softness and flow that accompanied those organic objects. The artifact was, in one word, unnatural. But the girl did not have the vocabulary to specify this. This left her somewhat confused.

Kalisa took out a manuscript from her bag and the amount of paper and clear writing on it, tore away the girl’s focus from the stone as easily as it had grabbed it. There had been more surprises in one day than in her whole life combined. Kalisa switched between fingering through the manuscript and fondling the magic stone. At some point, the stone opened up and Kalisa put in several items from the satchel that became more fascinating after each item it produced and may still possess, while in reality it became less important because it contained less and less.

“Connection, integration, death, moli,” Kalisa said to the girl while putting in a black sliver, the neural link chip. “Rhythm, organization, clockwork, restraint, lukin,” she then said while putting Julian’s watch in the magic stone. “Inspection, control, adversary, ike,” she said, dropping a lens of the Crow’s binoculars. “Data, processing, progress, power and courage, wawa.” A silver box that was a pocket computer taken from the Antarctic station disappeared in the stone container. Kalisa took out Joakim’s key that seemed to fit nothing and described it to the girl: “Hidden, uncertain importance, intuition, insa.” After this, she closed the magical unit and brought back the site to how it was before.

“In a few years, when you leave the island to visit the Pods, you will learn about the danger that threatens our entire world.” She fidgeted with the straps of her satchel. “And that we still don’t know what it is or how to stop it. I brought these items together because I believe by integrating these five aspects we can fend it off.” She stood up and petted the confused little girl on her head. “But maybe I have shielded off the item’s powers by stowing it away, here, underground. Who knows? They’re just symbols anyway, right?”

The girl nodded as an automatic reply to a question she did not understand. Kalisa waved goodbye and darted off between the trees. The two would never meet in this way ever again.

“You have a lot to show for yourself!” Gary said to The Toki Ponist who was sitting in his mountaintop cabin.

The Toki Ponist petted his collie dog Mellan and winked at his red panda Solo. “You should not be here,” The Toki Ponist replied with raised eyebrows. “It is not fitting for a fellow guru to seek the counsel of a mountaintop recluse. And since we’re all gurus in this place, I am not expecting any visitors.”

“Damn right, I should not be here.”

Gary the Storypolist kicked over a stack of balanced stones.

“Your mountaintop is nothing but a minor mound, a mere pustule in the infinite landscape. If we cut down those trees, you can count the baguettes behind the baker’s counter.”

“Usch,” The Toki Ponist uttered, bouncing off Gary’s unguru-like remarks against the purple of his aura.

Gary looked around for a chair and when he could not see any, sat on a small cushion, namaste-ing a small statuette of a goat adorned with Christmas ornaments.

“I don’t see the problem,” The Toki Ponist said. “You taught me the art of storypolation for using it in the field.”

“And you did. You sure did. But he remembers now, they all do. You broke the one important rule of fiction.”

“He remembers?”

“Time travel in movies and series is tedious, you know. It’s just a ploy to complicate things. People meeting their former selves, and once more people hop hence and forth anything can happen in the story. It tarnishes the art of storypolation. All that pseudo-philosophical gnat-gnash about fate, free will and not being able to change the order of things, and then still alter something the story had been unclear about in the first place, leaving the universe as it is, but the viewer bewildered. Kitsch.”

“And your art is your everything,” The Toki Ponist said, putting left-over anxieties in a foggy glass jar. “You know what the difference is between fiction and non-fiction writers?”

He paused and then continued.

“At least fiction writers know what they are writing is bullshit. Either way, it is not the writer that is the victim, but the reader who cannot see the difference between magical fantasies and fantastical conspiracies.”

Gary lit some incense that was on the low table in front of him to cleanse the air. “You have deviled the sanctity of this world. The whole mountain theme, okay. A young boy to let him reflect on his foolishness, fine. Then the pandemic and storage unit plot twists, secret manuscripts and a Thanatos-be-damned secret research lab near the South Pole? That was pushing it. But now this, breaking the fourth wall. If you destroy our credibility, our entire universe seizes to exist.”

“I had to. You dragged Olaf Janssen into this.”

Gary stopped midway of throwing the I Ching.

The Toki Ponist continued. “I saw you reading ‘The Smoky Mountain’ in the old faux castle. Don’t think I don’t know it’s about Norwegian fisher Olaf Jansen who discovers giants on the hidden continents on the inside of hollow earth. He enters through a gap in the North Pole and exits from a gap at the South Pole. The author wrote the novel as a retelling of an authentic account. And some still believe this is in fact true.”

“Pff.” Gary casts his I Ching to the side, neglecting the hexagram 23 outcome indicating disintegration. Mountain above, earth below.

“That additional s fools no one, but the symbolic shimshammery that may result from this might fool many,” The Toki Ponist said. Wafts of sandalwood filled the noses of both gurus. The Toki Ponist got up and closed a door so that God could open a window for a bit of fresh air.

“Verne, Stoker, everybody wrote about alleged true accounts back then. It was the fad of the days.”

A buzzing sound welled up from outside and continued without end. It halted the thought processes of both gurus, stopping the childish conversation about the flow of matters that could only be as they were anyway, and revealed only the reminiscent attachment to a world outside their current experiences and bringing to light that waking up is not the same as growing up. The Toki Ponist petted Mellan, who seemed not the register the buzzing sound as something to behave differently about. It did not seem to stop any flow of thoughts in its head, either.

Gary had walked to the kitchen sink and inspected the patterns in the coffee residue at the bottom of a broken cup mended with gold-colored mortar. “So you destroyed any chance of the story gaining any traction, a fanbase, believers, a future,” he said when the buzzing had subsided. “And it started out so promising.”

“A story begins and ends, yet is is infinite in the twists it can undertake between those two points. But a story plays and maps onto a timeline that is an order of infinity larger,” The Toki Ponist said. “I don’t think I can destroy anything.”

High in the alps, Joakim basked in the pleasant morning sun on the terrace of the mountaintop rest stop serviced by Georg and his wife, Gretl. Georg accompanied him, as did a Maßkrug beer for each.

Joakim recounted everything that happened before and after they had met. Georg received the tale with a mild smile that could either show total understanding or complete confusion, but not both at the same time.

“I remember nothing strange,” Georg said when Joakim took a swig from his Krug after the story had petered out.

“Nothing happened here to think long about. Those who were right in the tsunami, fire, or brimstone area, report all kinds of vivid apocalyptic memories.”

“I have this memory about dropping a glass but the glass is still there,” Georg said, pointing to the restaurant. “I don’t remember that memory anymore, it is just the memory of having a strange memory that I have memorized. What about you, though? With that Anastasia you’ve got, you don’t have any memories right?”

“Aphantasia. There are no images. There is only the story I tell myself and there is a set of feelings that accompany the memory. I am like a traditional historian, reading the subjective account of an event by a person who has long been dead and forgotten.”

“So you remember nothing from being part of this evil Gaia earth spirit?”

“I remember now, through my narrative and feelings, about storypolation and being part of this larger framework. But anything from during previous times I connected with it through the neural interface is still gone. Also, I think this time it was different, anyway. There was no sudden surge of tsunamis and other disasters to speak of during the other two years I connected before.”

Joakim picked up Georg’s Krug and spilled some beer into his own mug. “You called it evil. There was evil behavior going on, for sure. Can you blame it on the thing I connected to, or was it me? If my drink is poisonous, was it my beer or your beer that poisoned it?”

“So humanity is the poison?” Georg stated. “Because the poison had to come from somewhere.”

“No, the conclusion should be that the beer analogy is misleading. I am not humanity, I am not evil. The thing is not the Gaia spirit, and it is not evil. Neither did it act out evil deads until we connected. Evil behavior emerged, and now it dissipated again. That is all.”

“Just like your enlightenment. That is how this story all got started, right?” Georg asked, holding on to his beer to prevent new beer analogies from taking advantage of his drink.

Joakim sighed. “Everyone wants to know about my state of enlightenment. They try to attribute it to me if I don’t seem to have it, criticise me when they think other claim my enlightenment or simple wonder whether I am.”

Georg shrugged, so Joakim continued. “If anything like that is going on, it is my internal affair and of no concern to anyone else. But I tell you this. All the clues are in this story. They are also in the view of the mountains, if you look long enough. Some patterns are just easier to read and translate than others.”

Georg pinched off large salt grains from one of the large Brezeln in the basket on the table. “You are right. I know nothing about waking up except that for me it coincides with a screaming alarm clock and the fading images of a distant dream. And Julian, those Crows, Kalisa, what happened to them?”

“Julian is in custodian care, we’ll keep in touch. The Antarctic researchers are taken off their project and their enterprise was bought by some big tech company continuing the NLP part only. The Crows, I am sad to say, they are no more. Silenced forever. And Kalisa? She will no doubt turn out to be the key to everything.”

Joakim froze. The key! He felt his pockets and then upended his backpack. “The key!” Joakim exclaimed. “It’s gone!”

“What was the key for?” Georg asked.

“I don’t know!” Joakim felt his pockets again.

“I guess you have lost both keys now,” Georg chuckled. “That cleans your life right up. What are you going to do next? Lead a nice and quiet life like me?”

“I had lost my beginner’s mind. I thought I could earn a simple life. But like striving for enlightenment, you gain nothing and lose a lot, still that doesn’t make things quieter and simpler.”

Joakim also picked up a Brezel and distributed it to the birds that were gathering around their table.

“I still get foreign sounding words popping up in my head for all the wrong contexts though. Tjejbaciller. Georg, you seem to be very interested in what has been going with me.”

“I am but a simple man,” Georg said, “but there are always others with a more complex interest.” He rummaged in his inner pocket, first producing an emergency bottle of Schnapps before sliding a small business card on the wooden table between them. “Too complex for my taste.”

Joakim picked it up.

“Labs lab?” he asked Georg.

“It’s a meta lab…” Georg paused and flustered, “…lab. You’ll find out.”