Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta river. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta river. Mostrar todas las entradas

martes, 12 de julio de 2016

The tribe

   Once outside the darkness of he cave, the two men collapsed to the ground, exhausted. They had been lost for day, wondering in the dark, putting their hands on the foulest places. They had to be intelligent with their very small rations and their use of light. They had to flashlights that work on kinetic energy and one more that ran on normal batteries. That last one had depleted its energy in a single day. The others two had been of great help, even if the two men were not really strong at the moment.

 A couple of days latter, they woke up in a hut. They felt a strong smell near their noses and realized it was and indigenous woman, much older that they were, putting a bowl with some green paste inside beneath their nose. They didn’t want to be rude, but their reaction was to throw the bowl to the wall and crawl to the wall. It was then when they realized they had various cuts on the skin, plus many other bruises.

 Of course, they didn’t understand what she said but, somehow, she did seem to understand what they said. Maybe it was some kind of magic or maybe it was just an impression but in the following days, the two men regained their health and felt even better than before. They spent their days doing nothing until a man and a woman, also native to the jungle, came for them. Apparently, from what they could make of it, their nurse thought it was time for them to leave her and go back to civilization.

 The process was not immediate. They stayed with the tribe of the man and the woman for what seemed like a month. They didn’t speak their language wither, but that wasn’t necessary. Hands and body language was enough to communicate the most basic ideas so, in a matter of days, they were able to understand one another.

 Richard, who was the oldest of the two lost men, began to be interested in the ways of the jungle people, believing it to be very interesting how they use scorpion and spider venom to dip their arrows in and then hunt all of their meals. Apparently, the venom could be washed away from the flesh of the fallen animals and it wouldn’t affect one bite of a meal. He was very impressed by their agility and cunning too, as they seem no to be scared, in any moment.

 Lucas, the young one of the couple of rescued men, was not as interested in the hunting techniques as he was interested in the woman that had came for them to the old woman’s house. He had no idea of what her name was but he knew he loved her curves, her bright black hair, her big brown eyes and her full lips the color of strawberries. He couldn’t stop watching her everyday, even when she was doing her other chores such as cooking or helping the children of the tribe.

 Richard learned fast about their ways of hunting and in no time he was doing it himself, being able to bring a full-grown wild boar for dinner. Apparently, such a kill was a very uncommon occurrence as they tribe decided to hold a feast in their honor for their bravery and exemplary behavior. The natives had never seen foreign men before but they rather thought that Richard and Lucas had been sent by their gods to help them in times of need. That boar was not special. What was special was the fact that they hadn’t had anything decent to eat for a while.

 Every woman, man and child thanked the two of them and they rapidly learn some words that night, after they had heard them being repeated once and again and again. The celebration was topped off by the taking of a very powerful alcoholic beverage made from a mx of fruits the indigenous people picked up from all over the jungle. Richard was unsure about drinking it but Lucas did it in order to impress the woman he liked. It worked, as she thought he was brave for doing it.

 They both paid their bravery with three full days of chronic diarrhea and hallucinations. Richard had taken less than Lucas, but he too started seeing things once he got away of the village in order not to bother the others with his awful state. He would see his wife, his son and his parents. He had forgotten about them and maybe they had forgotten about him too. There, kneeling on the ground, he saw the image of his wife hugging and making love to another man. He also saw his little boy all grown up, turned into a man that was the opposite of what he had been. And his parents, dead for a long time.

 Lucas had it worse. He vomited and soiled himself several times. The woman he loved attended to him as his nurse and she feared the worst because he had really taken a lot of the beverage and she believed the messengers of the gods probably weren’t as tough in the stomach as the natives were. She did her best to keep him with them, helping him with cold water and prayer.

 He saw his family too. He didn’t have a wife and children but he did have friends, all of whom were giving him their back. He saw them saying how horrible of a person eh was and how disappointed they were of him. They also said that they had always thought he was a fake, always pretending to be something he wasn’t, always trying to be one step ahead of everyone to seem cool or whatever but he wasn’t. He heard the laughter louder and louder and he wanted to scream and pull off his skin to stop feeling the pain all over his body.

 After a while, their condition disappeared. The day Richard woke up from his visions, he was taken to a nearby river with freezing water. The shaman of the tribe made him swim in that water and when he was out, everyone cheered. Apparently, he had achieved another level in his status among them and he was proud of himself. However, he now had his family on his mind, calling for him from a distance. They were probably thinking he had died by now but he needed them to know he was a changed man, man that could make their family so much better now.

 He waited until Lucas came out of his sickness. He helped him out of the cold water in the river and then spoke to him alone, in a hut they had built only for them. It was the first time in a while that they were alone and that they spoke their language. Richard wanted Lucas to know he appreciated having a companion through this ordeal but that he had realized, thanks to the beverage, that he had responsibilities and that he had to fulfill them.

 Even being younger, Lucas understood what Richard was telling him but he also announced something: thanks to the visions, he had realized he needed to stay there with the tribe. He had seen his present and his past but also a glimpse of the future and he knew that the only real happiness that he could take away in this world was there, with the natives in the jungle. Even more, he had already decided to ask for the hand of his nurse in marriage, as he loved her deeply.

 The next day, Richard wanted to announce his intentions to the tribe but here was no need. They all knew what he was going to do and they had prepared a feast for him, to send him on his way. There was no psychotropic beverage this time, rather plenty of meat and some provisions he could take for his long way home. On a leaf, the shaman explained to him how to get to the nearest town from where he could possibly reach civilization.

 He thanked all of them and bid farewell to all of them, both in his language and in theirs. They were moved by this kindness and by the fact he hugged Lucas as a son, even if he wasn’t. He was thankful for his help and his support in the most difficult times, both in the jungle and in the cave. There were things that were a secret between them and Richard knew he could trust Lucas with all those revealed secrets.

 As he went away, the native nurse came to Lucas and said a few words by his ear. Somehow, he understood. That same night, they got married in the most beautiful ceremony the tribe had seen in a while. Everyone was happy, well-fed and very good health. The gods had really sent them. But for Lucas it was them, the tribe, that were the real saviors, making him realize what his life was and how to make it into something better, for him and the world.

martes, 24 de noviembre de 2015

The frozen forest

   Blood slowly dripped from the top of the tallest tree surrounding the clearing. It glistened again the moonlight and didn’t stop until it hit the frozen forest soil. Something had happened up there, something that no creature in the forest was willing to explain or understand. The blood on the tree froze and remained there forever, working as reminder to every single creature to be very careful on this part of the world.

 A long time after that, a woman dedicated to washing the clothes of others got lost in the forest. She had been washing sheets and dirty underwear in the cold water of the river but she had lost her way because of the snow, that had begun to fall very slowly, changing every single aspect of the forest in the process.

 Unknown to the woman, she was being watched by various creatures but not because they wanted her out of because they feared her. They just wanted her to leave forever and never return. They knew that the frozen trail of blood on the tallest tree was from human origin and that, in simple words, meant that humans were better off very far from the forest.

 However, the laundry lady had gotten lost. She was not a young woman, rather having a lot of experience in what she did, as she had been doing it for the past thirty years, at least. It had been her mother who taught her everything “ a woman should know”. And she learned everything because women could learn so little that it was better for her to get every piece of information available, instead of suffering for what wasn’t true.

 She had dreamed, long ago, to marry a handsome man and have beautiful children and leave the rest of her days as the best housewife in town. Her little corner of the world was so peaceful and small, that she never thought thinking what she thought was asking too much. After all, every other girl had exactly the same luck, with various results but at least they got to have a proper family.

 Her name was Irene, after her mother, and no one had ever asked her to marry. She knew she wasn’t the prettiest girl in town but she was one of few girls available. And, as uncommon as it was, there were more single men in town than single women. And even so, she remained a spinster for the rest of her life. As old as she was now, she knew she wasn’t going to have any chance of having the life she had always wanted. Instead, she found herself a nice little cottage and people came over to leave their dirty laundry for her to wash. It was a simple and sad life.

 When she got lost, she didn’t really got scared. Her life was so full of the same always, that a little bit of excitement wasn’t unwelcomed. Irene had a big bag on her back, carrying everything she had been washing and realized she needed to head back fast or frost will begin to form on the wet parts of the sheets and defrosting them would be even harder inside of her house. She used her chimney fire to dry the clothes and other items but if frost was involved, it would take much longer and the payment would also take longer to reach her.

 She walked and walked, first with no worry but as the sun began to fold, she accelerated her steps. Suddenly, Irene arrived to the clearing were the tall tree stood but because of the snow, she didn’t notice the frozen blood or the large amount of birds watching her from above. She stopped walking and started yelling “Hello!” to no avail. The truth was, and she had no way of knowing it, that she had walked farther and farther away from town instead of getting closer to it.

 No one ever reached the clearing, not even in the summer. It was a private place the forest revealed only in special occasions and, apparently, Irene was special enough to get there. But that, somehow, wasn’t a good thing. Snow was pilling up and the forest was slowly getting darker. The woman, now desperate, turned around and ran into the forest but it was too late. The trees had suddenly decided to be closer that they had been before, so walking between them was now very difficult. The lack of light made it hard for Irene to see that she was slowly making a circle.

 After a while, she got back into the clearing and it was then when she dropped her bag, fell to her knees and started to cry and to beg for help. She yelled and cried very loudly in order to be heard and she actually managed to do that but that person, a hunter returning home, confused her voice with the sounds in the wind. To put it simply, he thought he had been too long out in the woods and that he needed food and the warmth of his home and family.

 Irene stopped yelling, she also stopped punching the frozen soil, which made her hands hurt because it was like punching steel. She cried but it hurt too badly so she stopped fast. She looked around and realized that, despite being night, there was some kind of light illuminating the clearing. She looked everywhere for the source and realized someone was coming. She stood up fast, thinking help was on the way.

 But it wasn’t a helping hand. It was a figure wearing a cloak, revealing no human attributes except the shape. It didn’t seem to be walking like normal people did, instead floating around, as it happened to be some sort of ghost. Irene’s hope vanished and tried to get back to the forest but everything behind her was black, she couldn’t see trees or anything else. There appeared to be a very black wall there and she just couldn’t run anywhere. Anyway, her feet were unresponsive and once she tried to walk, she fell to the ground.

 The figure then stood in front of her and appeared to wait there. It was unclear what it was waiting for, if it needed Irene to speak first or if it was there for other matters and was completely ignoring the fact that Irene was there.

 Then, the creature started to transform. It grew a bit larger and Irene could see feet and hand emerge from the bright cloak that had been floating in front of her before. As the feet touched the ground, the hands pulled back the cloak’s hood and revealed the head of a woman. In appearance, it did look like a woman but she wasn’t like Irene. The laundry lady was older, had pale skin and blue eyes. She was taller than many women and her nose was bigger too.

 The figure, or rather, the woman beneath the cloak, was smaller even as it had grown larger, had bronze skin and big hazelnut eyes. Her skin seemed to be really soft and her ears and nose were very delicate. She looked patiently at Irene, and then spoke.

      - You are alone. – She said.

Irene started crying again, but this time she didn’t care about how much it hurt to do that in a frozen forest. Slowly, she nodded to accept the spirit’s statement. She then noticed the women that had appeared before her had some sort of drawing on her faces, very subtle and beautiful.

      - You don’t have to.

And she raised one hand and offered it to Irene. The villager had no idea what to do. Something, a voice in her head, told her to hold that hand. But her inner voice, the one that was actually hers, was afraid of what might happen. She was afraid that this apparition had something to do with death and, she had known this for a while, she wasn’t ready to die.

      - I’m not ready to die.

It escaped her lips as she had thought about it. Surprisingly, the spirit kept its hand stretched towards Irene and, suddenly, she smiled. And then Irene’s hand just decided, almost by itself, to grab the hand of the spirit. Then it was all engulfed in white light and the older woman thought her moment had finally come.

 But that wasn’t the case. Irene was again at the edge of the river and it was still day. The sheets were on the bag and she had to get going. She could see the smoke of a house and knew that was the way towards the town. As she walked to her home, she wondered about the spirit and asked herself if she had dreamt the whole thing. It was only when she got home and found a person knocking on her door, that she realized she hadn’t dreamt anything.

 The girl with hazelnut eyes, bronze skin and beautiful nose, was knocking on her door.

jueves, 3 de septiembre de 2015

Mutant mountain

   The arrow pierced exactly between its two eyes. The creature shrieked in the most awful way and then it collapsed, making the ground beneath it tremble. It tried to breath for a few seconds, but then it all stopped, his belly going still fast. Archer came down and checked the body. He was dead. Gunman approached too and congratulated Archer for his handling of the situation. The creature had come out of nowhere but they had been prepared. Doctor arrived with Bio, both women, and as one checked the state of the humans, the other checked the body of the collapses animal. It wasn’t uncommon for them to wander out of the highlands that were their home but this one had seemed particularly vicious. He had been drooling ever since they had seen him come into their lands and his eyes were red.

 The four of them decided to go back to the research facility to change clothes and have some food. In the facility there were only five people, all identifiable by their profession and not by their real name. This was because the agency that hired them didn’t wanted them to risk their personal lives for any task at hand so they call themselves whatever they were. Archer was an archer and gunman a very skilled shooter. Those two were the security team in the group. Then there was Bio, who was a biologist dedicated to preserve the last few animals that lived in this region. And there was Doctor, who tended the wounded people. The fifth one, and the one that hadn’t come out when the gigantic boar attacked, was Vet. He was key but was very strange.

 When they came back to base, a rather small house with a lab on its basement, they noticed Vet wasn’t there. He normally took long strolls all over the place but as his destination always changed, it was impossible to know where he was. Any way, the team went back to pick up the body of the big boar but found out there were only bones there and they also seemed to be decaying. It was very strange and uncommon for this to happen. Coming back again to the base, they found Vet and had a very heated discussion about how he was never there when needed. The women demanded for him to be always available but the men had decided not to say a word.

 Vet apologized and explained to them why he had left. He wasn’t walking around or anything. He had actually stayed behind because he had seen a group of birds flying in an uncommon pattern. He knew it was strange so he tried to follow them with his binoculars but it wasn’t necessary. The birds landed not very far and as fast as he saw them, he realized something wasn’t right. The birds were bigger than normal, even surpassing the height of Pet’s knees. They had red-blooded eyes and very black feathers that appeared to shine with every move they made. And then they heard him coming and two of them attempted to attack. Vet ran like crazy and found shelter in the forest where he stayed until they had left.

 The team was amazed by the story but the women were still upset that he had missed the opportunity to check the boar’s body in order to know what was happening to him. Vet told them that it appeared to be a contagious disease but it was strange that it passed from one species to the next, with the same results: the infected animal seemed to be bigger, with red-blooded eyes and very aggressive. He suggested that they needed a live specimen or at least to have a well preserved body at hand. But then they explained to him what had happened to the boar they had left in the hills. Vet had no idea what to do or how to proceed. He told the team that they had to really think their plan through, as they had no idea if humans could be infected by whatever the animals had.

 After agreeing they needed rest in order to think straight in the morning, the team decided to have the rest of the day off. The men were really happy about it and the women realized they could use some rest after a very strenuous day. The man took off their shoes and jackets and decided to repair their weapons and clean them. Arrow by arrow, bullet by bullet. The truth was that the security team consisted of very efficient guys but that were not really useful for much else. They were big and muscular and tall but they didn’t have much in their heads. Maybe they were a stereotype but at least they could be funny when they wanted, telling jokes and anecdotes about their lives.

 The girls decided to do different things: Doctor decided to clean her equipment and then have a shower with hot water, which they had to heat themselves in the kitchen. It had come as not surprise to them as the base was very far from any trace of civilization. On the other hand, Bio decided to check on a small fragment of bone she had been able to take from the decaying corpse of the boar. The fragment was now bone but she was confident she could achieve something by testing it with everything she had at hand. Bio was a very skillful woman and loved a good challenge when it presented itself to her.

 Vet just took off his clothes and tried to get some sleep. It was the afternoon but he wanted to rest. He had various reasons for this but mainly because he felt that, in the next few days, he wouldn’t be able to relax as much as he was in that moment. And also because he had been having problems sleeping. He had always had those problems but now they seemed to be getting worse. For the last two nights, he hadn’t been able to sleep at all, instead guarding the base and letting Arrow or Gunman sleep. He would often use this wasted time to think about his mission there and about his decisions in life. He had been wrong to take the job. But there’s was nothing he could do now. It was too late.

 Somehow, Vet fell asleep pretty fast and had a nice dreamless nap for several hours until someone woke him up very late at night. It was Doctor and she seemed very scared. He sat on his bed and realized they were all there, in the bedroom. True, they all shared the space but it was a weird scene because they all stare at the stairs and no one was asleep. He stood up and realized that they had put some sort of big plank on the space of the stairs. And that something was pushing from downstairs. The banging was scary but whatever was downstairs was not strong enough. Vet turned around and looked through the window and saw nothing, except the blackness of the night.

 He told everyone that maybe they could escape jumping from the window. It wasn’t that high and it was better than staying there and wait for death or whatever was going to happen. They agreed, so the girls went through the window first. Bio fell landed nicely but Doctor apparently smashed her ankles against the ground and had serious problems walking. Bio helped her up and they waited for Gunman to jump and join them. Arrow, who had foot on the plank in order to prevent the beast from entering the floor, told Vet that he had to go first and that he would run just after him. They needed to be ready down there in order to catch him to avoid hitting his face against the ground. Vet nodded and jumped, landing in a rather weird way but with no injuries.

 They only had a minute to organize in order to catch Arrow, who landed almost perfectly flat on their hands. They saw the room fill up with noises and shadows but the men pressed on in order to run downhill, towards the river. For transport, they had a small boat there that could take them downstream to the house of the forest ranger that had a car to take them to civilization. The walk, or rather run, towards the boat was very erratic and difficult, as two people helped Doctor walk and then Gunman decided to take her on his back. They run without rest and without looking back until they finally reached the small pier.

 The river was enraged and the boat wasn’t there. There was only a piece of rope hanging from the pier. Then, it seconds, Vet told them they should keep running downhill until they were able to escape or loose them. But the sound of the animals, a combination of buzzing and shrieking and growling, was nearer and neared. It didn’t seem to them that the animals got tired, different to them who were already having difficulties breathing. After a long run, they arrived to a point where they could see big rocks on the river. They could jump on them to go across and then run downhill to the ranger. Arrow jumped first. The rocks were slippery but he made it. Bio went second and then Vet.

 But when the turn came for Gunman and Doctor, the man slipped and hit his behind against the rocks. The women stood up on the big rock as she could and helped the man up but it was too late. The animals were there and the members of the team on the other side of the river saw their companions being attacked by pecks and feet and paws. They decided to keep on running and not to watch. They ran for several hours until they reached the small house were the park ranger lived. But he wasn’t there. He was behind his cabin, dead on the ground. The body had no eyes and had been bitten all over.

They had no way out…

viernes, 16 de enero de 2015

The Winter

   Helena worked in one of the many factories located along the river, a fast-flowing stream filled with waterfalls and whirlpools. Every single worker of the factories and the people from the town knew that it was very dangerous to play or stand near the river. But Helena always did, just right before work and just after it. She loved to see the big chunks of ice go down the river, fast, as if they had a rush to get the waterfalls lying only some kilometers further ahead.

What she loved about the river was that she felt strangely alive when looking at it. For her, it was almost as looking a group of children play ball or a market filled with buyers and sellers. Anyway, not much happened in town so when winter came and the river started its battle against the low temperatures, it was always entraining to see which one of the two won the match.

Helena’s post inside the factory was just next to one of the big windows. She had to stitch together two pieces of fabric in order to make underwear, which would be sold in many stores around the world. At least that was what they told all the women working there and, as most of them would have never had the money to pay for such nice clothes, they had no idea if they got only to the next town or a fancy store in Japan, or something.

Through the window next to her, Helena saw the river trying not to lose its power, its grace and insistence. People around her never understood her fascination with it but she had no need to tell them. After all, it was her thing and no one else’s so, she kept this particular enjoyment to herself.

One winter in particular, it was clear that the river would lose the battle. Helena lived upstream and many sections there were already frozen. It did look beautiful, she thought, but it was better when it was liquid and it could do everything, even if it got dangerous and often devastating. By the factory, some waterfalls had frozen over too and it was clear the river wasn’t going to hold much longer which was particularly bad for town.

The electric energy provided to the houses, the factories and so on, were generated by a dam upstream but if they reservoir froze over the electricity would stop arriving. And that’s exactly what happened on the third week of January, when the hum of electricity coming from various machines suddenly stop. The heating system in the factory failed too and they were told by their bosses to get to back home. If they received a call, it meant they wouldn’t need to come to work the next day. Helena knew there would be no call.

She walked home but first stopped by the baker.  It was clear he was having problems to as they were trying, with his son, to turn on a generator that worked on gasoline. Not that gasoline wasn’t expensive but the baker couldn’t afford to lose the job of one day. So they turned the machine on and Helena took home a baguette and a couple chocolate croissants. She ate one as she walked towards home to make her heart feel warmer.

When she entered her small cottage, she looked through the window and saw how the river was almost entirely frozen. Only a small stream of water passed through the ice and it wasn’t enough to make the dam work; that was obvious. Helena left her bread in the kitchen and went up to change off her work clothes. She put on a thick sweater and loose pants, the kind you use to exercise. She went down to the kitchen and checked the time on a clock hanging over the oven: it was one o’clock.

Realizing they had really been let go rather early and wondering if this time the call would be real, she decided to make herself a proper lunch. She normally ate something like a sandwich in the factory’s cafeteria but the bread there was normally stale and the meat seemed to have seen better days. Helena decided she would take this chance to make herself something delicious to eat. So she checked the cupboards and the fridge, which wasn’t working anymore, and decided to make a nice fish on herbs and roasted potatoes to go with it.

She checked her oven and it did work. Thankfully, it worked on gas and not with electricity so she could cook her dinner there. In an hour, she was seating down to a small table by a window, the one from which she could see the frozen river. She started eating the fish, enjoying herself despite the cold. Then, for a moment, she stared again at the river but her expression was now pensive, almost sad. She seemed to scare the thoughts out of her head, in order to continue eating. But when she finished she was again looking at the window.

Several minutes passed until she stood up, washed the dishes and went to her room. Somehow, she didn’t really feel cold or tired. She just wanted to lie down and think. From her room, the river could be seen to but she deliberately lay with her back against the window. She didn’t want to look at it, at the water, anymore. She had tried hard to have a nice relationship with it but sometimes it got hard. It was as if winter made it harder on purpose, in order to make her remember.

 It had happened in winter too, so maybe that was why. One day, Helena had been walking upstream with her, holding hands, looking at every animal remaining in the cold and at every plant that looked as if they were also fighting the winter, just like the river. They had stared at the beautiful shapes of a frozen waterfall and the silent and peaceful sound of the remaining water, sometimes underneath the thick layer of ice.

The next day, she woke up suddenly, like scared or as if her body was warning her of an incoming danger. And it did: she looked through the window just in time to see how her only daughter, age five, was taking a first step into the frozen water. She ran as fast as she could, in her pajamas, almost falling to the ground, getting mud and frost all over. But as she drew near she heard that horrible sound, the sound that she would never forget.

It was the ice cracking beneath the feet of her daughter. In that moment, she screamed, calling her. Nowadays, she wished she hadn’t. The little girls, got even more scared because of this and decided to walk back to shore but then the sound coming from the ice became louder and Helena saw how her daughter was engulfed by frozen water. When she got to the spot where her daughter had been, she realized the river was only superficially frozen. Underneath, water still moved fast.

She ran downstream, screaming for help and then falling mute, as she saw her daughter’s body floating face down underneath a thin layer of ice. She broke it with her fists, dragged the girl from the water and held her in her arms as people gathered around and saw what had happened. Her daughter was dead, in the blink of an eye. From that day on she respected the river but she hated it too because it had taken her life from her.

Her daughter, a bright young girl, was going to be such a better person that she had ever been. She was going to be someone amazing and outstanding, fearless and strong. Helena was going to help her do whatever she wanted to be the best of all. She would have the courage to leave town and really live the life she wanted for herself. And Helena would have been proud and happy for her, because her life dream would have come true.

But the river ended that. She ended that. She blamed herself, even if it was worthless to do it. During winter, she remembered her daughter almost every day and tried to be strong enough to keep living but sometimes it got extremely difficult, because Helena realized she was truly alone in the world. She fell asleep crying in silence, in her bed.

But the following morning she went, as usual, to work. The dam was still no working but they had to work anyway. She stopped by the river on her way to work and looked at it for a couple of minutes, paying her respects. She got hold a beautiful surviving twig, with some leaves on it, and threw it in the water. Then she moved on, to work and to the rest of her life.