Thursday, 12 July 2007

Backapcking Burro: The Elders

Mercifully, as I slipped my arms through the backpack straps, there was no repeat of the pain I had felt the first time I had put it on. There was no eerie green light, no passing out or falling over. Nothing in fact. Well, almost nothing. I could feel a slight tingle in my (I could hardly believe I was thinking the words) horns. A small vibration that seemed to be moving downwards from the tips to my head. In no time I could feel it – hear it almost – in my skull. The would around me began to shimmer, as if suddenly touched by a vibrating tuning fork. The village about me, the forest beyond and the old man all blurred before slowly dissolving into nothingness leaving me standing in a void of immense blackness. Slowly, as my eyes began to adjust to the darkness, I began to pick out points of light. They grew in size and number; points becoming spots; spots becoming patches; patches becoming patterns of stars and constellations. It seemed I was floating in the infinite void of space!

“Welcome,” said a voice that at once sounded like boulders rolling down a hill and water playing on pebbles, “Be at peace.” I found myself moving backwards, relaxing until I felt I was laid out floating in some immense, becalmed ocean.

“Who are you?” I asked, a nervous tone in my voice.

“We are many. We are all many.”

This, I mused, did not help. “What have you done to me?” I asked with a bolder edge to my voice.

“What was necessary.”

“Necessary? Necessary for what?”

“For the times ahead.”

“I don’t understand,” I said, by now getting a little angry, “What have you done to me? Why have you changed me into this… this thing? What do you want?”

“We have released your spirit guide. We have joined you. You will need to be one for the times ahead.”

“What ‘times ahead’?” I all but shouted, “Just tell me what you want!”

A sudden push downwards, as though a rope around my waist had be attached to a galloping horse, and I was careering through the void, lights and colours blurring around me. I felt sick and heard myself bellowing for them to stop. Without warning, I was still again, fighting to hold in the waves of nausea that now welled up within me.

“Do not presume to take that tone with us!” the voice roared full of splintering rock, “You have been chosen!”

Chosen for what?” I shouted back.

“For the times ahead,” the voice replied, once more babbling brook and rolling stones.

“Please, I don’t understand…”

“There is a war approaching.”

“A war?”

“You must find the methods to win it for us.”

“Methods? What methods? What war?”

“The host will guide you.”

“The host?” As soon as I asked, my backpack twitched and thrilled with excited energy. My host. My guide.

“The host will guide you.”

I was about to ask more, but before I could, I once again felt a tingle in my horns and in the queer light of distant stars, I fancied I saw an odd thin bubble of some sort spreading from behind begin to envelop me. Once I was surrounded, my vision once more blurred and I passed from the void back to my own world and into the village of Cowell. Although I felt I had been gone but minutes, hours must have passed for it was now night. The old man sat cross legged under the stars, only a small fire to keep him warm.

“Welcome back,” he said. “Sit by the fire and let me tell you of the last Great Shamanic War.

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