gregor’s story


so the eight of us — we call ourselves the pod — our self-selected learning group of members of alathea community aged from thirteen to seventeen years, decided to walk over to the falls of the raven

as we walked we played logical and critical thinking games and together we invented this puzzle:

a city back in civilization time had seven toll roads from one end to the other; at each toll booth you had to pay one half of the number of coins you had in your pocket as a toll, and if the number of coins was odd you had to pay half of the (number of coins plus one); but the toll collector always gave you change of one coin — given this information, what is the minimum amount of money you would need in order to make a complete round trip across the city and be able to pay all the tolls?

i’ll tell you the answer later

we discovered and logged eight new species of insect and named one of them after each of us, once the library confirmed our findings after we electronically sent a sample of their dna to them

and then we talked with the birds — zari taught us some of the language of the jays, she’s the newest member of the pod and came to us as a wanderer last month; she has studied the languages of birds for years

in return jaco taught her some finnish words and we played a twenty questions game with the questions asked in finnish and the answers given in hawaiian (oliana corrected our hawaiian)

and then we did our sensing exercise: we decided on smell this time and agreed we could smell musk, though we didn’t know if it was from muskrats or beavers, and we smelled wild blueberries and angelica and jack in the pulpit and went on to identify thirty-four other smells but we can’t give you all of their names because for this english history writing exercise we are only allowed to use words that existed before the madman’s plague and back then in their global gulag they had pretty well lost their sense of smell and only had words for unimportant things

we took some air samples and sent them to the library and they told us which smells we had misidentified and which ones we’d missed, but we did get an award for identifying a new smell that was not in the catalogue and it is the smell of the dung of the insect we discovered that we named after venn so the new smell has venn’s name too

and then we came to the glade forest and the trees were covered with water droplets from a recent rainstorm, so we took pictures of the droplets and the light through the trees and the water on the spiders’ webs and each of the eight of us looking at these things, and then we tasted the water droplets from each tree, and the water from the spruces and the water from the ferns and the water from the birches and the water from the maples all tasted so different

and we ran through the glade forest showering each other with the spray from the trees until we came to the falls clearing

the telling of stories in this ancient linear english is difficult — we are tempted to start every sentence in the story with ‘and’ or ‘then’ and it is hard to know when to stop; and telling how several things happened at once, using a format that allows you to tell only one thing at a time, all in order, is very challenging

we think the english people in the time before the madman’s plague must have been very boring to have invented a language of such expressive and imaginative poverty

we don’t like studying the period of the global gulag just before the madman’s plague because there was so much suffering and misery and it hurts us to learn that people could do that to each other and to gaia but we know it’s important to learn it so we never let it happen again

it is hard to imagine people so squished together like that, so many billions each traveling each day from the office-work prisons to the family-house prisons, never questioning because it was the only life they had known for millennia after the ice ages and the extinction of large prey and then the civilization time with its great forgetting until everyone thought that was the only way and were afraid to live differently

it makes us cry to think of this; how could it happen? and we also know that with everyone having babies back then because their religions and governments told them that was right there were a lot of very ugly and unfit and sickly humans and that too is hard to imagine — ugh! no wonder in those days humans wore clothes

at the falls clearing we stopped to rest; we picked some wild currants and raspberries to go with the nuts and berries we had brought from the alathea grove and ate them with crispbreads and garbanzos and raw vegetables

zari and i sat face to face and fed each other berries and caressed each other and started feeding each other from our mouths and then got carried away and sixty-nined for awhile; she tasted new and foreign and delightful and i was glad she had joined us from the wanderers, and then when she came lots and laughed and cried out ‘no more’ (in danish which she is also teaching us) we lay for a few minutes and she taught me more jay language and then i pulled her up and we joined the others

they had been watching us and we had precipitated a bit of an orgy but we had outlasted them and they were playing keep-away with a reproduction of a relic from pre-madman’s plague days called a ‘nerf ball’ — we joined the game and it was wonderful; there is no better way to stay fit than playing a vigorous game that is challenging but which no one wins or loses, and soon we were so exhausted we were falling down and laughing so hard it hurt

so for awhile we just lay in a big pile, heads on each other’s laps staring at the sky and playing with each other’s hair and talking with the birds until anneke hushed us and we stayed very still and six graceful white-tailed deer walked into the clearing beside us and we spoke to them in human and bird and mammal tongues and lief made his wonderful impression of the sound of a running stream and one of the fawns bounded over and licked him on the face

and we all laughed and got up and played hide-and-seek with the fawns while the adult deer watched and grazed

anneke told us that in the time before the madman’s plague humans ate deer and kept animals as food-slaves (shudder!) and the other animals all told each other how humans treated gaia so all the other animals were afraid of humans and ran away as soon as they saw or smelled them so man was left alone and lonely, never playing with other animals — this too makes us sad

so we ran around and played with the fawns and we nuzzled them and they nuzzled us back until the adult deer told the fawns it was time to go, and they walked over to the clearing stream and drank and then crossed over and disappeared into the forest on the other side

by then the sun had gone behind some storm clouds and we sat together and did our meditation and it began to rain but we sat in our circle in the downpour just letting it fall over us and we told each other how much we loved each other and our time and this place, our home

for our composition exercise we composed a poem out loud, and restating it as each part was added so we would not forget it even though we were not writing it down, since this was also an oral culture lesson, and the composition was about a first kiss between two people and it went like this:

it is the waiting, the anticipation,
that makes the first kiss so exquisite:
our eyes soften, and we signal its coming, its desire
by glancing between each other’s eyes and lips

and as our mouths open, it is in a smile, coy, inviting
and our mouths salivate
in anticipation of its sweetness
and we get close enough to smell each other’s breath
as soft as a whisper
and sense each other’s breathlessness

and the few seconds as our mouths draw close
stretch out to an eternity, as time stops:
(if only this moment could truly never end!)
and as our lips touch we slow our approach even more
relishing each millisecond, each micrometer

and then our hearts pound and leap, and we are one,
and we begin to explore each other, as a wilderness,
the discovery of a wondrous new territory,
the learning of new wants, pleasures, gentle joys

we taste each other with abandon, as we would
if starving, and given bread
or expiring of heat and thirst, and given water
we gorge ourselves on the sweet flavours
of each other’s souls

it is as if the rest of the universe is rushing away from us
at the speed of light
there is only we two, one, together, locked, lost

and we must close our eyes
or go blind with the sheer intensity of this instant

this first kiss is a gift we give each other
its power as intense
as the explosion, the infinitesimal instant
when the universe began

and then lissa taught us some new tantra and we kissed and made love to each other very slowly for a long time, teasing and making it last and holding back, especially the guys, and it got very intense and we were all crying and saying how much we loved each other and oliana said if she was ever parted from us she would die

and then it was time to go home — we walked slowly, hand in hand, and told each other stories from the lore of other cultures we had studied, including an amazing one that zari told about the innu peoples before the madman’s plague: it seems they lived in a climate that was very cold so they studied the wild animals and birds and they made their clothes like the fur of the wolves and feathers of the ravens and so they were the only humans in that time who didn’t need to build and live inside ‘buildings’ apart and cut off from gaia and each other, because their clothes were their buildings; and they laughed at strangers from other cultures who visited and felt sorry for them for having such poor ‘buildings’, because these strangers just didn’t understand

it is hard to conceive of living in the time of the great forgetting when people had such poor imaginations and were so full of fear — i think if i had lived then i would have killed myself, though maybe if i was like them and couldn’t imagine another way to live and was told all humans were meant to live in a world of struggle and suffering, and that killing yourself was wrong, i would go on living even though i think such a life would be worse than death; maybe i would have become the madman

as we got near home we came upon a pack of wolves and we nodded to the alphas and acknowledged them as our brothers and sisters and they acknowledged us back, and one of the baby wolf cubs came over to us, smelling the deer on us perhaps, and gnawed on jaco’s hand, so we gave it the ‘nerf ball’ and it played with the ball just like a dog would; and then we took our leave and returned to the alathea commons and did our chores and studies until it was time to sleep

this is the end of our composition in antique linear written english — i know the syntax and flow are not correct but i think the words are all authentic from the time before the madman’s plague and the grammar is correct; it is a terrible, confining language, so inflexible, and poor in important vocabulary and sensory and emotional nuance, so i guess it is no wonder that the people of those times lacked imagination and lived in a fearful world, hidden inside their own minds

oh, and the answer to the puzzle, of course, is two coins, any two coins

[written on behalf of the pod of alathea, by gregor, date AMP 546.217]

This entry was posted in Creative Works. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to gregor’s story

  1. etbnc says:

    Impressive! Well done, um, Gregor. A line that jumped out at me was the lament about people having “such poor imaginations”. Lack of imagaination is the only shortage that really worries me now, during the period of the Great Forgetting. Thanks for demonstrating imagination!

  2. “a city back in civilization time had seven toll roads from one end to the other; at each toll booth you had to pay one half of the number of coins you had in your pocket as a toll, and if the number of coins was odd you had to pay half of the (number of coins plus one); but the toll collector always gave you change of one coin — given this information, what is the minimum amount of money you would need in order to make a complete round trip across the city and be able to pay all the tolls?”Hm. Suppose you had one coin. You go to the first toll. Half the number of coins plus one is one coin, so you give the toll collector your one coin. The toll collector gives you chqange of one coin, and so you have one coin. You continue on to the next toll. Repeatr as necessary to complete the trip.The answer, therefore, is not two coins, but rather, one coin.

  3. Sven Cahling says:

    Dave,1. Nothing wrong with your imagination, though.2. How many years from now is AMP 546.217, do you imagine?

  4. Catnmus says:

    Isn’t the answer really only ONE coin? If you have one coin, you have to pay half of (one plus one), which is one, but you always get one back, so you still have a coin. So essentially you don’t have to pay anything.

  5. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks, everyone. Stephen & Catnmus, you’re right of course. My characters might have great imaginations, but clearly I need to work on their logic skills. That’s the problem with blogs — no proofreader ;-)

Comments are closed.