Under the Green Sun of Slormor
by Bertil Falk
Table of Contents
Chapter 2 appeared
in issue 274.
Chapter 3: The City of the Water Lily Pond
part 1 of 3
While driving home from his grandson’s baptism, the hero walks into a space-time trap and is spirited to the world of Slormor. It is a tired world, populated with beings who eke out an existence. To them neither life nor death seems desirable.
As the hero tries to find a way back to his own world, a little girl, Parvrin, becomes his companion and guide. She shows him that under the green sun of Slormor, things are not always as they seem. A series of strange adventures leads him back to his grandson’s baptism, where a kind of final explanation — if explanation it is — leaves him astounded.
“Even in sleep I found no rest, for evil dreams seemed to flow into my brain from the dead city around me.” — Edmond Hamilton
We walked for hours on this damned ocean bed of Slormor. The shimmer of purple shone like a beacon in the pitch darkness of this vast underground stretching miles and miles in at least three directions.
We approached the purple shimmer, but at a slow pace. Weakened, we stopped more and more often to rest and eat our black bread. We had no more water. Our bottles were empty. That troubled me. I knew we could manage a good while without the black bread, which we did have. We could not manage for long without the liquid, which we did not have.
We resumed our wandering and walked for a long time until, exhausted, we settled down on the ground and rolled ourselves up inside our snug and pleasant beds, the only thing in this world that had the capacity of lending us warmth and shelter.
In a haze of whirling snow, a noisy, ramshackle old snowplow comes roaring on the opposite roadway. It screams and howls as the grader tears away recently formed snow and ice. The iron of the plow emits sparks as it scrapes the paving stones.
“Why use a carving knife?” I ask my son, and the inevitable has begun. I slip and fall and hit my head against the ice-covered curb. I wake up when I hit my head against the ground.
I felt thoroughly rested and refreshed. Parvrin was already awakened. She was standing there looking at me. In her hand she was holding my mobile phone.
“You’re an uneasy sleeper,” she said.
As if I did not know that.
“What’s this?” she wondered.
“A gadget that is worthless here,” I said.
And the mobile phone now hung on a chain around her neck.
Again, we resumed our wandering. In front of us the purple-colored light grew. We saw that it was an illuminated city. In the middle of it rose a palace verdant with high, two square, pointed green spires as well as a nave with a green roof, which was adorned on the opposite side with a huge spire-like pinnacle, also green. It was copper that had become coated with verdigris.
The palace was an architectural beauty, built with green bricks. It was a growing castle: additions in different styles and nuances stood out in bold relief against the green frontage, and the two aisles were so different that they must have come into existence much later than the mother nave.
Wings had been opened on this building without any thought of consequences. It all made a puzzling impression on the mind. This palace with towers and pinnacles stood on the highest spot in the midst of a city with streets and squares, brick houses and wooden edifices. At a distance, it all looked new. If possible, at close quarters, the structures looked even newer. And everything was wrapped in that purple colored light, which was not a mist but an ethereal lustre set in a subterranean mount.
There was no ring wall. The sea simply stopped at the edge of the city. We walked straight onto a broad street. An attractive fragrance filled my nostrils.
Parvrin, who had been quiet for a long while, stopped and said, “What kind of place is this? Can it be the water lily pond?”
She explained to me what the water lily pond was. This was a city where the popularly elected ruler of Slormor lived and ruled long before many wars fragmented Slormor into a cheerless shade of its former greatness.
The streets,which extended in sometimes straight, sometimes winding stretches, looked newly washed, but not a single person was seen on them. We walked through a well-managed park, overgrown with tall trees reminding of ferns and enormous lilies of the valley. They spread an aroma that was a delight to breathe, but there were no people, no animals, no birds.
And yet, I fancied that here must have been inhabitants once upon a time. And judging from the beautiful image of the place, they must have been happy people who gladly said how-do-you-do when they met on streets and squares, in parks and in their backyards with trees and playgrounds.
We came to the square before the entrance of the enormous palace, which towered high above our heads. Water rippled. Mighty, winged statues representing three-headed dragons did not spit fire but poured water into a pond. And in the water, green water lilies rested like lotus blooms.
The water lily pond?
The water lily pond!
We hastened forwards and bent down and drank. The water was sparkling and clear and cold and tasted like life itself. We filled our clay bottles, and Parvrin took out a pair of foldable, cloth-like objects. They turned out to be waterproof bags. We filled them, too, with water. We did not know when we would find water again. We laced up the bags and hung them on our belts. And we still had some nutritious black buns.
We walked to the high gateway of the palace. Half of the big wooden door was open. It must have been four meters high.
“According to the legend, what happened to the water lily pond?” I asked.
“It says that the pond was placed in a wrapping of purple and lowered to the sea-bed.”
“The legend seems to have its points,” I commented dryly and Parvrin looked surprised. She did not understand the idiomatic expression.
“But where have all living beings gone?” I asked. “Did the legend say anything about that?”
Parvrin did not reply.
Copyright © 2007 by Bertil Falk