Floozman in Space
by Bertrand Cayzac
Chapter 17: The Story of the Shaman and the Bucket
Stuart is diving now, carried away by a cascade of vital energy. He cannot steer himself anymore but with the stunning speed, steering is becoming quite indifferent to him, almost pleasant. Around him, geometrical roof structures erect themselves as skeletons and populate their innards with purple organs on the verge of incarnation.
Vivid flashes bloom into ravenous tubings of nerves, embryo palms, and gargoyles awakened by a stormy rain. Plethon — Stuart’s avatar — understands that he is falling into matter together with innumerable fresh wills. He understands that a response is urgently needed, but it seems to involve some other person, an abstract being. These are the effect of narcosis as described in the Junior Shaman’s Guidebook. Worst of all, he knows it can no longer move him at the stage he has reached.
Beacon waves pour down through the distant crenellations of imperial palms that soak up an increasingly misty sky. These waves will soon guide the wills at the palpitating heart of organic life, where they forget themselves while gawking with dazed thrills during a life that is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.
Other pilot waves design in advance the vegetal sojourn of the souls, the mold-fringed basins, the gnarled organ-shaped roots of poisonous, orchid-banded bulges, the lianas, the viscous mud, the slimy glebes sweating with nets of gelatinous nerves, and dark mosses. The black virgin matter comes through, everywhere invisible, everywhere threatening, only does the blazing enamel of beasts’ teeths light up the silent deaths that feed new lives.
For too long a time, a creature has been staring feriociously at Stuart. It isn’t a supple tiger or a swift bird. It is the Angel of the python who stands facing him, fascinating him with the beauty of his tiled skin rolling and yet motionless, rolling, rolling... and yet motionless... Careful! Thinking it means becoming like it.’ This, too, does the manual tell the shaman.
Manual, what else do you say? Hurry! The spiritual venom is already in him, it makes him see with the slotted eyes of the dragon. Another movement and he will fall into the brittle leaves where thousands of slimy, oily and slow python lives are crawling.
“You’ve found it!” A dusty voice whispers inside the triangle of his head. “It was your mission. Remember?”
And he recalls his journey, as he must: the stables, the meeting in a box, the fecal accident, the meeting of the Cosmitics’ Comex and also Winaretta, the heaven of ideas... And he must remember this painful episode, too. No! He can’t. He must simply escape once again, and now!
His virtual limbs remember how to move; they give the first impulse, then the second. Stuart is swimming now in he knows not what shuffling kind of medium. His virtual members get hold of the pressing flesh of a swirl, perhaps one they have engendered, one that they are still sustaining. one that is now forming a contrary stream.
He moves away. The serpent watches him leave, and its split mouth almost forms a cruel smile. Stuart swims, ever faster, the black waters of the forming matter are stirring in thinner swirls. He realizes that he has been caught in a squirter.
[End danger sequence]
The maneuver has succeeded only halfway. He is still losing altitude but the currents are losing their strength. He must be somewhere on the outskirts of the nozzle. As he plunges, the clouds thicken and take on the color of beads. Shapes of snakes and dragons appear smoothly and indefinitely, mingling their chimeric rings in the heart of the imaginal mist.
Young jungles await farther down. Suddenly, he catches sight of Fred Looseman’s soul on a bed of leaves, imprisoned by the annular spirit of a python, already halfway with Fred.
Stuart disables the reptilian navigation filter in order to take stock of the heavenly place he has reached: a small forest at the entrance of a glorious hamlet.
A high castle rises in the near distance. In this castle. Stuart takes note of the altitude. He is almost exactly at the theoretical level of matter crystallization. Everything remains in a glorious state, but it is, no doubt, a metastable phase.
“Soul, what are you doing here?” inquires the shaman.
“Alas, I was going to join my heavenly double when this python caught me. Now he is going to swallow me and regurgitate me into the body I was inhabiting and that is now decomposing.”
The python is staring at him with a glassy gaze.
“What can I do?” Stuart is not armed to confront the serpent.
“I don’t know, I don’t have much money left,” sighs Fred’s soul. “My self of light is not far away... I must conjoin myself to it, but this beast is preventing me...”
Stuart the shaman goes in search of the heavenly double that each sublunary creature possesses. It doesn’t take him long to find Fred’s second soul; it can be seen in the dim light of the hamlet, where the stagnant idea of mud furtively takes shape in contact with the idea of feet, imprisoning here and there a wisp of straw as if to invite the passer-by to take part in the material world. The place seems ready to instantiate itself at any moment, reminiscent of a winter thaw in a shtetl.
Fred hurries towards large roofs. They are inhabited by impetuous rush of wings that are as alien to human beings as the squeal of giant scales. Ideas fly and do not fly all around them and in the sky. They are horses, dragons, centaurs.
There is a great stir in the idea of a court, a great uproar. Dust flies, and wants to fly. Fred hears shouts, the wind, and then the snap of a whip. Immediately, a thrill of aggregation runs through the ideas. Blood bubbles and wants to flow into the world. Breath comes to nostrils.
Fred starts running awkwardly toward a stable, he knows what he has to do. But the whip cracks again, hard enough to hit his poor soul.
Stuart approaches a Greek who is busy mending a horse’s bit under an awning, near the gates. The light of a fire that does not burn sculpts his facial features.
“What’s going on?”
“The knights are here,” says the man. “They want fresh mounts. They weren’t expected. They’ve received a sign. They will once again go in search of the Holy Grail. This place is a relay station, the Barstow of the Barzach. It has to support a minimum of materiality.”
The giant knights are becoming impatient. They walk briskly, ambling across the courtyard in their finery of leather and lace. Most of the other grooms have fulfilled their duties when Fred finally reappears, eagerly leading the idea of a winged mount, which walks casually as if in transcendent elegance. How shall the spiritual knight and his steed conjoin? Stuart can’t explain it.
Soon, other ghostly knights emerge from deep in the Valley. They jump over the rooftops and land in the courtyard. Dust flies and gathers into clouds. Ideas of blind races spark ideas of hens and duvets swept by the wind. Squires are running every which way. No, their masters haven’t found the Grail, but those who are departing now will surely bring it back.
When the dust settles, Fred’s heavenly double returns to his task: cleaning the idea of horses from the idea of bedding. His is a peaceful soul who doesn’t know itself; it whistles while it works, dreams and shows itself in all its phases. It shows in transparence the diminished share of its sublunar double, which is a prisoner of the serpent and of the network that still connects this double to the other shares, those who are remaining close to the corpse or those who were lost en route. They turn to their different futures: one to a plant life in the bayou under the wide, silky wing of the reptilian angels who govern the place where the corpse is located; another towards the long destiny of a power cable.
They shuffle in a stooped posture, looking towards the ground, ready to cast off the organs of freedom. The tribunal has rendered its verdict, so it seems, and all the lots have been awarded. To the east of this network can be seen the links leading to a distant and intense light in which, a primordial form mysteriously related to Fred can be distinguished. Janatone’s ghost can be seen, too, Fred’s sister soul separated from him in this world as in the other one.
Water, ideal water, condenses in the gutter, each molecule only taking body temporarily in order to be pleasant to the sweeper. And Fred let himself be drawn towards the gutter too. He leans down with a stiff back, as though to listen. “It’s really disgusting in there...”
The vacuum toilet appears and causes a delay. The machine asks for repairs, preferably Cosmitics surgery. The Stuart of flesh and blood accepts the temporary fix; his absence will be excused and he can spend more time in the superworld. During the pause, Fred continues to sweep.
When the shaman regains consciousness of the interzone, Fred is still here, crouching at the edge of the well and the water flows...
“Do you hear something?” Fred doesn’t seem surprised to see him.
“Yes, the prisoner is there below, in Toledo, writing poems, he’s looking for a passage... And there are many others... a crowd...”
“I can’t hear them. Did they fall?”
“No... no, they haven’t fallen. They’re coming back up.”
“Your double is prisoner of a python serpent, at the entrance to the village ...”
“My... my double. Ah...”
“The serpent is going to take your double; back to your corpse and its whereabouts. As a ghost or, rather, as many ghosts. But I think someone else is expected in place of these ghosts.”
“My double... the double of me...”
“Ah yes, I remember... We once wanted to become... I don’t know what anymore. And I know how to get them out of there! Thank you, stranger, thank you for having talked to me, I had forgotten all that.”
Fred’s soul turns on its heels and returns to the stable, muttering. It — or Fred — enters a secluded stall and takes a bucket and a rope buried under the idea of straw. The universe of the relay station is so well instantiated that multiple ideas of dirt stain the golden twigs. The shaman could not say what material the black walls of the container are the idea of. This thing evokes infinitely solid wood.
At the edge of the well, Fred unleashes the bucket and, if miracles can happen in this heavenly place, the container slowly rises towards the sky, opening itself like a corolla of light so intense that the bucket becomes invisible. Only the rope is left hanging up in the void, disproportionately elongated.
Time seems suspended until the bucket reappears above their heads. It descends as if lowered by an invisible pulley and lands on the ground, filled with ideal gold coins. By handfuls, Fred pours them into the mouth of the pit, but the bucket never empties.
As gold rains down, colored bubbles burst up from the depths and form a powerful pillar of fire rising to heaven, at first with convulsions and then in a straight line, with sustained strength. Stuart steps back, and Fred does, too. A dog takes shape and runs away yelping.
“There, the channel is scoured,” Fred mutters. Then by tens, hoopoes and doves coming from high above plunge into the well in reverse of the flame. Soon, a celestial music is heard. The birds return to the surface, accompanying men of light, all ascending with ecstatic faces: Saint John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, two brothers imprisoned at Carawan...
“Do you always do that?” wonders Stuart the shaman.
“Yes,” anwers Fred, smiling broadly. “The ghost of the old Templar gave me this bucket. He told me to cleanse the well like that, from time to time, with gold from the treasury...”
“Do you know who you are? And your double...”
At the same time, the mouth of the python suddenly emerges from the well as if hauled by the fist of an invisible giant.
“Are you my referent?” calls Fred’s primary soul, which is still held prisoner in the reptile’s potbellied bowels. One expects to see it arise at any moment, out of the hideously open jaws.
“I don’t know. I wanted to become... but it wasn’t me, no...” Fred hesitates. He looks around him as if all directions were not already visible from any perspective. He takes a step backwards, stumbles on the bucket, and staggers. For how long will he fall? Dazed, he topples suddenly into the well, dragging the snake, the bucket and the birds after him.
The pillar of fire is standing tall. A young apparition with rippling hair cries on the walkway, “Here they are!” New riders with fantastic allures are descending the mountainside at the speed of the wind. They are already crossing the bridge, they are coming, they are in the yard! They call out to each other in Castellan and seem to be unwilling to restrain their horses from trampling or galloping around the pillar of fire, expanding space by the spell of their gait. Ideas of bandoliers intersect on their lace-covered chests.
Balconies and verandas are budding in spikes on newly carved facades, soon blooming with women. Some stay in the shadow of apartments unconceived of the instant before, others are leaning and waving and laughing. Others are jumping into the yard with the grace of the dream. They dress as horse riders and straddle fresh, winged mounts that arise magically in the air to meet them.
A coach has arrived, it is unclear how. Its driver, the beautiful Roxane who’s been driving it, has already jumped down from the driver’s bench to distribute weapons and ammunition to a company of Musketeers.
Suddenly, a whip slams with the force of thunder: Floozman leaps out of the well, all dressed in black. He whistles once: a black, winged mount gallops towards him. Lightning springs out from the clouds.
The troupe fires ideas of shots into the air as Floozman jumps onto the flying horse and beckons to the rebels to follow him. “You are my Fravartis,” he says, “you have chosen to come down again and fight darkness. You are veterans of paradise. As I told you before, we shall ride again!”
“And now is the time! Hang on to the cable, we are going to liberate the worlds!”
Then the ground of the courtyard yard vanishes. They all descend with the Floozman along the pillar of fire, to the material world. And this fire does not burn; it embalms and incenses and ignites the imagination.
They go down. Back from his trance just a few minutes before the surgery, Stuart manages to complete the capsule and send it.
Time waits for no one here any more than it does anywhere else. On a virtual carpet flying at the speed of Achilles, Plethon, Jr. gives the passengers a breathtaking visual account of the most recent events. Floozman the Messiah and his followers descend towards the bayou on the fiery beam, aligned with the erect python, who is guiding them like an antenna.
The swell of matter comes to meet them. Very soon, they will materialize by way of one of the numerous squirters forming on their way. At the bottom of the pillar, surrounded by a crowd gathered behind a curtain of flames, a big serpent and a mighty Voodoo Queen seem to be waiting for them. The animal spirits dwelling in Fred Looseman’s corpse seem to have awakened. Fred is standing up in his space suit, straight like one of the living dead.
Who could tell what time it is? The carpet passengers decide to transport themselves to the black diamond bay where the theatre of operations has been localized. The web is not fully supported in this area but, by chance, the Queen’s hotel offers a virtual space, at a price.
As they instantiate themselves at the site’s periphery, a runway forms on the beach, and it is marked out by torches. The first flyby is too fast. The flying carpet passengers can merely distinguish a distant confused crowd at the end of the path. Only on the second pass do they catch sight of the scene.
In the center of the gathering, Fred Looseman stands in his spacesuit with a giant python rolled around him. Resting his head atop Fred’s helmet, the serpent stares at the webmaster, who is none other than the Voodoo Queen.
Silent dancers stand still and silent in the inner circle. Everyone’s avatar waits impatiently for something to happen. Beyond the flames, the sand dust and ocean waters withhold their petty cash. And the skies above are opening...
They are going to see something big.
To be continued...
Copyright © 2015 by Bertrand Cayzac