August is no time to find yourself in the twisted, jungles of West Africa. Cupping some water from the trickle of a cool stream, I drank and than licked my palm clean, turning my sight overhead, knowing I wouldn’t make out the blistering orb through the melange of greens, yellows and browns. The sweat on my brow ran in small trails down my face as I searched through the thicket of colors. I could feel it’s heat, it was there, somewhere, probably, should be overhead. One more cup of water, a slow rise to my feet, a step across the water, and I was on the path again.
A narrow, dangerous path cut through the growth of twisted vines and gnarled trees by generations gone, long gone with the ages, leading to a place once teaming with a civilization that would one day, populate our world. A wind rustled the vines, sending leaves shivering and I thought I heard a voice calling. I paused, and noted the finality of silence as the gust died. Standing among so much life, it was so quiet, not a sound. I wondered what large beast, camouflaged in its native environment was watching, licking its chops, believing I was to be its next meal. No matter, when it came, I would eat well.
I continued on and within the hour I met head on, two bare breasted women and a pygmy. The short one with a long, thin spear, pierced nose and ear ring, wearing only a necklace of handcrafted vine. The women, balancing pots of fruit trotted behind the dark pygmy like giant gatekeepers of some unknown secret. They did not speak, but they returned my nod as we passed and the last women managed to look me long in the eyes. A look that was disturbing, disturbing in the way that I had managed that look before, and lived to tell about it. A look that spoke that I was close, my journey ending or as I was told by the blind monkey, on a path to a door that opened with new possibilities.
Pushing aside some Taro leaves the size of a bull elephants ear, the trail ended and I stood at the periphery of a large, green opening. A meadow of sorts, a clearing in the jungle. There were no shrubs, no flowers, just lush green grass. I wondered, and I wondered seriously, if this was not the destination, how in the cool hell would I find the path again? A strange and unequivocal thought settled, and I wondered, if I might fail.
I knew I would not fail. One day, the sun which is setting, casting longer shadows, will fail in its journey. When that day comes, the Earth will no longer be in the memories of any existing species, my existence not even worth the coagulated shit of a snake, but today, this day, I will not fail. I stepped out among the shadows of large palms and cottons which were growing out toward the center of the clearing, and walked toward the remaining sunlight. Here in the center, ringed by a tall wall of green jungle, I would watch the last of the sun, the birth of a full moon under the Milky Way, and wait.
Removing the small scrap of paper from my pocket, I straightened it, and pondered the symbols, and hoped I was right, knowing I was. As the last of the sun fell beneath the jungle wall, the symbols cast small shadows and interacted with each other, creating a map. A map that lead here, in the middle of nowhere. I folded the map and returned it to its place close to my heart, and then laid back in the grass to watch the stars come out to play.
A great horned owl hooted in the delight of night, crickets sounded, joined by birds chirping. Nature, getting ready for a night of rest, came alive in the passing of day or perhaps it was in anticipation of what was yet to come.
The moon full rose over the dark wall in a matter of minutes that seemed a century, and cast an eerie but delightfully beautiful simple shade of dark moonlight upon the clear field. My world was so bright and yet it was so dark. Leaves rustled, the insects and birds died down, and I heard my name called in the thustle of leaves, long and drawn out, like a ghostly demon calling out my destiny with death. I smiled, as I started to rise up out of the grass, I had been right.
She walked in my direction, children in arms, bundled tightly. I knew without being told, one a boy, the other a girl. She was slow, rhythmic in her walk across the clearing and mere yards away I swam in her exotic erotic existence. Long and slender, blond thin hair and large almond eyes.
I blinked and the children were older, standing next to the woman, each holding her hand. I questioned if I were dreaming and believed I might be. I blinked again, and two children stood alone in the moonlight and in the following few seconds, turned to teens, young adults, adults and my children’s lives progressed under the stars with out words, without presence of touch and than a final blink and they were gone. I was alone.
Until I hung my head in sorrow, and she was there to place a warm palm under my chin, and lifted my sight to the jewels of the night sky which started to swirl in magnificent patterns of light and shade cloaked by a full moon and a glimpse of rising sun. I became lost in the jungles of the Universe.
I awoke face down, strung over a large rock of sorts, played out to the end, tired and sore. Naked! I managed to roll off the stone and realized I was neither on a stone or in a clearing. I stood bare, in the ruins of some old, shattered city and abruptly noticed the medallion tethered around my neck. I smiled, the game continued.