Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Chapter Three-Beyond The Seven Seas

Only because I promised. Excuse the mess while we are renovating. Thank you. The management.


To speak of what lies beyond the seven seas is to speak about losing. It is a space reserved for those who have been removed. It is a womb for all that is yet to be born. It is the land of Myth. Within its boundaries live the shadows of Story, of Present, of Then. It is within these remnants of space that our lives as we know them are defined and redefined. Every day we are invented anew between the lines and faced with the prospect of the fleeting devil Tomorrow. To speak of the land beyond the seven seas is to speak about loss. There are tenants who continue to rent their time in Myth. Mischief and Grief and Memory and Eros and the fateful pig that approached Piccadilly Circus in an attempt to expand the borders. In an attempt to regain. To speak of the land beyond the seven seas is to speak about a culture dying. We are dying. It is the mantra that seeps into the bones of this intangible land, it is the borders in which they live, the terms in which they approach life. It is within these terms that we shall speak of what lies beyond the seven seas for this is the only voice that has not been over sung.


The pig darted through the streets and the sewers of London. It was heading West. There was such amusement in watching people, in escaping. He had quite enjoyed his morning. He angled to the right and reduced his size again so he could slip through the grates sealing the underground waterways of London. He hated being underground. It was much too damp. Not that he wasn’t used to a bit of dampness. Ireland is no desert. At least in Ireland one can be wet and not smell like a soaked dog he thought to himself. Ah well, he didn’t have to smell himself. The sewers were the best means of travel he could think of. Less chance of being stepped on or causing further commotion. Being small compromises your concept of safety. He skidded around a corner and banged into the wall. Sludge. It was always slippery. But yes, the sewers were the best choice he’d had. He’d been given orders. He remembered what happened the last time he had disobeyed orders . He would try playing it the straight way for once. Was he not an icon of legend and daring and charm? Yes, he could play by the rules just this once. For the sake of something greater than himself. Or something.

He wrinkled his already wrinkled nose. He was filthy. He imagined that even the sewer rats were looking at him in disgust. Ha! To think of that! Oh the ends that he would go to for some things. He would have a much more pleasant time regaling the group of his derring-do after a proper bath and a return to his normal state. Being small compromises your sense of self.

He took the third right and slid through another set of grates. He could see the wicked shadows being cast back and forth as the good albeit confused people of London walked around above him. What little they knew. Such was the plight of most humans, however. He had learned that from the eons spent doing things the hard way. Their heavy footsteps above him became his soundtrack as he raced along the curved walls of the true London underground. The chatter of voices were muffled through the depths and the sun shone meekly into the grime.

The girl had been a curiosity to him. She had looked at him, directly at him. He could see her mind working. That was a particular gift. She was a different breed. She had looked at him not with fear, or awe or panic or any of those other unsightly mental characteristics but with curiosity. Pure curiosity like a child in a house of mirrors. She was pretty too. That was always a nice surprise. He hated ugly humans. Then again, he knew her father so he supposed he should not have been all that surprised.

He was cold. “You know, you’ve not been very good company lately.” He said as he continued through the damp muck. The sun went behind a cloud and the sewer went black. “That’s what I’m talking about!” She’s certainly in a mood today he thought sourly as he charged through the blackness. “I didn’t mean anything by it, I’m just saying...” He let out a yelp as he crashed against a low hanging grate. Just ahead of him rays began poking their long fingers into the muck. She always was rather hot under the collar but lately she had been in a foul mood. Not very good company at all. He was glad, for a change, that he had not been put in her charge for this task.

To think! A Muse! Missing! This most important task and they had chosen him. It had been most natural in his mind but the others had not been so enthusiastic. Memories amongst some have a substantial shelf life and he had not exactly been the most subtle in his deception. But what was life without a little rule bending. So what. He reflexively twitched his shoulder muscles and would have shrugged if he had been physically substantial enough to do so.

He leapt over a deep pool of water and scooted along closer to the edge. He had never been much of a swimmer and the last thing he needed was to be delayed. But yes, this most desperate of missions and they had chosen him. To be sent after the care and charge of one of the muses, that was not something a humble Pig like him encountered every day. And the world hadn’t even batted an eye. He had no idea how the girl played into everything but considering her history he could only imagine.

He continued to run. He was a pig of his word after all. At least for today. He could not imagine where she would have gone. The muse, not the girl. Though that had been a rather big shock as well. Not a single person had chased after him! And after her athletics chasing that pathetic distraction he would have thought the least she could do was give a half hearted attempt.

For all her clarity she obviously did not know who she was dealing with. Poor thing, she hadn’t grown up with her father around to educate her properly. He didn’t really have time to waste thinking about that though, she was not his main concern. This missing muse was. “Do you have any ideas where she could have gone to?” he asked the sun. The sewer rats looked at him and the sun said nothing. She was so irrational sometimes.

“You know, it’s not like I asked for this job. I had been minding my own business, wallowing around, doing nothing more than fulfilling my duties not bothering anyone when Boreas shows up on my front door. Figuratively speaking at least. I don’t really have a front door seeing as I live in a field.” He chuckled at his own wit. The sun said nothing. “Not that you don’t already know that, dearest. What with your lofty position and all. Really does give you an advantage to things. Regardless, here comes Boreas one day and says that he needs me and I am to meet him at once and await my instructions. Imagine how I felt! Being bossed around by such a transparent fool! Well! I dare say I was a bit taken aback. But I showed up. My curiosity has always been my downfall. So yes, are you listening?” Nothing. “Good. So yes, here comes Boreas and I agree, naturally, to help. I mean, I’m a good natured sort and when a fellow needs help, what can I do but bow down and offer my services?” He ran through a patch of gray sunlight and felt a distinctive burning on his muck covered tail.

“Ah, so you are paying attention! I knew it! So, where was I? Ah yes, Boreas. So I meet with him and he says that Erato has gone and gotten herself missing. How exactly this is possible I don’t know so don’t ask me. That’s up to Apollo. Such a responsible bloke. Don’t know what could have gone wrong. Perhaps she finally got the better of him. He always did have a thing for her. Course, not a single one of us could get near her without feeling something. Even me-and you know how I don’t usually go for the two legged type. Poor thing, out there all alone. Though I can imagine she knows how to handle herself. The question is, where would she have gone? She had everything she needed right where she was. Doesn’t make a bit of sense to me, but then again, I’m not one to meddle in affairs of Them.”


“Black coffee, please.” The table creaked as she leaned forward on her elbows. Her brown tunic sleeves were pushed up past her elbows and the yellow light hanging above the table gave her a jaundiced pallor.

“Well, where is the little fucker.” She left the question mark on the street corner.

“If he knows what’s good for him, he’ll have gone back and we will be hearing from him shortly” He gave his most placid face and wrapped his hands around the gray cup. He picked at the porcelain paint with a dirty finger nail. He considered the consequence of actually putting the cup to his lips. It seemed too much of an unnecessary risk for such a pitiful payoff. Instead he let the humid warmth seep into his palms.

“That’s assuming a lot on his part.” She squinted her already narrow almond shaped eyes at him over the rim of her mug and bit her bottom lip. “I mean, he’s not the most trustworthy. I still don’t know what you were thinking”.

“What I was thinking is nothing that you, in fact, have to think about at all. You seem to have enough troubles of your own.”

“Clever. Really.” She changed her mind and set the cup down. She fingered the rim and swirled the battery acid around. The silence was getting them nowhere.

“Uhm, can I say something?” Four eyes swiveled in their sockets.

“You just did.”

Green eyes wilted in frustration and the third member of their party straightened a bit in her sagging seat.

“Look, well, it’s just that she’s still out there and we don’t know anything and I don’t want to cause more problems but shouldn’t we be…well…doing something?”

“Ah, enter our sweet voiced tagalong and her astounding ability to state the obvious. Save your vocal chords sweetheart. Right now, we wait.”

Last week.

She came in a set the bags of groceries down on the counter. She hated always having last minute shopping but there are some habits that never die. The grocery store had been full with others suffering a similar fate and she had been caught up in the mess that happens when lots of people all try and do the same thing at the same time.

Her graying hair was in her eyes and her contacts were beginning to burn. She had spent too many hours pouring over student papers last night and the subtle reminders that all-nighters were for twenty-somethings and college students were mixing with the not so subtle reminders that she was definitely not twenty anything anymore.

But, work was work and the students were feeling particularly effusive if not intelligent this year. She had a few bright ones but nothing like some from her past. She was tired of reading how “one must always remember…” and “throughout the ages…” “one” doesn’t have to do anything if “one” doesn’t feel like doing it. What ever happened to a little pizzazz? And editing. And spellcheck. Forget Aude sapere-she would settle for dare to proofread-before-submitting though she doubted there was a latin equivalent for common sense.

She sighed and sorted through her dilapidated bags. Her cat jumped on the counter to help and was shooed away with the butt end of the French loaf she brandished. The sun came to investigate through her yellow curtains and she smiled. Mid-afternoon sunshine may not be quite as good as moonshine but it is still intoxicating in its own right. The cat gave up on his lazy attempts at investigation and curled up in the corner.

The dinner guests would be over shortly, she had a lot of work left to do. She took the fish out of the bag, discarded the newspaper and took it to the sink. What with the student papers behind her she was beginning to look forward to this evening. She had her own research of course that always seemed to be leagues behind where it should be for the number of hours she gave in a week but her sanity had begun to whine about equal employment opportunities. There was nothing wrong with taking a night off now and again she reminded herself. The stress of having loose ends sat in the base of her brain but she pushed it aside. Not tonight.

The water was just beginning to boil when her cell phone rang. She wiped her hands half-heartedly on a tee towel and routed her phone out of her purse. “Unknown name, unknown caller” flashed across the screen as she flipped it open with her chin and jammed it between her ear and shoulder. She turned the stove down to medium.

The cat jumped as the phone hit the floor. She pivoted sharply on her heel with a speed belying one of her age and grabbed her jacket. She was out the door and gone within moments. Her brain was full of white noise as she jumped in her car and slammed it into gear. Around London eight phones simultaneously rang and their answerers left in a state of shock. Eight women jumped into eight of their respective cars and raced away.

She was missing.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Wow! This is really good. I am SO sorry that it took me so long to read this, but it was worth the wait. On to chapter 4. Excellent work!