Sunday, 23 May 2010

In the woods

Overhead tower blocks gently swing, waving in the breeze like fruit hanging on a tree. Wavebox and Sandy lie in the orange light of the fading sun, waiting for shutdown. A nearby tree tries to start up a conversation but Wavebox shushes it politely.

"Tree's are fun but they can be quite slow as the sun goes down." Wavebox explains to Sandy. It is his younger brother's first trip into the parkland. Sandy is just ten, Wavebox is in his teens and an impossibly romantic and large figure to Sandy.

The light starts to fade from the trees. Slowly they start to sleep.

"Listen." Wavebox says.

In the space left by the trees and plants there is a gentler hum, a slower, deeper sound.

"The rocks." Sandy says.

Wavebox nods, sitting up. The rocks sound so different from the apartment wood, from the trees. There is a stillness to their thought. Wavebox smiles. He is glad his brother has come with him.

"It is time to go." He says.

Sandy nods. They get up and walk together along the path, lit gently by the over head lights of the city. Wavebox listens to the rocks, letting them guide him. Since he and his friends learned to listen to the rocks and used them to pass messages they have begun to organise the parties.

Further up the path darkened figures stand, waiting. Sandy feels nervous. Wavebox queries ahead and puts his hand on Sandy's shoulders. It's ok, they're with us. We're nearly there."

Wavebox nods at the two sentries. One of them he knows. A girl from his class, pretty and dressed well with bright pink hair woven with soft pulse light. She smiles at him and he feels a warm nervous glow. Beyond them is a clearing. The overhead is covered with woven trees, the result of a month of gentle negotiation to create an arena that will be hidden from above. He clearing is already half filled with people, mostly young, around Wavebox's age or slightly older. No-one over twenty, that's the rule.

Ambient music plays, punctuated by random pop hits that fade in and out. Wavebox looks around for someone he knows. He finds Steel, already mixing it with a few of the others. He doesn't know Steel so well, an state of ambivalence has already existed between them. But Steel sees him and waves him over. Wavebox, realising he cannot walk away, goes to his group.

"Who's the little one?" Steel asks.

"This is Sandy, my kid brother."

Steel nods. "Good to met you." He says.

Sandy feels timid. Everyone is larger than him. He has not seen anyone his own age. He feels a little angry towards his brother but excited at the same time.

The music starts to change. It gets faster and louder. A few people start to dance. Others stand around, collecting juice from the trees and passing it around. Sandy tries some. It is sweeter, deeper than the stuff in the blocks.

"It's not so diluted when you get it from the source." Steel explains.

The music suddenly stops. There are hollers and shouts of approval as everyone sits down. Their hands run through the grass, the rough earth. Everyone becomes silent. Listening. Sandy copies Wavebox. He has been told what to do but the strangeness has forced the explanation from his memory. He is mostly terrified of making a fool of himself.

The murmur of the stones seems to grow, becoming louder until there is nothing else. Each person seems to take on the call, creating impossible sounds from their mouths, from their throats, from their bones and flesh. The world begins to melt away. Sandy feels himself begin to sink. All becomes dark. The rough feel of rock against all his skin. But then it ends. There is no movement, no sense of falling. Sandy opens his eyes.

They are outside. He cannot see the others but he knows that they are there. He can feel them, supporting him like knots in a net. He looks about. There are only stars, a thousand million pins of light, textured clouds of coloured gas. The feel of exotic particles against whatever he has become, an eternal wind of quantum foam breaking against the bow of the ship. He tries to turn, to look back at the ship. Its pitted surface stretches outwards below him. He cannot see its length.

It's all true. He thinks.

Sandy suddenly feels himself pulled back inwards. Quicker than before he finds himself sat back on the grass, his hands in the dirt. He feels the grin on his face. His eyes open to look around at everyone else. They are all the same. Looking at each other with the same sense of wonder and magic. Grinning and moving towards each other with a pleasure and openness none has experienced outside this. A girl hugs Sandy and he hugs her back.

The music starts up again, this time louder and faster. They start to dance. Everyone dances. Sandy laughs at his brother, who has found the sentry girl and is dancing with her, with everyone really. The feel of the universe a powerful scent between them, binding them together.

Suddenly there are lights, reds and blues, piercing through the canopy, from the sides. Sirens wail. A raid. Sandy panics. Looks again for his brother, but he cannot see him. A few people near the edge decide to run. Others sit down. Sandy desparately tries to remember what his brother told him about raids, words he repeated to himself over and over again. -The best thing is just to sit. Most of the time they just frisk everyone, take down a few names and let everyone go. They don't like it but there's not a lot they can really do. But Sandy does not feel so confident. Something in him takes over and he runs, heading for the thickest part of the wood, where there are no lights.

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