The Half Shaman in Space: The Underworld
|Imagine now kneeling in front of this hole and sticking your head down into it ... what will you see?|
Remember the manhole cover last week? Jeb lifts the hatch cover. Lays it aside. Looks down through the hole ...
I need to close my eyes and swallow and swallow. I peer between my eyelids but the vertigo is ongoing. Close my eyes, pretend to lift the hatch cover; pretend to lay it aside; pretend to look down through the hole.
Peer between my eyelids. All still the same. The walls and ceiling down there follow the same lines as the ones of the place I’m in except that they are upside down. I see an airlock in the nock of the pyramidal ceiling, far away. The new place is like a reflection, its base is the underside of the floor I’m kneeling on.
I dip my head down and through the hatch into the reflection. There is no disturbance, like rippling, so it isn’t a water reflection. My face and upper body leaning into it aren’t reflected, so it isn’t a mirror.
Weird but good. There’d be one more of me than I could cope with, I think as flippantly as I can to generate the next bit of courage needed.
I push down further and see a forest of upside-down human legs, skirts, long pant legs and cloaks around the hatch-hole. I see feet standing comfortably on the floor plastered to the underside of the floor where I am still crouching. These are the people we’re looking for?
Blood rushes to my head because if they are the right way up, I am upside down. I feel like I’m the right way up. Would I be able to crouch down the way I am without floating or falling down to my ceiling? Their clothes should be drooping around their heads.
Then I recall the second pyramid sticking upside down out of the torus of the Ark Ship that I saw on the wall in the white room. It seems I must abandon the concepts of up and down. Looks to me like this so-called underworld is connected by its square base to the square base of the upper pyramid that half my body is still in. Time to climb through.
In the underworld, feeling awkward and wrong, I stumble about like a drunkard. A large hand under my elbow helps me re-orient myself. Four fingers shorter than normal.
“Lithe?” I stop him leaving me with my other hand over his. “I’m really really happy to see you.” Although he is Limber’s twin, he isn’t a double of the people in the over-world. Another possibility I can let go.
“Limber is through there,” I say. “And lots more people. Get everyone from there into this scene?” Even being able to ask someone what they think is a comfort.
“Having everyone in the same dimension should be helpful,” he says.
I ignore the doubt I hear in his voice about getting everyone in this dimension. “Dimension? Oh. The gravity? I wonder how that works?”
“One of them is starting to get restless,” says a person staring up at their ceiling. “Too many of us standing still for too long.”
“We’ll split,” says a woman.
I recognise her voice. It’s Red-tail.
“Lithe, you work getting the crowd from under there into here,” Red-tail says. “I’ll take the four faster outer ranks and swirl. That should confuse them.”
I stare where a sprinkling of people are looking, Red-tail among them. The ceiling, aka the pyramid’s inner skin, is thick with mats of purples, dark greens and browns. It takes me a couple of seconds before I realise I’m looking at a landscape of mosses, ferns and worts. A shadow would be right at home among them.
I do not dwell on any particular piece of darkness and drop my gaze to the crowd instead. The people in each of the outer four ranks are arm in arm and circle left as if they are in a giant dance, except that all four circles are moving into the same direction.
I can’t stop my gasp when the people at the left end double and double and double until six or seven in each of the circles are reflected as if in a floor to ceiling mirror. The dancers stop, change feet and dance rightwards.
The doubling to the left disengages and disappears. Still moving, still to the right, the circles double at the outer right edge which is but a reflective mid-wall, I see suddenly.
The dancers move left again and start over at speed. The swirling confuses me as much as it might be confusing the beings the dancers are aiming to influence.