Chapter 48: Meanwhile Back at the Cave

Lem and Yani guided Ellen to their home, one of the caves she had seen from the cliff. When they reached the third cave, Lem stopped and put his hand on the glass wall. The glass wall dissolved. They passed through the entrance into the cave, after which the glass reformed. Lem pointed to a sofa and asked Ellen to make herself comfortable. Lem sat down on a chair opposite her.

Yani offered Lem and Ellen a cup of water and a plate of fresh fruit. The young woman raised the cup to her lips and drank down the cool thirst-quenching liquid in a few gulps. She eyed the fruit with desire and curiosity. Lem smiled, reached over to the plate, picked up a prange, and popped it into his mouth. “You really should try the prange,” Lem said amiably with his mouth full of the tart pulp, “it’s fresh from our garden. Yani picked it just before you arrived.” Ellen picked up a prange from the plate and bit off a tip of the fruit. The tangy taste seemed to explode in her mouth. She ate the rest of it and reached for another piece of fruit.

Yani sat down on the sofa beside Ellen. She turned to see her better. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so blue,” she said.

“Our parents were light beige colored like you,” Yani answered. “We are genetic adaptations to a certain environment.”

Ellen hesitated, “mutations? I mean …”. She immediately regretted using that word.

Yani smiled and looked at Lem. “I suppose you could use that term.”

 

“Look,” Ellen cast about, looking for a way to launch into the reason she had come to the cabin, “I’ve come all the way from … well, it doesn’t matter where I came from … you’ve probably never heard of it … I’ve come all this way just to interview him …”

“Why would you want to do that?” Lem asked.

“Because I’m a journalist,” she shot back, “and a damned good one at that!” Ellen had a strange feeling after saying that so vehemently, like she had said it before.

“No,” he said, “I meant why would you want to interview Father?”

“I want to understand how and why he writes what he writes,” she attempted to justify her existence to Lem, like she remembered having to do on her first day in the introductory journalism class when she had to stand up before the professor in the packed lecture hall and explain why she wanted to take that pretentious bastard’s course. “His books,” she stammered, “I’ve read every one of them …”

“He wouldn’t know about that,” Lem answered. “He’s just a young man. He hasn’t written any books yet.”

“I … I don’t understand,” Ellen stammered. “What’s going on here? Where is he?”

“He’s …” Lem looked at Yani and back at Ellen. “I have to bring him back here.”

Lem got up, walked through the glass door, and was out of sight.

 

The young man got up and ran out of the clearing crashing through the thorny branches. He smashed against a tree but kept on running. He ran into another wall of branches and down the path to his right. He came into the clearing and slowed down when he came to a flat boulder. He sat down on it and examined his surroundings. He saw the Tin Man sitting on the tree trunk. The Tin Man raised three metal fingers and a familiar voice called out “Father … Father! Please Father!”

 

Little by little his consciousness shifted into something more familiar. He looked up at the starless night and recognized the cobalt outlines of Lem’s face above him.

“Father, are you alright?” Lem asked. “Please answer me.”

A wet pain throbbed on the left side of his head. “I suppose so,” he said.

“What am I going to do with you,” Lem feigned exasperation.

“I just wanted to go for a short walk,” he said, struggling to sit up. “I had no idea I’d get myself lost in this damned forest.” He tried to stand up. His legs were still wobbly.

Lem put an arm around his father to support his weight. “You must be more careful here,” Lem told his young father. “You are blind in more dimensions than those in which you can see.”

“You really know how to make a guy feel good,” he said sarcastically.

“Wait til you get home,” Lem smiled.

 

They walked arm in arm in silence until they reached the cliff overlooking the caves in the valley. The far mountain tops turned golden in the blush of dawn.

 

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Filed under Prose, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Stories and Novels

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