CHILD OF FORTUNE
Blue, blue, blue, blue ... An endless, measureless, timeless perfection of blue ...
And yet, at length, if duration could be said to exist in such a state at all, something became aware of a perturbation in the clear blue nothingness of its being. Yellow ... Was there not a yellowness moving all but imperceptibly across the blue ...?
It began to assume a substance and a form ... A fiery circle of yellow, haloed by streamers of the same hue ... like a face surrounded by a corona of glowing golden hair ... like the circular entrance to a long tunnel of light ... at the end of which ... at the end of which ...
A spirit seemed to slowly come into being, which is to say that, just as the clear blue emptiness had been disturbed by the golden circle of light, so was the perfection of nonbeing now trammeled by a desire, a tropism, a formless urge to follow the yellow out of the blue to ... to ...
But then the golden circle began to deepen toward orange as it drifted downward through the blue void, and the cerulean hue thereof began to darken toward purple, and I found myself rising slowly to my feet, dimly aware of others like myself, standing motionless and staring into the sunset as the orange disc cracked the geometric precision of the horizon and fractured the purple perfection of the vaulted sky with rays of umber and somber red.
Yet as the sun was swallowed up into the black lake of oncoming night, some dying ember of independent intellect seemed to struggle up painfully from the depths of perfect mindless bliss to blink torpidly at the tiny pinpoints of silver that had begun to pierce the blackness of the sky.
For a few moments, as one by one the stars began to come out, mayhap there was a spirit that recognized those silvery speckles as such, for if fragmented memory plays me not false, that spirit viewed them through a veil of liquid gauze, as if weeping for the loss of something it could no longer fathom, as if someone still knew that each of them was a mighty sun, that up there in the heavens high above the Bloomenveldt, circling round the stars, were the far-flung worlds of men.
Just as memory marks not the divided hours of that first seamless perfect day as a Bloomenkind, so too in the track of my memory does it seem but one long day that I passed before the chance coincidence of sunrise and the turn of the floral cycle came together to rouse me from the reasonless creature of the forest that I had become.
The time came round at last when I awoke at dawn, was moved to breakfast on nectar, and was then transported by what blew me on the wind not to eat of fruit or engage in copulations, but to repose under a lavender bell in empty-minded meditation upon the cerulean void.
But chance, or mayhap what we style fortune, placed my venue of repose so that, rather than fixing my gaze upon the featureless perfection of the clear blue sky, I laid myself down with my face to the east, to the rising sun, which at this hour lay just above the eastern horizon bathing the Bloomenveldt in golden brilliance.
And as I lay there staring at the rising sun as it slowly began its ascent to the zenith, so did the angle of my gaze imperceptibly rise with it, for my vision had been totally captured by this single slow event in the timeless and featureless void of blue.
Mayhap the power of the flower was less total over one who had once enjoyed sapience and then lost it than over born and bred Bloomenkinder suckled at the very teats of the forest in whom sapience had never arisen. Mayhap my previous conscious determination to follow the rising sun to the east had so percolated down to the nether reaches of my brain that it had attained, or from another viewpoint degenerated, to a simple tropism to rise up to follow the yellow, even as many plants will keep their leaves and flowers turned to a sun as it travels across the sky of day.
Be that as it may, some dim sort of vegetative awareness began to slowly seep into the percept sphere of the creature who lay on that leaf staring mindlessly at the golden sun rising toward its apogee, painting the greenery of the Bloomenveldt with a bright gloss of light that, rather than emanating from the yellow face of glory, seemed to be ascending eastward and skyward toward it.
Which is not to say that anything resembling human sapience had returned, for this faint urge to rise up to the golden face of the sunrise was no doubt no less a visual tropism than those of the senses of smell and taste which had come to command my hours.
Yet, dim and mindless though it be, this tropism was not a command of the Bloomenveldt. Rather, I do now believe, had the remnant of my sapient spirit succeeded in condensing all that had once been me into this single simple tropism to follow the yellow face of the sun upward into the sky, for it was a puissant compendium indeed from the point of view of the consciousness trapped beneath the surface of my presently mindless brain.
For was that consciousness not named Sunshine, and had that name not been given by a spirit whose face was haloed by golden hair? Vraiment, had not I once consciously chosen that selfsame golden rising sun as the ensign and guidepost of my determination to attain once more the worlds of men?
Destiny had therefore chosen to place within my sphere of vision in a state of florally induced hypnogogia an object of precisely that color most likely to rouse my spirit from its cerulean trance.
Slowly and without conscious thought, my right hand freed itself from the nirvanic catatonia in which my body lay, and like the heroine of a romance struggling under the crushing gravity of a cruelly massive planet, it crawled agonizingly across my waist and turned the knob of my floatbelt as far clockwise as it would go. Then, as if exhausted by this effort, it fell limply to the surface of the leaf by my side.
Which slowly fell away.
For, supine, still gazing fixedly at the object of my tropic desire, propelled by the .1 g upward thrust of my floatbelt, I had indeed begun to rise to meet the sun.
As my body slowly rose up through the levels and breezes of the atmosphere, so too did my awareness rise slowly up out of the depths of its nonbeing toward the golden light of sapient consciousness. I can no more sharply define the moment when my spirit could fairly have been said to have returned to full sovereignty than one may the morning after remember the precise moment the night before when the same passed over the line into sleep.
Suffice it to say that after some time I quite literally found myself drifting slowly on the ever- changing breezes above the Bloomenveldt, with my clothing in tatters, my face caked and smeared with a vile crust of dried fruit pulps and saps, and the vague but horrifying memories of what I had been forced to become.
My first act of will, taken even before my consciousness had fully cohered, was to turn down my floatbelt to .19 positive, and spy out a leaf as I came drifting down from which I might establish a firm trajectory for my next leap to the east.
Indeed, I hardly knew what I was doing or why until I had kicked off that leaf on a mighty bound toward that single smiling golden face in all this endless world of hostile green. Then I shouted for the sheer need to hear a sapient human voice. "Follow the sun, follow the yellow, follow the sun, follow the yellow!"
For several more leaps, I continued to shout thusly until the repetition fell into the rhythm of a chant, not really aware then of what I was doing or why. But at length this mantric return to verbality of a sort also served to restore the coherence of same to the stream of my thoughts, which is to say I became more shrewdly cognizant of the method of what no doubt would have appeared to an observing ear as my madness.
For in truth only then did I come to dimly comprehend the means whereby some buried level of my mind had rescued my sapient spirit from its dreamless slumber. Which is to say I had recovered the wit necessary to realize that I had in fact been following a self-imprinted visual tropism, which I had now instinctively augmented with a verbal mantra acting upon somewhat higher centers of my brain.
And rather than give over this mantra in the bright yellow light of relative reason, I instead reduced its volume to a less shrill level designed to preserve my voice for the long haul, and crafted the words into a monotonous singsong rhythm designed to drone it as deeply into the biologic levels of my being as I could manage without being a perfect master of the meditative arts. "Follow the sun, follow the yellow, follow the sun, follow the yellow ..."
So too did I then expand modestly upon the lyric with a final phrase which spoke of and to the higher purpose thereof. "Follow the sun, follow the yellow, follow the Yellow Brick Road ..."
This simple song did I chant endlessly and softly to myself as I bounded across the Bloomenveldt. And far from distracting my higher thoughts from pragmatic considerations, the perpetual chanting of this mantra served to calm and focus them, for now I was all too cognizant of the true nature of my predicament, and conscious as well of the only possible escape therefrom of which I could conceive.
For the brute fact was that I could not reach the coast without food, and the pit of nonbeing from whence I had barely managed to rouse myself to follow the rising sun was the only source thereof for hundreds of kilometers.
Which is to say I had no choice but to risk this death of the spirit not once more, but again, and again, and again, or die, an even more final death of the body through starvation. Indeed, as I had already learned far too well, given a sufficient level of fatigue and famishment, I would sooner or later no longer retain the biologic energy to support a conscious will, and be drawn by the perfumes to the fruit like a moth to the flame.
Therefore, since I could count on no continuity of sapient will to carry me through, indeed since all that was certain was that I must suffer repeated loss of same in order to maintain my body's vitality, my only course was to accomplish with what I hoped was the greater puissance of conscious craft what I had already once barely managed to achieve by accident of fate.
Which was to use these periods of conscious lucidity to engrave a mantric tropism upon the presentient levels of my mind with perpetual chanting repetition and diligent meditation, so that even when reason and conscious will had once more fled, my Bloomenkind self would, during periods of enforced floral nirvana, be programmed to follow the yellow, to follow the sun that sooner or later must rise during a cycle of such meditations into its percept sphere.
"Follow the sun, follow the yellow, follow the Yellow Brick Road ..."
Of the days, or mayhap weeks, that I spent trekking eastward across the Bloomenveldt in this manner from one meal of fruit to the next, there is little to be said that is not entirely contained within the endless repetition of the mantra I had given myself.
"Follow the sun, follow the yellow, follow the Yellow Brick Road ..."
For this became the sole content of my periods of sapient consciousness as well as the faint background music of the timeless intervals I was constrained to pass as a Bloomenkind.
"Follow the sun, follow the yellow, follow the Yellow Brick .Road ..."
Though at the time I knew no more of the science of mantric imprinting or the art of autohypnosis than the simple techniques we are all taught in the early years of schooling, some years later, upon delving deeper into the subject, I was to learn just how puissant the mantric technique I had naively cobbled together out of bits and pieces of knowledge and coincidence really was.
"Follow the sun, follow the yellow, follow the Yellow Brick Road ..."
For what I had in fact done was crafted what the masters of the art call a synergetic mantra, wherein a conventional mantric rhythm keyed to the biorhythms of the consciousness in question is linked to a simple verbal metaphor of deep meaning thereto. A visual mandala is then provided which is the imagistic cognate thereof, so that the two most sovereign senses are merged into receptors for a single synergetic image of sight and sound, which, by becoming the content of the sensorium entire, focuses consciousness down to a single imperative.
Under proper conditions and the direction of a true perfect master of the art, an appropriate incense is also provided, as well as a psychotropic selected to induce the desired kinesthetic percept-state, so that no sensory data not linked to the synergetic mantra may intrude. Though I knew it not at the time, I had happened upon a technique oft times applied by adepts of the martial arts, Healers, and perfect masters of the meditative sciences.
And while I was constrained to serve as my own perfect master as best I could, chance, necessity, the perfume of the lavender bells, and what little art I possessed had conspired to create a synergetic mantra of which the greatest of such mages could be proud.
"Follow the sun, follow the yellow, follow the Yellow Brick Road ..."
The visual component thereof had been pared to the simplest possible mandalic formulation: a yellow circle, archetype of a life-giving sun. Nor could a perfect master have done much better with the drone of similar syllables contained within the mantra.
So no matter how often hunger drove me to the fruits and perfumes of a Bloomenkinder garden, and no matter how many cycles I passed in utter thrall thereto, the inevitable processing of these selfsame cycles of eating, copulation, and hypnogogic repose must sooner or later place me beneath a meditative flower in an early morning hour beneath the rising sun.
Whereupon that visual mandala would inevitably call forth the chanting of the mantra synesthetically linked thereto ... "Follow the sun, follow the yellow, follow the Yellow Brick Road ..."
And this in turn would generate the stylized motion of my hand turning the control knob of my floatbelt, and I would rise slowly up into the air high above the Bloomenveldt until some semblance of sapience returned, like a mystic bodhi levitating out of maya by sheer force of will.
"Follow the sun, follow the yellow. follow the Yellow Brick Road ..."
Only by virtue of my possession of this single nonfloral tropism might I have been said to in any way distinguish myself as a self-motivated creature from the Bloomenkinder of the forest.
For just as the mantra had become the sole content of my being when I was constrained to sojourn among the Bloomenkinder, so was my mind incapable of encompassing any other thought as I bounded eastward across the Bloomenveldt. So if the foregoing description of this stage of my journey across the Bloomenveldt may seem to lack something in terms of its recounting of the linear skein of events, the truth of the matter is that the human personality of the teller of this tale was for all practical purposes absent as a memory-binding witness from the corpus moving through them.
Just as the voice and speech patterns of a person long dead may be encoded into an electronic matrix and cunningly manipulated to produce an artificial personality with which one may even discourse, my body followed a program impressed upon it by a vacated spirit, but in truth no one was at home.
Nor would anything that might fairly be called true sapience return until the mantric cycle was perforce broken by a decided turn for the worse, and even then the teller of the tale would have been hard-put to recognize the same in the babbling apparition resulting therefrom had I chanced to encounter her on some civilized street.
"Follow the sun, follow the yellow, follow the Yellow Brick Road . .."
Guided by the shadows cast before me by a sun sinking well past its zenith, I was drifting gently downward toward the next in an endless succession of leafy springboards when --
-- All at once, the rhythm of chanting, soaring, landing, and kicking off again was abruptly shattered by a sudden plunge from about ten meters up that had me slamming into a leaf with such unexpected force that my knees buckled, and I staggered forward into a half-roll, and then fell on my chest skidding across the surface toward the brink of a five hundred meter fall to the forest floor.
Sheer animal reflex reached out with both hands to grip the edge of the leaf as the front half of my body slid out into vertiginous space, and I hung there supported by my arms and the suddenly considerable weight of my lower torso in a state of absolute adrenal terror before summoning up sufficient awareness to haul myself back to safety.
No doubt nothing less could have shocked back a return to even such sapient consciousness as I now enjoyed. Which is to say that in the backflush of adrenal arousal, an ego reappeared to the extent that I was aware of just how close I had come to sudden and horrible death. As well, with the breath knocked out of my body, I had for the moment given over my chanting.
But that was about the extent of it. By now my throat and lips were no longer needed to keep the mantra vibrating in my brain, and as for the sun, as for the yellow, as for the Yellow Brick Road, the tropism to press onward to the east had in no way diminished.
I scrambled to my feet and bent my legs to kick off into the next leap, and then it was that something even more primal than the imperative of tropism, some kinesthetic animal instinct, intervened. Rather than leap with all my power in the direction of the eastern horizon, which under the circumstances might very well have meant my death, I essayed a tentative jump straight upward, with no more intelligence behind it than that of a wounded animal testing its strength.
Instead of soaring on high, I went up about a meter and came down hard.
Then it was that some semblance of true consciousness returned to inform my cerebral centers of what my body's instincts had already known.
My weight had returned to Belshazaar normal.
The power core of my floatbelt had expired.
Although I was incapable of such technological appraisal at the time, the obvious truth of the matter was that I had overtaxed the energy reserves of my floatbelt by employing it in a manner for which it had never been intended, to wit, repeated and overly prolonged use at full upward thrust.
But the import of the catastrophe was all too clear even to the dim creature who stood there on a leaf, dwarfed now to an even greater degree by the green immensity of the Bloomenveldt, and who now tremulously resumed her mantric chant in a new minor note of despair.
"Follow the sun ... follow the yellow ... follow the Yellow Brick Road ..."
Vraiment, the yellow sun still shone in the sky behind me casting lengthening shadows toward the eastern horizon, and the Yellow Brick Road still lay before me, nor was the compulsion to follow it in any way diminished. But now I could only inch along it by the frail power of my unaided feet.
"Follow the sun ... follow the yellow ... follow the Yellow Brick Road ..."
Chanting my poor mantra, following my distant star, mercifully unmindful of the full hopelessness of my task, I set one foot before the other and began my long march across the Bloomenveldt, an insect reduced to crawling across an endless hostile savannah under the pitiless gaze of indifferent gods.
Traversing the Bloomenveldt as a groundling was a far cry from bounding across it in great soaring leaps as a relatively blithe creature of the air. Not only did it take half a day and more to cover the same distance that I had previously traversed in a few long leaps, now I could rely only on my own care and agility to save me from a terminal fall to the forest floor.
Thus the transitional step from one leaf to another had become a matter of some significance and forethought, and what had once seemed the minor rises and dips of the surface now assumed strategic significance, for without a usable floatbelt, I could only spy out the lay of the land before me by ascending the relative heights of the taller tree crowns.
And while the passage of the sun across the sky and the direction of the shadows it cast were sufficient to keep me following the yellow, the lay of the land ahead assumed dire significance when it came to keeping my spirit on the Yellow Brick Road. For now if I stumbled unaware into the pheromonic influence of a grove of flowers, or even of a single sufficiently cunning bloom, there would be little hope that I would ever set foot on that road to sapience again.
As for the consciousness animating the creature gingerly picking her way from leaf to leaf and pausing three or four times an hour to scout ahead and plan out a safe path between the flowers, this began to evolve further toward sapience under the evolutionary pressure of the more complex behavior that brute survival now required, just as our species had long ago evolved out of presentience when it began its long march from the mindless Eden of the trees.
For I was forced to consider every footfall, I was forced to scout ahead, I was forced to memorize a safe path through the future landscape and achieve a level of cognitive abstraction sufficient to follow this mental map of the landscape through the moment-to-moment existence of the realtime present.
Indeed, such a sophisticated perception of the relationship between space and time might very well be said to be the minimal definition of sapience itself.
So by the time the sun had begun to sink behind the western horizon, it might be fairly said that some semblance of the "I" who tells the tale had returned to inhabit the brain of the protagonist thereof.
I knew that soon I must select a leaf of relative safety upon which to spend the night, for it would not be long before every flower of the Bloomenveldt would begin to exude the irresistible perfume of sleep. And upon selecting same and settling down on it, I had achieved a level of consciousness all-too-able to reflect upon its plight.
I had no concept of how long I had been traveling, how far I had come, or how much more Bloomenveldt lay between me and the succor of the coast. I had only the dimmest notion of how long the human body might continue to function without food, mayhap a matter of weeks for a perfect master of the yogic arts, but certainement a matter of mere days for such as myself. But I knew with only too much certainty that, without my floatbelt to extract me toward the sunrise, to eat of the fruit of the Bloomenveldt, or even approach within smelling distance of the flowers thereof, would mean my sapient doom.
I, who to say the least had never been a devotee of the ascetic disciplines, would have to essay a fast of heroic proportions. Moreover, in order to do so, I must never for a moment allow my conscious will to once more lose sovereignty over the imperatives of the flesh, for the time would inevitably come when my very cells would cry out for nourishment, and if no "I" was present to provide restraint, no "I" would ever return from the mindless realm of the Bloomenkinder.
And while the mantra continued to vibrate in my brain even when my lips were sealed, and the golden face of the sun continued to shine in my mind's eye even as the first stars of night began to appear in the blackening sky, I knew full well that mere tropism would not be sufficient to maintain the conscious awareness which now swore an oath to itself that the body in which it arose would expire before the human spirit therein gave up the ghost.
"Follow the sun, follow the yellow, follow the Yellow Brick Road ..."
As I sat there on my leaf, determined that if I must die in this uncaring vastness it would at least be as a sapient being who deserved to call herself human even to the end, the mantra ringing in my brain and the golden mandala filling my mind's eye began to take on new complexities of meaning, or rather the message I had left for myself in the simple tropism which had brought a mindless creature through hundreds of kilometers of Bloomenveldt began to exfoliate its layers of meaning in the reemergent mind of the human spirit who had coded it into her backbrain in the first place.
"Before the singer was the song, which has carried our kind from the trees to the stars," Pater Pan had often enough declaimed, and vraiment, where was I now but cast back into the treetops of presentience from whence long ago our species had begun its gallant march to sapience and the stars?
And what was the Yellow Brick Road I now sought to travel but the recapitulation of our species' phylogeny via my own personal ontogeny? Vraiment, as the most ancient lore of our species has it, in the beginning was the Word, the tale we told ourselves as we wandered from apes into men, the tale the Piper told still.
Tattered, begrimed and besmeared with the juices and pulps of the fruits of forgetfulness and the sweats and stains of literally unspeakable acts, the Cloth of Many Colors still tied about my waist seemed the banner of all that remained of who I had been and who I must now struggle to once more become -- Sunshine Shasta Leonardo, Child of Fortune, Gypsy Joker, ruespieler.
For was it not the Word which had created our humanity in the first place? Might it therefore not carry me back from the forest of unreason once more along the Yellow Brick Road that led homeward to the sapient worlds of men? Out here on the Bloomenveldt there might be no one to hear my tales but myself, but there was something far more precious than ruegelt to be won or lost.
And so there in the treetops, I summoned up my courage as once I had in the Luzplatz in Great Edoku, and into the darkness, into the loneliness, into an utter insensate indifference far deeper and more terrible than that of any audience of Edojin, I raised up my voice and began to spiel for the survival of my soul.
"The Spark of the Ark!" I declared to myself, and launched into a bizarre version indeed of Lance Della Imre's favorite tale, in which my clouded memory and my present concerns combined to rewrite it into a song of myself.
"Say not that the Arkies of the First Starfaring Age meekly gave up the ghost to the flowers when a way of life that had existed since the first Child of Fortune dared climb down from the trees was lost on the Bloomenveldt. For the Spark of the Ark which led us along the Yellow Brick Road out of the forest of unreason when we were wage slaves of the Pentagon is with us today in the Arkie Sparkie heart of the teller of this tale ..."
Short on art, mayhap, and certainement shorter on verbal coherence, it all rolled out in a glorious hebephrenia, as after aeons of naught but the same mantric drone, I reveled in the sound of a sapient human voice spieling the story of my own soul. Never has any ruespieler had a less critical or more appreciative audience than I was for myself!
Nor did the audience jade or the ruespieler tire until the nighttime perfumes of the Bloomenveldt rang down the curtain of sleep on the performance.
In the morning, I arose spieling still, declaiming melanges of every tale I knew to myself, and transmogrifying them into my own singular song of the Yellow Brick Road.
"Follow the sun, follow the yellow, follow the Piper of the Yellow Brick Road, who was born when first I climbed down from our ancestral flowers, and who from that day unto this has taken us leaf by leaf along our Mardi Gras parade to the dawn of the Second Starfaring Age in the long slow centuries between here and the coast ..."
Babbling thusly, I set first one halting step on the Yellow Brick Road eastward, and then another and another, following the command of my own tale.
No doubt any Healer in attendance at this stage of my journey would have judged me mad, for it cannot be denied that what he would have observed was a gaunt and starveling creature exhibiting clear symptoms of hebephrenic cafard.
For hour by hour, day by day, the longer I walked, the more famished I became, and the more I filled my ears with bits and pieces of half-remembered ruespielers' tales, the more the parts of the many became an infinitely recomplicated mantra of the one, of the only tale there presently was to tell.
Indeed if psychosis, as the Healers do claim, is a disjunction between the events of the external realm and the images thereof presented by the sensorium to the brain, if a dissolution of the interface between the journey across the wilderness of the treetops and my spirit's journey via my tale was mere psychic dysfunction, then by such an objective definition, vraiment, I was quite insane.
But those same Healers could not deny that such a malaise may only arise in a sapient brain. Which is to say I was at least still capable of human sanity or its equally human converse. Whereas those whom science could only judge perfectly adapted to the external reality of the Bloomenveldt were the mindless Bloomenkinder thereof.
From the point of view of objective scientific reportage, there would be nothing of concrete substance to relate but an endless repetition of the round of any given day.
I arise already spieling. My stomach screams its starvation, and the hollow throbbing of my head sends sparkles of static confetti across my visual sphere. I fill my belly with water collected from the hollow of a leaf.
I turn my face to the golden visage of the rising sun, and I walk, babbling to myself. I walk until the sun has passed its zenith, and I walk until it has set in the west. I walk through the gathering darkness until I am inching along by feel alone. I walk until the perfumes of night slide me into dreamless sleep.
Time, the mages have long told us against the evidence of the senses, is not a regularly spaced absolute along which events are strung linearly like beads. Rather it is a relationship among points in a four-dimensional space-time matrix, so that when events vary we perceive an interval of time between them. But within a crystal lattice of space-time wherein events are identical, we perceive them as a simultaneous one.
As without, so within, for the mages tell us too that dreams that seem to last for eternities in the consciousness of the dreamer occur within literal augenblicks when the duration of their electrical discharge is measured by instruments.
So too have gurus, shamans, mystics, sufis, and masters perfect or otherwise, alluded time out of mind, if with less scientific precision, to a state of being in which events are perceived with the transtemporal logic of dreams and quantum cosmology, called variously the Tao, the Ein-Sof, the Einsteinian universe, the Great and Only, the Dreamtime.
The ancient tribe who sought by just such famishment and mantric declaiming as I now employed to take their willed Walkabouts through the Dreamtime named it best for this teller of the tale attempting to recall her passage through it.
For any ordinary Healer will tell you that the consciousness arising in the brain of a starving body will sooner or later begin to blur across the line separating waking awareness from sleep, so, that as the flesh begins to expire, the spirit begins its Walkabout through its final time of dreams.
As to when I could have been said to have passed over into the Dreamtime, je ne sais pas, for we never remember the crossing over from the waking realm into dream, still less so when we continue to set one foot down after the other long afterward, dreaming our Walkabout on our feet.
Certainement, the golden face of the sun in the blue sky above the Bloomenveldt that I perceived would have registered on any astronomical instrument. Certainement, I was not dreaming that I began to direct my spiel toward this solar audience.
But when the corona of light haloing the sun began to coalesce into a nimbus of golden hair, when it seemed to me that there was a pattern of human features on the face thereof, vraiment, when it started to speak, then surely had I long since passed over into the Dreamtime.
Was this hallucination, dream, or true translation into the Great and Only Tao? Who is to say which? Indeed, how is one to even make such distinctions? For are not hallucinations, dreams, and arcane mystic visions all the tales that the spirit somehow contrives to tell to itself?
So if the Pater Pan who spoke to me out of the face of the sun was a conjuration of my dreaming brain, and the words that he spoke were only part of my own tale, had not the song that I sang to myself been learned from the very man who now spoke in the dream? Thus might I have been dreaming it all, but thus too did the true spirit of a lover contrive to frustrate the constraints of space and time to be with me in my hour of need on the Bloomenveldt.
"Follow the Piper of the Yellow Brick Road, follow the Pied Piper of the Bloomenkinder back from our ancestral flowers, muchacha," Pater Pan said as we sat together naked by a crystal pool in a pleasure garden high on a plateau in Great Edoku, even as I was walking across the surface of one more leaf.
For the landscape through which I journeyed had now taken on a nondualistic logic precisely like that of a lucid dream. For while I could perceive a yellow sun shining above an endless green plain with sufficient awareness to maintain an eastward vector, like a lucid dream, the tale 1 was telling myself had the power to at the same time conjure up an overlay of visions in the Dreamtime.
"Once we were all Bloomenkinder in the Perfumed Garden of Eden, Sunshine," Pater told me as he swirled his Cloth of Many Colors around his shoulders and declaimed his name tale. "Now I will lead you to the Gold Mountain even as I led you out of the city of the Pentagon to the long slow centuries between the stars."
And now, even as some part of me knew that my body was still trudging across the Bloomenveldt in a state rapidly approaching total famishment, in the Dreamtime I was wandering the streets of Great Edoku, alone, out of funds, with my bladder demanding protoplasmic relief exactly as my stomach cried out for food in the treetops.
"Remember?" said Pater's voice in my ear. "Remember when you became a free creature living by your wits in the streets of Great Edoku?"
While I threaded my way among the great leaves of the treetops, I was tracking two Gypsy Jokers through the streets and parklands in search of their carnival, and when I stared at the golden face of Belshazaar's sun, it was my first eye to eye meeting with Pater Pan outside our shower stalls.
"It has taken us millennia of diligent tale-telling to create the ultimate triumph of the ruespieler's art, our own magnificent sapient selves," Pater said as we stood there admiring each other. "Have you not noticed your gift of gab?" he said as we lay on the bed in his tent.
"So keep telling the tale of the Pied Piper of the Bloomenveldt, muchacha," he said as he concluded his farewell to the Gypsy Jokers reclining on bonsaied mountains.
At last I found my own voice in the Dreamtime. "What is the tale of the Pied Piper of the Bloomenveldt?" I heard myself say.
And at the sound of my own words, I was transported to the most arcane Dreamtime of all. I was walking across the Bloomenveldt now even in my dream, and I was following Belshazaar's sun toward the coast, and the only disjunction between the observable reality and the Dreamtime of my spirit was that in the Dreamtime Pater Pan walked beside me.
"The only tale there is to tell," he said with a strange smile.
"How does this tale end?" I demanded.
"This tale never ends, ruespieler."
As I heard myself discoursing with this animus within a Dreamtime landscape identical to that of the waking realm, the spell of the Walkabout began to unravel, as within any dream, one may upon occasion talk oneself awake, or as an event of sufficient import transmogrifying itself into Dreamtime imagery may rouse the sleepwalker back into the dream of life.
"When will I awake from it?" I said as Pater Pan's image began to fade like a Bloomenveldt mist burning off into the rising sun.
"When the Pied Piper leads the Bloomenkinder of Hamelin back to the far-flung worlds of men," said the face of the sun as I trudged across the foliage.
"Then don't leave me out here without your song!" I shouted as the vision began to fade.
"Pas problem, lady fair," said a disembodied voice. "For now you know who the Pied Piper of the Bloomenveldt is, do you not, ruespieler ...?"
"Anyone who tells the tale!"
And I emerged from the Dreamtime with the words ringing from my lips across the Bloomenveldt. I was now once more confronted with a sea of wind-tossed green under a hot yellow sun, and there was no Pater Pan at my side, nor the sound of any voice save my own and that of the breezes murmuring through the branches. I was faint and lightheaded from a hunger pushed deep down beneath stomach pains into cellular famishment, indeed 1 was a teetering crouched figure whose very metabolism was about to collapse.
But I was not alone.
For whether the Piper who had brought me thither was a figment out of the tale I was telling myself in the Dreamtime or whether some quantum vapor of a lover's spirit had somehow succored me therein, or whether these are indeed the same in a manner which no waking consciousness may comprehend, my Walkabout through the Dreamtime with that spirit guide had in any event brought me to this single purple flower .
Four human figures sat on its velvety petals avidly devouring round yellow fruit. The corpulence of their frames and the tattered bits of cloth still clinging to them gave unmistakable evidence that these had once been sapient citizens of the worlds of men.
During my passage through the Dreamtime, I had put the land of the Bloomenkinder behind me. Only the borderland region of lost civilized souls lay between me and the coast.