Wordcarpenter Books

Excerpt From Prophecy Seekers 


 

The Phoenix Reborn

۞

            After a few drinks at the Spicy, Thomas went to meet Our Man Chaffey and Claire at the Full Moon Party on Power Station Beach. The beach was called that because of a monstrosity of a power plant perched right beside the main community of Yung Shue Wan. Nick the long-bearded disc jockey was there in fine form. He had the knack for the right music to suit the sunset vibe and then into the midnight vibe under the full moon. But it was hot. Most of them are drinking beer to fend off thirst. Our Man Chaffey acted as he usually did: as normal as normal could be. Thomas saw that Claire shared the grin-and-chuckle when a grin-and-chuckle wasn't called for. It was something they saw - a mutual way of what he was against the web of reality that they lived in. This cleavage between Our Man Chaffey's reality and theirs was enough to bring them closer without going through much of the ritual courtship obstacles and expectations that Thomas had come to abhor.

    He and Claire were in and out of the South China Sea whenever the humidity became too intense, but then something happened to Thomas when the sun brightened the eastern horizon over the water. Like many extraordinary things, there was an undercurrent of mystery it. The root thrust was that he was overcome with the desire to climb the mountains that surrounded them, so he instigated an early morning hike with Claire, Our Man Chaffey and a friend of Claire's who had eyes for the Man from England.

    The four of them walked to a peak overlooking Power Station Beach where they had a smoke and relaxed for a while, marveling at the sunrise. their unprotected skin burned in the August sun. Each could see it on each other's faces. When Thomas heard complaints against the power of the sun, he shifted up a gear and suggested they climb the bigger ridge behind them called Mount Stenhouse. The mountain was notorious because it was the highest peak on Lamma Island. He expected Our Man Chaffey to decline simply because it fell outside his scope of normalcy.

    "Listen Trapp," said Claire, "it's too hot. I'm from Australia and I've never had this type of heat before."

    "Too hot? We can get some water."

    "But we've been up all night." He was far away from fatigue.

    "So?"

    "I don't want to burn," said Claire's friend.

    "I think we should think about taking the ferry back to Hong Kong Island," said Claire.

    "Are you serious?" A look crossed her face that repelled him.

    "I think we're going to head to the pier." Determination was like a brick wall. It didn't cross his mind to walk back with them because he thirsted for the sun. He walked them halfway to the pier where they stopped at a kiosk along the main walkway that was already open. Without any fanfare, Thomas waved goodbye to them, purchased two liters of water and walked to Mount Stenhouse.

    With the recent rains during the week, the air was clean and the hawks were flying high in the sky, the sun blasting heat as if it were only a few miles above. The cut on his forehead baked under the sky like it was in a frying pan. Incited by a somatic tension to quench his need for fire, he willed himself to feed off the sun's animating power. The ozone layer simply wasn't there to protect, the ultra-violet rays piercing his forehead cut as if by a magnet. It energized like high-octane fuel pumping through the cut epidermis on his seventh chakra. Literally there were puddles in his Birkenstock sandals after twenty minutes of walking along the hiking trail towards Stenhouse. The temperature was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Thomas drank one of the bottles of water at the foot of the mountain, like a sponge the liquid disperses through his pores into his Birkenstocks. Sun-drenched with so much wide-open space ahead of him he was drawn toward the apex and the quietude of the climb. Traversing the trail past shrubs over six feet high that scratch his skin raw he began his ascent in earnest over uneven terrain, hawks flying overhead following him as if sensing danger. His shirt drenched and feet slipping on wet leather soles, he came to a bend where he could see the string of islands all the way to the Pearl River Delta and Macau. From there he saw the knoll just to the side of the lip on the apex. The knoll was where he wanted to go because it was the shortest way to the peak so he went off the trail.

    In a fervor he climbed over the uneven rock and prickly thorn bushes, bristles soon carving scratches and tearing away skin in my legs, the emanating light from the magic of fire driving him to the lip of the peak. Like a fire fanned by wind, the fever of the sun pulled him toward natures spire to heaven, forehead sizzling, the skin torn by melting force, he slipped on shaky legs, teetered and then pulled backwards by gravity. Head over heels he landed on a slope out of sight by any passers by. Only a sound of a thumping heart in the still heat of the day and a fuzzy feeling in his face and eyes told him he had fainted, but he couldn't be sure.

    Disoriented and burned he staggered to his feet without one of his sandals, knapsack a few yards away. Squinting to focus, the lip, his goal, was still an ocean away, separated by a valley of uneven ground and unsure footing, still drawn lured forward, farther away from safety and water. Will still cocked, a deeper instinct took precedence, exposed skin stinging and sizzling, forehead dry and red hot, his leg lifting to go, balance lost, the prickly thorns finding fertile epidermis to carve gashes like a hot knife through butter. Senses coming alive with screaming pain. Sandal gone, gravity grabbed again, spinning him back, burning scratches and digging bristles carving up burnt legs raw from abrasions and blooded welts, the noonday sun shooting spikes and arrows into his unprotected skin. He stumbled up the mountainside, recovered his bag but no water.

    Now complete, except for his Birkenstock, he climbed in single strides upwards, wavering on shaking legs bloodied with cuts and pink with burns, gravity pulled him back again onto his back, pinned. Twenty minutes to climb ten feet was lost. Faculty of balance skewered, primal instinct simplifies, clawing upwards on hands and feet, a jagged carpet of sharp rock and angry thorns, slashing and gnashing and gnawing, knees torn and muddied, hands clasping foiliage like a lifeline, harnessed to lunge forward in inches and feet, pain now beyond acknowledged radar, reckless swagger fighting the grip of death. Shaken and drained, unsteady on two feet, looking up, flirting with the most dangerous foe: losing heart. Charting a course he quelled the demon, grabbing a root to wrestle impatience, steady on all fours, taking a step, flinging his body in the air greedy for more distance.

    Legs once robust now quivering sticks, hands at the roots of thick grass and barbed bushes heavinge forward, a twelve-inch muted victory. Another root another foot, a stomach landing to rebel against gravity's unsportsmanlike form, antagonist usurping protaginist, under the burning eye of the sun. Battling the elements on this sun-baked island, Thomas alone as fighter of this battle, his will, the sun and God. Gravity as Lucifer, the Sun as Michael, original sin versus light and dark, the struggle to ascend in the eye of weakness, an impossible victory still fought, courage manifest, hope trumping despair, sinew taut, power increasing in a waning swamp of spiked hell, a stumbling gait of bravery overcoming inch by inch, toggle logic with streamlined purpose, barefoot and scarred, paws of mush against bedrock of injustice chosen with noble intent, poetry and greatness still a glimmer, the assault serving to fuel the fire of will, on a landscape of hidden snakes at his knees.

            Falling on this obscene sweatless swelter, he saw his lost bottle of water only an arm's length away, more satisfied the mystery was solved, glanced at, momentum more important, the main trail the holy grail. For a moment, or maybe twenty minutes, he remained there unable to lift himself off the ground, only by shedding the knapsack can he wrangle a foot forward. No longer any shades of gray, only up and down, echoes of a body screaming for hydration, bleeding, burning and unable to cool through perspiration, he stumbled upwards until the ridge was in sight. Keeping disappointment silenced when there was another ridge before the main ridge.

    By reflex wiping a dry, burning brow, an overheating engine, like a motorcycle running without oil. For the first time fear is real, but resolved to overcome and to reach. All pain instantly replaced by alarm, a bell that shook the foundation of survival instinct. Now, without any ability to coordinate, falling sideways, stumbling in  focused desperation. Like a kamikaze, flinging forward onto an uneven carpet that cuts and stabs without mercy and with consistancy. For a moment he basked in the conqueror's glory - for an eternity - but refused to stop. The path in front of me and Power Station Beach beyond. With wobbling arms and legs, he can only stand for a step before falling to the side. When he made his last thrust ahead, a small bush beside the walking path lures him, knowing nothing was left, protected by the shade of the shrub, he slipped into a coma, engine revving and waning, the machine now tilted, usless and dormant, into the hands of fate, strength expended, hawks watching from above, the sun winking, God nodding.     

 
 
 
  

  
  

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