After the collapse of the underwater entrance to the Cave of the Third Sun,the Tzvaleubhoi, trapping me, and Utcoozhoo, Doug and Zawmb’yee went looking for the renegade High Priestess, Zusoiti.
After Doug managed to escape and return to the outer cave, Zawmb’yee said, “Utcoozhoo wants us to leave the cave again, mingle around in the up-top milieu, perhaps by the Blue Attic Club, but see if we can sniff out a trail that leads to Zusoiti.” Doug explains in his diary:
I stood up, and was surprised to see a crowd of people milling around in the cave. The cave had always been relatively empty which is what I liked about it. I said to Zawmb’yee, “Who are all these people?”
“A lot of up-top people have returned to the cave to help during this crisis,” she said.
Utcoozhoo’s assistant, Otuux, a tall man, square-jaw efficient but jocular, stumbled onto us out of the chaos. “Doug,” he said, “how are you? I heard you were the last person to make it out of the tunnel, and how is Naztko?”
“I’m OK. I last saw him running to the Forbidden Zone with Utcoozhoo.”
“He was running?”
“Yes, he seemed rejuvenated by the emergency, but I really didn’t get a chance to talk to him much.”
“Yes, well, he is a fine gentleman, and very wise. I think he and Utcoozhoo will find out what’s happening … I’ve got to go. Zawmb’yee, tell Doug everything. Be well, and don’t worry — we’ll find Zusoiti.” Otuux dashed off in a dignified trot.
“What happened to Zusoiti?” I asked Zawmb’yee.
“She left the cave for the up-top world. No one seems to know where she went, but she seems to have established herself, and set up a remote access station. She’s tapped into the grzepepa, the Gods’ data base, looking for the protocols to launch the gst’fibiches.”
“The ‘arrows that reach the stars’. She wants to call back the Gods. We think there may be a whole constellation of procedures and sequences that if wrongly applied by the pfayohoqwaahujpi might trigger an Ice Age which is what she wants.”
“So you’re telling me Zusoiti is using her new found wealth to destroy us and trap Utcoozhoo? Are the tremors I felt the beginning?”
“We don’t know yet about that, but there are indications of changes in the ocean currents, and we’re concerned about Earth Wobble …”
I was in a bit of a foul mood, and began to think time had run out. “Doesn’t it look like,” I moaned, “the ancient prophesy is true that the world will end in a frozen agony of death and suffering? I’ve accomplished nothing, and now the world ends. Isn’t this charming?”
Zawmb’yee said, “Doug, don’t be so down. Let me tell you the story of Tpiqlat’ng that Utcoozhoo always tells me.”
“I thought you told me that already.”
“No, no, this is a different story,” she said.
“Well, I’m sure it’s a charming story, but isn’t Tpiqlat’ng an ancient hero? If he’s a prototypical hero from mythology he would have greater courage and insight than any of us mere mortals could ever hope to have.”
“I suppose that would be if he were a Myth, but he’s not, except to the extent that primitive people had trouble describing miraculous things they didn’t understand. So the description is a little ambiguous. But, anyway, I just want to tell you an inspirational story. Pretend it’s a bedtime story … And, anyway, you’re a contradiction, you know, because you choose to believe the worst — you’re willing to believe the ancient prophesy of doom. Right? So you want to believe the worst and I want to believe the best.”
“Well, some of these ancient tales are very unlikely to have happened.”
“Yes, that’s what Tpiqlat’ng said to the God Kragzluk … What?”
I guess I must have looked exasperated, because Zawmb’yee paused in annoyance. I smiled. “Oh never mind. I’m tired enough for a bedtime story. What did Tpiqlat’ng say?”
“Kragzluk told him he would bring all the deer to an inner garden. Tpiqlat’ng thought that was highly unlikely. Kragzluk told him he would create a Sun to place in the cave. Tpiqlat’ng broke into laughter, saying, ‘That’s as improbable as all the deer coming to be slaughtered’
~~ “Kragzluk replied, ‘Intelligence applied can focus harmony into a certainty. Detail comes from focus.
~~ ‘The heavy-essence of the Sun can be brought to focused resonance. When this is done, it tunnels into a crystal heart, fusing the heavy-essences with certainty.’ ”
“What is ‘heavy-essence’ ? ”
“Otuux thinks it means Deuterium or Hydrogen, you know, what makes the Sun shine.”
“And what did Tpiqlat’ng say?”
“He said, ‘Huh, what?’ ”
“A sensible fellow, this Tpiqlat’ng.”
“Yes, well, but he did memorize the words even though he didn’t understand it. So too, as Utcoozhoo says, we must hold all these mysteries in our minds without judgment until they coalesce into an understandable form, when the tiger only leaves his roar behind … ”
“Ha, very Tpiqlat-ian of you.”
Zawmb’yee is always such a supportive, encouraging person that I so much wanted to embrace her optimism, but this time I feared that events had overtaken any reasonable expectation of success. However, the blossoming of her enthusiasm is such an exuberant seeding of joy, even in desert sands, that I would endure a scorpion bite just to see her tickle the cactus into yielding water to drink.
It was an odd mix of people in the cave: some were frantic; others seemed out for a picnic. I imagined those with the most information were frantic, and the others were there for a reunion atmosphere. There was our best sprinter, Ayomkst, across from the bacon-ribbon speleothems, who could zigzag around any cluster of stalagmites in record time like a slalom skier in a snow storm, graceful like a horse that all the women wanted to ride — I bet he has a stable up-top. He was unpacking a picnic basket with Efilioe, the beauty queen of the Ut’ishsih, a tastefully hairy situation, and they were oblivious to anything that was going on around them, each with a leg of lamb and a leg of each other.
I think I knew too much to not be morose. “Disaster seems inevitable,” I said.
“Yes, but even if everything were perfect all the time, all of us will eventually die.”
“Now who’s being morbid?”
“I’m just following your logic, playing ‘Devil’s Advocate’. Is this world the only existence? Didn’t you hint at this question in you poetry?”
“I guess, but that’s just crappy poetry — it doesn’t really mean anything, does it?”
Zawmb’yee fumbled through her bag and pulled out my poetry book. She said, “And oh, would you autograph this damn thing already for me — I think I’m a friend of the author, you know.”
“Yeah, OK, but no one is ever going to see it.” She gave me her lucky pen and I signed it.
“Well, I don’t know about that, but you know what Utcoozhoo always says …,” she blurted out.
“When a grasshopper has made a book from the leaves of a fallen tree, and no one has heard the tree fall, is the grasshopper literate, even if no one hears it sing?”
“That doesn’t sound like something Utcoozhoo would say …” I laughed.
“Yeah, OK, I say it,” she confessed.
“Um, I don’t think you’ve ever heard me sing.”
“Yes I have, Sweet Lips. OK, I’ll indulge your dark mood with one of your ‘crappy’ poems. So, let’s see, here is ‘Dark Sun’:
‘Millions of years festering
our Sun did die
a ding in my
we were to be married. I’d
been born to a frozen death,
missing you in an abyss:
exploded gases tore us apart
In my death,
I searched for you
alone in darkness
I thought you were a super nova
an obscene sunrise. It seemed that
only I, a dot, remained
alone looking for the key
to find the opening door
to restless imaginary things
dancing teasing lights that
would swing open to a dream
of glistening dots ordered
in shooting streams of golden water
like bubbles up the nose gently,
dream bump ode to
to sleep after playing
that the afterplay was foreplay
but thought dots seemed
like black holes
for I was a singularity
waiting for grief
to explode, but
why am I looking to
haunt an old house long gone
and every material star?
Yes, I of soul, not flesh
will look in the dark
for the true light of heaven
if you will only signal me
If you would gather my love like kindle
and light a campfire in heaven
I know I could come with marshmallows’ ”
“Egads,” I said, “I’m darker than I thought … I’m sorry. You’re right: give me your beauty to gaze upon and I will conquer the world …”
“See that: you can sing, Sweet Lips.” She dreamy eyed my eyes.
“And as Utcoozhoo always says,” I said, “ ‘Zawmb’yee is so beautiful, so exquisite …’ ”
“Now that doesn’t sound like something Utcoozhoo would say …”
“Yeah, OK, I say it.”
With Zawmb’yee stroking my face until I smiled, I briefly closed my eyes, and sighed, as Zawmb’yee took my hand. She guided me around the bend in the K’ut’mbletaw’i to the blue-tinged curtain formation, the Wejpob, a grand speleothem that many an artist has stained with rare mineral drippings, a now rarely performed technique, abandoned by the child who has become too mature to do drip castles in the sand, though here there are no ocean waves to wash a child-artist onto the dry sand of adulthood.
Zawmb’yee slid a large boulder aside to reveal a staircase. She said, “Come to the sacred quarters. You can dry off.”
We reached the bottom of the stairs, and the boulder slid back into place. I said, “OK, now, how can we help? I have no idea what’s going on.” We walked down a long corridor decorated with framed drawings by children — I thought, maybe, one of them might even be one of my childhood drawings (but mine I don’t think were this charming, just crude as I remember it). Zawmb’yee had mounted them herself below the gnolums, as carefully as a professional curator, making them seem as elegant as any museum display.
Zawmb’yee said, “Utcoozhoo wants us to leave the cave again, mingle around in the up-top milieu, perhaps by the Blue Attic Club, but see if we can sniff out a trail that leads to Zusoiti.”
“Well, I’m not exactly an expert on high society, you know,” I said.
“Yeah, but neither is Zusoiti.”
“That may be, but she is quite clever, charismatic, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s found some supporters and sycophants to help her out even if she’s new to the up-top world — I’ll bet they find her oddness attractive and her obscure philosophies profound by default, when they are intrigued but puzzled, and of course, she is a champion at bluffing that she has an army behind her before she has assembled it.” We turned a corner to Zawmb’yee’s apartment entrance hall.
Her demeanor sagged in agreement as we approached her place. She turned to the upbeat, “Utcoozhoo says to just go with the flow — see what you see. He says we should leave the cave again, go to your place, just relax, and hang out, because serendipity belongs to us, and this is our role …”
“Geez, I’m glad Utcoozhoo has such confidence in us … to be cool — hang out. I think I could do that.”
“Yes, let’s celebrate vagueness, and I have venison and buffalo fried in duck fat with truffles, just like you like it, and a little caponata, blue cheese, wine, and me …”
“Yes, I feel better already (and we don’t need to know what Utcoozhoo really means).” She led me to her quarters and I felt that in service to serendipity and duty to the clan, even lust was sacred if my serene mood and pleasure would massage my mind into solutions that I would find tomorrow, postscript to consummation.
From the journey of a dream, I awoke happy, enveloped in warm morning confidence. The voice of Zawmb’yee was in my ears. She was singing, “Better Than a Dream”:
“Enraptured in the blankets of home with you, of you,” she whispered. “Our embrace is the brightness of us, with us.” In glowing soprano, she sang, “We are the morning together, together: an awakening is here to be for real, at home — peaceful passion, satisfaction day — not dreaming, but being in the lightness of us, with us. We are warm, being the morning sun, better than a dream.”
“You do that so well,” I said, “and you kept to the original without one of those arrangements that ruins a song. You are an embellishment, more beautiful than a song … beautiful voice …”
“Thanks — I knew you’d like it.”
“Sometimes I’m in the mood and for a minute I improvise a song, but then somehow I drift off-key. It’s frustrating. I feel like I should be a singer, but my voice has run away from a roar to a snarl when it should be humming.”
“I always love to hear your voice,” she said. “By the roar of your hum, I think you could learn to focus your sorrow, your joy, if you’d let the inner music carry you beyond a thought.”
“That’s a thought — um, I mean, maybe I could … Where are we going today?”
“Why don’t we go to the village near the cave exit for breakfast today. It’s quiet and peaceful and the café has good service I’ve heard.”
“Yeah, good idea. I remember that place. Excellent food.”
“OK. Join me in the shower and I’ll get you singing in a clean clear voice.”
“Off to the suds then, m’Lady … Zawmbee, Warmbee is okey dokey soapy. Shall we dance to the shower?”
“I will tune you up,” she said and did a little trill.
It was a foamy morning. We were so clean when we dressed and left the sacred quarters.
Zawmb’yee showed me the stairs to the Qukwerpfm. This was a new passageway for me, and I said, “How come you’ve never shown me this before?”
“Well, you’ve always been an ‘official’ visitor to the sacred quarters, you know, like an ambassador to the White House, honored but not trusted, but now you can sneak in and out as the honorable lover with tacit approval, if not by the gods then by me.”
We climbed the stairs. The walls were covered with Zawmb’yee’s art work. I said, “These are great. I remember seeing them when you were still angry at the paint for not being the perfect color, but you’ve made every shadow complement the bursting-out joy. Magnificent colors. Don’t you think someone should see these?”
“Well, you’re someone.”
“You know what I mean … you’re a great artist.”
“Maybe. Maybe we could do that joint project you wanted to do.”
“Oh yeah. I forgot about that. I like acrylic because it’s fast drying and you can correct mistakes quickly and keep going, but you seem to like oils …”
“Well, I could try acrylic …”
We reached the top of the stairs by the Qukwerpfm, made our way past the Cathedral formation, past the golden stalagmite with the purple pothole base, and down the final tunnel to the exit.