Friday, September 05, 2014

More Of This Is True Than You'd Think

In retrospect, a bit more thought had been in order. Now that thinking was all he could do, it was of little use.

He had stood on that cliffside, looking out at the water, knowing he needed to cross it. He wasn't certain what was on the other side that was so important, but he needed to get there. There was a beach off to his right, with a gently sloping walk to the water's edge. But he'd ignored it, because to get there he would have needed to backtrack who knows how far to find a safe path. Nope, the water was right there, and the cliff was almost purely vertical, and surely he could leap far enough out to land safely in the water.

Except no, he couldn't. His armor didn't allow him to build up enough speed, especially on the muddy ground that slipped beneath his feet, stealing away just a bit of the momentum of each step. Not that he could build up much speed, in that armor.

Still, he probably would have made it, not with any sort of graceful arc, but effective nonetheless, except, well, he tripped right at the edge. Maybe it was a fluke, a matter of the ground. Or some wriggling doubt in the back of his mind as to the wisdom of this plan caused the misstep. Either way, there was no leap out away from the cliff, only an embarrassing tumble down the side. Even that might have gotten him where he wanted to go, dazed and battered, but in the water, if not for the roots. He had not observed any trees up above, nor did he see any of those tenacious and inventive sprouts one sometimes sees eking out an existence at some ludicrous angle as they grow from a rock. Perhaps the trees died long ago, falling into the waves, and the roots were all the remained?

For his purposes, though, there were more a trap than a memorial. He had crashed into them, and found himself stuck. One arm was caught awkwardly over his head, not injured, but in a position ill-suited to grant any leverage. His legs kicked and scrabbled, but could gain no purchase. And so he dangled there, like a toy abandoned by its child, the goal so very close, but out of reach entirely.

Left with his thoughts, he tried not to focus on how close he was. Instead, he chose to think about what he'd do once he made it into the water and reached the far bank. Eating featured prominently. Periodically, he would test to see if he could wrench himself loose of his predicament, to no avail. He hung there through the night, well into the next day. At least he was shaded from the worst of the sun. He even dozed a bit, though he dreamed of water, the sound of the waves forming a constant backbeat to his thoughts. Late in the day, he saw a small boat. Three people were in it, and appeared to be checking nets. He considered getting their attention, but initially decided against it. He wasn't just heading somewhere, he was heading away from a place as well, and wasn't sure who these people were. Still, he didn't seem to be making any progress on his own. Perhaps he should take a chance.

As it turned out, the fishermen - or whatever they were - noticed him first. He supposed the black and orange pattern of his outer covering was noticeable. They drew their boat to the bank and stared up at them. Two women and a man, all in loose, dirty outfits. He looked back patiently, waiting to see what they did. One of them tied the boat to a root, while the largest one hoisted the smallest up to help free him from his entanglement. The three tried to help him land softly, but his mass made it difficult and he mostly crashed to the deck of their boat. He lay there, focusing on how little feeling he'd had in that one arm now that the blood flow was back to normal, while the three cast off and slowly backed their boat towards the flat beach he'd been too impatient to reach previously.

As they reached it, the two not driving the boat helped him to his feet and walked him onto the beach. He tried to gesture and explain that he needed to reach the far bank, but they didn't comprehend. They smiled and made friendly gestures, but ignored him, though they settled him on the mud very gently. Then they turned and climbed back into their boat, the male pushing the boat away from the shore as he boarded. The man in his armor watched for a moment with a sigh. Well, if he wanted to stay over here, the time he'd spent imitating a marionette with twisted strings had probably thrown his pursuers off his scent. But no, no. He wanted to reach the far bank, and he would reach the far bank.

And so, before the surprised eyes of the trio in the boat, he turned sharply, and marched right into the water. Whereupon he realized it was going to be kind of exhausting trying to swim in his current state. He bobbed his head above the water, once, twice, taking in all the air he could hold. And then he sank to the murky bottom, the three in the boat looking on uncomprehendingly. Looking up as he descended, he could see they had brought the boat to where to that position, but it didn't matter. His feet had touched bottom, and he had his goal in mind. It was only a question of whether he could hold his breath long enough to make it across. A question he didn't know the answer to at the present, though he suspected he'd find out one way or the other in short order.


SallyP said...

I suspect there is a parable in this somewhere.

CalvinPitt said...

That's giving me too much credit.