by Jay O'Toole
This is chapter #2 of The Quest for Home, my NaNoWriMo novel for November, 2017.
Spinning Hole of Blackness rare
shreds all Hope they know
Sleep relieves of Quest his care,
reunion helps Hope grow.
"What's wrong? Don't I have enough faith? I commanded The Mist before and it left, but now it's still coming, and...AYEEEEE!!!" Quest fell and fell and fell and fell and... "Not again! Please, not again!" But there was nothing Quest could do about it. This time he fell into The Nothing...for there were no walls, no mud, no trees off which to bounce, no grass on which to land,...NOTHING.
At first, the frightened little cub couldn't see a thing, but slowly and more surely by the minute, he could make out colors and objects in the misty Nothing. "Oooo, pretty purple and dark blue and maybe a little green... What's that? A fir tree that is sort of shaped like a triangle,...and...pretty colored lights dancing on the limbs. Is that Momma just out of reach? MOMMA, is that you?"
What appeared to be his Mom abruptly vanished as Quest kept spinning in the shadowy room without walls.
"Will this never end? How did I get here? Where am I going? Am I going to die? WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE SAVE ME???"
A snowball whizzed past his face! Or at least he thought it was a snowball. "Will this mist never clear? Will I ever, again, know anything for sure? Everything here looks like something or almost like something I've seen before, but now...I...just...don't...know!" Despair gripped Quest by the throat. He coughed, gasping for air. "Why did I ever get out of bed today? Mom would have had something wise to say about now if only I could have caught her hand. I miss her so!"
"HO! HO! HO!" called a very large human. The frightened cub became a little less frightened as he got a glimpse of the broad smile and dark red suit. He wanted to go to him, but just like Mom, he was gone in a moment.
"What is this place? These images mean something, but I can't quite remember what." Quest, tossed in body and mind, worried in spirit and sick to his stomach, began to cry, again, but the tears flew away before they reached his face. His bellowed sobs of sadness and fear made no sound. "Is this a vacuum of space?" wondered Quest. "The Nothing is so BIG! It seems to have friends helping it cause destruction. How could one Nothing do this much damage?"
The cub remembered stories his Dad and Mom had read to him. "This is just like the tar baby. I got into this dark place, but I can't got out. In The Never Ending Story The Nothing ate the world because people stopped reading the fantasy, but I didn't intentionally stop reading the story. I just walked out of my cave this morning,...or...at least...I think it was this morning. Maybe a balrog caught me by the foot, and I'm falling into the Abyss with Gandalf. GANDALF, are you here? Please, come and help me!"
Still alone with images.
Still alone with images and colors.
Still alone with images and colors...and...DAD!
But could he be sure?
The swinging, the swirling, the circling 'round and 'round with no up nor down, no walls, no words, no hopeful sensations of any kind, but terror and despair...had all done their part. Quest fell into a heavy, fitful sleep, while still swinging, swirling and circling, though not conscious of it anymore.
Sleep brought hope.
Hopeful sleep brought rest.
Hopeful, restful sleep brought the cessation of conflict.
No conflict in hopeful, restful sleep brought strength to go on.
Enjoy your repose, little bear cub.
What do you remember, Little One?
What brought you Hope, Little One?
What does this place appear to be, Little Quest?
Suddenly, he was back in his nice, warm bed in the cave.
His Mom was so near he could hear her heartbeat.
That always brought peace to his spirit, his mind, his emotions...and...his body.
Sleep, long relaxing, restorative sleep.
The dream seemed to cover multiple nights of his life. These were nights when Quest would awaken with a start to his mother's breath on his face. Yet, he couldn't get back to sleep because his heart was beating faster for the moment. He would lie still in the warmth of his mother's embrace, thinking about the peace of the night, trying to make out anything he might be able to see.
When the moon shined through their door, he would be able to make out colors and the outlines of objects. "Yes. Purple and dark blue and maybe some greens. Could that be a red or two? Probably not. The warmer tones only seem to be visible in the daytime, but I do have a good imagination. I can see Mom. Actually, I can feel Mom and her warmth. I don't need eyes for that! Who's that in the doorway? Oh, Yes. Dad is keeping watch over his sleeping family. I really think he loves us. No. I know he loves us."
The picture breaks.
Twirling, swirling, ringing in the ears, swinging 'round and 'round. "Where am I going? When will I land? When will this stop? Am I going to die? Will somebody save me,...please?"
"O, God, are You with me? Will you help me now? I'm going into the land of no return. With me or not...HERE...IT...COMES!" Everything went black for what seemed like minutes,...maybe,...hours. Eventually, Casa's eyes started to clear. He could make out colors and a few objects. "Is that purple? Yes. And dark blue...maybe some greens."
A lion roared past, slashing him across the face.
A hunter took aim. Something whizzed past, barely missing his paw.
A trap flew toward him with jaws open wide, ready to break bones should any part of him touch the trigger.
"WOW! They say the anticipation is worse than the event. Frankly, I'm not so sure." Furiously, the papa bear swung his paws in search of a foothold, something to grasp, anything to help right himself. There was nothing. He fell further, further, further. He was turning, ever turning. There were no walls, no floors, no roof above him.
He tried to roar.
Ever going, but always in the same place...or...so it seems. "Will this never end? Is there ever going to be the hope of something I can understand? Has meaning forever become meaningless?"
All of a sudden in the misty, swirling maelstrom of the out-of-place quasi-black hole, Quest, and Casa locked eyes in a hope that seemed to be forever out of reach. They saw each other but did they really see each other.
Both opened their mouths to roar...
Both created a terrific, mutual silence...
Their faces, however, were creating the loudest cacophony the world had ever heard....or...seen.
"I see you, Dad! I just can't reach you!"
"I see you, Quest! I just can't reach you!"
Never being heard,
But always (for the moment at least) being seen!
They "swam" and they "swam"
and they "reached" and they groped.
They stretched to grasp a foot or a hair or a hand.
They "Yes"ed for awhile in ever striving hope. Then, they Noped in despair, and finally in resignation, they Noped.
Just as the two bears were beginning to slump into two heavy, sleepy lumps, (that is, if one can be said to be "heavy" in a mess like this,) that their worst fear seized upon them without warning and certainly without permission. Quest was in Casa's sights, and then...he wasn't.
"O, God, are you EVER going to help me? Where is my boy? Please, tell me! Where am I? Please, show me! Please, give me something solid on which to stand! My Hope is drained! I NEED real help!"
FLIP! FLOP! Rolling and rolling and rolling and rolling... "Is this a hill?" He wondered. "Are those rocks that are slamming against my already pain-wracked body?" The mud caked on his fur. He sputtered and spat, gasping for air! "Something is down here, but it is not a sure foothold. I'm still rolling." He moaned.
Finally, SPLAT! All four limbs, splayed, in a "pond" that appeared to once be a grassy meadow.
SPLAT! A smaller bear-sized lump, splayed, in a newly-formed crater beside him.
"Are you kidding me?" They rejoiced in unison.
Their embrace, experienced in slow motion, took less than a second to begin, but one could be sure that the birds and other forest fauna wondered greatly about the huge rolling mudball that kept shaking the earth well after the quake had ended. The family was smaller now, but at least father and son were together, again.