Chapter 10:

It took ages to cross the jungle. Apart from the interlude with the Watootsi and the little person, the jungle was jungle, full of leaches and flies, growls and creepers. Finally they reached the legendary Mountains of the Moon where several days climbing saw them to the top and to the other side. Looking down from the peaks of the nether side, Chris and Zak gazed into a valley filled with mist and foliage.

Chris consulted his map but he could find no trace of the valley recorded there. "Then" he thought, "this must be it."

Chris and Zak worked their way down to the forest below. The forest reached up to meet them.

Curiously, where Chris met the fringe of the forest up against the mountain it was composed, unregionably, of rose and bramble, blackthorn and may: thorned impenetrably.

Chris was forced to follow ledges edgewise looking for a point of access. He found a place where a monster branch abutted the rock face forming a suspended viaduct-like way into the forest.

Below the forestís canopy, the sunlight now subdued by the rich foliage, the pathway tunnelled through a maze of branches and twining stems.The whole forest, as far as Chris could see, seemed to be one single organism: a single tree, and for all he knew, this one growth might fill the whole valley of Roaratuni. Wow!

Chris Pashanski
passed three months in this jungle Eden looking for something he could not find, but finding a thousand other things. And always as he searched there was an almost audible music subtly tickling at his mind's ear. The longer he stayed, each day, the more only just inaudible this something grew.

It was not the sound of the boomfowl or the psychospludge, nor yet the felicitous bach-hopper, but something wilder and finer and rarer and fairer than anything he had. Like a veiled lady, it teased. Tantalising and tempting, it kept him at his search. Surely here was a song for the world, if only he could apprehend and learn to play with it.

illustration by Kano

Days passed by as Christopher continued to search the Roaratuni, but he found no trace of the magic folk. Instead he found colour and forms and scents beyond encyclopaedia. And sounds... The forest embraced him and rocked him to sleep and fed him with adventure and cherished him with morning dew. It felt like living in a glass bowl where everything was love. The echoes bounced from tree to tree and surrounded Chris like loving arms.

There was also that growth. It was the most luxuriant growth of the most righteous nirvanaweed he had ever encountered. It sprouted directly from the boa'tree itself, so, feeling the least bit down, or wanting the least bit up, he had but to pause to rub a handful. You see: you rub the nirvanaleaf, stroke it, dance it through your fingers, and this gummy gue comes off. Chris put it in his pipe. Zak too munched cudfuls.

No pathway led onward from the clearing, but the forest everywhere seemed to beckon. The salamander reappeared seeming to challenge Chris to follow. "One road's as good as another," he advised himself and set off past the fly-agaric to follow the salamander to Whereitzat. The salamander was constantly changing its colour, as salamanders do.

First it looked like a salamander. Then it grinned at Chris and adjusted its eyeglasses with Professor Bookish's gesture. Then Chris could sware it turned into a big Italian chef, or was it rather an Italian pizza? He followed it curiously and noticed it ran with the grace of the bosomy village girl. Her bottom was pleasantly pink. Chris suddenly felt dizzy and sat down on the ground. "Thank God I'm good at figure skating," he commented with relief.

Chris and Zak followed the branch onwards and downwards for a long time until eventually they reached the ground. They entered a large clearing, a small pasture. At the head of the clearing, blood red and white speckled, stood a grandfather fly-agaric cap. On it sat a salamander. It looked Chris in the eye and extruded its tongue. It blinked, dismissing Chris, casually caught a passing fly, then slid from its throne and vanished.

Chris and Zak sat in the clearing mid moss and grass and fungus in sunlight shadows. Perhaps the psychotrops - the bufotonen of toad and toadstool, the muscarine of fly-agaric, the psilocybin and et cetera funded in the fungus - perhaps it leached out into and hung in the still air. Christopher quite tripped out.
Chapter Eleven

Norman Allan
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