calma and the pearl

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It grows colder as Calma progresses.

She simply calls the creature 'light'


 

Chapter 1

 

Calma woke up all alone in a strange place, and she was having trouble remembering. She could smell Pine trees and hear the sound of waves being pulled onto shore. Her body felt heavy and it ached, and her clothes were wet. Calma sat up on the cold, damp floor, shivering, and could see a few rays of light some distance away. Groggily, she put a hand on the ground to steady herself as she stood, taking deep breaths and exhaling unevenly. She tediously began working her way forward, pausing every few steps to rest, and being careful not to slip on the wet, moss-covered rocks. Walking became easier as she approached the mouth of the cave (which was at least ten or twelve feet high), where the ground became sandier and the sunlight was able to break into the cave. When Calma reached the entrance she stopped and peered out at the landscape beyond, at a beach stretching in front of her for maybe fifty yards until the ocean met the land. It was a very foggy morning, and one could not see far out into the ocean, and looking in either direction the beach simply vanished into the fog. Calma took a few steps out and examined the terrain directly behind the cave: a very tall, rocky cliffside met the beach. Trees and plants grew everywhere, and the entire landscape seemed verdant and alive, everything but the shore and the lonely surf. Looking in one direction the rocky cliffside extended into the fog but, looking in the opposite direction, the cliffs seemed to cease abruptly where the landscape rounded a corner. It took only a few minutes to walk to this point, and then only a few minutes more to reveal the sight of a massive coastline that stretched away from her as far as she could see (which was not very, in light of the fog), the cliffs rising higher until they were around two thousand feet, and growing higher still as they became obscured by fog. As that direction seemed fruitless, Calma walked back to the cave.

Once there she sat down on a large, flat rock and took off her wet socks and shoes and set them out to dry. She was feeling anxious, and decided to see what was in the opposite direction, and intending to walk but a few minutes in search of a landmark or vantage point, Calma followed along the base of the tall cliffs. There were no birds in the sky, no signs of life at all, only a few large, monolithic rocks stranded in the surf. After about ten minutes she arrived at a cove, situated amidst the cliffs, from which a path led into a forest, away from the coast. The trail was sandy and clear, and so Calma continued on in hopes of finding a good vantage point, trying to maintain a sense of her direction as the trail climbed upwards through the landscape, sometimes affording a view of the coast or a tree-covered hillside. After a good deal of walking the path began to emerge from the forest, leading to a small clearing which overlooked the coast. The sky had cleared somewhat, enough so that the occasional ray of sunlight could break through, and Calma sat down in a bright, grassy spot, her hands clasped around her knees, and closed her eyes. She listened to the surf below, felt the warmth of the sunlight, then took a deep breath and held it. Then she exhaled and opened her eyes. Clouds drifted slowly across the sky, and for some time she sat there and gazed out at the landscape beyond, not really trying to remember. After some time had passed, however, Calma did try to remember, and desperately, how she had gotten here in the first place, but everything was so vague and uncertain, and her head wasn't clear. She remembered leaving home in the morning, walking out the front door and noticing that most of the trees were in bloom, and that the day had been unseasonably warm. Her only other memory was of feeling cold, and alone, and helpless. And then she woke up here, in that cave, and for a long time Calma thought she was dreaming, though she wasn't. For the time being she continued to study the coastline and the landscape around her, and let her thoughts once again drift as they may. She constantly plucked blades of grass from the earth and tossed them into the wind, and watched as they floated through the air, sometimes lifted so high they could no longer be seen. Calma stood up and walked close to the edge of the cliff, only now realizing that she was still very near the cove, and could almost see the entire way back to where she began. It had probably taken her an hour to reach this point, and her shoes were back down on the beach. Calma was used to walking outside while barefoot, and didn't really want to walk back to get them, and so she decided to leave them behind. It was more important to take advantage of the daylight, and while it was still early in the morning, she didn't want to waste two hours just for a pair of beat up shoes. She needed food, and to find out where she was. Up ahead, the path continued on into the forest, heading away from the coast. Calma had no way of knowing whether or not it continued on in that direction, but after some deliberation she decided to take her chances and follow the path into the woods, and began walking in that direction.

The path twisted and turned and dipped as it wound its way through the forest. Before long Calma began to notice the variety of trees and plants, and there were new scents and familiar scents, and small orange flowers grew abundantly in the tall grass on either side of the trail. The wind constantly rattled through the highest branches of the tall trees, strange new birds sang intermittently, and the sun rose higher in the sky. As the path continued on, the forest became denser, yet it had begun to lead uphill. Calma reasoned that she would find a good vantage point somewhere along the way, and could figure out where she was or could go, so she continued on. Soon the path began to descend once more, and the sound of the waves could no longer be heard.

Soon thereafter Calma came to a clearing, a large meadow where grew the occasional cluster of violet or goldenrod. On the opposite side of the field, maybe two hundred yards away, stood a large hill. A layer of fog stretched over the grass, thick enough to mostly obscure the treeline on either side of the meadow, as well as what lay beyond the hill. For now, Calma remained on the edge of the woods. She couldn't tell if the path continued on up the hill, only that it led out into the meadow. A cold gust of wind rippled across the open field, which now seemed almost melancholy; already the fog seemed to have grown thicker, and without really knowing why, Calma took a step forward, beyond the treeline, and then another. She stood there, on the edge of the open field, and felt another cold breeze whip across her, and then continued on without hesitation, and as the hill slowly came more clearly into view her pace began to quicken, and she was now walking rather briskly, and hopefully, towards it. For a minute or so she continued on, and in her fixation she did not notice that the wind had stopped, and the sky had darkened, and the day had ceased to shine. Calma was now looking at a certain peculiar spot on the hill, where the grass looked different, almost darker. And then she realized that the grass wasn't darker, but a shadow had covered a portion of the ground. And only now did Calma stop walking, and she anxiously watched as the shadow moved slowly down the hill, towards her. She shifted her weight, as if she meant to turn around, but did not, and was stood there in her disbelief. As the shadow moved closer it began to grow darker, and it was becoming harder to breathe, and Calma's blood ran cold. The fog grew thicker still, and now it began to part as the shadow moved closer, cutting a whispy path as it went. Nothing made a sound. And then Calma snapped out of her stupor, and realized it was darker and colder and something felt wrong. Without further hesitation she took off at a sprint across the open field, towards the treeline, which was maybe a hundred yards away. A cold wind once more blew fiercely behind her, but Calma did not turn around to look. She ran through the tall grass, and could hear the sound of her own heavy breathing, the dull thud of footsteps on earth, the swish of the grass and now the sound of rain, which began to fall heavily all around her. She ran straight towards the treeline and, obeying her intuition did not pause once she reached it but kept running still, as far as she could without pausing for breath. But of course she had to pause eventually, and she leaned against a tree, gasping for air, frantically looking around in every direction. The rain was diminished, but still falling, but there were no longer signs of a storm or of darkness. Calma was back in the middle of the forest, without a trail or any indication of where to go.

 

 

Chapter 2

 

(Weariness overtook Calma, and confusion, and she began...)Calma was now feeling tired, and confused, and scared, and began (rather absent-mindedly) walking without any real direction, simply heading downhill, or else towards less dense parts of the forest. She wanted to get far away from where she had been. As she walked along, lost in thought, the rain lightened and warmer winds began to blow, but the clouds would not break. To Calma's delight, however, the landscape slowly began to change. Overgrowth became sparse, the terrain leveled, and the forest eventually gave way to something almost like a grove, where tall grass and thin trees grew abundantly, and somewhere nearby a stream babbled tranquilly, hidden amidst the grass, and the rain slowly turned to mist. It was a very small stream which Calma found, only a couple of feet across, and it wound its way almost invisibly through the landscape. She walked alongside of it, running her hands through the tall grass that reached nearly to her waist, and in this manner she walked for quite some time, the river growing wider. Looking beyond the river, Calma could now see mountains very far-off in the distance, and a vast plain occupying most of the distance between. It appeared the river would veered away from the range of rocky peaks, and as Calma traveled further through the grassland she began to get a sense of scale, and began to feel at once both timorous and bold. As Calma studied the river, it seemed to drop off into nothingness. But perhaps there was much more ahead of her, and she simply could not see it. In any case, she decided to follow the river, at least for a while.

Some time later Calma came to a small, weathered dock. The river was much wider now, but still only a few feet deep, and the current was very weak. As she approached closer, Calma saw a small boat sitting in the water, tied off with a sturdy rope, and there was a single oar inside. Calma sat down on the edge of the dock and let her feet dangle in the water, and she considered many things: the strength of the current, the quality of the boat, and the strangeness of the situation itself. She even considered that this might yet prove to be nothing more than a dream. But Calma was not dreaming. She was a rational person, perhaps even a cautious one, but she was also adventurous, and joyful, and these qualities would prove stronger than her fear. It was past midday, now, and brighter than before. The tall green grass stood in contrast against the greyness of the sky, and the river a steel-blue ribbon between them. The occasional tree dotted the landscape, their leaves white and pink and even grey. Once more Calma tried to remember something from before the morning, but it was difficult. Only cold, and darkness, and… treetops! The last thing she remembered was that she had been outside. She remembered leaves and the sky and then… darkness. She still had no idea why she had woken up inside that cave, and it made her feel anxious, but, at any rate, she was lifted by the fact that she remembered something else. She looked at the landscape once more in consideration, and noticed a peculiar stack of rocks near the edge of the river, just a few feet away. They were weathered to a near-polish and stacked from largest to smallest, nestled in the grass which bordered the water. Calma wondered who would stack rocks in that manner, and for what purpose, but didn't think much more about it, as she had decided to take the boat and see if maybe she could find somewhere to rest or find help. She grabbed the rope and pulled the boat just alongside herself, put her feet in and then sat down in the boat. She searched the small craft for any useful items and underneath the seat found a tattered canvas bag, inside which was a jacket.

 

And so, having pulled the rope in, Calma pushed off, righted the craft, and let the current carry her smoothly downriver, towards the sun.


 

For many miles she floated peacefully. The sound of the oar occasionally dipping into the water as she righted the boat, the occasional droplet falling onto her legs or face, everything around her feeling lazily content and harmonious, neither to much sun nor too little, the wind blowing in timely guests, the world serene, verdant, welcoming. Calma allowed the craft to find its own path, for the most part, and she allowed herself to daydream, content with being a passenger for the moment.

Imperceptibly, over the course of many minutes, the pace of the river quickened. More obvious was the increasing amount of wildlife Calma saw. Small brown and white birds were perched on the branches that hung over the river, singing to one another, and brightly colored bugs skipped across the surface of the water, their iridescent bodies sparkling in the sunlight. Bumblebees buzzed tirelessly among the flowers, squirrels chased one another through the trees, and brightly colored fish darted to and fro, moving in short bursts. Things continued in this way for an hour or two before Calma began to grow tired, and felt like taking a break form the monotony of the river. She guided toe boat towards the bank and ran it ashore, then stepped out and pulled it from the water. She grabbed her bag, walked up a small slope and sat on this raised hill, in clear sight of the river, surrounded by the forest.

 

_____

 

Notes

 

Wakes up and it is dusk, with maybe another twenty minutes of light left, and the world slowly comes to life, as small things like fireflies glow, and large birds with long tail feathers glide swiftly beneath the moonlight, over the surface of the water, which was shallow again. The sky is clear for the first time. It is too dark to notice the peculiar lambent pinkness. 

Much further ahead, beyond the hills, were what looked like grey mountains; as Calma studied them she thought they drifted, almost like clouds, but she wasn't sure if they actually did or not. They almost seemed to change shape, too. 

This companion, the speck of light (that can enlarge itself and grow dimmer etc.), it may lead Calma to a place where there is a pile/whatever or objects from our world (and unrecognizable things). By then she realizes she must head towards the odd, lambent light. Snow in that direction. 

She gets to the leave-strewn landscape around the waterfall, or shortly thereafter, and it feels autumnal, even somewhat halloweenish. Orange motes of light float through the air like sparks around a large bonfire, falling from the treetops and disappearing once they touch the ground. The crunch of leaves underfoot. A vague sense of dread/uncertainty but also wonder.