Moon drops are falling

Rose blooms are calling

Show me the rainbow world

Show me all show me all

 

Those words kept repeating themselves in my head all day. I could not, for the life of me, determine their origins or their motives.

 

The quiet breeze, lazy bobbing leaves and the musky scent of the forest, sets the tone for a breathtaking sunset.

 

Those words again, mesmerizing, hypnotic and mysterious.

 

A beaten trail reveals itself, guiding my eager feet and my curious mind. The dense undergrowth and tall trees around the track cast dark shadows and careless whispers in the light breeze. In the full moon, it all looks rather majestic and peaceful.

 

As suddenly as it appeared, the track ends. An almost vertical wall now looks at me.

 

At the base, it was conquered by the forest, dead vegetation and new growth competing for the space. Green moss covered the stone, rendering the wall almost invisible in the soft moonlight. The top of the wall, almost ten foot high, just visible from where I stood, covered by creepers. Wild and overgrown.

 

Those words again.

 

Overpower my thoughts, demand my attention, run through my mind over and over again.

 

A noise, which resembles nails on a chalkboard, fills the air. The wild wall rattles and moves. I stare disbelievingly as it opens slowly, revealing yet another track.

 

I was getting a bit tired of these tracks, but they seemed to be the masters of wherever I was heading at the moment.

 

Off again, I make quick work of it, breaking out into a quick trot this time. After what seems like a fair distance, I am stopped suddenly.

 

I am being dragged off the track and suspended in mid-air. Overgrown green veined plants hold me up, each of my limbs pulled till I am held up in air in a cross like position. A rather large leaf touches my face and moves on to the contours, as if looking for a long lost friend. I am then thrown roughly on the ground. Pain seeps through my body as I try and find its source. What I see next, makes the pain seem like a distant memory.

 

Tables were lined with the most delicious looking meats and pastries. Dressed in shimmering blue, children running around filling up tables and goblets. Excited chatter, going hand in hand with the clockwork precision at which the tables were being lined up.

 

The clockwork all stops, dead silence fills the air. Pointing fingers and turning heads replace the chatter. I am dragged once more, in the air and above the tables. Gingerly I am placed in a clearing, in the middle for all to see.

 

On closer look, they aren’t children at all.

 

Faces that was youthful with flawless complexion and sharp features but unable to mask the maturity and wisdom. The moonlight bouncing off their royal blue attires, which dance gently with each stride.

 

They were all so beautiful, graceful and gentle. They couldn’t be more than a head shorter than me. They are all gathered around me now, cautious, curious and apprehensive.

 

Little by little they make way. Out of the opening, appeared one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen, making the evening’s sunset and the moonlit sky, now just a pleasant thought in some distant past.

 

In a voice as soft as the midsummer breeze.

 

She said. ‘Who are you?’

 

*

 

‘Sir, we need a decision now, on the right flank, how many men’

Demanded a voice with urgency and well drilled diction.

 

My world spun out of control, a kaleidoscope of colors entered my head. I looked around, there were men dressed in camouflage battledress staring at me expectantly.

 

We were all cleverly concealed in the dugout holes. Holes were lined with netting resembling leaves and other vegetation that all made us blend seamlessly into the dense forest.

 

‘Lieutenant Davies, Sir’. An irritated voice brought me streaming back to reality.

 

‘Three men on the right flank, Sergeant Williams, I want a scouting party headed north towards Newton Peak. Rendezvous at Position Alpha at 1300 hours tomorrow. I need a report on the Enemy position beyond the line.’ I replied without hesitation.

 

‘Aye Sir’. Sergeant Williams responded, sounding a little relieved.

 

A series of well practiced hand signals are exchanged and group of men in their battle gear are on their way silently to our manhole. Maps and notebooks are brought out and scribbled on. A brief is given by Sergeant Williams, as he wipes the perspiration of his face in this tropical heat.

 

Soon, the battle dressed men disappear out of the hole as quickly as they appeared.

 

‘Sir, men are doing well, are supplies are due to be dropped off by….’

 

That’s as far as he got, as a piercing noise filled the air. The first round of explosives hit the ground.

 

The afternoon air is now filled thickly with a mixture of smoke and mud, while a ringing noise now dominates my ear. A thick liquid seeps to my left eye as a piece of shrapnel grazes my forehead.

 

‘In your bunkers, in your bunkers, MOVE MOVE MOVE’ a commanding voice fills the air. My voice, I realize.

 

The first wave of explosions stop. Amongst all the coughing and yelling, I am given a quick report by Sergeant Williams, a couple injured and treated, all men accounted for, nothing major. Corporal Jefferies was radioing our attack to HQ, awaiting further instructions.

 

I feel a sudden coolness in the air.

 

A soft gush of lukewarm water invades my dugout space. The mixture of mud, debris and synthetic netting that form the lining of the bunker, already turning sticky and gluey.

 

‘Great’. I thought

 

‘That’s what we need right now, the infamous tropical rain.’ As I wipe the blood off my forehead.

 

The air once again is filled with the piercing noise as we scramble for our bunkers, I cannot help but notice the Sun dipping slowly on the horizon.

 

Those words again.

 

*

 

Gentle hands are holding me. I try to scream but my lips are frozen.

‘So who are you?’ She says once again.

 

Even amongst the blue attire and dazzling faces around me, it was hard not to notice how beautiful she was. She walked towards me with an air of grace and dignity that could only signify authority.

 

‘I am Richard Davies’. I said softly.

 

‘Are you a warrior?’ She asked. I realize I am in uniform. In front of their royal blue attire, my camouflage green clothes look weathered and battered. I nod in reply, and muster a smile.

 

She touches my face where the shrapnel had grazed my forehead. I could feel my skin crawling and the area around the scar was tingling.

‘You must be hungry’, she says. ‘Please join us.’

 

‘Where am I and who are you?’ Is what I wanted to ask but the lovely banquet laid in front of me, and the fact that I had not eaten a hot meal in weeks overtakes my curiosity.

 

It was the best food I had ever tasted. Fresh pastries filled with treacle, meat cooked to perfection and a drink made from nectar and honey, all exceptionally refreshing and tantalizing.

 

As hungry as I was, I ate sparingly, unsure what such rich food would do to my system. I couldn’t help but notice nobody else was eating. They all seemed to be waiting for me to say something.

 

‘Where am I’, the words escape my lips with an undesired urgency.

 

She smiled and looked at me. In the moonlight, she looked like an ornamental fairy piece I had seen long ago in a toy shop. The royal blue dress complimented her flawless skin. She was wearing a necklace that cast brilliant hues that reminded me of a rainbow.

 

They were all wearing that necklace. They were all so beautiful.

‘We are the People of the Forest, we are known by many names– Forest Elves, Fairies, Vantries, just to name a few.’

 

She said, her hazel eyes bright and full of light as she went on to explain their origins.

 

I should have been listening but I wasn’t.

 

I saw the way light caught her smile, the flicker of her long dark hair as she moved her head. Her gesturing hands that reminded of the hands of a pianist and her voice that reminded me of the calmness with a leaf sways in a soft breeze.

 

‘Richard…Richard’ I could hear someone calling my name in a distance.

 

Bright rays were falling on me. The crack of dawn was appearing in a distance.

 

The banquet was merging with the forest, the soft blue hues rapidly turning green and grey, blending with the undergrowth.

 

The tables were sprouting leaves, the feast of food was evaporating into thin air.

I stood frozen. She touched my arm, the flawless skin rapidly transforming into what I can only describe as scaly tree bark.

 

All that was left was just the forest now.

 

*

‘Richard… Richard.’ said Ruby.

 

I had just received my acceptance letter to Officer Cadet School in Waiouru. The letter that was slightly damp from the weather now in a brown envelope, tucked safely in my heavily lined woolen jacket.

 

I was on my way to the library with a bouquet to tell her the good news, almost jumping and skipping with excitement.

 

The streets were all covered with snow and there was a severe weather warning for the region. The polar blast had now been blowing for almost a week. The streets looked like Christmas in New York similar to the pictures I had seen in the magazines.

 

A couple of steps onto to the pavement, I ran into little Ruby, the neighbour’s five year old daughter.

 

‘Where are you going, can you help me please? ‘She asked with a toothless smile, while trying to adjust the hood of her red jacket.

 

‘Sure Ruby. What’s wrong?’ I asked.

 

‘Mr. Whiskers is not coming down!’ she said pointing to the top of the tree. A small fluffy little kitten sat perched on one of the top branches braving the cold blast, anxiously looking down at us.

 

I gave Ruby the bouquet and gingerly made my way up onto the first branch, my limbs feeling a stiff in the cold blast.

 

To my surprise, Mr. Whiskers jumped into my hands, purring in relief.

‘I have got her.’ I yelled to Ruby below.

 

Only silence greets my victorious call to Ruby.

 

As I look down, I see Ruby lying flat on the ground, shaking uncontrollably.

 

The next series of events all happen so quickly, it feels like the slow motion of feature action film.

 

I am on the ground next to Ruby. I have in my arms Ruby and Mr. Whiskers and am running to her front door. She still shakes and trembles in my arms. I am on the verge of panicking. Her front door is now five metres away.

 

The door opens without warning, out comes a dark haired man and a blond woman, in jeans and t-shirt, quite unprepared for the cold blast. They are both rushing towards me. In the dark haired man’s hand, I see a red syringe as it is stuck into Ruby’s left arm with the precision and confidence of a surgeon.

 

In a matter of seconds, she stops shaking. Those sparkly inquisitive eyes are open again.

 

She smiles, hugging me tight and lifts up her right hand, the bouquet still gripped in her tiny hand.

‘Thank you Richard.’ She says gently.

‘Thank you for the Roses.’

 

*

I can hear the crackling radio, muffled and distant, breaking through the steady hiss of static and fuzz.

 

The peter patter of the rain drops on the green tarpaulin of the large tent that acts as our meeting room at the edge of the jungle.

 

Crisp creases of highly decorated uniformed people are rushing around with papers and leather satchels, some giving me nods of recognition.

 

There are maps, sprawled on tables with miniature infantry figurines, tanks and planes – arranged with precision and purpose.

 

We are ushered to the tables, where drinks and rations are laid out. A tall man with blue eyes in a highly pressed uniform introduces himself as Colonel Jefferies starts a presentation on the current turn of events. He has a nervous twitch about him as he takes another sip of his coffee before proceeding with his presentation.

 

I could hardly keep my mind off the events of last night – the banquet, the brilliant rainbow hues, the people and most of all – Her.

 

I touch the wound on my forehead, it had vanished astonishingly – just scar tissue remained.

 

The crackle of the radio once again brings me back to events at present.

 

“Bravo and Delta Companies will proceed to Fort Knowl, Echo and Foxtrot to Colorado Ridge.” the Colonel continued.

 

Moon drops are falling…

 

Those words are back in my head, I can barely keep track of the Colonel’s brief.

My mind already drifting to the forest, I am pinching myself to hang on to the Colonel’s words.

 

A part of me welcomes the forest like a long lost friend. The other part of me is questioning the rationale behind my late night excursions.

 

Show me all, show me all…

 

Too late, the room starts spinning; those words are getting louder and louder.

A flash of brilliant white light.

*

“The Moon is our mother…”

The soft voice, I was back in the forest.

It was dark again. The soft light, from the full moon bouncing off the remnants of the tropical rain, some dispersing into a haze of dim rainbow colours. A gentle reminder of the events of the day.

Around me eager ears are listening to her every word. Some are crouched on the nearby tables while the others are on the seated around her on the forest floor. Even the fireflies that are usually quivering around excitedly on the treetops seem very interested and are floating around the tables quietly.

Her hazel eyes were focused on me and the details of the conversation were all directed at me.

‘Tell me’ I interrupt her.

‘What is your name?’ I whisper.

She smiles. ‘It’s Almania’.

I smile and whisper ‘Almania’. The wind and rustling leaves gently echo her name as I say it.

She points at the horizon. The reddish rays of dawn were slowly making their way to the forest forming a crawling orange wave through the trees.

A shiver travels down my spine – my gaze interrupted by her hand on my arm.

I take a deep breath. She smiles at me reassuringly.

I smile back and place my hand in her hand.

As the warm orange wave of dawn reaches us, I see the creeping transformation turning both our hands to the scaly tree bark of the forest.

*

Beep…Beep…Beep

The sound of the heart rate monitor as it traces the slow shapes that indicate signs of life. A tall tripod with a bag of colourless liquid lies next to the bed. The liquid slowly drips almost in conjunction with each beep into a tube that penetrates via a needle into his upper left arm.

The old man lies peacefully on the bed, oblivious to his surroundings. On his right, a small table holds a photograph of a young in ceremonial military uniform. A neatly folded white handkerchief holds his medals with ribbons made of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet – giving much needed radiance to the sterile white room.

A tired looking nurse with a rustic clipboard in her hands works into the room. She smiles at the familiar face that has been visiting him since they found him unconscious at the edge of the forest two years ago.

The young woman arranges the freshly picked pale roses into her favourite crystal vase, arrange his medals neatly according to the colour of the ribbons. She then places a soft kiss on his forehead right near the faint scar above his left eye.

The tired looking nurse then gently whispers.

‘Visiting hours is almost over Ruby.’

*

Avi Pranish is a writer, musician, poet, academic, model, and loving husband. He is a former Naval Officer with a degree in engineering, a post-grad and an MBA.

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