“You know,” Gertruida says before reading any further, “this reminds me ever so much of the hypothesis of Interdimensional Realities. A lot of people dismiss this as hogwash, and maybe they’re right, but what if it is really possible to travel to another dimension, or another parallel reality? I mean that would fit in nicely with Spook’s story.”
“Oh, come on, Gertruida! You really believe in parallel universes and such nonsense? If I told Oudoom what you just said, he’d make you mow the grass in front of the church for a year!”
“Hee hee.” Kleinpiet giggles as he nudges Vetfaan. “He wouldn’t dare! She’d smoke it…”
Gertruida goes harrumph! and starts reading again.
I sat staring at the old man’s sand-pictures for a long time, trying to understand what he tried to tell me. Three pictures of Kubu Island – one as it is now, one wiped out and one more that wasn’t erased. What did it mean?
The old man returned after a while, carrying three pebbles. He placed them on the sand in front of me, sat down, and stared at them – occasionally looking up to see that I, too, was looking at the small stones. Then he pointed at the island, pointed at one stone, and grunted. Yes, I got it: the pebble was Kubu. He next took the second pebble, ground it into the sand with his thumb, pointed at Kubu and shook his head, looking extremely sad..
Okay…that means no more Kubu…I think.
The third pebble remained. The old man pointed at it, got up and made a small mound of earth a small distance off. Next, he fetched a smouldering piece of wood from the fire and placed it between the pebble and the mound. He walked some distance off, lay down flat on his stomach, and crept up to the mound. He seemed to be stalking, leopard-crawl style. At the mound, he slowly lifted his head to peek over the heaped sand at the pebble beyond the smoky log. Then he pointed at the pebble, laughed, got up and did a little happy-dance.
What? Kubu still there, but beyond the smoke? Why would that make him happy? What was he telling me? I shook my head and the old man stopped dancing. He was clearly frustrated that I couldn’t understand what he was telling me. He walked off, joined the other two, where they sat down in a huddle, talking softly.
The seemed to agree on something when they got up to approach me once more. The woman held up two fingers and pointed to the small skin bag that held the fire-herbs. Right, I got that. They have two more doses of the stuff. Two more….travels into the unknown? I nodded.
And so I sat down next to the fire again as they draped the karos over me and waited for the herbs to take effect.
“I get it!” Gertruida exclaims and stops reading. “The old man was telling Spook about three realities…”
“I’m getting something stronger,” Vetfaan says as he gets up. “Being sober doesn’t work with this story.”
“Oh shush, Vetfaan! This is getting to be hugely fascinating. Look, he describes the same sequence in the beginning and then he goes on…”.
This time was different. This journey was neither to the past nor the future. I simply drifted off into a big, black void towards a pinprick of light. After what seemed a very long time but maybe was only a few moments, the light started getting stronger, bigger and more compelling. The darkness disappeared and the brilliant light enveloped me completely. I think the light became part of me. I might have become the light…
Then, I saw a figure approaching. The figure drew near. The figure was…me!
“You have the power,” the figure-me told the real-me. “And you must use it. If you do, things will change.”
I stood there, completely flummoxed.
“You won’t understand, but you must trust. Trust is the one thing that mankind lost completely. Without trust, you cannot love. And without love, the earth is doomed.”
I stared at myself, trying to make sense of it all. “Why me?” I asked.
“Because you arrived at the right time, the right place. It was all planned this way. In fact, you have no choice.”
“But what,” I asked the figure-me, “is it that I must do?”
“You have to go back. Right to the beginning. Start over. Save Kubu.”
And with that, the figure-me receded into the light (my light?) and disappeared. I felt myself being drawn back into the dark void, returning to where I was sitting next to the fire.
And when I woke up, eventually, I was so exhausted that the efforts of the family to feed me were in vain. I knew then that I was going to die…or something…
“What a load of bulldust!” Vetfaan fetches the peach brandy and pours a stiff one.
Gertruida shrugs. Either they are on the verge of something so extraordinary that it defies normal thinking…or Vetfaan is right. She turns the page.