Saturday, 30 June 2012

Superstition

The mighty Mississippi has travelled many hundreds of miles by the time it reaches Louisiana and meanders on down to the City of New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. Many tributaries criss-cross the marshlands and small communities have grown and flourished amongst the bayous and creeks.

Cypres-Blanc is one such place, tucked away on the edge of the Creole Nature Trail. Surrounded by Olive and Pecan trees, Willow Oaks and Cottonwoods, hung heavy with Spanish Moss; the small community is almost cut off from the outside world. Here, the Creole ways and customs are strong, the modern world does not venture here. Tourists, on their way to Lake Charles or Lafayette and Baton-Rouge, never notice the bend in the river and the long overgrown trail beyond.

The creek here has provided a living for the community for many a year. The Creole folk have merely to sit on the slope of the river bank with their fishing poles and Cat-fish and Rainbow Trout practically fling themselves onto the hook. The little wooden shacks of the village come down almost to the water's edge and one or two are even built on sturdy wooden stilts and jutt out into the deeper parts of the bayou. Teaming together, the people have created a decent living, but it is finely balanced, the water is the life-blood of the community.

About 20 miles North, a fish cannery factory has opened. It provides much needed employment for the dirt-poor people in that area. It also spews it's effluence into the river that flows on down to Cypres-Blanc; contaminating all it touches. But the people here know nothing of this .... they are uneducated in the ways of the industrialised world. All they do know is that the fish are suddenly dying, and they think they know the reason why.

No-one remembers when Shelby came to their hamlet. It seems as though she has been there for years.

"Mad as a bag of varmints!" opines Eulalie, her golden, hooped earrings shaking as she adjusts her 'tete maw'e', "Poor white trash .... trailer trash" she continues and the other women, in their brightly coloured 'jupe', nod and murmur and roll their eyes and continue preparing the jambalaya.

It's true, Shelby is a little 'touched', a little different. She lives in a world of her own and appears to be oblivious to others. She has lived here for such a long time, begrudgingly accepted by these poor folk, who, at first, felt sorry for her in her tattered clothes and wild hair. She looked as though she had been wandering through the marshlands for days and when she stumbled upon their group of dwellings, she collapsed from sheer exhaustion. They nursed her back to health and could not help but notice a strangeness about her, a madness which made them a little afraid of her. Perhaps she has the 'evil-eye'. Best not rile her, let her stay, but keep our distance. And so she stayed, the mad white woman, living in a little shack and doing no harm ..... until now.

But Shelby cares nothing for this, knows nothing, does nothing. Shelby just loves to dance! She hears the music in her head and she can create a whole new world, another life, far away from the poverty of Cypres-Blanc. A distant memory of a grand house, of a white veranda, overlooking Bald Cypress and beautiful fragrant Southern Magnolias. A fiddle plays in her head and she tangoes with a handsome lover. In her imagination, she is no longer old and wrinkled and in her tattered dress. She has donned a gown of white, with lacy petticoats. She is young and beautiful, she is a bride, dancing on her wedding day.

The women watch the swirling figure as she dances across the stepping stones to the far side of the bayou.

"It's her, it's a curse, she has bewitched the river," murmurs Eulalie, "The fish are dying because of her, the old witch!"

Deeply superstitious, the Creole women nod and mutter in agreement. They know their menfolk have returned day after day, with barely a fish between them. Life is hard enough without Black magic.

Shelby's memory recalls a ballroom, music, laughter .... and she skips and pirouettes across the flat, slippery stones. But .... wait .... what is this? A candle flame, a blaze, the world is burning, orange-red ! Shelby falters on the stones and slips. Calling out, she falls into the deep water that lies under the over-hanging trees. She reaches out to the women, but they just stand, stoney-faced and offer no assistance. She sinks beneath the surface and is lost.

Twenty miles to the North, the Health Inspector closes the cannery until further notice. They are under orders to 'get their act together' or 'asses will be whupped'!

The Spanish moss drapes over the branches of the Willow Oak. The Magnolias are in bloom and their huge, cupped flowers spread their delicate scent across the emerald lawn. The large house is decorated with garlands of flowers and the white, floor-length, curtains float softly on the gentle breeze that blows in through the open French windows. Gardenias, in huge vases, fill the room beyond and, from somewhere deeper in the house, sweet music drifts on the air.

Two figures, clasped in each other's arms, dance on the veranda. A tall, handsome man and a beautiful, young woman.

"I have waited for you for so long," sighs Jackson.

Shelby smiles and twirls the skirts of her white, organza, bridal gown and they dance across the lawn and into eternity.


This is my entry for Matt's word game. Details can be found on Matt's page at http://miblodelcarpio.blog.co.uk/
This weeks words are;
TEAMING, CREATE, DONNED, SLOPE, TANGOES, BRIDE, THINK, OPINES, TRAILER, FIDDLE, CURSE.
Note; I have used authentic Creole names and details of clothing. I have also used indigenous trees. The Bald Cypress is the State tree of Louisiana. Cypres-Blanc exists only in my imagination.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Going Home

Looking back I suppose it all started on Armstrongday. There had been a visit from the Valerian Ships just the day before and these wandering merchants had brought all kinds of goodies. Zarod and I had gone on a picnic. We had waited eons for permission to leave the city dome and many of our requests had failed, but this time we were lucky.

We had donned our suits and packed the buggy with the juiciest yarobs and the nuttier slices of the Valerian's nutcake, along with the usual rehydrating tablets and dessicated banyan fruit. We set off, over the bridge to the Glen Satellite-Island and erected our personal, climate controlled Pod when we saw strange lights in the sky.

It was just a few green flashes at first,
"Some sort of meteor shower !" Zarod said.
But then the whole sky was green and huge lumps of rock, weighing at least 100 lunar-pounds began to rain down upon us.

Zarod helped me into my suit and then put on his own and packed our things. It was obvious that we were  not safe in our Pod, cracks began to appear in the air-locked shell as heavy blows hit it with frightening regularity. We set the buggy to 'Mega-speed' and drove to the bridge back to the mainland. All around us there was chaos as people rushed to leave the Satellite-Island and headed towards the nearest City and safety. I could imagine this happening on all 5000 Islands around the planet. In fact, being a bit of a dreamer, I wondered if it had been like this all those years ago when the Great Evacuation  began. When our Great-great-great Grandparents had realised that their Birth Planet was dying, the life squeezed out of it by pollution and the destruction of the environment and the fragile eco-system. The Great Project began, the rush to find a refuge for the Earth- Planet's population. The colonisation of the Lunar base, the building of huge cities, contained in transparent bubbles, protecting the inhabitants from the deadly atmosphere.

There had been civil revolt and great unrest when the Earthlings had realised that there would not be room for everyone. The situation was desperate, their Birth Planet was turning brown, vegetation was withering, soil was poisoned and the seas turned to sludge. All the animals were sickly and many of the poorest nations were perishing through lack of food. Huge triage Centres were set up, where people were assessed as to their suitability for space travel and meanwhile, on the Lunar Planet, the Satellite Islands were constructed to help accommodate more and more folk once they had been triaged and shipped out.  It was an enormous undertaking, but it was truly a matter of life or death. soon the Earth Planet was left alone, just a dried up, husk of a planet, orbiting the sun, lifeless.

An loud explosion brought me out of my reverie and back to the present and our perilous predicament. A meteor had hit a section of the bridge, behind us and pieces of titanium were floating off into space. Zarod switched the buggy into 8th gear and we almost flew the last few Lunar-miles to Aldrin City.

Everywhere folk were talking about the meteor shower and also about the strange green light , that had now moved away and was beginning to envelope the Earth Planet, far in the distance.

The Info-phones were calling for all Science experts to convene at the City Forum and, as Zarod teaches Physics at the University, he set off immediately. The meeting lasted a Lunar-week. People rushed in and out, the giant telescopes were deployed ..... all trained on Planet Earth and an exploratory ship, manned by Androids, was sent out.

This all happened 6 Lunar-months ago ..... oh, I have got to get used to a new way of measuring time, haven't I ?  The meteors stopped showering down on us but the green light stayed around the Earth Planet and gradually, through some sort of Space osmosis, vegetation began to return. Air began to freshen, grass began to grow and the sea became clear and blue once more. No-one has been able to explain the change in the Earth, probes have been sent out, all returning with the same story. The Earth Planet is alive once more.  Humanity has been given a second chance !

I loosen my suit as I enter the Ark ship. Zarod is by my side as we join the hundreds of eager colonists. We are among the first wave of Lunars, going to a new world, a new life, a free way of living. Without survival Pods, without space suits, without the hard grey rock and dust of the moon's landscape.  Back to the Birth Planet of our race ...... we are going home.



This week's piece of nonsense has been brought to you courtesy of Matt's word game, details on http://miblodelcarpio.blog.co.uk/

This weeks words are
Triage, loosen, juiciest, dreamer, revolt, pounds, blows, teaches, failed, nuttier. This was also published on my other blog page at http://tearose.blog.co.uk