Ria - Fish decided to swim off while the others (us) were caught on a ridge in the Goat God dilemma. 'Humans,' he thought blowing water bubbles, 'don't they know you gotta go with the flooooow.' The water surface was bright and clear. Fish could see the sun reflect in the calm waves. He decided to surface to catch a breath of morning air through his gills. As he got closer to the surface the reflection partitioned in two, but Fish knew that water could break the light easy so he swirled up, beak and fins contrasting the splashes of white foam ...... It took Fish a while to gain his senses---well, those he had---but by then his penny dropped just before he fainted, a trick he'd learned from the Belgian..... He 'd mistakenly taken the bright circle-like blue surface reflections with the blue (!) eyes of the Blochdreaded, notorious, mythical blue (!) eyed MA cat~~~~~
©Susan Shulman - Frog with Cherry Fingers
Susan - It started to rain cherries. What kind of crazy land was this? Fish was staring into the water, fixated as usual. He was such a deep thinker. Sometimes I wondered if he was just fooling us all. Looking like the sophisticated Edwardian aqua-gent but in reality I do believe he waited just long enough between pauses until one of the other climbers would come up with a solution that he would indubitably take credit for! Before I could finish observing his stillness, a frog jumped from the rock and in one split second, she chopped her hands into a frenzy of acrobatic moves swooping all the downpour of fruit and balanced them gently on her fingertips all the while smiling! Fish looked up! “Huh” he said.
March 28, 2014
Mark - I heard Cathy Nolan Vinčević say "Okay, the goat won't move and we are stuck on this cliff!" I had to rescue my friends. They were stuck. "We are spiritually incapacitated" I sent them in morse code. "Which is exactly what you are describing. Can't go left, can't go right. Cannot shimmy down. Can't pull up. Can't lay there. Can't stand up. I would say religious negotiations with the Goat Gods is the way to go." I knew this because i had been flat on my back for over two years.
Thus did I find myself digging toward the Belgian's house with the soul purpose of finally tryin to get off the island when I pulled my back out. So when I finally reached them and they looked surprised to see me, I told them I'd been in traction for over a year with the elephant tortoises looking after me in hut 8.
After I told them I'd been laid up with the worst pain of my life, spiritual OR physical, and they realized it really WAS me who had ripped the time slit in Rias garden, Mara said "Elephant tortoises? There are no Elephant tortoises. In hut 8 or anywhere else." Then who was waiting on me hand and foot? I asked her.
Meanwhile the Elephant Tortoise walked through the rain with his mouth wide open, glad that Mark had escaped from the Hut to save his friends. It had been raining frogs earlier in the season and he longingly watched THAT downpour out the window but now it was raining cherries and he was free as a bird so Aganesh didn't mind if his face or lips or even the back of his throat got pelted, he tilted his enormous head toward the heavens and it was worth it when one of the plump seedless red belly bombs landed on his tongue and he could bite down and chew to his heart's content.
©Mark Bloch - Psychic Pain Squared
Mara - I wondered, "was Mark incapacitated by the physical and psychic pain or covering up for his stubborn use of the square wheeled bike?"
March 29, 2014
William - Fish glared at me from under his umbrella and grumbled, “The forecast sounded like fair weather; I thought it was promising for a summit attempt.” Fat plump cherries bounced lightly off our fabric cones of protection and continued to roll down the mountain. Indeed, the last mamara wagon had left only an hour before after delivering the daily climbing forecast. “Fish, you forget the forecasts are predictions and predictions are sometimes wishful thinking.” I glanced at the scrap of bark in my hand and re-read the words; Life is a bowl of cherries. Protect yourself with essential geometries. I added, “These forecasts of our ability to summit are as impenetrable as a zen koan. Here, have a cherry and mind the pits.”
©William Evertson - Life is a Bowl of Cherries
Susan - “Looks pretty sunny now to me.” I yelled up to the climbers. “I smell spring just around the corner. What a glorious day to ascend.”
I heard this garbled grumbled rumbling from someplace?” I wasn’t sure if a volcano was going to erupt or, oh ya, it had to be finicky Fish. “What’s up with you Fish?”
He pointed arrogantly with his fin. Look what the rain-washed up on the shore! She was whistling through her long and elongated proboscis and swung her diving mask towards Fish. “Hummm, Hey matey, seems I just found me some buried treasure! You can call me Steampunk Rosie!”
©Susan Shulman - Steampunk Rosie
March 30, 2014
Mara - I wondered, "Have both Mark and Susan gone bonkers in the thin air? Is this the when the claustrophobic paranoid dreams of escape takes it's dark turn?" Across the Springtime mists I hollered, "Is that a fish in your slicker or just a cheap suit!" That got their attention, especially fish's. Momentarily shocked but he recovered with a rather snooty and somewhat injured tone, "Please meet Ms err Steampunk Rosie". We bowed, everyone bowed all around. "Now, let's break for brunch".
William - "Sounds like a great plan", I said as I collapsed my umbrella. I turned to where Mara was laying out a small buffet when I felt a wet slap across the back of my neck. Thinking it was Fish up to his usual pranks I took another step when it happened again. I turned and saw that my umbrella had come alive and was about to give me another wet slap with a very long tongue. "No more mischief", I shouted in my sternest voice because when a mountain spirit inhabits an inanimate object they become very hard of hearing. Looking chastised the umbrella hopped on a single leg and followed me over to Mara's blanket. I offered her a bowl of soup. Luckily Mara had warmed up the Don't believe What You Think variety. The umbrella stood and noisily slurped the soup while rolling her one large eye like she hadn't eaten in 100 years.
©William Evertson - Umbrella Monster
Mark - Cherries were bouncing off my noggin and I had to wonder, was it raining all over the island or just locally? And were they having the same effect on everyone that they were having on me? I felt woozy and so I clung tightly to the rope and shimmied along the narrow path on the mountain's edge my square bicycle wheels slam slam slamming into the mud as they rotated. All this drama was very upsetting to me and it didn't help that my back was sore and I felt like I had a fever coming on but I rode on diligently. My mission was clear, rescue my friends and get them "brunch" on the other side of the mountain ASAP. I had yanked the bike with the square wheels from beside Ria's house somewhere in Belgium, popped back into the time slit at the bottom of a construction site and now I was only a few meters from my traveling companions who, if I wasn't mistaken, I hadn't seen since over two Mulka's ago. The dirigible Harmony had been dug out of the snow, there were fireworks and monkeys and pigs and Smelly... all signaling that something was gonna give. But as I lie on my back recovering from the lower back trauma with the tortoises serving me hot sheepdip seemingly by the quart and round the clock. Susan had asked "Oh no, Mark…are these mellow yellow Marshmallows?" close to a year ago but other than that I had not had contact with anyone more like two years. Susan morphed into a dragonfly and I had been on my own ever since. I watched as orange blurry stripes expanded and contracted like a force field around her and i shouted after her, no it's not the marshmallows, it's sheep dip but I knew that it would be the last contact I had for quite some time and she probably had not heard me.
Blue’s herd of sheep had provided the most hallucinogenic sheepdip this side of the mountain if not the world and the Mulka Fields were the perfect place to drift off into reverie. I was digging out the troll, who was arguing with a fox over whose hat was whose. I was one with the mountain when suddenly something like an electrical current surged through my coccyx and up my spine. I lunged backwards and as I tumbled into a 720 degree back flip, imagining I was at the Mountain Olympics, overhead I could see Mara in an air ship hopelessly tangled in gum trees. My co-workers trying to help me get the troll out of the ground immediately switched course and joined together in an attempt to free the ropes from the gums. But somehow everyone stopped suddenly as my backflip rolled to an end and looked at me. I didn't realize it but I had let out a deafening roar. When they heard that and saw the electrical current shooting up my spine, they all ran away in horror.
So that of course is how I turned into Pan, half goat half man. Was I Pan or just a regular satyr, It didn't matter, all i knew my legs were gone and been replaced with goat extremities. It was making it even harder now to ride this rectangular bike than it would normally be and that was plenty tough already.
But I was scooped up off the ground by an odd collection of ne'er do well blind monkeys, owls with broken wings and dazed limping squirrels working together and they are the ones who delivered me, flat on my back and unable to move, to the Elephant Tortoises in Hut 8. I explained to the head tortoise, Aganesh, I had just had a particularly odd dream. I was watching Mara in an air ship stuck in the Gum Trees when suddenly I had been transported to a cave with drawings on the walls.... the drawings are marching and suddenly I see a turtle, no a fish, fly off the wall and recognized it was Fish.
Fish decided to fly off while everyone in the climbing party except me had been caught on a ridge in a great Goat God dilemma. "That's when I woke up" I said. And I knew I had to go. "You just got here," said Aganesh and you aren't going anywhere. He called some of his lackeys to carry me off and the sheepdip treatments continued for the next two years. Over and over again I relived the various things that had happened on the island. I kept coming back to the time Bill quickly hosed down Fish ‘N Boots causing smoke to billow as letters began to form our names on all the outreached bands magnifying beyond our dimension: Susan, Ria, William, Mara, Lee, Mark, Christopher, Angela, Jane, Cathy, Kathleen, Bibiana. Fish ‘N Boots asked Bill “ So, are you still wondering who is actually creating the story here?
Somehow I knew I had a memory that had not yet occurred to tell Susan to squeeze back through a time slit somewhere, grab a machine and return in time to catch the blimp which is just then passing overhead allowing us to make our exit. But how would I know when this event was supposed to happen? It didn't make any sense but as I relived our life on the mountain it kept coming back to that. And to Born in Chicago a strange blues song I didn't even like that much. Weird.
It was a Thursday when I awoke and explained to Aganesh, as I had so many times before that once again I had just had a particularly odd dream. I was watching Mara in an air ship stuck in the Gum Trees when suddenly I had been transported to a cave with drawings on the walls.... the drawings are marching and suddenly I see a turtle, no a fish, fly off the wall and recognized it was Fish.
Fish decided to fly off while everyone in the climbing party except me had been caught on a ridge in a great Goat God dilemma. "That's when I woke up" I said. And I knew I had to go. "Then Go!" Aganesh shouted, "There is no time to waste!" What about my back I asked him but he assured me it was still recovering but he was sure I'd be OK. Follow the fish he said.
And so I did. I dove into a shadow next to a coral reef that revealed itself outside the hut. "Ria, William and Mara in scuba gear are under the water holding on to the same long red rope" he said but it was a lie. I followed him anyway. Fish swam for what seemed like an hour and then got closer to the surface as the reflection partitioned in two, with Fish sure that water could break the light easy so he swirled up, beak and fins contrasting the splashes of white foam ...... .... He 'd mistakenly taken the bright circle-like blue surface reflections with the blue (!) eyes of a notorious, mythical blue eyed MA cat and so I knew this was my jumping off point. I leapt into the time slit, grabbed the bike with the square wheels and then spotted the Rowboats with the climbers aboard peering down into the water as I turned a corner. But Ria, William and Mara were not in scuba gear under the water holding on to a long red rope. They were stranded on the side of the mountain with no where to turn. Danger was all around them. They were nervously peering off the side of the mountain and vertigo was setting in. That's when Cathy made me aware I had to switch places with that rigid old goat and rescue them or their waffles on the other side of the mountain would get cold. And no one no one likes cold waffles, least of all this bunch. And I was not going to be the one to tell Ria, cat or no cat.
April 10, 2014
Susan - “Awwww”. I was relaxing in this secret “CENOTES” I accidentally found in the cave while I was collecting those cherries to make some pies. I carelessly floated inside the crater of teal blue foamy salt water full of musical notes. John Lee Hooker “blue notes” were echoing and reverberating between amber stalagmites. It was a religious experience! What a trip, lost in an ocean of nirvana.
Then I was startled. I started to notice eddy waves surfacing and swirling from some disturbance in my sea of calm. What the hell is going up there? It sounded like thunderous hooves crashing, galloping up and down the crackling rocks above me. The vibration was causing formations to fall around me. I better find the others and get out of here pronto. I think the kraken has awakened.
©Susan Shulman - Kraken
May 11, 2014
William - As Fish and I rounded the stoney outcrop partially interrupting the narrow trail it became obvious that we weren’t the first to explore the western face. Clinging to the steep slope like a mud wasp nest was a hut; or at least a facade built to protect a small niche in the mountain from the wind and weather. We shouted a greeting but only an echo returned our call. Fish pushed his way inside and we found a rock wall chamber not larger than a monks cell. Furnished simply with straw mats on two wooden bed frames, a chair and a table. But on the table was an amazing sight; an ancient Corona typewriter. The thought of someone carrying a typewriter this high on the mountain could only mean that a very serious author had spent time in this hut.
Fish squinted at the machine and asked, “What does it do?”
I replied, “it’s a typewriter; you press hard on those keys and letters are stamped onto paper.”
He blinked his lidless several times and said, “it’s like that skinny cylinder I see you pressing onto paper and making squiggles with?”
I blinked back, “you mean my pencil? And those aren’t squiggles, those are my thoughts, my observations, a recording of our travels.”
“You’re pulling my fin! Those black scratches I see you making mean something?”
I banged my head on the table a bit then replied, “It’s like when we talk, only more permanent; it helps us to remember things or to communicate with someone who isn’t present. What did you think I was doing all this time?
He put his fin to his mouth, made a few gulping noises then said, “well, you spend so much time doing it I just assumed it had something to do with your reproductive cycle.”
Fish continued, “show me how this word picture machine works, I have some things in my head that you should see.”
©William Evertson - Machine #15
May 14, 2014
Susan - There was a lot of laughing, giggling, banging and gargling permeating into the stillness of the serious zen-like cave. While Bill was banging his head on the table like he was at a rave, a flurry of multicoloured feathers were flying into the cave entrance. They blew onto the protruding tips of the letters and gathering along the front of the delicate black and red banded ribbon. They plugged up the spools and prevented the keys from sticking to the inked strips. "Bill started screaming, what the bloody hell is going on here" A huge head with two large sunny side-up eyes ran inside the cave screeching to a halt and ogled at Fish. A bunny with RED BOOTS hollered."Did you miss me…I'm back!"
©Susan Shulman - Red Boots
May 17, 2014
William - I blinked through the settling cloud of feathers at Susan. I couldn’t think of what to say so I said, “You rode an ostrich into the hut.” It was one of those obvious statements we blurt out when the spell of making elaborate word pictures fails us. Susan, whose passion aside from art was evolutionary biology has investigated some of the more extreme examples of animal adaption to high elevation.
Susan said, “isn’t he remarkable? The Analogue ostrich is as sure footed as the mountain goat and many are capable of carrying loads of up to 65 kilograms.” The large bird bobbed it’s head this way and that, then banged the picture machine so hard the Sisyphus key flew off through the window and started rolling down the hill. “Sorry about that,” Susan said, “their eyes are bigger than their brains and they can be a bit ill- tempered.”
“Curious adaptation”, Fish said, as he eyed the bird well out of range of it’s undulating neck, but I’ve never really understood flightless birds. “I mean if you’re a bird without flight you’d almost think you’ve devolved. Who wants to grow up to be someones sherpa bird when you could soar to the summit?”
I glared at Fish since on more than one occasion he’d wandered off leaving me to haul his kit up a difficult pitch.
Never one to leave well enough alone Fish plunged on, “What next Susan? The discovery of Cirque du Soleil birds walking tightropes and swinging on trapezes.”
Susan looked miffed and said, “it’s difficult to predict the characteristics of as yet unobserved phenomena, but given the variety of terrain we’ve encountered that specific set of phenomena seems likely”
©William Evertson - Bird on a Wire
May 28, 2014
Susan - "Man, what's all the fuss about…Just chill" the pink fish spouted as it bobbed gently, moving gracefully along with the swishing waves towards the beach. "You all gonna split a vein the way you keep banging your brains" I looked at the creature weaving the foam of the warm azure sea. It was the most calming sight I had seen in a while.
©Susan Shulman - Pink Fish
May 30, 2014
Susan - Springtime had finally come to the Mountain and we all watched as the King Bees were coming back to the island!
©Susan Shulman - King Bee
May 31, 2014
Mara - I spend quite a lot of time wondering here. What is it about this place that brings a sharp focus to every little thing? Slowly I repacked the remains of our lunch while keeping an eye out for the monkeys dressed in silk.
June 3, 2014
Susan - While Mara was packing I contemplated “Living On The Edge”. That’s what the Mountain was to me. Living on the edge of insanity, the edge of learning, the edge of loneliness, the edge of completeness, the edge of beautify, the edge of despair, the edge of inspiration, the edge of illumination, the edge of creation, the edge of miracles, the edge of the edge of the edge, the edge of …if only I could see just a little beyond the cliff, just a little bit more, I would know. Then Fish said, “Susan, can you just lighten up and let me down”
©Susan Shulman - Lighten Up Susan
June 4, 2014
Mara - Fondly I let my hand trail over the Corona's keyboard then slowly pulled it's cover down snug. Sorry old friend, can't take you along. You were on loan and must leave everything the way I found it or I'll have to leave the island permanently. Per instructions I dropped the typewriter over the side and watched as it hit the center of the target, the slippery slope that led directly to the Writer's Westside Hut.
June 24, 2014
Mara - I turned to the path and began to walk, without perceiving it consciously the way became narrower and narrower stopping abruptly at a large boulder firmly lodged in the way. I couldn't go over it or around, nothing left to do but move the obstacle. I moved off a little way and sat down facing the dull grey roundness. Shrugging off my rucksack I fished inside and found what was needed, the collapsable crow bar. Arranging a fulcrum and digging out a bit from the bottom edge I roughly jiggled the the crow bar firmly into place. Recalling the recent dream instructions I pushed down on the tool rhythmically. Slowly slowly the boulder began to rock and "POP" gave up to roll out of the way. I heard startling high pitched bitching and sputtering from the vacancy underneath. I had uncovered a creature. This was the mooch I'd heard scuttling about, jabbing and tripping me during long tiring trail hauls. Here was my chance to rid myself of the pest. I sent it packing, because once truly seen the bratty creature has no more power to annoy. "That," I thought, "is that." Finally on to new vistas!
©Mara Thompson - The Bratty Creature
July 26, 2014
Susan - I was deep within myself. Lost in TM. It had been so long since I had thought about when the Maharishi gave me my mantra in the agency days. You never forget that secret word. Never. I was contemplating life on the edge of nothingness when a loud screech abruptly shocked my chakras. It took me a few minutes to adjust and realign my body and my blurred eyes to the vague shadows dancing in the pitch-black sky outside the entrance. Screams were echoing from one cave to another. What the hell was going on tonight? One is never supposed to be shocked out of a meditation. I crashed down with such force from my float that even the rug and sand did not prevent my fall and subsequent sore derriere. Bibiana's voice came into tune. “We are being invaded on the mountain, hurry everyone.”
"William and Mara,what do we do?'The roar of laughter filled the air.
“Bibi…………it’s a FIREFLY…haven’t you ever seen one before”
©Susan Shulman - Firefly
August 11, 2014
Susan - The jagged rocks were slick from the dew and I lost by balance. I slipped on something slimy and sticky, like a squishy banana peel which I knew was impossible unless Lee’s monkeys were back. That was always trouble. A rope whipped around my waist stopping me from tumbling. Hummm, must be Mara or Bibi from one of the caves above. I regained my composure and looked behind me. There was nothing. I heard a low hissing noise and every nerve in my body was terror stricken, waiting to explode as I attempted to keep still, afraid to breath. I had heard there were snakes here but had never seen one. I was frozen, fearing for my life. The last time I encountered slithering reptiles was in the swamps. The time I drove into some secluded town in Louisiana thinking I was going to some Woodstock-esque music festival! What I encountered were some down home creepy crawling soul-sucking bluesmen that brought the swamp down to its knees with deep grinding haunting tunes. Ya Halleluiah. I was never more scared in my life… but the music, ya was rich!!!
I snapped out of that revelry as it spun me around. I came face to face with the sound. Not sure what it was, because it looked a bit like a chameleon, but it smiled at me and showed me its big teeth. I put my hand down and let it lick my fingers. The blood started to circulate back to my heart. I wondered if the climbers will let me keep it.
©Susan Shulman - Chameleon