Amber Hill

1:

 

When he awoke that morning, his head ached from the night before. As he rolled over, the woman’s dark skin against his white sheets caught his attention. It was the colour of dark chocolate and as shiny as silk. I don’t remember that part… ” he muttered to himself as he pushed the heels of his hands deep into his eye sockets as if it was supposed to make the pounding of his head stop. Alcohol was especially hard to come by post war but it wasn’t impossible. It was usually as potent as the best moonshine and it never tasted very good, however it was what a person needed to get the job done.

All of a sudden his stomach flipped in his body and he ran to commode to vomit. Thinking all the while, “This is what she gets to wake up to, and I don’t even know her name…” He vomited a steaming mess of alcohol into the basin; it wasn’t quiet and he was certain that – unless she was dead – that she was no longer sleeping, and almost certainly awake and disgusted. Just then his thoughts were interrupted as his stomach did another flip which sent him reeling towards the basin again, to allow last nights indulgence fly again. “Finally”  he thought “I think that this is over now…” 

He slid to sit on the cold tiled floor attempting to replay his evening back to himself. When a memory finally did come back, so vivid he didn’t know why he hadn’t remembered it before… Favan, vomited again… “This cannot be happening…” 

 

2:

 

Asiya awoke to the sound of a toilet backing up, gurgling from the ground up, water splattering everywhere. As she slowly came to through her dreams and her reality became the only true one in existence again, she realized it was the gentleman vomiting. “Drunk,” she thought as she rolled over and covered her head with the blanket that had been covering her naked body. Another round of  vomiting went and she grabbed the blanket tighter around her head, trying to not hear him the best she could.

She remembered having sex with him last night, several times. It wasn’t very often anymore that she came across a camp of this size, let alone one that came with a man like Favan. “He has the same Hardness that Tony had… ” she thought, and sighed. “He won’t meet the same fate that Tony did though, no, he is too smart, I need him…”. The rest of it seemed to be a distant memory now, but she had had no choice. The food and supplies would last longer without Tony. God had told her so.

 

3:

Favan sat by the creek, a stick whittled down to a spear was hanging  loosely in his right had as he watched his next potential meal twist and flip a little too far out of striking distance in the creek. Across the gleaming water was a game path, which Favan had never seen animals use, but for it to be as well maintained as it was, seeing didn’t have to be believing. That was where he saw her for the first time, where they saw each other. It was possibly around noon, or one pm, although time wasn’t told by machinery anymore and he would never be for sure on this.  “There, in the bushes”  his inner voice had spoke to him, “a bear!” After a few seconds of consideration, he knew a bear could not be that tall… So What…?

That was when he saw her.

That was when she saw him.

4:

 Asiya had been walking for weeks, following the creek attempting to get to higher ground. Once in a while she would come to an encampment. Sometimes they would be empty and obviously abandoned. If so, she would loot and the area and then move on, leaving just a few items in case there was that one person left hanging on. Four years post war, she learned that anything was possible.

This time it was different though, this time she had gone much farther than any other time before without seeing much more than a mutant frog. “This is the end” she had thought, “this is where only the strong survive”. The last few days she had been gravely considering that her intuitions were true as she trudged along the game trail, she was going to meet her maker whether she wanted to or not; she was now running on borrowed time.

The trees started reaching out in the daylight to grab her and those intimidating thoughts crept back into her head. She felt as though she was never going to see another human face in her life. She felt as though the entire world was closing in around her, getting ready to suck her into the vortex of foreverness that the war brought on. She heard a harsh breathing sound and it snapped her back into reality. At first she thought it was a mutated mountain lion, wanting to turn her into her next meal

That was when she realized she had started running.

That was when she saw him.

That was when he saw her.

5:

It is entirely possible that they saw each other at the exact same moment in time. Favian, watching fish flipping out of the water out of the reach of the sharpened tip of his spear; Asiya running for her life from the demons in her own head, frantic and alone.

That was when they saw each other.

6:

 

“It wasn’t a black bear at all, those were her dreads flying through the trees…” followed by, “what could she have been running from?”

Favian was immediately on his feet the spear thrown aside, forgotten. Wild emotions ran through his head, he knew she wasn’t from his encampment, when there were 23 of you, a newcomer stuck out like a sore thumb. There had initially been 26, however the post-war world lacked medical facilities, knowledge and supplies to even perform the most simple medical procedures. Because of this, Favian’s grandfather was the first to go.

Favian stood there, gawking at her.

7:

The man stood up as Asiya realized that there was a man out there. “Life…” she gasped aloud in spite of herself. She was not at all scared, only thankful that she was no longer alone. Other than, of course, the obstacle of the creek, that was.

 

8:

 

Favian felt the excitement of a little boy growing inside of him. The woman waved her arms over her head, producing an “x”, then let her arms fell to her sides. She looked beautiful standing there in the afternoon light, and Favian couldn’t help but just gawk at her.

“Stranger….” she yelled to him, “is there a way over?”. This broke the trance Favian had been in, and he began nodding, then answered in a voice that Asiya found harmonious, “one other than my own!” she had thought. “You’ll have to walk a little farther…” he paused, his eyes gently touched her with a cautious consideration. “How about I come with you and help you across. It’s not dangerous or deep, but it’s almost  quicksand in places, you need to know where to cross.” He smiled at her, and then added, “I’ll keep you company”.

Asiya was thankful for this offer, “maybe this isn’t quite the end of the line.” she thought, “not yet, at least”. Without any of the consideration Favian had taken with he offered to walk with her, “Yes, please!” she said eagerly, realized how desperate she had sounded then added, ” I mean, as long as you don’t mind…” trailing off sheepishly. Favian laughed a wonderful belly-laugh, pure and genuine. “The fish weren’t biting anyway,” he said, adding “Shall we?” and gesturing as if to say ‘after you’. 

The woman stood there, almost frozen in time for a few seconds before she spoke, “I’m Asiya. My husband died last year and I have been on my own since. I have not seen another human being, at least not one with a heart beat, in what is going on at least 8 months…” she trailed off and then sighed. Asiya shook off the momentary pity party she had just had for herself and nervously laughed, “you just have no idea how happy I am to see another living soul!”

All at once, Asiya lost control of the emotions that she had thought she had in check, the ones that she tried not to feel, and she wept. The man stood there, helpless. The creek at this point was far too deep and too fast to cross, but he knew a spot that was safe. When they got there he would hug her tightly, as for now…

 

9:

 

“Shall we?” Favian said with a very nervous smile on his face; his hands gesturing in an after you position. This made Asiya smile through the tears, the hurt which she hadn’t felt until now, and the realization that she had been alone for this long. ‘Did I really come this far by myself? I have been walking for at least 7 months…’ she thought.  

 

 

The Shimmering Cave

I have been writing this story on and off for a while now. I’m not quite confident in it, but I want to share so that it can help me improve on it, and find out what I’m missing, and what I’m doing wrong. I love writing, and I hope to continue, and get better. Please leave comments on what I can improve on, or what you liked about it! ~Enjoy!

Part I :

The Shimmering Cave

One
The condensed forest that she had been walking through, opened up into an alpine field in front of Mynaki. The field was full of brightly coloured flowers, which filled her nose with the sweet smell of summer. Across the field, a small cave opened its mouth, with grinning rock teeth, a content smile, inviting those who came across it, in. Small trees cast shadows in long lines, as the sun started kissing the mountain tops, flirting with the day, before saying it’s farewell. Orange and pink hues started tickling at Mynaki’s face, and she knew it was about time to stop for the night, she wasn’t going to make it to the Shimmering Cave tonight, so why push it until dark, just to have to set up her little camp with only the moonlight to guide her. Looking around Mynaki found a small cove beside a tree, which over its years had tucked itself into a hill, and settled its twisting trunk into the side of it. In the shadow cast by the tree, it was cool, and Mynaki took a moment to breathe in the fresh air and take in the last of the day.

Mynaki took her pack out and started to make her bed. Tucked into the cove, where she would sleep and be protected from the elements, she placed the envelope that contained the letter; the most important part of her long journey. After making sure The Great Sage’s letter was safe, she found kindling, and began to build her fire. Not long after, the fire hissed and crackled at her feet, and Mynaki was able to watch as the sun fell behind the mountain. The last light of the day turned the sky a brilliant pink, and lit up every cloud in the sky, then slowly faded out to purple, and finally the inky black of night took over, and the stars began to shimmer in the sky, awaiting the moon.

Mynaki drew in one more deep breath, while looking at the stars. “Almost there, almost to the Great Sage,” she thought to herself. The fire had died down to flickers of flames that licked at the air for life, and coals. Mynaki stoked the fire one last time, before deciding it was time she slept. After taking one last look at the sky, Mynaki closed her eyes, and sleep came very easily to her.

Two
It was next in a dream that Mynaki awoke, to find herself being chased, by an unknown force. As she ran, she could feel the terrors of the dream. The woods around her were a deep green, almost emerald. The trees seemed to reach out at her if she got too close, whispering her name, calling out to her… Join us… Mynaki then realized the urgency of her situation and pushed onward, although she didn’t know where she was running to. As she ran, she couldn’t look backwards, she couldn’t look anywhere, but into the forest, into the darkness between the trees, wondering what was waiting for her… And then hope… A light… Faint, between the trees, but it shone enough to illuminate the ground beside… A cabin? Was it what she was looking for?… Mynaki ran, and ran hard. As she got closer, the light was glowing all around a log cabin, no bigger than probably a single room. Smoke slowly spun out of the chimney, creating a comforting presence. The emphasis of the dream suddenly focused on Mynaki making it to that cabin, making into that door, and she knew she would be safe. A new strength ran through Mynaki, and she pushed forward, with every ounce of her being.

Mynaki pushed the cabin door open, with little effort, inside, she felt safe, and after slamming the door the feeling was solidified. Looking around, there was an old wooden couch, with knitted pillows, and a desk with am ancient chair pushed in to where the arms touched the top of it. A fire burned in an old rock fire place, and a pot of tea simmered above on an iron rack. There where no pictures on the walls, only windows, yet there was a mirror hanging beside the door. Mynaki was about to go look in that mirror, but a piece of paper on the desk caught her eye. Walking slowly to the desk, her heart started beating rapidly in her chest. On the front of the folded paper, scribbled with a quill pen, it said “Mynaki” . Grasping the letter with both hands, trying to not wrinkle it, she read her name out loud, and a shiver ran through her body. Breathing deeply, she opened the paper slowly, unsure of what she was about to read. In one line, across the paper, she read “This is your destiny…”

Three
Mynaki awoke from the dream in a cold sweat, her heart beating out of her chest. The moon now hung in to sky, closer to the west, yet she knew it had only been a few hours since she had fallen asleep. Turning over, she looked at the remains of her fire, glowing a soft red in the dirt, and let out a long sigh. “This is your destiny” she whispered into the dark, before closing her eyes again to allow sleep to take her until morning. But sleep did not come so easily, for what was the destiny? Mynaki could not help but lay awake and wonder which part of her dream was the destiny? Little by little her mind ate away at the dream, until she unknowingly fell back into a very wrestles sleep, until the sun began casting its light shadows onto her face.

Four
In time well passed, the lands of Albacy had been all but grasslands, full of flowers, and trees which bore the sweetest fruits one would ever taste. The mountain ranges to the west, where a mystery of sorts, and people who ventured to them spoke of a cave in which they could see lights of different colours coming from within at night. The stories grew into legends, passed down from generation to generation, some claiming witchcraft, some claiming the super natural activity, and others would say it was an act of the universe and to just leave it be. In any case, there were still those who were curious, and those who ventured out to the cave, to only come back with nothing to tell, the cave, was empty. Those legends grew from years of tales, and the cave was named The Shimmering Cave. A large opening to the cave with jagged edges, welcomed visitors in, and most, thought the cave looked like it was grinning. Inside, there were years upon years of stalactites and pools of blue-green water, in which you could see straight through to the bottom. A path curved around to the back of the cave, where there were odd drawings, of what looked to be a story, forever told on the walls of The Shimmering Cave. The other side, was a sheer drop into complete darkness. Shimmering Cave was a mystery, except to the Mantikaa, they knew the truths of the cave, and they knew of the Great Sage who lived within its walls.

Five
Mynaki awoke to a soft song from bird that she couldn’t see, singing a familiar song, to which she would never know the words. Sitting up, she remembered her dream, very vividly, and she again whispered into the wind “what is my destiny?” The dream had been a premonition to something, and she still couldn’t understand as to what. The Great Sage might be able to inform her on what this premonition was, but there where other matters to attend to first. At the back of her mind though, the thoughts still danced around her destiny.

As she packed up camp, Mynaki made sure to put more dirt on her fire, which had extinguished itself over night, but these lands where sacred, she had to make sure. As she packed up her bed, she made sure to place the letter for The Great Sage in the breast of her dress, there was no way she would make it this far to loose it now. Before leaving, Mynaki sat and took one last look around at her surroundings, unable to take in all the beauty. The birds, which had been serenading her not long before this moment, soaring in a flawless blue sky, the flowers which began opening their pedals to the sun, and the trickle of a stream in the distance, which fondled her senses, making her wonder if she was actually hearing such a sound. Taking in one more deep breath, Mynaki stood up, stretching her arms above her head, and let out a long sigh.

Six

As she neared the mouth of the cave, Mynaki could feel hear heart beating relentlessly in her chest. A voice, unfamiliar to her, whispered in her head “t’is your destiny young one” …

The mouth of the cave was lit by the morning sun, casting long shadows into its depths. Inside, the clear waters of the pools, were glowing with a green envy, come evening the pools would be a deep blue colour, ever changing through out the day, swimming with blues and greens. The stalactites shaped the outer walls of the cave, almost flowing down the walls, with years upon years of history stored through their smooth bodies. Some had formed pillars, some were thin, some hung over the pools with no stalagmite partner to share their long story with. A long worn path in the sand, drew a curved line between the two pools, and took a turn to the left behind one of the pools, and disappeared behind the wall of stalactites that had formed. Mynaki ventured onto this path, her heart, now beating in her throat. The cave seemed to shine to her even in the daylight as the pools reflected the sun rays, rainbows of colours dancing all over the cave to no particular rhythm. Or was there…? Mynaki listened, and she thought for a moment, that she could hear drums, beating a smooth melody, bom bom bom bom, bom bom bom bom. It sounded like the tribes from back home, their ritualistic drums calling upon Gods to bring rain. Mynaki imagined The Great Sage, in a large head dress, spiked with eagle feathers, and glass beads; A long robe, with flowing arms. The Great Sage had a long, white, beard in her imagination, tied into a braid, with thin pieces of tanned skin. He carried a walking stick, made out of a twisted tree truck, petrified with age, and shining in the light. Mynaki, gave him blue eyes, and a soft, tender voice. This thought, calmed her heart down immediately, and she took a long, shallow breath, and blew it out through tight lips.

Inside though, Mynaki still felt like a young child, about to get scolded, and for something that she hadn’t done. The elders had sent her on a mission to The Shimmering Cave, because they knew that her familiarity with the area would allow her the fastest, and safest journey. It wasn’t The Great Sage whom she was afraid of, it was the elders, and pleasing them once she was home. It was a great shame to disobey the elders, and even more so, a shame, if they were to scorn you. It had happened to another villager, years ago when Mynaki was just a young girl. The villagers had all gathered in the town square, where the young woman stood, stripped down to her bare skin, while people laughed at her. The elders told tales of her, which Mynaki, too young to remember, laughed at as well. Now being put in a position in which this could happen to her, Mynaki felt a terrible guilt for laughing at that young woman, as young and naive as she was.

A soft ting, ting, of bells came from the back of the cave, and this, Mynaki knew she was hearing. Stepping forward, Mynaki heard that same voice in her head, “t’is your destiny young one.” As she moved slowly through the cave, she almost felt something change within her. A warmth fell over her body, and she couldn’t help but smile. There was something about this cave, and Mynaki loved it, almost felt immediately addicted to it. The bells got louder as she neared the curve of the path, which took her behind the left pool. The sound seemed to be coming out of every inch of rock inside the cave, reverberating off of the stalactites, and entering her ears, as a sweet, soft melody. Mynaki was almost in a trance, following the pillars along the back of the pool with her hands, feeling the melody coming out of the rough surfaces. Looking up, a flood of light blinded her. It flashed all the colours of the rainbow, and it was beautiful. A shadow stood before the light, and Mynaki knew she was in the presence of The Great Sage.

Seven
“Mynaki…. Mynaki…MYNAKI!!” Ariella yelled as she ran towards Mynaki, who was all too involved in washing her robes to hear her at first. “Th… The Elders Mynaki… They want to see you!” Ariella said, in between breaths, and Mynaki dropped the robe into the soapy water, splashing herself with suds. “M… Me?” She spit out in utter disbelief. Ariella had a hard time containing herself, ” yes m’lady, they want to see You!” Mynaki, who was in her cleaning robes, with her hair tied under a kerchief, now covered in suds and water, stood looking at Ariella, with eyes full of disbelief, asked under her breath, “when?” Ariella grabbed one of Mynaki’s soapy hands, “we must go as soon as possible, they’re expecting you” having no time to change, nor dry off, Mynaki could feel the redness flowing into her cheeks. “If there was any sure way to be scorned by the elders, I am well on my way to doing it by showing up like this” Mynaki though to herself.

Thandora was a small town, bordering the grasslands of Albacy, many of the town folk knew only of the life here in their little niche of the world. The town square was adorned with tall pillars, with vines growing to the tops, sprinkled with pink flowers, and baskets of herbs, encircling the bottoms. Small shops, and carts full of fruits, veggies, and various other items for sale or trade were placed sporadically around the inside, and outside of the main square. Townsfolk gawked as Mynaki and Ariella ran through the makeshift market, and a small whisper carried through the air.

On the outskirts of town, a small path off of the main road into town, led due east, through a small field of grass, and into the edge of the woods. Ariella slowed to a fast walk here, and Mynaki was relieved to be able to pull air into her lungs again.
“Ariella… What do they want from me? Please, I beg thee”
“Mynaki, you are to go on a quest, a quest of great importance. I can say no more.”
The Elders cabin was nearing, and Mynaki thought it be wise to not ask anymore questions. A quest though? Mynaki had never been asked to the Elders in the Whispering Wood, and now for a quest! The ideas started flowing in her mind, and she got almost excited.

In a clearing, stood a wooden cabin, surrounded by great pines, stretching their tops towards the sky. The cabin was made of old logs, weathered, and greying with age. The shutter windows were open to the warm air, and Mynaki could smell the herbs and incenses coming from within. An old rickety porch stood askew off of the front door, it’s railing made of old tree branches, twined together to form the rails. Wild vine grew up the chimney side of the cabin, slowly taking over the outside wall of the attic. Mynaki took it all in, this was quite the opposite of what her mind had painted in her head of where the elders lived.

As the women drew closer, Ariella slowed to a walk. Mynaki could now hear a low chant coming from within the house, a faint drumming almost a murmur accompanied it. Following Ariella closely, Mynaki could smell the incense flowing from within the house, a soft and sweet blend of herbs, and dried flowers. “My goodness… They are chanting for me…” Mynaki’s eyes widened, in complete disbelief that the elders would be chanting for her. This was an honour to be called on by the elders, but for them to be chanting for her arrival…
Ariella stopped, and turned to Mynaki. “They will see you now, don’t be afraid, they have been waiting for this…” And as she finished, she shoved Mynaki into the front door…

Eight

“Mmmmmyn-ak-iee… (Bom Bom Bom)… Mmmmmyn-ak-iee… (Bom Bom Bom)…”

A pureness fell over Mynaki as she entered the door, a feeling of warmth, and comfort. Following the mysterious, yet melodic chant, she found herself in the middle of the circle. Horror fell over her as she realized she had disturbed the elders, and any hint of importance that this meeting was going to entail, was now a distant memory, and she was going to end up in the town square, naked and alone. Drawing in a breath, she went to take a step out of ether circle, when a raspy voice spoke. “Mynaki, we have been waiting for thee, please, take a seat.” It said, and as Mynaki turned about to find the source of the voice, she saw an old woman, years of age, and experience etched upon her face, with her arm extended towards a cushion between two of the elders, the hole in .which she had stumbled in, in the first place. Nodding, she excused herself to the seat. There was an uncomfortable silence, as all of the eyes in the room fell upon Mynaki, and she felt the blood coursing towards her cheeks. “Mynaki, there is no time to waste in this matter” a short man stood up saying. He walked a short distance in thought, before stopping, and shaking his crooked finger at a thought. “It’s very important you leave immediately. The Great Sage has called upon You Mynaki, and his request was urgent.” The look on Mynaki’s face must have mimicked her thoughts, because the stout man let out a wholesome laugh. “You Mynaki, are a chosen one my dear,” He said in low, but cheerful tone. Mynaki looked around the room, in silent, wanting confirmation from the other elders, searching for it in their eyes, and their faces. When Mynaki finally realized this was not a dream, she felt herself begin to fade, and the last thing she saw was the gentleman that has been talking, running towards her.

“Oh she’s opening her eyes,” Mynaki heard in a far, and distant voice. “Come, come quickly!” Said another. Mynaki felt a cool on her forehead, and the cloud above her eyes began disappearing. “Mynaki my dear, are you alright?” The comforting voice that spoke was coming from behind her, but should couldn’t make out from who. The world was still spinning a little bit, and she had to move slowly. “I… I think so. I… I’m really sorry” Mynaki managed to say, through the veil which still covered her eyes, making the room look like the mist behind a waterfall. “You poor thing, please, listen carefully. We are not like, the elders of old. We called you here out of great importance, and you must go quickly. This is not a time to be faint at heart, because I believe a lot of great, and mysterious things are coming your way. Hear me, and hear me now, the Great Sage has called upon you, and you must go immediately, with no time to waste. We have wrapped a pack for you, blankets, a pillow, and this…” The voice trailed off as a weathered hand reached for a folded letter, wrapped in twine. “This is yours, please take it with you, and present it to the Great Sage when you arrive.” Mynaki took the note from his hand, and placed it inside the pack. “Your time is now Mynaki, fly like the wind, run like the water.” With that the elder extended his hand to help her to her feet. Mynaki looked around, “I will not disappoint you” she said, curtsied, and walked for the door. The elder, who had handed her the letter, took a slow nod, extending his arms open, as a raspy voice came out of a dark corner, “T’is her destiny my children”…

Nine

Mynaki felt an energy, one of which she had never felt before, reverberating off of the walls of the cave. They were coming from the Great Sage. Speechless, Mynaki stood in silence, feeling the energy as almost a white light, caressing her very soul. “You got here very fast, a rabbit you are, a tortoise you are not” spoke a tranquil voice, it was almost hypnotizing. “I… I… The woods, I’ve explored them my entire life, they are written like a map in my memory” Mynaki answered her voice shaky, her hands moistening. “My dear, no need to be nervous, I called you here.” The Great Sage said in her hypnotic voice. “I’m… I’m sorry… You’re just not what I had expected…” Mynaki said her voice trailing off. After a short silence, the Great Sage burst out laughing, a laughter just as tranquil as the voice, that sang along the walls of the cave. “You knew not what to expect, you are the first in over two hundred years to be called here, anything of which you would know, would be stories.” Said the voice. “Ahhhh but yes, I do surprise even the most expecting of people, for it is not a woman they expect to see.” Mynaki swallowed hard on these words. An elderly man, long dreaded hair, a crooked cane, and a front tooth, maybe… A woman, with a voice that sounded like a chorus of angels, she did not. “I’m sorry if I have said anything…” Mynaki was cut off at once, “Anything your young tongue can say to me, has been said long ago, your words cannot hurt me” she said, extending a hand, and placing it on Mynaki’s arm. “Child… This is your destiny”…

Ten

A naked woman, short in stature; beautiful though, very beautiful for apparently being centuries old; stepped out from behind a stalactite.

Katrina Berkenbosch