The Wishing Map is a full-length fantasy that is being posted episodically at this site. To read the previous episode, click here. To read the entire novel, begin here.
While Zack was searching for his sister Gina, Liulah, who’d tried to turn him into a cloud shepherd like her, was rediscovering her own humanness.
There was a daily Nongathering for young cloud shepherds (sylphs), the opposite of a “gathering,” which would mean they cared—something strictly forbidden in the sylph realm. Liulah had gone to it regularly at one point, but the Facilitator had suggested she stay away until she developed an appropriate degree of disinterest. Now, ironically, Liulah thought she might be able to gain a proper sense of detachment by attending the non-event.
By the time she arrived at the big nimbulous chamber, a dozen young cloud shepherds were already there. They ranged from early to late teens. Most were staring placidly, enjoying the sensation of being completely unaffected by the presence others, but a few were speaking softly among themselves. Liulah knew she should emulate the detached sylphs, but she couldn’t help herself; she ambled over to the conversation group and sat down.
“Mmmm, I feel so deliciously alone,” a thick-bodied female susurrated.
“Keep it to yourself,” a willow-thin boy whispered.
“If you were truly experiencing your own peace,” a bluish female corrected, “you wouldn’t even have noticed hers.”
“I said it for the benefit of those who have not yet arrived at the level I’ve attained,” the boy hissed.
“Shhhh, I’m forgetting…” the original speaker admonished. Silence ensued for several minutes. Finally the bluish female opened her eyes and said:
“Yes, what?” the boy inquired with urgent disinterest.
“Now you have to tell us,” a fourth girl said, “so we can forget about it too.”
“Rain it, girl!” blurted Liulah. The others shot offended glances at her.
“Well, yesterday,” the thick-bodied female said, “a human was seen falling from the sky into the Frengan Light Forest!”
There was a collective gasp. The boy said, “Falling from the sky? But that’s imposs—”
“Shhhhh! Quietude!” the Facilitator impered.
“Girl or boy?” Liulah demanded. Disinterested heads popped up all around.
“Girl, I think,” the thick-bodied female replied. “All humans look the same.”
“It’s Gina!” Liulah screamed. She, jumped to her feet and ran across the chamber, shouting, “It’s Zack’s sister!” Then she let out a piercing, “Woo-hoo!” a noise no sylph had ever made before, and jovially explained, “That’s what humans do! You all used to be human, you know!” She exploded out of the chamber through the cloud wall.
After a few moments of stunned silence, the Facilitator made a gesture with her finger tips to symbolize removing troublesome thoughts from their minds and throwing them away. The young sylphs nodded and quickly re-entered the stream of perfect peace. Only now the quietude was even more delicious. Because now they had something really juicy…
Not to care about.
Thoughts: Have you ever concluded that your system of beliefs (or non-beliefs) might be founded on half-truths? What did you do about it?