(I’m jumping over day 10, called ‘The Dream,’
because of the adult content in that chapter. It will be added to the book.)
Two hours of sleeping passed swiftly – I woke up full of boundless radiant energy. I felt like one of Tolkien’s heroes, stuck in a fantasy land thousands of miles from home with a war approaching. I stretched out, then stepped cautiously onto the wet surface of the raft and began to cross it, half sliding, moving to a meditative part, where Hamilton was sitting and reading instruction on the bottle of scotch. A real wildfire was gripping my veins; the danger clutching my lungs – I lived on the edge, experiencing the most peculiar vacation ever.
I made a mental note to ask Captain Happy about Martha as soon as I saw him. Meanwhile, I stood in the middle, drunk a twenty-year-old bourbon, which I got during my soft passage near Hamilton. Satisfied, I waited until our next stop: I was too curious to meet a local cook.
On the shore, among the palms and the wild bushes, the strange bag came into view, then the bone of what seemed to be an arm of our local cook. I waited in a friendly manner to see the whole personality of this invisible creature. To be honest, I was expecting a steaming pot on a massive iron stove and a petite smiling lady with a big spoon. But there was nothing…
The raft cautiously left the shore. I looked at the unmoving shadow with a cute high-bridged nose and blazing downcast eyes, dressed in a hat. That strange being was the famous cook of Gunung Kinabalu.
The hat on her head deserves a special mention in my story… To my surprise, it was made of black plush – a cross between a bucket and elegant feathers – shining in the sun, something that Escrava Isaura, a sweat-hearted white slave, would recommend on GetASAPWorthy Adviser app if she’d been real. The hat made the woman’s head look surreal, dragging my imagination where I wasn’t ready to go – to the puzzling, often eclectic novels written by Dave Williams or, probably, to the grotesque, give-me-rum absurdly-hot stories of Victoria Ray.
With a sad faint expression, the creature in a hat introduced herself: “Miss Downhill Tasty.”
I prayed to God that her exceptional name wasn’t the reason for her futuristic, almost geometric shape, her white with blue stripes baby hands, and very casual mahogany-colored hairs on each toe.
I squinted at her as if doing so would bring a larger portion of food on my plate and asked, “So, what’s for dinner tonight?”
“Marmalade from algae.” She replied, concentrating on her heavy basket, “And this is our tribal Grace of Thirty Wounds knife. I got it from my father, who spoke his final word twelve birdsongs ago.”
She held a sharp blade, licking the sides of it in slow monotonous torment. I leaned forward and inhaled the strong smell of fish from the basket.
“People have to eat something… I guess healthy marmalade fits perfectly in our daily routine!” I over-enthusiastically declared. “Frankly, I’ve never heard of marmalade from algae. Some mix of a cement and dead crocodile?”
“Don’t insult her cooking abilities, Bullet. At first, she usually washes and soaks the remains of dead Pyrrophyta and Chlorophyta, then cooks it with sugar in open vats, into a liquor, which then thickens into a jelly.” Captain Happy gave me a patronizing glance.
I shifted in my corner uncomfortably: my blood sang from the hunger, and the heart craved for new direction in the wild ripples of life. Captain scratched his ribs and laughed, “But you are right, her cooking killed twenty-two warriors last month.”
The wind carried his confession direct to Martha’s box, which was still dangling under the water. Soon enough, the loop of the breeze returned a low whistling cry, filling the air around us with hatred, impatience, and starvation. It seemed I wasn’t alone in my fears.
“If you die,” Ms. Downhill Tasty intervened my thoughts, “It will be like being blinded on a sunny day for our Kingdom. It’d bring extinction and grief. I’d suggest you wait until we arrive at the Warrior Farm, though. I’ll cook a wonderful meal for you, Doctor, from freshly grounded corn crumbs.”
I frowned, shocked by her confession, then rose from my place, bent down over the open basket, and grabbed the jelly. I clenched the stolen piece of melting marmalade in my fist and, with a sickening sense of desperation, pitched into wet oblivion.
When I recovered from drowsiness, I found myself tied up to a gold spike in the middle of the raft, with Martha hovering anxiously around my head. She proudly described how she saved me from 78 razor-toothed piranhas, finding my lifeless body hanging on a hook of her box.
“Was there anything edible in my hand?” I asked.
“No…” she answered, hiding melancholy in her eyes. She slowly licked her upper lip, which was covered in malachite-alike color, then sighed, “But it was sweeter than at home.”
I glanced to my left. The dinner party was in full swing: Captain Happy had fallen asleep, Ms. Tasty stood and stared at the four Hamiltons, who were sitting across her open basket, chewing green marmalade with a rude intensity. Sticky drops of the bizarre meal rolled down to their chins, necks, bellies.
I wanted a bite of it.
Maybe next time…
Next post – What ‘killed’ the Mother Goddess? (part 1 – female view)