This crown is for ever
It was after noon when we reached the shore of the most distant island of the Northern Archipelago. It had been a hostile journey but through hard and collaborative work we were able to keep our ramshackle raft afloat. Unfortunately we had lost two of the brave men from the Daveen Rada Tribe. A sudden thrust of a gigantic wave flung the wooden cabinet they had tied themselves to overboard like it was a Silverman’s matchbox. The men disappeared into the foaming black sea giving them no chance to save themselves. In despair we clung to our ropes endlessly praying for rescue or a quick death when we noticed the sea calming down. The wind quieted, the air got warmer and the water smoothed. We were still alive but soaked, sad, and sick to our bones but when the bright orange sun rose, fortune started smiling upon us. Most of the wooden boxes with samples, tools and supplies were miraculously unharmed, the bronze bird was still tied to the spar and best of all: there was a glimpse of land on the horizon.
Apart from Dr. Noland and me, we were now left with only three helpers of which one, a slender female named Ha’dake, was unfit to carry any load. Although being offered to us as a guide she had not yet said a word. She even had cried soundlessly while the demon waves crashed our raft and death seemed nearer than ever. There, on that strange and silent grey beach, at the foot of this jungle-covered mountain she suddenly opened her mouth and took out a small, round silvery object. I looked at Dr. Noland and saw him starring intensely at this strange small artefact now in the small left hand of our renegade guide. Ka’dar and Zihul didn’t notice anything or pretended to be very busy. Focussing on Ha’dake her eyes closed as she circled the pink of her right hand around the object that wondrously started to change shape. It was done fluently and with great ease. I had seen several shape changing rituals but they normally where the result of endless group effort and shamanistic pressure. Ha’dake performed it with such hallucinatory grace that I barely even noticed her quickly pushing this shiny, steel like pin deep into Dr. Noland’s forehead.
Dr. Noland screamed on the top of his lungs while he jumped up before throwing himself onto the beach over and over again. He tried to hold onto something invisible but wasn’t able to control his own body. In shock I quickly fell backwards, rolled away, stumbled onto my feet, franticly crazing my mind about what to do, when Dr. Noland abruptly went quiet. The pin in his forehead had kept growing and I could see it had also grown out of the back of his head. I suddenly remembered Ha’dake and the two helpers but they were nowhere to be seen. Where did they go? Why did they leave us? The both ends of the pin had now split into two halves and the ones from his forehead were bending backwards and from the back of his had, were bending to the front. They kept growing, finally melting into each other as two circle-like shapes. Or, as it appeared to me then, even more like an eight put on its back. Dr. Noland smiled strangely and whispered: ‘This crown is for ever’.
When night fell and I finally managed to make a fire, Dr. Noland, still smiling, spoke again. He wasn’t whispering anymore but his voice sounded very different from normal. An unknown accent lingering through a low and monotone mumble instead of his eloquent and outspoken, clear voice. I was almost sure his ‘crown’ created an almost inaudible high-pitched tone, but it was so subtle it could also have been the wind. ‘In the former colonies’, Dr. Noland said in his new voice, ‘we used big beetles as messengers. We would glue small colourful gems on top of their exoskeletons and wear them as brooches. They were chained to our suits’. I asked him to stop talking and save his powers. ‘On the other island I found five rings in five different colours I had never seen before. When I touched one of them a beam of light arose from it and projected an image on a nearby tree. Seven soldiers in a frozen attempt to destroy a sky-high factory chimney using golden sledgehammers’. I told him we would figure something out tomorrow, that everything would be all right. ‘A pyramid of books trying to climb a miniature ladder’, ‘Please, take some rest, Dr. Noland!’ I now shouted. My voice echoing through the cold and moonless night sky. ‘A necklace made of poisonous fruits…’ he whispered in his strange tone… Please Dr. Noland… Dear John… I beg you… Let us have some rest…
Frank Koolen, 2016