Category Archives: Lori’s Choir Loft
I picked my way along. The path was obscured by overgrown shrubs and fallen leaves and I had a hard time seeing it. The dense forest canopy kept out not only the sun but the breeze as well, and the air was completely without movement. It was like being covered by a heavy blanket, and I had difficulty taking a breath.
It was also quiet. There were no birds calling. I would expect in a tropical jungle like this to hear shrieking monkeys and see them swinging from limb to limb, but there was no movement or sound of any kind except those of my trudging feet. My heart began to race, which was odd since my pace was slow, and I felt the hairs an my neck standing up.
“This is ridiculous,” I said. I hoped the sound of my own voice would alleviate my increasing apprehension.
“There is no reason to be scared. Look, this is just a forest — a bunch of trees– and this is Lemuria, for goodness sake, and this forest is just… it’s just a representation of your unconscious.” I tried to remember what I had read in the past about Jungian archetypes and dream interpretations. “Yeah, the forest represents your unconcious and you’re just dreaming. You’re probably asleep right now back home and you’ll wake up any minute.”
I heard a rustle to my right, about ten yards away. I stopped dead and stared at a large bunch of giant taro plants. Their waxy green leaves were still.
“It’s okay, it’s okay. Just the sound of an animal. Finally, some normal jungle noises.” I took a step forward but kept an eye on the place where I head the noise. Then I heard the snap of wood to my left.
“Who’s there!” I spun towards the sound.
A figure leaned against the mottled gray trunk of a banyan. I could not see the person’s features. In fact, he — or she — was completely black and had a fuzzy quality as if it was not altogether materialized. Before I could say another word, the shadow figure disappeared in front of me, seemingly downward into the immense bulging roots of the banyan.
I gasped and tensed to run. Then something occurred to me: I had run from the faceless conductor at the train station on Temple Island. I had tried to escape from the megalodon on Cetea’s Revenge. I seemed to be always trying to evade the dark parts of my psyche. Not this time. I turned towards the place where the figure had disappeared.
“Excuse me. Can we talk?”
There was no response.
“I know who you are. You’re the Dark Stranger. You’re part of me. I know that whenever I see you, then I’m about to move up to a new level of understanding. ”
I heard a rustle in the brush.
“Yeah, c’mon on out. I’m on way to the Shrine of Wandering Poets. You wanna come? It’ll be fun.”
I heard a soft ping followed by a swoosh. An arrow rushed past my ear and lodged with a quivering thunk in the tree behind me.
I’m being shot at? Holy crud! No, no, no, I will not be afraid. I can’t be hurt here. I raised my arms half-way up in front of my body and took a step towards the place where the arrow came.
“Look, dude, let’s just talk about this, okay? No need to shoot at me. How about I buy you a cup of coffee. I hear there’s a great little cafe next to the Shri—”
I felt the impact of the arrow before I felt the pain. I fell back a step and reached my hand to my shoulder. Blood was already oozing out of the gash and a searing pain radiated down my arm.
“What are you doing!!!” I don’t know if I got an answer because I was already on the run. Instinctively, I headed for cover and tore through the thicket of giant taro leaves. Another arrow swooshed by. I heard movement behind me. I pushed through the low hanging vines and branches wishing that I had brought a machete with me, if not for the brush, then at least as a weapon.
My foot caught on the bulge of a tree root and I hit the ground with agonizing crash. Blood from my wound was flowing freely now. I rolled on my back and saw blue sky through a break in the canopy.
Then the loud crack of gunfire erupted out of the darkness. I covered my head This is too much. Then another volley of fire thundered. I knew I had to get out of there. I struggled to my feet but I felt weak and swooney. I’m loosing too much blood.
Then a firm grip caught me under under my armpit and I heard a woman’s voice.
“C’mon, we gotta get out of here.”
(to be continued)
Text and image: L. Gloyd (c) 2009
“Stupid, stupid, stupid…” I muttered as I trudged along the gravel path towards the woods. “You’ve done it now — you’ve ticked off an abbess, for heaven’s sake. Good job, sweetie.” I looked to the sky to see if any thunder clouds had formed in order to zap me for my insolence. It was clear.
I don’t know why I had been snarky with the Abbess. Obviously, I have some sort of internal malfunction and she has been sent to help me. Obviously, I felt a little threatened by her questioning and responded accordingly. I was always getting myself into trouble with my mouth. Obviously, one day I was going to really feel the consequences. I just hope it wasn’t today.
I came to the edge of the woods and stopped. This was no small thicket of ordinary trees. A wall of dense, gnarled banyan trunks soared above me. The path was covered with large fallen leaves and what I could see of the trail disappeared into a thick darkness. An equally thick darkness fell over me. I felt like I was in the middle of a horror movie. I was the character about ready to walk in the dark, scary place, the weird music edging towards a crescendo, and the audience yelling “don’t go into there!” — just before the ax murderer jumps out from behind a tree.
Yes, I was going to pay for my insolence today after all. I took a few steps and walked under the canopy of the banyan forest.
(to be continued)
Image and text by L. Gloyd © 2009
I shifted on my feet. The intense gaze of the Abbess made me nervous, and I was not sure if I was supposed to address her first. She was a most unusual Abbess. I expected a stiffly dressed, austere matron, not this woman dressed in a pale Grecian-style gown and glittering jewels. I could smell a faint scent of patchouli perfume.
“Lori, welcome to Lenora Abbey.” Her voice was firm but soft.
“Thank you. Uh…you know my name? ”
“Of course. Would you be more comfortable if I called you ‘Elle-Jay’?
“It is perfectly acceptable to assume another identity here.”
She turned and moved towards an alcove embedded in the wall. It appeared to be an altar with a flickering white candle and a small brazier. She picked up a slim stick of incense, briefly touched it to candle flame and then inserted the other end in the brazier.
“May I ask you why you chose that name?”
“I guess it sounds a little more polished and sophisticated. ”
“Ah, I see…Or perhaps it sounds a little more anonymous? Elle-Jay….L.J. Using initials will do that”
“As if you were trying to separate yourself from others?”
“And perhaps to separate you from yourself as well?”
I did not respond. She had hit a little too close to home.
“If I might suggest something,” she continued, “choosing another identity should assist in connecting you to your true self, not drive you away from it.
“I assume that’s why I am here… to find my ‘true self’,” I countered.
“If you want to put it that simplistically, then yes. That’s part of it.”
“And what’s the other part?”
The abbess smiled but said nothing.
“Great,” I muttered. The incense smoke began to rise from the altar and curl around the Abbess. She glanced down at my backpack that I held at my side.
“What did you bring with you?”
“Well, I brought my laptop, some granola bars, a bottle of— ”
“No, that’s not what I mean.”
“Um…. I brought a pod of lotus seeds.”
“Ah, is that what she gave you?” She began to walk toward another door and motioned me to come along. “Were there any instructions?”
“I’m not sure. The talking owl said to ‘dig before I got thirsty’…. whatever that means.”
“What? What does that mean?”
“I think it means that you came to the right place”. We walked through the door onto the portico overlooking a large grassy area.
“Why? What am I supposed to do here? If you can help me figure this out, I’d be very appreciative.”
The Abbess leaned against the railing and surveyed the grounds. “All I can say is that to be ‘thirsty’ in the real world is bad enough, but to be ‘thirsty’ in Lemuria, where the waters of Muse freely flow, is almost unheard of. You really must be in a bad way.”
“So what do I do?”
“What do you know about lotus flowers?”
“Not much – that they grow in the mud and I think symbolically they represent rebirth. That’s about it”
“And does that suggest a course of action to you?”
“Well, yeah. I suppose I need to find someplace to plant the seeds and then I have some epiphany.” I cringed when I said that. I knew I really should not be too flippant with the Abbess, but sometimes I cannot help myself when I am in an uncomfortable situation.
“Again, on a simplistic level you would be right.”
“But what’s the catch? There’s always a catch.”
“There is no catch. The goal is simple. Go plant the seeds.”
“So, where do I plant them? I’d like to get on with this.”
“Yes, you do like to get to the point and take care of things. Achievement is important to you.”
“Well, no disrespect, but what is wrong with that?”
“Nothing, but I don’t think I have to tell you the other important aspect, do I?”
“I suppose you are going to say that I need to stop and smell the roses?” I was on a roll now.
“Something like that.”
“Or how about ‘it’s the journey, not the destination,”
“Good, you know all this then.” The Abbess stared into the distance with a face that suggested that the time for our audience had come to an end.
“Okay, well, I guess I best get started….um, I wondering if you could just give some directions on where to go… just to get me started?”
The Abbess pointed across the grounds towards a wooded area. “Through the woods, on the other side of the Abbey grounds is a small shrine dedicated to wandering poets and other creative persons. It has a pond with a floating garden at the entrance. Simply plant your seed there with the other lotuses. Enjoy your journey.” She abruptly turned and walked away from me.
“Uh…Thank you. I appreciate that.”
(to be continued).
Image and story: L. Gloyd (c) 2009
I disembarked from the ferry and worked my way up the foggy trail to the front door of the Abbey. Strangely, I found that I was alone. My fellow travelers on the ferry had disappeared. After a moment of hesitation, I knocked on the heavy oak door. I heard the light patter and scuff of feet on the other side and the jiggle of a latch. The door swung open. A teen-aged girl smiled at me but said nothing. She motioned me to come in and pointed towards an archway. I thanked her and then proceeded through the arch into a large hall. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a pulsing glow. I turned towards the glow and saw a woman. I knew she had to be the Abbess.
Text and Image: L. Gloyd (c) 2009
The next day, I boarded the ferry to Lenora Island. I thought it was unusual when we entered a bank of swirling fog as I did not think this was a natural occurrence in tropical waters. Perhaps I had really passed through a veil?
As I pondered this, the mist began to lift and I could see the Abbey at Gilead in the distance.
Text and Image: L.Gloyd (c) 2009
An excerpt from the Lorica (or Breastplate) of St. Patrick.
Digital construction: Lori Gloyd (c) 2006