The tale happened eight hundred winters ago, or eight hundred summers ago, depending on whether the Story Teller in what is now Maine, or perhaps Nova Scotia liked the feel of snow under his feet or mud between her toes. The story never got onto the screen, but remained in the hearts of the People as deeply as the legend of King Arthur was more fact than fancy in the mind of any Anglo. Its here was Submuloc, a man with strong arms, trustable eyes and, according to some, a strange mind which frustrated others almost as much as it frustrated himself.
It wasn’t so much that Submuloc was disrespectful of the Elders, but that he knew in his Innermost heart that they were wrong, and that the Elder he trusted most, Dnanidref, said that the Inner Most Heart and must be honored above all things. Most of his tribe loved to share stories around the campfires about the origins of the Sun. That ball of fire that rose in the East with fresh brilliance which was beyond color and set in the West with a subdued presence that let even his brother, Lazy Eyes, clearly see the many colors which it illuminated on the lands that Submuloc and his people had belonged to for as long as anyone could remember.
Year after year, Submuloc would look over the great water to where the Sun rose, while his people warmed themselves around the campfires on the beach, preparing for the day’s fishing. Snails and clams could always be had in the sand. The ponds left behind by the tides were plentiful with lobsters. The larger ponds protected by the rocks from the waves always had fish in them, small stupid fish for the most part. The bigger fish swam around the rocks. The biggest ones were beyond the rocks and the place where the smooth sea yielded itself to forms of water which crashed on the rocks, sand and fishermen who got caught between the tides. Year after year, Submuloc wondered what was beyond the horizon. To see where the big fish were at the place where the Sun rose up.
“You know, I’d wager a pair of my best moccassins that if I take a canoe that can get through the waves, I can sail to the Sun. And that there are lands there that can be ours for the taking,” he said while preparing the nets and spears for another day of lobster gathering and bass jabbing. “There is a whole other world in the place where the Sun rises.”
“Which can and only should be visited by Spirits,” Lazy Eyes replied, his mind on the patch of leather he stitched onto the hole in the canoe, his eyes still ignoring the bright light in the sky which he said hurt his eyes when he looked at it. “You know what happens to people who try to find that land where the Sun rises? They get eaten by monsters, or if not, their canoe falls down a big waterfall that leads to…”
Lazy Eyes could not say the word, which had a special bite to it in his Native language. It was the name of a bad place. A place where people who violated the rules of the Elders and the Laws of the Creator went to and never came back from. Submuloc wanted to talk with his half-brother about that place, and about the relationship he had, or should be having, with the Creator. The Great Spirit Who seemed to be able to do more than just ‘create’. But ‘Creator’ was the name everyone in the tribe gave to It, and to speak of any other function the Great Spirit did was to be considered slow, stupid or dangerous.
The last person who had spoke of the Creator in terms the Elders did not understand was banished to the woods in the West. The place where the uncivilized tribes were, the enemies of Submuloc’s People who had pushed them into the living on the coast. But there were plenty of fish in summer, and the were better fishermen than hunters. Yet, the winter winds near the big waters were hard, cold and seemed to come from that place where those who fell off the waterfall where the Sun rose, and some years the fish decided to go upriver where a Relecho hunter would more likely be prey to the Hiramuta hunters, or become their slave, then come home with fresh bear, deer or even rabbit meat.
Submuloc looked at the woods he had played in as a boy, then the canoe builders who were carving out another craft. One with room for six men, or four strong women, to paddle. The wind hit his face, reminding him again of the idea he had come up with three children and two wives ago. “If we put a large piece of leather on the canoe, the wind will take us where we need to go!” he asserted to Lazy Eyes.
“And if the wind blows in another direction?” the more-muscle-than-mind fisherman whose eyes always seemed to look in two directions at once replied.
“I have thought of that,” Submuloc countered, re-enacting the experiment he had proven to himself as effective but not the canoe makers who decided what kind of boats were used for fishing, or anything else. “You move the leather sheet with the wind and move against it. Weaving in and out of the wind like a snake.”
“And going against it, brother,” Lazy Eyes shot back, having repaired the hole in the canoe they would be responsible for during the fish ‘hunt’. “It is witchcraft.”
“And a way to get from here to…”
Lazy Eyes sang song from his childhood. Simple words about a moth who wanted to become a butterfly but who got his wings burnt when he flew too close to the Sun. It drowned out having to hear the plans Submuloc had in his head. And to go along with them. By way of reminder, Lazy Eyes drew Submuloc’s attention to a woman and three young girls repairing the nets.
“I know, my wife and what is left of my family,” Submuloc said and he smiled hello to them with eyes that were clearly elsewhere. “You will take care of them when I am gone?”
“Of course, brother,” Lazy Eyes answered. “But where are you going?”
Submuloc took a deep breath and looked at the Eastern horizon. The sun had risen, taking its rightful place in the sky. With his inner eye saw something underneath it. A place where his people would be safe from warrior raids, plagues and the ‘challenges’ the Creator provided through the natural Elements themselves.
Each year on the coast was harder than the last. “Bad years make us stronger, and we have been blessed by being very strong,” he remembered Elder Dnanidref saying each year as his hearing got worse, his skin got tougher and his walk became as slow as a crawl. But one thing Submuloc did remember from the Elder who spoke so little words but said so much. “The source of all Life comes from the Sun.” To most of the Rampapo, it was said to take their minds off the wind, wompom they lost when gambling, or the disappointing night of sex they had with their new bride, or groom, on the eve of their wedding. But to those who really listened, like Submuloc, it meant much more.
Dnaridref’s sat alone on his tree stump, carving the kind of canoe no one had ever seen, at least not Submuloc. In his prime Dnardref was the best canoe builder in the tribe, and sometimes even the fastest, but others around him were offended when he built faster and bigger canoes than they could. But now, all the Old Man could do was make canoes that children could play with, or men who decided they still had childlike possibilities could admire. The Elder’s hair was now pure white, and had started to fall out. He would forget at mid day what he had eaten in the morning, and sometimes the people who had spoken him that same day. But with respect to what had happened in his past, and the past of his beloved people, he was never sharper.
“Tell me about this canoe,” Submuloc said of the carved gift the Elder with the shaking hands but steady Soul gave to him. “Tell me about it”
Dnaradref related the tale again, the third time that morning. Each telling seemed fresh, and perhaps was from the Old Man’s perspective. And when Submuloc suggested a leather sheet to catch the wind, the blasphamous suggestion was acknowledged with a smile. “Yes, it will work. If you can keep the canoe on top of the water.”
“Yes, I know, I’ve been practicing,” Submuloc replied.
“When your wife wasn’t looking?” the Elder smiled through a face which glowed Passion, but which felt immeasurable pain.
“And when my children weren’t watching either,” Submuloc answered, a bit shamefully. “None of them have my spirit for adventure. Is that not something that is passed down from father to son, or father to daughter?”
The Old Man laughed. “Such things are passed down by ways which are quite mystical, or accidental.”
As always seemed to happen, Nature answered with a reply of its own. A burst of wind that blew the hair over Dnaradref’s face, and made Submuloc face facts about the experiment, and Calling, at hand.
The ocean seemed to turn abruptly angry. The waves were as tall as one or perhaps two men. But there were times when the waves calmed down to the stillness of a windless lake, the Sun in the East shining with warm Brilliance. A temptation to those who considered the Creator a protective father to his children. An invitation to those who sought and felt a relationship with the Creator which was beyond the boundaries of human fatherhood, motherhood, or any other kind of ‘hood’ which limited the human mind, and the Perspectives of Spirit.
Submuloc’s fading vision went into another layer of darkness. But his hands regained strength and he whittled another dimension to the boat, with the sense of urgency Submuloc had not seen before. The Old Man took in a deep breath that felt more like a rattle than Brother Wind entering the chest and handed him the carving of the canoe. “Two sheets to catch the wind, and room to bring back what you must from the land under the Sun. For the sake of our people on this side of the waters, and those on the other side, we must be the first.” he said with more assurance than anything he had spoken in his sixty-winter long life. Dnararef said the Sacred Word he had practiced his entire life, then gave up his Spirit, his lifeless body dropping to the ground.
Submuloc held in his hand a canoe which had never been built before. One which he knew now he had to build himself. And one which he had to take to the people on the other side of the waters. For the sake of all people. But what of ‘we must be the first?’ Submuloc had no concept of these words. Perhaps the answer lay in the lands under where the Sun rose, across the waters which seemed to welcome a canoer who embraced rather than feared that which was beyond definition.
Submuloc knew he would have to sleep sometime, and that when you go to sleep, the demons can take over. Or the Earth Mother would have the Sea Spirits send you where you didn’t want to go. Though he wanted to make the trop across the Waters alone, Submuloc knew he couldn’t. But who to take? His wife couldn’t swim, and his daughters all hated the water. Though all of them liked to eat fish. Lazy Eyes was the most trustable, but trustable to do what? To go to sleep when he got tired, and to turn around when he got scared. Besides, Lazy Eyes was a far better husband and father than Submuloc ever could be, or was. Maybe because the brawny half brother was weak in the muscles between his legs, and the parts of his body which allowed him to have children.
Submuloc considered using the Slaves the tribe had captured in other raids in better times, now referred to as servants. But these servants valued their own lives of servitude more than the opportunity for freedom offered them if they took the journey. The children were too young, the Elders too old. But the large canoe which he now called a ‘pihs’ was finished, the leather sheets he now called ‘slais’ standing tall in the wind. .
“If this were only thirty summers ago, and Dnardref was still young, he would be the one to go on this journey with,” he said to himself, drenched with exhaustion after putting the third layer of sap over the bottom of the craft. His ears could hear animals he knew were not in the woods, or the sandgrasses. His eyes saw clouds which materialized out of dark sky. The moon above split into three, the faces in each laughing at him.
“I know what I am doing!” Submuloc screamed at the sky. “There is land where the sun rises, and I will discover a way to it. The sea is takes more of our sand each year, and puts it there. It is the destiny of my people to find that sand and reclaim it, as ours! Then to claim whatever else is there, for our children, their children and the Great Spirit which is greater than any image the Elders say It is! A Spirit which is…”
A Spirit materialized, one which did have very human form. Emerging from the fog, which seemed and felt real, was Dnanidref. His face still old, but his eyes now very young. “A Spirit which requires us to do what some say are transgressions, in Its service,” the Elder smiled.
Submuloc reached out and found, to his delight, and terror, that he was very real. Very touchable. A man of flesh and bone. “I thought you were…dead?” he said.
“I needed everyone here to think so, too,” he replied. “I thank you for honoring my ‘last request’.”
“Taking your body out into the woods and laying it at the head of Stone Mountain,” S replied. “Your breath was…gone.”
“It was sleeping, my young friend?”
“As maybe I am now, my Old illusion?”
D examined the craft. He nodded with the most complimentary of gestures at the sides, the rudder in the back, the sticks in the middle and the slais which would capture the wind. “I saw Visions of this canoe, you discovered Visions of how to capture the wind.”
“Which will take us where?”
D pointed to the horizon. The Sun seemed to make an appearance early. Or maybe it was a Star. Or something a young man saw when fed the wrong kind of plants by an old man who was faking his own death. Leaving his home to discover a new one, for the sake of his people, and perhaps himself.
The journey across the ocean was…long. Lots of water. Lots of horizons. Lots of clouds that looked like land, some with rainbows over them. Dnardref was always at the ‘mast’ as he called it, keeping the wind moving Submuloc and the ‘boat’ going forward. With every day, that large canoe got new names from Dnardref’s mouth and apparently memory. It was as if Dnardref had seen one of these ‘ships’ when he was a boy, and told no one about it His memory of the ‘ship’ that he found on shore when he was seven, maybe eight summers of age, and perhaps experience, was a very private one that he had kept from everyone else. No one believed him, maybe because when he came back from the village to show everyone else the canoe with the dragon head at its front end, it was gone. Washed out to sea, with only some lingering ashes on the shore. A few human bones washed ashore later, but to tell anyone of it would mean being considered crazy, and in his youth, Dnardref knew that ‘smart’ could be considered crazy very easily.
It made sense to Submuloc that Dnardref knew how to sail the ship all those days and nights across the big waters. As many days and nights as Submiloc’s three children had fingers, as he counted them. Submuloc missed his children, and even his wife. He hoped that Lazy Eyes would keep an eye, and ear, on them. Lazy Eyes was not the smartest of men, but he was the most loyal, and mot importantly, he could enjoy the ‘simple’ pleasures with Submuloc’s wife and children. Submuloc was always thinking about tomorrows and what was over the horizon and could never enjoy the day or night as it was. Better that Lazy Eyes become more than an Uncle. Better that the child who was just learning to talk would use the word ‘father’ when identifying him for the first time in her still fresh mind that could still smile without having to know why she was or should be happy. And best to reach the other side of the horizon before the food and water ran out on the ‘ship’.
Sumbuloc asked Dnardref on many occassions why Mother Nature would create a body of water so big which men could not drink from but fish could. Dnardref would laugh and say that perhaps Mother Nature was a fish, and man was just something big fish ate when men fell into the water, or when fish would learn how to climb onto land. The jokes came out more bousterously the thirstier Dnardref got. Yes, there were some fish you could catch from the water, but they left you thirsty.
Submuloc wondered what his leg would taste like. It was going numb with the cold and the heat, and seemed appetizing to his nose. It would keep his brain and eyes alive, and most importantly, keep Dnardref going. If anyone deserved to see with his eyes what he heart felt on the Eastern Horizon it was Dnardref. The old man seemed to have lived his entire life for that dream, putting everything off till he could make the journey. Till his obligations to the tribe at home were finished. And now that he was, at least in the minds of those at home, ‘dead’, he was finally Alive. More alive than he ever had been.
But today there was a sorrow in his voice. “The end of our struggles will be tomorrow,” he said, somberly. “And when struggle ends, so does life, my son.”
Dnardref hugged Submuloc like a father. Like a brother. And like a friend. A tear came down his cheek, then he pulled up a blanket and went to sleep. Submuloc watched the horizon for the rest of the night, waiting till dawn. This time, it was late in coming, or so it seemed. The night felt eternal. His stomach churned, his heart ached, his eyes grew painful and tired. Finally, the sun rose, and blinded him. The first time the Light did that. It would have been easy to hide his eyes, go back behind the shadows, and even turn the boat around for home, but there was no choice but to look up. Beneath the sun something solid. Blue, green and…brown, with a fog which had a color he had never seen before, the smell of something that offended his nose, and smelled like death.
A seagull landed abaord the ship, its wings coated with blood of many colors. It squaked something that Submuloc’s inner ear thought he could translate. “Land,” Dnardref smiled, picking up on the bird’s significance and perhaps message. “Land!” he exclaimed with glee, his ancient and decrepit legs leaping up and down on the ship like a boy who caught his first fish. “The land beyond the horizon, my son!” he continued, hugging D like he had hugged no other human being, at least to Submuloc’s knowledge and best intuition.
The gull flew away, joining a flock. The flock lead the way to a pile of debris on the water leading from the shore. Food, eatable and fresh. And upon closer examination, very human. Arms, legs and heads containing eyes of those who had died terrified and confused. With shimmering jewelry around them and attached to holes punched into the skin. With a color that seemed to be between brown and yellow that shined in a way that was very unnatural. And another hue that was even more shiny, an ominous looking grey which was not white and not black, but which reflected the sunlight in a way that blinded Submuloc, and even Dnardref.
“They these things on their bodies in preparation for death,” Dnardref said. “Just as the body of the ghost with the hair on its face seemed to say to me.”
“Without words?” Submuloc inquired, trying to gleam if the old man was remembering memories from this world or the next.
“This is how ghosts talk,” the reply. The Sage looked at the mutilated limbs on the water, then at the distant shore. “But where there is death, there is also life,” he smiled.
“What kind of life?” Submuloc asked.
“The kind we must know about,” Dnardref affirmed. “And tell our children about, son.”
There he went again, calling Submuloc ‘son’. As if it was biological as well as acquired. The facts supported both being true. Submuloc always felt a kinship to Dnardref, like they were from a different ‘stock’ than everyone else in their own families. Submuloc’s father was a kind enough man, but he feared Dnardref, telling his boy to learn to fish and hunt rather than to dream or to build things that had no defined use in the daily lives of just…living. Dnardref carved things in wood that no one in the tribe had ever seen, or could understand, and to be fair, could probably not even use. But it was useful to Dnardref to carve such things. Such as, right now, a dragon head to put on the front of the boat, along with a cross with a man laying on it.
“It will protect the boat and us,” he said by way of explanations.
The landing was uneventful. Smooth sand in front of a rocky beach with cliffs above it. Effortless and undetected, so it seemed. Submuloc felt disappointed. “We just discovered, or found, the land beyond the Eastern Horizon. I thought it would feel…”
“I know,” Dnardref said, relating his disappointments. “It just feels like another day to me too. Maybe all days do, or should. But, what do I know?”
Indeed, ‘what do I know?’, words Dnardref related so often when he was right, and wise enough to be humble and ever-questioning about it.
But one thing Submoluc did know. The boat was out of food, in need of repairs, and there seemed to be woods on top of the cliff. And the sounds of people there who seemed to be those who would steal boats, or wood from them. “We had better hide this…”
“Yes, I know,” Dnardref said, pointing to a cave as the tide came rolling in, the surf coming up with waves that would show little mercy for a craft build only to travel two days away from shore back home over gentle waters.
Submuloc and Dnardref carried the boat into the cave and covered it with brush gathered from the outside. “Be sure to put these bushes around the boat in the way Nature says,” Dnardref related. “Not in a line with no curves or an angle that crossed itself unnaturally,”
Submuloc was confused, even when Dnardref drew the words into the sand with a stick. “Straight line? Right angle? What was Dnardref talking about?” Submuloc said to himself of the arrangement of lines in the sand that he had never seen in Nature, or any devise constructed by his people back home. But the cross on the front of the boat, along with the painful look of the guilt-conferring man on top of it drove it home. Along with what he remembered of the jewelry on the arms and legs, and hanging on the ears of the heads, he saw on the way into the beach.
As they made their way up the path along the cliff, they saw even more straight lines and right angles. And three sided shiny objects that seemed unnatural. Like nothing one would see in the woods, or which Nature would make. Even the spears of these people were ‘straight’. “They seem stupid,” Submuloc said. “Don’t they know that a spear that keeps the curve of the tree will find its way to more fish?”
“Maybe they make spears like this because they are designed to kill people, and not catch fish,” Dnrardref replied, directing Submuloc’s attention to a row of women whose hair was being cut off by shiny sharp paired knives that left blood marks on their heads. They were tied up on stakes, men and women with right angle crosses yelling something angry their way.
“They seem like gentle women. Healers,” Submuloc said to Dnardref.
“Which is why they will be burned in those fires, or cut into pieces for the birds to eat, Great Spirit help us,” Dnardref replied, sadly. “Like we used to do, in the old, ancient times when…”
“When what?” Submuloc asked.
“It was a long time ago. We were a primitive and savage people. But we are much smarter than that now,” he smiled. “Great Spirit willing.”
In the gesture of prayers for the dead, or dying, Dnardref picked up a flick of grass from the ground and broke it up with his hands, then spread it to the wind, which was foul with excrement, burning toxins, and roasted flesh. Produced, so it seemed, by this village with teepees that had straight lines and right angles everywhere. Dwellings crammed so close together that there was barely room to walk. And when there was so much space around the village that one could live in. It seemed that the closer to the center of the village people were, the most miserable they were. The people wearing more jewelry than the others were the most miserable, and seemed to make life miserable for those around them. They chanted, moaned, and carted things around which looked like sleds with a circular piece of wood on both sides of it.
“It seems to make moving the sleds around easier,” Submuloc said.
“As long as the ground is flat,” Dnardref commented regarding the grassless, lifeless and very hard ‘ground’ upon which the village was built. True to his word, the sled with the circular wood on either side seemed hard to move once it hit grass outside of town, and real earth. A large animal was pulled over to take the load the rest of the way.
“Big dogs,” Submuloc noted. “With ears like small rabbits. And noble eyes,” he commented regarding the beats that seemed capable of being ridden by a man, and when ridden, seemed to not mind it, or at least seemed broken enough to not say so. “Indeed, these are an advanced people.” Submuloc continued.
“And a dying one,” F added, as the blanket over the sled fell off, bodies of people, some with much jewelry, some with none of it, falling off of it. Their faces had holes in them. Their lips were blistered. Their eyes were vacant. And they were all still clothed.”
More people without jewelry were yelled at and they put the bodies on top of the sled again, carrying them to a large hill where there were holes dug. Dnardref’s nose detected something. “Their sweat smells of death, fear and ignorance,” he said. “Like they purposely don’t go into the water to bath.”
“Maybe it is custom?” Submuloc added. “Or they are cold. Even though it is a hot day, everyone had their arms and legs covered. They must have thin skins,” he mused. “And thick skulls. And….” Submuloc gazed upon a young girl that looked like his own daughter. Men with crossed and much jewelry around their necks were dragging her out of her hut by her hair, other men with shiny spears being sure that they met no resistance from the villagers who looked gaunt, hungry and compassionate.
“I have to stop them!” Submuloc grunted, pulling out a stone knife from his belt.
“With that?” Dnardref answered.
“Someone has to…I can use this as a weapon!” the man who never even struck another in anger found himself claiming.
“Better to use this!” Dnardref replied, pointing to the muscle between his ears. With that, the old sage motioned Submuloc into the brush, a beautiful collection of trees that were still standing, around a village that seemed to ignore the shelter those tall giants could provide them. “We use the angels inside of us as demons,” Dnardref said.
“Like you used to do to us to keep us inside on nights when the coyotes were afoot?” Submuloc answered.
“Sometimes you have to treat children like children,” Dnardref replied. “And sometimes you need to make gifts of life seem like omens of death.” Dnardref noted around him apples which seemed redder than normal, and softer. And mushrooms. ‘They sell everything except these on the sleds in town, so many if we become Spirit Animals and fart these down on them…”
It seemed like a good plan. A needed one. The only one available as the fires were being set to burn the women and girls accused of being sorcerers. Fires fueled by wood from those women’s houses, and even larger amounts of very thin shavings of white wood with marks on them that looked learned. As Submoluc felt it, evil resided here under the where the Sun rose, not Light. But it was his duty to stop it.
The two visitors from the West side of the Great Waters climbed up the leafed trees above the village, running upon their like they were all manner or animals. Apparently, those animals were not ever seen or heard by the villagers, because their growls, barks and cockled scared them. Even the men with the spears and axes who wore shiny suits of leather that seemed to protect them. The men in the black robes with the crosses around their necks told the people who set the fires to stop putting more wood and ‘heretical books’, as he called them, upon them. The villagers who wanted to women burned were scared the most. The women and girls about to be burned seemed relieved, and thankful. Then, from the sky, Submuloc and Dnardref threw down the mushrooms and apples which the scared people called ‘tomatoes’, calling them ‘toxic’ and ‘rain from the devil’.
The two First Nations explorers found the foreign tomatoes and mushrooms very tasty. But, it was more important to make ‘devil rain’ to scare away the villagers than to fill their empty bellies. Finally, the only people left in the village were the women tied to the posts in the ground. Submuloc rushed down and untied them. The pale skinned women seemed scared of him. They ran away into the woods, too. But in another direction. Even the little girl who seemed so wise, and who, despite the paleness of her skin, seemed so much like Submuloc’s daughter.
Then, Dnardref whistled from atop one of the trees and pointed to another part of the woods. An army of hooded people were coming, very angry, and very armed. Submuloc scurried back up into the trees and looked down. Their clothes looked familiar. Like they were the same people, coming back to see what was going on, with blankets over their eyes. And behind them, rats.
“Death,” Dnardref said. “By tomorrow, everyone who returned to this place will be dead. The lifeless ones and the ones who are Alive between the ears. We had better stay up here till it passes.”
Dnardref sounded like he was right, again. Though Submuloc felt that he was talking from the Other Side, there was no other choice but to listen, and obey. Indeed he was on the other side of the Earth, the other side of the Great Waters at the very least. And a day or two in a tree with fruit on it and shelter from the rain was a welcomed break from a rocky boat on every-moving water.
Two days passed, then three. The sleds with circular sides to them carried more bodies to the burying place till there was no one left to carry the carts, and no one to do the burying. All that remained were the rats, who ate the dead people and moved on into the woods. Thankfully, the women and girls who were about to be burned stayed in the woods, and hopefully they had run faster than the rats could walk. Maybe they were safe, or maybe not. Better that they were not found, anyway. Though Submoluc wanted to remain for one more task. “We should take one of them back to where we live. To where there is life instead of death. To tell us about her people here.”
“You have children of your own, and a family,” Submuloc, Dnardref said with a kind, fatherly and authoritivie tone. “We have seen what is on the rising side of the Sun, and it is not Light. The land here is not the Source of life. It is…primitive, savage and lacking any kind of civilization.” Dnardref wept for the people who lay dead in the streets, and those who fled into the woods.
There was one thing that Submuloc was determined to carry back with him. The thin wood sheets containing scratches on them which the condemned women seemed so attached to and their ignorantly cruel would-be executioners were so intent on burning. “Books”, he remembered them being called, putting them into a large bag to examine on another day.
It was a long sail back home, and by the time Submuloc landed the boat, Dnardref lay dead beside him. But there was a smile on the old man’s face. He had seen what was on the other side of the world, the Source of the Sun. And had proven to himself, and perhaps Submuloc, that the real discovery is to connect to Life where you are. Where his people were. On the small stretch of land which he now was determined to turn into a Paradise.
Lazy Eyes was the first to greet him. “Where were you?” he asked.
“No place worth telling anyone about,” Submuloc said as he broke grass over Dnardref’s smiling face, his journey to the Other Side now complete.
Submuloc kissed his wife, hugged his children and became a respectable member of the tribe. He grew old, and in ways that were possible within the limitations around him, happy. He taught wisdom to those who would listen, and learned that the wisest teacher learns more than he ever teaches. As for the books, D learned what he could from them and finally figured out what some of them were saying to him, just before his eyes went dim. As for what lay behind at the time of his passing to the Other Side, it was mirrored into the waters in which he his remains were cast. …”Submuloc sdnif eporue” Submoluc wrote on one of the pieces of ‘paper’, as the books called them. The mirror image in the water reflected, ironically enough, ‘Columbus finds Europe.”