Lost Lake

I could have stayed at Samhala for longer, but their need was satisfied. Their vessel had been filled. They gathered in the hard dirt courtyard at the centre of the village, and wished me farewell. It didn’t seem like I had another option.

The red-haired girl who had been my lover of the past four nights was not amongst them. The bearded elder who had welcomed me initially, crossed his arms across his heart and turned his back upon me. Everybody else did the same.

I continued my journey from the white mountain where I’d awoken a week ago, alone and unknown, to the dark mountain at the far end of the valley. I reached its foothills and the land began to rise. Vegetation was sparse and my progress was faster than I’d expected.

It was old growth forest, ravaged by fire, creating a strange world of towering black pillars with whispering winds. The ground cover had recovered somewhat but was easy to wade through. My feet kicked up ashes and soot. This was more bush-blacking than bush-whacking, I mused.

I rounded a curve and the whispering became a throaty roaring. It wasn’t the wind as I had supposed, but a creek dropping as a powerful waterfall. It seemed a hundred foot cotton candy machine, endlessly producing froth. Its mist was refreshing; it tickled my skin.

The rise was steep but negotiable. I climbed up beside the waterfall, constantly tired yet refreshed. The sky brightened unexpectedly as I neared the top. A beautiful turquoise lake appeared, maybe a hundred metres across. There was a jumble of sticks in the centre, and clouds floating at its far end.

I rested near the head of the waterfall, and considered remaining in its cool, frothy rainbows forever. There were pink and golden flashes in the lake – probably trout. I later managed to catch one, and baked it in ashes. Its pear-like flesh was very good, though it tasted quite earthy. Were there special minerals in the lake?

At dusk I saw slim shapes rippling through water near the jumble of sticks. They were beavers coming and going. One swam within ten metres of me but sensed my presence and slipped away. Maybe I imagined it, but the jumble of sticks seemed bigger later. Were the beavers bolstering their defences?

I slept where I was, and in the morning went to the far end of the lake. The curious clouds were still there, as if seated at their favourite spot. The water was warm in that part of the lake. I saw that a steady flow ran into it from the forest, and followed this stream to its source.

A small moss-lined pool was steaming. This was the source of the clouds. It was natures gift to me – the ultimate luxury, a forest spa. I spent all day there, looking at the patterns in the clouds, and those in the sky.

The red pulsing star I had followed was still there above the dark mountain. The star’s pulsing became beating, which became drumming. I felt that my final drama approached.

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