The Mantra

Submitted for Contest #76 in response to: Write a story told exclusively through dialogue.... view prompt

7 comments

Jan 10, 2021

Fantasy

It falls. It seeps. It gathers. They Grow.


Druwa. Filtris. Occue. Amasee...


***


"I await. The darkness is my blanket and my shield. The dampness is my friend. You are my teacher, and I await...


What in Hades am I doing wrong? The mantra is simple enough.


Patience.


These four words all feel good to say. The setting is right, the noise level is perfect, my spine is as aligned as I can get it without pulling something. What the hell?


I'll try focusing on 'the beat'. Maybe that'll help get the chakras woke up."


Plink!


"Breathe in: One, two, three. Breathe out: One, two, three, four."


Plink!


"Druwa. It falls from the heavens, completing the great circle. This newborn word begins my mantra. It cascades from the tongue, like the Ozark rain in the Spring. I will use it, if it's okay with you..."


Plink!


"Well, are you gonna speak or are you gonna just keep right on dripping for another million years?


Guess not. Filtris. And then it absorbs, into the tangled soil which crowns your fragile, fractured casing. You are ancient, like me, and fragile like me. Yet you've stood the test of time. How do you do it? Teach me... 


All my life I've been searching, struggling, hoping, and waiting. You're my final hope. And all I get from you is: 'Plink!' Why do your walls laugh when I laugh. Why do they repeat my words? Are you mocking me? What are you trying to tell me? I must know! As a citizen of this universe, I demand my right to know!


Hey, I've got news for you! You won't be around forever either! You may be grand and mighty, but one day, those walls will crumble and the light will filter in like the rain. Some day, you will be nothing but a pile of shattered, sedimentary-rock bone fragments! And then what, huh? Then what?"


Plink!


"I'm sorry. Breathe in: One, two, three. Breathe out: One, two, three, four.


My eyes are closed, as you wish. At least that's what my wishful thinking tells me you're saying. You'll have to excuse me; I'm not Buddha, I'm just a tired old man stumbling through the twilight of existence. Meditation is something brand new to me. Now for the love of the Underworld, speak to me in something besides ambiguous riddles!


I'll calm down. Occue. I like that word, even though it's gibberish. Do you like it? You should, because Occue was what made you grand and mighty in the first place. The rain gathered the calcium carbonate and decorated you like a king. It's been working on you for...I don't know...forty-seven million years? Am I even in the ball park?


I'm waiting..."


Plink!


"Yes, you're right. That's one thing I like about you: You can read my mind. The only living thing I've met yet that can. You're right, it doesn't matter. You're telling me that time is just an illusion anyway. That to obsess over it is bad for my health.


Hold it! What? Where did that just come from?


Um, moving on here: Amasee. Growth. We're both growing, at least for now. I'm growing old, and I guess for you, fractures grow into passages. Walls grow into flowstone. Soda straws become stalactites, and stalagmites 'might' rise to meet them.


There you go again, laughing back at me. Well, I used to be a speleologist, and that's how we talk. What would you call the formations, then? They can't all be named 'Plink!'"


Plink! ("I don't call them anything; I'm just a cave.")


"Breathe in: One, two, three. Breathe out: One, two, three, four.


OK. Pull yourself together, Gerald. This makes yet another good reason why we're always warned never to go spelunking alone. I thought I knew this cavern well enough to go alone blindfolded by now. I should! It's been on my property and I've been coming here for over fifty years! I've studied every square inch of this place using all the latest cave study gadgets nameable. What's happening to me?


It's just water. It can fall from the sky, it can absorb into the ground, gather minerals, and deposit them down here. It's all breath-taking. But one thing this cave can't do, nor ever will be able to is..."


Plink! ("Speak? True, Gerald. Not in a conventional way. But, oh, we can most definitely speak! I've been trying to tell you things your whole life; you've just never actually attempted to listen until today.


So listen to me now, Gerald. Listen to the water. It's the same water that makes everything possible in your world up above. You wouldn't have been able to enjoy the thrill of that water slide every weekend all Summer when you were eleven without it. You wouldn't be here right now to ignore all the things you've got going for you so you could complain about something so abstract and beside-the-point as 'purpose' without it. Listen to the echoes. My walls are mirrors, reflecting everything, including you. Listen to yourself. Ever notice how scratchy your voice has become lately? You need to go have that checked out. It could be a sign of something serious but preventable if you act promptly. Listen to the darkness. Yes, the darkness! It speaks to you as well. And it's trying to tell you that some things are better left alone. My place on this earth is down here; yours is up there in the above world. So get out there and make the most of it.")


Druwa. Filtris. Occue. Amasee.


"It falls. My former ignorance falls, giving rise to a new era of wisdom. It seeps. I open myself to allow these rusty old chakras to absorb the possibilities. It gathers. I will embrace everything I've taken for granted, and it will build me back into a strong person. Stronger than my old self thought possible. They grow. And the three will grow together for the rest of my days, making this great illusion called Time all having been worthwhile.


Breathe in: Three, two, one. Breathe out: Four, three, two, one...


Thank you for your help today, Mr....Is it OK if I just call you Mr. Karst? I mean, 'Mr. Cave' sounds rather undignified. Don't you think?"


Plink!


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7 comments

Rachel Smith
22:31 Feb 02, 2021

Oooo this is so cool. I wish I could write something like this. Well done!

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Gip Roberts
00:49 Feb 03, 2021

Thanks, Rachel :) This dialogue prompt was tough for me. I'm glad you liked what I came up with for it.

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Kathy Roberts
21:24 Jan 19, 2021

This story was different. I enjoyed reading it. I can imagine it would be nice to have your own private cave on your property.A place where you can go to be completely alone with your thoughts.

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Gip Roberts
21:39 Jan 19, 2021

Thanks for reading it. Yes, it would be nice.

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Amy jayne Conley
00:07 Jan 17, 2021

I absolutely loved this!! I love the way poor Gerald is stuck with his own thoughts. For a moment I wasn't sure if it was the cave's thoughts, or Gerald's - and I never thought I'd write that sentence in my life!! No, it was such a relatable thing. I can feel how frustrated Gerald is to be trapped, that he might be going a little crazy, and that he's obviously just trying to keep himself occupied and sane until rescue comes! 10/10!

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Gip Roberts
01:13 Jan 17, 2021

Thanks, Amy! Haha: "Wasn't sure if it was the cave's thoughts, or Gerald's." Well, there's a first time for every sentence eventually, right? Actually, in my mind when I wrote the story, it was all Gerald's own thoughts and the cave was just the vehicle of meditation that inspired them - although I did deliberately leave it open to the reader whether to take it literally or figuratively. Thank you for the awesome comment :)

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Amy jayne Conley
22:53 Jan 17, 2021

Oooh, okay I see your point! After reading it again, I get the feeling even more that this was his monkey brain - but there is still for me a self-soothing kind of deal, which makes me want to be in a crisis with someone like Gerald who's clearly going to keep things under control! Loved it. So much!

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