Whether a firefly, or miscue of nature, in the black, colossal night sky, lone pulsars made the aeronaut, Bud Adorjan, contentedly sad; white dwarfs, runaways from a daytime schoolyard, bashful mistakes, the gleam of an aging, and imploding aging star, they seemed to be scaping now from somewhere, uncertain if it may be their last day. He told Will, his son, and finally, watching these streams of chalk in this journey, the only sight to see the interstellar window, “It’s their first, and their last glory,” about the pulsars,” but wondered now if they may be sighted in eternity.
The scion of Adorjan, a noted Hydra aeronaut, Will was still twenty-something, a recent graduate of “the program,” which was owned and operated by Bud and his wife, Aji, in a Hydra City hangar, and very much his father’s student. Bud practiced breathing exercises, in the milling hours, drew a breath, and exhaled, and, sitting in the captain’s chair for the LifeRaft® exploration, next to Will, it made him feel trimmer. Bud continued about the lone pulsars, adding, “They are telling us a story before they go, the story of their lifetime, where they’ve been, the places they’ve seen we may never see.”
Will nodded, with due reverence, actually impressed by the notion, and joined him to admire the lonely grandeur of rogue pulsars, the faint lights in a vacant sky. They were cruising towards the eastern midst of Laniakea, the cause, to find Icarus, a distant star in the universe – if it was, in fact, still vibrant, and alive, and shining, to be found, in a path of dijection. And they sought a herald of Icarus, named Ardi, a bonobos chimpanzee, who was purported to resemble the earliest ancestors of the species, homo sapien. Adorjan adjusted the final control slightly to set their course for the Icarus realm. He said, about pulsars, “And they’re fireworks, – Saturdays at the beach!”
Bud had invited Will to join him to participate in his navigation for Hydra in the effort to build a map, known as T2, or “true time,” the chance to draw a “Rose Line” in Laniakea, setting all of the objects and spheres, in time, and space, in a uniform map. “T2” was the moniker, the guide for a map of Laniakea, a relation to standard time zones, and “U.T.,” or “Ultra Terris,” much like Anno Domini, or A.D.; the “Rose Line” would emulate the Paris Meridian on the planet Earth, the conventional basis for its time zones. He commented to Will, and his Hydra investors,“Right now, we’re sleepwalking out here. Nobody knows what, or where, – or when — anything is.”
Another reason for the invite was a thesis Will had successfully defended, which, privately, made Bud howl, at the aeronautic academy; it was a new view about the body language of animals, and how they may communicate with homo sapiens. Bud met the subject with a typical yawn, and an occasional quip, but felt it may prove useful if they found Ardi, and it served as a decent excuse to bring Will on one of his adventures, undertaking it with a fair measure of pride. Aji believed this native, parental pride discerned “the wonder contained in any offspring.” Bud agreed, not completely sure of her meaning. Will was explaining, “Animals are easy to understand. Insects, like bees, communicate better than humans, they’re more intelligent than we are.” Bud nodded, distractedly, but heard therein the maverick tone of an Adorjan, and he was pleased to hear it, irregardless of the topic. The chore, the dijection, was to find Icarus, and Ardi. Will continued, “It’s about body language,’” Will asserted, and mentioning something about a crab, “Alewife,” a crab, and about “Lucy,” the eldest specie on Earth, and something about falling out of a tree, which Bud missed. He digested his ambivalence, resuming the abstract empathy for pulsars afar, eventually commenting, somewhat out of sync with Will, “Watching pulsars is a lot like drinking alone in a bar.”
The elder Adorjan smiled absently, when Will stopped his solitary dialogue, prompted by a recollection about Ardi, who had somehow become well-known by advice attributed to him, “Swim the Congo.”
“I thought he couldn’t convey anything,” Bud responded. “More likely, our friend, Ardi, couldn’t swim. I don’t hear any banjos.” Bud added, “Swim the Congo, yeah I’ve heard that.” Will nodded, with a grin. It was one of the few notes in the Hydra file about bonobos.
Adorjan’s eyes widened, as he abruptly recalled, “I know what I wanted to tell you.” He launched an extensive tale, some true, possible some false, about “surfing,” a water sport on Earth, if not anywhere else. They used wooden boards to ride wives in the sea. Bud steered the LifeRaft®, automatically, in the meantime, with scant attention, veering past a microwave band, believed to be a remnant of the Big Bang. The subject would fill part of the time, Bud figured, after the voyage reached a point where Icarus was supposed to be, but nowhere in sight, extending the trip several billions of light years further to an alternate coordinate. “Mmm,” Bud uttered, hoping Will didn’t notice. Earth had been a hot topic in Hydra, after life on the Milky Way planet was discovered two centuries ago. Adorjan operated probes to Earth from the Sombrero galaxy, “flying saucers,” in the local language, and had managed to upload a history of the blue sphere from a crude, and early digital library. He asked, “Did you ever read about the surfer, Eddie Aikau, the Hawaiian on Earth? I found it the other day.”
Will was equably disinterested. He allowed, “Earth?”
Bud cleared his throat, sensing the hint of a new audience. His son sat deeper in his chair, gazing from the side window, his father’s anecdotes like passing shots in tennis going bye, a reasonable amount of time out of mind. “Aikau,” Will said, politely.
“Eddie Aikau,” said Bud. “He was perhaps Earth’s greatest surfer, the very best. He lived his entire life in Hawaii. He was a native of – Polynesia? Something like that. They called him, ‘the King of the Walls,’ referring to the giant inner waves. “Are you sure you never heard of him?”
“I’m not up on my classic reels from ESPN. Although. You know they may be broadcasting on Hydra pretty soon.”
Bud observed, “What we do out here is just like surfing.”
Will jested, “Nah, we just ‘swim the Congo.’”
Bud grinned, “Yeah, swim the Congo, swim the Congo. If I hear it again, it’ll be too soon. Another bromide, Will. You know why the bonobos became extinct? They never learned how to swim. All that is about.”
Will knitted his arms, and leaned sidewards at the diamond-shape, Einstein Cross of Pegasus. “That alone is worth the trip,” he commented, genuinely. “Why Icarus again?”
Adorjan explained that the fabled pulsar, Icarus, at the furthest edge of Laniakea, was five to 10 billion light-years away, and had only been spotted from Hydra when light was warped by random shifts in the cosmic landscape. (Will translated the missive as Icarus was something Bud simply wished to see.) The blue super-giant was thought to be a stable star, Bud said, but that was some time ago; in T2, Icarus was last seen when Laniakea was less than half its present age. The LifeRaft® ceremoniously darted into mathematical space, upon a new, uncharted dijective path, correcting itself, to Bud’s visible chagrin. Icarus, the star, had eluded them. The star was not essentially guaranteed to be anywhere. The ship, a LifeRaft®, had found nothing but the occasional blue quasars, disks, like billboards on a highway, and more, and then more dark space. They reached a consensus with the computer: Icarus was no longer.
There was an actual moment of silence between them, and Bud’s eyes seemed glassy. He whispered, “Gone.”
With a hint of anger, and dismay, after wordlessly setting a new course for Earth, Adorjan flexed his military instincts, a quality his son enjoyed, and told him, “That’ll make it harder to find.”“I know that’s there.”
In a moment, Will conceded, “Okay.”
“Let’s find Ardi,” Bud charged. “Even if we have to ‘swim the Congo.’”
Will adjusted his chair, and said, “Worth a try.”
“Worth a try,” Bud agreed.
After reflection about Icarus, and absorbing the new reality, Bud resumed his account of the Hawaiian surfer. “It’s my story, one of my favs,” he told Will.
Adorjan said, “There’s a legend in Hawaii, a Polynesian legend of some kind, like the Greek myths of the echoes of the Calypso, the voices of the Sirens. It says there is a naked woman, who is said to surf the greatest waves of the beach of Walls, in the darkness, alone, in the darkness. But only the great, great ocean waves, ones forty-feet high, or even bigger.”
Will said, “That’s just folklore, I’m sure. It’s probably been told, and retold, and changed by thousands of people over the years.”
“No, well, probably,” Bud said. “The point of it is, this woman is supposed to warn surfers. She warns them when they’ve gone too far out to sea.”
Will breathed, “And if you don’t listen to the siren, then Poseidon will snag you. If you don’t.”
“Well, maybe you,” Bud smiled. “No see, not everybody listens. The legend is they don’t notice. They don’t hear her, they’re not paying attention. I think I would notice. I’d realize nature was trying to tell me something, somehow.”
“Signs, clues,” Will supported. “Maybe. But I doubt there’s a – naked woman.”
“No, really,” Bud exclaimed. “Not just one. A score of them. Riding on top of the waves.”
“Well, it’s the legend.”
Will stated, “It’s the ‘recipe.’”
“The recipe,” Bud chuckled, with his son.
He pressed on. “So here’s Aikau. Everybody agrees, this is the guy – not just the best surfer in Hawaii, in his day, but the world. And he is also one of the best people, an ‘ambassador’ for the native Polynesians, w ho are beginning to be displaced. One of six children. Toward the end of his career, – he’s won just about every surfing prize in Hawaii – the Walls surf community decides to pit a group of Polynesian athletes against the best surfers on Earth, from different continents. They form a ‘Polynesian Voyaging Society,’ in order to showcase the surfing history of their natives. Of course, Eddie Aikau is part of this crew. The first thing they want to do is ‘recreate’ the ancient, fabled route of the Polynesians, from Hawaii to the islands of Tahiti. They set off on a thirty-day journey in A.D. 1978, some 2000 miles.”
The LifeRaft® beeped to inform of their passage into the Milky Way galaxy. Will grinned to see the solar system, and recalled, “They start the trip. The canoes spring a leak in the hull. They tump over.”
“Well, yeah, capsize,” Bud said. “And Aikau is one of them. They wait. They wait. They wait. Nobody’s got any great ideas. Finally, Aikau decides, he’s a great athlete, swimmer, they might have a chance if he swims for it. He’s has to swim about twelve miles in the Pacific to get help, and save them.”
Will nodded, “Yup.”
Bud said, reverently, “All they found was his life-jacket. A rescue ship finds the craft just a short time after Eddie left, and they were saved.” The pod entered the orbit of Earth, and then the atmosphere.
Will said, “So what the, what are you saying? What’s the morale? He was ‘seduced’ by some legendary Polynesian siren?”
“No,” Bud said, and allayed, after a moment, more earnestly, “There is a dimension, thin air. Like you say, signs. They must have been there, and Eddie missed them. It’s colorless, and invisible, but – and then, you can’t see it, you can’t hear it. You about need a siren. The thin air. The Japanese have a word for it – ‘kamikaze.’”
Will said, drolly, “So Aikau was a kamikaze.”
“No, no,” Bud said. “Kamikaze is a thing, not a person. Aikau was not a kamikaze. He was a hero. A great hero. ‘Kamikaze’ is a state, a feeling, a spirit, like the esprit de corps, from the French romance language, a ‘demi-urge,’ literally, a ‘spirit of the body.’ ”
“Right,” Will shrugged, spotting Earth, and beginning to lose interest. “Weren’t kamikazes the suicide bombers in the world war?”
“It’s what they were called, but it was incorrect,” said Bud. “Try to understand, see it their way. Kamikaze translates to ‘the divine wind.’”
His son, Will, dismissed it. “I try to hang with science,” he said. “They have somewhat abandoned the idea of divinity, at least until they somehow find God in a chariot, sailing around the Great Attractor.”
Bud said, reflectively, “Well, sometimes out here, I feel like it’s just the two of us, me and Him. Nobody else. The problem is, – it’s not always. You’ll get it. I’m sure of it. We’re all a little bit like Aikau.”
“Well,” Will said. “I’ll give you that.”
They were streaming in Earth’s atmosphere towards the Congo, along a latitude near the equator, and wondering if this dijection would possibly discover Ardi, the original gracile Pan, as the LifeRaft® had suggested, after tracing his whereabouts. “That would make the trip,” Will said, if Ardi could be spotted in a strata of time, much like the mega-fauna, “Glug,” the official mascot of aeronauts’ at Sombrero. “I wonder, if Icarus is gone, would Ardi be lost in space, and time?”
Bud reassured him, “We will see what we can do.”
They spotted him, Ardi, the bonobos, sitting on a tree stump, which the pod had mapped from orbit. They maneuvered it towards the Congo River, watching Ardi all the while, as the LifeRaft® confirmed an identity, and splashed in the Congo like a cannon ball. It was Bud’s signature, grand entrance. They had dijected, navigating through a dimension of time to arrive on Earth long before Man had arisen, at about the time Icarus first displayed a eager signal from afar, to the days of the original Pan Ardi, and the azure blue, turquoise waters of the river Congo.
The bonobos chimp became enamored with the pod, and climbed upon the LifeRaft®, and then jumped down at the nose. They searched for Ardi’s famous skiff in the nearby Congo, but to no avail, deciding this was day probably before Ardi had even garnered it. Ardi proceeded to sit, and rest on the banks of the river, and estimating them, as they emerged from the pod, ostensibly trying to determine why they seemed to be looking for him. How Ardi knew Bud, and Will were searching for him was a mystery, but the chimp’s demeanor was less surprise, and more of inspection; otherwise, the aeronaut heard the cacophonous, almost eerily pleasant, sounds of nature, on Earth, a loudening chirp of multivarious birds, protests of the howler monkeys, bees buzzing bees at a heightened volume, and the soaking wash of water ashore the Congo.
Breaking the ice, Will hollered, “Ardi!”
The bonobos acknowledged him with a slowed blink, and studied them carefully, as if to decide if they were friendly, for one, and two, perhaps commit them to memory. The chimp seemed to issue a shrug, an elementary gesture, about the extraordinary landing, and Ardi crossed his arms. Bud was thinking to offer Ardi a fish, or food of some kind, luring him possibly for a quick computer scan. He recalled feeding squirrels at home in Hydra; and they would suddenly leap from one branch to another branch, like Spiderman, to amuse him.
Will was more ardent. Will dove his arm towards the sand, like a pulsar, or comet, and pronounced, “Icarus?”
The bonobos nodded, once, and several times, and then shook his head, as if to say “no.” ◊
¤ JUKE BOX ¤
Theme: “Midnight Blue,” Lou Gramm | playlist, “Flea Markets, Nos. 51-,” a myopic vaile, (No. 54)
..… from “^; or, CARET,” III of III,
The Echo By Seas; & Other Stories, by Soda Tom,
[Complete Works, No. 01]. Copyright (C) 2017-20, ff.
All Rights Reserved.
Created by Soda Tom