Amyann, where are you? To the cries of the hippopodame I bury my head in my arms. When the stridence stops, when I finally open an eye, the room is empty like my hand. No more fat monkey, no more Yima, and above all, no more Amyann!
My friend disappeared I don’t know where. With the monkey couple? Impossible to say. Something else has changed: the cramped room where we found ourselves has become gigantic, empty of furniture and decor, also deserted. Not a soul living on the horizon. The ceiling is lost in the mists. The room is so vast that I could not see the bottom, if there is one.
– Amyann! Amyann?
“Yann… ann… ann… answers the echo. I am lost in the middle of nowhere, indeed alone.
I feel tears rise in my eyes. The image of my unconscious father invades my mind and my heart tightens. I don’t know if we’ll ever meet again. Thyann my father taught me inner strength. I stop feeling sorry for myself, hers is hardly more enviable. In the immediate future, I miss my friend Amyann even more. With him, everything would be easier in this unknown world.
We have to get our act together. I begin the exploration of the place. The walls are bare, smooth, difficult to imagine that they can hide a hidden door. I walk towards the bottom in a strange fog. I have been moving for a good quarter of an hour and nothing seems to change. The pink fog remains in place, the back wall – if there is one! – remains invisible. You’d think I was overstepping, but something’s changed: the side walls are gone. Now I’m progressing in a totally empty space. The only detail that shows that I am not in the open air is the perfectly smooth floor under my feet, and the ceiling above my head, which seems higher than before.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, comes a strange animal. Half man, half beast, his head is half duck, half lion. But a tiny lion: barely two feet tall. Opening its wide beak with small pointed teeth, the animal throws a long cry. A kind of squeaking where I can distinguish the word: DANGER. Moved by a singular presentiment, I look up. A large mass falls from the ceiling right on me. I only have time to throw myself aside to avoid a crate that crashes on the ground a few inches from my left leg. Its contents spread around. Objects unknown to me who has never seen a book.
Of course, I don’t know how to read, I have no idea what writing is, and the regular scribbles that cover the pages don’t ring a bell. The animal-man whispers in my ear: “This is your destiny, Aorn, my son. Your destiny is written in it.”
I’m startled. He said “my son”? Is that my father? How is that possible?
“Yes,” said the lion-bird. “I am Thyann. I am your father. Wake up!”
Before I have time to come back from my surprise, my so-called father flies off with his wings to the misty ceiling. In an instant he vanishes. A familiar voice startles me.
“Yes, Aorn. These books are about you. Look.
It’s Amyann! I jump around his neck. I’m so happy to find him! He kisses me and continues:
“It says here that your name will change. They will call you Enoch.”
“I missed you, Amyann. Where have you been all this time?”
He looks surprised.
“But I always stayed close to you while you slept,” he replied quietly. He handed me the biggest book that I quickly seized. These strange signs that speak of the future are the most precious treasure to me.
I slept a long time. Days and days. During my sleep, the mole-men took me down here, deep, very deep, like my sleep. And here we are, just a stone’s throw from the great airlock that leads to Central Earth. My arm is hurting me. The wound, however healed, is still festering! A doubt comes to me.
“You fell asleep when we were on the surface. The rolling fire bit you and the pain made you lose consciousness. You’ve been sleeping all that time. Must have been more than three moons. I guess.
He imagines, of course. Underground we do not see the sky. How to recognize the changes of the moon, the sun and the stars?
I would have imagined all these adventures? I can’t believe it. Have we ever met Yima the Monkey? Or his monkey in the voice of a rattle?
“Oh yes,” replied Amyann. “I don’t know what kind of monkey you’re talking about, but we did meet Yima, who is not a monkey, but a lizard.” His friends brought us here. They’ll come back, but don’t wait. You’re awake, let’s go quickly. The place isn’t safe. Let us take shelter. I will then tell you what you missed, and you will tell me your dream.
“Safe? But from what?”
– Floods! DANGER!!
What floods? I note then that the great hall was in my dream. We are in a cave whose walls are visible. On the left, a large waterfall diffuses a mist of droplets. On the right, a sort of torrent rolls and rushes in a white noise. I’m surprised. There are waterfalls and torrents in the Earth Core?
“Yes,” said Amyann. “The Earth Core is a place of life with all the amenities on the surface. Have you noticed that…
He pauses. A huge wave rolls towards us. It advances at full speed. For a moment, I think we are lost. Amyann grabs my arm. A flight of steps goes up to the surface. We climb them four to four. The wave is on our heels. It catches us. It’s on us!
When I drown, two strong hands grab me and pull me out of the water. Wet, but alive. Amyann is also safe. Our saviors are part of the gang in Yima. Seeing that he is, the old monkey was worried, he sent them to make sure everything was okay. Now they do. Thanks to them. They unpack a tasty picnic of insects and larvae. Eating will do us great good. I am breathing.
We have escaped the fire, we have escaped the water, what danger still awaits us? You will soon know by reading: Staggering Encounter