The Revolutions of Time
By Jonathan Dunn
Public Domain Books
Chapter 2: Predestined Deja Vu
It was in the last stages of sleep that I began to feel the warm morning sun strike my face, and hear the pleasant chirping of birds and crickets. I rolled slowly over, stretched my legs and my back, and stood up, with the last remnants of a dream playing quietly in my mind. But as I came to my feet and got a clear view of where I was, I realized it was not a dream that I had had at all, but something far more sobering. I found myself somewhere in the center of a very large prairie which covered the land for many miles around. From the sun’s lowly position on the eastern horizon, it was evident to me that the new day was just dawning, casting a golden hue on the grasses that covered the prairie’s surface.
Around the distant outskirts of the plain I could make out a ring of trees circumventing the whole, waving almost imperceptibly to and fro in the light breeze that was blowing. A few miles to the southwest there was a group of odd looking trees stretching up over the horizon to a considerable height. They were closer than the outer ring, which kept a uniform girth around the prairie, but somehow they looked very peculiar and foreboding, and I got one of those sobering feelings which I like to call predestined deja vu. What I mean is that I got a sense of deja vu, but instead of the past converging with the present into one thought, the present seemed to converge with the future, and the result was a mysterious foreboding of something, though I couldn’t tell what. That is the sensation that I had when I saw what I assumed to be a small grouping of trees somewhere in the southwestern portion of the savanna, though that was merely a guess, for in the distance I could only make out several dark forms rising out of the grassland like trees, or possibly buildings, one of them being a great deal taller than the others, with a spherical shape on top that only faintly resembled a tree’s crown. If it was indeed a tree, it was the largest that I have ever seen, for it looked to be upwards of 800 feet tall.
My mental warning bells were ringing quite loudly, and I endeavored to silence them by extreme exertions of the will, but they would not be subdued. I assumed that they were not at all correct, much like the fearful expectancy some have while swimming in the ocean, out of sight of all land, of being attacked by an enormous leviathan of the deep. As unfounded as the fear is, it places one into a frenzy of dubious thoughts that inspire equally frantic and anarchist actions. Because of this, I thought that my ideas were naught but superstitious fancies, yet try as I might, I could not rid myself of them.
Instead, I made up my mind to set off in the opposite direction, north, and to advance at a double march until I should reach the woody border, which looked to present shelter not only from the southern apparitions, but also from the shielded underworld of the grasses, in which also dwelt the mysterious sense of fear and predestined deja vu. It was slightly chilly, but beyond that nothing defaced the temperate beauty of the day, and even that promised to soon dissipate with the continual strengthening of the sun’s warmth. As I walked, or rather, trotted along, it did just that, and in the growing warmth of the day the sweet fragrances of the many various grasses rose to the surface, delighting my odor perceiving sensors with their earthy simplicity.
The day marched on, and with it I, and the distant wall of trees began to slowly grow closer. At length, I found myself at their edge, at around the noon hour, and as I came upon the first of them, I leaned against the trunk of a large, thickset tree for a moment of repose and reflection in its shade. It was by all appearances an ancient wood, for the line between it and the prairie was distinct, appearing as if the shrubs and lesser flora had acquiesced to fate and retreated beyond the forest’s claimed boundaries, rather than continue for countless ages to charge and then be pushed back, to gain a foothold only to be thrown out a year or two later. The trees themselves were mighty pinions of strength, tall and of great girth, and spread far apart from one another, leaving wide open spaces between their towering trunks. A short, soft grass clothed the land that stretched on in their midst, joined in its solitude by a hearty looking moss that stretched itself out on the trunks of the trees and on the rocks and boulders that lay scattered here and there among the open spaces. Far above, the trees’ great branches spread out a thick canopy, covering the whole of the forest area in a relaxing and invigorating twilight, rendering itself homely and quaint. After a few moments of enjoying that most pleasing scene, I roused and extricated myself unwillingly from its enchanted depths and set off once more into the heart of the woods, having no where else to go.
After a time, I cannot say how long, I came upon a small, trickling stream which flowed deeper into the woods, that direction being northward. A short walk along its path, after refreshing myself to content with its pure waters, brought me to its destination: a large lake into which the forest opened. Its banks were very gradual and the grass of the woodland led right up to the water’s edge. The surface of the water itself was smooth and delicate.
Amidst the pleasantness of the scene, there was something missing from the feel of the area: inhabitants. There was an abundance of wild life of all kinds, and much organic life as well, but something greater than flora or fauna was missing: people. I had traveled so far, and without any sighting of a person. It was a lonely and desolate feeling which prevailed, despite the abundances of life. Novelties soon grow worthless with no one to share them with, ideas become meaningless if not communicated timely, emotions grow boisterous and uncontrollable with no end to receive them.
I was quite alone, unfortunately, and it dampened my spirits considerably. Feeling despondent, I turned and walked sullenly from the lake’s edge into the woodland once more, with no definite purpose in mind, only a meandering thought of my dismal situation. My thoughts morphed, in succession, from anxiety to despair, to anger, to frustration, and in my frustration I knelt down and picked up a fallen branch from the ground, walked to the nearest tree, and eyed a strange, protruding knob that stuck out from the trunk. I held the branch at shoulder’s length and swung it at the knob with all the force of my built up emotions. It hit with a crash and a hollow thud, leaving the branch broken and my arm sore, but the knob undamaged.
But then something unexpected happened: with a grating noise, a small hole appeared part way up the trunk, coming from what looked to be solid wood, for no sign was seen before of its having an opening. From the newly opened hole was then thrust out a head, hairy and with a short snout-like edifice for a nose and mouth. Its eyes and the furry hair which covered its face were brown, and a few wily whiskers protruded from its snout. With a look of utter surprise, as if it had not expected me as much as I had not expected it, it eyed me closely for a moment and then looked anxiously from side to side and told me to come in.
When those words passed its lips, or whatever artifice it spoke from, a great weight fell from my shoulders. After a short moment, quickened by my relief, a door appeared in the trunk of the tree, its edges previously hidden behind the thick mosses. Swinging inwards, it opened and revealed the creature standing there, beckoning me to enter. I did, and the door shut behind me, leaving me in the darkness of the hollow tree.