This story isn't really strange - perhaps "crazy" is the proper adjective? I suppose you could say it was like Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland on drugs...
Difficult to imagine? Read and see for yourself and you might see what I mean.
What the Sun doesn’t know
It Was daybreak, and the Sun unravelled the great grey glittering robe it had worn all morning, and now the sumptuous golden locks of its hair embalmed the hills, fens and grassy wooded glens of the land.
And the sun shone so beautifully, like it was making an extra special effort to be as divine as possible, and the island of Keen; who had never known a day so fine and fresh, bathed in the fine light, and thought on how happy it was. ‘I have never seen a day like this,’ said Keen, but then the island was only one day old – and had been this way for many eons, for there was no such thing as time in those parts, for the island of Keen lay on the curve of the Earth, between ground and sky, and breathed the air outwards to space and knew only ever of dreams.
About this time, that fine and fresh morning, a fine fellow by the name of Brandy Whisker was strolling by, and he sighed and swept away his hat and said to the sun; ‘I suppose you have never seen anything like that! Old Brandy out and about and in a fluster. It must be a true sight, hey?’
And the sun thought, and beamed, and said, not straight away but with some consideration, ‘Oh no! I have seen it all. There’s nothing new beneath me!’
‘Nothing new, hey?’ Brandy scoffed, not amused to hear such a thing. ‘And how, sir, madam, do you know?’
‘It is not an easy thing for me to know, but far harder a thing for me not to know, for I have always been there – I can’t imagine what it would be like to know of something new again – but then it wouldn’t be new for long, would it? Ah! Such a sad thing to be the sun,’ and so the sun sighed, and seemed miserable, despite how bright it was.
‘And you can tell me that you’ve seen an ostrich and giraffe riding a bicycle together; a hippo playing cards with a llama? That you’ve seen trees fly and the moon sigh – horses talking to cats, and people living in shacks – made of spoons?’
And again the Sun would say, ‘No, my son. There is nothing new beneath me. I have seen it all!’
‘Well… we shall see,’ said Brandy, throwing on his hat and digging his hands in his pockets, he stalked away determined to prove the sun wrong.
And so the quest began…
Events elsewhere in the world…
Boater Mellon-Bar was his name, and he lived on the far edge of the fields, in a beautiful low house of grey limestone. The house was so wonderful, so orderly, and so clean, that he refused to live in it in case he made it dirty, and so instead slept outside, on a hill of mud.
He spent the summer days trying to grow apples in the watery hole of a tree, and on wintry nights he put his head in a hole in the ground to help him keep warm.
When he was young he used to fall over all the time, but these days, having grown old and wise, he put ample amounts of mud in his pockets to help him keep balance.
One fine morning on the tail end of June, sometime before April, the bright sun came spilling out of the skies so enthusiastically that it fell out onto the ground, plunging the morning back into night again. During that long dark night, everything turned to ice. A few hours later, when the sun had got its act together, the brilliant sunshine returned, melting the ice away – till there was not a piece of land in its brittle grasp. There was only the tree in boater’s back garden; and where all the land around it lay green and fair and glittering and fresh – the singular aforementioned tree remained clad in snow.
Boater loved the tree, a bit too vigorously; and built a shop beside it. Day and night he toiled at his craft; with his own hands he built wooden buckets for people to wear on their heads. His buckets were of the finest quality, and came in many shapes and sizes. There were the small ones, for those people who liked to just cover their hair, and then the larger ones for those people who liked to cover up their whole head. There were also special buckets made especially for mice… though he never sold many of those (in fact if truth be told he sold none).
By fame, and by rumour, the illuminating prospect of wearing a bucket over the head brought in people from all corners of the world, and on that day, one such sightseer happened to be the self-proclaimed “master fisherman,” Hoddle Bragwater.
If truth be told Hoddle might actually been quite good at fishing, if it wasn’t for the fact that he was half mad, and tried to catch fish by hooking his net in treetops. That day he was carrying a net over his shoulder, and striding merrily along, he was looking up at the sky; whistling a tune which begin with something about a sea-pig that lived under the sea, when he stopped in front of Boater, and said loudly, ‘A fine day for fishing, hay?’
‘You like to fish do you?’ Said Boater, and Hoddle replied, ‘That’s what the net is all about.’ And he held up his net proudly.
‘What do you like to fish?’
‘Fish, usually,’ Hoddle replied.
‘You mean like those scaly creatures that live in water?’
‘That’s right,’ said Hoddle. ‘I am a master at my art, so I’ve heard people say. How about you? I hear you’re handy at making buckets?’
‘I’m the best at my trade,’ said Boater, proudly.
‘I once owned a shop - Long ago. I used to make metal clips to put in peoples hair. But I’ve turned to fishing these days. All I need now is a plane, and I will be catching fish like there was no tomorrow.’
Boater took Hoddle’s hand, and shook it. He smiled, a beaming smile, and said, ‘It’s an honour, I say again, an honour to meet a master in his trade, such yourself, Mr…What was your name again?’
‘Hoddle Bragwater. I would ask you for your name as well, my friend, only I’m not really interested.’
After that they had tea around the snowy tree, only there was no tea at hand, so they had water instead- so really, they had Water around the tree, and Hoddle talked a great deal about his successful fishing career, when all of a sudden he noticed the snowiness of the tree, and said, ‘I say! That tree there has snow ON IT! Why that jolts the memory somewhat! Here,’ and he took out from his robe, from a hidden pocket within, a huge envelope, so large, it was almost humorous to look at, and he passed the great thing over to Boater, who, of course, began to open it with great relish, only to find the most tiniest scrap of paper hidden inside. Indeed Boater had to really search for it, to the point where he almost climbed inside the thing. It could have perfectly served a particularly desperate person as a paper sleeping bag.
The scrap of paper did appear to have writing on it, but it was so minuscule, that before the naked eye it was virtual invisible – so he fetched his magnifying lens and offered the scrap his full scrutiny. Five seconds later he handed his friend the paper and said, ‘I can’t read it. Its written in French, and I only speak Spanish.’
‘Ah!’ said Hoddle. He looked it over quickly with a magnifying glass and said, ‘You’ll actually find it’s written in double-dutch! Luckily I am well versed in such letterings. But first, I can’t read it like this. Just wait a second.’ Then he screwed the paper up, and then put it in his mouth. Within minutes it had disappeared down his throat. ‘That’s better,’ he said. ‘You see, I must digest a text first before I can understand it. I can read it with my eyes, like you do, but it makes no sense, not until I eat it, and then I can read it properly, behind my eyes. That is the way it is, in my life. Things seem to make more sense behind my eyes, than in front of them.’
‘So what does it say?’
Hoddle proceeded to read – from his insides:
Dear Mr Boater,
How are you? Are you all right? Good! I am holding a party today at my house, at the top of the road, seven miles away, in a house they call, the Green House. It is my home. And it is beautiful. There will be plenty of tea, and plenty of pee! So please come and see me. You will be most welcome. I also hope you like dog hairs, for you will find plenty of them in my home.
Then, scribbled really badly underneath, it said:
Hoddle is also invited. Let him go with you as well, he is such a brilliant person. I really cannot stress or elaborate how such a great person he is. I have never met such a straight speaking person; so open and down to earth. He is one of those rare examples of sheer brilliance living among our race, who still offers hope for knowledgeable enrichment for the future generations. His skills with fishing are so brilliant, I was in awe. When I last met him, I went on a walk with him, and how he netted those trees! It was a sight. I think it was the best day in my life!
Hope to see you soon!!
Ps And don’t forget now that Hoddle is simply an all round brilliant person.
‘And you read all that form inside your stomach?’ said Boater.
‘Yes, but it also helps that I wrote it in the first place,’ Hoddle replied.
‘Well, we better get ready for the party then.’
The House where Brandy lived…
At the end of cherry lane, and stood on top a hill, the Gobble House dreamed; it was the crowning monument of many horizons. People, travelling that way, could see it, that shadowy place, and they would say, ‘What a weird looking building.’ Not in all Keen was there a place like it. It was a place of wonder – and yet, no-one could ever reach it. No matter how hard you tried, you could never get to the building. It just hung there under the skies, a strange flittering thought, gleaming in the blackness, the green mists clinging onto it like the shredded clouds that cling onto the moon; the great cold forests that grew around shoulders of the earth whispered legends of the House, the old stone circles of elders days hold the secrets in their dead thoughts, and when the SCLEE AND SKLAY begin their dance the stars kindle with brooding, and again the ancient ways are remembered.
But still, no one could reach the place – not with feet, anyway. Boater had tried before in the past, but had given up. Back when he was a young man of twelve years and three months, he tried to ascend the hill, and half starved before surrendering; and now, all these many many years later, he was standing before the door!
‘I had better knock then, let him know we are here,’ said Boater, and so he rolled his fist and started to rap the door with his knuckles.
‘Hey!’ Hoddle suddenly shouted, and he swiftly grabbed Boater’s hand. ‘What do you think you are doing?’
‘Well, I am knocking the door,’ he said.
‘You can’t knock the door like that,’ said Hoddle. ‘Good grief man! Do you know nothing? No one will notice if you knock like that.’
‘What should I do then?’
‘You must knock with your foot, my friend!’
‘Knock with my foot? What you really mean to say then is that I must kick the door?’
‘No sir! I mean knock! You must raise your leg, first, in this fashion,’ and so then Hoddle lifted his leg right up in the air, to show his friend how it was done. ‘Then you must, gently, and quietly, tap upon the door with the tips of your toes. But you must do it ever so quietly! We don’t want to disturb the mice, you see. If we disturb the mice, then the master of the house will take offence, and will never open the door to us, not even if a thousand years were to pass.’
‘Okay. Then I shall tap with my toes, in the way you showed.’
So Boater, indeed with great deal of struggle, raised his whole leg up, and lightly tapped the door with his toes.
As soon as it was done they heard a great thudding behind the door. It sounded like huge heavy footsteps were approaching. Louder and louder the steps grew – but, Hoddle and Boater had to wait a full hour before the door finally opened. Behind it, the chauffer appeared. He was a huge fat cockerel, with fine groomed feathers, and strange glinting eyes. He looked about at once, checking left and right, up and down, before he said, ‘Must be hearing things…’
Then he closed the door.
This time it was Hoddle who tapped the door with his toes. Moments later they heard the loud footsteps, and then the door unbolted and opened, and the finely groomed cockerel reappeared at the doorway.
The cockerel looked up and down, left to right, and then it said, ‘Now I must be seeing things…’
‘Wait a second!’ said Hoddle, stepping up into view. ‘We are actually here! Can’t you see us?’
The cockerel seemed to flop his head about, and then took a deep breath he said, ‘I can now, of course; but it took a bit of time. How can I help you? Are you looking for directions?’
‘Your master has invited us to stay for tea.’
‘He does that often,’ said the cockerel. ‘My I have your names and utensils?’
Hoddle and Boater said their names, and then dropped their spanners and screws on the ground.
‘We abide by certain rules once in the House,’ said the cockerel. ‘The first rule is this; once inside you must dance about and sing madly!’
‘Really?’ they both gasped.
‘No. No. That is what we call a joke.’
So they all breathed a deep (extremely deep) sigh of relief.
‘But first things first, please! What do any of you know about Spain?’
‘Spain? You mean Spain, like the country?’
‘Well,’ said Hoddle, and he tapped his chin as he began to enter his thought. You could easily imagine his brain cells being rounded up like little lambs to the slaughter. ‘Well,’ he began, ‘I know its some place in Ipswich, somewhere.’
‘A good start,’ said the Cockerel. ‘Do you know anything about its history?’
‘I know nothing about Spain,’ said Boater. ‘I only know how to speak the language.’
‘Yes. SPEAKING Spanish will get you far in this House. Please, dear friends, enter.’
Then the Cockerel stepped aside leaving the doorway freely open. Finally, they entered.
They proceeded along what was at first a type of tunnel, a tunnel of finely fashioned wood; and they went up stairs and down them, and turned many strange uncanny corners. It was some while before they reached the Hall.
It was a fine, dark, gothic hall, all made of beamed and dark wood; indeed, were it not for the candles, there was not a strand of light to raise up the shadows from the room. Without any light the great pine table before looked like a great dark pit.
Apart from a crystal decanter, which was full up with brandy, the table was totally unfurnished. Two people were sat around it; one, a man – who was asleep, and the second person was a huge great grotesque emperor penguin.
The penguin was tremendously fat – and then lay flopped over the table because it was unable to stand all its weight.
Now the man sat up, sniffing with his nostrils, he now looked at them, lit a lantern by his side, and looked again. ‘Ah! You!’ he said. ‘I knew it was you lot. I smelt you, you see! They like to call me Brandy Whisker, so you can call me Brandy.’
‘Are you the one who sent the invitation?’
‘Sent it? Well no, I did not send it! My word; but I wrote it, with my toes. The frog sent it, but he hasn’t returned yet. Drunk as always! To be busy up in the trees with the squirrels, for he has an uncanny way of mixing with foreigners.’
‘And why have you sent for us?’ said Boater. The man seemed confused by this, and so Boater repeated the question, but with different words; ‘Why did you invite us? What is the purpose in it?’
‘Oh! Nothing personal!’ said Brandy. ‘I did mean for us to have a party, only I couldn’t bothered to get anything in at the end. I am just far too lazy for all that sort of thing.’
‘Then it really is pointless us being here?’
‘But isn’t that the way of life?’ said Brandy, speculatively. ‘You’ve learned a lesson today, my friend. We should have a drink to this. I have some brandy here, what would you like, a glass, or a trumpet?’
‘What do you mean a trumpet?’ Boater asked.
‘Well I like to drink from a trumpet. It has a richer taste and sound that way.’
‘We shall have glasses, I think,’ said Boater.
Brandy was on the verge of the pouring, when he stopped, starred at Boater for quite a long time, and then said, ‘Are you tired? Forgive my asking, it’s just you look rather worn-out, If you don’t mind my saying?’
‘Well, yes I am tired now you mentioning. It was hard work trying to get here, having to walk up that hill and everything. I’ve got a good right to be tired I think.’
‘I think you’re rather lucky, my fellow,’ said Brandy.
‘What are you going on about now?’
‘I like to feel tired,’ he replied.
‘Why?’ said Boater.
‘Well,’ said Brandy, ‘it’s like this, you see.
‘I find life is better when you don’t know it’s happening, when you’re half asleep. When your wits are so dull you can’t remember your name, you can’t remember who you are, even, that is when life is worth living. To not to know is better than to know, and far better to know not what there is not to know, for what there is not to know is simply not worth knowing.’
‘What a wasteful way of looking at life,’ said Boater, rather vexed. ‘Everyone needs an objective to get up in the morning for. To just daydream around, as you have just proposed, is no good at all!’
‘Now we get to the point of it,’ said Brandy. ‘The crux, you could say. We all have objectives in our lives. Yours, my dear friend, is to make hats – but Mine is to defeat the Sun! And I want you to help me!’
‘I can’t see how we can,’ aid Boater.
‘We need to find something the sun has never seen before. And the sun has seen almost everything – except the things that lurk in the deeper oceans – the endless waters of the human mind. My friends I propose that we travel into the very depths of dreams. For the sun knows nothing of dreams, for dreams are where only souls can go – only sleeping eyes have looked upon the things that are there. But in those places, unknown secrets are made. I want you to travel into the deepest part of a dream, and bring back something the sun has never seen!’
‘Alright, I’ve got nothing better to do,’ said Boater.
‘Good. And in return, and in return, if we win, you will be given a good reward!’
‘That sounds nice,’ said Boater.
‘I will ask the sun to never sine on your tree again, so that it always remains in snow!’
‘That would be splendid,’ said Boater.
‘Then it is settled!’ said Brandy, exultantly. ‘Everyone, let us raise our glasses – or our trumpets, whichever you prefer!’
And they would have drunk something, if their cups and trumpets had not been so dry and absent of any liquid.
The Mouth of dreams…
Brandy explained that he was too tired to walk, and this is why he had his arm tied with rope round the neck of dog; the animal had great strength, so they were later told, and this is how it was able to pull him around the house – the dog had to drag the man down the stairs, to the underground cellar, where, so Brandy told his friends, a secret bedroom was hidden. ‘The bed in that room has strange powers,’ he said. ‘It somehow managed to escape a dream, and has stayed in the same place ever since.’
‘Why?’ Boater asked.
‘Well, in the dream the bed could fly, you see – but in our world it can’t – so it sort of tricked itself into doom, as it were.’
‘Ah! I can see that now,’ said Boater.
‘Anyway, despite this great tragedy, the bed bridges the gap between now, and the world of the dream. Sleep in it and you will be given access to the dream world at your own full control – you can do whatever you want here, and act as freely as you wish - as long as the dream permits it.’
‘Marvellous,’ said Boater, and he rubbed his hands gleefully. It was going to be such a boring morning, but now it looked like anything was about to happen! ‘And what do I do in the world of the dream?’
‘Find and bring back something the sun has never seen!’ Brandy told him. ‘With the dream bed as our transporter, it will be possible to bring things back and forth from the dream. Now, waste no more time and get to sleep! The next dream is only around the corner!’
When Boater awoke he found himself lying between two hedges in the middle of an old green glade, with great nobly trees climbing above him. Sat in one of the trees was an old thin goat, with white hair, and he removed his pipe and spat on Boaters head. ‘I hope you don’t mind my doing that, it’s just the way we do things around here,’ said the goat, but Boater, being a very generous and patient character, simply nodded the wizened fellow and said, ‘I take no offence. It would take an awful lot to offend me.’
‘Well you don’t have to worry about him – he doesn’t live in these parts.’
Boater couldn’t understand what the creature was talking about, but the goat just laughed in a whimsical child-like fashion, and, with agility that seemed uncommon to so wintry a character, sprinted off into the trees!
That was the last Boater saw of him.
Standing, Boater prepared to engage the knotty thicket he now stood before. Before long he entered upon a strangely organised field, with ridges that looked moulded as if they had been kneaded from dough, to form great curves and ridges – and there was one large curve which looked like a wave that was supported by large brush supported by a lonely lost star – which, despite being bereft of any emotional features, looked as though it would rather be someplace else.
And the wildlife of this country was as strange as the doughy curves of the territory they lurked, with cats that walked on their forepaws, and played the tambourine with their rears; and deer’s that had somehow succeeded in growing their antlers below their chins and they had manage to fashion them so cunningly that they were able to use them as flutes and play aloud pretty music for all to enjoy; and above the skies alighted with the sounds of fluttering birds that flew upside down and played impish trumpets through their tiny nostrils.
Some of the birds couldn’t fly properly, so they had been bloated with hydrogen, and tied to pieces of string, and there were group of clowns – with great mouths, carrying the birds by the string, and should one clown accidentally let go, the bird would float away to the whimsical edge of the sky, where flying spoons communed with gilded harpoons.
Boater had entered the fringes of the dream. This was perhaps the most frightening part of the dream, for the wakening world was only a few inches behind and close enough to tingle your brain, and things that were real and things that were fancies vine together to form something quite otherworldly – and likewise familiar.
The Fringe was like a cloud – where one sees a horse, another sees a castle, all different shapes folding in and out, and each strange eye of each strange mind sees a different thing. And so this is what Boater saw in his eyes, a land of moulded dough.
A starfish, ascending from a gooey syrupy pond that was nearby, now floated towards him – ‘You seem mightily middling, for these parts,’ so it said. ‘Might I ask where you stray?’
‘I stray nowhere in particular, but I seek something the sun has never seen; so you could say that I stray towards that, if there be such a thing at all.’
‘Ah! Then you seek the deeper dream? Ah! That is a place to marvel and despair in, it certainly is. Might I set the path for you – and lead you from this misty doorway?’
‘Please, my friend! I happily accept your help!’
‘You will have difficulty keeping up with me! I do move very quickly, especially now, with the wind blowing in the east! Tell me, what language do you speak?’
‘The only language I know, Double Dutch.’
‘That is a good thing,’ said the Starfish – ‘We all speak that language here in these parts! You should get along quite well with all the ducks and fishes and dogs that live here.’
‘Where is it we are heading, exactly?’ Boater asked with some trepidation which the keen starfish must have noticed.
‘We make for a place some people find terrifying! To a place that some people look upon with such a sense of horror they die instantaneously! To others it is a place of destiny – where everything that once boggled the feeble mind is made plain knowledge to all. It has no name, and so I shall say no more of it! To even speak of that place is enough to drive one mad!’
They travelled around and around in circles for a little while, and it seemed to Boater that they were going absolutely nowhere at all, when all of a sudden everything changed, and there was indeed a sight before him!
‘And there is the place of deeper dreams!’ said the little starfish. ‘Look yonder, my fellow drifty traveller! And what do you see?’
==to be continued==