Peter Rose: Witness

The Girl With No Name: 3.) The Cloud of Chaos

The Cloud of Chaos

The-girl-with-no-name was on a small boat. It was a ship, actually, and there were about fifty others with her and they were headed across the ocean to secure the ring they needed to gain the favor of the flying dolphin they would ride to enter into the interior of the earth. They all noticed a little disturbance in the air up ahead. Little motes of dust seemed to be flickering on and off like raindrops. The motes circled and became a cloud and then this cloud thickened. It grew darker and she saw miscellaneous, random objects being sucked into and thrown out of cloud. She thought she saw a foot, or something like a foot, maybe a sock, come flying out of the cloud, and then an apple peel, a used Kleenex box, three aspirin jars, an alarm clock, and then a potato bug. She grew alarmed. Who knew what might happen when their ship sailed through this tempestuous fog? As she watched, more varied objects exploded from the core: someone running, the outline of a book on Alaska, three ideas about time, the smell of garlic.

The-girl-with-no-name suddenly understood that they were now entering the Cloud of Chaos. Her mind already was beginning to feel the effects of its field of force. She began to forget the names of things, the words “posture,” “melody,” “vitamin,” and “whisper” losing their place in her brain and beginning to wander amidst the adjectives. The right finger of her hand turned into an umbrella and took off into the sky. Time began to run backwards. An airy shadow began to form around the sails of the ship and bright colors appeared in stripes inside them. Her shipmates were not in any better shape. Their legs and arms began to grow furry animals, their eyeglasses shattered, sneakers began to grow wings and sing and a fine multi-colored powder rained down from the sky. The-girl-with-no-name knew that if they were unable to prevent their further discombobulation they would be in big trouble. She knew that their only hope lay in providing themselves with an idea, an image, a sound, a memory that they could hold on to, something they could use to pull themselves through this fog of catastrophic disintegration.

The girl with no name climbed to the top of the ship, to the crow’s nest at the summit of the mast in the center of the boat. Far below her she saw the crew and her shipmates. She grabbed the steering wheel and held the exploding boat to a steady course, and then she yelled in the most commanding voice she could summon-

“All right everybody. I want you to listen to me. I want all of you to sing a note- the most beautiful musical cry you’ve ever uttered- and I want you to sing it........NOW!!!!”

All of her friends aboard the exploding ship now began to sing. At first there were strange harmonies that throbbed and faded in the thick texture of their song. But then a single note emerged- a wonderful, beautiful sound unlike anything any of them had ever heard before. They were now in the center of the Cloud of Chaos. The-girl-with-no-name was now in three places at once- her eyes were on deck, her thoughts were in the sky, and her feet were somewhere far below the rest of her in the boat. She hoped the sound of their voices would go far enough and fast enough to help them.

Their voices went straight up into the sky. They went through the air, they bounced between clouds, grabbed rides on bolts of lightning and raced around the immense Earth itself. Other sounds briefly joined - buzzing bees, syrup being poured onto toast, the crack of branches in the wind, crickets- and then these sounds departed. Their voices now swooped down towards the ground, through thundercloud and pollen and sea spray and mist and came to them from the other side of the Earth, from the other side of the Cloud of Chaos.

They could suddenly hear their own voices coming to them from the other side of the the Cloud of Chaos and it gave them hope. They held on. Parts of their bodies now began to return to themselves. They began to have memories, and to know where they last put their shoes, the names of the days of the week, how to eat spaghetti. The water reassembled itself into the ocean. The sky was above them again and as they sailed on, small explosions were audible in the distance behind them. Some of her friends had on each others’ clothes, and a few people had the wrong memories, but they were all back, and they were all immensely grateful to the-girl-with-no-name for having had the presence of mind to see them through the storm.

They all clambered up onto the tilting deck, and if you had been out at sea that day, you would have heard the sound of their applause and you would have seen the beaming smile of the-girl-with-no-name as the ship sailed on.

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