Before the First Expedition (a Deep Time Fan Fiction)

Behind a curtain of tumbling water, somebody was bathing. Their olive brown form turning a slow pirouette in the black spray from the falls seemed to form a kind of dreamlike dance, perfectly in tune to the rhythm of the running water and the birdsong of the trees. The forest vibrated with the strident buzz of bush crickets, the chatter of bulbuls, the shriek of a parrot. Everything moved together in unison, all part of the intricate symphony of reality – the sounds, the smells, the very feeling in the air. It was all one. It was all beautiful.

Well, that’s not entirely true. There was one thing which was a little at odds with its surroundings, one thing that didn’t seem to be quite in tune with the vibration of the forest or the symphony of reality. Well, not one thing. One person. One middle-aged man.

“Hello, my name is Morris,” he said, but he had spoken so quietly that even he could barely here his voice against all of noises around him.

Morris waited a few seconds for a reply and then frowned in confusion when he didn’t get one. Perhaps this wasn’t Dr. Boann after all – that was the name of the woman he was looking for.

“You’ll find her at the falls. She goes their to meditate,” that’s what he’d been told, but this lady didn’t seem to be expecting him. Morris had assumed that that was Dr. Boann, and if it wasn’t, he didn’t really know what to do. So he just stood there and did nothing.

After a while, she looked in his direction and Morris took it as an invitation to approach.

“Hello, my name is Morris,” he said again.

“It’s beautiful here, isn’t it?” she said, as she slipped into a pagne and tied her hair back with a yellow ribbon. “There’s such a peaceful energy in this place.”

Morris stared at her vacantly.

“Who are you?” she asked, after a few moments of silence.

“My name is Morris,” he said again.

“Yes, I heard that,” she replied, “but what I mean is, what is your purpose for being here?”

“I was looking for Dr. Boann, but I am hoping that you are her and I have found her,” he said, offering a simple smile.

“You have. But why have were you looking for me? I assume it’s more than just you wanting to watch me under the waterfall.”

“Why would I want to watch you?” he asked, again confused.

“Well, I was naked. I know a lot of people who aren’t from around here haven’t yet embraced nudity for the natural thing that it is.”

“Oh. I didn’t realise that you were naked. The reason I am here is because I was eating my Cheerios the other day and then there was this piece of paper inside and then I looked at the piece of paper and it turned out that I won the chance to go on an African expedition. So then I called up the Cheerios people to find out what I had to do next and then I-”

“I’m starting to see the picture,” she said. “I’d forgotten the Commune had agreed to this. They must have needed the funding. But I suppose-”

She paused as she spotted something nearby. With a flick of her eyes she indicated to the far side of the pool. It took a few more flicks before Morris realised what she was trying to do.

Partly concealed in the eaves of the forest was a dark coloured animal; an okapi. Morris didn’t spot it at first though and squinted as he glanced vaguely in the direction that Dr. Boann had gestured.

When he spotted it, he suddenly screamed and clung onto Dr. Boann for safety. The okapi ran off in fear.

Dr. Boann tried to conceal a sigh.

“Sorry,” said Morris. “I am a bit scared of horses.”

“That wasn’t a horse, it-” she paused, not wanting to waste her energy. “Aren’t you hot?”

Morris was wearing a beige jacket and a beige pair of trousers, a long sleeved white shirt and appeared to be wearing a vest underneath that as well – the kind of outfit which would make somebody uncomfortable on a warm October afternoon in England, let alone in a tropical climate.

“No,” said Morris.

The two walked on in silence. For any other two people it would have been an uneasy silence, but Morris had his lower perspectives and Dr. Boann had her higher perspectives, so neither of them were too concerned with socially awkward situations. But the way Morris walked on, seemingly entirely ignorant of all the beauty around him, was frustrating for Dr. Boann and eventually she grabbed a hold of one of his hands.

“Morris, might I ask you to do something?”

“Yes, you can ask me to do something,” he replied.

“Look at the beauty that surrounds you. It’s like it was all made just right. The perfect shape of the falls. The balance between the width of the pool and the height of the trees so enough sunlight comes through to make a rainbow. The gently sloping banks so animals can go down there to drink. The ledge behind the falls, just wide enough for a person… And see how the cliff overhangs us so there’s shelter when it rains. Everything here is just right. Don’t you think that’s incredible?”

“Yes, I guess it is,” said Morris.

“What’s going through your mind right now?” she urged him.

“I was just thinking that it has been a long time since I last saw Spy Kids 2. That is my favourite movie.”

Dr. Boann said nothing and silently hoped that the cryptozoologist due to visit next year was a little more appealing.

(Deep Time is a fantastic novel by ecobardic storyteller Anthony Nanson and you should definitely go out and buy it! Here is my review. Morris is a character of mine and I just thought it would be fun to mix those two entirely different things together. I wrote this as a birthday present for Anthony, as I know him, so I hope he’ll enjoy it and not think of it as a terrible offense to his creation!)

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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