LOST IN THE LAND OF FORKS

Part I

I had a long, strange, vivid dream a few nights ago. It went like this:

After a lengthy absence, I embarked on a long journey home through an unknown land. The terrain was hilly and forested, thick with pine trees, and I was walking on a path. In the logic of the dream, I already knew that each village I passed through was populated not by people but by other species of intelligent animals, creatures unknown in my waking life but unsurprising in the dream.

I found the first village on the trail was filled with jolly grey-skinned rock people, no more than three feet tall, with huge wrinkled mouths and thick legs. In the center of the village I stopped to eat at a sort of outdoor grill restaurant and there struck up conversations with the natives. They all, despite their universally kindly dispositions, spoke in deep, gruff voices and all of the cuisine served reminded me in size, shape, and color of stones, but quite soft, like dough.

I spent some days in an inn amongst these amiable beings and encountered another human, a fellow with black pomaded hair whipped up dramatically on one side to form an impressive wave that jutted glistening about a foot from the side of his head. He spoke with a clipped British accent and had a slippery way of communicating, always looking off into the distance instead of at me, so that nothing he said sounded sincere. He promised to accompany me all the way back to the Village of Humans, although he himself did not live there, because, he claimed, he was worried I would become irretrievably lost if I went by myself.

We set out the next morning and the man, who was garbed ostentatiously in a top hat and three-piece suit, regaled me with overlong tales of his steamy adventures “in the northlands,” which were each fantastically thrilling and almost certainly not true. As we approached the next village, he informed me the residents were called “The Forks,” because they were exceedingly tall and thin, much taller than humans, with silvery skin, and had sprouting from either side of their heads, and pointing straight upwards, twin appendages, very long, such that as a whole the creatures gave the appearance of giant forks, albeit with the middle tines removed. The Forks, the Britishman informed me, were a race fond of games of chance and their economy relied heavily on the cultivation of snails. “They are gambling, snail-obsessed creatures,” he told me.

As we entered the Village of Forks, wind was gusting and black clouds were blotting out the sun. I gaped all around at the strange architecture. The buildings, which were painted in all manner of bright colors, chiefly pinks, yellows, and greens, were much taller and thinner than the ones I was familiar with, almost like rockets in their shape, and the Britishman said, as though reading my thoughts, “the Forks never sit down, so their homes are shaped like their bodies.”

We rounded a bend and entered the village square and encountered a group of Forks. About a dozen of them were loitering in small groups. They were quite impressive, each standing at least a foot taller than us, their tines thick and shining like tall, thin silver balloons.

Seeing us produced an uproar.

Not a friendly one.

The eyes of the Forks, blue-grey, large as billiard balls, widened with fury at the sight of us. Emitting shrill, high-pitched screeches, they galloped up and circled us.

The tallest Fork in the group (herd?) had fearsomely muscular biceps sprouting from a sleeveless green tunic and silvery skin that gleamed so blindingly that it seemed polished. He (?) started bellowing down at my companion. His tines crackled and glowed.

The Britishman cowered behind me and trembled in terror even as he tried to embolden himself by shouting back (up) even louder at the Head Fork. I didn’t know what they were shouting because they communicated in the native tongue of the inhabitants (Forkese sounds a bit like German, clogged with schs and chts, if German were spoken through a mouthful of marbles by Ernest Borgnine). Whatever the Britishman was shouting agitated the Forks further. They began jumping up and down and shaking their silver fists, their tines snapping and crackling and letting off sparks. Their noise brought many more Forks roaring from the surrounding buildings. Soon we were in danger of being swallowed up by a sea of raging Fork-animals.

The Britishman lost his nerve and began sobbing. He dropped to his knees and pulled out a small coin-purse and from it took a few paltry coins and held them up.

The Head Fork bent his head and his tines curved downward and touched the Britishman. There was a mighty zap! and a shower of bright green sparks. The Britishman screamed and fell, scattering his coins on the ground. He lay still on his face, grey smoke rising from his hair.

The Head Fork turned to face me.

(To be continued)

***

Unrelated to the dream above, praise for my novel, The Language of Bears:

 

“In Eidswick’s debut novel, Adam Green lives in Arcadia, an evolved, peaceful version of Puritan New England, which has somehow sprouted in an alternate reality. Disease-free and socialistic, it is a realm filled with fantastic and symbolic emblems, such as pumpkin-sized apples, magic bread, 20-foot-long bears, talking pigs, lots of redheads, and cooperative mice. Green’s troubles begin when he finds a television (a box with a head in it that speaks to him) in the woods. Combined with his family history, this discovery leads to a charge of witchcraft against him. The accusation is championed by Obadiah Broke, the richest man in town, and the Rev. Calvin Mathers Cotton Makepeace Branch, a fire-and-brimstone preacher who believes sin has taken over and that pillories should be reinstated. Broke, who was disfigured and driven mad by an accident with tanning chemicals seven years earlier, is actually behind the TV incident. He seems to know a great deal about life in the other reality, including the value of oil, which he believes lies under Green’s land. The book is a smart, literate, odd, and skillfully written tour de force filled with biblical, mythical, and cultural allusions. Peopled with a cast of wonderfully quirky characters, the plot takes a number of surprising and singular twists while referencing everything from Greek mythology and King Arthur to A.A. Milne’s gloomy donkey, Eeyore. In addition, Eidswick displays a brilliant command of dialogue, and his prose is poetic and filled with striking imagery: “The night sky was spotted with clouds, luminous bruises spread over the stars.” Strange, funny, and poignant, the story deftly wields this eccentric parable to examine a variety of philosophical, religious, and existential questions, such as the dichotomy between deeming the world as evil and worthy of punishment versus viewing life as a demonstration of God’s goodness. Witty, serious, and original, this stunning tale should attract anyone who delights in an intellectually stimulating read.” – KirkusReviews

“It hits almost every single one of my wants when it comes to a fiction book and then some.” – MI Book Reviews

“This book is like reading a fairy tale after consuming a box of magic mushrooms…the surprise hit of the year. I loved it!” – Two Bald Mages

“The Language of Bears is delightfully original and satisfyingly unpredictable: highly recommended reading not for those who look for superficial action, but for readers who delight in finding an original voice that excels in alternative history and unique perspectives.” – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

 

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