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The Candle Lit Room: Meet the Patagonians
I don’t remember conking out, but I do remember waking up feeling a warm substance gluing me to an upright log, or at least I think it was a log. Everything around me was dark, except for the oddly illuminated floor underneath me, and the evil couple standing in front of me. They were edged with a soft silver glow, which greatly contrasted with the sharp glare they were giving me.
And did I mention that the blue lady was dressed as a barbarian queen with a silly conical mask? I was beginning to think they looked stupid with those things on.
The blue lady squeezed her partner’s hand, “You Aztecs think you’re so great, with all your fancy clothes and sophisticated sacrifices and all that trash.”
Her robed partner boomed, “You tell the imbecile, Kree!”
Kree and her freakazoid friend exchanged looks. I gagged.
Kree shot a look at me, “But you are not gonna be so pretty and pompous here.”
Then the black Klansman grunted, “Your days of being fat, dumb, and happy are over.”
Kree snapped her fingers and just like that, I was falling to a stony floor, and landed face first. I peeled myself from the stony floor and realized with horror that my beautiful pharmacist’s outfit (well, it was really the outfit of a junior drug lord, but I didn’t know) was reduced to a slave’s loincloth. The place I was in smelled grimy, just like the servants quarters of any tyrant.
At that moment, I heard a familiar voice. “Don’t you know what she would have done to you if she caught you escaping?”
Then the voice of a teenage boy. “Mom, she makes us look at the paintings in this castle. How much worse can her punishments get?”
I looked over my right shoulder and saw a doorway. Beyond that doorway stood the woman in the dress and a boy in a striped leotard-like outfit. The outfits of both of them were terracotta and white. They stopped their discussion and stared at the rabbit boy who just fell from the ceiling.
So I stared back, “Seriously, you guys look like bananas in those masks.”
The striped kid pointed at his face, “Well in case you don’t know, we’re captives, so we’re forced to wear these ugly-”
His mom put a hand on his shoulder, “Calm yourself.”
The little guy just gave a hot glare at the kindly female. He looked like he was about to swing at her.
I groaned, “I’m sorry, this is just like a bad dream. Can someone tell me what’s going on?”
“You mean you don’t know you’re taken captive by South America’s most notorious dictators. Yeah, I totally believe that.”
“K’terrnen, please!” His mother squeezed his shoulder. Then she directed her big cat eyes toward me, “Like my son, I don’t understand how you never found out, but what’s going on is that you’re at the very bottom of South America. That beast and her ‘beloved’ took several innocent folks as they plan to expand their empire.”-She turned her hands into fists-“They took me and my son from our home in Australia. For all I know, they’ve been planning it for years.”
My curiosity got the best of me, “For what reason would they do that?”
For a moment, I thought I saw fear written all over her face.
But then she said, “Oh, just to spread terror among the Australians, but with them being Darwinists, why would they care?”
Then came this: “Basket! Memoire! Get your sorry butts in the throne room right this instant!”
An unseen door noisily slid open. The two Australians groaned.
They walked out of view, the kid mumbled, “I wonder what kind of messed up thing she’s going to do to me this time.”
That night, I dreamed about frolicking through a meadow of chocolate cosmos.
But then it was interrupted by this crazy laugh, “Wa-a-a-a, wa-a-a-a, WA-A-A-A!”
I sat up and heard my jailmates groan in annoyance.
As I shook the hay off, the voice uttered a more human laugh, “I hope that woke you up, worms! Anyway, all males, and Basket, are to report outside the castle!”
A stone door slid up into the ceiling in the wall in front of me.
K’terrnen hurried into my room, “Come on, follow me.”
A door to my right slid open into a hallway crowded with prisoners. Within seconds, I was bustling through, trying to focus on the kid in the striped pointed hat. It took us forever to reach the outside, and once I did, I was thankful for my snow white fur.
In the distance, a span of sharp mountains loomed over a distant coniferous forest. All around us were rocky, grassy, wind-beaten hills that reminded me of dog backs with some of their fur torn out in a few places. Definitely not like the rolling flower fields I was used to.
I finally found K’terrnen skirting the very edge of the crowd. I had to sideways-run in a zigzag to get to him. We kept on running until we saw this striped lady standing proudly on a spike of a boulder.
Once she realized that we were watching her, she pointed toward the hilly wilderness. “Don’t just stand there, go get us some food!”
K’terrnen broke into a run and I discovered just why he situated himself near the edge. I was almost trampled to death by all the other prisoners. I nearly escaped someone’s huge foot by jumping out of reach. I bounced toward the red figure galloping downhill. He was by far the fastest conehead I’ve ever seen. Wind was blowing in my face, my feet scraped against rock and slipped over grass. Once the kid reached the bottom of the valley, I managed to catch up with him. But then he turned sharply to the left, and made a run for the plains in the distance. So I did the same. This went on until the both of us were in a sea of golden grass.
Twenty feet away, K’terrnen crouched down beside a boulder the same size as him.
Panting, I asked, “Okay, so, what are we doing?”
K’terrnen lifted the boulder as though it were a box trap, “Shh! We don’t want to scare them off.”
From under the boulder he pulled out a rope with two stone spheres attached to them, “I’m guessing you never hunted before.”
Then, while still effortlessly holding up the boulder, he pulled out a bow and arrows.
In a whisper, I said, “Well you’re right about that. I’m just a hippie.”
I looked at his legs and noticed that they looked like they were made of polygons. His lower torso looked like this too, kind of like hard, angular rock, “So, what are you, exactly?”
He put the boulder back in its place, “Nargun. Now follow me.”
“Well that answers my question. Say, what’s a nargun?”
K’terrnen looked around, then he pointed to a hilly area to the left, “There’s a few canelo trees over there. Go get the seeds. Get as many as you can.”
Since I wasn’t a hunter, I did what he asked. It felt a bit creepy staring at the grove over there, but someone had to do it. Upon closer inspection, the trees had rough gray bark and whorls of parakeet green leaves. They were pretty short for a stand of trees.
Their trunks were about a foot in diameter. I hopped on a boulder next to the first tree, grabbed a branch, and started climbing. As I slipped among the branches, I realized that I wasn’t built for climbing. I also remembered that canelo trees are supposed to grow in dappled shade.
Something near the branches of the tree made a sniffing sound, like a dog. I looked down and saw no dog. The roots at the bottom of the tree were really knobby looking, kind of like bent knees.
The tree rose up. A hoarse voice said, “Get off my branches.”
I clung to the tree. “Who said that?”
My question was answered by a violent shaking. “I did! I’m the tree you’re climbing!”
The tree and the trees nearby jumped up and bucked like wild horses. The one I was on galloped down the hill, toward what looked like a herd of little llamas. Nearby, striped backs littered the landscape.
“Run, K’terrnen, run!”
K’terrnen poked his head out of the grass, and whistled and made a run for it. His hunting party fled too, and so did the llamas.
And me? I was being shaken senseless.
I heard someone yell, “Let go, man! Let go!”
Well, I didn’t have to let go. The tree finally shook me loose and I was sent flying toward the ground. All I could do was maneuver myself so I would land on my back. All the wind was knocked out of me. The bizarre tree walked over to me, his cartoonish face wrinkled with anger. He snorted like a bull and turned and walked away with hooves (or very hard feet) thudding in his wake.
Then I heard lighter footsteps. A striped, masked face appeared over me, “You’re lucky to be alive. Now let’s get out of here.”
I followed the guys up the main hill. “So did you guys catch anything?”
The tallest man of the group turned to me and held up what looked like a fox covered in oil. “We may not have caught any guanacos, but we caught Xalpen’s favorite delicacy.”
That was probably the ugliest name that ever hit me in the ears, “I’m sorry, who?”
“Xalpen, the Black Queen.”
I stared at him.
“The star of The Hain.”
Again, my mind drew a blank.
“The monster in the black and white coat.”
“Ohhh, that one. She kidnapped me.”
Then the dude squinted. “Yeah, because you humiliated her in front of, oh, I don’t know, several people.”
Everyone remained quiet for the whole trip up the castle’s hill. The castle itself was a series of giant sandstone cones that stretched into the sky. I noticed that the other groups of prisoners carried about one or two of those llama-like animals and seven guys carried in what looked like a small buck deer. The groups went into the castle, one at a time. Once we got close to the other prisoners, they started to snicker.
“I feel so sorry for you guys,” somebody said.
The first room was the throne room. Both of the thrones were made of black twisted wood. All over the castle, there were these gruesome paintings. We traveled through what felt like a maze of corridors before we opened these double doors and got hit in the face with clouds of steam. The leader handed the fox over to a female slave and we went through another set of corridors into the dining hall. I jumped at the sight of Kree and… well, I find the name of her friend to be pretty disgusting, so I won’t use it. Anyway, Kree’s lover was looking at us, wild-eyed and drooling.
“She growled at me,” I told K’terrnen.
“Shut your face,” And he gave me a light nudge.
Kree’s lover yelled in a harsh voice, “Memoire! Rabbit Boy! Get over here!”
K’terrnen’s shoulders gave the slightest slump and we walked over to the two dictators. They gestured us to sit next to them, with K’terrnen to sit across from me. Remember K’terrnen’s mom? She tried to sneak past her monstrous look-alike but she got singled out.
“Nice try Tanu-I mean, Basket.”
Tanu’s shoulders slumped the same exact way K’terrnen’s did and she took a seat right next to her son. Now that I could see her, I noticed that one of her shoulders was broader than the other. Seeing that hit me with a bout of confusion.
“Uuuugh! Where’s the food?” Kree’s beloved basically crushed her partner’s hand.
“It will be here when it’s ready, darling.” Kree rubbed her partner’s hand.
Tanu and I gagged. Kree’s lover hurried over and slapped the side of Tanu’s head. I turned and saw a red light flash in Kree’s eyes.
She got up and said, “We don’t need your intolerance, jerk!”
“Mom! Are you okay?” K’terrnen jumped out of his seat and turned his mother’s mask.
“She’s not your mother!” Kree’s girlfriend lumbered over to the mother and child.
She was about to hurt them when I stood up and shouted “Wait!”
Both sat down in their seats.
I got on top of the table and started telling them about the hunting incident. The whole time, K’terrnen was signalling me to stop. I ignored him and kept on talking until I ended the story.
Luckily, the two monsters started laughing, just as I planned. They were laughing so hard that everyone stopped talking. After I got back in my chair, Kree and her lover didn’t even notice the plates set before them. Every once in a while, while I was eating what looked like grass, they’d look at me and break into a laughing fit, while everyone else crammed meat into their mouths, as though they feared someone was going to take it from them. In the end, the two queens waved a dismissive hand and we all went outside to what looked like an old ball court. The Mayan-style ball court reminded me of home, with its sloping walls, the stone hoops attached to the walls, and the grass covering the floor and the walls.
But before I can get a chance to feel homesick, all the guys gathered around me and threw me into the air. Tanu and K’terrnen watched from a stone’s throw away from the crowd in bewilderment.
The guys called me a prophet as I was caught and thrown up again.
They thought God Himself sent me. They thought I used some supernatural stuff on the queens. Clearly they haven’t seen any miracles around here.
I’m a polyglot and some of the languages I can speak are Patagonian.
I later found out that the practice of giving captives stupid names was not Patagonian in origin. The two queens learned this cruel practice from someone else.
I know Patagonian narguns have big eyes, but you can definitely tell when they’re flabbergasted.