Heaven´s Flower Tree
The Unfolding of the Heaven-flower Tree
I. Back in Europe
Thinking back to two days before, imprisoned Norwegian JENS ODER FLIRUM remembers approaching the Portuguese west coast locked away in a coffin, one of six lined up in the M/S Taratuga’s dark hold. The coffin interiors were equipped to provide thA password is exchangeeir living occupants from Brazil with all necessities for surviving a secret voyage. Everything was perfectly planned for their resurrections to proceed. The war made west Portugal the only feasible place for a safe landfall – the conspirators thought.
FLIRUM had happy memories of Portugal from before – good reason, perhaps, for the conspiracy’s recruitment of CAPTAIN CALVINHAS to run their 44-point Great Plan. Accomplices TIMOTHEUS and ALISA SPECKHUBER – he a funeral home agent – were scheduled to fetch and smuggle in the six coffins upon arrival at the docks. Now the Plan had been purposely crushed, together with the occupants of the five other coffins, in the jaws of an unloading crane. The five were now only shreds of flesh and bone mixed together with splintered wood, dumped in a bloody heap at the docks.
FLIRUM, on the edge of hysteria, laughs at himself, in spite of suppurative facial cuts cracking, and sinks down into a corner of his cell, clothing stiff with blood and dirt. When the third coffin was crushed, FLIRUM knew things had gone wrong, that he had to evacuate using an inside latch. Blinded by light, he was roughly grabbed by men in uniform. FLIRUM realises the SPECKHUBERS are dead or have changed sides. Taking in the bloody heap – comrades welded together under the sign of the blue morpho butterfly, FLIRUM knew they were betrayed. FLIRUM is beaten. He faints. He has visions, mental pictures, and has difficulty separating these from reality. The view through the tiny window of his small cell confirms he is in the Europe he left 17 years before, and is now a prisoner of factions. The view looks far to the southwest.
A dried-out riverbed; no houses; no roads. FLIRUM sees his cell is atop a cliff of at least 30 metres high. His watch is gone, but he still has his gold Inca medallion around his neck. Food and water are shoved in Meissen porcelain bowls through a 10 cm gap between the cell door and floor. He lies down on a straw mattress stinking of mould and piss. He has the frequent impression of hearing music. FLIRUM wonders why he hasn’t been killed yet. It is precisely 30 years since the first time he was involuntarily imprisoned. Through close examination of the cell’s interior, FLIRUM, once an amateur of non-indigenous European monuments, pegs it as Moorish- influenced construction. An inscription indicates previous occupancy by Dominican monks. An old monastery. Thinking this through and estimating the sun’s angle, FLIRUM decides he is probably somewhere in Gascony. He hears a song faintly sung somewhere. He thinks perhaps all is not lost: old friend and fellow conspirator CAPTAIN EMILE SARDO CALVINHAS, brother of MINNEA – FLIRUM’s Portuguese flame of 20 years before – is likely to be apprehensive and eventually act.
Loosing track of the days, one night FLIRUM hears loud sounds of battle and the rush of his prison’s garrison to the fight. Hope rising, he tries the still-solidly bolted door, and in different languages, yells for someone to free him. Almost as suddenly as it had started, the clamour ceases. FLIRUM falls asleep. On waking, he sees the burnt-out hulk of a Promoton Diocletian X10 tank. He mentally reviews the political situation – Europe’s multitudinous underprivileged groups have gone to war, seeking independence. Among these, the Jutlanders, the Saxons, the Flemish, the Hapsburgs, the Basques, the Catalans, the Tuscans – just to name a few, not to mention 20 various Muslim groups and the neo-Zionists, all of whom form and reform daily in a constant swirl of new alliances and broken agreements. For food FLIRUM gets rat meat with mouldy rice crawling with worms. Casting inaction aside, FLIRUM decides to escape, and set the Plan in motion. Not the window – the drop below is too far, even if he somehow wiggled through. Looking at the wall he decides to scrape through it, breaking his Meissan bowl for a tool. Foodless, FLIRUM scratches around a stone block, when he is interrupted. An officer enters with a pistol. The man spots the gouged channel in the wall, and randomly fires off a round that ricochets, with a fragment hitting him on his chin, causing blood to drip down his uniform. He kicks FLIRUM viciously several times and gathers up every bit of broken crockery. Kicking FLIRUM again, he leaves. FLIRUM, interested in small creatures, is surprised at the total absence of insects: there is not even an ant. Food comes silently in a plastic bowl. FLIRUM feels even more compelled to carry the Plan through, thinking over Europe’s history. The aim of the EU was obvious: one world with one Leader and many disciples. There were 17 failed attempts at union. Uninterrupted executions. Consequent chaos. An imposed dominance, forcing a worthless life upon all the world’s inferior creatures. And now the rivers are empty, although the glaciers are advancing. FLIRUM hears the same song more clearly, more often. Danish words, a woman’s voice: “Oh, beautiful flower of the World//Sailing in a cloud of sadness//Find rest, peace and joy”. The singing suddenly stops. That night FLIRUM sleeps little, reviewing the Plan’s details in his mind. Two older officers come to his cell, and take him through the stinking, deteriorating monastery to a room full of electronic gear and weapons, reeking of cigar smoke. Three men in mufti sit at a table near a black, gold and green banner with an ibis motif. On the wall behind them hangs an enormous portrait of an especially ugly person with nightmarish face. One man recites the Koran’s sutra.
FLIRUM now knows he is being held by a Muslim faction. In bad German, the man on the left says “Jens Oder Flirum. We like you not! But had we known you and others were in the coffins, we would not have crushed them.
Who were you linking up with?” Thinking quickly, lying, FLIRUM says “Montenegrins”. Tension eases a bit; the men nod knowingly. “Precisely. But now you’re in the hands of the victorious movement of the Star of Seven Clans, and you will work with us.” The price for which, FLIRUM insists, is paper and pen, and a look at their intelligence file on him. The three call him a fool, but grudgingly yield to his obstinacy. FLIRUM makes an additional demand: warmth.
In short order, there is a brazier, paper, and pencils in his cell. His spirits are lifted even higher by the transit of a Cynthia cardui butterfly past his window. MINO the magician taught him to love these creatures, unmentioned in the Bible. Four days go by without any visits from FLIRUM’s fundamentalist captors. He writes, and concludes the singing he heard was indeed Danish. This recalls something from his far past, that he cannot allow himself to think about. FLIRUM has no sympathy for Europe – the continent got what it deserved. The Plan has other goals than to prop up wrecked capitalism and Christianity. At dusk, a new battle rages, shaking the monastery’s walls. The building has almost certainly been hit, and FLIRUM hears wild shouts and alarums in the corridors.
Looking outside, FLIRUM sees the manoeuvres of armoured divisions in a stroboscopic nightmare of artillery flashes, and ducks under his mattress for protection. Battles continue half the night. Anachronistically, there is the sound of trumpets in the pauses between shooting. FLIRUM hears 12-15 loud reports from within the monastery – executions. He sleeps with folded hands. Waking, FLIRUM sees the walls are damaged, with several blocks out of position, large cracks between. Two more dinosaur-like tank wrecks are outside: a Multifight Vespasian VII and a Warman Tiberius Delta, both English-made. FLIRUM carefully tests a loose block in the wall – it wiggles.
Weighing the possibility that it may be load-bearing, he takes the chance and removes one entirely, making a hole large enough to creep through. Poking his head in the new room, he sees half its outside wall has collapsed, along with much of the floor (including the part directly beneath his opening) – only air separates him from the rocks 30 metres below! He sees, in an intact corner, an old, skeletal, wheelchair-bound man, with drool running down his chin and chest. FLIRUM crawls over on a ledge. The man, with skin so gnarled it looks like bark, greets FLIRUM in a computer- generated voice emanating from his wheelchair! FLIRUM realises who the man is – famous genius of god-like intellect PROFESSOR STEVE W. EAGLEKING. “They’re shooting and shooting. Worst of all, the chain is broken” EAGLEKING says, pointing to where he had been linked to the wall. Only his grip on a rusty bolt prevents his rolling down the inclined floor. If he lets go, he will fly into space, to be dashed upon the rocks outside.
FLIRUM will not let that happen: there are questions only EAGLEKING can answer. FLIRUM is astounded the man is still breathing: 20 years before, suffering from sclerosis, he was given 5 years to live. He lost his speech, but continued “speaking” with a voice synthesiser. He has to be over a hundred! EAGLEKING says “There must be a reason we’re both kept as prisoners. Who are you?” FLIRUM replies “Jens Oder Flirum. From Norway and Brazil.” “Yenso? So you are Señor Yenso” “Si” answers FLIRUM, proud he is recognised, but noticing for the first time a stink of rot rising from the scientist. FLIRUM asks EAGLEKING why an old man like him is imprisoned. The voice-synthesiser generates a sound like a swarm of bees – laughter. EAGLEKING possesses the formula for the isotope kardonium, the rare substance that can be made into a new energy source, an energy bomb. The first who makes it, wins the war. EAGLEKING is the only man who can discover the long-sought formula. As such, he has been shunted about – threatened, locked in cellars, and put under wraps by various extremist groups all over Europe.
FLIRUM, seeing possible advantage to the Plan, swings the wheelchair around to prevent its rolling down the slope, and shoves some chunks of rock under its wheels. EAGLEKING says he knows all about the universe, a Theory of Everything – that is why he has been allowed to live. EAGLEKING leads FLIRUM through a maze of physics and cosmology. EAGLEKING had previously melded relativity and quantum theory into a single unified whole. The discovery made clear that time and space are infinite and without boundaries, and that the same physical laws applied everywhere throughout the cosmos. His theory showed how the universe began, but not why. EAGLEKING later found an answer to that last mystery, but was isolated in the depth of his knowledge. Reducing our 3-D space to 2 dimensions, he had found that two types of time exist, showing that physics had based itself for hundreds of years on false concepts such as point, zero, and the like. There are, within his four new dimensions, an infinite number of histories of the universe. At this point he poses FLIRUM a riddle: “What is: things are the way they are because they were as they were?” Using his ecological insights and those of Amazon Indians, FLIRUM solves the puzzle, mightily impressing EAGLEKING, who says: “So that’s why you are Yenso. Everything written and said about you is true! You’re not just a myth to scare Europeans.” EAGLEKING runs through the anthropic principal, the idea that “things are the way they are in the cosmos, because we are”. If the conditions of creation had varied only one little bit, the cosmos could not exist. This said, EAGLEKING presents a second riddle: what is the full implication of the anthropic principal in light of his second time dimension? FLIRUM’s solution is “being is because nothing is annihilated”. They pause, while EAGLEKING’s solar-powered voice-synthesiser loads up. That done, he tells FLIRUM he can read his thoughts, and knows how the bitter FLIRUM, filled with disdain for all the European intellectual tradition represents, would like their meeting to end with EAGLEKING’s demise.
FLIRUM’s second answer was correct, EAGLEKING says. He continues, saying that he knows why the universe exists. Then he throws FLIRUM a third question: “What does a universe with two spatial and two time dimensions look like?” FLIRUM, momentarily baffled, almost moves to push EAGLEKING’s wheelchair down the slope, but contains himself. After some thought, FLIRUM relates a parable about an Indian in a canoe which, slowing gradually down, cannot be said to be either in motion or at rest, as viewed by the canoeist. At which same moment, a butterfly starts alighting on the canoeist’s paddle, going slower, not quite moving, not quite still. The similar thoughts of man and insect intersect, and an invisible vibration arises from the conjunction. FLIRUM’s solution, in brief: “In reality, neither motion nor rest exist, they are illusions. What really exists, and is our universe, is the collision of the imperceptable moments between motion and rest in both the time dimensions.
The result is the two dimensional space we sense”. It is dark, and hearing no response – the voice synthesiser is turned off – FLIRUM goes to sleep. Waking up in sunlight, FLIRUM hears his own exposition of the night before – the professor has recorded it all. FLIRUM bends his head in shame: he had fallen into positivism’s sterile web, the tradition that has held the world in a death grip the last 300 years, reducing everything to objects. A dominating philosophy that describes torture and hunger, without being able to do anything about them. The philosophy that can precisely describe the universe. FLIRUM sees the professor no longer drools: his face is clean and shining. FLIRUM had moved in his sleep to outside edge of the shattered floor; one foot dangles in space. Two centimetres more would have been fatal. He carefully edges back from the drop. Poking his head through the wall, FLIRUM looks into his own cell. There is no food bowl. The war has moved on; the monastery is abandoned. The voice-synthesiser switches on, and EAGLEKING asks “ Señor Yenso? What was the name of that Indian? And which butterfly sat on his oar?” “Perhaps it was Ingacu” JENS ODER says. “The butterfly might have been a swallowtail, a Papilio.” “Perfect. There is no more beautiful name – the Ingacu-Papilio Theory!” EAGLEKING says laughing. With FLIRUM having answered all three riddles, EAGLEKING offers to explain the why of existence, something that has FLIRUM almost kicking the props from under the professor’s wheelchair. Controlling himself, he says he has no interest in learning that secret. If EAGLEKING lets out so much as a peep, he knows what will happen next – a landing without a safety net. EAGLEKING’s eyes show fear, despair, sorrow and astonishment; he begins to drool again. FLIRUM sees that EAGLEKING is not afraid to die; in fact, he wants to.
But not before he has imparted his secret. FLIRUM lets fly at the tearful EAGLEKING, brutally telling him his science is sterile – he has never planted one single seed from which a plant will grow! But, but – FLIRUM is willing to make a devil’s deal – if EAGLEKING imparts the secret of kardonium, FLIRUM will hear and try to comprehend his explanation of the why of existence. EAGLEKING tells him he had already decided, on first meeting him, to give FLIRUM kardonium’s secret, long before he posed any riddles. While EAGLEKING runs the printer built into his wheelchair, it dawns on FLIRUM that the recent was an attempt to capture the old man. Where, though, are the victors? With the sun shining on them, EAGLEKING hands a printed paper roll to FLIRUM, who, looking closely at the professor, realises he is a cyborg, getting energy directly from the solar panels on his wheelchair – the explanation for his apparent lack of hunger.
Kardonium, FLIRUM is told, is quite simple to produce. It is a liquid, totally harmless, and could be drunk, were it not for its constant temperature of 63.28 Celsius. The printout is in code; the key is given to FLIRUM, who repeats it several times, committing it to memory. FLIRUM awakes during the night, cold, with stomach cramps. The last food he ate was surely bad; he has a fever and aches. He hears the voices of his dead friends. He sleeps again. When he awakes, the pain is gone, and so is EAGLEKING – only his glasses remain in their case. Finding the printout of the kardonium formula, FLIRUM also sees a larger roll. It begins with a swan song, a polite and respectful farewell saying EAGLEKING believes FLIRUM will escape their prison, but he, EAGLEKING, will not. He asks FLIRUM to read the long roll, containing the explanation of existence. He signs off with “For the very last time in a long life, yours, Steve Weduku Eagleking.” Creeping over to the edge of the floor, FLIRUM looks down, and sees EAGLEKING on the rocks far below, still strapped to his wheelchair.
One wheel rotates softly in the breeze. Reviving rain comes, and FLIRUM sits for hours catching it in his hand. Drinking, he is refreshed and vital, and thinks about getting out. If he succeeds, the Plan could still be activated. He sleeps on the problem of what seems to be impossible escape. The next day, he has it – the professor’s glasses! With paper and sunlight, he can try to burn the door. He manages the fire, but the few sheets of his writing paper are insufficient fuel to set the door ablaze. What to burn? – his own journal and notes, or the kardonium formula, or the explanation of all? FLIRUM sets the last on fire, shouting Weduku! Yes! – no one will ever know the meaning of things now. The door does not catch fire, and the life work of EAGLEKING is ashes. FLIRUM despairs, and then thinks of the mattress in his cell, stuffed with straw. The fire takes, and burns through the solid oak. With a running kick of his naked foot against the charred wood, FLIRUM bursts through the door, into the corridor. There is an indescribable stink. He chooses a direction and begins to walk, his notes and the formula safely tucked under his shirt. He passes a uniformed corpse being eaten by rats, crushing one accidentally with his heel. Bodies and parts of bodies all around, walls sprayed with dried blood. The shrill piping sounds of thousands of rats feeding.
And then he sees civilian corpses: women, children, old men, bodies horribly and purposely mangled. He sits by the altar in the chapel, where the air is better. FLIRUM has gone through the entire building, finding bodies everywhere. Soldiers fried by flame-throwers. From uniforms with the Star of David and the Bavarian eagle, he sees that at least three groups were locked together in mortal struggle. He is now glad no one answered his pleas to open the door. He can find no way out: the victors have sealed the ignominious place tight, forgetting the two prisoners. Fever takes him again. He claws at stone; tears pages from the Bible in the chapel, scattering them; he chews the wax candles. He hears voices. Awaking from sleep, he is lucid – if he cannot find a way out this day, he will eat a roasted thigh of some soldier. FLIRUM walks to the central courtyard of the monastery to look at the blue sky. He hears a sound – a rhythmical knocking. Calling out, he tries to locate the source, but the echoes confuse him. He goes through every room, finding nothing, yet the sounds – now coming as an SOS signal – are so clear! Back in the arcade, he listens with his ear to the flagging. Kicking corpses aside, he examines the stone floors. In one large room, he finds a metal ring set in a flagstone. And hears two weak knocks, then nothing. Taking a sumo wrestler’s stance, the weakened FLIRUM lifts the stone by the ring with great effort. He makes out steps in the revealed chamber. “Is anybody there?” He goes down into the dark, and discovers a tiny frail person, a woman, body drawn together, with a pistol in one hand. He removes it from her grasp. Only when back in the courtyard arcade, does FLIRUM stop shaking. He looks down at the woman with long golden hair, who is still alive, barely, and is still beautiful under the dirt and blood, as she always was. It is LOLINDA, his dear beloved LOLO. He had waited for her 17 years on the riverbank, waiting, but she never came. Why didn’t you come, Lolo?
II. The Nights Under the Sorac Tree
He sat by the riverside and waited. Why didn’t LOLO come? His shirt is plastered to his body, the steaming jungle presses against his temples, heavy drops of burning sweat run into his eyes. So unused to it. The novelty of being in another part of the world was wearing off after a month and a half. Statiras butterflies soar by; so many colours, and sounds, and smells. The last few days he went without shoes – none of the Indians in the village used any. Those who did, got stinking feet. He studies the ants – sauba and pigrotes, according to his reference books. Three boats last month, but no LOLO. He looks up at the blue jacaranda trees towering above, eternally in flower. It is a miracle – thousands of species in a hundred square metres. He fishes a maraca out of a basket and peeling it, eats it – the best fruit he’s ever known. The Indians leave him in peace, except for little 10-year old orphan ARMADA, an intelligent little thinker, who almost immediately adopted him, JENS ODER FLIRUM. A hand alights on JENS ODER’s shoulder. “No barco hoje, señor Yenso?” “No, it doesn’t look that way.”
ARMADA asks JENS if he has heard the murdu fishes sing. JENS ODER listens, and hears a faint hum. ARMADA says it is these fish that make the river run – the water senses their beautiful song, and moves downstream to hear it. The biggest murdu are of course by the sea. ARMADA is not taken in by JENS ODER’s claim of water in his homeland becoming so cold one can walk on it. Only Christ can walk on water. Christ is dead in his hut, left behind by the Marian Sisters when the mission school closed down. ARMADA takes JENS ODER by the hand to show him. They cross the village and enter a makeshift chapel. In it, on empty vegetable cases, a coffin rests. Inside is the life-size figure of man with a crown of thorns, mild-faced with beard, dressed in white cotton, dormant. JENS ODER touches the figure’s face, and is frightened to find the flesh yielding, and real blood on his finger. He yanks ARMADA out of the place and asks him who it is. “It’s Jesus Christ, señor Yenso. He’s been lying here ever since the nuns first came here.” JENS ODER goes in again alone and lifts the cotton shroud: the figure is absolutely authentic; there are wounds from a spear, and from scourging, with blood still trickling out. “We don’t care so much about Christ here” says ARMADA.
“He can rest in peace. But if he starts to rot, we’ll have to dump him in the river. That’s what Uncle Archo says.” JENS ODER doesn’t know what to believe, sitting on a tree trunk, waiting for the afternoon rain as the sweat runs down his face. But he smiles. The village of the Sucuruki tribe, located deep in the Amazon in a sort of no-man’s land where Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela meet, was as far from civilisation as one could travel by boat. The sleepy town of Cucui, right where the borders meet, is a few tens of miles to the east. Life in that place had almost stopped because of the prohibition on mining. Nonetheless, lawless garimpeiros – fortune hunters – refused to leave the area. The Sucuruki village lay along the Icana River, and has the official name Puerto Espirito Santo. But the Indians call it corra, which means simply “village” in their language. Unusually for the region, otherwise utterly flat, there was a little rise here, and upon it, the Sucuruki had built Corra, which is thus impervious to floods. It was not on any map. JENS ODER has been here 2 months; it is his thirtieth birthday. He found out about the place from the philanthropic anthropologist GILLE SAINT-STEFAN, now dead under the mud of an artificial dam. JENS ODER has several tons of equipment in a shed by the river, waiting for LOLO’s arrival. JENS ODER goes down to half-Indian SEÑOR LUCCU’s store. LUCCU obtains manufactured goods by trading eggs from his pircci hens.
Ordering a half bottle of rum, JENS ODER sips it, while watching violet beetles crawl below a picture of Yasir Arafat as the rain pounds down. LUCCU tells him the nuns left because they finally understood who the Indians really were. They left their Christ behind, although the villagers had no real use for someone dead so long. JENS ODER is in a place where few Europeans have ever been. He was reviled at first, suspected of being a missionary, but once he had explained his aims, hate immediately turned to friendliness, with the headsman proclaiming him a full-fledged inhabitant of the hamlet. JENS ODER lives in a small bamboo house. While reading early natural history accounts, he is invited on a tapir hunt by a man a little younger than himself, ENRIQUE. JENS ODER follows the Indian into the jungle, further than he has ever penetrated until now. The experience is overwhelming; brightly coloured birds and butterflies are everywhere. Out of sight, ENRIQUE shoots 2 tapirs with his 2-metre long blowgun. ENRIQUE shows him a mecata tree: knocking on it, one hears the knocking repeated, high up, after some delay. There is only one of these in any Sucuruki village.
That evening, drinking cassava beer with the chief, eating grilled tapir from glowing coals, JENS ODER realises he has put his past behind him. Europe is no longer his world. He begins to sort out his equipment, and pays the Indians to build a solid house on the outskirts of the village. From that house, we shall learn, not destroy, he thinks. He had used much time going through the bureaucratic mills of Brazil, Columbia, and Venezuela before his permission cleared and the area was declared protected. He spends days in Cucui telephoning, among others, CAPTAIN CALVINHAS, in a effort to find LOVINDA BOHR – LOLO – who has uncharacteristically disappeared. Once his new house is finished, YENSO takes the gear there, inviting two local women, cooks LUANDA and VOLLUNI – daughters of the chief’s deceased younger brother – to move their canteen into part of his house. There is not as much equipment, compared to the project centre in Manaus, where top researchers are engaged. ARMADA tags along constantly, gleaning as much as he can from his idol YENSO. In his turn, smart ARMADA teaches YENSO much about his new home; including plants and animal lore, not to mention Surcuruki language and customs. YENSO learns that the Surcuruki do not distinguish between life or death – these are merely two different states of being in an endless journey. For them, the blue of heaven comes invisibly from a source high up in mountains to the west. YENSO’s life enters a new phase; he no longer runs to the river at the sound of a boat. It is 14 years since he left Flirumgrenda. The PARROT WOMAN lives alone. She stopped talking after soldiers gunned down her man and 2 children; now her 3 parrots talk for her. YENSO comes by, asking for vegetables. “Coming soon!” her blue parrot screeches. The red parrot asks YENSO to sample some camones.
“He’s almost become a Surcuruki”, the green-gold bird says. YENSO leaves, having offered his help digging up PARROT WOMAN’s garden, wondering at the same time how she gets the birds to talk for her. Attracted by a ruckus by the river, indicating that strangers have entered the place, YENSO goes down to discover a big, red-faced German-speaking man dressed in a parody of traditional explorer’s kit. The boor is a Pole, DIETER KUSTAPEC, incredibly arrogant, who loudly insists on moving into YENSO’s house, only to be rebuffed. The Pole nevertheless comes to the cantina in YENSO’s place to drink rum. After one bottle, KUSTAPEC starts bragging how he has bought the entire forest, showing papers stamped and signed, giving him rights to 600 000 decares of the surrounding land. He has obviously bribed authorities to violate restrictions, empowering him to export timber to Kuwait and Iran. YENSO, lying through his teeth, says KUSTAPEC needs more papers, more permission. The man, by now rudely drunk, couldn’t care less. With corruption rife, his money will talk loudest. ENRIQUE goes over to KUSTAPEC, and in Portuguese, with YENSO translating, gives him a gift, as the tribe’s new friend, of a holy alligator’s tooth, sharp and little, to carry in his pocket. YENSO thinks it odd, given his own status as a near tribesman, that he has never received such a gift.
Before YENSO moved up to Surcuruki territory, he carefully supervised the building and furnishing of his rain forest centre – Arboris et floris, Latin for “Trees and Flowers”. It is a solid building, with well-equipped laboratories and cold storage on the banks of the Rio Negro a few kilometres outside Manaus. All living rain forest plants would be analysed there, registered and preserved, with seeds of all species frozen at minus 212 Celsius, thereby preserved for all time. Any plants found to have valuable characteristics would be exploited outside the rain forest. YENSO’s own role would be to work in the field, in the primeval jungle, collecting specimens for Instituto ARBETFLO Amazonia. Most project backing is by the Brazilian government. YENSO is frightened by the appearance of KUSTAPEC, and the threat he represents. YENSO avoids the Pole, who is preparing a riverbank site for his logging machinery. Three days later, ENRIQUE asks YENSO to enjoy the tribulations of the Pole, sick with diarrhoea by the river. Seeing the man, YENSO wonders what is so funny, and is then informed that KUSTAPEC will die. It was the alligator tooth. The next day, white worms crawl out of every orifice of KUSTAPEC’s body. His eyes pop out and burst like rotten pomegranates, and he dies. Four locals kick the body into the river. YENSO feels no compassion for the European whatsoever. YENSO takes stock of himself: he is young, with a broad face framed by long, light, unruly hair and a short curly beard. His green eyes are no longer plagued by humidity-induced sweat, now that he has acclimated. His posture is improved.
He is adjusting to natural rhythms. All the cold defensive façade he had built over the years started melting away after he met LOLO; now the process is nearing completion. One day, the great hunter and village jester CALCAO invites YENSO to accompany him to put together something special for the Three Moon festival. Since YENSO has been otherwise kept in the dark on festival proceedings, he eagerly accepts, and the two paddle a dugout some hours, going up a side river teeming with fauna, until they reach a sort of hummock in the jungle. There they dig out some round grey stones, taking them with as they go further up the stream that broadens out into a lagoon, clearly visited before – a bamboo hut’s remains are visible. This place is CALCAO’s orteca, a secret place where his medicine man father PAPUA and his ancestors came to listen to the earth and receive wisdom. Here he found out about the sorac tree, that fruited once every 200 years. The night its fruit falls to earth is when the thoughts of the ancestors became one with those who sit under the tree. CALCAO tells YENSO this and more, because he views YENSO – with his obvious concern for living things – as a brother. The grey stones, broken open with a bush knife, prove to be geodes filled with glittering amythest crystals.
CALCAO says only two halves will be needed; a pair is chosen that when put together, look like an ordinary rock. They duck into the hut when rain comes, and CALCAO reveals there are more villages deep in the jungle, so inaccessible the shy inhabitants have never seen white men. When monkeys swing by, CALCAO kills one with his blowgun, saving the blood in a pouch without saying why, adding leaves that will stop coagulation. The two ride the current back to Corra. The next day, YENSO visits LUCCU and drinks rum to mental fado music, to quell the excitement he feels waiting for the next day’s festival. YENSO has taken to sleeping with LUANDA, who visits his hammock often. LUCCU reveals that Yasir Arafat, now 100 years, often visits his establishment for cold medicine. “Right” replies YENSO, on his way out. Up early next morning, YENSO goes to CALCAO’s hut, and watches him pour the ape blood into the geode halves, sealing them with a gluey substance. When the afternoon rain comes, the stone will open and its power will fill the air, the Indian says, swearing YENSO to secrecy. CALCAO gives YENSO something from a clay pot: “Drink, brother. Drink, and you will see.” Afterward, in his own house, YENSO watches ants, having no difficulty now understanding their movements. Joining the others for the Three Moon festival, YENSO, with the bitter taste of the drink still in his mouth, sees things more clearly; colours are more intense; smells more marked; the sunlight sharper. LUANDA paints him with the onca’s sign, the sign of Jaguar. He feels himself becoming this totem animal. Then he sees shadows of light, moving freely, participating in the festival – something he accepts as natural. YENSO starts a conversation with one of them, lost conquistador of 1542 FRANCISCO DE ORELLANO, who gives YENSO an Inca sun medallion that YENSO puts around his neck, before he turns to converse with 19th century plant hunter HENRY BATES, a goddamner, called such after his frequent use of the expression. They discuss ants. Ethopharmcologist LEWIS LEWIN comes by, warning of environmental devastation. YENSO says times have changed. LEWIN asks how much banisteria YENSO drank. “None” “What do think CALCAO gave you?” “Well, a little” YENSO replies. By now there are at least 1000 light shadows in the village, some of remarkable shape, but YENSO only is able to manifest those few with whom he has some connection.
He becomes friends with PARROT WOMAN’s pig, and follows the thoughts of at least three jaguars in the jungle. With the sun high in the sky, the linked children form circles around adults, who must then perform a dance signifying something of the elements. ARRAGO, an old hunter, tells YENSO to accompany him on a visit to the blue zone, where they will talk with “ayahuasca woman”, the real wellspring, who will say what is really true. At the urging of lyrical BATES and enthusiastic LEWIN, YENSO agrees. The tribes old men drum, and then, with the afternoon moon in the sky, BATES, LEWIN and the other light shadows flow up the plane tree under which the tribe now sits while the rain pours down. When it stops, they look up and see the moon divide into two. These moons disappear behind the leaves, and a thousand lights shine up in the tree – CALCAO’s geodes, now open, astonishing everyone except YENSO and CALCAO. The spilled monkey blood attracts thousands of parrots to the tree, who speak the words of PARROT WOMAN until dark. Sitting with LUANDA back at his house, YENSO sees three apparitions in white on the trail; before he can approach them, they are gone. Early next morning, YENSO finds a cabin cruiser, the Melinda, at the village dock.
On its side is written Nippon Amazon Aluminium Company Ltd. – the name of one of the two worst corporate environmental offenders operating in South America. Nippon Amazon has destroyed thousands of square kilometres of rain forest with its dams. Acting impulsively, YENSO quietly slips the boat loose from its moorings, sending it downstream with the current. A few weeks pass. YENSO sees from his logbook that he has sent 1714 plastic boxes, each with one specimen of a plant, to ARBETFLO in Manaus, where only 437 had been analysed to date. Interest in the project is great, and there is talk of expansion. To prevent rapacious exploitation by big business interested in taking over ARBETFLO’s discoveries, plant identifications are coded, so no outsider could find which plant to link with its discovered properties, some of which had already been found to have medicinal value. YENSO after soul-searching teaches 11-year old ARMADA to read and write; LUANDA picks up these skills through overhearing the lessons. ARMADA is the perfect little botanist; if something happens to YENSO, ARMADA will carry on the work. On his way out to discuss the possibility of getting his own pircci hens from LUCCU, YENSO stops short on seeing the three white-clad Japanese returned. The two men and one woman in Nippon Amazon company uniforms identify themselves as survey engineers for what will be South America’s largest dam, World Bank-approved. The area is no longer protected, they say – they have received a new concession. YENSO sees that the Indians listening by his side have spears. They make a strange growling noise. The Japanese trio know who YENSO is and claim to admire him, all the while telling him he will have to move out. The growling grows louder,
and all at once, three spears shoot out, skewering the intruders. The woman collapses, blood spewing from her mouth and nose, a spear through her breast. One man gets it through his gut; the other in the neck, with blood geysering up in the air several metres. CALCAO tells YENSO that the Indians knew, from enlightenment received during the Three Moon festival, what the Japanese were up to. The intruders moved in a blind circle; the Indians merely sent them along to new landscapes where the three would be better off. The bodies are dumped in the river for pirhana to eat. CALCAO says that during the feast, the moon in the tree said the next two years would be critical for the Sucuruki; the Indians must not only see, but act. Soon they will go to their sorac tree, about to fruit for the first time in 200 years. When the fruit falls, the ancestors will tell the tribe what to do. YENSO sees it all in flash: the dam project will not be stopped by killing three engineers. On the contrary – it will speed up. Now the authorities have an excuse to wipe out the village and its inhabitants. It is the end. LUCCU leads YENSO down to the river – he has an idea. With his voice disguised, the shopman calls in a false Mayday alarm, claiming the Melinda is sinking four miles down from the village and is being abandoned. He and YENSO scream and yell to give a realistic impersonation over the radio. The fake call is received, but a request for more information from Manaus is ignored.
With the help of other villagers, the hull is holed, the boat cast loose, this time escorted by 5 dugouts to ensure it is sunk properly. The five crews come back, affirming the deed is done: Melinda lies sunken midstream several miles away. LUCCU and YENSO, sitting alone on the dock, turn to the matter of the pirrci fowl, and agree to bargain later over a glass of rum. Sleeping alone that night YENSO wonders why the Indians acted as they did that day. Did they know something hidden from him? Impossible, he thinks. The Indians are doomed to lose under the weight of the voracious, all-destroying, modern system. Nobody could prevail against the assembled weight of the world’s corporations. His friend GILLE SAINT-STEFAN had tried, and in desperation, used his body as a sort of human shield to stop a dam project machine. He was buried in the mud for his effort, and now lay under the waters of an artifical lake. GILLE had steered YENSO and LOLO to the Sucuruki, during their last conversation with him in a cafe in Copenhagen. He told YENSO never to trust anyone in suit and tie. A few weeks after the Nippon Amazon incident, two ARBETFLO researchers visit at YENSO’s request. They are DR.ANTONIO MOEZZ, a Chilean, and handsome, 40-ish PROFESSOR MARIELLA DE CAMPO SILF, plant hormone expert. Meeting them, YENSO takes them up to his house, where a meal is being prepared in the canteen, using eggs from YENSO’s two newly acquired pircci hens. They go over things, and YENSO, describing life in the village, says nothing about the Japanese. MOEZZ mentions direct pressure brought to bear on ARBETFLO by ruthless pharmaceutical companies.
YENSO and ARMADA have sent in so many specimens – now 1898 – that staff needs to hire new help: six more researchers, to be cleared for ethical and enviromental trustworthiness, of course. That night, making gentle love to LUANDA in a hammock, YENSO feels his longing for LOLO fading: the pain is ebbing away. The two visiting researchers show YENSO a printout with codes identifying the properties of the plants he has collected. The little fern found back of PARROT WOMAN’s pigsty has the designation: “No. 463. ?Lyginopteria+? yyyxoeeeoxyoeexyyoxxy”, where the letters describe the components, roughly after the fashion of a library classification number. To read it, one must have the code. It is a plant that should have died out millions of years ago, known only until now as a fossil. ARMADA thinks the letters look like the decorative symbols the tribe paints on their bodies. They decide then and there to name it Lyginopteria armada, after him. The researchers stay in the village several days, but when FERNANDO CRUZ’s flat-bottomed boat comes, they return with it. YENSO and LUANDA become man and wife in a two-day marriage ceremony, receiving PARROT WOMAN’s fattest pig as a present. CALCAO is made village medicine man by the chief. YENSO sends off specimen 2000. Eight months have passed since the murders. No one had come by asking questions, but the clock was ticking. A council is called, necessitating construction of a new council house for the first time anybody could remember – a very serious undertaking. The council house is built, hidden away in the jungle, impossible for outsiders to find. The village is on high alert – no one laughs or sings: the river is patrolled from shore and from dugouts. Talking with serious SAMAN, a scarred and experienced hunter, YENSO sees the lookout canoes return. A sign is given. YENSO is left standing alone. He sees a silent CALCAO momentarily, who then vanishes, nodding to YENSO. The village is absolutely empty, deserted by its inhabitants, and YENSO quickly grasps that he was left behind to negotiate, as the only person who might protect the village. But he feels so small, so weak and powerless. His thoughts are interrupted by the droning of motors coming up the river. Someone strokes his hair from behind. It is LUANDA, who is there with ARAMADA. YENSO commands them to go into the jungle, to the council house, shoving them away. Before they disappear, LUANDA makes Jaguar’s sign in the air. He feels a change in himself: his feet are claws. Looking up, he sees big cat up in a tree. He watches two boats speed in, with at least 40 commando soldiers onboard. Feet pound on the dock, orders are shouted. Relaxed, YENSO goes to his house and sits down before his door. A weak-chinned captain with blank eyes, waving a pistol, stands in front of YENSO. “Who are you? Where are the Indian swine?” YENSO asks in turn what the man is doing, trampling around with his heavy boots, standing on plants. It dawns on the captain that he is talking to SEÑOR YENSO. He hands over a bundle of satellite photos, with time and date clearly showing the intact Melinda anchored by the village, when it should have already been sunk.
YENSO plays dumb, pretending to interpret the boat as a fish, further claiming that all but 4 of the villagers died of influenza the previous week. The captain explodes. YENSO is brutally shoved into his house, and held there under gunpoint, while the village is set afire. He hears shots and breaks away, finding that PARROT WOMAN and two of her birds – one of them braving attacking a soldier’s face – have been killed. Then YENSO is kicked unconscious. He comes to, bloody, his mouth full of sand. He lies unmoving. YENSO perceives he is being carried. Opening his eyes, he sees LUANDA. He has a vision: far, far under the ice, he hears a waterfall; bending to pick up a pack of cigarettes, he is stiff, frozen into the ice. He screams No! and is calmed by LUANDA. Everyone sits together in the council house. Now We-duku, which YENSO understands to be the power behind all plant life, will be consulted. Nothing has happened the last weeks – scouts report that the village was totally levelled, with the exception of YENSO’s house. Patrol boats looking for Indians cruise the river. CALCAO sits each night under the sorac tree, where the fruit still hangs. A drink is passed around, and YENSO swallows. Slowly he feels a change come over him, and a green haze settles over everything, while a light with no discernible source becomes blindingly intense, illuminating everything. His time sense distorts, and he sees CALCAO speaking, but does not hear. He has a great feeling of peace. The hallucinogen wears off, with YENSO left wondering what advice the Indians received. CALCAO and the elders spend three days deep in the jungle, interpreting the advice from Weduku. When they come back, CALCAO says they were told to move the tribe deeper into the rain forest, to an impenetrable part where whites have never been. YENSO is invited to come, but feels obligated to stay. He tells CALCAO to take LUANDA and ARMADA with – by force, if necessary. YENSO is alone for the first time in a long while. Digging around in the ruins of LUCCU’s store, he finds seven intact bottles of rum. PARROT WOMAN’s garden is still alive, loaded with fruits and vegetables. The surviving red parrot, in the voice of its mistress says “Just take what you want, SEÑOR YENSO. It’s all yours. The tomatoes are really juicy now.” The hairs rise on YENSO’s neck – was it the parrot talking, or the old woman? The parrot gives instructions on tending the plants, and he follows its directions. Feeling passive, YENSO watches the boats patrolling the river, standing in silent protest at the dock, as soldiers threateningly point their weapons at him as they cruise by. Then one sleepless night, he realises his work for ARBETFLO has just begun. YENSO continues collecting, and is up to specimen 3127. Boatman FERNANDO CRUZ comes by, surprised the Indians are gone; YENSO fills him in, and against payment, arranges that CRUZ will come once every month, to deliver supplies and take specimens back to Manaus.
YENSO reads in newspapers that the big Tucurui and Balbina dams have been blown to bits by the Mariposa group, with tens of thousands killed in subsequent flooding. Ecologically heartened at this, he plans a feast that evening, following the cooking instructions of the red parrot. Seven months after the Indian’s departure, ARMADA and LUANDA come drifting down the river in a dugout. Rescued by YENSO, both are comatose and starving; ARMADA has a fever. The two, bound to YENSO, could not leave him alone, and fought their way back through the primeval jungle, living on roots and fruit. Coming to a small river, they fashioned a rough dugout and let the current take them downstream, drifting. LUCCU, they say, is dead, having been bitten by a white snake. The trio and the parrot continue for months undisturbed, collecting and shipping plant specimens. Much has happened in the outside world: the terror actions on the dams have triggered a surprising response in support of environmental protection of the South American rain forest. The UN is in the picture; violators of nature reserve rules are being prosecuted; Indians will be shielded from intrusion. And YENSO is himself hailed for being farsighted, with ARBETFLO called one of the century’s most important projects on the continent. With the new policy, several Indian chiefs became bold. The one going farthest, the Yanomamo mission-educated chief GUGGU, declared for a separate state for all the Amazon, to be run by his tribe. Everywhere, except in Europe, the tide seemed to be changing in favour of rain forest preservation. Weduku was wrong, YENSO thinks – had the Indians only waited a year, they could have moved back to the village. One day, the three get two unexpected visitors – a limping young man and a woman with backpacks. Dark-skinned, they are not Indians. They introduce themselves as MINO AQUILES PORTOGUESA and his beautiful wife MARIA ESTRÉLLA, pregnant in her fourth month. They had wandered in the jungle for months before coming to YENSO, of whom they know. This is the first time in 5 years MINO has dared to say his own true name, he mentions, while performing juggling tricks. He explains: he is MORPHO, international ecological terrorist, on the run after his friends were killed in Turkey. Wounded, he swam back over the ocean to reunite with his beloved wife MARIA ESTRÉLLA. Two of the world’s most sought-after fugitives, here! What should YENSO do? In the end, he invites the two to dinner. Moving in, MINO and MARIA built their own dwelling on PARROT WOMAN’s land, helped by much good advice from the red parrot. The five become fast friends. MINO prepares butterflies, inspiring YENSO to take up the study of jungle ants. The scope of their activity becomes so large that they build a combined laboratory, library, and warehouse on LUCCU’s plot. The two newcomers hide whenever CRUZ comes by: no one must know of their existence. Two days after specimen 4000 is sent, MARIA gives birth to a son, ORLANDO. Three weeks later, a miracle occurs.
On a freshly burnt plot being readied for vegetables, AMARDA one morning casually dumps a handful of surplus seed from a specimen. The ground was still warm and covered with ash. Later that day, MINO discovers that there is a small forest spreading from where the clearing had been. Everyone runs to see, and the grave import of it all sinks in – if they don’t act quickly, the plant will overrun the village clearing and houses. Hacking away desperately for hours, they finally eradicate the new growth. As they catch their breath, they are astonished to see a fresh shoot pop up right before their eyes. Killing it, they burn the area, and watch for hours, taking no chances. They cannot make sense of it – MINO has seen fast-growing plants, but nothing like this. ARMADA – who by now is expert in the scientific names of species – interjects “But it’s only an ordinary tree. It’s a Duranta family member; it grows peacefully all around here. We Sucuruki call it the Heaven Flower Tree, because blooms only grow on its crown, stretching towards the sky.” They study a saved sprig of the plant, assigned specimen no. 4011. Taking some of the seed, they strew it outside and wait. Nothing. ARMADA keeps watch over the spot that night, just in case, and thus sees the torches over 100 Yanomamo canoes, coming from the north. The months roll by, and the five are now intimate friends. YENSO and MINO chat under the sorac tree, whose fruit has still not fallen. YENSO no longer worries he is together with a terrorist, since they both share the same views about the rain forest. But could he have really swum over the ocean? MOEZZ unexpectedly visits. MINO and family are unable to hide; YENSO presents them as garimperios whose help YENSO needed. MOEZZ reviews a number of revolutionary results of expanding ARBETFLO’s research. He tells YENSO, the programme’s founder, that they need to change the data code because of the importance of their results. They agree that only 5 people will have access, one of whom will be ARMADA.
YENSO has plans for the boy. Later, MOEZZ says the Yanomamo situation is worsening – they have killed many and forced families out. As the largest tribe, under GUGGU, they have forged alliances with the goal of forcing all whites out of the Amazon. The whole movement is very unlike the Yanomamo. Because of the danger, MOEZZ asks YENSO to leave. YENSO will not go. In spite of the risk, the place is his home; the others back him. That night YENSO and LUANDA see two moons – it is again the Three Moon night, and they dance under the plane tree, no festival this time. One moon is red as blood. After many hints uncomprehended by YENSO, LUANDA reveals she is pregnant. MINO has made himself the best one-man dugout in the AMAZON. One day, without saying why, MINO sets out on a journey that he only says is necessary, and is gone for weeks. CRUZ comes with news that Yanomamo have declared war and want the cities of Manaus and Iquitos razed. The government seems incapable of action. Four days later, MINO comes back. He saw CRUZ’s boat, floating without its owner – the Yanomamo take no prisoners. MINO tells of his journey up and down the rivers. MINO, observing the uncharacteristic Yanomamo behaviour from under cover, discovers that European agents stand behind the revolt. GUGGU is a puppet. The agents have started the war in the hope of provoking a punitive reaction that will reopen the Amazon to the resource-poor EU and the multinationals, this time with minimal interference. MINO has seen some of the agents himself, and implies he has killed two. MINO mentions nearby Cucui, where some hard- bitten garimperios still hold out. They are however vulnerable to the mercury-based poison gas the Yanomamo are using. Having heard this, YENSO says they cannot stay – they must leave tomorrow. YENSO suggests the women and children go to the council house; 16 year old ARMADA will lead; there is no other possibility. The next morning, they pack only necessities, and prepare to leave. MINO has painted a message on the dock, indicating what they have done, and how a rescue party should signal them.
The red parrot is silent; going into the jungle they see it up in the lemon tree with its head under a wing. They find the pathless way and see, under the sorac tree, a blue-red, half rotten fruit, covered with insects. ARMADA as rear guard, removes all traces of their passage. They arrive at the council house, and YENSO sees on the floor what must be LUCCU’s last bottle of rum. With no research to do, YENSO is restless, feeling the ice-cold hand of Europe reaching after him. When ARMADA proposes a trip back to the village, YENSO leaps at the chance. MINO stays back, setting traps nearby. When YENSO and ARMADA near Corra, there are warning signals – no apes, but smoke. Peeping through the greenery, they see the village plane tree surrounded by Yanomamo warriors. ARMANDA whispers that they must get back to the council house. Trying to get back, they steadily encounter more Yanomamo – the jungle is crawling with them. Slowly they make their way, avoiding contact with the intruders. Coming back to an all-too quiet refuge, they see the bodies of 5-6 Yanomamo in a clearing. Two more Indians are cut down before their eyes. It is the work of MINO, who they see sitting in a tree with his blowgun. A chill runs down YENSO’s spine, and asking direction of ARMADA, plunges through thorns and bush in a beeline to the council house, disregarding thorns. Calling out to LUANDA and MARIA, he gets no answer. Both lie by the hammock, as does ORLANDO, all dead from the poison arrows of the raiders. LUANDA expired in the act of giving birth. YENSO hears his own distant wail. The thunder of the falls under the ice, the blue-green film that breaks up and forms into stiff, grotesque shapes: cold, biting, crackling cold. He must get away, fast!
III. Norway. The Waterfall and the Prison Bars
On the way up to the gas station to get cigarettes, 17-year old JENS ODER FLIRUM pulls his wool hat down over his ears, not against the cold, but against the unpleasant sound of the icy waterfall. A cold snap has hit Europe; everywhere over the Continent, records for cold are being broken. This January, while Pope John Paul II meets with General Jaruzelski, hundreds of unemployed and homeless freeze to death in big cities. Frosty river mist gets thicker as the snow crunches under JENS ODER’s feet. He is making a cigarette run for KAIA, who awaits him back at his rented room. He has been making passionate love with the insatiable girl; once he has brought the cigarettes back, they’ll continue – he’ll screw the daylights out of her. JENS ODER plans to intimidate a local girl working at the service station to give him the cigarettes. She is afraid of him; the strategy has worked before. The single car of the evening goes by – an Amazon. He halts in his tracks at the sight of his landlady, MRS. DANIELSEN, lying lifeless in the road. The contents of her purse lie strewn over the ice and snow, including a pack of Marlboros. He sees that the hateful woman, always pestering him for overdue house rent, is dead. She constantly threatened him with eviction, since he used up the welfare money that should have gone to paying her on beer instead. He pockets her cigarettes and leaving her in the road, goes back to his room and KAIA, who sits on the sofa in her knickers and nothing else. “Cigarettes?” she asks twice, the second time snickering while drawing off her underwear, herself visibly wet and ready. JENS ODER vigourously attacks the athletic KAIA without passion on a table, and has at her like a machine for a half hour, until she shrieks in ecstasy. Collapsing on the sofa with herr, he now first tells about MRS. DANIELSEN dead in the road. After KAIA leaves, cold makes the house creak, but JENS ODER is warm inside, with the place steamy from the two days of sex. KAIA’s school rector father had already threatened him with the police, if he does not stay away from underaged KAIA. Which hardly bothers JENS ODER, local bad boy, who never smiles. He thinks about KAIA’s lies to her parents – she was supposedly at a gymnastics meet – cover for her monumental two-day sex marathon. She had visited him at least four times a week for over a year – perhaps their sessions were the reason for her improvement at gymnastic tournaments. JENS ODER is awakened by a knock on his door at 9 AM. Someone calls his name – KAIA’s father? JENS ODER pops open the outer door, sending SHERIFF MARKHAUGSTUEN sprawling in a snow bank. When the sheriff and his deputy enter, JENS ODER is relieved they do not spot the empty beer bottle he pissed in, now carefully recapped for return to the supermarket. There was probably a law against it. The sheriff tells him to get dressed – they’re going to the station. “You know what it is. Mrs. Danielsen’s been murdered. Strangled last evening.”
During several hours of interrogation JENS ODER tells his story in detail. He understands the seriousness of his situation, but what has he to fear? He’s telling the truth, after all. MARKHAUGSTUEN had badly scared JENS ODER once when he was 7, evicting his family from their farm in Flirumsgrenda. Rejecting food and beer proffered by the sheriff in an effort to soften him, JENS ODER sticks to his story, but is not believed. MARKHAUGSTUEN says they know FLIRUM’s guilty. At which point JENS throws the beer bottle through the office window, smashing it. Sitting in 12-weeks’ remand at Hamar District Prison, JENS ODER plays solitaire. He knows only one game, that he plays over and over. He is told by his chain-smoking, grey and thin lawyer that if the car – the Amazon – isn’t found, he’ll be convicted on circumstantial evidence. Imprisoned, JENS ODER, who has been drinking since he was 14, discovers a new mental acuity, after 5 weeks sobriety. There are constant interrogations, sometimes with direct threats by the brutal low-level police escorts, whom JENS ODER thinks of as turnips. On the way back to questioning, these call him homo pig, arsefucker, junkie whore and more. One of their insults is to call him intellectual, which after time, he realises is their jargon for “parasite”. JENS ODER does not allow himself to be drawn out or provoked. Several psychologists ask questions about his relations with his mother, ANNA STINA FLIRUM. Why should they care about her? Hardworking, hands cold from the fish factory, she gave him the love a child needed. In the end, the psychologists give up on him – he will not blame his mother for the layabout life that was his own choice and doing. JENS ODER’s remand is extended by 6 new weeks, so that his trial for the murder of 73-year old KLARA DANIELSEN could take place in May. The public mind is already made up – there is no doubt about his guilt; the press writes he is without remorse. He didn’t kill the woman, JENS ODDER thinks – why should he feel remorse? The whole thing was farce. During the week-long trial, he says nothing, remaining silent – what can he say? Everything has already been said before. Witnesses testify to JENS ODER’s lack of upbringing and discipline; KAIA says he acted “strange” when he came back with the cigarettes. A cow of a social worker, KIRSTEN FINKEN, is called as a witness. As her client, JENS ODER would go to her with lame excuses, asking for more welfare money, but would never give her the sex he knew she wanted. Cashiers from the supermarket testify to his threatening statements about his landlady. “I’m going to strangle that old bag some day.” His very words. All the Volvo Amazons in the region had been checked out of the case. Mrs. Danielson’s wallet was missing, and investigators found 400 kroner tucked away in a magazine in JENS ODER’s room. The motive obviously was that JENS ODER – threatened with eviction – needed money and knew Mrs. Danielsen kept some in her purse. The psychologists add their weight to the prosecution: FLIRUM is a feelingless cold fish, antisocial.
The defence lawyer does what he can, pointing out holes in the evidence, without making much of an impression on a yawning jury. The verdict would be handed down on 10 June. Waiting in jail for his sentencing, JENS ODER takes for the first time an interest in broadcast politics, and understands that the whole show is a smokescreen – all politicians of all stripes speak the same words, meaning nothing. The populace was being diddled. JENS ODER FLIRUM is found guilty. The jury had never been in doubt. He gets 18 years. In the police transport vehicle, he is beaten so badly by police that he is taken to the National Hospital, under the claim these were self-inflicted injuries: slipped discs, mashed testicles, massive bleeding. The turnips had done this to him because he never confessed. After 14 weeks in the hospital, he was sent to Ullersmo prison’s sick bay for two more months, before receiving his own cell. From the time he thanked his lawyer after sentencing, until he moved into his cell, he had not uttered one word. JENS ODER chases out a psychologist who sits too closely observing him, and has minimal social contact with prison guards. He quits himself of the pestering prison priest, in his mind lesbian, by asking her if she murdered an old lady. “No? Nor did I. Out! Beat it!” he says with a finger on “the bump that putatively was her left tit”. In prison now 5 years, JENS ODER finds his thoughts always going back to a painting he had once seen, by HENRY HANNIBAL OLESSON FLIRUM, mad artist half-brother of his great-grandfather. The picture, salted away in the cellar of JENS ODER’s local town archive, showed a map of Europe painted Arcimboldo-style, as a hideous, frightful face, blood dripping from its teeth, rivers as scars, mountains as warts, surrounded by hands with claws of icicles. Obsessed with finding meaning behind the picture, JENS ODER becomes studious, analytic, introspective. Through use of the inmates’ library and close attentiveness – learning several languages while he is at it – the model prisoner begins to see Europe for what it is : a thousand years of plundering, run by a cynical band of criminal hucksters, who, with their hands dripping in blood, have created a small new elite that lords it over most of us, wrecking weak countries for the advantage of big corporations. While JENS ODER sits inside, his mother ANNA STINA FLIRUM dies of a stroke brought on through reading an article by a pushy journalist in a national daily, about her son’s putative guilt. When Arafat and Rabin and Perez get the Nobel Peace Prize, the last bit of the puzzle re the interpretation of ancestor HENRY HANNIBAL’s painting falls into place: the face of Europe represents absolute suffering and torment, penetrating to every corner of the world. JENS ODER engages in discussions with fellow prisoner MUSA aka MUSTAPHA AKHBAR ZIUQQ, an Algerian heroin smuggler, who sees his crimes as an act of faith, aimed at undermining the godless West. JENS ODER, fascinated by ants, feeds them crumbs. Using newly-established interlibrary loan connections, he borrows books from La Bibliotèque Noire, a French repository of suppressed knowledge.
These help his analysis of the true history of Europe. He makes a study of church architecture. Disengaged, he listens to mendacious right-wing politicians on the radio. With 5 years remaining on his sentence, he rejects offers of weekend leaves, since he has nowhere to go. One day, there is a knock on his cell door. A criminal- police detective and SHERIFF MARKHAUGSTUEN – now much older – enter. They apologise – a great injustice has been done. A Swedish addict, MORA-OLLE, dying of AIDS, pinned the blame for MRS. Danielsen’s murder on his partner BIRRE, a Stockholm pimp, who, driving a “borrowed” Amazon, robbed her for gas money. BIRRE has confessed. Various functionaries visit JENS ODER – he will get an apartment plus a symbolic compensation of 400 000 kroner, an offer of psychiatric care, and further education. They give him a passport, a credit card; they swarm around him. He leaves prison, 27 years old, head full of ideas accumulated during incarceration, heading for Oslo, with two lawyers and a welfare worker in tow. Alone in his new 5th floor apartment on the outskirts of Oslo, JENS ODER is unsure if he is happy; he has no goal or purpose. He goes to the supermarket and buys ten bottles of beer, and lines them up on a table only to stare at them. They are still there 4 days later when he leaves the soulless apartment, moving to a small flat near Oslo’s Old Town district. He goes bar and café hopping, and is successful picking up a large number of women for one-night stands, characterised by impressive bed acrobatics during which JENS ODER remains unmoved, his inner core emotionally untouched. His rule: no more than one night with any woman. He wants to keep his anonymity. He has sex with his mind somewhere else. About a year after being freed, JENS ODER is awarded the unimaginable sum of 20 000 000 kroner in damages from the State. He is emotionally stunned, and spends listless days in bed, doing nothing, feeling as if he were being choked. He wanders in the forest two days and decides he must travel abroad, and see Europe with his own eyes. Perhaps by taking in new impressions, something will grow within him. He leaves, 28 years old, from Oslo central rail station, carrying no maps, no books. He stops in Bremen several days, staying away from women.
The town has nothing to offer – it gives no answers. After four days, he leaves, visiting the menhirs of coastal Brittany. In Toulouse, he has what he thinks is voluntarily sex with a woman, only to have payment demanded. That wrecks his week-long stay in that town, although he feels a certain resonance when observing the façade of the St. Sernin cathedral. JENS ODER takes the train to the French south, then to Spain and Portugal, ending in a pretty little fishing village, Viana do Castelo. He stays there the entire winter with the family of ESTAFANI FREITAS, doing nothing in particular, soaking up the coastal sun days and going to the local fado house nights. He learns the language, and for the first time in his life has a sense of belonging, of being at home, of feeling the contour of a smile on his face. One day, watching an ant colony under a rotting, disused pier, he hears footsteps above. Looking up, he is surprised to see right up the dress of a girl with lacy light-blue knickers. He remembers no more, since just then, the rotten planking collapsed, and the girl landed with her full weight on JENS ODER’s head, knocking him unconscious. JENS ODER comes to, staring at MINNEA’s beautiful face. Given that she is a flirt, it is not to long before they make love on the beach one night, continously from high to low tide. She wore red knickers this time. Had she not been a flirt, he almost could have fallen for her. Instead of spending more time with MINNEA, JENS ODER finds himself chatting over wine with her idealistic brother, a former army captain, who quit the military in protest at the EU army’s mobilisation in North Africa to fight Muslim fundamentalists. The idyll comes to an end when JENS ODER’s lawyers send word he is needed to oversee certain economic transactions. Besides, he has overdue books in his Oslo apartment; they must be returned, or otherwise he risks punishment. He can go back to Portugal afterwards. Going up to Oslo, he attends to business, and is in fact on his way back down to Portugal, when – with a six-hour wait for his connection in Copenhagen – he decides to kill time by visiting the Royal Natural History Museum. There he sees the mounted specimen of the skeleton of a South American giant sloth, collected by Danish 19th century naturalist Peter Wilhelm Lund in Brazil. Temptation is too great: not only does JENS ODER taste a bone with his tongue; he is compelled to grasp it, which sends the whole exhibit crashing down. Running feet. “It’s ruined! What an idiot! Throw him out!” The accusing woman has glasses and fiery brown eyes. Later, JENS ODER finds himself in an office of the closed-for-the-night Museum, explaining away his sins to the same staff member, LOVINDA BOHR, a graduate student. As JENS ODER drinks tea, BOHR, amused, tells him staff planned to remount the skeleton anyway: the bones were wrongly assembled.
LOVINDA has actually seen LUND’s excavation sites in Brazil; after small talk, during which JENS ODER notices that LOVINDA is beautiful, they shake hands. Does hers linger longer than necessary? On his way to the central station, JENS ODER thinks it would not hurt to stay in Copenhagen one more day to visit other museums. In the way such things go, JENS ODER spends over a week in Copenhagen, visiting the Natural History Museum every day. LOVINDA is at first surprised he has not continued on to Portugal. Once she is sure he has no intention to repeat his fiasco, she happily guides him the collection. JENS ODER falls in love. He is invited out to dinner by LOVINDA, and they bond tightly. She is 26, living alone, with both parents dead, and dreams about Brazil, primeval, untouched. She chose palaeontology because it deals with a world unpolluted by mankind. She herself is a very much a lonely person. They find the same wavelength and walk hand in hand, sharers and bearers of the same dream. Over spring and early summer, JENS ODER and LOVINDA plan their great project, to be financed by his 23 000 000 kroner restitution. The cold sound of the ice cold waterfall was gone; it shouldn’t come back.
IV. The Gramma-Duranta System
Journalist ARCHIBALDO COMPRA FEZ, walking down a Manaus street, slips on a chewed corn cob and falls, hitting his head so he saw stars. The event provides him with his fatal idea about contacting his friend, old astronaut NEIL ARMSTRONG, the first man on the moon almost 40 years ago. ARMSTRONG is just the man to end the ongoing Yanomamo war! COMPRA FEZ, smiling, readies a fax to Cincinnati. Had he known of the consequences, he would have possibly thrown himself out of his 4th floor window. Over 100 000 Yanomamos were on the warpath, traffic on the rivers was halted, and the upper Amazon was paralysed. No one is able to comprehend why the revolt had happened – it was so very unlike the Yanomamo. Bizzare stories abound: old eccentric KING CREOLE who claims to be Elvis in disguise told papers a story about how, when his town was on the verge of attack by Yanomamo, they were driven away by two white dugouts manned by two white jaguars who attacked the Indians every night for a month! When the pair left, the Yanomamo wiped out his town. Many similar stories were current; common to all was the element of somebody, or something, effectively resisting the intrusions of the tribe. A number of the tales mentioned beings half human, half-jaguar. One man saw 20 Yanomamo hop out of their canoe and drown at the sight of a single one of these “white tigers”. One story that hit the news was the discovery of a badly wounded German found drifting in a canoe. He said that he, LEOPOLD EISENKROHN, was an EU agent sent secretly to foment a Yanomamo revolt, with the view of subverting Brazil’s rain forest policy for EU advantage. Before dying in hospital, weeping for his mother, he told of an attack by a beast who was everywhere in the jungle. ARMSTRONG helps implement a plan whereby 12 military planes of a new type, the ZX- 100, running on revolutionary, secret radioactive isotopic fuel, would locate Yanomami groups and release thousands of balloons painted with faces of Yanomamo evil spirits over the rebellious Indians. Frightened, these groups would perhaps break and disperse. On a preliminary trial run over Brazil, however, one plane crashed by Rio Japuri and the rest were sent back, with a strong warning from the US to leave the crash site alone. Near the abandoned jungle village of Barraca do Vehlo Adolfo, animals sniff at, then run from, a small barren clearing of 20 metres’ diameter. Grey steam arises from its centre, wherein lies a shiny object the size of a hen’s egg. At a jungle campfire, MINO and JENS ODER, both by now 40- ish, discuss information they have tortured out of a German, evidently EISENKROHN.
“Think we’ll find him?” JENS ODER asks. MINO nods; they have enough information to locate an unnamed individual. A half year before, after the deaths of their families, they scouted about looking for disappeared ARMADA, without finding him. MINO revived the terribly depressed YENSO with a plan to stop the revolt. They must find GUGGU and his mentors, the nerve-centre of the uprising. YENSO will not kill, but helps MINO in every way. MINO’s blowgun has neutralised 9 European agents, along with many Yamomamo over their six-month, two-man, dugout campaign. They are now on a river paddling deeper into the jungle, and go ashore. With GUGGU’s location literally torn out of EISENKROHN, they are about to close in on their quarry, now very close by. But as night falls, a horrible scream pierces the quiet. They slip deeper into the jungle, and hear a strange crackling noise, somewhat like a fire – but there is no smoke. Further into the undergrowth, they find the animal that screamed – a warthog, its feet gone, as if roasted away. MINO puts it out of its misery. The crackling is louder, and the two simultaneously see a light through the greenery. They see trees falling, and watch as vegetation dries, shrinks, browns, and shrivels away to nothing before their very eyes. Going closer, they see an area several kilometres large before them, where there is only bare earth. As they watch, the dead area slowly advances towards them.
They stay nearby 3 days, and watch as the jungle is eaten up on a wide front at the rate of 20 metres daily. Brazil is given an ultimatum by the UN – either get the Indian situation under control without harming them, or subsidies holding the Brazilian economy afloat will stop. Meanwhile, the revolt apparently is fizzling out: there are fewer reports of attacks each day – something has scared the Yanomami. Rumours of white tigers, jaguars ceased, followed by more trustworthy reports of a handful of men who had killed the Yanomamo’s leaders. Who are they? The Brazilian government is taken up with other, secret, matters – what is causing the expansion of the large dead zone between Rio Japuri and Rio Negro? The pressure is on journalist ARCHIBALDO COMPRA FEZ to come with answers – it was his informal contact with ARMSTRONG that started the whole mess. COMPRA FEZ does what he can, and soon word comes from Armstrong that a special team is on its way. ARBETFLO in Manaus continues in spite of the approach of the Yanomamo. DR.MOEZZ assumes that YENSO has been killed: nothing has been heard from him for months. Still, the odd reports about two men in dugouts attacking Yanomamo come trickling in, and one day, ARBETFLO staff see in Journal do Commercio a Rio Japuri picture of two men in dugouts. One is indisputably the Institute’s founder, YENSO. Institute scientist BERNARDO FERENC, in his cups, tells a journalist two days later, and the cat is out of the bag. The news spreads throughout the national media, and JENS ODER FLIRUM is declared a popular hero. Government is relieved: the focus on YENSO deflects attention from what is becoming very clear: Europe is the instigator of the revolt. MINO and YENSO creep through the jungle. They are following Weduku’s will.
They are almost at GUGGU’s base. There are many Yanomamo about, necessitating utter stealth and quiet. They see a dozen traditional houses in an open place. Behind these is one more carefully constructed, with a forest of antennas on its roof and a satellite dish: the communications centre. At least 200 tribesmen surround the compound; there are twenty watch posts set out. YENSO and MINO observe the rest of the day, seeing the short GUGGU twice, wearing an I♥ Paris T-shirt. From their hiding place YENSO and MINO spot two white men in their thirties, dressed in Gortex camouflage suits, with pistols on their belts. They speak the tribal language fluently. YENSO and MINO withdraw to the bush and weave a liana rope well over 100 metres long. “Tomorrow early, just before they feed the Colobus monkeys” MINO says. That night MINO crawls inch by inch towards the unguarded monkey cage, and ties the end of the long rope to the door, so a tug will open it. He then crawls back, covering the line with twigs and leaves. With the sun just up, the Yanomamo out of their huts, and GUGGU and the whites still in theirs, MINO pulls the line, opening the cage. Thirty to forty monkeys rush out, causing chaos – a delicacy was about to escape! Most of the Indians join the chase to recapture the animals. Unnoticed, YENSO cuts his way into one hut with his jungle knife, and in seconds, has his blade at GUGGU’s heart and his forearm around the chief’s neck. Hearing nothing from MINO, he does not linger, but with arm still around the little man’s throat, bursts through the hut’s wall, half-carrying GUGGU into the jungle. Clear of the compound, YENSO binds and gags an unconscious GUGGU, and creeping back, hears a low whistle – MINO. The magician has done the impossible: not only did MINO kill one agent, he has brought another back alive, unconscious. The prisoners are dragged back to the dugouts. The Yanomamo do not give chase: the monkeys’ escape is taken as a sign – their chief has been taken by the spirits. A war they never comprehended, was over. YENSO swings in a hammock. MINO leans on a tree, and their one prisoner, sent by Brussels – JEAN PIERRE TROVANT, Frenchman, born 26 May 1982, according to his ID – is bound against a tree. MINO approaches him with his bush knife, and makes a deep cut in the man’s stomach. “Tell everything!” Silence, and a new cut, opening the Frenchman’s gut. Now he talks, as fast as the blood is running from his body. Doesn’t the man know he is dead? MINO cuts an intestine off and stuffs it in the Frenchman’s mouth while he continues talking, mouth full. A beautiful butterfly, a gold and blue papilio, comes by attracted by the blood and excreta. The Frenchman, now dead, is cut loose and cast in the river. GUGGU lies with eyes tightly shut. In Brazilia, COMPRA FEZ sweats in an air- conditioned room. The American plane was powered by an isotope with an 8000-year half- life, similar to the theoretically postulated, as-yet-uncreated kardonium. The new stuff’s ceta-minus rays are very dangerous, destroying everything, although they can be neutralised by water. The circle at Rio Japuri is now 22 km wide. The range of the spread of the rays was infinite. How could COMPRA FEZ have known that? The solution is to send a mortally ill military officer in on a suicide mission. He will pluck up the isotope egg, and place it in a water-insulated cylinder, to be brought back to the US. The Brazilian government has nothing to fear.
At ARBETFLO, even with the revolt over work is at a standstill, while staff wonder where YENSO now is, and who he really is – after all, if one considered it, very little was actually known about him. And who was his comrade, photographed with him in his campaign against the Yanomamo? YENSO and MINO plan to take GUGGU back to civilisation to expose the truth about the revolt, but the now only one metre-tall chief literally shrinks, and gives up the ghost silently one evening, his I♥ Paris T-shirt loose about him. Around a campfire, MINO says “I have to go. To the house by the sea.” YENSO must go back to Manaus and ensure that ARBETFLO’s work continues. MINO will necessarily take on a new look and identity. MINO instructs YENSO to tell authorities about what they saw, the rapidly dying jungle. The two separate at Santa Maria do Rio Negro, 600 km above Manaus, MINO waving from his dugout. YENSO comes ashore outside the town and walks in. No one recognises him, no questions are asked. He sees himself in a mirror as he waits to take the João Goias downriver to Manaus. He is still young, no wrinkles, with light hair bleached by the sun. He smiles at his image. On the boat, a reporter from O Globo recognises him. Anonymity gone, he is mobbed by a crowd wanting to congratulate him, kiss him, interview him, to know everything. The bulky captain rescues YENSO, giving him a small cabin and a bottle of rum. YENSO, seeing no other way out, gives an interview to the O Globo newsman, telling him about the dead zone spreading in the jungle. Thus the story about the ZX-100 comes out. The situation was under control now, however, with the radioactive egg removed to safety. A thirty km hole was left in the jungle. The sympathetic captain sneaks YENSO onshore near the Institute. Moved into quarters there, he pads the sterile marble floors of the air-conditioned place barefoot. He has been there 3 weeks. During the first few days after his return YENSO is withdrawn and passive. Shown about the Institute by DR. MOEZZ, his enthusiasm revives. There are now 7 collection points over the continent; 337 new plants have been found and registered. YENSO is enthusiastically swept along – it is just as he and LOVINDA had hoped. YENSO of necessity briefs state and central authorities about GUGGU and the European adventure. Much is hushed up. Europe is on the verge of civil war. Told about the radiation egg and its neutralisation, YENSO is relieved. He falls into routine, reading newspapers much of the time. The European resources crisis, internal separatist movements, and military adventurism in North Africa are converging, he reads without interest. He writes to old friend CAPTAIN CALVINHAS, and a lively correspondence develops between them. During YENSO’s fourth month at the Institute, the exceptional happens.
DR.MOEZZ shows him a newly arrived specimen, sent from Cucui, with a description written in ARMADA’s hand – ARMADA is alive! There is only one course to follow: YENSO must go back to the jungle outpost. MOEZZ supports him, and sends two researchers who need field experience. One is the plump Chilean biochemist TERESA ARAGUAIA. Everything must be rebuilt; they take three tons of equipment along. At Cucui, YENSO is happy to see that FERNANDO CRUZ’s son PEDRITO has taken over his father’s riverboat Carhinha da Manaus. PEDRITO tells YENSO that one day, going past the no longer existing village of Puerto Spirito Santo, a young man had approached with a package for delivery to Manaus. At the village dock, there is a dugout. A red parrot sits on a pole. Flying over, it says “I knew it. You came back. Ripe tomatoes in the garden now. Armada’s watering them everyday”, in PARROT WOMAN’s voice. ARMADA, now 20, and YENSO meet, both deeply moved by their reunion. ARMADA has built a small dwelling where LUCCU had his store; up at the forest’s edge is another structure, lower and broader than native buildings. “Who lives there” asks YENSO. A serious ARMADA answers “I think Señor Yenso and Señor Mino have thought-rays that are in contact with ayahuacsa woman, the Blue Mother living in the Blue Zone, so that those who have departed on a new journey can nonetheless sometimes be here with us as long as we wish. Here, and at the same time not here. Just like the nuns’ Jesus, that the commandos burned.” YENSO feels a chill. What did ARMADA mean? ARMADA leads him to the hut, saying it is a gift from ayahuacsa woman. Inside, lying side by side on two platforms, lie LUANDA and MARIA with their two children, eyes closed as if sleeping. They are beautiful. He touches LUANDA and her babe. They are cold, but soft and pliable. He watches them a long time, then leaves the hut. ARAMDA says he found them unmarked in the council hut weeks after the Yanomamo raid. Knowing they deserved a proper place to rest, he built the hut. TERESA ARAGUAIA fits right in, eagerly rebuilding the research station. ARMADA cannot hide that he is attracted by TERESA. ARMADA had escaped the Yanomamo, but got lost in the jungle. After much wandering, he found himself far downstream from the village, and talked the murdu fish into reversing the current for his easy return. The red parrot had watched over the vegetable garden, so there was enough food awaiting ARMADA. The red parrot sits on TERESA’s shoulder – a good sign. She realises she will be staying here longer than planned. Prison bars are invisible in this part of the world, YENSO thinks. Has he really been released from the grasp of Europe? YENSO has built his own house, so that ARMADA and TERESA can have the big one to themselves. SEÑOR and SEÑORA CAYANO, government rain forest guards, have also moved in. Their extra hands are welcome. If only life could continue thus. YENSO hears the vibration of a river boat, and goes to the dock.
PEDRITO CRUZ’s boat – not due for another week – has come early. A slim dark man in the bow, his half-long hair caught by the wind – MINO is back. “I’ve been to the house on the sea. It’s no longer mine. I brought everything back with me” he says, pointing to the cases onboard. It is his butterfly collection. And preparation kit, which of course he will share with YENSO, who will want to do his ants up properly. They carry MINO’s things up the path. Time flows evenly, and YASMINO is born to TERESA and ARMADA. The CAYANOS get a boy and a girl, and after much striving, YENSO obtains four pircci hens. The place gets a new name, Porto Calcao. Even PEDRITO’s younger sister SIMONE wends her way there, and starts her own store. YENSO is 46. Perhaps time flows like this, maybe it stops , he thinks. But it didn’t. PEDRITO delivers a letter to YENSO from ARBETFLO. A discovery has been made that demnds YENSO’s presence in Manaus. No details can be given by letter. With this, YENSO, is back in the stream of time. ARMADA, TERESA and little YASMINO will accompany him. TERESA and ARMADA want to work for a while at the Institute, where ARMADA can learn more. Taking ARMADA aside, YENSO gives him the code to the most sensitive data at ARBETFLO. Should anything happen to YENSO, ARMADA will now have titular leadership of the Institute. AT ARBETFLO, MOEZZ and SILF show YENSO a 10-minute video. YENSO sees again the plant that grows at incredible speed. Planted on a research plot, it had taken over a cleared area in two days. Only its isolation on an island in the Rio Negro had prevented further spread. Growth also stopped when it contacted established plant communities. Nothing like it had ever been seen. The phenomenon was a chance discovery: seeds from specimen 4011, a member of the Duranta family that lived symbiotically with a large orchid – Grammatophylum speciosum – had been planted under varying temperatures. The Duranta at certain periods in its life cycle, actually exchanged genetic material with its parasite. It was the seeds containing this DNA brew that had spread wildly, when planted in soil at 50 to 70 degrees Celsius. YENSO thinks back – the soil was warm from burning when he had seen the same thing happen before. MOEZZ says that the event results an a hybrid full-grown tree in 12-36 hours, before it reverts to an ordinary Duranta attenwolli, but with orchid attached. A whole forest could cover a huge area in days. The effect is named the Gramma-Duranta Synthesis. MOEZZ asks permission to eradicate all records and files regarding the discovery. YENSO cannot sleep, reviewing the discovery in his mind. MARIELLA DE CAMPO SILF told him that the hybrid plant was very adaptable once it started spreading, able to infiltrate cooler areas, being stopped only by desert and water barriers. Perhaps that was the explanation of the rain forest’s rapid growth millions of years ago: the plant the Sucuruki called the Heaven Flower Tree.
ARMADA has lately taken the name ARMADA do CALCAO. Unable to stop thinking that the mutant Duranta could be made a eco-terrorist weapon, YENSO, making a decision, writes to CALVINHAS in Portugal. Destroy all records, says YENSO to MOEZZ. But first, let’s try to seed that dead area by the Rio Japuri. The researcher concurs – it is not a bad idea. A team assembles with MOEZZ and YENSO at the barren spot. Seed is broadcast in the 60 degree-warm soil. In three days, the area is totally filled with the new plant, that stops only when it reaches established growth. Back at Porto Calcao, YENSO reveals his vision to MINO. Between them, at the council house, they hatch a Plan, for which they will need collaborators. Hideous Europe is engaged in total civil war. The rain forest was saved for the time being, until some group came out on top, and the age-old cycle of European domination of the rest of the world begins anew. What would happen to the rain forest then? But Yenso has a Plan. A Plan so grandiose, it makes him dizzy. MOEZZ’s cryptically worded report on the 4011 plant’s indicates that the new forested area is dense and vigourous, having developed a fertile humus quickly that supported a rich biotope. When cleared, it did not grow back. The active period of the synthesis was 8-12 weeks. YENSO sees this a very promising; the conspiracy already has 14 members. TERESA is one of them. A genius at planning, she works out a system with 122 real and imaginary nodes, representing the foundations and stages of the Plan. Six people must travel abroad, including YENSO and MINO. They familiarise themselves with the European situation, memorising military details – the weapons, the uniforms – anything that will help them once they arrive in the war-torn continent. At 20 locations along the west European coast, sealed metal containers containing seed will be placed. The first base would be established in Portugal. Paddling in the rain forest, with ARMADA following in his own dugout, YENSO looks for CALCAO’s orteca. On the way, YENSO picks up one of the geodes. They find the lagoon, come ashore, and enter the jungle. There is no trace of the hut remaining. Would the same happen to Europe? The two sit on the lagoon’s edge that afternoon. Splitting open the geode before they leave, the amythest crystals send rainbows of light across the water.
V. The Great Plan
LOVINDA lies with her head in FLIRUM’s lap, sleeping. Whispering her name, he awakens her, and in a faint faraway voice, she tells him what happened. During the night, she expires. FLIRUM found her, only to watch her die. Before she passes away, she tells JENS ODER he has a son, NILS ODER, 17 years old. Their son has unfortunately chosen the wrong side; he is a leader in the Norse Legion of the Aryan Front, somewhere out by the Chunnel. She begs JENS ODER to find their son, to rescue him, bring him back. JENS ODER buries LOVINDA inside the cloister courtyard, with no cross and no name.
Three days after LOVINDA was put in the earth, JENS ODER finds writing materials, and he writes his own story for hours. He tries to make a rope from the clothing of the dead. With an old iron hook he has found attached, he will perhaps escape the monastery. With the rope almost finished, illness attacks him again, and a noise apparently coming from the monastery gate is put down to effects of his own fever. The knocking, however, is real; someone is sliding open the outside bolts, and when the gate opens, JENS ODER slides into hiding behind a column. He has to squint to make out who the entering figure is. Impossibly, he sees MINO! MINO, who should have been dead in Porto, crushed in the jaws of a crane. “SEÑOR YENSO?” MINO calls. Coming out from behind the column, JENS ODER lifts his hands towards heaven. Sitting by an old barn in an abandoned farmstead, the two friends eat chicken, with MINO telling his adventures.
MINO had a difficult time crossing through the war fronts, which had now moved north and east, explaining the district’s quiet. There are almost no people left there; entire towns are burnt out. MINO found his friend by vibrations given out. As for escaping death in Porto, MINO had sensed something was wrong on their approach to harbour, and had substituted a dead guard for himself in the coffin. He had meant to warn the others, but was unluckily locked in the ship’s paint room, not getting out until 3 days later. CAPTAIN CALVINHAS was tortured without revealing any secrets, and had been killed 3 days before the Taratuga came in.
The SPECKHUBERS were the traitors. They themselves are now dead by MINO’s hand, who first drew the plot out of them. MINO and JENS ODER go north towards Bordeaux. Their chances of executing the Plan are better, especially with the kardonium formula in their possession, needed to warm the soil to the requistite temperature for mutant Duranta propagation. There is a chemist at Chateau Margaux who, if still alive, may be able to help – maître de chai YVES GAILLARD. First MINO and FLIRUM go northwest, towards the fishing village Andernos, where one of the seed cylinders is deposited. They pass ragged refugees on the torn-up roads, being blessed and blessing these in return, silently, without words. The pair discuss the war situation. Essentially, it is extreme nationalists up against the idealists and religious. The area from Le Havre up to Belgium, the Netherlands and continental Denmark, together with part of Germany, is under the right-wing Aryan Front facist alliance. Asked if he knows the names of its leaders, MINO shrugs – he has no idea. The two find the seed depot. If things go right, the cycle of war that characterises the continent will permanently end. The city of Bordeaux was bombed two years before, and is a wreck of twisted steel and concrete ruins. There is a sour stench from the untended vines of the surrounding wine district. The pair follow the Gironde to the chateau in Medoc. Margaux’s windows are all broken; a roof has caved in over a shed that once housed barrels. Now these are strewn here and there between ferns and nestles. Someone coming up from the open cellar cries “Merde! All the wine is vinegar! All the ’82s have gone right down the drain!” It is a broad-shouldered man, bearded, nearly 80 – none other than GAILLARD himself, the only man remaining at the chateau. Passwords are exchanged establishing identities.
While they drink a couple of ’93s, GAILLARD is reassured that grape cultivation is still in the cards after the Plan has been effected. The weakness in the Plan is that soil needs to be warmed for the mutant seed to grow. The solution is to put seeds in the necks of bottles half-filled with kardonium, and place these out in the open at strategically located points throughout Europe. The bottles are bound to be broken, and when that happens, the rapidly growing seeds will propagate. FLIRUM gives Margaux’s chemist the simple formula for kardonium. Three days after, the isotope is ready. They test their plan using kardonium and one seed – it works. MINO and FLIRUM trudge along – MINO alone is carrying 60 half- bottles in his rucksack, to distribute on a wide-ranging journey that will take him as far as former Hungary.
MINO cannot understand why FLIRUM wants to go north, where the greatest danger lies, but knowing that it is important for his friend, does not ask why. He asks YENSO to be careful, and by way of incentive, asks him to remember that there are years of ant collecting ahead, upon YENSO’s return to the jungle. There, the two can grow old together. They part. After walking a week, FLIRUM is in the middle of war-torn, devasted Brittany, sleeping in abandoned farmhouses, heading towards Rennes, which is held by a neo- communist fraction. A sort of Johnny Appleseed, FLIRUM places kardonium/mutant seed bottles at carefully-thought out locations, where they are certain to be broken in a while. He feels old for the first time, heading towards the Chunnel opening through the burnt-out summer landscape, towards his son, going through Europe like a thief, about to steal an entire part of the world. Nearing Calais and the Eurotunnel, he hides from black tanks with red and white eagle-and-lightning emblems – Aryan Front. Soldiers march along, seen through FLIRUM’s binoculars to be Legion Niedersachsen.
England is largely controlled by the Aryan Front, who have allied with Scots and Welch separatists. The Front’s headquarters is in the blocked-off Eurotunnel itself, with security provided by the Norwegian and Neo-Prussian Grenadier Legions. FLIRUM enters an intact farmhouse; in its shelter, he tries to write: there is only one bottle with seed left in his rucksack. He is coming to find his son. A thin dog adopts him, and sleeps at his feet. In the morning, FLIRUM washes and shaves, and puts on a dinner jacket over his naked torso – the only clean clothing left in the farmhouse. The dog, fed with a shared rabbit, scurries about FLIRUM’s feet, catching his odd humour. It follows up close tight to FLIRUM on the way to the tunnel along a railroad track, with wrecked cars everywhere, in spite of attempts to chase the animal away. There are soldiers all around in black uniforms with red insignia. The dog trembles seeing these, but still wags its tail. An officer with twenty soldiers approaches, giving the order to halt. FLIRUM stops and raises his hand in the sign of peaceful universal greeting; the officer gives a signal, and four automatic rifles belch out fire, blasting away the dog, which – riddled with bullets – lies faintly twitching, thrown metres away. Trying to speak, FLIRUM is beaten down by a rifle butt in his neck, but manages to get out the words that he has an important message. A kick in his chest is the signal to stand. There is laughter all around at his request – what could a dog, a gypsy clown want with the honourable Legion?
FLIRUM replies that he is looking for his son, NIELS ODER BOHR. “You mean 1st Balderist Niels Oder Bohr?” he is incredulously asked. His affirmative reply causes visible confusion and unease. They inspect FLIRUM’s rucksack, giving the kardonium bottle with seed only a cursory glance, before putting it back. FLIRUM is driven atop a tank to the tunnel’s opening, which with its surrounding acres of war debris – burned out tanks, cars and machines – is like the mouth of hell, a scene from Bosch. FLIRUM rides in the middle of a column of armour, the Legion M. le Pen, feeling like a conqueror. Four unfriendly young men, Norwegians clad in black uniform, come up and take FLIRUM into the tunnel. One of them, SECOND THORIST MELHAGEN, calls up FLIRUM’s file from a database, and reading it looks up hatefully. “You’re in Europe? Been a prisoner of those Muslim swine? You’re a bastard yourself, you deserve a bullet in your brain. But we’ll let your putative son decided what to do with you” MELHAGEN tells him. A special car with 8 guards drives up to take them away. The is the rumble of generators in the neon-lit tunnel, , under the sea, halfway between France and England. FLIRUM is locked up in a bare room, with dried blood on the walls and floors, a very bad sign. But FLIRUM has been a prisoner his whole life, he thinks, putting his rucksack down. Told to rise, he is taken to a symbol and portrait-decorated room with two pale inquistors, one with glasses as thick as Coke bottles. They start immediately reviling him – FLIRUM knows the tone from before – it is identical with that of the Star of the Seven Clans’ interrogators, in turn reminiscent of the Norwegian right-politician whose portrait hangs centrally on the wall before him. FLIRUM, indifferent to the inquisitors, is thrown to the floor, continously vilified and told that his son won’t see him; that he, the traitor FLIRUM will die. FLIRUM painfully stands up, leaning on the wall for support, and says that he carries an important meesage – the war in Europe will end in a very short while, all hostilities will be over in a month. But the message is for NIELS ODER BOHR alone! “If he doesn’t listen, a white worm will crawl out of BOHR’s eye sockets in a week’s time!” Back in his cell, a propaganda brochure is slid in to FLIRUM, the glorious history of the Norse Legion, in which his son’s name figures many times.
His son wants him to read it! Barefoot, covered with blood and dirt, FLIRUM tries best as he can to make himself presentable for the coming meeting. Guards take him further into the tunnel’s heart of darkness. Escorted to a side tunnel, into the officers’ area where a number of barracks stand, FLIRUM is shoved towards one with an open door. A giggling young girl tumbles out wearing a kimino, and disapears between the buildings. “So get the fuck in, then” he hears from within. Inside, the smell of sweat, cognac, cigar smoke. A young man sits on a sofa behind a table half-covered with empty beer bottles. NIELS ODER, shirt half open, holding a half-full beer bottle, stares dully at his father and belches. LOVINDA’s dying words come back “– our son – he mostly takes after you”. NIELS ODER, calling FLIRUM a dirty pig and an Indian-fucker, tells him to sit, then stand. NIELS ODER pisses on the wall, then suddenly swings round with a pistol, pointing at FLIRUM.
Trying to say he is NIELS ODER’s father, FLIRUM is shot in his shoulder by his son. Telling him to shut up, the young man then tells him to sit, and talk – FLIRUM will be dead in a few hours anyway, he says. “Your mother is dead, I still am alive” FLIRUM says, only to be met with ridiculing laughter. “I’ve never had any parents. Do you hear? – never!” NIELS ODER says, and shoots FLIRUM again, this time in his left hand. FLIRUM then dares his son to take him out onto England’s soil, if only for a few minutes, and he will see that the side of the Aryan Front has lost; FLIRUM’s side has won. He doesn’t care if he die, FLIRUM says, “ – only take me out, and you’ll see something extraordinary”. NIELS ODER calls on the telephone, sighting on FLIRUM’s head, but doesn’t shoot. Fumbling to put his uniform tunic on, he takes his father outside to a vehicle. They are outside in blinding sunlight, in England, on English earth. In a voice full of hate, NIELS ODER tells his father, weakened from loss of blood, to show them whatever it is FLIRUM is bluffing about. Then NIELS ODER can go back to his limber gymnastic girls again! Digging inside his sack, FLIRUM fumbles about before finding the kardonium bottle. “You slimy bastard, in a few hours you’ll be fish food” his son hisses. With the bottle in his hand, FLIRUM says “Sorry, I lost it”. There is laughter, followed by a kick to FLIRUM’s jaw, whilst FLIRUM uncorks the bottle, letting the seed and warm kardonium run out. He feels a sort of satisfaction run through his broken body. At night, the seed will grow and block the tunnel. In a few weeks, most of England will be impenetrable forest. The Heaven Flower Tree. His son has told FLIRUM how he will die: At five in the morning, I will be shot. First, two bullets to the stomach. If I’m not dead in an hour, I’ll get the coup d’grace. Then my body will be fed through through the turbines, and my pieces will be spat out under high pressure into the sea. That’s they way they get rid of scum. The only reason they didn’t kill me right off, was to give me time to think about what will happen to me. I’m still alive. I’m writing – they let me keep my papers. I’m going to die, and I’m still writing – I don’t know why. I remember a word: Weduku. Only a few hours now. The Great Plan is completed. Am I happy? I don’t know. I’m frightened, terribly so. I want out of here – I am afraid to die! I’m smashing my good hand against the concrete wall. I never should have come here! I sense them outside now. I hear footsteps, stopping outside my door – this door – must I die – now?