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Chapter Thirteen: |
If you follow the Amazon you will reach the Andes. Chris did. Chris and Zak and their Indian guide, a medicine-man leading a pack llama, trekked up into the high Andes looking for the fluted knife that was said to lie on the lost mythical throne of sacrifice atop Mount Tikatznatcha.
"None have come back," said the Brujo.
They sat by a frozen lake halfway up the mountain, veils of night assailed their eyes, dark mists shrouded their hearts. Zak tried to pull Chris away, but only succeeded in pulling away his woollen Peruvian hat, which he ate.
"Leave me alone, Zak. There's no turning back." Lost time in Roaratuni rankled.
Zak and the llama would go no further. Stayed behind and disappeared.
Chris and the Brujo continued up the mountain. Through psychic
blizzards. The Brujo had gold teeth.
The next thing Chris remembered was crawling blindly groping his way into a Peruvian village. He was alone. The Brujo was gone. And Christopher was a wreck. He could recall nothing. His mind was in tatters. His senses were scrambled. He walked blind colliding, collecting cuts and bruises he could not perceive beneath the roaring ocean of his burnt sensibilities. He was restrained in Lima on a course of morphine.
Slowly his senses returned. Fuzzy at first, he heard voices shouting far off behind the roar, and slowly he began to see and feel the world again, objects appearing and focusing in the mist of brilliance and pain that filled his eyes and skin. He held something in his hand.
From the far away shouting voices he learned, in Spanish, that he carried
with him the sacrificial dagger of the Tikatznatcha Incas. He held the hallowed
knife gripped so tightly, none could remove it. It was many days before he could
see the knife clearly. Its hilt was a hollow tube of quartz. Its guard was golden
and bejewelled. The blade was formed from the beak of a bird, fluted, steel hard,
a graceful curved beak with ninety-nine holes, marvellously contrive piercing
the bill like the stops of a pipe. Despite this flute-like appearance, Chris never
tried to play the thing. A dread kept him from it.
There months after whatever had happened to him, Chris had recovered well enough to look after himself. He was repatriated to England where he resumed his Brighton life. He still had to convalesce, and he was restless, directionless again. He felt he should be working. He explained this to the Welfare - they felt so too - but he found his condition did not allow him to take on regular employment. He had long debates with himself, and with the Welfare, about it. And he found himself spending a lot of time picking up broken glass in childrenís playgrounds.
"The Brujo turned
into an Arab and disappeared in a red sphere of broken glass and blood," he explained
to the man at the Labour Exchange, two ladies at the Welfare, and a doctor and
the psych. He would break off from his interviews, jumping up and rush out to
scour playground-yards for splinters and shards. Certified as a "synesthetic"
and "obsessional", he was required to chat with the psych once a month in return
for a meagre sickness pension. For therapy he was given a script for Tranquillium,
which he stashed, and was left to his playground patrols. This activity, collecting
broken glass, salved his social conscience and assuaged some deeper anxiety. And
it was a good gig. Chris didn't suffer his obsession about broken glass when it
was raining for children weren't then in playgrounds and at risk, and this was
all for the best because when it's wet you can't really see little bits of glass.
Every time the sun came out Chris was drawn to playgrounds looking for reflections.
"Here, love," Chris cried after her. "While you're out, get us a packet of fags."
She hadnít. Reflecting upon it Chris decided
she hadn't been a very understanding person.
Chris was still in considerable pain, finding it hard to maintain. The course of morphine continued on and off. Would that ever stop? Snakes and ladders.
The voices had stopped. The lights
and voices, the knowledge, that he had experienced after meeting the butterflies
in Roaratuni, those had stopped, until this evening, this evening of the 20th
of March, when the sun's last ray, and the voice, had woken him: the voice that
ludicrously insisted that he, Chris Pashanski, was the Messiah.