Short Story Collection
The Secrets of Nocibur
Written by Daniela Bücheler-Scott
05 September 2018
It happened on a Friday.
I have found The One! thought InaChi, tingling all over with excitement. And there it was: the human child noticed the presence of this much-too-fast-for-dust particle, out of the corner of her eye.
Alina was playing at the river below their camp at Rubicon forest with her brother and cousins. She and her family had been at this camp many times before. She often wondered where all the animals were in this beautiful vast forest of tall mountain ash and tree ferns. Apart from some little lizards, the occasional rosella or, if they were lucky, a king parrot here and there, it was peculiarly devoid of wildlife. Animals were Alina’s passion. She loved her dog Bonnie and pet parrot Robbie.
Nothing ever seemed to escape Alina. She was a master of observation. And she frequently got in trouble at school for talking too much. So much so that last week she got detention and had to write I will not interrupt my teachers one hundred times on the interactive whiteboard. She was also a wriggle worm and busybody, could never sit still and was constantly on the move on this quest or that. This often involved taking care of animals at the zoo, where she spent a lot of time on weekends and school holidays.
This day is different, thought Alina. Looking up from her play she felt something held her in place. At first she perceived all that was her world around her: The blue sky scatterd with a few fluffy white clouds; the lush green forest.; the river peacefully gurgling ever so slowly past moss-covered rocks. And then everything blended into background noise, including her physical surroundings. It was as if someone had pressed pause on a remote.
This thing, whatever it was, darted left, right, straight up, and when it hovered at arm’s length in front of her, Alina was mesmerized by its presence. It was like looking through a very faint iridescent, miniature bubble.
Somehow that thing communicated with Alina. She didn’t know how it was doing it, but it seemed to beckon her to follow. Even before she could open her mouth to ask about her brother and cousins she was being reassured that they won’t even notice she is gone.
InaChi led Alina deep into the forest. Then they stopped at a spot where the ferns were particularly profuse, the ground was moist with only some sunlight coming through and there were a lot of mushrooms of various shapes and colors on the ground.
After a moment a most peculiar rabbit-sized creature greeted her in a soft, measured voice. It had pink skin, long ears covered in white fluff, a white fuzzy muzzle and extremely slanty eyes. Alina wasn’t sure whether to scream, cry or laugh.
"Greetings. My name is Konij, it is a pleasure to meet you, dear human child," said the creature. “What is your name?”
“Ehhhh”, said Alina. “Um --- who, I mean, um what are you?”
“Hello Ehhhh, I – ."
“Sorry, my name is Alina," she interjected.
“Alina, I am here, in this secret part of the forest called Nocibur, because you have been chosen to receive the gift of higher knowledge in exchange of a task you must do.”
Apprehensively, she looked around her but there was nothing else peculiar about this place, other than the mushrooms she had never seen before.
“What if I refuse? Why can’t you choose someone else???” Alina's heart was racing now and she just wanted to go back to camp.
“I will be your guide, Alina, and you will be saving a lot of animals. Now, think of a question that you have always wanted to know the answer to, but no-one has been able to answer for you. Not only will I tell you the answer. Once we reach the other side of these portals," and Konij gently pointed to the mushrooms, “I will show you the answer."
Alina understood. She had heard of magic mushrooms before but she wasn’t sure if that was true. “I guess once I get there I will know why you chose me. How long will it take? I don’t think mum would understand if I explained --- this.”
“Ever since you became aware of InaChi – that’s the energy particle you noticed earlier – time has been suspended for your family. They will not even notice you have gone. Are you ready? Have you thought of a question?”
After a moment, Alina nodded. They moved closer to one of the mushrooms and she saw a bunch of iridescent energy particles surrounding them. Immediately she could feel warmth like a reassuring hug from mum. Then they were inside a garden that seemed to stretch forever, with the most brilliant turquoise sky.
"Where are we," asked Alina, "and what are all these particles?"
"This is one of the realms where the Chi live," Konij answered. “There are many such realms and multiple universes.”
She looked around and, to her horror, noticed that she seemed to be a holographic projection upon this realm. She has seen Star Wars so she knew about such a thing.
"But I'm not me, I'm only a hologram!” she shouted in alarm.
Konij simply replied, “That is what you are, in this world. There is no such thing as 3D here, you are merely a projection of what you perceive yourself to be. I can show you the answers to your questions while you are present in your holographic form, as that way you cannot interfere with time. You are simply an observer here. What is your one question?”
Alina hesitated at first, but then asked, “What happens when we die?”
“Observe closely and you will see the answer to your question”, replied Konij.
Alina looked out into the vastness of the garden and saw nothing but green grass and the sky at first. But then she saw, as if on a huge Imax movie screen all around her, various scenes taking shape. Each one was a holographic projection, but the longer she looked the clearer the images became, revealing themselves like those Magic Eye pictures her mum loved. She was watching about 12 or 13 movies at once, but it seemed like only glimpses of lives. At first she didn’t know where to look, but then she settled into a rhythm. There were various people, mainly older people, but some younger ones in these scenes. There was also an old dog in someone’s home, a humpback whale in a deep blue sea and a tiger in a jungle.
Alina had to strain her holographic eyes to see what exactly was going on in these scenes and felt her heart heavy in her chest. There might have even been a little tear rolling down her cheek. But what happened next surprised her. When all of the people and animals were quiet, she could see one of the energy particles escape from each one of them. These particles floated around for a little while. The particles remained but the scenes changed. Now there were scenes of newborn babies on the majority of the screens and only one scene of a baby animal, a giraffe. The energy particles that hovered beforehand had all but disappeared. Then the show was over.
“What was that all about?”" Alina asked in confusion.
“You wished to know what happens when we die. You saw that when the living beings passed away, their inner energy is released. InaChi who you met earlier is one of these energies. Energy released from one Being eventually enters another Being. This is a process that can happen instantly or over a very long time. Some of these energies float in other realms for a while until they are ready, but they cannot wait too long for they will loose their effervescence - they literally need to transfer to a living thing in order to survive. The problem is that there is a very big imbalance in your world and it is getting worse. Too many animals are dying and so their energy particles end up with humans instead of animals. Eventually there may not be enough particles left for the existing species let alone to help with the inception of new species. This could lead to a greatly diminished biodiversity. And, being the animal lover you are, you know what this means. So, this is where you come in, Alina.”
Alina was confused but also intrigued, and after contemplating a while asked, “So, what do you want me to do, exactly?”
“You know that there are a lot of endangered animals in your world. Too many animals are dying at a rapid rate and we need you to reverse this imbalance.”
“But how would I do that??? I’m not God and I don’t have any superpowers," Alina replied, irritated by this immense responsibility, which she most certainly didn't want any part of . “Why don’t you do something? You have the power to bring me here, surely you can do it yourself! I'm only a kid... I don’t know, why don’t you make everyone into a vegetarian, that way you can save heaps of animals!” Alina realized guiltily she was yelling at this gentle creature.
Konij smiled and said, “Making everyone vegetarian is a good idea but it would create more problems. People who are not used to it would not eat properly and they and their kids would suffer from anemia, making them very sick and tired. The farmers who sell their animals for meat would have no money and no jobs left which would create problems with the economy. And the predicted disappearance of all wild vertebrates by 2026 would not be solved by discontinuing consuming farm animals. You are the chosen one who needs to find a solution, Alina.”
And Alina being Alina, the fast-thinking problem-solver and animal lover that she was, came up with an idea: “For some reason I just remembered a show on televison the other day. It was called ‘Deadly 60-Endangered’. It showed how tigers are being killed for their skin so people can wear them as a status symbol and how humpback whales are killed for their oil. There are too many fish being fished out of the seas, I know. I also know about the palm oil problem, where the orang-utans’ habitat is being killed in order to plant palms.”
This pleased Konij. “Very good, Alina. What do you think you can do about all that?”
All of a sudden, Alina had the most eyebrow-raising, eyes-opening-wide moment of her life and said, "Now I know why you chose me! You knew how much I love animals! You knew how much I love telling stories. I will make it my mission in life to educate people to think and act differently."
She continued, "Actually my mum is a Storyteller and she belongs to this group of people who tell stories all over the world, just with their hands and different voices and sometimes with illustrations using a wooden stage thing called a Kamishibai. Mum and her friends are always going on about how powerful Storytelling is. I will ask her to help me."
Konij pondered for a while and concluded, “Education via Storytelling. Is that it? Yes, I think that could work. You can show people, for example, that it is more profitable to show whales to tourists rather than kill whales for their oil. That way they will see that whales are actually worth more alive than dead. Similarly you can show that people in countries where tigers are endangered will earn more money to showcase them alive. You can join organizations to teach people about problems with overfishing and many other issues. And you can even start your own Storytelling to Save Animals project. Excellent idea.”
Alina was very pleased with herself. She felt almost as powerful as Konij right now. She was going to change the world, educate people, and saving a whole of animals in the process.
“Are you ready to go back to camp?” asked Konij.
“Let’s go home now," she said with a smile and then added, “and thank you for showing me the energies. I don’t feel unsure about the end now because I know the end is not really the end, it is more a beginning."
They arrived back, and when Alina returned to the spot where she had played with her brother and her cousins, they were in the exact same spots where they were before she left. Then she noticed a king parrot flying overhead and she wondered what or who this parrot was before. Empowered with the knowledge gained on her otherwordly adventure she smiled and re-joined her brother and cousins, quietly forming a plan for the future of the planet in her mind.
© 2018 Wolf Publishing