Wednesday, August 15

The Search for Jim Thompson, Part 2

The warm rays of the sun emerged from the faraway peaks of Sky Mountains, the tallest peak is called the Weeping Maiden by the locals. But our paths will not take us to the Maiden, we will have to follow the jungle path across the Mercy Mountain before reaching the Shaman King courts at the banks of Red River. The guide told us it would take a full week, provided we don't stray out of our way. The trek was demanding, by the time we reached the peaks of Mercy Mountain, it was already day seven. We had to move slowly, the path, eaten by decades of neglect, the Shamans call them the spirit pathways, we hard to master, what more to cross them, and there were rivers and valleys that was not written nor told.

The maps were obsolete, even the train builders cartography maps are useless, much of the landscape has changed. I started to wonder if we really have crossed to another world. The train builders journals and maps were considered the best guides into the forgotten jungles of Asia and Australasia. Decades ago after the war, the nations of Asia, spearheaded by Japan launched a grand vision to build train tracks across the jungles to connect Asia with Russia and the rest of the world. But the jungles would not fall under any master, the surveyors returned, mostly maimed by the spirits of the jungles as the stories told. But their legacies remain in the form of pathways and maps. Our only communication with the outside world were cut by the time we reached the peak valley of Mercy. Only the GPS device marked us on the computer screen of our friends back home. We had to stop a few days in the valley to plan things ahead. Mercy is much like the tepuis of South America, just that its sides are not steep walls but just vast valleys, undulating jungles all over, and an ice covered flat top. At nights the cold were crippling, if not for the thermal tents, we would have frozen dead long ago.

By the time the air ships reached India, the crew were in delirium, enticed by weeks of fantasy and lies. Non would be happier than Thompson. And then stories began to spread among the crewmen that Thompson was a spy on a mission to chart the borders of Russia; the vast foreign territory unmapped was a serious disadvantage to the governments of Europe at that time. Many of the journeys to chart new land were secretly funded by the governments in exchange for maps and exhibitions of ethnographia of foreign cultures. He had in his disposal a hundred and more men to take him to his bounty, and many of them would never survive the jungles alone. What Thompson needed from the natives at the Fire Mountains are medicines against tropical diseases. And more than that, to stave off the fierce creatures that they are unnumbered to match.

When they reached to the offices of the Queens Himalayan Retreat, the crew were given medicinal supplies from native doctors, made from the concoctions of the jungle. But Thompson needed more than that, the amulets from the Shaman King must be acquired by him for the next part of their journey to the Sky Mountains. From there, the Shaman Kings will open a new path to the vast cave systems of the Sarisarinama sinkhole. The cave system stretched from the Amazonian jungle to Siberia. A hundred years ago, no one knew this but the Shaman Kings. Thompson it seems, met and befriended many Shaman's during his journeys, he carried amulets from lands of the Aztec kings; the blood Shamans of Teotihuacan were among the most powerful. And he used this to open many doors in his journeys.

At the courts of the Fire Mountain Shaman Kings, Thompson had to leave ten of his men as sacrifice, little they knew that Thompson sold their souls to the Shamans. They were told to guard the emergency supplies. More men were lost on the treacherous path to the Sky Mountains, the Fire amulets managed to keep away the beasts, but jungle traps by natives and flash floods swallowed even the strongest men into oblivion. But the journey continued, for weeks, sometimes they did not stop for camp for days. It's a strange feeling of inadequacy that swelled in me reading his stories, we had to rest almost every hour in the thick jungle. And even more, he trekked the jungles a hundred years ago! Thompson reached the Sky Mountains on a full moon night, bats and unknown creatures flew low above the brightly lit jungle floors, occasionally flying inches away from their faces. The men showed no tiredness, they are well protected, the blood of their friends and travelers left behind or lost are protecting them. Another few days on rafts from the jungle aborigine's village along the Red River, they reached the Shaman King court.

Thompson wrote of the spine chilling encounter with the Shaman King, a few uninitiated crewmen tried to seduce the maidens of the Shaman King. The maidens are actually spirits, the dark lords of the Shaman army, the phantasm he uses to protect the jungles and its secrets. The images of the crewmen, eyes popping out, blood seeping from their very skin is disturbing even in words, I can only imagine what Thompson, the great traveler would have felt. But his life were spared, the Shaman King, just like the ones before understood his fate. Another week past for formalities, more sacrifice we're handed and by this time the crewmen grew suspicious. But before any mutiny could break out, the Shaman has cast his spell on the dozen or so of the crewmen who will journey the sunken caves of Sarisarinama to find the Netherworld Shaman King. As usual, Thompson paid with life, thirty of them this time. The rest were sent back, together with the notebook of his journeys, the copy of which I'm reading now. As another full moon set in a month lost for they were not tracking anything anymore, Jim Thompson and his crewmen climbed down into the sunken Sky caves and disappeared into the mist...

For one thing, it is impossible to believe a cave system linking continents such as the legend tells. The plate tectonics movements would have long ago triggered earthquakes and volcanoes that would have destroyed any intercontinental systems. Unless certainly, more myth and magic is waiting for any daring traveler. Our supplies would not last more than a few weeks at most. What the Shaman King presents us later on might help us, but that too remains to be seen. The myth of Jim Thompson has been circulating for a while, conspiracy theorists to relic hunters have searched every crevice of history for his legendary travels. Only the bravest of them all walked away with great fortunes, but that too after much sacrifice.

After Thompson and his men entered the caves, no news was heard from him for years. The sponsors and families back in Europe were enraged, believing that finally a traveler has thieved away with their money. For the families it's more than a curse, the traveler clan were wiped out after that, mostly by the witch hunt by the Queens court. After Thompson, Lord Champlain organized a few unsuccessful search missions, none of them were able to even pass through the Shaman Kings courts. Whoever dared to venture alone would certainly become the foods of the jungle Gods, the panthers and poisonous snakes. For a decade the witch hunt enraged through Europe, many of the traveler clan found refuge in the faraway lands of South America and Asia, the exotic land that they ventured and 'discovered' before, now came to them as a new country. Today, a few traces of them could still be found in the mountain villages of India, Brazil and Australia. Modernity brought along rampant changes, the uncharted jungles were mapped by satellite, but the Sarisarinama cave systems remained pristine, at least from its Asian entrance. The South American entrance have turned into the playgrounds of the scientists who ventured more that a thousand miles into its snaking system, crossing into subterranean rivers and lakes and even crystal palaces.

When we finally started our trek to the next part of our journey, the monsoon rainstorms bathed the jungle and when eventually it stopped, a thick blanket of fog covered much of our way. With no power and nowhere to recharge, our electric lights and GPS handheld failed. What we face after this only the God's would have to write down. In an almost heroic stance, my travelers proclaimed that we are charting a new path in history. True to an extend, many have tried, many have failed, even the ones who reached the Sky Mountain Shaman King courts have turned back in disappointment. But that was decades ago, and the digital age promises an easier passage if at all transistors did really beat 'shamanism'. Our every step felt like a new beginning, a feeling of extreme calmness, the forest is alive, but yet the serenity melts our hearts. As none of our electronic equipments worked, we had to resort to hand written accounts. I left a notebook, neatly tied inside a plastic poncho on top Mercy. Hopefully the next group, if they ever come would take it and tell our stories. Strangely, this journey feels like erasing the past, our past shall no longer belong or exists.

A few days of walking and climbing hills and crossing rivers, all uneventful and calm we reached the Red River. Probably the passage is truly protected, probably we were truly blessed for taking this challenge of sorts. We camped for a day before the native came with a raft and some more supplies; surviving on jungle produce would be a challenge, we have to psych up to reach the next point. The native chattered a lot in the local language much to our surprise, how he learned all this. He hinted that he does not have to do any learning, for the spirits would guide them their fate. Then was it his fate to take us to the Shaman King?

Through the nights, into the second day of riding the currents of the Red River and a full month into our journey, we reached the courts of the Shaman King. No one would believe how it's like, no one would believe anything...

End of Part 2
[Disclaimer: This story is Pure Fiction, no names or places present here coincide with any real life events (though the places might really exist). The story is protected under the creative commons license 3.0, free to distribute but please refer the authors name and website]

5 comments:

gautami tripathy said...

Everv thought of writing a book?

Alok said...

Well th journey continued and made it yearn for Part3 ...

I liked the way u used the sense of time ....

"The maps were obsolete, even the train builders cartography maps are useless, much of the landscape has changed. - timeless ... I can read it and fit it into anyday scenario

"Mercy is much like the tepuis of South America, just that its sides are not steep walls but just vast valleys, undulating jungles all over, and an ice covered flat top. At nights the cold were crippling, if not for the thermal tents, we would have frozen dead long ago.
- amazing description

"The men showed no tiredness, they are well protected, the blood of their friends and travelers left behind or lost are protecting them. - !!!


"No one would believe how it's like, no one would believe anything...
-just waiting for more

alok

Jeevan said...

I was thinking Shaman was the name of a person, only clarified through dictionary that he connects the visible and invisible world.

“Thompson reached the Sky Mountains on a full moon night, bats and unknown creatures flew low above the brightly lit jungle floors, occasionally flying inches away from their faces.” It gives a gruesome effect.

bro it was really great. I wish this search continues with more interesting... Waiting for how it happens!

Alok said...

Siva, still waiting for Part 3!!

alok

Ghost Particle said...

[gautami] all the time, once i go from being alot lazy to less lazy. :p

[alok] thanx alok...words are the only tool we have to play.

[jeevan] yes bro, should have described more of the shamans, sorry for that. i will put more details in the e-book once the story is completed. thanx for reading!

when

it rains around the world sleep welcomes the dream, and  enigmatic souls awaken along the eternal shores of destiny