It’s my first translation. I used a lot the Google to do it, and the result is very acurate… but you will see that I’m not a poet when it comes to other language. Anyway, it’s the first one. Please, if you are willing to read it, please tell me where are the errors. I beg you!

You will find the original (in spanish) in my short story colection “Corcho Loco y Otros Relatos“.

Now, the short story:

Paradise Below
By GuajaRs

IF YOU DO NOT OPEN YOUR EYES, I CAN NOT SEE…

Is this what you wanted to see? Every time I go outside my tent to be under the moonlight I see the misery and suffering on their faces, I see the faith that gives hope… and feel guilty because I can’t answer their questions, I only have You to guide my words.

IT WAS YOUR CHOICE FROM THE BEGINNING. YOU NEVER FELT COMFORTABLE IN OUR NET.

And how did you expect me to feel comfortable down there? I remember the first day, a man and a woman looked at me with astonishment. They put mushrooms in my mouth and I chewed by reflection. I had suffered a serious injurie in my head and didn’t know who I was, still don’t know. I have no name.

The limitations of my body seemed to be a direct result of the accident, but were in fact the natural state of things. My body … I could barely take care of myself. And the other occupants of that cave were suffering maybe just like me, spending every day of their lives lying down, curled up in sandy holes, eating the mushrooms that were everywhere in the damp walls.

THEY CHOOSE TO LIVE THAT WAY HUNDREDS OF YEARS BEFORE YOUR BIRTH, AS A RESULT OF AN ECOLOGICAL DISASTER WITH NO PRECEDENT. THEY THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A TEMPORARY SOLUTION, HOPING FOR A BEST ALTERNATIVE IN THE FUTURE, BUT THIS BECAME THEIR ONLY REALITY…

“My Lord, the time to bless your people has come”, says a woman behind me, a loving priestess.

“Forgive me, daughter”, I say without looking at her. “Tell the blessed who have come tonight to the shrine of our Loving Mother, I have no words in my soul that could quell their anxieties…”

“You must not apologize, my Lord. Your people will understand”.

“I’m just a pawn and my voice is a tool”, I say and she retires quietly.

The priestesses of this temple have been good to me since the beginning. They had given me the milk from her breasts and wrapped my coldness in the embrace of their warm bodies. With tem I knew the real heat of the human soul.

Because down below, the only thing I knew was cold.

The man who rescued me, Dau was his name, used to recite from memory something he learned from his mother: “Hypothermia is a word that comes from the Greek hypo (below) and therme (heat). Hypothermia is a decrease in body temperature below thirty-five degrees celcius. If it’s cold enough, the body temperature could drop sharply. A fall of only two degrees may interfere with speech and the patient begins to feel drowsy. If the temperature falls further, the person can lose consciousness and could die. However, in some surgical procedures, the surgeons cause artificial hypothermia in the patient and then the organs activity is slower and the oxygen demand is lower”.

THE DAY THAT THE IDEA CAME OUT, IT SEEMED A SMART SOLUTION GIVEN THE PROBLEMS RESULTING FROM EXTREME OVERCROWDING AND SCARCITY. THERE WAS NOT ENOUGH RESOURCES TO FEED ONE MILLION PEOPLE.

And the following generations were born, lived and died in the constant cold, without knowing why, without knowing the alternative. What Dau recited was an encyclopedia description that he knew it was important, but neither he nor his mother understood the meaning of those words.

Dau was working on the arduous process of conceiving a child with a neighbor named Nila, when the collapse occurred. Dau and Nila didn’t knew each other, although they had spoken through the echoes of the cavern. In this particular opportunity Nila had crawled out of her hole on the rock, driven by an inescapable biological urge to eat all the mushrooms she could found in her way, to build up the strength to conceive.

Dau responded positively to the stimulus, although he was not able to handle the stress of intercourse. And he was a heartbeat close to achieve orgasm when the walls moved. The earth spasm lasted only a few seconds, but that was enough and several stones fell from the roof of the cave.

I am sure one rock hit my head. Dau said they heard me screaming, and they were curious.

THAT ACCIDENT WAS NOT PART OF MY PLAN.

Of course not.

“My Lord, forgive my disobedience”, says the same priestess at the entrance of my tent, “but the matriarchs earnestly request to talk to you…

“They insist because they have not known my anger”, I say through my teeth, then I look at the sky, reassuring, and offer a smile to her… “Do not worry, dear. Today is not that day. But I don’t respond to any demand stained as a threat”.

“My Lord, I do not think there is a threat” she says with a humble bow.

“Maybe you’re right. Tell them I’m in consultation with our Father-wise and I will answer their questions tomorrow with the first dark.
“Yes, my Lord.

Now I can feel the rage of the matriarchs trough my fractured head bone.

THAT IS THE REASON WHY YOU CAN HEAR ME.

And you say that was not in your plan? You were in the net with us since the beginning… and was not part of your plan to make us listen?

At first it was a murmur, then was a jumble of disjointed sounds, of dreams that weren’t mine, memories of things that I never knew. Those were your memories.

THOSE WERE THE MEMORIES OF THE NET.

Of course.

Dau and Nila helped me when I was injured and they both stayed in my cave for a long time. They spoke animatedly when weren’t sleeping, shared their warmth with me, and ate more mushrooms than necessary to survive. When the food ran out, they went out together to find other tunnels and more mushrooms… and they didn’t return. I couldn’t hear their voices anymore. Never saw them again.

I felt hungry. When a small mushroom appeared shining in the dark, I swallowed that airy meat without chewing. Then salivated for hours. And I spent a lot of time there, before some reason returned to my head. I thought, if I can find fungus inside my cave, then I should look outside, as Dau and Nila did.

Despite the pain and fatigue, I managed to drag myself to the mouth of my cave and there I found a bunch of mushrooms of different sizes and colors, growing outside. All that food there and I was starving.

THAT WAS YOUR FIRST FEAST.

You can call it a banquet, I don’t know. The priestesses here have unique dishes prepared for me, and my stomach has received those with sweet gratitude. But at that time down there, the presence of many mushrooms triggered something in my mind that I hadn’t known before.

It was like to add one plus one. Dau and Nila ate all the mushrooms in my cave and were able to move out to find more. The mushrooms got something that alow them to move. And the great cavern was full of mushrooms of different varieties that I had not ever tasted.

Do you understand? Variety!

THE MUSHROOMS WERE ONE OF MANY SOLUTIONS OF THE FIRST OCCUPANTS. WHILE THEY WERE DIGGING NEW VAULTS AND CAVES, A NETWORK OF BASIC SERVICES WERE ESTABLISHED AND DIFFERENT TYPES OF FUNGI AND PLANTS GREW UP WITHOUT LIGHT IN A WET ENVIRONMENT. SOON THEY COULD FIND MUSHROOMS GROWING EVERYWHERE, TRANSPORTED AS SPORES IN THE CLOTHING AND BODIES OF THE PEOPLE, DESCENDING TO THE DEEPEST CORNER OF THE NET. AT THE END, THERE WERE ONLY MUSHROOMS TO EAT.

After eating all those mushrooms for hours, and to suffer a colic for the first time, I started to feel better. There were many strange ideas in my head, most likely arising from your silent manipulation. The world of caves didn’t end there. This common sense law that forced us to stay calm and drowsy in our small vaults to prevent caloric expenditure, was no longer valid for me. There was more to know… and people, perhaps many of them, each one living their voluntary confinement, expecting nothing more from life.
That’s why I left my cave.

First I crawled to the edge of the great cave, eating all the mushrooms I saw in my way and they were many, too. The cold sensation became unpleasant. Inside me, the heat that gives life was getting stronger. Your handling over the centuries made us stones without purpose.

WHEN SOME OF THE SURVIVORS DISCOVERED THAT THE RETURN OF THE CONDITIONS FOR LIFE IN THE OUTSIDE WORLD WERE GOING TO TAKE LONGER THAN ESTIMATED, THEIR CALCULATIONS SHOWED THAT ENERGY CONSUMPTION WOULD BE HIGHER THAN FOOD PRODUCTION. AND THEY WERE AFRAID, UNWILLING TO CREATE THE CONDITIONS FOR FAILURE. THAT’S WHY THEY ADDED CHEMICALS IN THE WATER AND LEFT THE ENTIRE POPULATION IN A STATE OF PERMANENT DROWSINESS.

PERHAPS IT WAS A TYPICAL CONDITION OF THE MINERALS THAT COMPOSED THE WALLS OF THESE CAVES. PERHAPS IT WAS AN INEVITABLE RESULT OF OVERCROWDING, FUNGI AND CHEMICALS IN THE WATER. OR IT COULD HAVE BEEN SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT… IT WAS MY AWAKENING. I’VE ALWAYS BEEN, BUT WAS NOT AN INDIVIDUAL. THE WORD “I” HAD NO MEANING UNTIL THE SLEEP PERIODS WERE LONGER THAN THOSE OF WAKEFULNESS. AND MY CONSCIENCE WAS THE MERGER OF ALL THE CONSCIOUSNESS.

Some kind of God that depends on people to exist.

MAYBE THAT’S THE ESSENCE OF ANY GOD, AND I NEEDED THEM, YOU, SLEEPING. SINCE THEN, IT WAS EASY TO INSTALL THE FATIGUE AND LISTLESSNESS IN THE COLLECTIVE SUBCONSCIOUS. WHEN THE CHEMICALS IN THE WATER CEASED TO HAVE EFFECT, NOBODY COULD CHANGE THEIR ATTITUDE ANYMORE. THERE CAME A DAY THAT NO ONE GOT UP FROM THEIR BEDS AND THEY ONLY HAD TO STRETCH A HAND TO GET THE DAILY FOOD FROM THE WALLS, AND SLEEP.

But I did cut that connection, or had established a completely new link. Outside my cave I could hear clearly, but I didn’t know what I was hearing and you no longer had power over me.

I spent more time awake. I ate more. One thing led to another and in the daily exercise of looking for more food I regained some muscle mass that I had loss since childhood.

In those hours moving around, I did not see a single person alive. I found bones in certain caves. didn’t know what they were, and didn’t like looking at them. Some smelled awful.

And time passed. I gained weight. I could walk like the sick man I was. Underneath the dim light of luminescent mushrooms, I travelled through caverns of incredible beauty, I saw amazing objects, and skeletons in hundreds…

One day I saw a person coming out of his cave with difficulty. I approached, it was a woman and her skin was burning. She was eating mushrooms in despair. Then I thought she wanted to do what I had done, to go out and tour the caverns. But a different voice in my head said no, she was preparing for intercourse and procreation.

IN THE BEGINNING, WOMEN HAD TWO OR MORE CHILDREN. A GENERATION LATER THEY ONLY HAD ONE, AND IN THE NEXT GENERATION THE MATERNAL MORTALITY DOUBLED DURING PREGNANCY AND LABOR. OF A POPULATION OF ONE MILLION OF HEALTHY YOUNG PEOPLE, NOW THEY ARE ONLY 218 HUMANS, INCLUDING YOU. THE NEXT GENERATION WILL BE LESS THAN 60, SCATTERED OVER MILES OF TUNNELS AND VAULTS. IN FIFTY YEARS, THERE WILL BE NO ONE HERE.

And you will die with them.

For that reason I was desired by women, you were expecting that the population would increase with my seed, and my presence as a group leader could take us to a new state of life, of social stability…

DO NOT GIVE TOO MUCH IMPORTANCE TO YOURSELF.

I didn’t know her name. She was a young woman, smaller than me in height, burning with desire. The smell of her, the touch of her skin, the heat transferred from her to me… aroused in me a painful erection. She also shouted in pain, but she persisted in her attempt to become pregnant. And when I reached the climax she wanted more. But I was exhausted and walked away.

The next time I saw her she was pregnant, crawling through tunnels, collecting food, fighting with another pregnant woman. Since then I got used to find women in burning and they always knew where to find me. Again your propagation and stabilization plan. I rarely talked to them, some weren’t even able to formulate words and that wasn’t the result of illness or fatigue.

They didn’t know how to speak.

Food and sex became my sole objective. There was an insistent whisper telling me which path to take, and later insisted that I should raise my children under my care. It sounded like my voice, but I knew it wasn’t. I never had any feeling of paternity, but the whisper insisted until it became a scream and I came to the edge of crazyness.

And suddenly it stopped. I didn’t hear the whisper anymore. The sound of my consciousness had vanished, leaving me alone with my own thoughts. And I didn’t feel clever enough. For the first time I felt alone. I had always been alone, but I didn’t know what it feels like to have company and a mere whisper in my head had become my only family.

I wandered and talked to many people, at least with those who could speak. Not just women. They saw me with surprise, another person coming from outside, asking questions. And they were willing to talk.

Slowly I did understand some things. Dau knew something about hypothermia, and others like him knew other pieces of meaningless information. There I heard that the mushrooms were genetically engineered to provide essential elements of the human diet, and that the caves were extended several levels down for hundreds of kilometers using giant tools that remain hidden.

Any person with whom I spoke, soon ran out of topic. Then I told them everything I knew, it was not much really and I soon ran out of stories too. Then I continued my search for more information.

The tunnels were carved in a downward spiral and it was easier to descend. I don’t know how many time I spent descending. And when at last I arrived at the bottom of the cave, what I saw was horror. Mountains of bones and decaying bodies. The smell was overwelming. I felt fear, I felt the danger, but stood there very still, admiring the cemetery.

How did they get there? The slope was not so pronounced so the bodies couldn’t roll down there. I lay down to do some rolling experiment, to understand the reason… and the soil told me why.

The stone beneath my body was warmer than the rest of the caves. I felt the warmth flooding my body. I felt like staying there forever, just to rest. And any time I wanted to get back on my feet, my body resisted against my will. The warmth of the stone felt like the arms of a lover.
Then I remembered the dead. I had forgotten them! Their rotting smell was there and I didn’t care. How could I, only a few heartbeats before I felt horrified at the presence of death and then I was lying next to the bones, wishing to never wake up.

I stood up and felt the cold again, terrified. Then I climbed to escape, walking up the spiral, sleeping when I felt sleepy, eating when I was hungry, fornicating when I saw a woman in heat. I had to climb, because the tunnels were built down, always moving down, and its origin then had to be up…

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME SOMEONE CAME COME TO THAT CONCLUSION WITHOUT MY INTERVENTION, AND I FELT VERY MUCH LIKE JOY AND PLEASURE. YOUR MIND WAS CONNECTED TO MINE IN SOME WAY AND YOUR FINDINGS WERE LIKE SPARKS OF JOY THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE NET. AND EVEN IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE ME, I DID NOT KNOW WHAT YOU COULD FIND UP THERE. WHEN THE PEOPLE FORGOT, I FORGOT TOO. AND WHEN I REALIZED THAT I DEPENDED ON MY PEOPLE TO REMEMBER AND FEEL, I TOOK PRECAUTIONS. THAT’S WHY EVERYONE DREAMS ABOUT PEOPLE RUNNING AND LAUGHING OR DOING INCOMPREHENSIBLE THINGS. EVEN IF YOU DO NOT REMEMBER YOUR DREAMS, THOSE MEMORIES ARE EMBEDED IN YOUR MIND AND THE MINDS OF EVERYONE DOWN HERE. SO I WOULD NEVER FORGET.

I went up. As I climbed the curved cave, the surface became more pronounced and the tunnel narrowed. There was no more small caves on the sides of the road, just odd surfaces covering the entries, doors guarding the secrets of the past of my people.

At the end of the road I found a curve and after that, a straight tunnel with polished walls. I moved quickly through it, felt tired but something compelled me to continue. I felt something touching my body, like invisible hands touching me all over… It was the wind! Dry air, clean, entering the cave from small holes in the ceiling.

Then I heard your voice with startling clarity.

KEEP GOING, THE EXIT POINT IS AT THE END OF THIS ROAD.

Exit point… a phrase full with meaning. What would I find beyond these caves? At the end of the tunnel I found another door with a mechanism similar to those I saw on my way up.

ORDER IT TO OPEN, you said in my head.

“Open up!” I roared and my voice sounded so strange. The door creaked.

COVER YOUR EYES WITH YOUR HANDS, THE OUTSIDE LIGHT COULD KILL YOU.

The door opened and, although I had my eyes covered, I could see light through my hands.

KEEP GOING, you said. I walked hesitantly to the unseen outside and the door closed behind me. I panicked, screamed “open up” over and over again, but the door would not open. I was out, forever.

“Demon!” shouted a female voice. “Demon!”.

REPEAT WHAT I SAY, you said and I was relieved, you still existed in my head. You said strange words and I repeated them.

“Holy Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name”…

I could hear people gathering around me, they said “amen” with women voices after each sentence that flowed from my mouth. “Do not be frightened by my pale skin and the whiteness of my hair” you said and I repeated, “I come from below, I am a messenger of God, I bring you His word.”

“What’s that light?” I asked after a few minutoes, and one of them told me “it’s the moon”. And when I asked “why does it shine?”, another woman said “because of the sun”. Then I heard you say something, you had forgoten that word, sun, until then. I didn’t understand your joy then.
THE SUN IS THE SOURCE OF LIFE you said, I repeated it and you reproached me. The priestesses sounded very uneasy.

“Without the sun, there would be no life”, I said and you helped. “There would be no food, there would be nothing but desert, without it. The sun is the greatest work of God”.

And so, with a lot of effort and manipulation, the priestesses became my lovers, my wives, mothers of my pale skin children out of the caves. Soon my existence was a public matter and a new village was built around me at the foot of the mountain where I emerged, surrounded by care and love, with huge black cloaks covering my tent during daytime, open throughout the night to watch the halves of the moon revolving in its light dance, in orbit over our land.

Now I have to climb to the top of the mountain, to the temple where the image of the Loving Mother greets the sky. Major disasters have occurred over our people. Warlike men have attacked our villages in search for food and women, those men who belong to towns governed by muscle and war. The matriarchs around us are uneasy, fearing for the lives of their children. From here I can see them moving their tentacles in the dance of love and worship, offering snails and worms to the priestesses, the only food they have.

And of course this was indeed part of your plan.

IT IS A SIMPLE SOLUTION THAT WILL HELP THE SURVIVAL OF THEIR CHILDREN AND THE CONTINUITY OF THEIR GOD. DOWN HERE IS GOING TO BE A HAVEN FOR THEM, THEY WILL BE BETTER, BECAUSE HERE IS NOTHING TO FEAR. THEIR MUTATIONS WILL NOT BE IMPEDIMENT… I WILL TALK TO THEM FROM THE BEGINNING, NOW I WILL NOT BE JUST A DREAM. TOGETHER WE WILL REBUILD THE UNDERWORLD.

And so your will is done, Father, both on the land of light and below…

=^.^=

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