The Parroove (excerpt from WIS)

(a dramatic monologue from a distant planet)

(excerpt from ‘Writings in Science’
‘Writings in Science is a sci-fi novel / anthology. The premise is this:
Millions of years from now the Earth is dying and in the rush to flee, 1 man
collects his favorite ‘writings in science’ to preserve Earth’s legacy. This is
one of those “Writings in Science!”)

*”You ask about the Parroove. Well I will lie a little in what I say, but never much…
*How far can you see from 10 miles up? Not far enough sir. My alien friend, it’s larger, wider, bigger, much bigger, flatter – the entire planet is the Parroove – all but the north and south bottom seas. And they never freeze. Oh a little ice rolls up to the North Shore or South Coast occassionally… The real water is the Parroove.
*And it’s the only continent too. Sounds like my first lie. It isn’t.
The entire planet is a tide and a continent. Everywhere water and roots trying to hang on and not be torn away. Some ancient plants gave up roots long ago and float in seas of their own species. That one even totes its own ‘bargeman’ (he points) the famous Purplebumped Poison Arrow Frog… But MOST plants hang on.
*Winter? No. Summer? None. Instead 2 rainy seasons. Rains first wash over the northern hemisphere. The current runs south. The sea floats through the land.
Then the North dries up and the water floods back North. South to north…
Water is black and red but clear and clean. Pure to drink off any boat. No material in suspension. None. Everything that has been worn away has been worn away hundreds of millions of years ago.
*The land under the high trees is as clean as a frozen desert. Nothing rots. It’s all devoured. Nothing organic is unattended (for long). Everything is eaten every minute. Except for a few tasty morsels of rare sunlight that bounce from tree trunk to tree trunk till they are lost down below…
*Water, vapor, steam, clouds, humidity – hardly room in the sky for another cloud. And never for golden sunlight. Clear sky? I’ve heard rumors of clear hours, cloudless sky, sunshine. I don’t believe most of them…
*The woods are deep… Roots, heavy and dense as rustic iron pipes. Canopy is high – thousands of feet high. Looking down its variegated like jagged river rocks covered in dripping moss.
*The ground is sand mostly, ‘pursand’, damp sand. 100% pure, empty nothingness, unsalted salts – cleans you out!
*Up the naked tree stalks, nothing – barely bark, then 500 feet high the warring insect zone starts with stinging wasps, fire ants, Bone Thorn vines that look like millipedes, Spotted Orange Fungi acid coating everything, and here and there a munching Red Plated anteater. That’s the border land that must be crossed to get to the plump leaves above it. No living thing can climb past and live…. Or climb back down.
*The swollen leaves and the living things swarming around them are the first canopy level, the buzzing zone, the infected wood. Every species here, is there somewhere. Millions and millions or more. Who knows. Never two spiders, worms, or creepers alike. How they find mates in all the confusion is a mystery to all (shakes head). Come walk this way… (Wood plank creaks)
*Watch your head. It’s second nature for us small native peoples. Yes we are a wirey race, the open pored albino, stilt dwellers. Yes we live on stilts, treehouse walkways. Walkways tarred with repellants that keep out the ‘dangers’.
*Your eyes widen? You’ve heard of jungle dangers. As if they were BIG monsters from storybooks. Nothing here is big – but little morsels can have big viciousness to compensate. Warriors are tough. They bite and claw hard to live. And there is a strain of virus for every biter. Plants stopped being prey a long time ago. Now whether it’s animal versus plant or plant versus plant, it’s all predator versus predator! Everything is always hungry. (Crack of wood ballister)
*Be careful there. A little drop is a lost life. We’re high up. And even the occassional quicksand at the forest floor won’t stop your fall to death. (Shakes his head)
*The biggest ‘dangers’ are the borers that attack and bite into your skin in sleep – never a trace but a bad dream; undersea snake coilers, jawgators, shock eels, during mating season – though who knows when those are; poison monkeys, army birds, blood thirsty mites… and of course the bats own the night.
*How do we protect ourselves? Each danger has a tree zone. We avoid most, give in to some, fight what’s left standing, at this high up…
*These Trough plants are handy. Scoop out the top layer and they are perfectly harmless. Pure water collected in green sinks. Most important in the Desert Zone.
*You’ve heard of the Desert Zone, of those 2 strips of barren land 47 degrees north and south of the equator bulge where the circling tropical winds die out, and stop between the rainy seasons. Things dry up. Water sinks in and disappears. Sand grows for a while. No man’s land. It’s jungle vanishes, hibernates into the tall clouds. Only a few bleached and petrifified hollow driftwoods left, desert bones.
Could we tramp there – no one can and survive the dry and cold – we would hear nothing – they say – a storm of nothing. Perhaps some lie about that… I don’t believe it either. Rumors.
*We have a boiling pot of Carro. It’s a flying fish, a delicacy with onion herbs and sap oil. Outsiders may take a while to settle to it. If you get sick the pursand will clean you out. Ha ha.
*I see you itch. Your clothes sop and irritate your skin. Boils are likely. Nothing ever dries here. Nothing drains. Nothing can evaporate. Into what? What isn’t wet? Those not born here never quite get used to it. (He shakes his head) Water to water, sop to sop…
*My mate is this one (points to a woman and says to her) We have a sojourner.
These wide-eyed ones are children and nephews, ‘Survivorosettes”. They think you are a monkey. (Shakes head)
*Here’s a bowl for your broth. Yes it’s one of those bowls so well treasured in your world right? ‘Gold times 1,000’, say the rumors; weaved leaves, tarred with certain rare saps, jewel plant green, hard and water repellant Bowls that once dried (off planet) last forever – can never brake.
*We like trade. Everyone trades here (as he eats).
All outsiders trade. I can see in your eyes that you have come for trade – bowls most of them, pursand some. Some smuggle water (shakes head again) very illegal.
*Some trade once and never return. Some trade often and never leave.
This place is… kills many, exhilarates all!
*First some juice, Jarra, liquor from the high clouds, then we’ll trade.
No? But no liquor, no trade. Eat. Then drink. Then trade. And don’t fall, the liquor leans many!”
*The native pronunciation is ‘Parroove-f’

c Tom Hendricks 2005


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