The Island of Pan

“I am Pan. Welcome to my Floating Island.”

His mouth says between pink lips and impossibly white teeth. His smile is disconcerting being that it’s punctuated with two rather long fang-like canines. It lends the Un surpassingly handsome face a feralness that is more than a little weird. It does not help that the young man’s aqua blue eyes have a wild wolf-like quality to them as they bore into my own.

“I – I, uh . . .” I stammer as my throat closes and goes numb.

At the sound of my utterance I hear something else reply. A deep-throated purring that sounds like a nearly subsonic growl. Instinctively, my head snaps around to see two blazing yellow eyes meet mine. The eyes are set into absolute black darkness interrupted only by these eyes and two white saber-like fangs! Behind those saber-teeth is a rough pink tongue that moves as the creature pants. I feel the heat of it’s meat sweet breath blow on my face and on my wet hair.

That rough tongue reaches out and sandpapers my naked shoulder in a long lick that raises an irritable rash there. Somehow, even in my mind-numbing terror, I know that the tongue belongs to a big cat and that, if it wanted to, this cat could flay the flesh from my bones with indecent ease with that tongue!

“Veloúdo! No! You don’t know where this boy has been! I don’t want you getting a sick tummy. Wait till he’s thoroughly washed first.” The beautiful fanged man sneers at me. ( Greek anglification for ‘Velvet’)

“Who are you? What do you want from me? Where’s my father! Please . . .” I blurt as if asking a bunch of stupid questions is going to help me out of this at all.

“I should ask the same of you. It is you who ended up on my island after all. I should think that entitles me to having any of my questions answered first. That and I also have one of the last remaining Shadowcats in the world as my friend. You are very fortunate, tender as you are, that he’s fed recently.” The person says with a smile filled with devilish mirth.

It is at this point something in me fails. A strength I’d had that was what had been supporting me. A will to survive that worked for me and my doomed Papa. This all falls away and despair replaces it. I know now that my Papa is dead and that I have failed him. I know now that I am doomed to die as well. A man cannot contend with what I’ve had to contend with only to fall to the jaws of a wild boy and his wilder animal without losing hope.

The world is not fair. The world is faithless and cruel. Better to be done with it. I am a mortal after all. I am doomed to die sooner or later so let it be sooner! I suddenly . . . just don’t care anymore.

“Go ahead, Fanged Man. Let your cat kill me. I am done. I can’t fight all of you. Sharks. Kraken. Unending calls to me that plague my nights and my days so long as I’m within earshot of the sea.” I raise up on my elbows and stare the fanged boy down. I notice he backs up and away from me surprised. The cat merely lays it’s head on its paws and stares at me as if trying to figure me out. It is not unlike any number of house cats I’ve known in my life, only MUCH bigger.

“My father is dead. I should join him. Go ahead! I’m done!” I’m sitting now staring daggers back at the beast-man-boy. I mean every word. I can’t go on like this. Death just seems like the most obvious and easier solution, actually.

“Oh, well, you are wrong about one thing. Your father isn’t dead. The Neriads wouldn’t have it. See? They tend to him even now.” The beast-boy gestures toward a gathering of what look like totally nude women all of them fussing over something with their backs turned to me.

A lump of anguished hope grows in my throat. He yet lives! My father has survived. A tear rolls down my cheek and a shuddering sigh of relief leaves me.

I make like I want to go to him, but the big cat chuffs at me and thumps his big paw down basically saying ‘stop’. So I do. I suppose on the hope that my father yet lives some of my feelings of self-preservation return to me in the form of fear.

Pan, this devilish boy-man, seems to change in his attitude toward me. He sinks into the sand sitting cross-legged in front of me. No longer does he have that fierce mischief in his face. It is replaced by wonder and curiosity.

“You are Alexis, are you not?” He asks through narrowing eyes. ‘Velvet’, the Shadowcat, raises his massive feline head so that he is now resting in the Sphinx-position looking me in the face nobly almost like he knows the answer already.

“Yes. That is my name.” I confirm.

“Ah! So you are the one all of this trouble is about.” Pan says sitting back on his elbows. I cannot help but notice his impressive and exposed manhood as it ‘presents’ itself to me. Pan wears only his scary smile and a simple multi-pipped flute that hangs around his neck by a gold chain.

“Uh…what trouble? I don’t know what you are talking about.” I am confused now. What trouble and why am I in it? If things weren’t bad enough, now I’m ‘trouble’?

“Ah, well I see some of the cause of that trouble already. So, for now, I’ll just leave it. It’s none of my business anyway, except you’re on my island now. If the trouble follows you here, I’ll deal with it.” Pan says while standing.

Oh, but that’s maddening! How can he drop that bomb on me and then just blow it off? Yet, I dare not show too much of my irritation since I have no idea who Pan is and whether he’ll sic his gigantic black cat on me or not. So I stay quiet. Again, I suppose some of my desire for self-preservation has returned to me at the news that my Papa is still alive. Also, with him still alive, I have nothing but the greatest desire to go to him. But, I remain where I am still figuring ‘Kitty’ won’t want me to make any more sudden movements.

I attempt to focus on other things, like on the young man himself . . . If indeed he is a man at all. Now that he is standing I can take in his full figure better. He is bewitching, actually. A beautiful male specimen unequaled except, perhaps, by that strange ‘Nerites’ person in my weird ‘Morpheus’ dream.

He has beach tanned skin that is bronze in color all over making him look very much like a surfer or a beach boy. He is young looking, I’d say maybe 19. His hair is bright golden blonde, straight, and very clean cut which I find strange on a supposedly deserted island.

His eyes are that fierce aqua blue I mentioned before that are penetrating like a wolf’s and then, of course, there’s the pointy canines. He’d almost pass for a sun-loving vampire with those teeth! Back to his eyes, they are attractively slanted slightly, but not in an Asian way. It’s more in a Scandinavian way or an elf-like way, if that makes sense. They lend his face to a mischievousness that is a bit unnerving for me, especially when he smiles. The high cheekbones tie his perfection together.

He is beautiful beyond description, really, but frightening too. He has a wildness about him like a wild animal with its unpredictability.

He speaks with a deep British accent which is appealing, if exceedingly strange. I’d honestly think he was a shipwrecked Englishman stranded on this island if it wasn’t for the fact that he has this giant black cat at his beck and call and that he is in such immaculate condition. Also, my instincts keep warning me that this Pan is more than he seems. Much more! Dangerously more!

He turns to regard the clutch of naked women who now rest upon the sand near a man sized bundle they’ve made of seaweed and what looks like coconut husks. He walks over to them with his back to me. The round perfect globes of his muscular backside roll sensually as he walks away from me. I find myself becoming embarrassingly erect as I watch him walk. He seems to have a natural sexiness I’ve never seen before in any man.

The women quickly turn toward him, look up, and immediately throw themselves into the sand before his feet as if in worship. So wrapped up I am in this bizarre display that I fail to notice that Mr. Kitty has gotten up to move closer to me.

Stiffening with fright I feel a great furry weight lean into my side. I slowly turn and see that ‘Velvet’ has come to lay right by my side and is now leaning on me while cleaning his paw with his tongue. I slowly make a move to get away, but to no avail. The cat turns and, to my horror, reaches the other huge paw out and pulls me in to an irresistibly strong embrace.

Terror takes over and I start to make whimpering noises readying a scream figuring the monstrous predator is about to take my head off and use it as a toy! The big tongue comes out again and, more gently than before, begins making long sandpapery licks on my neck, head, and face like he’s cleaning a kitten.

Inside the rumbling purr I hear something that sounds like meaning, if not words. It’s hard to describe, but something is passed to me that immediately calms me.

“No fear. Friend. Pan-Friend, Shadow-friend.” The purr seems to suggest. It rumbles through me as the great cat continues to lick the sea salt from my body in great swaths of it’s huge tongue.

“Kraken-Friend. Shadow-Goodfriend!” The creature punctuates this by pushing its enormous head in a gentle ‘cat-headbutt’ against my head. Terror has given way to cautious admiration of the great beast. Still, I am at it’s mercy and I hope that its gentle behavior doesn’t turn too ‘playful’. Having owned a few cats in my time I see how they like to play. With a small cat it’s fun, but with one as big as this . . . ?

No.

“A-ha! I figured that wouldn’t take long. Veloúdo seems to have adopted you already! You must be truly an extraordinary young man, then. He does not take to strangers at all well. He usually ends up eating them, actually.” Pan says with amused menace through his freaky smile.

I swear the big cat rolls his eyes at Pan as he releases me from his warm cat-hug. I somehow understand, through a new rapport I seem to now share with ‘Veloúdo’ that sometimes Pan’s humor is not nearly as funny as he seems to think it is. This is true even for cats and cats do tend to have a grim sense of humor.

“Come, then, my troublesome new friend. Your father is awake and is asking for you.” Pan beckons to me and then bids me to follow him with that same sensual roll of his hips and broad shoulders.

As I go to rise I feel fur next to me and I find I use it instinctively to help me up forgetting myself. I quickly pull my hand away when I remember it is Velvet’s fur. But rather than be offended, the big cat kneels and I feel a wet nose under my crotch and then I feel myself slide smoothly down the neck of the massive black mass of fur so that I finally come to rest straddling Velvet’s broad muscular back. He moves forward with me riding him! His walk is so smooth I hardly feel any roll at all as we go. Somehow my body knows how to react to his movements to minimize any discomfort there might be.

I notice the Neriads have resumed their kowtowing to Pan as he returns to them. When they look up to me their beautiful eyes go wide and then they start kowtowing to me too! It’s very weird. It must be the sight of me on Velvet’s back which is also not my idea!

“Pan, the great Elder. Alexis, the Beloved! Glory and honour! Glory and honour!” They all say in unison. I have no idea why they are calling me ‘the Beloved’ or what have you. It’s not like that Nerites dream could have been real. As vivid as it was, it couldn’t have been real. Could it?

“Do rise, Daughters of Uncle Nereus. I have no need or desire for such silliness. What is the condition of ‘The Beloved’s’ sire?” Pan waves at them to get up in an exasperated motion. Apparently, whoever he is, Pan finds all of this strange behavior just as disconcerting or at least as irritating as I do. I don’t like being bowed to either and Velvet just seems confused by it all.

“He was asleep, poor man. We took much of the sea from his lungs and now he breathes easier. The Gods of Life smiled on him this day.” The ‘lead’ woman answers. She is a little taller than the others and has red hair instead of black. She is also much more shapely. I find I can’t help but look at her womanly shapes with desire. It seems my appetites follow wherever beauty rests itself, man or woman.

“So he will be ok?” I ask never forgetting that it is with my father that my greatest concern must lie.

“I-I am fine, my s-son. These fine ladies tended me in ways I . . . ~cough cough~” My father tries to respond but the act is a bit much for him. I hop down off of Velvet and go to his side.

“He needs to not speak very much, Beloved. The Spirits of Ostia work well, but only with rest. I am Thetis.” My eyes went wide. She is named after the mother of Achilles, one of my favorite mythological heroes!

“You recognize the name, Beloved? I am honoured that you should. My beloved, my son of old, he would have made of himself a good friend to you, I believe.” Thetis says with a sweet smile almost like she can read my mind.

She does not elaborate on her statement so I can only figure she means her real son, wherever he is, might be a friend. I’m sure he might very well be. For Thetis’ sake alone I would certainly try to be a good friend to her and to any member of her family for as long as I live! She is the one who lead the salvation of my father from certain death. I owe her his life and mine!

Suddenly I hear a bone crushing crash come from the sky! It is a peel of thunder the likes of which I have never heard! The very trees shudder at the sound to the point where a few coconuts break loose and thump down onto the sand! I am very glad that I am not under any of these trees at the moment.

The sound is unusually loud enough to cause Velvet to cringe in fear and look wide eyed into the sky. I feel the need to reach and pet him to reassure him it is ok. It causes him to relax a bit, but he remains wary of the sky. It is like he is expecting something.

Pan too takes notice of the weather. Things have started to get dark rather suddenly all around the sea and the island.

“Hmmm. This is unusual. Storms like this don’t happen here in this way in this part of the Mediterranean. I wonder . . .?” Pan muses to himself. His sudden mysterious concern over the weather only works to deepen my own.

More so, the sudden groveling of the Neriad ladies is also very disturbing! They look terrified and are leaning over my father’s bower as if to protect him from something falling from the sky! Each has grave worry on their faces.

“Zeus!” Thetis says in a hushed whisper.

“Yes. That would make sense. Well, it would be wise not to molest me and my Island. There is an understanding after all.” Pan says with a slight sneer looking up into the darkening clouds with a kind of passing defiance.

I can’t really understand what they are talking about because it doesn’t make any sense to me. Were they talking about a weather phenomenon called a ‘Zeus’ alluding to the Greek King God who was in command of the weather?

“In any case, we should take shelter. I have no great desire to be rained on, hailed on, or coconutted upon today. If Zeus want’s to play he’ll get very little fun out of me, I assure you.” Yes, there it was. It must be an allusion to Zeus as the King of Gods and the God of Thunder. The Play of Zeus must be their way of talking about coming bad weather. That’s a rather unique way

of describing bad weather!

Just then an almighty crackling bolt of lightning, the biggest one I’ve ever seen, knifes down out of the sky and hits the water out to sea sending arcs as far as the very shore we are beached upon! The thunder crash that follows is a sound I feel more than hear. Every bone in my body seems to rattle and my ears hurt from it! I cover them and bow my head.

“Hmmm. It seems someone is pissed off today. Quickly then!” As quick as the lightning that just split the air Velvet is under me and bounding off. I hold tight to to his neck fur. Before I know it I am in the trees, moving in leaps from branch to branch. I worry after my father, but find I have no need to because somehow Pan has found two of his other animal friends to help with him. Two giant orangutans have him and are swinging from branch to branch under me. Despite their amazing movement through the trees and their swinging, my father’s bower remains stable and flat, barely swinging him at all!

The whole thing feels like a dream. I wonder if all of this is just a dream. How did this Pan have friends like these amazing animals? Where did this island come from out of nowhere? Why do these nude Neriad woman seem to worship him?

Could he, in fact, be THE Pan? I don’t know. That would lend itself to this experience being some kind of delirious fever dream of some kind. Pan doesn’t exist. He’s a myth just like Nerites is a myth and the Neriads for that matter. I mean, is this woman I met on the beach someone named after Thetis or is she the original Thetis?

But, then again, I smell the herbal essence of the living jungle around me. I smell the big cat’s sweat beneath me. I smell the mustiness of my own sweating body in the deep wet heat of this jungle in which I now find myself. I smell all these things on a wind that blows through my hair and against my face as we move with the speed only a great cat can have in his own environment that he knows better than his own paws.

This is real! This is really happening and if this is really happening then . . . these myths I find myself with, they are real too!

I have to believe because all the signs are pointing in that direction. Nothing can be proven and nothing can be explained in full, but this is. This IS.

It is at that moment that I start finding myself getting woozy, incredibly so, irresistibly so. My hand looses its strength and I start to slip off my cat mount. I am barely aware of jaws that snap at me as if to somehow catch me before I fall. But blackness takes me as I do fall away and then . . . nothingness.

~\~

My first awareness is of a gentle rocking and creaking. Everything else is quiet except for a low almost inaudible rumbling sound close to my ear. It’s a sound I feel more than hear, like a vibration. Then I become aware of the fact that it IS a vibration. Then my cheek becomes aware that it is laying on warm fur and that along with the gentle rocking my head is being lifted and lowered from a pressure beneath the fur.

I wake with a start!

“Huh?” I gasp but then to my shock I feel a huge paw reach and pull be back into an embrace of some kind! Then, finally, my memory comes back to me sufficiently to know I am with a big animal and that, somehow, I know this big animal is a friend. But, I don’t know where I am and I don’t know how I got here!

“You should take better care where you decide to suddenly fall asleep while moving through the top of a one-hundred foot jungle canopy. You were very lucky I happened to be under you when you fell or you would not be waking among us, but among those in Hades.” A sly British accented voice says not six feet away from me.

My eyes refocus in the semi-darkness and manage to pick up the blue-highlighted tracing of light reflected off the edges of a smooth, fair body in shadows. Recognition of this person also slowly dawns on me as I manage to push out the cobwebs that seem to have taken over my head.

“You are . . . Pan?” I ask cautiously not knowing exactly how I know that name.

“Oh dear. I have a feeling you may have picked up a concussion somewhere. Your memory is just terrible! But of course I’m Pan! I told you as much not three hours ago.” He says to me with stunning calm.

“What is it that has me? Is it going to eat me?” I suddenly feel very afraid as I feel a rough tongue work on the back of my neck and head. It feels like a giant cat is ‘cleaning’ me like a kitten. It is a strangely familiar sensation.

“Calmly. Alexis ShadowFriend. Alexis KrakenFriend. Alexis brain in a cage. Alexis has poison. Shadow cleans Alexis to make the poison come out.” The cat ‘says’!

This startles me entirely! Firstly, how is it that I can suddenly understand ‘cat’? Secondly, how is it that the cat seems to ‘talk’ to my mind directly without saying words, just impressions of meaning. Thirdly and most importantly . . . OH MY GOD I’M POISONED?

“You may have a point there, Veloúdo. I sense something else at work here too.” Pan says and quicker than flies he snatches up my hand and holds me by the wrist firmly, but not painfully. Sort of like how a nurse might to take my pulse.

That’s when he leans down and BITES my wrist with very sharp teeth and tastes my blood!

“OOOOOW! STOP THAT!” I try to pull my hand away but Pan is way too strong for that!

“Oh, stop your struggling, you silly boy. I need to find out what Veloúdo is talking about.” Pan admonishes me with slight irritation.

“Hmm. Yes, I can already feel the effects of it now.” Pan releases my hand and I notice the two bite holes are completely gone as is the blood! I shake my head to try and wake up from this nightmare, but instead I feel a meaty paw grip the top of my head to stop it from moving so that the ‘tongue bath’ won’t be interrupted again.

“I think that you have . . . ” Pan begins to explain only to be cut off by the sudden violent swaying of the trees we are in. The cat holds me close using its paws to lightly immobilize me as the hammock affair, in which we are hanging from the treetops, begins to sway in vast sweeps!

“What, by Mother Gaia, is happening now? This is damned peculiar and I’m starting to become greatly vexed! Who is doing this nonsense?” Pan grouses as he effortlessly climbs out of the hammock and down one of the trees like a lizard presumably to get a better look at what might be causing the swaying.

I hold on to . . . Velvet? Yes, that’s his name. The big cat’s name is Veloúdo which is ‘Velvet’ in Greek. It seems more comes back to me with each cleansing stroke of Velvet’s velvet tongue.

I hold on to Velvet for dear life as the hammock’s swaying becomes a more circular ‘swirl’. At one point, I feel like a swizzle stick in a cup of mocha cappuccino.

“Blast! Now I know that trouble has followed you my forgetful friend. My island is being inundated by a tsunami of all things! First monstrous lightning bolts and now sudden tsunamis. The Olympians have not been this active in thousands of years! This totally goes against the Aegis unless of course none of this is affecting mankind at all. I highly doubt that is possible. These shipping lanes are continually filled with ships and boats going hither and thither.” Pan muses as he effortlessly hand-vaults himself back into our ‘nest’.

“Well, we should all be safe enough up here. I highly doubt Poseidon’s wrath can reach up this far. My poor orchids though! I’ve been cultivating them for 50 years! I will have words with him for that.” Pan snarls as he looks down again to the forest floor.

I manage to break free from Velvet’s gentle grip long enough to look down and I do vaguely see the movement of white caps below me. It is as if all the trees were suddenly growing directly from the sea surface.

It’s then that the winds start to howl around us! I find myself grip for dear life to Velvet fearing I’ll be blown over the edge of the nest! The big cat takes the hint and presses me down into a crouch with his great furry bulk covering me protectively.

The rain that follows is absolutely torrential! Now it can no longer be safe in the nest as it is quickly filling up with water too!

“Oh this is just TOO much! Those two are making an absolute MESS out of my island! Mother! MOTHER!! MAKE IT STOP!” I stare in horror at Pan figuring that he has finally been driven completely mad! He calls for his mother to ‘stop this’ like this hurricane is just the mischievousness of playground bullies?

But it is then that the rain DOES stop and the winds DO stop blowing and I hear and feel a deep rumbling beneath us! Gently, I feel our hammock strung between the trees rise higher as if the ground itself is swelling beneath us.

After a time of this ominous rumbling and rising I hear a great rush of water below us like a thousand waterfalls suddenly come into existence. I dare to look down again and I see all the rapids below us move back in the direction they had originally come.

Somehow, the Island has made itself TALLER! This brings into existence new grades and cliffs made by the growth of the land. This in turn causes all the inundating sea to flow away and off the Island like so much water off of a duck’s back!

“Thank you, Mother.” Pan sighs and then flops exhausted in a heap right next to me. With his index finger and middle finger he jabs a hole in the bottom of the nest and the rain water captured there drains completely away.

“Wh-what was that?” I can’t help but to stare dumbfounded at Pan. Why this, after so many other wonders that I have seen, should shake me to the core I don’t know. It was his prayer! It was a plea to his . . . Mother. What ‘mother’ could answer such a prayer in such a way?

“Oh, that was Mother putting things back in order as she does. Anyway, Styx. That’s what I wanted to say. You have the Styx in you. It will be out of you soon. You need to sleep, though, because you are getting annoying again.” Pan completes his sentence from earlier and then, with a maddening nonchalance that disarms me, he picks up his wooden multi-piped flute he has hanging around his neck and begins making a music so haunting and with such longing that I find I suddenly don’t care anymore about any of this.

The Styx? Ok, whatever. Who cares? The music takes me away like I have just drunk an entire bottle of ouzo all by myself. Within a hanging nest a hundred feet in the air, in the embrace of the biggest big cat in the world who purrs and continues to ‘wash’ me, and a handsome boy-beast beside me, I fall, again, off to sleep. Only this time, I do not dream. I merely rest.

~\~

The morning finds me still in the nest. The warm night air has dried me and between Velvet and the rain water I feel like I’ve had the best shower I’ve ever had. Beside me is a wooden pallet with all manner of fruits there so that I can have a breakfast. No meat in sight though which makes me a little unhappy, but not greatly so.

For some reason I can pay attention to these things. It’s like all the craziness of the past few days was all a bad dream and the dreams I had in that dream were only dreams too.

Except, I am in a giant bird’s nest hanging from impossibly huge trees on an uncharted island about to eat fruit the likes of which I have never seen. The swoon of madness threatens to take me again, but something more substantial in me rises to cut out the impending anxiety attack.

I remember something!

A memory returns to me as clear as day! A night in an anemone bed. A vision of Atlantis and of ancient Egypt and of . . . a floating island inhabited by a beautiful beast boy called Pan playing a multi-piped flute! This boy on the island was a contemporary of both Atlantis and the Pharaohs! He was no boy at a all!

He was Pan, God of Nature, son of Gaia . . . MOTHER EARTH!

I fall over backwards laying flat on my back as the astonishing revelation hits me like a lightning bolt!

Then . . .

“Nerites!” The names aches from me. A tear comes from my eye as the swelling bittersweet pain fills my breast. Memories of kisses, tentacles, golden hair, and penetrating glowing blue eyes fill me as if some dam has burst!

“Styx.” I murmur remembering the last thing said to me before Pan put me to sleep with his song.

“One of the rivers of Hades. Grandfather once told me of that story too. How Charon the skeletal ferryman needed a coin as payment for passage across the river Styx which was uncrossable because if you submerged into it the river would devour all of what your are. First your memories, then your mind, then your soul, and then you would simply cease to exist at all.” The familiar gravel of my father’s voice brings me joy to hear!

“But, who is Nerites?” My father asks as I move up next to him as he has been brought to my ‘nest’ so that I would know he was safe from whatever went on last night.

“A . . . friend.” I say with a bashful smile not really being able to come up with a better word. Boyfriend just doesn’t seem to fit somehow.

“You kept saying that name over and over while you slept like you were dreaming of him. He sounds to be more than just a ‘friend’ the way you were carrying on.” My father smiles at me roguishly. It is strange, he should be angry about such a thing being as devout as he is but . . . Greeks will always be Greeks I suppose.

“Things are still a jumble, Papa, I don’t know what Styx has to do with me or why I am having these dreams and visions. I don’t know why we are here. I don’t know what happened last night. There’s still so much that I don’t get here.” I say with sad frustration.

“Have faith, my little one. It is obvious to me that we are in some kind of test. God is sending us these experiences for some reason. I almost feel like a new revelation is coming. Something that will tie all human beliefs and history together. The Gods of old in service to the new God. Perhaps many wars might stop if all religions reunify as one great understanding. I have often wondered if such a thing might be possible.” My father’s depth astounds me!

Never did I know he had such deep and amazing things to say. He was always so pragmatic and preoccupied with fishing and boats and hands, etc. Except for his devotion to the Orthodox Religion I didn’t know he had a philosophical bone in his body!

“That is very wise, Papa. I don’t know if all of this will mean anything quite that profound, but I would dearly like to know what will happen with us! I have so many questions that need answering, still. The most important being . . . will I ever see Nerites again?” I look wistfully off toward the direction that I know is closest to the sea from where I am. I seem to always know where it is no matter where I am or however far away from it I might get.

In all honesty, I feel now that my heart must break if I were to return to New Mexico’s desert so far away from the sea. After experiencing what I am and what this all means to me, I feel I should never leave the sea ever again.

“I should think you’ll see him sooner than later if things keep up as they are.” Pan says mysteriously as he suddenly appears hanging above us from coils of vines. To be so very comfortable doing that means that he must be a nature god. The vines look to cling to him in some very uncomfortable places!

“Wh-what do you mean?” I look up at him astounded by his cryptic words.

More vines unfurl and I am suddenly caught up in them! They do grip in some private places, but not uncomfortably. But, discomfort does come when they all lift me bodily out of the nest and cause me to descend from the tree like some twisted elevator!

“Alexis!” My father shouts in fear.

“Fear not, Old Father. We will return just after I show him something interesting.” Pan says with a mix of the blasé and mischievous.

“I pray he comes to no more harm.” My father seems to entreat Pan.

“None by me and none because of me. Be at peace, Old Father. Things will work out. Just believe as you tell Alexis to do.” I look up to see Pan wink at my father and then look down at me with a grin of pure joy.

“Let’s GO!” He shouts and my stomach ends up in my throat as the vines act like bungees and drop us both as if we are flying.

“AAAAAAH!” I try to cover my eyes but vines hold my arms so I can’t move them as we fall! I am treated to the full horrifying vision of the ground rising to meet me at great speed! Just as I am sure to die, I feel the vines slow our descent ever so gently and precisely. By the time I hit bottom my toes are gently eased into the sand with incredible dexterity. I find myself left to stand by myself as the vines disentangle themselves and lift back up into the canopy.

Next to me the ever enchantingly graceful form of Pan touches ground with the daintiness of a Botticelli angel.

“Now that was what I call fun!” Pan says looking like the delighted teenager he gives the impression of being. I merely glance at him like he is half-mad. Sure, it was just ‘peachy-keen’ fun, I think to myself. My body shivers in an uncontrollable spasm of shock and fear.

“Oh, pshaaa! If you can’t have fun doing ‘bungee vine’ then there really is no hope for you at all, my beautiful troublemaker!” Pan says, staring at me roguishly with his hand on his bare hip. He still wears nothing but his irksome sense of humor and ‘Pan Pipes’.

“You read my mind! Why do you all have to read my mind?” For some reason that stabs at me. I can’t even have a private moment in my head with these great beings. Nothing is sacred! But then I remember that all gods can read minds. I remember how Nerites was able to touch me with his spirit without even lifting a finger!

“If you wouldn’t think so LOUD I probably wouldn’t care. Now, this way!” Pan leads me, still weak kneed from our descent, out to the beach again. Understandably, I am wary going back out there after tsunamis and freak lightning storms. The tsunami did make a mess of things. Bits of broken branches and other bracken litter the once pristine beach. A lot of sand is gone too. The ocean seemed ‘closer’ somehow.

“Oh, by Uranus’s Cosmic Creampies! What a DISASTER! It took a good century to accumulate that much sand for my favorite beach! NOW look at it!” Pan grouses bitterly.

“Was this what you wanted to show me? I’m sorry if I brought this to you. If I’d had any other way to save myself and my father I would have chosen it.” I try to defend myself against what I think will be an accusation.

“Oh, no, that isn’t what I wanted you to see. Here . . .” Pan gently takes me by the back of my neck and guides me to the edge of the forest to look out over the water. What I see . . . is hard to describe.

I see a mammoth cloud in the shape of a towering mountain lit from inside and around as if by a fiery sunset. It is beautiful beyond description! Every color of orange, red, yellow, purple, and blue seem to be mixed up in that vast cloud.

All through the cloud small lightning bolts surge and strange multicolored lights of blue and green shimmer deep inside it. Reaching up to meet the cloud’s bottom is what seems to be the sea itself! Tendrils of waterspouts, bigger than any I have ever seen, reach from the sea to the cloud and interact with the cloud in gentle swirls.

All about the cloud, early morning dawn turns into evening twilight and that evening twilight is turned back into early morning dawn on the farthest reaches of the sky about the cloud. It is as if the whole order of time and space has been turned on its head!

What was even more ominous about the great manifestation is that it seemed to be drifting rapidly in OUR direction!

“Whatever is it?” I ask in awe and fear.

“The Convocation of the Gods . . .” Pan intones with a direness I’ve not yet heard from him before. His playful disposition seems to have evaporated entirely.

“. . . and they are coming.” He says with a finality that chills me to the bone.

Turning to me with a look of wonder and possibly newfound respect he says:

“They are coming for you!”

Published November 13, 2018