“The process we are going to undertake is a form of hypnosis during which I shall encourage your ego to relax its grip on your mind. This will help enable your unconscious to reveal what the barrier of your ego has been suppressing from your consciousness. Are you still happy to proceed?”
“Please lie down on your back on the rug and relax. Listen to the sounds of the forest, the wind in the leaves and the calls of the animals and birds.” Lumi knelt down on the rug behind Jessica with a knee either side of her head. She held the long clear crystal on a cord above Jessica’s eyes on which she asked her to fix her gaze and she began to spin it in the U shaped space between her breasts. Lumi then started to chant as Sensi had done the night in the ruins.
Jessica let Lumi’s chanting and the background noise of the forest seep into her mind as she watched the crystal spin, slowly the scene faded and her eyes closed as she gently slipped into an altered state of consciousness.
The noise of the animals had changed. There was alarm and fear in their calls and Jessica stood up to see what was going on. She stumbled slightly as she did so. There was something different about the ground, it felt as if it was slightly moving beneath her feet. It was not like she would imagine an earthquake to be, the movement was too slight and regular for that. There was no sign at all of Lumi and the air was colder. She also realised that she was clothed in some kind of thick woollen garments which were completely unfamiliar to her to protect her from the chill of the cold wind.
A small herd of deer rushed past her in terror, seemingly completely oblivious to her presence. There was an acrid smell of smoke in the forest and in the distance she heard noises that sounded like trees being cut down with axes and chainsaws. There was a large tree in front of her and she decided to climb it to see if she could detect the source of the commotion. She climbed higher and higher until eventually she climbed out above the forest canopy and she was completely startled by the panorama laid out before her.
Jessica suddenly understood why the ground was moving. The forest was growing on top of the deck of the most enormous ship she had ever seen and the pitching movement was caused by the movement of the waves as the ship ploughed forward. The ship must have been twenty kilometres long and at least two kilometres wide. It was obvious from the remains of the stumps that once the forest had covered virtually the whole deck of the ship but now it was just a few acres of woodland near the bow. There was a group of men chopping down the trees and other men with rifles were shooting any animals who tried to escape from the forest. The carcasses of the animals were thrown with the wood onto flatbed train cars that were periodically dragged by a small steam engine along metal rails towards a towering ship’s bridge at the stern.
Above the bridge there was thick black acrid smoke billowing out of four enormous chimneys and she could now detect the throbbing sound of the massive engines that were driving the ship forward through the waves. She turned towards the bow and she noticed that there was a huge iceberg in the distance that the ship was relentlessly heading towards. She heard the screaming of a monkey as the tree in which it sheltered was cut down beneath it, it’s infant in its arms. Two shots rang out and the carcasses of the mother and infant were thrown casually onto the next car on top of some logs.
In absolute horror Jessica climbed down the tree and ran through the forest towards the men. As she burst out through the trees she screamed, “Stop! What are you doing?”
“You shouldn’t be here Miss” said a burly man with a red hard hat that seemed to distinguish him as some kind of foreman. “You could get shot running out of the trees like that. You should be with the other passengers on the deck below.”
“Why are you destroying the forest?” she asked in distress as yet another carcass, this time of a young deer was thrown onto the growing pile.
“To fuel the ship of course” said the man looking at his colleague as if it was the dumbest question he had ever been asked.
“Well you have to stop, you can’t do this to the animals, they’re absolutely terrified” she shouted in exasperation.
“What’s that to me?” said the man with complete indifference. “I have a shift quota to get through and you are holding up my work. If you don’t like it I suggest you speak to the captain.”
“Where will I find him?” asked Jessica.
“Why on the bridge of course, where else?” he replied. “You can take the next train back if you don’t fancy walking.”
Jessica sat on the flatbed looking at the bloodied bodies of the animals and the chopped up remnants of forest trees as it rumbled up towards the bridge. The sound of the engines got louder and louder as she approached and she heard the deep rumble of the huge screws turning beneath the waterline.
A large group of filthy workers were emptying the carts, throwing the wood and the carcasses of the animals onto a conveyor belt that disappeared deep into the bowels of the ship. She could feel the heat of enormous fires that heated the boilers radiating out of the hold.
At the base of the bridge was a large metal hatch that was open and she passed through into the gloomy corridor behind. She went down a metal staircase and found herself on a walkway above what looked to be a huge metal storage hold that was filled with murmuring people. They all seemed to be looking down towards their feet as they slowly shuffled about. She could see that this hold was one of many that disappeared far into the gloomy darkness that lay beyond.
She went back up the staircase and bumped into a man in a white uniform who looked like some kind of officer.
“I must speak to the Captain” she said to the officer.
“Captain’s busy with the ship” he replied.
“Please, it’s terribly important” she pleaded.
With a deep sigh the officer gestured with his head for her to follow and she followed him along several corridors and up staircases until she entered the bridge where the Captain stood staring out through a window across the vast deck in front of him. He leant forward towards some kind of microphone and shouted, “give me more steam, we are barely doing thirty two knots and so help me I’ll cut your pay if you let the ship slip below thirty.”
“Captain, this girl wants a word with you, says it’s urgent” said the officer who just turned and left her alone looking at the large powerful back of the Captain.
“What do you want?” snapped the Captain without bothering to turn around. “Can’t you see I’m busy?”
“I want you to stop destroying the forest and the animals” she said.
The Captain now turned around in annoyance to face this intruder that had the audacity to disturb him. “That’s absurd, the ship will run out of fuel and stop” he snorted at her.
“How far is it until we reach our destination?” she asked.
“There is no destination,” said the Captain, “the purpose is to keep the ship moving forward, not arrive at a destination, that’s what we all get paid for.”
“Why keep going if there is no destination” she said in confusion.
“We must keep going, it’s called making progress” he said. “What’s the point of it all if we stop?”
“You must stop” she said, “you’re heading for an iceberg.”
“There are no icebergs” he said in contemptuous reply. “Talk of icebergs is just a silly myth to scare weak minded people and stop the ship and I won’t listen to such stupidity. Now get off my bridge, I have a ship to run.”
Jessica ran back down the corridors and staircases to reach the hold where thousands of people were still shuffling around. She stood on the gantry above the hold and, trying to make herself heard above the throbbing drone of the ships engines, she screamed “we must get the Captain to stop the ship, there will soon be no forest or animals left and we will hit the iceberg. You will all drown.” A few people looked up at her incuriously and then resumed their shuffling and murmuring.
She ran back up towards the deck and met a woman with a small boy. “You must take your child off the ship or you will both be drowned” she said grabbing the woman’s shoulders.
“Don’t be silly” she giggled, “why would I do that?”
“There’s an iceberg ahead” and the Captain refuses to stop the ship.
“If there was any danger the officers would tell us” she replied. “One day my boy will be an officer and he will be very wealthy” she said with pride.
“Where are the lifeboats?” cried Jessica, “I haven’t seen any lifeboats.”
“We don’t need lifeboats, as I said to you, we are all perfectly safe” said the woman. “Come on Jose.” With that she squeezed past Jessica on the gangway and headed towards a metal ladder to climb down into the hold and re-join the others.
Jessica ran back onto the deck. A large monkey on one of the flatbed cars, although badly hurt, was still alive and was screaming in terror as one of the men tried to force it down the hatchway towards the furnaces. Jessica covered her ears; she couldn’t stand listening to its cries any more. Ahead of the ship she saw the huge bulk of the iceberg looming above the bow of the now doomed vessel. It was not white but filthy, crusted with dirt and soot, dark and menacing. She turned around in desperation and suddenly saw a dazzling bright light coming from a hatchway that she had not noticed before. She ran through the hatchway and into the light as the screams of the terrified monkey faded behind her.
Jessica’s eyes opened, her head resting on Lumi’s lap. Lumi’s hand was gently stroking her forehead and in the distance she could hear a troop of monkeys chattering and whooping as they passed through the canopy of the forest far above. She felt the warmth of the sun on her body and the smell of the vegetation that surrounded her. How beautiful this world was, how precious and yet how fragile.