We should have known better. Don’t handle exotic flora is a good rule to live by. But you and I don’t always live by the rules. Otherwise, where’s the adventure?
We had stopped for lunch on a high mountain ridge where nothing could grow, and we didn’t expect to encounter any life forms, until a faint metallic buzzing roused our curiosity and lured us into trouble.
“What’s that noise?” you asked, as we enjoyed the view. “It sounds like…”
“No, not a natural sound.” You turned your head. “Over there, on the ground.”
A yellow-orange flower with long curved petals was poking up out of the snow, hidden in the shadow of a rock. It quieted down when you went over to investigate.
“It’s not attached to anything. See?” You lifted it up to show me — no roots or leaves, just a plain stem with a star-like array of bright, pointed petals. “It didn’t grow here.”
“It must have dropped out of the sky,” I said, not convinced at my own words.
Then again, on the lonely peaks we explore, far from the commonplace world, we never know what mischief we’ll find, or what mischief will find us. That’s the risk and reward of stepping out of doors to journey into the wildlands, trading comfort for unknown perils.
“It looks like a sun,” you said.
“But not ours.”
You touched a petal. “It’s warm even now.”
“Why did it come here?”
We bent our heads close to examine the flower. You playfully gave it a brief twirl, then held it steady. But the petals kept turning, slowly at first — we stared in surprise — now picking up speed, around, around — we couldn’t look away — spinning faster, blurring reality, then stretching back into a deep vortex of swirling light. Hypnotic, I was about to say, as the universe blossomed from the center and swallowed all consciousness.
Hours later we became aware once more of the world. A late afternoon breeze ruffled the petals in your hand.
“What just happened?” I asked.
“We were gone…” you looked around unsteadily, “but we never left.”
The spinning flower had transported us across space and time to the surface of a distant star — solid underfoot, though still burning at the core. We both recall landing in a gray metal ship, donning protective suits, and hiking over a plasma field toward a lake of molten light, before finally reaching the mountain we had come to climb. That part of the tale is recounted elsewhere in these chronicles.
“But that trip seemed to take months,” you said.
“Weeks at least. And there aren’t any places like that. Not that we know of, or can get to.”
“A future vision then?”
“I’m not so sure.”
I could still feel the strain in my shoulder from when I slipped during our climb. And your arm was singed red from your mishap with a sudden flare-up by the lake. We didn’t get those injuries standing here in a dream.
“Is this a way to travel?” You looked down at the flower, then up at me. I could tell you were thinking about giving it another spin. Where would it take us this time?
I nodded. “Go ahead.”