The Frogs’ Pool
(A Surreal Script in Three Emergences and Six Resonances)
[Begin of excerpt]
Zoom in: Terra, a fragile stronghold of life.
Zoom in: Australia, the far-off continent.
Zoom in: Purnululu, one of nature’s weathered masterpieces.
Shift from: the striped sandstone domes through a maze of well-worn canyons into a narrow chasm with a fresh-filled stream.
Natural light, single camera, surreal action!
Emergence (III): Helter-Skelter
It’s near the end of the wet season. At the peak of its growth cycle, life is rejoicing. The landscape is repainted with explosive regrowths of vibrant green, rapid currents fill once barren riverbeds now teeming with plankton, algae, and patches of moss. The air is abuzz with insects, the rivers are virtually overflowing with fish and the undergrowth is bristling with such a great number of mammals that the predators have become opportunistic to the point of near standstill.
Yet, in the art of joie de vivre nobody outdoes the young frogs. Barely metamorphosed into adulthood, they still have the spunky restlessness of the tadpole. Partying like there’s no tomorrow with the persistence of the pollywog, young frogs jump and dive, swim and play in the gorge stream, contentedly bask in the sun.
One group does not partake in the exultation of life. They are headed by a big old frog that urges them to redirect their youthful energy at planning for the future. Not all the young ones in the group are happy about it though.
“Why can’t we join them for a little while, Sally?” asks a young frog bursting with energy.
“I told you, Philip, we must finish this task first.” The old, leathery frog remains adamant.
“Planting seeds? Making food stocks while it’s everywhere, more than anybody can eat?”
“Especially now, while we still can. It is necessary for our survival.”
“But why? Having fun can’t be such a bad thing, can it?”
“No, it isn’t, and after we’ve finished this cache you can play all you want. Let me explain why we must do this.”
Emergence (I): Diaspora
It was a season wetter and wilder than this. The torrential rains that fell from the sky seemed never-ending. The streams soon built up to mighty rivers overflowing. Large pieces of land were flooded. The currents were sometimes so powerful that trees were torn from their roots, big stones were swept away from their age-old withering spots, water cutting through rock layers too hard for the strongest of our burrowing cousins to scratch.
No living thing could fight these irresistible streams. Once captured there was no way you could swim against it, only go with the flow and hope to survive. It was one of those crazy currents that upset the gorge where I had hatched. My brothers and sisters and I were still young tadpoles, hardly halfway through our transformation. We were swept away like dry leaves in the storms that precede the wet.
Although I was too young to fully realise the dangers, the exhilaration of the wild ride soon evaporated as I found myself in a strange territory, far away from my hatching place. The only family still with me was my brother Jacinto. All the others were gone: alive, dead, or lost, it was impossible to say.
After we overcame our initial shock, Jacinto and I set out to search for our brothers and sisters. The others—not a single group but a varied crowd mostly unfamiliar with each other—followed us, apparently because we were the oldest ones.
Our motley crew travelled far without ever finding any of our family. Eventually we settled in this gorgeous pool, wedged within a rock rift that beautifully captured sunlight in the middle of the day. We’d be gloriously basking at noon but mercifully shadowed before the daytime heat became too much.
[End of Excerpt]
- Originally appeared in Nemonymous 4, May 2004 (as “The Frog’s Pool”);
- Reprinted in The Fleas They Carried: An Animal Aid Anthology (May 2009);
- Reprinted in The Tangled Bank: Love, Wonder and Evolution, February 2010 (as “The Frog Pool”);
- Reprinted in Triangulation: Parch, July 2014 (as “Parched in Purnululu”);
There you go: two highly negative reviews and two highly positive reviews of the same story. Normally—if this is not my own story—this tells me that the story is doing something right. Obviously not for everybody, but the story that pleases each and everyone simply does not exist.
Now here’s the thing: in the author notes that come with the paid version—and yes, that’s intended as an incentive to actually buy the story, as it provides something extra, something above and beyond the dry text version—I will explain why I wrote the story like that, and what I tried to achieve with it. Then the reader—reviewer, critic, academic analyst if I’m lucky/unlucky (delete as appropriate)—can decide if I succeeded or not. And it costs only $0.50 to find out (in this 3,200 word story).
So what are you waiting for? (I know: for me to get it released at iBooks. Working on it...;-)
(Eventually) Available on:
- Google Books;
- Amazon Kindle;