My paper-clearing war continues. A delightful SHORT STORY surfaced, written many years ago. A little editing and presto. Enjoy the installments …
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Once upon a time, not far from here, a planet was veiled in semi-darkness, and the stature of man, woman and child was crouched and bent. Their diet was meagre, consisting of crushed insects and raw plants. And for warmth they huddled close in their caves or grass huts. What gave them pleasure was ironwood, the rarest of plants, valued for its warmth-giving qualities when chewed. Those gifted in finding the plant were called light-seekers.
One such light-seeker, a young woman called Lila, was renowned as an ironwood huntress. She would disappear from her settlement for many sleep-cycles, driven by the promise of yet another encounter with the red glow of ironwood, her reward alone, since the glow vanished once the plant was broken. Even so, there was honour in bringing home the plant – the community would celebrate with a feast of warmth and good cheer.
Our story begins when Lila had been hunting for three sleep-cycles without her usual success. She sat and bemoaned her bad luck when she was overcome with awe at the sudden appearance of a bright object, no bigger than the head of a newborn. As if teasing her, the object drifted almost within her reach. The glow of ironwood paled in comparison to this astounding light. Colours sprang up all-round. Insects were drawn to the warmth, their tiny bodies shimmering. Lila gazed in wonder at her hands, which were doused in gold. Yearning to touch the mysterious object, she crouched carefully towards it, but the light receded, and each time Lila advanced, it receded a little more. Often times she lurched forward – only to grasp air. Lila spent her entire strength chasing the small orb, stumbling along, oblivious to all but the brightness ahead. Whichever way she turned, the glow was before her, always just out of reach.
When Lila was discovered by the people of her settlement, her condition aroused much interest, since she was sharing her strange experience in delirium. Words so spoken were held to come from divinities, embodied by water, plants and insects, powerful spirits known to visit people in their dreams. So it was that the light-seeker’s revelation spread instantly throughout the tribes, and great portents of meaning was attached to the glowing object. Everyone was convinced it really existed. And sure enough, soon people begun to see the orb, and in turn felt compelled to touch it. They fared no better than Lila, yet their desire remained, undiminished.
Eventually some clever minds devised coordinated methods … to be continued.