Saturday, December 12, 2009

Matainui Drafting Plan


- 4:00 am Maddi wakes up from a nightmare and notices that the walls seem to be scintillating. She nudges the rest of us awake and we scrape away at a dirt crust on the walls, unearthing bright, metallic walls which are covered in more strange symbols. Maddi presses a symbol and a screen comes over the unglazed window. We find an intaglio of the eye figure and Kieran presses his amulet (which he found in the ossuary and remembers to mention it last minute) into the shape despite our warnings. The floor rumbles and blocks of limestone emerge from the ground, also covered in runes. We figure out that these are consoles when we find a palm-print identification scanner of a three-fingered hand which doesn't work to human hands. So Kieran mentions the deformed bones in the ossuary and suggests that we should go down. Him, Maddi and Haylee go down and Kim and I stay behind to do some investigating.

-4:20 am I'm sitting on the ledge of the unglazed window when I notice that Kim isn't there. Suddenly, a screen materializes on the wall; a map of the island which can magnify on an area where you tap. My curiosity aroused, I press a random button and the wall on the far side of the chamber opens up to a small adjourned room. I walk into the smaller chamber and see that on the wall are two depressions of bodies. One is the shape of a human and the other a shorter deformed body shape with a conical head. Joy-sticks protrude from the end of the arms, presumably for the hands to clutch. I press up into the human depression and grip the joysticks. The controls must have had a sensor on them, for as I fitted into the shape, a force-field-like screen came over me, covered in transparent symbols which seemed to be stuck in midair. I touched a symbol and te capsule shot up, out of the mountain, and into the sky. The pod decelerated until it was just hovering in the clouds. Below me, Matainui was the size of my palm. Using the joy-sticks, I managed to fly around the island. As I reached the pyramid again, I saw a figure climbing the tiers. It was Marek. Staying low among the pavilion of the forest, I watched Marek as he reached the top of the structure and clambered through the unglazed window.

- 4:50 am Marek hadn't come out yet and I guessed that he was talking to my group. I couldn't wait any longer so I decide to get back into the pyramid. I fly around, looking for the hole I came out of and finally find it hidden under the ferns. I lower the capsule into the shaft until I see the smaller chamber come up before my eyes. I step out of the human depression and walk into the bigger chamber to find the others and Marek talking. Marek leaves and I tell my group what had happened to me. They then tell me that Marek is going to come back the next day with his group . We come up with a diabolical plan to ditch them, which I don't feel so good about but we all agree that we don't want them joining us. Kieran is going to go into the forest the next day and, when Marek's group comes, is going to tell them that we are now camping in the forest. He'll lead them off and then make a run for it when they aren't looking.
What a morning...


- 9:00am We wake up and watch Marek and his group using the GPS-like map. When we calculate that they're forty-five minutes away, Kieran leaves for the forest floor and I watch our stratagem unfold through the electronic map.

- 10:20 am Kieran comes through the unglazed window and we close it immediately. He tells us what happened even though we just saw it.

- 11:10 am We here knocking on the walls and shouting. It's Marek's group. We come up with a plan to lead them off using the capsule again but I say that I'm not doing it again because it makes me nauseous, so Kim volunteers and I teach her about the controls. We watch her fly out of the pyramid and linger in the sky as Marek's group follows her.

- 1:00 pm Finally, Kim arrives back in a shock. She tells us that she managed to lead them off where they wouldn't be able to find their way back but that in the sky there was a huge iridescent dome covering the island. She had gone through the bubble and found that the 'outside' was a ruined and extirpated terra firma. She had tried to get back into the comparable tranquility of the dome but the pod had just bounced off the surface. So she had travelled to the top of the bubble and slipped into a huge vortex. The capsule had been struck with lightning and shaken with thunder. She compares this experience with that of our arrival to Matainui. Then teh pod had fallen through the air and she had just managed to gain control and swurve towards the pyramid before plunging into the lake. We think about what this dome could be.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

DAY 2: The Periapt

1:25 pm
Our destination lay ahead of us, the impetus which kept us moving; the dark shape of the mountain. We battled through the dense foliage, the verdant pavilion above bleeding chiaroscuro patches of sunlight onto the lush vegetation. The umbrageous environment only made trudging through the bush an arduous task as my waterlogged shoes squelched with each step.
We had set off on our journey at midday. I had woken to the vociferous dawn chorus of the island’s indigenous birds, the morning sun shining softly through the grey canvas of the tent.
We occasionally slipped on the damp leaves littered over the forest floor as the frondescence thickened and we trekked deeper into the verdant forest; the undergrowth was abundant with ferns and boscage surrounded us. We brushed past the leaves and shrubbery of the arborous screen, struggling against the dense foliage until we broke away from the fronds.
Kauris towered above us, shafts of light breaking through the dappled canopy. The undergrowth was loose. Before us was a strange formation; large blocks of stone in rows upon rows, like steps, escalating into the umbrageous pavilion.
The stone was cold and damp to my fingers. Moss and ferns covered the structure, vines cascading down the tiers.
“Limestone,” I heard Haylee murmur as she stroked the asperous rock.
“Well, where to next?” Kim asked as Maddi distributed the energy bars round.
“I think we should go up there,” Kieran said, jerking his thumb up to the stone structure behind him.
“And how do you think we’re gonna make it up those steps? Each tier is about one point five metres high,” came Haylee’s dubious reply.
“Dilshen’s tall enough, maybe he can climb up to each tier and pull us up,” Maddi said. She turned to me, followed by the eager faces of my peers.
“Well, I guess that could work, but it’d take forever,” I said, gazing at everyone in turn.
“So? There’s nowhere else to go. C’mon, what’re you guys waiting for?”

1:50 pm
We had broken through the forest canopy and the limestone was hot from the fervid glare of the afternoon sun; perspiration beaded my forehead and my nape was baking as we climbed further up the pyramidal structure.
I mounted onto the next tier and hauled the others up one by one. I slumped back, my arms ached with exertion.
“Can… we just… rest… for a while?” I panted.
“Yup,” Kieran said, sitting down beside me. I took a swig from the canteen, the tepid water coursing down my parched throat. The block behind me shifted as I leant against the stone. Clefts bordered the slab and I prised my fingers into the cracks; gripping the sides of the rock, I inched the loose rock from its recess in the tier.
“Kieran, help me move this block.”
We pushed the slab across the shelf and peered inside the niche.
“What is it?” Maddi asked.
“Dunno… Hold up, pass me the flashlight,” Kieran said. Maddi rummaged through her backpack and took out a small Eveready torch.
“It doesn’t work,” Maddi said, pushing the button with her thumb. Kieran shook the torch and pressed the switch. The torch flickered on.
“I don’t think it likes you,” Kieran said.
“Shut up,” Maddi replied sheepishly. Kieran shone the torch into the recess, the shaft of light perusing the deep shadows. It was a cavern; more tiers lead down into the darkness like steps but the feeble halo of illumination didn’t penetrate any further than a few metres.
“I’m going in.” Kieran crawled through the opening and jumped onto the first tier.
“No Kieran, you’re not going in there, something could happen to you. C’mon, get out,” Kim said, her brow creased in a frown.
“I’ll go with him,” I volunteered and dropped down to the step.
“Yeah,” Kieran said in a resolving manner, “we promise not to go in too deep and we’ve got our whistles, so…” He jumped down to the next step before someone could reply.
I shrugged and gave a reassuring smile before following Kieran into the darkness. The torch was little help, creating an insufficient pool of light with which to see our way but nothing else, as we jumped down the slippery tiers, deeper into the fathomless gloom.
The shadows pervaded by mind, stretching minutes into hours, robbing me of my fortitudinous confidence which had previously been coursing through my veins. After an age, the ground became flat beneath our feet. We were in a passageway; brackets supporting unlit flambeaus lined the damp walls.
Kieran took out a lighter from his pocket and struck it against a slick stump of burnt wood. The flambeau instantly ignited, the orange tongues of the flame splaying a lambent glow over the stone, and he took it from the bracket. Kieran switched off the electronic torch and lit another flambeau, which he handed to me.
“C’mon,” Kieran said, the flame forming an aureole around him as he advanced into the dark passageway.
2:20 pm
We progressed deeper into the mountain, the flickering light of the flambeaus dancing over the mossy walls. The flame devoured the shrouding darkness, licking out a T-shaped intersection and casting its incandescent flare over runic figures and inscriptions on the limestone.
I traced my fingertips over the arabesque engravings, which seemed to glow as my gaze rested upon them. They had seen everything; they knew the mystery of this island. I wondered what recondite secrets were hidden within these walls.
An eye with a hook convoluting into a spiral extending from the caruncula like a tear.
I stared at the symbol without seeing it as déjà vu usurped my mind. The intaglio flared incandescent, emblazoning my vision.
“What are you looking at?” Kieran said, turning to see me stroking the occult figure.
“I dunno what it is, but I just… it’s a symbol of some sort. I had a strange feeling about it… kinda déjà vu. It might come in handy,” I responded hesitatingly. Kieran looked at me strangely, but reached up and took a stub of charcoal from a bracket on the wall. He fuliginously drew the eye sign on his hand.
“Here,” he said and pressed his hand into mine. I looked at the smudged adumbration on my palm.
“I wonder what these symbols mean anyway,” I said.
“Who knows?” Kieran said, turning to the bifurcating intersection. “Which way are we gonna go? I know, I’ll go this way, and you go that way.” He gestured to each side in turn.
“No, we’ll get lost; we don’t know how deep these passages go into the mountain, I think we should stick together.”
“You can either go back to the girls or go that way, but I’m going this way so…”
“Kieran, it isn’t a good idea, what if something happens to one of us? You promised we wouldn’t go too far,” I said, looking cagily into the darkness as if something were lurking in the atramental catacombs.
“Nothing’s gonna happen to us, Dilshen, good luck,” Kieran turned into the passageway. I grabbed his arm but he struggled out of my grip and ran into the darkness, his flambeau illuminating over the walls until the light was lost. I scurried after him, my footsteps echoing around the claustrophobic corridor.
Suddenly, my torch crepitated and burnt out and I was plunged into an obfuscating and total darkness. I felt around in the perpetual gloom, my hands brushing against the damp walls as I knelt down on the cold stone. I reached into my pocket, taking out my flint and steel, and struck the bar of metal. Nothing happened. I tried it again, the acute grate sending shivers up my spine. A spark emitted from the friction and phantasmagoria danced around before my eyes.
Kieran ran through the darkness; he ran until he could no more. His flambeau flickered over the damp walls as he stepped into a large cavern.
I picked up the stub of my flambeau and struck the steel over the dry wood. A second scintillation was shed but the torch did not ignite.
Light from outside bled from cracks on the stone. He stepped back and the ground disappeared beneath his feet.
Feeling for the wall with my left hand, I stood up and retraced my footsteps. I didn’t know where I was going, if I was going the right way or not, I just wanted to get out of the perennial darkness, the claustrophobic passageway. I wondered where Kieran was; I wanted to feel angry with him but my trepidation plagued my hurt emotions.
He fell on brittle bones, which crunched beneath his weight. The ossuary extended for as far as he could see. His fingertips touched something cold; a chain appended to a round object. Kieran pocketed the talisman.
I felt the tips of my fingers become numb as they grazed against the rough stone of the tunnel. Suddenly, the ground beneath me disappeared, I screamed as my palms scuffed the cliff face. My cheek scraped against the rocky precipice, pain searing over my face. I felt the tips of my shoes touch a jutting shelf and I scrambled over the rock for a sturdy position. I clung to the crag, stones crumbling beneath my feet. I could hear the sound of rushing water far below in the abyss. I cagily let go off the cliff face with one hand and blew on the whistle tied to the string around my neck. The shrill note echoed in the gloom, sending dust and stones tumbling into the subterranean river.
As Kieran waded through the pile, the bones gradually deformed. Conical skulls. Three-fingered hands…
“Dilshen? Kieran?” I heard Maddi call over the din of the cataract a few minutes later. I blew the whistle again.
“Maddi, help me! But be careful!” I cried out to her. I could hear her loud footsteps as she ran to the edge of the cliff.
“Grab my hand.” I reached for her outstretched arm and grasped her wrist. My feet clambered over the rock as I scaled up the precipice. In a sudden cloud of dust, the thin cliff face caved in and I tumbled into a subterrane.
He was in a chamber now. A chamber of calefactors and furnaces. In the centre of the cavern was a basket attached to pulleys and ropes.
“Dilshen!” Maddi shouted. I fell on a desiccated and brittle mass; it disintegrated beneath me. I groped around the morsels until my fingers brushed against something hard and cold. I felt the shape, the cavities, the apertures; it was skull.
Disgusted, I pushed myself of the crushed corpse, but something pressed into my hands. Reaching into the dust and rotten entrails, I pulled out the object. In the darkness, I could feel that it was an ellipse with pointed ends; a long convex tipped off with a helicoid extended from a cusp; affixed to the object was a chain. I slipped the amulet into my pocket and stumbled to the hole.
Kieran climbed into the basket and looked up at the shaft above his head. He pulled a lever and the nacelle eased up through the hole.
“Maddi! Help me out of here!” I called up to the darkness.
“Grab my arm.” I held onto her wrist and she hauled me up over the edge of the cliff. I fell to the ground, my heart pounding.
“Thanks,” I murmured.
“It’s alright. You should be more careful. Where’s Kieran?” My cheek stung, making my eyes water in pain.
Sunlight pierced his eyes. He was in a large cavern; before him, the outside flooded in from a wide opening in the wall. A coruscation caught the corner of his eye. Kieran picked up the glinting object. It was an ankh.
“My torch had gone out; I couldn’t see a thing. Kieran –”
“Your cheek is bleeding.” Maddi said, her eyes wide with dismay. I stroked the raw gash; my fingers were sticky with blood. “We should go back; this place gives me the creeps. Maybe Haylee can help you. C’mon. Wait, what is that?” Maddi asked, gazing at the strange symbol depicted on my palm. I looked down at the charcoal drawing and a sudden wave of realisation reminded me of the amulet in my pocket. I took the periapt out; the shape was identical to the figure on my hand.
“I dunno. Some sort of symbol,” I replied.
We traversed the confined passageway by the pool of dim light diffusing from Maddi’s electronic torch. I hesitated as we reached the bifurcation, tracing my fingers over the defined inscriptions.
“C’mon, Dilshen. What are you doing?” Maddi asked impatiently, the torch shining lambently over the damp walls.

“Hang on. I’ll just…” I pressed the amulet into the congruous intaglio.
The ground began to convulse, stones and dust falling onto our heads as we regressed down the passage. The wall trembled and moved forward, until the bifurcation was no more than a dark impasse. I took the amulet from the depression and returned it to my pocket. I turned to Maddi, she had fear in her eyes. We had occluded the two shafts… and Kieran’s only means of escape.
Kieran climbed through the unglazed window onto the top tier of the pyramidal structure and gazed at the swaying treetops below and cerulean lake far in the distance.
3:10 pm
“You fell down a cliff?!” Haylee and Kim exclaimed simultaneously. A cold pain shot through my cheek as Haylee pressed a flannel against my face.
“Um, yeah... I guess.” I mumbled, not wanting to have to explain myself for the fourth time.
“Woah,” Kim said, leaning back against the limestone; her face displayed a spectrum of emotions, ranging from utter horror, to concern, to a distracted cogitation. She looked up, disconcerted. "And Kieran ditched you?"
“Yeah –”
“And now he's trapped in there coz Dilshen pressed the amulet into the wall,” Maddi interrupted from the tier below us. I dropped my head guiltily.
“You already said that, Maddi,” Kim said brusquely, but not unkindly.
“But, I'm sure Kieran's gonna be alright. I mean, this is Kieran we're talking about.” Maddi gave me an alleviating smile but her solace did not comfort me. I hoped Kieran was alright.
“Anyway,” Haylee said, gazing over the verdant ocean of the forest canopy. “This island is pretty strange, alright. I mean, Mr Woody said that Matainui has never been touched by humans before, but what else would explain this pyramidal structure? It certainly isn’t natural.”
“Yeah, and the corpse and amulet Dilshen found,” Kim adverted.
“And also – I don’t remember much coz I was knocked out soon after that – but when we were floating in the plane.”
A whistle suddenly pierced the tranquil atmosphere. “That must be Kieran,” Maddi said, looking over the tiers.
“Kieran!” My voice reverberated around the limestone.
The shrill note came again, then, “Dilshen!” I looked up; the structure mounted high into the clouds, further than I could see. “Hey, you guys!” I saw someone standing on a ledge approximately eight blocks above us, obscured by verdure and fronds, waving their hands about. It was Kieran.
“Kieran!” I shouted again. He clambered down the tiers, pulling up ferns and tossing them aside in his wake.
“Oh my gosh, where were you?” Maddi asked, her eyes coloured with relief.
“Why did you ditch Dilshen? He fell down a cliff, you know – lucky Maddi saved him. And something could have happened to you too!” Kim said.
“Did you?! Sorry. You okay?” Kieran looked at me, concerned.
“Yeah, it doesn’t matter though; how did you come from up there?” I asked, gesturing towards the ascending tiers.
“Well… did you know that this pyramid is actually the mountain we’ve been looking for all along?!”
“We kinda figured,” Maddi rejoined sarcastically.
“Yeah, so on the map there was a spring on the mountain, but if this isn’t a mountain then…”
“That would explain the ravine,” I said.
“Never mind. Tell us what happened to you.”
4:50 pm
“Well, what are we gonna do now?” Haylee asked. The sun was low in the sky and the sounds of the night creatures had soon broken the tranquillity of the atmosphere. “It’s nearly night and we’re going to have to find shelter soon.”
“We can’t go back down – it’d be dark by the time we reach the bottom, and we’ve gone all this way…” Maddi said.
“And we’re definitely not camping out here… or in there.” Kim gestured into the gap in the tier.
“I know where we should go. The chamber at the top of the pyramid, the one with the big window,” Kieran suggested.
“I don’t know…”
“Well, it won’t take us that long to get up there and it provides shelter, so I don’t see what the problem is.”
“I go with Kieran on this one,” I said. Kim looked dubious and I gave her a slight smile.
“Yes! And we wouldn’t have to pitch up our tent,” Maddi said optimistically.
“Okay,” Haylee agreed. We all looked at Kim.
“Majority rules, Kim.” She sighed. I helped Maddi up onto the tier.
Orange clouds scudded across the pink sky. Haylee gazed at the setting sun. “We should get a move on before it gets any darker.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

DAY 1: A Game of Fate

10:05 am
The stifling interior of the school bus was getting to me. I slid the window open a notch and allowed the cool air to disembogue into my face. I gazed through the grimy glass absent-mindedly, the endemic flora a green blur as we drove past. Sundry emotions flooded my mind; I was both excited and nervous, enthusiastic but hesitant; I couldn’t describe the feeling as anticipation gnawed at me. It was clear that everyone had the same thoughts as I sensed the ambience in the bus.
After a week of preparation, we had finally set off on our journey to Matainui, the uninhabited island off the coast of Raglan. Everybody was agog for the adventure ahead of them but none of us could have been quite prepared for the fates that awaited us.
I was oblivious to the sound of gravel crunching under the bus as we came to a halt. “Dilshen, c’mon,” I turned to see Kieran gesturing to the exit as the last few people made their way outside.
“Oh, sorry. Are we at Kawhia already? That was a short hour,” I replied as I hastily grabbed my backpack and followed Kieran down the aisle.
10:20 am
I felt queasy as I entered the claustrophobic cabin of the Grumman Albatross HU-16. As the plane began to move, a student’s voice was heard through the crackly intercom over the whirring noise of the plane.
“Why is Sam on the intercom?” I turned to Kieran; his face displayed a mixture of anxiety and trepidation. “You OK?” I asked.
“No, and I don’t think any of us will be after this is through. Sam’s flying the plane,” Kieran said.
“What?! He’s eleven, how could he be a certified pilot? This can’t be good. Who would let a student fly this thing?” I knew the shock was clear on my face.
The plane suddenly lurched forward. I gazed through the window and watched the scenery slide by, as the seaplane skidded across the calm waters of Kawhia Harbour, upsetting it in its wake. We slowed down, and then stopped altogether. For a moment I could feel the cabin swaying from the undulating waters, but this didn’t last long before the plane convulsed and reeled again suddenly, shooting tremulously over the water. I felt the plane start to lift, to gradually take-off. The shuddering ceased and we ascended higher and higher, leaving the mainland a dark contour and flying on towards Matainui.
10:30 am
My ears began to block as we soared higher into the clouds. I couldn’t wait until we got to Matainui. I was in a group with Kieran, Maddi, Kim, and Haylee, and I was eagerly anticipating the adventures which lay ahead.
A bright flash from the sky broke my reveries. Lightning. Vehement thunder rolled in the distance. A dark cumulonimbus loomed portentously ahead of us. How strange, I thought to myself, the weather forecast never mentioned any tempest. I braced myself as we advanced towards the ominous clouds and into the heart of the electrical storm…
Surges of wind battered turbulently against the seaplane, lightning cracked, thunder roared deafeningly.
All of a sudden, the cabin went silent. The rumbling in the sky was gone and the whirring of the plane had ceased. I looked out the window to see nothing but pitch black. I noticed the plane had stopped moving. I felt a strange sensation come over me as I became weightless.
“What’s going on?” Kieran asked as he hovered vacillatingly over his seat. I heard exclamations and small screams as others, too, became mysteriously buoyant.
The plane jarred violently and we slammed into the seats. The aircraft swayed on the undulating eddies and then we suddenly dropped, my heart leaping.
“I never passed my pilot license test!” Sam screamed over the roaring of the wind. We plummeted through the air, emerging from the cumulonimbus; in the distance I could see Matainui.
Terror pervaded me; screams filled my ears. I slammed my head into the seat in front of me from the jolting impact as the Grumman Albatross HU-16 plunged into the ocean. After a moment, the plane resurfaced, bobbing on the undulant water.
I rubbed my throbbing forehead and looked around. The horror in the cabin was perturbing. There was blood, tears, and broken limbs everywhere.
My heart pounding, I grabbed my bag and scrambled to the open hatchway. I jumped. I felt a sudden enervation grip me as I plunged into the icy water of the ocean, my heart beating against my chest.
It is difficult to swim when lethargy engulfs you in its apathetic embrace, especially when swimming one hundred metres in the middle of the sea is a strenuous and exigent task. My heavy backpack was only slowing me down. I grudgingly decided to let it go, watching as it drifted into the dark depths of the ocean.
11:30 am
I sat down on the balmy sand of the coast, allowing the morning sun to warm me as I heard the sounds of waves crashing and birds chirping. Off the golden shore of Matainui, I could see a smaller island, with a sandy beach and coppice. I was chewing on an energy bar Maddi had given me; though the snack was soggy, my hunger had subdued the taste.
Half an hour earlier, I had swum to the shore of the island and collapsed onto the warm littoral, too tired to move. Our group had a game plan; we were to journey to the small mountain on the other side of Matainui where there was a fresh water spring; even now I could see the dark peak silhouetted against the sky. We had already walked a kilometre south to the large beach where we had pitched up the tent.
I stood up, wiping sand from my clothes, and walked towards where Maddi and Haylee were talking. I began to wonder about the other groups, what they were doing and where they were going, what adventures awaited them… What adventures awaited us…
7:00 pm
The firelight cast an orange glow over the sand. In the distance, I could see ominous clouds looming towards the island. The night sky above us was empty, destitute of clouds or stars, but as black as Indian ink.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Rules

A die was rolled determining who "perished" in the plane crash and who lived, in a deadly game of 'Russian Roulette" - we played for a number on the die and if that number was rolled we were lost - who lost their backpack and who kept theirs - a game of odds and evens. Luckily, I didn't die but I did lose my bag, which is unfortunate because only one person in our group recovered theirs.

On the day we left for Matainui I was wearing the following:
- Zip-off trousers
- Polo
- Baseball cap
- Hoodie
- Underwear
- Ankle socks
- Sneakers
- Water-proof watch

In my backpack, I had (and lost) the following items:
- Swiss army knife
- Torch
- Spade
- Drink bottle
- Sleeping bag
- Swedish FireSteel army model
- Alopex jacket
- Thermal emergency blanket
- Packed lunch

Hopefully, I may be able to take some of the smaller items from my backpack in my pockets.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Return to Matainui

In Term 2, as part of our study in sustainability, we were introduced to a hypothetical uninhabited island called Matainui off the coast of Raglan where we had to design ways of sustenance in order to live there. We created villages and were each assigned jobs on Matainui.
Now, we are returning to this scenic island for a two week class trip. We experience a turbulent take-off, an unfortunate crash, harsh survival and confront many more endeavours and fates.
This is my diary of the happenings which took place during our arduous time on the island.