By Dan Brady
This is a tale of a group of companions. The main character is the narrator. He is a young man perhaps in his late teens or even early twenties, but age is not important in this tale.
The group is going on a hike to some particular destination. And the narrator feels as though he is an outsider, and that he is not looked upon by his companions as being as capable an outdoors man as they are. For the most part this is implied because he is usually lagging behind and has his uncomplimentary nickname reinforced.
When he becomes separated from his group he attempts to make up lost time by planning and taking shortcut which would let him arrive at the next day's camp site ahead of them all. However, all does not go as planned, he twists his ankle and after a time, decides to camp near a small lake that he has chanced across.
That night he is awakened by beautiful music, and a musician that is hardly human but all to much of a woman to be believed. He becomes a believer and in the course of a few hours finds a life of miracles as well as a transformation that takes the reader beyond the known to the second step in a journey that we can only imagine.
The Hiker and Hera
It was a beautiful sunset. I ate and had tea. I tossed some left overs to a timid, starving , chipmunk that almost ate out of my hand he was so hungry. At dusk, I lay down half in and half outside my tent. I had a good view of the Milky Way. I relaxed. I felt the ill will toward my friends subside as I gazed heavenward. I hoped that they were worried about me at one point, and then I recanted. I blessed them and then thought of them no more. I drifted off amid the kind of memories, wishful thoughts, and daydreamings that led gradually to slumberous musings, and finally, sleep.
Hearing is quite acute in the mountains with the absence of background noise ubiquitous in cities. I dreamt I heard a bamboo flute played, nearby. I dreamt I heard her play a melody that I knew but had forgotten. I was trying to follow it. It was unsettling when I realized I was awake, though my eyes were closed and that someone was near my camp, playing music in the middle of the night! I kept still trying to determine how close they were. I could not focus on the source of the sound. It seemed to dance about, echoing maybe, off the rocks. I shifted, as if in sleep taking glances as I did so. Nothing. There was a small cloud occluding the moon and it was quite dark. I sat up on and looked around, still nothing. I couldn't see around my tent. At least I had been given a warning, when I could have killed where I slept.
The moment I began to move out of my bag the music stopped. A soft cool wind came up as I stood to look beyond my tent. Then I heard a woman's voice singing. I could see she was sitting where that large mushroom had been. She was facing away from me. I started over slowly. Then, when some clouds parted and the cool light of the full moon fell upon her, I saw she was...
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