The Singapore Stone -Novel Chapter excerpt
A Fictional Novel based on the Historical Account of Events Surrounding Mt Bromo.
The understanding of origins of the beliefs currently held by followers of the tradition is not intended to be altered by this chapter and is only the creation from one westerner’s encounter on the caldera with speculation of what could occur in an event observed and in sequence from a different viewpoint and interpretation.
Keiysianna Begins Her Play
Location: The Lookout at the rim of the Mt Bromo Caldera.
During the Annual Kasada sacrifice Ceremony, Kusuma is free to leave the crater depths and is united with Keiysianna for a time. Should he refuse to return, the eruptions ensue and rocks with unusual qualities plummet across the caldera in an attempt to compel Kesumu to return. Would Keiysianna choose to accompany him or continue in her semi-existence life?
Why had Nick come here? Was it in an effort to make contact into the network of the unknown grid first observed earlier at the island, and due to the frustrating diversions and blocking of his encounters?
Nick was unaware of the elegant woman’s proximity. Such as she moved in her interaction was in a way the ocean calmly solicits a sailboat within its realm. Slowly, similar to the sun rising, he became aware of her presence as her words that were faint at first slowly took form and he began to understand her unfamiliar dialect.
She began flickering in and out of existence.
Her phone was on its last vestiges of charge. He offered her the use of his reserve power-pack. She took the charging device and her fingers brushed against his as she grasped it. Nick shivered as he felt a pulse of cold. It seemed she was fading with a fragile hold to existence.
She held the unit tightly in the palm of her hand.
Searing and blinding light.
Nick saw it coming from the corner of his eye. He stepped to the side as a strange figure rushed past. His shoulder caught the edge of an impact, as he twisted his body and recovered his stance. The sky was spinning as he recovered his footing.
“I should have warned you about that,” said the apparition as she took renewed substance. “Are you okay?”
The whole mountain bleached white. If light could scream, it was a scream of light across the heavens.
Men and women recoiled, pushed aside by some force as she passed, some hauled beads from pockets and ran them through their fingers in anguish, others plunged their hands within the zippers of their puffer jackets and hauled out and clutched at Buddha tokens they held between pressed palms, lest this ghostly apparition should choose to possess them, yet longing for a touch and connection to eternal blessing.
Was there some ancient spirit that lingered unresolved for the mother who pledged to sacrifice her youngest child to the Bromo god in return for her ability to conceive and carry a child to full term? A mother who following that pledge, understandably, could not bring herself to the rim of her known world to satisfy the agreement with the gods’ and cast her child into an unknown abyss?
* * *
Before he made this journey to the volcano, on researching Mt Bromo, Nick had learnt of the sacrifice required by the fiery volcano god. The Bromo god demanded a child in return for restoring reproductive vigor to this barren couple, Joko Segar and his wife Roro Anteng. The promise of the lingering sacrifice hung over the couple as they produced child after child in an effort to forestall the terrible demand. When after twenty-three children, Roro Anteng had passed child bearing age she still could not fulfill her promise to the Bromo god. Eruptions of fiery ash and rock pelted down across the caldera and beyond.
In the historical demand, the youngest child, of 24 siblings, whose name was Kesuma on growing to manhood and learning of the pact, and living with the constant eruptions wreaking havoc, had resolutely trodden the destined path to the rocky ledge. Rumbling and roaring thundered in his ears and far below deadly fumes and scalding lava and gases boiled as he resolutely took his last choking breath. In that moment at the crater brink the smoke cleared for an instant and he saw Keiysianna, his broken-hearted lover, sobbing and pleading at the edge of the volcano. He could turn back and choose to be with her. The volcano roared louder. He closed his eyes and hurled himself into the abyss.
The annual Kasada ceremony of casting treasured produce and possessions into the belching crater had survived the centuries to the present day.
On learning of the legend Nick had believed she was now wandering the caldera lost in her grief, having sworn vigilance for eternity until the only one she loved be returned.
The belching flames and fiery lava explosions had ceased since her lover had cast himself as sacrifice. The fertile slopes again grew abundant crops.
* * *
Dark again with only pinpricks of light. The vast cosmos seemed to be glaring down at the charade through an eternal stumbling teasing awkward dawn held at arms length for however long reason could deny its rightful emergence.
It was still and calm in the place where they stood. The slope of the hillside sheltered them from the winds.
The light around him tasted of spice.
Had been seasoned by the strange power that surged through the atmosphere, and he drew the air deep into his lungs. The air was sharp. Burning the imperfection. Nick exhaled slowly.
She smiled, “I see you are strong and sense the forces you are about to encounter.”
He asked her name.
‘Keiysianna,’ she said.
That name doesn’t sound as one I would expect as used a thousand years ago,’ said Nick.
‘It’s the best I could come up with at a moments notice. Really, the name is irrelevant. Can we get down to business, I don’t want to be stuck here forever?’
‘You’re getting a bit pushy. I’ll call you Kei. Where do you come from?’
‘That name sounds like a loaded metaphor… Sorry.’ She looked down and paused as if in deep thought, then raised her eyes and whispered, “You will know at the right time how and why I came into this world.’
They talked of creation and beauty and loss and eternity – and as strangely as she had appeared, the girl with long ebony hair, who’s face, lips and high cheekbones glowing in the honey of first sunlight, was gone.
The sudden rush of dawn followed – slowly –eternally. As if he had loitered in a glitch of time and now it raced to catch-up.
In the distance he could see the curling smoke hanging low and obliterating the view of the volcano. The light of daybreak was caressing now and appeared composed with an easy confidence, resting on the peaks, unfolding through the earlier uncertain vague shapes.
Nick caught a glimpse of shadowy familiar faces watching for an instant, before they vanished and he descended the mountain in a rush of adrenalin.
Half an hour later after crossing the caldera, on the climb to the Bromo volcano.
‘I see you.’ She walked straight past next time he saw her as he rested during his climb to the smoking mountain.
He now understood her vigil. Was she aware that she had waited so long? One minute or a millennia? Was the time in which she existed the same realm as Nick’s? How would this relate to her reality?
She was renewed now and the wheels of time that were so long frozen, could now begin turning.
Later when she appeared it was at the rim of the volcano.
‘Did you go far?’ he asked.
‘Far enough,’ she replied. ‘He was there.’
Her eyes shone luminous, not like their earlier meeting when they were simply deep and intense. Deep as the depths of the volcano that held her lost love. Though the sulphur gasses drifted over them and Nick buried his face in his jacket sleeve, she seemed unaware of the choking fumes. Breathless. He wondered if she still would hold air within her lungs, or partook in the ritual of respiration for his sake? He tried to recall if when she stood so close during the earlier encounter on the mountain he had felt any hint of breath from her lips. If so, it was lost in the tangled confusion of time and reality. Had he inhaled a memory of a past life?
The keenness of Nick’s resolve seemed now raised to an intensity. But what could he do? If Julian was here on this precarious edge, a subtle elbow in the ribs would be his solution.
The next moment the clouds parted and he was alone.
No one would know.
* * * *
Was there a possibility of there being any of the unique rocks from the last eruption to be found— and if in the possession of any locals, would he be permitted to examine one? He had a hunch that had to be followed up before he left for Singapore? There had been a minor eruption in 2015. Surely someone would know the location of one? Or was it only fine dust expelled on that occasion?
Would he be able to recover and interpret the structure that might exist within any of these remnants?