by J.R.R Talcum
13.09.2011 25 °C
It was with heavy hearts and pounding heads that the four weary travellers set out on their journey to Nigaata. After a day of revels in Tokyo, all and sundry were feeling a little a delicate. A hasty American Breakfast was all the preparation they could muster at the bleak hour in which they left (10am approximately).
“I will drive” Victoria spoke up.“Though I do not know the way”.
The road was long and full of perils. The sturdy gates of the Japanese highways were barred fast against them and neither entreaty nor ingenuity could open them. Luckily the petty cash wallet was full almost to overflowing and bore the brunt of this calamity.
High mountains flanked them on their left and the merciless sun beat down upon their right. Many an arm was scorched that day. They passed beneath the great rocks through carven tunnels that seemed as if they stretched forever lit only by the glimmer of electric light. Frustration bore down , almost as heavy as the stone above, for in this weak unsteady illumination they could not read their books. Again and yet again the beast of boredom was driven back with merry banter and three CD’s they listened to. That told an epic tale of rings and other such things.
“I feel awful” moaned steadfast Hamish. “ZZZZZ” snored Jane as she recovered in the back. “ Are we there yet” Samwise whined. Yet Victoria did not err and kept her course as straight as any arrow.
As the burning orb was covered with cold clouds the land about them seemed wreathed in grey mist. How much longer could they travel. Twice they stopped and stretched their cramped and weary limbs. Burning coffee quenched their parched throats and fired afresh their tired minds. Yet caffeine cannot keep a man on his feet for ever, and even epic tales lose their lustre after a while. And as it seemed that they could not go on. Before them loomed the homely house of the Nigaata Super Hotel.
The next morning once again they roused themselves. Today would be a great test for the fellowship of the four. Arriving at the venue early, they met with Tsurumaki-San. Such a hall they had not seen before.Large enough to seat a thousand people. Yet they felt no fear and erected their frail backdrop on the gargantuan stage. After which they enjoyed a rich repast with their kind hosts . Kneeling as they ate was still strange to them and tried as they might, after half an hour or so they could not feel their feet. Unfamiliar food was set before them, named as Soba. Noodles, but served cold and dipped into a small cup of soy and spring onions(which after the meal was drunk as a kind of tea).
When they returned to steel themselves for work disaster struck again. Their music would not play! All about them gave them aid as best they could and still the wretched instrument was mute. Until Hardy Hamish wiggled the wire in the DVD player about a bit and lo the music of the spheres was heard once more.
Weasel went down well and afterwoulds they spoke with many of the audience and even on Nigaata local radio. Tsurumaki-San’s interpretation meant that they could understand the questions put to them but still the four were grateful they learnt a little of the language of the East before their journey had begun.
Their work done and done well they availed themselves of all Niigata had to offer. All were alert and cautious for they had heard tales of evil men who kidnapped travellers and spirited them away to make them work as spies and teachers in a land I will not name here.
Yet for all that their journey was a pleasant one. Thriving marketplaces with ponds full of fish so big they seemed like monsters from the deep. They sunned themselves and swam on the beach, a glorious band of gold that stretched away into the distance. Then racing against the setting sun( and the water from the air conditioning unit leaking from their van) they flew back to Hachioji as though the very whips of their masters were behind them.
Pulling up at their accommodation just in time to take their keys from the departing watchmen, they sought their rooms and fell into their beds. There they slept the sleep of those who work hard and travel far and dreamt dreams that none can know but they themselves.