Over Mount Fuji – Chapter 26 –

An Epic NovelA premonition drawn into Eileen as Wulfstein left the hall amidst the commotion. Feeling irritated with their explosive exchange, she knew whatever reply he put forth, it would be contentious and drawn out. He hunched his shoulders as if such an ordeal had drained all his energy. In the cooler air outside, she rushed after him. Glancing back, Wulfstein tucked her arm under his. They hailed a taxi for the Ritz Hotel.

Once the cab started moving, Eileen turned to Wulfstein. “Why did you leave your prediction until question time? And how do you think the media will react, when you didn’t explain the linkage of dragon to the prediction?”

“The problem is that I haven’t even started my main theme. Like children, they are easily distracted. If they can’t understand the Alpha, how can they comprehend the Omega?”

“What do you mean?”

“Okay, Japan’s existence came about because of a series of mega blasting millions of years ago. Today, these calderas are all over the archipelago.” He sighed, leaned back and closed his eyes.

His relaxation encouraged her, so now, she felt she could probe further. “Does that mean these volcanoes will explode again?”

“That’s right. These same series of supervolcanoes will blast off sooner than later.”

Eileen shivered, not knowing what to expect. But for now, the worst of the trip was over, and it would be better to let him rest.

The car radio rattled off a commentary on a live soccer match. Soothed by the babbling broadcast, Eileen cocooned herself, interrupted occasionally by gusts of wind. She shut her eyes, but her mind wandered. Despite Wulfstein’s speech being cut short, it would still provide enough fuel for his detractors.

The cab stopped along a curb and a hotel attendant opened the car door.

Once they’d alighted, Eileen shoved the fare at the driver and hurried after Wulfstein toward the elevators. “Come with me,” she said. “Journalists will heat up your phone with calls. Worse, they may come to harass you.”

In the tranquility of Eileen’s high room, Wulfstein collapsed on the couch.

“Would you like something to drink from the mini-bar?” she asked.

“Just coffee, thanks.”

Eileen made coffee for two and placed both cups on the table. She sat beside him. Now it was over, a time to relax. When Wulfstein grimaced, she drew closer to him. “Science and mythology,” she mused. “Tell me, how on earth did you come to believe in dragons?”

“You’ll think I’m crazy if I tell you.”

Eileen sought his hand, clasping it in hers. “Go on. I’m interested.”

“It began with a hideous dream I had when I was five years old.” His low, taut voice reminded her of a stretched bowstring, and his unfocused eyes showed an inner battle. “In it, a dragon soared overhead. Breathing out flames, it scooped me up. I was paralyzed with terror.”

“It must have been frightening for one so young,” Eileen said, holding his shaking hands tightly. “What happened next?”

“In shock, I shut my eyes. When I opened them, the dragon was gentle. It seemed irrational, but the creature started talking to me.”

“That’s typical of dreams,” Eileen said, wanting to ease his trauma. “We should talk them out and try to forget them.”

Thunder rumbled in the distance, filling the silence between them. A man tormented since his childhood, Wulfstein had rekindled a familiar and confusing tangle of emotions in her that grew stronger with each passing day.

“Yes, I suppose so,” Wulfstein said, breaking her grip. “We should express our subconscious.”

“Please . . . continue.”

Wulfstein hesitated and seemed to struggle with his thoughts. “The dragon took me over a necklace of islands. But the moment we flew over a sacred mountain, it exploded. I turned to look back—both the mountain and islands burst into flames and dissipated below the waves.”

Closing her eyes, Eileen tried to clear her mind, but memories flooded in. Devastating images returned: the lucid image of Mount Unzen came crashing down, and Jerry’s gasps reignited her revulsion.

“I stared in disbelief, seeing the terror behind me—only a young couple and my dog were left floating upon the waves. A dream of emotions . . . strong emotions.” His voice remained steady, but his hands shook. “Although the dream has become a vague memory, I can’t ward off that . . . that feeling.”

Eileen leaned over and held his face in her hands. “What sort of feeling?”

“Like listening to a piece of music, you feel it speaks to you about life’s triumph or about life’s sorrow, but you don’t know how, exactly. It’s far above any scientific analysis,” he said, holding her hands firmly. “In one instant, an intense uneasy feeling of another era, a floating vision suspended between dreams and reality.”

“Psychologists have spoken how life draws its meaning from the subconscious.”

“Probably,” Wulfstein said. “My memory and subconscious may have guided my thoughts and emotions, steering my perception of who I am, or where I’d come from.”

Eileen shuddered, yet she felt drawn by a baffling passion. “You have driven yourself into this search for your destiny, but why focus your energy on the mythical?”

“In my early years, I was methodical in my search for scientific credentials. But lately, mythology has been the basis of my life. Although it hasn’t opened any vista into the world, I’m thrilled whenever I see dragons in any art or form.”

She listened in silent perplexity. “I can imagine your enthusiasm. But why should it affect you so much?”

“When I first cast sight on Mt. Fuji, the vision of myself astride the dragon’s back became even more real. I felt an impression of déjà vu, of chilly winds screaming at me.” His tone grew more passionate. “That childhood dream kept coming back. I felt like a miniature fortress, where my most intimate core resides. Maybe it’s my soul. Maybe it’s bits of myself that make me unique. It was after viewing the volcano that this idea of the dragon’s existence returned to haunt me—now more than ever.”

Eileen moved to massage his shoulders, trying to calm him.

“When I came to Japan, my perception changed. Sometimes I feel my dreams flow out of me to merge into a kind of collective consciousness. Dragons exist in dreams, they exist in art. It’s only a matter of time before science catches up.”

“Do you mean our five senses aren’t enough?” she asked. “You became a scientist to prove that dragons exist?”

“My intuition tells me so. Hence, I fight like my life depends on it, against a community that doesn’t believe in mythology. I don’t know how events will all turn out, but I can’t stop until it’s proven . . . or I can’t.”

“You’re tired. Your mind has worn your body out. And you may never find out.”

“It doesn’t matter. I was brought to a dungeon filled with gold and other treasures: flashes of sapphire, topaz and diamond. And this dragon even showed me emeralds as big as my fists.”

“Are you sure you’re not after those treasures?”

“It’s the treasures of knowledge I seek—the meaning of my dreams. When I saw Mt. Fuji, this sudden plunge into reality frightened me. My mission is to cut truths from fallacies and fallacies from truths. Until that day . . . until I’ve achieved my mission, I feel a sword is piercing through my heart.”

Eileen wiped his sweat with a tissue. She realized pieces of a puzzle might come together. He’d been a lone man in search of a truth, and she, a lone woman in search of an intellectual and spiritual companion.

“Now the dream is even more vivid, waking up something . . . something inside me.” Wulfstein moved closer and nestled his face against her shoulder. “It’s like an old song inside me, and has never stopped humming its melody since.”

“You are a man of character. Your vision intrigues me,” Eileen said, feeling the companionship she longed for. “When you try to convey new ideas to others, they seldom believe you, but I do. I’m sure you’ll unlock secrets of the unknown one day.”

“Your kind words lift me, Eileen, and I’m so grateful to know you.” He stroked her cheek gently. “It is such a relief to know I can confide my thoughts to someone.”

She blushed; her skin tingled. The intimacy of the discussion, the sense of a common cause before them, drew her closer to him. Her fervor and desire, dormant for so long, surged like lava when he embraced her.

“This is my life, and always has been,” Wulfstein said, caressing her hand. “It is impossible for anyone else to understand my mission, but somehow you do, and I’m glad.”

“When I met you at MIT, I thought you were uncaring, though I sensed something had set you apart,” she said. “But once you were in Tokyo, you changed. Since, then, I’ve always wanted to be alone with you and to understand you.”

“I’m touched, Eileen. The same creature has always been inside, but may appear inexcusable on a bad day. I owe you an apology, more so when you have risked your life with all these expeditions. And you took so much trouble to help and understand an outcast.”

Thrilled by his words, Eileen relaxed in his touch. His voice, together with his tenderness, so soft and compassionate, made her unwind. “I listen to my heart,” she said. “I just listen to the recurring voice vibrating inside me.”

She drew closer to him. She hadn’t thought of him as a strong man, but now she felt the ripple of muscles in his chest and shoulders. Her heart, pumping quick and strong, remained enchanted by his caresses. The day’s anxiety and the past months’ tempestuous activities culminated in the intensity of this moment. Moved deeply by an emotion so strong, she closed her eyes.

Outside, the storm grew louder. A torrent of howling wind launched a new assault, awakening her. Lightning flashed, forking between sky and earth in angry jags, bursting white in the clouds. Another rumble of thunder, louder.

Then, to her shock, a downpour of hailstones pummeled the building, breaking windows. Gusts of rain and howling wind stormed into the room, twisting the curtains, creating mayhem.

©) Joel Huan, author of Over Mount Fuji (available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble)

~ by Joel Huan on December 17, 2009.

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