And Adam was A Gardener
(From an unpublished novel)
Dawilan had not expected the noises. They had him confused. Jon, he cried, but Jon could not hear him. Jon was still on Volara, and Dawilan was in the middle of a wild and primitive forest, like forests he had only seen in Olaren's haunted paintings of the Old Times. But alive, he thought. He wanted to reassure Jon and the others that the transfer had worked, only this loud cacaphony of animal sounds assailed his ears - alien sounds: sounds causing the bile to rise in his throat, the adrenalin to begin pounding through his system. He began to run, stumbling blindly: frantically trying to escape the density which surrounded him. Suddenly, a movement registered from the corner of his eye, and his instincts took over, causing him to freeze. His eyes focused on a long narrow object on a branch near his head, a living object, a truly ominous looking creature. He watched the thing slither along the branch, sliding its limbless body toward the ground. Dawilan shuddered. He watched, frozen. He began to perspire. He worked at controlling his breath. Slowly - one, two - in and out - deeply. Hold each breath. His dizziness began to lessen and he - more calmly now - started trying to reason his situation, to remember where he was and why he had come. Volara was light years away now. His decision was irreversible. He had come here, first of all, to atone, to atone by teaching, by trying to keep this primitive planet and its people from self-destructing before they had time to learn. But first, he would have to learn.
Not that his learning had not already begun: While he was still on Volara he had carefully studied the languages people spoke here. ...There were so many. That was part of their problem...carefully studied the dialects and idioms, particularly those of the culture he was to appear to have come from. They could not know who or what he was. He would have to seem one of them. And he knew, basically, the role he was to play, the character he was to become. The people of this planet were as human as he was, hard as that had been for them all to accept, back on Volara. But if he were to truly become that person, he would have to spend some time living among these people. To do that, he would first have to get out of this forest.
And then he realized that reason would not help him, for he had no experiences of this world to draw upon. He remembered what the Old Man had taught him about his own primitive ancestors. He understood that to survive he would have to retreat deep within himself - into that pool of darkness that had no words or ability to reason, and to let that darkness guide him. He stilled himself, went deep within, and slowly his body began to shift. His attention returned again to the creature still sliding along the branch in front of him. Not afraid now, but curious, he studied its means of locomotion as it rolled its ribcage along the ground. As he watched, the creature turned towards him, appearing, in its turn, to study him, ...appearing, almost, to smile.
Dawilan's balance recentered so that he carried his weight on the balls of his feet, the muscles in his thighs, taut. He closed his eyes to let his other senses strengthen and attune themselves to the sounds and smells he had never actually experienced before but were never-the-less starting to feel familiar. He opened his eyes and slowly began to scan the darkness around him. He stepped forward finally, allowing his sense to lead him.