16 November 1947 / Bolivia

(note: this is a continuation of an account started here.)
My day’s journey began with one objective: to reach the eastern ridge. It had been weeks since I’d eaten anything more substantial than burro rump. My mind was in a cloudy compromised state, my body a shivering mass of trembling muscle and brawn. I hiked upward all day, the destination never seeming closer than when I began. I stumbled and sweat, my dry thirsty tongue hanging from my mouth like a mastiff’s. It was all I could do to focus on what lay beyond the eastern ridge, my sole purpose of this expedition: the legendary Golden Brain of Bolivia. It was this image of the Golden Brain that led me onward like Constantine’s Cross. Except my vision was brain-shaped.

Eventually, the sun dipped below the ridge horizon and the end of the day was nearly upon me. I attempted to double my efforts to reach the top before total darkness, but with just a moment’s quickened pace, I passed out.

I awoke, hours later, the night surrounding me. Yet, I looked toward the ridge, and the fiery fingers of sunlight still radiated up from behind the horizon like a devil’s halo. Something strange was going on. Was I dreaming? I picked myself up, and hurried to the light with a sudden burst of animal-energy, the blazing light more blinding with each step. I was suddenly on the ridge, my eyes literally ablaze. Indeed it was a dream, the familiar “sun crashing to earth dream” that haunts many great men. Refusing to wake, or rather, taking a moment to enjoy the imaginary destruction, I remained engulfed in sun fire. As far as my flaming eyes could see, explosive solar flares blasted fireballs into the night sky.

And then I saw something odd: Another man, running gleefully amid the flames like a tall tanned pixie. He hopped and pranced, whirling what looked to be a gas can around his head. I was usually alone in this dream or with my double, who would act as my guide. Who was this intruder? I thought. I also thought, dear Pan, this fire is hurting me. Usually, paradoxical icy coolness accompanied this sun-dream. And it hit me: This was no dream!

I immediately ran for cover behind a giant bolder to gain my bearings. I looked back at the inferno. The man laughed maniacally, then hurled the gas can into the air and ran amok. Within seconds, the gas can fell onto the man’s head, and he collapsed. The fires raged around his lifeless heap. What was my duty here? Do I save him? I don’t know if he’s friend or foe! Was this a deliberate obstacle to prevent my capture of the Golden Brain? Then again, is this man even real for that matter?

I took out a piece of chalk and drew out statistical scenarios on the bolder, came to the conclusion to save the man. In hindsight, this is obvious, but here, things are rarely as they appear. In the Andes, truth and morality are as twisted and confusing as the trails that lead from one god-forsaken pueblo to another. I launched myself through the flames, snatched up the ectomorphic man and flung him to safety. I then attempted to extinguish the fire with my mind, using the latest psychokinesis techniques I developed during a bender in Oxford last summer. But with only limited success, I was forced to choose safety over scientific discovery. I snatched up the man, whom I had apparently only thrown a few feet, and ran along the ridge to safety. I’m in camp now, and will nurse this man back to health before I determine whether he should die by my hand.

(note: see the next entry from Bolivia here.)