She made the astute suggestion that I should add a camera and my wax-cylinder device to the expedition equipment, so that I may be able to record the sights and sounds of the mainland, for all back in Caledon to see and hear. It will add extra weight, but I think it will be worth it.
As the sun edged it’s way into the cloudy skies, I bid Fuschia my farewells and cast off. The winds immediately caught and turned me north, my intended destination… I took this as a good omen. I found it difficult as I left, waving to Fuschia’s tiny figure as she slipped from my sight into the morning mists. I will miss her greatly…
But there was little time to dwell on such things…I had to keep an eye on the compass and the delicate heat venting system of the balloon that allowed me some control of not only elevation but direction.
Looking down I noticed that the large stone castle that had previously stood to our North and West had been replaced by a colourful garden of flowers. I was baffled as to how such a rapid transformation had occurred, until I felt the tug of the balloon envelope catching on something solid and, looking up, suddenly realised I was dragging along the underside of a stone structure. The castle itself had been lifted into the air. It is no wonder the local tribe is named the “Penan Highlanders”. Their skill at building above the ground with no visible means of support is astounding. I still remember the dismayed look I received from one of them, a Miss Drahcir Maidstone, when I set about building my airship tower and support balloons. “Why do it?” She asked. “The buildings will stay there, with or without anything to hold them up.” They hardly even seem to realise what a feat they perform every time they construct one of these buildings. Despite watching them closely and questioning them as to their building materials, I have no idea how they do it. It makes me wonder if the raw materials they use for construction in the local area are saturated with Cavorite or a related compound.
Freeing the balloon, I turned Eastwards, to slide along the coastline. The sights along this edge of the mainland remind me so much of Caledon. Here I see a wonderfully wood timbered house, there a glass observatory, beyond a beautiful cascade of waterfalls. My time here has really taught me that the mainlanders may have their own eccentricities, but are really not that much different to ourselves.
As I reached the limits of my previous explorations I saw it, the thing I had heard so much about in news from the other expeditions: Glowing red bands of writing painted in the sky. Although they hung silently, just looking at them brought to mind the hum and sizzle of the Tesla towers on a damp day. Inside the walls of this barrier stood a grand house. Whoever lived within obviously required privacy, and I did not wish to chance the balloon in an encounter with their hellish “No Entry” sign. I carefully edged around it and continued on…
Not much further down the coast I encountered my first real challenge – an effect I have labelled “Out of Body Boundary Suspension”. I believe it may be related to the “Border Quicksand” effect encountered by Mr Reymont. One moment you are happily gliding along in your balloon, the next you are floating in the air looking down on a strange ethereal landscape (or looking back at your previous location from some distance away) and then back in your balloon again, as if nothing had happened. I have experienced this several times while travelling along the coast.
During the latest occurrence the experience was so violent and surprising that I fell from the basket of my balloon into a private garden. The owners immediately came rushing over to see that I was uninjured. I explained what had happened and apologised for landing unannounced and scuffing up their beautiful lawn. They laughed, saying it happened all the time and not to worry about it. Before I had a chance to speak to them further, they suddenly vanished and I began to wonder if they had been there at all or if I had hit my head and imagined them.
As I stood in the middle of the garden I looked up at the balloon hovering 20 feet above my head and realised this whole adventure may not be quite as easy as it first seemed.
Then I went to look for a ladder….