Level 12: The River

by Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo

“A river runs through this place, left to right ahead of you. The slasher bird flies back and forth above the river. The trail of notes follows the river bank. Here an old man pleads for help.” He interjects — “Hello, anyone there?” Catherine Zeta-Jones chimes back in, “He’ll be trouble to rescue. More trouble than its worth.”  Before I start the level I listen to the sound of the bird. It flies back and forth slowly across both ears distantly ahead of me. I hear the man in my right ear, asking calmly, “Hello? Anyone there?” As the slasher bird makes its way back from my right ear to the left ear, crowing the entire time. The music note beeps ahead of me, alternating back and forth between a low and a high, string sound.  I wait until I can no longer hear the bird to my right and then I rush forward to the river, towards the musical note. It appears that I’m running on some rough surface, perhaps dirt, or the side of a cliff as I run forward. As I reach the river bank, I trip and fall. I try to move forward again, as I hear the sound of splashing but trip again. It’s too late and the slasher bird moves in for the kill. As I hear my screams and listen to the sound of the bird pecking through my skull, the guide informs me, “If you slip and fall, the slasher bird seeks to peck your skull clean.” When I’m reincarnated, I again wait until the bird is out of my hearing range and move forward to the river. This time I move slowly, one step after another until I capture the note. Once I’ve captured it, I run out onto the other side of the river, and keep going until I hit a wall. Then I turn to the right and begin to walk, when I hear the sound of another note. I walk slowly towards the note even though I hear the bird approaching from my right side. I am able to jump in the river and retrieve the note, as the bird flies overhead. For the first time, I notice my heavy breathing as I’m walking around on dry land. I’m not sure if this is something that I’ve always done, or whether my hearing accuity is improving. I continue to hear the old man in the distance but walk around, in search of either another note or a way out. I hear a phone ringing in the distance and walk forward slowly. As I jump in the river I hear the telephone get louder and I swim towards the phone. When I reach the telephone, the original male narrator answers: “So I can see why you didn’t save the old man. He was such a bore. No matter, into the pipes, a machine of the palace. Ever towards Papa Sangre. [Inaudible].”