Chapter 1 – Encounter
Three rowing boats were resting at the landing stage – two of them were chained up and spanned by covers while the third was sticking out of the water only by a few inches. Not very promising. Ben fetched the compass out of his belt bag – the needle was shining in turquoise-blue and then again in turquoise-green colors and pointed towards the island. But how would he get there, without a boat?
„May I …‟, he heard somebody say behind him and a moment later a women squiggled past him: She was in her mid-twenties, had red hair and an athletic figure, a sporty woman as the large backpack and the hiking boots indicated. Instantly she swept the water from the cover with her hand and untied it from the boat.
This is my chance, Ben thought, and approached her.
„Hi, I am Ben.‟
„Congratulations, Ben. You can just get the two oars over there!‟
Ben turned to the riverside – two oars were sitting in the shadow of a larch waiting to be used. When he came back with them he asked: „And what is your name?‟
„Beautiful name.‟ She was storing away the cover under the seat – he needed to be quick. „Tell me, would you still have a free seat?‟
„It depends. Do you know how to row? And where would you like to go in the first place?‟
„Of course I know how to row. And I think I would like to go to the island.‟
Kara’s eyes flared, while she repeated his words: „He thinks he would like to go to the island.“ Then Kara moved to the rear bench seat, leaning back as if she intended to sunbathe. „Welcome on board, oarsman!‟
Ben cautiously climbed into the boat. The old rowing boat rocked terribly and the twenty-four pound backpack didn’t make it easier. He put it into the bow and was jolly glad to be able to get rid of it for a while. Ben unchained the boat, manoeuvered it past a few water lilies and navigated towards the island. The rowing felt great – the sound, the way the oars divided the water, the muscle-flexing of his arms. kettete das Boot ab, manövrierte es um ein paar Seerosen herum und steuerte die Insel an. Das Rudern fühlte sich gut an – der Klang, wie die Ruder das Wasser zerteilten, das Muskelspiel seiner Arme. He stepped it up a notch.
When they had covered half of the distance Kara said: „Usually don’t really look there directly – but something is shining between your legs.‟
Abruptly Ben stopped rowing. Indeed, his belt bag was literally radiating, even though the island was still almost a mile away.
„We arrived ‟, Ben said. The boat rocked when he got up.
„What does it mean: there‟ Kara looked around as well. Nothing, just water. Sot, there!! „Look at this!‟ She pointed to a fish that had surfaced from the water four yards from them. It was a marvellous light green, moving in a turquoise-shimmering water. „I think these are Baikal-oilfishes. They actually live in the deep.‟
„What does it do at the surface then?‟
„I have no idea. Maybe they have to catch some sun. Too, from time to time.‟
Ben’s compass flashed thrice and then adopted the color. Kara fished out a linen sheet from her backpack and threw it to Ben, causing him to sway quite heavily when catching it. „Here, wrap that around your compass!‟, she said. „It is kind of creepy when you just start shining that way. At Irkutsk airport you would easily end up in custody if that happens..‟
„Thank you.‟ Ben did as he was told.
„Are you one of those collectors of colors? Those who jet around the world chasing colors like crazy?‟
„Yes, I suppose that’s what I am.‟
„And does this thing work?‟, Kara asked.
„Just like a normal compass. The needle shines with the colors I am looking for. It points into the right direction, and the closer I am the stronger it shines. And when I am close enough the compass absorbs the color.‟
„Wicked. And where is next?‟
„I have no idea. The compass will let me know as soon as I am there.‟
„Still wicked. Count me in!‟
„What? Certainly not! Why?‟
„You owe me something, that’s why. Without me you would still sit around at the riverside.. So don’t be a wet blanket! To collect colors, that sounds exciting, and I wanted to ride around in the world anyway – so why not do it together with you?!‟
Download the calendar picture as wallpaper for your computer: