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Hammerfall

June 2, 2014

For the past three weekends, Eleanor and Ron or I have been driving the same stretch of road from Chicago to central Ohio. She and Ron drove with all of her stuff from Grinnell on May 17. She and I drove to and from Madison, Wisconsin on May 23-26. Then all three of us drove to Aurora, into downtown Chicago, and back from Crystal Lake on May 30-June 1. That’s a lot of the same roads and the same tolls.

It reminds me of C.J. Cherryh’s novel Hammerfall, set on a fictional desert planet and following two spectacular journeys to the same destination. The first one, led by characters who are considered to be “mad” because they hear voices directing them to travel east, is exciting. The leaders of the “mad,” Marak and Hati, discover that “the mad all moved together” because they had common visions of “the high place….the light, the sun, the star, multiple moons aloft and in a row….the cave, the hall, the hollow place” which turn out to be a starship landing place for visitors from another world.

What Marak and Hati discover when they get to the starship is that the leader of their world is from a different starship, and that the people waiting at the landing place want them to bring the leader and the rest of the native people back there because the desert world is scheduled to be destroyed.

Their second journey through the desert is to get everyone to the starship before that happens. The voice in Marak’s head tells him “we would deeply regret it, Marak Trin, if the hammer comes down before you get to safety.” So they walk the same weary road, facing some of the same dangers, and some new ones.

We didn’t have voices in our heads, but we are definitely weary of driving the same stretch of road, and glad to have made it past all the trucks, through the lane changes, and onto the rural highways before dusk, when the deer come out.

Have you ever repeated a dangerous journey within a short span of time? Did you make it back unscathed?

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. freshhell permalink
    June 2, 2014 12:03 pm

    I very often drive the same stretch of road more than once a day. Sometimes three or four times. It’s wearying, the driving, but the view never gets old. One lane country roads always offer something of interest: the corn grows a little taller every day, the clouds form and part, the train blocks my path or doesn’t carrying different things each time, an animal emerges from the tall grass that lines the edges. But the driving part…..I could do without all of that, frankly.

    • June 3, 2014 9:12 am

      I had some of the same feeling when I was commuting twice a week to a suburb of Columbus, an hour away. It was a pretty drive, but being that alert for that long takes a toll on me.

  2. June 2, 2014 6:35 pm

    I think my commute in Boston would count: 65 miles each way and of course it’s almost always rush hour in Boston. In the summer, the danger was from everyone heading north to Maine for vacation. Year round, I had to know if either (a) the Celtic, (b) the Red Sox, (c) the Bruins, or (d) the Pops were playing. And of course we played road construction roulette year round. Fun times!

    • June 3, 2014 9:14 am

      Alertness about many different areas, in addition to the driving…extremely wearing!

  3. June 3, 2014 2:36 pm

    Well I’m very glad you weren’t hearing voices in your head, that would have been a bit worrisome!

    • June 3, 2014 3:11 pm

      By the end of the weekend, I wasn’t hearing much at all. I have poor auditory discrimination (I have ever since I was a child, when my mother, an audiologist, tested me repeatedly) and so background noise, including road noise, interferes with my ability to hear conversation, audiobooks, and words to songs.

      • June 3, 2014 6:47 pm

        So does that mean it’s easy to concentrate and read in a noisy room with lots of people talking? If so, it is at least not an entirely terrible thing to have!

        • June 3, 2014 6:52 pm

          No, my hearing is fine; I just can’t pick out one conversation from the rest. So it’s no easier to concentrate in a noisy room.

  4. June 4, 2014 7:11 pm

    Interesting… I can not think of any dangerous roads… I wish I had a fun something to share :)

    • June 4, 2014 8:42 pm

      As a judge recently reminded me in juvenile court, driving is the only matter of life and death that most of us face on a daily basis.

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