In Search of Elephant Corners
by Daniel Braum
The thief’s shade was trying to follow Slyvie back to Elephant Corners. Again. She heard the phantom whine of her motorbike’s engine though it was nowhere to be seen on the street crowded with the bustle of day sellers closing shop and patrons gathering for the night market.
She’d been studying under the elder fortunetellers for weeks. The half-day search on her motorbike to find the four elephant shaped buildings she called home seemed so far away.
“Why did it take me so long to find my way here?” Slyvie had asked, before her daily walk to the market to fetch fresh chicken bones for the divination cups. “We are almost in the center of the city, right in plain sight. For anyone to see or follow.”
“Ganesha is the remover of obstacles,” the fortune woman called Katerina had answered then affectionately patted an elephant figurine that looked much like the sculpted face of the building.
Had it been Ganesha who removed the obstacles preventing her from finding the Fortune Tellers? Ganesha who guided the thief who stole her motorbike? It wasn’t Ganesha following her now. She could feel the thief’s yearning. Not just for her. To find Elephant Corners.
The accident that had claimed him had been meant for her. It involved a blown tire. A refugee from the city of Phiros, an old hero of the Origami circuit. Chickens. A lot of them. And a contraband shipment of vampire vine.
The shade followed her most evenings. And was always thwarted by one fortuitous distraction or another. One time by a raucous trio of escaped chickens. Another by a pretty lady muttering charms under her lacy veil. Yet another by a tiny rainstorm moving almost purposefully through the stairway alleys.
But today was the day of dragon-kites and tombstones, (at least according to the calendar of Sylvie’s ancestral home), the day spirits will rise and walk in flesh of the unwary if given a chance.
The shade slowly but steadily pursued her through the market streets and winding alleys. To Sylvie’s dismay no distractions appeared to hinder it.
Sylvie ducked into a side street hoping to lose it with speed but the egress was blocked by an ostrich caravan. She gulped trying to gather the courage to run back out and past the invisible, menacing presence. The sputter-pop of her lost motorbike was almost upon her.
“Just go away !” she cried, afraid the shade would touch her and ride her body back to Elephant Corners.
The motorbike sounds retreated. The shade had moved to a piece of glow-taffy on the cobblestones. Sylvie spied another piece at the entrance to the next alley. A trail? She was in luck the shade followed and Sylvie ran home.
“Why,” Slyvie asked Katerina once she was safely behind the door-leg of the blue elephant. “How did I escape? Why can no one find Elephant Corners when it is in plain sight?”
“Ganesha protects this place,” she answered. “Today you learned he is also the placer of proper obstacles.”
Sylvie thought about it. The shade had wanted something. From her. From Elephant Corners. The fortune tellers must have had a reason to prevent her death in the bike crash.
Maybe if she continued her studies she’d be able to find the answer in patterns of the past or divine its shape from the ripples it sent into the ever-changing future.