Year 8 Day 113

It was hot yesterday above the rift valley, so I started very early this morning – barely sunrise at the lake where I live, but already uncomfortably warm at the north end of the linear sea. I flew up the rift valley toward the glint of water that tantalized me yesterday, and before long crested a few low hills to find the valley dropping away before me.

How low were the hills? Oh, perhaps a hundred and twenty times my height above the sea surface, far lower than the walls of the valley. What surprised me was that I was soon at the level of the sea surface behind me, and still going down. And down. By the time I got a good look at the surface of the water ahead – and it was water – it was clear that it was considerably farther below sea level than the hills were above it. Certainly it was not connected with the tideless sea!

It had to be a salt lake, and one with no signs of life within it. There were a few freshwater springs in the slopes bordering the rift, and these provided a few pockets of greenery on the shores, but there were no fish perceptible in the lake, no tracks except near the springs, and hardly even any insects.

I managed to find a dry branch near one of the springs, and tossed it into the water. It floated high, confirming my suspicion that the water must be very salty. If I had any doubts, they were rapidly erased by the discovery of a beach of translucent pebbles. I assumed at first they were quartz, but a mental probe found salt – the pebbles were almost pure halite. I dropped a handful in my collecting bag to show Rainbow.

I was tempted to try a swim, as it was getting very hot. But I’ve seen lakes in closed basins that were so alkaline they’d burn skin. Could I bring a sample of the water back for testing?

At home ten years ago I’d never have considered trying it by esper talents alone. Here I’ve been forced to rely on them, and I thought I could hold a globule of water together, teleport back to my laboratory (such as it is) where I had a bowl of the same fused sand I’ve used to make windows, and dump the water in the bowl. To my astonishment the water was not alkaline, but had almost the same acid pH as my skin. I think I will start tomorrow morning with a swim!

Jarn is a human-like alien who was stranded in Africa 125,000 years ago, and has become friends with a group of our ancestors. His Journal to date can be found on my author site, and is part of the remote back story of my science fiction novels. By the way, halite is sodium chloride — common table salt.

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