RELLA’S CAMBRIAN DREAM —A STORY OUTLINE
WE BEGIN. Reveal the Cambrian Sea. The stars sing. This is half a billion years ago...
Scene. Underwater. Sea Shelf, 100 m down. We meet a tribe of Marrellae, the most common Cambrian creature. They live in this lush cradle of life, thriving—but now, all that is threatened by recent change. Shifting currents, storms, warming, cooling, mudslides. They must do something, or perish, but they lack imagination. So they argue.
Meet our hero, RELLA MARRELLA, a young misfit. She’s a dreamer, an optimist, with an ambitious, curious personality ... Rella has imagination—just a bit. She swims away from the bickering tribe. She looks about, hopes and wonders ... Song: if only she knew just a little bit more about her world ... Then! Suddenly! A shifting current! And a wave of silt drops a stranger in front of her! ... It’s a lost, frightened, confused, cute little creature—hello? Her name is KAIA (a Pikaia, an early proto-vertebrate). Rella’s never seen anything like Kaia before! She doesn’t speak well, but Kaia clearly needs help; Rella (because of her imagination) can see that.
Rella brings her to the others. “Look, the Ocean sent us a friend! Adopt her?” But no!—the tribe is afraid of the stranger. They think Kaia is the cause of storms, mudslides—and they banish both Rella and Kaia.
So, Rella must leave her sea shelf, the only place she’s ever known. Where now? Rella’s new idea: find out where Kaia comes from, maybe join Kaia’s tribe!—This journey is the heart of our story.
Rella’s quest begins. It will be exciting, beautiful, amazing—and sometimes silly. Rella throws herself forth into the unknown. With Kaia in tow, Rella crosses the empty waters and visits other populated sea shelves. There, she meets other communities, other species, and we get a bigger picture of the rich, diverse, strange, wonderful Cambrian world. Rella presents Kaia to many ocean neighbours—some helpful, some hostile, some indifferent. But the important thing is, Rella also makes three, very different, good new friends:
YURI is a misfit Trilobite. He’s a no-nonsense, very practical, hard worker.
AXI is a misfit Wiwaxia. He’s bit of a clown and a weirdo, but has good ideas, sometimes.
NIA is an Opabinia. Super-smart. Even more amazing, she has an arm-like thing! She can lift things!
Each is different, each with different skills. But all share a desire to help, learn, explore, change and grow. All are moved by Kaia’s plight and excited by Rella’s idea. All join the quest to bring Kaia home!
Onward. On the way, an enemy emerges: the giant two-armed predator “THE GRABBER”, who pursues, very scary! ... And for guidance, our friends encounter and consult a "WATCHER”, a Charnia, millions of years old, who offers clues. They begin to learn more about the planet they live on—they understand great change is coming.
Their quest gets more suspenseful, mysterious, and comic. They move along the coast, following clues; their enemy follows ... They argue among themselves, they resolve their differences. They elude their enemy ... Now we’re in the high coastal banks, near the LAND, where nothing (yet) lives. And suddenly ... Kaia vanishes!
Then! The biggest crisis yet—far offshore, a volcano erupts - a tsunami! - Rella and friends are thrown into flood plains, far inland ... Total confusion. Rella is separated from the others, in a shallow tidal pool, but she hears Kaia calling to her ... Kaia’s voice invites Rella to peek above the water: and Rella does ... There, Rella sees stars! ... She sees the land ... And she sees Kaia—changing!—into a walking fish, into a succession of land-walking vertebrates—and at last, into a woman. “Thank you. I’m home. And now you know something about your world!”
Suddenly, Rella wakes---and she's not underwater. Or in the Cambrian Sea. And she 's not a Marrella anymore.
And we're not going to tell you the ending. You'll have to come join us. Also .. is there an ending?
As the stars sing: "Each star is a story / Each story a star / We're all stories up close / And we're stars from afar / When the skies fill with stories / And our hearts fill with stars / We'll be stories and stars, close and far ..."