Sunday, January 26, 2014

In the box

The meat animals had shut the door of the box.  They had used fire.  It would have to be forced open, but not too soon.  The meat animals were cunning.  They had stings that traveled over distances.  Faster than its kin could move.  Faster, almost, that its kin could see.  Better to wait until the meat animals were either subdued or fleeing.  Having fed, waiting was not difficult for it.  The youngkin however, wounded and hungry was making motions at the bound meat animal it had secured and brought from the well.
“NO,” it cast.  The youngkin stopped.
“HUNGRY,” it cast back and made a tentative motion towards the meat, squirming to get free.
“NO,” it cast again. 
It was puzzled itself.  It did not want this one harmed.  This one had made fire in its mind.  It wanted time to explore the fire again.  There was a cast for ‘mine’ but it was never used by harvesters.  Harvesters couldn’t own anything.  Harvesters were owned, even the juice in their gullets belonged to the colony.  “OFFERING,” it cast.  This one is going back alive.
“SHARE.”  The younkin was asking for a part, to drain off some blood but it had already drained off some blood before the battle and it didn’t know much more the meat animal could afford to lose.
“SHARE!”  The youngkin’s Need must be terrible.  The youngkin was growing desperate, hopping an anger dance and would not obey just because the order came from an elder harvester.  In the youngkin’s state, feeding would be frenzied and would not stop until the Need was satiated.  The meat animal would be drained.  This was unacceptable to it.  It made a decision.
“RELENT.”  The youngkin hopped a gladness dance and dove for the meat animal, it’s tooth extending, all else forgotten.  It slid off the wall above the door where it had been perched and quickly stove in the youngkin’s head while it was turned.  Nothing wasted, it began to drink the youngkin too.  Even in the dark, the eyes of the meat animal were obviously huge upon it.  Another spark.  A feeling this time.  Something ancient.  Something forgotten.  Something purged long ago by pain and the Need.  It picked up the carcass of the youngkin and moved to the other end of the box, even turning it’s back to the meat animal.  There it finished drinking the youngkin.  As it worked, its mind turned over the feeling and turned it over again and at last a word for it arose…
Shame.  The feeling was called, ‘shame.’

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Anathema stood in the doorway.  There huddled the little, bandaged Monotooth she had sent running.  It just cowered there in full view.  “Hi, little fella.  You hurt?  S’too bad.  Bet you want me to come in there and make it all better, don’t you?  Bet you’d like that a lot, wouldn’t you?”  Then she ducked down, grabbed Basset’s limp body and vaulted backwards, dragging Basset with her. 

“Now!” she yelled.  Lunk the Hellbender slammed the door shut and Frances leapt up and tack welded it before anything inside could force it back open.

“Done!” Frances announced.

“Nice work, you two.  Alright, let’s secure the rest of this train and get it moving!”  Hah!  Take that daddy!  Take that Brad!  Take that Commander Wilkinson!  Lieutenant Phom!  Take that Jack!  See?  I don’t need some big, bad man to take care of me.  I don’t need some college graduate to tell me how to run my outfit!  Sergeant Anathema Macomber takes care of her own ass!  And is doing a pretty good job of keeping the troop going too, if I do say so myself; better’n Phom or Wilkinson any way.  Tractors were firing up down the line, CAMEL scouts were striding around on their robot mounts, scaled down versions of Emmet’s tank, wrangling the loose troops into vehicles.  Normally they’d get their orders from her in the command trailer.  With that turned into a make-shift Monotooth holding pen, she’d have to designate some other vehicle as a back-up command wagon.  All of them had radios but only one of them had a sensor array and onboard computer that would give her the real time info she needed: Emmet’s tank.

He should be on his way back now.  She didn’t know if anyone had informed him of the attack but he probably figured it out when she had blown up the parts trailer.  She climbed up onto the mobile kitchen, using the ladder mounted to the side.  Yeah, here he came, the big four legged tank was taking its time.  That was a good sign.  It meant he didn’t see any new threats, the worst was over.

Anathema’s heart sank as all around the legs of the walker the sand boiled and Monotooths scrambled up like ants taking down a spider.  They used that inhuman strength of theirs and long bars to tear open panels and hatches and toss in grenades.  “Where did they get those!?”  She turned and looked at the ordinance trailer, the rear hatch, obviously forced, hung by one hinge.  Oh.  The grenades went off, muffled pops from this distance and the walker stumbled and fell.  It all hit her then.  This wasn’t about the one’s in camp.  This was about that damn tank.  The freakin’ tooths had just outsmarted her and taken away her last, best asset.

“Oh, sweet mother of crap,” she breathed, “we are well and truly screwed this time.”

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

At death's door

Ch’Voga, weak and nauseated, drifted in and out of reality.  His bonds were so tight he could not feel his arms and legs and to make matters worse, his Monotooth, the one who had captured him, had drained off some blood before the battle, making him light-headed.  He had no idea where he was, it was far too dark but he thought it to be one of the Legion trailers.

The door slid open letting in a shaft of sunlight.  A figure in a long coat stood silhouetted in the doorway.  Jacques?  No.  As it moved forward, Ch’Voga could make out long, floppy ears, thick glasses and an army uniform underneath.  He knew this one.  It was so hard to remember… Corporal… Basset!  Yes.  Nice fellow.  Nervous.  Superstitious.  He had listened intently to Ch’Voga but had only been looking for new practices which might bring him luck.  He wanted desperately to survive this place and go home and marry some girl there and he thought if he just had the right talisman…

Ch’Voga’s monotooth reached down from the top of a cabinet and put an end to all of Cpl. Basset’s hopes with a pierced eye and a long drink.  Ch’Voga clamped his own eyes shut, the only part of his body he had control over.  Still he heard a whimper and a rapid tapping as the Corporal’s body convulsed.  Sometimes it was worse not to see.  Slowly the tapping stilled and the ‘tooth released him.  He fell in the opening, a heap of limbs and rags.  Ch’Voga said a prayer for him and found he had enough moisture for tears but whether for the Corporal or for himself, he knew not.

Some time later a second Monotooth bound in through the open door and over the corpse.  It looked wounded and strangely, did not hide in the many shadows but lingered in the shaft of daylight.  Ch’Voga watched, confused and fearful and soon he heard a voice outside.

“Corporal!  Corporal, can you hear me?  Aw damn.  I think they got Basset.  No, not in the command trailer.  We can’t risk it.  We’ll have to clear them out by hand.”  By..?  No!  Ch’Voga wanted to scream, it’s a trap!  They’re waiting for you!  A boot crunched outside.  A shadow moved into the doorway, it was Sergeant Macomber.  The Monotooth above the cabinet readied itself.  Ch’Voga’s raised heartbeat pounded at the sides of his eyes, he tried to wiggle free of his bonds, to scream, anything and only succeeded in bringing the black-out that much sooner.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sergeant Anathema

First Sergeant Anathema Macomber could not believe how quickly a day could go to hell.  This morning she had awakened in Jack’s (Yes, she knew his name was Jacques but she liked Jack better.) arms for the third day in a row and thinking she could make a habit of this.  Instead he had followed the habit of every man she had ever needed…

..and left.

The fact that he had taken her last remaining tank and driver just before the camp was attacked did not make it the worst case of abandonment she ever experienced.  Only the most recent.

“Pretty poor timing, Emmet being gone when they attacked,” Cpl Basset said, “It’s almost like they timed it.”

“The hell they did!” Anathema growled, “I timed it.  We had to draw these bastards out or they would have slunk in the shadows and picked us off one by one so I gave them a plump opportunity they couldn’t pass up.  Now as soon as we’re moving Emmet can pick them off one at a time as they chase us.  So let’s get the ****ing lead out or it’ll be like Patomic Drift all over again!”  Cpl Basset ran off.  That should hold them for a while.  Her lie might even impress them to break camp faster, who knows?  Never appear surprised, that’s what she knew.  Ain’t nothing scares a trooper more than a commander who doesn’t know what’s happening.  With that, Sgt. Nathy thought she better get to the command trailer and see what’s happening.

By the parts trailer she caught two separate movements almost simultaneously.  The one she pounced on, pinning Frances the grease gecko’s oily body under hers and shushing him just as a furtive figure moved across their path.  It had bandages. "Bandages, it's a new monotooth, er, young one?  Recent convert?  Whatever, maybe it's not very good at it yet.  Maybe there's a learning curve to being an aborted sump pump.  Maybe it's gonna crawl right past and keep going.  Maybe it won't smell us or see the tracks we left, or heat signature or sense the humidity off the cold sweat in my shorts, whatever it is those creepy walking corpses do. That's it, just keep going...keep crawling away...i've been good all week.  Didn't even steal from those merchants.  God owes me.  Keep crawling you f--"
The Monotooth's head snapped in their direction.
"Aw shit.  God knows about the watch."

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Not a moment too soon

“Sure’n they look like the picture o’ military precision when you light a fire under them,” Dunbar commented to Kurga.  He was standing looking aft as Emmit’s tank towed them away from the camp, out of the rocky defile and up into the deep sand and the ever present wind. 
“Are we leaving too soon, Mr. Dunbar?  I feel as though some effort should have been made to find Ch’Voga,” Kurga said to him.
“To find his husk, y’mean.”
“Pour obtenir nous-mêmes bu!” Justine called from the rigging overhead.
“Aye!  There’s the right of it.  ‘Nother day in that cursed place would’a been one day too many.  Count’cher self lucky to be seein’ it in our wake.”
“But the patrol only found the husk of the lizard he was with.  How do we know he did not escape?”
“Because, mon ami,” Jacques said, “he did not return.  There is nowhere else for him to go.  Alive he may yet be, les buveurs are sometimes known to keep a victim alive… for a while.”
“Food keeps better on the hoof,” Dunbar chuckled, or shivered, it was hard to tell in his metal suit.
“Oui, but if he were free, he would surely choose to be with us.”
“So we just abandon him?”
“Aye, we do.  And save our own asses in da bargain!”
“Cheer up, messieurs!  Your friend finally got what he wanted.”
“He did?”
“Oui, he has become a martyr.”
As the crew of the catamaran laughed at the captain’s joke, Kurga couldn’t help but remember Ch’Voga’s words, “Do you know, Captain, the original meaning of the word ‘martyr’?”
“I confess I do not.”
“It meant, ‘witness’.  He wasn’t afraid to die but I think he wanted his death to mean something.”
“I’ll tell ye what his death meant,” Dunbar said, “It meant we spent far too long in that bloody place!”  A look was exchanged between the metal man and the captain.  It was not a friendly look.
“Capitaine, une explosion dans le camp!” Justine called from the mast.  The sound reached them then.  All eyes turned aft to see one of the trailers of Camp Temporary disappearing beneath a black cloud. 
“Well, mon ami,” Captain Jacques said, “I shall honor his death with a bottle of pinot noir when we arrive in Jabip.  For it would seem his sacrifice came, pas trop tôt.  In the nick of time.”

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A drink at the well

It smelled them long before it heard them.  It heard them long before it saw them come down the rocky draw.  There were two, one of the little scaly ones, twitchy, scurrying along the walls as much as the ground and one wearing robes and smelling similar to the meat animal it had feasted on with its kin a few nights ago.  It had filled itself on water from the well prior to their arrival so the Need was more of a cold breeze on its back than an all-powerful roar.  It was able to think a little.  To be patient.  To plan.  To wait.  They could both be taken, if it was careful.

They were making sounds.  Some of the sounds did odd things.  It listened and was surprised to find some of the sounds created thoughts in its head, like sparks from flint.  The sounds sometimes had meanings.  Sometimes the meanings arranged themselves together to form ideas.  It found the ideas … curious.

“Don’ know why you come ‘long.  Gettin’ water is nooey na kway job,” said the scaly meat animal.
“Seemed the least I could do, seeing as our delayed departure is only adding to your labors,” said the robed meat animal.
“That dumb.”
“Well, I thought we’d have been on our way by now too.  I’m not sure why the Captain lingers though he must have his reasons.”
“Ha!  You dumb!  You help like nooey na kway when no have to AND you too dumb-dumb to know why Captain no leave!  You tray-so-sheen!”  It had trouble following the scaly meat animal’s sounds.  They did not make many sparks.
“Yes, I suppose I am.  You are not the first to remark on it.  Do you then know the cause of our delay?”
“I know.  I not tray-so-sheen dumb dumb like you.  Hahahaha!”
“How fortunate for you.  Is this the well head then?”
“Yes, I show you how work handle, you too dumb dumb to know, haha!  You lift here, see?  Theeeeeeeen, you push back down!  See?  Then… you lift again!  Simple!  Even you get it!  Haha!  You big, you good at nooey no kway job!  We sign you up, I no have get water anymore.  You fill jugs, I go see what wrong with sensor.”  The twitchy meat animal climbed effortlessly up the rock wall to where the sensor was mounted over looking the well below…
…And just below where it hung, hidden in the shadows, over looking the meat animal and the sensor below.  It knew what was wrong with the sensor.  It readied itself to pounce.
“What hell?  Something smash sensor!”
“Is that bad?”
“Not good dumb dumb.  But I fix.  I not useless tray-so-sheen like you.  Only good for getting drink.  Haha!”
““If you had known the gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me water to drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.””  
“What hell you talk ‘bout, dumb dumb?”  Now, while the meat animal’s attention was focused downward!  In one, explosive motion, grab its throat to keep it from making sounds; grab its belt to control the body; pierce the eye with the tooth and a long pull from the skull to end it.  The scaly meat animal went limp in its grip.
Oblivious, the other meat animal continued making sounds.  ““Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks of this water which I will give to him will never be thirsty for eternity, but the water which I will give to him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.””

More sparks in its mind.  The sparks caught fire and a light seemed to come on in a place that had lain dark for a long time.  It was so shocked by this, it actually forgot about what it was doing.  It stopped feeding on the scaly one for a moment and stared down at the other meat animal.  The animal was looking up at it, eyes growing wide.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Legio Urbilis

“What the hell happened here?”  The crew and guests of the catamaran were gathered back on the boat for the night.
“Didja see the mess tent?”  The others nodded and assented in their fashion.
“I saw the tent and it was a mess but I don’t understand the significance of what I saw.” Ch’Voga said.  “What did I miss?”
“About how many soldiers would you say it could hold, laddie?” Dunbar asked him.
“Perhaps two score.”
“Aye, a pair o’ dozens if their cozy.”  He leaned back as if he’d made his point.
“And that’s … odd?”
“It’s a mite bit short’o a legion, reverend.  By aboot five t’ousand.”
“Perhaps this is only an outpost and the rest of the legion is somewhere else?”
“Could be.  A listenin’ post, a whisker they calls it.  Aye, grant ye, could be a whisker but the other signs say tis the whole dog.  Or what’s left of it.”
“Well, take our wee Sergeant Mac Omber, f’rinstance.  Since when does an NCO give orders and make decisions without checking in wi’ headquarters?  Mm?  They doon’t.  And why so many support lizards for jes’ one wee tank?  Place is lousy wi’ ‘em.  Where are the swaggerin’ front-line pikers?  What’s a legion wi’out soldiers?”
“Ouais! Tout semble usé: uniformes, véhicules, les gens.”
“That they do, Joostine, that they do.”
“What do what now?”
“She said they’re all lookin’ a mite worse for wear, laddie.  I tell ye, the sooner we quit this troop the better.  This place has a haunted look aboot it.”
“Haunted?” Kurga asked.
“Haunted, I says…or hunted.”

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fort Temporary

“Welcome to Fort Temporary!” Emmit, the tankdriver held his arms aloft as they disembarked Jacques’ Catamaran.
“Is this it?” Kurga asked.
“Less than you were expecting?”
“More, actually,” Ch’Voga said.
“More?”  Both Kurga and Emmet asked.
“Yes.  More depressing.”
“Hey! Do I come into your home and insult the décor?”
“No you do not, messieurs,” Jacques quipped, “of course, maybe this is because I would not toss a blanket over my outhouse and call it a “home.””
“No, you just hang a blanket over a bathtub and call yourself a “captain.””
Jacques turned and appraised the owner of this new voice.  He bowed deeply, “Mes excuses, dame commandant.  I have insulted your hospitality and proven an ungrateful guest, I beg your forgiveness, Capitaine…?”
“Macomber.  Sergeant Macomber.”
“Apologies again.  I had naturally assumed from your air d'autorité you were the commander of this post.”
“When did I say I wasn’t?  Relax, Prettyboy, this ain’t some palace and I ain’t no princess.  You keep tripping over that silver tongue to apologize but I don’t hear any sorry’s for trespassing in my DMZ and putting my people at risk to save your skinny asses.”
“Um, sorry?  We got lost on our…”
She held up her hand.  “Save it for someone who cares.  All I wanna know is what I got to do to get you the hell out?  I got enough problems keeping me and my people alive without babysitting you.”
“A map and some water?”
“Done and done.  Emmet, show them where they can bag some water.  Silvertongue, come with me and I’ll show you the map.”  Everyone split up then and Kurga and Ch’Voga found themselves alone.
“Well, Kurga, this is where following me has led.  Are you sorry?  Which are you hoping for: getting tossed into a hole in the sand or walking home.”
“Oh,” Kurga said, “I think I’d prefer to continue our journey East with the good captain.”
“Kurga, what have you done?”
“Nothing at all.  It just so happens the good Captain and I speak the same language.”
Ch’Voga shook his head, “I think Sergeant Macomber is wrong.”
“How so?”
“The Captain may be charming but you are the one with the tongue of silver.”

Monday, January 6, 2014

Dunbar's ditty

“Have you had much dealings with the Legion?” Ch’Voga asked Kurga.  They were relaxing in the trampoline stretched between the hulls of the catamaran.  The Legion tank striding ahead of them.  The crew of the cat busy around them. 
“A fair bit, I suppose.  My sire had a contract with them growing up.  I would sometimes be allowed to sit in, as part of my apprenticeship.”
“What kind of people are they?  Reasonable?”
“In their way.  About what you’d expect of people for whom force and violence are equal partners with reason and respect.”
“How so?”
“Well, it’s a manner of seeing really, of viewing the world.  You were given a Bible as a child and taught to look at the world through it.  They were given a gun.”
“Are there no followers among them then?”
“A few, perhaps.  Though I wouldn’t imagine it to be a great number.”
“There’s where yer talkin’ outcher ass, laddie.”  They looked up to see Mr. Dunbar smiling over them.
“I beg your pardon?”
“No need to beg, lad, pardon tis free o’ charge and aboot as worthless.”
Kurga appeared to be choking on some retort so Ch’Voga spoke for him, “you have some knowledge of faith among the Legion, Mr. Dunbar?”
“Och aye!  Great number of believers among the Legion.  Prayin’ the likes of which a monastery ‘as ne’er seen!” 
“Really?  I had no idea.”
“Och aye!” he jumped into what sounded like a pre-written ditty, happily winding hauser around his arm like twine. 
“They pray to the gods to no be pressed.”  The crew picked up the second line to form a call and response.
            “But pressed is wot they be.”
“They pray to no be ship’t to the desert.”
            “But sand is all they see.”
“They pray on leave for a pretty piece.”
            “Butt ugly is the snatch.”
“They pray the snatch tis no infected.”
            “But pox is wot they catch.”
“They pray to ne’er see a ‘tooth.”
            “But prick’t is wot they am.”
“They pray and pray and pray and pray.”
            “But God don’t gi’ a damn!”  They all dissolved into raucous laughter and carried on singing.  The song, it would seem, had many verses.
“You had to ask?” Kurga laughed.
“Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
“Oh, do cheer up, K’sretti.  A bit of fun is all it is.”
“A fitting epitaph.  I shall carve on their stones, “A bit of fun is all it is… with eternal consequences.”
“Good lord, how dark you are!  Was your sire a mortician?  Is that what your family does?”
“No, he’s not.”
“Where are you going then?”  Ch’Voga had gotten up.
“To pray.”
“…but God don’t gi’ a damn!”

A tear for Prudence

It took Ch’Voga a moment to realize what woke him.  He climbed out of his hammock and went up on deck.  Moving from utter darkness to full daylight disoriented him.  He took a moment on the ladder to put on his goggles.  A bulbous shadow fell upon him.
“Good morning, Mr. Dunbar,” he greeted the boat’s machine-man first mate.
“Afternoon Laddie.”  Ch’Voga didn’t know the man well enough to know if this was a greeting or a correction.
“We’ve stopped.”
“May I ask why or would that be a stupid question?”
“Depends on who yer askin’.  Yer askin’ me, then aye, tis stupid.  Yer askin’ the metal monster over there, might be a bit more apposite.”
Ch’Voga climbed up on the deck to see what a man who was more iron than man would refer to as a ‘metal monster.’ 
On a rocky outcropping stood a four-legged machine nearly the same size as the catamaran.  Ch’Voga was no expert but judging by the holes of various size it had facing them, he surmised it to be a military vehicle of some sort.
“Where is the Captain?”
“Out there which yer matey, gettin’ yer answer.”  The first mate left him then to his own devices.  He was back again when Kurga and Captain Jacques returned.  “What’s the word, Cap’n?”
“We follow the Legionnaire.”
“Right, dump our extra baggage and go back fer Captain Prudy.”
“Non, mon ami.  Prudence… n'a plus besoin de notre aide.”
“Is something wrong?” Ch’Voga asked.  Kurga would not meet his eye.  Jacques came close.
“You .. étiez engagé…were betrothed to Prudence once, c’est exact?”
“We were arranged to be married, yes,” he whispered.
“Did she have family?”  Ch’Voga shook his head.  “This Legionnaire, he found Prudy’s boat.   Les buveurs, the Monotooth, they…  He found this.  Perhaps it is best if you have it.”  He placed Prudence’s gold arm cuff in Ch’Voga’s trembling hands and went to help his crew.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Little disappointments

Ch’Voga took advantage of a quiet moment alone with the catamaran skipper sitting at the wheel.  It was late afternoon, two days after leaving Prudence and the boat skidded in a lulling silence with a steady wind. “It is very kind of you to take us the rest of the way East, Captain Jacques.”
“Eh?” he blinked, “Oh.  Oui.  That would be very kind indeed. Absurde gracieux effet..  Only… I am not taking you East Messieurs.”
“Oui.  I am taking you and your compagnon as far as the Legion Outpost and then I am going back for Prudence.”
“Oh.  I see.”
“But I wish you all the best in all your holy endeavors, Messieurs,” he beamed and blessed Ch’Voga with the sign of the cross, “Allez avec Dieu!”
“Well.  That is very kind too.”  Ch’Voga watched the sand slide by for a moment.  “I suppose then I should thank you then for picking us up and taking us to the outpost.”
“Vous êtes les bienvenus.”
“How are they likely to treat us there?  Do you know?”
“Oh, ah, they are most likely to arrest you and then if you are very lucky, as I have wished for, they will only deport you home.”
“Oh.  I see.  And if they are less gracious than you and your wishes?”
“Ah, then they will most likely throw you in a hole and occasionally water you when they remember to.”  Again the beaming smile.
“Hm, a fitting end.”
“I’m sorry?”
“It was nothing.  Things have not turned out as I had hoped is all, Captain.”
“La vie est pleine de petites déceptions.” 

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Need

Consciousness.  Hunger.  Awareness.  Thirst.  Existence.  Need.

They were all one and the same.  It did not think about such things.  It hardly thought at all.  There was no time.  There was no space.  All was ache.  All was need.  If need were a sound, it would be a roaring wind ripping away all other sound and pushing one where it willed.  It didn’t think about what need was.  It didn’t make analogies.  It only obeyed the push, the ache, the hunger, the thirst.

The need pushed it up from the sand.  Forced it forward.  Toward the scent.  Toward the sound.  Toward the heat which meant something was alive in the dark, cooling sands.  It pushed it to a loping run.  Every muscle was fire, burning, screaming for relief.  Still it ran.  Pushed on by the need and the screaming.  The only relief would come with drinking.  The wind wouldn’t die, but it would subsist…

… a little.

It did not consider the time.  There was no time.  Just an all-encompassing now of screaming, roaring, thirsting, pushing.  Pushing over the next dune and down into the small trough between and up to a makeshift tent, glowing with hidden fire in the night.  There were others, kin.  Pushed here by their need.  The shutters on their eyes constricted with the light.  There was a weapon in its hand.  It had not been aware of it until now.  Yes.  The weapon was always there.  Awareness came with need.  Meat animals were often violent.  The meat animal would need to be subdued.  Alive, if possible.  Though with so many of its kin descending on this one meat, it would not live long. 

The meat was aware.  It’s eyes wide.  A weapon in its hands.  They had it surrounded.  Carefully the circle closed.  The meat animal’s weapon slashed and there was a gurgling.  One less kin to feed.  Hands grasped the meat animal’s arms.  Held them.  The meat’s coverings were torn away.  Kin grasped the animal’s legs.  Stretched out and writhing.  The meat made animal noises.  It recognized some of them.  They meant something to it once but it was so hard to hear them over the roaring, the thirsting, the aching need.  It grappled high on a leg.  It preferred legs.

It’s tooth slid out of its sheath and pushed deep into the writhing flesh.  The rush calmed the roaring.  The pushing sank.  The pain subsided.

Relief.  Quiet.  Almost in time with the writhing meat.  It sank, quieted, calmed, the rush slowed and it pushed the tooth deeper, resistance, a crackling pop and it was in the marrow, the animal bleated weakly…

And was still.  A single drop of water fell from the meal’s un-punctured eye.  A youngkin caught it.  Nothing wasted.  Nothing lost.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Nothing to prove

“This is the last of it,” Ch’Voga set down the waterskins.  Prudence didn’t even look up.  “You don’t have to do this, you know.  It’s not safe here.”
“What is it the all-knowing holy man thinks I’m doing?”
He shrugged, “Proving yourself.”
She snorted.
“We all hold you in the highest esteem..”
“Spare me.  I have no interest in yours or anyone else’s opinion of me.  I am not trying to “prove myself” to you or anyone on that damn boat over there.  I am fixing what’s mine and bidding you and your coin-counter good riddance.  My only regret is not being there to see you finally fail.”
“Why do you hate me so?”
“You flatter yourself.”
“Have I not made it clear you are not to call me that?!”
“Prudy, I could not have married you.  Don’t you see?  It would have been torturous for us both.”
“Well, lucky then you were so wise for our fates have certainly turned out oh so much for the better!”  She threw a kick at her shattered boat.
He sighed.  “My calling is sure.  It was not a calling you shared, what you have done with your own freedom since has been your own affair.  Why do you persist in blaming me?”  Silence.  “You couldn’t have been a missionary’s wife…”
“…Anymore than I could have been what you and your father expected me to be.”
“If you were half the man my father was…”
“Alas, I am only me.  I am truly sorry for all the trouble I have caused you.  I hope someday you can forgive me.  Good bye and fare well, sister.”
She didn’t turn around so he did.  He walked back to Jacques ship and climbed the rope ladder to the deck.
“No?” Jacques asked.  Ch’Voga shook his head.  “Image Porc-tête d'une femme!  Raise sails!  Foolishness be damned!”
Ch’Voga took a spot near the rear of the boat where he’d be out of the way and he could watch as Prudence’s small wreck slowly shrank with the distance until it and her finally disappeared in the shimmering haze.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What is that?

"What do you think, K'sretti*?
"i think it's dead."
"And i think you are an ass.  What killed it and how long ago?"
Ch'voga shrugged, "Only Yah knows.  Something which did not find its company agreeable.  But not very long at all, i would think.  The sand hasn't even begun to cover it."
"So it could still be close.  I wonder what it thinks of our presence then?"
"Only Yah knows.  But if it can take down a monotooth, the three of us will not provide much entertainment."
Kurga shivered, "I have no pity for monotooths, but i have no desire to know what slays them for sport either.  Have you seen enough?"
"i have."
"Prudence would suggest we sail far and fast then."
"And i would agree with her."
(*Partner; comrade-in-arms, literally: My one who guards the tail)

[Author's note: this is actually one of the pictures that sealed the story in my mind.  It also introduced the main characters to both me and you.  It's like that when you write, or at least, when i write, i feel like the story is being told to me and all i am doing is relaying it to you.]