Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reevari Run

"The eyes of a reevar are drawn to light. They cannot look away."

The sage's words replayed themselves inside his head. He threw the ball down the hill--the one that blinked each time it bounced--and prayed that the reevar would look away for just one second.

It did--his only opening. His sword swung whistling through the air.

It missed.

Tentacles grabbed him by the leg and dragged him toward an open mouth of humongous teeth. The horrible smell of its breath made him start to vomit. It paused, curious as to this never-before-seen behavior. It admired him, turning him every which way and suspending him to see if he would do it again. He did.

The creature made a sound that was half like a warble and half gurgle. It set him on the ground again and patted him on the head with one clumsy limb, then left abruptly.

It was gone. He tried his best to survey the valley and see if the way he'd come (now buried in loose shale) could be unblocked. He dug away several loose pieces and with some persistence made the path usable. So much for reward money, he thought. If only he weren't so desperate to pay the doctor bills for his best friend's ailing father.

The ground rumbled. One, two, five, ten...fifteen reevari were following the first one! They were coming straight at him! He made a desperate dash up the newly cleared exit but was caught by the leg.

All of them sat down in unmonsterly order and formed an audience while the first reevar shook him and gurgled.

"Put me down, please!" he said.

Sixteen reevari roared disapprovingly. The first reevar shook him again and warbled.

"I can't do it again," he explained. "My stomach's empty."

More shaking followed. The audience was getting restless, and some were opening and closing their circular hungry mouths.

He hated to do it, but he reached for the only comfort he felt he had left: cigarettes. He'd been trying to quit. He lit one up, difficult while up-side-down, and began puffing greedily on what might very well be his last.

"Oooh," the reevari warbled. The first reevar put him down and gargled proudly, taking credit for the wonderful display.

He got an idea. Quickly he pulled the somewhat crushed remainders from his pockets, lit them all at once, and passed them out to the reevari, who, imitating him, puffed on them heartily to see the ends light up like coals. The smoke made them cough, but their fervor for light was indomitable and drove them to keep at it. When the ends burned down to the filters they promptly ate them. Then all the reevari curled up for a nap, snoring loudly, and our hero crept away.

Monday, May 18, 2009

White Wings, Part 2

In several jumps over ramps his feet were more than a meter off the ground, so that you could swear he was flying. He descended in a delicate arch and landed lightly on the tips of all four paws. His wings had grown till they were longer than he was, but he rarely opened them. When he did open them, it was usually a reaction to some sort of stimuli, such as being startled.

"I need to attach a jack-in-the-box to your collar," I told him, "and open it by remote when you're in mid air." He cocked his head like he was trying to understand me.

About a week later I found him outside staring at something, his wings at full attention, tips pointing skyward. I approached with too much haste and not enough caution, for when I got close a cobra's head whisked past my leg, a near miss. Before I could unholster my weapon the great animal ripped its head off with one snarl, then looked at me and wagged his tail. Pleased with himself, he proceeded to destroy what was left of the snake by tossing and clawing it like a cat with a rubber mouse.

The next morning I could not find him. I looked everywhere. No one in the stone city ever stole anything, so that wasn't one of my worries. I went to the end of the flower garden and peered out as far as the eye could see. Sighing, I turned toward the house, then gasped. A large furry white surprise was sitting on my roof, watching me and panting.

"You get down from there!" I laughed. The great dog pawed at the edge of the roof and whined.

"If you can get up there, you can get down," I argued.

He answered with a saucy bark. I got an idea.

"Dinner!" I called loudly. He did not need dinner at mid morning, but if he'd only fly I'd feed him two dinners, just for today.

He got excited and started to bark. I slapped my thighs and whistled. The wings opened. I snapped my fingers and cupped my hands like I was holding a savory treat. He began to hop up and down near the guttered edge.

"C'mon," I urged.

He barked rapidly, turning in circles.

That evening as I scribbled in my personal journal I remarked in my notes how difficult it had been to get down a ladder while carrying a large, wiggly, energetic, hungry dog.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The White Wings

"Shh! Follow me!"

He seemed to think he knew something interesting. Slight of frame as he was (and also of stature), he had no trouble slipping into the cave's entrance.

Not far along the passage the cavern widened slightly. Soft leaves and dried grass formed a sort of nest in a hollow tucked against a wall of cool, smooth rock. A sleeping heap of white fur turned out to be five adorable puppies. They were about the size of wolf cubs, but more resembled German shepherds. I lifted one out of the nest and examined it. To my surprise two small, soft, feathered white wings were attached to either side of its well muscled shoulders.

I returned it to the nest, but the man rattled off a series of unintelligible words and signed with his hands that I was to keep one. I guessed the extent of his English must have been a few key phrases, because whatever he was saying was very elaborate if I could only have understood it. I reached for my wallet and started to count out several large bills.

"No!" he said plainly, and again began rattling some very complicated phrases.

"You..." The man struggled to think. "," he said with great effort. "You..." He pointed to the dogs, and then to me, over and over again.

The little boy had fallen out of a ten story window in the ancient city of rock. Had I not been in the right place at the right time I wouldn't have broken his fall. As it was, we both tumbled to the ground and got concussions.

Ah, the cruelty of it! If I were to refuse his generosity, all the work would be undone. It had taken me five years to find the city, and it had been with great difficulty that I had won over the trust of its inhabitants. But now, if I accepted this puppy, this oddity, I knew that I could never go back to the "normal" world, for the dog and I were sure to become inseparable, and the people of my world would hound me endlessly for his oddness, trying to steal the dog, or his picture, or my time.

It really was a simple choice: commit to this world and stay forever, or lose my chance to learn about a place most thought did not exist.

Hiding my reluctance with a grateful smile, I scooped up an armful of fur and wings. The creature began snuffling my chin with kisses.

With a low bow, the little man led me out of the cave, and I began mentally making a checklist: dog food, bed, leash, shots...