ferine: (Default)
As the moonlight cut through the slit between the ugly burlap curtains, Harvey knew his time as Harvey Brundle, the man, was short. He was beyond panic at this stage. Years had come and gone since his first inexplicable change. Who can say what precipitated that initial transformation, save for the full moon. The honest-to-God full moon as written in the calendar. No European pagan "three days of the full moon" shit. That would've been too much to bear.
Could the moon truly be the sole culprit? It seemed unlikely. Harvey was well aware of the effect of the full moon's behavior on man and beast--the spike in crime and violent behavior, and so on. In itself that didn't seem to account for his curious condition. No more than the dirty burlap curtains, if indeed they actually were made from burlap. He paused mid-pace to run his fingers through the curtains. It was heavy and scratchy enough to be genuine burlap.
Harvey chuckled without mirth. He was trying to distract himself without being aware of it. At first. Heh, like burlap was infinitely fascinating.

It first happened when he was twelve, just a gangly kid, full of comic book dreams and a passion for pets. Harvey's favorite had been a brilliant yellow parakeet. He knew better than to admit his fascination with Yellowbelly, as he named the bird, because the neighborhood boys viewed anything less than big, borderline vicious animals as pets only pussies or fags would have. In fact, he knew better than to mention his bird to anyone. Only his parents knew, and they were animal lovers too. He was happy at home, and could easily enough shrug off the unease of school and unavoidable interaction with his peers within his house's walls.
That sense of comfort, of safety, at home proved Harvey's downfall. Just a week before school's start, he was playing hide and go seek with Yellowbelly in the backyard with its thankfully high privacy fence. Though his wings weren't clipped, Yellowbelly never flew off. He seemed, somehow, to know better than to be seen, to draw attention to himself--or, far worse, attention to the fact that Harvey played with, let alone owned, a little bird.
The full moon grew luminous as the late afternoon shadows stretched. Harvey's mother called for him from the back door, announcing dinner time. He whistled for Yellowbelly who flew in a loop-de-loop, the show-off. Unfortunately for all, the bird arced too high and was quickly spotted by Harvey's notoriously nasty neighbor, Craig "Splatz" Markowitz. Splatz seemed to go out of his way to make Harvey's life hell. In school Splatz tripped Harvey at every opportunity, swept everything--books, pencils, homework--off Harvey's desk when they shared classes, and threatened others with physical duress should they dare to sit with Harvey or play with him at recess.
Spotting Yellowbelly was good as finding gold to Splatz. The bully had been practicing for weeks with his BB gun. He had a poster of John Wayne tacked to a tree in his mostly dirt yard, and the face, chest, and crotch were rife with holes. This, surprisingly, would be his first living target.
Splatz shot twice, the second hitting the parakeet in the neck and shoulder.
Harvey screamed as Yellowbelly's eyes widened like a Japanese cartoon character and blood spurt from the wound. Harvey dove to catch the bird before it hit the ground. Splatz's laughter from beyond the fence made the nightmare situation real. At that moment he couldn't focus on Splatz; Yellowbelly might still stand a chance.
Harvey ran into the house, showing the parakeet to his parents and demanding them to use their grown up powers to fix the bird's wounds. Harvey's parents eyed each other mournfully, then mother took Yellowbelly and gently cleaned the blood from his feathers. She instructed Harvey to lay him on the bottom of his cage near the window, where the light of the full moon would reach him. The full moon, she stated in her parental wisdom, had the power to transmogrify. Even if Yellowbelly's body seemed dead by morning, he had simply become something else. Maybe even a worm, or a spider, or a cow.
Harvey was twelve then. He loved his parents. Their wisdom was infallible. He did as his mother told him, ignoring Yellowbelly's stiffness and cold. Harvey poured extra seed into the cage and watched as the moonlight crept over the bird's body like a celestial blanket. He drifted off to sleep there at the desk, carried by rage and hope.
He woke soon after when something writhed beneath his skin. Harvey's veins took on a life of their own, a life that rebelled from the body that housed them. He would have cried out, more from terror than pain, but his throat was constricted. New attachments were formed, new conduits made, pores widened, blood rushed, skin flushed. His head suddenly pounded in an agony he had never before known. He must have passed out, for when he came to large yellow feathers littered his room, he lay naked in the floor, and the window was open.

Harvey had learned that, indeed, Yellowbelly was dead. Or maybe, as mother had said, transmogrified. And that Craig "Splatz" Markowitz had died that night. According to the incredulous policemen on the scene, something had pulled him out of his bedroom window and carried him to a great height before dropping him onto the pavement of the Markowitz's driveway.
Since then it's happened like clockwork, once a month. Maybe it's a blessing not be aware of what happens when Harvey's not in control.
He retrieved the box of bird seed from the table and poured a mound into his palm. Before the window, in the moonlight, he sifted the pale seeds through his now trembling fingers. "Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers at night, transmogrifies when the full moon is bright and the seed is right."
ferine: (Default)
Many moons ago the Sci Fi Channel announced it was looking for ordinary citizens to submit ideas for their often woeful Saturday night features. The unfortunately unforgettable title at the time, Mansquito, which featured-you guessed it-a man/mosquito hybrid, made me ponder what god awful film idea I could submit.

The following Saturday afternoon on our routine nature stroll at Adams County Fairgrounds an American White Pelican skimmed the lake, then sailed above. I blurted out "Pelicus!" (pronounced like Spartacus), and a hero/film franchise was hatched.

Pelicus, legendary hero of the Pelicanesian Wars. Think the movie 300 with talking birds. Pelicus with his Centurion helmet, scrutinizing the hideous Heron Horde. Outnumbered yet undefeated. In the end, noble Pelicus was set off to sea in a burial fit for the Gods.

Fast forward to 3010... Archaeologists discover the mummified remains of
Pelicus on the shore, and certain government officials implore unscrupulous scientists to extract and cultivate his DNA, adhering it through nanotechnology to a sophisticated robotic exoskeleton-thus producing the super enforcer, codename: Pelicop.


Last week, the boys and I went to a fabulous new Halloween store. Props, make-up, costumes, and goodies galore in a place the size of a warehouse. Scanning the shelves along the wall behind the checkout counter, my eyes rested upon a crudely feathered specimen; no doubt a vulture prop. I had it brought down to me for further investigation. Some of the feathers were loose, and the wing sockets loosely held the wings to the body. Rather than the $28 price tag, the proprietor sold the item to me for $5.

After gazing at it later atop my table at home, I noticed that the pink head, benignly-curved black beak, and small eyes were undeniably flamingo. Around its neck was a boa of fluffy white feathers. Below the necklace a coat of tawny feathers of varying sizes, as with the wings. Rounding off the vulture illusion: knobby black plastic talons. Which, in all, heated my brainpan:

In an uncertain future where the sky is too polluted to fly in, bird-kind has reverted to the archaic practice of bipedal mobility. For some this has been a slow and harsh adjustment. For others, such as the flamingos, it came with ease.

Ernest was raised in the Flamenco Flamingo Collective, a bright and uncomfortably cheerful family flock not far from the wharf district. Ernest never felt comfortable with his colorful plumage. He loathed the other flamingos and how they paraded about without a care in the world. Ernest envied the voracious vultures in his books and in vintage films. Vultures: feared, reviled, dangerous, nasty, and-sweet relief!-various shades of
not-pink. Muddy dull browns, shades of ochre, Death's robe black, and ghastly off-white!

Ernest's obsession overwhelmed him, and in his late teens he made his first move to bring his desire to fruition. He strangled a neighborhood sparrow and skinned it, wearing its minute frame as a bib of brown plumage. Though offering scant coverage, it fueled Ernest's ill want to indeed be a vulture by donning his suit of murdered brown and black birds! He killed and killed again, becoming the nation's most prolific serial killer. He penned taunting letters to the papers, dubbing himself
Vulture Shock, and became Pelicop's arch nemesis.
ferine: (Walks-Between-Worlds)
Would you purchase and wear a suit of authentic woman skin if you're a MtF pre-op to practice a spiritual ceremony to channel your inner female? Or FtM with a man skin?

How is it different to do so with a wolf pelt and face, strapped to your body, to channel your inner wolf? Or a fox? Or a lynx? Acquired from fur farm 'leftovers'. it's still feeding the industry. It's still blood money, blood trade, and feeds the industry. No amount of burnt sage will end the suffering of the animals used by perpetuating the trade.

(A post I made to AHWw in '95 that's, unfortunately, still topical):

To The Wind (an anti-fur farm rant)
--------------------------------------------------
The lynx lay in the cage, its pale amber eyes dwindling.
It had never known the freedom that was less than a mile away...
Green hills, uncut forest, small fields ripe with berries and flowers.
The only life accompanying the cat were parasites, insects, and
disease. In neighboring cages were its brothers and sisters, some
dead, some clinging to life despite the futility of the effort.

I opened the chicken-wire cage and let the cat sniff my hand. It was
too weak to move its head, and growled softly. I reached in and
removed the animal, its bones sharp against my hands. The flies
swarmed and the stench was pungent. I cradled the lynx and carried it
to a flowering grassy field far away and yet so close.

We sat together in the grass watching the world. The lynx murred and
mustered the strength to raise its head, watching the dance of a
nearby bumblebee. I smiled and stroked its fragile body. The cat
looked up as if scanning the heavens. As we sat, I suddenly realized
that this one moment of freedom was worth a lifetime to the one who
had never before experienced it. Tears welled in my eyes as the lynx
made a motion to join the wind. In the effort the body broke and I
rocked with its fading warmth
--------------------------------------------------

~ Walks-Between-Worlds
ferine: (Default)
The stench of body odor and dead things carried on the breeze. Down below, in a well-used campground, people hovered around a smoldering fire. Some danced and some sat whispering amongst themselves. Ornate skulls and strips of pelts were festooned before tent openings. One of the dancers wore the full strapped-on skin of a wolf. Its vacant eye-holes mirrored nothingness, the blank stare of the void. A few drummed with severe expressions, palms slapping the taut heads in arrhythmic fervor. Someone laughed shrilly and stole bites off a chocolate bar. The melted chocolate on her fingers and lips resembled the blood of some small forest creature that the party had shot with a bee-bee gun earlier for the sole use of its blood as spiritual decoration. Most of those present had dabbed the blood on their foreheads, in stripes down their cheeks, or smeared across their lips.

The wolfskin dancer raised his head and let loose an all-too-human howl through blood-cracked lips. Some in the circle, including the drummers, joined in the din. Still others who clustered just outside the circle jeered and snickered amongst themselves at the display. Those that grouped apart from the circle were indeed animal-people, and as such had no need for ever discussing such phenomenon unless it was to tear down those not among their ranks. The pseudo-shamanistic Newage spewed by the illogical, unscientific ferals in the circle was beneath them. Yet jabs behind backs and jabs in the front were okay because no matter how one group disdained the other they were united by a common community.

Those within the circle honored their animal natures through sacrificing small animals, through anointing in blood, and by expressing their essence through the pelts of their inner self. It wasn't important where the pelts or bones came from because they were being recycled and honored as demanded by their spirit (or spiritual residue in some cases). To be a wolf was to don the pelt of a wolf, to psychically see through its non-existent eye holes, to gnash blood-smeared lips and howl to one’s brethren. To be one's animal was to be as taboo as possible in every way so as to distance oneself from the human detriments of responsibility and modesty. They knew the cliques beside them scoffed at them from time to time, but it mattered little because they were all united by the silver chord of community.

Above the noise and stink of the campground a silver figure had paused to watch and listen. Hearing enough, the figure bounded far away beneath the cold moonlight. There was more to learn under the stars, among the trees, through the snow, beside the brook, listening to the wind, watching the birds, being still, remaining silent.

Caged

Aug. 23rd, 2005 03:34 pm
ferine: (Default)
The crescent moon sliced the horizon like a scythe, burning yellow, against dark blue fading to black. Pinpoints of white peppered the sky. There was always comfort with the stars, with the moon, with the night.

Watching the pink thing was strange. Such a weak and naked vessel. Clumsy, with two elongated forepaws tipped with skinny root-like protrusions. The hindpaws even longer, bent oddly, sporting stubs. Furs of unnatural colors covered it’s body. The only natural fur was on it’s head, hanging to mid-back. The pink thing was in a wheeled metal cage. The entirety reeked of suffering, of sickness, of abnormality.

This pink caged entity was alone beneath an aspen cluster. Sniffing the air, it was evident that the aspen had been recently marked by others, probably the wolves that had recently wandered into the area.

Why was the pink thing here, naked and alone, helpless, shivering in the night?

Approaching hesitantly from the foliage. The pink thing notices, and we both freeze. Time suspends. Breathing stops. Pulses synchronize. Eyes meet; two eerily reflecting yellowish green, and two storm-tossed blue. Something wet and running escapes the corners of the blue eyes. The pink thing shudders and makes erratic noises. Wet escapes from the center of the face as well.

Why not run away from this strange pink thing? There is no incentive to remain. No need to stay. And yet…

Alien to aggression, yet knowing what was needed, the furred thing leaped up and tore into the pink thing. Ripping into cream cheese flesh, rooting to the heart. Nosing the slick, hot, still-beating organ. A shared organ. With tenderness the blood-slicked furred thing bypassed the surrounding gore and lapped at the heart, then nipped at it, and finally ate it with desperate vigor, as if starving.

Looked around, sated. There was no pink thing, no cage. Had there ever been?
ferine: (Default)
Everything was black.

I gripped myself into a tight fetal ball.

Trust no one resounded through my head, a thunderous echoing throb.

A nearly imperceptable scratching issued from the other side of the door.

I froze. Even the voice echoing in my head ceased.

The scratching grew in intensity, like metal hooks ripping through a carcass.

Tears dribbled down my cheeks and I bit my bottom lip until it bled.

The door unexpectedly splintered inward. I tried to look away, but the horror that now faced me was inescapable.

Great orange eyes with a hint of pupil in each glared down upon me, surrounded by unkempt black fur. It's slender talon-like fingers stretched torward me.

I held my breath and trembled, fearing what would come next.

The skeletal, elongated third finger came toward me in slow motion, and--

Pressed the tip of my nose.

With a squeaked "meep" it disappeared into the surrounding darkness.
ferine: (Default)
There was a fox prince in Bonesetti. He owned riches beyond compare: socks spun from gold, koi fish that sparkled with jeweled scales, lush maze gardens, and pinwheel trees whose fronds twirled in the breeze.

The fox prince studied ancient texts in his enchanted tower. He poured over a particular tome, holding his gem encrusted magnifying glass close to the yellowed page.

This weathered tome's secrets had eluded the fox prince for centuries. He knew over 12,000 languages, twenty-two of them extinct, and fifty of them pictograms. Vast libraries and learned scholars were at his fingertips, yet this one tome's scribbling could not be cracked. Not by the fox prince, and not by his men.

"Bah!", yelled the fox prince. He threw down the magnifying glass and strode to the window. He watched the swirling orange and peach colored clouds on the horizon and thought of the lives he'd led: the masked highway robber known as Le Vulp; the first great fox alchemist; and the painter/poet Red Ear. The fox prince had been to the Lands Of Marzipan and had sailed the Tranquil Seas.

Those lives seemed so faraway, like a dream. Now he was an old fox, measuring each sunset and moonrise. He had to unlock the riches of the Chimerean Texts. This book held the secret to extending his already lengthy life.

Its language was rich and unlike any other. Thus far it was the sole alphabet he had been incapable of decoding. Frustration met him at every turn. He was running out of time and options.

The fox prince sighed and left the window. He approached a gaudy jeweled full-length mirror. His deep red pelt was still glossy. Though he had a bit of a pot belly now, he was still trimmer than most foxes three times younger than he. The fox prince swished his tail dramatically, and noticed a fine sprig of silver hairs. An unwelcome reminder that he wasn't getting any younger.

A knocking issued from the door. The fox prince spun around and smoothed his fur with slender black finger claws. "Come in."

The door opened, revealing one of his many basset butlers. The butler bowed grandiosely, keeping his eyes averted as dictated by custom. "Your royal highness, a gentleman here to see you who claims to know the language of the tome."

The fox prince raise his brow. "Send him in, Bowser. Good boy."

Bowser the basset butler's tail wagged modestly as he stepped aside. A dashing young red fox trotted into the room. He wore a black sash pinned with a silver runic medallion. His green eyes glittered with the passion of a full life. Bowser shut the door behind the dashing young fox.

The fox prince stared, but the dashing young fox did not bow. In fact, the young fox boldly looked him in the eye and winked.

"And just who are you, my rude young fox?", asked the fox prince.

"My good sir, I mean no disrespect. I simply have a nervous tick and therefore cannot avert my eyes, nor can I bow because of a bad back."

The fox prince knew when he was being teased. He kept his demeanor unfazed.

The young fox continued, "My good sir, I am known by many names. My favorite is Flightless Rogue. It suits me well." The young fox grinned toothily and hopped onto the table, sitting cross-legged.

The fox prince raised a graying brow. He snorted, but said nothing. Who was this Flightless Rogue? How dare he waltz in so uncouthly? There was something familiar about the young fox, something the fox prince couldn't pinpoint. This familiarity did not excuse his lack of politeness.

"You know of that which I seek?", worded the fox prince carefully.

Flightless Rogue laughed aloud, his sharp teeth gleaming in the ruddy light of the fire spheres. The young fox fixed his gaze directly at the fox prince's face. "I know of that which you seek."

The fox prince prodded, "Which is?"

Flightless Rogue suddenly stood up on the table and kicked aside the fox prince's manuscripts. The ancient text fell to the floor. "That which you seek is not found in dusty old books, my good sir."

The fox prince growled and threw himself on his treasured tome. He glowered up at the young fox. How dare this insolent kit toy with him so?

Flightless Rogue cocked his head and smiled down on the fox prince, a smile of both pity and compassion.

The fox prince would have no more of this. He sprang up and swiped his finger claws at Flightless Rogue's ankles, knocking the young fox off balance. The young fox, rather than sprawling on the table, fell forward onto the fox prince!

Both lay on the ornately-tiled floor for three breaths. Flightless Rogue stared into the fox prince's eyes, and he brought his plumper black finger claws up to caress the side of the fox prince's muzzle.

Enraged and excited, the fox prince pushed the kit away and stood up. He placed a booted foot against Flightless Rogue's chest and glared down at his grinning, carefree face. There was something so familiar about this young fox. "Just who do you think you are, you rude kit?"

Flightless Rogue laughed aloud and winked. "Why I'm you, of course."

The fox prince frowned. "Bah! I'm tired of you toying with me."

"I speak the truth," Flightless Rogue stated, "I know that which you seek, and it's not about a mysterious codex. It's something you must live, not read."

The fox prince released his boothold on the young fox and watched as Flightless Rogue resumed his cross-legged position on the table.

"Continue," stated the fox prince. He sat opposite the young fox in an oversized oak chair piled high with cobalt and violet pillows.

Flightless Rogue cocked his head and smiled slyly, sharp canines peeking beyond his black lips. “Take a moment to consider your long life. The language of the tome is the in between spaces of that life. Of life itself. A kind of blue print.”

The young fox continued, “This blueprint is something we each carry, as unique as our nose print. It is that voice in the back of our head that tells us when something is wrong or right, or when to breathe and just believe.”

The fox prince rubbed his temple. Was Flightless Rogue deranged? Was the young fox a childish fool? A hopeless dreamer? Still, the fox prince listened.

“We don’t follow our blueprints often enough. Our minds constantly chatter like Antenian Chittering Weevils. Then, should we become aware of the blueprints‘ existence, we drive ourselves into a tizzy trying to dissect them, to learn their meaning, to know the how’s and the why’s, until we’ve worn the blueprints to nothing.”

“And you’re implying I’m doing this with the Chimerean Texts? But how can these texts be inside of me, a part of me, when they are lying on the floor just there?” The fox prince jerked a taloned thumb to the floor beside the table.

“But, my dear prince, are they?”

Hesitantly the fox prince looked over to the floor, and the papers were gone. He sprang to his feet and looked about, but the manuscripts were nowhere. Incredulous, he stalked toward Flightless Rogue. Though old, the fox prince looked fierce. “What have you done with them?”

“With what?”

“Don’t trifle with me, young fox. Thus far I’ve heard you out, but do not cross me!” The fox prince’s eyes glistened with anger.

“Whoa, whoa, no need to get testy,” started Flightless Rogue. The young fox motioned for the fox prince to sit back down.

The fox prince surprised himself by slumping back into his chair and staring quietly, albeit sharply, at the young fox.

Flightless Rogue slipped from the table to the fox prince’s feet. He pulled the prince’s supple leather boots off and massaged his feet. Once more the fox prince surprised himself by allowing the young fox to touch him in such a way.

The young Rogue smiled to himself. He felt the old fox relax under his deft fingers.

“You know,” began Flightless Rogue, “the harder we dissect the blueprints, the more complicated and elusive they become. Soon they become vast tomes of gobbledygook, indiscernible to even the most learned scholars.”

“So don’t try to learn?” Asked the fox prince, murring from the massage.

“Always seek knowledge, but know that faith can’t be learned in books.”

The fox prince arched an eyebrow. “And who are you to proclaim this with such certainty?”

Suddenly the Flightless Rogue sprang to the open window. He held out his paw, palm-upwards, to the fox prince. “Come, I’ll show you the truth of what I speak.”

Though doubtful, the fox prince couldn’t help but feel a small ripple of amusement. He rose and joined the Flightless Rogue, placing his paw in the other’s grasp.

“Now then, here we go!” Before the fox prince could react the Flightless Rogue leapt from the window, firmly pulling the fox prince after him.

The two foxes fell fast through the air. The fox prince’s heart thundered in his chest and he winced as the ground rushed to meet him. The fox prince’s life had been a ruse. He had wasted his time hunting for answers rather than living. He closed his eyes, expecting pain and release.

No impact came. The Flightless Rogue’s chuckling chimed through the air. The fox prince opened one eye, then the other. They both were falling still, though more slowly. Surrounding them were thin pink clouds of cotton candy. The Flightless Rogue reached out and deftly plucked some of the cotton candy cloud and nibbled at it. “You really should try some, it’s quite good.”

The fox prince was about to snap at the young fox out of pure frustration when they both landed with a thud on a wooden deck.

Stunned, the fox prince lay there gathering his orientation. Tan wood planks stretched in every direction. A ship’s wheel stood to the left. An octopoidal captain manned the wheel. Three long, suckered arms gripped the brass wheel handles while two other arms stuffed and lit his dignified bowl pipe. The octopoidal captain had a long white mustache curled meticulously at the ends. A monacle magnified one of his gray eyes, and a black eye patch covered the other.

The fox prince stood up and brushed himself off, the Flightless Rogue temporarily forgotten.

Everyone in this kingdom knew the fox prince, and this ship’s captain would be no exception. The fox prince would introduce himself and ask to be taken home. Once there he would pay the captain a fair reward and lock up that damned Flightless Rogue, who’d nearly killed him.

The fox prince approached the captain. He expected the captain to kneel, but instead the captain’s monacle popped out in surprise!

“It’s the One! Every man to the deck!” bellowed the captain, five suckered limbs waving frantically in the air. One tentacle still gripped the pipe, and three still held fast to the ship’s wheel.

Confused, the fox prince backed up quickly and promptly tripped over some ropes. He sprawled on the deck but recovered quickly. The rope that had tripped him was nowhere to be seen. The fox prince glanced behind him… and up, and up!

There coiled a tall, well-muscled electric eel. So it hadn’t been rope that tripped him. The glistening eel slitted it’s eyes and glared venomously at the fox prince.

A bipedal, dull-eyed hammerhead shark with the tattoo of a heart that read Mom in it’s center advanced on the fox prince. The eel loomed over the fox prince, keeping him from running away.

“I say, don’t any of you know who I am?” the fox prince yelled in desperation.

The Flightless Rogue must have jumped ship, the bastard.

“Aye, o’ course we know who yew are!” barked the octopoidal captain. A bright orange starfish had replaced his position at the wheel. The captain slithered nearer and peered at the fox prince with an eye the size of a porthole window.

"Yew, funny furry red thing, are part o' the end. The end!" The captain shook six tentacles above his bulbous head dramatically.

The end? What was this jelly head babbling on about? The fox prince had no choice but to listen.

"We were told o' yer coming by the Great Space Poodle. Her wise yapping foretold o' the funny furry red one fallin' from the sky.
"The funny furry red one, whose presence means the heaven an' the earth will reverse!
"This'll mean chaos! Everyone, everything'll die!"

Where am I? wondered the fox prince.

"So, we'll just have to take care o' yew before anyone else knows yer here." The octopoidal captain nodded to the eel and to the hammerhead. The hammerhead cracked his knuckles swung, bowlegged, toward the fox prince. The eel hissed a laugh and watched as the shark raised both meaty fists above the fox’s head.

"Fox Prince! Quickly!" The Flightless Rogue called from the ship's mast. The young fox had shimmied up the pole earlier and hidden amongst the netting.

Without a moment to spare, the fox prince dashed from under the shark's aim and raced for the mast. The hammerhead, slow to react, brought down his fists on the deck where the prince had been. The wood planks splintered, and the shark toppled forward into the hole of his own making with a dumbfounded expression.

The Flightless Rogue pulled the fox prince up by the arm. "We have to climb up as fast as we can!" said the Rogue. The eel stared up at them angrily, lamenting his lack of limbs for climbing.

"Boys, now we won't be mentionin' this to the Great Space Poodle, y’hear?" The octopoidal captain muttered as the hammerhead pulled himself from the hole and the eel joined them in a rousing game of oyster, mollusk, roe.

The foxes climbed the pole, which seemed to spire forever. Once the ship below had vanished from sight, the Flightless Rogue trotted out onto the wispy yet buoyant surface of saccharine mist. The fox prince looked skeptical, and stretched out a toe to test the cotton candy cloud. Remarkably it remained as solid as it had for the Flightless Rogue.

The Flightless Rogue took of running. In three breaths he had disappeared into a veil of pink fog. The fox prince cursed and let go of the solid mast, trusting the clouds to fully support him.

This wasn't so bad. The fox prince twirled, took a few steps, and even stooped to nibble a piece of the cotton candy cloud. He was still fully supported. Taking a deep breath, he took off running after the Flightless Rogue…

And fell through the clouds in mid-stride.

The fox prince plummeted through cotton-soft sugar-spun vapors. Then the directions shifted. He was falling up. And he was increasing in speed. The wind whipped through his ruddy fur and he had to squint.

Then he popped above the clouds into a vast emptiness of blackness and stars. The fox prince's velocity ended abruptly. The fox drifted weightlessly in the void. It was silent here. No, it was the very absence of noise. It was the absence of all but himself.

The fox prince curled into a fetal position while slowly spinning end-over-end. He knew not where he was, nor who this Flightless Rogue who had led him here was, but the prince was anything but a fool. He had been led to the greatest treasure of all: himself.

For Reemul

Aug. 2nd, 2003 03:05 pm
ferine: (Default)
Descending.

Falling through clouds, feather light.

Returning.

There comes a time when we must stop, breathe, and open our eyes in wonder. Open our eyes to wonder.

**************


What the hell was that? Minerva shot upright as something thudded on the roof. Was there a storm? She listened intently as her eyes adjusted to the darkness.

She stumbled across the room to her window and peered through the blinds. The pavement below glistened in the streetlight. So it did rain, okay. Probably just lightning making thuddy noises then. No biggee, back to bed.

A half hour passed and Minerva was still awake. She got up, annoyed, and walked down the hall to the living room. She flipped on the TV and then the goose-neck lamp by the window. An eye stared at her through the window.

“What the f----!”, Minerva yelped, fumbling with the lamp and sending it flying to the floor. Shadows danced wildly. It was disorienting, and Minerva had to place a hand on the wall for a moment to steady herself.

She reached down quickly and brought the lamp up to the window, hoping to take the peeping tom by surprise. Of course, by then it was too late. Nothing but the ambient glow of streetlights and a few leftover rain drops on the glass.

Wait a minute. Minerva’s apartment was on the fifth floor. There was no balcony. How could there have been an eye, let alone a face, let alone a person, out there? There wasn’t even a ledge out there wide enough for a cat to creep on.
Okay, maybe she had been seeing things. Yes, lamplight reflected through a raindrop. Not an eyeball… sheesh, what a goof.

Minerva thought about picking up a pair of drawstring blinds for the sliding glass doors, like those covering her bedroom window, to avoid instances like this, if anything. She chuckled at her foolishness and sprawled onto the couch. An old Heckle & Jeckle cartoon was on TV.

A barely audible scratching came from the door. The hair on the back of Minerva’s neck stood up. She muted the TV and sat quietly. If she didn’t budge maybe she would somehow hear better. Yeah, right, like not using her body would enhance her hearing to the level of a superhero. What a goof!

The scratching grew louder, as if more assured. Maybe it was the neighbor’s cat? The door did open to outside stairs, after all. If it were a person out there the doorknob would rattle, or they would knock. Right?

Minerva steeled herself and inched toward the door. She looked through the peephole, expecting to see nothing. A cat would be too low to see through the hole. Then she would open the door, pet the kitty, and feed it some leftover pepperoni toppings from last night’s pizza. When it got light out she would go to the neighbor’s apartment and return the cat, none the worse for wear.

Instead, a large black orb blinked at her through the peephole. Frozen in place, Minerva stared as the orb backed away from the door and exposed itself as a black eye, half of a pair. It was a raven, but huge -- tall as a man, with humanoid arms and legs! The hands were like bird talons, as were the feet. Otherwise it was as a raven, the beak, black orb eyes, wings, and tail. Impossible, way impossible. Probably fell back to sleep watching Heckle & Jeckle and it inspired this.

Okay, right. What to do? Minerva did have a penchant for dreams that held symbolic meaning. This sure seemed like one. Most significant journeys began with opening a door. Easy enough.

Minerva undid the safety chain and slid back the bolt. She took a deep breath and opened the door. She half expected nothing to be there, but there the raven man stood. At least she thought it was a man; its anatomy was concealed in trim black feathers.

The raven cocked his head awkwardly, even comically, and seemed to be as surprised by Minerva’s appearance as she was by his. The raven remembered Minerva as an Egyptian princess and his sister-bride. The raven remembered Minerva as the soul of a lynx in a crippled vessel, and as his sister-in-spirit. The raven knew each lifetime they reconnected.

As Minerva stared, there was something familiar to the soft depth in the raven’s eyes. She felt as if her soul was swirling through whirlwinds of stars and cloud dust of time, all by looking into those black orb eyes. She knew this raven, somehow.

The raven knew her even now. The raven would always know her, no matter what her name or face. He reached out to gather her close. Minerva didn’t resist, and surrendered to his embrace. She breathed in the velvety softness of his breast and knew this was home. She remembered, oh God how she remembered! Lifetimes of laughter, love, self-discovery, wonderment, and support… and she relived each death in that hug, as well as each rebirth.

The raven launched off the stairwell, clutching Minerva tightly to him. His finger talons dug into her, drawing blood, but it didn’t bother her. She knew she had felt it before, and it meant security.

They glided through darkness, the city’s glow muted through wisps of storm cloud. They ascended, clearing the cloud cover. They loop-de-looped in front of the yellow half moon. They laughed and held one another as one.

The raven knew Minerva’s world wasn’t ready for him. The raven had met with her as destiny dictated, and they would meet again. He brought her back to the stairwell with a flapping of wings and an ungraceful thud. The raven reluctantly released his hold on Minerva.

Minerva slowly backed up and smiled up at the raven. She raised a hand to his feathered cheek. "See you next life."
She softly kissed the side of his beak, and waved as he turned and flew off into the horizon.

Minerva twirled a giant raven feather in her hand and sat on the stairwell, watching the sunrise. It hadn’t been a dream after all. A few ravens few by, cawing. Minerva couldn’t help but smile.
ferine: (Default)
Mr. Peanut was a svelte peanut, though his swelled head made walking through doorways difficult. Mr. Peanut was an ordinary earth-grown peanut, and he prided himself on his earthen knowledge. His best friend was Mr. M, a water-logged earthworm. Mr. M hadn't always been water-logged. Under scientific advice, Mr. M had inched his way to a barren expanse of dirt. To gain the knowledge of creation Mr. M stared skyward, counting the raindrops and determining their secret pattern. He stared and stared, and his body ballooned with absorbed water. Everyone grew used to Mr. M's sloshing, gooey mass. Mr. M quickly forgot he’d ever been anything different.

It filled Mr. Peanut with peanut buttery pride to survey his domain. He rode upon his nag of noble girth, Pork Rind, and scooped Mr. M into the saddlebag. Mr. M’s head lolled out of the bag and flopped back and forth as Pork Rind cantered along the lands of swamp and rot.

Mr. Peanut was a vision of charisma in his armor of smoke and mirrors: the wizened elder, the cosmic sage, the just leader. Mr. Peanut's people followed the wise old 'nut unquestioningly. How could anyone doubt such a kind, maligned 'nut's words? Why, if someone were to do so they would have to be wrong, without question.

Despite an ever-expanding territory and a devoted kingdom, Mr. Peanut wasn't happy. Even Mr. Peanut's jesters and Mr. M's mad theorems ceased to make him feel joy. Mr. Peanut's rides on Pork Rind helped, but nothing could fill the void in his heart. Not even meditating with his peanut butter soul.

In the wee hours, Mr. Peanut used his crystalscope to spy on worlds beyond his kingdom. Far off he found a tall, plain tower. It thrust high above a carpet of trees and mountain peaks. Mr. Peanut held his breath in wonder. Inside a tower window animals laughed and played. They helped one another. They listened to each other. Mr. Peanut remembered that feeling once, before his head swelled. This made Mr. Peanut furious with envy. Despite his vast lands and countless minions, Mr. Peanut's people were not equals. They did not treat him as an equal, but as a messiah. While he was fond of this, he also missed what he witnessed in the far away tower window.

Mr. Peanut rallied his people: the fierce winged snowmen, the gallant vampiric cacti, and the puffer fish with scent glands. Mr. Peanut was angry, and the people puffed up at his passion. Their eyes glazed with bloodlust and unquestioning loyalty.

To ruffle Mr. M's ire, Mr. Peanut convinced the worm that the animals in the far away tower were responsible for the scientist prompting him to stare up at the rain and become water-logged. Blind with fury, Mr. M shook with gelatinous rage and vowed to made the far away animals pay.

At dawn Mr. Peanut's were-horns resounded. Mr. Peanut polished his precious armor of smoke and mirrors and donned them with reverence. Mr. Peanut conducted a mighty ceremony of a culture not his own and performed wrong to boot. He then straddled his nag of noble girth, Pork Rind, and helped Mr. M slosh into the saddlebag.

Mr. Peanut, Mr. M, the army, even Pork Rind were amazed at the lack of security in the strange land. There were no fences, there were no traps. There weren't even guards! The tower had no moat, and the drawbridge was down. The courtyard was perfectly exposed.

A bee bumbled by, swimming through the air in loop-de-loops. It stopped abruptly inches from Mr. Peanut's scowling face. Mr. Peanut slowly raised a nutty hand to swat the bee. In the nick of time the bee backpedaled and zoomed into the courtyard.

On the count of three, Mr. Peanut planned to cross the bridge and proclaim the courtyard, tower, land, and occupants as his.

Before he counted to one, the drawbridge slammed unexpectedly shut. Mr. Peanut, Mr. M, Pork Rind and the army exchanged quizzical looks. Insulted, Mr. Peanut's head seemed to swell even bigger and took on a ruddy hue of indescribable wrath. He ordered his winged snowmen to fly over the courtyard walls and to destroy all in their path. The snowmen saluted their elder and sped upward, zooming toward the courtyard. As they reached their goal, giant balls of smoldering lava slapped into their frigid frames. The snowmen evaporated, wings first.

Mr. Peanut, Mr. M, and the remainder of the army shouted with rage. Next went the vampiric cacti. Using their hulking cactus forms in unison as a mass battering ram, they flung themselves at the closed drawbridge. The wood shuddered with each onslaught, then splintered. The army rejoiced and flooded the courtyard… only to find themselves waist deep in steaming magma! Amid their pained squealing, Mr. Peanut shrieked his displeasure. He ordered the puffer fish with scent glands in to poison the place and its occupants. If this kingdom could not be his, then no one would have it.

As the puffer fish bounced from one shrieking cactus head to another working their way in, suddenly a swarm of killer bees dive-bombed them. Before the puffers could release their sent, the bees stung them off balance and they fell, ker-plunk, into the magma!

Mr. Peanut, Mr. M, and Pork Rind were all that were left of their army. Mr. Peanut summoned the strength of his peanutty ancestors and struck a dramatic pose. Mr. M formulated the correct equation to smite the infidels who dared to oppose Mr. Peanut. Pork Rind snuffled and chewed her cud.

The lava from the courtyard oozed out as Mr. Peanut was striking a dramatic pose and Mr. M was calculating. The lava had completely engulfed them before they realized it, so caught up in their positions were they.

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Sarah B. Chamberlain

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