Sunday, May 19, 2013

Prompt: The Past, Even Hidden, Remains With Us

Thanks to Alexandra Semushina for permission to use her beautiful artwork, "Serene Reading"!

It was a hundred molts ago that the machines fell from the sky. Ancient Joelle was the only elder who remembered them. She squawked that fire blazed for days and nights on end above the clouds like lightning, and the machines fell whole or in pieces, burning the land and whatever lay under them. Nothing that came from the sky lived, and many below died in that fierce time. Joelle was a chick then, still in the nest. Her parents sheltered her with her two brothers when the machines and fires fell. After the storm ended, their elders forbade the young to explore the machines. Too dangerous, they said.

Badrya thought Joelle might have disobeyed. But now she was the eldest elder by a dozen molts or more, and she still said the machines should be left alone. If she had disobeyed her elders and explored in her youth, she was not squawking that tale.

But it was different, wasn’t it, if you found one of the old machines by accident. It wasn’t like you meant to go out and look for it, Badrya thought, perched above the wreckage. It looked like a tube with wings stuck to the side, though Badrya could not see how it once flew. The silver metal had long since rusted through in the acid rains of Perloth. Badrya rustled her thick green feathers at the thought of the cold winter rains. The memory of sleeping in the nest with her wings wrapped tight around her body renewed the restless energy that had brought her so far from the nest tree on this early spring day.

She looked from the leather-bound book in her hand to the twisted metal machine below her thick, long feet claws. She had found the book in the front of the tube, where the windows had shattered. There were panels of markings and knobs and levers that didn’t make any sense to Badrya. Then she found the book thrown in a sheltered bin that had protected it these long years. She traced the scratchings across the pages. It was like no language she knew from any of the feathered flocks or furred tribes. She longed to know, to understand, to read.

Her iridescent temple feathers ruffled in frustration. She couldn’t even take it to show anyone, because she wasn’t supposed to have it. It was a worthless secret. An unsolveable puzzle. Yet she could not leave it alone. She held the book loosely in her three-clawed grasp and stared up above the tree boughs. Up there, somewhere, beings who wrote the scratchings lived and fought and brought fire and death to Perloth. Badrya knew someone should be ready in case they ever returned.

TBC (perhaps)

Dogs in house:



Canadian Brass in concert

Time writing:

25 minutes

May word count:




  1. Prompt: The Past, Even Hidden, Remains With Us

    Voices. Gria snapped her book closed and sat up straight. She fought to keep her feathered crest laying smooth--or at least not embarrassingly straight up--but could not stop from nervously kneading the ground with her claws. She hugged her book to her chest with her arms, and folded her wings protectively around her middle. No one else ever came out to the old battleground, where twisted trees grew out of ancient aircraft. It had been her retreat.

    But as the voices got louder and clearer, she knew that could no longer be true. First things first. She ran up a tree trunk, using her wings to provide enough sideways force to keep the friction she needed to go upwards. She shoved the book into a crook of a branch, then hopped over to another tree. Even if she were found, it would not be with the illicit reading on her.

    The voices were terribly clear now, but Gria could still not understand them. She lay down along a branch and waited. Whoever was coming crashed inexpertly through a stand of stinging-bushes, but uttered no curses or exclamations. Gria's crest started to raise, and she did not fight it down this time.

    Time writing: almost 20 min, playing baby

  2. Very nice! Great description! Not 100% sure on the action running up the tree with the wings, but that's just rough draft - I know it's almost there. You could definitely run with this!