Author Topic: Short story - and, did Amy finally nuke the facebook group? :D  (Read 114 times)

Ringtail

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Short story - and, did Amy finally nuke the facebook group? :D
« on: January 15, 2019, 11:34:14 am »


Phantos rolled in a heap of blown leaves in the cool air of autumn. His blue fur would not hide him well in this environment, but he wasn't concerned about that. Prey is blind if you move carefully, and he was very fast, as fast as birds. This was his pride, across all the distance of forested mountains bordering the saltwater. He was the color of the sky, quick like the wind, and sneaky like the furry beings that denned in fallen trees. It never seemed strange that there was no one like him. He was him, and others were others.
 
He lifted his eyes and nose from the leaves and inhaled deeply. Moisture, rot and worms fermented contentedly under their sylvan coverings, and the presage of winter was noticeable in the scent of the birch trees. But there was something else that Phantos could not place. It was an animal smell, but very unlike the little fuzzballs he ate for breakfast. Less warm, more tangy, it caused his nose to itch and somehow made him both happy and wary at the same time. It reminded him of a venomous insect, so Phantos climbed out of the leaves and looked around cautiously, even as his stomach grumbled and he licked his chops at the thought of meat.
 
Something buzzed past his head and flicked him in the ear. He leapt away from it with a yelp and stood, jaws open toward the empty hillside. The wind moved the branches. Nothing was out of place.

"What do you think it is," said a tiny voice in a tree. Phantos's eyes and ears locked on its position.
 
"A very glamourous fox." There - a patch of bark was actually light brown skin, and a green leaf above it was a cap bobbling as the animal talked. Phantos raised his wings in preparation for flight, but paused to watch.
 
"Oh! It's got wings though!" Exclaimed the small being. A purple-capped head emerged from behind a bunch of leaves to regard him with sparkling eyes.
 
Phantos had never seen anything like this. They were lanky and about squirrel-sized, but they had scraps of colored material tied about their bodies. They clamored about the branch with agility that bespoke an arboreal life.
 
"You!" said the green-capped being. "You're trespassing in the lands of the Feds!"

"I'm who? What are the Feds?" said Phantos, wondering what these things wanted with him. He was still trying to decide if they looked tasty.
 
"We're the Feds!" cried Green-cap, and jumped to a lower branch. He drew something from a pouch around his shoulder and pointed it at Phantos. "Come with us or be arrested!"
 
He was holding that thing like a stinger, and Phantos didn't like it. He took a step away, confused at the simultaneous command to come forward and stand back.
 
"What? You want me to go with you? Stop aiming that at me!"
 
Purple-cap jumped down to the lower branch and then to the ground, motioning her companion to lower his weapon. Fearlessly she approached and circled him admiringly. Phantos maneuvered to try to keep his eyes on both at once.
 
"Look at this, he's got scales. I think that makes him some kind of fish." She glanced back at Green-cap and he shrugged, hopped to the ground and joined Purple-cap.
 
"Can't be a fish. We're not underwater," Green-cap maintained.
 
"What else has scales and bright colors? A snake?"
 
"Lift your feet, you," demanded Green-cap. He came forward so assertively that Phantos pulled back and raised a forepaw. Green-cap gave his foot an expert scan.
 
"Sharp claws. Do you think he's a dragon?"
 
"Look at his teeth, suggested Purple-cap. "Are they sharp?"
 
"Open your mouth!"
 
Phantos opened his mouth.

"Sharp teeth," confirmed Green-cap. "Scales, wings, bright colors and claws. It's a dragon!"
 
"A dragon," Phantos repeated. He'd never had a word applied to what he was. "And you're Feds?"
 
"That's right, Auto Plus, we've got to take him downtown," said Purple-cap to her accomplice.
 
"Come with us!" declared Auto Plus, jabbing at Phantos with the weapon. It was a metal pipe with an irregular attachment at the back, and comically large for Auto Plus's size. Phantos measured it against the size of his pouch and wondered how the hell it had fit. A sharp chemical smell lingered around it.
 
"Only if you put that down," said Phantos.
 
"Okay," said Auto Plus, and re-pocketed the weapon without further ado. "Schitt, we're going now."
 
The purple-capped Schitt was still examining the folds of his wing from underneath. "Yay, downtown! You're going to like downtown. We’ll even show you the pre-sink."
 
The Feds led him up the ladder of tree branches and into a hole cleverly concealed by a hummock of moss. Inside the tree it was warmer and woody-smelling. Schitt picked up a wad of glowing fungus from a sconce on the wall and they climbed downward through the hollow trunk. Soon enough the sounds of the forest were muffled, the tunnel turned horizontally and its walls become dirt. There was a joyful smell down here, like spicy grass and mist.
 
They took him down a series of turns that he struggled to keep in order. His thoughts seemed to be on a romp and he felt little concern for whatever was going to happen next. Hopefully there would be something to eat, because he hadn't had anything this morning. The tunnels went on and on, but Phantos felt neither boredom nor fatigue.
 
"We'll get there soon," Auto Plus kept promising. Phantos wasn't worried. Schitt nibbled on the fungus as they walked.
 
After an indeterminate amount of time, Auto Plus motioned him down a side tunnel and the smell around them changed to something harsh and almost sulphuric. Soon the mud gave way to metal that was crimped into short waves, making its surface hard to walk on. At last they arrived at a ladder and climbed it, rung over rung, until the ceiling ended at a metal circle. Auto Plus braced his hind legs against the ladder's top rung and strained against it.
 
"Help me out, you, this thing's hard to lift!"

Phantos pushed his head against the metal lid. It was indeed rather heavy, but it lifted, and he peered out into the grey light.
 
The stony ground stretched out flatly before him until suddenly it rose up at a right angle and disappeared from his field of view. Scents overwhelmed his nose, mostly stone and metal, but underneath that were layers and layers of bizarre odors. Auto Plus and Schitt climbed out through the crack and bid him to come up as well. He surfaced into a large cave, with a stony cascade of perfect right angles coming right down to his feet. Following his detainers, Phantos climbed the rectangular hill up through an opening to the yawning cave mouth. He gaped at a row of shiny metallic lumps lined up symmetrically along one wall, each a shade of silver or black with a few bright reds and greens among them. But Schitt grabbed his ear and tugged him out under the sky.
 
It was grey and a light rain fell. They ran down a short, open hall of stone and out to a river of movement and noise. The huge shiny things raced past at speeds that only he could fly, creating a steady roar of wind. For an instant, his senses were overcome with it. Then movement to the sides registered as large animals walking back and forth, thick as a herd. He must have emerged into the middle of a colony. He leapt back to one wall, but the animals walked past him without flinching. He breathed. They weren't interested in him.
 
"Watch out for the humans!" Schitt danced past him. "They're mostly blind, so they might step on you," she warned. Phantos wasn't sure he liked this. He leapt from the ground and flapped into the air, landing on a metal beam above the heads of the humans. Schitt and Auto Plus danced around below him, mimicking the rhythmic stamping of the herd. A more familiar scent caught his nose. Birds! He looked up and saw three grey birds setting on a wire stretched between two walls. They were looking at him, alerted by the sound of wings. He wouldn't have chased them, anyway. He was still blinking, trying to take in the overload of information.
 
Nothing came down on him from overhead. Nothing leapt out of the shadows to drag him away. After a moment, his heart rate slowed and he could consider the scene before him. It was a chaos of sound and light, all painted over a backdrop of adamant grey filled with shining rectangular surfaces.
 
"Down here, dragon!" The Feds were waving him onward.
 
Phantos's stomach grumbled. He looked again at the wary gray birds and dropped back to the ground to follow the Feds on foot. They didn't make it easy, darting between the tromping legs of the herd animals, so that Phantos had to use all his proud agility to keep them in sight. Thankfully they didn't take him out into the river of racing metal, where he was sure he would've been crushed. Instead they followed the parade of bipedal creatures until the Feds turned to the side, through an odd gateway into a muddy area that smelled of rancid plant matter. There was a huge, green metal box which the Feds climbed gaily and indicated for him to push open the heavy black lid. Smells rushed out that made him gag, but the Feds leapt down and tore open a black membrane, dug around inside until they produced something they thought was edible, and sat down to enjoy it. Phantos couldn't bring himself to follow them.
 
"Stinky but good!" Schitt called. "You're missing out!"
 
Phantos returned to the ground, snorting. He didn't like this part of downtown. He would much rather eat a nice tasty bird than whatever was in that box. He scanned the sky, but the feathered ones from earlier were missing. Eventually the Feds rejoined him. His stomach growled again, and he informed the Feds, with a lingering gaze, that he would like to find some meat. There was a nervous pause, and then Auto Plus raised a finger.
 
"Right this way!" and he darted over to one of the stone walls.
 
"This is the pre-sink," explained Schitt, gesturing at the foul muddy area, "And this… is the sink!"
 
She and Auto Plus pushed a loose plank of wood and slipped behind it. Phantos followed them and emerged into another cave with square walls, this one thick with the smell of grease. There was a puddle of water on the floor, and above him he could hear a steady dripping. Detecting no danger, he took to the air again to survey the area. Water was dribbling from a tubelike fixture, and he licked at it gratefully, but his nose drew him toward a large metal cube that was radiating heat from its top surface.

"We are in luck!" called Schitt, pointing to the hot surface from her perch on a shelf. Four lumps of meat were sizzling on the cube and giving off a delectable odor.
 
Phantos didn't need encouragement. He flew over to the cube and knocked the meat onto the floor, then dove on it and licked up one of the lukewarm patties before the Feds could even reach their share. They ate quickly and in silence, hot grease matting the fur on his paws and dripping off his chin. He was so invested in the food that he didn't hear anyone coming until a metal implement dropped to the ground behind him, causing him to leap out of his skin and flee to the wooden panel. The human screamed, a terrifying high-pitched sound, and began flailing at the Feds with something heavy that it grabbed off a shelf. Phantos squirmed out behind the wooden panel as a deafening explosion roared behind him followed by a loud crash.
 
All was quiet. After a moment the panel wiggled, and Schitt and Auto Plus emerged from behind it.
 
"Do you want any more meat?" Auto Plus offered, unfazed. Phantos declined, his heart slowing to normal.
 
"Well, we should probably get out of here. It's a good thing there are lots of pre-sinks in town. What you want to do next?"
 
"Can we ride the 156?" asked Schitt.
 
"Great idea!" declared Auto Plus, and they were off again, while Phantos's stomach was still tight around his recent meal. Back they went into the noisy herd, and alongside the channel where the metal things ran, to a corner where the Feds signaled Phantos to wait. The metal beasts came to a stop here, very still and rumbling under their breath. Schitt and Auto Plus skipped out into the channel in front of them all, and Phantos followed tentatively. The beasts did not react to them. Schitt paused and bent over to look at a nut that lay on the ground, but above them a blackbird called harshly and fixed her with a mean glare. She left the nut and scampered to the side of the channel, reaching the lighter gray stone just as the metallic monsters roared to life and took off at a gallop.
 
They walked just a short distance more before stopping at the base of a pole. Several humans were standing here as well, looking down at glowing objects in their hands. Phantos sniffed at their funny smelling feet, until his eye was caught by a human sitting on the other side of the channel. This one sat on the ground, while all the others of its kind stood or walked Its face was covered in mangy hair, and it was surrounded by bags of material. He wondered if it might be sick. It looked at him with a concerned expression. It moved, hesitated, and made to get up without removing its eyes from him.
 
But at that moment an elephantine metal creature glided to a stop in front of him and squatted down with a hiss. It opened a tall mouth on the side of its body. To Phantos's consternation, the humans standing around the pole walked into the thing’s mouth, and the Feds hopped up after them. Phantos glanced back at the pandemonium behind, forward to his beckoning guides, and made a judgment call. He jumped into the mouth just before it closed.
 
Then the beast rose up and rumbled, and through the clear crystal of its mouth he could see downtown go by faster and faster. He climbed up into the monster's insides and found that it was mostly hollow. Numerous humans sat on soft fleshy shelves, and he explored the area around their feet. The corners and overhangs made him feel safe. One pair of legs with shiny black hooves had a pouch next to it that leaned against the wall. It was made of skin and smelled very strongly. Poking his nose into it, he found many white leaves of a bark-like substance, which he pulled out onto the floor. They were covered with black markings which entranced him with their intricacy. Almost, he could make sense of some of the pictures. This one looked like a human face, and another was just a circle filled with wedges of different colors. The 156 slowed and stopped and opened its mouth again, and the human got up and walked out, taking its pouch with it.
 
Phantos climbed up to the empty place where the human had been sitting. Out a crystal pane he could see the landscape race by, and this eased the nausea caused by the constant shaking of the metal behemoth around him. He gazed out in wonder as the concrete jungle with its trampling herds and brilliant lights passed into a calmer countryside of bushes and meadows. He looked back at Schitt who was teasing a tiny, snarling dog, and at Auto Plus, who was stealing colorful beads from a human's belongings, and suddenly felt dizzy and very tired. When they came to another stop, he jumped down to the floor and made for the monster’s mouth.
 
"You're leaving?" asked Schitt, leaving the dog in peace for a moment.
 
"Yes," he affirmed. He felt the need to lie down somewhere.
 
"Okay then, bye," she said without remorse. He jumped out of the mouth and landed gratefully on grass.
 
"Be careful going down fairy tunnels in the future,” called Auto Plus. “It's more dangerous than you think.” They waved their paws at him from inside the 156. Then the mouth closed, and the great metal beast lifted itself and stormed away.
 
After the uproar of the day, the relative quiet of the countryside rang in his ears. The stars were soft and unfamiliar as they emerged from the dusk. He dug into a dense juniper and curled up to watch the ghosts of experiences flash by.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2019, 11:36:34 am by Ringtail »


You have no idea how many Jesuses I are.