This Week’s Prompt: As dinosaurs were once surpassed by mammals, so will man-mammal be surpassed by insect or bird—fall of man before the new race.
The Research:Birds and the Bees
Gil says in the time of our oldest fathers, we had great stone houses. We too, Gil says, could look down on the forests and grew trees that touched the sky. Trees with roots made out of rocks and fire in their knots. Meat and berries were there for everyone. Our oldest fathers looked down on the world smiling. Their sons were lazy boys, and so a bit was lost. Their sons were lazy and had bad teacher, so more was lost. And more. Then, we were born. And by now, the birds have knocked down our trees and homes above ground.
Gil is the old brother. Gil is taller than me, and has a big stick most of the time, so when we go under the sky, he always comes with me. He knows where the big nests are, and to keep away from them. He knows where the fish are that can still be found. He’s taught me some. But Gil keeps most to himself, because he says I’m still lazy.
We were out hunting between the trees, hiding from the mesmer bird and the howling owl, in the deep of the leaves, when I first saw it. The great golden tree, planted in the sky. The birds built them, where the roots couldn’t be cut and the branches were beyond our touch.
“Stay away from those,” Gil said, pointing, “More than any other.”
“Any other?” I asked. Gil nodded.
“Our mothers and fathers a long time ago made things like those. They are terrible places, full of bad spirits and birds of all sorts. But worst of all, is the great garuda bird. It’s wings are wider than all our homes, it’s claws could tear open our roofs, and pull us out like worms. They are red, bright red, and fast. They only live in golden nests.”
We went on searching after that, but I kept looking up at the floating nest. It was a second sun floating in the sky. It was like those rocks that line the great blackbirds nests and roosts, or that we see the occasional mouse scampering with. It almost got us killed, when I looked up at it instead of focusing on driving away the flock from the body of the great beetle. As we carved into it’s carcass and wrapped it’s legs and chitin to carry it home, there was a flicker of red, red like our blood, across the sky.
And then a loud screeching sound, like a new born in the warrens the first time. The wind moved fast. Big golden claws grabbed Gil, and then he was gone. High and higher the red wind went, to the sky. I watched on as it flew in circles, then with another screech it swooped towards the shining nest rooted in clouds. Gil was gone, back to the bright nest in the sky.
I had a thought then. Gil was be mad if I went after him, toward the bright nest. The people back in the burrow would be mad if I lost Gil. I think Gil would let go of his anger if I got him out of the nest. If I went fast, I might make it with the sun in the sky still. There was a lot of bush and brush in the way, and birds at night were worse. Howl owls at night slip quiet and slice your head off when you don’t look.
The bushes were free of thorns, mostly. My feet moved quick over leafs and droppings, the mice running beneath my feet and the occasional caw of the big eagle overhead, covering the little light there was in the forest. It was simple going, easy going, for the most part. Gil taught me be quiet, be quick, be cunning and full of tricks, and I would survive.
It was as the sun turned orange on the horizon that things went bad. As it’s gold went over the sky, I heard a rustle in the bush behind me. I turn around spear ready, waiting for the doomed noises. But there was a swaying shimmer back and forth. A pair of talons danced about beneath a long bright beak. Eyes of orange and green waved, a thousand eyes on the back like stars.
It was a bright dancer, child of stars spun in feathers and flesh. Its beak clicked in rhyme and rhythm as round and round talon stepped and its beak bowed about. With a flurry of eyes meeting mine, it invited me to dance wordlessly, a beauty without any of my form. The invitation was doomed and fatal. The mezz bird dances you tired. It talks with no words, only steps, until there is nothing left and you fall. And then it feasts on you.
But when the mezz bird dances, you can’t help but follow along. You dance and dance, and it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve seen. And it would have ended then and there, trapped in the rolling dust
if not for the kind sun. A beam struck across its face as my spear began to slip. And the cruel light broke the trance and dance stalled. I took what I was given, and drove my spear into its glowing face.
The blood along the bright feathers caused it to screech. It’s eyes grew red, it’s body was a crude fusion of two birds. A robin wedged in it’s face. And now it was mad and blind running about. Normally, were I wise or old, I’d kill it and make a coat from it’s feathers and a stew from its bones. But the shining nest was still low in the sky, and so I had to run on past it as it slashed the ground and bit the branches.
Rather than finish off the mezz bird for it’s feathers that hold the sky, I ran further down to the shining nest that began to sink to the ground. As night fell and the sun slept I ran, and ducked away from the howl of the owls and the screeches of other, older eagles that fly round the tree tops with a great deal of sound, feeding on paltry bats and lizards. Near the nest I crept, watching as other birds flew to and from it.
The nest light was dimmed by a thin red and organge spread acorss it on all sides. There was the occasional glint of great talons or a dread eye. I walked across the plain, spear ready and eyes steady. But I slowly realized how big it was. All the burrows back home were smaller. All our houses were smaller. One of it’s sticks ran as long out from the rest as a dozen trees ran from the ground up. And others were woven among each other.
As I got close, there was a single spindle poked the floor. A beam of gold, like a long root or a snake tale. To run in the clear was doom, Gil had said. Stay with the trees and the bush and the large leaves, and you will live. Stray from it and you will die. But it was night, and if your above ground, the night will kill you with no light. Into plain, I will die. In the forest I will die. In the light I will die.
I move to die in the plains and run towards the spiral, grabbing it tight. It feels strange, soft and full of holes, and was harder climbing then the trees had been. I pulled my self, piece by piece, with my spear in hand. The moon was looking down haughtily by the time the wind started to rise around us.
And slowly the nest rose, me with it. The sky grew pale around me. It rushed up with a great crimson breeze with quicks of gold and flicks of yellow. And as I closed my eyes, it carried us both soaring up. And spun about, so much I thought I would be sick. Until I felt earth’s pull on my head instead of my feet.My hands slightly slipped. And slowly I slid down the stick of gold, towards a waiting nest. Fear held back my scream of terror.
And then I saw the garuda bird.
Wings red as mezz bird blood. Wings stretching from mountain to mountain. Wings that were larger than the woods laid end to end. Wings that were larger than the sky could ever hold. Talons, many talons on two long heron legs. Talons that could tear off a burrow roof. Talons as thick as trees. Talons that sun-born, shining and blinding.
It perched between it’s cast pillars. It’s many talons held a limp man. Gil, maybe. Maybe some other poor fool. But as I looked on, in my think place there as the sound of great wings beating. Winds rose and feel in my mind, and I was trapped motionless again. But now it was the second sun that held me fast, turning with a pair of dark eyes upon me.
They were eyes that swallowed the sky, swallowed me into never ending shadow. Eyes black, eyes that ate noises and left only the sound of great wings. I was born on those wings, up higher still. I was born on warm winds. My thoughts turned again, briefly, to the unseen hands of the great garuda.
And then I awoke, up high in the nest, in a golden burrow with sticks of gold making it a dome upon a dome. And around me flew eagles of sapphire and red herons and birds upon birds. And each, each was like the garuda, and a vast cacophony of wings filled my mind. And so I began my story again.
Come back next week, for another corpse. One less…well, feathery then this poor lad was. Our prompt?
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