Archive for November 3rd, 2022


NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Four

The bundle with its enigmatic contents was still in the far corner of Alissa’s indentation, at the base of her tall green stem, when it began to rain.

Drops of water, not droplets but drops, some the size of people, hurled themselves from the sky, or were hurled from the sky, and all of Alissa’s friends and neighbors, and everyone like them for long distances around them in every direction coped with them, and with the further results, in their own ways.

Even Alissa, although it was not in her main area of interest, knew stories of rain, where it came from, why it fell, and what people did when it did. Most people hid, when they could, and stories described hiding places clever and disastrous, when to go in and when to come out (do not be too sure that the rain has stopped!), and why it was better to be small, but also worse.

(One story described Small Rota, who exulted how well he could fit into a crevice that Large Chun was too large for; but then the rain was so hard and so inquisitive and forceful that Small Rota was washed from the crevice, and saved from being washed away only because Large Chun, well-anchored to a sturdy sapling, intercepted him with several free legs at the last moment.)

For this rain, Alissa climbed lightly up her stem, and took a position on one spreading leaf, sheltered by another, where the rain could shake and bounce the leaves, but the top leaf shielded her from direct impacts, and the lower one provided a good set of grips, so she felt reasonably well protected.

The rain fell. Within her view of the rich dark earth and the plants and small trunks and stems and rocks that sustained their living in it, Alissa could see a few of her friends and neighbors, either where a leg or a curve of carapace showed under or around a protective sheet or leaf, fragment or bark, or where the changed position of one of those from their accustomed places hinted at a resident taking refuge there.

A couple of daring flying needles also flitted among the falling droplets, their wings buzzing so quickly as to throw off any spray from bouncing and bursting globules, and so stable in the air as to easily survive, with some gleeful shouts and calls, even a direct impact by the larger, and certainly the smaller, drops.

Alissa watched the drops in their dozens and hundreds and thousands falling into the dark earth, which eagerly drank up each one, the earth becoming still darker and still richer with the ingestion, smaller bits of earth being kicked up by the impacts to balance above the earth for a moment, and then be struck back down into the main.

As she was watching, a dark blue person with the general layout of a beetle, but sharper and thinner, came into her view between the stems, apparently having a bit of difficulty making forward progress amid the constant random fall of the drops. This person was moving its body and antennae in a way that suggested it was looking for shelter from the rain, but without much success.

“Up here!” Alissa, called, and when the beetle person twisted itself around awkwardly to look upward, Alissa climbed down the stem nearly to the ground, and held out an arm to the struggling other, who made its way despite the increasing rain toward her, and they clasped pincers and climbed together back to Alissa’s shelter leaf.

“Thank you,” the beetleoid person said after a moment to catch its breath, “I am Sema, and this rain quite caught me out.”

“It is getting heavier,” Alissa said, “but a couple of rainminders said this morning that it would not last long.”

“You have rainminders here? More than one?”

“Well, yes,” Alissa replied, “at the moment; many people pass through the dark earth ground, and we…”

“Ah,” said the other with a happy sigh, despite the bouncing of their sheltering leaf, which was rhythmically tapping it on the back now with the stream of drops down the plants, “then I have truly reached the dark earth! I feared I had lost the scent trails entirely when the rain started.”

“You have for a fact,” Alissa said, “and you are most welcome!”

The rain increased further, and for a while the two were too occupied with maintaining their respective holds as all the leaves of the stem were somewhat buffeted, and moved in quick unpredictable ways that became at times forceful.

But eventually the light of the air grew somewhat brighter, and the shaking of their shared perch somewhat less energetic, and they could talk comfortably again.

“It looks like it may be ending,” Alissa said.

“Remember the story of Albert and the Lull in the Rain,” said Sema, and Alissa laughed.

“And I thought I was the story-teller here!” she said, “In the dark earth here, we tell it as Alluvia and the Rain Lull.”

“My apologies, then.”

“Oh, not at all, the more stories the better, I say, “Alissa replied brightly, “and we will heed the tale, whether it be Albert or Alluvia’s, and wait for all three signs before we go back down. But it does seem to be letting up.”

After awhile, when they were on the edge of agreeing that the three signs had appeared and it was safe to return to the ground and the open, there was a wet rustling from the edge of sight, and a slurry of lighter sandier earth, carried by a sudden and limited flow of water along the ground, a temporary runnel of water liberated by some last press of the rain on some barrier, spread out across the earth below them.

“Ah,” Sema said, looking downward.

Alissa followed the other’s gaze, and saw that the light sandy earth had been carried by the water through the rich dark earth, in patterns guided by the heights and density of the wet ground, by the movement of the water, by interactions between all of them, the two earths and the water, in patterns that reminded her of the way scent-trails curved around stems, and also the shapes of nectar networks in leaves, and also the mysterious sinuous darkness on the fragments in the large pale visitor’s bundle. She moved her arms in amusement and puzzlement and annoyance at the return of that memory.

Sema made a polite inquiring sound beside her, and Alissa sighed.

“I will show you something,” she said to Sema, “once the rain has gone entirely.”

Fling Five