Archive for November 15th, 2022

2022/11/15

NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Twenty-Five

The three of them stood, or Sonoraneldan and Glomorominith stood, with Alissa on the latter’s back trying to breathe as silently as she could, as the sounds from all around them grew closer. Alissa thought of all the things that might be rustling in the undergrowth near a large still water, and the somewhat smaller number of things that would be suddenly all around one.

Then there was an odd low sound, sonorous and distinctive, from off to one side, and the sounds changed, and began to move away again. In a few moments, they had faded away entirely, and the three stood in the green glow of late afternoon among the stems and trunk and limbs, and the twilight began to gather.

“I wonder what that was,” Alissa breathed eventually.

“No telling,” Sonoraneldan contributed unhelpfully, “nothing within my experience. I have not come this far and in this direction before.”

“No,” added Glomorominith, “No. No indeed no. Nuh-uh.”

“Do we continue, or do we go back? Or a different way?”

None of them spoke for a long moment. It was a still day, but the hint of twilight brought a hint of breeze.

“I propose we continue,” Sonoraneldan said, “and follow along the scentless scent-trail that we infer from the markings on the fragment. Whatever that was, it left us along, and if it returns, we will deal with it in whatever form it takes.”

“Good enough,” Alissa agreed, somewhat to her own surprise.

“Well, hello,” Glomorominith grunted, “yes. Good enough.”

They set off again, following the leftward curve away from the still water that had been interrupted by the still-mysterious sounds. The stems around them became somewhat sparser, but the trunks became larger and closer together, and thick rough roots rose from the ground, at first impeding their progress somewhat, obliging Glomorominith to leap rather more often, and then rising into archways, so that the party seemed to be passing through innumerable openings between innumerable different places.

“Are you certain that we are still following the scent-trail?” Alissa asked, as the light began to visibly dim.

“Yes,” replied Sonoraneldan, “as sure as I can be, and that is to a fair amount certain. Now that the full quality of the curved markings and the implied scent-trail or rather absence of scent-trail, or hypothetical, fast or future scent-trail, has come into my mind, it seems not nearly as difficult to grasp as it did at first. There are small marks beside the large curve, which somehow bring to mind hillocks that we pass within sight, or the hillocks bring to mind the marks, or both.”

Alissa made motions of appreciation and dependency. “I am only glad that I am traveling with you; alone, I would have lost entirely any guidance from the marks, among these multifarious arching roots.”

They continued in silence further, as the light began to noticeably dim with twilight.

“Should we stop and gather, and eat and make shelters?” Alissa suggested eventually. It occurred to her that the others, with their more numerous eyes, might not be as disadvantaged by the darkness as she was, but she was feeling fatigue from the bouncing of her perch, and thought that the others must be from the distance that they had walked.

“A good thought,” Sonoraneldan agreed.

Alissa clambered down from the broad rough back, and Sonoraneldan laid their bundles down. Glomorominith turned over and rubbed luxuriously against the ground, throwing up a certain amount of dust and dirt.

“What do you imagine might be at the end of the scentless scent-trail that we follow?” Sonoraneldan asked her, “I myself have no conception or expectation.”

Alissa bowed her antennae in agreement. “I imagine only that it might be the place from which came the large pale person who left their bundle and then left us,” she said, “and that perhaps there might be a gathering there who could tell us of the other markings on the fragments, and that that might lead to a story, even a story about stories, which is where most of my knowledge is.”

“A story about stories,” the other mused, “indeed. That brings something close to the surface of my mind, but I cannot see what.”

Alissa considered. She also felt something forming within herself, but without knowing quite what. She had, as she thought all people had, a great store of buried memories and forgotten experiences, which sometimes formed into stories or decisions or actions not otherwise accountable for. But, as the stories themselves advised, it was best not to try too hard to hasten that process.

They each consumed an appropriate amount of seed and nectar, supplemented by some tender shoots that Glomorominith brought from somewhere nearby, and they sat in the twilight and hummed and sang words, as one does.

“I will dig myself into the earth, if you two do not mind,” Alissa said, for she had been rather wanting to do that since she was so unpleasantly interrupted by the stinging buzzers those days ago.

“And we will rest and watch through the night, as we do,” said Sonoraneldan agreeably.

Alissa dug herself a snug comfortable burrow again, deeper this time, appreciating the richness of the earth and its feel and fragrance as she dug, the same and yet different in all ways from every other place she could recall digging a burrow.

When it was the right size, she backed down into it, and called a Good Night to the others. Then she scraped earth back down and in on herself with her forward arms, shaping and patting it until it was comfortably near, but not touching, her topmost eyes.

It was the safest and most comfortable feeling imaginable.

She heard Sonoraneldan and Glomorominith moving here and there for a small span of time, and gradually let her consciousness drift where it would. She heard or felt or saw her large companions settling down onto some piled leaves, and the darkness coming down more deeply around them.

Her point of view rose up into the air above them, or up into the imagined air of some imagined place built from the memories of the day. She looked down on the stems and the trunks, the great still water at a distance and the great tangle of root arches nearby, and wondered what the next day would bring.

Fling Twenty-Six