Legacy

He was dead! My irascible, strong and loyal but sometimes unkind uncle; he had been the last of my living relatives.

I remembered his bushy eyebrows waggling at me while he talked; the sweet smile in his craggy face even while saying the most cutting things.

His death had been quick. I remembered him as being always busy. He had ignored his health especially when it had begun to fail after his last trip abroad until it finally stopped him in his tracks.

The last few words he said before he slipped into a coma stayed with me. They meant nothing to me. I wondered what they had meant to him or if they had been the nonsense words of a sick old man.

***

It was a bright and sunny day for a funeral.

My mood however was sombre from days spent sorting and cleaning my uncle’s house. His final words like a drum beat in my head had accompanied my days as I moved from room to room through the detritus of a lifetime. Those words stayed with me now. They turned over and over in my head as my brain tried to puzzle them out. As if understanding their meaning would give me some measure of peace and comfort.

The attendance at the chapel surprised me. The small room was full. It was obvious to me that I had not known the extent of my uncle’s circle of acquaintances. At the hospital I had been the only visitor or so I thought.

The service was brief. No eulogy was offered. According to his lawyer, my uncle’s wishes had been quite specific.

And still the words rattled around my head.

At the graveside, I had a better chance to look at the people who had come to the funeral. They were all old men. All dressed in beautiful suits with a blue poppy in their lapels.

The coffin was lowered into the ground. One by one the old men removed their blue poppy and dropped it onto the coffin. Then they approached me shaking my hand and offering their condolences.

The last of gentlemen approached me, leaned in to me and handed me a blue poppy and whispered, “Welcome to the BOOB! We are the Brethren Of Old Bastards!”

Absence equals Absinthe

Lifting my first glass of Absinthe to my lips, I inhaled the sweet scent, before I drank.

In her absence there was no longer a reason for my abstinence.

Tag and Release

She waited quietly in the sterile lab already masked and gowned for the work hours ahead. Her thoughts tumbled inside her head, examining snippets from last night’s conversation trying to make sense of what she had been told.

Before her lay her instruments and the packs of splinters, she looked at them sightlessly. Today, soon she would have to decide on which side her loyalties lay.

The noise from the trolleys outside brought her back to the present. They would start entering any minute now. She began to unpack the splinters.

Each splinter was individually contained, as thick as a hair and only a couple of millimetres long. It was her job to pick up each splinter with her instrument, and then introduce it to the right index fingernail of the patient, where it began to wriggle as if it was alive. It would slither from her instrument to begin insinuating itself under the nail. For a second it would be visible under the nail and then it would disappear into the bloodstream.

She had always marvelled at the technology, glowing in her small part in making it accessible to everyone. Had she been indoctrinated during her training? They had said that to her last night.

She did not see the patient, only the right hand. Last night they had said that this was so that she did not baulk at what she was doing.

The door opened, she would have to reach a decision now.

Microfiction by Adriana Marrone.

The Climb

“Let it be!” Rory paused and shouted into the wind as he looked up at Jo clinging to the cliff above him. Rory’s words were taken by the wind; they did not reach Jo’s ears.

Jo had reached the ledge of the cave carved into the cliff face. He could now cling with one arm and his foot holds to the cliff face and use his other arm to draw the long metal hook from behind his back where he had stuck it down his shirt before they had begun the climb.

Rory paused again and yelled towards Jo, “Let it be!” The wind proceeded to take these words away too. Jo finished drawing the long metal hook and stretched it out over his head to poke at something in front of him on the ledge.

Looking up as Jo continued to poke; Rory drew in another breath and continued his climb up. As he climbed he muttered to himself like a mantra, “Let it be, don’t hurt it Jo, let it be”.

They had argued at the bottom of the cliff, not the good natured arguing between the best of friends taking opposing sides for the joy of a good discussion. But like two men opposing each other with their different faiths held like banners before them attempting to brow beat each other into submission.

It had started when they had first sighted the glorious creature flying out over the sea. They had heard of them, seen them on the screen but no-one had ever expected them to come to this part of the world. That sighting had started Jo off onto a path that his best friend Rory could not follow. A path seeking fame and fortune, Rory thought in disbelief at the expense of those wondrous creatures.

As Jo had proceeded to plan, Rory’s dismay had deepened. Nothing he had said to Jo had made any difference. What he intended to do was not illegal, Rory thought but it was unethical. The plan had led them to this climb.

Rory looked up again as the wind brought him the sound of the baby’s cries at the intrusion. He whispered to himself as he continued to climb, “Let it be, don’t hurt it Jo, let it be”.

First Home

It was blue! Not quite what she had envisaged for her first home. In her mind a soothing green overlayed on the blue would make all the difference. With hard work she would make it be the perfect first home! Taking ownership sight unseen meant that not everything could be as she wished and that many changes were required to accommodate her vast family. 

All the preparations to make this journey had been so rushed but it had been worthwhile to get here now as the last stage of her gestation was beginning, the nesting stage. This stage meant that her inner sense of urgency had increased and she would work her family hard to complete the changes required to make this home habitable. 

The information about her new home had been sketchy but it had been sufficient for the reigning Queens to agree to provision a ship. With each ship, a crew was needed and each reigning Queen made the ultimate sacrifice and gave members from their own families to go with the ship. Those members from all the different Queens now constituted her family; they would be the elders that would raise and train the next generation she carried. 

For her there had been no hesitation about whether she wanted this opportunity. Being selected to head the expedition meant leaving home but that was the only way to gain independence from the other established Queens and the freedom to shape a world the way she wanted. 

The journey time had given the disparate members of her family time to adjust to her as their new Queen and time to bond with one another under her guidance. They would work hard together to prepare her first home and their home too! 

From the deck of her ship she surveyed the start of the drone descent to the blue planet. The first task was to rid the planet of the dominant pest overrunning it. Once that task was done, they could move in and begin the greening.

 

The Feast

Nee Ra looked out over the encampment, at the brightly burning bonfires. The flames lit up the night dancing merrily against the moon light. From her position, on the hill above the encampment, the screams below danced around her like the flames from the bonfires.

At each of those bonfires, the people that had sided against her were being put to death by her army. In the morning, the encampment would be populated only by her people. Rebellion quelled, the long march back to the city would begin and the reclamation of the land now under her rule.

A Queen would rule bringing peace and prosperity or so the prophecy foretold. Certainly the prophecy did not say how this queen would achieve the task.

Nee Ra could scarce believe that only two weeks had passed since she had arrived in the encampment. She came at the summons of the youngest brother to the King. Her family had always made much of their distant connection to the royal family. The arrival of the summons had sent the senior members of her family into a series of frenzied arguments behind closed door. When the shouting had died down, her father had called her into the room to tell her that she would be delivering the reply to the summons. That in itself was unusual. She had thought at the time that her father or one of her uncles would have gone, even one of her elder brothers. When she was told that she had been selected to go to represent them all, she had quailed under their stipulations and warnings on how she was to behave.

The journey to the encampment had only taken a matter of days. The herald had not spoken to her at all in that time even though he had been solicitous of her. Yet with each day her sense of something wrong grew. Her thoughts had been in turmoil until an inner voice had whispered a question. Nee Ra had replied automatically. The voice had been so pleased with itself when she responded.

Without the voice she would have perished on her first day in the encampment. It steered her through the initial meeting with the King’s youngest brother. Looking back, that first meeting when she had out manoeuvred the Prince had been the turning point. From that moment her presence had been sought and then required by the generals, her sage advice sought before each battle. With each battle won, the loyalty of the Prince’s army had grown until it was her army.

The Prince’s attempt on her life had been ham fisted in his rage at seeing all his dreams crumple before him. It had failed and he was held with other prisoners taken during the final battle won that day.

Tonight, she would feast on the flesh of the members of the royal family. It was tradition to feast on your enemies. The bonfires burned brightly cooking the enemy. The choicest cuts from the bodies of her enemies would be presented for her to eat. First on the menu was the King’s youngest brother then each member of the royal family in order of rank.

The feasting would last as long as there were enemies to be killed and eaten.

New World

I awoke with an all-encompassing hunger and wallowed in the strength of it. It was a new to me and I used to marvel at each new sensation, at each new thought as it revealed itself to me. My awareness of such made me feel more alive and in control of my little world.

But the hunger was different; it had urgency to it. And unlike other sensations and thoughts I did not feel stronger than it. The urgent hunger grew bigger than me. There was no escape.

I forgot about the cosy times when cocooned in my little world I felt warm and safe. Before my world began to shrink and grow colder.

Now I filled every bit of my little world, I was my world. In here, there was no room for this urgent hunger.

Unlike the cold and shrinking space, I could not shut the hunger out. I could not curl tighter into myself to make my space seem bigger, nor warm my limbs by expelling my breath against them to shut out the cold.

The urgent hunger grew bigger yet filling every space in my little world.

In frustration and anger I beat my snout against the walls. Again and again as hard as I could, my action giving me some ease.

Fine cracks began to radiate from the centre of impact. The hard walls were not so hard after all.

As the cracks grew wider from my repeated impacts, small sections of wall began to fall outward. The inner lining of the wall gave but did not tear. I had to use my claws to puncture then tear through the lining.

When the opening was wide enough I pushed my head through, looking around me to get a look at the unknown outside world. My shoulders and rest of my body followed. I shook myself violently to remove the last sections of walls of my home attached to me.

I stretched out for the first time in my life without meeting any confines. The air was cold, crisp. A light dusting of snow was gently falling, creating a white mantle on the landscape and the huge creatures before me.

They looked at me inclining their heads towards me in greeting. I looked back inclining my head in return. Then I felt a buzz inside my head. Looking at the huge creatures defiantly I lifted myself up to shake myself free of it.

The buzz became distinct and thoughts began to appear that I could understand. I froze standing there before them, small and defenceless. They greeted me as one of their kind and welcomed me to their world.

hatching baby dragon