|Everything in its Place|
One of the few stories written from an original idea, rather than typing random phrases and seeing what they turn into.
The figures surrounded it. Tall, slender beings, who so resembled the trees they called home. It lay before them in horrifying contrast. Short stubby limbs and rotound body, face likewise padded and repuslsively fleshy.
They were twelve, it was alone. They stood six, even seven feet tall. If it could have stood, it would have been only two. Yet they seemed to fear it. None of them wished to approach it, reduce the distance which they sought for protection.
Finally, one of the figures retreived a stick from the ground, and gingerly presented one end to the thing. A chubby hand waved clumsily, back and forth, finally managing to grasp the slender piece of wood. They were silent for a moment, watching.
"See? No recognition whatsoever. Even the newest born of us knows and welcomes the Gaia's Gift. These new...creatures," the word was spat, rather than said, "have not the basest awareness of the life around them, not the merest hint of empathy with or even knowledge of Gaia. These abominations cannot hope to survive."
Heads began to nod around the circle, the truth of the statement self-evident. Then stopped. Amazement rippled round the circle. The shrunken, mishapen creature still clung to the stick, retaining it's grip even when lifted clear of the ground.
"They are strong. Perhaps they are not as vulnerable as we first imagined?" another asked.
"But it is strength without direction." The original speaker replied.
"That is the most dangerous kind." said a third, bringing worried agreement from others. "We must watch these carefully," he continued, "I sense that even Gaia is unnerved by these creatures."
Agreement again spread round the circle, and this time receiving no counter, it settled. A decision made, the circle dispersed, lithe shapes slipping through dark undergrowth or airy branches with equal ease.
The baby lay where it was, watching all with innocent curiousity.
He held the rat cupped in his hands. It still breathed, yet gave no other indication of life. He was likewise motionless, squatting beneath a tree, all attention focused on the rodent he held.
Those few residents of Florence who passed him may have regarded him curiously, but none dared disrupt this curious figure. Several days he crouched, unmoving, not eating nor drinking nor sleeping. Amongst the noise and bustle and mass of people sat this lone figure, long of limb and face, as silent as death.
On the fourth day, he abruptly stirred, alarming those who happened to be passing. His hands opened, and the rat lept from his palms, disappearing into a crevice almost immediately. Slowly he stood, and those who dared regard his countenance remarked on how pale and wan he appeared. Certainly his step seemed weak as he slowly passed amongst the few who had stopped to stare. He glanced at none, and went from amongst them, disappearing into the many twists and turns between close crowded buildings.
"Doctor! Please hurry, my boy's a terrible ill, I'm so glad you could make it, come, come, just up these stairs."
The lady seemed naturally quite distraught, and the doctor felt a certain sympathy for her panic. He couldn't help but find it rather aggrevating nonetheless.
"Please, madam. This will be all the easier if you remain calm. Now tell me what has happened."
"Well, see, he started complaining of a fever only two-day ago, so we put him to bed like normal, 'cos he always get something or other in the spring, we've almost come to expect it, you know?" The doctor nodded patiently, indicating he did know. "Well, the next day, that would be yesterday, he began spitting blood, whereupon I said to my husband, I said, 'That's not his normal fever, that isn't. There's bad happening here, I can't say I like the look of it.' And when I found out he had a swelling of some form under his arm, I knew it for certain."
The doctor seemed to consider this for a moment. "Spitting blood, you say?And a bubo in the armpit? I must say now I am worried, also. I visited one with the exact same symptons not two days ago, and I hear that other physicians have likewise encountered such afflications. I do hope this does not spread much further. It could be quite the plague."
This time two figures were present. They stood, watching nothing, but seeing much. Some time passed before one spoke.
"They still continue. With Gaia's help we have destroyed many, yet they prospered. Now, they against themselves, and still they struggle on. What does it take to quench their fire?"
"We do not quench. We merely dim. They are a rottenness across our home, but even mould has a place and a reason. Our role is to keep it to that place, remind it of its reason."
"How can they have a reason to exist? What use have they?"
The second speaker considered for a moment before replying. "I do not know. Yet a place they must have. I do not think it is here, however."
"And so we continue as before?"
"We continue as before."
The two stood in silence again for a time, regarding, watching. Eventually, the first speaker broke the silence once more.
"They are already calling it the great war." He laughed, a melodic sound that had more in common with brid's song than the harsh bark of a human. "They are astounded and shocked by how many have died. How quickly they forget the power of Gaia compared to theirs."
His companion nodded. "It is time they were reminded."
She walked along the path with the slow, graceful gait characteristic of her race. Not that the humans would recognise it as such. They had long forgotten such as her existed, except for laughable distortions in their fairytales and myths. She watched as they scurried passed her, oblivious of how they wasted their lifeforce. They had no concept of control. Such brief, unguided lives. It never ceased to amaze her how much they achieved. Like an avalanche, their cumulative stubbornness smashed them through and over barriers, even those meant to guide or protect.
There were ways of controlling such things, however. Little nudges in the right place at the right time, and their own selfish determination carried them the rest.
She was glad her task was completed. Being among the humans always unnereved her. Not that there was any danger of recognition. The humans were so deaf to the voice of life around them they wouldn't notice she wasn't even of the same species. No, it was closer to the tension they seemed to enjoy so much in their twisted films. You knew that something bad was going to happen, yet you could never quite guess when or how. The humans constantly found new and inventive ways to injure Gaia, novel methods of inflicting pain upon life.
It was why she came here, to the park, the only true life in this barren wateland of concrete towers. She suppressed a laugh. Just like the humans to imagine that a small square of life would make up for all they built over. Still, it was enough for her. She could feel Gaia through the grass and the plants, hear her voice in the birds and the insects.
Eventually she came to an empty bench, and she sat, letting her irritations and fear melt away under the heat of the sun. Calmed, she opened the newspaper she carried with her. Immediately her eyes were drawn to an article concerning a new disease that seemed to have appeared from nowhere. She smiled with the pleasure of a job well done. Already it's effect was being felt. It had been her idea, too. Gaia's constant attacks had given them a remarkably effective internal defense mechanism. Destroy that, however, and what did they have?
She suppressed another laugh. What a delightfully ironic name they had given it. Again, it was so like the humans, they who celebrated death with flowers.
They all stood, this last time. Amongst ashes, amongst rubble. Amongst blasted plain, amongst shattered metal.
They watched the lights twinkling into nothing, and felt the fear lift from the entire planet. Many had known nothing else, and revelled in the freedom newly discovered. Even those who had lived before the change had long since forgotten how it had been.
One such now stood with tears in his eyes. Another standing next to him saw, and smiled.
"You were right, my friend. Their strength was truly remarkable."
Without turning his head, the one spoken to replied. "Even I could not have imagined how strong. Nor my fear when that infant would not release the stick I proffered it. I wish I did not have to stand here and watch them take that fear to somewhere else. Look at how they force their way up, wasting astounding amounts of energy, when they could simply ask the wind to carry them."
His companion shook his head fondly. "Did you not always say they had a place? Where they go there is no wind. Nor air, nor light, nor warmth nor life but that they take with them. I think they have found their place at last."
"Yes, you are right, of course. The humans have finally found their place."
A few moments passed, then he turned his gaze from sky to earth.
"And we Sidhe have regained ours."
(March 24th, 2003, 11:27 am)
I remeber reading the first sketch of this at yours a few months back, but only the first part. I like how you've finished it. *nods*
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