Friday, July 22, 2011

Waiting to Starve

A wrongness underlaid the mix of sea and rich guano. The exposed rock was soot stained with fragments of bone and burnt feathers clotting the landscape. Capac closed his eyes, breathing in power from the guano to power his inner sight. The stone walls preventing the bird droppings from rushing into the Pacific's surf appeared as a ghost mirage. The trail beside the wall exuded sour traces from thin cracks in the rock.

Capac was a harvester and not one of the elders with their stolen knowledge from the sages able to wield the guano's full power. GuaƱape Norte Isla whimpered and the village would whimper too if it lost the guano harvest. He knew the stories of the beasts whose touch poisoned the rock. He wished one of the elders was here, but their people had a saying. He who waits to be fed will starve.

Cormorants rocked on their perches. Instead of flying away, they bobbled with milky eyes watching Capac. They lacked the strength to cry. Inner sight caught glimmers of their life source drained from their beings, staining the rock, smoking to coat the air with a bitter fume. Poachers.

He worked his way close to the sea where a boat bobbed, protected from the worst of the surf to sidle close to the rock. A quilted blanket covered cages on the ship's deck. Capac cursed that he couldn't call the storms. Wind and waves would break the poachers' boat and their bodies.

A hand grabbed Capac, lifting him, his feet twitching in midair. He stared into the eyes of the beast. A man-shaped creature with a dozen tentacles instead of a mouth. Nightmares from the west.

The beast's words bubbled as if spoken through blood. "Thief."

Capac was not the thief. These beasts were, consuming the Guany Cormorant and the Peruvian Booby. Their appetites would denude this rock. "This is our land. Our birds."

"Leave. Your crimes can be forgiven."

Capac nodded. Let them believe he would leave. He would stay. He refused to starve. When the beast set him down, he scrambled for the boat. He'd destroy the cages, force them to leave without capturing any of the birds.

The beast's kick caught him in the ribs and he twirled through the air, crashing into the sea. It was darkness underwater. The sound of the surf disappeared and Capac felt peace.

No. He fought the water, but the swells rolled him against the rocks, battering his body. Anger flowed through him and he closed his eyes, the othersight casting the underwater into an inverse image. The sea shifted and bubbled and boiled. He passed out.

Capac awoke to wonder if he'd passed to the afterlife. But no, his bruised body was wedged into the rocks and he saw beside him, a smashed cage floating like driftwood.


  1. Rich writing Aidan, very imaginative and atmospheric.

  2. @Steve, Thanks!

    @John, I doubt he's forgiven. ;)

  3. @Icy, in this case he called the storm. I'm not sure he entirely understands how he accomplished the task.

  4. I love it, this is such a neat story. I really enjoy your writing style here. In mysteries and the like, I usually like all the details summed up nicely by the end. But, in these short stories especially, I find I like the spaces left where I can connect and use my own imagination, my own sort of explanations. I enjoy the invitations to think, imagine, and be a part of the story. You've written a really good story here. I also so enjoy the story where it's real, but with a strong tick just off from real too.

    I am delighted you enjoyed the Quigsby County Fair. If you get a chance, I'd love to know what you think of my "Nameless" ummm, story? :-) It's here: Nameless and again, thank you, for reading my stuff and sharing yours.

  5. The magic runs deep here, with enough touches of realism to keep it grounded and solid. Really enjoyed this one, and the ending is so well handled. =)

    (ha, my captcha is quenquan, which sounds to me like one of your characters... =) )

  6. It's amazing how strong the human spirit can be when reduced to the basic needs. There are some powerful images, here. I enjoyed reading them.

  7. An intriguing idea, turning poop into power. Rather eco friendly. It was weird, it was strange, but felt like something going on just over the hill. The characters were good and I did like the Walktapus. St.

  8. I like inhabiting the space in the story, thinking of the character's back story, their powers and sight. Good story.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  9. Ouch... he lived... but damn that gotta hurt!