Monday, July 15, 2013

Worlds within Worlds #10.1

10. New Things

Your nestlings do not like each other.
I feel no need to reply to this comment. I am too busy trying to remember how to skin and dress rabbits.
Across the bay, Maak-em-ay-are-see has tied brother Sam to one of the struts that hoists the long house into the sky. Sam sits, bound and screaming, not far from where he had stacked my bones. My gang mate has not asked for my help in this, and I had not offered it; I'm keeping my words to myself.
The shorter one makes noises that interest the crabs.
The crabs can have them both!
The guardian perches on the lookout rock. It has been here for a while, preening feathers and watching my work. For once, it is more talkative than me.
The more that I stare at the bloody carcass in my hands, the more I forget what I am supposed to do with it. Making the snares had been easy by comparison: I had let my hands do my thinking for me. They had the knowledge of knots and shapes that created and tethered the noose while I had concentrated my ears and nose on sensing any approaching danger.
Not that I can smell now. It took a while for the blood to stop dripping from its broken shape, after Maak-em-ay-are-see had flattened it with his fist and dragged Sam's semi-conscious body through the water back to the long house.
The crabs thank you for your bones. What is this new thing in your claws? I do not know it.
I look up at the gull, surprised. Freed from my supervision my hands cut across the rabbit's belly, feel their way between skin and muscle, and rip the fur halves free in a single, even pull.
Guardians know everything!
'Ak! Ak! Ak-ak-ak!'
I have no idea what the gull's cry means, but the look in its eye is one of laughter. My hands take my surprise as an opportunity to decapitate the head and paws from my prey and slice into its belly, spilling entrails over my foot.
You have to know everything!
What is this new thing in your claws?
I resort to using my Outer Voice, forgetting my determination to keep my tongue still.
'They're rabbits. You know this!'
I do not know of rabbits, nor do I remember them. I shall not help them.
'You don't need to help them.' I take a slime of guts in my fingers and throw them towards the bird. 'You can eat them.'
The guardian stretches its wings wide, then folds them again when the offal falls short of spattering its grey-white plumage. The look it offers me now is hard, questioning. It cocks its head as if weighing options. Within three heartbeats it hops from its perch onto the pebbles and angles its beak deep into the entrails.
Across the bay, my gang mate is trying to tempt his brother with water. Sam sees the tattoos across the bag and screams louder: 'Get away from me, you fucking zombie!'
This offering is hot. She does not permit me to feast on hot flesh.
'Gulls eat everything. I remember this.'
I call to her; she does not answer.
'You mean the other guardian? The one that was with you when you reminded me of my brother Luntas?'
That one – no: she also is new. I do not understand her. It is the Great Albatross who does not answer me.
The guardian speaks of Fol Huun. I know this. The women often called Her "the albatross who stretches her wings between worlds," though never within the range of a man's ears. I have met few men who are brave enough to spy on a clan gathering, where women meet to sing and cast their spells. Luntas was one such man; Geyt another. And me.
Do you talk to my gang mates – the fledglings, I mean?
The guardian makes a decision, grasps at a loop of intestine and flaps back to its rock, trailing the bloody string behind it.
I do not remember them. I shall not help them.
'You remember me.'
I remember you, Kal of Tintuun. You I shall help.
'What is a "tin-toon"?'
The gull is huge; its beak is the length of my forearm and, by the way it rips so easily through the rabbit's guts, far sharper than my poor glass knife.
This is better than snail, or fish. The heat feels good in my gizzard. You must go and save your fledgling from the crabs.
'The crabs can have them! They are not my gang mates.'
The guardian is staring out to sea. 'Ak! Ak! Ak-ak-ak!' From beyond the bay's entrance, something answers.
There is another nestling, still in its egg. Downwind, beyond the cliff. The crabs grow impatient with it. Leave the rabbit here.

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