Here and There Some More - By Rosy

   Her poetry is about showing that the pathos of life can be seen beautifully. Pain, or bad times ought not to define a life, rather they should be seen as bumps in the road and it is, in fact, the journey itself that is beautiful.

   She settles comfortably with her word machine. She feels a little sad that she doesn't spend more time with her husband, something he claims is absolutely fine, love you, I'm fine, he says with a sincere smile. He believes it too, for her sake. He says that his time is well spent and she has cause to believe him, not that either would lie to the other, not really. Perhaps she just wants to spend more time with him but being addicted to her incessant writing does not.

   Outside it is rainy, a common enough event for this time of year in her clime. Sometimes she'll gaze into the mist, low hanging clouds, and feel herself adrift in a world of gray, isolated and eerily silent. She hears the flapping of wings and wonders if they are her own or if someone else is flying nearby. She turns her head and Tonker is smiling at her, flying easily by her side.

   {I didn't know you could fly!}

   He seems absolutely thrilled and does a loop the loop.

   “Show off,” I tell him, maintaining my own sensible stride. He matches my flight quietly.

   {So, uh, how'd I do in the adventure?}

   “You were fine,” I tell him, enthralled by the mists and sparkling lights we are passing through. Rainbows inside of clouds! and a magnificent deep blue sky above, then I swoop down to the swollen belly where the first to fall, those unique sparkling little white flakes that are soon melting to rain, rain glorious rain, sweeping the city in waves that are quick and powerful, then quickly to misty, and maybe some calm, then on she comes again! I feel heroic and imagine a Valkyrie riding here.

  {Well, if you don't mind, ma'am,}

   “Huh?” That's not a Valkyrie, that's a pteranodon! I'm momentarily nonplussed. “Tonker?” I say as my word machine comes into view.

   Well, now, that's interesting, she thinks. That's twice this pteranodon has come visiting. Tonker something something thwak, as she recalled. Hmmm. She looks outside and is surprised to see that the clouds have turned orange in the light of the late afternoon sun. She felt a twinge of anxiety. They did have a rather ominous cast. Her husband looks up and she goes to sit with him.

   “Have you been thinking about dinosaurs lately?” she asks him.

   “Hmm, no. Should I be?”

   “No, it's just that they've been on my mind of late.”

   “Well, is that a bad thing?”

   “No, I suppose not.”

   He glances out the window and his eyes widen. “Wow! Wouldja lookit that big old bird!”

   Of course, it's the pteranodon, Tonker something. She watches him circle around and see that he's looking back at her.

   “Dang, that guy's big and he's coming right at us!” her husband yelps, jumping up and pulling her away from the window. The pteronodon flies at them then at the last moment swoops up and over, seemingly brushing against the tile roof above them.

   “I knew he'd do that,” she announced grimly, “and I'm putting a stop to it.” She turned and grabbing her coat told her husband she'd be right back.

   He looks at her with concern. “Do you know this guy?”

   “Yeah, he worked for me in a couple stories. I think he's getting out of hand, I dunno, we'll see.”

   “Is it a dinosaur?” he asks as she reached the elevator.

   She stops. “Technically yes. He's a pteranodon, an advanced, he tells me, flying dinosaur that went extinct sixty-five million years ago.”

   “Is it dangerous?”

   “I dunno. It shouldn't be here, it's impossible for it to be here. Is it dangerous? I dunno. I guess I'll find out.” She enters the elevator and goes down.

   The pteranodon is on the grassy patch by the old church but he is in the shadows, clearly trying to hide.

   “Tonker?” she asks, approaching. “Tonker, what are you doing here?”

   He looks at her with wide, terrified eyes, “I'm real,” he sputters.

   “What?” she exclaims.

   “I'm real. Touch me. I'm not talking telepathically, I'm here, right here in the flesh.”

   Slowly she reached out and touched his scaly reptilian skin, noticing the iridescent shimmering that seemed gray from a distance. “You're beautiful,” she murmurs, seeing the colors of creation before her.

   “Yeah, well thanks, you're pretty good yourself. Thing is, there's people chasing me.” That was when she became conscious of nearby helicopter racket that seemed to be getting louder.

   “C'mon,” she yelped, and hustled him into their lobby, shutting the door behind. The first thing they saw was her husband, standing by the elevator watching. She looked at him. “Uh, honey, this is Tonker.”

   “Oh! Uh, hello, uh, Tonker. Imaginary creature, are we?”

   “Yessir, supposed to be anyway. I worked in a couple of your wife's stories.” He beamed proudly as a helicopter passed thunderously overhead.

   “So, how did this happen?” her husband asked. She leaned in the hear better.

   “I dunno,” Tonker began, “but it was sort of like how in the story, you know, where I seeped slowly back out of the Perfect Place. Bit by bit.”

   “Didn't that take thousands, possibly millions of years?” she asked.

   Tonker looked worried. “Yeah, near as I could tell. But for some reason this time the changing went a lot faster. I was in a great swampy place and somehow the earth just sort of rose up, rolling up it seemed like, and popped me out.” He furrowed his brow in thought. “I wonder if that time before, coming out of the Perfect Place like I did, well, I wonder if that time wasn't really quick too? No way to know though, is there?” She could only shake her head.

   Tonker became their downstairs tenant. Hiding until the furor of fear and searching died down, he began going out at night to fly and fish the nearby river. They managed to make him a serviceable nest from the couch and its cushions plus a couple blankets. They brought a couple chairs down and they started spending time with him. In the evenings she would get into conversations with him, especially about the nature of reality, a subject that fascinated them both.

   “So we agree that nothing is the ultimate nature of reality?” Tonker stated one evening. 

   “Yes, that's right,” she agreed. “Thing is, where do we go from there?”

   “Time,” he said, concentrating. “The vehicle that takes us from nothing to something is time. Tons and tons of time.”

   “Inconceivable time,” she murmurs.

   “Yet time is clearly the vehicle of transmission. Now the question is, what started time going? In nothingness?”

   They tossed these concepts around for the joy of it but also to try and figure out what was going on. As time wore on it became increasingly a matter of understanding his situation and trying to get at what happened and maybe somehow undoing it. Maybe. It was clear though that their first floor lobby, while private, was not a permanent solution. He'd hidden well enough when the coppers came asking them did they see anything strange, any strange birds, big birds, in the area lately?

   “Of course we saw it,” she told them. “Our home has a fabulous view, but the last time we saw it it was outracing the helicopters going thataway, seems like.” She pointed to the west, an arbitrary direction from her perspective but pertinent information from theirs, the latest theory being that it, the pteranodon, had flown out to sea.

   “I think time has always existed, that there were just long periods when it didn't know it existed,” Tonker posited one morning.

   “Time didn't know it existed?” she asked.

   “That's right. Nothing to measure it by. It wasn't until matter came along that time realized its own existence.”

   “Yeah, okay, that makes sense. So would consciousness be the next realization after that?”

   “I expect so, given enough time. And with that realization consciousness probably began trying to put the universe in order, like we try to do to this very day, put things in order, categorize them, arrange them, rearrange them. Consciousness must have been doing that when, almost inadvertently, life was created, supposedly the highest order, the highest arrangement. First an atom, then the whole shebang.”

   “Would you call that consciousness god?”

   “Good heavens no, why would you even ask that?” He paused, considering. “I know there are those who do, perhaps to categorize this energy, put it in some kind of order to try and comprehend it, while glossing over the true knowledge that comes from emptiness. They personify the life force of the universe as an entity, something which is, in my mind, much too restricting. They definitely seem to be missing the nothingness boat, among other things.”

   “Yeah, I pretty much agree,” I told him. “That ordering thing almost seems like a compulsion of some sort,” she noted. “Makes you wonder why that drive for order appears to be inherent in consciousness?” 

   He looked thoughtful. “Could be survival, you know like how it first came into being from the repetitions. Perhaps it was set in place by that first torque wave somewhere inside the infinite nothing, a quick flicker of nothing in nothing, that pulsed again, then again, then into a constant repetition that, well, that could, when you add time, and I mean tons and tons of time, lead to a big bang, you could say.”

   She nodded agreement, then added with a smile, “The repetitions of waves of nothing inside of nothing wanted to continue, to survive. But I think it still took another inconceivable amount of time after life appeared for consciousness to become intelligent.”

   “I think that's a work in progress,” he finished.         

   During the days when Tonker was sleeping, she and her husband would frequently stroll, sometimes talking about these same sorts of things. They unconsciously understood that their own, unique perhaps, realizations would serve them well spiritually and they were content.   

   On a day that whispered of the spring to come while yet firmly in winter's embrace they walked down to the river, the river that Tonker assured them had ample fish for his needs. He told them too that there was a grass that grew along the banks further upstream that he found to be tasty and nutritious as well, along with some of the smaller bushes here and there. The river is fairly large and easy going. Paddle-wheeled riverboats, barges, yachts, houseboats and all manner of craft ply these waters. Rosy sits on a bench with her husband beside her in his wheeled chair, to watch. They both loved watching the river traffic.

   Generally speaking the river is wide and deep with a slow moving current so that boating is fairly easy, but there are places where it is too broad and the shallows can become treacherous while the deeper channels, narrow and winding, are constantly changing. There is one such place coming up and Brak stays in the wheelhouse, showing Clarabelle the secret ins and outs of navigating through the more treacherous parts of the great Yudonke River. He does have a device that shows the best route and he's trying to follow it without appearing to rely on it. Clarabelle, being a computer program, secretly wished that Brak would rely on the device more. We've come aground a couple times but nothing too serious. Brak keeps long poles on both sides down on the first deck which he uses to push and prod the Rivitir, now configured as a three deck paddle-wheeler, free to continue on.

   Brak says this is pretty common for everyone who comes through these shallows, this getting stuck here and there. It was no big deal, he told us, but a few don't make it, as was attested to by the occasional wreckage we passed of boats firmly and irrevocably mired in the muck with little left showing. It appears that if a boat gets stuck for too long the river just sort of sucks it in and covers it up. In a strong current this could likely happen quickly. There were no three deck paddle-wheel wrecks that I could see though, and that was reassuring despite the Rivitir's ability to change and fly away should something bad start to happen.

   I rely on Brak to steer us through and sit in a reclining deck chair on the spacious upper deck, behind the wheelhouse. Jant is with me and we are sipping iced teas that Ellim has brought us. We are sitting at one of the round, umbrella-covered tables scattered here and there around the deck. Rover is leaning against the rail, watching the shore and Brak's tribulations, running from the wheelhouse to the first deck and back. Sometimes he crosses to the other side to watch and he has even been able to warn us of impending groundings so that we don't spill our drinks when the boat shudders and jerks to a halt, then wobbles as Brak pushes and prods it free, yelling commands up at Clarabelle from down below. It was ridiculous of him not to use the shipboard intercom to communicate with Clarabelle from the first deck but, well, standing there jabbing and prodding with his long pole and yelling commands was heroic. No question. There was even heroic music, which always impresses me. I sent a photograph to the Heroes Я Us collective in Elvenstead to post on their graduates of distinction board.

   We'd stopped at Waterlog, a city that we had freed from bondage, Dr. Snarkey bondage to be precise, and they had a big party for us, remembering how swell it was to be free of the mad Dr. Snarkey. It'd been a year since we saved them and things were looking good in Waterlog. Our pteranodon friend, Tonker Thwak, stayed in Waterlog because he loved Dingle's Dab, that big old swamp south of the city, where a lot of the city's farming gets done. There are still huge swaths of unoccupied and likely unexplored swamp down there, a place where Tonker said he felt the most at home. Since his miraculous rebirth that is. Lots of fish in an immense swamp and a balmy climate, Tonker was beaming when last we saw him.

   Now we are just cruising the great Yudonke, enjoying the river's easy flow. That last patch of shallow was a pretty rough exception, on Brak anyway, plus we spilled quite a lot of iced tea, but usually it's a nice calm float down the lazy river.

   Rover was passing a pipe of Tenner's excellent weed and our iced teas were proving to be a delicious treat when I noticed, way off in the distance, coming from the opposite direction of where Waterlog is at, a large bird. An unusually large bird.

   “Hey, guys,” I say, getting their attention. “Do you see that big old bird down there?” They looked. “Way down, just a speck now but it sure is big. Like a . . .”

   “It's a Pteranodon,” Brak said. “And it's coming toward us.” Brak Hero has very sharp vision.

   “What the heck,” Rover huffed. “It couldn't be Tonker, he's a long ways behind us.”

   We all stared, transfixed as the big bird, has to be a pteranodon at this point, approached. Soon the pteranodon arrives and begins circling, watching us, then he lands, knocking over one of the umbrella tables. Ellim rushes out and sets it right, as we stare with disbelieving eyes. It is Tonker.

   “Is this an adventure?” he blurts out before anyone can say anything. “You know, are you guys in a story? Is this a story?”

   “Whoa, Tonker, slow down,” I tell him. “This isn't a story so far, we're just developing, setting up the scene, you know? May be a story, maybe not. We'll see.”

   “How come you're here?” Brak asks. “The last we saw of you, you were skimming across the trees in Dangle's Dab, having the time of your life.”

   “That's right,” I concur, “but that's a good long ways in the other direction that you came from.”     

   “Clear past that big old shallow section that grounded us a few times,” Rover put in.

   “That happens to everybody that goes through there,” Brak murmurs.

   “So this is a story,” Tonker sighs with evident relief.

   “What's going on Tonker?” I ask. “Of course this is a story,” This all seems impossible and I'm somewhat bemused. How could this not be a story? Rosy's telling it, it's a story. Sheesh.           

   “I, well I fell out of the story, or rather the last part of the story, the part where you drop me off, I'm happy ever after and you float away. That part.” I nod. That's the way it had seemed to me. “Well, there I was, having the time of my life, as you so nicely put it Brak, when suddenly the world tilted upward.” 


   “Just lifted up and began rolling. The entire scene was getting put away, rolled up and tucked away, maybe to appear again, maybe not.” We stared with a morbid fascination. “So I ran over towards the edge to try and jump into the river but I didn't notice that the scene's sky, having been rolled up, was now underfoot and I, well I fell through the sky.” 

   “That cannot be possible,” Brak murmurs, speaking for all of us.

   “Shouldn't be, that's for sure,” Tonker agrees. “But it apparently was because I did it. Fell right on through. I saw upside down trees and houses as I floundered through the air and thankfully my wings caught and I was able to glide to a landing. This place was the most different place yet. It was, in fact, a place I had visited before when I was looking for work, except that time it was telepathic, all mental you could say, this time, well, this time I was there, in the flesh.”

   “Dang!” Rover barked.

   “That's right,” Tonker tells him. “Wasn't long before I was getting chased by flying machines with terrible roars, so I took off for Rosy's, and that's where I been, for some time now, gotta comfortable nest at Rosy's and so-so fishing in the river, so I was hiding out. Until just a while ago.”

  “So, what happened?” Jant asks.

   “I dunno. I saw Rosy that evening, just a while ago actually, and she smiled at me, but she seemed all dreamy-eyed, sort of distant. She'd just come back from a walk by the river with her husband and they went up that elevator.” He paused with a curious look. “I had a strange feeling that she was going straight to her word machine,” he continued, “and, well, it was soon after that when I fell through the sky again, so to speak.” He shook his head. “Right after they went up, I went for one of my night flights on the river, pretty early, just past dusk but dark enough to not be seen, I hoped, because I was hungry and I'm just cruising, skimming the water looking for fish when somehow, instead of getting darker, like I was fully expecting it to, well, it started getting lighter. I panicked when I realized what was happening and almost crashed. This couldn't be, I thought, and to make matters worse, the landscape was totally different. I just kept flying, looking for something familiar until I slowly came to realize that this wasn't Rosy's river at all, this was the great Yudonke, then I saw you guys.”

   “Well, I guess you're in a story now Tonker,” I told him with a smile.

   “Great,” he sighed with relief. “So, what adventure are we on? Where're we going?”

  “I dunno,” I answered. “The story hadn't developed that far.”

   “Gosh. I hope it's a grand adventure,” Tonker enthused.

   “Well, I think I might have something here on that subject,” Rover told them, holding up a map.

   “Well, give Brak the coordinates,” I tell him, “and let's be on our way!”

   I wasn't in the mood for details, I felt heroic and there was heroic music playing. I sat up tall in my captain's chair, the highest chair in the cockpit, with my chin held high as the Rivitir reconfigures into its flying saucer mode, then we zip off at hyper-golly speeds.

   She rose from her word machine and went over to sit by her husband. He looked at her and spoke softly, “The pteranodon's gone.”

   “Yes, I know,” she answers, leaning back with a sigh of contentment. “He's turned up in another story. Right now he's in a flying saucer zipping at hyper-golly speeds away from the great Yudonke River.”



Here and There Some More Some More.

   Now, with Tonker blasting through space in the AV Rivitir, she relaxes, knowing he's safe for now. She wonders what's next? The next morning, after she finishes her meditations, she goes to the park with her husband. The day is amazing for mid-winter, with no wind and warm temperatures so they could not resist the outing. 

   “Ever since our recent house guest I've been thinking about dinosaurs,” he tells her, as they are strolling the park. Nearing a bench she pushes his wheeled chair to the side of it and sits.

   “Is that so?” she answers, curious as to his thoughts.

   “I sort of liked that Tonker fellow, big and awkward as he was,” he says, grinning at her.

   “Yeah, he's a good guy. You know the pteranodons are not really dinosaurs.”

   “Yeah, I know, so I was thinking of pteranodons then, and Tonker specifically since he's the only pteranodon I've ever known.”

   “Okay, whatya thinking?”

   “Well, it seems that a guy like that, you know, a good guy, eager to please, intelligent, interesting to talk to, someone you like to be around, a real sleek flyer, you could say. Yet every time I saw him standing there, three meters tall with a wing span of maybe four meters at least, which, well, it makes him awkward, awkward to you, awkward to him, and just plain awkward everywhere in our world. He didn't fit here and I think he knew it.”   

   “Even in stories he has trouble fitting in,” she says, sharing his concerns.

   “Right. So, I seem to recall in one of the Bradco ads about their Interdimensional Travel technology? Well, I seem to recall them saying there was a dinosaur world. They offered it just after the river world if I remember right.”

   “Yes, I remember,” she says, instantly seeing what he was suggesting. “Oh honey, that's brilliant!”

   When she returned to her word machine there were already visions of volcanoes, jungles and massive beasts in her eyes.

   Meanwhile, aboard the AV Rivitir the crew and I are huddled around Rover's map. We have just left the great Yudonke River and are now hurtling through space at hyper-golly speeds.

   “Look here,” Rover says, pointing to a volcano on his map.

   “Where's that at?” I ask. “I don't see anything familiar.”

   “It's the Dinosaur World, ma'am,” Rover says, looking over at me.

   “Dinosaur World?” several voices, including Tonker's, sing out.

   “That's right,” Rover says, smiling proudly. “It's the other world offered in the Bradco ads for their Interdimensional Travel Bureau. I thought we might buzz by this Dinosaur World and take a look. See if we like it, you know, before we book a trip with Bradco.” 

   “Go take a look before we buy passage?” I say, wondering if I was hearing him right.

   “Yep, that's pretty much it,” Rover says, rolling up the map.

   “I'd like to see this Dinosaur World,” Tonker says.

   “I think you will pretty darn soon, if my coordinates work out,” Rover tells him.

   “Ladies and Gentlemen,” Brak says through the loudspeakers, “This is your pilot speaking. We'll be coming in for a landing at Dinosaur World International Airport (DWX) in about fifteen minutes. This flight has been lovely with no turbulence, so far. Please fasten your seatbelts.”

   Apparently the Rivitir has reconfigured into an airplane. A jet near as I can tell. We all comply, quickly fastening our seat belts, even Tonker who has a strap-in system, similar to my own.

   We can all easily hear Brak talking when he's in the cockpit so he doesn't really need the loudspeakers, but he likes using them anyway. It does give his voice an impressive cast. We are soon skidding and screeching down the runway toward the main terminal at DWX.

   After we park the Rivitir, we head for the Dinosaur World terminal. We're all excited, especially Tonker. There is a primordial ocean nearby and the air is thick, humid with lots of big puffy clouds overhead and we are surrounded by dense tropical foliage. I notice the airport is pretty small for an international airport and surrounded by two layers of tall chain link fence topped with Constantine wire. There are impressive guard towers at every corner and more in between.

   When we get to the terminal there are taxi stands occupying most the space in front with a large portal gate for the Bradco Interdimensional Travel Bureau to transport large things, like the Rivitir, and inside a smaller portal next to a counter for booking. A bored clerk at the counter directed us out front to the taxis, where a driver, at the end of a line of several taxis, was standing by his taxi waiting for a customer. He greeted us with a big smile until he saw Tonker, who he eyed warily. We were able, with Tonker's help, to reassure him and he allowed us inside his craft. The cabs were armored personnel carriers and the drivers wore a lot of body armor and there was a large cannon mounted on top of each cab.

   The carrier took us to the fortified city Bradville, named after its founder, Brad Puffup, CEO of Bradco Inc. and arch-criminal. The trip is uneventful except for one of the billboards lining the boulevard got knocked over and chewed up by a growling and snapping dinosaur, pretty big guy, who thankfully ignored us as we sped by.     

   Inside the city were several layers of fortified fencing and we had to pass through a couple checkpoints before we got to the tourist area which is in the center. There are museums and interactive displays with life-size dinosaurs. Tours are offered to the PBI zones (Possible Break-In) that surround the city. It is there that you are likely to see actual dinosaurs going about their apparently angry business, on the other side of double fencing, of course. Apparently, the entire Dinosaur World experience is behind fences and armor.

   The next morning we asked the guards not to fire so that Tonker could fly out and explore the countryside himself. He seemed determined to get away from all the fencing and armor. He told us that none of those defenses felt right, like this wasn't how it should be and he took to the skies, seeming to know where he was going. He didn't return until the next day and again, seeing who it was circling way up there, we asked the guards not to fire.

   After landing he came running up to me. “Captain, I've met the pteranodon pack and I'm going to join them. We sing!” He was so happy!

   We took a taxi back to the airport to fetch the Rivitir. Tonker seemed angry at the elaborate defenses at the city and the airport, saying it was just foolishness. I wasn't sure I agreed, remembering that angry dinosaur tearing the billboard apart when we first came in.

  Tonker has given Brak the location of the pteranodon town and we are cruising that way now. The Rivitir is in her spaceship form, the flying saucer shape, which I think she likes the best. I was sure Tonker wanted to get out and fly in front, leading the way, he was so excited. He directed us to a valley with a broad cliff on one side. As we landed I could see other pteranodons flying down from the cliffs to meet us. Tonker introduced us to some and we introduced ourselves to the others. It was a lively group and Tonker seemed right at home.

  One of the pteranodon leaders came over and introduced himself, nice fellow named Filbath. I chatted with him while everyone else scattered about, talking and getting to know each other. The first thing I had noticed coming in was there were no guards or watchers posted. No way to keep the monsters out or even to be alerted about them. This whole place was defenseless.

   “You guys don't seem too concerned with the other dinosaurs like they are in Bradville,” I said. “We've been told that there's monsters everywhere. We even saw one attacking a billboard coming in. A terrible creature it was, with gaping jaws and a berserker attitude. They say there's monsters out there that'll gobble you up in a second, like in the movies, yet here you are.” My gesture included the cliffs, the valley and the community, all out in the open.     

   Filbath scowled, shaking his head, then chuckled ruefully. “There are dangerous places here, that's true, but most of our land is peaceful and safe. Watch out for the Crunchers, what you all call T-Rex's, that's for sure. But those Crunchers and a few others who are, in fact, pretty ferocious, are easy to stay clear of. They're incredibly stupid, so stupid we have no problem keeping them contained in their ancestral lands, allowing them to follow their game but keeping them out of civilization. They're a good long ways from us, so we have no worries. Incidentally, Bradville and its airport are located smack dab in the middle of one of their hunting grounds.”

   “Wow. No wonder they're all fenced in and armored. Sheesh. Didn't they know that? I mean they must have done some research, some sort of looking around at least.” He was silent. “They didn't, did they?” I muttered.

   “They took that spot from the very beginning. When they first appeared in their spaceship to install the interdimensional receivers, they planted their flag and declared that it was their spot, fighting off a couple Crunchers in the process, then they immediately began putting up big guns, building fences and unloading their fancy equipment.”

   “No one said anything?”

   “Oh, yes, many did, but they refused to listen. They said they were the experts and they had it all under control. Especially since they were the ones with interdimensional travel, not us. Technological wizards, they said they were, with superior knowledge in all areas. We just shrugged; you know? We didn't really care what happened to those buffoons and we also didn't care much about what happened to the Crunchers. So here we are, the Sleek Flyers with hundreds of other races all living peacefully, as do most on Mother Sky, which is what we call our planet. Over there in Bradville they're battling the stupidest, most ferocious monsters in all the land while selling illusion behind sturdy fences.”

   “Wow. That's quite something,” I said, stunned at these revelations. Looking around though, it all made sense. “Sleek Flyer, is that what you guys call yourselves?'

   “Yep. We're an ancient species.”

   Then I remembered something he had said earlier. “How do you keep them contained?” I asked.

   “Ah, that has many answers. Foremost is tradition. These have always been Cruncher lands. These lands, mostly the marshes or thick jungles by rivers and around volcanoes have always been Cruncher territory. Enter at your own risk, you could say, but really, as stupid and as big, and as clumsy as these creatures are they're fairly easy to avoid.” He scowled. “Unless they're hungry, and happen to notice you, and give chase. Your best bet then would be to fly off, fast.”

   “Well, I don't figure on going to any Cruncher land,” I told him. “We don't need anything in Bradville, not even their interdimensional travel machine since the Rivitir seems able to do that just fine. So, uh, they just stay there? In their own lands?”

   “Pretty much,” he answered, “but being as stupid as they are, and really, you cannot imagine this level of stupidity, they just wander willy-nilly, eating each other as often as not, and when one or a couple wander off, out of their lands, we have a Border Patrol to point them back.”

   “Wow, that sounds like a pretty good arrangement. Border Patrol huh?”

   “Yeah. You probably noticed a few of the Sleek Flyers were wearing camouflage vests with red stars.” I had seen them. “They're the Border Patrol. It's a cadre of young people who enlist for two years, or more if they like it and have an aptitude for it, to serve the community and keep the borders intact. It's something of an honor to be in the Border Patrol. Not everyone can get in and there's competitions for the spots. Anyway, they have various techniques to control the beasts but usually just loud noises, aerial attacks and well placed decoys keep them in place.”

   “Gosh, that's pretty cool. And Bradville has no idea?”

   “Apparently not.”

   Just then Tonker came over with Rover. “Hey, you guys,” I called out. “What's up?”

   “Just seeing how you were doing,” Tonker answered.

   “They're going to do a concert,” Rover told us.

   “The pteranodons?” I asked, forgetting their real names for a moment.

   “They're Sleek Flyers Captain and yes, they're going to sing,” Rover answered.

   “I'm actually the director,” Filbath told us, “And we do have a concert today, starting soon in fact. I'd like to invite young Tonker here to join us.”

   Tonker blushed, which is difficult to detect in a Sleek Flyer. “I'd love to,” he chirped.

   The Sleek Flyers perched in various places along the cliff face which faced a broad grassy valley with a river meandering through it. Trees grew here and there, occasionally in clusters. I could see some Sleek Flyers overhead cruising lazily around in wide circles but most were now gathering on the cliffs or in the broad meadow at their base.

   Filbath stood atop a large rock where everyone perched on the cliff could see him. He raised a wing and immediately a soft humming began. “Ahhhhhh,” going on and on, then a group of five began singing bass, “Hum chugga chugga, hum chugga chugga,” and on like that. Then I realized that the entire audience had started humming ahhh, all of them, everyone around us. I saw Rover and Jant joining in then Brak and I were too. You couldn't help it. It was like a giant buzzing that made the ground itself vibrate. Ahhhh. The bass line fit perfectly with our humming, hum chugga chugga, then a group of tenors started in with some soaring and heroic music that somehow made you feel proud. Tonker was with this group. He has a surprisingly strong tenor voice, discernible in his group, singing of valor, heroism and love. Next the sopranos and altos began, singing of family and love in a melody that twirled and wove around the tenors when they too sang of love, combining in gorgeous strands that intertwined beautifully with all the other parts, and what was most amazing was that everything followed the hum, our hum, that underlay it all. It was thrilling! I think it lasted for a couple hours or so but it seemed a mere instant to me.   

   Afterward Tonker joined us. He was exuberant and kept going on and on about how thrilling it had been. He told us that a group had invited him to go fishing with them this evening, further down the river and he was thrilled to go. In the next few days we saw less and less of him. We took various excursions, doing this and that while he was becoming a part of this community. Finally one day I told him that we were ready to leave.

  “We've decided not to book passage with the Bradco Interdimensional Travel Bureau,” I told him “so it might be awhile before we get back this way.” I paused. “But we could come back more often, if that's what you wanted.” I paused. “It's just that it seems such a natural environment for you here, and well, I wonder if, well, did you maybe want to stay? Filbath and some of the others told us that you'd be more than welcome if you wanted to stay.”

   He was silent, looking sad. “We've had some pretty amazing adventures together and I love you guys. My time on the Rivitir has been the finest of my life, until now that is, and I can't stand the thought of being away from you for any time at all, yet,” He paused. “yet this is where I belong. I knew as soon as I saw this valley and these Sleek Flyers that this was my home, but I was afraid to admit it. Afraid it would end up being wrong somehow, but I know now.” He smiled joyfully. “This is my home and that's that. I don't need a story to exist. But I know you guys can't stay. Your work is too important, fighting injustice, uncovering mysteries and keeping hope alive. I'll miss you terribly and I really do hope you visit often.”

   We left the next morning with little fanfare, as we had hoped. Tonker, Filbath and a few others came to see us off. I looked back and waved as we flew away. Tonker found happiness and so had we in the process. The crew, while never morose, were unusually cheerful, humming bits of the Sleek Flyer music as they moved about. I wasn't sure where we were going next, despite my being the captain and I gazed out the front window, seeing just the vast, empty space ahead.

   She shut her word machine and stood, then walked over and gazed out the window at the vast, empty space of the afternoon sky. I wonder where Rover will take us next? she thought.

   “Perhaps to a world we've not dreamed of,” her husband murmurs, joining her at the window. They often hear each other's thoughts.

   She smiles at him. “Perhaps,” she says.


Leave a comment