I’m beginning to think I should turn this into a sub-folder before it takes over this blog. I’ve never done a flash-fiction series in this weblog before, and am not entire clear on the visual dynamics of how to effectively present it. Suggestions welcome.
As I mentioned on Gab.ai, I’d paused this right before Europa came out mad. I’d not seen that. My family and I went to the Saturday 1700 Mass. The OT reading, from Jerimiah, was about J telling God, “You duped me!” Sitting there in the pew, I started grinning like more of an idiot as the rest of #11 opened in my mind.
There are no such things as coincidences.
He didn’t wait long. He heard her before he saw her.
“Biiiiiiiiiggggg!…..” A girlish cry from high above. Two forms topped the Wall and dropped at him at high speed.
Georgie leveled off less than a length above the ground, headed right for him. A darker figure was just behind her.
A threat. To his family.
He jumped up and caught her. The rolled together down the beach quite some distance. No mass to retard them. She would have ended up atop him, but the other was still there. He rolled her onto her back against the sand and stood, his hands balled into fists.
The bat-like one, from beyond the Wall, touched down. He held a similar object as Europa did when she’d come upon him and Libby.
“She is a criminal,” the other said, pointing with the sharp object. “I am taking her back.”
“You shall do no such thing.” Without taking his eyes from Flittermouse, he asked, “Georgie? What did you do? Even Europa seemed upset.”
“I delivered a message to some of the Slow Ones beyond the Wall. I was told to, chirp.”
“We are their instruments, Flittermouse,” he watch the youth flinch at the use of that name, “this is amongst the Slow Ones, not us!”
“I am ordered to apprehend her!” He advance towards them, “and I wi-”
He was too close. Logres grabbed the sharp object with his right hand, confused at the sensation and appearance of a red liquid, tearing it out of the bat’s hand with a pull. A pull that brought him just close enough to be punched in the head with Logres’ left hand. The leather-clad youth staggered back a few paces before falling down.
“You! You hit me!” Flittermouse brought his right hand up to his rapidly swelling face.
“Leave my sister alone, or I shall do far worse,” he said, barely controlling himself. Logres was very confused by what he was thinking and feeling.
“… oh, ick, brother…” He ignored whatever his sister was on about.
“Do not think,” Flittermouse said as he regained his feet, “that we shall for a moment tolerate – ”
There was an odd change in the air pressure.
“Naw, we-uns, won’t forget.”
Logres allowed himself a timeslice to glance right, where Dutch ambled out of the copse of trees. How long had he been there?
“Now, how’s about… unnn..uff!” His cousin from across the sea picked up the boulder Logres had been sitting on. “You just mosey on the hell back to your side of the Wall? Before, well, sumpin’ really bad happens?”
The thin bat-like boy looked at the small mountain Dutch held and seemed to try to swallow.
“You… you bourgeois exploiters won’t get away with this!” He said as he turned and ran, taking flight after five paces.
“Well, now,” Dutch said, dropping the boulder back into the hole it came from, “let’s see to that cut, cousin!”
“What?” Logres didn’t understand.
“Brother, you’re dripping blood all over your cute sister. Chirp!”
He looked down to where he’d guarded her; her eyes danced.
“Your hand, loved-but-stupid brother!” She yelled.
As he raised his hand, Dutch took his wrist to examine it.
“Nice. All the way down to the bone,” he said with a clinical tone. “Wherein’ the hell you learn to fight?”
“No matter. Sit down, let’s get this sorted.”
While they sat and the surprisingly strong youngster produced various objects from his pockets to repair his hand, Logres noted that Georgie had hopped up to where he had sat on the boulder. She, too, stared at the Wall. Oddly, her gray wings were out.
“Is there some danger, sister?”
“This close to the Wall? There is always danger, brother. Chirp.”
“In fact, here comes some, now.”
He did not know if she’d come back down the outside of the Wall or from a dilation through it, but he was pleased Europa was neither chained nor touching it. He made to stand, but Dutch held his wrist tight.
“Not yet, boy,” he said in a detached voice. “Almost done…”
“You betrayed me!” She was closer.
“Um. Dutch?” He asked.
“Almost done. Your girl will keep.”
“You duped me!”
Still sitting, Logres looked up at his beloved, trying to understand ‘duped.’ He watched as she drew her right arm back. Would she really…?
It hurt less than when he’d taken the object from Flittermouse, but having Europa strike him, with that look on her face. He wanted to be unmade.
A jerk on his right hand.
“Hey, there, buckaroo,” Dutch said softly. “Ain’t no woman worth that. I’m done. Get y’all’s shit sorted.” He stood and moved towards the treeline.
Logres stood, opening his arms to Europa. His face hurt.
“You used me! You lied to me!” She yelled through her tears. “What are lies, Logres?!”
“A kind of murder,” he softly replied, not understanding. “Europa…”
“Your freak-faced sister!” There was an indignant ‘chirp!’ from just behind her. “Your top-heavy cousin! They smuggled messages in, while you… while you… with your body…!”
She sank to her knees, tears pouring from her eyes. There was something in the surf to his right.
“…I… I love… loved you! And you…!”
“Not him, dearie! Sorry about that!”
She was still waist deep, wading in towards them. She smiled, but didn’t mean it.
“We’d known about you two before we came to their island. The Slow One, that used to be beyond the Wall and now is not, worked with our Slow Ones for this operation.” Libby stopped with the water about her ankles. “I never lied to Logres-cousin, but I didn’t tell him the truth: in distracting you, Blue-lips Bird and I could do what we were told.”
Another indignant ‘Chirp!’
Europa glared at Libby.
“Nope,” she replied, easily shaking her head. “I only lie by omission.”
“So. What have you done,” Europa considered the map in her mind, “in Gdansk?”
“We’ve started a kind of fire.” Libby waved up the beach at her brother. “Dutch? We should be going!”
“Yeah.” He pulled himself off the tree he’d been leaning against. “Hey! G-bird! Give ‘em some room!”
He ambled into the woods, west and south.
Georgie stood on the boulder. But, she looked at Europa, not her brother.
“Hey, you.” She began in her soft voice. “I love my brother. Lots. But you two… chirp.”
She flexed her great wings.
“Don’t screw this up!” She leapt into the air and was gone.
It was just a little darker, again. Logres spoke before moving.
He considered speaking again. No. She needed him.
Logres closed the separation between them, kneeling down in the sand to hold her. She offered no resistance. He pulled her head into his right shoulder.
“I did not, and shall not, lie to you, beloved Europa.”
A shaky nod.
He ran his hands slowly up and down her back. She shuddered, but would still not meet his eyes.
“… so sorry…!” He barely heard into his shoulder.
He stopped his hands and pulled her close.
“We are all young, and, it seems, to some degree, at the mercy of others.” He said to her. “Let us…”
He froze. He saw… something.
Europa detected something was amiss and carefully raised her head.
“Yes, beloved Logres?”
He blinked, trying to take in the… glimpse of the future? Impossible. He rested his forehead against hers.
“I love you!”
She blinked away the last of her tears.
“And I, you!”