Author Topic: Short Story  (Read 1667 times)

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Short Story
« on: July 27, 2003, 11:16:54 am »
This is sort of an abbreviated version of a novel I'm working on that I did for a writing class I had last year.  I was going to put it on my website, but just came to find that they introduced a 'new n' easy design menu' that I can't navigate for the life of me.

So here's the abbreviated version:


   He awoke, as always, the very moment the red sun appeared on the horizon, the orange light shining through his only window and landing upon his closed eyelids.  Normally, he would not have been apt to rise to meet another day of monotony.  Normally, but his old sense of optimism had returned.  Maybe today he would catch sight of a black silhouette against the sky, one that resembled the shape of his now flightless mobile home.
   He stood up from his bed of rags and threw on his clothes: a desert camouflage vest and pants, stepped into his boots which he had left by the door, and stepped outside into the early morning.  Dawn was only just now upon them, but the primary moon still hung high overhead, casting just as much light upon them as the now rising sun.
   “Hello, Kiumbe.”
   He didn’t need to turn around to know what was behind him.  The Avari, large winged felines that were native to this world, had given that name to him when they discovered he could not remember his own.  The significance of his name he did not know, nor did he understand why it was so important for the Avari to name someone they wished nothing to do with.  For some reason, they just felt offended to refer to him as the nameless one.
   “Good morning,” Kiumbe responded.  “You need something?”
   “No, not I,” said the Avari female.  “I was more concerned about you.”
   He finally turned to face her and was surprised he did not recognize the voice.  The all-white female that rested on the roof of his home was Imara, one of the first of the Avari he had seen upon his awakening.  The Avari interested him little, but Imara had what could only be described as a certain aura about her, the purity of her color, the resemblance in her wings to that of an angels, that always encouraged Kiumbe to be on his best behavior.
   “Hello Imara,” he said with a bow of his head.  “I... I meant you no offense.”
   “None taken,” said Imara, spreading her wings out as she leaped down to the ground.  “Now, as I was about to say, I came here wondering if you needed anything.  I know what you have been saying, that your people are bound to come for you sooner or later, but the alpha sphere has passed fifty times overhead since your arrival.  Are you sure they will come for you?”
   A brief bit of information: the alpha sphere is the Avari’s primary moon, which passes directly overhead once every 6.25 days.  Kiumbe did this calculation in his head and exhaled deeply at the results.
   “I’m not so sure anymore.”
   Imara padded up beside him, holding her wings upright so they did not accidentally brush against him.  “You fear you are not the only one that has forgotten something?”
   He sighed, more out of exasperation this time.  “I guess you could say that.”
   For a long time, both remained side by side at a distance.  Kumbe could feel her eyes upon him.
   Imara chuckled.  “So its true.  You can read minds.”
   “Not so.  It’s just unnatural for somoene to stare at another without speaking.  It generally means they want something but are hesitant to ask for it.”
   “I see.”  She stepped in front of him and looked him in the face.  “And how do you know this if you have forgotten everything?”
   “I don’t know,” Kiumbe hissed.  “I mean... I know all sorts of things; I just can’t remember where I learned them okay?”  He breathed deep to calm his nerves before getting down on one knee to meet her eyes.  “So, what do you need?”
   Imara looked down at her front paws, an uncommon gesture among Avari.  “Well... Malaika things she may have found something that belongs to you.”
   Now Kiumbe was interested.  “Really?  What?”
   “We’re not sure.  It is cubicle in design...”  She looked up at his ship-turned-home, or more precisely, the writing above the cockpit: ACS-75.  “And it has characters similar to those which decorate your ship.”  She extended a single claw from her right front paw and traced them in the dirt.  Kiumbe read them upside down.
   “V-FESK,” he spelled out.  He thought for a moment, then placed a finger on each letter as he spelled out the abbreviation.  “Viron-Fell Emergency Survival Kit.”
   Imara blinked at the letters.  “All that in just five little symbols?”
   Kiumbe took a moment to explain the concept of an abbreviation, then picked up a stick and traced the full sentence into the dirt below it, capitalizing the key letters.  Once again, Imara’s eyes blinked with confusion.
   “All those symbols for such a simple sentence?”
   They both laughed, something Kiumbe had not done in the longest time.

   Due to prior incidents with more hazardous material that had spilled out during the crash, none of the Avari felt safe touching the medical kit.  Therefore, for the first time ever, Kiumbe was allowed into their settlement.
   There’s no accurate way to describe the structure they lived in.  The only means of entry by one that is wingless is up a narrow path through the mountains which leads to what appears to be a primitive cave.  This cave leads into the base of the mountain, where a clearing has been carved out that extends straight up to the beak, giving the mountain a volcanic appearance.  The clearing is circular with a diameter of a hundred yards.  However, apart from a few stone structures which he could not determine the purpose of, the clearing was bare.
   “We receive plenty of rain in the wet season,” she explained.  “Once the season is over, the clearing below becomes a lake.”
   He found out later that it was not a pathway they had carved for walking that he had journeyd up, but a flood gate to make sure the water did not overflow into their homes.
   The Avari living spaces were all carved into the side of the stone by entryway of the clearing, all well above the clearing below.  The entryways were small, but opened up into a large and spacious surrounding, much like the mountain itself (in smaller proportions, of course).
   “Quite a place,” Kiumbe commented, looking up at the many caves carved from the clearing.  “So which one of these is Malaika’s?”
   “Malaika does not have a home,” Imara promptly responded.  “Not until her Descending.”  There was something about the way she capitalized that word that invoked curiosity.
   His thoughts were disturbed when two voices shouted in unison: “Mara!”
   Imara glanced sternly at Kiumbe.  “Wait here.”  She padded up ahead of him but did not make it far before two avari cubs, one black and one white like herself, scampered up and spiraled around her, wings flying about as they babbeled in some language Kiumbe could not even begin to understand.  Imara chuckled softly and waited patiently until both cubs clung themselves around her front legs, hugging their frontals around them.  The two adults that accompanied them, however, took their time in approaching.
   “Yes, I’m glad to see you too,” she told the cubs.  “Were you good while I was away?”
   “Oh yes Mara!” said the black cub, male judging by the sound of his voice.  “Honest!”
   Imara chuckled and nuzzled each of them.  “Don’t worry, I believe you.”  She turned her smile up at the two adults that approached, each holding their wings upward so not to connect with the other’s.  The first was black with white adorning his flight feathers, muzzle, paws, and underbelly.  The other was a traditional tiger-stripe variety of orange and black, with exception for his wings which were black with orange adorning the underside.  Both smiled warmly as they approached her.
   “Giza speaks the truth,” said the black Avari as he stpped up beside Imara on her left and nuzzled her shoulder.
   The striped Avari returned the favor on Imara’s right, and as Kiumbe watched, he noticed that their wings were held vigorously upright, not being permitted to brush against the other male’s.  Imara, however, seemed to enjoy being the center of attention, purring and returning the nuzzles given by her companions.
   They remained embraced until Kiumbe began tapping his foot impatiently.  The striped Avari’s eyes came to focus upon him.  “Well?  Are you going to introduce us Imara?”
   Imara’s eyes blinked.  “What?  Oh, yes!”  She stepped back and sat down on her haunches, the two cubs still clinging to her legs.  “My apologies.”  She turned herself to face Kiumbe and the Avari males sat down on either side of her.  “Kiumbe, I want you to meet some friends of mine.”  The black Avari folded his wings down at his back like a cape as Imara stretched her right wing over his back.  “This is Erevu,” she said to introduce him.  “And this...”  She and the striped Avari repeated the gesture.  “This is Askari.”  Both males bowed their heads in greeting.  Imara smiled and leaned down to nuzzle the cubs as she introduced them.  “And these are my cubs, Hewa and Giza.”
   She then addressed the Avari.  “Everyone: this is Kiumbe.”  They all bowed their heads in greeting.  Kiumbe hesitantly repeated the gesture.

   After they had departed, leaving the cubs back in the care of Erevu and Askari, Kiumbe asked what was on his mind.
   “Those were your cubs?” he asked casually.
   Imara bowed her head as they walked.  “Yes.  Hewa and Giza.”
   “And one of them was the father?”
   Imara stopped and looked up at him.  “Erevu and Askari?”  Kiumbe nodded.  Imara ruffled her feathers, the equivalent of shrugging.  “Possibly.”

   Malaika, a youthful silver white-striped Avari (there are really no factors or limitations in the coloring of an Avari’s fur) wing-waved to Imara upon entry of the cave, but could barely even look at Kiumbe as he ducked through the entrance.  This cave was the largest of all of them, and for good reason; at night, it was occupied by many.  Today, however, it was only Malaika that occuped the pre-paternal shelter.  The metal case with the inscription described before was waiting for them.
   “Nice to see you too Malaika,” Kiumbe grunted with a hint of biterness in his tone.  He sat himself down with the case in his lap, giving off a disgruntled sigh at the sight of a combination lock.  While he worked with this, Imara walked past him and came up beside Imara.  Malaika smiled weakly at the two nuzzled each other affectionately.
   “I’m sorry,” Malaika whispered.  “I... I didn’t mean to-“
   ”You’ve done nothing wrong,” said Imara as she gently nuzzled under Malaika’s chin.  “It was wise of you to recommend Kiumbe see to this instead of an Avari.  And besides, Kiumbe has been with us for fifty moons now.  We would have to adapt to his presence sooner or latter.  Better the prior than the latter.”
   “I know.  But I wish it could have been more... Gradual.”
   Kiumbe found the correct combination, and at overhearing their discussion, pulled the latch off forcefully so that it uttered a clang of metal which echoed throughout the cave.  Both Avari jumped, their feathers ruffled and their fur standing on end.  Kiumbe glared at them coldly.
   “You know, I can still here you from over here,” he said as he opened the case.  “And you don’t need to hide like that every time I look at you.  I won’t explode like some of the things that came from my house do.”
   Malaika and Imara exchanged glances.  “I’m sorry,” said Malaika.  “I didn’t mean to offend you.”
   “Not a problem,” said Kiumbe.  “At least as long as you’re telling the truth.”  He looked down into the contents of the case for the first time and tilted his head at the contents.  “Hm?”
   Malaika circled around behind him and peered over his shoulder, careful not to touch him.  “Amazing.  But what are they?”
   Kiumbe took a deep breath.  “Not what I expected to find.”  He shut the case and replaced the lock.  “I’m glad you told me about this before you tried anything.  Thanks Malaika.”
   He stood up, and in doing so brushed his shoulder against the tip of Malaika’s wing.  Malaika jumped back and cowered.
   “I’m sorry, I’m really sorry,” she whimpered.  “I didn’t mean to force your affection; it was only an accident; I never presumed to-“
   ”Hey, hey, HEY!!!”  Kiumbe held his hands out, a gesture both human and Avari recognized as a sign to stop.  “Calm down.  You did nothing wrong.  I mean... I know I’m not th ewarmest of people, but...”  He scratched his head and squinted painfully at the thought.  “Force my affection?!  What in hell’s name does that mean?”
   Imara and Malaika exchanged looks of confusion.
   “Apparently, touch is not as sacred for your kind as it is for the Avari,” Imara commented.  “To the Avari, touch is what signifies one as family.  To make the assumption that one is family upon another without their consent is a great disrespect.”
   There was a long pause.
   “Oh.”  Kiumbe paued a moment.  “Well... Malaika?  If you and I accidently touch ever again, for the future, just say excuse me, okay?”
   Malaika smiled weakly.  “I’ll try to remember that.”

   Imara had her cubs to look after, so Malaika accompanied Kiumbe for the long journey home instead, even despite Kiumbe’s insistencies that he would be alright.  They walked for two miles in silence, accompanied only by the sound of the wind and the percussion of the case against Kumbe’s leg with every right step.  Finally, Kiumbe spoke.
   “So why did you really come with me?” he asked her, doing his best to sound polite.
   Malaika chuckled.  “That obvious, is it?”  She ruffled her feathers thoughtfully.  “Well... I’m curious Kiumbe.  Curious about your bipedal kind.  That touch could not be considered sacred, that would mean your entire race would be your family.  I cannot even imagine so many people so close together.”
   Kiumbe raised an eyebrow.  “Pardon?”
   “And your home has always interested me,” Malaika continued.  “Is it true you built it from the remnants of a giant bird?”
   “Airplane,” Kiumbe corrected.  “It used to be just a vehicle.  A cargo plane to be precise.”
   “Of course, that’s right,” said Malaika.  “But it came down from the sky in a ball of fire.  That was what happened, wasn’t it?”
   Kiumbe shrugged.  “That’s what Imara tells me.”
   “Fascinating,” Malaika commented.  “To harness fire and use it to fly... Simply amazing!”
   Kiumbe stopped walking, set the case down, put his finger to his temple and tapped it in thought.  “So... You’re coming with me because you think I could tell you about it?”
   Malaika’s eyes almost seemed to glow with happiness.  “Yes.”
   Kiumbe crossed his arms, tilted his head back and watched the clouds roll across the sky, powered forth by 200 mph winds that never once grazed the earth.  “Well, what with my amnesia, there isn’t much I can tell you.”
   “But... You could, couldn’t you?  Didn’t you tell Imara you knew things but not where you learned them?”
   Kiumbe sighed through his teeth, still gazing skyward.  “I did, didn’t I.”  He took a deep breath.  “Well... I guess if anything comes, I’ll tell you about it.  Until then, maybe you could-“
   ”Tell you all about the Avari?” Malaika suggested with a smile.  “I’d love to!”

   Three passings later, Malaika made her first visit to Kiumbe’s home.
   “This is your doorway?” asked Malaika, tilting her head at the cubic entryway.  “What’s this thing for?” she asked, prodding the door with a paw.
   “It’s the door,” Kiumbe explained, demonstrating how it could open and close for her.
   “Curious,” said Malaika.  “But why would you want to cover up the entrance to your home with something like that?”
   “To keep the cold out,” said Kiumbe as he stepped inside.  “Come on in.”
   Malaika blinked.  “Keep the cold out?”  Malaika stepped inside, having to step in at an angle so her wings would fit.  “Why would you want to do that?  Does it have something to do with your lack of fur and feathers?”  She stepped into the interior, looked up at the ceiling and crawled low on her belly, looking up with wide eyes at the ceiling.  “I... This is horrible!  How could you stand to live here Kiumbe!”
   “The ceiling won’t come down,” said Kiumbe, not even bothering to look back at her.  “Now calm down before you hurt yourself.”
   Malaika shuttered and trembled.  “I... I’m sorry Kumbe; I just can’t stay here.”  She tried to turn around, but could not in the narrow corridor-like interior.  “No... I... Kiumbe?!  How do I get out?!”
   Kiumbe rolled his eyes and turned towards her.  “Just turn around and go back out the...”  He paused when he saw her predicament.  “Oh.”  He held his hands out and took a hesitant step towards the trembling Avari.  “Okay now... Just calm down Malaika.  Calm down and we’ll think of something, okay?”  Malaika still fidgeted about nervously with claustrophobia.  “Calm down Malaika.  Come on; I’ve got this thing propped up on bricks Malaika; its not that sturdy.”
   Sometimes all it takes for something to go wrong is for someone to say that something could go wrong.  In this case, since Kiumbe’s ship had been bent at an awkward angle, he had made a few bricks out of the best he could find to substitute for concrete.  It kept the ship at a right angle with Kiumbe’s weight, but the 500 lb. Avari was the breaking point.  The bricks crumbled, the nose of the plane crashed into the dirt and the bipedal Kiumbe pitched forward with the jolt.  He landed face down in front of Malaika, who finally stopped fidgeting.
   “Nice, Malaika,” he muttered.  “Really nice.”
   Unable to stand living in a home now on a 30 degree angle, Kiumbe packed up what he could and, with Malaika and Imara’s permission, was permitted to stay with the Avari.

   Since there was no possibility that he could have been a father, Kiumbe had to make his home in the corner of the Pre-Parental cave, the one in which Malaika also resided.  The stone floor was unpleasant to sleep on, and the nights were colder than he would have cared for, but it still sufficed.  Except for Malaika, however, the other residents gave him plenty of space.  There were seven counting Malaika, all female and about the same age (though nowhere near having a color similar to another’s).  He observed them silently until one day, seven went out at morning as they always did, but only six returned.  The next day, he asked Malaika what had happened.
   “Nothing has happened,” Malaiked explained.  “Huzuni has begun her Descending.  That means she will have her own home from now on.”
   “Her what?”
   “Dscending,” Malaika repeated.  “As in Descendant.  It is when an Avari decides it is time for her to become a mother.”
   “Oh, I get it,” said Kiumbe with a smile.  “So she’s found Mr. Right?”
   Malaika tilted her head at him.  “Who?”
   There was a pause that seemed to last longer than it really did.
   “Didn’t you tell me she’s getting married?”
   “No.  What does ‘married’ mean?”
   Kiumbe explained to her as best he knew.  Malaika did not seem to understand.
   “So when one of your kind reproduces, only one man may act as the father?”  She shook her head.  “That makes no sense at all.  How would you expect your cubs to survive with only one acting as the father?”
   Kiumbe raised an eyebrow.  “Are you telling me Avari can have more than one?”  Malaika nodded.  “But... How?!”
   Malaika smiled.  “Does it matter how reproduced the children?  All one needs to be a parent is to provide for them.”
   “Yeah, but... Wouldn’t you know who the father is since you... Well... You know...”
   “Did the nasty?”  (It was a phrase she had learned from Kiumbe actually).  “Possibly, yes, but if it is impossible to tell, then-“
   ”Wait...”  Kiumbe blinked, the answers already in his mind, but still unable to believe what he was about to suggest.  “Does that mean the Descending is a time when a female mates with as many males as possible?”
   Malaika smiled.  “It does.  That’s why the Descending lasts for an entire passing of the sphere.  Every male Huzuni would entrust the care of her children to will be expected to see her some time before the next passing.”
   He flashed back to when he had asked Imara if either Erevu or Askari was the father.  Suddenly everything made sense.  She had mated with both of them, and since there was no way of telling which of them was the father, both of them provided for her and her cubs.
   For a long time after that, Imara always felt as if Kiumbe were looking at her differently than before.

   Five passings later, Malaika returned to the Pre-Parent cave and found Kiumbe was missing.  She found him a while later at the tip of the Avari settlement, the last place she would have expected to find him.  He was lying on his back, staring up at the rolling clouds, resting his head on the medical kit.
   “Are you okay?” Malaika asked as she padded up beside him.
   Kiumbe sighed before answering.  “Nah, I’m okay.”
   “Excuse me?”  Kiumbe repeated his statement, but once again Malaika did not understand.
   That was his first indication that the Avari language was not structure like English or Spanish, but was spoken directly from the heart, and therefore universally understood.  They had been able to communicate with Kiumbe immediately upon his arrival because of this.  It also made lying impossible.
   Kiumbe took a deep breath.  “I feel like I don’t belong,” he admitted.  “I don’t remember much about my old society, but... I know they weren’t nearly as civilized as your kind.”
   “You shouldn’t say that,” Malaika coaxed as she sat down beside him (wings upright, of course).  “Your kind can fly without wings.  That should be proof alone tht-“
   Kiumbe jolted upright.  “Technology does not measure civility!”
   Malaika hesitated.  “But... How could it not?”  She turned her eyes to the canyon below that was the Avari settlement.  “The Avari have never strayed far from this place as far back as we can remember.  But your kind-“
   ”Yes, we harnessed fire to fly, I know.  We built aircrafts, yes, but we didn’t always do good things with them.”  He reached behind and lifted the case into his lap.  “That plane I came in was a cargo plane.  But humans like me made other planes that would drop bombs on women and children.”  He undid the latch.  “Did you ever see what was in here?”
   Malaika shook her head.  “If you did, I do not remember.”
   Kiumbe removed the lock and opened the case away from him so she could see the contents.  Inside was a pair of silver-plated .45s.
   Malaika, of course, did not know what to make of them.  “Their beautiful, but... What are they?”
   “Weapons,” said Kiumbe.  He took one out and demonstrated the proper handling for her.  “Humans made these for one purpose: killing other humans.  It does that by firing off a metal pellet with gunpowder,” he got to his knees and leaned closer to her, “which travels at 250 ft. per second until it lodges itself,” he reached out above her head with a clenched fist, “in your head.”  His index finger came down on Malaika’s forehead when he said the last word.  Malaikas eyes crossed at his finger and her body began to tremble.  She didn’t even mention that the taboo on physical contact had just been violated.
   Malaika struggled to speak.  She only managed one word.
   Kiumbe thrust his gun back into the case and locked it.  “I wish I knew.”
   Of course, Kiumbe already knew.  People needed guns so they could protect themselves from people that wanted to kill them.  And those people wanted to kill them because they thought it was the only way they could solve their problems.  Violence, war, genocide, everything could be traced back to when the first human being lost his mind and decided killing was fun- curse the bloodlust and all that shared it!
   “That’s why I feel like I don’t belong,” said Kiumbe.  “The Avari make peace and love... Mine?”  He sighed, curled his knees up and dropped his head down on them.  “My kind blows things up for fun.”
   Both were silent for the longest time.  He thought Malaika had left until she spoke.
   “Maybe your kind does,” said Malaika... “But... You don’t... Do you?”
   “The hell should I know?” said Kiumbe.  “I have amnesia, remember?”
   “I know,” said Malaika.  “So maybe you did... But not anymore, right?”
   Kiumbe looked up from his arms, eyes blinking.  “Oh.  I see what you’re getting at.”
   Malaika smiled.  “Exactly.  I... I don’t know who you were Kiumbe, but...”  She scooted herself to be directly in front of him.  “I don’t know much about your race, and I probably know even less about who you were before...”  She held her right front paw up before him.  “But I know you’re a good person Kiumbe.  We all do.”
   Kiumbe looked up at her extended paw, then up at her smile.  He crossed his legs, scooted himself closer, and held his right hand out under Malaika’s paw.  Malaika’s eyes shimmered with approval, but instead of placing her paw in Kiumbe’s hand (as was the Avari custom), she sat back on her haunches, extended both of her front paws over Kiumbe’s shoulders and hugged him into her fur, purring as she smiled and rested her head on his shoulder.  Kiumbe blinked with confusion at first, then did his best to smile and wrapped his arms around Malaika’s shoulders, hugging her in return.  For the longest time they remained embraced, both enjoying the other’s company but neither one knowing what to make of it.
   “Family?” said Kiumbe.
   Malaika smiled and nuzzled under his chin.  “Family.”

   Twenty passings later, there were many that considered Kiumbe family as well.  After he and Malaika had become so close, most of the cubs followed her example and took some time to get to know him.  Before long, the name of Uncle Kiu was commonly known.
   “Uncle Kiumbe.  I’m scared.”
   Kiumbe stirred from his sleep.  “Eh?”
   The young Avari cub nudged his hand again, trying to nuzzle herself under it.  “I’m scared, Uncle Kiumbe.  I don’t want Ibilisi to get me.”
   Kiumbe sighed as he sat up from the stone floor but id manage to force up a little smile as he lifted the yellow and white Avari cub into his lap.  “Rika, you know he’s not coming back.  That’s why Elfu tells us all those creepy stories.  They can’t come back to life physically if their still alive in memory.”
   This might have been the reason Avari society did not evolve very far.  It was their common belief that an Avari could be reborn anew once the memory of their former self had been destroyed.  As a result, the only stories ever told were about Avari with tainted minds, which all rememebred and vowed to tell agian to ensure that they were never reborn to torment them again.
   “I know,” said Rika.  “But... Its still scary.”
   Kiumbe hugged the small Avari.  “Well don’t you worry.  Ibilisi’s never coming back.”  He chuckled.  “And even if he does, Uncle Kiu will be here to kick his butt!”  He looked up and smiled nervously at the all-black Avari that now padded into his dwelling, extending his hand out to scritch behind her ears as she came up to him.  “Good evening Huzuni.  And uh... She’s heard talk like that before, but not from me, okay?”
   Huzuni chuckled and shook her head, then purred at the attention he provided and nuzzled her head onto Kiumbe’s shoulder (it was rumored that having their heads petted with Kiumbe’s fingered hands felt so good that many Avari declared him family just to have such attention).  “Good evening Kiumbe.”  She nuzzld under his chin affectionately, in the process also looking down at “Rika.”  “Hello Rika.”
   “Hi, Zuni,” said Rika, climbing her paws up Kiumbe’s chest so she could nuzzle her mother.  “You weren’t worrying about me, were you?”
   Huzuni purred again.  “No tat all.  I had a feeling I would find you here.”
   Rika smiled.  “Okay.  Um... Zuni?  Could I stay with Uncle Kiumbe tonight?”
   Huzni blinked.  “Uncle?  Rika, its not wrong to call him Father-“
   ”Uncle’s fine with me,” said Kiumbe.  “I know family is important, but... Well, its obvious enough that I’m no Avari’s father.”
   “Oh, alright.”  She looked back down at Rika.  “But are you sure you want to?  I’m not saying I don’t trust Kiumbe, but-“
   Kiumbe reached out to her and scritched her under her chin.  Huzuni’s eyes fluttered dreamily.
   “Well...” she said between purrs.  “If it’s okay with Uncle Kiumbe you may.”
   Kiumbe chuckled, leaned forward and touched his forehead to Huzuni’s nose.  “Perfectly fine.  You too, if you wish.  I know you trust me, but if you want to keep an eye on your daughter just out of parental paranoia, that’s fine with me.”
   Later that night, Malaika returned to find Kiumbe fast asleep with Rika snuggled under his arm.  Huzuni had falen asleep and was using Kiumbe’s chest as a pillow.  Malaika purred, stepped up to the sleeping trio and smiled down at Kiumbe.  She touched her nose to his and her tongue came out to lick his face.
   “You’re the best Kiumbe,” she purred.  “I only wish there was room for me too.”

   Malaika finally went through her Descending, and despite constant encouragement from the other Avari, both Kiumbe and Malaika agreed that, as much as they loved each other, the idea of a human mating with an Avari was disgusting to think about.  She was later rewarded with two cubs (they never seemed to have one or three; it was always two), a boy with silver fur like her own that she named Tamu, and a reverse tiger-striped (meaning black fur with white stripes) girl that she called Refu.  Many offered their services as fathers, but they seemed to love Kiumbe more than anyone.
   “It’s the way you pet them,” said Askari as he observed Kiumbe’s methods one day.  “It’s because your nails are dull enough that a scratch does not even scrape I imagine.”
   Kiumbe chuckled and continued to pet the sleeping Refu.  “So I’ve been told.”  He smiled as he brushed the dust out of the little cub’s wings.  “Even the adults seem to think so.”
   Askari laughed.  “You’re quite a man,” he complemented.  “Are you sure you really have amnesia?”
   Kiumbe’s hands slowed down, and his smile faded.  Refu began to stir and Kiumbe resumed petting her again.  He had learned a lot from experience that lying about one’s feelings was impossible with the Avari, so he did his best to explain.
   “I’d rather Malaika didn’t know about this, but... I’ve been having dreams lately,” he explained.  “Nightmares I should say.  Not like the ones the cubs have about Ibilisi and the like.  I mean, like...”  He sighed.  “Nothing like anything an Avari could ever dream up.”
   His eyes panned over to the medical case, now collecting dust in the corner.
   “And that was in it,” he said, nodding over at the case.  “Not the case itself, but... What I have in it.”
   Askari knew fully well what was in it.  “I see...”  He looked down at Refu.  “Would you like me to take care of her for a while?”
   “Nah, I’m okay.  I mean... I’m scared, but-“
   ”That’s not what I mean.”  He smiled and gestured towards the entrance.  Two Avari females were in the cave’s entrance, Imara and a young grey female named Kanisa that had also come to love Kiumbe’s company.  Askari gently lifted Refu out of Kiumbe’s lap as the two females approached.  Askari and Imara exchanged pleasantries, but Kanisa had yet to determine the powerful male Avari as family.  She and Kiumbe smiled when they saw each other and nuzzled their foreheads together affectionately.
   “Hello Kanisa,” he said with a smile.  “Scritches?”
   Kanisa purred at the thought alone.  “Please.”  He grinned and scritched gently under her chin, that and behind the ears typically being where the Avari liked it most.  Kanisa purred with approval and groomed Kanisa’s face with her tongue.
   “Are you feeling awake right now?” she asked softly.
   Kiumbe smiled and nuzzled his forehead under her chin.  “Very.”
   Kanisa purred in response and licked his forehead.  “Then there’s something you should see.”  She paced around behind him and nudged against his back.  “Come, swiftly now.”

   Kanisa guided Kiumbe up to the cavern’s peak, exactly where he and Malaika had become family many seasons ago.  Erevu and another all-white female he did not know the name of were there, embracing each other with their wings.  Huzuni was also there, and by their will, Kiumbe sat down between her and Kanisa so they could nuzzle him and be scritched simultaneously.
   Huzunied nuzzled her muzzle under Kiumbe’s chin and tilted his head up.  “Isn’t it beautiful?” she said as his eyes became directed to the alpha sphere, now shing directly over the Avari settlement.  “Do you know what moon this is?”
   Kiumbe blinked.  “You mean... Since I arrived?”  Both Avari nodded and Kiumbe paused a moment.  “No.  No, I lost count a long time ago.”
   Kanisa rested her head on Kiumbe’s shoulder and closed her eyes.  “Four hundred.”
   Kiumbe did the calculations in his head.  He couldn’t believe the results.
   “Four hundred passings,” Kanisa repeated.  “And you know what the only thing we regret is?” she asked with a smile.
   Kiumbe shook his head.  The two Avari females grinned at each other, stretched their wings out and brought them together, forming a little tent between the three of them with Kiumbe in the middle.  They both purred as they took turns licking his face.
   “That it took fifty moons for me to become welcome?” Kiumbe finally suggested.
   Both of them nodded, and Kiumbe smiled and hugged his arms around thier shoulders, hugging them closer to him.
   “Well, better late than never, right?”
   The Avari both purred with approval.

   Sixteen passings later, Kiumbe’s sleep was disturbed again.  This time it was Giza, now a young adult that was just as big as Kiumbe, that was trying to awaken him.
   “Kiumbe!” he shouted.  “There’s something you should see!”
   Giza guided him down the flood zone halfway down the mountainside.  Just about every Avari male that was capable of defending himself (which was pretty much everyone but the cubs and Elfu, the village elder) had assembled on the mountainside where Giza brought him to, Erevu and Askari standing out among them.  In the distance, a pair of white lights illuminated the night.
   “Glad you arrived,” said Erevu as Kiumbe joined the group.  “Have you seen anything like this before?”
   Kiumbe watched the lights carefully.  He could feel the sweat building up on his shirt.
   “Headlights,” he whispered.
   A shot rang out and Kiumbe felt a sharp pain in his forearm.  The Avari scattered in a panic and everything before Kiumbe’s eyes went black.

   “The diagnosis shows that Griever may have acquired multiple head injuries during his crash, which was most likely around five years ago,” he heard a voice in the distance explaining.  The words though, they were hard to understand.  How long had it been since he had heard actual structured language?  “It could be that Griever has become dormant because he has no recollection of his past criminal history.”
   “I know what you’re thinking,” said a calmer yet more distorted voice.  “Griever has amnesia now, but such a disability is rarely permanent.”  He exhaled and paused a moment.  “Were he just a simple deserter, we could easily dismiss him as ILU (Irrelevant: Location Unknown).  But this is Griever!  You don’t just let a serial killer disappear like that!”
   Serial killer?  Does that mean my dreams were memories?!
   The second voice remind the other of everything Griever had done in vivid detail.  Yes, they did line up perfectly with his dreams.  He remembered their faces, two expressions for each, the smile for the camera, and the look on their faces after the bullet had pierced their skin.  He remembered their funerals, and how he had somehow always managed to find someone in need of his shoulder to cry on.  Veronica Amor, Debbie Bessom, Karan Chappel, Leslie Drake...
   He made it as far as far as K, he recalled, before they discovered his pattern.
   “We can’t let someone like that go free,” the voice repeated.  “Hell, we shouldn’t have even let him live.  They’ll take his head of fon sight when we get back home; you know that.”
   “I’m well aware,” the other voice hissed.  “But... Psychologocailly, it’s possible for someone with amnesia to form an entirely different personality instead of recollecting the old one.  And judging by the ways those creatures he was with all crowded around him when we tired to get him, I’d say he might have.”
   “And I’ve told you before, we can’t take that risk!”
   “What risk; its been five years since we’ve even heard from this guy!  Nobody remembers his name Commander!  If he was still a risk, I think we would have heard from him by now!”
   Kiumbe opened his eyes and looked around the dark room.  A wall to his left, a wall to his right, the ceiling just twelve feet off the ground, seven above his head due to the stretcher he was strapped into (and in a very Dr. Lecter fashion I might add).  He looked from wall to wall, suddenly understanding how Malaika had felt when she set foot in his old home.  He looked down at the restraints, thought he could undo them, but even if he could, which way would he get out.  It had been years since he’d seen an actual door that could open and close.
   “That’s enough,” the older more authorative voice commanded.  “I won’t tell you again; we can’t risk leaving Griever alive.”  Everything settled for a moment; he could sense they were letting the conversation die.  “We’ll wait here until the winds die down enough for us to fly.  Then we’re going straight back to Alesandria to return him to the proper authorities.”  He exhaled deeply and lowered his voice.  “I won’t say it again.”
   Kiumbe tried to think of a way to escape.  He wanted nothing in the world more than to see Malaika, Imara, Askari, Kanisa, Rika; anyone!  But the more he thought, the more his thoughts changed directions.  How dare they invade his world!  How dare they pluck him from his friends and family and force history back upon him.  Damn them!  Damn them all!
   Outside, a thunder storm was brewing so strong the ground shook.  Thunder clapped and the earth jolted him in restraints.  Again, and again.  Finally, one of the humans spoke.
   “What the devil’s going on here?!” he shouted.
   Outside, he heard a voice he recognized:
   “Give Kiumbe back!”
   Askari!  God bless his soul.
   “Kiyumbe?” the commander repeated, mispronouncing the name unforgivably.  “Who?”
   “I think they mean Griever,” said the other.  “I told you he could have reformed.”
   “No... No, I won’t believe that!  Not after what he did to my-“
   ”Don’t you see?” the other interrupted.  “This is his family come to rescue him!”
   Thunder rattled the ship again.  “Give Kiumbe back!” Askari shouted again.  “You have no right!  You have no right at all to take him!”
   “Ready the engines!” the commander ordered.  “We lift off immediately.”
   “But... That’ll kill them!” the subordinate protested.  “We can’t do that!”
   “That’s an order!”
   There came a clang of metal, and suddenly a sound of thunder which did not shake the earth.  A roar of anger came from the Avari and a force struck the ship that could have tipped it over.
   “Dammit!” the commander yelled.  “Dump him out!  Leave him here in hell!”
   A bright light shined at Kiumbe’s feet, a strong wind blew in his face, and the stretcher they had strapped him to rolled down the 45 degree plank and back onto the earth.  He stared wide-eyed as he piloted feet first down the flood zone, listening to the Avari screaming in panic as they scampered after him.  He traveled a few hundred yards before the stretcher finally tipped over, planting his face in the dirt.  All around he could hear the Avari scampering up beside him, their noses prodding his body and their wings blotting out the sun.  All he remembered was hearing the engines of the aircraft in the distance as it took off.  He blacked out completely after that.

   He awoke to find Malaika licking his face in an attempt to wake him.  She smiled when his eyes finally opened and happily nuzzled his face.
   “Thank the sphere you’re awake!” she beamed.  “We were so worried when they took you; nobody knew what to do!  Oh but thank the sphere for Askari; we need to find a really special way of saying thank you to him.”
   Griever rubbed his forehead.  “Huh?  Wait, what... What happened exactly?”
   She chuckled.  “You forgot?  Those two humans took you on their airplane and Askari told everyone to ram it all at once.  One of the humans got one of those weapons you had in that case and hit Askari with it, but he’s okay.  He’s got a big scar on his shoulder from it, but I think he’s taking a liking to it.  Something about using it to remind him of the best thing he’s ever done in his life.”  She purred and touched her nose to his.  “And now everything’s back as it should be.”  She licked his nose and purred.  “Welcome back Kiumbe!”
   Griever’s eyes blinked as they adjusted to the light.  “Kiumbe?  Who’s Kiumbe?”
   Malaika chuckled.  “Silly.  You’re Kiumbe.  Remember?”
   He paused a moment.  “Oh yeah... Kiumbe.”  He looked up at Malaika.  “They... They shot Askari?”
   Malaika nodded.  “They did.  But he’s okay.  It didn’t lodge in his head and kill him like you said it would; he’s just a little grumpy right now.”  She set her front paws on his shoulders, touched her nose to his forehead and licked over his face.  “But all of us would have taken a bullet to the wing just to have you back.”  She purred and licked him again.  “Why were they after you anyway?  Did you hear what they wanted?”
   Griever reached up and rubbed his aching forehead (Malaika purred in anticipation of scritches) “I... I think they knew who I was before,” he half-whispered.  “They called me... Griever.”
   “Griever?” Malaika repeated.  “Hm.  That’s a good name.  It fits your personality well, but...”  She chuckled and slid a paw under his head, hugging his face into her fur and resting her chin on his head.  “I’m having a hard time picturing the cubs calling you Uncle Griever.”  She laughed.  “Well, its up to you.  Kiumbe or Griever; which one are you?”
   He took a deep breath, pondering it over.  He felt he was Griever again; he remembered all he was and what made him that way.  But... His time as Kiumbe had been the greatest time of his life.  But now being Griever again, would he ever feel that way again?
   He needed only look into Malaika’s warm welcoming eyes to make his decision.  He wiped his eyes and sat up so he could hug his arms around her and nuzzle his head under Malaika’s chin.  She returned the hug, almost the same position they had been in when they became family, and Kiumbe spoke:
   “Not a clue.”

Offline Kada-Ru

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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2003, 11:53:30 am »
Very nice story, Terastas!

I do have some critigues though. I'm a bit confused on this sentence:
While he worked with this, Imara walked past him and came up beside Imara.

“You know, I can still here you from over here,” he said as he opened the case.

To listen to some one is spelled 'hear'. Just a little correction.  '<img'>

That was very good! I kept reading it and couldn't stop!

One suggestion though? Be sure to use a spell checker for misspellings. It will work wonders. Other than that, I really enjoyed reading it.
My avatar was created on 7-24-2000 (one of these days I need to make a new one. LOL)
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Offline Chaz_wolf

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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2003, 12:40:27 pm »

A good story with afew minor grammer and spelling errors..

Keep up the good work.

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Short Story
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2003, 09:36:09 pm »
*nods*  I figured there'd be some typos in there somewhere.  The file I had it on got corrupted (thank you Microsoft!'<img'>, so when I pretty much just typed the whole thing out from a rough draft I'd printed prior.

Thanks for your support you guys; it makes me want to finish the novel even more now. '<img'>

Offline Chaz_wolf

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« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2003, 11:53:23 am »
I can't wait to see the finished novel.

Keep up the great work.

Your folfy
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