It occurred to Michaela (that is her name, Michaela) that swirls can be galaxies. A slow blink from the firery-orange one delivers validation.
And yet something far less pleasant also arrives.
As if out of nowhere, an engine belched out an endless stream of eruptions, commotions and explosions, a blaring cacophony that threatened to puncture the sound barrier as much as it had decimated her reverie. But she knew the racket wasn’t out of nowhere. Not by a long shot.
She sighed before she adjusted her attention and readied herself.
Reverie wasn’t a thing in this part of the country. The harshness of the lands didn’t encourage it. The people – just as unforgiving if not more than the lands themselves – didn’t allow it. They, these people, had no use for strangers. Michaela learned this early on during the first of her many years in the territory. The people, these so-called natives (by force, not birthright) said as much directly to her after she first stepped foot in the area.
“We don’t like strangers. Listening? You hear us? You better.”
They bellow-shrieked it once, altogether as if in a punk-industrial metal mashup band in some gothic mansion filled with vampires. Only once…that’s all they could bother with it. Beyond that they scowled. Or unleashed a dismissive shake of the head or air-slap with the back of the hand any time she didn’t see things or do things or say things the way they did.
She narrowed her vision and was slow to realize, when she did realize, that the firery-orange being already had set his sights. They both studied the horizon’s edge to their right. The fog of pollution, or dust and hopelessness fell thick in these parts. It proved a miracle to see anything at all – even the stuff of every day grime, much less the stuff of hidden magic and yet every now and then Michaela pondered another miracle: that she had held onto herself, her “strangeness” through it all. And that nothing worse had happened with these bizarre people who considered her stranger than their brand of utter strangeness.
How does anyone live constantly in fear? How does anyone live without magic, she wondered.
Her gaze flitted, almost protectively but she knew that wasn’t necessary, to the orange being. If they only knew about her Tasman. They hadn’t a clue, she thought, in so many ways, she thought, as she relevelled her weathered eye to the horizon.
She knew the seduction of simplicity and fought against giving into it. Sometimes she succeeded. Sometimes she failed. But the folks here took that seduction in with an attitude of austerity. All these so called “good folk” in these lands cared to know was that their message was received. far and wide. Their message – meant for efficiency and maximum effectiveness – was simple and raw: We don’t understand you. Because we don’t understand you, we don’t like you. Keep the peace, be invisible and we’ll put up with you.
Until we won’t.
The unspoken part. Michaela knew, was the very real part. They weren’t fooling anyone. Living here had been a tightrope walk without a net. An uneasy tension with no room for error. And now barreling into their eyesight, in shrouded yet clear enough view was the monstrosity of the entire Western Homestead, motorized and propped up on a set of nearly 100 wheels each 200 stories in height. She had seen this before. In the Days Before. Probably in a movie that was considered to be fantastical and not something anyone thought would actually happen. But it had happened. Societies collapsed in on themselves so far down that every person for themselves transformed into every county or every city for themselves was seen as progress. And so the motorized combatant lands were born.
She could see the specks of grime and dirt on the multiple specks of fear-driven people who cheered on the upper deck of the lumbering, swaying county on wheels. Their raucous cries wiped out by belches of exhaust and pipes and whirling metal arms and the grinding, crushing insistence of motorized, manufactured protectionism.
Tasman turned his elfin, triangular shaped head toward Michaela, ignoring the glutenous machinery that bore down upon them. He blinked slowly to Michaela, then he stood in full magnificent form and reared his head. His amber eyes angled wide and alert now. His ears perched and pitched, capturing every morsel of sound from every direction.
Tasman slowly turned his gaze from the glutenous machinery bearing down upon them. He blinked slowly at Michaela. Then he stood and reared his head, amber eyes wide and alert now. Ears perched, capturing every morsel of sound from every direction.
Michaela nodded. In one fell swoop – just like the swirling, twirling leaf she had delighted in just moments before – she leapt forward and danced along the air onto the side of her firery-orange companion. At once, she clamored up his legs and back before crouching into a secure sit pose squarely in the center of his shoulder blades.
She held her breath in awe. Just moments ago, he had been a cat. A Norwegian Forest Cat. A Cat of the Vikings. And now…
Tasman uncurled the impossibly long length of his tail. Stood upright into each of his four powerful legs, each 200 stories in height. Then unfurled his expansive wings.
He roared at the now miniscule, cloddish Western Homestead infested with its small-minded and cloddish people.
And then Tasman and Michaela took to the skies.
NaNoWriMo 2021 920 word count (not including this notation) for a total of 1,720 words.