General Fiction posted July 23, 2018


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animal cracker thing

Sinkhole town meeting

by LIJ Red


The scene is a small deep hollow in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The slippery barkless trunk of a huge pine lies broken and rotting in the hollow floor, across a sinkhole that exposes an underground stream trickling through its bottom. A number of o'possums and raccoons have gathered in the twilight shade of the hollow, which is under the dense canopy of huge oaks and tulip poplars. A few squirrels and rabbits sit on the opposite side of the sinkhole from a pair of bobcats and a family of grey foxes. The truce is obviously an uneasy one. Above the mammals, in the sandberry bushes, roost a small murder of crows, some jays, cardinals, and a pair of brown thrashers.

The three who have called this assembly shoulder their way through the mayapple plants that cover the steep hillsides bracketing the hollow. Blacky is a claret gamecock, old and a giant of his kind. His comb is scarred, his long gills sway under his chin, his sharp spurs are dark, hard, as long as a two-leg's finger. He is to moderate this meeting. With him are his guests, who will provide answers to his questions. Lightfoot is a female siamese cat, a seal-point with one forepaw as pale as her furry flanks. Tad is a dog, of the small mixed-breed hunting type called a fiest(or fyce if you are Faulkner hunting bears).

Their field of expertise is The Old Hill god, the two-leg who lives in the hollow hill atop the mountain, who scatters edible substances about his lair. He has disappeared.

The dryflies in the treetops sing their endless song. Blacky perches on the high end of the fallen log and opens the dialog. "Barking one. You live closest to the god. Where is he?"

"He has forsaken us. He no longer appears when I bark. The places where he leaves food are empty. Even the bugs have given up and moved on," Tad replies.

"He put out an unusual amount of that dry, barely edible stuff three suns ago. It is gone. The spiders build webs over the doors where he used to come and go. I think he is dead." Lightfoot adds.

"Can a god die?" the mother of grey foxes inquires.

"His is no god. He bleeds, even as you and I," Lightfoot says. "When my sister Nella died, he wept as he threw dirt over her."

"Then he cannot be all powerful. An all powerful god would never weep."

"An all powerful god would never be angry. When Nella and I fought, he was angry. He brought the rain on us."

"That was not rain, just water from the Earth. He hides from the rain, and holds the things with the black markings, and gets grumpy," Tad joins in. "We have placed our faith in a false god. Or more likely, a god with powers only a little above our own."

"It is a vast, strange universe, is it not?" a squirrel wonders.

"Why would a creature of another species let us share his warm places in winter? Why would he bother to feed us?" questions the querulous Tad.

"He knows that we live. He shares our pain. He fears the Black Empty that swallows life even as we do," Lightfoot growls. "He cares. He is a god. Maybe a feeble one, but--"

"I think he has a God of his own. He screams at Him sometimes. He did this a lot after the other two gods went away from his hollow hill." Blacky comments.

"The other hollow hills are filled with evil gods. They place no food. They strike us down, hurling stones with sounds like thunder," Father fox injected.

"The hot flat place, where the Roaring Demons race to slaughter, is just a pathway for other gods. They care nothing for us. Our old god is special. We are his chosen creatures," Lighfoot speaks softly.

"And our god is gone. Perhaps he is dead." Blacky mourns. "Let us grieve tonight. Tomorrow we must change our way of life. Perhaps most of us must leave this hill and hollow, and search the world for places to dwell. It is not a kindly world. Good fortune to you all."

*****

The meeting broke up and the long summer afternoon seemed to last forever. Tad dug a long groove in the fallow garden, chasing a blinddigger. Lightfoot crouched and waited for a swift bluetail to crawl too close down the garage wall.

The familiar Urdenurden, chariot of the old god, came grinding up the graveled path as the sun kissed the faraway Cohuttas. A strange god--a goddess--bounced out and opened the opposite door.

Lightfoot and Tad ran to see the arrivals. Blacky crowed furiously at the edge of the unmown yard.

"Are you sure you'll be okay, Unk?" the skinny goddess asked, as the old god slowly stood out of the Urdenurden.

"Aw, hail yeah. I'm pert nert healed up a'ready," the oldster retorted.

"Anything I orta do 'fore I head to the house?"

"Yeah, feed my critters. There's jugs and cans of feed on the counter by the sink."

"I'll drop ya off a biscuit and feed 'em again on my way to work inna mornin'."

"Sure 'preciate it, young'un. Doc says I should be able to take care of myself in a day er two."

"No problem. Come on, 'Foot. Come on, Tad. Heah, heah, kitty, kitty an' a'that sheeit," the little two-leg cried gaily.

As the lesser goddess threw a scoop of scratch feed at Blacky and his wives, the old rooster crowed his pronouncement again. The Parousia had come to pass. The gods were back.


Story of the Month contest entry


I don't watch talk shows. I think this a not quite what was expected. But it was fun to write.

Club entry for the "Animals Crackers" event in "Animal Crackers".  Locate a writing club.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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