The following is an excerpt of my short story: Revolution, which you can find in the anthology Static Dreams Volume One. Inside you’ll find nine dark and twisted stories written by some amazing authors. I hope you enjoy this little snippet.
Mark remembered the day he found himself here. That morning, so many mornings ago, had started normal for a sunny summer day. He was nine or ten, he couldn’t actually remember that part. Since school was out, he woke without an alarm and quietly pulled on a pair of moderately clean shorts and a rumpled t-shirt from his bedroom floor. He tiptoed past mom and dad’s bedroom and made his way outside. There was a creek at the end of their street and he spent most of his waking hours there when he wasn’t back home grabbing food or checking in with mom. Even now, he wished he could remember their names, his parents. But kids never cared much for things like that and here he was years later wishing he at least had that part of them to hold.
He recalled tossing sticks into the creek and trying to guess which would reach the little waterfall first. He recalled the sun warm on his back. He recalled the sky turning a bright crimson fading to purple and feeling overwhelmingly tired and a pressure behind his eyes. Falling to his knees and sleeping. He recalled waking up in an unfamiliar wood with a sky that was a little too lavender and a smell that smelled just a little off from what he had always known. He now knew the smell came from the Worker Class and their strange unclean ways. Back then, he just knew that he wasn’t home anymore.
He had sat up in an alien forest. He appeared to be on a wide trail of sorts, thin vines and grass wrapped around his arms and legs loosely, like a soft cocoon. Soon he heard talking. Looking about he finally saw them round a bend. There were four of them. A large rabbit, probably two feet tall. A mouse nearly as big. Something that was like a dog, it took him a while to remember they were called bulldogs. And then a badger. He didn’t know if it was big or little, it was about the same size as the others. It wasn’t their size that was as remarkable as the fact they were talking and that he could understand them.
The four animals stopped when they noticed Mark sitting there, gently unwrapping the foliage from his limbs. They exchanged glances with one another. The mouse dropping its head and shaking it while muttering, “not another one”. The rabbit hopped forward a couple hops closer and turned its head in a peculiar way, looking him over. With a single nod of its head, he stretched forth one paw and said in a kind voice. “Where are you from, friend?” “You…. you can talk?” had been Mark’s reply. The rabbit glanced back at the others and then at him again. “We can talk. But it’s not safe here. You shouldn’t be here. You don’t belong here…” The bulldog interrupted, “we need to leave. You know what happens next, if they find us.” The others nodded in agreement.
“Wait!” Mark called, as the four turned to leave the way they came. “Where am I? Who are you?” The rabbit only shook its head sadly prophesying, “I’m so sorry you have come here. It shan’t be easy for you now. No not at all.” Then turning, the four made their way swiftly back down the trail. Whispering amongst themselves and clearly in a hurry to put distance between the boy and them. Mark pulled his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms about his legs, began to cry softly.
He had stuck around the general area all that day, exploring very little, hoping that the creatures would come back and explain things to him. As evening fell, he began to get a little scared. Not of the dark, but of the unknown. He missed mom. He was hungry. And he was alone. Sometimes he thought he could hear whispers at the edge of his hearing but when he called out, there came no reply. Then just as the first stars began to appear, he heard a “psst!” nearby. Looking about himself, he caught the white stripes of the badger. “Psst!” it growled again. Mark crawled over to it. “Follow me,” the badger whispered. He did as he was told, moving quietly as he observed the badger doing the same. Shortly they came to a small rock wall and at the base a narrow entrance to a cave. It quickly grew dark as they navigated deeper into the cave but Mark had put his hand on the badger’s back and trusted it enough to continue following it through the cave.
Minutes passed before they suddenly halted. There were the sounds of a key turning in a lock, followed by a dim light flooding the narrow passageway as the door was pushed open. They crossed the threshold and closed the door behind them. The badger sighed with audible relief. “I’m sorry for all the secrecy but these are dangerous times in our land and I am sorry that you have made your way here to witness it.” It busied itself at the small fireplace, adding a few more logs and stoking the flames up a bit. Then it lit a few oil lamps and gestured for Mark to sit on the rug in front of the glowing fire. Reaching into a small box, the badger removed a sausage and a wheel of cheese. From an open cupboard, it pulled out a round loaf of bread and set all three things in front of him. Mark ate nearly all of it before his hunger was tamed. The badger handed him a small flask which it said was thulaberry wine. Mark didn’t know what that was, but it tasted a little like grape juice soda only not as sweet.
The badger sat in a worn wooden rocking chair and lit a stone pipe, the white smoke curling as it rose to the ceiling, which Mark just now realized was dirt and he could see a few roots poking down into the chamber. He scooted a little closer to the fire. A few minutes passed before the badger spoke again. “I brought you here because I read in my leaves this afternoon that I was to bring you here and give you the Seeing Herb. This is all I know or can tell you. The herb will tell you the rest. I wish I could let you sleep first but I really don’t know how much time I have.” It motioned with a claw to a small shelf above the mantel. On it rested an ornate clay box. Mark pulled it down, briefly noticing the intricate green leaves and flowers inlaid within its surface, and handed it to the badger, who opened it and pinched a small grape-sized clump between its claws. “Chew on this, don’t swallow. Chew until there’s nothing left. Swallow the juices.” Mark did as he was told, completely trusting the strange creature. The dried plant, which he noticed was a blueish green and appeared to have golden threads coming off it and covered in silver crystals, tasted like the forest and something more. An almost bitter flavor without being off-putting. He chewed and chewed, swallowing his spit when he needed to.
At first he had felt a pleasant peacefulness fall over him. This was followed by a clarity in his surroundings. He noticed the different colors of the dirt floor and ceiling, the flames of the hearth casting dancing shadows, the smell of the badger’s pipe. Trinkets and bottles and dried flowers rested upon every available ledge. His gaze was drawn to the badger’s whiskers as it puffed on its pipe, eyes closed, until looking up, where he watched the smoke gently curling above their heads. He lay back, arms crossed behind his neck, and watched entranced.
The smoke began to move in different ways and he found that he was seeing shapes which materialized into definite forms and then complete scenes. He watched as if a movie played before him unfolding. And he learned.
I hope you enjoyed this teaser into the history behind Mark’s revolution. You can read the entire short story in the book. I will be posting teasers from the other authors in the days to come, so strap in, and prepare for some wicked fun.
tara caribou | ©2020
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