Birdhouse [20]

I liked to pride myself on being in pretty good shape for an old lady. I mean, I wasn’t a ‘down-to-the-gym’ gal, by any means, but I wasn’t hugely chubby or incapable of lifting a reasonable amount of weight, and I wasn’t in need of a walker or a granny-go-cart just yet. I could still rely on my own two feet to get around.
But by the time that Big Bird and the chicks and I emerged out of the steaming jungle into the clearing we’d traveled to, I was just about dead on my feet.
We had to have trotted a good mile, mile and a half, at a pretty brisk pace, and it was more than I’d done in a very long time. I stopped and dropped my hands to my knees and huffed and puffed for a little while.
The chicks stopped too, and gathered round in a half-circle of curious head-tilting consternation. Part of me was concerned that they might try to peck me in the bum, or whatever a beakless bird gets up to, but most of me was too busy trying to breathe and not throw up.
Big Bird was halfway across the clearing when he realized that I’d dropped out. He came striding back, his foot placement becoming a tad slower and more hesitant as he got closer.
I looked up at him, squinting, hands still on knees, and said, “Sorry, I’m old. This was a bit too much for me.”
He cocked his head like his chicks were doing, looked me up and down for a second, and then began to do the rumbling laugh-noise thing he’d done earlier. I remained unamused, still huffing and puffing.
“Yer not …bzzzt… old, little thing. Yer not even started yet.” he rumbled and laughed. “But we kin wait a minute.”
I straightened up then, hands on hips, still breathing hard, and said, “Where did you get the Kansas accent, anyway?”
“Accent? I dunno what you mean,” he cocked his head again. “I learned human talk from Albert and Grace.”
“OHhhhhhh.” I said. “SO they were here for a while, then?”
“Yeah, yeah. A good while.” He nodded. “They had to go, though.” His voice dropped an octave and began to sound oddly like a cello being bowed in some sad Brahms sonata. “They had to go away.” I felt my own heart ache in response to the sound of heartbreak in his voice.
“Why’d they have to go?” I asked, wiping my forehead with the sleeve of my oversized tshirt.
“Half yellow eye. Half yellow eye, ‘n the breaches, ‘n the darkleaks.” His voice picked up a bit more anger, became more clipped, and he spoke as if he were making sense, as if those words were simple, plain, clear facts, but the only part I picked up on was that Pebbles/Rocky/Ole Gravelpants had done something to screw things up. “Ready now? We’re almost there.” he smiled at me encouragingly, head slightly bobbing on its long neck.
I straightened up and nodded, “Can we walk a little bit slower for now?”
“Of course,” he turned and positively strolled in a very considerate manner. My aching pins were very grateful.
I said, “I don’t really understand what you meant by “breaches” and “darkleaks”, but I understand that the… um… half-yellow-eye man did something that caused a lot of trouble. I don’t understand a lot of things yet, but I am trying. He said something about how he thought he’d have more time…? when he gave me the rock and I haven’t learned much yet so I’m very confused.”
He stopped walking, for just a moment, and so I did too. I looked up at him wondering what the holdup was, and he looked down into my face with a strange sadness that was a little too close to pity for my tastes.
“I’ll try to explain to ya,” he said, “But it’s complicated, and it’s going to take some time.”
“Ok” I said, “Evidently I’m here for the time being. Also, what’s your name? Mine’s Laurel.”
“I like your name, Lo Rell. My name is [he made a crackling and popping electrical sound that ended with a hiss]. It means, loosely translated, “The Tree Who Remains”. Albert and Grace used to call me Tremayne.”
I chuckled. “Thank you, I’ll call you that too, if you don’t mind. Tremayne.”
The people he belonged to had once crossed to our planet on a regular basis. Their presence had been witnessed by some of the people in the region, and so their story had become part of the lore of the land.
“Wakinyans”, the white folks who’d met them called them, mistaking them for the source of the Plains’ tribes tales of the great Thunder Beings who ruled the prairie skies.
But these “Wakinyans” were not the revered elemental forces of the oyates, connected to the very soul of the planet. They were just visiting foreigner-aliens from other planets. They knew better than to operate with such hubris. They knew their limitations.
However, because of this fundamental misunderstanding, the stones where they’d been seen became forever after the “thunderbird eggs” in the local lore.
From the way he explained it to me, as we strolled at a gentler pace through the clearing full of bird-folks [of all sorts of colors and markings] and up a wide, grassy, winding spiral ramp, the planet where I now found myself was linked to the place on the planet Earth where I’d stood an hour or so ago. There were many other places that were also linked to the stones there, places that were far less friendly.
In each of these other places, the stones all appeared in the same “spot”, relative to one another- the healing stone would be in the same position relative to the spheres with slices missing out of them, nearby, and the biggest, house-sized stone would be in the same position relative to those others.
If I had traveled to a different planet, I would have looked around and seen the same configuration of rocks as I’d seen on Planet Earth- the settings around them would change, but the “place” would always be the same.
It was something like a pocket universe: It existed simultaneously on many different planets, but was its own place at the same time, never moving despite the fact that all of those planets and places were in constant motion travelling many light years apart.
It was a “fixed point”, an anomaly outside of space and time, and it was built- hundreds of thousands of years earlier- in order to facilitate travel and trade between those planets.
It was not the only such dimension-and-time-bending construct on Planet Earth [or in the networks of planets], but it was among the oldest.
The stone I had happened to connect to was designed specifically for emergency healing, basically triage- and the “Wakinyans” were the team in charge of sending the energy to heal through it.
Normally, this did not also involve the transfer of any human beings. Yes, there had been visiting between races in the past, but as Earth became more backwards and insular, most of the allied planets tended to avoid sending their people here.
Only those who were part of the network, who knew what was going on and why, would understand the proper use of the stones, and only those agents of other lands that were properly prepared and were sent for specific reasons would ever “visit” Earth in that way.
If somebody was placed in the healing stone and their people drummed on the stone in a certain way, the signal was sent to call for healing energy, and the team of healers transferred the appropriate energy back. I had witnessed the delivery system at work from this end, and back on Earth, Tremayne assured me, Albert would be close to fully recovered by now.
Thing was, when I had plopped the energy stone that was now associated with my DNA/ Soul/ energy down onto the thing, it had created a confusing systems glitch in the healing stone, which was dealing with the physical contact of myself, Grace, Albert, Charlie, and Skelty, and then suddenly got zapped with the [as it turns out quite powerful] pebble.
So it had decided that the little black pebble should be read as my “travel ticket” across dimensions, and that I was the “patient”, and I had been sent across a few galaxies to this planet. Something like a MedEvac chopper, but a bit faster and more sophisticated.
We reached the top of the spiral ramp, which was topped by a three-story building that was a cross between an Adirondack style gazebo and an Indonesian pagoda. It was quite beautiful, and just ODD at the same time.
The ground floor was a stone-paved elegant pavilion sort of shape, open on four sides. At the very back was a ramplike construction that served instead of stairs.
I followed him up to the second level, which had walls on three sides and two arched openings on the fourth. The walled areas would be quite dark except for the beautiful lanterns spaced along the walls. They were essentially very fancy jars with giant glowing caterpillars inside. The glowworms were green, blue, and yellow, and rather cute.
Along the walls were piles of cushions, some of them huge. All of them were made of extremely fine fabrics, mostly in pale colors, but beautifully embroidered and beaded in geometrical patterns.
I walked over to the arches and looked out across a beautiful endless jungle, as far as the eye could see.
The rays of the pink sun were now tinging the mists rising from the tops of the sea of trees as it headed for the horizon. It was quite beautiful.
There were occasional bird-people flying here and there, all of them with different markings and colors. Some were as large as Tremayne, but the vast majority seemed to be the smaller, almost human-sized “chicks” I had first met. It seemed that there weren’t many “adults” in this culture. Many of them were carrying baskets filled with fruit or nuts, or bundles of grass and moss, or leaves.
All were circling in, converging on various clearings in the trees. I could see buildings much like the one I was standing in dotting each of the clearings.
My host explained that they were all preparing to go home to their nests for the long 40-hour night cycle.
Then he led me over to a pile of cushions in one corner of the big room, set up a folding screen around it, and placed several large beautiful golden yellow fruits that looked a bit like mangoes on a low table nearby. He then went to a shelf in another corner and took down an object with his forefinger and thumb that looked tiny in his hand, placing it on the table by the fruit. It turned out to be a massive Bowie knife.
“Albert left this,” he explained, “Said that it was a necessary tool for humans, so I guess you’ll need it.”
“We don’t have an outhouse, here,” he added in conciliatory tones, “But I’ll set up a bucket out back fer ya. Nobody’s going to look, promise. And you kin use the waterfall to bathe. I’ll have one of the kids show you where it is, later. Now, I have to git down to the… town hall?… real quick and let ’em know what’s going on with you. I’ll be back by sundown.”
Then he turned, walked over to the nearest archway, jumped out, and was gone.

Published by goddesswest

I'm a painter and am writing something now. People keep asking me to put it together in an easier to access place, so here I am. Plan to get some of my artwork in here too, eventually.

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