Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Three: Aviar (continued)
Previously: After unwittingly sleeping in the nest of an immense bird named Aviar, Zack is discovered and pinned down by the creature.
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“What in Uol’s creation!” Aviar pulled back, then twisted his head the other way, and leaned in again. A look of recognition crossed his immense face. “Keldubar’s tail feathers!” he roared, causing a small avalanche nearby. His great gray-blues eyes stormed over. “How did you get here?”
“Did the Tinkurs send you?”
“Answer!” The creature’s beak reeked of greb. “And how did you learn Sheyaran?”
“I…I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? You don’t—Uol’s giblets! If you lie again, I swear by my pinfeathers I’ll cut you into…” Unable to contain his rage, the building-sized bird seized Zack in his beak and began to squeeze, causing Zack’s ribs to compress and his skin to turn magenta.
Zack managed a strangled, “Noooooooooo, pleeeeaaaaa…!” as the last bit of air rushed from his body.
Just as he was beginning to feel the beak cut into his skin, the creature loosened its grip and said, “Buh he desers oo die, Lor! Hrrrrrrrrrmmmmm!” He dropped Zack with a cold crack onto the frozen sod, and with one effortless flap flew to the top of a boulder fifty feet away.
“I know!” he argued with the sky. “But the manlet…I don’t…and your Sacred Eyrie! I could kill him quickly, mercifully. Hrrrr-errrrmmmm!”
Just as Zack was starting to gather the strength to crawl away, the creature flew back and pinned him under its claw again.
“It is forbidden!” the bird said with disgust. “’Uol will have mercy!’ That’s practically all the Prophets ever say. Kah! And when the Dark Tinkurs destroyed The Three Hundred Eggs—was that mercy? Well, was it? Answer me!”
“I…I don’t know anything about—“
“Of course you do, manlet! You’re Gerdan, aren’t you? You’re probably proud of your great Gerdan superiority!” He picked up the remains of a tree with his beak and hurled it into the sky. It disappeared from sight.
“N…no, I’m not proud of…I mean…I don’t even…”
“So how did you learn to speak Sheyaran? And what did you come to steal?”
“I…I didn’t come to steal any—“
“Enough! No more lies! Wing or talon?” He glared menacingly, his eyes full of avian bloodlust. “Well? Choose, or lose them all! And if you ever come here again, by Uol, I’ll tear out your crop and paint the rocks with your gizzard—Prophets or no Prophets!”
“Wing or talon! I’m not allowed to kill you, but I can and will send a message to your masters. Now…wing…” He encased Zack’s arm in his beak and rolled his great blue-gray eye at him, then let go of the limb and said, “Or talon!” He took Zack’s leg in his beak and squeezed.
“Oh, Gah…! Oh, crud…please, mister…I don’t…I’m not Gerdan. Please…” Zack tried not to cry, sensing that the two storey bird would respect him less if he did. For some reason, he wanted this creature’s respect almost as much as he wanted to live. Hot tears singed the corners of his eyes. “I don’t know how I learned Sheyaran. I just did.“
“Blessed Uol! You can’t be that stupid!” To improve Zack’s memory, Aviar picked him up by the swimsuit and dangled him over the six totomur drop. “Never seen a manlet fall that far. Think you’d bounce?”
“No, no, please! I’m not from Gerd, I swear. I’m from Middleton, in the United States, in the Western Hemisphere, on the planet Earth, and I can’t fly. I don’t know how I got here. I just fell out of a map, or through it or something, from another world.”
This last phrase caught Aviar off guard. He involuntarily jerked his claw, and Zack involuntarily exited his swimsuit.
Oddly, Zack’s principle thought as he plunged into the void was that he didn’t want to die naked. Death seemed imminent for at least the third time now, and he’d gained a sort of numbness to it, in fact he was so tired of fear and freezing that he almost welcomed it. It seemed he’d gotten his wish—he was about to die by falling rather than being eaten.
He’d fallen several hundred feet when a shadow loomed up beneath him; he assumed it was a jagged outcropping upon which he would be dashed senseless before bouncing off and continuing his deathly descent. He began to unconsciously picture his summery-warm house in Middleton, and whispered the words:
“I wish I could go home.”
The huge shadow Zack had seen wasn’t a jagged outcropping, it was Aviar. He’d flown off the ledge and straight down much faster than a falling middle-schooler. It was his intention to catch the manlet on his back, bite off one of its legs, and return it as a freshly de-limbed warning to its Gerdan village.
But his intentions were moot. The manlet was no longer there. There’d been a shimmer in the air just as the human was about to land on Aviar’s back. The bird had swung around and looked up. For a fraction of a vemtomil (less than a second) he saw two feet shooting upward at an impossible speed. Then nothing. Gone. Just like that.
Aviar was taken off guard, but not completely, for when the human had spoken about a “map” and about being from “another world,” a memory had floated to the surface of his millennial mind. It brought both wariness and anger to his ancient heart: if the manlet wasn’t Gerdan, and if this incident was what it appeared to be, then
“the Time of an End and a New Beginning” had arrived.
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Thoughts: Is it possible that what seem like random occurrences in your life are part of some greater plan? Is it possible you were born “for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
To read The Wishing Map 16, click here!