Return 7

At dawn, the grey sky still hung heavy over the camp; the pool itself was the only thing that seemed returned to life. The Captain had woken early, and had gathered the children — to what purpose, we didn’t know.  He sent them all out into the world of rock and ash and grey sky, and by the time we had awakened, they were gone, and he stood at the water’s edge, with Luroteo, who still kept vigil over what had fallen through the clouds.

When they came back, dirty and ragged, he took them down to the banks of the pool, and took what they gave him, and laid it down in the water. 

We watched as withered husks came to life again, as seed pods swelled and burst forth with sprout and vine, as branches stripped from skeletal trees sent out roots and sought nourishment, then began to bud. We watched as these green, living things hummed with the song that flowed into them, through them, and we counted our blessings, and each in turn passed close to the fallen, touched its wings, and said what passed for prayers in our own simple words.

Again and again, the Captain sent the children out before we woke. Again and again they came back. they came back, dusty and scratched, scraped and ragged, hands full of treasures. On the fourth day, we had managed the tiniest, most pitiful of gardens, and yet to us it was as lush and bountiful as anyone had ever seen, and everyone sought to tend it, to make it grow. Many of us told the Captain we would go hunting for the seeds and roots and vines to sustain our collective, as we saw the children growing increasingly exhausted, wearied and wounded. The Captain denied us this, but gave us no real reason other than his meditations. Every night, he slept with one of the feathers. He told us it gave him clarity of thought — that it sang to him in his dreams. We believed him, as his leadership had kept us from death so many times, he seemed a miracle himself.

Still, some of us were uneasy.

One morning, a handful of us woke early, wanting to help, believing the Captain simply needed to see our reasoning, but he had already sent the children ahead. Many of us began to question the Captain aloud, now. Some of us were combative. He maintained an air of dignity few can hold, and even fewer, while being accused of manipulation and trickery. Ilen, one of the loudest, tried his best to explain that his fear was simply for the greater good: the children had to be kept safe — what would happen to our society without them? None of it seemed to sway the Captain at all. When he spoke, it was with conviction, and every word he said seemed punctuated with a gesture of the feather he now carried with him everywhere. He was seeing to their safety, he promised. When the children came back late that day, alive and well, and with a greater-than-normal load of their treasures, many of us were soothed.

Still, some of us were uneasy.

6 responses to “Return 7

      • A little, started Friday. My parents and nephews came up the weekend (twas my birthday yesterday), so it was very busy (but great fun). Feeling worn down a bit, and some rest would be great, plus it’s March Break. Plus my bloody company is getting sold today, so I have to seriously step it up and explain to everyone what this means… shall be fun. That is my tale of woe… mostly though I just want a couple of days to read and to write… you’re first on my list, Catastrophe Jones, as always.


        • Well happy belated birthday, Lewin. I’m sorry you’re feeling under the weather. Here’s to many more birthdays, and fewer sick days. Or at least fewer sick days where you’re actually sick.


  1. I must have reread the third paragraph a dozen times, the alliteration is fantastic. The “s” and “w” sounds give the impressions of whispers that sends chills. I really wish I had the time to just sit down and read through all of these at once.


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