Search Crossed Genres

“The Nest” by DeAnna Knippling

Keigoe glanced down the dim alley, the bottoms of the walls dark with mold and shadowed further by scooters chained to narrow, barred windows. Footsteps echoed back at her, and a long shadow trailed across the ground where the thick sunlight marked the next street.

“Annoul! Come back here right now, you naughty creature!” Her lamellae rippled; she was starving after an entire day being sacked up in her biojaddri, almost ready to eat the fleas off a dog.

She could feel the eyes trying to penetrate her blue-and-gold jaddri as she stood. Trying to see her peds, she supposed. Always, everywhere she went, they tried to press their eyes on her. Through slits in the doorways. Through the bars in the windows. Their black pools of eyes, the holes in their faces. The gaping holes.

“Annoul!”

The jaddri kept out the smells. But it could not keep out the smell of herself, full of fear and anger and hunger. It could not keep out the antiseptic taste of the cloth where it brushed against her lamellae.

If only she did not have to wear the jaddri. She would be able to follow the child easily.

She decided the alley would be too tempting for Annoul to resist.

As she trotted toward the end of the alley, a small, dark-colored bird flew out of the awning covering one of the doors between two scooters, and she threw up her stalks to protect her face. The bird flapped against her jaddri twice, then flew back under the eaves. It must be protecting its nest.

She ran to the end of the alley and turned toward the light: and suddenly, without warning, Annoul jumped out at her. He had hidden his shadow by creeping next to the wall, behind the shadow of another scooter.

His arms and legs and head spread wide, he flew through the air at her, and she screamed in startlement but forced herself to spread her stalks and steady her peds to catch him.

Human children were so heavy. He knocked her back, and she stumbled almost to the alley until she got her balance again.

“Annoul! You almost tipped me over!”

“You didn’t see me, did you, Miss Keigoe? I hid in the shadows, just like you said the Sabadon do!”

She clasped him tight. The humans, they were so heartless. When their children were born, they abandoned their flesh and let them run about like wild things. They did not cleave to their children, and carry them until maturity. They sent them to mingle with adults who were not their parents, and now, with the humans and the Sabadon negotiating peace, they sent them to mingle with adults who were not even human. They threw their children away. No wonder they were such a lawless, backward, worthless species.

“Yes, Annoul. You were very clever. Now, let us go back to the consulate and get sterilized before we are pollinated, yes?”

Annoul laughed. “Pollen is for flowers!”

“Pollen makes Sabadon very… ill, Annoul. You don’t want me to get sick, do you?”

His weight shifted from side to side as he shook his head. “No, Miss Keigoe.” He rubbed a finger vigorously under his nose. How could these children be so heavy? Their structures must be made of stone, she would swear it. He was sliding down her jaddri to get away again, so she hefted him, pushing her stalks under his rump to keep him steady and aloft. She was not going to risk this “holding his hand” behavior again. It was too easy for him to twist her stalks about and gain his freedom.

Annoul took a sudden, deep breath.

And then he exploded.

With the black pit of his mouth open, all the air in his body spat out at her, carrying biotic fluids in a storm that spattered her jaddri from the top of her head-stalks to her torso.

“Annoul!” she cried. “What did I tell you about turning your head and not sneezing on people?”

Annoul’s eyes and mouth clenched shut; he was leaking yet more fluids from his eyes and nose, and his face was covered in bits of fluid that sparkled in the evening sun. “I’m sorry!”

“We are going back to the consulate right now.”

“I’m sorry, Miss Keigoe,” he howled.

She lifted him again and stomped back through the alley on angry peds. “When we get back, you are grounded, Annoul. Grounded!”

She shouldn’t have made the threat; it only made him leak more fluids. Why these humans didn’t become dehydrated from all the fluids they leaked and respirated, she would never know.

Something hissed at her from the door where the bird had come from, and she put up her stalks to keep the bird from scratching Annoul. But it was a human: the door was open, and a human shouted at her, “Put him down!”

She ignored the human and kept walking. Annoul clutched tighter around her torso, whimpering, leaning away from the human in the doorway.

“It’s not right!”

A few more steps, and she would reach the end of the alley. She shifted Annoul around to her back. He slipped his arms around her neck; they had had to do this more than once before.

A few more steps. That was all. All would be well this time.

“Stop the alien!” a human shouted. “It’s stealing a child!”

Keigoe’s lamellae writhed in anger. Just once, she would like to be able to leave the compound without someone accusing her of some kind of monstrosity. Just once.

Keigoe ran to the end of the alley, shoved her stalks into their forward pockets, and climbed the wall as fast as she could, while turning her jaddri from bright blue to a dim, shadowed yellow spotted with gray and green mold, to match the decrepit wall. A human screamed in rage as she seemed to vanish.

She climbed onto the roof. The jaddri shifted color with her movement, now green tin with silver fleck, now orange clay tiles. The heat radiating from the hot tiles made her hiss with pain, even through the jaddri. But the panicked human voices were long behind her. Soon she was at the wall of the old Portuguese consulate, dark bricks stuck unevenly together with white mortar, and a row of short, white stone pillars on top.

She jumped across the gap to the wall, then lowered herself down the inside of the wall and let Annoul slide to the ground.

He had stopped leaking, but his face was still wet with smeared fluids. She adjusted her stalks for bipedalism and upper limbs, rubbed his head with the stalks nearest him, and said, “It’s all right, Annoul.”

The holes in his face practically leaked despair, even though they remained dry. “They were going to kill you, weren’t they?”

“Perhaps,” she said.

“Why?”

“Because they thought I was hurting you.”

“But you weren’t.”

“But they thought I was.”

“But you weren’t.”

Her lamellae fluttered in annoyance. Why didn’t they keep their children grafted inside them until they were fully developed? There was no answering this kind of question, not for another twenty years.

“They thought I was an enemy, Annoul. When a human thinks someone is an enemy, it doesn’t matter what the truth is. Everything an enemy does is the action of an enemy, so it must be stopped. That is how the human mind works.”

Of course he didn’t understand it. She took him by his hand, then used another dozen stalks to grasp the back of his neck, too, while she was at it, and started walking with him back to the children’s quarters.

“But you weren’t,” he said, before she pushed him, at wit’s end, into the waiting arms of his parents.

***

She went back to her quarters and waited for the sterilization chamber to run its cycle, so she could take off her jaddri, enter the sealed apartment full of Sabadon biota, and eat.

The other children had all been claimed by their parents; she had had to explain to Annoul’s parents in the schoolroom with the green walls and the heavy, carved chairs sitting on both sides of the new gray plastic table that yes, he had been perfectly safe, but he had taken some of her lessons a little too much to heart (which, she understood, functioned much in the same way between humans and Sabadon), and was trying to acquire Sabadon abilities by practicing climbing walls and hiding from teachers.

He was surprisingly good at it, often scurrying up trunks and hiding in the shifting leaves of the compound’s plant life with a thin, gray-spotted cloth to conceal his face before she had learned to look for him in them.

Now he went over the wall.

“I do not know what to do with him,” she said. “He does not understand that he will always be different, that he cannot be…a Sabadon. That he needs to appreciate what it means to be human.”

But Annoul’s parents, the supposedly male one, dressed in dark colors that allowed it to blend among others of its gender, and the female one, dressed in swaths of bright colors that covered almost as much of her as a jaddri, only laughed. “He is very imaginative,” said the male. “And very clever,” said the female. As though Annoul’s delusions were admirable, rather than terrifying.

Keigoe twisted her lamellae and waited most impatiently for the sterilization chamber to beep.

But the stream of chemicals went on and on, and did not stop.

And then the view panel flashed red at her, shrieking an alarm.

The view panel informed her that she was infected with local biota.

Keigoe cursed and looked over her jaddri. The flight up the wall could have nicked her in a hundred different places–

No. The jaddri showed long, trailed scratches all over the head-stalk, and the grille had come loose at one corner. A shining streak of Annoul’s grief-fluids had run down the inside. It had been the attack from the bird, defending its nest.

Keigoe shrieked and ripped the jaddri off her. Now she would have to go through the full sterilization, before Annoul’s biota colonized her.

And it would be dawn before it was done, leaving her with no time to eat before she had to return to teaching.

She slammed into the wall of the chamber in frustration, then shoved the ruined jaddri through the slot in the door to be destroyed. “Run full sterilization.”

The alarms stopped: the view panel went black, then flickered a message for her: the cost of the full sterilization would drop her credit balance under the amount she needed for her ticket home. She had set a warning message, to keep her from spending credits, this close to her goal.

She howled and thrashed against the walls as a panel in the wall opened, and the full-sterilization unit, which looked like a bird’s egg the size of a small human child, rolled toward her, cradled in foam.

If she took the full sterilization, she would be unable to buy a return ticket, and would be trapped on this planet longer than the Sabadon Purity laws would allow. Her body would be pure – but her mind would be considered polluted, full of infectious ideas.

And then she would be trapped here forever.

But if she didn’t take the full sterilization, she would be colonized by alien spores. Pollinated. And trapped here anyway.

No. She would beg her parent for the credits. He would have to give them to her, now. It was not a matter of pride in her earning enough money as a teacher, to return home. It was a matter of utter, ultimate loss, of indelible separation. He would have to help her, now.

She rolled the sterilization unit out of its cradle, then opened her stalks to place it inside her, like embracing an obscene child made of metal.

Her parent’s reply appeared on the view screen at dawn, just as the machine was pulling the sterilization unit out of her.

You know my heart. No credits.

She wished, then, that she could leak fluids in despair. She wished to leak all her fluids. Flesh that made her flesh, mind that made her mind. He would abandon her here, on Earth.

Forever.

***

All day long, Keigoe’s lamellae strained to their tips from hunger, as though they wanted to break through her jaddri and start sucking up nutrients from the polluted, stinking air outside her clothing. But she suffered through the day: more lessons in Sabadon mathematics, to children who could only listen to her explanations if she wrapped them in tales of heroes, or wealthy princes, or females with no hope for survival but to be sponsored by a wealthy male, as though they were misformed children who needed a permanent grafting parent. And so she taught in riddles, as always, drumming out the math problems with her stalks on her gray plastic desk as she told stories – the pattern of ng is how many beats? One, two, three, five, seven, eleven, thirteen, seventeen…there are no numbers other than ng, only combinations of ng, or ei. The ho-ei, the sha-ei, the ergr-ei

She disciplined herself behind the desk, waiting for the end of the day, when she could go to her quarters and absorb nutrients through the air of her apartment.

But no, it didn’t matter: she would never leave this place. She didn’t need to save every penny for her ticket back home anymore. She could pay for supplements – no. She would save every penny, until it was too late, and her Time of Purity had passed.

You know my heart.

Keigoe knew nothing. Her parent was insane. She had not wanted to come to Earth at all, but her parent had made her come, to prove her worth.

And that thought came over and over, and it tasted like metal and sterility. It made no sense. What was worth, on another planet, with no one to taste it? What was this teaching, to speak aloud to children whose parents had abandoned them? What worth was that?

It was another hot, bright day with neatly-dressed children of wealthy parents who insisted their children be educated by Sabadon tutors, and the inside of her jaddri smelled like poisons from the chemicals of the full sterilization, which leaked out of her, breath by breath, as her lamellae rippled, and she didn’t understand.

Finally, they were all gone, and–

Annoul’s parents appeared at the door of the small building where she taught the children, the dark male and the brightly-colored female.

“Where is Annoul?” the male asked. “He was not at the waiting area to be picked up.”

Keigoe stared at them through the grille in her jaddri, saying nothing.

“Have you seen him?” the female asked.

Keigoe leaned forward on the plastic desk, until it dug into her already-aching lamellae. More hunger. More starvation. She would go into hibernation, if she wasn’t careful.

“He must have climbed the wall again,” she said.

And she knew where he had gone: he had gone back to the alley, to gain revenge upon her attackers.

It was not the Sabadon way.

But it was the human way, and Annoul was human.

“The wall?” the female said. Oh, now it wasn’t so amusing, was it? That one’s child had such an imagination that he could climb over walls into unsafe parts of the city.

Keigoe climbed to her peds, trying to stay steady. This would go faster and safer, if she shifted into multipedal mode. But if she did, the parents would treat her with shock and horror, as though she had become less than sentient, and the humans on the street would attack her all the faster…it would make things harder. Bipedally, she circled around the children’s chairs and slipped sideways past the parents into the compound. They followed her to the wall of dark bricks and carefully-cut grass.

Annoul’s small schoolbag lay behind a brightly-flowering bush; she gave it to the male parent.

“How did he get up there?” The male parent jumped with his arms outstretched, trying to climb the wall, but the bricks went past the reach of his fingertips, and the short marble pillars made the wall even higher.

Keigoe said, “I apologize, but I have never seen him do it. Perhaps with a bit of string, to help steady himself. He had many questions about spiders, before the first time he climbed it.”

The female said, “We were reading him–”

“Shh,” the male said.

“I must go over and follow him,” Keigoe said. “Please do not be startled.” It was a foolish thing to say, but that was the human way, always telling each other to go against their instincts. Not that it appeared to be effective much of the time, but it provided defense in cases of later argument. “I told you so,” they liked to say to one another.

She shifted her stalks into the pockets of her jaddri, then used the pads to climb up the bricks. With her jaddri on, she couldn’t climb glass, but the pads at the ends of the pockets certainly had no trouble with the rough edges of brick and wood and plaster that made up most of the walls in Panaji.

Behind her, the female gasped. Keigoe ignored her and paused at the top of the wall, trying to see where Annoul had gone off to.

She saw him, not on the ground, but running along the top of a roof nearby. He had a thin white rope wrapped up in his hand, and he was swinging it around and around. At the edge of the roof, he threw the rope and jumped.

Keigoe leapt from the top of the wall to the nearest roof, then galloped toward the child. But when she had come to the roof, he was gone, the rope was gone–

She dropped into the alley.

The yellow, moldy walls had not been cleaned, and the barred windows still gaped at her.

She prowled the alley, walking back and forth from end to end while the eyes stared at her from the cracks in the doors and the windows. From the holes.

“Give him back,” she hissed.

When no-one answered, she slammed into a door, cracking the wood. “I will search from house to house. That child does not belong to you! Give him back!”

Birds swept from under the eaves of the house, swirling around her. She waved them away irritably.

Then – because it did not matter – she nicked a hole through one of the pockets of her jaddri, and pushed a stalk out, into the Earth air.

It tasted foul, but her lamellae drank deep of it: the biota in the air only made her hungrier.

Annoul had played “holding hands” with her again today, so she had his biota on the outside of the pocket, to taste. To her surprise, although she had never tasted him before, never smelled him, the knowledge that it was his scent she was tracking made her lamellae rippled with fondness, then worry.

She walked along the alley, holding out her stalk, rubbing the lamellae against the walls of the alley: plaster, wood, metal, glass.

Then she tasted his scent, at an old wooden door with bad laminate on the panels and water stains from the monsoons up to the handle.

She backed against the other wall of the alley, then ran into the door, slamming against it with her head-stalks gathered into a wedge. The old, rotten panel cracked. She backed up and ran against it again, and the wood broke. She shoved the panel the rest of the way in, widened it with her head-stalks, and made herself narrow enough to fit through the hole.

The room was dark, full of shadows, mostly crates of human nourishment containers on long, wooden shelves that seemed about to fall over at any moment. The far door was locked, but a small window above the door was open. She climbed the wall and slipped through the hole, dropping down to the opposite side with a swish of cloth. She followed the trail of Annoul’s scent – sweat and dirt and hair and skin dripping off him in flakes – through a narrow hall, then into a dark stairwell that led down into the earth.

Now the trail also tasted of mold and rot and small, crawling things.

She climbed the wall and tried to move to the ceiling, but it, unlike every other surface in Goa, was smooth. Not smooth like glass, but smooth with paint that was too much for the imperfect pads of her jaddri, now dark as the shadows.

She crouched as close to the floor as she could, then followed the steps downwards.

The stairway led to an arch, the walls made of a smooth type of unbaked clay that had crumbled away from the baked and mortared clay underneath. More mold, more water stains on everything. The paint had mostly flaked away, leaving only faint traces of metallic taste.

The floor at the bottom of the step was covered in water, thick and stagnant, rippling from swimming beetles and perhaps small fish. A sludge of biota grew in the darkness, collecting in the corners and on the surfaces, making the floor under the water – which was only a few inches deep – a mass of slime.

The water had been stirred recently; the air was full of biota that had been splashed about. The walls were wet in places. Annoul had kicked up a fuss.

Keigoe lowered herself into the water, one ped at a time, putting a row of stalks against the wall to try to steady herself.

She took one step – the water simultaneously pushed back and sucked against her jaddri, the surface tension and water pressure making it difficult to walk. She took another slushy step, and slipped. Her peds slipped out from under her, and she slid, falling backward toward the cement steps. Her jaddri held her against the wall for a moment, but the stalks ripped out of their pockets, and she landed on her back, stalks waving helplessly inside the sac of her jaddri, which promptly started to leak water through the hole she had poked in it.

She ripped the jaddri off the wall, then shifted into multipedal mode. The hole was small; she would not take on a significant enough amount of water to slow her down. Creeping along the ground was slower, and sent up a small wave of dank water before her.

She followed the tunnel to a door with a metal frame, built of thick, planed panels of wood. Over the door was a grille made of twisted slats of metal. One corner was loose. Behind the grille was a stuffing of plant matter unsuccessfully intended to prevent insect invasion, or to deaden sound.

She could hear the faint sound of voices on the other side.

“What did it do to you?” a human shouted.

Annoul replied: “She taught me how to jump!”

“What is this rope? Where did you get this rope?”

“I made it! It’s a stalk, just like her stalks, only longer.”

“Why is it – what is this? It sticks to my hands, then falls off.”

“Cling pads. See, when you pull it like this, it sticks, but when you move it, it doesn’t stick anymore. I stole her old jaddri and cut off the pads.”

Keigoe’s lamellae writhed wryly. So that was where it had gone; she should have known. She was required to have two jaddri, and buying the new one, while lovely, had set her back almost to the limit again. And what was Annoul doing, explaining his tricks to the humans? Was he working with them? He’d never explained them to her.

“Give that back!” Annoul shouted.

“You told us we could have it.”

“I did not!”

“We gave you the candy.”

“I didn’t promise to give you my rope, you stealer! It’s worth a lot more than a piece of stupid candy. Thief! Thief! Help! Miss Keigoe! Miss Keigoe!”

“She’ll never find you down here, boy.”

That, of course, was not true, but it didn’t make it any easier to reach Annoul through the heavy door. She grabbed the edge of the grille and pulled; it bent back easily. It was only plastic covered in a thin layer of metal. These humans. She would never understand them.

The water from the tunnel splashed to the sound of a biped approaching. Keigoe’s lamellae stiffened: she was being pursued. She needed to hide – the tunnel behind her glowed with a thin, shaking light, and although her jaddri had turned dark, it would not be enough to conceal her, from one who was looking.

She would jump on him, burst past him before he could–

No. Enough. She would not leave Annoul behind. She would not lower herself, to become like one of them, abandoning children, even though they were not her own.

She pulled the grille back, then carefully removed the plant-matter stuffing, dropping it soundlessly into a curl of her jaddri. On the other side of the stuffing was another grille. Through it, a group of six humans stood inside a store-room, this one full of metal pieces, parts of cars and scooters, shiny, enameled, bright.

They had not bothered to tie Annoul to the seat, a black-and-green bench that had been removed from some kind of large transportation vehicle. They were adults of their species; he was only a child. Her lamellae rubbed against each other with a nearly-inaudible hiss.

The splashing was getting louder.

She slid her stalk from its hole, running it around the edges of the grille; it had only been glued on, and was loose around the edges. She left the top attached, so it would not fall. Yet.

And then she opened her jaddri and slipped out of it, but let it dangle above the door, in full view.

Of all the places to be fully exposed to Earth biota, this would not have been her choice. Her stalks crawled with horror at the taste of the mold, the dirty water humidifying the air.

One of the humans, dirty and sparkling with sweat on its skin, its thin white shirt sticking to its body in places, dangled the cling-rope just out of reach. Annoul watched it, his eyes following not the rope, but the eyes of the human teasing him with it.

Another human way: one’s intentions were reflected in the sight organs. Humans could not see, without also being seen.

Keigoe tapped out a math problem, the start of sha-ei. One, one, two, three, five…

Annoul’s eyes sparkled, but he did not look away from the eyes of the man with the rope.

He scratched seven times on the seat, and her lamellae flicked with annoyance. Not seven

He scratched again, but two-na-three. Good; his lessons hadn’t been wasted.

Keigoe grasped the edges of the hole above the door with her stalks, gathering herself.

The splashing of the water became much louder: the human had walked around the corner, bringing its light with it. “There it is!”

Also the human way: to hunt in packs.

The humans looked toward the door, turning all at once.

Annoul grabbed the rope and flicked it, so it came loose from the human’s grip.

Keigoe ripped the grille away; it clattered to the floor, and the humans, with their predatory sense of movement all watched it fall – except for Annoul, whose eyes stayed on the black hole, on the prize.

He threw the rope at the same time she reached out through the hole.

He would fit. He would have to fit. She had heard that humans could go anywhere their heads would fit, and the hole was big enough for his head, if not much else.

Her stalks caught the rope. She leaned back through the door.

Why did they have to be so heavy?

He jumped at the same time, landed with his feet on the door, ran up it, and let his shoulders go loose as she pulled him through.

On the other side, the human was grabbing the jaddri.

Keigoe flicked it off her stalks, severing certain emergency threads, and it turned from shadow-dark to bright white, lit from within.

She let the jaddri go as she crawled onto the ceiling of the tunnel, Annoul clinging to her back. The human stumbled, fell backwards, splashed into the water, and lay still.

The door thumped and began to open with a scrape of metal.

Annoul shouted; his legs had come loose. Oh! His weight, his ungainly weight! She would drop him!

She could not drop him.

In purest Sabadon, with the rustling of her lamellae alone, she said, My son.

And took him inside her stalks, even the stinking, horrible shoes of him.

One of the humans screamed in horror. “It ate him! It ate him!”

Ah, well. She could not have expected them to understand.

She scurried across the ceiling, her naked stalks clinging easily where the jaddri pads would not.

The humans chased her, threw things, and one of them had a weapon, which it fired at her repeatedly, casting off strange smells and echoes that deafened them more than it harmed her. She had her jaddri off now, and a Sabadon without the requirement of a jaddri, strange planet or not, had the instincts and biology of a million years of escaping predators through dark spaces.

Even burdened with Annoul’s weight, they could not catch her.

Up the stairwell, into the light. More screams.

Through hole over the door into the human-food storage room.

She dropped to the floor at the door to the alleyway and shook the handle. The door was locked or latched in some way, and she could not open it, in her fear and hurry.

Like this

She threw open the door, but the humans were upon her, grabbing her. They had her stalks.

She screamed in terror, tightened the already-tearing stalks to rigidity, then ejected them, piercing the humans. The air reeked of them, but her body naturally rejected their biota. One did not allow one’s predators to pollinate oneself.

Inside her, Annoul giggled with delight as the humans squealed in pain. She hadn’t poisoned them – sentients did not poison unnecessarily – and they did not fall. She couldn’t help sharing Annoul’s delight in their suffering, however.

She climbed the outside of the building to the tile roof, hefting Annoul carefully over the edges, making sure not to bend him backwards or too far.

The streets were full of the sound of shouting, of police sirens, and the tiles sizzled as she ran across them, burning the pads of her stalks. She would not pretend to be human now, not forming stalks into peds and limbs, but flowing across the tiles on her stalks, her inner stalks grasped tightly around Annoul, protecting him from the bright light and the heat. She shifted colors effortlessly, seeming to stay motionless as the patterns rippled across her body.

The shouting faded behind them, without ever becoming quiet.

They reached the edge of the compound. On the other side of the wall, the humans had stirred themselves into a frenzy. The boy’s parents had lost control of themselves, the female shouting angrily with a human dressed in a police officer’s uniform, the male sobbing uncontrollably, clutching dirt that ran between its fingers and letting the light breeze catch the dirt, blow it away.

Keigoe released Annoul onto the hot tiles, and, away from her inner lamellae, he gasped for breath.

“Miss Keigoe!” he said. “What an adventure!”

“Yes, Annoul,” she said.

“What about your jaddri?” he asked.

He had managed to keep hold of his rope, after all that, and he coiled it, to throw across the gap between the hot clay roof and the top of the compound wall. The police officer had noticed them, was pointing at them.

The female grasped the male, turning him toward the wall; then they both ran – the female’s bright clothing fluttering as she ran.

“I don’t need it anymore,” Keigoe said.

“Oh,” said Annoul. “Are you going to wear clothes? Are you naked? You look like a feather lizard with no clothes on, instead of a lady.”

“I haven’t decided yet,” Keigoe said.

“Okay. I have to go now.” Annoul waved at his parents, then threw the rope, jumping with his feet out, swinging, landing feet-first halfway up the bricks, running up the wall, toppling himself over in a somersault that landed him in his male parent’s arms. The rope, now loosened, followed easily.

Keigoe let the wind ripple through her lamellae, bringing a thousand thousand biota, caressing her, pollinating her. Birds swooped overhead, dipping and wheeling, eating bugs, teaching the young, letting them fly.

You know my heart.

It was a delicious day.

Back to top



About the Author

DeAnna Knippling grew up on a farm, where she jumped off many small buildings, tractors, and other things without breaking any bones. However, she picked up a tendency toward strange adventures involving a love and a fear of heights. Now she works as a freelance writer, editor, and designer in Colorado Springs, CO. She won first place in the Parsec, Ink 2012 Short Story Contest and is or will be published in Black Static, Big Pulp, Stupefying Stories, Penumbra eZine, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, and more. She received an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 3. She is also a submissions editor for Apex Publications. You can find her work online at www.WonderlandPress.com and at www.DeAnnaKnippling.com.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.