This is the third of our four-part series showcasing the short story “Ecencial” by Dave Vierling. To read Part 1 and Part 2, CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE. You can follow Dave on Facebook and stay tuned right here to #JPLMagazine for the story’s conclusion next week.
Ecencial (Part 3)
I merchant vats when our star is at peak. Several circles ago, Pai conducted a census of the Nearby population. Since then, over half have migrated in promise of more opulent flora and just three remainders still exist. They are tolerable when compared to the tales I’ve heard of the rare super-Nearbys, monsters of physical awesomeness rivaling for privileges in select anecdotes.
Ludzki is the oldest on my land at 44 circles. An eternity of struggle has rendered him decrepit. Each peak on the shadow, he limps to Ecencial’s shore. Because of antiquated conditioning, his thirst is more ferocious than the other two. I push all Nearbys to bow and show her homage before they fill a vat. When Ludzki bends over, quenching his hankering, I wish he wore clothes. Circles of arduous walking have kept lipids from accumulating below his waist, like a double scoop ice cream cone that won’t drip. He’s a mess with constant currency. Only wise gods could fathom how he earns it but as an unscrupulous businessman, I don’t query financial lifeblood.
Like Ningen, Ludzki’s abides by a fossil code. He disburses on time, lacks greed, shuts lips and cognizes his niche. There’s no health in uprooting what grows sufficiently. More Nearbys should counterfeit his lead. Ludzki’s English hovers near zilch and aims to maintain the status quo. What a genius.
Pessoa is one of three single female Nearbys in the known land. Her birth was never officially logged so no thinker knows how round she is. Pessoa’s circles rely wholly on mouth words. I trust they swell and slump with her mood. In fact, the last census surfaced a pervasive trend of undocumented female births which cut across privileged lines. Pessoa’s English has improved since my Pai handed me the Khandom. Hush-hush. I suspect Ningen teaches her by darkness, committing treason. The Nevertheless, until hard proof evidences itself, I mustn’t bark conjecture at an elder talker.
Pessoa is a magician whose shelter reeks of medicinal lore. Whenever disease sics us, she negotiates to cure. There’s a famous legend. At one moment during the Gold age, a neighboring land, imaginations away, had been suffering analogous climate to The Drought. When they finally caught whiff of our fortunate salad, envy bloomed and poison was leached into all creators, including precious Ecencial. Clueless, my widowered Pai prayed next light. According to him, life herself looked, smelled and tasted the same. Yet later, his thinker ached before puke roused. Ningen also remembers full on dehydrated diarrhea within the same light.
When symptoms persisted over-darkness, they had to implore Pessoa. For a meaty price, spells were cast while concoctions soothed malignant bugs. Having nursed the rulers back to health, she demanded more profit for her civil niche. Thus, an unprecedented currency floated into legitimacy. Pessoa became the first Nearby ever to reap discounted access to any creator she pleases. Lifetime guarantee. It crumples my sapienhood.
Mens is a two-eyed pirate at 20 circles. Because he’s the most able-bodied Nearby, his foxy trial and error abides no bounds. What he lacks in thinker, he atones for in vigor. The riper majority of my lights are spent hunching over his next caper. Siphoning from Ecencial ties the least twisty plot I can recall.
By darkness’ veil, Mens has disguised himself as Ningen, lured me away with limping mammalian game and exploited my weakness, new books. He once tried to hogtie me in my slumber. On time I woke, bludgeoning his think-tank with a salt block. Mens has stabbed at capturing Ecencial since his Pai taught him to scheme. Nihilistic role model. Aristocratic cannibalism is socially acceptable in our land. We may shove down those under us, never above. Men’s Pai broke this hallow covenant and feed on a talker. Oh how gross a no. He was exiled until his life stops him.
This light was profoundly more anomalous than any before. Winds askewed. I inaugurated it, stuck on routine like a German dental exam. Order appeared to have prevailed over-darkness, apart from failed siphoning vestige at the far edge of Ecencial. Judging by tooth marks, the hose’s pure diameter posed an insurmountable girth challenge for Mens. Suction was never achieved.
As I disposed the embarrassment behind my shelter, an exotic breeze caught my smeller. I whipped around to witness a streaking blur duck behind rocks. Never had such extremities footed this land. Jagged agility crisscrossed springy hops. The being’s evolution showcased a palpable teleportation. For the first moment in my life, I felt threatened. Ironic tinglings fluttered down from think-tank to heels. For a deifiable advancement has come from a more cosmic gene pool, he will be called Jumala.
I grabbed my only real weapon, a whittled tree sapling. Although its length matches average sapiens, my composure was still shuddering in fear as I approached the rocks. Tense biceps trembled sweaty palms. Our star spotlighted us, summit happy. I raised spear, ready to destroy life if necessary. The moment stretched. My mouth wind plumed moisture into The Drought, over and again. For Khandom! On one, I charged over the rocks, veined out, mouth foaming.
“Ahh! Crypt you!” Partly to defy physics, my thunderous roar echoed off empty space. Beating through pectoral, I sighed, silently ecstatic to encounter no freak. The poker dropped. Thud. A small rodent cameoed amidst my traumatic renaissance. Hindered by a drowsy gait, this champion of The Drought pattered upon disturbing footprints. So enormous were their impressions, cartoonish could be the pertinent description. I lapsed crawling to examine them. Gulp. They almost sized my foot twice and mutation had webbed their toe gaps. If any Nearby peeps genetic realities that sum this portion, words will spread land-wide and a dawning image will demarcate the crumblings of my ruin.
I swashed sandy planet athwart the smoking guns while a chasm yawned in my thinker. Bang like our hierarchy, the conflict is inherent. That brute craves what his anatomy saps. Peripheried by decreasing resources, he has ventured afar in search of a potable creator. Desperation snuffs out. Without proper nourishment, sapiens fang ravenousness and bleed whatever they will to lap life.
Unlike its blooming predecessor, the solution mazes itself. When that anomaly inevitably circles back, how will I protect Ecencial?