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A story by Simon Barber & David Reese Dorrycott & Fredrik K T Andersson
A story of Angelica Silferlindh, a character by Freddy Andersson,
(including characters from his comic strip "Silver Angel")
& featuring Oharu and characters by David Reese Dorrycott
and characters from Simon Barber's Songmark Academy stories.
by Simon Barber
A story of Angelica Silferlindh, from Freddy Andersson's Silver Angel comic strip
and Angelica, Kama, Jan van der Veldt, Black Lotus and other characters by Freddy Andersson;
featuring Oharu and characters by David Reese Dorrycott
and characters from Simon's Songmark Academy stories
Art by Simon Barber & Freddy Andersson
Angelica Silvferlindh was due a day off. A week of stormy seas had pushed her to the limit of her endurance; happily it had been a productive time for the fishing fleet and the owner of the boat was hauling it ashore for maintenance anyway.
“It’s a nice day for a change – and there won’t be too many more of those this season, they tell me,” she declared, finishing breakfast at a reasonable hour for once. She smiled across the fire-pit to Kama. “Ada’s coming over at the weekend. Maybe she can take us all to Eastern Island, see how our Silver Angel’s getting on.”
“Fly!” The kitten bounced up and down happily. Kama finished her fish and taro stew; children were adaptable and she had almost got used to the soups and stews that Angelica was slowly learning to turn out on the Native cooking equipment. Her attempts at roasting fish in the Native manner were getting well known in the village, as well as the resulting smoke plume becoming a useful navigational landmark for fliers approaching from the North.
“Yes, I hope we can.” Angelica’s tail twitched. “Anyway – I won’t fly without you.” That’s certainly true, she reminded herself, her ears dipping a little. Without Kama – if my curse doesn’t get fixed, I’ll never fly out of Spontoon again. “But today, what about a walk out somewhere now we’ve some sunshine? Somewhere new. To me, at least.”
Kama nodded happily, looking up at her adopted mother. By report, she had been everywhere on Spontoon even including Sacred Island, which was an event the villagers had reported in hushed tones to Angelica as if it meant something. It was just another island, wasn’t it?
Angelica reached down and took the kitten’s small paw. She wore a lavalava like Angelica’s own, cut from the same piece of cloth by Mama Popoluma. Ada had one to match, now. That morning Angelica had woken to find Kama trotting in happily with a large and a smaller yellow orchid, not a plant she remembered having seen around the area. She fixed the larger one behind her own ear, completing her “Native” toilette as carefully as if she had been preparing to stroll out through the parks at home in Gothenburg on some sunny afternoon. Just because she only had Native finery, she reflected, was no reason to dress sloppily.
Kama nuzzled her. In her other paw she carried the tin bucket filled with a gallon of fresh seawater; though it was heavy she happily lugged it around everywhere these days. She whistled, and something stuck a cheerful ring of green tentacles out of the deep second fire-pit that was serving as probably the only aquarium in a Native longhouse. The fact that according to the books Sea Cucumbers had no sense of hearing was a minor issue.
Angelica looked down with a wry smile as she adjusted the flower behind Kama’s ear. “Very well, you can take it along with us.” Although Kama made no move or sound to signal, the sea cucumber wriggled out of the depths and hopped into the bucket with a happy-sounding splash. Exactly how a splash could be happy was something that had baffled Angelica, like many aspects of Kama and her pet. She had decided weeks ago to simply ignore it whenever possible; letting one’s mind dwell on such things was probably bad for the sanity.
Outside the Autumn sun was bright with a fresh Northerly breeze; with the onshore wind making sailing out of the harbour difficult few boats were out on the water. “I know – we’ll walk over to Vikingstown. At least that’s what some people call it, the map says different.” The most North-Eastern settlement on Main Island was more Scandinavian than Polynesian; feeling the cooler air Angelica suddenly felt homesick for the accents of her homeland; the fact that most of the original settlers there had come from Norway and Iceland rather than Sweden felt like only a minor point.
“Hike!” Kama nodded, her eyes lighting up. She grabbed the bucket and trotted proudly up the trail heading Eastwards over the ridge, turning round to look expectantly at Angelica. She was a strong and active kitten. Somehow Kama could carry the brim-full bucket up the steep path without spilling a drop; that was another thing Angelica decided not to think too hard about.
As they followed the path it wound around the headland, coming within a few meters of the cliff edge. Angelica shook her head in bafflement, remembering the strange sports of summer months where she had watched the locals cliff-diving while tourist cameras clicked at a rapid rate of fire. The edge was absolutely vertical, and the water was three or four metres deep even at low tide – yet half a minute’s swim away was a small sandy cove with a steep track heading back up the cliff for the return trip. “The things Spontoonies will do. Quite mad. Though … I remember Amelia telling me about some of her country traditions. A dozen furs jumping down a fifty degree hillside in Gloucestershire chasing a heavy cheese in a barrel, that’s just as bad.”
Kama squeaked happily, squeezing her paw. She turned round and gave an inexplicable bow to a small grove of trees they passed on the way; Angelica stared hard but could see nothing particular there. Looking round, just a kilometer offshore a splendid new “J-Class” racing yacht was going through its paces as it tacked in the stiff breeze. Angelica’s ears dipped; that European hull would have cost more than every Native fishing boat on Main Island.
The ridge was about thirty meters high where the trail crossed it; from the top there was a good view out towards the West of the island, with the clearly defined cone of the dormant volcano sharp against the skyline. “They don’t have those in Sweden,” Angelica commented, one ear dipped. “We don’t have to worry about waking up under a meter of ash some fine morning. Mind you, they don’t have winter blizzards here, so I suppose it balances out.” She looked around at the hillside where crags of volcanic rock stood out; one smooth slope had been polished by the passage of generations of cubs’ and kitten’s rumps sliding down it. Even as she watched, a pair of bear cubs launched themselves down it with squeals of glee. “But they do that at home, too.” Gothenberg was built on steep hills still scarred from the Ice Age, with great shields and half-domes of polished granite. Any cub growing up there did not have to depend on the town authorities to provide play equipment.
“Home?” Kama suddenly pulled close, looking up with a troubled expression. Her gaze swept down along the slope to the village, where the longhouses of both Angelica and Mama Popoluma stood. She gave a complex gesture that somehow indicated she had never truly had a home before.
And when I go, she won’t have one any more. Angelica’s ears drooped. Not until Ada graduates. That’ll tie Ada down, when she ought to be Adventuring around the world. She stroked the kitten’s head-fur reassuringly. Kama was not exactly an orphan, she had been told – she had parents. But the locals had never expanded on that; had she been simply abandoned she would have been willingly adopted by any Native household like one of the film starlets’ children she had heard about. She had been a child of the village, happily wandering from firepit to firepit like a bee between welcoming flowers – until she had chosen Angelica and Ada rather than any of the more plausible prospective Mothers.
“Don’t you worry,” she took Kama’s small paw in hers, as they walked over the ridge together into the next valley “I’ll be here a good while yet. I’m not going anywhere soon.”
Over on Casino Island, a certain reptile was standing with jaws gaping for a second, having just received some very surprising news.
”Little Miss Silvferlindh? She’s still here? Jan said she’d flown off as soon as the pearl season finished!” Baron von Krokk began to pace the floor. “When he gets back I’ll dock his wages for that.”
“Thinking of which,” came the smooth tones of the yellow-furred Burmese feline who sat calm and collected “I fear I can now only offer three quarters of our first deal. Should you be able to deliver her to me in international waters.”
The Cayman wheeled round, his eyes glinting. “Why?” He snapped.
Hsien took a sip of the crystal glass of fine sherry, holding it up against the light as he considered. “I have invested my time and personnel in finding her. Had you done so, you would be the one entitled to recoup those expenses. And I now have questions about the … condition of the merchandise. She wears a Tailfast ring, though my agent could not discover the details. She may already be … of lessened value.”
Von Krokk glared at him. “Fine, fine. A sale of damaged goods is still a sale. I’ll put Jan on the job, we’ll get her for you. Same village as before, you say? Right.” His scaly tail rasped on the floor as he swished it. “She can’t be a Citizen, getting that’s almost impossible around here. I’ll say we’ve heard from her family lawyer, there’s an inheritance waiting at home. She’ll fall for that, if we offer her a ticket out.” He paused. “Do you know a good lawyer to pass her the message, who’ll stay bought?”
Hsien smiled. “Lawyers? I need none. I have never once broken the law on Spontoon.” He sipped his sherry meditatively. “Henry Fnord need not get his own paws dirty building cars in a factory either; he manages other people in other establishments that do that.” He kept a rigorous separation of staff involved in the capturing and sales, who never met each other. Not only was it more secure in case they were captured, but Hsien was careful to remain the only one in his organisation who knew where both the goods and the money came from.
The Cayman snorted. Then a speculative expression came over him. If he could persuade Angelica to leave of her own free will, it would be no crime to take her out of Spontoon waters – and whatever happened to her after that was not his problem either. “Agreed.”
The Burmese nodded, his face bland. What the Cayman presumably did not know was Miss Silvferlindh had become famous, or he would have demanded twice the price rather than agreeing a reduction. Her fame had arrived in the best possible way – an exclusive series of prints, now in the private possession of many very wealthy furs. Given the nature of the prints, there would be an automatic market with very definite ideas on what they wanted. Advertising like this, he mused, was beyond price and yet it had been provided to him entirely free. He had thought himself lucky to have Angelica appear in the banana posters; now he could expect a once-in-a-lifetime bidding frenzy of wealthy and highly interested buyers.
He took a final sip of his sherry, finishing it. “One way or another – we shall see that Miss Silvferlindh reaches an appreciative audience.”
Although the distance on the map was little than a mile between Chikloota and Vikingstown, with the rough trail and small kitten in tow it was forty minutes hard walking before Angelica arrived in the Scandinavian settlement. After months living on the island Angelica had never actually been there except for flying over; she blushed at that thought. The only thing she had wanted to see of Spontoon was it vanishing forever in the Silver Angel’s rear view mirror; one Native village had been quite enough for her. There had been the distant lights of Casino Island with its passable levels of civilisation; everything else she had regarded like a sea of mud. One patch was as bad as any other, and there was nothing to be gained by moving to a different bit.
“Now, that’s interesting.” She waved at a party of locals working in the garden plots. “There’s quite a different mix of furs here. It’s more like home, Kama.” Certainly she could recognise deer, wolves and a wolverine which were hardly typical Polynesians; it looked as if “Vikingstown” had retained more from the early settlers than just the name. But there were certainly more exotic residents; she spotted two spotted hyenas whose ancestry was more likely Dar Es Salami in East Africa rather than Scandinavia. “Maybe those are Tahni’s family.” Her eyes crossed at the memory of a certain party nearly two months ago. Had Tahni not been Tailfast to Ada’s dorm-mate Prudence – she would have found out just how “different” spotted hyena girls were. Dating Tahni and her brothers would be a very similar experience.
Angelica blinked at the sight of the solidly built canines in their spotted fur. There was something she had not thought of, or at least had managed to suppress. “It may be a curse from my side, but Ada’s got a right to be Tailfast with me. She’s my first. Either way.” She looked down at Kama, and realised that any strangers would automatically assume Kama really was her own kitten. “Kama. If I was your birth mother …” she blinked, calculating years. “I’d have to have to have turned up at Saint Winifred’s for the fourth form with you already on the way! I don’t think that’s ever happened, over there. The girls didn’t think about that sort of thing, much. Here on Spontoon I know it’s different.”
Kama nodded. “Playmates!” She looked up at Angelica wistfully, repeating the curious and involved gesture.
Angelica laughed. She stroked the kitten’s long head fur. “That can’t ever happen. Not with me and Ada. It’d take a miracle – and even round here, miracles just don’t happen.”
Half an hour later, she was sitting in a longhouse that doubled and tripled as the village’s general store and restaurant; she relaxed at the sound of Spontoonie being spoken in Scandinavian tones. Norwegian was about as similar to Swedish as … she groped for a good comparison. As near as Prudence’s Lancashire dialect was to standard English. More than two thirds of the words were the same, but they were pronounced quite differently.
She felt her mouth watering as she looked at the paw-written menu. “You’ll like this, Kama. I didn’t think they caught Herrings around these waters. You can have them any way you like, as long as it’s pickled, smoked or salted!”
The kitten’s small nose wrinkled as a waft of vinegar scent blew in from the kitchen. Angelica smiled, stroking her adopted daughter’s long head-fur.
Just then, another customer arrived. A tall, distinguished-looking wolf in perhaps his mid thirties, he wore a boiler suit that was somehow tailored to be elegant. Angelica recognised him as the one who had been collecting the wood ashes and her previous attempts at pickled fish.
Kama waved happily, giggling.
“Mrs. Popoluma – and young Kama.” He bowed politely. “So good to see you.” His accent was German, but his English was perfect. “I am pleased to meet you both. I hear much of you in the village, but in my morning collection time, you are always asleep after working so hard.”
Angelica felt her fur bristle for an instant. She was about to correct the wolf that she was unmarried – but having a four-year old kitten in tow that strangers usually assumed was hers by birth, she decided to let him carry on in error. Being an unwed mother was not something she would have boasted about; neither did she really feel like explaining about her and Ada right now. “Thank you! I see you and Kama have met.”
“Yes. And so, she is the one with the interesting pet. But let me introduce myself.” He drew himself up. “Professor Kurt von Mecklenburg und Soweiter, at your service. My card.” He bowed, presenting a neatly printed pasteboard square.
“Keeping the light bulbs burning, and the bonfires unlit,” Angelica read the slogan on the front. “You’re the one with the world’s biggest compost heap!”
A pained expression passed across the Professor’s face, but then he chuckled. “Compost heaps are for the garden plots, well enough. I run a Bioreaktor rated at twenty to thirty kilowatts! The power for three hundred bright light bulbs for this village at need, produced from what they might throw away or send up in dirty smoke elsewhere. Such is the future of power generation. No pollution, no waste, only good food for the good Earth.”
Angelica’s ears drooped. “The villagers “contributed” all the fish I was trying to pickle. They even took the wood ash I’d been saving. There’ll be no future involving Lutefisk for Christmas at this rate.”
Professor Kurt’s eyebrows rose. “And so? In that village, they do not have the traditions. But I cannot let a charming lady and child go hungry while my Bioreactor eats. Waiter!” He signaled the Spontoonie on duty, whose bark-cloth costume was more Alaskan than Scandinavian. “Whatever the good Frau wishes. Put it on my account.”
Half an hour later, three plates of the finest Tillamook herring were being cleaned with the first black rye-bread Angelica had eaten in months. Kama was evidently unimpressed by the meal, but eager to show Angelica what a dutiful daughter she was and cleaned her plate.
“They even have “Rakorret”, that fermented trout, as a special,” Angelica looked hungrily at the menu. “It says “When available.” It wasn’t easy to get, even in Sweden.” She could imagine the hyena families relished the pungent fish; she knew Tahni happily ate the ripest, almost rotten Durian fruits and the fish was similar in what some folk called “crawling, seething liquescent Horror.”
Professor Kurt laughed. “Ah, it is often hard to make in a longhouse where only one in the family appreciates such.” He winked. “Often, the others they have me pick it up with the kitchen wastes, it is such an unfortunate misunderstanding. Many apologies all round.”
“Until it happens again. I can see I’ll have to put “Do not touch” signs on my kitchen.” Angelica looked at him, her ears perked up. “I’m free all day. Is there anything to see in this village? It looks dull.” The Professor was the first new European “Euro” she had talked to in a long time, and she was sometimes heartily sick of Spontoonie village small-talk.
The wolf raised an eyebrow. “It is a picture-postcard Native village; tourists come thousands of kilometres to see it.” Then he looked at the expression on Angelica’s face, and laughed. “But you already live in one much the same. We have only one thing very different, and I have built that. If you are interested?”
Angelica followed, intrigued. She was more tolerant of taking part in Native daily life than she had been, true enough – but anyone could use a change. She took Kama by the paw and followed the neatly dressed wolf out to the furthest side of the village, where a steep ravine ran down to a rocky bay scarcely fifteen metres across. The valley would have hardly showed on any ordinary map, being almost vertical at the sides and enclosing a flat area some fifteen by eighty metres.
“And so.” Professor Kurt waved a paw in an owner’s pride as he looked down at what appeared to be a lightly steaming blast furnace – or more like the Bessemer Converters Angelica remembered in her school books. “My first full-scale installation. The Lorries and Native carts unload at the top, so, and at the lower end in two weeks comes the finished product, a mere one twentieth of what went in. The rest – cleanly fermented, oxidised with no smoke, no bad scent. A Bioreaktor that smells of ammonia is running anaerobic and wasting valuable organic nitrogen. The fermentation heat boils ether to spin turbines, make electrical power.”
It was a definitely interesting tour, Angelica had to admit. At one end were storage sheds; a season’s worth of crop wastes from the field were dried and kept to be mixed with seaweed, fish wastes from the village cannery and wood ash, moistened to just the right consistency before the great digester swallowed it. There had first been a pilot plant on Casino Island to use the hotel wastes, the Professor explained – but on a larger scale the available power had tripled as larger volumes lost relatively less heat at the sides. Casino Island had too little suitable fuel for an installation this size to run year-round, and Angelica had heard something about the Althing pondering the consequences of a major ether leak in a tourist area.
“The fermenting core holds stable at sixty degrees centigrade, even with the heat tapped for power production! And totally fermenting in as little as twelve days in Summer. It is the biggest project of its kind outside Germany.” The grey tail thrashed with emotion as the wolf gestured toward the slowly turning mixing drum. “Back home we are pioneering new ways to serve the Land – no other country believes in the World-Spirit as a matter of policy. Here, the wastes from ten hectares of fields can power the site all Winter – with a dozen such sites Main Island would never have to import a piece of coal or a drop of lamp-oil again!”
“My friend Amelia was telling me, there’s another one like it on Casino Island?” What Amelia had actually said had described two mad German scientists who hated each other like poison and were liable to blow up half the island with methane or ether vapour respectively. Angelica looked round, realising why this Main Island plant was two hundred metres outside the village with a tall earth bank piled up between the power house and the settlement.
The wolf’s tail twitched in irritation. “I have a competitor, yes, at least a maker of foul sludge and noxious fumes. His operation is not like this at all. Though the Althing decided it better solved the particular problems of Casino Island.”
Just then one of the workers rushed up, an anxious expression on his face. The Professor’s ears fell as the Spontoonie urgently whispered something. “Another one? I shall be right there.” He turned to Amelia, a wry expression on his muzzle. “They say that schnapps distilleries also have this problem. Here it is the ether, that some people they … enjoy. We find them asleep where there is a small leak they have found. I must attend.” He bowed gravely. “Till we meet again, Frau Popoluma!”
Angelica waved farewell, as did Kama. Looking down, there was the thing in the bucket copying them, leaning out from under the lid and cheerfully waving a single front tentacle.
Angelica quickly turned away. I didn’t see that, she told herself. I won’t even try to think about it. It wouldn’t do my sanity any good. “Time to head back, Kama – I’m back on the boats tonight. To get you plenty of fish for dinner.”
The skies were getting cloudy as they climbed back out heading Westwards, passing the last garden plots of Vikingstown. Angelica frowned. “Mama Popoluma asked if you could visit somewhere else tonight. She’s busy, or something.” On the way out, she had noticed her adopted Mother apparently having more house-guests. It seemed she was well respected for providing some sort of education; Angelica assumed the rather pleasant looking Native boy was learning folk dances and such.
“I can’t take you out with me on the boat, Kama,” Angelica could now see into the next bay, and make out the shapes of boats drawn up on the Chikloota beach. “It’s bad enough for me, staying up all night. You need your sleep, to grow up pretty and strong.”
Kama squeaked happily, nuzzling. Angelica ran through what she needed to do; it had become a fairly simple routine. Feed herself and Kama, wash same (even knowing what half an hour on the open decks of the fishing boat would do to her fur), see Kama over to wherever she chose for the night, and then out onto the cold waters for another night of hard work in the dark. Her ears drooped slightly.
Suddenly Kama tugged urgently at her paw. Angelica turned round, and her ears went right down. “I thought we’d seen the last of you.”
Emerging from behind a rock was the shell-hunter, who should certainly not have been on Main Island without a guide. To judge from the binoculars and camping equipment, he had been there for some time waiting for their return along the deserted track. “But yes! It is a matter of honour. A De Ruille, a member of the Paris Academy, will not be denied by Native superstition. That Holothurian belongs to science – I have the license to collect such. Hand it over, Madame.”
“No!” Angelica’s claws popped out, as the goat advanced menacingly and Kama ran to shelter behind her, the bucket held tight in her paws.
“It is mine by right. Give it!” With that the goat lunged for her.
Hindered by Kama clutching her, Angelica could not dodge properly. With a hiss she swung at the French goat, who showed surprising skill as he dodged the razor-sharp claws heading for his eyes. In a surprise move he dropped flat on the ground and rolled; Angelica just had time to realise he was old enough to have served all through the Great War and not have forgotten the fighting skills.
“Aha!” He grabbed hold of the bucket, as Kama squealed in panic. Though he could have ripped it out of the kitten’s grasp he simply turned it upside down while Kama desperately held onto the handle; the gallon of seawater and its occupant fell out with a splash onto the dry grass. He scooped Kama’s pet up and carried on rolling, in one smooth motion.
As Angelica whirled round to face him, he sprang back out of her reach in triumph, holding the wriggling sea cucumber firmly in both paws. Suddenly Kama’s pet seemed to burst; sticky white lengths like spaghetti shot out of its end, spraying over his face. The goat gave a scream, and dropped it.
“You’ve killed it!” Angelica stood looking on in horror. Then she pulled back her fist and swung from the hip, the punch carrying all the force of her whole body, tempered and strengthened by months of daily hard work on the waters. With a ferocious crack she connected under the goat’s muzzle – almost lifting him off his feet, throwing him backwards – over the edge of the sheer cliff.
Not sparing another glance that way, Angelica dropped to her knees. The sea cucumber lay still in the dry grass; the greenish body looking like a fruit fallen in Autumn. Kama was staring down at it, eyes wide in horror.
Angelica flung her arms around her daughter, holding her tight. For a few seconds they held each other, Angelica feeling the kitten’s small heart beating fast against her own. “I’m sorry. There was nothing I could do.”
Just then Kama stirred in her arms. A determined look came over the kitten’s face; she picked up the bucket, whose lid still held a few centimetres of seawater. She poured that into the bucket, and tenderly picked up the greenish sea cucumber, placing it in the water. She pointed urgently inland, towards the woods.
“Oh, Kama. I don’t think that’s going to help. We should give it back to the sea, I’m sure that’s what the villagers would say.” Angelica looked down sadly. Her ears and tail drooped. The strange pet had been disturbing and inexplicable like many of the parts of her life on Spontoon, but she was sure she would miss it splashing and leaping around the longhouse in pursuit of insects.
Kama picked up the bucket, and motioned urgently again.
“I’ll come. I won’t leave you, Kama.” Angelica followed her the few hundred meters across the long grass, Kama trotting at best speed carrying the lidded bucket. There were no tracks anywhere to be seen heading into this patch of forest, which struck her as odd – most of the forests were criss-crossed by footpaths made by locals gathering fruit and firewood.
The wood was very silent. Kama seemed to know just where to go; she somehow managed to move in a straight line as if the trees and bushes were making way for her rather than the other way around. At last she stopped in a mossy-floored clearing a few paces across, and put the tin bucket down.
Angelica caught up with her, panting after her exertions. She at least had had to dodge and struggle through the vegetation; she assumed it was Kama’s small size that let her slip through so easily. “Well, we’re here. “ She looked around. The clearing seemed almost too smooth to be natural; vegetation ringed it like a green wall, brightened with the large yellow orchids she and Kama wore in their head-fur. “So that’s where they grow.”
Suddenly the fur on the back of her neck began to rise. Kama was standing very still, her arms outstretched – as if she was praying. No, Angelica corrected – as if she was silently calling out to someone or something. For a minute or so nothing happened – and then she realised they were no longer alone in the clearing.
A butterfly circled in, landing on the bucket. It had not flown in from out of the jungle, but had come straight down from above, where there was only the wild and windy sky. And it was not the only arrival.
Kama squeaked happily, turning to look past Angelica, to someone there. No – Angelica watched the kitten’s eyes move from one direction to another, and realised there were three arrivals. Kama seemed happy to see them.
Angelica froze in shock. Not that whatever had arrived seemed dangerous, and indeed Kama was silently gesturing and obviously talking with them. But she did not want to turn round and see what was there.
I didn’t believe in curses, even after one changed my life, she thought rapidly, feeling her fur fluff out. But when that’s over, I can still go back to being a Euro, a civilised girl. If I see this … my life will change again. There’s something here that should not be – under every law of science and religion they ever told me. She trembled, as Kama picked up the bucket and held it out – before trotting happily round to present it to what stood behind her.
Something happened. It felt almost like the time she had been narrowly missed by lightening in a Summer storm on the Gothenburg hills; a sudden release of tension, but this was silent and invisible. If it had not been, she was sure an intensity like this it would have shaken the islands. She fell forward on the mossy ground, in a dead faint.
When Angelica woke, something was nuzzling her wetly. She wrinkled her muzzle at the familiar sensation – and then gasped as memory and thought kicked in. She sat upright, staring around the clearing.
“Mother!” Kama flung her small form into Angelica’s arms, while the sea cucumber bounced happily in the damp moss, apparently as good as new. Angelica returned the hug, then glanced up at the skies. The shadows were lengthening, and it was time she was back at the village.
As they left the wood and returned to the cliff path, she looked around. Where the steep path led back up from the beach there was a wet trail, as if a soaked fur had staggered up from out of the water. “So I didn’t kill him, then,” Angelica said aloud. “That’s a relief. I suppose.” She suppressed the thought that for Monsieur De Ruille to have got here unopposed, he must have arrived on Main Island without any Native knowing. And Ada had told her that some Euros wandering around unwanted came to ends that were investigated far less than one might expect.
The three of them returned to their village, as the sun briefly emerged from under the clouds to the West and bathed the hillside in rose and gold. Angelica kissed Kama farewell for the night and left her at a longhouse door, the other cubs inside pleased to see her and the lively thing that splashed happily in the bucket.
But as Angelica turned towards the fishing boats and another night of hard work, a sudden thought struck her. “Kama’s never called me Mother before.” Her tail swished, as she turned and cast a thoughtful look back at the ridge and the unseen wood above it. “Maybe she didn’t today. I think …” she hesitated, and then her eyes went very wide “I think – I’ve met her real Mother, today.”
Spontoon Island webpages ©2014 Ken Fletcher
All rights revert to the contributors - their collaborative contributions
are ©2011 Simon Barber, ©2011 David Reese Dorrycott,
& ©2011 Fredrik K T Andersson - rights reserved include story characters.
Contact the contributors for permissions.
complete "Stranded Angel" story
is at Reese Dorrycott's [Mature] archive website:
Check his "Stories" page under the new title:
"Tales of Spontoon"