It’s Friday. And it’s the start of a new feature from me. Every Friday I’m going to try posting short flash fiction. Short narratives inspired by great art I find on the web. I don’t own any of this art, it’s just really cool and sparks my imagination. I’ll always credit the great artists so please enjoy their art, look through their portfolios by clicking on the link(s), and for a few minutes enjoy a tiny scene from a larger story.
“Where to the Nearest”
To the dawn Lilly flew, Sunny her sturdy companion. Lilly’s tired eyes were windburned, her face chapped by the chilly evening winds. The hour had been late when she’d set out from her home among the branches of Treeborn, the importance of the missives the elders requested her to deliver to their allies among the Lowbrushes spurred her to leave as quickly as she could saddle Sunny. That bonefire in her belly had lit the moonless night and guided her spirit. For a time.
As the darkness stretched further out, her earlier belly fire died to cold embers. Escaping yawns tugged at her. Reminding her of her body’s need for sleep. Hours passed as she and Sunny traveled though the featureless landscape of the night. The compass her only guild, clipped to Sunny’s harness, Lilly’s fingers feeling for the needle, feeling for the way.
Soon the darkness seeped in from the edges.
She jerked awake, her cheek nestled snugly among Sunny’s silky feathers.
Lilly shook off the sleep, fought down a treacherous yawn, and gripped the braided harness around Sunny’s neck tighter until the leather threatened to cut of the circulation to her fingers. The charms dangling from the mount’s harness jangled and jingled. Sunny squawked encouragingly. Lilly bent down and patted her mount’s puffed out chest.
“Good looking out, girl,” Lilly cooed to Sunny. “Let’s get this done. Then both of us can find a place to bed down for a long nap.”
Sunny echoed Lilly with a screech and a bob of the head.
Ahead of the delivery duo the sky bloomed from an empty moonless night to the cherry sherbet of dawn. Underneath her Sunny crested the branches. Claws skimming the green leaves, kicking up crystalline droplets of dew and tiny pieces of green confetti.
Lilly whopped and hollered as wet and green slapped her face awake, tiny piece of shredding sticking her her goggles.
Heads popped up from the bows below, looking to the passing messengers, fists that a moment ago were knuckling sleepy eyes rose and shook with displeasure. An unappreciative and rude awakening.
Lilly cackled with impish glee. Sunny twitched her tail feathers and beat her wings all the faster.
A quick look around and Lilly felt the exhilaration replaced by a panic that churned in her belly. None of the trees in this area looked familiar! How long had she dozed? Had Sunny drifted, taking them from their course?
Behind her, the saddlebags seemed to slump lower at the base of Sunny’s tail feathers, their importance growing with the escaping sands of time.
Swallowing her pride, Lilly tugged and pulled on Sunny’s harness, giving signals.
Sunny saw the hole in the boughs where Lilly’s body had turned with purpose.
Sunny tucked her wings. She dove. Twisting and cutting through the currents that wanted to force the duo aloft.
They burst through the low hanging branches, Sunny flaring her wings, catching gentle breezes, leveling herself and Lilly into a gentle glide to stabilize their flight.
Lilly’s head swiveled, looking for other tiniputians like herself. The trees around this area were thin, with only a modest clustering of homes, a village barely large enough for a mark on a map, all the windows dark. The hour early.
Frustrated, Lilly ran her stubby fingers through her fiery locks.
After a quarter of an hour’s search, Lilly finally found someone to ask directions.
Hopping across a pond reflecting the early morning shadows underneath the trees, making a path across using delicate lilypads, was a red-eyed frog.
Lilly watched the frog leap halfway across the pond to land without effort atop a hollowed out log sticking out with the reeds at the pond’s bank.
With a few pulls on the harness, Sunny swooped back around toward the frog.
Upright in the saddle, goggles pulled up to the top of her head, Lilly hailed the frog.
A brief moment of consideration later, wherein it probably considered whether Sunny might eat it, and the frog invited them to land atop of the partially submerged log.
“Morning, Mr. Frog.” Lilly bowed low, her nose getting a tickle as her nostrils brushed Sunny’s feathers. “Might we trouble you for directions?”
“Directions?” asked the frog, croaking with terrified haste. “What makes you think I’ve been anywhere beyond my pond here?”
“Everyone listens to the winds,” Lilly responded. “Surely you know where the winds’ve been?”
The frog’s eyes bulged. The creature was the size of a Sunny snack, a morsel. Sunny kept pecking the air, head twisting this way and that. The jerky movements made the frog unease. The frog kept bouncing from sitting on its rear end to its three-toed webbed feet.
“Will you leave me alone and to my breakfast?” A fly buzzed by as the frog finished the question, drawing its wide-eyed attention.
“Of course!” Lilly said with perky enthusiasm despite her long hours flying atop Sunny’s back. “We’re headed to the Lowbrushes.”
As sure as a seasoned messenger like herself, the frog stuck out its arm and pointed a red black-spotted hand to the northeast. “You’ll wanna head five miles there. Should come to Lowbrushes quick.”
“Thank you, Mr. Frog.”
“Yeah yeah,” the frog waved away the comment. “Just be away from my pond now.”
Sunny’s head popped out of the log’s depth and brought a beak-full of grubs
“That’s my breakfast you’re stealing!” the frog complained, pulling at its face.
Waving as Sunny spread her wings and lept into a current that carried the paid high to the trees, Lilly said to the frog, “Sorry ’bout that. Long night flying. She’s starving.”
“So am I!” croaked the frog indignantly as it crossed it long skinny arms over a hollow chest.
The grubs still hung out the sides of Sunny’s beak as Lilly finished her apology.
The frog’s chin extended angrily, its yellow belly darkening to a furious red.
Curses drifted up, following Lilly and Sunny as they sorrowed high, eventually bursting from the trees and into the bright of morning. The feathers on Sunny’s back glowed, tips touched by the sky. Lilly threw an arm over her eyes to protect herself from the glarebefore remembering her goggles.
Blinking away tears, Lilly orientated her and Sunny’s path toward the northeast.
They were back on track, and only with a few minor detours.