Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Of Pleas Unto God

The little bird knew there was something wrong.

It thought for a while.

"Am I in the wrong place?" it asked. "It's awfully dark down here. Also, there seem to be loads of strange, bubbling liquids, and things that look like I should be able to fly right through them, but will totally block me if I try! Force-fields. I don't think birds should be in places filled with bubbling liquids and force-fields!"

"Those chemicals are necessary for my work, bird," the room's other occupant, a tall grey-haired woman, grumbled. "And you'd best be grateful for the glass; it's all that's protecting you from those chemicals. Now, shut up while I finish what I'm doing."

The little bird shut its beak compliantly: snap! It thought for a while longer.

"Oh! Oh! Is there something with my plumage?" the little bird asked chirpily. It preened. "Nope! Just as amazing as ever! Man, just check out these greens, and that yellow. Wow!"

"Shut up, little bird!" the woman grumbled. "I care not a whit for the colours of your feathers! In fact, I would much rather you were brown and mud-coloured; but I must work with the tools I am given."

"What? What?" the little bird asked, incredulous. "Me, all brown and muddy and nasty? Why would you want that? I mean, just look at this tail-feather, here - "

"Shut up, little bird!" the woman said.

The little bird's beak snapped shut.

It thought some more. This time, its thoughts were more focused, more intent than ever. It knew it had to get things right this time - there was something wrong, and it was going to get to the bottom of the matter - no matter how long it took!

Roughly three seconds later, the little bird opened its beak again. "I totally got it this time!" it said. "It's me, right? I'm dead! You killed me! That's what's wrong!"

"Yes!" the woman said, looking up from her workbench. "I killed you! Then I revived you with the powers I hold over life and death, turning you into an undead mockery of your former self! That is the only reason you can talk to me, and I have come to believe that the gift of human speech accompanying your revival is a very specific curse - from God - to me - because even with all the immense arcane power I command, you will! Not! Shut! UP!"

"Oh yeah?" the little bird asked, posing defiantly. It puffed up its breast, for added intimidation. "If you're gonna be so mean to me, why don't I just fly away! I'll fly away as fast and as far as I can, and you'll never see me again!"

"Yes!" the woman said, standing. There was something in her hand. "Fly away, little bird, as fast and as far as you can. Just - hold still, please," she interrupted herself as she stooped to tie a small paper to the little bird's right leg, "- ah, where was I? Right! Fly away, with your undead stamina, lack of hunger or thirst, and immunity to predatory birds, until you reach the Kingdom of Heaven itself, there to deliver my ultimatum unto God!"

"Maybe I will!" the little bird said, and shot into the air, shattering the underground laboratory's skylight in a shower of glass and feathers. "Hah!" the little bird congratulated itself. "That will show her!"

Several miles later, the little bird considered the exact situation of its departure.

"Er," the little bird realized, "I'm basically doing exactly what she told me to. Maybe this was not the most effective act of defiance ever?"

The little bird thought some more.

"Oh!" it exclaimed to itself. "I know what'll show her! I'll just land, and not go anywhere at all! Maybe she'll even see me again, and go, 'Drat, that bird totally didn't convey my message to God! Now I'll have to kill another one!'"

"...I cannot be held responsible for the hypothetical actions of others," the little bird added sheepishly.

"Here!" the bird thought, looking downward to a verdant forest. "I'll land here! Time to sample all the pleasures of life, just like before that woman killed me!"

"Mmm, seeds!" the little bird said, taking an anticipatory sniff before popping the seed in question into its mouth.

Then it recoiled!

"Dang!" it said. "That smelled and tasted just like ash!"

The little bird looked around; found a wild raspberry growing neary the ground. It plucked the berry; took a bite.

"Everything tastes just like dust and ash!" the little bird said. "This totally sucks! Well - I'll try drinking some water from this nearby, pure, refreshing-looking mountain stream. Nothing can go wrong there, surely?"

The little bird took a sip.

It made choking noises; sprayed water onto the ground.

"Aaaugh!" it wailed. "It's like drowning, but without me ever actually dying or whatever! Drowning forever!"

The little bird took a moment to compose itself.

"All right, all right," it said. "Eating sucks now, drinking even moreso. Whatever. I never even liked those anyway. But, look. I've still got my beautiful plumage, right?"

The little bird admired its plumage.

"Yeah, totally!" the little bird congratulated itself. "The ladies have always loved this stuff! Now that I won't always be pestering them for a taste of their walnuts or whatever, they'll love me even more!"

It was but a moment's work for the little bird to find a nearby cluster of lady-birds. "Heyo!" it said, puffing out its chest as it approached. "How's it going!"

"Eeeuurgh!" the lady-birds said, recoiling en-masse! All but one took to the air, leaving the dumbfounded little-bird stunned.

"You might want to have yourself checked out, guy," the last lady-bird suggested helpfully. "You smell like rotting flesh! Maybe take a nice bath?" Then it turned away, flying quickly in pursuit of the others.

"What?" the little bird asked, disbelieving. "I don't smell like rotting flesh." It took a quick sniff under its wing to confirm this. "Yeah! All I smell like is... ash?"

"Aw, man!" the little bird said, realization dawning. "Everything smells like ash to me! I totally lost my sense of smell! That was my favourite one, too; including but not limited to my sense of proprietry!"

"Well, whatever," the little bird said. "Being dead totally sucks. I'll just fly to the Kingdom of Heaven, like that woman wanted me to. Things might be better there, maybe."

The little bird considered.

"Oh, hey, they're totally going to be better!" it exclaimed. "It's Heaven! Everything's awesome there! Rad! Well, off I go, then." And with the words, the little bird was in the air once more.

"Wait, which way's Heaven, again?" it asked itself after a moment.

It thought.

"Oh, right!" it realized. "Duh! Up!"

Its wings beating hard, the little bird began to spiral into the air.

Time passed. The sun set and rose again.

"Whoa, if I were a normal bird, I'd totally be tired by now," the little bird realized. "But I feel like I could do this basically forever!"

"It's true," a nearby hawk observed. "Usually I have to dive quite a distance to strike my prey; and then climb a long ways back again, after my meal is done. So obliging of you to come all this way; I won't waste your time with delay."

"Huh, wha?" the little bird observed articulately.

"Waaaaaaaaargh!" it wailed, moments later, as the hawk rent at it. "Hawk totally eating me! The heck the heck the heeeeeeeeeck!"

"Oh, don't worry about it, little bird," the hawk said, drawing back. "I'm quite done; I see this was a terrible mistake on my part. Rotten flesh isn't quite my thing. Unless you've anything more to say, I'm back to scanning for something to wash this taste out of my mouth..." And with this the hawk withdrew, its eyes cast once more in the direction of the distant earth.

"Right!" the little bird remembered. "Totally undead! I remember that woman said I'd be immune to predators. Guess this is why! Best perk I've gotten so far. Sucks to be you, large predatory birds!" It flipped a wing in the general direction of predatory birds.

Shortly thereafter, after recovering from the uncontrolled-spin this ill-considered gesture caused, the little bird continued its upwards ascent.

Until it got caught in a web of invisible, sticky fibers, that is!

"What the heck!" the little bird said. "This doesn't even make any sense! I guess I'm in some sort of web, but what would it even be anchored to?"

"Clouds, naturally," a sky-spider said, approaching at a sedate pace. "Don't injure your little brain worrying about it too much, though. Soon, I'll have injected you with my paralytic venoms, and then you won't have to worry about anything at all. Later, I'll liquefy and ingest you!"

"You totally don't want to, though!" the little bird said. "I'm totally undead! You'd be totally unhappy if you ate me! All, "whoa, that was disgusting, I never want to eat again!" For days! Plus you might catch some weird zombie illness. Not worth the risk, if you ask me!"

The sky-spider tilted its multiorbed head quizically. "Undead? That's most unusual. How can I be sure you're not just lying to avoid being digested?"

"How else'd I get this high?" the little bird asked.

"Reasonable enough," the sky-spider agreed. "Best not to risk it. I'll just cut you free, now..."

"Aw, thanks!" the little bird said, flexing its wings. "You're the politest sky-spider I've ever met. Later!"

"If you want to avoid further such encounters, steer wide of the gaps between clouds," the sky-spider shouted upwards to the departing little bird. "That's where we spin our webs!"

"Whoa!" the little bird said in surprise. "Politest sky-spider ever!"

Its journey upward continued. The sky darkened, turning deep blue. At first the little-bird thought that it was night. Then it realized that the sun was still up. It had just gotten that high!

"Huh!" the little bird said. "I must be nearly to Heaven by now! Hope I can make it the rest of the way - my wings aren't working as well as they were back near the ground, for some weird reason."

"That's very strange indeed," said the leviathan sky-squid. (That's not a very good description of it. It looked kinda like an elephant, but with no legs, and also tentacles? Also it was purple, ish. And had lots of bumps on its skin. And - perhaps best to leave it here.) "You must have come a very long way to get here; I imagine you would be terribly sad if your quest for Heaven was to be ended in failure at so late a date."

"Aw, man," the little bird griped. "Why do I even bother having inner monologues? Every time I do, some predator shows up! Whatever." It turned its beak upwards. "Whatever, sky-squid-thing!" it shouted. "I'm totally undead! Don't bother eating me! Also maybe give me some directions, I'm kinda worried that I overshot Heaven at some point like maybe three miles ago, that'd suck."

"Oh, little bird, little undead bird," the sky-squid-thing sighed. "I am not your friend. I am the Guardian of Heaven, and I am here to eat creatures like you."

"Wha?" the little bird asked. "Seriously? Man, that totally sucks. That sucks, and you suck. And your face sucks. And you smell. And I want you to know - "

Then the sky-squid seized the frantically-flapping little bird in one of its thousand tentacles, stuffed it into its many-fanged maw, and chewed!

"Om nom nom nom," the sky-squid observed.

-

The little bird knew there was something wrong.

It thought for a while.

"Didn't that sky-squid eat me?" it asked.

A great and benevolent radiance enveloped the little bird. The 'sky-squid' is the Guardian of Heaven, it seemed to wordlessly convey. Through its ommings and nommings, it conveyed you here.

"Oh!" the little bird said. "Huh! I totally didn't expect that."

Are you prepared to experience the glory of Heaven? the great and benevolent radiance asked.

"Um, er," the little bird said. "Yeah. Uh. Actually, I was thinking... could I maybe just be restored to life? I was having a pretty good time, living. It was fun. I liked it."

Heaven's pretty great, the immense and incomprehensible radiance intimated. Don't knock it before you try it.

"Yeah, but... life, eh?" the little bird said. "Also, sex. Not sure you have that around here."

Why don't you try Heaven first, and then if you really want to return to life, we can work something out? the immeasurable numinance implied.

"That works," the little bird said.

"Oh," it added, as a swirl of light wrapped around it. "I had this note, from this lady. She tied it to my leg. I guess I'm supposed to deliver it to God. You should maybe probably take it?"

Certainly, the light agreed.

And then the bird was gone; only the slip of paper remaining.

The divine luminance unwrapped it. Slowly, it read.

It stopped. The paper rotated; then back again. The impression of a disbelieving squint resonated through space.

Get those damn kids to stop throwing stones at my vile sanctum of unlife? the divinity asked disbelievingly.

"Seriously!" the woman said, looking up from her laboratory bench. "They damaged my trim!"

1 comment:

Calvacadeofcats said...

what a nikolasish adventure