Bob and I both stopped breathing as the shed became pitch black.
A preoccupied voice came from the bench – Please don’t move.
The door to the shed opened and closed.
I could feel Bob starting to shake. I held his arms steady.
I said – I am worried about my friend, Bob. He is not well.
A different voice this time from behind – Almost done.
The room filled with a soft gentle light, illuminating every corner of the shed.
Bob hissed – It is the little people. They steal your grog, eh.
There was no one in the room except Bob and me.
A voice said – I have never stolen your grog, Bob Evans. Which is more I can say for you.
There was movement from behind, and a small human figure jumped lightly onto the bench.
A second was rummaging in the back of the shed.
Bob said – I have seen you before. You are mermaids.
The second stopped, smiled and said - Sometimes.
The first said – I am Tharia and this is Gossamer. We are tasked to guard the Blue Dragon.
Tharia continued – Officially, I do not believe in either of you, but it seems we have a common objective.
I said – You have been listening to us.
Gossamer smiled and said – We thought you were going to let the blue dragon free. I am glad you did not try.
Bob said – I need a drink. Now.
Tharia – Like last time? And fail again?
She turned to me - Bob has a plan. But you need us to make it work. I have a couple of conditions.
Bob interrupted – Sweet. Let’s get going!
I said – Wait. I want to hear the conditions.
Tharia said - Firstly, you have to agree to forget.
I said – I can’t agree to that. I am being hunted here.
Bob said – What do you mean? Forget Belle? I will not do that.
Gossamer said – The alternative is to agree not to return to this world. We cannot risk the Blue Dragon waking – she is very persuasive.
Bob said – Hard, bro.
I said – What are the other conditions.
Gossamer looked at Tharia – We have to change you a little. To let you lead the spiders away. You just can’t do it the way you planned. There are side effects.
I said – What changes?
Tharia said – We will change some of your genetic coding to let you move very fast. It has been tried before and it works on creatures like you. We will remove the effects immediately after the raid and the side effects should wear off in time. I should warn you though - we tried it with the guy you were looking for at the hospital. It has not worn off him yet – there were complications.
I said – He will have to look after himself.
Then I felt a pang of guilt. I searched it down and squashed it.
I continued - What other side effects? What sort of genetic coding? This all sounds complicated.
Gossamer said – Specifically, it is some of the genetic coding for dragons. The uptake is fast, and you will adapt intuitively. As for other effects, your aging gene will be switched off. We will restore it once added genetic coding is flushed, but there is a chance you will end up looking and feeling younger.
I thought about the blue dragon.
I said – Anything that keeps me ahead of the spiders is good by me. When do we start?
Tharia said – We should be ready to head off shortly. (Turning to Bob?) You remember how to steer a ship?
Bob said – Sure I can.
Tharia said - Just one other condition. Any of the metal we find is mine.
I said – Can I put in a call to my work? But once I do, they will be able to track us. I just need to work out something in my head.
Tharia said – They started to track you when you started to charge the mobile. They are already on their way here.
Tharia motioned to my own mobile. Bob had already inserted the new sim. She said – Make the call, then we will use the other mobile to transfer.
Bob said – I was going to show her the horse lord’s mountain.
Tharia said – Change of plan. She can watch the movie.
I rang through to work.
I was put through to my Deputy Chief Executive. He said – You have been missing. Where are you? Are you ok?
I said – Save the fake concern. Why did they try to kill me?
He said – Not my call. He acted in the moment, thought he was doing the right thing. You would have done the same thing. We have your location and are bringing you in.
I said – I would not have done the same thing. What assurances can you give me?
He lied – We understand why you acted the way you did. There will be no repercussions.
I said – That is all the assurance I need. Can you bring me some clean clothes?
He started to answer and I hung up.
Tharia said – They are not nice people.
I looked down on the mobile. A life of contacts, addresses, restaurants, ex-boyfriends and shopping malls. I would come back, but on my terms.
Gossamer explained about the wings, so we made some adjustments to my clothes. She then put a small device to the top of my arm and said – this will sting.
The pain went straight through my shirt into my arm. I hate needles.
Bob sat earnestly talking to Tharia about shark nets.
Gossamer came to me and said – Time for the final part. A lot of flying is intuitive, you need to take this to suppress stuff.
I put the tab under my tongue and felt the taste fizz into my mouth.
I was suddenly aware of others – far distant. A dragon lady in a restless sleep dreaming of cutting her bonds. A man in a coma dreaming of flying but encased in bonds of a different sort. A relentless pulsing nearby at the intersections of the worlds in the Christchurch Park. Jets coming towards us.
I said – I think I am going to be sick.
And ran outside. A blast of cold air, the moon low on the horizon.
My back exploded in pain as wings unfolded and I threw myself into the air. High, over the mountain until the Canterbury plain was far below me. In the distance, a closer less active pulsing near Mount Sunday. I paused and dived towards it, my senses alive with the taste of something different.
The dragon lady found me as I flew – So you are awake little one. Come watch the stars with me.
I blocked her out.
I came to rest on the horse lord’s mountain. Nothing there now but the scuff marks of tourists and their fast food wrappers. The node here was quiet, almost abandoned, but I could feel the power. I flew down to the tourist sign and tested the metal with my arms. The metal tore like paper. I smiled and made two arm bands. I thought, this is metal you will not get.
I flew back to the little cabin.
Tharia gave me a cold stare – You feeling yourself?
I said, levelly – Just testing the rig. Everything you said checks out. I am ready to go.
We activated the mobile and faded into spider realm. This time a clear platform scorched clean of spiders, high above a sea below. In the distance, roughly the direction of Christchurch the ruins of the towers of a sky-city, encased in webs.
A sky-yacht bobbed just off the platform.
Bob smiled and ran for it while the alfs called their mounts which looked like large purebred Maine Coon Cats. I flew into the air above the sky-yacht. Bob yelled at me – Belle told me about these – they are just as she described!
He cast off and we were underway.
As we flew, Tharia explained where we were heading and what I had to do. She handed me a scatter of devices she had made from Bob’s collection.
I dived into the first tower, a little fast, collided with a web strand. As the nearby brood mother located me and advanced with her swarm, I flew off, leaving a pulsating bomb.
I flew to the next location higher this time, avoiding strands of web, as the sky-yacht docked next to its target. For the next twenty minutes, I repeated the initial manoeuvre, drawing more and more spiders away from the dock. Finally, I saw the little craft undock and pull away, heading back to our starting point.
I had a moment to consider Bob’s original plan – it would have been suicide.
I followed, a little more slowly.
I arrived to see them attempting to revive the beings encased. The alfs had said they could be saved. Tharia and Gossamer started work on two smaller cocoons and were quickly rewarded by two alfs, sick and weak but alive. As we worked to free the next, I felt a jab to my arm.
Gossamer looked at me and said – Good luck. You are going to need it.
The alfs took their friends and disappeared, taking the last of their technology with them.
The next cocoon held nothing but star dust. In the next one, Bob found Belle.
I walked a little distance, to the edge of the platform and slipped the piece of tin from my arm. Gossamer’s needle had dinted but not penetrated the surface.
I stood and watched a gas giant rise in the distance and unfurled my wings.
Image - This is a picture of a model I built imagining of Da Vinci's flying machine based on the drawings in the Codex Atlanticus and the Codex on the Flight of Birds, on a plan created by Robert Coyle in 1961.
(A lot of things got hurt writing this part, mainly spiders.)
This is a continuation of a story (a "braided yarn") that started on an earlier G+ post. Details and story at: