“So you’re telling me that you’re Sky Kraken spawn, but Mitch and Paul and Orford, and all those villagers?” He gave a slow nod. “What about the crazy engineer? Is he spawn too?”
“No, he’s our father,” Mitch’s voice was barely audible as if he was embarrassed to tell me the truth.
“He created the Sky Kraken?”
“No.” Mitch stated and I indicated for him to continue. He tried to pretend he didn’t understand.
“What is he?”
“He’s what you call the Sky Kraken,” Mitch finally said with a great effort. I needed to get away. Why had they let me live? What purpose was I serving them? I looked at the great island chained to the statue and its tiny looking gangplank. I was going to go home. “No, don’t go.” Mitch said quickly as if he could read my mind. “Stay here with me.”
“And do what? Defend myself against your insane selves?” I was sounding pretty insane though. I heard the whispers again. They weren’t recognizable and I couldn’t understand any of the words. I looked behind myself again. I was still alone with Mitch.
“I can protect you,” he stated, “I can be those you love.” He suddenly began to convulse and blur, the sign of when he was going to change into someone else.
“No! Stop! Don’t turn into anyone else,” I shouted at him, reaching to grab his shoulders. The blurring stopped and I saw a hideous transformation of a creature that was half Mitch and half Paul. It was like his face was splitting, only strings of flesh holding the two halves together, somehow mixed into both was the Sky Kraken shapeless face. A brown eye and a blue eye blinked at me. I jerked back in revulsion, releasing him. I turned and did what I thought was the best thing, I ran. I ignored the calls of my name, the pleading voice for me to come back.
Maneuvering through the weird village was difficult. It was practically a maze, and every time I came across a villager it would begin to convulse and blur, and become either Mitch or Paul. It was difficult to watch, and even more difficult to hear my husband begging me to stop running. Suddenly the medicine woman stepped out in front of me. I skidded to a halt, fork in hand.
“Where do you think you’re going, daughter?” She asked and I waited for her to change into Mitch or Paul. During the change I discovered that the Sky Kraken spawn were immobile and defenseless. She waited patiently for my response and I slowly realized she wasn’t going to change.
“Back to the clouds,” I stated honestly. I didn’t get my nickname for lying. “Aren’t you going to become someone else and try to get me to stay?”
“No, I do not change into my children,” she stated plainly. Children? I raised a brow. “The sky people will not want you among them. You are an abomination to them now.” I gazed at her long and hard. “You carry my grandchild, the first of its kind,” I unconsciously touched my flat stomach, and remembered the love making on the grassy hill.
“I will have this demon removed from me if it kills me,” I said vehemently and pushed past her.
“You hear us now, because of the child,” was all she said and she did not call for me to come back. I did not see any more Sky Kraken spawn or villagers once entering the statue building. I jogged through the corridors to the stair room, and tried to take the stairs two at a time. It was as if I was afraid that the island would leave without me. Suddenly I had the urge I was being watched. I hesitated on the stairs. I looked down the metal steps below me, I looked up above me. I was tired and winded, my side hurt.
“Louella,” came the whisper into my ear and I almost thought I could feel breath on my neck. I visibly jumped and whirled around.
“Who are you?” I demanded into the silent darkness. No sound came back, not even the weird whispers I’d been hearing since making love to Mitch. He wasn’t Mitch, he was an echo of a man who had lived long ago. I’d made love- It wasn’t love, it felt like love, like need, I had fucked a thing, the spawn of a monster that was only mentioned in whispers. Now I carried its seed within my womb. The thought of it I wanted to vomit right onto the stairs. I took several deep breaths and continued up the stairs.
Draco Island was indeed still there when I reached the door that led to the gangplank up to the island. Part of the gangplank was obscured by the clouds that surrounded the island. I could hear the chains creaking as the links strained against each other. I usually wasn’t afraid of heights, when living in a world above the clouds, heights were something you were born used to. However as I slowly walked up the gangplank, which seemed to groan under my every step, I was afraid that the gangplank would be lowered with me on. I could see clouds rolling in across the horizon. It seemed that Draco Island created its own cloud and that was how it stayed afloat. As I moved through the cloud, my hair and clothing once again became wet. I began to breathe easier, not realizing that I had grown accustomed to the pressure on the surface. Though the cloud muted everything and made visibility almost nothing I could hear music above me. Faint at first, then louder as I climbed upwards through the cloud. I vaguely noticed the lack of wildlife swimming in the cloud. Usually there was always some sort of curious fish.
Soon I could see the sun again, piercing the fluffy white of the clouds and then my head, my shoulders, my waist and then all of me was above the cloud line. I was not yet quite to the land of the island, but I only had a few more feet to go. I could now make out details of the island that I had not been able to make out from the surface. The island was the largest I’d ever seen as I mentioned before. It also seemed to be the most forested, most mountainous, and had the most buildings I’d ever seen. These weren’t the seedy shacks of Hopewell and No Name, made mostly from scavenged ships, they were stone. A waterfall, not from an island above like most, but bubbling from the central peak slithered back and forth down the mountain and in and out of the city. The highest structure on the mountainside looked like the grandest castle I’d ever seen with towers, high arched walkways, and courtyards. Around the castle spread the city, I could hear the music much louder now, and people clapping and laughing. The entire town seemed to be decorated in gay colors of green, gold, and white. Banners and swags of cloth were hung everywhere. Flowers and ribbons hung from street lamps. This city was also the cleanest I’d ever seen. I had finally stepped onto the grass of the sky island, and felt the familiar buoyancy of it. The streets were free of trash, and the island lacked the familiar body odor, fecal matter and rotten food odor. I took a deep breath and stepped from the grass onto a cobbled street.
The people of Draco Island were dressed slightly different than me. They were cleaner, they were plumper, and didn’t seem to have much affinity for the usual pirate garb. They seemed like a middle version between the clothing of the people on the surface and my own rags. The men were dressed in suits, but long breeches, and their vests and overcoats were not as elaborate as mine, though mine were dirty. The women wore skirts, they were slim though, and the dresses I had worn had what seemed like 40 lbs of underpinnings to make the skirt look fuller, larger. These women wore mostly white frilly blouses, and their hair covered with hats that had ribbons, bird feathers, or flowers on the brims. Their skirts also did not come down to the ground, but ended, still rather modestly at the ankle.
I garnered a few stares at first, a group of people were in the intersection of a cobbled street. Horses pulled carriages or carried people. I’d never seen so many at once. Usually horses were scarce, only the richest people owning one or two if they were lucky. A band was playing a gay tune, and people were dancing. The music didn’t stop at my entrance, but some of the dancers had stopped to gaze at me. I felt extremely out of place.
“Louella,” came the whisper again in my ear, surrounded and followed by the unintelligible whispers I’d heard before. I had not bothered to look behind me. A short, suited fat man approached me. He had a black hat on his head that looked more like a stove pipe than a hat.
“G’Day to you,” he greeted me warmly. Tufts of white hair poked out from under the hat. His face was red, and many chinned. He was mostly clean shaven but it was as if he had difficulty shaving all the chins and some of his jowls sported a white stubble. His eyes were blue, watery, and seemed friendly.
“Hello,” I said cautiously. He spoke with an accent I’d never heard before, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to have the same problem as on the surface. Did these people speak Common? Did they understand me?
“Welcome to Eryana,” he said offering his hand to shake mine. I offered my own hand, and I noticed his glance down at my exposed scarred wrist. “My name is Josiah Crabb, I’m mayor of this district.” He indicated around him with a wave of his hand.
“Honesty,” I introduced myself.
“We were told to expect an outsider.”
“You take orders from the Sky Kraken?” I asked. Suddenly Josiah guffawed loudly, he indicated I walk with him. The music had moved onto another song and the dancers had returned to their merriment. A long table was laid out with massive amounts of food. Cakes, pastries, vegetables, and dear sweet Lord, meat that wasn’t fish. My stomach rumbled in hunger. “Something funny?” I asked eyeing the food on the table.
“I apologize, but you’ve been down on the surface, you’re obviously a cloud pirate,” he began pointing to my clothes. I realized that he talked mostly with his hands and gestures. He noticed I was almost drooling at the table. “Are you hungry?” He asked and I thought if I nodded any harder my head would wobble off my neck. “By all means, help yourself.” He waited patiently while I practically attacked the table of food like a savage. I was tasting everything, I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to eat first. I’d never had so many choices in food before. He waited with a smile, waving people on by who had stopped to stare at my lack of manners. He shook some hands, and greeted people, moving them along.
“I’m sorry, I swear I know etiquette,” I finally stated wiping my mouth on my sleeve. He gave me an understanding smile.
“Tell me why you laughed when I mentioned the Sky Kraken,” I asked him.
“Like I said before. You’ve been on the surface, the air pressure is stronger and you weren’t able to breathe properly. The time you spent down there you were most likely not getting enough oxygen, air, to your brain. When the brain doesn’t get enough air it can make you see things that aren’t there,” he explained I followed him.
“So I was hallucinating the entire time, is that what you’re saying?” I asked and he nodded. Did I believe him? Did I believe my eyes, my ears, my body as it had accepted Mitch in only the way a woman can accept a man? I could hear the whispers again.
“Hearing things?” He asked. I didn’t answer. “It’s perfectly normal, they’ll go away in a few days of being back above the clouds.”
“You pick up many stow-a-ways from the surface?” I asked.
“One or two,” he replied, smiling. He smiled a lot and I didn’t know if it made me uneasy or more comfortable.