Not Alone

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Photo credit: Li Feng

The pent up worries he’d been nursing since diving into the tensions of Bog and Fen rinsed off with the scent of motion sickness. Elliot’s solitude absorbed the peace of the Lilian Pond while the muffled music of the larger public bath beyond the bushes infused his thoughts with joy.

As unpredictable as it had become, his life was full. Life isn’t scary, he thought, it’s an adventure. I’m not weak unless I give up.

Counting the obstacles he’d overcome, even when he’d needed help, he smiled. He had strength. He had friends. He had love.

He had company.

To be continued. . .

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .

Under Pressure

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Photo credit: Imagebase

Elliot tried to press on Vernon’s stitched chest with his tentacles, but instead of compressing, they slid off the hard shell that was the wasp’s skin. After the third attempt, he stared at Clifton.

“You have to do this, Clif.”

“But I don’t know what you’re doing.”

“I’m trying to make his heart work again, but I can’t push hard enough.”

“If I push on him,” Clifton warned, “I’m afraid I’ll break him. Besides, what is that stuff? It looks like he’s leaking.”

“I think his cut is infected — he’s burning up. But if we don’t get his heart started soon, he’s gonna be cold and dead.”

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Water Is Life or Death

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Quivering his way to the spot where Vernon vanished, Clifton tried to ignore the tickle of doubt in his chest. Elliot believes in me.

Taking a deeper breath than his lungs had ever held before, he kicked his chubby back legs as hard as could and dove into oblivion.

Reluctantly, he forced his eyes open.

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Clifton Takes a Dive

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Photo credit: Michael Johnson

Vernon’s eyes flickered in recognition just before his arms broke through the water and he disappeared beneath the surface.

“Vernon!” Elliot called again.

Only bubbles answered.

“Ohmigosh! Ohmigosh!” Clifton buzzed in swelling panic. “We can’t let the Queen’s Liaison drown!”

“Can you swim?” Elliot asked.

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Pierce

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In his dream, Elliot reclined on a bed of rose petals in a field of jasmine. He could feel Cassandra’s kisses on his lips.

He woke on the floor of the bower in Fen to find her wiping the last of his regurgitated breakfast from his mouth. The scent of jasmine drifted in and gagged him. Rolling onto his side coughing more violently than the ancient wasp, he caught a flashing glint of brown surrounded by feathers in the doorway.

Shifting impatiently from foot to foot, Pierce, the hawk who’d brought them back, preened a chunk of glistening, ocher something from his shoulder, and fixed a smoldering one-eyed stare on Elliot.

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The Verdict and Breakfast, Too

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“Arturo, son of Miguel and Valeria, regarding the charges that you are responsible for the return of the rebels and the devastation they spread throughout our people’s homes in the Freelands, we find it is possible the rebels would not have come back if they had achieved their goal to begin with. Therefore, we find you are inextricably connected to the massacre.”

Arturo closed his eyes.

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Fee for the Spinnerman

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Photo credit: Suhaib Ayaz

Standing tall before the solitary ant, Arturo said, “Out of respect for the living, we ask you to leave.”

Boldly facing Arturo’s size and stinger, the ant’s voice pierced the air. “Respect for the living brought me here. My people need to eat, so we serve the world by giving purpose to its dead and decaying. This place smells of death, so I am here, and I must tell them what I’ve found. When we return, we will give thanks to honor the life that was taken from one and shared with others.”

Arturo dropped to one knee. “Is it too much to ask that you wait to give thanks until the life is truly taken?”

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