FROM THE FARMER’S JOURNAL BY RUDOLFO SERNA
Tewa ran as the maidens made their awful sounds. The yelping tongues wailing along the trail, searching for eggshells left behind by grandmother. Pecking open the orbs of bone with their beaks and pincers, taking the hollowed shell and traveling with it down river.
The sounds of the approaching chorus drove Tewa to move faster on the trail, running from the howling sisters. Hearing something large and lumbering, breaking through cottonwoods, as its wet appendages slapped against tree trunks.
Tewa could hear the river getting louder as she approached its currents, with the wailing catching up. The yelps and whispers of the maidens crossing the trail behind her, running from the fluttering wings swarming in tree branches, chasing her down, her footsteps crumpling through dried leaves.
She saw the light of a fire through the trees. She could feel herself slipping in the mud, and felt the tongues hissing hot breath behind her. The fire was at the edge of the tree line, breaking free from the woods, looking back in time to see the faces of the three girls; their eyes spinning kaleidoscopic fury and spark, receding back into the woods, with their tongues flicking the air in front of them, and curling between their sharp teeth. Reaching out with long black fingers and dagger like nails, they howled and flapped their wings.
As they disappeared she could hear the howling, the whimpering, and then laughter.
The firelight lit a patch of sand on the river shore.
“They lied to me.” She continued staring into the woods until the cackling of the maidens stopped. “They lied…”
Turning she saw the metal figure that sat next to the fire. She walked towards it. It was not anything mechanical, but instead something fragile buried beneath the metal, as campfire flickered in its eyes.
“Are you a knight? Are you the only one?”
It raised its tired grey eyes.
“There were more of us, but they seem to have all disappeared.”
“Eaten?” She pointed out to the woods.
“Now, you are alone?”
The knight’s armor looked stained and rusted, its beard long, and its skin beneath dirty and pale.
“How did you get here?” Tewa asked.
“We rode the waves into the rocks.”
“You have been here since?”
“Yes” The knight said, as a small smile formed through his beard barely noticeable by Tewa in the firelight.
“Where are you from?” Tewa asked.
“Out there,” the armored sentinel pointed beyond the fire to where the river was loudest.
“From the river?” Tewa said.
“I was here before the river.”
“Do you know my grandmother? Do you know where she is?”
The knight remained looking into the campfire that crackled and danced in a breeze that lifted the smoke into the dark.
“Why do you want to find her?”
“She is the only one that ever cared.”
“I guess that is reason enough.”
The fire released red and green spark. Tewa watched the floating embers that went out over where the water should have been, as she could see the twinkling spectra moving between surface and sky.
“It is so black, where is the water?” Tewa asked, as she could hear the river. The flowing currents had been the only sound she could ever remember. The bearded face looked at her, its heavy metal creaking, as it was too large for the flesh underneath, giving way.
“If I step out there, will I disappear?” Tewa said.
“You do not want to go out there,” motioning with his head towards the river as he continued staring into the fire.
“I don’t?” Tewa said.
“You need to go to town,” the knight’s metal creaked as it gestured to the faint dawn light coming up.
“You won’t stop me?” Tewa quietly asked.
“Why would I do that?”
She watched the rusting figure like an old relic in the sand. She stopped to study him, while the Synchronicon spun, raising the sun from the horizon over the wall that waited for her at the edge of town.
“Just follow the shore.” The knight said.
Currents of electron spilled through steel mouths fastened to the face of the wall’s shedding brick. Wild stems of drab green serpent root sprouted along the base, crawling until reaching the wall’s zenith, where a fast dawn made its way to the edge, and a red sun filled the sky.
“Good bye, Tewa,” the knight said.
There was no sound from the river oblivion. Tewa went through the gate. The sun rose and the seasons stopped.