Thirty One




I haven’t written a story in a long time. I’ve been working on a novel, but I recently got into a high fantasy phase and it’s making it tricksy to work on my very modern and not high fantasy novel. Also I’ve been sedentary and depressed or something. In any case, I wanted to get some of this fantasy mumbo malumbo out of my system. So I started to write and this is what came out.


Thirty One



Thirty One. That’s the only name she has, because she came with no name.

She cracked out of a crystal seed nearly a month ago, and things are still changing. Everything is changing, and no one knows what to do. The others look to me and I have little to give. They look to me. I was always the last one anyone looked to for truth. For real things. For solutions. The poet, the dreamer, the storyteller. Who has need for stories in a world like this? A world where we know and understand and can touch everything?

Not anymore. Krakow has the final say about how to distribute the hot nectar that flows from the broken mountains, or who is chosen to be painted by the juice of the nefilfruit each bloomtime. But Thirty One came, and Krakow is silent. The others are saying that the silver has melted and dripped from his tongue, and he does not wish to open his mouth and let us see.

Amandrius’s word takes hold when the flatlings come forth from the darkened places on the other side of the spiked mountains, or a violent storm births too many lightcaws to be felled by the rains and they fly down to scratch at is. We gather our frozenfire spears and our thunderslings and follow Amandrius’s bellow out to do battle with our enemies. We do not know if Thirty One is an enemy. She is one of us, and yet she is not. We all turned to Amandrius for council. To see if he would blow his horn. He did not. We do not know if he is unsure or if he is afraid.

Lisilia peers into the nexttime to tell us what the clouds would bring, when it would be hot enough to hide in the shades so our skins would not burn. All of us listened when she spoke or sang, even Krakow. Even Amandrius. But Lisilia did not see Thirty One coming. She is something new. There has never been something new.

No one listens to me. They never have. Or, they listen, but it is idle. A fancy. I sing of hidden kingdoms in the clouds. Of a rare blue strain of hot nectar that grants the drinker golden wings that fly a hundred times as fast as our own. Of scaly beasts that slumber beneath the ground atop great piles of impossible objects the likes of which we cannot imagine.

But there are no kingdoms in the clouds. We have flown around and through them many times. There is no blue strain of nectar, and wings are never gold. There are no scaly beasts beneath the ground, or anything else that we have not seen and touched. We have been everywhere. We have seen everything. The imaginings of my fancies are hallucinations of an otherwise useless mind.

Always there have been thirty of us. At the dawn of things the crystal seeds cracked and we emerged. That was thousands of cycles of the world ago. We have been everywhere. We have seen everything. There was nothing new.

Then a new seed began to grow. It was nothing we could understand. Nothing we had ever seen before. It grew and it grew and finally it cracked. And she emerged. A new person. A new person for the first time in the history of forever. The thirty first. She had no name. We all had names, when we emerged. We knew them. Our own and each other’s. But we did not know her name, because she had no name.

No one could name her so they turned to me. I called her Thirty One, and so she is. She is here, now. And everything is different.


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