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Mother of Crow
By Jenny K. Brennan
This Sundered World - Book 2
A spirit-punk steam-punk tale we don't know where, maybe not even why, and most certainly not how.
Draft exclusive to House of Imp. Copyright 2017 Jenny K. Brennan - All rights reserved.
Chapter 10 – Petty victories
Last updated: April 1, 2019 at 7:22 am
Owl was dull grey from head to tail feathers. His shimmering white coat was covered in soot and ashes from his landing at the still smoking human town. He scanned the landscape, moving only his head. In the center of the devastation, perched atop a still smoking ruin of some building or another, he could have been mistaken for the town’s resident gargoyle. A granite figure for all times guarding and watching his domain. But whether gargoyles in any real or fictional setting had that sense of duty that humans tend to imbue them with or not, this creature couldn’t have cared less about the recent disaster. He had come alone. His murder directed to wait. Owl didn’t need them for this. An erratic burst of information from Butterfly had showed Owl where to go. And what he would find there. Nothing. But he had to see it for himself. A burning town and humans running. A naked female. Another one leaking from glassy eyes. Emptiness humans. That had been the message. Butterfly spoke through the dimensions, so said the teachings. But whether the knowledge was past, present, or perhaps eve even future events was hard to tell these days. The communicator emitted bits of here and then and possibilities of maybe. This had been strong. The finch fucker and that human that Owl couldn’t read. But once again, he had been too late and There were no one to process and Owl had known. He turned in a slow circle and scanned the landscape one more time. The humans were gone. And he had no sense of them. He had a sense of them lingering though. That much he could tell. They had been there. And destroyed their own nest? Why? Owl was puzzled and that feeling nearly trumped his frustration. Too late. Again.
The remade bird hopped off the dismantled roof ridge and landed on the road that had once been the main street of Terry town. His landing stirred up a fresh cloud of ashes. He started toward the water tower, and the column of fine ash was born, bloomed, and spread out after him as he walked. He reached the base of the water collector and looked up along its marred copper cylinder. He stopped, cocked his head to the side and leaned close to the dirty metal. He stood still for a long minute and listened to the gentle burble from inside. The blades at the end of his wings started clicking. They slid out of their hidden sheaves one by one in sequence. One by one they disappeared again. From one end of the row to the other. The exercise continued for another minute. The whispering clicks, ticks, and shrill scraping of sharp metal blades sliding in and out one by one, one after another normally calmed Owl. Suddenly he drew his head back, all blades extended fully as he raised both wings slightly. He jabbed his beak into the metal. He positioned his head back near the metal to listen. The ringing echoes traveled throughout the near empty collector and lingered for several breaths before fading back into quiet burbling. Owl relaxed his posture and stepped back. He peered up along the cylinder again and croaked quietly,
“no?” before he quickly pecked at the metal twice more. When the water-collector refused to make any sound other than the echoing ringing that indicated more empty than full, he finally stepped away from it and turned to the town again. He shook his wings and rustled off a cloud of ash, Owl despised dirt. Why did humans always bring grime and filth wherever they went? Nasty creatures, them. Was it any wonder he wanted them gone?
Owl shrugged in dismay and stepped out of the tenacious cloud of ash. It followed and he walked faster. This was no place for Owl. He snorted in disgust and held back a cough. In a moment, he located his patrolling murder of guardians against the sharp noon sky. They waited for him to be done, circling, sailing, restlessly watching the ground. If humans were anywhere in sight of the birds, they would give up a cry for their superior and then give chase. But the skies were calm, and so was the gathering of little dots up high. Owl blinked. His mind was still on the water collector although he wasn’t sure why. Suddenly he turned and regarded the mechanism at the bottom, clucking in annoyance. A crank. It would be easier for the engineer. But he was up there hovering with the others. He blinked at the blasted thing a few times and then reached out to the lever. He grabbed the awkward handle with his beak and turned it like he had seen the engineer do it. It didn’t move. He let go and pulled his head back. Turn. Yes, it had to turn. But what way? He grabbed it again and turned it the other way. It opened a fraction. Water started dripping. He grabbed it again, careful not to let the water touch him. He turned hard as far as he could and jumped back and out of the way. The water escaped with a dribble and gathered in a puddle that would be quick to evaporate. No water, no humans. Owl clucked quietly to himself.
Satisfied with his small victory, he started walking. He paced a trail of dust back along the road. There was nothing more to see here. He looked down at the filth covering his chest and resisted his urge to clean any of it off. He had humans to do that kind of thing. He With a quick rush forward, he shrieked at the sky, jumped, and took flight to join his flock.
About the author
Jenny K. Brennan is a Swedish/Canadian vocalist, songwriter, and writer living in Ontario, Canada since 2002 with one husband, one dog, and unfinished projects in the thousands. Find her on
The House of Imp,
and anywhere else Mr. Google can locate her. She studies English and braille at The Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually impaired. On her free time, she learns Wordpress by trial and error, audio production using Apple Logic Pro, and carpentry by association.