My Exploding Cat

Just stories and drawings really, no actual fissile felines.

Chapter Three–Our Camping Trip is a TOTAL Train Wreck–Edit #3


We took to the skies, and my wings changed back to their blue/green thing. It was well past sunset before I was satisfied with our distance from the village. We set up camp as fast as possible. My troops were exhausted, to say the least. Akana was the best flier out of all of us, being the most experienced, and knew the most tricks for conserving energy. The rest of us were exhausted, but Kaye and Li were in worse shape than I was. Kaye rarely needed to fly, or wanted to (which I didn’t understand), and Li had hardly gotten a chance to. The fire flickered as we all gathered around it for warmth, a contrast from the windy chill that loomed above us.

I didn’t like what was happening. I had a feeling that my group shared similarities other than being able to fly. I didn’t know Li well enough to judge her on this, but Kaye, Akana and I definitely had something in common that I couldn’t quite place.

In the morning, we took to the skies again, never sure where we planned to go. I wasn’t sure what I was thinking. The day passed slowly. I wasn’t worried, exactly, except that I knew that wherever we went, we would have to run. I wanted to land, to be closer to the forest. Even in the sky, I dropped a little to be a few feet closer. I felt better, sort of more concealed, even though the lower I went, the more visible I was to people below.

I didn’t want to be here. I was tired, and I wanted to lie down on the ground and sleep there. I didn’t want to be in the sky any more. And I really didn’t want to hear another stupid verse of Old McDonald Had a Farm.

“…and on his farm he had a llama, E-I-E-I-O! With a spit-spit here, and a spit-spit there…”

“We should land,” Kaye interrupted. “There’s a storm coming.”

“How do you know that?” Li said.

“I just know,” Kaye said. “We really ought to land.”

“Yeah, guys,” I said. “We should go.”

We landed. Li needed some help to avoid ending up on her face, since it had started to rain already, and she was the last one down. The rain didn’t work well with her magic, and she was getting kind of cranky. Through sopping wet black hair, she muttered a few words.

Kaye found, under a tree that gave good shelter, dry wood. She set it up with a bunch of rocks around it, and Li lit it. She looked like she felt a little better. I mean, wouldn’t setting stuff on fire make anyone feel better?

Everyone huddled up around the fire. It really was warm, though that wasn’t saying I absolutely loved it. I wouldn’t be happy until I had the tent up and was out of the rain. I sent a spell to make the temperature warmer, at least.

Kaye sat on her legs, making herself look taller but sinking deeper into the mud. Her normally wispy blonde hair sat limp over her face. She wasn’t too happy.

It looked like a recipe for poetry, but I was too tired to care. Fire-flicker, weeping sky, snoring Anoki… well, maybe not.

I wanted to set up the tent and sleep there. But I didn’t want to do it in the rain. I thought I might have to, but I got a better idea.

“Let’s go above the storm,” I said. “It’ll be clear skies there.”

“Good idea,” Kaye said. “I would never have thought of that.”

I hoped that the storm was low. I wasn’t sure how high we could go, considering  both the oxygen levels and our energy (or lack thereof). But we all went, even though we were buffeted constantly by the wind.

“Fly as fast as you can,” I yelled over the downpour, dripping madly. The rain felt like hail. Far below us, the fire went out.

I followed my own instructions as if they were the key to stopping the apocalypse. I was flying maybe eighty miles an hour, straight up. There was mist around, and my wings automatically blended with it. Before I knew it, I was in the cloud. It was wet, and freezing, and I wanted to get out of it as soon as possible. It took a while, even for me, but the sky was clear as glass above the clouds. I waited for Kaye, but she took a while. I went higher still, not knowing how much further I could go before I got short of breath. I rose for a long time before hearing this serene music played by an instrument I couldn’t quite recognize. Maybe several instruments.

I know this sounds corny now, but I was whisked into the music without knowing it. I danced as if I weren’t even in the air, as if the sky was as familiar to me as the ground always had been. There was a lot of magic here, but it wasn’t mine. And then – it was. The magic here was mine, all of a sudden, and it made me feel different; happier. A voice joined the music, and I knew the words. I caught myself singing it as well, the way you catch yourself singing the sour cream commercial jingle. Even when the other voice grew fainter, mine didn’t. I’d never realized I was that good at singing, simply because I’d never actually tried, since I usually considered it a frivolous talent I didn’t need. I wondered who the other voice was. I knew that I could stop singing anytime, but I didn’t want to. For that hour or so, I wasn’t the practical, down to earth (pardon the pun) Amanda, or a sweet healer, or a mysterious Star Anoki. For that hour, I was an Air Anoki. For that hour, I belonged.

I was thousands of feet in the air, singing a song I didn’t know I knew, feeling like I belonged there. I wasn’t short of breath. I must have been fifteen thousand feet in the air. And even such a simple reality check seemed sort of fictional, as if those rules applied only to other people.

There were no nagging doubts about the others. I knew they wouldn’t be here for a while. Kaye couldn’t fly quite as fast as I could, and I had left her miles behind. I still can’t quite see her as a Star Anoki. She seemed a lot more like an Air Anoki. I wasn’t even sure I was more Star than Earth. But I couldn’t see myself being limited to Earth magic. Ever. I needed to be able to fly, needed to be in the air. That was part of the Star magic. It was the only thing that worked for me, that clicked, other than my herbs and healing magic.

I wasn’t flying; I was suspended. I didn’t need to work at it. I was just there. I never got tired while flying. It was like… it was as if it were a magical exercise and I could do it so well that it didn’t wear me out, like walking was a physical exercise. For Kaye, Akana and Li, flying was physical. But not for me. And I was so good at magic in general that this seemed small in comparison to the other magic I was able to do. Yes, that made sense.

I realized that Li’s orange wings weren’t far below now, but she wasn’t coming any higher. She was shouting at me, so I flew down and met her. It didn’t take me too long, because she was about a mile below me. The air was so thin that I could see her and hear her.

“Why didn’t you just come up to meet me?” I asked.

“Uh,” Kaye said, joining her, “because we don’t want to suffocate?”

“You’ve tried?”

“Yes,” Kaye said. “Silly. Don’t you think we’d try if we didn’t know?”

“We’re above everything now,” Akana said, and it took me a while to realize she was talking about the storm.

“It seems so much prettier from above,” Li said. She still looked, literally, out of her element up here. And let’s just say sky blue was not her color, especially for an Oriental-bred Fire Anoki with dark hair and olive skin.

It was pretty. The clouds were so much fuller, it seemed, from up here. It was gray, but you could see it clearly because you didn’t have the raindrops in the way, hopping and bouncing off the ground like crickets.

Kaye didn’t know what I’d been doing, and neither did Li or Akana. I’d been too high, and too transparent. How did I know? Kaye’s expression. But I’d known what I’d been doing, and it had been real. Realer than most things I did. I mean, walking was real. I was on the ground. But stuff like knitting, or typing (we hacked into the fairies’ Internet, too)… that wasn’t quite as real to me, not quite as close to my nature. Getting dressed in the morning wasn’t as real, though that wasn’t to say I was going to forgo it.

“What are we going to do?” Akana asked, brushing hair out of her face. The wind was amazing up here. It was fast, and strong. Kaye was enjoying it thoroughly.

“Yeah,” Kaye said. “We can’t wander around forever.” Which, actually, was my entire plan so far, but I needed to come up with something, fast. Everyone was looking at me for directions.

“Aren’t you the leader of this little escapade?” I asked Kaye, stalling. “You decided to leave.”

“It’s your magic,” she pointed out. “You need to be leader.”

“You’re the oldest,” I said. I didn’t like the idea of being leader. Going solo on a quest? Sure. On a team or protecting others? Most of the time, sure. Leading? Ick.

“Does it matter?” Kaye said. “You’re a lot stronger than I am, physically and magically.”

“You’ve never had to be strong. I had to chase off invaders in the war. They found my house. I attacked them with Mom’s chef’s cleaver. But it got wedged in someone, so I had to use the bread knife.” For the record, I washed those knives multiple times very carefully.

Kaye stared at me for a little bit. “I flew away. But that’s kind of why you should do this.”

Okay, so my past has been a little odd, but it wasn’t that out-of-the-question. I mean, I had a reason. The tribes were warring constantly. And even a six-year-old kid, when backed into a corner by a bunch of killing “meanies,” as I later called them, will attack with a chef’s cleaver or, possibly, a bread knife if the cleaver gets stuck in someone’s skull. The person who’d come to take the dead bodies away found me in the living room, playing video games and looking much too innocent. I hadn’t really cared what had just happened after I got over being scared, but I was hoping I’d get candy for it.

“Which is the chef’s cleaver?” Kaye said, bringing me back to reality.

“That’s the big, heavy, square one with a hole in the top since it can’t be stored any other way than hung up.” I wasn’t the kind of kid who had trouble with kidnappers, or got beaten up, or got squashed trying to lift something too heavy.

“I vote for Amanda,” Akana said. “She did save me.”

“You’re a nine-year-old,” I said. “I couldn’t just leave you, and that wound might have bled you to death if I hadn’t healed you. Who would leave a person to die?” Other than the village “elders,” I thought, but kept it to myself. “Besides, you never get in trouble.”

“Cough,” Li said, and I realized what I’d just said. That was a rather counterproductive argument on my part. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, though Kaye seemed to, most of the time.

“I wouldn’t know what to do, anyway,” Kaye said.

“Do any of us?” Akana said. There went my excuse.

“All right,” I gave in. I was losing the argument. “But don’t expect brilliance.”

“What do we do now?” Kaye repeated. “We can’t stay here.”

“Right,” I muttered under my breath. I sure felt like I could stay here for a while. Louder, I said, “Well, I have a crazy idea. It’s dangerous, stupid, and will save a bunch of people from barbaric death.”

“Sounds like my kind of idea,” Li said.

“What is it?” Kaye asked, nearly concealing her disapproval at the thought of going through with an idea when even the conceiver thought it was stupid. “Will it stop the wars?”

“Yes,” I said. “Basically, we kill all the elders of the Zepha tribe and take it over. Us. And since we’re Kliid allies, the Kliid tribe won’t attack us like they do to the Zephans. And we won’t kill anyone but the dictator and his advisors. The villagers won’t attack us. We’ll set up a democracy like the Kliid have, minus the plotting leaders. With our power, that’ll be easy. I hope.”

“Bring the cleaver,” Kaye muttered.

Now it was my responsibility to keep everyone safe and happy. Great.

Safe, I could manage, but apart from Akana and the Zephan kids, I’d never taken care of anyone, and “happy” sounded foreign. I’d never had a little brother or sister; Kaye was the only living relative I knew of. I was generally a loner in school, and I never had very many friends, exactly, just a lot of people who depended on me to protect and heal them. The village depended on me. I’d protected village kids in wars several times, hiding them on roofs of buildings and shooting anyone who came near with my homemade bow. I figured out quickly that arrows were exceedingly hard to make, and if they didn’t corkscrew right, exceedingly ineffective. So I made them with Earth magic, finding that they became easy to mass produce, and my quiver was never really empty.

That reminded me: I had to get a better quiver. Mine was in pitiful shape and fell apart routinely, being made from three buckets, two of which had the bottoms hack-sawed off and were Super-Glued to the other buckets, making a tube-like canister that held the arrows just enough that I was able to pull them out without dislocating my shoulder.

I had power I didn’t want. Nevertheless, I had to take some of it. But that didn’t mean all.

“Kaye, I appoint you official mom.”


“I can protect us, but while I’m fighting, you three have to stay safe, and you need a bodyguard with good magic to lead you while I’m not there, especially if you have to fight. Kaye is a Star Anoki too.”

“Do we have to do anything?” Li asked.

“If two ride on a horse, one must ride behind,” I quoted primly, though I wasn’t sure where the saying came from. “Let’s keep moving. I want to hit something.”

This entry was posted on Saturday, December 18th, 2010 at 9:22 pm and is filed under Star. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Chapter Three–Our Camping Trip is a TOTAL Train Wreck–Edit #3”

  1. webcamgirl
    5:04 am on December 21st, 2010

    Dude, that’s so cool! I’ll be back for your new posts!

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