Monday, January 21, 2013

Day Three-Seventy-Six: The latest catastrophe

I'd planned on addressing Barrel today.

As well as the sadistic nature of my son.

But something else happened that threw all other concerns out the window.

Something that has all of us trapped in our houses, afraid to move.

Something I've been inwardly fretting ever since I started this town.

Something everyone who's ever been born secretly frets.

Pubton may stand once this catastrophe is over, but I don't know that any of us will still be alive in the aftermath.

I spent much of the morning in turmoil, the events of the previous day running through my head in a constant loop. Grayson is a jerk, June has advice, Barrel wants to mate. Grayson is a jerk, June has advice, Barrel wants to mate. Barrel's problem was foremost in my mind, as he could indeed be a significant threat to Pubton if he goes crazy - and I don't want his loyalty to our cause to drive him over the edge.

I also don't want him to suffer. Dragon buddies deserve love too. And the thinger thing is really good. I can understand that he'd go loopy not doing it for a long time.

I was so preoccupied with these questions that I found myself unable to make the tough decisions of the day. Leaving them in Harold's capable hands, and confirming with my father that everybody was on track with the morning's tasks, I wandered out to the periphery of Pubton to have a look at the beginnings of our new defensive wall.

Harold and I have been meeting intermittently over the last few weeks to discuss the construction of a wall. We need an enclosure to protect us against outside threats, and though I doubt that a mere assemblage of stone and wood could keep out The Baron's shadow things, it's certainly a start. Besides, the people of the town deserve a sense of security, and a wall encircling Pubton can provide just that.

The wall as it currently stands is little more than a framework plan. Though she's pretty busy with her secret projects - she keeps ducking into the woods when she thinks no one's looking, but I always am - Libby had enough time to hammer out some basic groundwork with her carpenters, and they've been dedicating an hour or two each day to laying the foundations.

One problem? We have no great source of stone. Libby says that will probably be solved shortly, but she wouldn't say how. Makes me very suspicious indeed.

I'd wandered out to the one of the larger frameworks and started inspecting it, my mind full of questions and half-solutions, when I noticed a hint of movement in the forest. This is by no means rare, of course: the redwoods are tall and rowed, leaving little room for animals on the edge of the forest to hide. My first thought was of returning livestock, which they continue to do with odd regularity, all bearing black eyes. I peeked through the wooden skeleton, expecting to spot a cow or sheep or pig.

I saw none of the above. The creature sifting its way through the snow towards me was smaller than any of them, a lumpy, slumped thing with gangly arms, a long, drooping neck, brown fur and slow, wise eyes. I would have thought it a monkey of some kind (they used to wreak havoc in the castle during their stupid migrations) had it not been moving so slowly.

As if sensing my presence, even from a hundred or more feet away, it raised one hand. Two thin claws waggled in the cool air.

Two claws.

Thin neck.

Long limbs.

Slow.

My blood froze, my mouth fell open, I twitched violently, and before I could muster up any semblance of self-control I'd filled my pants with poop and pee. My frenzied dash back to Robert's Beefiary was awkward and messy, and I tripped several times as I screamed out a single word, over and over and over.

The first person to hear me was Grylock. He has an odd affinity for the cold, and likes to sit on the roof of the Beefiary and pick off birds with his small blowgun. I watched him rise and stare at me, lifting his nose and sniffing. He visibly shrugged in my direction, and appeared to be bringing his blowgun around to shoot at me instead -

- when he, too, noticed the creature. He must have, despite his poor eyes and great distance from the thing, as he immediately slipped off the roof and landed in a heap of snow. Soon his voice joined mine, alerting the townsfolk and pulling them from their homes and daily chores to have a look.

I fell in front of the gathering crowd and pointed. They gawked, looking towards the mountain range in the background and down, down, down to the fields of snow, to the lone, tiny, obvious figure trundling its way towards Pubton.

The screams shattered my ears. People ran. Most took shelter; some undoubtedly left town. I'm quite certain I saw Edmund bartering for passage with a visiting merchant who'd suddenly decided never to come back to Pubton. He obviously wasn't successful, as he's sitting across from me now, hugging his lute but refusing to play it.

Nobody wants to make noise.

Nobody wants to look outside. 

Nobody wants to breathe, or sleep, or do anything that might bring its attention to us.

Ultimately, I had to look. I was selected as the scout, the reckless idiot who would dare to walk up to a window and peek out at the snowy streets of our fair town. I, diary, I, the one who spotted it first, also have the privilege of being the one who spotted it last.

It didn't see me in the darkness. But that didn't matter. It's here. It's sitting near the golden tree, a hunched figure in the snow, almost meditative in its ponderous silence.


A sloth. A sloth has come to Pubton.

Gods help us all.

3 comments:

  1. All hail our new Sloth'ian overlord! His will is our desire! *psssst, please help us!*

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  2. Well at least this apocalypse is polite. Waved hello and everything. Not like a certain foul mouthed penguin.

    Also, holy fuck Bird, that picture. That picture is probably the most adorable thing you will ever draw, even should you live a thousand years.

    Unless you take up professional kitten portraiture or something.

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