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The sacred enclave

There's a path through the forest, if you now it, that follows a cleft in the hill down to a natural amphitheatre surrounded by lush green growth and tall eucalypts and a curved cliff-face. A waterfall cascades down over the smooth rocks, tumbling out into mid-air, forming misty tendrils of spray or gushing torrentially into the foaming waters below.

The pool is crytal clear apart from where the cool shower of water splashes down. Ripples spread out and lap at the sides of the lagoon, which is heated by subterranean forces. The water syphons away underground only to reappear on the surface further down the mountain.

I was standing there one night all alone, listening to the waterfall and sounds of the cicadas and crickets, enamoured by my own reflection wobbling on the surface in the faint glow of the waning half-crescent moon.

Something black caught my eye coming out of the trees. Flup! Flup!. EeeeR.
I could hear. Flup! and at the last moemnt saw the bat headed towards me. I ducked but he swerved upwards and away. Flup Flup. Big wide leathery wings beat the air as he circled above and came to rest hanging upside-down in a tree top. Just a flying fox, a very cute bat with orange and white fur and a canine snout. I could hear his echo call Eeer and others replying.

A warmth began to creep up my leg and my first thought was a snake. I turned my head slowly and tried to focus my eyes in the dim light.

From the pool a long liquid tentacle extended and wrapped itself gently but firmly around my leg and beagn coiling it's way up. I pushed immediately against the liquid but it just slipped through my hands and began to flow up and around my arms. I leant against it trying to break free but the waters began pulling me in, running around and over my torso and as I took my last breath I felt the warm waters smother my face and I was lifted and swallowed up in the pool, the waters crashing back behind me sealing me in the liquid crypt.

I woke to find myself in a room lit by candles with grey stone walls and large archways draped with fine white curtains billowing from the southern Zephyrs breath. I wandered out onto the outer terrace overlooking an eerie alien panorama.

The elevated platform overlooked the ghostly remnants of a ruined metropolis beseiged on one side by a frothing rabid ocean and a creeping vapid desert on the other. Building rubble and debris littered the grey lifeless streets of the abandoned city. The dilapidated structures, their paneless windows srtaring vacantly, echoed the willful destruiction as they fell about in disrepair.

Where the great shifting sand-dune encroached upon the city limits only the tallest of edifices poked through- the remainder smothered beneath the relentless suffocating mass.

The seething waters exacted their toll more voilently, unleashing one pulverising wave after another upon the oceanfront buildings, shattering structures into smithereens before greedily consuming the once inhabited lands on it's spume fleckued surface. The floatsem and jetsam lay strewn on
on its surafce like the crumbs of one almighty feast.

In the background a cragged mountain towers above the beleaguered city - the mist-ringed peak crwoned by a verdant plateua, waterfalls rushing joyfully down the sides vanshing mid-stream into clouds of spray long before they reached the valley floor.

The night sky above was filled with the twelve astrological constellations - the circle of animals. While an indigo-colored half cresecnt moon smiled down crookedly at the wretched vista stretching below.

There was a flash like sheet lightning. A liily-white nymph hovered on damselfly-like wings above a golden altar adorned with magical symbols and heiroglyphic script. She was garbed in a finely spun silk gown and postured elegantly, one leg extended down, the other crossed behind.

In either hand she held a heavy chain of wrought iron - the chunky links hanging lossely. Her head was wreathed with bay laurel and inclined to one side, an expression of sorrow and regret upon her face, eyes downcast following the looped shackles to her right.

On the altar two red-eyed demons glowered manacingly, their slimy black reptilian bodies armored with coarse yellow scales, their huge frightful heads, not dis-similiar to a bulldogs only larger and jet black like a panther armed with lethal incisors protruding from drooling flaccid jowls.

About their meaty necks they wore thick collars ornately decorated with preciuous gemstones and sparkling jewels set in such a way to spell a single word on each. The red-eyed beast on the left wore the collar Life, the other's spelt Death. Metal clasps attached the collars to the chains.

The lilly nymph raised her head and from her eyes golden shafts of light struck my own and I was memontarily blinded with a stabbing pain at the rear of my skull.

I stumbled backwards only to find myself back in the forest beside the waterfall pond. In my hands a heavy weight and the dull scrape of metal shifting. A deep rumbling shook me and a rotten stench filled my nose. I heard the squawking echo call of the floying fox setting off from his perch and froze as I glimpsed four gleaming red eyes glaring at me from the depths of the darkness so near.

Like the grasses showing tender faces to each other, thus should we do, for this was the wish of the Grandfathers of the World.

Black Elk

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The following comments are for "flying foxes"
by smithy

demon eyes
Smithy, that left me with shivers at the end. I was hoping for a happy ending. A brilliant piece as usual. You do have a way with words.


( Posted by: kimberly bird [Member] On: December 18, 2003 )

thanks to u 2
Pen, I think it'll be different but just as fabulous or more so. Thank you for your glowing praise. They mean a lot coming from you.
Hah kimberley, if only all endings were happy. Maybe it is happy. Could be just a couple of Jack Rabbits? Thanks for your comments again. You and your writing are an inspiration for me too, so thank you.

( Posted by: smithy [Member] On: December 18, 2003 )

so green
I am absolutely envious of you! =D This is an amazing short story. I love the way it sucked me in right away. Oftentimes I start reading fantasy and give it up because the author fails to make it realistic enough for my, but you did that and more.

Just remarkable...=D

( Posted by: Darkshine Raven [Member] On: December 19, 2003 )

hah thanks =D
High praise indeed. I take your comments as a compliment again but I'm stuck in my room now. The old doorway just won't let my head through anymore. I'll have to take a wall out i think? :(

thanks =D. It's good to know the balance is getting better. So thanks for your envy :).ya big greeny


( Posted by: smithy [Member] On: December 19, 2003 )

fox bat
Okay, so where's the rest of it? You had me so engrossed that I wanted a lot more!)

Many years ago, I had a foxbat as a pet. Not legal today, but in those days people had spider monkeys, ocelots, and lots of other exotic animals as pets.

His name was Max, and I bought him ("rescued" would be the right word) at a place called Den's Petland. I'm not sure how old Max was when I bought him, but he lived about five years.

The neighbourhood kids thought he was really something. A bunch of them would come over and ask if they could feed "Floyd". I have no idea why they called him "Floyd", but that's how they knew him.

As you're probably aware, foxbats are nothing like small bats. They're more like a dog or cat in intelligence and demeanor, and as pets can be very affectionate.

That said, nobody should own one. The only reason I bought Max was because Den's was an awful dump, and Max's plight (he was hanging half-dead in a tiny, soiled cage) ate at me for weeks before I broke down and bought him. I tried giving him a good home. Built him a big flight cage, and all that.

I never thought he'd grow on me, or that I'd ever come to like him as much as I did. His death hit a lot of people really hard, especially all the kids who had known him.

So, I like foxbats, which was initially why I read your story. Good thing, too, because it's an excellent story that I might otherwise have missed.

( Posted by: gsmonks [Member] On: December 19, 2003 )

That's inetersesting you had one as a pet gsmonks. Some poeple down here keep them and they are smart. You can teach them tricks and very affectionate too. But they also carry a deadly disease down here now which affects humans and horses.

So they have to be careful. We have a breeding colony a couple of kms away and at dusk the sky is just filled with them.
Yes a shame that your foxbat was caged but at least you gave him a bit more freedom. He might not have been able to readjust to the wild either, so it was probably the best thing you could have done.

Thanks for your comments

( Posted by: smithy [Member] On: December 19, 2003 )

My poor old foxbat wouldn't have lasted a week where I live, had he got loose. Wrong climate in winter, unfamiliar food-supply, and so on. Plus no one to feed him, or scratch behind his ears.

I understand they're prone to disease-carrying ticks in the wild, and succeptible to mites and other critters in captivity. Max, however, got regular trips to the vet, initially because I didn't know anything about bats, and worried that he might be a carrier of rabies, as are our local insectivorous varieties. I also took him because I wanted to feed him properly, and otherwise improve his life.

I have to say that the vets at the animal clinic I used to take Max to were just great. He was quite an item with the entire staff, who were well-known for their compassion, and their knowledge of off-beat pets. The only time Max ever let out a peep was at their resident boa constrictor, Julius Squeezer. It was also the one-and-only time I saw him bare his teeth.

One little girl who lived a couple of houses down the street used to drop by often, and was mystified that Max didn't talk or eat bird seed. Her parents were a little appalled at first when they dropped by to see the "great big bird" for themselves. My then girlfriend later stuck some of her art work on our refrigerator. Since there were flying foxes, the little girl had reasoned, there must also be flying versions of cats and dogs and farm animals.

It's hard to believe she'd be about thirty, now.

( Posted by: gsmonks [Member] On: December 20, 2003 )

flying cows
That's a great story. They are adorable creatures. And can worm their way into your life easily. Julius Squeezer (lol).
I know here, that's one of their only predators so Max was probably on high alert. I can see it sets the girls imagination on fire too. Some people carry their bats around inside jumpers and to work, particularly if it's a young one found knocked to the ground after a storm.
thnaks for your comment gsmonks

( Posted by: smithy [Member] On: December 20, 2003 )

Belated Happy New Year to all my readers especially the 'chimp squad'.

( Posted by: handshake [Member] On: January 6, 2004 )

twilight zone
Happy New Year to You 2 Thousand and 4.



( Posted by: smithy [Member] On: January 7, 2004 )

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