December 21, 2015 | Posted in The Mermaid & The WolF Adventures

MeaZea falters for a moment. Manners? That’s…an odd thing for a beast of a bird to bring up. “My apologies,” she says, hesitantly. “I’m MeaZea. This is my friend, WooFZee. We don’t mean any disrespect. We’re just trying –“

“To steal my nest,” screams the turkey, abruptly. He takes a lumbering step out of the nest, nearly falling over in the progress. The bird might have an elegant look about him, but poise and grace are clearly foreign words. “To take all that I have left! You foul, ugly, mannerless creatures!”

WooFZee takes a lurching step backwards and snarls, fangs bared, hackles raised. “One more step,” he warns. “Take one more step and you’ll find yourself missing a wing!”

The turkey gives an indignant gobble. The sound echoes through out the cavern, loud enough to drown out the gentle melody of the poppies. And just for a moment, just when that song can’t be heard, the entire world falters. The poppies are gnarled and black, with vines that reach and grab; the turkey is small and thin, with unkempt feathers and haunted eyes; the nest is little more than twigs and mud stained feathers.

But then the song is back, and the world returns to color.

“This is my home,” screams the turkey, throwing its head about. “This is my home, and you can’t take anything from it! Go! Go! Go!”

“MeaZea,” grumbles WooFZee, warningly. He’s poised to take off back towards the main room, where the family of centaurs still slumber.

MeaZea rests a hand on top of his head, fingers curling against the soft gray fur. “It’s okay,” she says. “I think that I’m starting to understand what’s going on.” And then, to the turkey, she demands, “Majestic sir, we mean no harm or disrespect. Our fellow visitors succumbed to their thieving ways – we’ve merely come to retrieve them.”

The turkey pauses, eyeing the duo uncertainly. “The centaurs?”

“Yes,” answers MeaZea, with a nod. “The centaurs. They’re friends of ours, and we’ve greatly missed them in the world above.”

“They stole from me,” says the turkey.

“A flower?”

“My flower,” insists the turkey, shrilly. He flaps his wings and waddles closer to MeaZea and WooFZee, twisting his neck this way and that, peering down at them and clacking his beak. “My flower, from my cave, and they would have come for my nest next!”

MeaZea gives the bird a gentle smile. She wonders, did the turkey’s sorrow create the flowers? Or did the flowers sully his mind?

Out loud she says, “their family greatly misses them. Do you have a family?”

“I – no.” There’s no small amount of sorrow in his voice when he says that, no small amount of pain. The turkey hunkers down on himself, feathers fluffed, eyes narrowed. “I did, once, but that was a very long time ago. That was outside, back when it was safe.”

MeaZea’s brows furrow. “Safe?”

“Safe,” repeats the turkey, as if that might explain everything.

It doesn’t.

MeaZea asks, “safe from what?”

“The sun,” shouts the turkey, appalled at MeaZea’s apparent ignorance. “Safe from the sun! The flowers, they told me about it. They had me come down here before it became too hot.” He curls his talons into the ground, shifting from this foot to that one. “They saved me.”

Katelynn E Koontz – Author