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Authors: Steve Shilstone

Blue Hills

BOOK: Blue Hills
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The Blue Hills


Steve Shilstone

Wild Child

Culver City, California

The Blue Hills Copyright © 2012 by Steve Shilstone

Cover illustration by Wild Child Publishing © 2012

For information on the cover art, please contact Taria Reed.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes.

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.

Editor: Steve Shilstone

ISBN: 978-1-61798-054-1

If you are interested in purchasing more works of this nature, please stop by

Wild Child
P.O. Box 4897
Culver City, CA 90231-4897

Printed in The United States of America

Chapter One

Something is wrong

I sensed something wasn't right before I opened my eyes. I opened my eyes. Morning light, truth. Table, bench, random clutter. All familiar. All normal. All truth. Such was so. What was it then? What wasn't right? I sat up, listened. A silence too complete. I shuffled into my clothes, pulled on my highboots, and went straightway to my hut's single entrance. I peered outside. How still. How silent. There sat the Well of Shells in the midst of the meadow morning. A gray morning. Clouded. I saw the familiar trees of the Villcom Wood and the familiar long high boundary bramble hedge home of my younglinghood. And yet, and yet, something was not right. I looked at my yellow green hands, turned ‘em palms up, palms down. They were my hands, no mistake. I was bendo dreen Bekka of Thorns, Chronicler of the Boad, All Fidd and Leee Combined. What was it? Was it the silence? The silence seemed to be so such a stiff sort of a silence. Yes, if silence could be called stiff, such it was. What an oddment.

“A stiff silence?” I muttered. “What can it mean?”

I retreated into the hut to collect my chonka, my so said tambourine. I'd decided to break the silence with an Arrival Chant. Yes. I would bang and rattle and chant, thereby bringing proper responses from all the other bendo dreen waking in the hedge and preparing for Morning Assembly. Yes. The morning would fill with bendo dreen noise. Such would surely be so. I would break the stiff silence. I would … but no! Right there then I was shocked to a standstill by what I saw on the shelf.

“Jo Bree?” I gasped.

The Carven Flute, so said Jo Bree, the only truly magical thing I possess, rested yes there in its proper place on the shelf beside my ribboned chonka. The Carven Flute, when it sings on its own, pulses the colors of the rainbow. When it rests or is simply played by me, its color is flush yellow pink. I stared at it. Not flush yellow pink. Not pulsing from red to purple through the rainbow. Its carven leaves of twining ivy were a wooden brown! I snatched it up. Dead stick wooden dry!

“What has happened?” I moaned.

The hedge. The hedge. My mind told me to go there. Grasping the Flute in my left hand, I rushed from the hut and raced through the stiff silence to the hedge. With bendo dreen skill, I slipped inside the thorny wall and stood panting in the corridor which wound and curved to the Assembly Bower. Stiff silence. How unlike the hedge! The hedge is ever alive with the constant chankling of chonkas as bendo dreen move about. The dead stick of Jo Bree I held in my hand. Away down the corridor at the first bend two bendo dreen stood. Their backs were to me. So such I saw ‘em holding stiffly their tambourines, so said chonkas. Motionless. Stiff. Silent. I approached ‘em.

“Am I late for Morning Assembly? What is …”

I broke off speech when I realized speech was useless. The two, Nekko of Thorns and Balto of Thorns, were frozen, not icy frozen, but truly stiff frozen, so such like as sometimes was the lavender witch of Danken Wood, the Babba Ja Harick herself. I walked by ‘em amazed. I dared not touch ‘em. The silence remained stiff. To the Assembly Bower I hurried. And there so such, statued in place, stood the rest of the bendo dreen, some captured mid-crouch lowering ‘emselves to benches, others gesturing in frozen speech. Old Kebbo's tongue stuck out at Batto, who'd been captured turning away, nose in air. I fled in panic. In panic I raced all throughout the hedge and through all the tunnels below. No movement. Stiff silence. In panic I erupted back into the meadow. In the sky above my hut I saw a beeketbird, stiff and silent, hanging motionless, frozen in midair.

Chapter Two


I lifted the dry brown wooden tube of Jo Bree up to my face so such that I could stare at its startling lack of life. I raised my head to take in the terrifying sight of the beeketbird frozen motionless in the air a good five spans above the roof of my hut.

Some awful thing has happened,
I told myself,
but not to me. Why?
I took a few false steps in more than a few different directions. I was fuddled.
I'll look down the Well … No, I'll go over … No … If I can … That's not … This way would … I should … Maybe the witch? … What about … Chalky Grays?

A vision of neighboring Chalky Grays tumbled to the forefront of my mind and stayed there. I would go into the Villcom Wood and find out whether the frozen stiff silence extended far enough to include the Chalky Grays. I slid Jo Bree under my belt. I was glad my chonka remained on the shelf in my hut and not in its proper traditional place, hooked to my belt. Disturbing the stiff silence with the random chanklings caused by a bendo dreen walking I felt reluctant to do. Why? I didn't know. I felt it so. Silence calls for silence, perhaps. Truth, I fairly crept to the Wood and eased carefully down the path, my head swiveling side to side slowly, eyes wide searching for any sort of movement. I reached the door between the trunk roots of the Spurl Family Tree and rapped on it quietly. Stiff silence.
Will it be too rude to go in uninvited?
I asked myself. I moved my hand toward the latch. I paused. Why paused? A streak of sunlight crossed the path. I looked up through the trees and noticed clouds moving, breaking apart. Movement! And one thing other. Janellia Spurl perched in the crown of a sudplum tree. She was reaching for a plump round ripely blue sudplum.

Motionless. Frozen. So such like as posing for a painter.

Statued. I watched her. She did not move.

“Janellia!” I called, breaking the stiff silence.

Her reaching chalky gray fingers remained still, as did the rest of her.
Well, there, the Chalky Grays are frozen, too,
I decided.
… But not me … And not the clouds.
I hurried back along the path. I headed for the Well of Shells. I would have a look down at the world of this strange language I use to write the Chronicles. Was the world down the Well frozen, too? I strode into the meadow and saw right away an odd ridiculous silly sort of bird sitting on the rim of the Well. Such like I'd never seen before. Truth, it hadn't been there earlier. That meant it wasn't frozen! I rushed at it. It jumped straight up in a fuzzle of flutter flapping. Most truly not frozen.

“Bek, settle! You scared my heart almost out through my head. Don't do that! Aren't things bad enough as they are?” croaked the bird. It dropped to land again on the rim of the Well.

“Kar?” I said in a combination of disbelief, relief, and astonishment. “Kar, is that you?”

“Yes, it's me, and I can't shift. I'm stuck as this joke I was going to play on you. But why aren't you frozen like all the others in the hedge and that beeketbird there and those cart owls I passed when I flew over the Chasm of Kraan?” asked my shapeshifting jrabe jroon best friend from ever, Karro of Thorns, also Rakara, also Queen Jebb of the Acrotwist Clowns.

“I don't know. Why aren't you frozen?” I replied.

“How am I supposed to know? I'm not the Chosen Chronicler. You are. Why can't I shift? Why am I stuck as this ridiculous bird?” said Kar.

She did look so such silly. Her head and neck were like as a purple mallet with pink eyes and one pale blue feather sticking straight up from its top. Her body plumped in a fairly perfect sphere of shiny green feathers. She shuddered her wings and tail, three stubby tufts of yellow. Her thin flat red webbed feet faced backwards. Quite an oddment she made.

“You're stuck like that?” I said. I could not help smiling.

“You think it's funny?” fumed Kar.

Truth, I did think it was funny, and I was glad and relieved that I would not have to face the mysterious stiff silence alone.

Chapter Three

An Assignment for Kar

Kar suggested we go into the hut and knock together a plan. It proved hard to listen to a ridiculous bird talking, even if it was so such Kar. Things were frozen. My Flute, Jo Bree, was drab. Kar was ridiculous. And stiff silence ruled all around. At least the clouds moved and the sun inched up higher. I made myself ask the silly bird, “What sort of plan do you have in mind?” Kar replied she didn't have a plan, but I should because I was the Chronicler, wasn't I? I said yes, but still I didn't know what sort of a plan I was supposed to think of and about what. This useless babble brought us into the hut, and Kar hopped onto the table and waddled around in backward circles on her thin flat red webbed backward feet. She flapped her yellow tuft wings in seeming frustration.

“Think of something. Use Jo Bree!” she demanded.

I simply held out the dry brown wooden tube.

“Oh,” said Kar, and she stopped waddling backward and hung her purple mallet head. The blue feather on its top drooped.

“But I might think of something else,” I blurted, hoping to cheer her up, and truth, hoping to cheer myself up, too. “Every other bendo dreen is frozen … And the Chalky Grays … I saw ‘em, at least Janellia Spurl … The beeketbird in midair … You saw others … But not the clouds! The silence seems so such stiff, don't you think? Why not me? Why not you? … You lost your shifter abilities … I lost … what? … The Carven Flute as it should be?”

I paced as I spoke. I truly thought out loud, trying to sort puzzle pieces. I kept my eyes ever on Kar, a ridiculous bird. My voice seemed to be somewhat soothing to her. She raised her mallet head and nodded it, blinking her pink eyes. The blue feather stood more proudly, though it still looked silly.

“There might be others unfrozen,” I theorized, stopping at the thought. “We should try to find ‘em. You should try to find ‘em! Yes! That's it. You should fly and find … more like us still able to move. Unfrozen creatures. Then bring ‘em … Tell ‘em to gather here. We'll have a meeting of the unfrozens. We'll have a … If there are others…”

I banished the idea there weren't others with a wave of my hand. I braced myself on the table and lowered my head so such that I could peer face to mallet close up at Kar.

“Kar, there are others. I am the Chronicler. I feel that such must be so. You may not be able to shift, but you can fly. Here is my plan. You will fly to … water! Of course! Water! Yes! That's it! Search pools, tricklestreams and rivers for waterwizards!” I boomed, suddenly inspired.

“Bek, you are the Chronicler. You are,” said Kar. “I will go look for others. How simple. You stay here and wait. I'll find some. I'll bring ‘em. They'll help us fix this mess. Bek, you are smart. You are the Chronicler. This will be a fine adventure, won't it? Like all the rest of ‘em.”

We laughed together, each trying to boost the other's confidence to thorns overflowing the cup, or at least to the cup half full.

“I'll fly off now,” said Kar.

“I'll be waiting right here,” I replied.

She flutter flapped her yellow stubby wing tufts and lifted away out the door and up over the trees of the Villcom Wood. She headed in the direction of the Greenwilla River. Pangs of doubt jabbed at my insides. I bustled busily, stacking papers, moving ink pots, tidying things that were already tidy.

Chapter Four

Long Day, Long Night, Short Morning

I paced, turn and turn, in my hut. I walked outside. I peered down the Well of Shells. Your world reflected back at me, so such as it should have, no sign of freeze. I reentered the hedge and went to the Assembly Bower. I wondered what Batto had said or done to make Old Kebbo stick his tongue out at her. Something haughty or snappish, no doubt. Such were her ways. Nervous, nervous, I prowled the silence. Stiff silence. A silence so stiff it seemed I could climb on it. A silence of invisible stiff curving stairs and lumpy motionless crushing walls and cramping ceilings tumbled together in stiff massive blocks. Heavy. I returned to the meadow. Sun high. Clouds moving. And yet, there hung the beeketbird, frozen midair five spans above the roof of my hut. I looked off into the distance over the trees of the Villcom Wood. I walked a wide circle around the edge of the meadow. I walked it again, counting my steps. 583. Again I walked it.

574. I could not keep still. Such was so. What do you do in a stiff sort of silence? You prowl until dark.

If a stiff silence in daylight is heavy, a stiff silence at night is anvil oppressive. The long, long night of silence I spent in my hut staring at the flame of my buckletar lamp until it guttered. Seated slumped on the bench I stared, pinned exhausted under the so said anvil of stiff silence. I roused myself to replenish the lamp each time it guttered, returned to the bench and resumed my moody stare. Three times it guttered, being small and more ornament than true lamp. Three times I filled it. After each fill, I urged myself to get some sleep. Pointless. Useless. Such was so. I stared, fully drained, achingly tired and unable to sleep. Flicker the flame. And yet, awake as I was, I could not think. Dulled. Fuzzy. Tranced by the stiff silence. I sat propped up until dawn.

Shadows took form, emerged from the darkness. I blinked my eyes, shook my head, stood up.

“Morning,” I said, and the sound of my voice crashed in my ears.

I took a handful of salted thorns from the bowl on the shelf and chewed ‘em a few at a time. Each crunch of my teeth was thunder. Such was so. I took up Jo Bree and attempted to play, brown dead stick though it was. Empty breaths sucked into stiff silence. No use. Such. So. I stepped to the doorway and out. I turned to look up and check the beeketbird five spans above the roof. As before, captured stiffly in silence was the creature, head cocked to the left, wings caught mid-flap and flexed full spread.

“Bek! Bek!” a piercing cry cut through the stiff silence.

I whirled just in time to witness Kar's ridiculous swoop, sprawl, and tumble next to the Well of Shells. Waddling backward with her mallet head snaked around to see where she was headed, she burst a fountain of excited babble at me.

“Bek! I found ‘em! I found ‘em! Waterwizards! Four I found. Four! They were gathered. They were on their way here. Here! They're coming to see you. You! They said you're the one! You're the hope! Such! Oh, Bek! They move, they move, but they have lost all their magic and sorcery. They're walking. They have to walk! They can't float or transport. No magic! No sorcery! They're walking here. Don't you see? Don't you see? Don't you see?”

BOOK: Blue Hills
7.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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