A children's book for grown-ups by Jon Evans

July 26, 2007

11. Above the Sky-Road

The talons that gripped Patch's flesh seemed to stab at him with Karmerruk's every wingbeat; he was bleeding from those wounds and from his face, where the hawk had slashed him for his impudence; he was aghast that Karmerruk was taking him away from his home, apparently forever; he was terribly frightened by the thought of his unknown destination – but at the same time, as Patch hung from Karmerruk's claws and looked down at the world, he could not help but marvel at all the wonders he saw below.

Patch had never imagined that there was so much water in the world. He had never known that the Great Sea of the Center Kingdom was a mere pond, and the Center Kingdom itself, and all its surrounding mountains, stood on an island in a sea so immense it seemed to go on forever. There seemed to be as much water as land in the world. And the Center Kingdom was not the only plot of green that Patch could see. Indeed it was not even the largest.

There were innumerable other curiosities. A shining metal thing flew through the air in a distance; it looked like a bird, but its wings did not flap, and it was enormously larger than any bird. Huge arching spans of metal connected the islands beneath him to one another, crossing enormous sea-chasms like branches lying across streams. And Patch had never smelled air as pure and sweet as that of the high sky.

Karmerruk carried Patch south. They passed a green statue of a human that protruded from the midst of the waters, immensely larger than any statue he had ever seen before. They passed several human things drifting on the water, metal half-shells like the ones humans sometimes played with on the Center Kingdom's seas, but incomparably larger. They grew closer and closer to a faraway hilly island, perhaps bigger than that of the Center Kingdom, roughly round-shaped rather than long and thin, and with fewer traces of human habitation – indeed, most human buildings on this island were smaller than its largest trees. They approached a series of hills on the western side of that island. These hills were treeless but covered with some kind of golden vegetation new to Patch.

"You are very heavy, little squirrel," Karmerruk said, his voice strained, as he stooped into a long, shallow glide towards these golden hills. The hawk's wingbeats had become more laboured and less rhythmic. "It would have been much easier to simply have eaten you."

"What is this place?" Patch asked.

Karmerruk did not answer. The hills quickly grew nearer and nearer. Soon they were only a small tree's height above the ground. Patch became aware of a deeply unpleasant smell thickening in the air.

"Where are you taking me?" Patch demanded.

Karmerruk answered by letting Patch go. Patch tumbled through the air and landed hard on the ground. Fortunately, or perhaps through Karmerruk's good graces, he landed on a mound of soft earth, and was left only dazed, not injured. Karmerruk circled three times, until Patch groggily got to his feet; and then the hawk soared up and away, back to the Center Kingdom, leaving Patch to his fate.

"Good luck, little squirrel!" Karmerruk called out as he departed. "May the moon shine on you!"

What neither of them knew was that the hawk had abandoned the squirrel in a land of poisoned horror. A place known to humans as Fresh Kills.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Rakie said...

does that count as a cliffhanger? i think it possibly might... *waves shoe threateningly*

great chapter! i wish i had a better knowledge of NY, i can only recognise the more obvious landmarks. :D See ya tomorrow! R x

July 27, 2007 at 1:01 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

It's not a cliffhanger, I swear. It's ... uh ... a pregnant pause?

July 27, 2007 at 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Rakie said...

*looks suspicious* wellll, okay. But i'm watching you. :D

July 30, 2007 at 1:56 AM  
Anonymous gail.adkins@hotmail.com said...

What happened......where is the rest of the story?

August 1, 2007 at 11:24 AM  

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Jon Evans is the award-winning author of the thrillers Invisible Armies, Dark Places (aka Trail of the Dead), and The Blood Price. See his web site rezendi.com.

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