Finding Gratitude, Part 11

Lana looked at Nahc. She had so many questions. Who were the Waste Beasts, or the Reza? Was there going to be any trouble for them for breaking curfew, even if she didn’t know there was one?

These questions faded away as the two walked through the wall, and into the Waste Quarter.

The place was packed. Buildings all extending up four, five, six stories in the air. They leaned against each other for support, while jutting out in different ways and directions. No two buildings were built the same, and only seemed to be together for solidarity rather than by true design choice.

But oh, the people! They were all so, so…hideous! A wolf man leaned against a wall, gnawing on a steak. Across from him a few fox men play cards, blatantly trying to out cheat each other. Even a few reptiles and fish relaxed near the fountain, looking over any and all who came near.

But the birds, the birds. Perched on the edges of buildings, or soaring through the alleyways. Each with plumage more outrageous than the next. Nahc, however, remained the clear favorite for sheer extravagance and oddity in coloring.

No bats. That struck her immediately.

“Nahc!” Someone called out. “Nahc’s brought someone new!”

“Whoever you are, run!” Another bird called out. “He sticks to you like gum, and won’t ever let go.”

Lana looks at Nahc. “What’s gum?”

The birds erupted in laughter. They divebombed the two, surrounding them. Beaks, wings, and taloned feet all observed and felt around Lana, trying to see who she was. It made her feel claustrophobic.

“All right, all right!” Nahc waved his wings. “Back off, bird brains!”

“Bird Brains! Bird Brains!” Someone called out. “Nahc is so witty, he so faaaassssst. You come up with that, what, twenty years ago, you dumb pecker?”

“At least I had the sense to not fly into a net, Gendejo,” Nahc shot back.

The birds oooed as a sparrow in yellow dye flew off in a huff.

“Now, can you all give the new girl some breathing room?”

The birds ignored him.

“Where you from?”

“What’s your name?”

“You got a cute sister?

“Or a cuter brother?”

“Enough!”

At this voice the birds scattered. Nahc turned and was face to face with a horse. Walking on four legs, the only thing human about the new creature was his torso.

Nahc’s head bowed, sullen. “Mister Clops, I didn’t know you were back…”

“Back from another meeting to get this damnable curfew lifted.” The horse-man said. “All because some of their kind take offense, we are the ones that have to pay the price. I bend and I scrape to bring myself low for these arrogant races, and then return home to find that some…pea-brained little poppycock!”

Nahc winced.

“Has decided to break curfew because, and I believe I quote, ‘it was fun?!?’”

“Sorry, Mister Clops.” Nahc said.

“Of all the dullheaded, monumental screw-ups that help define the racism that plagues us, this truly is abominable.” Mister Clops’ face softened. “And to top it all off, you protected one of our little sisters in the dead of night.”

Mister Clops nodded to Lana. “And who are you, child?”

“Lana,” she said. “And I guess I’m a Waste Beast like you.”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

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