Once Upon a Time – Chap. 45.1


Simone took a breath at seeing the massive flock of birds now fast approaching everyone. Even while aiming her pellet machine for the feathery swarm’s leader, that strange bird literally made by the Keepers, she still questioned what her eyes saw only a moment ago.

“Wasn’t that thing made of paper or something when it started flying up?” she asked Ian who sat squatted beside her.

“I think so.” Ian’s voice held even less certainty of what was going on. “Guess it’s just regular bird now though, I dunno. We don’t have magical paper birds that turn into real ones and fly down menacing toward you where I come from. What do you do when see something like that around here?”

“We shoot it.” Simone fired a shot straight for the Keepers’ bird and waited to see it plummet down and hopefully make the others cease their impending attack. Instead, the bullet went straight through and the paper-real bird continued unharmed aside from a few stray feathers scattering in the air. The bullet continued its travels as well and apparently hit one of birds flying just over her target in the wing. Simone dropped the barrel of her pellet machine down as the unintended victim squawked and began helplessly spiraling down. “Oh no, I didn’t mean to hit one of them. Didn’t all those other birds used to be villagers captured by the Keepers?”

“I don’t know about that but,” Ian stood up slightly and squinted at the falling bird, “I think that one you just shot is turning into a person again.”

The bird’s squawking gave way to a panicked human yell and its feathers traded themselves for flesh and clothing as it continued down. While the broken wing showed itself to be a bloodied arm that needed mending, the rest of bird was now obviously a woman facing greater peril from the fast approaching sand and rock below.

Gwendolena ran over with both arms stretched out as if she intended to prevent this nose-dive toward death by simply catching the woman. And in a way, she did. A strange bluish fog seemed to rise from her hands and floated up like a cloud wishing to rejoin its place in the sky. The cloud barely showed so much as a subtle dip when the woman fell safely into its center and then gradually dissipated as it lowered back down. By the time it reached Gwendolena again, the cloud had become a thinner and thinner fog that deposited the woman into her still outstretched arms before fading away entirely.


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