R .  Mac Wheeler Multi - Genre Author Suspense Urban Fantasy Dystopian SCI FI Fantasy
Triv on Guard Triv   licked   his   back,   and   sighed.   He   searched the   rocky   landscape   trailing   into   the   horizon. It    was    a    gorgeous    day,    the    kind    a    teenager should    be    spending    on    the    rocks    sunning silently    with    friends,    not    standing    solitary guard.   But   the   stone   with   his   lottery   number was chosen. So there he served. A   far   away   sandstorm   blustered   down   the valley.   It   was   the   kind   of   weather   their   drill instructor   frequently   warned   hid   the   approach of    the    enemy.    The    red    and    orange    flowed between   the   peaks,   broiled   as   the   primary   sun   neared   the   edge   of   the world. He   stood   alone   but   fancied   how   often   he   spent   enjoying   a   similar view   with   his   younger   brother   and   sister   from   the   boulders   above their den. I miss them . It    was    a    physical    pain.    Triv    missed    teasing    them    about    their molting   scales   as   they   rubbed   furiously   against   the   rocks.   He   missed their   chatter   and   questions.   He   also   missed   his   parents,   the   way   his mother    presented    prey    splayed    out    for    the    family    at    dinner,    the unblinking   eyes   of   his   father,   ensuring   no   one   tore   more   from   the carcass than their due. Graduation   had   excited   him.   It   was   a   noble   thing   to   serve   the pack,   follow   the   footsteps   of   his   forefathers,   but   he   hadn’t   expected   an interruption in his plans. He   had   his   eyes   on   Moria.   She   was   a   svelte   and   striking   saurian maid.   Looked   forward   to   wooing   her.   He   imagined   the   clutches   they would   raise.   Could   raise,   might   raise,   if   some   bull,   one   with   a   more fortuitous   lottery   number,   didn’t   come   along   and   beat   him   to   the wooing. Triv   knew   he   would   be   a   superior   sire.   Maybe   it   was   being   the solitary   survivor   of   his   parents’   third   clutch.   Their   fourth   came   along early,   probably   because   of   the   ease   of   raising   a   single   son.   Still   within the   herd   and   living   at   home,   elder   by   several   years   to   those   of   the following   clutch,   he   acted   as   a   surrogate   father,   allowing   Papa   to   hunt farther afield. It   placed   more   responsibilities   upon   Triv,   but   the   challenge   and expectation   broadened   his   shoulders   and   forced   him   to   walk   with   his head   raised   high,   looking   for   danger   as   he   scanned   the   horizon.   No beast would plunge from the sky to pick off his precious siblings. The   entire   herd   was   his   responsibility   now.   Or   at   least   he   shared in   their   safety.   He   sang   softly   to   himself,   a   song   his   mother   shared during quiet times. A   stone,   a   rock,   a   silhouette   in   sunlight,   basked and    baked    under    three    suns,    a    soliloquy    to solemn    deliverance.    A    quay,    a    corner,    a    pier striking   the   crevasses,   where   the   saurian   hunted its prey. He    tried    to    mimic    his    mother’s    vibrato,    but    knew    he    failed miserably.   It   would   take   decades   before   he   learned   the   technique.   The image of snuggling against her on a stony outcropping came to mind. It was hard to focus on what he ought. He faced east and continued with the next stanza. The   bull,   long   fitted   to   his   final   scales,   his   maid gravid   with   a   clutch,   store   away   reserve   to   stay less profitable days. Triv   stopped   and   listened,   turning   his   head   left   and   right   against the   breeze.   A   bluster   of   dust   kicked   up.   He   closed   his   inner   eyelids against   it.   There   was   nothing   but   the   shhh    of   sand   scraping   the   stone around him. He   gargled   the   refrain   as   deeply   as   he   could,   trailing   the   challenge. It   swept   down   the   steps   of   stones   laid   out   before   him.   He   longed   to teach   the   song   to   his   own   bulls,   clutch   after   clutch.   He   already   had names chosen. Did a proper warrior do such things? He   turned   south.   The   storm   continued   to   swirl,   but   fled   across   the horizon.   There   was   little   chance   it   would   come   near.   If   it   did,   winged saurians,    friend    and    foe,    would    precede    it.    It    would    give    him something to do, something to worry about. The   storm   would   drive   prey   deeper   underground.   Clutches   might settle   the   night   with   less   in   their   craw.   Such   was   life.   But   it   was   safer than living near the sea. Triv   had   never   visited   the   ocean   and   had   no   inclination.   His   sire often   described   it.   The   creatures   that   liked   saurian   flesh   crept   quietly within   unfairly   stealthy.   Dropping   from   the   sky   on   the   unwary   was   a life   fraught   with   enough   danger.      “Even   if    the   ocean   crags   provided   a bounty,   it   was   better   to   live,   than   gamble   for   a   grander   living.”   Those were Papa’s wise words. The   primary   sun   fell.   Triv   shuddered   at   the   monotony.   The   second sun   neared   the   horizon.   His   replacement   arrived.   It   had   been   a   long three   days.   Triv   was   ready   to   roll   in   the   sand,   devour   any   kind   of beast, rest and return to his training. The   bull   replacing   him   was   talkative,   his   scales   tinged   in   bright hues.   He   was   eating   well   and   getting   proper   rest.   He   was   no   new recruit. He came from within the troop. The   last   sun   fell   as   Triv   made   it   back   to   camp,   the   sky   turning burnt-orange   before   the   purple   of   night.   He   hurried   to   report,   to   get deep   within   the   boulders   of   his   bivouac   before   the   night   air   chilled. Those   were   the   hardest   hours   during   guard.   He   shivered   thinking about it. The blood slowed and the brain turned sluggish. It was a time best slept through. He   entered   the   chamber   below   and   gave   his   commander   a   salute. The   bull’s   outer   eyelid   slid   down   a   tad   momentarily.   He   gazed   past Triv,   toward   the   back   of   the   cavern.   Triv   turned   to   see   what   he   was looking at. “Papa? What are you doing here?” His   sire   rose   from   the   indention   in   the   sand   he   had   made.   He must have been waiting for some time. “I’ll   leave   you   two   be,”   Triv’s   commander   said.   He   slid   through   the crease of stone at the side of the den. “I    didn’t    want    you    to    hear    from    anyone    else,”    his    father    said slowly. His eyelids slid shut in sequence twice. Triv’s   gut   surged.   Had   Moria   been   selected   by   another   bull?   Was Mama ill? He asked about her. “Your mama is well,” he said. “Galla?” “Healing.” “Healing? Healing from what?” His   papa   just   stared,   unblinking.   His   mouth   closed,   hiding   his spikes of teeth. “What is it, Papa?” “A winged-one made it through the guard,” he said. “No. But you said Galla is healing.” “Gorie    saved    her.    He    fought    it    like    a    crazed    thing.”    His    papa hesitated. “It carried him miles afield, before tiring of the task.” Triv pushed his claws through the sand. “Does he live?” “He   does,   but   is   in   a   bad   way.   The   doctors   say   all   who   care   for   him should   come   quickly.   Your   commander   says   you   may   finish   with   the next   class.”   He   paused   again.   “The   three   of   you   are   close.   I   imagined you would want to be by him.” Triv    left    with    his    father.    Gorie    struggled    for    three    days,    rarely moving,    never    speaking.    Slipping    away    in    silent    sleep    to    join    the spirits. The   pack   assembled   for   quiet   homage.   Triv   studied   each   face,   his anger    rising    for    one    of    the    innocent    falling    unfairly.    The    clan’s warriors   prepared   themselves   for   death.   But   the   family   left   behind was supposed to be safe. It wasn’t right. Wasn’t fair. Triv   studied   his   mother.   Her   face   remained   resolute.   She   had   lost many   from   her   four   clutches.   She   would   lose   more.   Her   pain   was invisible, except for the tilt of her head, exaggerated in pride. Triv   thought   of   the   clutches   never   to   be,   never   to   be   named.   His brother   had   thick   scales.   He   would   have   been   a   leader   one   day.   He would   have   reached   a   noble   destiny.   He   might   have   become   a   poet. His mind was gentle and kind. Triv   tossed   his   head   back   and   keened.   Let   them   all   wonder   about his    backbone.    He    missed    his    brother.    He    ached.    Galla    joined    his sorrowful song, as heads within the pack swayed. © R. Mac Wheeler 2017
R .  Mac Wheeler Multi - Genre Author
Triv on Guard Triv    licked    his    back,    and    sighed.    He searched    the    rocky    landscape    trailing into   the   horizon.   It   was   a   gorgeous   day, the   kind   a   teenager   should   be   spending on     the     rocks     sunning     silently     with friends,   not   standing   solitary   guard.   But the   stone   with   his   lottery   number   was chosen. So there he served. A     far     away     sandstorm     blustered down    the    valley.    It    was    the    kind    of weather   their   drill   instructor   frequently warned   hid   the   approach   of   the   enemy. The   red   and   orange   flowed   between   the peaks,     broiled     as     the     primary     sun neared the edge of the world. He    stood    alone    but    fancied    how often   he   spent   enjoying   a   similar   view with    his    younger    brother    and    sister from the boulders above their den. I miss them . It   was   a   physical   pain.   Triv   missed teasing   them   about   their   molting   scales as    they    rubbed    furiously    against    the rocks.     He     missed     their     chatter     and questions.   He   also   missed   his   parents, the     way     his     mother     presented     prey splayed   out   for   the   family   at   dinner,   the unblinking   eyes   of   his   father,   ensuring no   one   tore   more   from   the   carcass   than their due. Graduation   had   excited   him.   It   was a   noble   thing   to   serve   the   pack,   follow the   footsteps   of   his   forefathers,   but   he hadn’t   expected   an   interruption   in   his plans. He   had   his   eyes   on   Moria.   She   was   a svelte      and      striking      saurian      maid. Looked     forward     to     wooing     her.     He imagined   the   clutches   they   would   raise. Could   raise,   might   raise,   if   some   bull, one     with     a     more     fortuitous     lottery number,    didn’t    come    along    and    beat him to the wooing. Triv    knew    he    would    be    a    superior sire.    Maybe    it    was    being    the    solitary survivor    of    his    parents’    third    clutch. Their   fourth   came   along   early,   probably because   of   the   ease   of   raising   a   single son.   Still   within   the   herd   and   living   at home,   elder   by   several   years   to   those   of the     following     clutch,     he     acted     as     a surrogate   father,   allowing   Papa   to   hunt farther afield. It   placed   more   responsibilities   upon Triv,   but   the   challenge   and   expectation broadened     his     shoulders     and     forced him   to   walk   with   his   head   raised   high, looking    for    danger    as    he    scanned    the horizon.    No    beast    would    plunge    from the sky to pick off his precious siblings. The         entire         herd         was         his responsibility     now.     Or     at     least     he shared   in   their   safety.   He   sang   softly   to himself,     a     song     his     mother     shared during quiet times. A    stone,    a    rock,    a silhouette                  in sunlight,          basked and      baked      under three          suns,          a soliloquy   to   solemn deliverance.              A quay,     a     corner,     a pier      striking      the crevasses,         where the    saurian    hunted its prey. He     tried     to     mimic     his     mother’s vibrato,   but   knew   he   failed   miserably.   It would    take    decades    before    he    learned the   technique.   The   image   of   snuggling against     her     on     a     stony     outcropping came to mind. It    was    hard    to    focus    on    what    he ought. He    faced    east    and    continued    with the next stanza. The   bull,   long   fitted to     his     final     scales, his       maid       gravid with    a    clutch,    store away   reserve   to   stay less profitable days. Triv    stopped    and    listened,    turning his     head     left     and     right     against     the breeze.   A   bluster   of   dust   kicked   up.   He closed   his   inner   eyelids   against   it.   There was     nothing     but     the     shhh      of     sand scraping the stone around him. He   gargled   the   refrain   as   deeply   as he   could,   trailing   the   challenge.   It   swept down   the   steps   of   stones   laid   out   before him.   He   longed   to   teach   the   song   to   his own     bulls,     clutch     after     clutch.     He already had names chosen. Did     a     proper     warrior     do     such things? He       turned       south.       The       storm continued   to   swirl,   but   fled   across   the horizon.     There     was     little     chance     it would    come    near.    If    it    did,    winged saurians,   friend   and   foe,   would   precede it.   It   would   give   him   something   to   do, something to worry about. The   storm   would   drive   prey   deeper underground.   Clutches   might   settle   the night   with   less   in   their   craw.   Such   was life.   But   it   was   safer   than   living   near   the sea. Triv   had   never   visited   the   ocean   and had     no     inclination.     His     sire     often described    it.    The    creatures    that    liked saurian      flesh      crept      quietly      within unfairly   stealthy.   Dropping   from   the   sky on   the   unwary   was   a   life   fraught   with enough    danger.        “Even    if     the    ocean crags   provided   a   bounty,   it   was   better   to live,   than   gamble   for   a   grander   living.” Those were Papa’s wise words. The        primary        sun        fell.        Triv shuddered   at   the   monotony.   The   second sun        neared        the        horizon.        His replacement   arrived.   It   had   been   a   long three   days.   Triv   was   ready   to   roll   in   the sand,   devour   any   kind   of   beast,   rest   and return to his training. The       bull       replacing       him       was talkative,    his    scales    tinged    in    bright hues.    He    was    eating    well    and    getting proper   rest.   He   was   no   new   recruit.   He came from within the troop. The   last   sun   fell   as   Triv   made   it   back to   camp,   the   sky   turning   burnt-orange before   the   purple   of   night.   He   hurried to     report,     to     get     deep     within     the boulders   of   his   bivouac   before   the   night air     chilled.     Those     were     the     hardest hours      during      guard.      He      shivered thinking   about   it.   The   blood   slowed   and the brain turned sluggish. It was a time best slept through. He   entered   the   chamber   below   and gave   his   commander   a   salute.   The   bull’s outer       eyelid       slid       down       a       tad momentarily.      He      gazed      past      Triv, toward    the    back    of    the    cavern.    Triv turned to see what he was looking at. “Papa? What are you doing here?” His   sire   rose   from   the   indention   in the   sand   he   had   made.   He   must   have been waiting for some time. “I’ll      leave      you      two      be,”      Triv’s commander    said.    He    slid    through    the crease of stone at the side of the den. “I    didn’t    want    you    to    hear    from anyone   else,”   his   father   said   slowly.   His eyelids slid shut in sequence twice. Triv’s   gut   surged.   Had   Moria   been selected    by    another    bull?    Was    Mama ill? He asked about her. “Your mama is well,” he said. “Galla?” “Healing.” “Healing? Healing from what?” His    papa    just    stared,    unblinking. His   mouth   closed,   hiding   his   spikes   of teeth. “What is it, Papa?” “A   winged-one   made   it   through   the guard,” he said. “No. But you said Galla is healing.” “Gorie   saved   her.   He   fought   it   like   a crazed    thing.”    His    papa    hesitated.    “It carried   him   miles   afield,   before   tiring   of the task.” Triv    pushed    his    claws    through    the sand. “Does he live?” “He   does,   but   is   in   a   bad   way.   The doctors   say   all   who   care   for   him   should come    quickly.    Your    commander    says you   may   finish   with   the   next   class.”   He paused    again.    “The    three    of    you    are close.   I   imagined   you   would   want   to   be by him.” Triv     left     with     his     father.     Gorie struggled   for   three   days,   rarely   moving, never   speaking.   Slipping   away   in   silent sleep to join the spirits. The      pack      assembled      for      quiet homage.    Triv    studied    each    face,    his anger    rising    for    one    of    the    innocent falling     unfairly.     The     clan’s     warriors prepared   themselves   for   death.   But   the family   left   behind   was   supposed   to   be safe. It wasn’t right. Wasn’t fair. Triv    studied    his    mother.    Her    face remained   resolute.   She   had   lost   many from   her   four   clutches.   She   would   lose more.   Her   pain   was   invisible,   except   for the    tilt    of    her    head,    exaggerated    in pride. Triv   thought   of   the   clutches   never   to be,   never   to   be   named.   His   brother   had thick    scales.    He    would    have    been    a leader   one   day.   He   would   have   reached a   noble   destiny.   He   might   have   become a poet. His mind was gentle and kind. Triv     tossed     his     head     back     and keened.   Let   them   all   wonder   about   his backbone.    He    missed    his    brother.    He ached.   Galla   joined   his   sorrowful   song, as heads within the pack swayed. © R. Mac Wheeler 2017