Devilbird – The Monksville Chronicles #84

The mountains have long claimed the great shine. The night air is chilled, haunted by the screeching owl.

Buggaboo creeps up to the entrance of the hollow. The bark is callusy and thick, knotty, as it were, and he pokes his snout over the lip and sniffs. Still not safe. He crawls to the beginnings of a nest he’s accumulated for himself in the back – just a small tuft of grasses, plenty enough to obscure what lies beneath it – and rests his heavy head for a moment without closing his eyes, even though he’s more tired than the dead. A small sigh escapes his mouth; all that effort he put in to find this awesome hollow – and it’s so awesome; fully rotted out, high up off the ground, entrance facing the water – just to abandon it for taller trees. Such is life, Buggaboo supposes; the will of Mother Monksville is very much its own, and the wind blows in whichever direction it sees fit.

Before long the eyelids of the flying squirrel meet. He curls into a ball and blankets himself with his tail; here Buggaboo finds bliss, though it is not long for this world. A shrill screech bombs him awake, an owl’s screech that came from nearby. The damn phantom must have heard him sigh. Buggaboo knew this hollow was exposed to an owl’s hunting grounds when he first found it and still he preferred it to his prior living arrangements. He couldn’t stay with Nudderbudder anymore, no way, not after what was said between them. Another demonic screech comes, but fainter. The owl is getting impatient. Liable to slip up. Buggaboo doesn’t even breathe.

Silence then. A gusting of wind, a rustle of leaves. The distant flapping of wings – is it a fading threat, or is the owl merely pulling a ruse? The ghoul is capable of silent flight, it clearly wants Buggaboo to hear it, to think it is flying away so he is lulled into a false sense of security. It wants Buggaboo to leave the hollow and expose himself… and perhaps Bugga’ wants that too. The first part, at least; he’ll need a plan, an escape route to take along which he won’t be followed by the corrupted spirit of the moon.

He approaches the lip of the hollow again, wraps his delicate front paws around the chipped bark; he can see the water all right, black as the starpool and calm as a settled snowdrift – mayhap. It’s difficult to tell, the view is partially obscured by the trees. The flying squirrel has but two choices, really: hop off into the branches or keep low beneath the underbrush. The owl screeches inland; not close, but not far off either. Not far off at all. Buggaboo can’t stay here for much longer; soon it may not matter if he is exposed or not.

The underbrush is the only real option here. The owl, as motherless as is it unfathered, reigns supreme over the star-flecked night; it would be nothing short of foolish to risk a flight in the spectre’s domain. Although, Buggaboo still must at least consider the glide. Starting from the low ground would catch our flying squirrel swimming, and the flying squirrel is no mink – his gliders don’t exactly love the water. So the branches, then… would catch him gliding through the open air up at canopy level. Fuck it, he may as well swim; at least the Reservoir doesn’t have a beak.

Mounting the barky lip on all fours, Buggaboo checks his immediate front and smells the air. The witch doctor is in, there’s no question about that, but he’s not in front. If ever there existed a moment for Buggaboo to jam, this certainly must be it – the flying squirrel leaps, stretches his limbs, and the gliders engage.

Using his flattened tail to bank between tree branches and trunks, the flying squirrel glides through the forest like a leaf flits through the air: gracefully, with a beautiful intelligence guiding his movements. When Bugg’ touches down he does so with his back paws first. The screeching menace screams behind him before his front paws follow suit.

Panic. Heart racing, losing breath. ‘I can’t think, I can’t process. It’s coming, the owl heard me, it’ll have me. I’m ‘munked.’

Then Buggaboo sees the long rock pile and stops his nonthinking.

The loud and sloppy flapping of starved wings looms from behind. Buggaboo can feel the presence of the thing, this unfeeling feathered blaspheme who shrinks from the light of day, this aged harpy reject with razors for feet and a bloodlust to rival the queen of the Red Hawk Flock, this Bird of Prey who claims himself a mystic while he’s just as merciless as all the rest. Yes, the owl is just like all the rest of the Birds of Prey: he can’t maneuver through tight spaces. Buggaboo ducks into safety between the rocks.

The flying squirrel considers the efforts of his enemy. ‘A fruitless endeavor,’ he concludes. If his memory serves true, this long rock pile should extend to the shore across the Northern Leg from the larger of Monksville’s two isles before sliding down into the water; this is fortuitous for Buggaboo. He’ll be gliding through the open air after all, but not quite through the sky, not up at canopy level. Yes, this should all work out swimmingly. The devilbird will go hungry another night.

This has been the second subchapter of the last chapter of the book The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:

The Monksville Chronicles

I’ve written a few other books, too. Even fixed the link. Click here to see the list.

If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~

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