QSFer Freddy MacKay has a new queer (bi) fairy tale out: “By The Waterfall.”
An innocent hiker crosses paths with a creature long forgotten in human memory, except in folklore.
Humans, so brave and reckless. All ego with short-term memories. Sten has not seen one for ages. His home by the waterfall has been forgotten and worn down as he felt his spirit, thin and fragile, a fraction away from splintering. With his violin in hand, Sten intends to play one last song farewell then it is time to move on.
But a young man interrupts his solo, insisting Sten teach him the song instead.
Publisher’s Note : This novelette is for readers who enjoy the thrill of a suspenseful campfire story.
Amusing, humans. All ego.
They prayed to their gods, ran from their demons, and pretended not to see what they couldn’t explain. All the while, they hoped their lives were something more, because none of them wanted to be just a husk in the ground.
People wanted to be remembered. Needed to be. They needed to leave a footprint, proof. If others ever showed up on earth’s doorstep, they would want not just the galaxy’s inhabitants to know about them, humans wanted recognition from the entire universe.
They certainly had left their mark—a nasty brown, black, green, and red footprint that poisoned the earth and themselves. For thousands of years the humans had ruled, and they had managed to fuck it up in under a hundred with no idea of how much damage had been done.
So proud. So utterly naïve.
Humans had evolved so far that they didn’t remember an earth when it was wild. Not like Sten. When they weren’t the top predators who could selectively pick which species would die and which would live. When Mother Nature’s bounty lived side by side with them, not trampled underfoot.
Every time a human found him, they showed him their new technology, proud of their accomplishments—how far they’d come. But the more technology they brought, the weaker their minds seemed. The less they felt and understood.
Sten wanted put out a big sign by his cave—Welcome to the Dark Ages of Misinformation and Technology. Few would probably get it. The handful that did would only shake their heads and laugh nervously, because who would be cruel enough to admit such ignorance aloud?
The potential their elastic minds once showed was gone. Lost and buried along with any other ingenuity they once possessed. Sten would’ve been more than happy to shove their hypocrisy in their faces, but so few wandered to his part of the wood anymore.
Somewhere deep inside, the primal part of them they hadn’t managed to shake yet knew. The humans no longer sought him out. They might not have been able to put the feeling into words, but the once well-worn path to the waterfall was grown over from lack of use, replaced by one farther up that went around his abode. A metal bridge, one that kept the humans from dirtying their precious feet.
The fact they avoided the area at all, even as crowded as the neighboring town was, showed there was something more to the world. Something they couldn’t—and didn’t want to—explain. Their inability to explain the phenomenon made them uncomfortable, and humans ignored the uncomfortable.
Their hearts—and minds—such fragile things.
Sure, Sten got the random passerby once in a blue moon—hippies, tree huggers, and naturalists. Those were even more imprudent than the others who ignored the world around them. Sten laughed at the disbelief and the horror etched into their faces when their make-believe world came tumbling down.
Humans crumbled so easily. Sten enjoyed ripping away those barriers until nothing was left.
He raised his hand in front of him, but there was nothing for Sten to twist and break.
Worst of all, human love and friendship was fleeting and shallow. He shuddered. Some thoughts were better not explored, or remembered.
Rolling over and sitting up, Sten twisted, his arms out and his feet on the floor. His back gave, and a pleasant pop went up his spine, releasing the tension from thinking about the inanity of humans. Sten pushed off his bed and slowly made his way to the front of the damp cave, stopping to pick up the one precious thing he had—his violin. His fingers caressed the wood.
Freddy is a bisexual, biromantic, genderfluid nerd and geek who grew up in the Midwest playing soccer, diving, swimming and doing gymnastics, along with running around outside as much as possible—preferably spending that time in swamps and hiking through forests. The haphazard escapades have not changed, except some of them have been replaced with a healthy geocaching addiction and a love for Science Fiction and Fantasy. Freddy likes worms, dancing and being outside… and toll passes, but you’ll have to ask on that one. (They/Them/Their pronouns).