Welcome to the 5th instalment of Matica’s Dreams by Gigi Sedlmayer. All of Matica’s Dreams to date can be found under the mini series category in the side column if you’ve missed any.
Flying on Talon over high mountains and enjoying it tremendously, rubbing my cheek against his feathers, Talon suddenly grunted out a warning. ‘What is it,’ I asked him. He flew on as if he was pulled by an invisible force but he looked around as if he was looking out for something. Watching him and looking around as well, to see if I could spot anything that had alerted him, I thought and felt that he was uneasy of things he felt but couldn’t see, yet. As I looked around, I couldn’t see or feel anything, but the uneasiness of Talon overwhelmed me as well. There must be something amiss, I thought.
Then I saw that dark clouds were building up just in front of us. ‘These dark clouds over there,’ I asked Talon, ‘are they the ones you are worried about?’
Talon nodded, but he didn’t turn around, he just flew on. I felt a sudden tugging of the current in the air as if the clouds wanted to suck us in, as if the current would draw us and suck the whole air beside us and behind us into the storm. Because that was a big storm that was building up in front of us, with huge turbulent clouds.
‘Talon,’ I asked him, ‘why aren’t you turning around and going back?’ But Talon just flew on. ‘Talon, what is it? Wouldn’t it be better to turn around and go back?’
Somehow I felt it was too late for that. I felt the air and everything around us was drawn and pulled into the storm. And what a storm it was!
Talon was suddenly tossed and thrown around. First I had difficulty holding on, but then, somehow I knew and I felt it as well, I was glued on top of Talon. No gust of the wind could pull me away from him. I knew I just couldn’t be thrown off. Why it was, I had no idea. I just knew. I thought of the other time we were in a storm and where I was pulled away from him, nearly losing the grip on him. But this time it was different. I knew it wouldn’t happen.
As we came closer to the storm, it felt like a huge and powerful whirlpool, its current grew stronger by the minute. A vortex, I thought.
We could no longer resist it. We were dragged in, pulled with a much stronger power than Talon had.
One thing I felt from Talon very strongly, that he wanted to show me the power, so that I wouldn’t get afraid, or panic. He implanted his strength into me. I don’t know how he did it, but he did, because I felt his strength in me; I even felt as if I had wings and stretched them out the fullest, as if I was no longer laying on him, that I was Talon. And so we flew on into the oncoming storm, without feeling any anxiety or worry.
Why are we being drawn into the storm? Is there something in there, we should see, feel, encounter? I wondered. But still Talon didn’t try to turn around to fly away from it. He just flew directly into its path. However we would have plenty of time to turn around, to fly away. Still it seems as if the storm had us in its fingers, drawing us in, as if the storm wanted us… to eat? Gobble us up? But…
A feeling of dread overcame me. At this distance the storm was too weak to be dangerous for us, for me as Talon, but still the storm was dragging us, pulling us, as if magic was being instilled.
Then I had a dreadful thought. The storm feeds on birds and humans? What a thought is that!
‘Talon, what will happen to us?’ I asked him, feeling myself not as Talon.
He just grunted. His wings were stretched out to their fullest. It was as if he was giving up flying, as if he was just sitting on top of the current and the current was pushing him forward, closer to the storm.
And then I felt a curiosity, the same curiosity I felt Talon had as well, feeling me as Talon again. Is that why we fly on? Did he plant the curiosity into me, so we could go on? The curiosity became stronger every minute. What is it? How will that end? What will the storm do to us? What and how would that experience be like? Will we survive it? Well, we’d better.
Suddenly we experienced and saw something, something I, we, never had seen before. It seems as if something was trickling down on us from up high. What was it? It didn’t look like rain. It didn’t feel like rain. It didn’t make us wet. It just fell on us, stayed for a nanosecond then it was absorbed into my clothing, into my skin and into Talon’s feathers and into the skin on his neck. It looked like little particles, or like grain, corn. Corn, up here? I wondered. I wanted to test it, lick it, but I didn’t dare take my hands off Talon. It dissipated too fast anyway. But then one corn-like thing, it was colourless, landed on my hand. I lick it off quickly. Having it on my tongue, it tasted like nothing I was used to. It was grainy, but more like mush. But one thing was clear to me, it was some type of food, I was sure about that. But here in the middle of a storm and coming from the clouds? And it rained from the sky?
Who would eat it up here? Talon tried to grab some. I felt him swallow. He grunted. It sounded as if he didn’t like it. So, no food for birds, I declared. Anyway, I’d never tasted anything like that before. I didn’t like it either. The ‘food’, as I called it, drifted down without stopping now as we came steadily closer to the storm.
I just remember reading about something like that in my bible, the Manna, as the Israelites called it. The Israelites were fed with Manna, the holy Manna provided from God when they ventured out of Egypt and wandered in the desert. But why does it rain down here? Is someone here to eat it? We better look out.
The storm neared, or was it that we neared the storm? The ‘food’ trickled down more thickly now, but even Talon wasn’t interested anymore so I let it go as well, didn’t put more thought into it.
That is when I saw the inward pull of the currents, generated by the storm’s powerful spinning vortex, was sucking in the particles, the food, until I couldn’t see them any longer. Far, far off in the distance I saw a faint flicker, nothing more than the smallest rippling of light, barely visible. However it alerted me. Was it lightning? If it is, we can’t fly through a thunderstorm. No way. We have to get away. We definitely came too close to the storm. Or are these the creatures the storm is feeding? What a thought. Creatures are living here in the storm?
For that reason, I called out to Talon, ‘Talon, we can’t fly through the thunderstorm, if it is one. Please try and do everything to get away from here. The storm is getting too much. It looks as if it is a lightning storm. We can’t fly into that. The lightning may zap us. Please Talon, try to get away. I know it’s pulling us in further, and that’s what I don’t understand at all. Why does it pull us in? What is the storm? What is it doing to us? What are the strange grains doing here? Where do they go? Are there other creatures up ahead and it’s their food? Maybe they think we will take it away from them and attack us. Maybe that is the pull. Talon, we have to turn around.’
Just then something very unpleasant hit us. I saw them first and screamed out, ‘Talon, what’s that?
Talon, in panic now because of my scream, tried to turn away from them but couldn’t. The food, the corn we encountered before, as they surrounded us, changed. They looked now like arrows. Or were they something else? Some type of a creature and they are attacking us? I didn’t know, couldn’t tell. They shot down with an incredible force and I saw how they penetrated Talon’s wings. They stuck in his wings, sticking out horizontally. More and more came down from the abyss above us.
‘Go back! Go back!’ I yelled out in panic.
More and more of the darters – as I called them now – came down, penetrating Talon’s wings and neck. The next one stuck my hand. How many have I in my back? I didn’t want to know. Then a wall of them came down, piercing us. We looked like spiky hedgehogs, porcupines. We were covered with them. The creatures are attacking us. They think we eat their food. But the strange thing was, we didn’t feel anything. No pain, no prick as they hit us, nothing. No blood seeped out. Where they struck, they stood upright. How deep they penetrated I couldn’t see. But they kept on hitting us, coming down like a never-ending wall.
Talon grunted loudly, then shook his head irritably and flapped his wings madly – the first time since we hit the storm. Did a darter hit him in his face that he acts like that? Irritates him? We still felt the pull of the storm, but Talon tried everything to get away. I’d never had seen him flapping his wings so drastically, not even when we were in front of the cliff, a long time ago now it seemed. And still I was laying on Talon as if I was glued to his back. Because of flapping his wings so forcefully, his body vibrated and shook and trembled. I surely would have fallen off if I wasn’t glued to his back. I felt as if I was Talon again. I flapped my wings.
Finally, as if Talon had got permission from somewhere, the storm stopped pulling him in and he could turn away, away from the lightning storm, or whatever it was, away from the darters, the creatures, away from the clouds. The darters just left us, flew back up into the air, not even leaving a hole behind, where they stuck fast as if they never had penetrated us. Just like that.
But the struggle and the strain to get away was nearly too much for Talon. When he was free of the pull, his head dropped, his wings drooped. We lost altitude rapidly. I didn’t care, my only thought was to get away from it all.
And so we left it all behind. Dropping deeper and deeper, we became free of the pull of the storm. We were free of the deadly darters. Were they deadly? Where they creatures? Well, they penetrated us, but they didn’t hurt us.
Falling closer to the ground, all the darters vanished or sailed up into the air. They didn’t leave any holes in my skin, or Talon’s wings and neck. Nothing I could see where they had penetrated us. I just looked after them and rejoiced.