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The Acid Rain Bird, Part 1
“ I simply can’t stand that martinet of a teacher, Ms. Skull. She should be a military general instead of a teacher at Lake High.” Maria complained to her twin sister, Zoey.
“ I’ve heard quite a lot about her. None of them good remarks.” Zoey answered. She was perched on a sturdy branch, staring at the few gray clouds rolling in. Glancing down, she saw her sister sketching a flower. Maria’s golden brown hair reflected the sunlight filtering through the thin spring leaves. For a moment, time paused in the beauty of the world.
A drop of water on her hand thrust Zoey back into ticking time. Looking up, she saw that the clouds had condensed into a big mass. A thick fog was creeping in, slowly swallowing the woods. Her eyes searched for her twin, meeting their frightened reflection a second before Maria disappeared in the fog.
“ Maria!” The damp branches were hard to get a grip on as Zoey scrambled down. The leaves slapped her face, leaving streaks of water like tear trails. The sharp bark scratched her bare legs and arms as she fell the last foot down to the ground.
As her legs collided with the ground, the sound muffled by the fog, a terrible screeching filled the forest, echoing and bouncing off the trees. A sudden gust of wind twirled the mass of water vapor into a swirling hurricane. Looking up, Zoey saw a winged creature descending from a hole in the dark clouds. It resembled a bird, except there were no feathers visible. A dark blue, tinged with purple and black near the tips of the wings and feet, it blended in with storm clouds. Giving another earsplitting screech, it began to circle the forest, spraying water each time it flapped its wings.
“ It seems Swealing has been tainted with your human acid.” A deep voice grumbled.
Turning, Zoey flinched in surprise. Standing a foot away was a dwarf. It had short, gray hair whose damp curls were plastered to its face. Dark eyes followed the path of the bird as a worker’s finger traced the creature’s mouth. The dwarf measured not higher than Zoey’s waist, yet it seemed sturdy as a tree.
“Wha-a-at?” Zoey stammered, unable to comprehend the events unfolding around her.
“Zoey!” Maria’s voice.
Turning, Zoey had only glance of her sister’s gold-brown hair through the fog before it disappeared. A long tail swished the water vapor, then everything was still. Zoey jumped when the dwarf spoke again.
“Your twin has met the Gothil. Though right now, the Swealing deserves more attention.” As if in answer, the bird gave another shriek.
“What’s wrong with it? What’s going on? My sister is gone, taken by a monster, and your talking about some freak bird?” Zoey’s voice rose.
The dwarf shook its head. “Always so ignorant, you humans. Swealing is the rain bird, bringing rain for the plants and water for the animals. However, you humans have tainted the sacred water source with your foul waste. Everyday, tons of garbage are dumped into the sea, and runoff from your dumps trickle down to wells and rivers. Swealing, as can be seen, is now tainted with your filth. If this does not end, water may not be available. Earth will die, dry with human filth.”
Zoey stared at the dwarf in horror. How could this be true? She wondered. True, teachers were always stressing the importance of cleaning the earth, but was their waste really making such an impact?
“ What are we supposed to do?” Zoey asked.
“The Swealing can only be purified by bathing in the Lake of Life. It is near near, actually, ‘bout two miles away.”
“ But how am I supposed to get the Swealing into the lake?”
“That is for you to figure out. Your lives depend on this.” With a look of scorn, the dwarf slowly sank into the dirt until nothing was left of him.
Bewildered, Zoey stood there and stared at the grayness around her. Her sister was gone. Her home, as well as every other living creatures’, will soon be gone. Unless she did what the dwarf told her to. But I’m just a girl, she thought. Dimly, she heard the bird shrieking and the faint twittering of frightened birds.
Her feet began to walk, leading her through the fog without a single thought as to where the destination was. Zoey simply drifted along, her mind as murky as the air around her. After a while of numb drifting, the fog thinned enough for her to make out footprints in the dirt. They were about twice the size of her foot, in the shape of a reptile’s. A smooth line followed the marks. An image of that long, green tail filled her vision, and Zoey knew the marks were the Gothil’s.
“Maria, I’m coming”, she said aloud.