Something Wicked (HTML excerpt)
It’s a glorious day. Not a single cloud crosses the blue. The sun is as bright and friendly as your best friend’s eye in the moment before the two of you start laughing. The daily commute is already underway, hundreds of people making their way downtown by auto, by bike and by foot. You look closely at the pedestrians, or as close as you can from your kitchen window on the west side of your fourth floor apartment unit. You scan their faces. Some of them look bored, some zoned-out, some content or even happy. Some look downright miserable. But none of them look scared or even unduly worried, and that’s got you worried, because, in the field on the east side of the building, the llamarae are going nuts.

Llamarae are a local species modeled in part off of the prairie dog. They look kind of like prairie dogs, or what you might get if you crossed a prairie dog with another prairie dog that had an ape hanging around in its family tree. Their arms are longer than most rodents’, their front paws more like hands, their tails longer and quasi-prehensile. Some folks call them ground lemurs. Like prairie dogs, they dig extensive warrens that turn prime real estate into a mess of holes and hills. They post lookouts on their mounds to watch for danger. But they don’t panic like prairie dogs. Sure, they vocalize at each other, but they don’t go “Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit!” like prairie dogs do. When llamarae sound the alert, it’s a lot more deliberate and authoritative. Directed. Downright business-like. “Folks, we got a situation. Enact Emergency Plan Zephyr. You! Guard entryway number two. You and you, herd the youngsters in via entryway three. I’ll give the all-clear when it’s safe.”

That’s why it’s so unsettling when they lose their shit, like they’re doing now. They’re screeching. They’re leaping in the air and shrieking. They’re running in circles like they want to run away but they’re not sure from what or where to. Last time you saw them like this, turned out the area was under a tornado warning, and the tornado damn well arrived. Time before that, it was just before that big earthquake hit some fifty miles north of town. That’s the point. Llamarae don’t get hysterical for anything short of meteorological catastrophe. Watching them flip out on such a beautiful, boring day, it gives you the heebie-jeebies. Also the ab-dabs, the wibbly-wobblies and the slurgy-lurgies. Pair up any two nonsense words you like, that’s what it gives you.

Because the llamarae are never wrong. That’s the thing. If they’re kicking up a fuss, then something awful is on its way...
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for August 5, 2016. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1113 words) from Patreon as an ebook or audiobook depending on their pledge tier.

Cover art incorporates public domain (CC0) stock photo from Pixabay

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