#25 – Dirk

In his dream, birds swarmed around, not shouting, only flapping their wings. They darted about around his head. His clothes were tugged about, and he curled up in a ball to evade their dives. The birds lifted him into the air, and he clenched himself, in preparation for the drop. When he kept rising higher and higher, his mind began to deconstruct the absurdity of it all, and he reasoned himself awake. Dirk was still curled up in a ball, his arms wrapped around his shins. The sound of sets of flapping wings permeated into the container he was in. It was a steady beating, a rhythmic hum.

When he looked about his box, he noticed pricks of light coming from the corners. As he moved, the rustle of packaging, and empty wrappers became a cacophony. He became still, trying to remain quiet, but it was useless. Even his breathing brought the crackle of wrinkles. Frustration rose within him, and his response was to kick away at the walls. His soles were sore, but the box’s angular seam emerged and grew. In his final kick, half the box shifted away, and tumbled out into a grey sky accompanied by flutter of empty leaf-wrappings. A rush of noise came in. The flapping of wings, and the howling of mixed wind roared about. He gasped at the height, and sat up to try to see over the edge. The half, which he had kicked free, was spinning about in the air for a long time. As it shrunk from view, Dirk watched, waiting for it to kick up a white splash, but it dipped into the water discreetly.

His left hand, refusing to release the wall of the container, kept him anchored during the rest of the trip. He ate with his right, and watched the grey sky brighten, over the leagues of water. Occasionally Dirk would shuffle toward the opening, and look out, but each time the view was the same, and absent of land. Passing over the waves proved mesmerizing, and Dirk was left to think to himself. He only returned to the moment when he noticed that the sun was setting again. He crawled back toward the open end, and watched the sun glow dim. When the sun dipped further, it silhouetted a coast, and Dirk looked to the other side to find specks of islands on the horizon. The land to either side drew closer as the flyer carried on.

When Dirk could discern trees along the sandy coasts, the sun had well set. The city came under him with a blast of light and noise. He fell on his left side as the flyer turned, and out of the back, saw a hundred towers bathed in all the colors of the skies. His hand lost it’s grasp as the flyer jerked again, and his fall left his head hanging over the edge. He stopped breathing. Under the flyer he was on, he saw the two others below, dropping into an opening hole in the ground where daylight beamed up. He had no intention to be trapped again, so he readied himself to jump free from the craft.

In both hands he clenched the last of the sweet fruit he had grown fond of. His bare feet were planted against the walls, ready to push. Dirk timed his leap, and sailed through the air. He had cleared the gap, and was about to touch down upon a border of grass, when a net enveloped him.

He thrashed about inside the pouch which hung from the flyer’s rear. It didn’t descend into the pit, like the others, but moved laterally over the green field. From his suspended position, he could look around, and saw that he was being taken towards a round topped wall. When he feared he was about to be swung against it, the flyer raised him to pass a finger-length over the top. Again it dipped, then stopped. His pouch was lightly lowered to touch down, then it unraveled. Dirk rolled off the mesh, and watched it recede into the rear of the flyer. The craft disappeared back over the round wall.

His landing place was wide and open, and the only people he could see were in statue form, lining a path that led into the city center. He took a long walk across the grass over to a soft-stone trail. Dirk followed it into a tunnel, and emerged into a lively plaza called the Common Star. There, he drank from the fountain, ate his sweetfruit, and found a quiet place under the low branches of a prickly tree, where he felt hidden enough to sleep.

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