Baby Steppes


Everyone held their breath and watched, until the sun could be seen again.

“And out there,” said the mayor, “you can see more just on the horizon!”

Gargantuan space creatures, black, peppered with white dots, floating down with tiny wings.  They were joined by the one that passed over the city.

“And thank goodness!”  said the mayor.  “It’s just a matter of time before one of them lands too close, or on our city.”

The mayor explained to Cosmi-Compt that the creatures nursed from the undersides of clouds.  Wherever they stood, the rocky desert sprung into grassy plains.  It seemed like their feet dripped a nurturing slime.

“In time, there won’t be enough rock out here for us to color!”

That was going too far, thought Compt.  It would take a coordinated chorus line of monsters to change all this endless grey into prairie.  But the rocks were why these people had come to this planet.  When they passed sunlight through special lenses, the people could change the color of the rocks, which were ground up for artists’ pigments.  The monsters’ own skin pigments and patterns had caused the colonizers to miss them.  Compt noted this strangeness; ‘space camouflage’.  He guessed it was like creatures of the deep seas.  The people were bustling around now, taking down the lenses, preparing to leave the planet.  They had found, out in the desert, giant fangs that clearly belonged to even larger monsters.

Compt understood the panic in a unique way.  The jutting from his body synced him to whoever was around him.  He saw the monsters through these peoples’ eyes (all six).  The beasts were the sky falling.  They were ruin.  His hand pulsed red, and with this borrowed hatred he knew he had the power to summon a singularity for each beast, to remove them from this world forever.  But he was vigilant of this influence.  Every monster he encountered was colored by the people around him.

He recalled the flying frogs he had cared for as a kid.  Their parents were shot by someone playing with an air rifle.  He fed them soaked bread and bugs.  One of them didn’t make it.  The others had harrased it to death.  He buried it while finding food for its siblings.  Remembering that pity helped Compt to see the sky monsters more clearly.  So, as the mayor stormed off, impatient with Compt’s inaction, Compt made a call to his partner, Peli-Captor, who was up in space gathering information.  Compt needed him to check out a few more things.

“Finally, Peli-Captor returned…”

“Finally, Peli-Captor returned…”

Finally, Peli-Captor returned to the town, and gave Cosmi-Compt his report.  “Call back the mayor,” Compt asked of a passer-by.  “Tell him to bring a drawing board and paper!”

Compt transformed his Racquet of Retribution into a tiny stylus, which produced a chalky crystal substance from its tip.  When the mayor arrived, he sat down to draw.

“So?  What did he find?” asked the mayor.  “Where is he now?”

“I sent Peli-Captor back up with your largest lens.  He’s synced to the movement of my stylus and is using the sun to color the land around this city.”  Compt halted and looked up.  Everyone was lookign up.

A great mass of clouds was drifting over them.  Off on the horizon, the giants had seen it, too.  They had depleted their area, and were on their way over.

“No time for a masterpiece”, said Compt.  His colored frenzily.  “I’ll have to use what I know.  ‘Seeya Siammy’.  I’ve drawn him since I was a little kid.  It might get the idea accross, and I can do it quickly, with a few alterations.”

“Get what accross?  What are you doing?”

“You were right about there being bigger monsters,” said Compt.  “These are just babies.  Their parents are strong enough that they don’t need to land to drink the clouds.  They eat ice on the asteroids up there.”

Size diagram courtesy of Peli-Captor.

Size diagram courtesy of Peli-Captor.

“Is that a bear, you’re drawing?”

“What?!  A bear?!  That’s not good.  But it’s too late to start over!  Those fangs you found—they don’t belong to the parents.  I knew if these creatures were camoflaged, they were hiding from something.  Peli-Captor found out what.  Giant space cats.”

“It’s working!”  The mayor and the townspeople were clapping and cheering.  “They’ve actually stopped!  They’re turning around!”

“I had to find out what the babies were scared of,” said Compt, stand up and stretching his back.  He handed the drawing to the mayor.  “That might be a collector’s item someday.”

May be a collector’s item someday.

May be a collector’s item someday.

The monster babies were clearly disturbed and flew away with previously unseen speed.

The clouds above the city parted and faded, and Peli-Captor returned, dropping off the giant lens.  Compt leapt up to stand atop his partner, where all could see him.  Peli-Captor began to rise again.

“You’ll probably be shipping a lot of blue and yellow pigment,” Compt said, waving to the crowd.  “Just make sure you leave enough for the monsters!”


© Copyright 2017-2018 Kelly Ishikawa. All rights reserved.

Kelly Ishikawa