“Everyone should have a human, they, well, they make you feel so close to nature, the cosmos, you know what I mean...”

I didn’t care what she said. We both knew what she meant. I just liked watching her say it. If she wanted a human that was fine with me.

“I just think it’s great, you’re so, well, open and sensitive...”

She flicked back her mane. Behind her, reflected in an ancient chrome vessel, hot-pink, storm-winds lashed the horizon. Ruins flickered under ship lights leaving between storms. Red sand covered everything.

If I didn’t stay the season with her the next storm could pull me home. I had to decide. And so did she. Our cycles wouldn’t synch forever.

“Sometimes friends think it’s strange I let him in the house. And I grew up that way, humans outside.”

“Did you have many?”

“For hunting. They’re the best.”

“I’d heard that.”

“If you have a lot of them you can flush the nest.”

“Then?” I moved closer where I could see the gold flecks in her eyes.

“Depends on the breed, what you’re hunting, the hunter.”

I decided to change the subject just as she straightened her shoulders in abrupt thought. I could tell she’d made up her mind.

“I’ll tell you a secret.” She leaned closer. Sweat dripped in my bodysuit. “I like to cuddle with them, I keep him tied by my bed. Sometimes I let him in. They’re almost extinct. They’re expensive. My father had purebreds. Anyway people don’t just go hunting with them anymore, they’re easy to train.”

“Let’s go outside.” Again I wanted to change the conversation. We hadn’t been outside for days and if things didn’t work out I wanted to look at the sky. See exactly how and where the storm was passing.

“Great. Let me get Ralphie’s leash, he hasn’t been out for weeks.”

“That’s ok. I feel safe without him.”

“Well, you shouldn’t.”

“Are you serious?”

“There’s a new nest nearby.”

Outside, over our heads, high wind-clouds morphed. Changing shapes and forms, like grifftans or airglets and other creatures, they mesmerized us for a long time. When I looked down the human was gone.

“Darn,” she said. “they’re so fast and smart.”

Then she started yelling “Ralphie, Ralphie, Ralphie...” and running after him in the compound hills like a cheeton. I was baffled and checked the sky.

Beautiful fan tails perfect for gliding swept over the nearest cliffs. The wind tails sprayed plumes of gold, magenta and hot-red sand into the sky in arcs. Then I realized what I was looking at. The edge of massive air crests rolling within the storm. The sklyders dream. I reached behind to my sailpack feeling for the vidid. I could take air-vids and sell them. I could leave Mars, pay the rest of my trip searching for the perfect jetcrest.

She wasn’t even in sight, although I heard her voice nearby. I decided to run up the cliffs, check it out, probably take off, follow the storm, give up, go home.

Just before I snagged a wind I thought of her gold-flecked eyes. And as I turned around, already hooded, front-to-the-wind, leaning back into the welcome weight of howling airs, the human tore up out of the sand into my face. In that split second I ripped open the sail and was carried away. But not before I saw gold flecks in his eyes and her long mane whipping out behind him as I twisted up into the winds.

# # #

What They Never Tell You by Cecelia Chapman
originally published April 1, 2009



Cecelia Chapman investigates the human hunger for adventure, mystery, and illusion using video, still image, and short and graphic fiction in works that examine the way we think and live. Her work has appeared in Wheelhouse Magazine & Press, Recycled Karma Press, ClockwiseCat, Avance Publishing, Houston Literary Review, Axis Gallery, Wild Violet, Rural Messenger Press, Jackmagazine, MaryJournal, Enfuego, Unlikelystories, Otoliths, Literary Chaos, Membradisjecta, and Qaartsiluni.

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visit her Big Pulp author page

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