She will provide.
When Fangy found this place she curtsied and the cat bells in her hair did tinkle. Mouth and nose muffled behind a scarf she politely said: “Hi, how you doing?”
Then she fell silent for a while. There were words in her head but they were a bit shy coming out. Suddenly self-conscious, she glanced over her right shoulder where congealing swamp gas billowed and stewed. Then she glanced over her left shoulder, but no, the words she was seeking did not linger in that direction either. There was only the mud, secretly stealing back her footprints.
“Okay,” she cleared her throat with a nervous rasp. “It is like this … we’re fucking up Moult World and we’ve only just got here!” … …
She blinked surprised at the passion behind that sentence. Noting that nothing had taken offence to the expletive she continued. “We had such hopes. This fantastic, crazy alien paradise was going to be a new start … but we are making all the same mistakes here as we did in the Olde World.”
The gurgling of the swamp came as the only reply.
“But I didn’t come here to complain.” She gave a definite shake of her head. “No, the way I see it things have unraveled for The Settlers in three ways. So as daft as it may seem I am going to tell you about these three things … in the outrageous – if slightly desperate – hope that maybe … you could help?”
The swamp gave out a gentle moan. In this clammy landscape it was impossible to escape the impression that the world was muttering softly to itself as it sank inexorably away.
“Okay, the first thing that went wrong I guess was The Schism. You can’t really blame The Edenists for leaving The Habitat. They had put up with a year of us being really, really naughty. I guess there is a place for drink, drugs and random acts of sexual pioneering … and The Edenists argued that that place is not a virgin alien paradise.”
She squinted up at the gases which formed the roof of this damp little kingdom and their glow varnished her face with a plum, slightly sick radiance. She looked front again:
“But The Edenists struggle with Moult World’s unlimited freedom in their own way. Why else do they need to believe they are living in The Garden of Eden? Please, believe me when I say, the rest of us have stopped being naughty … well generally speaking … and though we don’t have any definite ideas about our future we refuse to go back down that tired old path of gods, myths and superstition.”
Another tiny pause as she came to the crux of the matter.
“Trouble is Zeek and Sunny got pregnant at about the same time. And now there’s this big race on to see who will give birth to Moult World’s first baby. Edenists or us Habitat dwellers.”
The ground let out a prolonged moan of a protest. That was all the incentive the little rope haired lady needed to hastily paddle out to a boulder which protruded defiantly from the quagmire.
“So okay, that’s the first thing that went wrong,” she said as she clambered onto the rock. Once she had her footing she turned and gazed expectantly at the swaying Spark-Bubble creature before her.
The gas-sac was quivering. Tremors from its inflation still echoed out across its transparent, veiny membrane. Inside, Sparks like a thousand tiny flakes shaken awake in a child’s snow globe danced frantically about.
Fangy drew in a deep breath and continued: “Okay problem, number two: Stephan is a dick.” She squinted for a second as she rearranged this approach in her head. “Granted, there’s nothing you can do about that. You’re just a big old gas bubble after all … but the problem with Stephan is his paintings.”
“The first one he painted was of a candle flame. Anyone who looked at it – despite the Frostz outside – wasn’t cold anymore … even though they still shivered? Anyway, the Frostz disappeared. Some said it was because of Stephan; some say because the high-gravity winter came to an end … I don’t know, but after that Stephan was a superstar. We let him do what ever he wanted.” Fangy’s squint returned … only fiercer than before. “So he kept on painting and painting.”
“Mysterious Gas-Sac-Spark-gooey-creature-thing, you have to believe me nothing scares me more than Stephan’s paintings. We are … loosing people to them.”
The Spark-Bubble bounced a little in its place. Ever one to see the best in people and things Fangy took this as a sign that maybe it was enjoying her story. That a breeze had suddenly barged its way through the marsh escaped her notice. The Spark-Bubble bounced again; the tendrils and roots which held it in place serving as an intricately complex network which joined it unfathomably with its fellows and the rest of the rank smelling swamp.
“And finally there is the matter of The Lost Boys.” And with that the determination that had driven her into the swamp wilted and she deflated with it. “Three months ago my lover and his friends went in search of one of our missing companions.”
“I worry that maybe, out there – beyond the Open Country – Moult World may not be as safe and nourishing as She is here by the lake. I worry if The Lost Boys never return that those of us left might forget the stories the First Eight told of their time here … before the Edenists … before Stephan.”
She sniffed and wiped a cloying drop of swamp juice from her nose.
“But most of all I worry I might never see my lover again.”
For a while she just stood there. Uncertain if she had plucked the right words from her head, if they had come out in the right order and wondering if she was a little insane giving voice to her fears before something that could only be described as A Thing.
“Thank you,” she said and drew in a deep lungful of breath. She had a long and muddy trip home ahead of her. “Even if you haven’t understood a word I said, it’s helped. I’m surrounded by all these people desperate to believe in something. Be it a New Beginning, or a god … or fairies … or a saviour who happens to be just another charismatic leader. And now it ‘s All started to unravel I realise that not one person has ever listened to what I believe. So thank you.”
For a while the swamp continued muttering to itself and the gas-sac bobbled to and fro in the breeze. Fangy sighed and hauled herself down from the boulder. Her foot falls accompanied by a slurping which threatened to pull the gum-boots from her feet. After trudging six paces, she stopped and turned around:
“I believe Moult World will provide,” she whispered then disappeared behind the gaseous curtain.
That night, beneath the moon (which has a moon which has a face), a firework display took to the sky above the insipid vapour of the swamp. A thousand sparks, moving as one determined comet, crackled through the ether and hurtled out towards The Open Country.
And back at the Habitat one person saw this and dared grin a little Fangy smile.