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Page name: Oliphants & Apples [Logged in view] [RSS]
2010-02-24 07:25:37
Last author: kamisch
Owner: kamisch
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Oliphants and Apples

    By [kamisch]



     It was almost light out by the time Katie made it home from work. It had been a long night, filled with in-progress burglaries, suicide attempts and domestics. That’s quite a lot for a midnight shift, even more so when you have to handle it all alone. The moment she stepped outside of the station though, all cares about all those calls just sort of disappeared - the bike ride home was very therapeutic. All she wanted to do when she got inside was take a nice, warm bubble bath and listen to her favorite Fleetwood Mac album. And then go to bed.

     She lugged her bicycle up the stairs to her apartment. “Hello, Oliver,” she smiled as she opened the door. Oliver jumped around in circles at her feet, waiting impatiently for her to put her bike down and take him outside. “I guess you have to go, don’cha, Bubby? Alright, alright! Hang on, and we’ll go for a walk.” Oliver flung himself across the living room and back at Katie’s feet again. “You’re such a freak, Oliver!” she laughed as she mussed his flabby face, “That’s okay though, because you’re my little freak, right?”

     Katie flung her backpack onto the couch, and then knelt down to give the dog a hug. When she got back up, Oliver followed her to her room, still eager and irritated at the fact that she had to change clothes whenever she came home in the mornings. Bach was sitting on the windowsill in the room, staring intently at something outside. “Wha’cha lookin’ at, Bach?” Katie asked him, as she went to go pet him. Outside, in the shallow pond between her building and the one behind her, neighbors had raised a small school of koi. They were very beautiful, and very large. Of exceptional size was a white one with black spots, dubbed “Goliath” by the kids in the area. He was four times the size of the other koi in the pond. “Man, they’re gonna have to move him soon,” Katie mused, “he’s like a friggin’ alligator!”

     She stood there petting Bach and watching the other koi swim around for a while. There was Chubs, the fat golden one; Pant-load, another chunk of fishiness decked all in white, who never seemed to move; Vic, a sturdy-looking black and grey fish, prone to fighting; and Quicksilver, whose namesake is rather obvious. Katie just loved watching the light of the sunrise reflect off of their multitude of scales – obviously so did Bach. The way the palm trees grew around the water, it was like the town around her just melted away, and she was in some sort of exotic jungle. The mist was picking up all along the edge of the pond, and Katie started noticing the koi getting rather nervous. Vic kept lunging himself toward the grass, trying to get a hold of a big yellow grasshopper that was just out of reach – looking more like a whale trying to beach himself. The rest were in a sort of frenzy, except for Pant-load, who just sort of sat there without a care. In the distance, one of the resident parrots gave a call, and another one answered. Quite a few of them lived wild in the area, including former lost pets. Katie took a seat on the cushioned bench by the window and relaxed in the midst of the sparkling sun on the water, the call of the birds, and the purring of Bach beneath her loving hand.

Riiiiing-bring. Bring-riiiiiiiiiing-ring. Riiiiiiiiiiiing-bring.

“Figures,” Katie muttered as she returned to her apartment. Bach looked at her in a very insulted manner when Katie stopped petting him and got up to answer the phone.

“Hello?”

“Hi! This is Reverend Faircloth; I’m a friend of Dan’s. He said I might want to talk to you.”

“Really? What for?” Katie asked, not quite sure why a priest should want to talk to her.

“Well, it’s a rather complicated situation. I’d much rather talk to you about it in person.”

“Um, well…” Katie wasn’t really wanting to meet anyone today, she just wanted to relax, “You see, I just got home from work, and I mean I didn’t have anything planned, but-”

“Great! So I can come by this morning?”

“I…what the hell?”

“Hello?”

     Katie wasn’t able to talk to him any longer. Her attention was drawn to her window, and the large commotion going on outside of it. “I-I’ll have to call you back,” she vaguely managed to pull the words out of her throat before she hung up on the Reverend Faircloth.

     Bach was staring outside still, but he no longer looked content, and it wasn’t long before he left the windowsill for the safety of the space behind the computer desk. Katie wanted to know what was out there, but all she could see was the pond – full of very still koi – and some large shadows. There was a rustling noise farther down the space behind her building, so she pressed her face up against the screen to get a better look. Still, all she could see were what looked like bushes, strange bushes covered in broad-leaved vines. “I don’t remember those being there,” she told a rather curious Oliver. Katie went to the back patio to get a better look, and she got one – without even having to open the slider door.

     Walking through the space, right next to the pond now, was the largest elephant Katie had ever seen. His head was the size of her Ford Escort, and could be clearly seen above the railing to the balcony, his immense tusks reaching out at least a full eight feet in front of him. There was moss hanging from the tusks, along with vines and what looked like some kind of jewelry, Katie stood there frozen with amazement as the stalking mass moved slowly by, dangling vines draped over his entire body – he definitely was a strange bush! His eye was perfectly visible and bright, and the wisdom lurking in it gave the impression that this guy was old, ancient even. As coherency re-entered Katie’s mind, she quickly ran to the bookcase to get her camera. She stood in the middle of the living room in order to fit as much of the beast in the shot as she could. Click. The flash went off, as the light was blocked by the shadow of the elephant, his eye squared perfectly in the space between the open section of the sliding glass door and the wall. And Katie quickly realized that he did not like having his picture taken.

     The light of the flash sharpened itself in the eye of that elephant, and the elephant had sharpened his eye on Katie – It was filled with a fury to match his wisdom. Again Katie was frozen in aw, staring at the majesty of the creature, but again she came to her senses, as the elephant let out a thundering trumpet call and reared up on his hind legs. There were two trumpets made in response. A quick glimpse before she ran to the front bedroom revealed another elephant, a bit smaller than the giant, and what appeared to be her baby – the size of a “normal” elephant, like you’d see at the zoo. Katie made it into the bedroom just in time to hear something crash into the house and hit a wall. She peeked out through the doorway and saw a large, mossy boulder sitting in the dining room. “Oh crap!” said Katie as she stared at the size of the giant stone, “He seems a bit pissed!”

     Oliver was waiting in the back bedroom, too afraid to enter the living room, and Katie could hear him barking in anger, and fear, at the intruder. She quickly ran to get him, and saw the eclipse thrashing his head violently in apparent annoyance at the pesky canine’s noise. “Come on, Oliver!” Katie shouted as she grabbed him by the collar and led him off through the destruction. Bach was still behind the computer, watching Katie drag Oliver out of the room. When they were out of sight, he bolted out of the room himself to follow. The elephant saw them on their way to the front of the house, and the last thing Katie saw before she reached the front door was him tugging at a giant tree with his trunk. “Jesus!” Katie exclaimed as she opened the door.

“Oh, hello. No, I’m not Jesus, but I’ll tell him you said hi.” Reverend Faircloth had been just about to knock on the door when Katie swung it open. She was panting like a husky in the summer and as frazzled as a mad woman. Faircloth didn’t seem to notice that though. He just smiled lovingly in the shimmer of the beautiful morning. “I figured now was as good a time to stop by as any, so as to let you get back to your day sooner.”

     Katie stood there holding the door and stared at him for a moment. He seemed so happy, and friendly, and he looked a lot like the priest from M*A*S*H, only much younger – extremely young for a priest. Then she snapped back to her plight and looked behind her. “We have to go,” she said, so smooth and calm, like she was back at work. Faircloth gave her a puzzled look and asked why. Katie was shocked. Is he blind? What, can he not hear him?

“Look, like I started to tell you on the phone, I-“

“What’s wrong with you?!” She was faltering in her soundness.

“I, well, nothing, that I can figure, I mean, some people say I-“

“Don’t you see him? Can’t you hear? It’s like one of those things out of The Lord of the Rings!”

“Lord of what?”

“The rings! Lord of the- oh never mind. Come on, before he demolishes my house with us in it!”

“Well, see, I was looking to buy a-”

     Katie pushed Faircloth out of her way and got outside. She let go of Oliver and grabbed the Reverend by the back of his shirt, leading him to safety on the other side of the parking lot. The mist that had surrounded the pond behind her apartment seemed to be growing from the very earth on this side of the pavement. She heard a loud rumbling noise, followed by a crash. Katie climbed onto a huge tilted stone, which turned out to be a fallen statue, and looked back at the remnants of her home. The giant elephant was still tossing his head and swinging his trunk. He looked even bigger now that she could get a full view of him. With a blasphemous trumpeting, he raised his trunk at her; Katie shouted a few obscenities in return and shook her fist back at the beast.

“That’s really uncalled for you know,” scoffed Faircloth as he crossed himself.

“Sorry, but that guy just pissed me off!"

“Who? Hughmn…Well, anyway, what I stopped by for was to see if you might be interested in selling your apartment to the church. Dan said you probably would be, since you’re looking to sell anyway, and plus he says you’re very charitable.”

“He said what? Never mind, he was lying to you, whatever it was. I don’t donate a dime, and even if I did happen to own my apartment and I was willing to sell, it wouldn’t matter – it just got crushed by a giant elephant!”

     Faircloth gave Katie a confused look of interest, shrugged his shoulders and just shook his head. Katie hadn’t noticed though, she was picking her way through the jungle outside the apartment buildings, keeping a nice, long stick she had found with her in case she ran into any cobras. Oliver walked ahead of her, and Bach slinked behind, as she followed an old pathway winding behind the development. Faircloth had nothing better to do, so he followed suit. They eventually found themselves walking along the lake by the golf course, only Katie noticed that it wasn’t the lake she was used to – a sort of steam was rising from the black, ominous depths. A large, bright green snake was sliding down one of the many trees along the edge of the water, slithering its long, forked tongue in and out of its mouth along the way. It turned to look at Katie, and she saw it lunge for Faircloth. Quickly, she took her stick and swung at the snake, flinging it into the water.

“What the he- what are you doing?” shouted the Reverend. “Are you trying to kill me?”

     Katie opened her mouth to explain, but stopped short. She decided it wasn’t worth explaining to someone who wouldn’t show any gratitude anyway. Instead, she just turned around, found a seat in the grass, and stared out over the water. Faircloth explored a little farther down the lake, throwing a few random rocks into its fathoms. He didn’t seem the least bit surprised by any of his surroundings – it was all like a walk in any freshly mowed park. Katie was somewhat pleased for this; she admired his optimism, and his sunny disposition. So what if he hadn’t noticed she saved his life earlier? It’s better he didn’t notice the snake, it means he won’t be terrified of the place. All the same, she was glad he was giving her some breathing room, some time to think about what was going on.

     After a while, Katie noticed a shadow on the horizon of the water. Something was gliding toward her, something small, apparently. As it got closer, she was able to make out the form of a little man, dressed in strange attire. He was only about four feet tall, and though thin, had a protruding stomach like a pot-bellied big. His hair was short, dark, streaked with wisps of grey, and held together on top of his head in a torn, faded maroon cloth headband. There was an immeasurably long, sturdy walking stick in his rusty left hand, which he used to guide his raft over the water. In his right hand, he held out a large, pearlescent apple. “You have problem with evil spirit,” the little man said in a strangely Hollywood-medicine-man way, “give pearl of thanks to evil spirits and they go way.”

“What do you mean, ‘evil spirits?’” asked Katie, “All I have is a friggin’ elephant!”

     The little man grabbed Katie’s hand and placed the pearl apple in it, fording her fist closed around it. “You have Oliphant, angry spirit. He big problem. Give him pearl and say thank you, he go way.” With that he started gliding back across the water and into the mist.

“Wait! Don’t’ go yet! What do you mean by ‘oliphant’ and ‘angry spirit’? I thought oliphants were for orcs – wait!” It was no use, the little man was gone.

Faircloth came trampling back to see what Katie was shouting about. “Who you yellin’ at?”

“The little man that just rowed away. Ugh! You already missed him. Come on, I’m going back.”

     The quartet made their way back to the parking lot. Katie told Faircloth to wait by the dumpster with Bach and Oliver, while she went up to the oliphant. It seemed like such a long journey from the dumpsters to the pile of rubble formerly known as her building. Her heart was pounding every step of the way. “He’s gonna kill me, He’s gonna gore me. He’s gonna trample me…” she chanted to herself along the way. Katie clutched the pearl apple with both hands and held it tucked in by her chest. The oliphant was facing away from her, but his little one saw her and sounded the alarm. Like a cat pouncing for its prey, the oliphant whipped around and glared at Katie. Every line in his earth-caked hide could be seen under the growing vines along his body. With her eyes closed, Katie stretched her pearl apple-bearing hand toward the oliphant. Every tensed muscle in him relaxed, and he took a step back. Then he probed at the apple with his trunk, before gripping it up in his nose-fingers and tossing it up high above him. As it came down, he reared up on his hind legs again and caught the apple in his mouth. The ground shook as he landed, and Katie lost her balance, sitting down after she stumbled backward. The oliphant chewed on his prize, then reached his trunk out to help Katie to her feet. He seemed grateful now, and gave a sort of oliphant bow of appreciation. Katie managed a lame curtsey in reply and patted his nose-fingers. Then, the oliphant stepped back and motioned to his family. The three of them joined trunks and started galloping around in a lop-sided circle. The faster they went, the less visible they became, until they disappeared entirely as a flash of light like a supernova washed out toward Katie in a blast powerful enough to knock her over.

“Hey Katie!”

“Huh? Yeah?” Katie’s head was throbbing form the blast. As she came to, she saw her neighbor standing above her, and Oliver too, whimpering and hovering.

“What were you doing? What happened to your apartment?”

“My whu?”

“Yeah, the window’s open and the screen’s gone.”

“Screen? Window?” Katie looked back at her apartment. It was still standing, and almost in one piece, except for the screen, which she found she was sitting on. Bach was sitting at his usual place in the window, staring down at her. “It worked! Where’s the Reverend?”

“Huh? Who?” her neighbor asked, clearly confused.

“Ah, never mind…Yes, it worked!” Katie jumped to her feet, grabbed her neighbor in a great bear hug and spun him around, still shouting, “It worked! Ha! It worked! It worked!”

     The koi form the pond breached the edge of the water, thinking all the commotion along the sidelines was a sign of feeding time. Katie saw them and ran through the water, diving under to try and catch them. When she finally managed to lay her hands on Goliath, she squeezed him like a teddy bear until he wiggled enough to slip out of her grasp and back into rightful place. Oliver and her neighbor stood staring at her as she danced out of the water and ran around to the front of the building. When she was out of sight, the neighbor looked questioningly at Oliver; Oliver looked questioningly as the neighbor, then they both trudged after her, too confused to ask anymore.







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