So I thought I knew how I was going to get all of us to my employers. Honestly, I wasn’t completely certain if it would work but it was all I had so we had to try it. It took a while to get Patat to do it—and we may have gotten a bit sidetracked with how gorwaks function and a small bit of Patat’s history, but in the end I managed to explain it to him so *slap sound*
[Music in background]
This is Nadec, my adventure. Written down in a better way than I can tell it.
[Music louder and solo]
Episode 24: stories and a slap
The gorwak’s stunned expression contradicted the creature’s dominant bearing. At least, Nadec thought the way it stayed in flight above her, conveyed a certain confidence. Not to mention the no-nonsense way it spoke. The other things throwing the tough posturing out of balance were those mesmerising wings.
‘Are you still burning drunk?’
The disbelief in its voice was too much for Nadec to stay serious. She snorted. A tight smile accompanied her still smug face.
‘I wish I was, but that’s beside the point.’ Because if she still was, that meant she could still forget all of this happening. ‘You sensed the DNA in my blood, didn’t you?’
‘What in the grounding seas are you talking about, what is a deeyenay?’
‘Never mind that. What I meant was, somehow you sensed my ancestry and recognised it to be similar to the one who locked you up. If you want to join us in our travels, honesty would be great. Who were they? King or queen? What was the kingdom or area called? Why did they take it upon themselves to preserve you?’
‘You make it bloody sound as if I’m some kind of grounding fine wine.’
The gorwak lowered himself to the ground while muttering, apparently no longer interested in trying to assert dominance. Nadec sat down as well.
‘Us gorwaks were the burning guides of dripping humans everywhere. Far and wide, gorwaks were regarded and revered for their grounding special attributes.’
‘What were those, cursing at and annoying everyone?’ Nadec’s interruption only made Patat scowl a little bit, the expression odd on that eyebrowless face.
‘Listen kid, I’m grounding answering your last question, do you want the burning answer? Burning truth is, your little quip wasn’t that grounding far wrong. Humans kept us around because we often spoke the dripping truth. You burning humans are too emotional and care too burning much about hurting each other’s grounding feelings. The exceptional human who did speak the truth had no grounding friends because no one dripping liked them. So they kept us around to burning tell the truth for them.’
Nadec changed to a cross-legged position, taking the time to think about what Patat just said. It was not wrong about people being afraid to say things straight out. She usually didn’t have such a barrier though, so her next question came easy.
‘Are you male or female?’
‘What?’ Its voice was so gruff-sounding, she wanted to think of it as male. But she knew from experience that things weren’t always what they seemed. Gendering Patat as it, annoyed her, especially now that they were getting to know each other better. Saying it to any sentient creature, signaled a lack of respect.
‘Do I call you he or she? Or they? Or something else?’
‘What does that burning matter? I don’t give a flying whale horse about that. You grounding humans with your burning labels. We have no gender nor sex, if that’s what you want to burning know, so I don’t care what you dripping use. Although I suppose being around those sailors have made me feel and act more like a human male.’
‘No gender nor sex? How do you reproduce?’
Sex—and talking about it—had never been an issue for Nadec, but her cheeks did light up a bit after asking that question. It sounded too intimate, as if asking people about visual details. Something Nadec would’ve only talked about with her best friends, back when she still had those.
‘We aren’t as dripping messy as you humans. Gross. No, if we want to multiply, we grounding stay in the dark for a while until knobs grow on our tail ends.’
He moved his five tail ends up and down to bring attention to them. Kitty stirred next to Nadec. He walked around her, low to the ground.
‘When it’s dripping time, we burning cut them off and stick them in the ground.’
Kitty looked mesmerised at the tails. The front of his body pressed against the ground, his butt up in the air.
‘I suppose your grounding ancestor hoped I could grounding multiply, but I don’t dripping know when he ever intended to dripping release me.’ He looked towards Kitty, whose butt was now shaking left to right in rhythmic bursts.
‘But you didn’t… multiply?’
‘No, obviously I burning didn’t. I lost the ability because of spending too much grounding time at sea. Don’t burning ask me—’
Kitty jumped forward. Patat had anticipated it. With a whoop, he jumped and flew into the air, giggling like a small child. He moved his tails, enough to make Kitty jump for them, but kept them right out of reach.
‘Don’t ask me how that worked. Perhaps it was the salt, perhaps the water. Either way, something about those years has made me incapable of multiplying. In any way, that is my theory.’
Joy at seeing him play with Kitty—she noticed he hadn’t cursed even once—blended with a grief for his people. If he really was the last gorwak, then he was the end of the line. He flew up and down, enrapt in his game.
‘Don’t look so sad, kid. It happens. Creatures grow extinct. I’ve had fifty years to come to terms with it.’
He lifted his tails and grabbed them, hiding them from Kitty as he lowered himself on the ground. Kitty’s dilated pupils followed Patat’s descend.
‘So now you know why I was burning preserved in the grove. Humans killed my entire race. Don’t look so abashed, I don’t hold a dripping grudge against you. Some individuals weren’t grounding happy with getting the dripping truth flung in their dripping face so started the bloody rumour that our guts could predict the future. Nonsense of course. But you can burning guess what happened next.’
‘Gorwak guts,’ she muttered. She knew the origin of this curse now.
Blackie had been following the whole exchange while lying stretched out next to them. After Kitty had lost interest in the gorwak’s tails, he curled up next to Blackie’s head. Their combined purring filled the air.
‘Right kid, tell me what this dripping nonsense is about us all being connected and me getting you to your burning employers? First of all, who in the burning seas are your employers? Second of all, as a direct dripping descendant of the Ichau-lineage, why do you even have burning employers?’
‘Eesjooh? I’m Smith, not… oh.’ Of course. If her parents had lied about everything else, then they would’ve lied about her family name as well. She squeezed the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes briefly. Idiot.
‘Ee-sj-oh. Ichau.’ Patat narrowed his eyes. ‘I believe you have your own grounding story to tell because none of this is making any burning sense to me.’
Nadec waved a hand toward him.
‘That can wait.’ She was getting really hungry now.
‘The only thing I need to get to my employers, is an invitation. Once I have that, I can skip us all there. Lucky for us, my invitation is right in front of me.’
Patat threw his hands up and let himself fall back in an elaborate arc. The gesture was dramatised more by a small hop backwards.
‘I don’t burning understand any of this.’
Nadec glanced at Blackie. Her head had perked up by Nadec’s last words.
‘I’m not too sure about how any of this works either, but I know how to make it work. And that’s all we need right now.’
‘Why don’t you just burning go to your family’s dripping castle, in Paralelo? Or does your skipping thing not grounding work like that? I’ve got to tell you, kid, this is the most confused I’ve dripping been in fifty years.’
‘You’ve been alone and away from everything for fifty years,’ Nadec said absently, ignoring her shock. Paralelo. Wyny’s kingdom. My family’s kingdom? The same kingdom? Did I almost have a small crush on my cousin or something? Gross! And then he went on to betray her.
‘Slap me.’ When Patat merely stared at her, she lifted an eyebrow.
‘I don’t like to repeat myself. You heard me. That’s always how they give me directions. Someone randomly slaps me and I somehow know where to direct my skipping. Yeah, It’s stupid, don’t give me that look. I didn’t invent it and it’s not like I always enjoy it. Do it.’
Nadec stood up. Without another word, Patat flew up to her level. He narrowed his eyes. She nodded. He shrugged.
He slapped her.
The slap was nothing like she’d ever been slapped before. It was firm, hard and with a perfect aim. His skin felt dry, in direct contrast to the slimey look. Her head was still turned to the side—some unwanted tears prickling—when she felt the slap take effect. Her damn idiotic gamble of a plan had worked!
She gestured for them all to get a hold on her, picking Kitty up to perch on her shoulders. Her grin was genuine and gleeful as she bent through her knees. She bounced them—open, close, open, close—crossing her arms at half their speed. Right before Nadec and her group disappeared, she thought she heard several voice shout.
‘Thank you for listening to Nadec, episode 24: stories and a slap
Narrated, adventured and lived through by myself, Nadec. Written in a better way than I can tell it, by Astrid Jef.
Don’t go just yet, we’ve got bloopers coming up. [music on background] Find us on Twitter @astridjef and @nadecandkitty.
If you like this show and would like to support it, a good way to do that is share it around to everyone you know. An even better way is to rate an review it on iTunes or whichever podcatcher you use. Don’t forget to follow and subscribe for free.