Rise of Glie Chapter 45
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 44: Potatoes and Chickens
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 45: You'll Get Used to It
The chickens are all gathered up in a big, semi-quiet tortue next to the western end of the North Wing of Old Home. They seem quite happy to be in Glie, and don't mind the occassional disappearances from their flock.
Fushoku, at the end of his long day, wrings his hands and sits down on the bench beside Taka, who's nearby, watching raptly as the chickens pick at the straw he laid at their feet a few minutes before.
"Sukoi!" Fushoku barely says through his deep breath, "I wonder who's next?"
"I'm glad they like you," Fushoku smiles.
Taka looks up at him. The boy is physically twelve or so, and seems very bewildered.
"You'll-" Fushoku begins, catching his breath, wondering what's really on his mind. He's literally twelve years old, now in his early twenties in physical terms. "...get used to it," he finally finishes.
"Get used to what?" Taka gasps.
"The sorts of responsibilities that seem to come to haibane these days," Fushoku says softly.
"How the hell do you know?" he sobs, "I didn't draw these birds ... didn't see them in my dreams. I don't know anything about them, but they follow me everywhere. It's so weird, they wait so patiently when I'm inside. How many more?" he desperately cries, "How am I supposed to handle this?"
"You're doing a great job, and so is Kiniiri," Fushoku answers, "He's tag-teaming for you, you know. You feed, he cleans, and he's telling everyone how to look after them. Stanley figures that the farmers will probably look after a few dozen each, eventually."
"How do you know what it's like?" Taka whispers, "The future of Glie is in my hands, and I don't like it one bit."
Fushoku smiles, "Between flocks, you'll have to stop by Wire Factory." He seems to notice the wrapped cloth in his hands for the first time, "Oh, I guess I did bring this for a reason."
"What does the Factory have to do with anything?" Taka grunts.
"Everything," Fushoku says calmly, "This is for you by the way," handing him the cloth.
"What is it?" Taka says after he unwraps it, a scary looking lump of metal with burn marks and three wires sticking out at odd angles.
"I made it when I was your age," Fushoku says, "I had no idea Glie's future was riding on it. Wire Factory now makes twenty myriad* of those a day. They're a lot smaller of course, but they're basically the same idea."
"Doesn't look like a computer chip," he scoffs.
"A computer chip has a couple hundred of those on it," Fushoku explains, "You do of course know that is what we sell the Toga to bring in almost everything this city needs to survive."
"But you're used to it," Taka says.
"I wasn't when I made that," he whispers, "that's how I know how you feel."
Taka looks at him curiously.
With a warm and gentle grip on the boy's far shoulder, Fushoku whispers, "You'll get used to it. Either that, or struggle with the guilt of having let Glie down in such a big way. Your choice."
"Will the humans look after the ones who aren't good for eating?" Taka asks.
"I-" Fushoku pauses, "er, see your point. But why else would the Saviour bring them here for, their own sakes as well as ours. Let's take the hawk and falcon. What do they do? How do they live?"
"They eat mice and other little critters, almost like flying cats," he smiles.
"The farmers are always complaining that we don't have enough of those around," Fushoku says.
"The shrikes'll be really neat," he giggles, "They're so small that they can't kill a mouse with their claws or beaks so they find some spot to strangle or stab them. Their wings are strong enough that they can fly with their own weight." He holds up Fushoku's angry looking gift and says, "They'd love it."
"It sounds like most of the birds you see in your dreams can look after themselves," Fushoku looks over at the chickens, "Also, these chickens are the most well behaved chickens I've ever seen. The ones we already had in Glie are always arguing and very hard to catch. If they get away, they're nearly impossible to find." He waves towards them, several perk up to see if anything left his hand, "These ones don't even need a coop."
He sees a large one shove a smaller one aside from a bunch of straw. For a moment, it looks like typical chicken "pecking order" behaviour. As the big rooster shoving her aside does so, he pushes a blob of straw out of the main pile the flock is crowded around, then returns to the pile. The little hen starts eating the straw he shoved out, and other chickens join her. It seems they were just spreading the straw so that all of them could eat at once.
Fushoku stares in disbelief as the small hen, guards her tiny sheaf of straw, obviously far too much for her to eat alone in one day. The others walk away from her, around to the far side of the bunch the rooster had shoved out of the big pile with her, leaving her to her feast. "Chickens who know how to share?" he gasps.
"That one doesn't," Taka points, "it's the smallest, and doesn't want to give up its little pile, even though it's way too big for it." He squints, "It wasn't there yesterday. There's more grey in its feathers than all the rest, and its tail is too small, even for a hen. Where did it come from?"
"That ... must be one of ours," Fushoku says softly, "One of Jose's perhaps. He tries his best to manage the few that survived the disaster thirty-five years ago. There were so few that he had to breed close relatives. It is not good, since there is strength in the diversity of one's family: human, animal, or plant. It has taken its toll, and none are ever as strong and tasty as the ones from this bunch yesterday."
"Disaster?" Taka asks.
"They don't like to talk about it, but it was some sort of battle from what I hear," Fushoku says, "It's best to pretend I never said such a thing. They want so badly to forget all about it."
"It is not a good thing to forget one's history," Taka sobs, "I feel like when I came here, I traded my memories for these useless wings, and it was a lousy deal. But he keeps thanking me for it. I know I did it to look after these birds, but I can't remember why."
"You must have cared about them in your past life," Fushoku offers, "Birds I mean. Maybe you were a ... what was that word Shoukai-?"
"Ornithologist," Taka says, then shrugs. Apparently he doesn't know what it means.
"There she is!" Kiniiri cheers from behind and off to the left. Jose, who was with him, starts chasing after his little hen, the only chicken in the flock who's scared of him. He soon finds himself surrounded by the friendlier birds, who calmly part as he walks around in the area, unable to approach his own, nor move very fast in any direction without injuring the newcomers.
"This was the bird sanctuary before," the middle-aged man pauses with a bit of nostalgia, "Can you fellas tell? What was his name? Bird!"
"I've found some documents that refer to a <<Haibane Tori>>," Fushoku explains to Taka quietly, "Probably like you, looking after birds before the disaster."
"Come here, you silly goose!" he calls after his little grey hen.
Kiniiri laughs from the edge of the flock.
Fushoku already knew it was Jose's habit to call his livestock "silly geese" whenever they misbehaved, whether they were birds or not.
Taka rises from the bench, walks towards Jose, and then crouches, holding out his hands in welcome. Jose only turns from his predicament, surrounded by friendly chickens, and scared of stomping on them as he pursues his own, when Taka goes, "Psst."
Almost instantly, all of the chickens except for Jose's hen perk up and rush over to Taka, as though they hung on his every word.
Finally, Jose, full of concern for his little bird, catches her and is stunned to find her well fed and uninjured. He turns to Taka and gasps, "Whatever they are, they're not chickens!"
"Thanks for looking after her," Jose nods gracefully, "Do I owe you anything?"
Taka shakes his head.
"He got his for free," Fushoku giggles from the bench.
Jose then turns to his uncomprehending little hen and frets, "Don't run off like that, Lucy. It's hard to make noodles without you."
Taka picks up one of the big roosters, maybe the same one who shoved her earlier, stands, and holds it out for Jose to receive.
"For me?" Jose asks.
"Oh, thank you!" Jose says, carefully cradling the rooster in his other arm, "He's the biggest chicken I've ever seen this close!" He turns to his little hen and says, "Lucy, I hope you don't wind up binding with this fella." *
Taka sits back down on the bench beside Fushoku, who, after Jose has left with his prize pair and the flock returns to its meager straw feast, asks, "You were looking for that one specifically?" Fushoku had observed how he selected exactly that rooster to give to Jose, out of all the roosters that had surrounded him.
Taka blushes, "They were um ... mating earlier."
[* A myriad is ten thousand, a word from Middle English hundreds of years ago and still used by Tynndale for his famous translation of the Bible for King James. (i.e.: "two myriads of myriads" for two hundred million in Revelation 9:16.) Its equivalent in Japanese is much more widely used today, as I see it even in airport phrase books. * "Binding" - Jose refers to egg binding, when a hen produces too large an egg, it can wind up getting stuck in her oviduct when she tries to lay it. It is actually every bit as serious as its human equivalent, the ectopic pregnancy.]
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 46: Flight of Sadness