F The Swan

Editor’s Foreword

Some interesting swan facts... A male swan is called a “cob” while a female swan is called a “pen.” The northern constellation of Cygnus (Latin for “swan”) has the shape of a swan. In Greek mythology, the amorous Zeus disguised himself as a swan to seduce the Spartan queen Leda, who subsequently gave birth to Pollux and Helen of Troy.

Darkness shrouded the picturesque world of Elthoran with the dim hues of the false dawn barely cresting the horizon. Dropping from the sky, a blazing inferno of metallic debris, the space craft crashed into its final resting place in a ravine in the center of a fertile mountain range.

Trees burned, crackling as the melting metal first dried the once moist branches, then ignited them in a fury of flame. Below, a flock of ducklings, herded by both mother and father, fled from the building smoke and fire.

One duckling, rather small in comparison to the others, did not boast the bright colors of green and gold, nor flecks of red, that her sisters and brothers did. Instead, her downy feathers remained dull, earthy tones of brown, gray and black that let her blend in with her surroundings. Occasionally, some flickers of the normal tones would accent her feathers, but not often.

Perhaps due to her coloring, or the fear of all of the forest animals, the little duckling was left behind to face the flames alone. She walked, flapping her baby wings as if to gain to the skies to flee. The heat, growing incessantly, drowned out her duckling sob-like quacks.

As suddenly as the bright orb of death and doom fell upon her, the skies opened and rain poured down to soak her feathers and drowned the flicking flames that devoured the nest she was raised in.

With the immediate danger gone, the uncertain duckling felt keen curiosity for the first time. Never having strayed from the safety of the nest before, she wanted to see more, and experience these new sensations to their fullest degree. While her siblings never liked her–who would like the ugly duckling after all?–she did want a little something more with her life.

Curiosity won over caution, and she waddled to the ruins of the tree and nest. Something large, metallic and looming, rested among the remains while a few errant straws clung to the exterior, half charred and smoldering.

The scents assaulted her, so alien than everything she knew. The gray matter, dark and snake-like, drifted through the air, not at all like snakes should, to drift through the clouds.

The sun rose, and the duckling quacked happily. The sun meant warmth and food, and the odd love of her parents tending to her despite the odd and weary chirps they gave when they mourned her coloration.

Much braver now, thanks to the power of that ever-giving sun, the duckling approached the wreckage. The heat and flames, vanquished by that beautiful and mystical sun, only remained in the odd scars of black that coated the trees.

With a resonating creak, the trees opened, spilling forth mesmerizing blue lights.

The duckling squawked in terror, scrambling back from the alien glow.

Fear not, little duckling. I will not harm you. Sounds, odd sounds not of the forest, spilled from the living tree. Clicks, whistles and purrs converged, shifting to the quacks, chirps and hissings that she knew as words.

Hissing and clicking her beak, the little duckling cried out for her mother and father, hoping for their guidance.

From the craft came a creature of surpassing beauty. Stunned, the little ugly duckling froze, beady eyes staring in awe. Feathers, glorious feathers that radiated the majesty of the morning sun, glistened with a light of their own. Flame, bright and deadly, danced over each shaft, caressing the creature. Eyes of sparkling blue watched, an entire world of peace and kindness reflecting in them.

Webbed feet, much like her own, padded down through the opening in the living tree. Long tail feathers rustled as the bird creature approached.

The little duckling, seeing the creature as a pure and perfect goddess, trilled and whistled for forgiveness for being the wrong color.

Laughter, a trilling orchestra of sound, washed over the little duckling. Strange limbs, attached beneath the wings of the creature, reached down for her.

The little duckling whistled, trembling with fear. The touch was a caress, a gentle stroking that smoothed her feathers and eased her anxieties. The creature lifted her up, cradling her small body in the cupping ends of those strange limbs. Sweet breath, from the short beak of the creature, washed over her.

The little duckling paused, startled at the sensation of someone, something, truly wanted her. She squabbled a cooing song of appreciation, not knowing how to express her feelings adequately.

Such a lovely little creature, so alone and in the dark for so long. I see your troubled thoughts, I feel your pains. Fear not, hurt not. Where those who birthed you would abandon you, I will lift you up and let you fly.

The little duckling, so very ugly compared to the radiant beauty that held her, whistled softly with the pain of falling short once again.

That laughter, sweet and delicate, never malicious and forever joyous, distracted the little duckling, lifting her hopes and protecting her from the darkness that clouded over existence.

Look, little one. See the dawn? See the bright sun of your world? There is more out there, more than simple existence and trailing behind a mother duck, one day hoping to fly. See this ship? Broken now, but soon to fly again. But you, you will never need false wings to fly, no. While I can not give this to myself, I can give it to you. Such a brave little bird, you deserve to see all that can be seen.

It began slowly. Change always did, the little duckling knew. So when her feathers began to grow, writhing with a life of their own, she barely noticed it, for she looked entranced into the eyes of the strange bird.

The creature knelt, placing her delicately on the ground. Now, the duckling noticed the changes, felt her feathers expand, while her skin writhed and stretched. Her beak, nares flaring with pain, grew, thinning and lengthening.

Squawking and trilling fearfully, the little duckling waddled around, uncertain of where to run.

Wings surrounded her, comforting and holding her, while her neck lengthened, spine a twisting length of agony. Finally, the pain ceased, leaving the little duckling weak and trembling.

And now, my daughter of spirit, you will no longer remain a little duckling that others will turn from and chortle at. Now, you have the wings to fly with, and the beauty to draw all eyes to you. Look! Gracefully, the creature turned her head away from its breast, directing her gaze to a shimmering disc of radiance.

In it, the little duckling saw the great bird, with every ounce of its glowing feathers and elegance. But cradled in its massive wings was a creature of equal beauty, decorated in a shifting pattern of rainbow colors and shades. A long neck, proudly arched, sported a glowing golden beak. Her eyes, the same luminescent blue, twinkled.

Alarmed, the duckling flapped her wings, and saw the rainbow bird of beauty mimic the motion.

One final time, the breathless, endless laughter of the sparkling creature that held her rang out.

Now, you are a Swan. Come, fly with me.

And thus, the Swan took flight, leaving behind the troubles and toils of the world, for the ethereal, endless joy of flight.

 

About the Author

Rebecca Blain is a Sci Fi and Fantasy writer who enjoys reading almost as much as she enjoys writing. She is currently living in Quebec with her husband and numerous pet fish.

 

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