“’Tis our best hope of marshaling all forces of Man and Nature,”retorted the old woman, her lavender cape, the only warm color for miles, whipping about her bony shoulders in the dry wind. “Plus, the light is better. Image is everything—well, nearly everything–for this plan.”
“You’re remarkably hip for an old crone,” she remarked, “But if you don’t slow down, Hjordis may drop her young one right here on the path.”
She looked back at the wild-haired hulder pacing up the hill behind them. The creature breathed deeply and steadily, her rucksack perched squarely on her shoulders providing counter-balance to the distended belly that had dropped into birth-position just before first light that morning.
“Even better!” cackled the old woman. “What we need is hope—the more the merrier.”
“Hope indeed,” muttered Grace as she surveyed the landscape. Rocky and dry as far as the eye could see, not a blade of scrub, no animal life in form or sound.
Middle Earth was truly dying, its seas choked with plastics so wildly popular–and so carelessly discarded–during the last century. Once, rich farmland rolled gold and green to touch the far horizon, with more than enough for all, though not distributed as such.
In times past, water, the color of hope, had stretched as broad and wide as the skies, as night and day clasped warm reds and deep blues in a joyful and seemingly unending allemande. Water, towering in thundering masses, released ozone-scented sheets of cold, hard rain, always followed with the soft apology of single drops and fresh, clear air. It had been Nature’s reward for faith in the promise of an early bloom. Unlike conditions of the present day, which were gritty, gray, lacking color and contrast…and hope.
The world needed color and contrast.
Hjordis groaned and paused. “Not yet, Little One.” She pressed the flesh on either side of her hips, and shook her thick hair back from her face.
But soon. I will be coming soon.
“How fare thee, mother and wee one?”
“We’re fine, Old Mother, and pleased to see the top of this hill.”
“Grandmother Maeve, stop! We cannot risk the well-being of this child…”
Hjordis growled low in her her throat, “This child and I will see to ourselves, Grace. Your grandmother has important work to do. As do you.” Her tail snapped back and forth.
The top of the hill opened to barren plain that stretched miles to what was known to be a skyline recognized world-wide. The three travelers lowered their burdens, and crouched to unpack. Hjordis left the soft skins and salves needed for the birth, but pulled out her dagger and club in habit. She glared at the young woman who hurried over with the bag of water.
“Shut up Hjordis, and drink!’ she snapped. “You may be the warrior, but I’m still the midwife.”
I like her.
Hjoridis smiled grimly, and accepted the water, nodding her thanks. “You would,” she thought to the child in her belly. “And once you’re born, you can deal with her.”
Maeve stood at the top of the hill, arms raised into the steady wind. Her cauldron had been set behind her, surrounded by several small clay bottles in varied shapes. A faint smoke glimmered beneath and above as its contents heated, waiting for the final ingredient. “If believing makes it so, we will double our power. Did you bring it, Grace?”
Grace held up a small device and checked for a signal. “Charged and ready to go, Grandmother.”
It arrived by nighthawk, the final ingredient to heal the corruption that had worn Middle Earth near to extinction.
“We shall see anon.” Maeve gripped the tiny blue button, and turned.
“First drop of rain, seed in the shell,
Night incantations will do us quite well.
Magical potion, dream-seeming mad,
I swear by this long day, we shall be made glad.
Drop the blue button, in Cauldron’s bright spell,
Blood of the Medici, Machiavellian tell.
Goddess Compassion, hear this woman’s plea,
As we do pray it, so mote it be.”
The silent shock wave rolled over the plain and covered the skyline in a silvery shimmer of fresh rain neither seen nor felt since many a year. In its wake, the plain lit up with a carpet of Bluebells of Scotland that wrapped itself softly around the city’s edge. A soft wind carried the scent of wildflowers, the faint hum of bees, and the distant trill of pond life. The three women dropped to their knees, then reclined in the flowers.
“Quick! Take a picture of the three of us, and make sure to show the Bluebells spreading all the way to the city. Hjordis, make sure you show that belly…but maybe hide the tail. Seeing is believing, and that’s half of magic and faith! Now post it, Grace!” Maeve threw her head back and laughed. “This may be the Selfie that saves the world!”
Grace’s thumbs flew over the tiny keyboard: #wecandoit! #BluebellMiracles #bee_renewal #fertility #Envirochat.
She pressed OK. “Got it!”
Liz Husebye Hartmann
Len Maxwell’s Prompt: Using prose or poetry, write a short science fiction piece.