The situation looked grim. Toxic stellar gases released by the moth saliva surged and smashed Maurice against the rocky outcrop. The oxygen-starved and the muddle-headed teenager pushed towards the edge and tripped, luckily. Another step and she would have plummeted to her death off the new edge of the known world, what was left of it. Giving up crossed Maurice’s mind but then she thought, if she was alive, maybe, so was her mum. She hauled herself out of the crushing tide of gas and plasma that would certainly dissolve her, body and soul.
Rolling mists slithered, like liquid mercury, down the mountainside, pressing into the spaces between every particle of matter that was leaf or rock, flesh or bone, steel and rubber … until … Pop! The energy bubbled to the surface and burst, like crushing air out of bubblewrap. The popping noise of the plasma was deafening, all that energy splitting molecules into atoms and atoms into particles. Maurice turned and looked East, to the coast. The blue stretched to infinity, a yawning oblivion of planetary soup… ☞ you are no longer here … ◑｡
Tendrils of grey dust curl through her blue world. Like a sparkler, the grey ignites and unzips a doorway between the Unknown and the Known…
“Hop, and a skip, a snow beast creeps, bop and a nod, a sharp- toothed marsupial trods, singing and swaying, hand in hand, hopping and bopping, ain’t it just grand!”
“In they prance, a tribe of unknowns, the snow leopards, the quolls, the tigers, the great apes, the polar bear, dolphins, otters and lizards. Well, that’s extinction for you. They have to go somewhere. This is my tribe. The lost tribe. She is now one of us. We sing, hop, prance and squat. Love drama, don’t you?
A nervous giggle catches in her throat as fierce faces surround her. We were the last of our kind: the spotted quoll, the Tasmanian Tiger, the Sumatran Tiger, the Snow Leopard, Swift Parrot, the polar bear and … Luck is with us, rescues us, keeps us.
The chorus lowers its voice in a spellbinding, multi-species chant raising a warm breeze that sweeps up the skinny girl into the air above them and deposits her on a fluffy bed of pink cloud inside a clear bubble and tucks her in. The bubble floats away. Maurice struggles to memorise the details of each face: sharp teeth, pink nose, fur, claws… She recognises them from the museum.
I wave the beastarium back through the curtains of sparkling space bubbles and close the door of the unknown … home again, but for how long?