Rebecca Fyfe’s tale is very short in comparison to the others in the collection, but it packs an awful lot of story into its brief span of pages. Also, the protagonist is a mutant. Finally, someone wrote a mutant main character (and this one can fly) who isn’t an experiment!
The squirrel leapt from the tree and swooped down to land softly by my feet, folding its bat-like wings against its side. My gran had once given me a book about animals that showed a picture of a flying squirrel. Those squirrels from before the Blast didn’t have wings like this one and they didn’t actually fly; they just sort of glided on flaps of skin that stretched between their forelegs and hind quarters. The Blast had changed a lot of things. I’d never seen a squirrel without proper wings that allowed them to fly, to take off from the ground and soar through the air as easily as any bird.
I wish I had that kind of freedom. My wings were more like the ones those former squirrels had possessed. It meant I could only fly if I took off from somewhere high enough and if I could catch the air currents long enough to get some real lift. Of course, it also made it easier to hide my mutation and blend in when I came across others.
I’m struck by how many of the stories have young people who were raised by a grandparent or similar. I wonder what it is that makes that setup such a feature of our post-apocalyptic thinking. It’s a fairly commonplace situation here in China, actually. Maybe that makes China a post-apocalyptic society.
Here’s a weird thing. This story has the characters from Michael Wombat’s “Sand” meeting our mutated protagonist, but I can’t figure out which of the stories came first. That is, I don’t know if Wombat wrote “Sand” and Rebecca Fyfe included his characters, or if Rebecca wrote this story first, and Wombat wrote a prequel story. This is a good thing, as it means the integration between stories is solid.
If you haven’t read the book, it is available at Lulu.com in paperback and e-book formats. It is also available at Barnes and Noble as paperback and for the Nook, and at Amazon (paperback) and Amazon (kindle). All proceeds go to Water is Life, so you should buy it. Also, it is a very good book so you should buy it. Have you bought it yet?