The Curator
rating: +14+x

I awoke from my drifting today to the sound of a mother Cromwell singing to her chicks. A delightful little melody did she sing, and from it the young ones knew her to be a place of warmth, and food, and family. They would remember this song, and sing it to their own offspring when they were hungry, or cold, or felt alone in the new, scary world. I was instantly enraptured by this music which I had not noticed before. I mused to myself, I must learn this song of the Cromwells, so that it may be known for its meaning and because I enjoy it so.

After a small while just listening, I tried to imitate the birdsong back at them, causing rather a stir in the nest. The little ones abandoned their playing to try and look over at me, at which point the mother pushed them all back down with her wing and hopped in front of them. She observed me for a moment, her head cocked to one side as she tried to figure out if I was a danger to her young. The large glowing eye on her breast seemed to stare into my soul, as if my past and future intentions were to be present before it. Thinking upon it, they very well might be.

After a moment, it seemed she decided I was of no danger, and relaxed her hold on the chicks. She made a little hop to straighten herself before me, and ruffled her neck feathers in a manner similar to a humanoid shaking their head at me. Then, right to me, she trilled her little song again. It was as if she were correcting me on my technique! I tried again, doing a little better at catching the fast changes of pitch.

The mother Cromwell once again ruffled her feathers, this time more of a shrugging, dismissive motion.

Good enough for now

I smiled at her as she went back to keeping her younglings inside the nest. It wasn’t yet time for them to fly on their own, but oh how badly they wanted to. The outside world had so much to see, so many things to explore. Time enough for that later, little friend, I thought to myself.

Ah, blast! In thinking of time, it occurred to me that I was already late for my weekly catch-up with Theta, who had for some reason recently become obsessed with chatting over coffee. With the song of the mother Cromwell at my back, and whistling it forward for myself, I hurried on.

I was brought out of stasis by the sounds of two unknown Wanderers passing by. I had been at rest in a small reading room, and from outside the closed door there came the sound of two sets of feet, each on their own path. They were heading in opposite directions, and continued away on their own journeys after they briefly crossed just outside my current place of rest.

In this chance meeting of three, I found a certain beauty. I, the observer, had not glimpsed the faces of those to whom I listened, and neither had they glimpsed me. Betwixt the two there would similarly be no recognition, as I’m sure they each had their noses buried in books. Most true patrons of the library (myself often included) take only enough notice of passers-by to avoid running headlong into them, finding the literature itself to be of far more importance.

What I heard in the moment was the rhythmic interaction of each Wanderer’s distinct walking gait. It is in this realm of thought that my colleagues often ridicule me, saying that not everything must be music and similar sentiments. But I argue that the value I found in that moment made the moment music, even if only to me. The polyrhythm formed by the footsteps was not one easily expressed in simple mathematical ratios and yet…

Some individuals hold definitions of “music” which mandate that it be a meme which is shared and repeated amongst people, and for them I suppose I just made it official. Satisfied with my work for the day, I tuned back out of the world.

I was making my way down to the Babalean Catacombs when I came upon a most wonderful performance. It seems a careless human had fallen prey to a Shelf Mimic, and was now being consumed bodily by it. I had never seen such a creature before, having heard only rumors of rumors of it. But here was my proof, and it and the human were engaged in a most pure duet of predation.

The Mimic would roar, and the human (who had allowed their hand to become stuck when reaching for a tome) would cry out with renewed fear in response, trying desperately to fight the pseudopods pulling them forward and avoid the snapping, grinding maw that had opened up directly before them.

The human turned to look around them, presumably for any sign of help or relief, and locked eyes with me. They did a fantastic job conveying, through just their expression, the pure terror felt by any individual tasked with playing that part in this piece. Their mouth opened, and perhaps they would have called out for help had one of the Mimic’s amorphous limbs not struck them in the face, demanding their full attention once again.

First a foot, then a leg, were gone, as the tiring human let their limbs within reach of those dripping teeth. Each time, the creature would let out a triumphant growl-chomp, and the exclamations of the human gradually turned from screams of hopeful fear to choked out sobs of defeated misery. At long last the Mimic was able to attack the human’s main torso, and all resistance halted, the difference accentuated by a renewed shower of blood.

The Mimic finished their meal in relative silence and shuffled away to become a part of the library wall, presumably to move stealthily to another location. Only a large, quickly fading pool of blood on the floor remained as evidence of the interaction. A quiet and pensive end to a masterfully energetic and dynamic performance.

I had by this time forgotten where I was meant to be going, and so simply moved on.

Curator

Artwork by UncertaintyCrossing

this was bookmarked for me when I entered

Wall: 2

Shelf: 5

Volume: 10

Page: 319

So be it

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