It may surprise you that I have a family, with my talent and all the fun that comes with that. The fear of losing someone in my family is constant. Safety precautions are established but don’t always work… you adapt.
We woke on the weekend for a scheduled field trip. I made breakfast, which wasn’t common. I dressed. Sherrie and I woke our twin daughters, both 9 years old. We had breakfast, not standard but this was a special day. I walked out the front door. I always stopped and stared at the desolate street we lived. It used to be traffic-laden, with neighbors in every house but since the Resurrection and following insurrection. The neighborhood was quiet. We had maybe four families on a mile-long street.
The population had begun to rebuild but it would be many years till it would return. This was our generation’s normal. Few amenities remained, local to us. Today was a rare field day for the family. The ability to get out from the normal and to visit a large farm. The farm supplied most of our food and there were sunflower fields in the summer.
I packed the truck. Weapons are stored in a large toolbox on the side of the truck bed. Camping gear is packed in a second, for emergencies. Tents, sleeping bags, and kindling for a fire. I always packed sheets of wood and other tools to use as protection.
After packing the truck, Sherrie and the two girls into the cab of the truck we headed out. A 30-mile drive took two hours. The roads, in poor shape, were a challenge but longer drives made this task harder. Add to that the dangers of a wild world filled with vampires and monsters. I was not the only Magician with no idea how to control his power. Once a creature appears, it is here, in this reality till death.
One group of creatures that have thrived is the Taurs. Groups of human/animal hybrids no longer maintained were in an unpredictable condition. Luckily, bandits took a holiday and they were not an issue.
The roads near the farm were cared for, bumpy but cleared of debris and fallen trees. On the left was a farm store. The right showed several acres of sunflowers. My daughter Candice noticed first and screamed.
“Candice!” My wife replied. “We don’t scream in the car.”
Candice blushed and apologized then began to cry.
“She’s crying,” I said.
“I know what a Candice cry is, Redd,” Sherrie snapped.
“Candice, you don’t have to cry every time I yell at you.”
This didn’t help and Candice teared up a second time. Followed by badgering from her sister Jodie to stop crying. This all wrapped up into a triad of trauma as I pulled into a dirt-covered parking area.
“Ok, girls,” I said bravely. “Can we reset? We have a beautiful field of sunflowers to explore.”
“Yea, until a monster shows up,” Jodie shot back.
“She has a point, Redd. It’s guaranteed something will show up.”
“Listen, I have been practicing emptying my mind but I won’t deny it’s really hard. Can we just try to be a normal family, with normal problems?” I said watching a horse-taur trot past the front of the car. Followed by a mare and children. I noticed, as I often do, something curious.
“Did you notice Taur don’t swing their arms like humans do when walking?” I said aloud.
“I just noticed,” I smiled and stepped out of the truck. I helped Candice from the backseat as Sherrie did the same for Jodie.
“The world is so different,” Sherrie said to me as we scanned the scene around us.
“So unpredictable,” I replied as I allowed a pair of satyrs to pass. “Humans don’t run the world anymore, that’s for sure.”
“Let’s go girls,” I said and marched toward the field of giant, round-faced, yellow flowers.
The girls ran ahead but not without a warning to stay in sight. Each girl was armed with a knife and as much skill as you can teach a 9-year-old. I was confident they could take care of themselves. I knew I couldn’t keep my magical summoning ability from appearing too long and I could only hope it wouldn’t be too awful.
I looked again at the Taurs, they were well-known provocateurs but with a family in tow, I hoped they would be preoccupied.
There was a berm built up prior to the field of flowers. I walked up and over. My wife was several steps in front of me when the first scream shot through the air, followed by a second then a third. I immediately drew my pistol as did my wife. We were on guard but I saw nothing. There was a pair of human girls with hands on their mouths fifty feet from my location. I raced over there only to be stopped by more screaming. This scream I knew and I didn’t think twice.
I ran through the field of sunflowers. Pushing past the large yellow disks. I stopped to see points.
I looked to see a human arm standing the same height as one of the sunflowers. At the top of the arm were a meaty palm and five meaty fingers. It stood, almost motionless, except for moving slightly in the wind.
Mid-arm length I noticed a crease and an elbow.
“Seriously,” Sherrie said, smiled, and chuckled slightly.
Another scream from within the field, was too far for me to see what was going on directly but I could tell the screamer was frightened.
“What does it do?” I asked my daughters.
“I don’t know,” came a reply from Jodie. “I think it waved at me.”
“Waved at you,” I asked. “ As in friendly wave?”
I waved. I noticed the hand, growing from the ground, waved back vigorously.
“My gawd, this is weird. Sorry girls,” I apologized but I barely had control myself.
“It’s kinda cute,” said Candice.
“A hand growing out of the ground is not cute,” I replied.
“What are we going to do with this,” Sherrie asked and I didn’t know what to say. The Zoo was designed for monsters not friendly hands growing in a sunflower field.
Jodie approached the creature with no fear and attempted to start a conversation with it. It didn’t feel dangerous but all my monsters were unpredictable so I stopped her.
The creature bent at the elbow and waited for a handshake. Jodie stepped forward and Sherrie was right there to stop her.
“That is not a good idea,” I warned, a step behind both of them.
Sherrie had positioned herself between Jodie and the creature.
I looked for Candice, found her, and told her to sit where she stood.
The creature, called the Hand-delion grabbed a hold of Sherrie’s coat and pulled. Sherrie fell backward and under the Hand-delion. I watched as the creature balled its hand into a fist.
I grabbed Jodie and threw her toward her sister. Hoping I didn’t hurt her. I took several long steps and grabbed the arm by the wrist. The creature had a lower center of gravity making it harder to stop it completely but I slowed it down. It was very strong but it was enough time for Sherrie to escape. The creature then swung in my direction throwing me backward. Barely missed me with its meaty fist. I kicked it. It opened the hand and shook. Then closed the fist again. It attempted to hit me but I dodged it.
I crawled backward and took a breath. I heard around me dozens of men, women, and Taurs battling the creatures. One thing is for sure our generation was not afraid to confront anything.
“How many are here?” I asked
“I don’t know,” Sherrie replied. “There are at least six groups, that I can see, but that doesn’t mean there are not more in places… this is a large field.”
“My powers have a range limit,” I added as a stood to join my family. “I am not sure what it is but it’s not as large as these fields.”
“Dad,” Jodie screamed. “There are more,” she added and pointed.
I looked to see a pair of sunflowers with large blue human eyes. They were staring at my family.”
“The girls, Redd,” Sherrie said.
“I understand, Sherrie, but listen are they safer with us or away from us?”
“They are not safe anywhere!”
“I know, I’m sorry… but these creatures don’t seem to have any power outside the ground they are planted in.”
“Not what others are seeing!” She snapped.
“I can’t stop that. I can only account for my —-“
The ground shook under my feet. Another arm erupted from the ground. I watched as the dirt under the sunflowers rose.
“Sherrie, things have changed! Get the girls out of here!”
I watched a form appear. I skipped over column-sized legs rising from the ground. The hand-delion transformed into a headless giant. The giant had the chest, torso, and legs of a human. Small arms, compared to its massive body, and two tall sunflower stalks for eyes.
It sat on the ground. The ground it just rose from. It stared at me as I stood looking at it. For a second, a glint of sorrow pierced my soul.
That sorrow multiplied. Something behind me caught its attention and it instantly stood up. Dirt and sunflower erupted and fell around me. Once I cleaned myself off I looked left of me to see a centaur standing over another giant. A large spear was in the creature’s chest.
I looked at the creature and saw the horror in his eyes. I saw another creature begin to rise and the centaur saw it too. I knew the four-legged warrior could knock out the next creature easily if it didn’t get up so I had to do something, or did I?
I wasn’t killing the creatures. It wasn’t my fault so could I park my guilt and watch it happen, right?
No, the No’doer had different plans. Sherrie appeared at my side for a moment then walked quickly to a position where the giant could see it. She jumped and screamed, though I doubt the creature could hear.
The centaur saw it and he froze for a moment. I watched as Sherrie successfully got the creature’s attention. She then began to form words with her hands. Words the creature seemed to respond to. An amazing gift to the whole situation and just the motivation I needed to stop the death of an intelligent being.
I ran behind my wife, in clear view of the first creature, and targeted the centaur. This huge, brutish creature grunted and pawed at the ground. Many had lost their ability to communicate with humans but they understood the language.
“You can’t kill that other giant,” I said.
The centaur pulled the spear from the chest of the dead giant. His human face displayed anger, which is understandable, and reluctance.
“They’re intelligent. Not monsters,” I pointed to my wife who was talking to the giant behind me with her hands. “She’s amazing right?”
The centaur grunted and growled but he didn’t attack the third giant. That giant sat up and looked to find his brothers.
My wife called and I turned. She stood in front of the standing giant, having a conversation. The creature, with its undersized arms, was a master signer. Its flower eyes focused on Sherrie.
The other giant was unsure of its next move. It sat searching the field. Outside the radius of the giants and me, a group of humans crept closer.
“Sherrie, we have to contain them. I’m calling the Zoo. How are we going to transport them?”
“The creature agrees to comply. Not happy that one of his brothers has been killed.”
“Tell him I’m sorry.”
Sherrie continued to speak to the creature. I returned my attention to the centaur family. I apologized. I explained my powers. This was a mistake. The centaur turned his rage on me.
He picked up the spear and stepped forward. His partner stepped up from behind. The smaller goal stayed a safe distance away.
The centaur growled. I had endangered his children, that was fair to be angry but murderous. That was not.
I tried to explain that my powers were not something I could control. I had little responsibility in endangering anyone but that was a half-truth. I knew somewhat and I knew I was responsible.
“Please, stop. You don’t want to do this,” I pleaded.
The centaur raised his spear to strike me down. A bullet sped past my ear and struck the horse-like chest of the male centaur. He collapsed. The mare snarled and stepped forward. I, the slowest hand in the sunflower field, began to pull my own gun when the giant stepped over me.
I think we have all experienced a dark cloud floating above us, this was similar except with dirt falling on your head and the earth moving under your feet.
The creature stepped into my field of fire, knelt, and began to treat the centaur for his bullet wound. I stood, shocked at the act of kindness. The mare hesitated and stepped back to allow the creature to help. The second giant approached and I noticed they communicated by touch. The second moved to the fallen giant and began to pray.
I called the Zoo and they sent some large transports but they were a couple of hours away. While we waited the landowner and I had a conversation. We talked about the possibility of starting a reservation for these creatures.
Several more creatures sat up from the ground and there were ten at the end of the day. I set up camp with the Zoo directors and we plotted out a plan. They are very fragile but gentle giants.
The male centaur survived. His partner was forever thankful. The family stuck around and our families became close. They ran the hand-delion reservation.