Night Owls

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

A family decides to adopt a young girl, and then move to a new home.


The inside of the house was dark, suffocating and foul-smelling. The majority of the members of the family had the habit of sleeping with their heads down, but uncle Geoffroy, who wasn’t a blood uncle but only by marriage, slept crouching against the wall. On seeing him asleep they all said that they didn’t understand why he chose to sleep thus, and that it looked incredibly uncomfortable.
The house smelt very bad, but this didn’t bother the inhabitants at all. They usually looked for a dwelling near a good source of food. When food got scarce that was the moment to move on.
During the winter the family stayed inside the house. If there was a warm day in the winter then it was possible to see one or two of the older ones hanging around the district. The neighbours felt a certain respect for them, and preferred not to be out when the family was. It was said that they had killed many, but others thought it was all an exaggeration.
The eldest was called Hoary, because of his age. His first wife had died some time ago, and he had taken for a second wife Damara, who was the smallest female that had ever been seen. They made a strange pair but they were happy, and Hoary was very lucky with the birth of a baby boy. He felt more than ever the head of the family and more masculine. He never stopped going out at twilight to look for food. Damara went out too, with the baby on her back.
There were five families altogether, plus uncle Geoffroy, sharing the same dwelling. It was a tribe. Uncle Geoffroy was the only who didn’t have a partner. Geoffroy’s wife Naterrer had been Hoary’s sister, but on one of her night excursions a bullet reached her and she and her daughter had died at once. Hoary knew that Geoffroy had nowhere to go, so he let him live with them. Anyway, Geoffroy was a good worker and never returned home empty-handed. At the same time it was not good that he be alone. Who would look after him in his old age? Every time Hoary started talking about this, Geoffroy closed his eyes to sleep or made the excuse that he was hungry and left the refuge.
One night, talking about Geoffroy’s lonely life, Hoary had said that they would have to find a female like him who slept against the wall. In Hoary’s opinion it wasn’t natural but that’s what it was.
Winter was closing in. The yellow leaves of autumn were now on the ground. The wind brought a message for every living thing, that winter is on the way, preparations must be made. All creatures made their living spaces for the cold days and stored all the most important food in order to avoid having to go out in rain or snow. There was much activity everywhere. In Hoary’s house the preparations were no less. The house still smelt bad, and at times arguments arose among the family members about where to store the food. Two of the females were pregnant and certainly didn’t want to go out. Damara and her baby, who was now old enough to go out independently of his mother, were kept busy with the house and other women’s things. Hoary and his children left the house every afternoon to look for food. It was now more difficult to find a good meal. Food became scarcer every day.
One day when the men of the house had gone out on a last effort to get a good bounty, Geoffroy stayed relaxed indoors, staring at the women from his place against the wall. Inside the house every thing was cosy and quiet. There was silence and everyone was sleeping. All of a sudden there was a sharp scream that broke the quiet. The other members had returned from their raids and had brought with them, apart from food, a female who was trembling with fear and making a terrible noise.
The females woke up on hearing the males return, and much was their surprise to see a small female among all the big males, and making a shrill noise. Hoary said that they had found her on their way back. Her family had died and she had nowhere to go and had been living as best she could. But with the coming of winter she was afraid. One of the women looked on the arrival of the young female with jealousy. It was a bad sign. A huge argument between males and females broke out. The pregnant ones were not keen on fighting, and went off to their respective places where they closed their eyes and tried to sleep.
The young female was now calming down and uninvolved with what was happening. Geoffroy hadn’t moved, but realised that something important had occurred. Opening his eyes he was able to see the little one, who at the same time saw him and went over to him. Geoffroy asked her what she was called, and she said her name was Zenker. When the new arrival saw him sleeping against the wall she squealed with pleasure. Geoffroy stared at her cautiously. According to her, she slept the same way as him. Geoffroy asked her who had told her about his habit. But no one had told Zenker anything about him. The two stared at each other.
Meanwhile the fight was in progress. Now instead of arguing about Zenker’s presence they were talking about other things. How many more times would they be able to go out foraging? Would there be enough food for the coldest months?
Damara tapped Hoary on an arm and he looked to where his wife was pointing with a long finger. There at the deepest point of the room, leaning together against the wall, were Geoffroy and Zenker. The others were quiet and observed the two together. Hoary stared at the women but they no longer were keen on arguing and were trying to get some sleep. Hoary was satisfied with Zenker’s arrival, there would no longer be a male without a partner.
Geoffroy opened an eye to observe Zenker. For the first time in a long time he had the urge to live and Zenker was not only available but willing too. We must talk about this tomorrow thought Geoffroy so that the baby be born in good weather. And so Geoffroy and Zenker spent their first night together, cuddled up in a corner protected from the cold of the night.
One morning when Hoary was on the point of going out, he saw that the surface of the small lake was covered in ice, he informed the rest that they had to stay indoors till the temperatures rose. He saw a new and happier Geoffroy who told him privately that he was going to be a father. Zenker had done Geoffroy a lot of good, she had made him smile again. But most important of all was that they both slept in the same way. Something unusual in one, but even more strange in two.
The community now consisted of twelve adults. The house was at times pretty unbearable with the smell of so many bodies. It was all shut up against the cold. What to do? It wasn’t so easy to find a new place to live and the present one had a lot of advantages. There was water, food, and other necessities without too much effort.
Geoffroy thought a lot about the changes that had been wrought by Zenker coming into his life. Where before his life had been nothing more than an empty shell split open by the death of his wife and daughter, there was now a new hope and a new desire to live. Before Zenker, Geoffroy was not at all interested in the house. With a new child on the way and a family to look after, Geoffroy wanted something better for his loved ones to live in. Till the spring, Geoffroy and Zenker had no choice but to stay where they were with the others.
During the coldest months the inhabitants hardly went out at all. They spent most of the time heads down sleeping.
Inside the house peace and quiet reined, in a nauseating atmosphere of bodily stench and lack of hygiene. They were used to this and took no notice of the repugnant side of life in a community.
When it wasn’t too cold, Hoary and the others with Geoffroy now included, went out foraging for food to take home to the women and children, who didn’t dare leave the house, it being more comfortable inside in the warm. These outings were not frequent but they broke the monotony of the long winter.
A feeling of cold woke Geoffroy up, and he wondered what it could be. It was the end of winter, normal life would begin again soon. Geoffroy stretched his body and felt something in his face. He touched his nose – water! Water that was coming from the ceiling. There was a continuous dripping. The rain had penetrated through the roof to the inside of the house. Given Zenker’s condition, Geoffroy didn’t want to alarm her too much. He softly touched her shoulder and whispered in her ear. Zenker took a while to wake up after such a long time of inactivity. Geoffroy pointed to the ceiling, so she looked up to see what was of interest.
Hoary had woken up too, and little by little the other tenants. They decided not to look for a new home until the weather improved. Meanwhile they moved to the parts furthest away from the drips.
Some days had passed since Geoffroy had discovered the drips. It was no longer raining and everyone was outside looking at the state of the roof. Over the years a huge hole had been made. That day they decided that they would have to move to a new home as soon as possible. Geoffroy didn’t feel any obligation to live with the rest, although living in a group meant it was more economical and the work was shared. A bigger house would be the best answer to the problem.
Zenker was about to give birth when Hoary and Geoffroy found the ideal spot. They had almost given up the search when they found an abandoned house, and most important of all was that it was near a lake and there was no scarcity of food.
Some time had to pass before the move of the large family. The old homestead had served them well for many years and nostalgia was felt on having to leave it. Zenker with her baby son, Pipi, accompanied by Geoffroy, were the first to leave. Zenker was keen to see the new home after so many wet days and was afraid for her baby’s health.
Proudly, Hoary and Geoffroy showed the new home to their wives. It was an abandoned manor house in excellent condition and, besides, they didn’t have to worry about being thrown out. No one had been in that area for a very long time. So they were all calm and comfortable. There was nothing to worry about.
Nobody else lived near the house in the woods, and soon the new tenants took over the house without any witnesses; just a few rabbits, birds, and a tramp who usually passed by on his way from one village to another.

Submitted: April 15, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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Very cool(: I liked it!

Sun, April 15th, 2012 7:25pm

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