Storytime with Stidmama

Chapter Ninety Four

Sebastian's mouth dropped open in astonishment, and Pancho shook his head as if disbelieving.

"You're a man?" gasped Sebastian finally, "Like us?"

The Watcher shook his head and put the key in a pouch around his neck.

"Sadly, no -- not like you. My race is comparatively long-lived, and we have some abilities your people lack. And it has been our lot to take on some tasks that are not as pleasant as they might seem." He smiled reassuringly, "But for now, yes, I am enough like you that we can partake of some adventures together for a time."

He indicated the bundle sitting on the ground, "What have you in there, my friends?"

Pancho quickly untied the knot, and Sebastian pulled out the pouch of stones. The Watcher fingered them carefully, as if he were expecting them to grow legs and walk off. He picked out the gold-flecked one and held it in the light so that it sparkled and shone, then set it down and did the same with a rather dull-looking buff-colored rock. Finally, with a smile he picked out a green one with a blue vein running across one side.

"Do you know what these stones are," he asked, answering quickly for them, "I suppose not.

"Once every tenth year a great event happens in the waters around this island, and thousands of sea-dwelling creatures cast out their eggs in the hope that the elements will be kind to them. Some few creatures actually lay their eggs on the beaches, others' eggs drift in to shore after being dislodged from their nests on the bottom of the ocean.

"You have a nice assortment of eggs, here, Sebastian." He pointed at one in the pile, "That one is a large, ungainly sea-turtle that eats only small plants from rocks. And this one, " he indicated the green stone in his hand, "is from a strange creature indeed, with many arms and legs, that cannot survive in the air, but spends all its days wandering shipwrecks in search of quiet, dark places to hide."

"By far the most rare, however, is this lovely gold-speckled one. I have only seen one other, and that was a very long time ago."

Pancho coughed, and Sebastian's face turned a bit pale. He coughed and got the Watcher's attention, "Um, are any of these things seeds or baby animals?"

The Watcher looked at Sebastian carefully, weighing his answer against something he observed in the young men, "The ones you have here, no. There are others, which our friends will have collected already, which contain more wonderful things than I have described.


The word seemed to hold more depth of meaning than usual. And quickly, Sebastian explained the dream he'd had, which had compelled him to explore the beach. The Watcher listened quietly, his hand caressing the green egg, his eyes darting to Pancho's face occasionally for confirmation.

Finally, as if changing his mind about something, he picked out the blue egg with gold specks from the pile and put it in Sebastian's hand. The gold flecks seemed warmer than the background. And the egg seemed almost to hum....

Sebastian shook his head, shuddered violently, closed his eyes quickly, and slowly put the egg on the ground. He opened his eyes even slower, tears beginning to run down his cheeks.

"I thought it was only a dream!" he sobbed, and the Watcher gently cradled the small egg in his hands and hummed at it.

The egg vibrated, and Pancho put a hand on Sebastian's shoulder as it began to rock back and forth.

The Watcher kept holding it, and soon enough a small chip flaked off, then another, until the two halves began to separate. A small bit of orange could be seen, and gradually a tiny creature, the size of Sebastian's hand emerged. It was wet, but quickly dried in the warm sun, resting contentedly in the Watcher's hand.

As it dried, the fur turned fluffy and orange, and the bright blue eyes opened in the tiny creature's face. It turned its head and looked each of the three quizzically, then began to keen so loudly and at such a pitch that only the Watcher was able to remain calm.

The Creature that had brought them to the pool stooped down and gently lifted the baby, who immediately grabbed onto the long fur and pulled itself up onto the shoulders. Once safe, it stopped its noise and again gazed out at the world. It seemed to be sizing things up.

"I see you have discovered our secret!" laughed the creature, jovially, "not many of your kind have been on the island when the hatching was occuring."

Sebastian's mouth worked, and he lifted a trembling finger toward the baby, but no sound emerged.

The Watcher's mouth twitched in amusement, "Young Sebastian here was just telling me of the dream he had the night before the storm. I believe it is he we need to thank for your youngster's safe arrival."

"Yes," rumbled the creature, "And it is he who may shed light on a mystery."

As the watcher heard of Sebastian's disappearance, injury and finding, he frowned, then began to pace. No one was to have been on the island but the two young men. The storm had occured out of season and with sudden ferocity. More eggs had been collected by the creature and his kin the morning after the storm, but still fewer than had been expected.

The Watcher stopped pacing. He turned to the creature, "Friend, I believe we must be off sooner than I had planned. With your youngster hatched and these others soon, you will have plenty to do. We will set out immediately."

Bowing elegantly, the Watcher snagged a previously hidden rucksack from behind a bush and motioned to the young men, who sadly bade the creature farewell.

"No need for sorrow, friends, we will see you again soon enough!" boomed the creature, and the infant leaned forward eagerly and whistled three notes. G-E-B. Pancho whistled them back, and the infant nodded, satisfied.

The Watcher, Pancho and Sebastian strode off purposefully toward the opposite end of the island, stopping only briefly to secure the platforms and their contents as they passed through the forest. In this the Watcher proved as agile as either younger man, and worked even faster.

Soon, they were on the beach, small bundles of supplies and their few treasures at their feet. The Watcher pulled the key from the pouch, and inserted it into a crack in a large rock at the edge of the water where it came up deep at the edge of the island.

Silently, a door opened, revealing a small schooner, the right size for three men.

Quickly they cast off, and soon the island was behind them.