The Last Flight of the Mothran (Part 2)

The next morning, Andoval was up bright and early and ready to work. The beast keeper let him into the enclosure and shut it tight.

“You are back,” Ipus said, descending from the fungal stalks he’d been perched in.

“Yes, my assignment will keep me here for several days at the least, though I don’t know what else I can possibly write about. All you Mothran do is sleep, eat and sleep some more,” Andoval said.

“The more you watch, the more you’ll see,” Ipus said.

“What do you mean?” asked Andoval.

“If you are good at what you do, you will understand,” said Ipus.

Andoval scoffed. The nerve of the little thing. He was a Chief Documenter of the Court. A position he’d earned over years of toil and hardship. Of course, he’d only recently inherited the position because the last Chief Documenter, of whom he’d been a pupil, had passed away. But Andoval had kept the position because of merit and hard work. Then again, no one else in Natural Affairs was necessarily jumping at the chance to become a Chief Documenter. All this time Andoval had thought to consider himself lucky as he happened to love his position, but the implications of no one else wanting his position did bother him. Was something that was unwanted still important?

The second day crawled by slowly. The Mothran were the most sedentary creatures he’d ever seen. Perhaps, he reasoned, it was a consequence of living in this environment and not their natural habitat. No predators, no migration, no movement at all, what use did they have to be active? According to the records, the youngest Mothran in the enclosure were the third generation to be kept at the Royal Menagerie. No living Mothran had ever known life outside of the sanctuary.

Andoval sought out Ipus. He wasn’t hard to find. He was flittering about a budding stalk, trying to see it from all angles. When Andoval approached, Ipus floated to him.

“Ipus, I have a question for you,” said Andoval. Ipus waited. “Um, yes. I was wondering where the oldest Mothran are in here.”

“They sleep now. Why?” asked Ipus.

“I was curious about some things. I wish to know what Mothran know about the outside world. Life before the sanctuary.”

“You can ask me. I know many things,” said Ipus.

“You do?” asked Andoval.

“Yes,” said Ipus.

“And how do you know?”

“I remember.”

“You what? But you are so young! How could you remember?” asked Andoval.

“From the stories,” Ipus replied. Andoval’s expression changed. He straightened his fancy wig and polished his Medallion of Chiefery, very unamused.

“You misled me. I thought you meant you had actual memories of life before,” said Andoval.

“Stories are memories,” said Ipus.

“In a metaphorical sense,” said Andoval. Ipus shook his head.

“You have experienced the same. You remember what has been told to you. Even if you were never there yourself to remember it. I’m sure you have stories that you cherish. They are real in your mind and if you remember them, they are memories,” said Ipus.

“It is not the same. I speak of direct experience,” said Andoval.

“No experience is direct,” said Ipus.

“Now you are speaking nonsense,” said Andoval.

“I’m sorry if the answer to your question displeased you,” said Ipus.

“So what do you know of the world outside? What stories do they tell you?” asked Andoval.

“So much,” said Ipus.

“Feel free to tell me.”

“I do not know if you have enough time. The full extent of Mothran culture takes many lifetimes to tell,” said Ipus.

“Culture? I think you are confusing words again,” said Andoval. Ipus tilted his head, confused. “Mothran don’t have culture, little one. You run around naked and eat and sleep and play all day without a care in the world. You’re savages, all of you.”

“We have stories and traditions and rituals. Is that not culture?” asked Ipus.

“Not any more than bedtime stories are. You are but one family. True culture comes from civilization. Civilization comes from conquering the natural order,” said Andoval.

“I see. Well, we Mothran have not-culture then. Not-culture that spans the length and breadth of our kind,” said Ipus.

“And how much would that be?” Andoval asked.

“A better question is how long, and there is no amount of time that can measure the Mothran path,” said Ipus.

“I’m sure there is. Perhaps Mothran don’t have numbers big enough to describe it,” said Andoval.

“We have numbers that brush up against the infinite,” said Ipus, the facets of his eyes twinkling like that of someone who knew a great secret.

“More nonsense. Is this a game you’re playing, young one?” asked Andoval.

“This is fun, but it is not a game. I think you are interesting.”

“Why is that?”

“Coming here, among us. Talking and listening. Watching. Humans are curious creatures in many senses of the word,” said Ipus.

“Now it seems you are mocking me. If there is nothing else, I will take my leave,” said Andoval.

“I thought you wanted to hear our stories,” said Ipus.

“I am beginning to doubt that you have any,” said Andoval.

“But I do. Come, sit, listen,” said Ipus.

One response to “The Last Flight of the Mothran (Part 2)”

  1. I like this little Ipus guy. He speaks like a wise old man and is actually a wise old man but with a childlike desire to learn intact. Unlike Andoval, who seems the snobby royal scholar type for now. This is an interesting studier-studee dynamic you’re building here, keep going!

    Liked by 1 person

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