O.live (or A Song of Fear and Faith)

Urgency propelled each wing-stroke,

draining the little speck of white,

driving it out of sight,

in

and

out

of the thick, shifting fog.

The air was thick,

thick with the gargantuan amount of humidity.

It had rained for forty days and nights, after all.

The emboldened bird flew on, swimming in the humid atmosphere as much as it was flying: it heed not the countless floating corpses, the eerie quietness in the air, the death that had enveloped the entire world in a flash of fury. Wrath and judgment had no place in the simple cognition of such a gentle creature. If ignorance is bliss, the dove is pure joy.

Thoughts of rest and survival did not surface in its tiny brain until, well, until it became tired. The eventual exhaustion gave way, however, to sudden excitement when a shadow appeared in the distant expanse of gray. If the dove had eyebrows they would have been raised; if it had lips it would have sung. As things were, it flapped extra hard, at an inhuman speed (of course, it was not human by any standard), and before long the shadow had become a blob, and the blob soon revealed itself to be a tree.

A tree.

An olive tree.

A more blessed sight had never assailed the dove’s eyes, and at that moment in earth’s history, the world had never seen a happier little bird. The previous journey had not been wasted – there was hope! It quickly landed on the highest branch, reached for the nearest twig, and –

sssssssssssssssss!

The dove’s leg buckled under the intense pain, throwing it off the branch onto the ground. It immediately struggled to stand back up, for the water had not receded enough for it to breathe. Back arched, leg broken, wings flapping in a futile attempt to right itself, it had no idea what had happened. Then it saw the creature, and it learned the word Fear.

“Did the old man really say you must bring back a leaf or two?” The snake reared itself above the paralyzed bird, the rest of its 20 foot body submerged beneath the water, forming a tightening circle around its prey. Of course, it knew the stupid bird understood none of his speech…but it had been deprived of communication for far too long. The smell of fear, the sight of blood, it all brought back a carnal shiver of pleasure. “You know, you can always stay awhile. The world is nothing but water, humanity all but dead…what’s the rush?” Even as the last syllable left its lips, it rammed its head into the dove’s wings. The crack of splintering bone and a whimpered cry of pain was instantly swallowed by the empty world.

Then, a wave of heat washed over the dying dove and serpent, instantly evaporating the water around them. The snake’s eyes narrowed in pure hatred, “You again. Those humans, I may understand, but this insignificant, useless bird?!” Unwary of the impending danger, the dove turned its head as much as it could and saw…a burning olive tree. Flames were emanating from it, swirling in golden jets around every branch and twig, and yet it remained unharmed. Fire or no fire, snake or no snake, the dove’s little heart knew just one thing – it had to bring a twig back. And so it began to crawl, alternating between its beak and one unbroken wing and foot, exerting every last vestige of strength left in its body. The snake, incredulous at the sight before it, attempted to slither next to the bird; but the fire was hot, too hot to approach.

“Come back here you! Can’t you see the fire? Fire kills us! Come back and I’ll make sure you go home safe and sound!” All words that landed on deaf ears – the dove crawled on, oblivious to the scorching heat. Inch by agonizing inch, it reached the lowest twig. The moment it put the twig between its beak, something miraculous happened: strength, boundless vigor surged through its body. It flapped its wings and behold! it instantly soared up, up and away. Past the treetop, past the flames, past the clouds, and out of the disbelieving sight of the snake.

And as the old man drew the dove into his warm embrace, oblivious to its adventure, the bird learned yet another word – faith. Faith in itself, faith in humanity, and faith in the Fire that had saved its life.

 

© David Lui, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Lui and Shore of Sanity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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