Friday, July 20, 2012

Big Sky Country

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom ruled by a king with many wings.

You have traveled a great distance to be here. You have traveled across seas and mountains, through small villages and large cities.

And now you are in the country of big sky. You haven't seen anything like this before. The clouds a perfectly white, the breeze is soft and gentle, and the sky seems so large that it dwarfs anything you can think of. You always wondered why it was called Big Sky Country, for other countries have certainly had skies and big ones at that, but now you know: it's not that the sky seems big, it is big. You just never noticed it before, but here, you can see just how immense it is, how magnificent it is. It's almost overpowering.

Luckily, the people who live in Big Sky Country are friendly and hospitable and they share with you their meals and ale and stories of life. It sounds like perfection - there are no roofs here, so at night, they sleep under the darkening sky and can see the morning sun when they wake up.

You decide to stay for the night just to experience it. After all, it sounds wonderful.

They give you a room and tell you that you are free to stay however long you want...provided you work for their king. You agree that this is a fair trade, although you only want to stay the night right now.

And as you fall asleep under the starry sky, it seems like you can hear some of the others whispering, but you cannot make out what.

When you awake, the dawn is breaking and it is beautiful. You are glad you stayed the night, until someone enters your room and says, "It is time. The king is coming."

"So soon?" you ask. "Can we not break our fast first?"

"We will eat with them," the person says, eyeing you uneasily.


"Our king," they say. "If you wish, you can watch their approach. You can see them on the horizon."

You go outside to try and catch a glimpse, but at first see nothing. And then you notice that the sky is darkening somewhat. The sun is still rising, but a dark cloud appears to be catching up with it. "What is that?" you ask.

"That is our king," they say. "The Many-Winged King. They have come to fill the sky and fill our bodies."

"'Fill the sky'?" you say and, looking closer, you noticed that the cloud appears to be made of black feathers. "But those are birds. They can't possibly be so many to fill..." You stop and your eyes widen. The cloud grows and grows and soon overtakes the sun, so that it is night all over again.

You rush, trying to get away from this place, but the cloud is faster than you could ever be. The Many-Winged King is above you now, a dark thunderstorm of claws and feathers and sharp, wicked beaks. You can feel a hum above you and see the crackle of lightning and then the boom of thunder and you fall to your knees.

"We all work for them," the others say. "It is the price to pay for living in Big Sky Country. For the sky to be so big, we must let it be filled. We must let ourselves be filled by them."

The birds that make up the Many-Winged King start to break up and the inhabitants of Big Sky Country each open their mouths and let the birds fill them up.

You gaze in terror, but eventually they hold you down and lift your face upwards to face the storm of birds.

And before you become a simply nesting place, you can hear them say, "Open wide."

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