Issue 8, January 2011
Listen to Robert Eccles read this story
One Day in the Caucasus Mountains
By Elizabeth Creith
The stranger trudged up through the snow, puffing fog like a cold-drake, pulling a small sledge. I sat up, my chains rattling and sliding against the granite, links clanking. He stopped short at the sound and looked up. The top of his head might have reached my hip, if I had been free to stand. He was one of the small ones, the ones I'd stolen for.
It seemed an odd sort of greeting. His clothes were strange, too, trousers like the Scythian barbarians, but made of some shinier cloth, and joined to his tunic. I thought at first that the eagle had taken his eyes, left him only empty holes, but he pulled at his face and two circles of dark came away. His eyes were green. I hadn't seen green in so long, nothing but rock and snow and blood and feathers.
“Holy shit,” I said in return, nodding to him.
“Uh, yeah. Wow. I made it.” He looked around him. “These mountains — you know how long I've been looking for you? I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever – and you're really here.” He broke off again and bent to feel the links of chain holding my left foot to the rock. “At least they gave you some slack. I was afraid I'd have to cut right against your skin. I hope I have enough fuel.”
From his sled he took two long, fat cylinders, each with a cluster of knobs and outlandish things on the top. He spent a few minutes putting things together, just how I couldn't see, and then turned to me again.
“Sorry, I know your name, but I didn't introduce myself. I'm Scott, Scott North. You understand me, right? I'm kinda surprised about that.”
“I understand all languages of man,” I said. “I was a maker and a thinker before … ” I raised my right hand to display the chain.
“Yeah. I've brought an old friend to see you. Don't jump around, okay? And don't look at the flame. I'm not sure how long it's going to take, but I'm getting you out of here.” He replaced the dark circles on his eyes. Then he lifted his hand to the device he held and fire leapt into being from his fingers.
This fire was blue-hot, hotter than Hephaestus' furnace, or Aphrodite's, for that matter. It was not a fire I could have carried in a fennel stalk.
“Cutting torch,” he said. “If it gets too hot, let me know. Maybe we can pile snow on your foot or something.” He set the flame against the chain holding my right leg.
The sun was nearly halfway to noon when the link broke. He moved to my right hand and began again. When that link broke he stopped and looked up. In the distance, a black speck moved through the sky, growing larger.
“Perhaps you should leave,” I said. “I have … company coming.”
“Yeah,” North said. He waded through the snow to his sledge and strapped on a pack with another of those odd tubes on it. “Maybe I'll just say 'hi'.” He fiddled with the tube, one eye on the eagle.
He watched with me as the eagle circled, then spread its wings to land. North plunged towards it, blasting fire from his hands and screaming.
“Yeeee-haaaaaaaaaah!” The eagle burst into flames in the air. When it fell, the snow doused the fire and I doubled the chain in my right hand and killed the bird with a blow to the head.
“Flamethrower,” said North.
“You have done things with fire that I didn't imagine.” I said. “Truly, men are ingenious.”
North grinned as he put his dark eyes back on.
“You ain't seen nothin' yet,” he said.
Elizabeth Creith draws on her familiarity with history, myth and folklore to write her fiction and poetry. For ten years she wrote humour and commentary for CBC radio. She has had stories published or accepted by New Myths, Chicken Soup for the Soul and THEMA, among others. Her flash "Companion Animal" placed twelfth in the Writers' Union of Canada 2008 Postcard Fiction Contest, and her flash "DarkChocolate" came in first in the Northwestern Ontario Writers' Workshop 2010 writing contest.
Elizabeth lives, writes and commits art in Wharncliffe, Northern Ontario, distracted occasionally by her husband, dog and two cats.