Chapter 9 – Beautiful Feathers
“Nix? You okay?” he shouted. “Nixon, answer me, buddy.”
Nixon spluttered and wiped blood off himself as he scrambled to his feet with the gun still in his hand. He had a hard look in his eye. He kicked at the boy lying dead at his feet.
“I said I don’t want to hurt anybody, but I’m not afraid to use this thing if I have to. Now, give me the Firebird Jar, and don’t even think about touching that knife on the floor. Else you’ll end up with a hole in you like your friend there.”
Aurora glanced at her grandfather. He nodded at her again. The stable boy that had first greeted them now sat against the wall by the double doors in stunned silence. His eyes glued to his coworker’s dead body, still bleeding out onto the barn floor where it got seeped up by the hay and formed a thick, red mat.
She started to bend over to pick up the jar, but Nixon jerked the gun toward her.
“I said, not to go for the knife. No funny stuff, brat. I’ll blow your head off without a second thought.”
Aurora’s hands shook as she stood back up. She glared at him angrily. “It’s right there on the floor under that bit of hay. Do I look like my arms are long enough to reach the knife from here?”
She used her foot to brush the hay off of the small, brown bag. She nodded toward it without taking her eyes off of Nixon. Then bent down to pick it up. Matt circled around to take it from her. Then walked over to Nixon where they huddled together enthusiastically.
Nixon took the bag and handed Matt the gun. He squeezed it gently and frowned. He shook the brown bag and heard the clinking of pottery. A scowl darkened his face as he untied the drawstring and opened it gingerly. He dumped the contents into his open palm.
Aurora saw several white pieces of pottery fall out into the palm of his large hand. He shook it again, and something small and golden rolled out as well. Nixon rolled it around on the palm of his hand. It looked like the mummified remains of the golden birds she had seen in her vision after falling on top of the jar.
The bird shuddered. Then lifted its head. It fluttered its wings and hopped to Nixon’s thumb. He tried to reach out to grab it, but it leaped into the air and spread its wings.
Nixon flailed his arms as he tried to snatch it out of the air, but he was too clumsy. Aurora wanted to laugh, but maintained her composure.
The golden bird lighted on her shoulder and chirped loudly in her ear. It trilled off a beautiful song. And it almost sounded like Aurora could understand what it was saying as it taunted and jeered at the man still holding the jar it had come from.
The man looked at her in astonishment. His face went red with rage. “You broke the Firebird Jar!” Nixon roared at her.
Matt looked from his friend’s furious, red face to the girl. His face went dark with rage as well, but he remained silent. He pulled up the gun with both hands and pointed it in her direction. It recoiled in his hands.
Aurora saw the puff of smoke long before she heard the noise. She saw the slug leave the barrel. The round metal object floating in her direction. Coming at her chest. She knew if it hit her, it would tear through her just like it had the stable boy that had attacked Nixon and Matt.
The slug was about halfway to her before she heard the blast of the gun roar. But it didn’t cause her to jump or flinch. The golden bird on her shoulder continued to sing its trilling song. Telling her not to worry. All she had to do was stand up for herself and fight. Everything would be alright.
Soon the air around her was filled with the sound of dozens of golden birds. Aurora saw them flitting in through the eaves and windows and doorways. Joining in with her golden bird’s song. More continued to pour in and join the chorus. Soon it seemed there were hundreds. Filling every nook and cranny of the stable with their beautiful feathers and songs.
Her attention returned to the slug flying from the air. Now it was only an arm’s reach from her. She could have stretched out her finger and touched it. It mesmerized her. She turned and watched it continue its flight through the air as it floated past her.
Continue Reading Chapter 10 – Racing Horses