The ducks of Ducktopia are on the march over and above Bali, looking for the hidden manuscript that may well save the planet.
Launching soon, here is a sneak preview. Let me know what you think! I am having an absolute ball writing this, and am totally immersed in the lives of these ducks! Who said we can’t reinvent our childhood?
PS – if you recognise some of the flavour of the text, it is directly from my experience I have journaled in Bali Soul Journals, but from a duck’s perspective!
Wails pitched higher and higher up into the heavens. Lights burned in Cheeky’s eyes as the rain crashed onto his head, soaking his feathers so they dropped into his eyes. The two monstrous figures in front of him swayed from side to side, their faces permanently frozen in a wide stare, mouths gaping open with huge ugly teeth. Foamy spittle dripped down slowly onto their gold leaf tongues.
Flames from a small fire on the banks of the river were quickly extinguished by the storm. Lightening flashing across the sky every few seconds lit up the circle of humans dressed in white. Their clothing was soaked through to their bodies, faces pointed upwards in devout expectation, but they continued. The Gods were speaking, and the rain was a sign that their message was good.
A pile of offerings was quickly swept up in a torrent and slipped silently to the river below. Flowers nestled carefully in a square leaf basket were now confetti for the cliff face. The rain beat harder and Cheeky squashed his tail up against a rough stone wall, vainly trying to stay hidden from the humans on the ledge below him.
The wailing seemed to reach its peak. Crashing thunder split the night with all the drama of a conductor thrusting his baton to the earth as his orchestra crashes to a close.
Hurriedly the monsters were lifted onto the back of a truck that appeared from nowhere. Their shoulders slumped with exhaustion, hands reached out to support them as they struggled to keep their heads upright. The ledge ran around the side of the mountain to a rocky track, dangerous at the best of times, treacherous tonight.
Cheeky flashed his head from side to side. On the other side of the river, he could make out the dark shadowy figures of ducks moving slowly, left, then right, left, then right. The humans were leaving but it seemed the other side of the bank was just beginning.
Through the din of the storm, he could make out swishing and tapping which grew louder and louder. Webbed feet stomped in time. Two of the ducks began to swirl in a furious dance, perilously close to the edge of the cliff.
Then, without warning, the music stopped and the taller of the two ducks froze and looked straight across the river at Cheeky.
“You!” he bellowed. “You! Step forward now!” His long wing hovered over the river far below them, pointing directly to the rocky face that Cheeky was now quivering against. Despite the rain and his fear, he felt one foot step forward, and then the other, until he stood at the edge. Below him, he could see the smoldering ashes left behind by the humans. A rocky staircase led down the terraced hillside to a bamboo bridge that spanned the distance between them.
Without thinking, he began to slowly make his way downwards, sliding on the mud that was rushing from above him. His white feathers darkened, as wet, black soil covered him from head to foot.
On the other side of the bank, the tall duck was frozen in command. Cheeky could not take his eyes off him. His mind raced, thoughts jamming themselves into the back of his eyes, seeking attention. Was this the King? Where was his family? How did he get here?
The sky lit up again, highlighting the purple mountain behind the ducks, who were all now lined up on either side of the tall figure, watching and waiting. Cheeky reached the platform and began to make his way nervously to the bridge.
As he put one foot onto it, it began to sway sharply from side to side. Cheeky fell, putting both wings out to try and stop the fall, but it was too late. Swiftly he began to slide down the cliff toward the swirling river below him. The ground was shaking violently and the waters began to rapidly rise.
Suddenly, the light went out and the earth began to roar. The ground below him trembled as it came to life. Cheeky tried to grasp branches on his rapid descent. He could hear chanting coming from the jungle above him. Rolling his eyes skyward, he looked in desperation for anything that could save him, but could only make out the dark shadows of the ducks on the precipice above him.
And suddenly, he knew. He knew that he had failed. This was it. There were no second chances, no more tomorrows, only goodbyes. His pond flashed in front of him, with Suka and Ebony and his family floating with their wings outstretched, their faces sad.
“No!” he cried. “No! This cannot be! We can tryyyyyyyyyy…”
His voice echoed high into the night as the earth shuddered to a halt and the river washed back down to its usual path. Cheeky was rolling down the rocks, bouncing and unable to move his wings from the side of the body to help break the fall.
Above him, the tall duck lowered his wing and nodded to the line of attendants waiting fearlessly.
His wife stood on the other side of him. She slowly lifted her wing and touched the back of his head softly. The storm had passed and the earth stood still. In the blink of an eye, all that could now be heard was the dripping of water from the ferns, and cascade of water and mud down into the river below.
“We must fetch him”, she murmured. “I will do this myself.”
Cheeky landed heavily on a tree growing out of the rocks, his wings flinging themselves around a branch as his beak hit the trunk.
The last thing he remembered before he passed out, were the gossamer wings of an angel wrapping around his broken body, and lifting him to the heavens above.
“It’s okay”, she whispered. “You have done well. This is the toll of the drum that has been heard by humanity. And it is the beat that was drummed by you.”
As Cheeky slipped into darkness, black clouds flew across the sky and the wind began to rise.
Change had come.
And Ducktopia would never be the same again.
Copyright 2014 Clare McAlaney. Image by Clare McAlaney.
For distribution and publishing enquiries, please contact Clare direct using the contact form below.