A THOUSAND TINY DEATHS
By Amanda Kear
Characters: OC (Thiede gets a mention)
Word Count: 4070
Summary: A tribe of East African hara request help to protect their crops from pests.
Author’s Note: This was inspired by a sequence in the documentary series Human Planet, where people in Tanzania deal with flocks of red-billed quelea in a really extraordinary way. That got me thinking about how Wraeththu would do pest control…
Disclaimer: The world of Wraeththu belongs to Storm Constantine.
The morning the messenger arrived, Dhoruba har Dunia har Ajabu was teaching a class of the town’s younger harlings how the patterns of the seasons differed in various parts of the world. He had shown them images of the four seasons that existed in Wraeththu’s continent of origin and was encouraging them to think how those might affect the hara who lived in those climes.
“Our Long-Dry Season is bad for crops, but it would be their long cold – their winter?” said one harling hesitantly. Dhoruba nodded encouragingly and the harling grinned.
“But they have a Long-Dry too,” said another harling in puzzlement. “Isn’t their summer a Long-Dry?”
“Not exactly,” said Dhoruba. “The high latitude summer is more like the shorter of our dry seasons, with rain falling now and then. In fact, sometimes their summers are like our Short-Wet season. A true Long-Dry is unusual for them and can be a disaster for their farmers.”
The harling wrinkled his nose as he tried to grasp the idea that what was normal for their own farmers might be considered a calamity by those half a world away.
“Does the air grow thin in their winter?” asked the youngest harling. “When they have snow and ice on the ground, is it like Mount Kilimanjaro where the air is thin? Does ice make the air grow thin?”
That led to a discussion of altitude and temperature, and then delighted squeals from the harlings as Dhoruba cast a small majhahn to turn the moisture from the humid air of the classroom into falling flakes of snow.
It was into this mini-bizzard that a young har, probably not long past feybraiha, tumbled into the classroom, trailing a flustered Town Councillor in his wake. “Tiahaar Dhoruba! Tiahaar Dhoruba! Our village needs your help!”