Not Your Average Beach Episode: Oneshot

Published Aug 31, 2022, 9:09:59 PM UTC | Last updated Aug 31, 2022, 9:09:59 PM | Total Chapters 1

Story Summary

Prendergast, Aster, and Anonym find themselves marooned on a tropical island. They take it pretty well. DracoStryx August Monthly Challenge 2022.

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Characters in this Chapter

Prendergast Dracostryx 🧑🏽 #ds11651
528 total points
34 approved points
Aster Dracostryx 🧑🏽 #ds6899
335 total points
35 approved points

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Chapter 1: Oneshot

Prendergast awoke to the warmth of the morning sun on his face. But not the soft, welcoming light that filtered through the windows of his mews; this glow was more like a glower, harsh and bright and… sandy?

 

The casua opened his eyes proper. He was lying on his side in the middle of a sandy beach (nice), with the gentle murmur of the tide in his ears (soothing). He had a gorgeous view of the sun rising over the ocean (so far so good), but there was no sign of his rider anywhere (not so good).

 

He raised his head, turning to scan up and down the beach. A few paces away, he saw a crumpled pink mass of feathers lying flopped against a palm tree, croaking and screeching like she’d been stabbed. Wait, no, that was just her normal voice.

 

‘Aster? Is that you?’

 

Tilting himself back to right-side-up, Prendergast dug his feet into the sand and pushed himself up to standing. Fuzzy memories were rushing back to him now: A vision of Maja, roping him and his rider into yet another of her half-baked schemes; of endless oceans from the deck of the Nullarbor, the sun always at their port; then a storm, twenty-foot waves, and watery darkness…

 

‘Oh, Day! We’ve been marooned!’

 

Not in the fun childrens’ storybook way, but in the horrible life-or-death way, where it was just two stryx and their wits against a harsh island mistress–

 

“Oh, hey! More survivors, I see.”

 

A voice snapped Prendergast out of his catastrophizing. There was a human coming up the beach towards them: a man, dressed in sand-soiled travel clothes, his fair skin covered in sunburns, but still with an undeniable air of misplaced confidence about him. He seemed familiar. Had he been on the Nullarbor with them?

 

“More unfortunate maroonees from the Nullarbor, eh? Yes, that storm thought it could get the best of ol’ Anonym, but little did it know, I don’t die easy!”

 

Well, that answered that question, not that he’d even asked. Still, this Anonym was the only other living thing he’d seen on the island, so he supposed he’d have to put up with him for now.

 

“Now then! Back to the situation at hand. I’ve read enough childrens’ storybooks to know we’ll need to build a shelter. Either of you any good at building shelters?”

 

‘Oh, yes. My rider’s got a survival manual.’

 

Well, technically, he’d never actually read the manual, just sat in the room while Decima mugged for her final urban cohort exams, but it couldn’t be that hard, right?

 

“Good enough for me. Collect your friend and let’s go.”

 

Oh, right, Aster was still flopped against that tree. Prendergast trotted over to her, leaning down to push her off the tree with his neck. She whined pitifully.

 

‘Leave me, Prends. We’re gonna die here, we’ll never get out, we’ll starve and our bodies will be eaten by coconut crabs and then the bones’ll be washed out to sea and–’

 

‘Get ahold of yourself, Ast,’ Prendergast said, bopping her on the head with his beak. ‘We’re not dead yet, not on my watch.’

 

If he didn’t think her rider had been spoiling her before, well…

 

After a little more woe-is-me whinging, Aster finally deigned to get up and follow him. The three ‘maroonees’ retreated inland, where the approaching noon sun was blocked by a canopy of tropical trees and vines.

 

Anonym looked up as the two stryx approached, a pocket knife in his right hand. “Ah, there you are. Look, I’ve even found us some refreshing water to drink.” He raised one half of a vine he’d split, which was dripping viscous white sap.

 

‘I don’t think you should drink that…’ Prendergast began, but Aster had already shoved past him, snapped her beak over the cross-stem, and slurped the stuff up with her tongue.

 

‘Hurkh! Simply foul.’

 

“That’s how you know it’s safe! Lots of horrible-tasting things are good for you, like bitter melons, and broccoli, and store-bought medication.”

 

Anonym said it with such confidence that Prendergast was almost taken in by this absolute hogwash. The casua sighed as the man slashed himself a new vine and sipped on the foul secretion, trying his hardest not to gag with every gulp.

 

“Want some?”

 

‘I’ll pass.’

 

Now that their water concerns were out of the way, it was time to build that shelter.

 

‘Okay,’ Prendergast said, looking around them. ‘There’s lots of trees about, so we could make a lean-to with branches.’

 

“Excellent plan, my good casua! Good luck with that.”

 

Prendergast sighed. It was like Decima had never left.

 

Aster was too busy complaining about her gizzard hurting, so he set off on his own. Most of the trees in the area were palms, but he did find a few more traditional ‘woody’ trees growing deeper in. Also, a clean spring, not fifty feet away from that nasty vine. Nice. He gathered up a few of the thickest branches, balancing them on his back, and set off back to the group.

 

“...hold on a minute, Al, I think he’s coming back– ah, there you are! Alias and I were just talking about you.”

 

Prendergast squinted at Anonym’s new ‘friend’: a nearby rock that he’d painted two eyes and a beak on with berry juice. Aster wasn’t doing much better. She was rubbing herself against one of the palm trees nearby, sighing blissfully as bugs rained down on her.

 

‘Are you two… feeling okay?’

 

“Never been better! Al, could you help this bird with the shelter? Love you, Al.”

 

‘Right.’

 

With Alias’s ‘help’, Prendergast stacked the branches in a rough circle and leaned the tops up against each other, creating a makeshift, but passable shelter. He ducked his head in, then proceeded to turn in a circle, kicking all the leaves and twigs out so the ground was nice and cleared.

 

‘All done,’ Prendergast announced, stepping back out. He heard what sounded like skin slapping a rock over and over, and he peeked over the shelter to see Anonym slumped over his rock, trying and failing to clap.

 

“Oh, Al, you’ve done a bang-up job. Real b-bang-up. I know I’m hard on you, Al, and– and I don’t say this enough, but I really love all you do for me, Al. I love you.”

 

At this rate, ‘Al’ was going to start losing all meaning as a word. Aster, meanwhile, had graduated to licking the bugs off her feathers, like some sort of rural elf.

 

‘I’ll never know the feel of a soft brush on my feathers again, never never never…’

 

“Wow. T-that’s just sad.”

 

‘You literally drew a face on a rock.’

 

*

 

Half a mile down the beach, just beyond the treeline, stood Amaria Lodge, the greatest luxury beach resort this side of the Reamere. The Nullarbor, a little banged-up but still intact, was moored safely in its coveside pier. Three figures lounged on beach chairs on the building’s top floor, sipping drinks out of coconut shells and watching the sun setting beyond the forest.

 

“How long do you think it’ll take them to realise?” Maja asked, raising the silly straw of her cocktail up to her lips.

 

Decima set her binoculars down on her lap. “Maybe it’s just the bubbly speaking, but if none of them even thought to try exploring the rest of the island, I think they had it coming.”

 

“Oooh, let me see,” Tiffany said, setting aside her orange juice and picking up the binoculars. “Woah, Aster just made a brush out of a coconut crab. Still alive and everything. I kinda feel bad for her.”

 

Alias wove his way between the chairs, holding a tray of fresh drinks in his beak. He put it down on the little table between them. ‘Should we, I dunno… tell them?’

 

Maja set her empty coconut down on the tray and picked up a new one. “Nah, this is way more entertaining. Another mai tai, F.V.?”

 

“Mait-I!”

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Comments

  • Sep 16, 2022, 9:28:57 PM UTC
    This is hilarious! Wonderful writing; you have a great dynamic between your characters and used the prompt in a way that was really fun.

    Kudos!