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Aug 17, 2019

This month's patron-funded story is "Spawning Grounds" by Julie Cox, narrated by Nikki Delgado.

I shifted my weight back and forth and stretched my wings, fidgeting, rolling them in their sockets. I still wasn't used to them; they were new, only a few months old. The feathers had finally come in all the way, the central shafts opening like strange mottled brown blossoms. They were lighter than they looked, but I still had trouble with my balance. I knocked into things. These days, I was far more graceful in the air.

“Angela, you gotta relax,” Ester said as she tightened the straps of my backpack. “You’re going to be alright. Some tentacle monsters are scary, but Celpin are as docile as they come.”

I nodded. I knew that better than she did; I was the park ranger, after all. She might study them in the lab, but I watched them day after day. I’d watched their numbers dwindle, falling as the birds they cooperated with for spawning disappeared along with so many other species on the planet. Climate change was a bitch. At least this time it was because of a volcanic event, and wasn’t our species mucking about that did it.

“You’ll be ok,” she said again, but I think she was talking more to herself than to me.

“I’m ready,” I said.

“I’ll be waiting when you get back.” She wasn’t looking at me. She was nervous and didn't want me to see it. “Break a leg.”

I stepped to the edge of the ledge, opened my wings, and jumped.