“You bloody bastard, take thaaat” he screamed, stretching out his front right squamous hand in such a clumsy and brusque way that it almost fell in the puddle.
“How dare you! Son of a…!” replied his greenish and equally scaled counterpart, while attempting to return the blow in retaliation. But also to no avail.
Both batrachia were engaged in a bizarre boxing match. Both were as clumsy and helpless as two male frogs in a puddle.
Males can get very territorial depending on the season of the year and also on the availability of water. The long drought over the last two years had given the island an ochre look, and both fighters were attracted by the freshness of the pool. The bottom of the Taguacinte barranco, a breach in the ground, nearly as deep as a canyon, was one of the few places to provide a certain degree of humidity, and that puddle was the only source of water that either humans or animals could have access to in the small village of Hoyo del Barrio.
The combatants didn’t realize it, but a dark shadow flew above them. And that shadow suddenly became larger. Ramón, the raven, caught one of the frogs with his beak and flew away as fast as he had arrived. He landed on his favorite branch of his favorite tree to devour his prey. With the help of one of his legs, he grabbed the helpless frog while stabbing him with his beak, sharp as a knife. At the beginning he still could see a spark of life and despair in the eyes of the frog, but then it was all darkness.
It was so hard to see anything at first: My eyes were so blinded by the pristine whiteness that engulfed everything around me, that it was even difficult to figure out whether I was standing, lying or flying under the effects of gravity zero. Little by little, I started to pull myself together and recover consciousness. I did not know where I was, but the last thing I remembered back then was being with Amalia in El Hierro, after the fight against those hit men who were chasing her nephew Edelmiro.
All of a sudden, we saw a blinding light. Then, it all became darkness.
Checking blood tests. Blood tests normal. Slightly high degrees of triglycerides, speed normal, slightly high… behavioral tests… conducting, checking frontal brain cortex…ok… I heard those metallic voices but couldn’t focus my eyes. Everything was blurred and I was uncomfortably numb. I tried to scream, but I couldn’t. I wanted to ask where Amalia was but couldn’t articulate a single word. If I had been conscious, I’d have liked to know more about where I was and who our captors were. But I couldn’t concentrate on anything, and reality was no different than a crazy dream.
“Oh geez! Now he is recovering consciousness as well!” regretted the first undefined figure. “What a surprise Manolo, you’ve got the levels of element B wrong again!” – “You’re such an ass…” They seemed to be quarreling about something beyond my grasp. Little by little both figures passed from blurred to humanoid, and eventually both looked like regular humans.
I asked them where I was, who they were, where Amalia was and whatever came to mind… All I could get from the two was a laconic, “You are in our spacecraft,” uttered by the regular human apparently called Manolo. Now that I could focus my eyes and could see them perfectly well, I realized that one of them was tall and bald, and the other was short and wore very thick glasses. Both were dressed in rare white vestments that irradiated a certain white halo.
“¿Then am I not dead?” I dared to ask, and they replied negatively. “You don’t look quite like the Lord’s angels either,” and they gave me a slightly annoyed look. I was starting to feel a bit disappointed, and the more they spoke, the more I lost respect for them. “I’m gonna ask for the last time and I hope you answer the truth… ¿What have you done to Amalia?”
“Well, Restituto, I’m sorry to inform you that Amalia woke up a few hours ago, earlier than expected, same as you, and unfortunately she just couldn’t make it…” – “¿She couldn’t make it?… ¿What the f–k does that mean?” I could feel the anger gripping my spine, its cold grasp unrelenting.
The tall one said: “I’m sorry it’s just another one of Manolo’s negligent acts…”
“¿Whaaat?” the short one did manage to utter, looking at his partner in awe. “People in cryogenic sleep take a couple of hours to wake up, but she did it too fast and that affected her nervous system.”
I had to inhale, not only to contain my anger, but to stand – as best I could – the pain of losing a close friend and relative. I didn’t care much about being alone in space, inside a spacecraft piloted by two lunatics. I just couldn’t stop thinking that I hadn’t had the chance to say goodbye. “You don’t look like much of an alien to me, in fact you look pretty much like a Spaniard to say the least.” – “Hey you don’t look that good either, see?” replied the bald one.
“¿Are you really an alien?” – “Well, technically, yes we are. We were both born on a different planet from Earth.”
Up in the air, the red tiled roofs of the village houses looked just like a game of construction blocks. I like to feel the freedom of floating over a convection stream which gives my body enough lift for me not to move my wings whatsoever. I simply relax and watch how the neighbors do their daily activities: working their small plots of land near their houses, watering their crops, feeding the cattle, and a thousand other menial tasks that keep their tiny world alive and functional.
From the sky, the lush farmed soil with its greenery stands in contrast to the whiteness of the houses or the reddish hue of the tiled roofs. The houses are dispersed in the small village of El Mocanal, basically like the rest of the villages on the island of El Hierro, at the southernmost tip of Spain: in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, in the middle of your mapa mundi, constantly touched by trade winds.
It was about time to go back home. I began to maneuver to get down to earth. Lately, I had begun to consider Amelia and Armiche’s place like my own. I had plenty of room in the shade, water and lots of cuddles from the couple. Generally, it is hard to know what any human thinks of me. Most of them fear me or feel disgusted, but I kind of sense that Amelia and Armiche love me. At first, it was hard for Amelia to accept me. She’s not a local, after all, and she doesn’t know that we ravens are like parrots for people in El Hierro. I’ve even learned to speak a few words in the human language, because that usually secures me a few extra pieces of meat.
I landed on my place in the patio and approached the bath where the guys put my water. I savored a long sip as that old frog had made my throat sore. I looked around, and the place seemed deserted. The house was small and very old, slightly run-down.
At the beginning there had been Moneiba, Armiche and Amelia in the house. They were young and idealistic, but their community generated remarks and gossip among all of the village population. It is not that the trio cared much, but after a few months, Moneiba left the house. She said that she preferred “being shared” than “sharing.” I guess she had envisioned the polyamory like a situation in which two handsome men would do all the house chores while she looked at them from the sofa. I cannot blame her for that.
Moreover, the guys didn’t have many resources and “love doesn’t pay the bills” they say. Edelmiro’s family had allowed them to live in the house for free on the condition that they would carry-out all the necessary remodeling.
I walked along the railing of the old gallery looking inside each of the windows. They were together – Armiche holding Amelia from behind, caressing her belly, a bit swollen lately, by the way. He was kissing her neck, barely touching her skin with his lips. I was about to take my leave, but Amelia noticed my presence. “¡Hola Ramón! ¿Where have you been?”
(…to be continued…)
Transadaptation Volume 4 – Material Dissent
January: A Blinding Light and Then, All Darkness – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)
February: The Opportunist – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)
March: A Stranger in my City – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)
April: A South African Soundtrack – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)
May: Full Circle – Ina Maria Vogel (Germany)
June: La Lluvia en Bogotá – Adriana Uribe (Columbia)
July: Freedom – Krisztina Janosi (Hungary)
August: A Bus Ride – Svetlana Molchanova (Russia)
September: Transcendence – Armine Asryan (Nane Sevunts) (Armenia)
October: Motherhood – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)
November: To be announced – (hopefully) Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)
December: Open – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)
Background – Context
Transadaptation Volume 3: Evanescent – Young Adulthood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2022)
Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)
Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Cover photo: Tenerife, Spain – In the clouds – Marek Piwnicki (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed