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The Keeper

The flowers were in bloom and there was work to be done. The seasons end was fast approaching and time was not a luxury they could afford. It was all hands on deck. Everything that could be harvested would be harvested and done so in the name of The Keeper.

The Elders had spoken of The Keeper at great lengths, as had her mother and her aunties, each of them imposing upon her all they knew about their Eternal Keeper.

"No one knows when it will come" her nanny had once said to her. "Not many have ever seen it, certainly none that live today. It brings with it a choking smog, putting all those in its path asleep. Only those lucky few who are out harvesting escape its terror"

"What does it want?" one of her sisters called out in fright.

Her nanny's voice dropped a few decibels. "What it always wants" the light around her dimmed.

"The fruits of our labours, the nectar of our life. And that is why children, my sweet soon to be working children, you must not let up, you must work and work hard"

Her nanny's tale had stuck with her all her life, though she must admit she had come to see it as just a cautionary tale, something told to theyounguns to keep them in line and steer their heads in the right direction. It certainly kept her going, kept a beat to her movements and her head above water when times were tough, but she no longer lived in fear of The Keeper.

She was out in the field one day, working tirelessly, harvesting, doing her part for the end of season push, whatever was done today would show during the winter when their stores were good and full and the weather was too harsh and the rewards too few to dare venture out. Oh and weren't their stores full, what an effort had been made by them all, working around the clock to fatten up their stocks and in turn, themselves. A busy season indeed...

Then was panic on the line, an anxiety in the air, her communications urged her to return home and do so fast. They were under attack.

It was the smog she saw first. Hulking great plumes of smoke so thick she thought there to be a fire nearby, hundreds of her kin littered the floor, passed out, immobolised, those that did not sleep crawled at a snails pace, their chatter discombobulated, incoherant. She called out to them but the connection was gone, her line was silent.

From afar she saw how those who were still able flew head on at the aggressor and were cast aside like grains in the wind, powerless in totality against this mighty beast, unable to it in it's tracks and keep it from the bounty it sought, the nectar of their efforts.

Illustrated by Valeria Di Pasquale

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