The dilwildi led me by way of an ancient path to the foot of the piers. Here we were above the jungle in the tangle of waterless rock that formed the central majority of the island. It took me most of the afternoon to painfully make my way to the top of the pier. I had concluded that after spending the night there I would have to return to the jungle, for here there would be neither food nor water.
I stood on the mighty pier and looked inland at what had once been an island on a salty sea and saw in my mind’s eye trees, parks, and boulevards where now lay only waterless waste and ruins.
For there were ruins. Before me lay an entire city, stripped by the elements until only the stones remained. From the sea I could have looked at this mountainside and never guessed that the barren rocks I saw were the sole remnants of the handiwork of man.
Man – or something else.
I wandered the streets of the ruined city with my cadre of furred companions. The wind whistled in utter loneliness through the ruins that once had sheltered – what? Man? Some humanoid creature?
Or were the dilwildi the descendants of those who had built this city, generations removed from civilization and reverted to pre-cultural savagery?
Then I knew. The dilwildi were the pets of those who had built the city. For generations they had been bred for docility, for gentleness, and for the savoring of human (?) company. That they survived their masters in loneliness was perhaps the greatest tragedy wrought here.
How I knew this, I could not have said, but I had experienced too much to question such knowledge.
One building was somewhat better preserved than the others. The dilwildi led me to it but would not accompany me in. It was hardly ten meters across and circular, a ring of smooth metallic columns which had once supported the roof that now lay in ruin. I picked my way among the rubble toward the center of the circle and sat down, watching the sun set to the west. A great lethargy took me and I closed my eyes.
She woke me to a golden dawn. The floor where I lay was carpeted with rugs woven in alien and intricate patterns but otherwise the building was bare of furnishings and open to the gentle breezes that rose from the sea bearing the scent of salt and fish.
She was a study in perfection, a dream made flesh.
Varicolored eyes, tumbled hair of a hue not auburn but red, deep, brazen, absolute red, skin of copper fading to cream beneath her breasts and beneath her arms where the sun could less readily go. She wore a chain girdle of silver supporting a golden ankh, otherwise she was naked.
Rising from her shoulder blades were wings like those of some gigantic butterfly. Not the feathery white wings of an angel, nor yet the leathery red wings of a demon. Spreading, rounded, varicolored wings.
A great lethargy took me and I closed my eyes.
She woke me to a golden dawn. She was a study in perfection, a dream made flesh.
Cliche? I don’t think so. More like the avatar of every dream by every lonely and hungry young male. Some of us are lucky enough to find that “dream made flesh”. I was, but there were long years of waiting before that happened, and their memory was fresh when I wrote this.
Butterfly wings? Okay, that’s cliche. Sorry about that, but hell, it was my first novel.