• Jabe Stafford

One Page Worlds - Faunaguard

A whole world on a single page!

The short story morsels of One Page Worlds are flash fiction adventures of all flavors. Every Wednesday will feature a complete story in one page, or the first page of what could be a novel or novelette.

Sharing the fun and geekery is the best part of writing! Please tweet or comment with your guesses on what genre, character, and job is central to each tale. Enjoy touring new universes each week with One Page Worlds!

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“Who taught you to speak English?” I ask the snow leopard.

“I notice you don’t ask why I can speak it,” she replies, an old accent slipping out. Probably Cockney. Or Irish.

Checking the times on my watch, I wipe sweat and caked dirt from one bearded cheek. “In my hometime, Artificial Learning Algorithms are the only way to teach mammals language.”

“Mammals?” she asks. “The woman in the UK who taught me mentioned no such limitation.”

We trudge over mountain ranges that I am told held snowcaps and dense forest. The rich loam and humidity on the air taste like they did back hometime. Weeds of every garden and roadside variety strangle the forest floor. Beating out deciduous seedlings. Out-drinking century-old trees.

I draw my sabre, grip it tight, and point it at bright-colored birds flitting from dying branch to dying branch. “Birds have such small brains, and lizards and reptiles rely on external sources for heat. They cannot reach the mental heights mammalian brains can once a fauna-lingual biotechnician installs ALAs.”

“I’m Alenya by the way,” the snow leopard says. “Or are names not relevant anymore during your ah, hometime?”

Grinning at Alenya, I scratch my beard. “I'm Jex. I see you didn’t ask how I can time travel.”

She flicks her tail. “I might have less prey to hunt nowadays, but I survive by being observant. By expending my energy wisely and to the best ends.” She paws at the muscle of my wrist, the same hand that holds the sabre. “I have seen you perform bodyguard duties for other creatures in these foothills. Why?”

Now she asks why. “Humans became the dangerous animals well before my hometime.”

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