O2. Nemo’s Children

It took a while for Nakayama to explain exactly what she wanted Nemo to do with the egg. When he finally got the idea, he stepped behind a bush and she obligingly turned away. Nakayama knew the new humans would need more space, so she made her wings razor-sharp to cut trees from the top of the island and stack the logs. Atop the island the trees were mostly pines. 

She heard Nemo scream, first in pleasure and then in terror. Nakayama hurried to his side.

Grown adults spilled from the egg. Nemo covered his horrified face. “Congratulations.” Nakayama made her left wing into a blowtorch and lit a cricket for Nemo to smoke, but he was distracted by the emerging men and women. “You’re a father now. Say hello to your family. Omedetou.

Soon a nude crowd filled the clearing. They were as varied as humans on Earth, but each seemed superficially healthy. Nakayama lifted them to check for defects in their ears, eyes, noses, and throats. Nemo shook hands with each person as she put them down, just like Nakayama had greeted him on the sandy island.

Still more people spilled from the egg. Eventually Nemo just let his children crowd around him for their handshake. “Name Nemo,” he said to them, “Nemo name.” Then he gave them their own names. His children shook hands with each other and introduced themselves.

When the crowd was so thick Nemo couldn’t find hands to shake, he pushed his way out of the clearing and climbed a tree. He yawped for attention: “Ora, ora, ora!” He bit an apple and showed his children the interior flesh. He licked sweet juice from his chin. He tossed the apple and a woman caught it in her teeth. She smiled and shared the apple with the man beside her. Nemo sat on a branch and demonstrated peeling bananas and oranges.

Nakayama hefted a man from the crowd to check his health. The man screamed. Nakayama dropped him in surprise, but caught his ankle before he hit the ground. “It’s alright, it’s alright!” she promised, but the man kept screaming. The crowd turned to watch Nakayama try calming him. “I understand—the first hundred humans saw me alongside them, but now the crowds are such that you’ve only seen your own kind. You’ve established your sense of normalcy, and now you’re meeting… me…”

Nakayama set the man down and examined herself. She was a giant, peculiar bird-creature. How could she convince anyone her presence was acceptable?

“Ora ora!” Nemo waved his hands. The crowd turned to him. He pointed skyward. The crowd squinted at the sun. Nemo whistled like a falling object as he pointed to Nakayama. Then Nemo mimed shaking hands.

The crowd oohed and aahed. The screaming man mutely shook Nakayama’s wingtip, and opened his mouth to show his throat. Nakayama covered her beak in disbelief. “Thank you, Nemo.” Before she inspected more islanders, she quickly counted heads. Five hundred islanders were already present and the egg only spewed more. The clearing would not be enough. “Nemo!” She gestured for his approach, and the crowd parted for him to pass.

Nakayama showed him the pines she had cut from the clearing. She flattened her wings into scoops to shape logs into rough canoes. She made oars from branches.

“You have more children coming,” she told Nemo, “and they won’t fit here. Gather a group and row to that island over there.” She pointed to the mountainous island. “I’ll send the rest boat by boat as I inspect them.”

Nemo didn’t understand, so Nakayama pushed the canoe down the slopes and it splashed into the ocean. “Ah!” Nemo understood. He chased the canoe and called for others to follow. “Ora ora ora!”

Nakayama carved canoes so quickly there was always a boat voyaging from the fruity island to the mountainous one. Nemo stood cape-side to welcome each boatload of islanders to the coast.

This island had more fruit trees which hundreds of islanders climbed and plucked clean. Giant birds lounged by the beach laying eggs which islanders cracked open to drink.

“Nemo! Nemo!”

Nemo turned. Three of his children ran up panting with their hands on their knees. “Oran Dora,” said Nemo.

“Nemo,” they urged. They led him a mile up the mountain to point at branches of a pine. They cupped their hands around their ears to tell him to listen.

Nemo heard a creature in the canopy. “Aaaugh, how does she land? This was an awful idea.” Now Nemo saw it clearly: it looked like a hanging vine. It was four feet long and the width of his arm. In fact, it seemed to be an arm, with two double-jointed elbows. Its fingers clutched a branch.

Oran Dora,” said Nemo.

The arm flopped in the tree. “Is someone down there? I can’t see you. Can you catch me?”

“Name Nemo,” said Nemo.

“Oh, Nemo! Nakayama told me about you. I’m your god now! Catch me!” The hand released the branch. It crashed on the dirt. “Ow! Goddamnit!”

O2 pictb

Nemo squatted and inspected the convulsing arm. The other islanders backed away.

“Not your fault, kid,” said the arm. Its skin was pink and its palm had a mouth. The back of the hand had an eyeball with pupil but no iris. “You’re not smart like I am, yet. Here, follow me. I gotta show you something.”

Nemo watched the arm bend its elbows to crawl. He walked after it and the three islanders followed him, but Nemo shook his head and pointed them back to the coast.

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