1 Hatching

The male reptilia desicca hurried along the passage to the nesting chamber. Phosphorescent fungi grew in patches on the earth walls and gave off a steady light. The dim light caught the scales that covered his body, dark green and thick along his back, legs and tail, paler and softer along his belly. He walked on all fours, his strong claws scraping the loose soil on the floor of the passage. His head was large, the mouth wide and lipless. Deep golden eyes were hidden behind nictitating membranes that protected them from dust and small stones.

When he reached the nesting chamber, he removed an object from his mouth before peering inside. He watched silently, taking in the sight before him. His mate lay with her sinuous body wrapped around their clutch of leathery eggs, her bare belly pressed against them. She was calling to them and they responded with tiny squeaks of their own. They were close to hatching.

His mate was so involved in calling to her unhatched infants that she had not noticed him but now she happened to glance up. At the sight of him, her inner eyelids opened wide to reveal her golden eyes and her neck ruff rose in welcome.

Sandahl responded in kind, struck again by his luck. His mother might not understand it but he loved the fact that Linesse was a very modern female. She had a career above ground, teaching in the local school. But biology won out. Raising a family meant creating a nest, feeding up as the eggs developed to build up strength for the laying, lying naked as the babies grew within their fragile eggs to keep them at the right temperature at all times.

“How are you?” he asked.

“Hungry!”

He held out the bowl he had carried with him and she took it gratefully.

“May I... would it help if I watched the eggs while you ate?”

She looked at him in surprise and then nodded, moving to the edge of the nest. He lay down next to the eggs, then shuffled closer so that they lay against the bare skin of his abdomen.

“They're warm!” he exclaimed.

She laughed. “What do you think I've been doing for the last four weeks? Painting my nails?”

“No!” he protested, laughing with her. “I just didn't expect the shells to be warm... I don't know...”

She ran the claws of her right hand over the scales of his head and then down his neck in the way he liked. “Well, now you do. Perhaps you could do half of the brooding next time, so I could get some fresh air?”

“Could I?!”

“Actually, no. Brooding has to be done by females, unfortunately. The eggs are so close to hatching, a few minutes doesn't matter.”

“That's a shame. I could get used to lying around in a nest all day...”

He ducked to avoid the playful swipe of her claws. She had been going stir crazy down here, he knew.

Suddenly, there was a tearing sound. They both looked at the eggs; a tiny hole had appeared in one of them. As they watched, a tiny green claw emerged through the opening, widening it. Neither moved; hatching was something infants had to do alone, their first test in life's adventure.

Holes had now appeared in the other two eggs and it was now a race to see which of their children would emerge first. One appeared to be larger and stronger than the others but got stuck with only the top half of its body outside the egg. It cried pitifully but received no help. In the end, it was the smallest baby, a female, who slipped the bonds of the egg first.

Her mother scooped her up and the infant squeaked with pleasure. “Welcome to the world... Selisse...?” She said the name firmly but gave her mate a querying glance; he nodded in agreement.

The largest infant had finally escaped the egg and was now greeted by his mother as Sandhir. Finally, the third baby struggled out and lay panting in the nest. Linesse picked him up, cradling all three in her claws.

“Selisse, Sandhir and Lindessel. Welcome!”

1 Hatching

Flash fiction again!

Date: 21/07/2014 | By: Evan Henry

This was a great one! It reminded me of a story I wrote about a gerbil (or was it a hamster) for Flash Fiction Friday a few years ago. Really good stuff, Rose, and great "scene-setting" in the first paragraph.

I don't know if I'll ever write anything this short again. For years I could only write in short, controlled bursts, but I now I seem to be having the opposite problem! I think there is something creatively stimulating about limiting yourself to a certain word count, though, and I'm definitely looking forward to more.

Re: Flash fiction again!

Date: 27/07/2014 | By: Rose Green

Thanks for taking the time to read and review! I wasn't sure how well this one would work as it's more a vignette than a story as such. Glad you enjoyed it.

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