A FEW YEARS AGO, I began writing some short fantasies concerning a notable resident of the Land Beyond The Sunrise: Prosatio Silban, reluctant holyman turned freelance cook, questing for a true love he met once as a youth and never saw again. (Or so he thinks.) Six stories are completed and undergoing revision, but the following flash is complete in itself. Enjoy.
Prosatio Silban and the Beloved Animal
By Neal Ross Attinson
HALFWAY BETWEEN HERE AND THERE lay a town whose chief feature was a particular animal, wild but benign, which had made its home in a civic park. So charming were its ways and so touching its mannerisms that the townspeople painted its winsome form on signs and walls, dyed their clothes to imitate its pelt, and dated their history in terms of the Beloved Animal’s first appearance. Great crowds would gather around it every day, punctuating its every move with an ooh, ahh, or “Look!”
Prosatio Silban watched the Beloved Animal from the edge of the park. He thought the townspeople a bit fervent in their adorations but said nothing; he had his own share of eccentric fervencies. After a time, he realized that the Beloved Animal’s eyes were looking into his.
Why am I so popular? asked a voice in his head. All I do is sit here, occasionally scratching. And they feed me and love me.
“You don’t need to do anything else,” Prosatio Silban replied. “It’s in the nature of people to love something like you unconditionally.”
Oh. But why?
“No one can say,” the cook said. “Perhaps they simply need to know such love exists.”