Sojourner and Bafook

Submitted into Contest #161 in response to: Write about a character who lives a seemingly charmed life.... view prompt


Adventure Suspense Funny

David Tuck Sixlegs looked over the gathered mass of his fellow silverfish with carefully hidden trepidation. His stomachs bumped against one another with their nervous fluttering. There had never been so many together in the open before, so exposed. His gaze kept flashing to the nearest places of safety – the cracks and gaps, along corners, beneath objects. Everyone else seemed to have left their furtive fear behind, protected by prophecy, by David’s presence. He was not so certain. Still, his people’s jubilance was infectious, and he allowed himself to revel in it as much as his anxiety would allow. For hours the celebrations had gone on, building to a crescendo, all for him.

Segmented bodies twisted and danced, antennae twitched and waived. Dusted carapaces slid up against one another as they celebrated; wriggling with joy as their voices joined together to chant - “Sojourner!”


In unison they cheered. The title “Sojourner” felt wrong to David – uncomfortable and ill-fitting. He had heard it spoken of his entire life, but to have it applied to him was more than he could bear. He could not meet anyone’s gaze, their adoration felt like a searing heat on his carapace. Finally, Leader Lyanna Scurry Quickcrawl stepped out before the throng and a reverent hush settled over them all. Typically, the Leader was never permitted to leave the dark safety of the nest, it was too hazardous, yet the discovery of the Sojourner had emboldened her to emerge.

When the silence had lingered long enough she began to speak.

“My people,” she said with a voice high and clear, “we gather here today unafraid, for the Sojourner has come at last!”

The ranks called out their joy in response. “Countless generations have lived in terror, cowering in darkness, unsure if we will survive our ventures into the flatlands to gather food.” 

She gestured to the open space around them. The smooth, white ground spread out in its matrix of perfect angles and straight lines. Shallow depressions, nearly the thickness of a silverfish, divided the large squares. The flatlands; the monster’s domain, and the only place where sustenance could be found. The leader’s voice quavered with emotion as she went on.

“We have existed too long under the long shadow of The Lumbering DeathThe Great Annihilator, the enormous demon for whom murder comes as naturally as breathing. For too long have we lived within the treacherous lands of Bafook!” 

            There were gasps with each of the monster’s names, but when “Bafook” was spoken there was panic. Many turned to flee for shelter, for it is said that to speak the name of the beast is to summon it and invoke its wrath. Those who fled halted when the Leader went on again.

“But no longer! Ancient prophecy has survived since the time of our ancestors who settled in this cursed place. It speaks of one who will defy the Lumbering Death. One who will lead us to the motherland, to the place our pioneering predecessors abandoned in search of a better home, ignorant of the terrible danger here. If only they had known what they were condemning us to. But now the prophecy has come true! There is one who has thrice faced Bafook and lived, as was foretold. The Sojourner has come! I personally witnessed the fulfilling of the prophecy – the third encounter. 

“From the safety of the crack I watched in horror as David Tuck Sixlegs was blinded by the Coming of the Light and shaken by the Trembling of the Ground that heralds the arrival of the Annihilator. It emerged, immense and terrible, and in an instant David disappeared beneath its great, crushing foot. As it loped away, we expected to find the usual carnage, the gore we are all too familiar with. Instead we found David alive and unharmed!”

Cheering erupted again.

Not exactly unharmed, David reflected, he had lost a leg in the last encounter. David Tuck Sixlegs now had only five. Even at hearing the retelling of that last encounter with the beast, David could hardly believe it was true. Each time the Lumbering Death had dropped its hideous, clubbed foot down upon him he had expected death. David had been no less terrified of Bafook than any of the other silverfish. Like everyone else, all he ever did was cower. Yet he survived, not once, but three times while all the others had been reduced to a smear of gore upon the slick surface of the flatlands. He could not explain it. David did not know how he had endured the attacks, but the Prophecy made it clear why he had – The Sojourner was to find a safe path beyond Bafook’s deadly reach. He was to find the lands of the ancestors and bring the knowledge back to his people so that he may lead them to freedom.

“Now,” said the Leader, “on the eve of his departure, we celebrate the dawning of a new era. I present to you, the chosen one! Praise the Sojourner!”

“Praise the Sojourner!” Came the multitudinous response. The chosen one picked his way through the crowd’s adoration to join Leader Lyanna. They stood side-by-side before the congregation, drinking in their hope and fervour. When it quieted down there was a breathless air of expectation. The Sojourner found he had nothing to say. He did not have the Leader’s eloquence, so he lifted his head and let forth a wordless cry of triumph, hope, and defiance. Tears streamed from him and his people shed theirs in kind.

The celebrations went on until even the bravest were willing to tempt fate no longer. Exhausted, they retreated to their caves to sleep. The Sojourner found no rest, however. His mind teemed with the endless possibilities and unfathomable dangers of his impending journey. He must venture out, alone, for the good of his people. Though the prophecy promised his safe return, he was afraid. He knew he was the Sojourner, though, he no longer harboured any doubts in that regard. Hearing the joined voices of his people call to him with such hope had convinced him, so when it came time for his journey to begin, he was resolved and ready.

It was not long before the Sojourner had travelled further than he had ever been. Dread had kept he and his kind close to the crack beneath the basin where The Great Annihilator could not reach them. Venturing this far out brought a thrill he had never felt. It was freedom. It was a beautiful sensation and it spurred him on. His pace quickened as his heart grew lighter. With each step his faith in the prophecy grew, pushing him through fatigue and over the ever-changing terrain. 

The ground, which had been smooth and easy to navigate in the flatlands, suddenly transformed. A long line of fuzzy, fibrous trees stood in a perfectly straight line for as far as he could see. They were a light blue and as tall as he was long. A shining band marked the border, even smoother than the white ground he had left behind, and colder to the touch. He took in these new lands with unease, uncertain if he could get across. Yet cross he must. 

With the voices of his people echoing in his head he climbed. The fibrous forest grabbed at the Sojourner hungrily and he was forced to wriggle furiously with each step lest one of his remaining five legs become stuck. It required heroic effort, and his pace slowed to a jerking crawl. He persevered until he could continue no longer and after much slogging, he stopped to rest.

His surroundings were terrifying. There were strange colours, shapes, and lights, the likes of which he had never seen. Most unsettling of all were the structures of such terrifying size it would take him ages to climb to the top of them. They rose with tremendous geometric perfection into the sky. David quivered as he beheld them. The realm of Bafook was truly maddening in its strangeness. 

How could his naïve ancestors have come this way, seen what he saw, without realizing they had delved into an alien world belonging to a great and powerful monster? Everything around him seemed designed for a creature of dizzying size. Deep down David knew, however, that they could not have comprehended such a thing. No sane mind could.

“The Bafook,” he said aloud to the maniacal landscape. There was no fear when he spoke the beast’s true name, only loathing. Superstition must have run deep in David, however, because the ground seemed to shake beneath him the way it does with the Trembling of the Earth that announces the arrival of the Lumbering DeathBy the time he realized it was not in his mind, Bafook was upon him.

He looked up at the thing. Great pieces of cloth hung from its pale flesh. The head was obscured by its height, but when it stooped down to look at the Sojourner a hideous face resolved before him. It was topped with thick, long hair. Filling its mouth were teeth larger than the Sojourner himself. The demon’s gaze should have triggered the mortal fear that was bred into David, etched deep by instinct. There was nowhere to run or hide, above him was certain death, yet he felt nothing.

Now, thought he, is the time for faith. David Tuck Sixlegs, the Sojourner, saviour of his silverfish tribe, flexed his thorax and turned his vulnerable belly up to face Bafook. His five legs tucked in against his body, and in that supine position he awaited his fate.


The silverfish that laid motionless on my living room carpet wasn’t as dead as it looked. Its little tapered body gave a wiggle and its legs twitched. A shiver of revulsion ran through me, I hated those things. What was it doing there? I’d only ever seen them in the bathroom. Whenever I turned on the light they’d scurry away to disappear into the gap between my bathtub and the tile floor. As I had countless times before, I vowed to re-caulk it, knowing perfectly well that I’d forget later. 

I stooped to take a closer look at the thing. It was lying on its back, which was weird; I’d never seen one belly-up like that. It looked like a tiny, grey-brown lobster without the claws. With its long antennae and three disgusting little appendages sticking out of its ass it was a nasty looking thing, almost alien. It seemed to be missing a leg as well. My instinct was to squish the bugger into dust, as I usually did, but I didn’t want to grind its guts into the carpet. That would be gross and impossible to properly clean, so I took an empty envelope from a drawer and scooped the thing up. It popped back onto its legs immediately and I got the distinct impression that it was looking at me. Like, really staring into me. 

I opened the glass patio door and shook the pest off into my garden. 

September 01, 2022 02:41

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