The Kiva

Deep in the desert, it almost looked dead. Beige dirt and tufts of bushes were all the eye could see. But below the eyes and below the brush, mutated life still lived.

The best mutant, a tiny rodent-like piece of fur with lizard eyes and a sandpapered beak, tried to make itself invisible. 

Nobody will see me under the brush. 

The mutant curled closer to the roots. In the daytime this worked well and he could watch the others scatter as they pretended not to be scared.

There were big ones. The size of basketballs with rubbery mouths and black tongues. There were tiny ones. Insects with 9 legs and a limp. All of them to be carefully avoided.

At night it was cold. Freezing winds and chattering teeth, the mutant needed a break. Any break. A hole in the wall of a cabin. The inside of a hanging cliff. He knew there was nothing available.

In the distance there was smoke and the round mouth of stucco. An outdoor fireplace. A bellow of gray. A kiva. 

You can use me to keep you warm.

The kiva said.

I have a fire in my mouth that won’t go out. Sit, stay awhile. It will be fun.

The kiva said.

The fire didn’t look out of control. The warm glow from inside reminded the mutant of a perfectly proportioned potato, but with spark. He’d heard of the fires before, untamed and spreading throughout the brush. This was not half of that. 

You’ve come such a long way. 

The kiva said.

But then the mutant remembered the skulls. Wide, gaping mouths hollowed out as if they were screaming. They were littered throughout the desert. Some were cows. Some were undefinable. The distinct smell of char lingered.

You must be tired.

The kiva said.

The mutant noticed a few dead mice at the corner of the building. Their mouths, too, were open. Gray mice. They were not black. Not charred. They must have died from something else.

The mutant shivered.

What will you do without warmth in the night?

The kiva asked.

The mutant could not find an answer. He saw nobody else like him for miles. Except for the one possibility of another who had been ripped by something else. A simple beak stuck out of several weeds. It could have been trash. It could have been plastic.

I don’t know.

The mutant said.

I really don’t know.

The kiva illuminated the desert with one bright smile. Mutants scurried in the wind. Bigger mutants. Prickly puckered mutants with six furry legs and giant yellow teeth. They would eat him. Without a doubt. For dinner.

Why not just stay here? You can get warm and figure out something else for tomorrow. 

The kiva said.

Climbing up the brown structure, the flames flickered higher. 

Just on the edge, the mutant thought. I’ll just sit right on the edge.

In the corner space of the mouth, the mutant sat on its ledge.
It was warm.

He was happy.

There was nothing else to be said. 

6 thoughts on “The Kiva

  1. The talking kiva…has some of the dark mystery of the “scorpion and frog” story, but without the dire ending. Nice job!

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