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    Defiance19
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Shorts and Prompts - 5. Papik and Kigun Inuk

This is part of Cia's Newsletter - The Idioms are Real! Flash Fiction Challenge.

I borrowed heavily from Inuit mythology and folklore, then turned it on it's ear. The result is... well, read for yourself..

Papik walked dejectedly along the arctic ice. The wind was howling and blowing in cold circles around him. He stopped at the floe edge to pull his skins tighter around his body. The sudden appearance of a quallupilluit spirit in front of him sent Papik scrambling backwards; his mukluks losing purchase on the ice, landing him on his backside.

“Do not be frightened, Papik,” a voice from behind him said.

Papik quickly rolled to his left where he could see who had spoken, but keep his eye on the quallupilluit.

“I…I am not. Show yourself.”

Next to him appeared a figure who was short, round, and the strangest looking man Papik had ever seen. Before Papik could find words, the man spoke again.

“The quallupilluit only snatch children. You are not a child are you, Papik?”

Papik didn’t think he was meant to answer, but he did anyway, more to convince himself that at fourteen, he was no longer a child. Papik cast a wary glance at the child-stealing spirit, but the quallupilluit seemed to have lost interest and was quickly dissolving.

“I know that, and I am a man,” he said, puffing out his chest a little and standing to his full height. “How do you know who I am?”

“Come, Papik. I only want to help you. Su sak pich?”

“I am trying to get far north. To the northern lights, so I can appeal to the spirits of my ancestors.”

The man inclined his head. “I do not think that is where you are meant to go. Will you come with me instead?”

Papik looked down into the eyes of the strange man. He felt no fear. In fact, he felt as if he knew whoever this man was. He did not know how he could, but he remembered the old shaman saying to him, “You never really know your friends from your enemies until the ice breaks”. Papik decided to trust his instincts and go with the man. He would keep alert and be ready when the ice broke and revealed the true nature of his companion.

“If I come with you, you will not try to spear me with that thing, will you?” Papik pointed to the man’s face. “What is that anyway?”

The man seemed to sigh and hang his head for a minute before he answered. “Surely, Papik, you are familiar with teeth. This thing as you call it is a tooth. And, no Papik, I will not spear you.”

Papik stared a moment longer before placing a hesitant hand on the man’s shoulder. “I do not mean to insult you. You have offered your help, and I will go with you.”

The two walked in silence before Papik spoke up again. “You have to admit it is a strange sight. Your tooth, I mean. It is practically to the top of your head. How is that? Does it hurt? Sorry.”

The man’s laugh got swept away with the wind. “It is ok, Papik. The tooth does not hurt. I suppose to you I do look strange. My tooth is long, yes, and the older I get the longer it will become. But, is that any stranger than the gill slits you bear?”

Papik’s mittened hand flew to his neck. He turned to the man who was watching him knowingly.

“My papa said I was born with this oddity. The old angakkuq – shaman – in my camp says it is a sign that I carry a gift. So far, it just means I’m different. Oh, and I can swim as deep as the seals.”

Papik’s companion continued to watch him thoughtfully, but said nothing.

“What shall I call you, anyway? Oh, I know! Atusik Kigun Inuk. Kigun Inuk, for short.” Papik looked quickly at the man to see if he was upset by Papik’s joking.

“One Tooth Man? That is the best you can do, Papik? I hope you are not responsible for naming your kimmik” came the amused response.

Papik giggled happily as he thought about the husky he had named Balto. He felt better than he had in days.

“Tell me why you travel so far to seek counsel with your ancestors, Papik.”

Papik’s shoulders drooped a little, but he told Kigun Inuk the whole story from the beginning.

Three days ago, the old angakkuq had pulled him aside for a private talk. The hunters had been taking more than their share from the sea and the sea goddess, Sedna, was angry with the community. Whenever the fishermen went out on a hunt, the wrathful sea rose to great heights, dooming anyone who tried to best her. Families were fearful, and food supplies were running low. Caribou were scarce, so without seals, walruses and whales as an additional source of food, it would be impossible to feed a community of their size.

You see, all of his life Papik was told he was born with a gift. No one would say, or knew exactly, what that gift was, but the spirits had shown the shaman that Papik would be the one to face Sedna. So now, Papik left his camp so he could fulfill the angakkuq’s vision.

Papik had no idea what he was supposed to do. His first thought was to travel as far north as he could – a journey that would take him days over the ice. He hoped to get to his destination in time for the Northern Lights. He was fourteen, and had not yet encountered his spirit guide. Papik knew he would have to placate Sedna and thought maybe if he could call upon his ancestors they would teach him how to be wise, and show him how to save his community from famine and starvation.

“To be frank, Kigun Inuk, I don’t see how you can help me.”

“Papik, I think you and I were meant to meet. I will travel north with you.”

Papik looked at the man quizzically, but nothing more was said. He reached into his pack for the dried caribou meat that he had and offered it to Kigun Inuk, who refused.

The two walked for a night and day more, and Kigun Inuk asked many questions. Papik tried his best to answer, but they were the same questions he wanted to ask the spirits. How could he be brave? How would he know what to do? He had no plan and was afraid to fail his people. His companion said not to worry, that Papik would know what to do when the time came, like all great shamans and warriors. Papik wanted to believe him.

Without warning, figures began to appear out of the shadows. As they came closer, Papik noticed they were actually people, much like Kigun Inuk – short, stout, and with the same ivory tooth jutting from their mouths. They bowed their heads as the two walked past.

“You live here?” Papik whispered.

“Yes.”

“And these are your people?”

“Yes.”

“Are they all … er… long in the tooth?”

His companion stopped short and looked up at him. “Not all, no, Papik. You will be kind?”

“Yes. Of course. Sorry. Why do they bow to you? Are you their chief?”

“You ask the wrong questions, Papik.”

Papik looked around at the little snow huts. They looked similar to igloos but there appeared to be no tents or tupiqs like those in Papik’s camp. There were also little circles cut in the ice, which Papik thought to be seal holes but they were too big for that. He thought about asking Kigun Inuk, but the man seemed to be tired of his questions.

“In here, Papik.”

Papik was pulled into a large hut. The inside was very plain – high ceilings and no poles or shelves, but it felt warmer, and Papik was happy to sit after his days of walking with little rest in between.

There were four other people besides Kigun Inuk and himself in the hut. Papik had no time to wonder what was going on, because a large plate of seal meat appeared before him. He ate greedily, grateful for the thick soup and biscuits also offered. When he’d had his fill, he leaned back raised his head, and found all eyes on him.

Mumbling a soft “Sorry,” he shifted uncomfortably where he sat.

“Welcome, Papik.” One of the elders in the hut had spoken. “I am Kumaglak. Aput tells me we can be of help to each other.”

Papik looked over at Kigun Inuk and raised his brow.

“Tell them what you told me, Papik,” said Aput, nee Kigun Inuk.

Papik recited his story to the elders once more. When he was done, they gathered in a circle and proceeded to have a discussion. They spoke so quickly that Papik understood nothing of what they were saying. What was noticeable was the clicks and pips their protruding teeth made as they spoke. Papik stared, transfixed by the knifing movement of the teeth, until he felt Aput next to him.

“Why didn’t you tell me your real name, Aput?”

Aput shrugged. “You thought you were funny. I did not mind.”

“What are they saying? Can they help?” Papik gestured to the elders.

Kumaglak cleared his throat. “Papik, your people are not wrong. Aput told us this day would come, but we waited for so long, we feared he had been wrong. Now, here you are.”

Papik stared in confusion.

“I believe you are meant to defeat the sea goddess. She is an evil and vengeful spirit, and it takes little to incur her wrath, especially since she discovered her greater powers. She could make the seas rougher, and she could rule the sea life without care or caution. So, to preserve our kind, we exist here mostly in our human form.”

“What … human form?” Papik looked to Aput, who sheepishly turned his head. “What are you, exactly?”

The elder took hold of Papik’s arm and led him back outside of the hut before he continued. “What we are, is your army. You will lead us and we will help you. The only way to defeat Sedna is to replace her hardened heart.”

Papik almost laughed. He looked at the gathering of people with their long teeth, standing tall. They were all very serious and looked at Papik expectantly. Papik suddenly felt as if he could hear the voices of the ancestors whispering, he could do this; that it was right. Papik thought maybe this was the broken ice. Aput and his people could be trusted and were showing Papik their true selves as his friends.

“The only thing you need, Papik, is already inside you.” The elder urged him on.

“How do I find Sedna?” Papik asked, feeling braver than ever.

Pips and squeaks erupted. All around him excited chatter began.

“She lives on the island in the middle of the sea. We don’t need to do much, she will hear as we draw close,” Aput answered.

The elder reentered the hut and had returned with a spiral spear made of ivory and a small bag containing a beating heart.

Papik accepted both, but scowled at the moving bag.

“The heart is spelled by a powerful shaman,” the elder explained to Papik.

 

Not long after, Aput climbed into a kayak with him. Papik watched as Aput’s people left the ice and tumbled into the cold water of the artic. When they surfaced, at first they looked like seals until Papik noticed the long tusks. He looked at Aput in wonder, a memory tugging at him.

“A toothed whale, Aput? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“It would have made a difference if you knew. I am surprised it took you this long to figure out.”

“You told me humans called you narwhal and I called you Wally. I gave you lots of names, Aput.”

“You were five, so I forgave you. You know my name now.”

Their talk was cut short by a sudden swell of the sea. Huge waves lashed against the kayak but it was buoyed by dozens of toothed whales. As Papik called on the great spirits for courage and strength, screams filled the air. Sedna rose above the surface.

It did not take long to wrestle Sedna, but it required all the effort that Papik could muster. Finally, the waters quieted. A peaceful look came over Sedna and she smiled before sinking to the bottom of the sea.

“That’s it? Papik asked.

“Look,” said Aput, pointing in the distance.

Sure enough, where sea had been dark and empty before, it was blue and showing signs of life. Papik looked at the man he now knew to be his guide and smiled. He felt proud and grateful to his friends. Because of them, he had found a way to reconcile Sedna. Now all they had to do was to remember to offer her gifts in thanks, so she could continue releasing food to his people, and then balance between land and sea could be restored.

A great big thank you to AC Benus and Reader1810, for their editing and reading skills on this one. I very much appreciate them.
 
This was different for me, but it was fun to do. Hit the comments, let me know what you thought.. :) 
Copyright © 2017 Defiance19; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Awesome job, Def. Absolutely loved it and just had to keep reading to find out what happened next. I especially enjoyed how Aput wasn't new to Papik, but instead was a presence from his past.

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What an unexpected and captivating tale/tail. :)  I feel like I was on the journey with them. Such a clever and creative use of your idiom, Def, but I'm not surprised. You have never disappointed with your writing. Another gem to add to your collection. :worship:  Cheers... Gary....

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A fabulously twisty tale with a mythic  , oral tradition flavor . I could visualize the campfire around which it would be told. 

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On 4/29/2018 at 12:42 PM, Mikiesboy said:

Oh this was different. In a great way. You handled it beautifully! 

Thank you, tim. This was so different and I was worried. I’m glad you liked it. 

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On 4/29/2018 at 1:04 PM, Dolores Esteban said:

A very beautiful tale.

Thank you so much, for giving it a read..  

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On 4/29/2018 at 1:10 PM, Reader1810 said:

Unique and engrossing tale. I like what you did here, Def.

Well done! :) 

Thank you for all your help. I’m really glad you liked it when I was so unsure. xo

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On 4/29/2018 at 1:14 PM, Valkyrie said:

Great job, Defiance :D  I was riveted from the beginning.  At first I thought Aput was going to turn out to be a walrus, but narwhals are even better ;) Clever interpretation of the idiom. 

I’m really glad you liked it. Cia was throwing ideas at me and narwhal stuck. Thank you for reading, and commenting. xo

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On 4/29/2018 at 1:37 PM, MacGreg said:

Absolutely fantastic, Def. A unique tale. You took the idiom prompt and ran a marathon with it. Engaging from start to finish! 

 To think I almost didn’t post this. I really appreciate your comments.  Thank you, Mac.  

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On 4/29/2018 at 1:41 PM, BlindAmbition said:

This was wonderful Sweet Pea. I love the direction chosen. Great job! xoxo

I’m glad now that I stuck with it. Thank you for reading, and your comments, jp.. xoxo

 

Also Caz did a great job with her idiom, so thank goodness....if I got ‘Drinks like a Fish’ I don’t think there would have a story posted, on account of ongoing  research. :P 

 

Edited by Defiance19
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On 4/29/2018 at 1:55 PM, BHopper2 said:

Great Story, Agent D! I loved it.

Thank you, A.. so glad you liked it! 

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On 4/29/2018 at 1:56 PM, Renee Stevens said:

Awesome job, Def. Absolutely loved it and just had to keep reading to find out what happened next. I especially enjoyed how Aput wasn't new to Papik, but instead was a presence from his past.

Thank you, renee. For something I was unsure about, I really appreciate the response. 

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On 4/29/2018 at 2:06 PM, comicfan said:

Now that was my type of story. Beautifully done and a great use of the prompt.

Yay!  because I know your work, I’m going to take that as a big compliment.. lol. Thank you so much. 

 

Edited by Defiance19
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On 4/29/2018 at 3:20 PM, Headstall said:

What an unexpected and captivating tale/tail. :)  I feel like I was on the journey with them. Such a clever and creative use of your idiom, Def, but I'm not surprised. You have never disappointed with your writing. Another gem to add to your collection. :worship:  Cheers... Gary....

Thank you much, Gary.  I tried something  different, and I honestly wasn’t as confident about it. I am so happy that it worked... Thanks again.. 🤗

 

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