Jarn is a human-like alien, stranded in Africa some 125,000 years ago during the next to last interglacial. He has adopted a wild dog, Patches, and rescued an early human child, Songbird. This is the distant back story for my science fiction novels, Homecoming and Tourist Trap. The entire Journal to date is on my author website.

Day 555

She’s not having nightmares, at least not yet.

I know I swore never again to try teleporting another sentient, least of all Songbird, after that first time. I didn’t intend to. But I had no choice!

Clouds have been clustering along the northern horizon for several days, and I thought I heard faint echoes of thunder. I’d walk north, I thought, and check if there was any sign of the approaching rains, and Songbird insisted on going with me and Patches. By noon we were in waist-high grass, far taller than the burned stuff near the shelter, and the clouds were beginning to show above the horizon.

Thunder growled, and I thought I saw flashes of light against the darkness near the horizon. Not long until the rains, I thought, and then I saw that some of the near towers were black on top, not white, and the light on the horizon was red. Dry storms, and the lightning had ignited the grass.

Songbird saw it before I did, grabbed my hand, and turned to run back toward our shelter.

We’d never make it.

I thought of how the shaman had made those caught in a similar fire lie down in a stream, but there were no streams between where we were and the shelter. Only the firebreak, and there was no hope of reaching that before the fire caught us. I could teleport to safety, of course, but what of Songbird?

I stopped, and spun her to face me. “Songbird, listen. You know how I appear and disappear?” I try not to teleport in front of her, but I know she has seen me.

“Yes, I have seen.”

“I am going to try to take us back to the shelter – vanishing here and reappearing there. You must close your eyes and imagine you are at the shelter door.” I had no idea whether that would make it easier, but it was all I could think of. And I could not leave her to be burned alive!

She looked toward the fire, which was now racing toward us and so near we could feel its heat and smell the scorched grass, and then turned her face toward me and closed her eyes.

I touched her mind – very lightly, as I did when she was teaching me her language. Her image of the shelter entrance was clear and precise, and I caught her mind and that of Patches with mine and moved all three of us. The heat on our skin was suddenly gone, and her eyes snapped open as she turned back to the north. The smoke was only a faint smudge from here, but it was present.

“I think we should make the burned area wet if we can,” she said.

We made sure there was nothing to burn near the shelter, and later watched as the fire swept around us. The shelter, being built mostly from the escape capsule, is fireproof, but our little island of safety was shared by a good many more animals than I really felt comfortable with. Still, we were able to close the door and sleep without further difficulty. And no nightmares, except mine.

Did knowing what I intended to do make the difference?

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