JWMS Newspaper Club
The Pinnida: A Fictional Story by Aiyla S. & Keira T.
Amy called for Natalie, astounded by the sight before her. It was---it was---
Actually, she didn’t know. The top of it was a meaty bird with thick, coffee-colored plumage, but from the waist down, it grew lean and scaly. As if it were a bird and a snake.
Amy had never seen anything remotely akin to it before. The closest things to it she had ever witnessed were . . . well, serpents and birds. But not with their bodies banded together, morphing into a different, peculiar specimen halfway through. What was it?
Natalie bounded down the splintered, tan porch steps and met her sister outside. “What?” she snapped crossly. “You---” She cut off abruptly. The sight of this extraordinary creature had her speechless. “What---How---?” Questions and protests came tumbling out of her mouth as Amy slowly inched towards the bizarre creature, implausibly drawn to it.
Natalie toed forward too, but her steps were so much more slow and reserved than Amy’s that they were almost imperceptible. “What is that?” she breathed.
Suddenly, the extraordinary creature opened its maw and squawked the most piercing, unpleasant sound ever heard. Natalie jerked back, choking back a shriek of astonishment. She swiveled towards the porch steps, prepared to bolt back inside.
“Come here, little creature!” Amy let out the same crow the bird serpent had made.
Natalie cringed as her sister made the loud, screeching noises. Then her mouth snapped open in shock once she registered what had happened---Amy had impersonated the creature perfectly! “Uh, Amy? How did you learn to do that?” Natalie fretted.
“Huh?” Amy wondered.
“You don’t realize you were speaking in that creature’s language?” Natalie cried out, her jaw still jutting downwards in amazement. Her earthy eyes bulged.
Amy laughed it off, all confusion dissipating when she marched over to her sister. “You’re just too scared to understand anything I’m saying right now. Not that it’s unexpected.” She rolled her eyes and stalked away, but Natalie wouldn’t move. She was as still as a statue, her expression as hard and frozen in time as marble.
Amy swiveled around to face her sister, her expression carefree. “C’mon, Natalie. Let’s go back inside. It’s just an innocent creature. You needn’t make a fuss about it.”
Natalie whirled around. “Innocent? It’s a snake! But it’s a bird!” Amy waited for an elaboration---her sister was saying this as if it were unorthodox or something.
“Yes,” Amy said patiently. “Of course it is. Were you confused as to what it was?”
“Of course I am! I mean I don’t know what it is, is. How can a bird be a serpent?”
Amy snorted. “Easily answered, Natalie,” she said condescendingly. “It’s a pinnida.”
“A . . . pinnida? What---How---” Finally Natalie settled on, “What on earth is that?”
Amy quirked an eyebrow slowly. “You don’t . . . know?” she finally drew out.
“What do you---? Of course not! How would you know?”
Amy snorted. “Natalie, I know because the pinnida told me what it is.”
Suddenly, the truth dawned on her. “Oh my goodness. I was speaking Pinnida? Huh? Why?”
Amy’s voice took on a shrill tone as she approached the pinnida in a panic. “Hey, you---do you know why I’m able to speak your language?”
It responded the same way indifferently. “Yes. And it means that you are not like your sister. You can either come with me and leave behind your family, or you can refuse my offer and I will kill your sister. It’s up to you. But you must decide now.”
“What are you talking about?” Amy demanded angrily. “What am I deciding?”
“Whether you’re joining me,” it reminded her, a hint of menace in its voice.
“Why would I join you? Why can’t Natalie join too?”
“Because,” it said, exasperation in its voice. “I told you. She is not like you. Since you are an Animan, you can join me and leave behind the humans.”
“But I am human!” Amy said.
“You are,” it agreed. “But you’re also not. You understood me, did you not?”
“I . . . I did.” There was a slight hitch in her voice now. “But that . . . that wasn’t . . .”
“You can understand animals,” the pinnida informed her. “You understood me. Haven’t you always felt you could intimately connect with animals? You are an Animan!”
“I’m not an . . . why do you keep calling me that?”
“Do not evade the truth. An Animan is a cross between an animal and a human.”
“Humans are animals,” Amy pointed out, evading the truth.
“Yes, but you are an animal not just by being a mammal. You are part reptile, for example. Since I am part serpent, I am a reptile---so you can understand me. It is within your blood that you are reptilian, while your physical appearance is completely human. However, you cannot understand all animals; since you are not fully animal---you’re only an Animan---your animal comprehension abilities are finite. Certain amphibians still speak indecipherably, in your ears. But you are hearing me explain this now, are you not?”
“Yes, but how do I have Animan blood?” Amy said. Natalie whimpered behind her.
The pinnida preened absently. “It is simple. Centuries ago, a human was being hunted down. She ran into the woods to hide from her malevolent pursuers. Miles away, in the same woods but on the opposite side, a pinnida was running as fast as it could. When the human and the pinnida reached the midst of the woods, they collided. They had both been sprinting so fast that when they collided, it was the most forceful thing ever seen. Days later, they awoke. The pinnida squawked, and the human jolted---she had understood it! The human began muttering to herself, and the pinnida understood her, too! They realized that after their extremely forceful collision, they had not only physically collided---their minds had somehow interconnected as well!”
“So they were the first Animen?” Amy interrupted.
“Technically. But not quite,” the pinnida said, its voice hardening. “As you know, the humans always receive all the fame and credit over animals---the pinnida was still considered a plain old pinnida, while the human went on to tell this true tale and be classified as an Animan. It remained in her blood then, and when she had a child, some of her Animan blood passed into the child’s genes. There was not enough Animan blood, of course, in the child’s genes to make them an Animan, but that child’s great-grandchild was born an Animan. Sometimes the blood that goes into a child’s genes makes the child a full Animan, so they can comprehend our languages. I am one of those Animan pinnidas, so I can understand you. Now, my kind recruit more Animen, and I have found one---you. Which is why I came here. I was scouting for Animen. Would you like to join me now?”
“I would have to leave Natalie, though,” Amy said slowly.
The pinnida made an expression that looked like how a bird would roll their eyes. “Yes, I have told you that numerous times, haven’t I? You are either to stay here and watch your sister perish, or leave with me, and I promise, I will leave the girl alone.”
Before Amy could respond, Natalie cut in, “Stop it, Amy! You and that thing are destroying my ears. You’re gonna tell me what’s going on, or I am going to Mom and Dad!”
Amy turned to her. “I’m sorry, Natalie! I don’t know what to do! I have to go with---”
The pinnida interrupted her complacently, “Oh, and there is one thing I’m required to warn you about. Every Animan has a certain quality that can defeat them if it is used against them as a flaw. We are not usually defeated by somebody turning their quality around and defeating us, so of course it’s only something to warn you of. Now come.”
A scheme began to sprout in Amy’s mind. An excellent quality---used against them as a flaw to defeat them. She blurted out, “What’s your quality-flaw-thing, then?”
It sighed in vexation but still answered, “Pride. Not that it matters. Let’s go.”
Pride! Amy’s body quivered with anticipation. She beckoned Natalie forward. “I have to say something first,” Amy said, conviction solidifying. “I won’t go.”
The pinnida halted. “Excuse me?” it screeched. “What did you say?”
“I’m not coming!” Amy repeated defiantly.
The pinnida had not been lying when it had said its potential flaw was pride; it was too proud to admit to itself that it might not succeed in recruiting this unknowing Animan, Amy. But here she was, standing her ground! Undermining its confidence and its---
Wait. That was it. She was trying to defeat the pinnida by destroying its pride!
It screeched angrily. “Don’t you dare resist! You’re coming with me to join the Animen!” But suddenly, a strange miracle began to happen---the pinnida started vibrating and blurring until it began disappearing. Now there was only a pile of feathers and serpentine scales left in the overly proud, now-destroyed pinnida’s place. The last of its flawed pride.
The victorious sisters turned in relief and walked back inside.