Tropical life was weird. Austin was on the building crew, and so he and William and Mable had gotten first dibs on their choice of house.
They’d chosen a shelter on what they were now calling Auswilma Island, an acre-and-a-bit hilly, wooded lot with steep drops to the water on three sides and a nice casual hill down on the side immediately opposite The Big Island. They got there first, so even though they’d have to share it with two or three other houses – two were built, and there was room for a third – they claimed naming rights.
But owning their own island wasn’t the weirdest part, any more than swimming the narrow channel between Auswilma and Big Islands twice a day to get to ‘work’ was, or bedding down to sleep while the weather was so warm they couldn’t stand to touch each other for more than a few minutes.
Weirdest was the wildlife, mainly flighted animals, and the way a couple of them seemed to latch onto each colonist and follow them around. Austin’s were a blue-and-marmalade-patterned thing the size of his hands together and a dark-buff-colored thing whose wingspan was bigger than Austin’s. At night, they roosted on the roof of the house, his and William’s red-and-blue pair and Mable’s trio of mostly-black ones. During the day, they followed them around.
When the big one dove into the water next to Austin and pulled out an eel-thing twice his size, Austin was suddenly very grateful indeed for their company.
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