As one of the Author Spotlights for AnomalyCon 2016, con chair Kronda Seibert invited me to participate in the AnomalyCards, a set of postcards distributed at random, to be traded with other attendees for the whole set. Writers would contribute a flash fic, and artists would illustrate them. This sounded like a fine idea, so of course I sent in a thing!
Here is the result!
|Art by Sarin Tatroe|
"The Bomoh’s Apprentice And the Tree Spirit"
I leap through the rainforest, on rotan springboots, to investigate the destruction of the white men’s settlements. The gibbons pull aside vines to clear my path. I do not need the gas-lit keris tucked under my songket. Soon I stand before a verdant messenger, face scowling with moss.
“Tabik, datuk.” I bow. “Anak cucu minta tum—”
“Your name?” the angsana tree demands.
I give it as surety for honest answers, despite the danger. My master, Tok Kadir, named me Saifan. “Are you a Chinese girl or a Malay boy?” human strangers ask me. The spirits know that this question is moot: I am the bomoh’s apprentice, and one day, I will be the bomoh who negotiates their desires with that of the rapidly-changing human world.
Sang Angsana, with a hacking cough, spits into my hands the piston it ripped from the tree-cutting machine. “Tell the omputeh to stop destroying us, or the worst will come. For all that their factories are made of steel and greed, they will fall, when Belum-Temenggor rises.”
Saifan's rotan springboots are based on Oscar Pistorius' running blades, except that Saifan isn't an amputee, so wears them as actual boots.
Keris like Saifan's do not exist.
Angsana is an actual tree. "Sang" is a prefix
Saifan's full sentence is "Tabik datuk, anak cucu minta tumpang lalu," which means "Salute, grandfather, this grandchild asks permission to pass."
"Tok" is short for "Datuk," which you call your grandfather, or any significantly old man out of respect.
Belum-Temenggor is an actual forest.
There is a much longer story about Saifan and Tok Kadir which has yet to find a home, which I call my "steampunk bomoh" story. I'm also spinning a larger story about their adventures.