The Driftwood

Updated: August 12, 2019

“It’s the best I found,” Shisa said, placing a weathered chunk of driftwood at Muskrat’s feet. “If you desire better, I could –.”


Shisa slunk away, head low. He watched Muskrat snatch up the driftwood with his small, nimble hands. Muskrat twisted and turned the wood, examining every knot, tracing every blemish.

“What is the reason for such an offering?” Muskrat asked.  His nose twitched, taking in hints of the driftwood’s journey. “What brings a great guardian like you, Shisa, to someone as pitiful as me – a battered soul, an outcast, an aged Muskrat on an island in the middle of a worthless slough?”

“I was told you have a power. That you are more than you appear.”

“Lies,” Muskrat said, a grin breaking from his chapped, black lips. “Rumors made by the weak-minded. Stories repeated to impress a girl.”

“They said you’d deny this.” Shisa said. “The moths –.”

Muskrat howled. “The moths?” He shuffled over to a massive rock, still laughing, and flipped the driftwood onto the boulder’s sun-warmed surface. “The know-nothing moths – ha – placed on this earth to fatten idiot birds, and that’s whose word you come all this way for – the moths?” Muskrat let out another huge laugh. “You are Shisa, a legend, and you lower yourself to the gossip of moths.”

Shisa’s lip curled upward, exposing over-sized canines. “I will not be mocked, Muskrat,” he said, failing to contain his anger. “The moths spoke to their goddess, the Mothra. She told –“

“Mothra?” Muskrat’s voice cracked, and he lifted his hand to nervously clutch at his clam-shell necklace. “The moths? They spoke to Mothra?”

“Mothra whispered to them in the wind for me to bring you this offering.” Shisa said, still angered. “And with this offering you’d guide me to my twin.”

“Nonsense. All of it.”

Ignoring him, Shisa continued, “And together – my twin and I – we’d overtake and guard forever the Great Palace in the Forbidden Lands of Peba.”

Muskrat said nothing. His dark, beady eyes stared deftly at Shisa, examining him like he did the driftwood – every knot, every blemish.  His nose twitched as he sniffed the air.  After several moments, Muskrat turned away, lowered himself to his knees, and dug his hands deep into the muck of the slough’s shore, pulling a dripping ball of green-black earth to his chest.

“Will you guide me then?” Shisa asked.

Muskrat did not answer. Instead, he shuffled to the massive rock, grabbed the chunk of driftwood, and began slowly coating it with muck. When the driftwood was suitably covered, Muskrat brought the piece to his nose, inhaling deeply. He nodded, turned, and walked in Shisa’s direction, holding the driftwood like a staff.

Shisa took a step to the side – unsure.

Muskrat continued passed and waded into the stagnant slough. When the water came to his chest, he stopped and raised the driftwood above his head. In a dark, ancient voice, Muskrat began to chant. At first, his words skipped across the still surface of the water, making small ripples, but then, all at once, the chanted words plunged themselves deep into the water’s mysteries. Muskrat’s voice thundered, and his words continued to slam hard into the water. A grey cloud passed in front of the bright sun. A dark shadow descended. All around him, the slough churned violently and bubbled. Bluegill, sunfish, and frogs jumped from the water, attempting to flee the evil beneath.

The island shook and quivered. Cattails wilted. The grains of the tall grass turned to dust.


The massive rock on the island split.

Muskrat halted his chant.

All went quiet.

An angry snarl rose from within the fissure.  Chunks of rock burst from the crack.  At last, the rock crumbled in two – from it bolted a monstrous Anguirus. Through reptile eyes, it regarded the small, sad island.  As the beast focused on Shisa, a deep growl rumbled from within its large, spiked body. Without warning, it darted into the water, thrashing and ripping its way up and over the opposing bank – gone from sight as quickly as it came.

Muskrat lowered the driftwood from above his head and, with it, motioned for Shisa to follow the beast.