The Featherfoot

Yet another example of masturbating my book characters all over a short story, this is an interaction that’s heavily-based in my world, and maybe wasn’t the best way to slap a short story together.

Especially for something as exciting and important as The Little Journal, something put together by the most-excellent people at Writing WA and Night Parrot Press.

750 words about speculative fiction, horror and other “super genre” stuff, I feel like an idiot for trying to shoehorn my already-created world into something that I really should have just written something fresh for.

But yeah, always learning. Usually the hard way. But I do like this story, if for no other reason than I’m in love with my characters and the world I’ve created.


Glutey watched his cousin appear from the night behind their enemy, the axe’s blade shining in the moonlight as it swung at the man’s head. The deathblow passed through though, and the dark-hooded man disappeared like mist. Glutey knew then this was a Kadaitcha, a Featherfoot. A demon here to exact revenge.

He didn’t know Noongar well but he knew some of the stories. Most books were gone along with the rest of society when “The Pulse” hit late last century, sending the world into darkness, but the storytellers did their best to instil fear. It had worked, Glutey was terrified.

He and his cousin hadn’t meant to attack the hooded man but he’d stumbled across them after they’d raided a sleeping camp of some stupid Avonists who’d wandered too close to the border. Glutey staggered backward in the dark, glancing left and right, wondering how to tell the Featherfoot it was his cousin Tega’s idea to cross the Derbarl Yerrigan and come south.

Reluctantly, he’d followed Tega across the river separating north from south of what used to be Perth-Boorloo, intending on killing, raping and taking whatever they could. Now a demon was on them and it was all Tega’s fault. Glutey had no idea if Tega could get them out of this and braced himself to flee. Tega wouldn’t though, he was the fiercest and toughest fighter Glutey knew. Sparring with him and roaming to raid or spar with other tribes, there was no one faster or deadlier.

Panic suddenly filled Glutey’s heart as he watched the Featherfoot suddenly appear right behind Tega, the blade in the demon’s hand sinking into his cousin’s neck. Poor Tega stumbled forward a few steps, his face a mask of anger and surprise, his life leaking out from between his fingers, before falling face first into the dirt. Glutey watched as the demon then disappeared.

Glutey ran. Tega was the brave one, Glutey always just along for the ride. He had no idea how to avenge Tega’s death against a demon, instead running as fast as he could back down the trail toward the river. All he wanted was to retreat back through the ruins and back to the lake. He’d be safe there.

Glutey barely made it twenty metres before he heard something on the trail ahead. Gripping his axe and moving slowly forward, his blade still sharp and deadly despite shaking like a leaf. Heart hammering in his chest, eyes like chicken’s eggs in the night, he searched anywhere and everywhere for the force that was now stalking him.

Tears stung his eyes and he tried to force it down but a voice inside his head talked openly, calmly, about his home. “Irony is thick, that they call you gangs from North of the River ‘Joondals’ after Lake Joondalup.”

The demon whispered to him from inside, and despite the calm voice Glutey’s body was frozen in terror, he couldn’t move a muscle. Sweat mixed with his tears as the whispering continued.

“The Noongar suffix ‘up’ means ‘place of’ but ‘joondal’ can be either ‘whiteness that glistens’ like water, or ‘creature that only moves backward’ like you’re doing now.”

Glutey, still frozen in fear, felt his bladder release.

“My blade still thirsts, so go backwards now, Joondal. Back to your tribe, your gang of rapists and murderers. Tell them of my blade. Tell them of this night.”

Suddenly unfrozen, Glutey felt his legs moving as fast as they ever had, branches whipping across his face and stinging his arms. With every strike he imagined the Featherfoot’s blade in his neck and he ran screaming into the night. He’d reach the lake eventually, but never again would he feel safe.

“Kaya, mate. Nice touch with the ‘thirsty blade’ business.” The Edge Guard stepped out from the trees. Moonlight glinted as he slung his plasma rifle onto his shoulder. “You forget that I’m under orders not to let any of them go though.”

“Kaya yourself. You forget too, that to them I’m a demon, a legend.” The hooded figure suddenly appeared, his smile shining from under his beard. “One terrified survivor is worth a hundred of your summary executions by plasma rifle.”

“Maybe…” the Edge Guard’s voice said in his friend’s head, “Neat trick there though. Disappearing and all.”

“Thanks, been practicing. You have too, I like the body freeze thing. How’d you make him piss himself?”

“I didn’t. Must be something to this Featherfoot legend-thing after all.”