Richard Harland - Ferren and the Invasion of Heaven

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Fusselfolk and Fur-Snails


The slope flattened out and they emerged suddenly onto a wide black beach. Only it wasn't an ordinary kind of beach.

'It's furry!' exclaimed Kiet. 'And moving!'

She crouched and scooped up a handful of small furry balls. They gave off a distinctive smell, sour and fishy.

'You're walking on fur-snails,' Floy explained. 'We call them fussels. They live all around the shore of the lake.'

Zonda turned to Ferren. 'I saw them before, when I came this way with Miffa,' she told him. 'They're what the shore of the lake is made of.'

Everyone was having difficulty standing upright. The fussels moved incessantly, rolling slowly one over another. Some Residuals found themselves rotating, others found their legs twisting at odd angles or drifting apart. They had to keep lifting and replanting their feet in order to stay in the same spot.

Ferren shook his head in astonishment. 'Why do they keep moving all the time?'

'They travel to the edge of the lake for water,' answered Floy. 'They travel inland for nutrients.'

'How deep?' asked Shanna. 'How many under my feet?'

Floy measured off differing distances with his hands. 'In some places, only ten deep. In other places, more than a hundred.'

'The Fusselfolk cook them and eat them in a soup.' Zonda put in her own piece of information. She turned hopefully to Floy. 'We can't eat them raw, can we?'

'No. But my people will make a soup for us when we arrive. Not far now.'

Floy's idea of not far involved another hour of walking. He led them along the shoreline around endless branching arms of the lake. A dozen times they made their way deep into valleys, a dozen times they came back out along promontories. They walked like swaying drunks, with arms outstretched for balance.

Day was breaking by the time they came to the inlet where the Fusselfolk had their settlement. It was more sheltered than other valleys, almost a ravine. The shore reached back from the water in a long black V.

The shelters of the Fusselfolk were constructed in the centre of the V. They were like tents slung between poles, but raised up off the ground. There were at least fifty of them, all aligned in the same direction.

'We can't sleep on the ground,' Floy explained. 'Or the fussels would carry us away in the night. We could end up in the water.'

'So how do you sleep?' asked Ferren.

'In hammocks. We tie our hammocks between poles, then tents above the hammocks. The poles go down into firm earth beneath the fussels.'

The settlement was silent and tranquil in the early light of dawn. Floy approached a particular hammock and lifted the tent flap at one end. The material of the tent was black and furry, obviously made from the coats of many fussels.

. . . . .

The Fusselfather rolled over and dropped suddenly out of the side of his tent. He stretched his limbs and stood upright.

He had purple-stained lips and oily skin. Like Floy, he wore anklets, bracelets and a cap of black fur. Like Floy, he wore a long pointed stone on a string around his neck.

He said nothing, but took up a position facing the lake. For thirty seconds, he shook himself all over as if getting rid of the kinks in his system.

'We call this taking our bearings,' whispered Floy. 'I need to do it too.'

Floy stood beside the Fusselfather and gave himself a similar shaking. Then they both lifted the strings around their necks and dangled their long pointed stones in front of their chests.

The stones swung like pendulums before gradually settling to a stillness. Floy and the Fusselfather shuffled and swayed in tiny movements, as though adjusting themselves in accordance with their stones. Then they too settled to a stillness.

'It must be because the ground is always shifting under their feet,' whispered Miriael. 'They feel a need to set themselves straight.'

'Floy does it every morning,' whispered Zonda.


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Ferren and the Angel

Ferren & the Angel


Ferren and the White Doctor

Ferren & the White Doctor


Ferren and the Invasion of Heaven

Ferren & the Invasion of Heaven


Ferren's World

Ferren's World


About Angels

About Angels





Read the extracts from Ferren and the Angel or Ferren and the White Doctor


- Ferren Home - Ferren and the Angel - Ferren and the White Doctor - Ferren and the Invasion of Heaven -

The FERREN series is published by Penguin Books Australia




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Richard Harland.