This is the eighteenth in a series of posts featuring speculative flash fiction in translation. The series highlights both new and established spec fic writers from around the world.
Malena Salazar Maciá was born in 1988 in Havana. Her debut novel, Nade, was the winner of the Premio David in the science fiction category in 2015. Her second novel, Las peregrinaciones de los dioses, was published in 2017. Her fiction has appeared in various magazines such as Cosmocápsula, miNatura, Papeles de la Mancuspia, El Caimán Barbudo, Cubaliteraria, and La Jiribilla. Translations of her short stories are forthcoming in 4 Star Stores and Selene Quarterly Magazine.
Toshiya Kamei holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas. His translations of Latin American literature include books by Claudia Apablaza, Liliana Blum, Carlos Bortoni, Selfa Chew, and Leticia Luna.
“Colors That Tinted the Sky” by Malena Salazar Maciá, translated from the Spanish by Toshiya Kamei
Inpu sneezed. Gentiums believed that the beast-gods didn’t sneeze, and that they spoke no words. Inpu was one of the beast-gods who were against letting them believe such myths, although establishing a psychomental link was more convenient than maneuvering his tongue in his dog-like mouth. Sometimes he wished he weren’t a beast-god, if that would refrain him from growling advice to anyone who sought his wisdom.
However, that just wasn’t relevant. Even in the depths of the cave, where his stone table was filled with a half-embalmed body and beyond his ointments, he could smell the sulfur and chemical components any gentium would deem as “heavy odor,” if they could smell them. The advantage of having a dog-like head was to count on the beast’s acute senses. The advantage of his gentium body was the freedom of movement and his superb intellect.
Inpu sneezed again. The smell was getting more intense. He cut with his fingernails the bandage with which he had finished wrapping the face of the gentium with no existence and dashed to the exit of the cave. It was imminent, terrible, and expansive. His reason compelled him seek refuge, but his curiosity propelled him to lean out, even if he was miles from the vanishing point.
Because he knew the origin, it was that cursed place of which Father had warned him, him and his siblings, Sutej, Horus, Bastet, and Ast. He had ordered them to stay away from it, or misfortunes would sweep Eastern Terra and the beast-gods would be forgotten. It wouldn’t be the first time it happened. When Terra was still young and other gods roamed there, and well before Inpu and his brothers were born, the beast-gods were wiped out by the greed of gentiums.
Inpu stopped running as he left the cave and raised his nose toward the rock formations to the east. He shut his eyes and by the smell could establish distances and shapes, determine materials, and almost feel the exact place of the leak, the cause behind it. He was too far away to establish a link with some gentium, to alert him to the incident. He couldn’t understand how no one noticed what was happening! Even though they could build so much with so much technology, they still had no clue!
He felt it – it was imminent, in a matter of seconds, no, hundredths, thousandths, microseconds…! Inpu hurled himself inside the cave just as it happened. A deafening sound rumbled in the distance, then a gust of stale air rushed at the rocks, with more strength and power than any dry storm or sand Inpu had known. He had to hold his breath, cover his ears, and curl up into a ball, or he thought he burst from the inside out. His howl of pain faded in the storm and then came absolute silence. Inpu stood up and cautiously peeked out of the cave, his eyes fixed on the peak, beyond the East Riscos that were his lands.
The sky appeared like a mixture of molten metals in shades that went from the violent fire orange to the streaked black of the dormant volcanic rock. The column of smoke spewed out glows and specters of lightning as it touched the clouds.
When new smells reached Inpu, he was horrified. Without even looking for a bottle of water or taking more precaution against the toxins, he went down the gorge of the rock formation and, as he touched the sand, he darted toward the place marked by the red turbulence in the night sky.