Another first draft extract from book 5. The scene is a long one so I’ve just included a few paragraphs about the experience. Violet finds herself in the Himalayas for what War calls “pinballing” but the local wildlife has to get used to their presence first.
The sun cast its gold over the mountains in the distance, dripping down slowly like yolk from an egg, swallowing the shadows made by the mountain beneath my feet. Part-buried lumps of snow-striped rock leapt from the mountainside like giant, angular zebras. Wispy clouds hung above them like puffs of breath.
I was about to ask who they were when I heard them. Just a few at first, warbling and chittering. Fat little birds, round and speckled, with pale brownish bodies, veering towards a rusty red at their upturned tails. Then more came, chirruping and whistling so fast they vibrated. A wall of puffy little birds, yellow diamond mouths open in chorus, sang to us. In the mountains. Musicals begin this way.
“What are all these other birds?” I said, waving my hand delicately to our left, trying not to offend anything. I turned at movement behind us. “And what the hell is that? Is it a yak?”
A golden, shaggy thing stood on the rock above us, about twenty feet away, all horned and majestic.
“Some kind of goat, I think. Or maybe a sheep. But those over there…” He pointed to our right. “Those are yak.”
They looked like horned, black cows that had been over-fed, squashed until their shoulders humped over, then draped with shaggy carpet. They slouched away, unimpressed. The majestic enormo-goat still stood behind us, staring down in silent rebuke.
“So what are the birds?” I said.
“Do I look like David bloody Attenborough to you?”