Of all the amh, birds that were neither predator nor prey to the sparrows, the iparral, or cardinals, were the most likely to treat with sparrows and not to fight with them. So long as there was ample food, the cardinals and their brides would suffer the sparrows to be near them and to converse.

So Lwyr sought their counsel, specifically that of Rreko, a cardinal who had lived in the area for many years and had raised three broods a year, like clockwork, with his bride.

“Tell me, please, if you have a moment, what I should do about the nest-intruders, the cowbirds,” Lwyr said. “They have laid their egg in my beloved’s nest, and she is beside herself with worry.”

Rreko cracked an oily seed open with his great orange beak and chewed on the contents, meditatively. “They have bedeviled us more and more,” he said. “But we accept it as a fact of life.”

“What happens with the chicks you raise?” Lwyr pressed. “What happens as they grow?”

“We do our best with them, and they care for us in their fashion, but they always speak in a foreign tongue from the nest, it seems, and when our fledglings scatter they never return, seeking instead their own kind. I suppose all sons and daughters are the same, in that way.”

“What if they could be made to stay, for us that flock?”

“Well, they do flock sometimes, usually in the spring, but they are such rude, garrulous creatures that they would not fit in with a flock so…delicate…as yours.”

“What if they could?”

“I would say that is a fool’s dream,” Rrenko said, cracking another nut. “It is as if asking what if the sun were edible.”

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“Far from being amh, they are worse than llew, because they kill our young and force us to raise their own. Larger, heavier, they take more food and more care than our own young do. They may not eat us, as llew would, but they devour all the same.” Yn said.

“But surely,” asked Echyd, “surely we can tell the difference. Their eggs would be larger too, yes?”

Yn puffed up, the old sparrow shuddering from wingtips to tail. “Sometimes they are. But the cowbirds will keep a keen watch on their brood, and if you eject their egg, they will descend upon the nest and destroy it–killing all your true young and perhaps even yourself as well. It is the implicit threat they hold over all of us, and they have been growing in numbers every season.”

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Greetings and Introduction

Welcome! The editors here at Excerpts from Nonexistent Books are honored, nay, humbled that you have chosen to read from our humble site, and we are even more excited to kick off a weeklong celebration of 10 years’ literary blogging!

This blog was started in 2010 with a humble goal: to provide an outlet for the finest literature that did not, technically, exist (and as a daily, and accountable, writing blog besides!). At times it seemed like the project would not last the year, and EFNB was woefully behind at times, up to a month in some cases. But now, 3,652 entries later, it has all come together.

For this commemorative entry, the EFNB editors have gathered some comments from our nonexistent authors, posed questions to some of our longest-running nonexistent characters, and compiled some tantalizing statistics for nerds and nerkles. Finally, we have some exciting news in the form of a blast from the past! Stick around—if you’ve been with us for 10 years of this nonsense, you’re sure to enjoy what we’ve got in store.

Comments from Nonexistent Authors

“Ladies, gentlemen, and anything in between, it has been a pleasure and I hope it continues to be.”
Mariana Brinson

“Has it really been ten years? It feels like five-and-a-half at most. Perhaps there’s a time warp thing involved, I dunno.”
Altos Wexan

“Oh wow!!! CONGRATULATIONS! That’s wonderful!! Wooooooooow, 10 whole years. That’s an impressive milestone!”
Amanda Elton

“How did you get this address? Get out of my office!”
Phil “Stonewall” Pixa

“Nice! As someone who can’t finish nearly anything with an semblance of consistency I find it impressive.”
Akima Wren

Nokin Kobeyashi

“It’s been an delight, since most sites think my writing is for the birds.”
Sandra Cooke Jameson

“I’m honored to be part of EFNB, and I will live on forever through its fame and glory!”
Blythe Hilson

Questions with Nonexistent Characters

Q: What is best in life?
A: To crush a difficult recipe, see it served before you, and to hear the happy belches of the customers.
-Takenaka Chihiro, the wandering Sengoku Jidai gourmet chef

Q: What do you like best about appearing in EFNB?
A: Since my author will probably never finish my novel or short stories, it’s the only way I can exist. I guess I’ll take it, since the alternative is staying cooped up in his head.
-Pamela Ellen “Peg” Gregory, minimum-wage space jockey

Q: What is a good quality in a nonexistent character?
A: Existence is illusory. We only give existence power through belief; with enough belief, even the most ridiculous thing can be said to exist and exert its will. The ideal thing is to be the hand or sword-arm of that thing–no one has to believe in you, but you may as well be all-powerful.
-Pierre Richat, enigmatic villain

Q: Who do you like in the 2020 EFNB blog draft?
A: I think we’ll see more low-effort bad poetry, more graphical elements stolen from old sheet music, and the occasional return of a character from the blog’s heyday. But look out for pass interference from bizarre ideas that the blog toys with extensively and then drops, and of course plenty of hasty entries filled in after the fact.
-Carl Drake, sportscaster for NBS Broadcasting

Q: Do you think any of the characters are authorial self-inserts?
A: No, I think the predominance of college-age men giving way to greying middle-aged salarymen in stories over the years is a coincidence.
-Eric Cummings, spoiled college student

Q: Which is superior, the realistic, sci-fi, or fantasy entries in the blog?
A: All genres are puny, and all the living authors vermin, destined to wither and fail before the unstoppable tides of entropy and cool animated skeletons. So, fantasy, I guess.
-Ulgathk the Ever-Living, Elder Lich of the Seven Lands

Q: Why do all the EFNB entries sometimes feel like they were all written by the same person?
A: Well, as Messr. Whitman once said, we are large. We contain multitudes. Each idea is like its own being, with its own life and death, even if it occupies the same skull as a thousand others. Perhaps we are all, ultimately, mere notions in a head so large and a mind so vast that we cannot even conceive of it.”
-Auguste Des Jardins, French filmmaker

Q:Who are you, really?
A:I am a servant of the power behind the Nothing, and an aspiring poet.

Statistics for Nerds

Most Comments: 56, From “A Muse’s Unvarnished Perspective” by Altos Wexan

Most Popular Year: 2012, 4394 visitors

Total Pageviews (including spambots): 37,028

Total Visitors (including spambots): 17,867

Most popular day: Tuesday (18% of views)

Most popular hour: 10:00 PM (14% of views)

Average Excerpt Length: ~300 (299.8)

Wordiest year: 2013, with 130,377 words written and 357 words/excerpt average

Total comments 2010-2020: 1,061

Average comments per excerpt: .29

Total likes 2010-2020: 6605

Average likes per excerpt: 2

Countries outside the USA with more than 1000 views: Italy (1,724), India (1,721), UK (1,355), Canada (1,145)

Total words written 2010-2020: 1,010,628

Still to Come!

Tune in starting tomorrow for a week of entries that are sequels to the very first pieces of nonexistent fiction every featured on this site!

The sparrows recognize two deities, two powers to whom they give thanks and from whom they seek favor. The first is Aurin, the Father, the Great One–the sun. He bestows gifts like abundant sunshine and milt temperatures when he is pleased, but can also curse his adherents with rain, clouds, and storms if displeased. He is celebrated on Longday and Darkday, as the former is when he is closest and most present to his children, and the latter is when he is at his most distant, drawn away by affairs in the sky from his erstwhile romance with Iurra. Aurin does not have a code as such; he simply responds to what his followers do. If they show him proper respect, he is kind; if they insult him, he will be vengeful.

Iurra, the Mother, the Dear One–the earth–is the second great god of the sparrows. Unlike Aurin the Father, who has never deigned to speak to his children, the sparrows believe that Iurra once spoke to, and granted requests from, sparrows. They believe that she has withdrawn in sadness due to the wickedness of her children, but that she can be coaxed back through good behavior and sacrifice. Tywy, the sparrow of legend who was and is his people’s eternal leader, set down a series of commandments known as Iurra’s Word. If the Word be followed, many believe, Iurra will once again speak to her children and grant them boons.

Iurra’s Word is as follows:
-Be true to your mate unto their death, and to your chicks unto their fledging.
-Let no sparrow be faethwr (a bird of prey) or llew, a predator. (Sparrows do not consider insects to be alive.)
-Share your bounty with the flock, and in turn the flock will share its bounty with you.
-Sing strongly and well, but only when the time is right.

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For Xori had in fact dined on the flesh of another bird, in direct contravention of Iurra’s word.

The striders had prepared the bird’s flesh so artfully, and so flavorfully breaded it with crumbs and spices, that Xori had simply not noticed. But Echyda, with her father’s prowling eye, had noticed the subtle bones, the secret sinews, and had reported them to Oesoeddi, who still possessed his father’s keen mind and impressive memory for the word of Iurra, the Mother.

Despite Xori’s protests of ignorance, the remedy was clear. Xori was stripped of his title of riau, leader, and declared to be faethwr, a bird of prey, along with all his followers who had joined him in the forbidden repast. They were cast out, shunned for their cannibalism. All but his daughter Xoria, of course, who had been the first to sound the alarm and now stood to become the new riau, clear of suspicion.

After all, what daughter would report her father who did not have the best interests of the flock at heart?

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A selection of words and terms from Passerine, the language of sparrows.

strider – A human being, so named for their curious gait. “Strider” is used rather than the Passerine word, llewe, to reduce confusion.

llew – A predator, which takes and eats sparrows. Can be more generally applied to any creature that sparrows find frightening, including striders

ysgly – Prey, that which is preyed upon by llew. Can include sparrows, but more often refers to other creatures.

faethwr – Birds of prey, eagles and hawks. While they can be–and are–called llew, their ability to fly makes them more dangerous.

amh – Birds that are often indifferent to sparrows. Typically applied to crows, gulls, and the like, which rarely harm sparrows so long as the sparrows are not foolish.

riau – A king or leader. Can be used in a metaphorical or honorary sense, often for a particularly old or respected sparrow.

esgyn – Good places in trees. They can be fine perches, or highly suitable nesting material, but most often refer to excellent sources of food like wild berries.

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Marking the beginning of fledging season and the end of the cold, hard winter, the sparrows venerate Seedsprout over all other holidays. It does not always exactly coincide with the warming of the sun and the plenty of seeds and young shoots to eat, but their arrival is always heralded.

The midsummer celebration of Longday is when the newly fledged chicks take their places as full members of sparrow society. The longest, hottest day of the year, it is also an opportunity to remember that winter has begun its approach and that the halcyon days of summer are fleeting.

The most dour of all sparrow holidays, Flutterleaf is a final feast on the latest-blooming, the cherries and their ilk. One final chance to fatten for the hardships to come, it is also often fledglings’ last chance to seek assistance from their parents before their first winter alone.

The coldest and darkest day of the year, Darkday is a time to remember all those sparrows that have perished in the previous cycle. But it is also a hopeful time, because spring has finally begun its arrival. Darkday Dances are often the place where sparrows meet their mate for the season.

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“You mustn’t heed him,” said the crow. “His kind have a dour streak to them.”

“You know all too well of what I speak, corvid,” hissed the vulture. “You have taken of the dead just as I, I who have seen and feasted on death since my parents first bore it to me in the nest.”

“So what would you say, then?” I asked both birds.

“The world is cruel and there is no reason to it,” said the vulture. “I have seen the deserving young cut low, the revered aged slaughtered, and feasted on the eyes of those who wished only good for others and the world. Indifference is the way of our world, and indifference I cannot but share.”

“And you?” I asked the crow.

“Who cares?” it replied. “Stuff happens and there’s no reason to read anything into it. Sure, I’ll eat the dead if they’ll go to waste. But I’ll also eat a berry, and that doesn’t say anything about the world other than it’s juicy. Trying to read a philosophy out of what happens is like shouting at a rock. It might make you feel better, but the rock will do what it does and you only hurt yourself by worrying about it.”

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The Conclave was a special meeting of the Great Council called every ten years. It was attended by the delegates, or the sons of the old delegates, and it was there that birds were added or expelled.

Only the largest and hardiest birds were represented, and only those native to the area. Thus, the great ostriches and emus were not represented, though the Council did seek their advice on occasion. At this meeting, the Council consisted of an owl, a crow, a hawk, a vulture, a gull, a heron, and a goose. Smaller birds were assigned a Council member; the sparrows were represented by the crow and the ducks by the goose, for example.

At this Conclave, a motion was introduced through the crow to expel the hawk from the council. The reasoning was that, since the hawk tended to eat its fellow birds, it exercised undue influence and could not be controlled.

The hawk natrually protested that this was a transparent attempt by its prey to avoid predation and undermine the natural order. The owl agreed, noting that it too often took other birds as meals, though not with the frequency of hawks. Fearing that its omnivorous habits would be impinged, the gull joined them.

However, the crow was in favor despite its own wide-ranging diet, and the goose and heron concurred. As they ate mostly non-birds, they saw nothing wrong with the hawk’s demotion and argued that it could be ably represented by the owl.

This left only the vulture, who had long held a reputation as a crafty negotiator. Weighing the alternatives, he declared that he did not care one way or the other, since birds who died of natural causes were his only avian prey. He therefore, instead, declared that he would vote for whoever offered him the finest gift.

The others insisted that this was quite unprecedented, but the vulture would not relent. It was his nature to seek profit where he could, he argued, and this was no exception.

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This is the story of the island of the sparrows.

In the middle of the Greatest Water, over which only the greatest of the great fliers can soar, a land once arose. Completely new to the World Beneath, it was not connected to any other land, and it was too far for any strider or any llew, any predator, to reach. And it was a bountiful land, full of food and good nesting.

Only those with wings could make the trip. So came the segmented scuttlers, the insects; so came the furry gliders, the night-mice; and so too came the sparrows. Though the scuttlers and the night-mice were clever and grew large, the sparrows were far cleverer and grew far larger.

In fact, the nesting and the food was so good that the sparrows grew powerful, almost as large and powerful as the ones who had once upset the Great One. But, knowing as they did the story, they did not make the same mistakes. Instead, they made different ones.

With so many years having passed since llew had feasted upon them, the sparrows grew fat and complacent. They lost their ability to spot llew, to run from llew, to hide from llew, and in direst need to fight llew. So when the striders learned of the great island of birds and swum to it…there was nothing the sparrows there could do.

The striders and the llew they brought killed all but the smallest sparrows on the island of birds and wore their feathers upon their bodies as trophies.

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