After the humans left this land, we became the masters again. It was before my time, of course, so I do not know much about the humans. I do know that they exist, as I have seen them out in the forest, running about in their noisy, stinking machines. It is hard to believe that creatures so oblivious could have built so much and left it all behind.
Howls echo down the canyon between the ghostly warren of dens. I go to an opening, jump carefully on a mossy ledge, listen and sniff the air. It smells like rain. The wind blows the trees in the canyon and the sounds of the howls are diminished, though I adjust my ears to focus on the alarm. Something across the way rattles and bangs in the breeze. The howling is from further away. I suspect the old amusement park. I decide that it doesn’t concern me and jump down from the ledge.
Humans cannot be trusted and we remain vigilant, hidden in the shadows. The young ones are large enough now to follow me out of this high, safe den, down the twisted broken stairs, around the flooded floors, through the trees growing in the lobby, and out the gaping hole. Though I can’t read it, there is a slanted little human sign (though barely legible, it reads, “Heroes of Stalingrad Apartments“) that marks the entrance to our dens and from which brown rust trails streak the concrete wall .
I am teaching the children to hunt now and they have picked it up for the most part. I am worried about the pale male child though. He has always moved awkwardly and doesn’t seem to react to sounds and smells like the others. Life is a struggle, and he won’t be the first child of mine to die young, should that be his fate.
The others are waiting by the old rusted car. Concerned by the howling, they gathered here and were expecting us. They look to me to lead the way, as always. Our group is very strong and the city is big enough to share. I do not feel there is any imminent threat. The amusement park is unclaimed territory, not a good hunting place.
Today will be a good day to cross the river and hunt for rabbits, I decide. I start loping towards the bridge. I want to run. My group assumes its natural order and understands my silent intent. Under the cover of the forest, through the ruins of a city, a one-sided battle being won by nature, we set off for another hunt. My son, standing on the remains of the roof of the old red car behind me, howls with pride and purpose. Rain patters on the leaves above.
Copyright © 2014 – Eric A. Schweitz