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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Isolation by Stuart R. West



Yeah, I’ve heard all the names, all the mean-spirited
put-downs. Let’s see, there’s “Bigfoot.” I suppose my feet are large, but they’re not all that big, not really. Then there’s “Sasquatch,” whatever that means, a nonsense name. And possibly the worst of all, “Skunk-Ape.” I don’t look, nor smell, anything like a skunk. Humans can be cruel, quick to strike down anything that’s different, outside of what they know. Yet, I’m the one designated as a monster.
Actually, my name is unpronounceable in human language; the closest approximation would be “Mmgawalla,” but that’s still not quite right.
To put it into perspective, we were an ancient species, older than man. But because of the callous manipulations of the fates, I’d become the last of my breed. I wasn’t sure how it happened exactly, and Father and Mother seemed less than certain themselves. But before my hibernations, my father used to tell me tales of how our race had dwindled because of weather, sickness, and men brandishing weapons. Father had called it “evolution,” an unfathomable term that terrified me as a youth. When I grew older, I came to understand evolution and then grew to hate it. Simply put, we weren’t evolving with the rest of the world.
Never was that more apparent than when I woke up after a three-moon sleep. Alone. Not quite alone, I suppose, but the only living entity in the cave. Mother and Father lay across the ground, arms entwined in one last embrace. Mother had buried her face into Father’s chest. Even though I longed for one final look at her unworldly features, I thought better of it, choosing wisely to remember who she’d been, not the shell she’d become. Seeing Father’s face had been awful enough. His eyes had dulled to twin dried berries. His jaw tugged down, frozen in a silent scream, a death scream. Even though I knew Mother and Father were now roaming the skies with the rest of our breed, the horrors I imagined them going through during their last moments of life filled me with fear, then a great sadness. And finally, anger. I sat beside them, moaning, rocking on my haunches, cursing the unjust fates. It felt like an eternity, yet not nearly long enough.
For I was truly alone. Forever.
I stayed in the cave for many seasons. As the moons passed, Mother and Father decayed, their bodies returned to the grounds from whence they’d come. I suppose it was a little akin to self-torture, but as the last of my kind, it was my duty to ensure them peaceful passage into the skies. Finally, when they’d transformed to little more than dust, I rolled the sharpened branch between my hands, wondering how it’d feel to thrust it into my chest. Would I lap at the air like the fish we speared, gasping for one last chance at life? Would I hurt? Or experience a deep, consoling darkness, a welcoming hug from Mother’s spirit? Yet I also feared if I took my own life, I wouldn’t be allowed entrance into the heavens, fated to wander the polluted earth as a restless spirit.
I left the cave, alive yet despondent with no idea what I’d do, where I’d go. But I had to move, to do something. Fill my empty husk. But as Mother used to say, be cautious of what you seek. It wasn’t until I saw my first human that I truly understood her cryptic, yet prophetic meaning.
First, strange sounds echoed from within the forest, not unpleasant really, rhythmic and resonant. I sniffed fire, something Father had warned me about. Then unintelligible gibberish, both shrill and deep, lapped in upon itself, punctuated by loud bursts of giddiness. Keeping my distance—our species had been blessed by the Gods with remarkable eyesight—I pulled back a tree branch and watched.
Humans.
Father had warned me about them, told me they were dangerous, evil. As a youth, I’d imagined them as demons, beasts with eyes of fire and a serpent’s mouth of jagged teeth. But they weren’t at all what I’d imagined. Somewhat homely, ridiculously hairless, but not exactly monstrous in appearance. Soon, I was able to differentiate the females from the males by sound and appearance. I studied them for hours until they went into hibernation.
I don’t know what compelled me to do so. They acted primal-- the men urinating on my land, tossing their refuse without care, disrespecting the gods of nature. Their female counterparts tended to flock together, shrieking, their tones raised to the heavens. Absolutely bestial behavior. Yet I was drawn to them. Perhaps it was my crushing despair and loneliness. Or maybe I saw them as a lower life-form, something to be pitied. Regardless, I couldn’t stop examining them, pulled in like a cub to its mother.
I returned the next cycle and the next. Disappointment set in when they packed up their belongings and a frightening, gleaming shell transported them away. But soon more humans replaced them, none of them ever staying very long, just long enough for me to learn. I moved in closer. After many moons, I began to understand most of their words. I listened to what they called a “radio,” their tribal music. The voices talked about “Bigfoot Country.” Later I realized they were talking about me.
And every time they left, I’d clean up after them, burying their abandoned rubbish and stamping out their fires. So uncaring, so insolent. Dropping their man-made, fabricated feces on my lands.
After a while, I grew restless, impatient. A deep resentment built inside me like a mounting tornado, something that couldn’t be harnessed. One eve, under a pregnant moon, a particularly awful group of humans ran rampant through the grounds. The men drank from shiny receptacles, chinking them into growing piles. One human hacked at a newborn tree with a weapon for no apparent reason other than a joy for violence. Several humans set fire to terrifying small sticks, throwing them before they cracked like thunder. When one extremely loud and braying man urinated on my foot, I unleashed my tempest.
I whipped back the tree branch and ran toward them, arms out. Vengeance gripped me. I attempted to approximate their words. While I clearly heard “Show respect and practice honor” in my head, what came out was a garbled mono-syllabic roar. Several of them screamed, prompting me to shout louder. One man lifted a stick, a weapon I’d seen them use to slaughter animals. I grabbed the end, tore it from his grasp, and flung it into the woods. I stomped on their fire, tore down their flimsy dwellings, knocked over a foul, black, smoking demon, animal breasts and thighs sizzling upon it. My jaw grew taut, tighter, my fury escalating. The humans scattered like field mice, allowing their horrific transport to swallow them. Dust kicked from the silver beast’s back legs, an ugly farewell.
Everything had been left behind, past and present, more for me to bury.
Then I heard another voice, tinny and far away, a male on their radio.
“…I done saw it, I did. Wouldn’t’ve believed it myself if I heard it from someone else. But there I was staring into the face of a Bigfoot creature, a female from the looks of her bosom…”
I knelt, praying to the sky gods there might be someone else out there like me. The human on the radio said the sighting had occurred in a place called Honobia. I didn’t know where it was, but I’d find it, yes I would. For the first time in many moons, I dared to hope, a hope for the future.
* * *
Here I am, talking about myself, pretending not to. Ah, I'm probably not fooling anyone, but play along anyway, 'kay? Just imagine Morgan Freeman narrating and we'll all get through this just fine.
For more of Stuart R. West's adult and young adult suspense tales filled with light heart and dark humor, check out his Amazon page.
And please do check out Stuart's blog featuring weekly rants, failed stand-up comedy routines and incisive author interviews: Twisted Tales From Tornado Alley