C'mon in, take yer shoes off, and set yerself down. Here you will find comics, cartoons, musings, rants, . . . whatever strikes my fancy, or "Spins my Plush", so to speak.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Day After . . .


Three had been living with Bonn close to year when his training began to get the better of him. He had grown far beyond the mindless foot soldier that he once was, but a base predatory instinct was something harder to overcome.

“Please,” Bonn insisted the day he found Three leaping across the cavern opening at a small scurrying rodent, “go hunting for dinner. Better that you use up that energy catching our food than me!”

That had been four hours ago, and even if Three felt the hunter’s heart beating in his chest as he stalked the mountain pass that had become his home, he feared that his hunter’s skills would never return.

Perched atop an almost perfect sphere of granite, about 20 feet above an ancient crevice that ran in a more or less straight stretch for close to three miles in either direction of his position, Three had been waiting for an Antelope to pass for what seemed like forever.

Although he had been becoming more familiar with the rocky landscape around Bonn’s cave, it had not been long that he had even been able to walk, let alone clamber over the mountaintops. He had left the cave and headed first to the watering hole over the rise. This was actually only about 100 feet from where Bonn had originally found him while gathering liquid for cleaning. The location was actually just a collection of boulders, fashioned into a bowl shape by centuries of a small waterfall dripping into its centre. The water poured through a crack at the top of a sheer face overlooking the bowl, filling it to its brim before spilling out between two adjacent rocks at about five o’clock to the incoming water’s twelve. The side that Three arrived on was flat and worn away slightly from Bonn’s many trips. The pool stretched out for about 20 feet in front of him, with the rock face to his left, a rising edge to the bowl, about his eye level, in front of him, and a sheer drop to the right. Peering from a distance over the drop, Three could only see the clouds above what he imagined to be a deep valley. He looked back at the incoming waterfall, listening to the splash it made as it landed.

Clambering back up the rock path he had come from, he found a slide of loose gravel that had fallen from above. It had given him enough of a path to reach the top of the rock face. At the top he found a small stream of water running over the rocks. He followed the stream as it gently rose up the mountain. The local vegetation consisted mostly of moss and lichens, but the occasional tree had managed to crawl up out of the boulders.

A cold breeze suddenly blew Three’s shoulder length brown hair into his face from behind as a shiver ran down the middle of his back.

“Brrr,” he muttered involuntarily as he hunched his shoulders forward and tensed to warm himself.

It wasn’t long before Three reached a mountain crest. The stream he was following ran from a pool that appeared as if from nowhere: apparently the product of an underground spring, volcanic in nature, since he could feel the warmth radiating from the pond.

The pond sat between two mountain ridges that came together to his right, and ran off to his left following each other like a pair of snakes. Between was a narrow path made of loose gravel. And in the gravel he could make out the distinct pattern of hooves, antelopes and goats. They apparently travelled up the path to find water and warmth in the frigid, tundral mountains. Heading off down the path, he quickly realized that the long straight valley was not conducive to catching an animal unawares. And so he found a large boulder sitting alongside the path, climbed to the top, and found himself where he still remained to this moment.

The wind had been getting stronger and colder as he sat on his perch, but discomfort was not something he was bred to acknowledge. However, with no sounds save the wind itself howling down the pass, and the slight smell of rain in the air, Three was beginning to believe that his efforts on this day were destined to failure. Looking around and seeing a gentle mist rising as clouds moved in seemingly from all around him, Three saw the sun lowering in the west and rose to a standing position. Clasping his hands as he raised his arms over his head, Three stretched out, arching his back and hearing the slight clicking of his joints as he stretched his tired muscles.

Tensing his leg muscles to leap from his post, Three heard the scratch and skitter of his feet atop the rock, and suddenly, entirely instinctively, pulled himself back, almost falling off the boulder in the process.

A slight “clop” had almost been obscured by the noises of his own body, but even if he hadn’t heard it, his well-trained body had. Crouched back into his predatory position, one knee bent under himself, Three glanced around the other and down the path. The mist had hidden a small caravan of about nine antelopes, heading up the pass for water, one after the other, every second beast slightly offset as if to keep them from the unappealing odours of their fellows’ rear extremity.

Heads up, they were moving at an even pace, albeit slowly. Fortunately, they were unaccustomed to being hunted at such an elevation, and as such had no reason to even be listening for Three as they passed.

As they got closer, Three watched them through the mist, realizing that one near the middle of the pack seemed oddly misshaped. It’s back carried some sort of hump. A hump that seemed to swagger oddly, then suddenly rise high. A small tendril reached out and tapped the neck of the attached beast, as Three realized that the fourth Antelope carried a rider. A human rider.

The beast reached within about forty yards of Three when a distinctive curve could be seen to the rider, a delicate melon-sized head perched atop an “S-curve” body. The rider was a woman.

Closer the herd approached as the rider began to take shape, her pale green clothing standing out amidst the tan animals and grey rocks. A red stripe ran down the centre of her chest. Three could ultimately see a distinct scaled pattern to her green, vest and leggings, as well as a hood strangely shaped like that of a cobra or a . . .

“Viper . . .”

The name of the woman rebel who had become legendary for the slaying of the first Number 1, and legions of other soldiers, spilled from Three’s lips, as the strangely garbed woman’s head snapped, her eyes meeting his, all four open so wide that the pupils and irises disappeared in a sea of white.