Hope For The Desolate

“Hope For The Desolate” is an original story that I wrote and published a while back. Up until now, it has only been available for Amazon Kindle. Now, it is free!

You can share this, and I encourage it, but please just give credit!

A Strange World


I don’t know how I got here. This place, though apparently devoid of any intelligent life beside myself, thrives with life. It feels strange, distorted. Birds sing and the wind whistles in the trees, but to my heart, the world is lackluster, spiritless. I know I have been here for a while, but I don’t know how I got here.

I live a simple life in this strange world. I hunt in the waters, in the woods. I know how to cook my food, though I can’t remember ever learning to do so. Though I murder their kin for nourishment, the animals around me seem not to fear me, as if they know each death was necessary. There are times that we hunt for each other. I leave what I do not eat for the animals to take back, and I will in turn find an easy meal, half eaten in a clearing. The fish do not take kindly to me and quickly swim away. I suspect in some ways the fish are smarter than the forest animals, if only in instinct.

Deep inside me is an urge to keep moving. I do not know in which direction to go, but it feels right when the sun rises on my left, so that is the direction I travel. I do not know if I am moving away from something or if something pulls me, but I know I cannot resist it, as it is distressing to do so.

Sometimes, when the stars are out and I lie down on a mossy bed to rest, images go through my mind. Sometimes they are frightening things, things that wake me and cut my rest short. Other times, my visions are of a better place, a place with others like me, and they leave me wanting to rest longer. Some nights, it is as if I blink and the sun is rising again.

Though I can discern no apparent purpose to my life, I nevertheless move onward. I may reach the end of my journey to discover that my people die with me, but I have hope in my heart that this is not the case. I believe that there is something that I am to know, but I do not know when I will find it. Though my journey is not an easy one, and I do things that I wish not to, I move down my path, if not for new sights and new stones to step on, then or the hope that my life has a purpose beyond what I understand.


The Early Days

It has been long since my memory began. Many years have passed, but it is very clear, the first day that I remember. I awoke in a small stick and leaf structure. It was built with precision and determination. The frame was strong and the leaves did well at keeping the wind and the rain out. I had a bed made of moss that had dried out from lack of rain, but it remained supple and was comfortable to sleep on. Though I do not know if I built the shelter I slept in, it was clear I had been there for some time, as the moss I slept on was used to my grown body. A small fire pit was constructed not too far from my shelter, which was at the base of a very large tree, too tall to see the top.

I remained in this area for a short time, not one moon cycle. I discovered my connection with the animals, and discovered I was an adept hunter, although I find it distasteful. I learned that I could move quickly over the rough terrain of the forest, and I could swim well enough to fish with my hands. I can create a fire with many things, and can usually do so even when it is raining.

I don’t know what I look like, aside from what I have seen in the distorted images from running water. I have no memory of others like me, only the dreams I have a night, which may or may not be based in life. I have no memory of a name, not that it matters. There is no point in having a name with no one to use it. The only creatures I have are the animals of the forest, which do not need a name for me.

After spending a month rediscovering my abilities, I began to discover something within me. An ache began to grow in me. I felt restless, unsettled. I started to realize that I must move, though I did not know why. I left my shelter and my fire pit and began a journey toward something that I did not know. The animals appeared to follow me, perhaps migrating. Soon, however, they outpaced me, and the animals I saw each day were new, and every night they disappeared.

Soon, I discovered a cave. Curious, I delved into it. The entrance looked dangerous, as there were bones of small animals strewn across the dark stone. Deeper, however, drawings became apparent on the walls. They appeared to tell a story as I went deeper into the cave. The story intrigued me, and I spent a long time trying to learn what these people found important enough to record it, hoping that someday someone would read it.


Drawings In The Cave

I went back to the entrance of the cave and gathered supplies to build fires, so I may see in the dark. I also gathered berries and other fruits that I knew lasted a while, as I did not know how long the story would be and I wanted to know the entirety of it. Once I was stocked up, I ventured into the cave.

The story began with three women. One had long hair that reached her waist, another had short hair that did not pass her shoulders, and the third had hair that was colored differently than the others, hers was red while the others had black. The drawings depicted the creation of the world.

The longhaired woman created the life of the world, which used to be barren. Trees and bushes and other plants grew. Then she created the animals, which kept nature in check. Finally she created man. Many men and women populated the world, and their job was to thrive and keep nature in check, while providing it room to grow.

The shorthaired woman introduced ambition in humans. They strived to be better. They began to learn and spread knowledge. They questioned their surroundings and posed answers. Man became the wisest creatures. They aspired to understand all around them, and they began to search for new things to study.

The red haired woman instilled into every human a desire to create. This expressed itself in many ways. Some sculpted clay while others crafted better structures. Soon, music was discovered and cultivated. Soon, men and women had a culture, one to which they all contributed to. The three women were consumed in their creations, so that every person had a part of their creators in them.

At this point I got very tired. It felt as though I had been awake for days, slowly working my way through the many pictures on the wall. I had gotten very deep into the cave, and I could not see the entrance anymore. I ate a small meal. I realized I had no water, but soon discovered a small nearby stream. I quenched my thirst, and put out my fire. Deep in the cave there was no moss to sleep on, so I had to make do with the rocks. I dreamt of the tale I just read. It came alive in my mind in vivid detail. I awoke to aches from the rocks, but they went away after moving around a little bit.

I lit another fire with some fur and bones, and instead of going right back to the drawings, I explored around the cave a bit. I left food and only took a few extra fire supplies, as I planned on coming back. I went down a side tunnel. The small stream I drank from last night crept down the middle of the just large enough tunnel. I could stand tall if I wanted, although that tired me, so I rolled my shoulders forward and carried onward.


Deeper Than Sunlight

The tunnel was fairly straight, but it was long. The ground around the stream was smooth, as if the stream used to be much larger, or as if many people tread this path. Soon, the ground started to go down into the Earth. The stream flowed faster and I could no longer see all the way back to the drawings. The ground became slick, as the stream slowly spread out to cover the whole floor.

Suddenly, I slipped and fell. I landed on my back, the wind knocked out of me. Before I could get up, I began to slide down the tunnel. I quickly gained speed as I slid down into the Earth. It felt like I was sliding for a long time. The ground was very smooth, so I did not feel much discomfort in sliding. I began to think about how I did not have any of my supplies with me, and I had no way to climb back up this tunnel.

The end of the tunnel came, and there was a small drop into a deep pool of water. It was freezing, and it made my heart beat very quickly. I swam to the surface, and then a short way to a bank. The edge was of rock. I pulled myself from the icy water and away from the pool. I crawled a few feet away. I found it difficult to open my eyes, as the muscles in my face were tight. The ground turned from rock into sand, which was fine grained. I lay on my back for many moments, trying to catch my breath.

When I could open my eyes, what I saw made my heart beat quickly again. I thought I was outside. I could see what appeared to be stars, but they were not in the same pattern that I was accustomed to. Nevertheless, they lit up the area around me, almost as well as a very full moon, although one was not present. Small trees and bushes were close. I stripped off my wet fur clothes and let them dry on the sand as I ventured into the wooded area.

I gathered dry wood and small twigs. I went back to where I left my garments and dug a small fire pit in the sand. I soon had a small fire going. My clothes were dry enough to wear, but I remained naked because I enjoyed the freedom that it gave me. I sat near the fire for a while, warming up. I thought about what I was going to do for food. I was accustomed to long periods of minimal food, but I do not know how long I have been down here, and I need to keep my strength up if I am to get back out of this cave.

I heard rustling in the wood and immediately became defensive. I grabbed a large stick that I had for the fire and started toward the bushes. They rustled again. I held the stick at my side, aimed in front of me. The bushes rustled a third time and a small animal burst forth. I stabbed it quickly and firmly with my stick. It slid into its chest, piercing its heart. Skewered, the animal fought for a moment, then relaxed. It was dead. I stoked the fire and put on more wood, and began to skin the animal with my hands.

When it was all skinned and I tore out the foul insides, I placed it over the fire and let it cook. The animal was not one I was familiar with. It was larger than my head, though, so it would be more than enough food. The animal took awhile to cook, so I walked around a little bit. I realized I was in a cave, but I did not know how the top glowed like stars. It was beautiful. The cave was very large. Not too far from where my food was cooking, I discovered another tunnel that lead from the cave. I counted my steps back to the fire, as I plan on leaving through this tunnel.

I got back to find that the meat was cooked a little too much, but it was still good when I ate it. It had a unique taste, one that I had not come close to tasting before. It tasted vaguely familiar though, as if it were flavor from a dream I had once. When I finished eating, I went to the cold water and drank. I returned to the fire. I dug a hole with a stick and relieved myself, covering it when I finished. I redressed in my nicely dried clothes, covered the fire, and began back to the tunnel that will hopefully lead me back to the drawings in the cave.


Unlikely Friend


The path in this tunnel was much different from the other. My torch, made from the inedible pieces of my last meal, illuminates far ahead of me, but the path is so jagged, I my feet catch frequently. I stumble a few times, almost putting out my fire in the process. I carry on, albeit slowly, down a path that I may very well die on.

I hear some squeaking, and it makes me jump. I thought I was alone, but no, a large mouse, about the size of my palm, runs along the side of the path, against the wall. I stopped, watching the mouse, which caused the mouse to stop to. It looked emaciated, as if it had been a very long time since it had anything to eat. I did not have any meat left, but I did have some that remained stuck in my teeth. It was not much, but it was a good size for such small creature. It was hesitant at first, but quickly took what I had to offer. When finished, it looked back at me, as if asking for more. I shrugged my shoulders, and began walking.

The mouse squeaked again, and ran up my leg, up my back, and came to a rest on my shoulder. Apparently he believed that I was now its best way to get another meal. He did not weigh me down, nor did he try to attack me, so I let him be. Perhaps I can save a life from this darkness. With an unlikely friend in tow, I continued on my path.

After a long while of walking, the tunnel split into three different paths. From one, a faint red glow was barely visible. I did not know what caused it, but it gave me a very uneasy feeling, so I turned away from it. The remaining two paths were nearly identical, though one had a slightly cold draft. Hoping that the draft meant a way out, I took the far right tunnel. My mouse friend shook, and moved closer to my neck. A few minutes later, the air was much colder and the room became slightly brighter.

Ahead of me, I saw something that was very peculiar to see inside of a cave. There was a crack in the wall, and three things came through it. The first was starlight. The second was cold, fresh air, and with that cold, fresh air came something that I did not immediately recognize. When I got closer, my mouse friend jumped off of my shoulder, and ran back down the tunnel, clearly favoring the warmth. I approached the crack and held my hand out. When I touched the floating pieces in the air, they turned to water on my hand.

It was at this point that I remembered what this was. It was snowing in a tunnel. Flashes of a young child running through fallen snow ran through my mind. I remembered what winter was, and the cold that came with it. I felt that death was a companion of winter, but it made me think of when I awoke to the flowers in the forest near that strong structure. I remembered all of the seasons, and I became aware of the passage of a year.

I was excited that I was so close to the surface, and hopefully, to an exit. I was very tired now, but I wanted to move away from the crack, so I continued down the tunnel. I reached another cavern, though this one was not nearly as large as the first, and this one was barren. It was warmer here, so I put out my torch, and went to sleep. I dreamed of winter and of people in mud huts with small ember fires that provided heat. In one of them, there was a man teaching a child how to make a water pouch from the hide of an animal. I watched, as if sitting next to the child, and learned as well. When I woke up, I used what remained from the small animal I ate, and made myself a pouch, though it was not as strong as the one the man made.


Leaving The Dark


The cavern I was in clearly had one exit, and after I built a torch with the last of my supplies, I set off into what I hoped was the way out of this maze. I was sad that I did not get to see any more of the drawings in the cave, but I do not regret my journey. Had I never walked too far down that wet tunnel I’d have never seen starlight inside. I believe that the path I chose was a good one, as I am still walking and I got a little nourishment. I began to notice that I felt thin. Like I’ve lived much longer than I should have on the little food I ate.

The tunnel made a turn, and I could see sunlight again. Far ahead, at the end of the fairly straight tunnel, was an opening. I became very excited, but I did not rush, as I was feeling slightly faint. It felt like a very long time passed as I walked the final stretch of the maze I was in. I began to feel a cool breeze, though not as cool as the one I felt through the crack. The feel of fresh air in my lungs was enough to push me through to the very end. Slowly, my eyes became more and more accustomed to the brighter light.

When I finally reached the end, I took a long deep breath and looked around. My eyes hurt from the bright light, but I was still able to see. I came out in a different forest, one of strange trees. Snow lined the ground, and the snow in the trees was slowly dripping off. Winter was ending. It did not feel like I had been in the cave for long, but I apparently missed most of winter. I anticipate cold temperatures, but I felt that the snow was, for the most part, finished.

I tossed my torch into the snow, and began looking for something I could use as a weapon. I found a rock that fit nicely in my hand and had a sharp, jagged edge that would be effective. I put a little snow on my fur clothes, so as to blend in more, and began scanning the area for tracks I could follow. I did not get very far until I found quite a few tracks, of different animals, each going in various directions. I picked a medium sized track, and followed it.

The sun peaked in the sky and began to slowly start down again. I decided to give up on this track, as the animal must be long gone now. I looked around me to find another one, when I saw a small deer alone on the other side of a bush. I froze, and got low to the ground. I got as close as I could and launched myself from the ground. I swung the rock with all my might, but missed the head. I hit the fawn’s neck.

As soon as I struck it, it began to run away. From behind me, a young and beautifully stark white wolf leapt over my head from the rock behind me. It snarled, and landed on the young deer, sinking its teeth into the neck. With a quick and powerful jerk from the wolf, the deer crumpled in its spot. I squat back down quickly, not knowing if more were around.


Another Friend

The young wolf immediately began feasting on what should have been my dinner. I sat for a moment, watching the lone wolf eat. I realized that there were no other wolves around, which struck me as strange. Perhaps something happened, and this youngling was kicked out of the pack. The wolf looked up, and saw me. Instead of growling, however, he took his nose and pushed the deer slightly towards me, inviting me to join.

Hesitant, I sat still for a moment. The wolf walked towards me, head held high, sniffing. When he got close, he growled at me, directly at me, and turned back to the deer. I remained, still scared, until the wolf looked back at me. I did not know if he was coaxing me from my spot to kill me in the open, or if he understood that I was alone too, and knew what it was like.

I slowly stood up, and walked over to the carcass. I knew I could not eat raw flesh, as I had been sick from that before, so I dipped my head to the wolf in thanks, and began walking around in search of firewood. I quickly found some dry wood beneath a large out cropping rock. I gathered what I could, and returned to the carcass. The wolf sat, guarding it. When I approached, he moved over slightly, letting me know that I was still welcome. I dug a pit and made a fire.

I expected the wolf to become frightened by the flame, but actually moved close to it, as if to warm up. It struck me as odd, but I carried on nonetheless. With my hands, I tore what I could from the dead dear, thankful that I was finally going to eat. I grabbed a flat rock I found nearby and set it in the fire. I waited a moment, to let it get slightly warmer, and then laid the meat on top. I looked at the wolf, which was now lying on the ground next to the fire, looking at me. I dipped my head again, and the wolf did the same. How this wolf was accustomed to the presence of a human, I did not know. I walked away to where I found the sticks, where it was dry, and relieved myself. I gathered more wood, and returned to the fire.


The meat still needed just a little bit longer on the fire, which was getting a little low. I put a few more pieces of wood on, and moved it around a little, careful not to get ash on the meat. The wolf still lay next to the fire. He sniffs the air, liking the smell of the cooking meat. I sat down on a patch of fur from the deer to keep off of the snow. I thought about how so many living things have had to die to ensure my survival. I realized that if my life means nothing, they would all have died in vain. I did not like that thought.

Once the meat was done, I took it from a fire with a stick and laid it on a cool rock. I let it sit for a moment to cool it down from burning, and then I ate. It was a very familiar taste to me. It tasted slightly bitter, as it was a very lean deer, but it still had the rich and earthy flavor that I favored. I tossed some toward the wolf, and he ate it very quickly. I wonder if he prefers raw meat or cooked.

Now that I had eaten, I was ready to sleep. I put the last of the wood on the fire, and gathered myself under the now dry skin of the deer. Although I found it repulsive, it was warm, and that was what mattered. I lay down in the small clearing made from the fire, but I was sure to keep my distance. I knew what it felt like to wake up in flames. I expected the wolf to leave now, as it was dark, but he slumped down at the end of my feet. For so long I had always been without any thing that showed an interest in remaining with me, so it was strange, but it felt very good to have something spend the night with me. I slept deep and did not dream that night.


A Place To Call Home

The following weeks held nothing eventful, though it could be argued that everything in life was eventful. My white furred friend and I continued along the path that held the rising sun to our left. I often dreamt at night, with my friend lying beside me. In these dreams, I continued to remember things that I must have learned as a child. I remembered how to build a bow, which I then built, along with arrows. I remembered how to build strong huts from weak branches, like the one I woke up in many months ago.

My friend and I traveled a great distance. We left the forest at the base of the great mountain, in which I spent much of winter. We crossed a massive prairie with few trees, and much grass. Winter slowly left. Every day the temperature seemed slightly higher, and the sun seemed slightly hotter. Occasionally, there were days that it got very cold again, but it never snowed. The longer we traveled, the further it seemed we got from winter. After the prairie, there was another forest, but of different trees. If I looked back, I could still see the mountain, but another, apparently smaller, one was coming into view on the horizon.

This new forest we were in was much denser than the previous one I was in. The trees seemed wider, and their leaves were larger as well. Similar animals inhabited it, however. My friend and I worked together for every meal, and every meal our bond seemed to grow stronger. About a week of walking through this forest, always having to twist and turn to avoid steep cliffs, we stumbled across a truly beautiful sight.

There was a large opening, with a lake that filled much of the space. Fine, short grass grew along the large body of water, and spread out around it, like a buffer from the trees. No tree grew inside of this clearing, though there were some large bushes. Now that we were out of the covering of the dense forest, I could see the magnificence of the mountain. Just past the clearing, which rested below us, there was a little bit more of the forest, and then there was a massive, snowcapped mountain. It seemed some sort of providence brought us here at this time, as the setting sun was just beginning to creep behind the mountain. The sky slowly began to fill with beautiful combinations of reds and oranges.

After some struggle getting down to the clearing, we walked up to the lake, and sat down for a moment. I lie on my back and watch the sky change colors. The orange faded to a red, which turned into a dark pink. Soon, purples and dark blues replaced them. It was truly an awesome sight, one that I wished to see every day for the rest of my life. I fell asleep in that position, my companion beside me, and the sound of the lake soothing me into a deep sleep.

I woke up in the morning feeling rejuvenated. In the night, my heart appeared to make a decision; I was going to stay here. I set to work immediately. I began to gather branches that I knew to be suitable to build a house: large ones that I could tie off properly. I found perfect ones in the woods. I worked all day on forging my home. I finished the frame, three walls and a roof, before the sun reached the top of the sky. I called for my friend, grabbed my bow, and we set out to hunt.

Today, we caught a few rabbits. I realized that I would have to dig up an area in the grass to be able to build a fire, as I did not want to burn up the entire clearing. I used one of the left over branches from my humble frame, and dug a sizeable pit close to where I built my house. I broke down the branch, and built a fire. After we had eaten, I set out to gather many leaves to make my house rainproof. It was dark when I gathered enough leaves, so I set my last load inside of my house, and went to sleep near the nearly extinguished embers.

In the morning, I woke up with the sun and got to work. I spent the morning crafting a layered pattern of the large leaves, which were larger than my torso. I bound them with some grass twine I made, and then bound them to the roof. I had it slanted so that rain ran off the sidewall and not the front. I constructed similar blankets of leaves for the sides of the house. At the edge of the forest, I found some tall vines that stretched up some of the trees. I gathered as many as I could, and some rocks as well, and crafted a fourth wall for my house. This one, I could pass through however. I tied one end of the vines to the roof, and the other to the rocks. It created a paneled wall that I could move with ease. It was relieving to have a roof over my head.


A Life Spent Remembering


I remained in this clearing for many years. My friend and I continued to work together and we came to trust each other implicitly. I created a bed out of the leaves, and although I had to change is periodically, it made for a comfortable nights sleep. I spent the days learning every inch of the forest. The animals here became accustomed to me, though they never trusted me like the ones I remember when I woke up so long ago.

Over the years, all of my memories came back to be. I crafted a fishing rod that I used to fish in the lake, and I also remembered how to build a boat, which I occasionally used to fish at the middle of the lake. In my dreams, I learned of the herbs in the forest, and I learned how to help the animals that lived around me.

In my dreams, which I came to realize were the memories of my childhood coming back to me, I learned of the people that I came from. I was born in the forest, but I know that my people used to live underground. They were fleeing a war that seemed to rage on for decades. I remember my mother telling me that her parents brought her underground when she was a little girl. She was young, but she could remember what the world was like. Man had created hideous weapons to kill the people around them. Her own people killed her sister.

While hate decimated the world, my grandparents and my mother fled to nearby caves. They expected to die soon, but were just glad to be away from war. A group of people had already fled to the caves, however, and had an established society. They were completely invisible to the warring world.

My mother grew up in a tribal society, totally away from the technologies she had known in her youth. She learned how to hunt and forage. She learned how to build anything the tribe might need. Then, when she had me, she passed all of it onto me.

I was never told why my mother and a group of people left the caves, but she told me that when I was born, they were in the very same forest that I had woken up in. Looking back now, it was possible that the caves I found myself in during the winter may well be the caves that my mother and her parents found refuge.

I grew up like the other children around me, though there were only a few of us. I learned everything I needed to know to help support the tribe. I never felt satisfied though. I remember talking to the older people in the tribe. I asked about the world outside of the forest, the world that warred. I was curious to see why no one ever came for us, or even stumbled upon us. The elders in the tribe spoke of machines that flew in the sky, but I remember that all I saw when I looked up was the sun and the birds. I wanted to see one of these machines for myself.

Over the years, I learned as much as I possibly could from everyone in the tribe, but still it was not enough. The last night of frost, I told my mother that I was leaving. I expected her to be upset and tell me to stay, but she only looked down and breathed deep. She did not fight me, though at her age, she would not have succeeded if she did. She told me to go south, to keep the rising sun always to my left, and I would find what I was looking for. I did not ask how she knew this. I wished her well, and left with just the clothes on my back. I knew if I took anything from the tribe, it would cause difficulties, and I did not want that. I said nothing to anyone else in the tribe, and slipped away before the moon began to drop.

I do not know why my memory failed me when I left the tribe. I spent the next day going as far as I could. I do not remember that night, though, even now. The very next morning was the morning I woke up without my memory. I do not know how the hut was built, and I do not know where my memory went, but it does not bother me any longer.

I am much older, and my friend is as well. I know every inch of this forest, and I know all of the plants and animals that lie within it. The only place I have not ventured is south, as I did not want to be tempted out of my humble clearing. I did not want to leave my home. Something feels different these days, however, a strange feeling has come to rest on me. When it came, it reminded me of that feeling that pushed me to travel in the first place. I know I will leave soon, though I do not want to.


Alone Again

The day that I left my home was a hard one. The sun rose just like every other day before. The tip of the beautiful snowcapped mountain was illuminated first. The sunlight slowly crept down the mountain. When it reached the clearing, everything lit up. The still lake glistened, and the birds began to sing. It was, by all accounts, a glorious day.

I did not feel like fishing or hunting today, so I elected to eat some of my fruits I had. In a woven basket, in the corner of my house, brilliant fruits of many colors were resting. I went through fruit often enough that none of it went bad. I chose to eat reds and blues today. I bit into a palm sized blue fruit, and a sweet juice filled my mouth. It was savory and filling.

I decided that today I was going to see the other side of the south ridge. I whistled loud, calling my best friend. A sharp howl replied. I already started walking towards the southern edge when a familiar white streak shot from the tree line to my right. My friend, a beautiful, stark white wolf, was now running across the clearing and around the lake to come walk by my side. I gave him a scratch behind his ears, and we walked up to the southern tree line.

The southern side was much taller than the other sides, almost giving an illusion of a smaller mountain in the shadow of the larger one. The sun was high in the sky, but the sunlight was filtered through the newly bloomed trees, creating a dappled pattern on the ground. I could no longer see through the trees back to my camp, and I could still not see the top of the wooded ridge. My companion looked anxious, his tail was stiff and his hair was raised. He must be nervous about going into a different part of the forest with me.

Before I could figure out what was going on, nearby bushes rustled, my friend began to snarl, then jumped into the bushes. In a frenzy, I saw my companion, my guardian, fly from the bushes and jump right back in. I heard a noise that I had not heard in this forest. With a great yell, a brown bear, easily twice my size, stood up from the bush and came back down onto my friend, wrapping her massive mouth around his midsection. My friend struggled for a moment, fighting fiercely to free himself from the mouth of the beast, but with a firm jerk of the bear’s head, my only friend fell limp.

The bear, still on her feet, let the wolf hang in her mouth, looking at me. She looked younger. This is the first bear I had seen in these woods, so perhaps she came from afar, trying to establish a hunting ground of her own, away from the ground of her mother. Before winter, there were no bears, and now that spring was in full throng, a bear has come and killed my friend.

I did not know how to approach a bear, but I assumed that she did not want me, and only viewed me as a threat. She was blocking my way back, standing between my home and me. I bowed low, and tucked my arms in. I hoped that she would be satisfied enough with my late friend to come after me. I began to back away. Once I got a little distance between us, I turned tail and ran.

She threw my friend away and howled at me, screaming her war cry. The trees ahead of me became much closer together, allowing me to slip through them, while my pursuer had some trouble. I darted around the trees as fast as I could, racing through the forest.

Rapidly, things changed. The trees thinned quickly, and I chanced a glance back to see if that was allowing the bear to catch up. She was getting much closer to me now that the trees were gone. I looked back forward. It was too late. I saw the ground drop out, and in trying to stop, I slid on the ground, which was now sand, and I slid over the edge. It was a massive sand dune, and I was rolling down the side of it.

Every time I tried to stop myself, I merely slid on the sand and continued rolling again. I covered my face and l just let gravity happen. By the time I finally stopped, my finely crafted fur clothes were stripped from my body, and I lie in the sand, naked and scathed.


A Final Journey


There was no point in lying there, so I stood up, with difficulty, and looked around. Behind me was the large ridge, over which I could not see the forest that held my home. On either side was a desert wasteland where nothing grew. I could see no animals in the distance.

Ahead of me was my only hope. A city, not wide but tall, stood directly ahead of me. The sun was just beginning to set, and something in me told me that I had to reach the city before the sun set. So I set out.

The sun did not set much by the time I reached the first building. Every building reached far into the sky. Vines, the first sign of life I had seen since I rolled down the ridge, grew on everything. They grew up the side of the buildings and reached across the road and connected like a thin canopy.

Though I had never seen things like this, my mother described them to me. As I walked down the road, I saw things that looked like how my mother described vehicles, however these were encased in the vine that covered the city. The ground was a sort of black rock and was very cracked. The vines covered the ground, but left large gaps that I could see through and step through.

I walked a ways through the city, keeping to the center road. I was hungry, and I was thirsty. Nothing seemed to change, as if I was re-walking the same hundred steps. Surely this was the end. I was starting to get really worried, until I saw something on the horizon. A different building. Slowly, it came into view.

It had no vines on it, which struck me as strange. It was not touching the sky like the others, but it was still very large. It had a central point on it, which was different than the flattened tops of the tall industrial buildings. It appeared to be made of white. As I got closer to it, I realized it was white stone, smooth around the door and rough on the rest. I could not see the roof of the building, but the door was striking.

It was a dark wood with a slight red tint in it. They were easily three times as tall as me, and four times as wide. I did not recognize the wood, and even as I was right upon it, it looked magnificent and without deformity. This building looked very old, but was untouched by time.

This was the end. This building. Standing here on the steps of this glorious creation, I felt a sense of security, of comfort. I stood there for a moment, naked and without anything. I had an urge to enter, but I heard faint rustling inside. My heart beat rapidly. Slowly, I raised my hand, and in a motion that just felt right, I brought my hand to the door in a fist. I did not know what lie behind the door. My heart was in my throat, pushing to get out. And I knocked.


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