Sunday, November 11, 2012

(Or, put another way) 509

Tzu shifted uneasily in his sleep, under the dark, verdant canopy.

"Wake up boy, there's a pig to hunt." Whispered his grandfather's ghost, and Tzu snapped up, coffee eyes wide, looking around.

Grandfather Ghost sat down on the far side of the quiet fire, and when Tzu saw him, they stared at each other for a long while, while skinny bats and flying insects played cat and mouse.

Tzu asked, "Am I dreaming?"

"No," Replied Grandfather Ghost, "You ate some fermented fruit for dinner. There's soft vine down by the river, and some flint to fashion your spear head from."

"But I checked down there."

"Not hard enough. Be careful what you eat, the boar is no chicken, no easily swayed doe eyed creature. You're lucky, with this fruit."

"Which was it?"

Grandfather Ghost shook his head no and shrugged.

A centipede crawled over Tzu's ankle and he woke, blanket wet with morning dew, the white and orange remains of his fire browning the blanket's edges.

The sun came up red through the grey, cloudless, morning sky --it would bake it azure throughout the day, but all good things take time to cook.

Tzu picked his knife out of the fire and re-wrapped the leather strip around the handle, carefully overlapping and laying the leather flat. He smiled at the prick of blood it drew, pushed lightly into his thumb.

At the river, her skewered shimmering piranha and left them to drown on the rocks while he foraged more wood for his fire.

Most of the wood was damp, but the thinner sticks dried and caught fire, speeding the drying of the rest, and so on until he had a fire fit to sizzle the scales from his toothy breakfasts.

Tzu relieved himself in the deep hole, dug two days ago, and quickly covered his mess.

He walked, hopped, and balance gamed his way half a mile or so down stream, so as not to pollute his drinking water, and washed the work of the previous day from his skin, which sang to him, deep in his ears and lightly through his skin --the crispness sharp on the parts of him usually covered in cloth.

Around noon, thankfully, the storm clouds rolled in for the day, bringing cooling rains and a hide to hide the blinding daytime river under.

Tzu sat and splayed his legs out, splishing his toes happily in the water. He splished, and when that got tiresome he splashed and just as he was about to dive in, something red and sinuous caught his eye. Something strange and otherworldly tworled between two rocks, then was gone.

The red tworling thing shot back into site: a gigantic, bulbous head and eyes like cat's when caught staring at a storm as lightning strikes, but horizontal and infinitely deeper, even in the river. The red tworling thing had more limbs than tzu could count, and they drifted gently in the river's breeze, though the creature stayed where it was.

Tzu noticed it had not broken eye contact with him.