It was the middle of the night, moonless as it had been for so many countless cycles. I remember when there once was a moon, it was the prettiest thing in the dark sky. Those days were long gone, however. Now, there weren’t even stars, just a dull glow from the shell above us. It made me think of an unhatched egg. I’d seen these odd birds lay eggs sometimes, and abandon them. Their shells did a good job of protecting them from the elements. Were we protecting something or being protected? Gaia wouldn’t say. And where did all those birds go? It’s been a while since I last saw them.
It felt great to have my body back in talk mode. Now where was that Fo- Tristain? I’m hungry. After all, this flesh doesn’t contract properly without enough food.
Looking around, I was somewhat stunned. A few arm lengths from me were walls made of fallen trees. Every two or so arm lengths, a hole was made in the wall, and a long thin pole formed of a cut tree had been placed, angling inward, with it’s sharpened tip sticking just out of the hole.
Quite the defensible structure, I must admit.
Tracing the wall with my eyes, I noticed a strange thing strung between three trees a small distance from the nearest wall. Upon further inspection, these happened to be the only trees inside the wall. Some bear skins had been draped in two sections between them, tied on either end to the trees, making two hanging beds. Sleeping in one of them was Food, Mika. Her body bulged the middle of the makeshift bed, gently swaying with her breathing. That must be quite comfortable. I should try it out at some point. In the other was Fo-Tristain. One of his legs dangled loosely over the edge of the fur. It was nice to see them alive and well. I felt a sense of calm I hadn’t known before. These two caused strange sensations in myself, feelings I couldn’t explain.
I suppose there is no good to be done in bothering them while they’re sleeping. I could wait until after they’re awake to eat. It seems they did well to protect me while I was dormant.
I decided to take a look around while waiting for them. The wall around us is well built, and twice as tall as Food. Surely its creation was no small feat. Although there’s a ring of sunshine where I once was, leafy branches were used to create a thicker cover over where the two slept.
There was one distinctly large hole in that protective canopy. Looking below it, a smoldering fire billowed smoke, and just above that, several pieces of long, thin bear meat hung. I didn’t understand the appeal, but they appeared to like eating the stuff. Their food is theirs, after all.
Inspecting further, a few more bear pelts were hanging down from walls. Their edges curled from being over dried. I could see their insides scraped clean, leaving only the resulting leather and fur. They seemed just hung out of the way, not existing in that location for any other reason. The way these humes used other animals was quite clever. One of them had been turned into a bag of sorts, with straps on it for carrying. The seams were simply sliced bear skin from multiple pieces tied together. In no way was it safe for small objects, but it would work well when carrying larger items. Food would just run right out after melting. Maybe they could use it for other things?
There was also a similarly fashioned set of clothing, its seams were simple strip taters tied together. They were hanging from a stray branch nub on the wall. Yuck. So restrictive. How would I spread my leaves wearing that? Seems problematic. Humes are so strange.
Further down, there were a few other pieces of clothing, and then a mess of bear claws. This time, it looks like they had taken more than just the ones they could use. I wonder what for? They were excessively sharp, sure, but a person could only use one or two. By the looks of it, they had one of those bags filled to the brim with twenty or more. Odd.
I continued my investigation, but could find no exit. Frowning, I sat a good safe distance away from the cinders, and rested against one of the walls. Not much to do but wait. I closed my eyes and relaxed, waiting for some food.
* * * *
It wasn’t long before the sky began to brighten. Looking up to where there should be a forest canopy, it seemed all of the trees nearby had been felled, so all that could be seen were fringes of the remaining trees, and blue skies. I knew they would need to have taken down some trees to create this encirclement, but the amount of damage done shocked me a bit. Granted, these weren’t my brethren, so much as exceptionally distant relatives, and we shared almost nothing in common, but it was still striking nonetheless.
Mika was the first to rise, getting out of her hanging bed like contraption, completely naked.
“Oh, uh, hi.” She covered herself and waved.
“Food, you look healthy and as delicious as ever.” I watched her face turn pink, and she ducked behind a nearby tree, grabbing some of the clothes as she did so.
Shortly thereafter she was dressed in some bear-fur pants, that hardly reached her knees, and a strip that covered her chest completely. She waved, went about checking the meats over the fire, then fed it some wood. After poking it to rouse some flames, she turned to Fo-Tristain. He seemed to still be resting in the makeshift bed.
Well, was. She had tipped one edge, causing him to spill onto the ground.
“Up, or you make your own food.” Seemed a bit harsh, but Food Sour- erm, Tristain had made it very clear to not worry about their… Fights? I tilted my head as I watched. They were very confusing.
He groggily rolled onto his back and looked up. Then back at me. “Oh.” He sat up, then stood up. Looking at me, he pointed at me and spoke: “It’s Alive!” It was somewhat in an odd tone, and resulted in an smack on the back of the head by Delicious Food.
“Yes, and it’s hungry? Feed me.” I was still looking at the curious scene being played out between the two of them, but made clear where my priorities stood.
“Tristain.” Mika grabbed what looked like a very lean tree branch, and cleared her throat. “Clothes?”
He looked himself over and smiled. “But it’s so fresh in the morning, how could I hide such-” But never got the chance to finish as Mika whipped the thin stick across his rear. “YEOUCH, okay, okay!” He reflexively grabbed some more clothing made from bear fur, and started to put them on. His arm appeared to be mostly fine now, which was somewhat of a relief.
His clothes consisted merely of pants. What happened to the clothes that they had before? These new ones must be much less comfortable, That bear fur must be awfully worm and scratchy. While thinking that, Mika threw something at me.
“They should fit, I think. Wear those.” It was clothing similar to what went under her pants, and what Food- Tristain’s was wearing. Yuck. Why do I have to wear these?
“No. I don’t want to. They block the light.”
As Tristain began creating some ice, I watched, fascinated. Mika tried to stare me down, but I threw the clothes back at her without looking over.
She threw them back again, blocking my line of sight. “You don’t get any light down there anyways. Put them on.”
I did get a little though? I frowned at the clothing. I didn’t like it. I really didn’t like it. “No.”
“Tristain, we talked about this. Do it.” She looked at Tristain.
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