General Fiction posted December 11, 2016

This work has reached the exceptional level
Prose Potlatch Challenge--Animal Story

The Journey

by michaelcahill


I suppose it's fitting that labor became especially difficult. As far as I know, Garamond here will be the last creature born on Earth.
"Yes. Stand, my son, you can do it. Make Mommy proud. Oh, yes, that's my strong boy."
It's been months now since his father passed. I haven't seen so much as a tit mouse in a tree, or a pollywog in the shrinking pond. The air is still and it becomes more foul every day.
"Yes, son, stretch your neck."
The air is sweeter up higher and more foul near the ground. He senses it already.
"Drink your fill, boy. No one tasks you. The world is ours, such as it is. The trees are sparse, but our necks are long and reach the leaves easily. They grow thicker near the tops, above the haze below."
Giselle stood at fifteen feet tall, average for a female. Her survival certainly fell into the domain of luck. She'd done nothing special to survive, nothing any other giraffe or, indeed, any other creature hadn't done. With attrition, there is the first to go and there is the last. It isn't a matter of choice.
The demise of mankind though not celebrated could not be viewed as a dark period in Earth's history. For a while, the Earth began what looked to be a long recovery and it looked to be a recovery destined for success.
"Stick by me, boy. The world is fraught with danger. You will learn of it by and by; I will teach you. We have all the time in the world for questions and answers as best as I can give them. For now, living is our task and our task is concerned with survival."
"But, Mother, there doesn't seem to be anything here but us. Where is everything? Will I be meeting them later? Is this the way of things?"
"Yes, Garamond, it is the way of things. I'm afraid you have met all you will meet. This is the world you've been born into. I'm sorry it is not more than this."
Mankind proved to be the most foolish of creatures. It sought what it already had. It consumed without purpose. It killed for killing's sake. It killed creatures at random, some to eat or clothe themselves with, but some for their own self-aggrandizement. No other life form acted in such a manner.
The larger their population, the more foolish they became. As the world crumbled around them and their very existence came into question, eyes and minds closed.
They sat there and watched each other perish while the more impatient sped the process along.
It didn't end there. What they left behind continued to operate and bespoil the planet. Energy producing plants broke down and further polluted the Earth and death accelerated for the rest of life on Earth.
"You mean, Mother, there is nothing but us? How could such a thing be so?"
"We are the last is all. Your father and I walked by a new pond one day, A shot rang out and your father fell to the ground. He'd kicked a wire that caused a human weapon to fire. The owner, of course, was long dead, but the weapon remained. Man's legacy continuing to speak from beyond the grave."
Months became years and though the Earth slowly died, it still provided enough sustenance for its two remaining inhabitants.
Until one day Garamond cried out, "Mother, no!"
Giselle seemed to be swallowed by the Earth right before Garamond's eyes with little more than a groan.
Garamond stumbled, but regained his footing. He peered into the pit now holding his lifeless mother. His cries echoed across the Earth to be heard by no one.
Love on Earth died then and there. All that remained was the seeking of love and the will to live.
His mother often told him of the humans and their burning desire to explain things and understand everything. She'd laugh and tell them of how they so fervently sought the Kingdom of Heaven, as humans liked to call it.
Garamond looked around at Heaven and the desolate place it had become. He shook his head and continued his journey.


Story of the Month contest entry


I was going to make this considerably longer and may yet do so. But, I didn't want to take a week, so here is the shortened version. :))

Write about animals interacting with humans from the animal's perspective.

Take any approach, humorous or serious.
An animal that is hunted.
The life of a beloved pet ... a neglected pet.
An animal raised for food inhumanely.

Or, it could be more indirect, such as the depletion of the rainforest and the affect that has on the animals that live there or the melting of the polar ice caps and that wildlife.

Be as creative as you wish. The story of a family of polar bears raising their young in an environment that is crumbling, for instance, would be fine. You can't get it wrong in Potlatch Land. :))

REMEMBER: We want the viewpoint of the ANIMAL, not the humans.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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