Chapter: The First Dream

Installment: August 2002

Contact Author: dingbats247

They lived in the forest, in the darkest corners between thick roots and sprawling, diseased black vines. Minutes from the clearing there was hardly any sunlight, and the cracks between the leaves up in the distance seemed like stars shivering and guttering on a stormy black cinema screen.

They were elusive. They hunted by night, yowling up at the deaf moons. By day they closed their eyes modestly and slunk away. But I had to hunt them during the day. There would be far more dangerous things in the forest by nightfall, and besides, the Peacocks had sent me.

They had one been human. Something had gone wrong, long, long ago, to make them start changing. They had done something bad in the age when all this dark land had been a garden of exotic flowers and the mountain had been a hall of rose marble and seaglass. They'd done something, and they wouldn't say what except whimper that they were ashamed, they were afraid... that there was an evil inside each of them like a tree disease and the healers could not cleanse it out. They were human, and that was why the evil had come, and, they howled, they did not want to be human anymore, ever, ever again.

Yes, they were the little elusive wolves now that haunted the forest like shadows. Caos, the golden Peacock, tossed his glittering head, rattling the metal links that bound him to the streetlamp post. He glared at me with both black beads. They were only a band of oddballs among a universe ruled by humans, and the village had laws about hunting them. They had to be certain parts wolf to be legal game, and if one was shot that was too human, the gunner was a murderer. She is little, a young female, he said. Her fur is black, like the others'. You will have to look for her eyes. They are big, and yellow-green. They have depth in them, like emerald planets frozen in the headlights of a pickup truck. You cannot miss them...they are your eyes.

(my eyes, my eyes, my eyes).

She has wounded my companion, Zerot. He is bleeding. Take the gun. It is behind the cottage door. You can go in through the side, you'll find the new bricks quite soft. Kill her, and feel no regret. She is a demon, not a girl, and inhuman enough to die by the rifle if indeed she lived by the claw.

I could handle the water rifle. It was long and green, with a pink belly heavy with death. I fired experimentally at a nearby stump. A stream of silvery glittery spit struck it full-on and steamed upwards in a blue mist. Satisfied, I moved on.

It must have rained just before I came out hunting. It was hard to tell from the darkness of the forest floor, but the air smelled like rotting wind and storm, and I wished I had remembered my raincoat, or even an umbrella. Tut tut, looks like rain. Tut tut, looks like rain. Tut tut, looks like rain. Well, at least he had his umbrella. Tut tut, looks like rain. Tut tut, looks like rain...

The downpour came
hard
and fast
and hot
Steaming grey London rain
Umbrella rain
sidewalk puddlefloods
Ants building arks
to save the Porcupines
and Parakeets
and Pigeons
from being swallowed
by the sky-acid drinking fountain.
The forest, disarmed
disabled
was roofless, bottomless
a forest not of trees but of windows
foggy car windows
cutting in front of my face
fogging up the place where I was going and
making me confused...
Where? I was looking through bubbles
swelling
wallowing
maladroit mud-bubbles
hiding in them
popping them
looking for a muddy little wolf like me.
Twin flashes came

they weren't lightnings
they
were Eyes
& I
yanked the rifle round
hauled the trigger
stuck
tired-lazy-heavy
BANG!
ramming my shoulder
waking me up
a big lead wasp
barreling into blackness.
That wasn't the thing
that came out of the gun last time...
and with a
thud
the storming forest halted.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

When the ground had dried, I found her body. I cleansed my hands in the dew of a sleek purple-furred leaf. Reaching forward to touch her warm, fuzzy form, I saw the world-round eyes for a second time. Still open.

(my eyes, my eyes, my eyes).

I held her hand. Caos was wrong, she had never lived by the claw. Her hand was pink and soft, with fully-formed human digits that curled around each other. It was the dirty hand of a little girl who had gone out playing, her fur was her soiled dress. She was only a child after all, who had gotten lost in the woods. She had a mother somewhere, and a father, too. And now I was a murderer.

In the distance Caos laughed. He laughed so hard he hiccupped and squeaked:

Chirrup- chirrup- chirrup-

For a long time I lay awake in bed, listening to the crickets squawking autumn outside my open window.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *