Lone Man, Strange World
July 21, 2014
The T-Rex took a right turn as it neared the cliffs and Jack figured he would leave it to its carnivoristic wanderings. His serpentine body slipped off the huge dinosaur’s ankle without complications and he waited until it disappeared from sight before he resumed his human form.
“Well,” he started, while wiping the dust from his clothes, “That saves me a couple of dozen miles of walking.”
It pleased him to see the dried clumps of grasses and other sparse vegetation. Even though most of what he spied looked dead. Where there was life, there remained hope. At least he figured water did exist on this world, he just had to find some.
A shadow fell across him. Looking up, he saw vultures not unlike what he might have encountered on his world. A light wind picked up blowing the grey dust around him. After running his sleeve over his parched lips, he set his eyes on a pass that led between two jagged ash colored peeks and started hiking.
Hiking uphill taxed his already exhausted muscles. He felt spent both physically and mystically. It would be one thing, coming here fresh, but no, I have to arrive after fighting my nemesis. Part of him wanted to find a shady cave and start again in the morning, but he knew this would just dehydrate him more and leave him less time to find water.
After another hour of hiking, be came too a few clusters of bushes that looked like they still clung to life. He searched them for berries, but had no such luck. His empty stomach had become as much of a problem as his lack of water and he noticed rodent holes surrounded some of the bigger groups of bushes.
He rubbed his chin for a moment. “Extreme circumstances calls for extreme actions.” So without further wait, he once again transformed into a snake, found a concealed area, and waited.
The wait proved long, but his reptilian form required less water, so in some respects, he stretched what hydration he had. He might have dozed off, for when he felt the slight vibration, his eyes reveled that evening had begun to claim the land.
A rat nibbled on a root of some kind, but not for long before Jack’s fangs pierced its hide. It struggled for a moment, but soon perished from the venom. It took Jack seventeen distasteful minutes to devour the dying critter, but once the process was complete, he returned to his human form.
Feeling strangely refreshed and a little invigorated, Jack continued to push himself and put another mile behind him as the dropping temperatures made travel easier. Before long, he came to his first group of trees. They had twisted forms, like old witches bend in the wind, so he pushed on.
The cliffs became steeper and as darkness set it, he figured that it would become too dangerous to continue soon. Cursing himself for leaving the first cluster of trees, he had just considered returning to them, when he reached a sheer cliff that stretched thirty feet over his head.
A groan escaped from him until he saw something that left him feeling uncertain. To his right small hand and foot holes had been carved into the rock face. He touched them while looking overhead. They appeared ancient, but remained hard for him to tell when the last time they could have been used. Maybe yesterday, maybe a hundred years ago…
Collecting himself, he started the climb. Even with the carved steps, it proved difficult, and he slipped more than once. Reaching the top, he struggled to pull himself over the lip, and then rolled away from the cliff. He hugged the nearest rocky wall and took in the scene before him.
The trees stretched thicker and larger here. Similar to the small Oaks of the west, he grew up with. There remained no signs of water, but as he cautiously approached the trees, he saw something that gave him pause. In the center of the trees a clearing had been made and in the center of this, an old fire pit stood out like a large black eye.
Once again, he scanned the cliffs and trees, but saw nothing more sinister that the fluttering of a small bird. Figuring that if people were around, the fire would have been going, he approached the pit. Digging through it with a stick, told him that it hadn’t been used recently, but had seen use this year.
Humans or human like things still live in this area. The question remains how do they feel about strangers?
Deciding against a fire, he used what was left of the light to pick a long and mostly straight branch. His hand axe cut it free and he spent the next few hours preparing his spear, while watching the clearing.
By the time he had completed his new spear, sleep dominated his thoughts. He hid the spear under some old leaves and for the third time that day, became a snake. Finding a hiding place proved easy, but not as easy as letting sleep calm his tired bones.
To be continued next Monday