THE MOMENT WE LAST FELL
Today, I had NO choice but to leave the dusty, but mostly sanitary and virus free, confines of the Pharoah Buddy Compound. I went out into the badlands in search of sustenance and some other supplies.
I am what is left of an old guard of warrior – now turned poet, left alone to care for the elders of my tribe and its acquaintances, as well as the great, but often ill, Pharoah Buddy.
My name is Winter NightTiger – Nocturnal Witch and retired Warrior. I have been lost for years, ever since the untimely death of my Witch companion and Familiar, the soft Ganymede.
Despite my loss, and my dusty and prickly spirit, I mustered the old magick, rarely used anymore, to place a force field of deflecting energy about my body the night prior to my quest. This is a gift few have, and a power for which I have always been grateful.
I prayed to the oldest of gods among the Universe to allow my success, and ensure my safe return; free from the touch of the invisible, evil Monster that has invaded so many lands near and far, and tortured and even killed so many helpless folks while they were just living. I’ve cried for so many strangers, people only akin to me through the force of the Great Spirit. I have pulled my sword so many times, seeking to destroy what lurks in the Void, to save a ravaged species. Yet, feeling pangs of guilt, I wonder if we aren’t being served up what we have dished out. It happens sometimes, when Mother Nature punishes us. But, ’tis a story for another day.
Despite a fairly sleepless night and a tiredness burning behind my eyes, I arose while it was still dark, tiptoeing around the castle so as not to awake the castle’s chronically worried – the Most High Elder, or Pharaoh Buddy who feels he must ride the wind with me at any time, in any weather, at any cost. I knew that to avoid much lamenting or ride begging, I had to be as quiet as a church mouse.
So, armed with my shield, hand sanitizer, tissues, and prepared to don vinyl gloves, I set out at dawn to seek the much needed goods as quickly as I could find and gather any of them.
Though there were closer vendors, I set out on longer trip. Going further into the wastelands, seeking that which I knew those closest to me could not supply due to not carrying the products even under normal circumstances. That grand trading post is The World of Wally, where I hoped to find the Jimmy Dean’s Sausage Crumbles that I sought…among other things.
When I arrived at the trading post, the other travelers there were in good spirits too, despite waiting outside in inclement weather for the doors to open.
There were only about 20 of us strangers at 7:00am. With a newfound happiness of finding a courage to venture outdoors, many folks seemed glad to see others and spoke, talking above the blaring winds, of their circumstances and experiences; finding camaraderie in fear and helplessness; in boredom and loneliness; in the need to help and be helped. Yet, you could hear it in voices and see it on faces…the hard-to-hide feeling of being the Most Hunted.
Nothing could hide it. Not gloves, nor masks, nor smiles, nor gleaming eyes. It was there. There in the uneasiness in the step, saddness of the heart, worry upon the face. The feeling of helplessness snuggled underneath the masks of courage. Us all…the Aging, and already Aged, Warriors. Not a Younger in sight at that moment; we are People of Legend.
When the doors opened, we all made jokes and waved our “good luck, be safe,” to one another…wishes that I knew were genuine. This World is changing…again. Can we navigate well enough to survive it…again?
A few of us who made friends ran across each other in the market again. There were a couple of fellows who I might’ve wanted to talk to longer under other circumstances, but we just passed by and smiled, making quick but positive comments.
During my foraging, I enlisted the aid of a tall gentleman to reach something from a top shelf, and despite being of the Hunted – like me, he stopped with good cheer and plucked an out-of-reach bag of Jimmy Dean’s Sausage Crumbles from the depths of the tallest shelf of a cooler section. He even made small talk for about 5 seconds as he steered his cart back onto his own trail. We do have need of each other.
As swiftly as I could, I made my way through the large, fairly empty trading post, where the strangers were well behaved and kept a decent distance from one another…lest the Monster finds us huddled too close…the odors of healthy human hosts too overbearing to resist.
During my hunt, I was able to commandeer hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, toilet paper and bleach – once dying breeds seeming to be making a resurgence in some territories. I was ecstatic to find the elusive sanitizing wipes, and the ever-evasive, dying species…the sanitizer of hands.
I was able to find much of what the Most High elders of my tribe – my Queen Mother and her good friend, Lady Mary, needed.
Yesterday, I had ventured to the Kingdom of the Smart Pets for no-touch curbside service of the Pharoah’s prescription specialty grub and healthy treats. The trek was seemingly uneventful and I never left my chariot. The Kingdom of the Smart Pets lives to serve the pharaohs, kings, queens, wood peckers, flea scratchers, and the feathered jokers in our miserable human lives…despite those same Servants also being among the Hunted. They, along with those that labor in places such as The World of Wally, and infirmaries where Servants take care of the ill – despite their own odds, these are the strong along with hero First Responders and emergency personnel, and those that pick up our waste and clean our messes. These are the best of our species.
I exchanged cash for my foods and dry goods at the trading post of Wally, then hurried to my chariot as the winds whipped at my hair and water sprinkled from dark clouds. Despite that, a fierce wind can be our friend, possibly blowing the Monster to points uninhabited, ripping its tentacle feelers along the route.
As I loaded the chariot, I looked this way and that…searching for a flying Creeper; an airborne Monster that no animal can see with the naked eye. “Where are you hiding, shadowy Monster? You, who has even outdone, even impressed, the Devil. Will you leave us be?”
I heard no answer with my ears. But despite the only noise being that of the wind, I felt an answer to my final question was given, although unspoken: “I have just begun.”
Other than that ominous feeling, I fought off doom and gloom and deemed my quest quite successful.
The Elders were grateful and joyful upon my return. Pharoah Buddy was happy to see me, yet, was loaded with questions of the “why didn’t you take me with…you shouldn’t have gone alone” sort.
I hope that I was swift enough and kept enough distance from others to elude the silent Monster that lurks in shared spaces and atop oatmeal canisters and packages of beef jerky.
Each time a member of a tribe, a house, compound, or kingdom, and so forth, goes out in search of supplies, they go alone. And upon return, they do not know if they have lead the silent, yet deadly, Monster back to their home.
Once home, the terrifyingly real waiting period begins another cycle.
I disguarded my armour in the carriage house, to rid myself of possible tentacles or spores deposited by the Monster. I donned my robe, and breathed deeply, unsure of the future of my House.
Be strong, fearless species. We shall rise again. But hopefully, we will emerge from this darkness, more patient, kinder and smarter than at the moment we last fell.
Copyright 2020 Wanda Paryla