The Last Wilderness II: A Brief Adventure

I have now spent my first day and have much already to tell. The day, of course, being of earth duration as told by my trusty Swiss mechanical watch stolen off the wrist at a cocktail party and replaced with one of superior alien make. Due to the orbit and rotation speed of the planet I find myself on, the only night they can be said to experience in the part of land I now dwell on is afforded when one of the three moons unpredictably creates an eclipse.

I shall start my tale in the middle. There I was face to face with a slimy creature. Despite the ever-present light, its head stalk appeared to have no eyes but instead two groups of four leathery bumps. Its six legs each possessed apparatus that churned the water rhythmically. I stood perfectly still in hopes its sonar would take my two legs to be not but the trunks of plants that jutted all around. It took steps towards me, my heart raced though I could detect with my eyes no mouth with which to carry jaws and teeth, the sheer size of the beast and foreign build of its body caused me to imagine horrible fates. Finally, it stopped. I could see the gleam off its smooth grayish-white skin, seemingly devoid of orifices. It began to vibrate the water slower, more subtly. A fanged tentacle flew from the lower side of the beast’s abdomen with a flash into the murky water near my left leg. I jumped back in fright. It brought out a klin, one of the young of the intelligent species of the planet. Paralyzed, the limp klin was brought into the beast’s body cavity, leaving nearly no evidence of the extending mouth tentacle. There was a purple-green sheen on the water from the klin’s blood. Looking around frantically, I saw a bright yellow rock sticking up just out of the water. Running as fast as I could in the knee-deep muck, I managed to make it to what I could only hope was safety from the beast’s sonar. I was content to wait there until it passed to a new hunting ground. I watched it spear up the klin too stupid to run, too stupid to tell its luring vibrations from that of food thrashing in a mucous web. I sat cross-legged and still, observing and sketching the beast. It appeared to have two tentacle mouths and operate by a kind of sonar. I still did not manage to ascertain the function of the headstalk until later. It seemed too far away from the legs to be productively used in processing.

After some time, it lay down, so only the top of the back and the headstalk were showing. Its back now looked somewhat like a rock. A flock of flying beasts passed overhead. Some of them dived down to feast upon small creatures that flew and swam near the surface of the water. I tried sketching the flying beasts but failed. Their yellow shapes darted about too quickly, and they were too far away for me to get a good look. I did see that unlike the talons of our flying creatures, they seemed to have some sort of harpoon ejected from their backs as a spider does thread but with a barbed needle with which to catch and then reel in their prey.

I looked back at the large beast. I could tell it was making subtle vibrations in the water. This attracted some of the smaller creatures to move and hop around it in the water. The strange spiderlike birds began feasting on them. The great beast remained unmoved. Eventually, a dozen or so of the spiderlike birds were busying themselves eating around it. Suddenly, the leather curtains opened, and four eyes on long gooey ropes shot out, moving in uncoordinated directions. With immediate precision, four mouth tentacles appeared from its back, killing its prey and dropping them in the water, then moving instantly in a line to take down more. I counted that it managed to kill nine in all before busing itself, feasting its black eyes still darting around erratically. After it finished its meal, the large creature vanished into the water, leaving only a few bubbles. It was impossible. The water wasn’t even hip-deep, yet the creature, even minus the head stalk, was taller than me. I sat there contemplating this seeming impossibility, realizing that instead of bones, it must be supported by fluid-filled sacks whose pressure it can modulate. It seemed unlikely that the creature dug itself into a hole in such a short time. Satisfied with my conclusions about the morphology of this creature, I dubbed leather eyes, I began scribbling in my notebook.

There was the slight sound of moving water from behind me. I nearly froze but managed to jerk myself face it. The noise was a phantom. Another even more subtle noise came from behind yet again. Looking in the crystal of my watch, I saw I had been in that interminable swamp for over 4 hours. I also saw the unmistakable eye stalks focused on me. Grabbing the hilt of my plasma sword (provided by the Malflorians yes, a monofilament sword is better in most cases, including this one, and yes, I happen to coincidently be no small fan of Star Wars. This is not important!) I swung around while activating it, managing to lop off its head. It fell onto the yellow stone eyes still moving, still fixed on me, oozing yellow-green blood. The beast let out all of its tentacle mouths at once in my general direction. I managed to remove the head of two of them in one stroke, but I knew a single bite would likely mean my death. I had struck right, and in that instant, I knew others moved left. I knew that was the end, there on a yellow rock in a fetid swamp on an unpronounceable world.

The creature was in that instant, gone, teleported away without so much as a warning. Exiled or no, it was apparent real danger was still out of the question. I saw it in the distance running about in confusion until the water parted and raised, two halves of a massive hill rose on either side of it and closed, sinking back into the murky water.

And that dear reader was when I decided to head back and take a shower.

Continued here

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