Posts Tagged ‘jungle’

junglepic

Prequel to THE FIRST AND THE LAST

Chapter One:

 Though it was eight o clock in the morning, there was no light. The trees of the jungle grew too close too each other in this place for that. It was like a sanctuary of darkness – a cathedral of black where the only things to be made out were the sharp smells of flora and fauna. Perhaps this place had existed since the dawn of time – no – far older than that. More like since before the dawn of time. Before the worlds. Before the wars. Before Happiness.

Except, of course, for the fact that this place contained life. Amid the immense trees and the for once silent fairies was a horse. The hunters did not know exactly where it was located. They just knew that if there was one place in this jungle that an escaped dumb beast would flee to for protection, it would be here.

The two warriors couldn’t even see each other, and they dared not even breathe, much less speak, for fear of startling the hidden horse and forcing it to escape further into the blackness. Thankfully, these two could communicate with one another via their minds.

“Do you smell him, Snapper?”

“No, Alpha. But I smell something else. Something not right…out of place…wait. Wait, I can smell him now.”

“How far?”

“We must walk another hundred feet. Cautiously.”

          “I know, Snapper. We must be very quiet. He could run away at any moment.”

“No. Cautiously. There is something else here with us.”

Alpha and Snapper moved on. The fierce Kappa warrior had a difficult time in doing so, for he was very heavy. Alpha’s agile, silent form had already succeeded him by several yards. But it was more than just the fear of making noise that held Snapper back.

It was the fear of the “something else”.

As they continued to stalk, Alpha took great care to not let his hidden thoughts about Snapper reach the turtle’s mind. Snapper had been different as of late. He didn’t eat as much. He was easily startled. And, most disquietingly of all, he had lost his edge in the art of sword fighting. Alpha would never forget the time he caught Snapper rumbling up his cannon in anger when his twin brother beat him in a sword match. Alpha would have intervened, but thankfully, Snapper collected himself quickly. His brother didn’t even realize that Snapper’s cannon was preparing to fire, which would have completely decimated the winner of the sword match. But Alpha did. And he knew that Snapper could somehow sense a new presence within the Jungle. Something that did not exist before. However, when asked about it, Snapper always shrugged his massive shoulders and grunted. Was this new presence of the Alpha? Or the Omega?

They could only guess.

“Halt,” said the telepathic voice of Alpha.

“What is it?” thought Snapper in reply.

“There is light. Sunlight, stabbing through the trees.”

“Nonsense. There are no open spaces in this part of the Jungle. Oh, you are right. I can see it now. And there’s the horse.”

The sunlight rained down upon the horse, briefly illuminating his black body before he moved back into the shadows. His head was at the ground, eating what looked like mushrooms. This horse, like so many other things in this Jungle, was different from horses belonging to other worlds.

For one, the horse was actually owned by another horse. The owner’s name was Swiftmane, and he was the Jungle’s lead breeder of dumb horses. Whenever he was not jealously wishing that he had been born a unicorn (pure black, red eyed, horned creatures that were this world’s epitome of grace, wisdom, and beauty), the Common Horse Swiftmane was busy with his farm of dumb horses. These ones were bred for milk, and, more importantly, for their nourishing, delicious meat that was the source of Horse Steak, the absolute delicacy of this world.

But those delicious meals were not being enjoyed frequently as of late. The livestock was depleting. It began at a slow pace, about a horse a month, but gradually escalated to two a week. Naturally, due to Alpha’s well-honed telepathy, Swiftmane put Alpha in charge of finding the beasts and discovering the reason for their disappearances. Alpha’s powers always produced an accurate answer for anything questioned of in this world, except for the fates of the Jungle’s creator, Happiness, as well as her future rescuer who was to come from another world (Alpha did, however, have some insight into certain things about these two that didn’t involve his telepathy). But this horse dilemma proved to be the third puzzle that Alpha was unable to solve with his enchanted mind.

Still, Alpha did succeed, with abundant help from Snapper, in locating a few of the horses, but most remained unaccounted for. Their condition upon being discovered caused great fear amongst the Jungle Dwellers. Blood was always present. The amount varied from a trickle to a pool, but it was there every time, along with an occasional piece of hoof or horse hide. Without tracks or any other signs of predation, all the Jungle folk were totally baffled.

All they could ascertain was that something had assaulted the horses from above—some sort of flying beast. But the fliers of this world were gentle, herbivorous animals that never caused any trouble—aside from the Fairies, but the only flesh those creatures consumed was their own.

No—there was something in the air, possibly ever-present, and it had proven itself extremely lethal. A specter of death, a power of the air, a killer that could soon lose interest in livestock and begin attacking people.

But that’s not what troubles Alpha the most. What truly disturbed him was that whatever else these monsters may have been, they were completely alien to this world. Alpha’s senses told him that they belonged neither to the good force his name represented, nor to the corrosive energy of the Omega. All created beings, even the cowardly humans, could be identified in at least a small way with one or the other. The phantom, on the other hand…

Crack.

The horse, startled by the sudden noise from within the Jungle, jerked his head up and began scanning his surroundings.

“What was—”

Snapper’s thought was cut short by a visual and auditory frenzy. The horse was thrashing about violently and screaming in ways no one had ever heard from a horse before. A blur of feathers and blood surrounded the animal from all directions. Alpha and Snapper rushed forward, but were too late to even get a good look at the winged assailant.

The entire incident lasted no more than two seconds, and during that time, all the two warriors could make out were flashes of yellow and red, a pair of glowing green orbs, and four impossibly long limbs with what appeared to be hooks on the ends. Then, their eyes were blinded as a cascade of burgundy blood rained down on them from above.

The phantom had struck again, and Alpha knew in his heart of hearts that this was only the beginning.

Advertisements

“You said they were vegetarians.” “Pardon?” “You said they were vegetarians. That isn’t true. I watched them eating their young.” I began this conversation with the cow after I had awoken to find myself being carried on his back. Surprisingly, I felt no pain from the kick he had inflicted earlier. It was very dark. Moonlight stabbed through the branches above, taunting me with its beauty. This caused me to remember that I had been dreaming about a beautiful woman during my cow induced sleep. I loved her hair…silky, golden, and mesmerizing. It was to my enjoyment that I remembered her because she took my mind off of the horrors I had faced previously and that I would probably have to endure again in more dreadful, terrifying ways. Still, the dream was like a blur, for I could not envision her fully upon awakening. I had only caught a fleeting glimpse of what I would later come to find was the most utterly real and beautiful thing in existence. Was she from my past? Did I even HAVE a past before waking up in this world? Could I ever see her face to face? But it was hard to find solace in thinking about her, because the cow I was with knew things, things of this world, and I didn’t, so I just had to talk to him. He hadn’t answered my question, so I asked again. “Cow, they’re not vegetarians. I saw them…” “Address me as STEER, Young creature. Or, if you do prefer, SIR. I am much older and wiser than you. Every creature of this world is older than you. Centuries old. Though, none of us really know how to explain it….oh silly me, I’m rambling on like a common horse. You want me to tell you if the fairies? They are a dreadful annoyance; everytime someone new comes along, they have to frighten them. They are not evil or even formidable in the least bit. That, young man, was the fairies feasting on their own bodies…why so shocked? Your face is sickly pale…well, they don’t like eating anything else with blood filled veins, and their wounds recover instantly when inflicted upon themselves. Their main diet is fruit and leaves, but eating themselves allows them to live forever. Most boring creatures, all controlled by one simple mind and vocabulary…” “Why is nothing here normal?!?!? Cows talking?!?!? Creatures that eat their own flesh?!?!?! A suit of armor that is somehow alive?!?!? Tell me now or I’ll slice you with my sword, I swear…” The cow simply laughed at my interruption. I was in horror, and this creature who acted as if he was my helper didn’t even give me pity. He replied, with a look of self righteous satisfaction on his face. “You cannot harm me, silly one. I am s noble servant of the Alpha, as are you, and I know that each of our brains are too large to permit us such stupidity. And what, exactly, is normal?” I could not answer him. “As I had thought. Cut me with your sword indeed! Even if you truly wanted to, I am much faster than you, and…” I rolled off of his back and kicked him hard in the face. Vengeance was mine. I didn’t care to know how he could help me any longer. His assumed authority over me(that’s how he seemed anyway) was unbearable. I ran off laughing as he howled with pain. Yes, it did sound very much like a MOO and it was hilarious. “COME BACK HERE YOY FILTHY COWARD!!!” He began to chase me with astonishing speed. I continued to race off into the jungle, wanting to look back but not daring to do it….and then I tripped. I could hear him calling for me from behind. I waited for a laugh or another fearsome kick from his hoof, but neither came. As he approached me, I turned to face him and saw a look of what seemed to be fear upon his face. “You have called Vengeance,” he gasped. “You have called it. It will be here shortly. We must make haste! Terrible mistake you have made! Terrible!” If this cow, this Steer, this sole creature I knew who had answers was frightened, I knew I should be as well. He seemed to know this world so well, acting as if he had survived for centuries grazing amongst the place. What on earth could frighten him? “We must make haste, we must make haste,” he said in a terrified whimper. “Vengeance is coming, we must make haste! Get on my back.” I climbed onto his back and held tight. He zoomed off into the jungle even faster than I had done just a few moments before. His strides shook the jungle floor, scattering birds and fairies from the trees and into the night sky. “Where are we going,” I asked. “We are going to the waterfall, the only place that can protect us from Vengeance until you are trained. What a considerable amount of mortal peril you have gotten us into….hold on tight!” We continued our race through the jungle. I had a feeling we were out of harm’s way, for nothing seemed to have been following us or anything, but then that illusion was broken. I heard a bloodcurdling roar that shook us hard enough for Steer to trip over his own feet and fall face first into a puddle. I fell off of his side and rolled down a hill. I heard him yell “Youngling!” As I tried to grab ahold of a branch, a vine, ANYTHING that could keep me from rolling further and further into this unknown called a jungle. I finally gripped a slimy toadstool protruding from the earth that didn’t even break. It held my weight and suspended me over what I now saw was the edge of an immense cliff. I began scrambling up the cliff face, hoping that whatever had produced that roar wasn’t waiting there to face me. As I pulled harder onto the toadstool to lift myself up, I saw that if was not a toadstool at all. It had two big yellow eyes perched atop its head. Slowly, it lifted up out of the ground to reveal a body covered with feathery tentacles. It made a disgusting shriek that was echoed by my own, for I was in deep fright and disgust. An evil mushroom, for pity’s sake! In this moment of fear I made a terrible mistake and let go, falling thousands of feet down, down to certain death below, down to the end of all things…….

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more!

-s.d.