Author : Duncan Shields

There’s always going to be a few things I can’t get used to here. The green sky, for instance, and the fact that the animals are mimics. All of the animals have the same abilities as Earth parrots, no matter what they look like. Every animal that comes up to me has a simple vocabulary.

I’d say I feel like Dr. Doolittle but I don’t. They don’t understand anything I say back except for rudimentary commands after they’ve been trained. Just like dogs. I’ve learned not to swear when I tell them to get away from me. All it does it get them to say swear words to me when they come back later to bother me again. For such a wordy wilderness, it’s still a pretty lonely place.

At least for me. I’m still camped out by the ship. The younger ones went into the woods first in a Lord of the Flies moment of instant rebellion. Like the Lost Boys from Peter Pan, they paint their faces and try to stay young forever. The young adults went next to take care of them. They have huts that protect them from the weather and they’ve identified which of the local animals and plants are poisonous. It’s like a primitive civilization. It’s like Gilligan’s Island.

I was the oldest one on the ship. I’m the only one that hasn’t given up hope of a rescue. With everyone else off in the jungle, the ship’s rations will last me for years.

I walk in a perimeter circle around the ship’s landing crater underneath the green sky and watch the animals sniff the burnt patches of ground where the ship landed. I saw something that looked like a bright green bear once. Blue three legged dog-things eat the crackers I sometimes throw at them. They’re scared of the ship’s smell, though, and rarely come close. It’s only the young ones that might wake me up by licking a hand before getting scolded by their parents later.

The survivors from the ship who have gone native in the woods think it’s hilarious to teach the animals my name.

The animals bark my name, hiss my name, whine my name, and shout my name all the time when they’re close to my ship. Sometimes this makes me scream and when this happens, I can hear the forest tittering in a very human way.

I’m not sure how long I’m going to last. I think I’ll probably change out of my ripped and soiled earth-suit into a loincloth soon enough. Until I do, though, I’m going to cling to memories of Earth as long as I can. I’m going to hold onto my humanity and pretend that technical terms aren’t sliding away from me.

“Jason!” shouts a pink hyena-looking thing to my left with too many legs. I almost find it comforting. It won’t be long now.

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