Author : Jason Zinnerman

Perched high on a sturdy branch, the man marveled at the intruders’ precarious fortune. They tight roped the border between likely and more likely death by landing in the hard green clearing instead of the dusty sun scorched wasteland just beyond their reach. The man monkeyed from branch to branch through a tangled green maze of thick leaves and brush, sizzling with pungent sweat, to peer at them arguing outside their broken ship.

The moist forest canopy growled with hunger as silent competition rustled branches, sneaking closer and closer toward the shipwreck. He maneuvered his short limbs through a shredded ship’s rusty carcass, caught forever high in the branches, which shielded him from invisible eyes with its aluminum bones.

The shadow of her voice slithered through the man’s ears.

…and we will mate until the sun sets.

After the sun and anger exhausted their energy, the intruders surrendered to their ship. Spidery fingers gripped the man’s heart as they climbed the steps and gave his gut a hearty twist with the clang of the shutting hatch. “They were bait,” he thought, “a trap devised by the sun herself to test his will and crush it with godly indifference.” He was stung again by the poisonous laughter of the bigger and stronger men he left behind. His throat was still torn by the dry grains of dirt that mighty hands forced him to eat while they touched his prize in ways he only imagined. He climbed down the tree’s strong leg, his hopes strangled and lifeless.

He crept toward their sanctuary nonetheless. Twigs, branches, leaves and sticks snapped with silent screams under his bare feet. While the sun climbed one full rung and laughed her hot breath on him he waited, quiet. Doubt’s toxin made him hope that the intruders would ascend toward the solar embrace and release him from impossible desires. The ship never budged and they couldn’t have realized they shot desperation into the sky with a whispering flare.

The door slammed open and the intruders leapt out in a flash. Sweat and spit smashed against the hull as they yelled and punched at it in sun fueled frenzy. The hungry buzz galloped closer.

He hadn’t heard the notes they spoke in a long time, not since backyard baseball games and summer picnics eons ago. He had only seconds to relearn. He moved his lips and throat in silent rehearsal.

…an EMERGENCY!!! He heard one declare.

He stepped from the bushes into the green, sun-soaked clearing. The intruders shrieked in exaggerated panic and pointed their rifles at him.

“Must c-c-come w-w-wwith me. D-d-d-ddddanger”

“I don’t think so buddy. Don’t step any clo-“

A hunter flashed behind the noise maker, grabbed him by the neck and crushed it with cruel squeeze. His companion reacted to defend, but the man launched to snatch his leg. A murderous howl followed the loud snap. The man’s sweaty hands caught his fleeing cries and confined them back in their terror stricken cell.

The hunters stared at each other. The other limped backwards with a tooth filled snarl, swallowed slowly by the forest, dragging his game by its dead arm. They both agreed, one is better than none.

“Q-q-q-quuiett!! Y-y-yyou wil sssurvivve! I c-c-cccan help!”

His scream saturated sobs would not stop. With his head in the man’s hands, a quick turn to the left ended the discussion.

The heavy walk to camp melted hours into days and allowed his sorrow to bubble and singe his eyes. But as he crept closer, he remembered her promise. We will mate until the sun sets…

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