Aranansi #5: Walk on the Wild Side

January 18, 2010, 15:48
“Where am I going? It can only be the end of the world.”
Sometimes I get the urge to walk out on the wild edges of the city. Yesterday afternoon was one of those times. I packed a bag with dark bread, white cheese and a bottle of the Night Bee’s wine (nobody makes wine like the Night Bee). And I walked over the arch of Train street bridge, down the long hill past the low sprawling houses that spread further and further apart. Trees and meadows took the place of houses, and the road was replaced by a path that dwindled into a track winding through the woodlands. After a while I found myself in Dim Bone Hollow underneath a blue sky. The wind was shepherding a few stray clouds past the westering sun. All was damp and sparkling. I sat down in the meadow  in the center of the hollow amongst the bright winter wild flowers, and took alternating bites of the coarse dark  bread and smooth cool cheese. I decided to save the wine for later.
As I got up to go I noticed that the afternoon was fading into twilight, and as I had a few miles yet to go, I picked up my pace a bit. The hollow narrowed down to a ravine where I had to pick my way along the muddy stream bank among the boulders and brush in the deepening shadows.
Once I had to stop and remain still as some hornshadows tromped through the dense forest on the ridge at the top of the canyon. There are two beasts that a hiker has to look out for around here, big cats and hornshadows. The big cats are silent and drop from above so there is not much a person can do to avoid them, but the hornshadows are tall and heavy and make a great deal of noise as they move. They also give off a pungent odor so generally it is easy to know when they are about.  Hornshadows are not vicious or even ravenous creatures, but they are curious, clumbsy and immensely strong. At times they can even be playful which makes them even more dangerous to smaller more frail creatures like me. I don’t really think they like to eat people, but I wouldn’t want to test that theory. Besides to avoid them, all you have to do is not be noticed by them which is usually as simple as standing still behind something. Which I did for about 5 minutes as they bumbled past just out of sight..
The shadows deepened. I knew I must be moving along, and that was easier now that there was more space now between the the creek and the canyon walls which gradually smoothed into hills. Then I started to here some raucous sounds and splashing up ahead and cautiously peered over the edge of a small waterfall to see a party of 5 hornshadows frolicking about in a pool with some kind of freshly killed large animal. They are about 10 feet high, black or very dark blue with enormous heads and shoulders from which antlers protrude randomly. They have long arms that end in broad handlike paws with long nails. Their legs are long and their feet broad and short. Hornshadows generally move about on two legs, but will use all four for moving quickly. I watched them knock each other about and rip chunks out of the carcass until the water was dark and rusty in the gloom. Finally they dragged their meal off into the woods, bellowing and grunting as they went. Cautiously, I made my way down to the pool carefully picking my way through the bloody mud.
About a half mile further down I came to the path that leads past the owl wood into the park and back into the city. I was glad to see the well tended path as the light had almost completely faded. I could here the gentle voice of night calling as I passed the owl wood.
On the other side of the path, the glow from the floating lantern globes in wading pool lit the down turned faces of children fishing with their hands for the brightly colored minnows that swarm in intricate patterns in the clear water. People say the pool is shaped like Texas. To me it is shaped like an uprooted tree stump with a upside down mountain clinging to its roots.
This entry was posted in Aranansi, dangerous creatures, Fiction, nature, Of the Road and The River, Other peoples words, Telling Stories, Walking, Wild Life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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