He sleeps in the daylight beside the tree . . .


After a time Dogo rises to sniff the dead man and his stomach animal. Then the dog walks with his nose pressed to the ground until he finds something that smells like a man: a spear. This he lifts in his jaws and carries to Pyramie. He drops the spear and pokes Pyramie with his nose. He pokes him again and then bites his wrist and pulls his arm.

“Stop,” Pyramie says. “I am sleeping.”

Then Pyramie lifts the spear off the forest floor.

“Is this what you want?”

Dogo backs up and Pyramie throws it at a tree across the clearing. It misses. Dogo returns a moment later with the sharpened stake of wood in his mouth. Angry, Pyramie hurls it again. This time, the spear wobbles high yet connects with the tree and sticks in deep through the bark.

Dogo leaps up and catches the wood shaft with his white teeth. He brings it back to Pyramie who takes it up again, but he does not throw it. Instead, Pyramie finishes the rest of his food in pouches. He does not have any water. The dog whines for him to the throw the spear more.

“Oh, be quiet.” He says and takes it up again and throws it.

The dog returns it, and again Pyramie throws it for him. He decides he will throw the spear until Dogo stops returning, but the painted canine never ceases nor does he show any sign that he will and Pyramie has to quit first. Even then, Dogo wants to continue and jumps and bites at the spear.

“No,” he says. “We are finished. Stop. Sit!”

The dog makes squeaking sounds of exasperation and then turns and finds the stone-headed club on the ground beside where they slept and picks that up and drops it onto Pyramie’s foot.

“Owww!” Pyramie jumps up and curses the dog with the only rune he knows. Then he takes the stone-headed club and throws it into the woods. There it hits an exposed ledge that flashes with the impact, smelling like sky fire. Again Dogo retrieves it.

Pyramie jogs to the ledge and sniffs the air. After a few moments he backs up, takes aim, and throws the club at the ledge again but it does not happen. There is no sky fire.

Dogo runs and grabs the club. And when the dog returns this time, Pyramie hoists it up and aims for one of the smaller trees. He decides he will practice so that he can kill the wild man. He throws, but misses by a body length and Dogo returns it for him. He throws the club again overhand. Then he takes it underhand and flings it at a large sapling and crushes it. Dogo returns and Pyramie mashes the same tree again picturing their faces.

He finally breaks the older sapling off, and then he picks another tree and does the same until he can smell the damp tree smell in the air and his shoulder is sore. Then he throws it at another tree, but Dogo will not return it this time.

“Tired?” Pyramie laughs.

Dogo lies beside Pyramie’s feet and puts his head on the ground as Pyramie laughs more.

“We have to go. We need food,” Pyramie says. “You don’t just get to rest now because you say so.”

Pyramie takes the club and spear and heads into the forest without Dogo who lingers until he shouts for him. “Come!” Then the canine follows and they continue under the dark canopy. He grips the club ready to crush any man as he has crushed the tree. His palms still hurt, but he does not mind.

They walk for some time until Pyramie’s stomach begins to ache and make noise. Then they walk farther. There is nothing to eat. He notices large pink berries growing up on high shrubs. These are berries he has never seen before.

He walks to where the berries droop. It is dark in among the thick leaves. He reaches up and plucks some of this food and breaks it open. Then he sniffs and takes a small piece of berry and gives it to Dogo, but Dogo will not eat it; he pulls his head away after putting his tongue to it. Pyramie places some of it on his own tongue, but it is flat and bitter. He spits it out and develops saliva and spits again and then moves on.

“We will get food.”

They travel further and come to a stream that coils around dark boulders and forms a pool deeper than Pyramie’s head. He bends down to drink the water. Before he does, he looks upstream and into the darkness. Then he splashes water onto his face and Dogo wades out up to his belly, lapping up the water with his pink tongue.

Overhead on the small opposite bank are some of the berries that Pyramie knows are edible, and he leaps across the gap where the stream narrows in front of the pool and gathers them and eats. He finds other types of berries and eats those as well. From time to time he thinks he hears noises in the forest and he tenses his wounded hand on the club. Then he sees some of the grasses that the Gatherer women mash up with water into the paste.

He does not know how to make the paste, and so he eats the grasses as they are until he coughs and chokes on the dry strands that catch in his throat. His stomach hurts and he takes more water and lies down on the mossy bank now damp from splashing. The pain in his belly increases until at last he puts his finger in his throat like he saw Marnea do to a boy when he ate the ridged berry.

He presses the lumps at the back of his throat and gags a foul slurry of grasses and berries. His mouth salivates and he spits and forces his finger down again and vomits up more of the chewed stalks. Dogo watches him.

“I need to eat,” he says to the painted canine who looks away.

Then through the trees he sees a mound where ants dwell and begins digging against them with a stick. One of the red black ants defends the orange dirt mound and seizes his skin with its jagged pincers.

Pyramie shouts, then says, “You are my food,” as he plucks the thumbnail sized creature off his skin and eats it. Its legs kick in his mouth and it pinches in desperation before he bites it. The ant is brittle like tree bark but tastes like the nuts that grow before the winter. He likes it and continues digging into the mound as Dogo barks at the ants.

“Quiet,” Pyramie says to the dog, and breaks open a central cavern where the little things live. Suddenly a fast stream of them pours from the mound in disarray. Some form lines and surge around the dirt base of their home. The others writhe in a ball at the center and these he picks off, crunching them between his teeth and stamping on the ones coming out to defend. They pinch his tongue and fingers but all give way to his bite.

Dogo beside him barks at the ants before he devours them, lapping them up with his tongue. They remain there for a time feasting on the ant village until Pyramie no longer feels hungry. Then it grows dark and the shadows in the distance shift.

He sleeps, and remains in this place for days, eating and sleeping and watching the forest.