It is early. The sun is not yet risen, but Pyramie has . . .


He is up and the dog watches him in the low light. He takes more water and cleans out his hand wounds and wraps leaves over his palms. They are healing. Then he ties up the pouches he carries that are full with fresh berries. He lifts the stone-headed club in his scabrous hand and binds the spear over his shoulder with twisted grasses, then walks in the direction where the gated trail leading to the high place should be.

It is bright now, and Dogo follows him, walking without sound. In places the canopy lies open and flowers bloom on the forest floor. The trees soon begin to thicken and they move into a section of bramble that is impassible. The thicket forms a living wall before them. Some of the leaves are parched yellow from the drought. Pyramie tries to pick his way through, but it is so tight that he cannot. Then he lies on his belly and slides beneath the living leaf wall.

Dogo moves ahead of him, wriggling in and out of tight places and bending his body around thin trunks and branches and beside nettles. There are no leaves inside, but the bramble branches form a web. Eventually, they come to a trough in the dirt that sinks low and is full of red mud where water runs off from the side hills. There, Pyramie loses a berry pouch that catches on a serrated thorn, but he continues drawing himself forward, now covered sole to scalp in a dripping reddish mud that smells strange. 

Then there is a crackling in the bramble beside them and Dogo suddenly turns and runs back to Pyramie. Both remain silent as the noise moves closer. Then a little black-furred creature emerges from the brush. When it sees them, it tries to turn away, but Dogo shoots between the branches and thorns drawing blood on himself and attacks the creature from the side at its neck. It is the same type of animal Pyramie saw days before in the man’s stomach. Dogo thrashes it back and forth, snapping its bones, then returns with the little thing and drops it before Pyramie.

“Good,” Pyramie says and takes the animal away from Dogo and wraps one of its legs up in the pouch-binding on his waist. He motions for Dogo to continue but they hear more noise from from the same direction.

Several of the small creatures appear and squeal. Then the bramble tangle begins to move and an angry snorting beast with stained horns and yellow eyes and hanging pink teats rages out of the undergrowth. It rushes at Pyramie in the trough of wet mud where he lies prone.

Without enough room to pull his spear out of the lashings he tears it sideways, hard, until he breaks them and raises it and digs his toes into the mud as the animal impales itself on the point, screaming horribly.

She makes a high, screeching sound of pain out of the hole in her throat. Then she moves to her side, but in the brambles she is trapped and cannot move and begins cutting herself against the thorns that stick. She tears the spear from Pyramie’s hands and thrashes about wildly.

The butt smashes Pyramie’s nose and he screams. Dogo howls again after mauling as many of the little ones as he could reach, but he stays away from the thrashing, dying creature and from the reach of the spear handle that whips about.

Pyramie’s face is bloody and his eyes water, but he times the movements of the spear handle and grabs it lying on his belly, pulling it out and then sinking it back into the creature that is now ensnared in the serrated bramble thorns. He stabs the creature again and hears the wet, sucking sound as the blood pours out and the creature screams until it dies.

When the life leaves the beast’s eyes he crawls to it. He reaches out slowly and grabs one of the tusks and shakes the head around in a circle. He feels proud that he has killed this demon. Dogo watches with his head turned to the side. When Pyramie stops playing with the dead thing he takes another of those that Dogo killed and moves away through the bramble.

He leaves the club leaning on the body of the large animal intending to return. Then he moves out of the trough of red mud where he killed and up a tangled slope. Dogo moves ahead of him.

After a time, he reaches another leaf wall that leads to a clearing with an opening beyond. He smiles and climbs beneath the briar, which he is just able to fit beneath, and penetrates through onto a verdant, moss-green clearing surrounded by tall shade trees.

At the edge of the moss, gold grasses grow tall. Narrow animal paths lead off in several directions. Dogo runs to the paths and sniffs the grasses while Pyramie walks to the center of the area. Here the moss is matted down firm – yellow in spots. In others, there is only dirt. He stumbles over several round blackened stones and walks onto one of the animal paths. He follows Dogo until he comes upon a wide trail. There he sees the back of a man walking toward the village.