It is colder when Dogo can almost walk again. . .


Pyramie feeds him by hand and carries him to empty himself. In the cold he covers Dogo in the animal skins he has made.

            It has been almost a full cycle of seasons since he last saw Theo, but still her memory is as strong now as that day. And he knows that if she does not somehow find her way to him, he will soon make the trip to her. He also wonders why they have not sent more Hunters to kill him. He is little more than a full day’s walk back to the village, but they do not come. And for all this time he makes ready to face a Hunting pair and kill them.

Despite Dogo’s injury, he could have moved his home several times, but he has waited here for them. He knows everything about the forest around his home and has learned it by hunting. 

He kills animals in the forest. With the red blade he took from the woman, he skins the animals and wraps himself in their hides to keep warm, but the skins that he makes on his own have holes in them because he is not good at the cutting yet.

            Soon the season is warm again. Pyramie feels his bones and muscles hurt, and now bangs his head on the canopy when he stands inside the briar. He must cut new skins again. This time, he is better at making the cuts and wraps himself down to the thighs, and binds it all up with animal muscle and covers his chest, leaving his shoulders open and making a slot to hold two spears and the blade. He will never be caught without these. The Hunters move in twos, and with two spears he will kill them when they finally come.

            On a morning when the sun is bright and the air hot, Dogo walks out of the dwelling and over to where the water runs. He enters – Pyramie follows behind him. It is cooler here by the flowing water. But this pool used to be deep enough for Pyramie to submerge in. Now the stream only trickles from the lack of rain for many season cycles, and the water in the pool does not cover his legs.

He holds the wood spear in his hand, and sits in the water under the sun watching the forest for Hunters. The dog rolls in the stream, scratching on a rock and growling. Then Pyramie stands suddenly when he hears a noise. He moves to the spot, but finds nothing. He throws the spear in anger anyhow, and the dog goes and retrieves it slowly.

It is dark now and they sleep in the heat in the early morning. Pyramie sweats back in his dwelling. The mornings are not cool; even in the dim light it is hot before the sun rises. The days grow hotter, but no more rain falls. Only when he was at the village last or on the high place was there rain.

            “It is hot,” he says to the dog. “We will go to the depression where the water falls and the berries grow.”

            They leave for this place in the still dark the following day. Dogo leads with his nose to the ground. He walks with a strange motion in his rear from the injury, and is slow. It takes them until the following sun and another to arrive. And as they descend into the misty section, Dogo runs off the trail, heedless of Pyramie’s calls, and leaps into the pool. The canine swims with what looks like a smile. Pyramie comes to the edge cautiously and watches the forest for movement.

He allows the dog to swim but moves up to the high area where the water falls and looks over the forest for danger. He remains there for a time breathing the cool air. Then he walks to the trail on the other side of the depression and watches from there.

After a time, he walks to the pool where Dogo sleeps and slips into the cold waters naked swimming out beneath the falling water, then quickly returns to where he left his things and puts his hand on the spear to look around, ready for them when they come. He is always ready. Finding nothing, he pulls himself down the ledge in the water until he comes to the place where the river flows out. There he sees bones.

Part of the Hunter’s skeleton lies outside of the water, but the upper half is missing. Something must have pulled it away. The rest has been mauled and eaten and only the white bone remains under water. Many of the bones are broken; some are shattered and gnawed.

Pyramie then pushes away from the remains and backs into the middle of the pool, forgetting himself. He stays in the water, playing and swims to the bottom and retrieves the clay he finds there. He throws some at Dogo, and the dog barks at him and then swims into the center of the pool as Pyramie swims beneath him and pulls his legs. When he does so, Dogo swims back to the edge and looks over at Pyramie suspiciously from the corner of his eye. Pyramie laughs.

            He swims for a while more, until he catches sight of a spear on the bottom of the pool, but there is only one, and he frowns when he thinks of Nonna swimming down and only retrieving the one. Nonna knew nothing or he would have taken both, and he might have stayed here at the pool and made a home, but he thought he was born to be a Warrior, until he learned that he was not.

Pyramie then swims down himself. The water is deep and blue and he keeps his eyes open, looking around. At the bottom he waits a moment before grabbing the spear, floating with his feet on the clay and sand. He likes it under the water, and when he reaches the surface for air he returns to the bottom again and sits in the silence, floating. There is nothing of the pressure and readiness here.  He would stay under the water always if he could; he would never have to see them again. But his chest hurts and he returns to the world and dives down only one more time to enjoy what he feels beneath the water, alone.

            When he grows tired of swimming, he comes to where Dogo naps in the sun and pulls himself up beside the dog. Then they both sleep there. Pyramie wakens and jumps to his feet and scans the wilderness. He retrieves his skins. When he has them on, he reaches down for the large spear.

            It is in his hand when something moves through the forest by the trail. He poises the spear. Dogo hears but does not make a sound. Nonna taught Dogo this.

The sound ceases. Then it begins again and a gray-haired man moves out of the grass and bushes. He is holding a spear and pointing it at Pyramie, moving quickly. But before the man can throw, Pyramie slings the obsidian a full tree length into the man’s chest. He topples onto the grass in a plume of blood and cries, “Ohhhh!” Dogo lunges for him and tears the spear from his hands.

On the ground, crimson splatters paint his white hair. His hands shake. He holds a long stone blade that Pyramie slaps away. He gurgles blood over his bearded chin, grips the wooden shaft, and says, “I have seen you. They try to kill you. You are bigger than you were. I did not know it was you.”

            “You are dying.”

            “I am.”

            “What are you?”

            “They call me wild man, but they’re wild.”

            The man shifts in his animal skins and closes his eyes. He speaks but his words are garbled. Then he coughs and holds himself and more blood pours out of his mouth. He turns his head.

            “You were with her,” the man whispers.  “They take their strength from her, but there is nothing there. She is just a woman.”

            “I know,” Pyramie says. “Why did you never kill her then?”

            “Why not you?”

            The boy pauses and observes the man’s face, “Are there more?”

            “There is everything there ever was . . .”

            “What of the other woman?”

            “She didn’t want to live with me anymore.”

            “Is she your mother?”

            He laughs. “They are all our mothers.”

            “Ashirah?” The boy asks.

            Then the man is dead. Pyramie sees the change in his haze gray eyes. Inside there is only the afterglow of life, and he sits and watches the man and cries.

After a time, he tears the spear from the man’s chest and tosses it onto the ground where a corner chips against the rocks. Then he cries again. Dogo comes and licks his face and he pushes the dog away and looks the man over. He has the same eyes the woman had, but she is dead too.

He searches through the man’s things and finds two gray pieces of stone tied around his neck like Acka had when she died. He pulls them off and examines them. He does not remember if the gray-haired woman had them also, but he was not looking for them then and he did not take her clothes.

Pyramie remains standing as he is considering the stones. “They were a tribe before Ashirah,” he says. Then he looks over the man’s other things and finds only a bundle of dry grass. The blade the man had is no better than his own. The spear only wood. “We will take them he says.” The canine cocks his orange and black head. “We may need them.”

            After a time, Pyramie walks beneath the rocks and sleeps in the late sun. He sleeps through the darkness and into the light and awakens with Dogo’s tongue on his face. Then he goes down to the water and swims in the early light. He is alive. He eats, drinks, and empties himself.

When he finishes, he walks to the man’s body and looks into his eyes; the flicker is gone. The smell has begun to come. But Pyramie remains there, staring at him until Dogo comes and bites the man’s thigh and he shouts the dog back to the pool.

Then he returns to watching him. Suddenly he jumps to his feet. “I kill everyone!” he shouts and gnashes his teeth. He punches his own chest. “I want to talk to them, Dogo!”

Dogo stands and walks away toward the trail.  “Good,” he calls. “We will go home. I do not like it here.”

He gathers his things and calls the dog. They walk down the middle of the trail toward the village, moving at a slow pace but ready and listening. He thinks of Ashirah, but he will go to her later; his questions for her can wait. For now, he would like to go home. He is sad and does not want to be reminded that he has killed another person that he would have liked to have talked to.

            When they reach the animal trails, Pyramie walks in without the dog and enters into the mossy area. He climbs through the leaf wall and looks into his dwelling. It is as he left it and he places the wood spear from the wild man against the briar wall where he keeps his weapons. It is hot inside and he walks back out onto the moss and falls asleep in the middle of the opening. Dogo sleeps beside him, pressed into Pyramie’s back.

            They remain like this until the morning begins. In the early light he hears movement out on the village trail, still some distance away. Dogo jumps up but Pyramie motions him to lie down. Then Pyramie takes his weapons and they crawl up to the trail through the grasses and sit low. From his blind he watches the path to the village as the sun gets brighter.

He hears the dog breathing heavily. He points at him and Dogo goes silent. They sit and wait. Then they see two Hunters leading several of the Mother’s women in red and green and Dahtah’s Followers carrying a platform with someone on it.