He continues down the mountain, moving slowly, in no hurry to descend to where the Hunters wait. . .


As he climbs he watches a small ring of smoke rising from the forest where it stood the day before. Dogo runs ahead and Pyramie whistles to him to call him back and the canine returns. Together they stop to rest and eat the nuts and berries she filled his pouches with.

He sits on a rock, resting and thinking, and after a time, Dogo pulls on Pyramie’s arm and they move farther down from the high place, reaching a point above the trees where the breeze from the forest hits them. Below the smoke has stopped rising. And then there are sounds from the forest below – screams.

At this, Dogo lifts his nose to the wind and looks back at Pyramie and runs ahead. The boy calls to him, but he no longer listens and moves off through the squat trees and broken rock until he reaches the thick forest below. Pyramie runs to catch him, losing him when they enter the forest trail where he calls out. The dog does not return.

The forest is dark; it echoes. Then another scream sounds from somewhere behind the trees and Pyramie shouts to himself. He does not want Dogo to get killed, but he must teach him better.

Another scream stops him on the trail and he looks around, even into the trees, thinking of their spears, of their clubs. Then he moves forward. “They will miss me when they throw,” he says and enters the forest at the trail and listens. He hears nothing, but claps his hands loudly for the dog to hear because he does not want to shout. He clutches the obsidian spear, while removing the other from the lashings on his back for use. There is a breeze and he can smell something unpleasant, but he is not sure what it is.

            Birds sound in the distance.  They call out a presence. Pyramie moves in their direction silently, poising the wood spear and continues on, crouched in the underbrush stepping slowly heel-to-toe. He whistles, hears only the forest noise in return, and stops. The birds do not sing any longer. He focuses his sight into the trees, hoping to catch a glimpse of movement. Then there is a noise in front of him and he pauses. Some ground birds run out of the low bushes. But Dogo does not follow them.

            Then something squeals in the forest at a distance, followed by barking. Pyramie moves in that direction, pushing through the tall ferns covered in moisture from the rain, until he comes to a rocky chasm that drops deep into the earth. Half a tree height below him he sees the orange and black of Dogo against the side of the gray scarp.

He whistles but the dog remains as he is, eyeing the cliff face. Pyramie waits, looking around him for the shape of men in the forest. He finds nothing and slides around the ledge so that he can see what the dog is looking at below. But as he descends deeper on the band of stone he loses sight of him behind an outcropping.

            From where he stoops, he cannot see the dog.  Holding the obsidian spear over his head and the other down low, he sense that a Hunter is just past the rock waiting for him. His hairs stand on end. He will use the wood spear first because he can hit even a bird with it and is not practiced with the heavy obsidian. Traveling down some steps on the green patches and cracked stone, he comes around the pile of fractured rock and sees the dog alone. Dogo turns to him and then looks away.

            There is a woman there, lying dead in the matted grass. Her blood has leaked onto the ground forming a pool. Her eyes are open. She has white hair. It is long and curly. Her nose is sharp, and her eyes keen. She is wearing a clean woven covering unlike any he has ever known. The woman lies in the opening of a cave. Inside, there are thatchings and blackened stones and the heavy smell of smoke. In her side is a broken spear. Near her head the ledge drops off into the deep. Pyramie looks at the spear. “Hunters!”

            He pulls back from the woman and draws into the cave. People have slept here. Inside there are more than enough food supplies around and rock chips on the floor where it is black. It smells of sky fire. He finds pulled animal skins on the matting and others wrapped in bundles in a corner. Some wood has been chopped and grooved and then connected so that a flat surface is made about knee height from the floor. Against a wall stands a stone-headed club. One side of the stone is blunt; the other sharp. Many knives lie around and he takes them all. Their stone is black. Then he takes the sharp club and wraps that in one of the large animal skins and ties it on his back.

            He takes all the food supplies that he can carry and walks to the cave mouth. Then he looks at Dogo. The dog is not nervous. Pyramie then walks back onto the ledge where the woman lies. Her hair is long and touches her lower back. She is not covered in dirt. Her mouth is open and the tops of some of her teeth are black. She has a skin for water on her hip and he takes it. But what she wears is too small for him now that he has grown, and so he leaves her clothed.

            He waits beside her body for a while, thinking. He knows that she is not one of them. She has lived in this forest for a long time; for maybe her life. He stares into her eyes. They are dark and full. He cannot know what she knew. But he knows that she is not long dead. She does not stink and still life flickers in her eye. There is an afterglow of the alive there that will fade in a day, and he knows that the Hunters must be near, but he wants to sit with her, and so he sits and enjoys the light in her eyes, imagining that she can see him.

            “I am sorry,” he says. “They were looking for me.”

            He puts his hand on her forehead and wonders what she was? What she would say to him? What it was like to live with her in this place? “I would have found you before.” He is leaning beside her against the rock, feeling the sadness and then his eyes water, and he remains lying there as he is until he begins to feel tired. Then he sleeps across from her and dreams about things he cannot remember.

            He jars awake now and looks around and rubs his head. He then notices a smell. Looking closer he sees piles of dog excrement on the ground all around him and in the mouth of the cave. Then he sees that Dogo has eaten as much of the food supplies inside the cave as he could and is still squatting by some rocks to go again and looking over his shoulder at him. Pyramie laughs.

            “Come, Dogo,” he says, and gathers his things and walks upslope out of the ledge on the side of the chasm. When they reach the top the dog squats again and drags his bottom across some ferns and Pyramie laughs. But as he moves farther, to where the trees begin he hears a noise among the rocks and crouches low and slides into the ferns. He grabs hold of the dog and stares back down into the forest chasm. There is a light cloud down below the rim. The opening itself is not wide and he can see all along its edge.

He remains there watching until the sun moves down in the sky and shadows fall on the bottom of the chasm. As he follows a shadow line over the shattered rocks he sees a stark white skeleton lying in the scree. “Lido,” he says. Then he pulls Dogo along with him and they walk toward the village trail.

A branch breaks somewhere out in the dim. Dogo becomes nervous and so Pyramie will not let him go. When they reach the trail, they cross over to the other side. There they move slowly along in the ferns, following back down trail toward his dwelling and the village. The sun is so low now it is harder to see. But they keep traveling and reach the depression where the mist hangs in the air. There, Dogo begins to whine and sniffs the ground, looking up at Pyramie as if he knows someone is present.

Pyramie pulls Dogo back down by where the water falls and the berries grow: the place he slept before. “They are here,” he says and squeezes the dog.

            Instead of going to the pool by where he bedded before, he walks along the edge of the trees and ferns and watches. Together they move into the forest and up slope so that they are above the falls and walk to the high pool where the trees are fallen everywhere and the bugs hang as thick as the mist. “We need a place to hide,” he tells the canine.

            He chooses a spot where an ancient tree has fallen. Ferns and vines hang over the edge of the tree and he climbs inside them and beneath it. He is still holding onto Dogo, who is afraid and liable to run off after a smell again. Pyramie knows that he may not come back, so he will not let him go and pulls down some of the vines and ties them around Dogo’s neck and then ties that to a solid dead branch.

            “You will stay now or I will kill you,” he says and the dog cringes away from him. Then he sits beside Dogo and looks around at the vines and at the broken tree.

The stinging bugs cover his skin, but he has grown used to them, and only slaps them when they irritate. Other than that, he lets them take his blood, and drinks water and eats the red berries and the nuts he took from the dead woman mixed with the ones he got from the woman on the high place.

            Pyramie will not sleep, but waits in the darkness, perched behind the hanging brilliant greens, waiting and listening. There is movement in the blackness. He follows the sound with his ears. Steps crackle in the night. The water is splashed, but Pyramie does not feel fear. He feels a power and closes his eyes and focuses on the sounds. When he opens them, Dogo’s ears are up and moving. The hair on his back is raised and he is whining. Pyramie pokes him again and the dog goes silent. The sounds cease and Pyramie sleeps.