Thursday, May 23, 2013

Page a Day: Thirty

            He laughed again. “I’ll only perplex you more,” he warned.
            Mastodons can see nearly all the way around them, because of the position of their eyes. Their world is colorless, marked by sharply varied tones of gray. The silver grasses swayed in the last of the evening breeze. The Never-born stood together like a frightened herd, their upright postures like deer stretching to reach a branch, but their tone a brighter gray, almost white, more light than anything that walked the valley. Behind them stretched the dark slate-like expanse of the lake, whose ripples were not distinct. On the other side of the water,  and all around to behind the herd and then off into the distance marched the timberline, its trees a black, blurred wall at this distance. Vision, though useful for surveying nearly all of a perimeter, is not a mastodon’s best sense.
            “You have a plan for this campaign,” I said at last. “You found the mastodons for a reason. We have the White Swarm for a reason. But you will not tell me what your plan is?”
            “Say that I have an agreement with the Swarm, and that the enemy might still reach you.”
            “Do the Never-born know of this accord?”
            “They know, and are not interested in its terms.”
            The shiver of alarm from the smilodon passed through the herd as quickly as it had come, and I learned that the hearts of the mastodons were linked, one to another. Each knew what the other felt. I supposed that such machines were passed by blood or common feeding, and all the mastodons of every herd in the valley would be linked in this fashion.  With the dark calm of evening fell the need to sleep, and with it the mastodons yawned, just as humans might. Jerem Cozak led the matriarch toward the edge of the forest. Mine followed with a great rolling gait. All were unhurried now, but I had no doubt that these could double the speed of a horse if they so chose. Jerem Cozak dismounted, and ordered all the Never-born to follow suit. When I stood again on the meadow, I followed him.


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