Swamp Ape Saviour
The female Sasquatch swung easily up to sit on her favourite branch in the sentinel tree.
It was a good position, heavily shaded by the canopy above with a clear view of the hog farm across the swamp.
She settled into position, confident her mate would sleep lightly enough to watch their two young ones should they wake during the day.
The glow from the coming morning was beginning to brighten the eastern sky when she noticed movement across the water.
Curious, she watched as a small Hairless One carefully closed the back door to the farmhouse. Even from this distance she could see it moved quickly but quietly... its movements jerky with fear and guilt. Looking all around it quickly made its way to the gravel road that ran for miles through the swamp to the highway.
When it turned to look towards the rapidly brightening eastern sky she recognised it as the same small male she had seen a couple of times before, running frantically down the road as if trying to get as far from the house as possible. Always the adult male Hairless One had soon followed, chasing after it with a rusty old truck that kicked up clouds of dust to mix with the rank flatulence of its passing.
Always they came back, the younger one bruised and beaten, once even being dragged behind the truck in the dirt, its hands bound with long knotted rope.
Although earlier in the day than before it started the same way... The young Hairless One took off down the road, its small feet kicking up stones and dust as it ran out of sight.
She looked back at the house. There was no sign of movement… yet.
Her curiosity grew.
Why did it do such a thing? Was it the beatings she had seen it take from the older male? More than once the screams of pain had carried across the water after it had dropped a heavy bucket of slops meant for the pigs that grunted in muddy yards around the nearby sheds.
Where did it think it was going to get to?
The gravel road ran for a very long way to only meet another road paved with hot black rock. It was an even longer way to the nearest town, even if it made it that far, it would surely be alone and vulnerable to others of its kind? She had observed often how badly the Hairless Ones treated each other.
Glancing once back towards the nesting area she made her mind up.
She had to see where it was going.
With the speed and agility only a Sasquatch could muster, she dropped from the tree and leapt, swung and bounded across the swamp to where she knew the road turned to follow the slightly higher ground through the maze of water, trees and mud that was her home.
Slowing down as she approached the road she saw the small Hairless One had made good time, its tiny stick-like legs propelling it along the road with desperate speed. Keeping out of site in the trees that followed the water on either side of the road she easily kept pace with it as it ran, its frantic breathing and slapping feet telling her its position even when out of sight through the trees.
She could not help but be impressed with its effort, for although its breathing was hard it did not slow.
But then a noise carried to her ears.
The small one soon heard it too, for it suddenly stopped and looked back down the road, eyes wide with fear.
The noise grew and she recognised it as the fast approaching sound of tyres crunching on gravel.
Across the water the small one looked around, desperately seeking an escape but there was only the road, and the swamp.
Now she could hear the motor of the rusty old truck, coughing and spluttering its putrid breath as it rattled over the corrugations.
The small Male looked across almost right at her as it measured the distance to the trees. Surely it would not try to get across the water? She knew how treacherous the mud on the bottom was, sucking at even the powerful feet of a fully grown Sasquatch.
There was a splash as it answered her thought and jumped, almost immediately sinking to its waist. But it did not turn back, instead, it struggled ahead, directly towards where she stood in the shadows watching.
It did not get far before its noisy advance slowed and stopped, now up to its armpits as it pulled at the water and mud with useless effort. It was stuck, unable to move forward nor backwards to dry land.
The sound of the approaching truck grew louder and the splashing and thrashing of the small one more frantic, making it sink lower and lower into the mud.
Suddenly the truck was there, rattling along with the older Hairless One riding in it, a deep, angry scowl reddening its bald, fat face. The boy froze and tried to duck his head even lower into the mud.
But the truck passed by, the driver's anger focussed on the road ahead. The rays from the now risen sun sliced though the dust and evil looking flatulence of its passing. Soon it's noise also ceased, the hanging dust and smell the only sign it had been there.
The small Hairless One started moving again, trying to turn to reverse its progress. But it was useless. The effort only made it sink ever deeper into the sludge.
She listened carefully, trying to judge how far off the truck was. Already it was beyond hearing.
Should she rescue it?
For it surely was doomed if she did not?
Exhausted, the small Male had almost stopped moving, its arms uselessly pushing and pulling at the morass.
Aware of its fate, it started yelling, the tired voice pathetic and weak, cracking with fear and desperation.
It tugged at her heart and she made a decision.
In one leap she was halfway across the water, the sound making the boy turn back towards her in fright.
For a moment it simply stared, eyes wide in shock. But then as she splashed her way towards it they widened even further in sheer terror. The mouth opened and it screamed, thrashing about wildly as it tried to get away. But the effort only made it sink faster. Abruptly the screams stopped as water and mud filled its mouth, making it splutter and cough.
She reached it just as its strange, white eyes were about to go under. Grabbing it by the clothing on its back she heaved it free with a sucking, plopping sound, it's now freed arms and legs kicking crazily while it coughed up muddy water.
For a moment she stared at it as it thrashed, both tiny fists pounding ineffectively on her strong, hairy forearm.
Then even above its coughing screams the sound of the truck's wheels on the gravel came to her ears. The older Hairless One was returning.
Without another thought she waded back into the safety of the trees, the small one still held out at arms length, thrashing and screaming.
Reaching solid ground she dropped it and stepped behind a tree.
The small one immediately stopped screaming and stared at her in terror but she ignored it, watching instead the road across the swamp.
It followed her gaze and seemed to hear the approaching truck again for the first time. It was coming back slower than it had gone past and she soon saw why.
The Hairless One had his head out the window, studying the ground... looking for tracks!
His face was bright red with anger, his mouth chomping and chewing its lips with fury. It saw something for the truck crunched to a halt and with a noisy creak the door opened.
Stepping out the Hairless One looked at the ground, then at the waters edge where the water was still brown with stirred up mud. It stared at the water, the eyes following the discolouration towards the tree she now stood behind. Hoping it was wide enough to hide her bulk, she allowed her eyes to flicker sideways. The small one had likewise hidden itself behind a tree.
'Boy!' A hard, angry voice broke the silence, 'Boy! I know you're over there!'
Behind his tree, the small one was still staring at her, eyes wide.
'You not gonna survive long in that swamp boy! There's gators and snakes... an worse... far worse... if you know what's good for you, you gonna come back right across right now, you hear?'
The silence dragged out, broken only by the grinding of the older one’s teeth as it stared into the trees.
Slowly, so the movement would not draw attention, she turned her head to look fully at the small male Hairless One. Its chest heaved and tears were streaming from its wide eyes but it did not move nor answer the other’s calling.
'Goddamit!' Across the water the older male tore its hat from its bald head and slapped it on its thigh, 'I ain't coming across to git you boy! I can get another foster kid to take your place easy ya little bastard!'
It stomped back to its truck and climbed in, slamming the door. The engine revved into life.
The older Hairless One sat for a moment, swearing through grinding teeth. Then it turned to look back into the trees once more, 'You gonna die out there boy! I seen what's in that swamp!'
With a blast of spitting gravel the truck lurched off down the road, leaving behind another heavy cloud of dust and fumes to hang in the hot morning air.
The female Sasquatch stepped back from the tree and turned fully to face the small Hairless One. For a moment she simply stood, scowling down at it.
The Hairless Ones were useless away from their houses and towns. Alone out here it had no chance. She gestured with her head and one slightly raised arm, motioning as if to push it in the direction of the farm from which it had fled.
All it did was stand there, mud and water dripping from its clothing, eyes wide, chest still heaving.
With a snort, she turned and walked away into the trees.
It would have to find its own way back.
(Continued IN VOLUME 2, A BURNING WORLD...)
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