The Young Sasquatch remained perfectly still, hoping the wind would not turn to his back.
Below the Mooshkah pack looked desperately hungry as they lay panting in the heat under an overhanging boulder in the canyon floor.
Last summer the ice shelf had retreated far to the north, leaving in its place barren rock where not much grew to feed the giant herbivore herds that used to populate this land.
Even the Mastadon herds had moved or been hunted to extinction.
The Hairless Ones were seemingly everywhere lately, killing everything they came across to feed their ever-growing numbers... erasing the land of life. This season the ice melt had been pitiful, forcing any animals lucky enough to avoid their hunting packs to move or die of hunger and thirst.
Everywhere he looked the ground was barren, devoid of all life except for the few struggling trees that had sprung up as the ice moved north, clinging to a fragile life tenaciously in the boulders and dry earth.
He was under one such tree now, high on the canyon wall watching the pack rest on the bottom. The tree was so small he had to crouch and the Young Sasquatch sensed if a Mooshkah bothered to waste the energy to look up he would likely be seen. Their eyes were not as good as their noses but still sufficient to see even he.
Thankfully the breeze stayed in his face, hot air that rose from the canyon floor and lifted the Great eagles high overhead. He felt it tease at his long hair and was tempted to rise with it, soaring high over the land, for he suddenly understood he was deep in The Dreaming... a long time ago.
The sun was sinking and below the Mooshkah pack began stirring. It was a small pack, a giant Alpha male, its mate and two almost full-grown pups. The female rose first and began to make her way up the canyon on all fours, which was curious for the Young Sasquatch knew a Hairless One encampment was in that direction.
The big male watched her for a moment, then stood, stretched and followed, the pups falling into place several paces behind.
In stretched out single file the pack slowly made their way up the canyon and curious, the Young Sasquatch decided to follow them. He stood and stepping off the edge of the cliff he spread his arms wide and swam his way through the hot air of the canyon.
Below him the pack wound its way upstream. The raging river which had cut deep into the soft sandstone as a result of the melting ice was mostly, dry exposing beaches far older even than the ice itself. On either side he saw ancient shells and strange lifeforms that in death had become part of the compressed rock itself.
By the time the pack approached the Hairless encampment the sun had left the world. It was a moonless night which meant they were not likely to be seen by any Hairless sentinels but still they slowed and moved much more carefully, creeping from shadow to shadow. The Young Sasquatch could easily pick them out of the darkness, the extra cones in his eyes that set his kind apart from the Hairless Ones amplifying even the starlight that filtered through the light cloud cover.
The camp was in a bend of the river where a fairly large pool of water had been trapped. A handful of their shelters made from dried animal hides slung over an assortment of long poles cut from trees were scattered about in a rough circle, in the middle of which a large communal fire-pit had been made from stones pulled from the river.
The Young Sasquatch saw that the clan was perhaps two handfuls strong, the majority of which were male hunters who lounged about shaping straight sticks into spears and forming points from pieces of flint in the firelight.
Closer to the fire itself some females were grouped, using clay pots to boil an assortment of plants into broth to accompany the cooking meat that one of the children slowly turned over the hottest part of the fire, some working animal hides so they could be sewed together into protective coats for the coming winter.
His eyes saw the Mooshkah pack was now separated, circling around the camp just outside of the firelight. They were being careful to keep their heads turned away so as to not reflect the light in their eyes.
He wondered what they were doing, so close to the camp. Were they going to attack it out of desperate hunger?
Such an act would be foolish indeed for the hunters were many and well armed with their long, thick spears. He decided they must be waiting for one to leave the camp to relieve itself for one at a time, each selected a position either under a bush or behind a boulder in a wide semi circle on the side opposite the long pool that had formed in the bend.
Curious, he floated above... the smoke from the fire drifting around and through his body.
After a while the Young Sasquatch saw that indeed one of the female Hairless Ones stood up from where it was stirring a large clay pot with a stick. It muttered something to another, passed it the stick and ventured away from the fire towards the rocks. He saw it was heading almost directly towards where one of the pups lay under a bush, its legs gathered underneath, ready to pounce.
Suddenly he realised he could no longer see the Alpha. Turning his head he finally spotted it slinking along the edge of the water towards one of the shelters. He looked back and saw the Hairless One was within pouncing distance now but instead of the pup leaping forward for the kill it did something very strange.
It stood up, rising high above the bush onto its hind legs, its eyes catching the light of the fire and reflecting a bright reddish yellow that practically burned in the darkness.
The Hairless One spotted it instantly and screamed. As it did so the other pack members rose from their positions, each one's eyes reflecting the firelight and marking their positions in the darkness.
Around the fire the hunters scrambled, quickly grabbing their spears, picking up burning brands from the fire and rushing to the aid of their female, who was now running back to the fire as fast as her skinny legs could carry her. The other females either grabbed burning sticks themselves, picked up spears, or gathered their young ones closer, all clustering in a tight huddle as close to the fire as possible.
The hunters were all shouting and thrusting their burning sticks high to better make out the pack in the darkness, but none ventured too close. They knew of the Mooshkah and how dangerous they were.
Suddenly the Young Sasquatch realised something. All the Hairless Ones were looking in the same direction, away from the fire towards the three sets of yellow-red eyes that were now darting backwards and forwards, their bodies just out of sight in the shadows of the night.
He looked back, towards the water. The Alpha was nowhere to be seen. But then he noticed an animal hide from one of the shelters was laying on the ground. He dropped lower, landing lightly on the ground for a closer look, just in time to see the Alpha exit the shelter carrying something dangling from one its front paws.
With a shock he realised what it was. A tiny Hairless baby was dangling from one leg, its lifeless arms hanging limp.
As the Alpha moved the baby's head lolled unnaturally and the Young Sasquatch saw the Alpha had snapped its tiny neck. He felt the ever-present coals of anger flare into sudden flame. But he knew he was in The Dreaming and could do nothing.
The Alpha looked right through him and glanced around. Seeing the attention of the Hairless Ones was still directed to the pack members on the far side of the encampment, it quickly dashed back the way it had come.
The sudden movement caused the baby's head to turn to face the Young Sasquatch for the first time. It had a freshly healed scar on its forehead and he immediately recognised it as the Hairless Baby his mother had rescued!
The flames of his anger roared into a bonfire and he launched himself after the Alpha Mooshkah, but it was too fast. Already it had disappeared into the night.
The Young Sasquatch jumped, desperately trying to rise once more back into the air but he was suddenly too heavy. He tried to roar in frustration but no sound came out.
Then there was a small, unexpected hoot from behind, one he instantly recognised... his mother!
He turned and saw her, standing in the middle of the water hole. Her eyes were sad, her long arms reaching for him.
The Young Sasquatch tried to move towards her but his legs would not function. Looking down he saw a myriad of vines twining themselves around his feet and calves. Tighter and tighter they wound themselves, tensioning more every time he struggled. The anger fled and was replaced with fear. He looked back up at his mother.
It seemed to the Young Sasquatch that now a deep disappointment far outweighed the sadness in her eyes... disappointment that he had not been able to save the baby.
His heart torn apart, the Young Sasquatch collapsed, suddenly completely exhausted. First his mother, then the ancient world around him faded away into nothingness.
Gratefully he allowed the blackness to take him.
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