That Which May Survive Us
When the time comes to save ourselves from our wandering, the weak children are
eaten first. Some of the strong men have been awarded a soft dark hood, which can be
slipped over the head. When this hood is given to a tasty child, the child is granted
another season to grow hungry.
In more stationary times, walrus liver can be eaten for breakfast and for dinner we
often choose merely to suck ice. We apply thoughtfully chosen names to our impressions
of each other, like Thorgar Kristmundsson or The Happy Shadow Man. Wearing a blue
hood represents gratitude to the cold and wounded sky.
Our livelihood has become inextricably intertwined with the care and maintenance
of our domesticated animals. When the cultivated eggs are six months old, they are
placed into cloth harnesses. Many wild eggs are captured and enlisted in service. (They
move so slowly!) And just think of it. There are thousands upon thousands of younger
eggs still forming in the ocean along our coast. Many of them will never even arrive at
their destinations, which, in any case, can be difficult to ascertain. Sometimes our hunting parties find small colonies of nearly mature rebels in the rocky caves.
While our heroes are out hunting, the indentured eggs must carry our burden. After
all, the demands of our dangerously sweet air remain unpredictable and it will take every
bit of their training for them to maintain a semblance of balance while hauling the
intoxicating invisible weight of our existence to the breathing storage locations.
Some of the less dependable eggs have been recaptured attempting to pilot
makeshift boats in order to escape their inevitably oppressive condition, but their
progressive new fathers have learned to cut and shape big blocks of dried water with a
walrus knife and make a different and faster kind of boat, which is very large inside and
allows them a certain degree of normalcy in their lives during the lengthy pursuits of the errant eggs. This boat sometimes becomes a substitute for the father’s familial duties.
And here, deep inside this largest of the policing boats, is the golden basket for the
collection of the successfully employed ice-bathing towels. Here you can find a terrible
sense of gratitude for the random shapes of the accompanying clouds, even when they
remain at a great and mysterious distance.
Often the recaptured eggs put up a savage fight, rolling around in sudden and
sometimes deadly swiveling motions. Some have to be destroyed, but others can be
welcomed back to the family with loving sticks.
The fathers have learned how to clean and tan the brittle skins of those few
remaining non-adaptive eggs using rounded ice wedges and the latent excretions of their
own private organs. Very little of these “adjusted” eggs is wasted. The fathers stack the
processed eggs in mathematically precise arrangements to allow for the effects of the
moon and surround them with carefully selected and placed lichen-covered rocks to
properly age them.
Researchers have conjectured that some of our descendants will actually make
homes from these processed eggs. No one can explain how this will be done. The appeal
of such ideas is not likely to become universal, even if the practice does.
As it is with all things, even the most conscientious of the domesticated eggs grow
old and begin to smell bad and nip at the younger eggs. When such behavior is
recognized, the offending eggs are either sacrificed immediately or they are drained of
their fluids and left behind to “hibernate,” a term we use to describe an existence without rebirth, which sometimes leads to a condition of “stasis” in which the newly
somnambulant eggs are known as “oracles.” Researchers believe that some of the ancient
oracles will still remain in the farther reaches of the territory long after we are gone. It is widely believed that they will be very reliable but difficult to understand.
Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.