the sun dipped lower to the horizon and started started growing into
night, Cecil's mind revisited his lessons with Leans-Into-The-Wind. His
teacher did more than lecture the old ways of coexistence, Johnson lived
it, and taught Cecil the names and ways of The People. They'd argued on
his birthday, about the drugs, about Charlie and true animal bonding.
Johnson called it cutting corners, Cecil called it lubricating the
process, and his mother tried to intervene. It was too much, and he took
off, using the lessons in tracking and finding trails to hide his own,
though he always suspected Johnson could have found him if he tried.
Cecil disappeared himself into the reclaimed wilderness to let him find
opportunity and freedom where he'd be less likely to be interrupted.
now this call. It wasn't the first call in the two years he'd been on
his own, but it was the first time his teacher had been mentioned.
a moment of conflict and desperation, Cecil clambered up upon his cabin
roof, unslung the clay flute, closed his eyes, and started playing. It
was no tune, no melody that descended from the pipe, but a spontaneous
merging of all the calls he used for his pack. It was no summons, merely
a question: Will you come?
This was only the second
time he'd done this. The notes lingered over his home--the cabin, the
woods--and all the animals that resided in the area that claimed
membership knew that it was as much an invitation as it was a white
Come in peace, my brothers and sister. Come and join this peace, it said. And if you cannot keep the peace, no punishment will follow.
That was how Cecil ruled: not with an iron fist, but with an open heart.
he lowered the flute, letting the notes drift off into silence, and
opened his eyes, he found himself surrounded. Those that could reach the
roof laid at his feet, and those that could not arrayed themself in the
grasses around the cabin.
Two asps borrowed warmth in
the fading day from Zal and Rudabeh. Two fieldmice cuddled close to two
'chucks, two flying squirrels, and two hares. A pair or each
white-tails, elk, coyot' and horse knelt with Rama and Sita. Huginn and
Muninn were joined by falcons, robins, finches, eagles, egrets, and
Cecil looked around at all the faces looking back at him, and wondered aloud, "Is this what they fear? Peace? Harmony?"
A bullfrog burped in response, as he and his mate hopped belatedly into the gathering.
Cecil laughed. "Sorry Knemu, sorry Heqet. Didn't mean to start without you. Settle in, no rush, and make yourself comfortable."
burped again, and they eased their way forward to the front, settling
down between the forelegs of Ammit, jaguar. Her brother, Anub, sneezed a
laugh at the sight, before the four turned their attention back to
"Something is coming. Through you, I've felt it.
I can't tell what it is, or where it is, or how far of it is, but it's
not good news. We staved off the last mass-migration by holding strong
together, but this... feels bigger... feels worse. I don't know if we
can weather it alone.
"If you haven't heard, I've received a call from my folks. Leans-Into-The-Wind will be there in a few days, and--"
Yips and shouts erupt from the crowd. Tails start waving and smacking noses.
holds out his hands and tries to call for silence, but none comes until
Knemu rips a loud burp. "Thanks, Knemu. I can see those of you who have
met Charlie, miss him greatly, and those who haven't wish to meet him.
Since you all seem to want to go so badly, I guess I shouldn't argue.
That said, I'll need somebody to watch the cabin while we're gone. Any
Silence falls over the pack faster than ever.
I know you've probably got little ones to look after, but if you could
pay some extra attention to local vibrartions, I'd appreciate it. I'll
bring you back something special."
The bullfrog hummed in response, and started hopping back to his pond.
"Well then. It looks like we're all settled. We leave in the morning."