Questions replicated inside the Young Man’s skull like single-celled heathens. He looked ahead to the jungle yeti, which was frozen in time mid-step, and watched as its mouth began to open in a silent scream — wider, and wider still, the jaw snapping, the left tusk hanging limp, the maw peeling back into a bloody, gaping cavern.
«Nice work, pussy!»
A woman’s voice said the slur, but the Young Man didn’t see anyone else around. Then a human foot, bony, with dry, cracked skin, appeared from the yeti’s exposed esophagus, searching for the earth beneath it.
«Did you really think you could just leave?» The foot carefully put its weight down, attached to a small, pale woman wearing a suit of snazz and a silver moustache to match her cropped silver hair and shiny silver revolver.
«Leave society, you fucking pussy.»
[Alright then, I think we’re done here.]
He turned around and started his way back to his jungle home.
«Nobody gets out alive. That’s not how this works.»
The Young Man was unsure of the distance, but was certain the right direction was away from this woman.
«No, come back. You and I must talk.»
«About the birds and the bees and the humans.»
He didn’t look back, and so he didn’t see the two shots coming, pumped in and out through his right shoulder. Sharp pain rang out from the exit wounds, but it was the sight of the gushing blood that brought our hero to his knees.
«You know,» the mustachioed woman said, reloading her revolver, «it was quite difficult to keep this beauty clean inside that thing.» She took out a kerchief from her breastpocket and began to polish.
The Young Man tried to retrieve his knife made of bone, but the burning in his arm was too great, his fingers unresponsive.
«Now listen. You won’t figure this out all at once, especially since you’re fighting to stay conscious right now. But when you realize what’s happening here, the last face you will see will be…»
He spun around and lunged at the woman, biting hard at the artery in her throat, clamping down and drinking her life till it filled his mouth. The moment he pulled away and pushed her body to the concrete with his non-dominant hand, he knew he was no longer the boy who trembled at the sight of the jungle many bright skies ago.
The silver-haired woman crumpled to the ground, but her face seemed resigned to the point of boredom. She let out a sigh, then one final piece of advice. «You can abandon society, young man. But the wild can abandon you, too.»
As the adrenaline faded, our hero felt the need to do something rational, or seemingly rational, to avoid the painful reality that he had just claimed his first human life. So he put on her suit of snazz. Rifled through her pockets. Picked at her belongings like a vulture pecking carrion, hoping that the lowly act of robbery would take the edge off his literal bloodthirst.
Then he saw it. More accurately, her. The woman holding the boy in the picture in the wallet in the pocket of the coat of the corpse lying on the cracked concrete. The woman who had once given birth to him, and bought him his favorite pistachio ice cream right after the picture was taken. One final «Suck my dick» from his fallen adversary.
With a sudden awareness he could feel but not describe, the Young Man took the pressure off his wounds, letting the blood rush down his chest as if spouting from fountains on his shoulder. He dropped his left arm, then everything else — his pig pouch, his yeti-femur knife, his plans for building a garden, his friendship with the giant octopus, his hopes for re-encountering and falling in love with one of the Moderately Attractive Young Women, and as he stared up into the gray nothing above, he was finally warm.
“And So I Shall Abandon Society to Thrive in the Wild”
A short story by Alejandro Bruzzese and Mike Cavalier.
Published in 2015 by the Citrus Arts Collective. All rights reserved.