MISADVENTURES OF THE FIRST MAN.
Rising back into consciousness has never been this weird . . .
These were the first thoughts that registered in his mind as his senses, one after the other, came back online. There was a remnant dizziness, just hanging vaguely in the corner of his head, slowly becoming less and less prominent as time slid by, and soon he was able to raise his hea – oh, that wasn’t the best idea.
Nausea surged back in to fill up every corner of his head, bringing with it the sharp throb of a headache, and the loud breathing of some infernal creature above his head was not helping his case. Not one bit. The sound that escaped his mouth could only be described as pathetic in the nicest of terms, and he was quite appreciative of the fact that his den was not in the direct line of sight of the nearby Water-Hole One; it wouldn’t do to be laughed at by those demented hyenas that came there every three hours to drink and wink lecherously at the suitably alarmed geese in the pool. Damn, I forgot to feed the geese.
This stewardship stint was shaping up to be the highlight of his admittedly short life, seeing as he only just gained his ‘alive’ status fairly recently. It’s been fairly straight-forward – as straight-forward as it could ever be when trying to guide, sweet-talk, and/or wrangle carnivores that co-habit a single area with herbivores and literally consider them fair game. It’s been much more challenging keeping the herbivores’ consumption of plant life at reasonable levels. Logically, the antelopes could get away on their own, more or less, whenever the big cats become rather frisky; his patch of tomatoes, on the other hand were unable to achieve such feats of change of location to escape the inconvenience of being eaten.
So he has been up and doing, trying to keep everything and every creature relatively in their proper niche, and trying to figure out the least injurious technique to milk the cows. Yesterday the entire northern herd got involved in running him off after he apparently pulled too hard on the heifer he’d been harvesting from. That’s the last event he has any memory of . . . meaning one of the bulls must have caught up with him and – how did they put it? Avenged the besmirched honour of an esteemed cow.
If he had received a trashing, how had he ended up in his den again? He blinked several times trying to adjust his vision to the sunlight filtering through the above canopy of leaves. He had been close, but as much as he prodded his memory, he couldn’t recall actually reaching his leafy alcove that he had remodelled into a den.
He screwed his eyes shut and attempted to sit up again. He had actually started to congratulate himself for getting further than his previous try when vertigo re-announced its current residence in his skull. He flopped down sideways, his mind going momentarily blank when his head landed on a mould of warm flesh instead of the vegetable mattress that he had lining the ground. His first thought was ‘not that pig again. Please don’t let it be that blasted pig again’; he was not eager to have a repeat incident of waking up to a particularly brazen pig attempting to sample the glands between his legs with its teeth. Before he could run through the different fight or flight strategies that he had come up with for such an incident however, something that felt uncannily like his hand yanked him up painfully by the hair.
He was staring into the indignant face of a creature never encountered before; a creature that had the appearance of a distorted version of himself, the key differences being in the beast’s slighter body frame, longer hair of a colour resembling his, a much more swollen and fleshier chest region which he had inadvertently face-planted into, and a bizarre absence of that protruding body part that suspended between the front of his legs; in its place was a –
A harder yank at his hair still in the creature’s grip brought his eyes from its analysis back up to its face, which had an expression that was getting more scandalized by the second. It reminded him eerily of the expression of the heifer he had accidentally molested yesterday. It was quickly dawning on him that this creature must be just like him, with the physical differences he had observed being meant as an adaptation that would be better suited for the day-to-day goings-on being a steward; those slender hands can pick those hard to reach berries without squashing them and they could even be gentler in extracting milk from all the creatures that produced it and were currently prone to running away anytime his hands reached for those fleshy organs that . . . his attention was once again arrested by the swollen contours on the chest of the creature before him. Was it also an adaptation to negate the need to seek the sweet fluid from other more volatile sources?
Given his less-than-stellar past experience with milk-producing creatures, he probably shouldn’t have tried for a physical examination of the creatures chest without warning it first. As it was, he never saw the punch coming until his vision whited out and he knew no more.
MISADVENTURES OF THE FIRST MAN.