I've seen the world, or as much as I care to. It's
time I settle down, find a mate, carry-on the gene pool. The unmistakable,
instinctual drive is the culprit. The same drive that all creatures have,
to procreate, for the survival of their species. The trip is well over a
thousand miles long, with many unforeseen dangers lurking to impede
progress. The threat of sudden demise always prevalent, no matter the
choice of direction. To say returning to my birthplace is risky would be
an understatement, but instinct has eliminated all choice. It's beyond my
control. I must return.
Time passes at an interminable rate, as
anticipation grows. The miles drag on. Little is as I remember; much has
changed. I begin to second-guess which direction to go. Again, the drive
takes over and without further thought, the path is chosen. Instinct
guides me into familiar territory. I am recognizing some of the places I
used to haunt. Where I would chase after females, eat too much, and watch
others return from the world. Always thinking, 'What fools, when I get out
of here, I won't come running back'. Never realizing that my return was
entirely preordained and out of my control.
I know I'm getting
close, but another instinct must be met. Rest. I pull off the 'highway'
and find a decent enough spot to fulfill the need for recuperation. As I
wait for my strength to return, I'm startled by the presence of a
stranger. It's the very creature I was taught by my ancestors to fear
absolutely. The impudence of this beast, we've been here much longer than
they've existed. If anyone has the right to traipse about with impunity,
it should be us. Alas, it's much larger and more powerful than we can ever
dream of becoming. Therefore, I move on to find another, more hospitable
place to relax.
Finally, I find a place to rest, just out of the
flow of traffic. There are no abominable creatures about, and the current
is less harsh. The weakness has subsided and again, the drive to mate
takes jurisdiction over my willpower. I venture back out in the traffic.
The flow is growing heavier as I round each bend and climb each rise. How
we manage to not bump each other off the 'highway' is beyond me. It's nose
to tail, to nose.
Suddenly, there is a cacophony of sound, flashing
light, whirling tangled voyagers struggling to free themselves from the
calamity, as several of my traveling companions disappear in the
confusion. Bewildered and out of sorts, I am headed in the wrong direction
as the traffic is approaching directly towards me. I turn tail and right
myself in the direction of the flow.
Eventually things begin to
calm and the traffic thins as comrades reach their destination. I round
another bend and there it is. Home. From the corner of my eye I see the
object of my desire, a beautifully adorned female, in all her glory. The
most stunning creature of our species, in the prime of her fruitful years,
awaits my arrival. She's already prepared our love nest, anticipating my
arrival, though we've never met.
Our mating preordained by birth.
The next generation assured. We commence the ritualistic dance. Approach
each other and touch for the first time. We begin to swell with the blush
of procreation. The thrust and parry of the rite, so much a part of us we
hardly notice the shadow passing overhead.
SPLASH! Searing pain
rips into my back and sides. I whip my body back and forth, snapping
wildly with long canine teeth jutting like fangs from jaws shrunken by
spawning hormones. I look dangerous but am certainly lost, held fast by
the talons piercing the swollen dorsal muscles that give my tribe their
name. Five-foot wings catch a draft and angle up a slope too precipitous
for the spruces and firs it tenuously supports, giants growing right down
to the water. My world fades to black before I consummate my contribution
to the survival of the species.
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