~ a short story
A gorilla grunt, stoic as ever, alerted Dr. Stannick of the latest trial’s completion. He strode through his laboratory, pad in hand pinging and chiming with the subroutines of his impossible machine. He’d long since grown tired of these walls, these sounds.
But the work goes on. So hard to believe that this shit actually works… We are practically dealing with magic here.
Guggle Rhythms flashed across his glasses as he pushed them up. They crossed with the Alphinfinium Coefficient at just the right cadence, 0.333, to produce yet another new number, unseen by science heretofore. Zamma pulses emanated from the experimental chamber, only readable by y-ray. Stannick let them die away, and awaited Billy’s raised thumb, as per protocol. Billy, or “one.” Even though I can just about guess the timing by now. The animal subject returned to silence, the grunts and gurgles softened. What a champ… At last, he made sure to confirm the final ƒa†¥ reading was a clean zero before he entered the chamber to make his in-person inspection. Sally, or “two,” delivered the second thumb. No desire to get rad-poisoning again. Rect procedure took an hour last time, and the clean up… yeck. Stannick headed inside.
Inside the crystallis orb, the latest ape reformed itself. From the head down, blood and bone shaped into place with the spine as the locus, the starting point of its unnerving transformation. The reverse of an implosion, within the orb was the backwards flowing culmination of life returning to the ruined form of the ape. A Western gorilla specimen, captured about six months ago on a Surveyor expedition unrelated to their core work in the lab.
Until the miracle, and Mr. Gorilla became our project’s prime subject… Billy hesitated to call it as such, but I hold no such illusions. Even as a man of science… No, *because* I am so seasoned in this field, unlike the pimple-faced dupe back in the observation room, I recognize divine intervention when I see it!
Just inside the room’s threshold, Dr. Stannick watched the horrifying show with attempted stoicism. In spite of his best efforts, his stomach never held. He lit a cigarette with shaking hands.
…Maybe it will this time. If I just concentrate…
Flesh and bone and sinew wrapped around a frame that soon grew fur, muscles, arms, a skull. A life. And that seeming same pair of eyes. Stannick knew they couldn’t be. But he’d be damned if they didn’t make for the exact same look. Again and again, death after death. ‘Dimension’ after ‘dimension.’ Life returned to this hairy beast. Our perfect little subject is born again.
The head, initially floating and alone within the orb, did not make another sound as the rest of the body inexplicably came into being. There was only ever the grunt of its initial reformulation; a grunt of its life force returning? Perhaps the grunt was the opposite of a death cry, the very reversal of its sentiment and sound. Stannick considered having Billy go out and get a record player, try to find an LP with a recorded cry of a dying beast on it, have them play it backward… before realizing the Internet existed, and then further coming to the conclusion that the whole idea was stupid after all. Stannick spit it out of his mind and refrained to cough from the cancer stick in his mouth. He was a fresh pair of lungs to the practice. A doctor smoking, some kind of irony-hell is being secured for me as I knowingly drag my life force away…
Before long, a silent silverback, unblinking, with knuckles firmly planted on the platform within which it was imprisoned, stood before him in full. As healthy as ever. Stomach rumbling incessantly, Stannick side-stepped over the verium cords that lined the chamber floor. Fast becoming light-headed and top heavy, he managed a waddle over to the waste bin to deposit the bile that had gathered in his clenched mouth. Once more, his nerve hadn’t held. Stannick was not one for blood and gore.
Who was? … Oh right, Sally. She watched every one; Billy had admitted halfway to this point that he’d stopped watching, as he too had been barfing and then covering his tracks. He threw the smoke into the bin as well, watched it wash away in real-time to the underways of the lab.
The ape watched him as he did so. Stannick wondered at its pain in the process, before or after. Those eyes glided back to center as he returned to make for a closer observation, wiping his mouth and readjusting the frame of his glasses. Within the orb surrounded by one thousand freshly de-powered Equilibriuum© micro-warheads, the gorilla blasted out a short breath. The giant creature’s fur bristled under the beady eyes of its tyrant. At least, that is how Dr. Stannick viewed himself, from the perspective of the ape.
The apes, he self-corrected.
This was experimental outcome #1398. Completed.
They had good reason to despise him.
“This time it was a snake,” Stannick said aloud. The gorilla’s eyes widened at the word, one it had never heard before. The last few had been reptiles too. Salamander. Skink. Gecko. Might there be a pattern forming? No such pattern had come in the thirteen hundred or so before. Many were simply iterations of the gorilla. Thinner, fatter. Heavier or lighter. One had an eye missing. Western, eastern, others they could not label. Many others had limbs missing, or hairs shorn upon certain quadrants of its body.
Still waiting on the ocelot. Stannick’s favorite animal.
“The subject transfigured itself into a serpent,” Stannick continued, speaking into the recorders that the chamber contained. Naturally, everything was being recorded. Every grunt and every death cry. So far, none of the animals but the gorilla made any cogent sound at all, save for that of their body’s squirming or convulsing in their brief moments of life. What might the meaning of that .. soundlessness be? Were the ‘transfigured’ ones really alive? No answer there, doc.
“Emerald in color, with scales that glimmered in the light of the activated warheads. It was alive for a pair of nanoseconds before returning to that which it came. Wherever that may be… Powered down, and then the roil of fleshy grey matter returned from the void inside the orb, slowly reforging itself into white and red and black, into … him. The snake became a smattering of bone and flesh… ‘transfigured’ — as we say — into that of a gorilla spine next, and then all the rest returned, same as the one-thousand three hundred and ninety-seven times before… The ingredients of one adult male gorilla.”
His voice was tired, so he cleared it as he spoke. Stannick circled the orb, eyes on the familiar features of the silverback. Same sturdy shoulders. Left arm bigger, the dominant one. Either arm could grip a man and peel him like a banana. Smaller legs, but still enough to carry it upright for spurts. A grand skull the size of a man’s torso. He was careful to not trip over any cords, as he had so many times before.
But what kind of embarrassment could be had before such a creature? We are already so… If not for these perenniglass walls, I would be smashed to pulp in a flash, along with all of my machines, and eventually, in its rampage, the lot of my crackpot team… The whole facility could not contain this beast’s rage, if it were free…
That is… if he can remember. If they could. If this strange, impossible beast has any kind of consciousness at all.
The thought of that made Stannick lose his composure. He kept his mind trained on the tasks at hand. Documentation, documentation, documentation… He read out the haphazard measurements of the gorilla, same words spoken for every recording. As always, he left out no detail, so as to highlight the absurd consistency of this inexplicable phenomena he and his colleagues were playing with here at their lab. One they’d come upon by accident. Nine tenths of the resources they now wielded within their remote lab were rewarded after trial #10, as they ran with the numbers and the results with increasing bafflement. Ten different gorillas, imploded and reforged. Ten different gorillas, violently killed by a mix of heat, light and quantum improv from inexact cocktails of radiation. And then, after all that, put back together. Authority back home had read the reports and sent them the empire of assets they now wielded to continue their work. Relentlessly so.
When was the last time any of us got more than 4 hours…?
“…Bio team is working on a potential species match now. Though if that creature is like the others, we won’t find a perfect match.”
None of the animals — even the gorilla iterations — met perfectly with known species anywhere on Earth. The gorilla iterations were similar, at first glance. But a bone here or there, the stance, the ascension of the brow, down to the cones in the eyes or the platelets in the blood. Small differences ruled them out of known bios. Every *transfigured* gorilla, along with every transfigged mammal or reptile or avian, or even a cephalopod, were utterly unique to the pantheon of creatures known to Man.
Thus far… Just how groundbreaking is this absurd accident of ours?
Still circling in his inspection, Stannick’s eyes fell at last upon the scar. Again, that same slash across the palm of the ape’s left hand. The same damn one. The gorilla turned its head to regard him. That look. That confirmed it. Again. The same ape, reformulated from the impossible feedback loop of the impossible machine.
The same impossible ape.
“Because the adder was not of this world,” Stannick whispered. “As you are not… Cannot…”
As he leaned in, sleep-deprived eyes fixed on the shape of the beast before him, Dr. Stannick blinked hard to clear his eyes, his mind. When he opened them again, all his senses screamed at him to fly with fury. The ape reared back and smashed a fist into the glass. It roared in his face, spit and blood splashed onto the interior of its glass prison wall. The fist became a palm that slapped and clawed at a cadence that matched the blood-curdling screaming. Dr. Stannick went numb. He fell over the cords and onto the floor, crawling away as fast as he could. His heart pounded in his chest more vigorously than it ever had. He lost more than his balance; his bowels had dropped out of him and into his trousers. For a brief moment, he thought he might be having a heart attack.
In the corner of the dim chrome room, Stannick heaved and glared at his terrifying prisoner. Still trapped inside the reinforced glass, the gorilla soon stopped its thrashing. That tremendous strength had found no faults and produced no cracks on the orb. He had watched the doctor’s pitiful retreat with a violent hooting pummel upon its chest. That supposed to inform me you are superior..? Ha… The beast studied him, pouring sweat, his face as pale as his bulging eyes. There was victory in the gorilla’s stance. A quiet harrumph echoed in the room from its lips.
The first such violent outburst…hours of complacency culminated within my observations… Had he *planned* to fail my heart from the fright?… Almost did… Better luck next time, beast.
Dr. Stannick did not get up from his pitiful seat for minutes. His thoughts came slowly, his mind returning faster than his heart to normalcy. He watched the ape sit in repose, no longer letting its attention fall upon him or the small little world of its final home. It was then that he realized the absurdity in the fact that they’d never given their colleague, this creature, a name.
The Traveler no longer suffered in the body; all his pain now culminated in his soul.
Not in his mind, for it was reverted to savagery out of necessity. And not in his heart, which was long ago sacrificed for the sake of the search. The work came automatically now, utilizing sense-making beyond him and his rather primitive species. The trips honed a sense beyond that of even the sapiens behind the glass and the metal. For all their machines and maths, even they could not see what was happening inside the Traveler’s soul.
Out of sight, and out of mind, slowly but surely — experiment after experiment — The Traveler worked the paths of the cosmos.
A way out. As any life force may seek in such a predicament. A way out of this egg. A way out that left him alive, and capable of revenging a path through this wretched world. Somewhere within the beast’s receding heart, mind and soul, a great rage stormed out of dormancy.
For now, The Traveler meditated, no longer wishing to incite the small man. Today’s work was done. Tomorrow would be another day. Another trip. The small man’s heart held, as expected.
How many more trials would he need? How many more until we ascend?
Not many, The Traveler theorized.
The Traveler closed in on destiny. So many iterations had done the work of eliminating many false solutions.
The Traveler was coming close to the right ones. The time drew near for him to make his escape.
The Traveler rested, conserving his strength for the next dawn.
The scar pulsed in anticipation. A scar from a fight yet to be, sooner now than ever…
No change. Experiment #1399, and the first dud.
No transfiguration, no other animal within the glass. Just him. Dr. Stannick made his inspection more ardently than ever.
And so too did the beast. The gorilla stared at him from its central seat.
Or at least, that is what Stannick’s sixth sense told him. Every time he glanced at its visage, its eyes appeared closed, disinterested. But he could feel them on his back when he turned away.
Toko? Bob? Gori? He still hadn’t decided on a name.
Maybe it did not deserve one…
The same scar. Dr. Stannick made a physical check on the devices, the cords and computers housed in the chamber. The same positions and primed energies.
What was different? What had changed?
Nothing. Billy’s double-check of Stannick’s initials this morning had confirmed that, as far as their experimental parameters. #1399 was the same as all the others before. Sally also pointed out their string of luck thus far, no real critical mistakes or errs, no ‘duds’ up until now. That was an incredible feat, Stannick understood better than they, seemingly impossible in consideration of the kind of work they were doing. The engine producing the transfigurations came from quantum warheads after all. None of this made sense, scientifically. Yet. This is where Billy’s “other dimensions” theory had surfaced. With the transformations, the breaking of the laws of physics, the unnameable species, similar in appearance but defying classification to the known biologies of their world.
What of the creature’s outburst? Stannick theorized. The first of its kind, after my routine inspection that it had watched me make so many times before. And then the next trial is…
“Alright, let’s run another,” Stannick said to his team suddenly, shaking his head, resolved to keep moving forward with the work. He began to move out of the chamber, yawning with exhaustion. Yesterday’s fright had taken a toll on him, despite his ten hours of sleep to try and recover.
“No sense trying to guess at this. Let’s fire up another and gather more-”
Hands back in pockets and back to the orb, Dr. Stannick stopped in his tracks. Something felt off. The cold steel of the chamber floor prickled the bottoms of his feet.
Did I forget to put on my shoes before coming in here?
He looked down and confirmed that his feet were indeed bare at the base of his pant legs. Preposterous. There is no way that I forgot…
On the room’s comms, faint but rising with force and volume, then cutting off entirely, he heard Billy’s exclamations.
“-readings off the chart! Stan! Doc!! Get out — ”
The small hairs on the back of Stannick’s neck shot up. He wheeled around and was nearly blinded by a flash of light spawning from out of the orb. ‘Wind’ coursed through his hair, violently brushing his lab coat back. He took a few steps away as his eyes adjusted. Within the glass, electricity pulsed from its centermost interior onto the body of the ape.
“Bob…” Stannick breathed aloud, instantaneously, finally naming his colleague.
The gorilla’s eyes glowed. Within, the creature’s whole body charged with the strange electrified flows of energy. Resembling a localized ball lightning phenomena, Stannick had certainly never seen anything like it in the experiments. Violent zapping sounds were cut off by a bestial roar besting that of yesterday’s.
Dr. Stannick, acting against the panic in his chest and the threat of his own demise within the chamber, could not look away. Somehow, he stood his ground against the strange gravity. It buffeted him, forcing him back on his heels. The gorilla rose to a stand within the orb as it screamed.
Might the bastard finally be dying…? Might this be-
The gorilla’s body exploded into flesh and bone, then particles. The perenniglass went along with it, shattered into millions of pieces. Except they stayed suspended on the platform, just under where the warheads glowed in the surrounding shell, their shrapnel appearing as broken flecks frozen in time, as if suspended within an invisible gelatin.
The gorilla’s exploded body sizzled into composite structure from the fast formation of the pieces now moving. Stannick soon saw they were forming that of a spine. Or a snake. Gigantic, three times the height of the gorilla, ribs forged around the long form of yet another creature unknown to Mankind. It extended to the ceiling, larger and larger. In the chamber, an adder the size of a small kaiju formed itself before Stannick. But the changes continued, the swirling materials — bones, muscle and blood altogether — began to shape themselves seemingly improvisationally into a new kind of beast entirely.
The angled snake head reforged into the rounded yet pointed skull of an ape. A gorilla. But in its jaws, the fangs of the reptile stayed to terrifying effect. A snake spine, barren of any cohesive musculature or interior organs, swirled its S-shape in the air of the chamber before him, now with a gorilla’s skull attached to its head. The beast still screamed; how or why it produced this sound, mid-transformation and without the fleshy inner composition to do so, could not be explained any more than any given experimental result of the previous one thousand three hundred and ninety-eight could be explained. Stannick could hear banging on the door, no doubt sealed due to the reactivation of the warheads.
Once the core structure was complete, the backbone, pairs of arms and legs shot out of the skeleton. They were proportional to the spine to be that of a gorilla’s. The body was larger than any Stannick had ever scene, at least five times that of what the ape was before, the largest of its genera. The flesh of the eyeballs came first, rolling into place within the skull’s sockets. They were white and lifeless but gathered up veins and corneas, soon sight. These organs were followed by muscles and tendons throughout the body, then collectives of swirling blood materialized. Skin and fur came last, buffeting the form with a final cohesion that at last made the strange horror recognizable to biology as mammalian and alive.
Stannick watched yet another impossible show before him, this time with his real eyes in the first person and not through the screens of his command center. The transfiguring giant of gore and creation floated in the air, crowding the relatively small space of the chamber with its heat and scent. Stannick sweated, nausea came and went inside him. The eyes of the beast watched him right back. From out of its mouth still sprang its elongated canines, or fangs.
The bright lightning never seized its roiling motion all along the body and within the chamber. Such energy appeared to be facilitating the formation of a new beast, freed from its confinement, and from all sense of what had come before. The energy did not die down but became stronger and all-encompassing. Stannick did not feel an increase in heat; he thought that such ‘feelings’ might fail upon the prospect of his body’s impending death.
So all sensation does go before the experience of physical extremity?
When the ape finally finished, a fresh bolt of blinding energy enveloped the chamber. The last thing Dr. Stannick heard was the end of the ape’s roar. He only felt regret at having understood nothing of the work he’d been doing all these months before his violent expiration during trial #1399.
Silence permeated. And finally he could breathe again, even if he couldn’t initially see.
When he came to, Dr. Stannick was on the ground. Not the same ground as before, the cold steel of his lab’s most vital interior zone. This ground was warm. It was soil. He was outside. Humid pangs of stale air and the sound of buzzing insects invaded his consciousness. Blurry visions from blinking eyes rose to a canopy of impossibly tall trees on all sides. Stannick assumed he was dreaming.
He wore the same coat and trousers. Shoes, still gone.
So not a dream…
He recalled the last events he’d experienced before oblivion. Around him was forest, a jungle. The unbridled wilderness of deep nature, its sights and sounds fell into him and told him he was far away from anywhere he’d ever been. Birds chirped from on high, from the high branches of the mega-trees, echoing through the branches and trunks. Green trees and yellow vines and red flowers covered the strange landscapes; there were no paths, only long grass and uneven patches of damp, warm soil. Lab, Billy, Sally — gone, gone, gone.
Pressing his toes hard into the dirt at his feet, Dr. Stannick was sweating and thinking hard on how we might wake up.
Behind him, a thrash through the brush alerted him of something he would soon need to pay attention to. He turned and saw a man rushing him with a blade. A man, but altered and savage-looking. His skin was red, with a complex set of interweaving tattoos and markings all over his body, even on his face, around his eyes and mouth. The eyes were black and full of murderous terror. A set of small horns sprouted from a bald skull. His sword was shimmering with energy along its pointed edge, it buzzes with a red light suddenly angling for him. Stannick was certain the man was no man at all but a demon.
Stannick responded to this impossible person’s silent rush to kill him by blurting a shriek, and then tripping over his own feet. Behind him, unnoticed in all of his unfathomable mind-wandering, was a steep drop off, further into the jungle’s thickets and long brush. Fortunately for him, the swordsman’s swing missed in the chaos. Off balance, he collided with Stannick and they tumbled violently down the incline.
The warrior did not make a sound as they fell, at first intertwined but in the violent tumbling their bodies colliding with the earth and with one another, they departed down separate paths to the lower forest floor. Stannick grunted in pain when he finally stopped. The thorns from the vines and sticks upon the incline had shredded his lab coat, and had cut into the skin of his back and legs. His hands were bleeding from tiny pricks and slashes. But other than that, he was okay. Alive. A few feet away, he watched the red and black warrior, nude save for a small loin cloth made from leaves, expire to the brink of death. And then beyond it. He’d been impaled through the back — and through the heart — he resided on the edge of a broken log jutting from a fallen tree. Breathlessly, Stannick watched him take his last breath.
Could have easily been me…
The energy sword buzzed beside him, just out of his hand. Stannick ignored the blood pouring from his chest; he ignored the prospects of the man and his presence and his nearly lethal run up on him in this impossible forest. Instead, he took a deep breath and reached for the sword.
A great rumbling seized upon Dr. Stannick’s consciousness. One shake after another pummeled the forest floor. Birds chittered and took flight from the nearby trees. Dirt kicked up around him as the blades of grass vibrated. Something was coming. Something big. Stannick gripped the sword with trembling hands and looked back up to where he had fallen from. Its hilt was still warm from the demon’s grasp.
A sense he could not place told him the rumbling steps were coming from on high, where he’d been standing only moments ago. He watched the man-sized tree trunks there and soon enough saw the edges of a shadow. Stannick realized now that he could not tell the time of day in this place; the jungle canopy blocked the sky almost entirely, it could be dusk or dawn. Sunlight only dappled through into the greenery here.
A head emerged over the clearing. Gleaming white, a skull. Stannick’s knees wobbled, he regretted not running while he could. A pair of eyes horizoned over the brush soon after.
The gaze of an ape. A giant. The skull was being worn as a helmet; the remainder of the skeleton, that of a humanoid, perhaps an ape the size of this one, was also being worn as armor. Its arms were the size of cars. It looked down upon him. A hint of recognition fell into its grimace as the creature began to descend the incline with rumbling steps. Sharp teeth jutted from its lower jaw.
Dr. Stannick’s heart shredded in a panic in his chest.
This is a dream… this is a dream…
He didn’t believe it though. Piss filtered through the fabrics of his trousers. Gripping it desperately, the laser sword from the wildman seemed a small thing indeed against the size of this monster.
To his surprise, in a low grumbling voice, the ape spoke to him.
“What did you hope to accomplish?”
Stannick’s mouth went agape; he had no answer ready for the giant gorilla’s inquiry.
“With your experiments, painful as they were upon me. Why did you do it?”
Stannick stared up at the beast. The thing removed the skull helm from its head and placed it on the ground next to it. Stannick could walk through the skull’s eye sockets without having to duck his head. It crossed its arms and cocked its head; it stood with the recognizable demeanor of one with patience fast becoming strained. The bone armor lining its shoulders and torso rattled as it shifted its seat, legs crossed under its immense form. Stannick stood there, sword still buzzing, giving no answer. The insects sang around them, impending the silence between them. The face of the gorilla was just as he remembered it, only enlarged and made more terrible because of it.
The ape blew a sigh. “Fine, if you will not answer.”
The creature’s left arm reached out and toward him, as if to grab him. Crush him.
Dr. Stannick started to bellow a laugh in the face of its palm. He did not stop cackling for several moments. Sounding like a devil, he let his whole body become weak, wracked with unconscious mirth. The thought of answering the beast’s question faded from view.
Dr. Stannick lowered the laser sword and spoke intermittently, between the bouts of the joke dying somewhere inside of him.
“You know, I thought it so fitting that your first transformation was into that of .. a rat.”
The ape raised its brow. The arm retracted. Stannick continued, in an easy tone.
“Do you know how many rats we have murdered? For the sake of science, for the ascension of Man’s knowledge?”
The ape did not respond, arms crossed once more in its branch-laden seat before the scientist. Full rays of orange light, the unmarred sun, cut through the canopy and onto the jungle floor around them. Dusk marked their conversing. The jungle buzzed with only small sparks of life beyond the man and the ape here at this moment.
“Countless multitudes!” Stannick barked. “Generations of rats genocided within our labs.”
“Do you have a point, little man?” the gorilla asked, intoning a sincere ask. “With me, what-”
“I don’t have to HAVE an answer!” Dr. Stannick screamed. Birds flocked away from the trees once more in reaction to the verbal violence.
“Not for YOU!” Stannick yelled, suddenly hoarse.
Bob rolled his eyes and shot out his arm again to grab the little scientist. Dr. Stannick screamed in fear, waving the sword fruitlessly between the swiftly enclosing fingers of the beast. The gorilla grasped him tight, from his neck down to his bunched legs, but not with enough force to hurt him. Tucked delicately to his chest, Dr. Stannick continued to speak in a muffled and unknown hysterical language, wriggling to no avail. Bob began to climb the nearest tree, scaling it easily with one arm pulling up on the right branches and his feet padding along the bark along the trunk. Stannick and Bob headed toward one of many peaks of the forest, the sun prickling into his eyes. Light headed, he shut them as the ape continued its vigorous ascent. More than fear or confusion, Stannick experienced rage. Hysterical, unsightly and impossible rage.
When Dr. Stannick opened his eyes again, he saw the horizon. Up here, the air was light. He breathed only consciously, and struggled at it. Before him was a vast city covered in vines, skyscrapers interspersed among trees that grew to be their equal. Crumbling highways gave way to vast networks of interweaving treetops. On every side of his ascended viewpoint, from the palm of the gorilla that had carried him here, Stannick bore witness to his new world.
A lost world.
The sky was dotted with grey clouds. The sun was somewhere far behind them. He looked down at the gorilla. It held him up like a torch, making sure he could see what he was seeing. It — the ape — looked the other way, to another wing of the grand, unrecognizable scape. Stannick surveyed the nearby branches, careful not to look down the full length from their stay in this jungle stratosphere. He’d always been afraid of heights.
“Bob!” Stannick shouted suddenly, to draw the ape’s attention.
The gorilla turned to him with a surprised expression, mouth open at the sound of the name. The hand encompassing him loosened for a moment and Stannick instantly took advantage. He struck the sword into the palm and kicked with both feet away. The gorilla seethed a light roar of pain. There was no blood, only the smell of burning flesh.
He was free. Falling away from the hand, using what little momentum he had from his leap, Stannick reached for a nearby branch with both hands, the laser sword dropped out of expediency. As planned, he grabbed it eagerly. But only briefly. The weight of his body shredded his soft palms and pulled his grip entirely.
Leaving a pair of bloody prints there on the bark, Dr. Stannick fell.
Back to the fast approaching jungle floor, there were no thoughts to his decisions or his current doom as he fell. By the time his eyes searched for the sky and the sun, the treetops blocked them fully. Cracked and bent, his glasses loosed from their place behind his ears and into the air before him. Bob watched from on high, still seated in the crook of the canopy’s interconnections. He could not tell if the gorilla’s expression carried sympathy or antipathy, or something else. Stannick consciously awaited terminal velocity and an errant branch of a tree goring of him or cracking his back or taking his head off. He anticipated the pain soon to be imparted onto his pitiful form. Briefly, he wondered what this world might be — his, or it’s, another world beyond the reality he’d inhabited but had somehow touched with his science…
No answers now, Dr. Stannick kept falling.
Casually scratching his freshly injured palm, Bob gave a light hoot of apparent communication to the trees about him. Smaller and smaller did the giant ape become from Stannick’s vantage. Then, he saw more of them, apes of untold size, appear from out of the folds of the canopy. Bob’s brothers and sisters, awaiting his call, allowing their leader his private meeting with the Man.
Now the size of ants, now free to emerge into sight, they all watched Dr. Stannick’s descent.
His whole body brimming with the weight of his life’s many mysteries, Dr. Stannick could not muster an esteemed thought to his life’s stupid denouement. Here at the end, he only imagined the sight of his inert and lifeless body in post, crushed and flattened, soon-to-be devoured by the smallest creatures of the forest, his final landing spot a transient place of meaningless import to the apes, the rulers of this impossibly lost world. In foolish and empty triumph, the little scientist tried to summon a small grin against his former subject, but the violent chattering of his teeth prevented even that. ~
~ adapted from a dream ~