We met in the steaming shadow of an aspen grove not a hundred yards from the river.
The sound of the water on the rocks hovered around us. Stanley hadn’t bothered with a blindfold this time and I was only now recovering from the anxiety of its absence. As we slalomed the green-white trunks, the spongy forest floor beneath our feet, Ivan materialized before us with the sorcery of a snake. He smiled and offered his open hand. Good to see you, he said. Likewise, I told him. We only have about fifteen minutes, he said and sat on a lichen covered boulder and patted the spot near him for me to join. Stanley turned about and wandered toward the morning glow fingering the edge of the hill to the east. I wasted no time and placed the recorder between us and began, So you will defend this forest with firearms? Of course. You must know that to many of my readers this will sound extreme. Most of your readers don’t know the meaning of extreme; they are digested in the belly of extremism and yet refuse to see it. Tell me why a forest? why not a group of endangered bears or some such? What is the difference? Well—. Let me explain a few things, Rick: we are but one on a list of billions of organisms on this planet, possibly third on the list in population but first in cognizance with full knowledge of how fragile nature is; human culture isn't fragile in any way; the smart ape can take a beating; no one ever talks about that, how the human organism as a whole can take a vicious ass kicking and come back to build civilizations that will eventually butcher one another until power is balanced... elephants can't do that; as intelligent and—within a slim list of parameters—more advanced than us as they are, they are deprived of the right to protection? no, sir; in fact, if we choose to examine it as such, it becomes a political issue; you think politics is weird now, wait till whooping cranes get to lobby for the end of their hunting season; but if someone is gonna poison elephants and the consensus is those elephants should be protected, I elect to use the full strength of our weaponry: guns; guns are a natural development of human culture; if human culture chooses to use that advancement to protect defenseless life, I'm prepared to step flatfooted onto that slippery slope, sir, and defend these trees; see, it's about empathizing with defenseless forms of life; there is no need to level these trees, not anymore; we can build homes and furniture and anything we damn well imagine out of other more renewable things; we're a big stupid organism in the throes of spasms of growing pains, the psychosis of gaining wisdom; there's a balance coming, Rick, I just don't think you and I will get to see it even though we will have built it.
Chrysalis, a growing collection of very short fiction.
Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.