Mar 12, 2009
I was visiting you – some place cold and mountainous. We spent the day at your friends’ place – an older couple. A nice home, up on a cliff, with a weathered natural-wood terrace overlooking a training level skiing/sledding trail, a gradual slope crowded with people and dogs and laughter. We needed to get back to my hotel soon, so that I would have time to pack before my flight. The couple said their uncle would drive us. I was in the kitchen, getting out some crackers and cheese when a commotion on the trail below the window drew my attention. I ran out to the terrace.
A black bear has come down from the woods above. People were running, dogs barking. A bull-terrier, eyes blood-shot and watering, locked its jaws on the bear’s front leg. The bear bit down on the dog’s torso. The owner, a young man in a blue ski suit, strained to separate the two animals. The snow was turning pink. I watched, horrified.
The uncle finally arrived. You yanked me away from the scene below. We got into his Jeep – an old piece of shit rust can. We drove along the frozen dirt road. The little town sleepily moved about us. Then I felt a rumbling. I turned my head. A heard of animals – half prehistoric horses, half giraffes – was approaching in a slow trot. Their heads gracefully balanced on the long curved necks, the enormous hooves stomped the frozen ground. The engine began sputtering. Somewhere in the distance I heard a bull mastodon trumpeting. The engine seized and died. We got out of the vehicle. The uncle – a good-natured, gray-haired man – was kicking the tires and cussing under his breath. Out of the corner of my eye I caught the silhouette of a ground sloth reaching for a leafless branch. Animals, long-dead ice age giants, were rolling down the mountain like a lava flow.
People were scattering all around us, slamming the doors shut behind them. I smelled, rather than saw, the smilodon creeping near-by. A mass of long-dead creatures was cascading down from the woods. They were enormous, dwarfing us with their shadows. You were pulling on my sleeve, shouting that we need to get moving, to take cover. I couldn’t move.
I stood frozen in the middle of the deserted town, awe-struck, dumbfounded, amazed. The thoughs were pounding in my head. “They are alive! They are all alive! They have been here all along…”