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The Sharp Stone Forest

A Journey Through A Changing Landscape

By Katt KantackPublished 5 months ago 5 min read
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The Sharp Stone Forest
Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

I am two. Food is plentiful; Mother always knows the best spots for the juiciest berries and meatiest fish. I splash in the cool water on hot summer days and play with Brother, tugging at his ears as we roll and frolic. The river flows swiftly and high, and there is enough food for all who come to the shore.

I am three, and I see the strange tall animals for the first time. They jabber oddly amongst themselves and come in stranger metal beasts that speed loudly and quickly across the land, rumbling the ground beneath them. Mother tells me to avoid them at all costs. Hunters, she calls them. She says they are dangerous. They don’t look very tough to me, not once they are out of their strange metal beasts, but I heed her word and give them a wide berth.

I am four. Mother has new cubs to attend to. I want to play with them, but Mother growls and chases me away. Brother no longer plays either; has grown up to find his own life. I have to be on my own now and find my own way. I have my eye on Pretty One myself, but Big One always gets her instead. I try to challenge Big One; he is stronger and pushes me down. I have to head upstream to the lesser fishing spots and eat at the smaller berry patches. They are not as good as they were a few years ago. Big One gets the prime spots. Someday I will be big enough to overtake him, I hope.

I am five. The river continues to flow slower and smaller, and the fish come less and less. I still am not big enough to challenge Big One.

I am six. More hunters appear and start carving hard paths into the forest. They raze the lush berry patches and our territories begin to shrink. It is harder to avoid them. I try to keep my distance like Mother always said, but more of them come year after year.

I am seven. This year, the river is the lowest yet, just a bare trickle. I cannot find my berries; the forests that once held them are gone and replaced with new and confusing things the hunters made. Where there had once been enough space and food for all, now it is crowded, and we all are hungry.

I find that the hunters have boxes outside their strange enormous dens they built. There is odd food inside. It smells and doesn’t taste good, but it is something. I sneak in and eat as much as I can, then run as soon as they see me. It is never quite enough to sate my appetite. My stomach rumbles.

I am eight. I want to go back to the river and fish, but Big One pushes everyone away he doesn't like. I fought hard, tried to dethrone him, but I am still too small, too weak. I couldn’t get to it anymore, not any part that still had fish at least. The river is so much smaller now. Even Brother and Mother will push me away for a chance at a fishing spot. I want my turn, but there is no room, and I am growing weaker and hungrier.

I keep raiding the hunters’ boxes, and they keep chasing me away. It is the only food I can find. I venture further out into their sharp lands, further away from the forest. They make strange noises and they frighten me. They yell at me and chase me away, further from the forest and the river and everything I used to know. I run and dodge and find caves and corners to hide behind.

I am afraid. But I am so very hungry.

I move on, further away from the forest, further away from home. The land becomes harder. The sounds become sharper. The stars become harsh and strange. The trees are solid, shadeless, cold, and turn bright at night. The smells are rancid and unfamiliar. But there is food here, somewhere in this strange, sharp stone forest. In some of the mysterious metal boxes, there is food. It does not taste very good, but I am so hungry I must eat from them. I have no other choice.

There are more hunters. I try to run, but around every corner there are more of them. They shine bright lights on me and they have more flashing lights. A thunderous, loud bird soars overhead. I cannot escape this time.

There is a small tree and I climb it while the hunters circle below. There is a deafening noise and something sharp bites me. I cry out in pain. There are more loud noises and more bites. They hurt. I roar in agony. I’m so scared, so hungry, and so tired.

So…tired.

I fall out of the tree and to the ground. I try to stand, but my legs no longer respond. I can’t catch my breath no matter how much I pant. I ache and want to sleep. I am exhausted and close my eyes.

In my mind, I am back in the forest. The berry patches are full and lush, full of ripe, juicy berries. I see Mother, and Brother, and Pretty One, all well and welcoming, and the river is high and the fish are plenty. And just before the last veil of the world slips away, my stomach is full, and for a brief moment I am not afraid anymore.

***

In North America, humans are responsible for 77-90% of grizzly bear deaths, mostly in areas where human and bear habitats overlap. Bears can become food-conditioned in human areas and often end up being euthanized, as relocation efforts often don’t work. Avoiding feeding bears, either intentionally or inadvertently, can make a huge difference; make sure bear-proof dumpsters are secured and bear boxes or canisters are used to store food during camping. Protecting habitats and ensuring wildlife corridors are available to allow free movement and access for bears is one of the best ways we can help protect them and reduce conflict between bears and people.

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About the Creator

Katt Kantack

I'm just a normal gal trying to get into writing horror while enjoying my other hobbies like hiking, cooking, and keeping the thing in the basement from escaping.

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