I jump in surprise. The trees sway and crack where the growling was loudest, and as it approaches the clearing, I hastily climb up the branches and, silently and carefully crouch down on its thick branches, anxiously looking at the movements of the awkward swaying of trees heading towards my location.
“My sensors detect one medium-sized creature and a smaller one in its jaws, Natra. It seems to be a species of Felidae – a lynx mother and cub perhaps?”
Through the overgrown flora, a three-foot large lynx emerges carrying a cub in its jaws. Its coat was a thick mix of brown and gray, heavily spotted with a white underbelly and black ear tufts. The feline’s whiskers were long, almost touching the forest floor. However, the most alarming part of the creature was definitely its hind legs. It was severely burnt and had a deep gash on one of its thighs.
The lynx limps up the hill toward the base of the tree I was on, unhinge the kitten from its jaws and proceed to lay down beside it, panting wearily.
“Cortana, are lynxes aggressive?” I whisper while observing uncomfortably, at the barely a week-old cub twitching and ruffling against its mother’s underbelly to feed, from the tree trunk.
“Lynxes generally avoid human settlements and cities. From my records, it doesn’t seem to be hostile towards human beings. It should be alright for you approach them.”
I started to climb down the tree when the mother Lynx look up and stare at me. Her eyes were a deep brown color, wary but unafraid. It must have seen me from a distance and decided to come here anyway. At a closer look, the mother lynx was panting shallow breaths – exhausted. I took out my canteen and fill the cap with water, placing it an arm’s length away from the weary animal.
She stares at me for what seemed like an hour, with her tongue hanging out, and looked away. She’s probably trying to determine whether I’m a friend or foe. Moments later, the mother lynx drags itself off the ground and limps toward the bowl of water, lowered its head and laps up the liquid thirstily.
When the cap was emptied, the lynx lifts her head up and stare at me.
“Are you still thirsty?” I asked as I pour the contents of my canteen into the quickly disappearing puddle of water.
When her thirst was quenched, the feline promptly pushed itself up again and limps away towards the opposite end of the tree, picking up her cub along the way.
By the time the mother lynx fell asleep in exhaustion, the sun was already about to slip into the horizon and the winds began to blow a chilling breeze, prompting me to scavenge the hill for tree barks and sticks to build a fire. For a shelter, I yanked a rusted metal plate from among the ones littering the hill and placed it diagonally against the base of a tree and gathered branches with large leaves and bind them together as a cushion against the cold forest floor, quickly turning it into a makeshift lean-to shelter against the winds. Throughout all these, the lynx mother kept its eyes on me.
Darkness soon envelops the land, painting the night sky in glitters of different colors and brightness. I lean against the tree near the lynx mother and cub, facing the campfire, and hiding against the cool night breeze.
There was a moment of silence before Cortana suddenly cleared her throat.
“Do you know that in ages past, during the time of my creator, only dark clouds could be seen when you look up at the sky?”
“I didn’t know that,” I smiled. ” Did the creators build those colorful suns, too?”
“I wish. The colorful suns – or stars as we called them – were always there, to begin with. You see, before the time of the creators, before mine, the world was infested with disease and wrought with wars. During the time it took for the creators to emerge from amongst mankind, human population was upsurging, inflating unceasingly to the point the planet’s resources could no longer keep up. Yet, all the while mankind continued to plunder the earth for what little treasure it still hides in its wombs. Deforestation, over-fishing and hunting of animals into extinction, pollution of mother nature’s earth, sky and seas – you name it, mankind has done it all.”
I swallowed a shock, wanting to say something, but imagining those events were simply too terrifying. How did mother nature survive those atrocities?
” To reduce the rate of which mother nature was being driven to its death, the world government proposed a..controlled eviction of humanity.”
“Whatever you’re thinking of right now, the answer is yes. The unrecorded deaths of hundreds of millions were the result of this decision. Man-made diseases were released into third-world countries where its governments were ruled by the strong and wars were waged against nations who refuse to cooperate in the purge.”
Speechless. The leaders of the world killing one another to aid mother nature? My mind went numb at the thought.
“Many of these leaders presumed their action to be the right choice in slowing down our planet’s demise. Except for a few. These few pooled what few resources they have left in order to nurture the world’s greatest minds.”
“Correct. However, they were a step too late as, by the time any help could be achieved to protect both humanity and Earth, billions would have perished, and the world was facing the epilogue of its life. In a bid to save what inkling remains of this world, mother nature finally unleashed her wrath to force the world into a state of balance once more.”
A long silence ensued, like the meeting of two lovers after years of separation, before Cortana sighed.
“Mankind is strange.”