In one of the last pockets of civilization struggling to survive, Eippy,
the little pie pygmy, hid in a sheltering thicket. With his silky-black tail partially blocking his vision, he crouched in the shadows and peered
through his small eyes. Beyond the shore
and across the water, the setting sun inflamed the horizon, causing an orange
dusk to linger, but all was clear. It
would be safe to come out.
Eippy took one step.
Angry sounds of his dog barking at a pygmy hunter cut through the last of the filthy rain sluicing
down through the dead trees. Eippy froze
in place, swished his silky tail to the side, and looked to where his dog was
The pygmy hunter ignored Eippy’s little
cream-colored dog, reached down, and grabbed an orange pygmy’s wrist. As the rat tail of the pygmy formed a
threatening S, the hackles on the dog’s back flared up and accented the green,
spinach-shaped blotches on its back.
With his small eyes open wide, Eippy’s
excited voice rang out, “Sic him, Spinach!”
Growling, Spinach barreled toward the pygmy
With guttural grunts resonating from his
hollow pig-like nose, the pygmy hunter reared back and kicked Spinach. Spinach yelped once and went flying across
the rugged ground. He tumbled to a stop,
rolled to his feet, and ran into the forest.
With mouthwatering expectation, the pygmy
hunter grinned and straightened the orange pygmy’s arm straight out. Holding it with one hand and using his other
hand, he reached toward the sky and brought his fist down.
The hammer blow broke the pygmy’s arm.
Screaming in pain and with his tail
lashing violently, the pygmy staggered back and tried to free his broken arm
from the pygmy hunter’s powerful grip.
The pygmy hunter pulled out his ax,
chopped the pygmy’s arm off, raised it to his mouth, and took a huge bite out
As if a switch had been pulled, the sun
dropped below the horizon. Everything
became early night gray.
Like a quickly moving ghostly shape, Spinach
came barreling back. He grabbed the pygmy
hunter’s ankle, hung on, and twisted.
The pygmy hunter dropped the arm and swung his ax. It sliced the tip of Spinach’s ear off. Spinach let loose of the hunter’s ankle and
ran into the bush.
The orange pygmy’s half a meter high son,
Eippy, whose small eyes had been staring from the shadows,
gasped in shock, his panic temporally immobilizing him. With his long, fluffy, black tail curved into
a threatening S, he sprang out of a pocket of rolling fog, hopped up and down,
and excitedly waved his little arm.
“Come on, Papa, I have the gold.
Eippy looked toward a flickering orange
glow on his right. The light from
torches in their hands revealed a new band of wild-eyed pygmy hunters with sweating,
contorted faces yelling and running down the hill. But the pygmy-hunters,
pig-people with IQ’s equivalent to a bag of stones,
were going the wrong way.
While the other pygmy hunters’ attentions
were focused on where Spinach had gone, Eippy’s father held his blood-spurting
stump, where his arm used to be, and took off running. With his rat tail standing straight up behind
him, he zipped along the dark shoreline of the red algae bloom. But the blood loss caused his rat tail to
droop. He slowed to a limping walk.
Searching for the escaping pygmies, the
revealing beam of a carbide-gas searchlight streaked down from the side of the
mountain. As the beam bounced along the
rolling red water, it only revealed a few isolated waves that creased into the
The pygmy hunter adjusted the beam to a
spot of land between a set of towering boulders. Here, old tree roots had raised the
soil. Like black, bony fingers waiting
to reach out, grab a toe or a foot, and send someone flying, the roots twisted
along the ground. This would be a good execution place, and the pygmy hunter wasn’t disappointed.
Even though Eippy wore a black and white stripped polo shirt, the blur
of his running legs and his swishing tail cut the beam and was gone so fast the
hunter must have wondered if he were seeing things. He rubbed his eyes and focused the beam
again. The moment it touched Eippy’s
father’s limping, orange form, Eippy’s father took off running. Wildly screaming, with his long, black hair
flying back, he rushed toward the safety of the concealing dark.
The gas in the carbide lantern hissed. The revealing white of the light turned blue,
sputtered, and flicked out.
Eippy’s father fell.
Eippy ran to him. “Come on, Papa. The light went out. We can get away.”
His father struggled to his feet, bent
over, and placed his hand on his knee.
With weary eyes and blood spurting from his severed arm, he looked
toward Eippy. “You came from a village
with pie pygmies just like you.” He
tried to breathe in but coughed up blood.
“I always tried to take you back to your village, but I never could find
it. If I don’t
make it, take your mother and sisters and find the village. It is an archaic dream of two old men that
came true. The magic there will make
your world normal again.”
Eippy held back his tears. “Get up, Papa. We’ll go there together.”
“I believe we can.” His father peered into the darkness created
by the carbide light that had flicked out.
“It’s dark enough to get away.
We’re out of danger.”
For a moment silent dark enveloped
them. Then the boisterous grunting of pygmy
hunters cut the dark. Eippy looked back
over his shoulder. He and his father weren’t out of danger.
The dreaded, flickering, orange torch light from guttural-grunting pygmy
hunters, fifty meters behind him, gave substance to both of their silhouettes.
Eippy’s father lifted his hand from his
knee, took two steps, and tripped over the tree roots. His legs crumpled. He thudded to the ground.
The grunting of the pygmy hunters grew
The gap closed.
Eippy tugged at his father’s arm. “Get up, Papa. Get up!” He looked toward the grunting. The pygmy hunters all wore dirty-black
jackets made from irregular pieces of pygmy skin they had dried and
sewn-together. Consisting of a diet of pygmy
and dog meat, most were tall and lanky.
Shaggy goatees, the color of dirty straw, hung down and over their
double chins. On their heads, tight
fitting baseball caps, with long bills, covered most of their short bristles of
hair that looked as if it had been gnawed off by a sewer rat. On the fronts of their baseball caps, crudely
cut tin letters, reading “PH”, caught torch light and
flashed like bright badges of unearned authority.
Even though ordinary pygmy hunters had the
characteristics of pigs and looked alike, Eippy knew from their grunting that
these weren’t ordinary pygmy hunters. These were the feared “top-of-the-line” pygmy
hunters. They never failed to kill their
Eippy pulled at his father’s arm and tried
to help him to his feet. He didn’t respond.
Spears rained down, swished past Eippy’s
tiny body, and sank into Eippy’s father’s back.
Blood exploded around the spearheads.
More spears came. They sliced
into the sand and zipped past the thorn canes.
Grabbing his back and moaning in agony, Eippy’s father rose. Spinning in the sand and oblivious to the
pain, his one hand pulled at the jagged thorny canes. More spheres sliced his body.
As the spears flew all around Eippy, none
hit him. In a state of shock and fear,
he stood helpless.
Whimpering, with blood flowing from where
the tip of his ear had been sliced off, Spinach hid under a small bush.
Still trying to escape, Eippy’s father’s
small orange hand clawed at the sand.
After he had crawled the length of his body, he quit breathing.
With the renewed bright beam of the
carbide lights stabbing at his eyes, Eippy looked into
his father’s face. His glassy eyes
looked up. Eippy knew his father was
dead. With pain welling up in his chest,
Eippy took one last sorrowful look at his dead father and wondered how pygmy
hunters could be so cruel. He felt it wasn’t any mortal person’s right to decide who should
survive or parish. That great right was
reserved for Orange Man.
Eippy turned, and plunged toward the
trees. With weeds and tall grass lashing his face, he sprinted toward the thick
cover of the forest. Breathing in ragged
gasps, he held his hands in front of his face and warded off tall grass that
blocked his vision.
As thick bushes flanked him and
overhanging branches of densely leaved trees cast shadows behind his tiny body,
the gruff voice of a pygmy hunter rang out.
“Where’s that little one?”
Huffing for breath, another pygmy hunter
walked up to the pygmy hunter standing next to the thorn canes and peered into
the tall grass. “I don’t know where he
is,” he said with his eyes darting back and forth. “Did you see the long fur on its tail? It’s a pie pygmy. Even if it doesn’t
have gold, it’s really good to eat.”
“Get back to the one we got,” the other pygmy
hunter commanded. “Kick his teeth out
before he bites someone. I shouldn’t
have to remind you, those teeth are poisons.”
Although the pygmies’ teeth were not
poisons, to instill fear in the pygmy hunters, the pygmies had spread the rumor
that their teeth were poisons. If the pygmy
hunters would have known Eippy’s father had hid a weird magnet, they wouldn’t have worried about kicking his teeth out. They would have been searching for the magnet.
With Eippy at his side, his father had
been using the weird magnet to search the shoreline. They had been finding gold. But gold wasn’t the
only valuable thing the pygmy hunters were after. Because of Eippy’s half a meter high size and
his distinctive blaze of silky-black fur that ran from high on his forehead
down the center of his head, down his back, and to the tip of his tail, he was
considered a pie pygmy. Pie pygmies were
considered top shelf. Made into pies,
they were a much sought after delicacy, and their black fluffy tails were
prized as the most tasty and tender of all pygmy meats.
Eippy’s small size and his black fur gave
him an advantage: It made it difficult
for pygmy hunters to find him, and his great lightning speed allowed him to go
where no other pygmy dared to go. But if
he made one misstep, or one mistake, or if one pygmy hunter, hungry for pygmy
meat, caught him, he would be somebody’s evening meal.
With a knot of pygmy hunters bunched
before him, Eippy hid under a bush, crouched into a ball, and labored to quiet
his gasping breath.
One of the pygmy hunters with fat hanging
like slabs of bacon under his arms raised his blood-covered hand and rattled the
bush. Praying to Orange Man that the pygmy
hunter hadn’t seen him, Eippy froze with fear.
Cocking an ear, the pygmy hunter leaned
forward and took one step.
The pygmy hunter’s thick boot clumped down
on Eippy’s tail. Pain raced up his spine. He wanted to scream out, but he held it
in. Although the bush blocked the pygmy
hunter’s vision, he had broken Eippy’s tail.
The pygmy hunter excitedly yelled,
“There’s something here!”
To protect himself, Eippy placed his hands
on his head. Before he could be seen and
struck, Spinach came barreling out of hiding and stopped at the feet of the
hunter. With the hackles on his back
rising, Spinach growled.
“It’s a dog!” the pygmy hunter yelled.
Holding his spear in a ready position, the
other pygmy hunter rubbed his stomach in anticipation. “We can eat that.”
“I’ll kick him your way. Spear him.”
The pygmy hunter drew his foot back to kick. Before he could swing, his foot into
Spinach’s side, Spinach turned and scampered off into the brush.
Afraid to come out, Eippy crouched amongst
a thick tangle of vines, held his broken tail, and wondered if the hunters
would quit searching for him.
But he didn’t
have to wonder long. The sparkling show
in the sky was just beginning. It was
the aurora borealis. Soon the sky would
be filled with magnificent flowing colors of blue, green, yellow, orange, and
red. Eippy knew it was harmless, but the
pygmy hunters were afraid of it.
They immediately stopped searching.
With fear-filled eyes, the pygmy hunters
hoisted Eippy’s father’s body onto a wooden wagon. As they were pulling the wagon away, a
trailing pygmy hunter leaned askew.
His lifeless body fell flat onto a stretch of cement-like ground. Afraid of the growing lights from the aurora
borealis, the other pygmy hunters didn’t
stop. Holding his foot, the fallen pygmy
hunter stayed on the ground. One pygmy
hunter turned and looked back. As if the
fallen pygmy hunter had now become worthless, the staring pygmy-hunter’s mouth
locked in a sickening leer. And the fallen pygmy-hunter’s band of former friends walked away.
After Eippy had watched the pygmy hunters
wheel his father’s torch-lit body into the darkness, he hoped Spinach would
come out of hiding. But Spinach never
came out. Making sure the fallen pygmy
hunter was still on the ground and hoping Spinach would be behind a tree,
waiting, Eippy pushed away the concealing vine and fled into the forest. And his broken tail trailed behind him.
Before he could look for Spinach, Eippy
had to do something about his broken tail.
He reached up, snapped a smooth stick from a tree, and broke it in
half. Then he placed the sticks on the
break in his tail and wrapped them with a thin vine. His tail still hurt, but it wouldn’t be dragging on the ground colleting dirt and
After hours of searching, Eippy could not
find Spinach. Eippy’s years of weaving through
the forest and experiencing its changing temperatures told him that the black
rain was coming to Blue Town and the surrounding area. He wanted to go home and be safe, but he
would never cover enough ground to get far enough away to avoid the black rain,
and he didn’t want to go home without Spinach. It would be better to find a place where the
black water wouldn’t cover his body and fill his
clothes with soot, especially his horizontally-striped black and white polo shirt
that his mother had made from a leathery cloth that had taken four weeks to
grow using live kombucha cultures, water, vinegar, sugar, and tea.
He decided to go to a place where the pygmy
hunters would never think of looking for him.
He would go where Spinach had gone the last time he had been kicked. He would go into the storm culverts under