lunes, 9 de febrero de 2015

The Age of the Lammergeyers

   Kotor was what we would call a bearded vulture or lammergeyer. What was special about Kotor was the fact that he had an owner, or at least, a human companion, that used him to his advantage. Did not bother the vulture at all as the human always gave him prizes consisting of dead animals, his preferred meal. The bad thing there was that he would rather hunt than eat an already dead prey, but anything was good as long as he was feeding.

 The human used Kotor to survey the mountains. There were a lot of snowy peaks and deep valleys. Also frozen lakes and cold rivers. Kotor surveyed it all and had been trained, for a long time, to look for humans. This proved hard at the beginning because lammergeyers did not really like humans. Granted, they left food everywhere they went, but many of them hunted or chased him for various reasons and that was not acceptable.

 Kotor, however, had been a very young chick when he saw the first human. He didn’t remember if he had been born in the mountains or elsewhere, but he didn’t feel that mattered. The feeling of wind between the feathers was better than any freshly smashed rabbit. It made him feel powerful over all other creatures in those mountains, the fact that he could see them from above. Of course, the land animals were not very thrilled about this and so they tried never to encounter any lammergeyers when hunting.

 This was silly as Kotor never hunted with another bird. To be honest, he didn’t really have any good relations with other animal, except the humans. He was sure that wasn’t a very good thing but the truth was all other birds were scared of him. They even treated him like a pet, saying he worked for the humans than only wanted to invade their mountains and drive them all out. It wasn’t unheard of that every so often, a man would be hit on the head by rocks or bones thrown by lammergeyers. Of course, human thought this was an innocent action but Kotor knew better.

 His job with the two-legged creatures consisted in helping other humans, locating them if they appeared to be in problems. An image of him was stuck on a post in the nearby human settlement. He understood quite soon that it was there to tell the humans to trust him if they ever saw him flying above them when walking the valleys. He knew that if they had blood on their faces or they seemed unusually loud, more than the humans normally were, he had to help them.

 He would normally take something from them and then fly back to the settlement and alert the human called Karma, who would call others, in order to look for the human in distress. They would follow Kotor through the mountains to help. Then Kotor would get his food and could depart in order to fly, hunt, sleep or simply wander around. He thought the humans must have trained others to do the same because it would have been really stupid to make him do all the work by himself.

 What Kotor did not understand was what made the humans penetrate the mountains. Knowing the terrain like few others, the bird knew humans were not properly equipped to live there. Of course, they never stayed, and that was even more incomprehensible. It was like they wanted to suffer on purpose; they wanted to be deprived of food and sometimes companionship, on purpose. It made no sense.

 Kotor envied that from the humans. They were never truly alone and he didn’t understand the one that tried hard to be it. He was alone every single day and it got to be boring. Of course, having someone besides him to compete him was not a very good idea but sometimes he thought it would have been preferable than flying alone so often, not enjoying the rats or rabbits he ate with another vulture.

 One day though, he got to know another lammergeyer. It was a female and, after a few days of courting, he was able to mate with her. They had several eggs and that made Kotor very proud. Due to this happening, he wasn’t as present as before in the human settlement. When he returned after many days of absence, the human he had known wasn’t there anymore. As a matter of fact, no humans were there.

 After checking his young in a tall peak, he decided to fly farther this time in order to know what had happened. He asked other birds that roamed the mountains if they had noticed the disappearance of the humans but most had not noticed it and thought it was better that way because maybe it meant that had left their mountains for good. But Kotor wasn’t pleased with that. He needed to know.

 He flew over the settlement and then followed the course of a river that grew wider and wilder as the terrain began to flatten. He saw many other human towns and cities from above but no trace of the two-legged creatures. Kotor had always thought they were so many, like rats, coming out of every single place. But now they had vanished or maybe they had fled. But why and where?

 Back in the mountains, he informed of his survey to other lammergeyers and convinced them to tell other creatures about it. Of course, they wouldn’t speak with the lesser animals but they agreed to inform the eagles and hawks, as well as some of the land creatures such as wolves and foxes. Many of them had also noticed the disappearance of the humans, specially those that lived from eating the garbage the explorers always left in the valley.

 They all agreed that it was better if no creature left the mountains, at least for now. The humans were not perceptive animals but maybe they had noticed something was wrong and fled because of it. Although not many believed so, it was possible that those creatures knew things they didn’t know. So they decided to do just that, live their lives like they had always done.

 Kotor was surprisingly pleased with this new life. It was a bit weird not to work for the humans but living for hunting and feeding his young, wasn’t bad at all. Yet, he still flew over the human settlement. He didn’t really know why. He didn’t really miss any of them but he had become so attached to them, it was hard not to think about them. Besides, many animals, especially those that used to be hunted, started coming down the mountains to the settlement. Kotor had not realized there was still food there.

 As the lesser animals had not attended the meeting on the mountains, they didn’t know the humans had disappeared or that it was better not to wander too far from their natural environment. They just wanted to eat the free food and in a matter of days, all the food had been eaten. The rats and similar creatures did most of the job and even some foxes and birds had arrived too.

 Kotor, however, never ate anything from that place. He flew over it every so often, but just to check on the place. Many animals had also moved closer to the biggest lake among the mountains. They did not like it before because every human that came into the mountains arrived to that point and camped there for many days. Noisy creatures they were. But now only the wind and the water made sounds and it was perfect.

 Then, one particularly clear day, Kotor noticed something in the horizon. It looked as if the sun had come out again. It was an orange and red glow but it seemed to be increasing in size and the air suddenly felt a bit hotter that it usually was. Kotor landed on a tree and looked at the colour show, that disappeared some time after. Many other animals saw it, and they too went on with their lives, not even thinking what that glow might have been.

 They had no idea that the age of man had finished. The planet had no ruler anymore.

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