Under the sky.

An old wildebeest scratched at a layer of white ash. It wheezed and moved on, barely checking for danger. The world around it was pale with the dawn. Sunlight gave the gently undulating country a pinky-orange hue. It remembered there had been grass, trees even, back when he had been young amongst a large herd.

Great clouds of dust stirred from the earth surrounded this desolate place, cut off from the rest of the world in a silent bubble. Whorls and spirals twisted slowly above, a tiny hint of blue at the very top of the ceiling, thousands of feet in the air.

A hunter sat still. The herd was far off, but meandering in his direction. His clothes and skin were stained white with ashes. A white speck in a bleached plain. He waited, feeling cramp in his legs. The old wildebeest trudged onward, scanning the ground for green.

The hunter tensed, being careful not to stir the ash. The animal turned slightly and was side-on to the man. The best shot he was going to get.

He sprang forward, using his momentum to swing his wumera in an arc, throwing a long dart into the heart of the beast. The wildebeest hardly flinched as it died. He knew how it felt, not much to live for as a herbivore these days.

He congratulated himself on the throw, his aim was true, even if he felt weakened by hunger and ash-sickness. He approached the animal as the herd scattered half-heartedly and retrieved the dart. Blood ran down the wildebeest's chest and became sticky on the ash. The hunter drank, after attempting to wipe the ash from his mask and lips, for there was no clean water anywhere he'd seen.

A small fire was lit from scavenged tinder and the few surviving branches he had found on his way. He hoped some chance breeze wouldn't coat his kill in foul ashes. There was little food enough since the fires.

He stayed with the carcass for a day, to dry out meat and take all he could, then moved northward again, leaving prints and little swirls of dust in his passing.

The clouds swirled about him, but as ever he never felt wind's touch.

The End

9 comments about this story Feed