by Ladee Caid
A curious Yeti that should have gone home.
|Word Count: 2073
The Yeti sat on his haunches among the crags with his arms across his knees. Clouds covered the sky above him but some had dropped and settled below the mountain peaks where he rested. The wind blew disturbing the snow and dusted the exposed rock. He watched as the gust parted the fur on his arm and bared the skin beneath. Movement caught his attention. In the distance, like colorful ants on the stark white, he saw a convoy of the creatures that live below the trees. They had come before in different numbers; this time he could count one on each finger of his hand. He made a breathy whistle to alert any of his kind nearby that there were predators among them. He sat and observed; he wouldn't be detected if he didn't move. The party traveled slowly across the plateau. After they passed, he climbed to an outcropping to get a better look. He picked his way around jagged boulders and crouched close enough to the edge to see below.
When he saw these creatures in the past he avoided them. His kind always avoided others in open territory. Fear made animals aggressive. He was strong, but a severe wound might mean death. When a carnivore was encountered the Yetis whistled the warning and made their way up the mountain and onto the other side where the clan called home. He should have left, but this time, he was curious.
The group stopped. The one at the head turned to the rest and elongated his arm and finger in the direction they were walking, then they continued. When they reached a shelf, the leader climbed upon it. The others huddled together, put the ridge of their hands to their brow, titled their heads back, and watched. The lone individual paraded in circles poking the snow with a shiny stick. After a time, the leader motioned to the others, and they climbed to where he was.
The five dropped what they had been carrying on their backs. Little by little, they took these things apart. To the Yeti's amazement, they erected bright colored mounds, and the creatures crawled in and out of them like caves. When the wind blew, these small hills ruffled. He watched the band mill about until he grew bored.
As he stood to leave, the cropping beneath him trembled. It was slight, but enough to cause him to stumble. A chunk of rock broke and noisily tumbled down the hill. The men on the shelf stopped what they were doing, turned, and looked in his direction. One of them jabbed his finger toward the outcropping. The Yeti realized he had been seen. It was time to go.
He started back the way he had come. He was going to travel up the mountain from where he'd been sitting when he first saw the pack. Just as the bare rock was in sight he heard a rumbling. He looked up to see a mass of snow coming toward him. Others of his kind had disappeared from the white barrage. He turned and took flight. He ran until the thundering stopped.
The Yeti looked from whence he had come. He waited and watched, but nothing more happened. He stepped to head back and heard excited voices. It was the group. They were standing at the edge of the shelf looking, gesturing, and discussing the snow slide he presumed. He hadn't noticed how close he had gotten to them in his fever to escape being buried. He caught a scent and put his nose to the air. A breeze carried the sweet tangy smell of the men. He found it revolting. Even though it was further from his home he decided to continue the way he'd been running . He would find shelter away from the group's eyes until dark.
Hours later, he was still crouched between two rugged boulders. The snow had melted around him. His stomach cramped, and he was homesick, but he didn't want to chance being seen. To travel a different path would be dangerous, or it might take him into another creature's territory, so he waited. The wind picked up. He knew it wouldn't be long. Blasts whipped around the rocks he nestled between blowing snow in his face. He wiped it from his eyes. Ice crystals began forming on his fur. The sky was getting darker, so he decided to move.
The Yeti stopped as the camp came into view below him. All was quiet except one male. The man watched the steaming stream he was urinating. Had the male raised his head, he would have seen a dark furry figure against the white snow, even in the night. The hairless man shook his genitals, shivered, and pranced to his makeshift cave.
Just as he began to walk away he caught a faint whiff of bitter spice; a scent he recognized from his infrequent wanderings to the trees. He salivated. With sure-footed stealth, he made his way to where the group slept. At the edge of the camp a pile of leaves, flowers, and fruits rested on a thin dark square. He crinkled his nose at the unappealing odor of the creatures, but the fragrance of the vegetation made his stomach pang, so he began to eat.
The ice covered flora was cold on his tongue. As the Yeti chewed, the leaves warmed and released their juices. For a moment, he was content and thought nothing of home. As he squatted and savored each bite, he let his long, hairy arms hang over his knees. He surveyed the camp. Beside each cave, were unnaturally straight sticks, smooth like ice. One of the limbs was thicker with a large, sheeny leaf at the end rigid in the snow. These objects were very odd to him indeed.
The cave nearest the Yeti rustled, and he stood. A ripping sound came from the flimsy grotto, and a male's head popped out and looked at him. The Yeti retreated. With large strides, he climbed. He'd had enough.
As he had gotten to the outcropping he had spied from earlier, the earth groaned and shook violently. He fell to his hands and knees. Rocks and boulders tumbled down the mountain. He crawled to a nearby boulder jutting from a cliff and leaned against it. Rubble showered him, but the larger masses ramped off of the rock he hid behind. The mountain continued to quake and roar. The boulder started to give. He crawled from it, and it toppled and slide down the mountain. He remembered where he'd huddled until dusk. He made it to his feet and sprinted, but he couldn't keep his footing. He fell forward. A rock the size of his head smacked him in the back forcing him to meet the earth with a lung collapsing thud. He gasped for breath, his heart raced, and his eyes darted wildly as he pushed himself to his hands and knees. He crawled encumbered as his breath started to return, and his vision became more focused. After his air returned, he got to his feet but kept his hands on the ground. In this manner, he moved along, pelted with debris, until he met a wall of snow. He crouched. Two males from the group were nearby hugging broken rock. One held the arm of the other. The other clutched leaves like the ones the Yeti had feasted on.
The noise and rocking died down. He heard a distant cry, "Elp. Elp. Elp." The clinging males garbled to each other, let go of the rock, and tried to scramble up the barrier of snow. He watched them slip to the ground and be buried. The crying started again. He knew one of the males was yelling for the others. He could feel the back of his neck bristle, and his jaw clench. The frantic whining of the helpless voice and frenzied clambering of the two males was infecting him. He plodded to the wall and scaled it. One of the males stood watching with round eyes. The other whimpered and crawled away. The snow was soft on the edges, but the more he trampled it the easier it was to get on top.
He stood looking around. From the terrain that was intact, he could tell this was where the band had made their caves, but all was gone. The shelf was gone. It was now a slope ending at a cliff's edge. The crying started again, and he ran to it.
Dangling by fingertips on the rim of the precipice was one of the males, his features tortured and his body bald. The male's eyes grew large when the Yeti looked over the lip at him hanging there. The male screamed and let go with one hand. He struggled to grab hold again. With fur covered fingers, the Yeti reached for the male's arm. Before he could seize him, the mountain shook. The Yeti fell to his rump, and the male slipped away. The screaming receded becoming more and more faint until it could no longer be heard. Behind him was another scream; almost a ferocious growl. He turned to see the two from the bottom of the bank. Both were in the Yeti's wintery footprints. One sat on his heals holding his head in his hands. The other was on his hands and knees with wet cheeks and a grimace on his face.
The rumbling didn't last, and the cliffs did very little in the way of changing further. A few boulders and rubble were loosened, but it was not near them. The Yeti was shaken. The mountains moved; that he was used to, but this... This was too much. He stood and bellowed at the males. He was weary of this company. He wanted nothing more of them. He was determined to be away from them, to be away from here. He left them kneeling in the cold new land.
There was daylight. The Yeti hadn't noticed until then. The sky was bright, but it would be awhile before the white snow glared. He trudged along creating paths and footprints. The contours of his world were different, but he instinctively knew which way he needed to go to get back to the others like him.
He was forced to halt. The path he was accustomed to climbing was no longer there. He needed to find another way. He looked about him and up the mountain beyond the debris. He could see a way, but he needed to get around the newly formed peaks and large mounds. If he were to go back the way he'd come, there may be a new trail. He turned, and there were the two males.
The men had followed him. They walked in the ruts he had made. When he looked at them they cowered, but didn't run. He did not want them to pursue him to his clan. That was his place, his home. He supposed the only way to be rid of them was to take them to their own. Instead of looking for a way up the mountain he lumbered down it.
All that day he led the males. They stumbled, he waited. They climbed like the very young of his kind, he waited. No matter how long it took he waited. He always kept distance between them and him but made sure they continued. Toward evening the snow started to become patchy and then almost nonexistent. A cliff wall was before him. He was tired and weakening, but he knew there was no way around, so he climbed. Rock broke loose as he ascended. The males below him protested, but he kept going. At the top, he pulled himself up over the edge and stood stretching his limbs. The sky was orange, and the air was heavy making it hard to breath. This made the Yeti feel sleepier. The area smelled different than he was used to. It smelled like...vegetation. From where he stood, the land touched the sky in the distance. Below him were trees.
The males were climbing and grunting still. He left them knowing they would follow him no longer. He walked along the top of the ridge out of sight. It was time for him to find shelter until he had rested his weary muscles and heavy eyelids. When he woke he would make his way home to the others of his kind. His existence would be normal again, and that was all that mattered.