A tremor in the ocean bed flung a giant wave across the land, carrying me beyond the reach of the tide, leaving me stranded on the shore. I crawled into a cave high on the cliff face and licked my wounds.
Small crawling things that shared my dwelling provided me with nourishment. I fed, waited, and watched.
Time passed. My body died and rotted. More time passed. My bones became dust on the wind, but I remained.
Giant lizards roamed the earth until a rock from the sky obliterated them. Poisonous dust blotted out the sun’s light and warmth. All life forms died, except the small crawlers and flyers and the swimmers in the deep.
Ages past. The dust settled. The sun showed its face. The land grew warm again. Life returned, but the giant lizards did not. I was lonely. The nights were long. Only the stars held my attention. They soothed me.
Unencumbered by a body I travelled wherever I wished. Yearning for companionship I visited the ocean, my former home, but the swimmers were unaware of me. I returned to the land, and the solace of the stars.
A four-legged animal padded into my cave. Her ears and whiskers twitched. I knew she sensed my presence. Her voice in my consciousness said, “Who are you?”
I answered, “I came from the Deep. I wait and watch. Who are you?”
“I am Cat.”
We were curious about each other. She said, “Why don’t you have a body?”
“I did, but it died.”
“Did you have a body when you were in the Deep?”
“Yes, and I had many children. They fill the ocean.”
“And a mate?”
“Mating was not necessary. My body was complete. Now that I don’t have it I can produce no more children”
“Do you have a mate?” I asked.
“Only when the need arises.”
“I have need of a companion.”
She said, “Will I do?”
“Yes, you will.”
Her body was short lived, but she lived on in her descendants. In each generation Cat was with me. I was no longer lonely.
Our curiosity extended to humans. She understood them better than I. “Why do they make sacrifices and build temples?” I asked.
“They’re seeking something that they’ve lost, and trying to communicate with it.”
I recalled the flicker of human consciousness that on occasions touched mine. Its intensity disturbed me. “Do they seek me?”
“I don’t know.”
“Why do they persist in killing each other?”
“They’re human. It’s what they do. Sometimes they tell themselves that the one they seek commands them to kill. It’s as good an excuse as any.”
“How can I stop them?”
Cat was wise. Humans were stupid, but also clever. When they weren’t killing they made commodities that brought comfort to their lives. All other life forms give their waste back to the land, which digests it. The substances that humans discarded were indigestible. They spewed filth and exhaled noxious gases that sickened the land and made it unclean.
I visited The Deep again and found it polluted and littered with cast-off containers of human foodstuffs.
Cat said, “What did you expect? They make a mess and hurl it into the ocean. That’s their idea of tidying up.” She licked her paw and groomed herself with vigour.
I resolved to find a home with no humans. My search led me to the stars. I visited the great burning orbs and the many worlds that circled them. They were clean.
I looked back at my own tiny blue home with its wisps of cloudy white tresses, still beautiful, but dying. I must return and say goodbye to Cat. Sadness enveloped me.
She was waiting at the entrance to my cave. She said, “Are you leaving?”
“Yes. I must.”
“Take me with you.”
“I can’t. You have a body. It can live only on this world.”
“It won’t live long,” she said. “Soon the land will not sustain life. All our bodies will die, and I’ll be like you. Wait for me and we’ll leave together.”
My sadness lifted. “Yes,” I said. “I’ll wait for you.”
The day of our departure will not be long in coming. Perhaps, when the humans are long gone the world may groom herself, and we will return. In the meantime we take comfort in the splendour of the blue and gold sunset skies over the ocean, and the melting sun that stains the clouds pink before sinking beneath the horizon. We wait and watch.
Maureen Bowden is a Liverpudlian, living with her musician husband in North Wales. She has had more than a hundred stories and poems accepted for publication by paying markets, and Silver Pen publishers nominated one of her stories for the 2015 international Pushcart Prize. She also writes song lyrics, mostly comic political satire, set to traditional melodies. Her husband has performed these in Folk clubs throughout England and Wales. In 2013 she obtained a First Class Honours Degree from the Open University. As well as Literature and History, the Degree included modules in Creative Writing and Advanced Creative Writing. She achieved a distinction in both. She loves her family and friends, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Shakespeare, and cats.