Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Thunder Lizard War

I was a prisoner in a village in a jungle.  There were a few other prisoners and we were locked in a barn type building.  We were starving.

Our captors were other villagers turned totalitarians, crazed with patriotic fervor, and they had arrested or killed so many people that the village was dying.  There weren't enough people to tend the farms.  The livestock was gone.  The fields were dry and filled with weeds.

My mother was living in the woods somewhere with a small group of escapees, and she sneaked in during a disturbance to give me food.  It was a sandwich, and it was amazingly good, but the bread was hard to chew so I couldn't eat it fast enough and the guards came back and found me chewing furiously.  One of them knocked me to the floor and stuck his fingers in my mouth and took my half-chewed bite of sandwich and screamed at me, demanding to know where I had gotten the food.  I wouldn't tell him and he beat me, trying to get me to talk.

I still wouldn't tell him, so he pulled me to my feet and shoved me out the door.  He and a group of other totalitarians surrounded me and shoved me along a path.  We went past various buildings, all empty, and fields that had gone to seed.  I knew they were taking me to be executed, and I was really scared.

At one point a small gap had opened up between a couple of the totalitarians and I lunged through and began to run.  We were in a forest, definitely tropical, but we were still within the area of our village and there were paths through the forest.  The men were chasing me, and though I was fast, they were fast too.

I ran past buildings, and thought about going in them to hide, but each one had dead bodies and the stink of blood and fear and decay.  One had a *lot* of bloody bodies and some kind of creature still killing people inside.  I wanted to help them but I knew it was one of the totalitarians' attack beasts and with no weapons, I'd just be killed right along with them.

I kept running, but I realized they weren't really trying to catch me, but herd me along in a certain direction.  Toward were I'd be killed.  So I stopped and tried to hide among the trees, but they knew right where I was and grabbed me and forced me onwards.

We were further from the agricultural part of our settlement than I'd ever been, and I was realizing our culture had once been great--around me now was a big market, with narrow streets paved with painted wood planks and shaded with big colorful cloths hung across the walkway, and low wooden buildings full of goods, but no food and no people.

As we kept going I could somehow feel this cloud of fear and death thickening, and I resisted more and more until the men had to carry me.  We started hearing sounds, faint screams and crashes, that grew louder as we went.  I felt more and more crazy and desperate, and was kicking and struggling, but the men held me tight.  They started to seem scared too and our approach slowed and became very cautious.

The sounds stopped.  It was just creepy quiet.

Then we came to a big crater.  It had once been market like we'd been walking in, but it had been smashed and crushed and was now a 20-ft dropoff to bloodstained, broken boards and wreckage and torn earth.

The there was a big crash and another scream very close to us, and we saw the roofs of some nearby buildings collapse violently, shards of wood exploding into the air.  The destruction seemed to be moving.  Towards us.

"The cavamon!" the men were yelling.  It was the legendary giant attack beast, the thunder lizard the totalitarians had been using as a weapon to gain control of our people.

The men tried to throw me over the edge into the pit, and in mindless terror I pulled some kind of cat-ninja move and yanked on the clothes of one of the men so he started falling in, and I kicked off him and landed on all fours inside one of the broken buildings.  There was a wall between me and the men now, and the one who I'd yanked on fell into the pit and was yelling for his friends to help him.  I couldn't see what they were doing, but knew they weren't going to help him.

Then the crashing started again and I ran.  I could hear the man who fell in screaming as the cavamon got him.  I came out of the wrecked building into another wooden walkway and ran.  To lose the other totalitarians I ducked into a shop.  It was full of little painted wooden trinkets, which I noticed were shaped like alligators or dragons.  Some kind of lizard.  They were supposed to be the cavamon.

As I came out the back of the shop into another covered walkway I realized this whole gigantic market was all cavamon effigies of all different makes and sizes.  Clay cavamon pots, wicker cavamons, fabric cavamon kites.  It seemed none of them agreed on what a cavamon looked like, exactly, except for a mouth full of sharp teeth.  Some of the effigies showed it eating cattle, some had it eating humans, some breathing fire.  Some gave it four legs, some six, some two.  They all portrayed the cavamon as fucking huge.

I kept running, but as the crashing sounds faded in the distance my pace slowed.  The totalitarians didn't seem to be following me.  I heard the cavamon roar in the distance.  It sounded just like a Jurassic Park T-rex.

The market walkway turned into dirt, and the buildings and cloth coverings were replaced by trees and leaves.  I was in the jungle again, and the path here had once been wide but was starting to grow over.

Someone yelled.  There was a totalitarian guard here, and she took off chasing me.  I ran into the forest, and ran and ran.  I startled another escapee, who happened to be the General from Akira.  We knew we were on the same side, so we ran together.

We came to a waist-high chicken-wire fenced creek.  I hesitated at the fence, somehow knowing it was supposed to be a crime against the state to go beyond a fence, and the totalitarian chasing me gave a shout of triumph.  I turned and looked at her in her uniform and hopped over the fence.

She gasped and stopped.  I began to run in the shallow water.  The General jumped in after me.  The totalitarian finally decided that catching an escapee was more important than the fence law and jumped over, but then seemed to have a panic attack and just didn't chase me.

So I was now a fugitive in a jungle, running along in a muddy stream.  I transformed myself from skinny girl into my friend Justin, who I guess I figured was more physically prepared for this kind of thing.  The General frowned a little, not quite approving, so I made my arms more muscular and he gave me a satisfied nod.

We eventually came to another village.  I wanted to go in and try to find food, or get some kind of help, but the General refused and went a different way.  I hopped the fence again and went into the village.  It had a different style of architecture, still pretty primitive, and it seemed as empty as my old village.  I saw some people and realized this village had the same totalitarian problem, and they tried to capture me.  I ran, feeling pretty confident that they couldn't catch me.  I wanted to see what was up with this place.  It wasn't all filled with bodies, but it was still empty and fear-shrouded.

Then I found what looked like a fair.  It was kind of like a market like the other one, but looked like it hadn't been there as long, and there were people here.  All wore totalitarian armbands, though they seemed to do it begrudgingly.

Their wares were all dragon-themed.  Pots, baskets, whistles, masks.  I was able to steal some meagre little vegetables, but there wasn't much food here either and the people had gaunt, sad faces.

Then I saw totalitarian soldiers marching a line of prisoners along.  The totalitarians were trying to rouse the other people into shouting names and throwing things at the prisoners, but the other people seemed too tired and apathetic and just kind of stared.

I ran ahead to see where the prisoners were going.  And I heard another fucking Jurassic Park roar, though this one sounded kind of smaller and reedy.

In the middle of the market/fair was a big cage, and in the cage was a dragon.  It was long like a Chinese dragon, and it was red, and it was chained up.  Its cage was littered with bones and half-eaten corpses, the older ones were livestock and the newer ones human.

I freaked and ran.  Some guards chased me, but I hopped the fence again into the stream and ran up the stream.  The General was gone, I was on my own again.  I ate my stolen vegetables as I ran.

After a while I realized that the stream was getting deeper, and the walls of the stream were wooden.  There was a raft in the water, and I got on it.  If you stood on it right it went upstream, much faster than I could run.  But as I continued up the stream, the signs of habitation increased.  There were things like oars sticking out into the stream.  I was afraid the stream was going to go right into the middle of another nightmare town, so I got out.

Right away there were people.  I was scared of them being totalitarians too, so I stayed well away from anyone, but there were many more people here.  Their fields were still growing, and they still had livestock.  I started to feel like this place might not be so bad.  They seemed to want to help me, and they gave me food.  Real meat and potatoes!

But the food was on a stick.  I was suspicious.  I ate it all right, but it smacked of carnival food, and as I went further into their town my stomach sank.  It was another fucking fair.

But I had to see if they had a people-eating beast too.  I crept deeper into the fair.  Their trinkets were definitely lizardy, but there was no miasma of fear here.  Yet I could hear people talk about the Thunder Lizard.  I thought maybe they just hadn't had their beast long enough to burn through all their livestock and start feeding it political prisoners.  I thought maybe I should cut my losses and get out of there before I got too close.  And just when I was about to turn and run, I saw the beast.

It was a brachiasaurus.  A plant-eater.

They had it in a tall building, not really a cage, just a roof and stairs up to a platform where you could be near its head.  And it looked loveable!  People were feeding it by hand and it nuzzled up to them like a horse.

I was so relieved I fell to my knees.  I realized this was probably what started it all, that this village had a brachiasaurus that attracted visitors and boosted the economy, so other towns wanted their own Thunder Lizard, but in trying to one-up the brachiasaurus they got scary ones.  The more dangerous, the bigger the economic boost, but the greater the cost as well.  The dragon needed a lot of meat to sustain, and the gigantic cavamon thing needed tons more.  More and more drastic measures were taken to sustain the monster, until it ruined my old village and turned it into a hell.

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