The eldest woke up in rain. It had washed the mud from him and shriveled his skin, but no wind blew and he learned some summer comfort. From his rock, he looked out on the world, and it was all rolling waves of mud. The waves washed over the rock, dirtying him and his home, but the rain would wash it away. The mud would roll, and the rain would fall, and in this way, hours or days passed. The sky was too overcast to tell, and he had not yet learned about time.
As he was becoming used to this boredom, fidgety but accepting, he noticed the rain letting up, and eventually the waves subsided. The sky broke open and sun streamed through, and his eyes hurt to behold it, and he squinted and covered himself with his arm. His skin warmed and began to itch as the mud on him began to dry and flake.
He scraped fleks off him and wondered at what would come next. More hours passed, and the sun fell again behind clouds, and a certain foreboding darkness crept across the overcast sky. There, in the damp and primal darkness, the toll of his first day and night crept into him, and the eldest did his best to clean the dried mud from the rock and laid down to sleep.
He woke to the sunrise the next day, the first weak beams of the sun’s very top hitting his eyes. The clouds had vanished, and his eyes adjusted to the ever increasing brightness of the quickly rising sun, and suddenly it was day, and everyone around him brown reached out to blue until the met far off in the distance. The eldest felt both a sense of anxiety and a modicum of pleasure at the open expanse of the world about him.
As the day crept on, he stood and stretched and moved about his little rock, but he felt too wary to leave it. Restlessness eventually set him, and he felt the ground around the rock, and was pleased that though it was moist, it was no longer liquid. He pushed his fingers in and then picked up a handful at a time and squeezed, and it pressed through his fingers and fell back into place. He stepped a foot out into it and sunk down to his ankle, but then it held his weight. Anxiety again got the better of him, and he retreated to his rock again.
He slept some in the afternoon, and when he awoke his body began to cramp and make discomfiting noises. He stood and stretched again and tested the ground, but this did not alleviate the feeling. Then he noticed one little upshoot from the ground just a little bit away, a white flower dry in the afternoon sun. He sank to his hands and knees, and crawled towards it suspiciously, and when he reached it, he snuck a petal from its flower and put it in his mouth, and chewed and swallowed. He liked the taste, and he liked the feeling of having chewed it and having swallowed, and he plucked another petal and ate it, and another, until all that was left was a little green stalk with a small yellow bulb. More skeptical of the remants, he licked the yellow bulb, but its taste was unpleasant and bitter, and he left that part of the plant alone.
His body no longer moaned or ached, and he walked quickly back to his rock. He noticed the sun now in the position where it had broken through the clouds, and he wondered whether the world would darken again today as it had the day before, and he sat down to watch and see.
No clouds formed, and the sun sank down, and the eldest saw the first sunset rival the first sunrise. The sky flamed white, then burned orange, and then the sky darkened to purple and to black, and everywhere its darkness was broken by winking pinpoints of light. He marvelled and wanted to keep marvelling, but again, when the sun had set down at last and all was dark, the toll of the day took him again, and he slept.
He woke later the next day, with the sun already ascended and climbing the sky blue and unbroken. He smiled at the certain sadness that he could not see the stars forever but steeled himself to wait for night again, when the bright sun would sink and the stars would wink.
The eldest stood and stretched, and gasped when he noticed that where yesterday there had only been an expanse of ground and sky broken by the single flower, today there stood a field of the white flowers, stretching as far as he could see and shimmering like stars with morning dew.
He stepped off his rock down into the field, and he plucked a flower’s stem and held it up in front of his face, and he smiled at it. He plucked its petals with his teeth and ate them, and he tossed the stem aside and grabbed another. As he moved through the field, he ankles chilled with the flowers’ wetness, and underneath the sun he had an urge to feel that wetness all over, and he fell to the ground and rolled in the flower bed, and as he rolled a sweet scent flew into the air. Once he was covered in dew, he rolled to his back and flung out his arms, and he sighed and breathed deeply the flowers’ smell, and he smiled and lay there until his front was dry.
Then he heard a grunt and a rustle nearby, the unmistakeable sound of breath happening to somebody else’s rhythm.
He shoved himself up and over onto his hands and feet, his body tight and ready to move. Then he heard the rustle again and snort again, and he looked to his left and saw an animal. He wondered at whether it would be dangerous to him. It had noticed him, too, and also looked at him warily. Then it resumed its snuffling and grazing.
Those are mine, a thought shot through his mind.
There’s plenty, another thought answered.
They might not be there tomorrow, the eldest thought to himself, thinking about the differences between his days so far.
He relaxed and pulled his legs under him and sat looking at the animal. It had four stubby legs and couldn’t walk as he did. It also had protrusions from its mouth that looked hard and sharp, and he knew they might be dangerous if the animal charged or caught him with a swipe of its head.
The eldest plucked another flower and ate the petals, discarding the stem. He watched the animal root about and wondered how many flowers the animal would eat, and how many he himself should eat. He saw then that the animal had trampled several flowers, crushing them back into the ground and bruising the petals, at which he felt a hint of sadness.
The eldest watched the boar until nearly sunset, when it turned and wandered away through the field. He had a desire to follow it, but also he did not want to leave this place he had come to know, for who knew what might come tomorrow, or what might be beyond, just out of sight. So he watched until it was gone, and then he watched the sun until it was gone, and from his flat rock, he spied the stars and they pierced the oncoming darkness. Hey lay on his back with his hands behind his head, and sighed at the beauty, and slept.
He awoke before sunrise to the sound of a loud pop. The stars were gone but the sky was dark, a deep and rolling gray, and rain was falling again. Panicked, the eldest looked for flowers to collect and save, but they were all gone, replaced by the waves of mud which surrounded him again.
A muffled shout reached him over the dull drum of the rain, and he turned in its direction and saw an arm flailing out from the mud. It slapped the surface hard, and the hand closed on the wet earth, and it sunk beneath.
The eldest sprung from his rock into the waist-deep mire and trod his way over to where he’d seen the arm, and there was a soft, squelchy sound, and the arm rose again from the earth. The eldest grabbed at it, but it was slimy with mud and slipped through his hands, and plodded back into the mud again, sinking below the surface.
He took another step closer to where the arm emerged and slipped, feeling his knees crash into another body thrashing around beneath. Legs kicked him softly and then arms grabbed him about the ankles, and he would have been pulled underneath if the earth beneath his feet had not held firm. The hands grasped desperately, crawling up his front, and a man broke the surface and sucked several deep breaths of air. He grabbed the eldest’s shoulders and pull himself to his feet and then immediately began to cry. He sobbed and moaned against the eldest’s chest, and the eldest stood in silence, shock, and awe.
After a moment he regained himself, and he pulled the new man over towards his rock, and when he found the lip he pushed him onto it and crawled up himself. The man curled his knees up to his chest and continued to suck in air and to weep, and the eldest could think of nothing to do but pat him on the shoulder. He felt and instinct to make soothing noises as well, but he did not, instead just maintaining constant contact.
The rain washed them clean, and the mud washed lightly over the rock with its waves, and finally cried himself to sleep. The eldest wondered, decided that the sun would not rise today in the rain, and laid down himself and wept.