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ADAM

By Tom Lockwood All Rights Reserved ©

Mystery / Scifi

Prologue

The rain forest hummed in the warmth of the afternoon sun. Muffled by the humid air, the mating calls of amphibians and insects drifted between the vibrant greens of waxy leaves, innumerable in amount and variation. A group of ape like creatures, eighteen in total, sat within a small clearing by a cave opening, soaking up the sun's rays. The females groomed for undesirables through the bristly fur on the backs of their fellow members, one eye fixed attentively on the job at hand, the other on their young offspring playing in the trees. The alpha male and three of his subordinates stood firm by the outskirts of the clearing, listening and looking for a possible warning sign of countless dangers deep within the forest. The intermittent grunts and squeals of the frolicking young broke what was otherwise a relatively quiet atmosphere, and so, the group could somewhat relax.

One of the males heard a noise only ten meters in the distance. He jumped to his feet and, standing upright, raced towards the source of what sounded like the scampering of a small animal. The group's eyes followed him as he clasped a sharpened stick in his right hand and ran off until much of the bush hid him from view. The females went back to their grooming while many of the males stood to their feet in order to get a better look at what the adolescent male was up to. The back end of a spear jutted up from a growth of thick shrubs and disappeared again as the creature drove it into the earth. A hairy head popped up over the green thicket, the protruding jaw of the creature smiled with delight as he raised the large dead rat on the end of the stick for all to see. A success such as this did not happen all too often; usually the small mammals were far too quick to catch with anything but a carefully placed trap. The successful hunter hooted triumphantly, some of the males returned a congratulatory hoot of their own; he had earned precious bragging rights. Walking back to the clearing, he ripped the head off the rat, through it to the side and once sitting, began to skin the animal with a small rock. A few youngsters ceased their play and approached the successful hunter to watch the demonstration, curiosity winning out over their fun and games. With the excitement dying, the group went back to their various activities, comfortable and content.

The alpha male dozed peacefully on a patch of soft grass in the sun, the insects of the forest creating a sweet lullaby with their diverse calls, lulling him in and out of consciousness. His relaxation halted when the melody slowly died and the forest became deafly silent. He pricked his up head and peered around with uncertainty. Off in the distance, birds began to screech inharmoniously, at first only a few but within seconds, hundreds could be heard taking flight, flying over head above the canopy, fleeing. The rest of the group stopped what they were doing and stood up in panic, anxiously staring through the trees at what they could only expect was a vicious predator. The females clasped their young and retreated to the safety of some nearby trees. Knowing full well not to run from something you cannot see, the males of the pack stood alert, awaiting signs of the emerging predator. The sounds of the fleeing birds dissipated and the forest was silent once more. From that silence, a hissing noise rang through the undergrowth, at first a whisper but with each second grew louder and louder until the noise was deafening to the ears. Off in the distance, a cloud of what looked like a thick mist began to seep through the forest. Some of the more cowardly males clambered up trees while the rest held fast. The mist continued towards them, the hissing becoming louder still, rushing at a pace faster than any animal could run. The alpha male turned his head toward one of his subordinates in disbelief, for the first time in his life, not entirely sure what to do. The mist condensed into a thicker mixture and, like a gigantic semi transparent snake, shot towards them, threatening to engulf all in its path. The alpha male froze with fear like an antelope moments before being struck by a lurking crocodile. He shut his eyes waiting for death. The others watched as the mist further condensed into a strand not much thicker than that of a single strand of hair and shot underneath the eyelids of the alpha male, through the orbital cavity. Falling to a heap, the alpha male lay unconscious on the dirt as the other males screamed and jumped around in a frenzied dance.

After a moment, the alpha male opened his eyes and calmly got up. Like something possessed, he strode to the nearest tree and scraped a piece of bark from its surface without a hint of emotion. The others stopped screaming and watched in bewilderment. Grabbing a stick and some woody fibres from the ground, the alpha male kneeled and placed the bark on the dirt before him. He began grinding the stick against the bark with vigour and blew warm breath periodically over it. The females began to climb down the trees, clutching their young and approached their leader cautiously. They watched him as smoke began to muster from the woody fibres. Eventually the fibres caught alight and the alpha male grabbed some dried leaves and twigs from around his immediate vicinity to fuel the fire. The others began to holler in amazement as the alpha male stood up and took a few steps back, looking calmly into the jostling flames. He turned his gaze to the male holding the rat he had killed earlier and paced towards him, his hand outstretched. Without a sound, the previously successful hunter placed the skinned carcass into the palm of the bewitched alpha male who turned back to the fire and threw it into the flames. The meat sizzled and spluttered, a sweet aroma rising from its cooking flesh. Others began to imitate the alpha males demonstration, some successful, others, overcome by irritation, turned back to the burning fire; mesmerized.

The alpha male fell into a heap once more, frightening many of the group. The mist exited the body in the same fashion it had entered and shot up like a vertical pillar of cumulus nimbus cloud until the heavens swallowed it up. The alpha male opened his eyes, peering around his environment as if he had awoken from a sleep. The hissing noise slowly diminished until all that was left was the crackling of cooking flesh and a soft purring of the hot flames.

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