Friday, November 04, 2005

Chapter 14

Mr. Azure did enjoy the sun, but he did also worry, as was his habit. The threat may be gone, but habits linger. Rodger felled the tree perfectly. Mr. Azure could see that. The tree had fallen to their eastern side, missing the patch by many patch lengths.

After the tree fell, Rodger nosed along the long trunk, until he came to the first secondary branches. He took a nibble and moved onto even higher branches.

Mr. Azure watched as Rodger shuffled past, then back to the patch. “Just as I thought. Nice and ripe.” Rodger knew that long after the trunk goes, the tops go on a bit longer. He told Mr. Azure, “Just like a dam, they never give out at once. One section here, one there.” Seeing this had no impact on Mr. Azure, who had never seen a dam, nor could even imagine one, Rodger found himself at a loss. “Well, things tend to happen in sections. That’s my experience.”

Mr. Azure thought it best not to mention that when Rodger left, he had said he was just going for a look around. This look around ended in the felling of the entire tree, not just a section. Instead Mr. Azure asked, “What will you do now?”

“Well, I’ll chisel the tertiary branches off, drag them down the hill to my dam. Some of it’ll be food, some structure, some will start as structure and end as food. My work is only just starting.”

“Hum. Yes. I see.” Mr. Azure had nothing else to say.

Realizing this, Rodger said, “Well, I’ll be off. It was nice meeting you,” and as animals do, he walked away.

After the fall, Nime flew to the tree, which was now only a few meters off the ground at the highest. She started to peek in and around the branches for flowers.

Max produced small flowers, already turning to seed. Each was mute, none compelling. They were pretty enough, but they were all the same. Nime didn’t care for their taste even before Max got sick. She supposed they pollinated themselves.

There was only one thing for her. Revenge. Rodger had served himself, not her. There had been no trade. No large animal had helped the flowers for the honey, instead, a large animal helped the flowers for himself.

She was going to go talk to Rodger about it, and she flew towards the trunk, where the mushrooms lived.

From the trunk came a pleasant “Hello there.”

“Hello.” Nime nearly kept flying, but the mushroom was a bright red in color, which had always been Nime’s favorite, even before Mrs. Scarlet. Nime hadn’t met this mushroom before.

The mushroom asked, “What’s so good about it?”

“Pardon me?”

“Didn’t you say good morning?”

Nime was confused. “No, I said hello.”

“Oh, sorry. Yes, it has been one of those days. But we’ll be alright. We feed off dead things and something’s always dying. Or is already dead. Either way. Plants make food, we eat them, same’s you, right?”

Nime had never considered this before. The fact she shared this with the mushrooms was obvious and could not be argued against. Although we may want to, it is difficult to argue against things that are true. The only thing to do was to say something a bit rude, which Nime did, “Well, you’ve certainly got the sun in your eyes now I’m afraid.”

“It is bright out here, now that you mention it. But there’s no sense in being afraid. We’ll creep around to the other side naturally. We’re pretty good at creeping. Ever seen that? I mean, a creeping fungi? Stick around. We’ll loose some of the moss though.”

The moss looked vaguely ill to Nime, but she did not know moss well. Within the week most of the moss had migrated under the lee of the tree.

“I’m Sean.”

“Call me Nime.”

“I don’t know the time. Still morning though. So that night I didn’t pass up the message right. I knew about that. Sorry. Now we’re even in a way. You got what you wanted. It was that beaver. Damn beavers. Anyway. Just wanted to ask you why did you even give us the message? Why not just fly to the top and do it directly?”

“I’m afraid of birds.” Nime was shouting now, realizing the mushroom was deaf. “Birds live in trees and can eat bees. As do tree frogs, and tree creatures.”

“Being eaten. How odd. How odd to worry! To be afraid! You go as far as you can, you pass off some of your spores, then you die.”

Nime did not share this attitude. She would never reproduce herself. She existed for the common good of the hive. “Please. Not afraid of being eaten? Even an ant could eat you now. Now that you’re not high above the ground. What is to prevent even a rabbit from coming up and eating you?” Nime was aiming her sting as best she could. She’d never need the cooperation of this miserable deaf mushroom.

The mushroom seemed to hear her perfectly for the first time. “The tree fell to the beaver, but it will now fall to the mushrooms. All things fall to the mushrooms over time. Even mushrooms ourselves. But I have no fear. I’m poisonous. No animal can eat me.”