Fangs of Wrath

            A beast on the run scurries about the crevasses and shadows. His fur is made of nothing but tattered, grimy mats, and his yellow fangs drip foam. Each corner holds a noise familiar to the ear. And, little care does he have for his gracious position.

            This beast is the last of his kind.

            There is no other creature on which to rely, and his ancestors stare upon his meager presence with somnolent, hazy eyes. They await the looming inevitability to come forth as sullen reality.

            Yet, despite the weather and grime and his sealed fate, he wanders on as a snarling wrath. Anything before the beast’s wretched snout he chases, heeding not that hide of weighty fatigue, nor his age he wears as grey patches. He’s a beast well-equipped for fighting, but not surviving.

            The beast cannot pounce upon his prey with grace anymore, nor can he hold his own in a quarrel with another claw-bearing creature. He instead wanders, taking a fight if he stumbles upon one, but searching for nothing. The beast is a bitter shell, observing, leaving his trace in the mud, and snarling at anything that encroaches.

            His kin fell away from this plain seasons ago, submitting to God’s will that they do so. God came in a strange form: those two-legged creatures. They still wander this plain, hunting, unfurling, destroying.

            The beast remembers their attack on his den, and those in its vicinity. He took alert to the distant roar of a machine, which crawled slowly toward them, but knew that if need be his brethren could deter any threat. And when they did arrive in an orchestrated march, that machine spouted black fog. Those two-legged creatures closed in on the village of dens.

            He remembers his children taking refuge behind him, only to choke on that smog and fall deathly ill within seconds. The beast ran like a coward for his own life, rather than pursuing redemption. He lurchingly scurried away, listening to the cries of his own kind perish in a blood-soaked haze.

            And as he walks now, he understands that he should’ve just fought. He should’ve stood and died with them, but he chose to run. That is the hide that encompasses the beast’s haunches—that accompanies him on his aimless journey through the ash and desolation. He hasn’t seen those two-legged creatures since that day, but the beast sees their trace in every facet of the plain.

            The sky rarely shows its cool blueness. It instead opts for a canvas of grey.

            Mud has replaced the grass, showing no promise of sprouting green tufts.

            Rain endlessly pecks with a burn.

            And every creature—every beast—regardless of what fur or skin they don, holds nothing but a black heart of smoldering disdain. They didn’t choose to have such a sullen mood. The two-legged creatures chose it for them.

            Yet the beast carries on through this desolation. He doesn’t know why. He only holds that image of his kin befalling to death at the hands of evil. Vengeance murmurs with each thump of his heart, though he knows of his strength’s bitter dwindle.

            He hears a minute squelch at his back, and the beast pivots around ungracefully toward the sound. Another meal would carry him and his kin further into the future. He wouldn’t be exiled yet.

            A child emerges from the grey haze, frolicking in the muck with a peppy skip. Two-legged.

            They meet eyes, the rain as the only mediator.

            The beast snarls, growls, and snorts. Those images of black smog and sounds of death rush to the surface and ignite his fiery glare.

            The child’s brow curls into fear, and she takes an unsteady step backward. Her lips quiver and her teeth chatter within a pale face. She wants to turn and run, but the beast’s eyes call her back.

            The beast’s shrewd glare abates, and the child takes that unsteady step once again, only this time it’s forward. She approaches with an outstretched hand and open palm, coaxing the beast’s snout to greet it.

            The creature’s haunches rise and fall like a great tide. His breath comes out as a wheezy fog, and his brow quivers.

            As the rain continues to snap, the grey sky lingers above, and the wind whispers in a morose tongue, the pair of them connect like a branch does its leaf.

            That weight on the beast’s shoulders lifts, telling him, it’s okay.

The beast knows from hereon, even as he takes his final breaths, that he isn’t the only creature suffering.