by Ash Lomen
The bloated African sun looked somehow dangerous on that particular morning, shining with an odd, near magenta radiance, as if it were on the verge of some vague celestial warring. Unfortunately, being as it was, high above the thick canopy of the Ithuri rainforest, the lone Efe' man tracking a band of starving monkeys on foot was never even aware of this solar omen.
The young Pigmy ran naked though the foliage as if he were incorporeal. He carried a simple bow and wore a bright crescent scar above his left eye. He stood a good three inches under five feet and was still considered large for his tribe... he was even feared (though not for his size) by some of the giant-men who cut into the very heart of his great mother and at times hunted his people down like common game. The forest that surrounded him was still alive with the quiet, ubiquitous murmurings of death (for the moment).
He was about to remove a small pouch of marijuana attached to his left arm when the snap of a dying vine suddenly gave away the monkeys' position. He pivoted and instinctively fired a barrage of poison arrows into the treetops with a burst of near-inhuman speed. He could tell by the clumsy movement in the branches that an arrow had hit its target. He could now simply trail the poisoned monkey until it expired.
Just then a meaty fist struck the back of his head.
He turned to attack but froze when he saw his assailant. The beast walked on two legs and had a maw of teeth that seemed to stretch wide into an open smile, it's entire body covered in black hair and weeping lesions. Even hunched, it stood taller than any man the young pigmy had ever seen. The Efe' hunter tried to run an arrow into the creature's gut but the thing simply grabbed his tiny forearm and ripped the entire appendage out of its socket.
Then it began to beat him to death with his severed arm…
His last thought was rather strange.
Though the Efe' man had lived in the shady depths of the Ithiuri for the whole of his life, he suddenly wished that he could feel the sun on his skin.
At that same moment, the unlucky monkey who had been hit with the Efe's arrow began to feel the slow pain of poison coursing through its bloodstream.