Along a path which ran through grass more than double his height, Scallion quickened his pace as though the moon could not wait. After a while he could feel the swifter air that flowed across the Mamba River carrying with it the odors of the distant world and the humans who inhabited it. He could smell fish and crocodiles and antelope and lion but nothing filled the air with such stench as the humans. The girl. She was different, always had been. She smelled like a chimpanzee. She smelled like family.
Scallion slapped a few last branches out of his way before his padded feet touched the pebbled surface of his beach. Here, unencumbered by branches, leaves and vines, the night sky beckoned the chimpanzees into a world of light and darkness, myth and magic. Bedecked in black with a speckling of white lights and a wounded lunar eye, the night was watching her children’s ceremony. Across the water a glow of another kind lit up the grassy flatlands. Burning lights. Hundreds of them. Pots boiling. Meat cooking. Fire rising into the sky. Humans. Invaders.
Pop! Trying to ignore the human noise, the young chimpanzee moved along the border of the beach and the forest until he came to a small cove. A row boat had been pulled up onto the shore years ago and left unattended on the rocks. Scallion stopped at the boat, whose owner had long since been lost to the crocodiles of the river, and, turning to face his family, he raised his hands, beckoning them in the fashion of a teacher to be seated. When they were and when Scallion was satisfied that he had their attention, he turned back to the boat and climbed inside.
The floor of the craft still wore streaks of red sheltered in places from the rain. An oar lay on the bottom, the one the girl had been using the day her mother died. Scallion had been a witness to everything, how a crocodile had broken the surface of the river to grab the boat’s unfortunate occupant. Now he gazed at his audience before bending over to dig in the collection of sand at the bottom. After a few scoops, his hand touched something hard, his buried treasure. He gripped it with strong fingers, looked once again at all of those intrigued eyes, then lifted the object high in the air.
Flynn had purchased the book for his daughter. She would come down to this very beach to read to her friends the tales of a man with a yellow hat and of his companion, a chimpanzee, like Scallion, who was very curious.
Scallion’s lips curled back to expose his teeth in a wide grin. Excited panting and hooting filled his ears as his family prodded him to tell them everything he remembered.
He waited for a hush. Oh, how he wished the girl were with him now. How do you really tell about a girl? How do you explain her importance? How even in the most frightful of moments she could speak in a way that took away all fears. Scallion had tried to do these things many times before without her. But the world was changing. Humans had invaded their land, and the two-legged father they had relied on all their lives was missing.
Scallion tried to cheer and comfort Pan and Cream, Black Bart and Scopes, but he longed for the old days and for the girl with the black hair and the eyes dark as the night. Their sister. Their teacher. The girl the chimpanzees called Talk Talk.
Genre – Young Adult
Rating – PG