Families gathered together in sheltered spaces, a clearing in the trees.
They formed bands, small groups that clung to one another for safety.
They established camps close to the springs that fed the clear streams providing them with the clean water they needed for life, and nourishment.
They built their fires, burning bright, smoking fish, birds and rabbits. The fed off of any other type of meat that could be taken down with the shafts of their javelins and atlatls, their spears and stones and arrows.
They had returned to the primordial life.
The built small shelters in and around the trees.
They only moved when they had depleted the resources in the forests that surrounded them.
Everything was temporary.
When they had burned all of the fuel, eaten all of the nuts and berries, the wild onions and mushrooms and cleared the region of the living beings they feasted on, then they would move.
Through their story telling the developed the ethos that the migratory life was the path that nature had intended. It was the life of the natural person, it was peaceful and well ordered, and provided the tribal-bands with everything they needed from season to season.
When the sky cleared and the azure-deep returned to the day. When the paths of the stars was once again visible at night, the families and tribes left the security of the forests, foregoing the great green canopies that had been their shelter.
They looked across the desserts and plains, looked over the tall grasses and steep dunes, and took to them, exposing themselves beneath in the open.
They came to worship the sky in its brilliant-blue, in its angry-gray.
The sky was open to their imagination, wide and welcoming and yet oppressing at the same time. Its clouds gave them relief from the burning sun and covered them like a blanket in the cold night. It brought the rain, which meant life, and it brought the judgement of the lightning bolt.
There were dangers lurking everywhere in the open spaces. The plains were a place of constant threat, from great beasts and from other tribes.
On the plains there was also freedom of movement and the joy of wandering, which was something that called to them, it pushed them with an existential imperative.
Survival required constant vigilance, a discipline that was not as great as the life they had lived, in the comfort of the forests and the woodland caves.
They marked their journey with the stars and navigated from place to place by following the brightest beacons shining in the Milky Way
They migrated with the herds and flocks, following them, hunting them, gathering the grains and sweet grasses of the field to add to their feasts.
In the face of every danger they were free, they were a people without care. They clung together for safety, and separated from one another to pursue their own paths, only to return in their migrations to the appointed meeting places, at determined times, following the seasons, the voices of the wind, and the movements of the moon and planets.
It was a time of abundance, the tribes were growing, becoming stronger, relearning their ancient ways.
They wandered the open plains, and crossed the broad savannahs, invaded the wide deserts and took to the greening fields.
They climbed to the tops of hills, drawn closer to the stars from which they came, and they counted them.
They piled stones atop one another, fitting them neatly together, building their homes with a wide view of their surroundings.
The humans were looking upward and outward in search of their memories, recalling unconsciously the sojourn of their ancient ancestors.
They rested on the hill-tops, beneath the stars and sun, resting at the feet of mountains, beside their waterfalls and streams.
As they listened to the sound of the wind through the rocks, and through the grasses, the rhythm of their music changed, and the stories they told took on a new character.
They were safe on the hilltops beneath the open skies.
The tribes organized themselves in new ways, in vertical hierarchies, in accordance with the physical structure of their encampments.
Their migrations took them from hill top to hill top, hunting and gathering the riches of the fields.
They gathered the herds and flocks to themselves; shepherds, and cowherds, and goatherds, every tribe developed its own way of being with the animals they tended.
They domesticated the wolf, and walked beside the bear as an equal.
They lived with them, led them to water, protected them against all the dangers of the wild. Their animals became sacred to them, totems of spiritual power.
They gave milk and meat, hides and wool, the totem animal gave everything to the tribes, and the tribes learned to see themselves as extended in the herd.
They lived as symbiotes together; the goat people and the sheep people, the cow people and the horse people.
They led the herds into the mountains, they scaled the lofty peaks looking for new pastures and passes and crossings to other worlds.
They found themselves in the highest places, they found the sacred in the thin air at the top of the world.
They strode across the icy glaciers, building fires in the snow. They learned through the collective experience that there was no place on Earth where they could not go.
Only the sky was their limit and the depths of the sea, they dreamed of sprouting wings. They dreamed of flying from the mountain tops, of reaching out to the touch the sun and stars.
They remembered the sojourn of their forbears in myth and song.
The tribes were always moving, always looking for new places, wandering beneath the stars, moving with the seasons, staying ahead of the weather, moving with the currents of the wind.
They followed the rivers to their source, up the winding streams, tracking down every branch. They followed them to the clear springs from which the water flowed, bubbling-up from the deep reservoirs within the earth.
They followed the flowing water back down their channels, tracked down each curve and bend as they widened into creeks and rivulets, becoming streams that flowed into rivers.
They followed the rivers to the lakes they fed, they camped along those shorelines, fishing, and bathing in sun.
They followed the churning waters, past their waterfalls, and their rapids, following them to the place where they merged with inland seas and outward to the oceans.
They founded settlements along the way. From springs and head waters, to the point of each confluence, they made their encampments. They left the markers of their tribes; tokens, totems and burial mounds, even as they wandered, returning to them in their cycles with the seasons.
Every spring was the birth place of a god, of gods and goddesses emerging from the earth like children from the womb. Water was sacred, every brook was imbued with inherent spiritual power. There were grave penalties in tribal justice for defiling the living streams.
From mountain springs to the delta flow, the rivers were the first markers of a tribe’s territory.
The confluence of water-ways marked the coming together of tribal alliances, or they became the sources of tribal conflict.
The foot paths in the forests were serene and stable. The people traversed them in safety and seclusion, hidden by the trees and brush.
They crossed into the open prairie, the broad meadows, the open deserts and the snowy fields.
The paths they laid down were narrow, and shifting.
The tribes traversed them in long lines, marching single file, laying down the course for those that followed.
The wind erased the trails they made in sand and snow.
The grasses and the wild flowers sprang back in their wake.
The streams and rivers were the markers of lanes that could be followed from one destination to the next.
They came to the great lakes and seas, the broad shorelines of the world’s oceans became the first roads.
They trekked across them as if they were long and winding highways, herding their flocks by the deep.
The way was easy by the coast, beneath the stars, following the water’s edge from camp to camp.
They pitched their tents in the places where the rivers met the sea. Where the fresh water flowed into the salty brine.
The surface of the Earth was slowly repopulated, and the existential dread that had gripped the human race during the decades of darkness had eased.
They were growing in numbers, strength and pride and esteem.
On thin strips of wood, in fragile dugout canoes, they hurled their bodies onto the rivers and lakes.
They threw themselves into the ocean, just as their ancient forebears had done when they crossed the stars.
They were looking for new ways of life, a life among the waves and currents and tides, a life on the water.
They were searching for mysteries in the deep, beneath the ever changing face of the water’s surface.
They lived on their little skiffs, casting spears and nets and lines with hooks into the water from which they drew their catch.
They spent their days on the water beneath the sun, paddling to and from the shore, diving into the shallows to gather, clams and oysters and muscles.
They spent their nights under the flowing lights of the stars.
The stars sang to them, each glowing orb with a voice its own, and they imagined a galaxy, every bright light suspended in black liquid, soaring through the ether.
Their dreams were transcendent.
Many were swept away in the accidental crossing of storms.
Others clung to their tiny crafts, their rafts, and found their way to other shores, thousands of miles from home.
Part Three, Earth
Chapter Twenty-one, Migration
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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