A loud crack sounded in the clearing. She didn’t know what it was but it was definitely a man-sound.
She had spent the morning fishing at the stream, but there was almost no salmon. The water left a stink on her paws. No fish.
She tried to think, where might there be roots left to eat. And then above her head, she heard the sky machine again. She would not be able to think until it was gone. The noise got louder and louder, like a cicada. She waited for it to fade away. She waited and waited.
The crows called the news. “My food,” then the answer, “Found it. My food,” then another call, “I found it first.” The crows circled, waiting their chance.
In the clearing, she found her mother. The bear had driven her from home last year and she had not seen her since. Now she had no head. It had been cut off, and tracks from the land machine led to the horizon. Soon the coyotes would come.
This land had no food. To the west, the ocean. To the south, the land of machines and manstone. To the east, the land of the Big Mean Bear and then more machines and manstone. She went north.
Many trees, good land. A still pond with lily pads, trout passed silently in the brown depths. A school of minnows. By the bank, a great blue heron listened motionlessly, coiled to strike.
But always there were lines of man-stone, and the land machines ran across them fast. A land machine could kill you. She saw dead animals on the man-stone lines all the time. It was smelly by the manstone lines, and so loud, but these were the safe places. The people lived off the manstone lines, but not next to them. Next to them were the only places where there were lots of trees.
So she stayed by the manstone lines, where it stank, and the noise continued day and night. No matter how far she traveled, she always heard the machines.
She sniffed the air. A marsh with cattail tubers nearby. That was a good start. At the waterfall, she would try once again to fish. Maybe tomorrow she would be lucky.
In the sky, another machine buzzed by.