“Jolie” or “Bananas”
Jolie sat bolt upright. She pushed Marwick’s arm from her bosom and leapt from the platform on which they slept twenty feet above the community, their place as pack leaders. She landed silently. The moon, at its brightest phase, illuminated her breasts and lined her legs and body in silver; her womanhood on display. Many of the male Apes were pretending not to notice, but their mates would be sweaty and sore soon, thanks to her.
She’d been awakened by a vision of the other one. She’d seen him many times before in the memory pod, but hadn’t felt his presence in ages. They were familiar once.
She conquered him in their dreams. She knew he shared the vision. She had been told this might happen if he still lived.
She secured her robe and pulled the tacky leather mask over her supple brown skin and shot into the darkened woods.
She ran with the speed of a gazelle and the nimble footfalls of a tiger, bounding over and around sleeping Apes and dying fires.
She reached the fence line before she ever broke stride and bounded ten feet in the air before grabbing onto the rope which dangled from the guard tower. Her ascension was effortless as she pulled herself up hand over hand. She rocked her body, tensing her back muscles and pulling her heels back, before tightening her abdomen into a tight crunch and swinging her legs forward and up. She used this momentum to vault her legs onto the platform above and then pulled back on the rope quickly and snapped herself to standing as though she were weightless.
Feckus, the Ape who was manning the tower for this watch, stared at her slack jawed with a piece of poultry dangling from his raggedy teeth. He closed his mouth and swallowed hard.
Jolie waited for him to acknowledge her.
“Is everything alright?” He asked finally.
“Have you been beyond the wall?”
Feckus motioned to his mask. “Aye, earned this the hard way, I did.” This referred to the Ape tradition of using the hide of one’s victims to craft a respectable mask.
“Not this wall, you fool! The Great Divide! How far have ye ventured, yet?”
“Nay, not that far by a long bit, but I’ve seen many sunrises out in the open wood, and I’ve been to the blowjob shack a dozen times’r more.” He winked one eye and did a little check click after he said that bit and Jolie flicked her hand out fast as a toad tongue, rapped his Adam’s apple with rigid knuckles and sent Feckus into a coughing tizzy.
Bits of the masticated bird meat flew from his nasty chompers and whizzed by her face. Feckus continued to cough and folded in half at the waist, placing his palms on his knees to keep from falling over. Jolie reached to his scruffy hair and gripped a firm handful from the back of his skull, then pulled his face up near hers. His lips were pulled back into a painful grimace He was wheezing through his putrid teeth.
“Mind your fuckin’ manners eh?”
“Sorry mum, forgot my place is all.”
She released him and he slowly returned to his normal posture, which was poor.
“You’re being sent on assignment. There’s someone coming, looking for me. He’s far, but unrelenting. He’ll reach this camp by the next bright moon if we don’t stop him…You don’t stop him.”
“You’ll leave at once. Take only that which you must to survive, tell no one you’re going. Ask no questions.”
Feckus argued none. He began gathering his satchel and rifle.
“No weapons,” she said.
“What exactly am I doing out there if I’m not bringing a weapon?” He was beginning to show his disobedient self once more.
“This one will not be your new mask, you hear? Your place is to keep him from Marwick. From me. The light tunnel, you’ve heard tales of it, no?
“You’ve seen it?”
“Marwick told us never to go looking for it, and never go inside,” he said, “threatened to rip out the spines of anyone who did.”
“So of course you all know where it is then?” she said.
“Well, how else would we know how to avoid it, mum?” she flashed a smile to him for this candid response.
“Because you’ve shown some spine, I’ll let you keep it.”
“So the tunnel of lights is a week’s travel towards the sea, and one day towards the setting sun. What of it? You don’t want me to go there.”
“Aye, I do, actually.”
“Fuckin’ bananas, Jolie, truly?”
“Aye, and bring some back if they’re in season.” she said. What they were both referring to was that the tunnel of lights was surrounded by a huge crop of bananas. Marwick loved bananas. This was the primary reason Eli had named them the Apes, though Marwick considered himself more of a monkey, truth be told.
“Any other weapons in your bag?” she asked.
“Just a knife. S’pose I oughtta’ keep that, yeah?” he said, neglecting to tell her about the compact handheld explosive he’d been lugging around for months while contemplating the murder of her husband, Marwick the Great.
“Carry on,” she said and motioned him on with a blasé backhanded wave. “Not a word,” she said, and he threw down a second rope, which unfurled and hit the dirt outside the compound’s fence. He descended the rope with none of the grace and athleticism that Jolie had displayed on her way up and vanished into the deep dark wood.
Jolie sat at the now empty seat and picked at the bird carcass, awaiting the arrival of the next shift’s watchman.