Cran Palto | Books | Raheem



Chapter 41

Trying to manage a process is doomed to failure when the forces that shape the process are misunderstood.

—Ono Tahiiga, Director of Change at Ganisho Industries.

Yigars had gone out alone. Earlier that morning, after kissing Ipsena as she slept, he went to tend to the animals. Seeing them watered and peaceful, he set out to track down wild boars. If he could spot some, he would bring the others and hunt in earnest.

He stood atop the hill nearest camp. From there he could see far down the valley, where his view wasn’t obstructed by stands of trees.

Waiting patiently, he let the rhythm of nature dictate his own; in time, he felt peaceful and in unison. Every bird in the sky and every motion of treetops was as obvious to him as if he’d been in the wind himself.

He saw them watching him: five large wild hogs some distance from him, to the left. Behind them, in bushes and tall grasses, more were milling about.

As fast as he could, Yigars ran back toward the camp.

Daroo saw Yigars, then saw the wild boars behind him. They seemed to follow him out of curiosity. As Yigars neared the gate, Daroo saw the lead boar give chase, quickly closing the distance.

“Trion!” Daroo called out.

Trion appeared from the doorway of the workroom. Daroo pointed at the gate. “Boars chasing Yigars!”

Trion shouted, “Ipsena! Agra!” before disappearing into the workroom. He bolted back out, pistol in hand, and began running toward the gate.

Agra and Ipsena emerged, spears at the ready, and rushed to the gate.

Vaega was in the garden, kneeling on the soil at the feet of some tall herbs she was stripping from stalks and dropping in a wide wicker basket. When she saw Agra and Ipsena running, she dropped the leaves and rushed to pick up the bow and arrows she always kept at hand.

Ipsena we arrived at the gate first. She opened it, pulling the heavy wooden door.

Yigars was near, out of breath, fear on his face. Behind him the lead board was foaming at the mouth, squealing angrily, its yellow tusks curved upward on each side of its snout. When it saw Ipsena through the gate opening, the boar switched direction with a twisting bounce on its front hooves, then ran headlong toward her.

Yigars tripped and stumbled near the wall by the gate. The next boar was still aiming for him, its tusks deadly daggers that could gore man or beast.

“Hey! Hey!” Ipsena shouted. This was enough to distract the boar. Yigars rolled away then stood again at the wall. The boar dove for him but hit the wall as Yigars half-jumped, half-ducked away.

The lead boar, meanwhile, slammed into the door, knocking Ipsena back. She fell but got back on her feet. Agra slammed the tip of her spear into the boar’s shoulder. The beast roared then spun toward her, eyes wild and malevolent, rows of teeth bared.

Vaega had notched an arrow and pulled the bow string

back, but hesitated to shoot. Agra and Ipsena were near and she didn’t want to hit them. Trion stopped running three meters from the boar, aimed his pistol, the weapon an extension of his arm. He fired right into the boar’s head, right between the eyes. The blast and flame shocked the remaining boars and they stood still, stunned long enough for Ipsena to leap through the gate, grab Yigars by the arm, and rush him back through the gate. Trion had killed the boar, but its bulky, bloody corpse was jammed between the door and the wall.

“Back! Back!” Trion shouted.

Another boar, not as large as the first, but just as muscular, and now furious, rushed them, snarling snout close to the ground. Agra was helping Ipsena lift and carry Yigars, whose legs didn’t seem to want to carry him.

Vaega shot. Her arrow pierced the boar’s hide but fell away, leaving a streak of blood in the fur. The boar hesitated between Vaega and Trion.

A loud rifle shot rang out and the boar’s chest exploded, spilling guts and rib bone fragments. Felled, the beast could only stare at Vaega from a dark, desperate eye.

“Back! Back to the store room!” Trion shouted.

Outside the wall, beyond the open gate, several more boars groaned and squealed, stomping the ground with their front hooves. Perhaps they could feel that Daroo had trained the sight of the rifle on the opening of the gate and was waiting for one of them to come into view.

After the others had reached the safety of the stone room, Daroo climbed down from the roof and rejoined them.

From behind the narrow slit at the top of the metal door, Daroo and Trion watched as the remaining boars overran the camp.

Vaega and Ipsena were tending to Yigars, whose right leg was beginning to swell.

“Nothing’s broken, but you need to be still for a few days to heal,” Vaega said. Yigars nodded through the pain. Agra went through the supplies: water, pemmican, some skins. They could survive a siege, for a few days at least.

They huddled together and spent a miserable night, their limbs cold under the leather skins, but they were safe. Yigars kept waking up. Ipsena slept against him, and on the other side, Trion and Vaega slept enlaced. In the corner, her back propped against the cold stone wall, Agra kept a mournful watch, wondering how much damage they would find once the boars had gone.

For a while, Daroo had stood on a shelf, looking out above the door, but after nightfall he could only guess at shapes and had come to sit next to Agra. In the darkness he had whispered, “They’re in the garden, eating the crops.”

Agra had turned to the voice in the dark, “Yes, but we are safe.” After a while, Daroo’s head lolled down and she held him against her belly, caressing his hair as he slept.

She heard, through the long watch, the occasional sniffing under the door, and when the light of dawn peeked in above the door, she stirred to wake Daroo, but saw that Ipsena was awake; she closed her eyes and slept at last.

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