“The Universe is flat.” ~Leucipodotus. The Origins of Time; 970.00.55
It was Uhuru’s job now…to defend time. Folding back upon itself; reflected in the gateways, portals and wormholes. Flat but layered, a ‘tricolore’. Napoleon had been the first. Defender of topological features bound by time. But Napoleon dared to dream and in those fateful moments the stars fell from the sky. They came for him not long after, laughing as they do at folly.
Uhuru would not allow himself to sleep; the ratchet wheel connected to the mainspring arbor. To defend time, to keep time, was Uhuru’s station. The flakes were the most difficult bit, fragments of time that sloughed from the edges. Miss one…consequences. Unknown, the course of things, the righting moment lost.
One did not ask to defend time. It was the placer mines, a primitive agitation. What fell through the cracks, what ended up at the bottom, sorted by the sieve. And here he was. One had other visions of their future. Uhuru dreamt of being a lion.
Dark clouds gathered, flies attracted to the sweetness of Uhuru’s fatigue and the vibration of fresh death. His stomach ached, but he refused the hunt. He would scavenge on this land where there was always something, something abandoned or left behind, something that fell behind, something that had failed. He hadn’t eaten in days, but felt a moment of relief as the morning sun splay pink across the eastern horizon; and it was the slow silence of the thick black birds circling overhead that marked the site, heavy under the weight of their discovery.
Uhuru approached the fresh carcass with caution. One of the birds dropped from its flight, hit the baked earth and hissed above impatient hops in the direction of the find, pecking at a loose strand of meat. What remained of the kettle hovered in the morning sky, patient, trusting in time. Uhuru abandoned his cover, launching himself in the direction of the dead beast, swatting the unsuspecting scavenger to the side with the back of a club-like forepaw.
Up to his ears in love-grass, stretched out in a pocket of shade beneath an overhang of buffalo thorn Uhuru enjoyed the ripening benefits of the unfortunate bongo. The ground beneath him stained crimson where the grass and earth had taken on the hue of drained life. His tail twitched as he worked for better purchase on an unforgiving knuckle of joint and sinew, teeth denuding bone, bone cracking. Uhuru lost track of time.
An aubade of light replaced the cool blanket of dawn allowing a new day’s warmth to wash over the waking savanna. Uhuru swiped at the snags of raw flesh caught in his teeth and the flecks of debris that affected his whiskers. He had finished but decided to keep his place in the shade, satiated and no longer able to stave off his exhaustion.
Uhuru snapped awake to the sound of cruel laughter; the hyenas had arrived.