h.e.l. // present day

Our cave, what we call home, lies at the foot of a great big mountain, dry and secluded for miles. Anyone who’s out here is surely a straggler. We rarely see any humans out here, much less interact with them. In fact, we have never directly interacted with any humans. There once was a John Acosta, a camper, rescued near our cave. There was also a group of hikers that got lost for five days. That was it.

Although we reside in the cave in our natural state, away from humans, we do send some of our own into their society to observe how they live and what their plans are. Unsurprisingly, humans are stagnant in their progress. They stay mired in conference room turmoil over money and who holds the authority while the dirty air pervades their cities and towns and the water runs grey.

We sustain ourselves by hunting coyotes and whatever else comes out. We like insects; they are often overlooked as food but they are an excellent source of protein. Our diet is about 300 calories a day because our bodies have adapted to lower amounts of energy usage and are über efficient. The biotechnological enhancements account for the rest of our energy. We run on batteries and charge ourselves every month or so.

Life is slow, today. We sit in various circles and globs, at the mouth of the cave, basking in the sunlight, harvesting solar energy to use later. It’s a beautiful day. Hardly any breeze. Pristine, crisp blue skies and atmosphere. The sun beats warmer and warmer with every minute. We don’t bother to keep track of time nowadays; we just watch the sun. We watch the bushes and the weed and the flowers twitch a little. And then we see him.

Tattered stark white gown stained with grease, dirt, spittle, and some urine. He drags his leg around in a heavy limp, pulling himself into sight with clumsy grasps of the bushes lining their way to the mouth of the cave. The man looks haggard, like he had been in the mountains for a week or so. His hair flops against his forehead, heavy with oil. His face stays frozen in a grimace, clearly a human expression of pain. His lips are chapped, bleeding from dehydration. He’s seen us by now.

We shift uneasily at the opening of the cave, exchanging glances at each other. We silently decide the same thing: he knows we aren’t part of his society.

We might be different from the humans, but we certainly aren’t cruel. The man is dying. We dispatch some of our own to carry him into the cave. Limper, that’s his name.

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