The Pair, "Oong" and "Ka" by name (denominations owing to their respective grunts during copulation), went their own quixotic way (post Juke), consoled in isolation by the nexus that empowers mates-for-life (trials and tribulations met with incontestable faith in a steadfast togetherness). Pioneers across frontiers (known then to airborne reptiles only), Oong, with Ka in tow, struck out on a tangent toward tomorrow. Ages of ice, volcanic fire, earthquakes of unimagined magnitude, titanic cloudbursts and dust-fed droughts awaited their sluggish tandem steps. A lava-bed paw print, tooth sealed in tree sap, pelvis preserved at a tar pit’s base, would serve to chronicle which of their progeny thrived, when and where, for how long, in what shape, and, epoch after epoch, mark the details of what might have altered. Something always altered—brought on by climate changes and forage fluctuations, pestilence, plagues, and disease, and by that least predictable variable crapshoot genetics. For though Oong and Ka were merely kissing cousins, offshoot-incest would ensure, for generations, deviations galore. Those who credit Eve and Adam with peopling planet Earth might well consider how "perfection" gave birth to the likes of Cane—a separate story. Oong’s and Ka’s predated Sin; their world, before God’s righteous entree, was a Chaos-governed paradise wherein Innocence rendered The Fall a temperate-zone season.

Survival being Life’s primary function, "what else" seemed superfluous, until Choice pricked Instinct’s conscience. Why had Juke been such a boor? The couple’s retrospective query drove a wedge ’twixt urge and scruple. Oong and Ka, still shy of imbecilic, recognized bad from good—or, leastwise, cruelty as a welcome absence. How lead lives less brutish? They resolved to do, onto sundry creatures great and small, no harm… as they made tracks, put vital distance between them and their relations, plotted paths through lands untrammeled, lush, if foreign, amply alien… followed scents, for the most part, ripened fruit denoting this place… that place… days distinguished by aromas, savoring foodstuffs inexhaustible (depending on the rainfall to which everything was linked)… Time chained by daisies, woven garlands, blossoms beckoning bees to nectar, musk with honeycomb intermingling, Moon awakening Ka to Tide, the Procreative Tug that tempted Oong (turned randy) to pursue her, drawn by pungent plumes of rut that glued their loins for untold hours (were hours in vogue, as such), though not without regard to their security; it was seldom safe to linger, or to shut a wary eye, no matter how intense the push and pull of passion.

Ka conceived, in due course, swelled, her bloated belly baffling Oong before the mutual shock of birth brought forth its slimy, odorless ‘somethings,’ Mom bemused by her deflation, Dad aghast at what it reaped, with neither parent crediting sex as ‘cause’ for the six uncouth ‘effects’ that squirmed and wriggled from their mother’s crotch, adhering to her teats before their host could ascertain what teats were for; hers hurt, and leaked, exuded fluid (reminiscent all too vaguely of Ka’s ‘whelp-hood’), as the hungry litter held fast to her fur like clustered burrs. Oong, keeping watch at what he judged to be a prudent non-proximity, could not fathom how this brood could feed and Ka not be devoured. His mate, outnumbered, bore the bugs, in fact, with maudlin magnanimity—whereas Oong felt predisposed to pluck the nasty insects off. He thought them spiders, at the outset, hairy blood-extracting parasites that ought (two by two by two) be pried from Ka’s belabored breast, until he crept a little nearer, caught a disbelieving glimpse of hands and feet resembling his in every aspect save for scale, which gave him pause to reassess… to reevaluate… still unclear, the slightest sense of what these puny heirs inferred came ‘close’ to dawning on the prehistoric wit that wiped his jutting jaw of drool, then dared a sniff, a lick, a nuzzle. Ka, defensive, snarled a warning, wanting equally to safeguard and to plant her needy suckers in the nearest pile of unassuming compost. Thus at odds, emotions see-sawed; Ka, her hormones notwithstanding, was confronted with a daunting task for which she felt unfit, while Oong sat stumped by what he glumly viewed as pesky competition—further muddled by the dearth of any models around to emulate. How proceed? What chance had babes-in-the-wood to wean and rear sextuplets?

Slim to none:

a nosedive from the nest reduced their issue by an integer;

next, an enterprising viper ate a sister sibling whole;

a third was snatched and air-dismembered by an antique pterodactyl;

triplets soon were trimmed to twins upon a poison toadstool’s swallowing,

leaving Oong and Ka a sole surviving combo, son and daughter—faced with intermingling chromosomes to beget;

they begot not, since both succumbed within a fortnight to gastroenteritis (or something similar).

Thus the seminal Simian Nation puked to a halt… or, rather, a hiatus; Ka would prove herself, henceforth, a "fertile Myrtle."


Evelyn had done...