Adonis in Furs

Fiction

Image by Tiard Schulz

     His mighty heart speeds in his supersized chest, and his giant feet scatter the dirt as he runs. And though his massive hands rattle this little black box, he takes care not to catch it on boulders or boughs.

     He can’t quite believe that he’s actually found one, all of these years since he’d learnt what they were; all of these years since he’d learnt about humans, from the racket they made and the rubbish they left.

     Most of their cast-offs, he had also rejected, but there were some things his pride simply couldn’t ignore -- those scraps and thin-cut skins of trees, with the markings across them like smoke-sick- ened grain, beside which were placed even grainier pictures; most of them faces, some of them his.

     His intensity ebbs, as he recalls them in turn, as if sparked by the sunbeams that spear through the canopy. A ragged array of his hideous features, hazy and flat like some roadkill he’d seen.

     He had crumpled the first in a ginormous palm, and hurled it as far through the trees as he could. But it nagged him for days, and he had to retrieve it, to study it closer, as though it revealed the full truth of his being; as if it counted for more than a common reflection, the good-looking glimpses he’d caught in the stream.

     His heart is still racing, but aching as well.

     He’d found other such images in the following months, and taken them back to his best-hidden den, partly to stop other animals seeing, and partly to nurse his scarred ego in peace. He had pinned them to wall moss with briar-thorns and pine needles, and stared at them daily for hours on end. He had brooded for years in the forest’s dark reaches; despaired at his chances of finding a mate.

     He hits out in anger at bushes and branches, and a bellow bursts forth from his humongous lungs. His gargantuan feet are beginning to falter. Doubt like a beaver gnaws at his plan.

     Except now he remembers how everything changed. How he finally came to perceive his misjudgment: that his vicious self-loathing had been undeserved. The fault was not with how he looked, but instead with the way that mankind looked at him. And the way that they handled those little black boxes, like the one that he bears up this mountainside path.

     The first time he had properly seen one in action, he had believed it was a gun, and darted for cover. It was only weeks later, when he noticed the moment in stark black and white, that he realised his features weren’t actually ugly, it was just that the image was so badly blurred.

     He soon reconsidered the rest of his gallery, and compared to the portraits of Hollywood hunks -- salvaged from newspapers strewn through the forest -- the pictures of him were distorted and crude. They were frequently plagued by inadequate lighting, and most had been lacking in focus and zoom. People, it seemed, were afraid to come closer, to request his permission before taking a shot.

     But he can’t let their fearfulness shape how he lives.

     Not any longer.

     He has come to the end of his frantic ascent, to this one remote spot where the blue sky shines clearly. It is the middle of the day, and no shadows will bother him, and the backdrop is stunning in every direction. He couldn’t have picked a more suitable scene.

     He waits for his pulse and his breathing to settle, before making his way to the heart of the glade. He tries to prevent his titanic toes twitching, and his huge, hairy fingers from smudging the lens. He smooths down the fur on his head and his chest, and rehearses his suavest, most elegant poses. Then he raises the box at arm’s length, angled downwards, and flashes his biggest, most brilliant grin.

Dan Micklethwaite writes stories in a shed in the north of England, some of which have recently featured in Daily Science Fiction, NewMyths, and Flame Tree’s Epic Fantasy anthology. His debut nov- el, The Less than Perfect Legend of Donna Creosote, was published by Bluemoose Books, and shortlisted for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize. Follow him on twitter @Dan_M_writer for further updates and info.