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Taylor, Dodge and Landon looked at the vast desert ahead of them. It looked remarkably like the desert they had just spent days trudging through. They’d be out of water soon.

 

Landon said, "I jus' don't know what this desert's comin' to. There’s bound to be life somewhere."

 
Dodge said, "I been walkin' aroun' in the same desert, saying the same thing. What we comin' to? Seems to me we don't never come to nothin'. Always on the way. Always goin' and goin'. Why don't folks think about that? They's movement now. People moving. We know why, an' we know how. Movin' 'cause they got to. That's why folks always move. Movin' 'cause they want some pin better'n what they got. An' that's the on'y way they'll ever git it. Wantin' it an' needin' it, they'll go out an' git it.”

Landon looked up from his instruments. "Yeah, but what's it comin' to? That's what I want ta know."

 

Taylor broke in irritably, "Well, you ain't never gonna know. Dodge tries to tell ya an' you jest ast the same thing over. I seen fellas like you before. You ain't askin' nothin'; you're jus' singin' a kinda song. 'What we comin' to?' You don' wanta know. Maybe you'll die pretty soon, but you won't know nothin'."

 

“I can’t figure you out, Taylor.”

 

Taylor was about to retort, but Dodge cried out. “Life! Vege’tion! Where there’s one, there’s more!”

 

***

 

Cornelius looked into the cage, as the captured Taylor tried to cover himself with an old cloth. "What a hard-looking outfit!"

 

Zira looked up from her papers. "Them humans? They're all hard-lookin'. Still, something…familiar about them, don’t you think?"

 

"I don’t see it. You and me got sense. Them goddamn humans got no sense and no feeling. An ape wouldn't live like they do. A human being couldn't stand it to be so dirty and miserable. They ain't a hell of a lot better than animals."

 

***

 

Taylor said, “You know th’ truth! And you let this happen!”

 

Zaius said quickly, "I know this—an ape got to do what he got to do. I can't tell you. I can't tell you. On'y one thing in this worl' I'm sure of, an' that's I'm sure nobody got a right to mess with an ape's life. He got to do it all hisself.”

 

Taylor said disappointedly, "Then you don' know what’s in the Forbidden Zone."

 

"I don' know. Only that it was a paradise, your breed made a desert of it… ages ago."

 

"You think it’s a sin to condemn Zira and Cornelius like that?"

 

"Well," said Zaius, "for anybody else it was a mistake, but if you think it was a sin—then it's a sin. A fella builds his own sins right up from the groun'."

 

“That don’t make no sense.”

 

“I don’t ‘spect a human to understand.”

 

 

***

 

Taylor was quiet for a long time.  "I been thinkin' how it was back home. How our folks took care a theirselves, an' if they was a fight they fixed it theirself; an' they wasn't no apes wagglin' their guns, but they was better order than them apes ever give. I been a-wonderin' why I can't do on this planet. Throw out the damn, dirty apes. All work together for our own thing—all farm our own lan'."

 

"Taylor," Mira asked, "what you gonna do?"

 

"What Dodge done," he said.

 

"But they killed him. And then they stuffed him and put him a museum."

 

"Yeah," said Taylor. "He didn' duck quick enough. I been thinkin' a hell of a lot, thinkin' about our people livin' like pigs, an' all the good rich lan' layin' fallow, or maybe one ape with a million acres, while a hunderd thousan' good  humans is starvin'. An' I been wonderin' if all our folks got together an' yelled, like them fellas yelled—”

 

Mira said, "Taylor, they'll drive you, an' cut our your brain like they done to Landon."

 

"They gonna drive me anyways. They drivin' all our people."

 

"You don't aim to kill nobody, Taylor?"

 

"No. I been thinkin', long as I'm a outlaw anyways, maybe I could—Hell, I ain't thought it out clear, Mira. Don’ worry me now. Don' worry me."

 

They sat silent in the coal-black excavation site. Mira said, "How'm I gonna know 'bout you?  They might kill ya an' I wouldn' know. They might hurt ya. How'm I gonna know?"

 

Taylor laughed uneasily,  "Well, maybe like Zaius says, a fella ain't got a soul of his own, but on'y a piece of a big one—an' then—"

 

"Then what, Taylor?"

 

"Then it don' matter. Then I'll be all aroun' in the dark. I'll be ever'where—wherever you look. Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's an ape beatin' up a guy, I'll be there.”

 

"I don' un'erstan'," Zira said. "I don' really know."

 

"Me neither," said Taylor. "It's jus' stuff I been thinkin' about.”


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Jared Axelrod

Jared Axelrod is an author, an illustrator, and a world changer. Throughout her eventful life she has also been a circus performer, a puppeteer, a graphic designer, a sculptor, a costume designer, a podcaster and quite a few other things that she’s lost track of but will no doubt remember when the situation calls for it. She is the writer and producer of “The Voice Of Free Planet X” podcast, were she interviews stranded time-travelers, low-rent superheroes, unrepentant monsters and other such creature of sci-fi and fantasy, as well as the podcasts “Aliens You Will Meet” and “Fables Of The Flying City.” The story started in “Fables Of The Flying City” is concluded in The Battle Of Blood & Ink, a graphic novel published by Tor. She is not domestic, she is a luxury, and in that sense, necessary.