Turtle looked at the sun and sighed. He looked to the left, to the right, the wide hot rock stretched on to the edges of the world. Sometimes he had seen strange shiny beasts roaring down it, but not today. Today he knew he must cross, for coyote was close on his tail. So close in fact, that turtle had only taken a few steps when he heard coyote chuckle from the sage grass.
“You think to escape me friend turtle? You will only be crushed by the beasts of man and then only vulture will want to eat you. And we all know vulture is a rude and crude fellow, why not come back here and let me eat you?”
Turtle just sighed and took another step.
“Oh come now, let’s be friends here. You are consigned to death anyways are you not? For out there on the hot wide rock man rides his shiny beasts day and night, killing all creatures that cross, stopping only to mark his territory or pull the head from some poor animal. You know what he does with those heads friend turtle?”
Another sigh and a step, but he did pull his head in a little at the thought. He had indeed seen deer on the side of the rock, dead and rotting in the hot sun, with his head cut off. He had wondered why man would bother to stop and take that and leave the body behind for vulture. Maybe vulture had made a deal with man, and man could only take the heads of deer that he killed and he had to leave the rest.
“Mmmhmm, nope, I know what you are thinking. You see vulture eat all creatures by the long hot rock and think he has outsmarted man and made some deal with him. But of course not, have you ever known vulture to talk to anyone other than himself? And outwit man in his shiny beasts? No, no indeed good sir, man does something very terrible indeed with these heads. I know for I have seen them. Should I tell you what I have seen? Oh why not just be a good lad and come over here and die a noble death? Oh such a waste”
His steps were slower now, the rock was so hot, so pleasing to walk across. If only the shiny beasts did not always roar past he could sit here all day. Snake had told him once there was a part of the long hot rock where the shiny beasts did not go, and all sorts of creatures just lied on it, rejoicing in its warmth. Perhaps this part of the rock was safe? No beasts came by, no roars in the distance. He paused and let himself relax.
“Oh are you coming to your senses? Turning back around? Or just stopping to think about all those heads man is collecting. Well I will tell you, he takes those heads, and he uses his magic on them to bring them back to life, and he nails them to his wall. Not so terrible after all? But now they are alive again, and he does not feed them, or bring them water, or even let them go outside ever again. An eternity, alive and trapped with no water or food. I have seen these heads, for I snuck up to mans cave once and peeked in. All the poor animals in there, they had been driven mad. Their faces were terrible images of pain and fear, I can hear their painful cries and whimpering even now. Isn’t that much worse than just dying a useful death and feeding a poor hungry friend?”
Turtle knew mans magic was strong, and that man had a hatred in him for all animals that drove him to strange deeds, but he did not know to what depths his depravity sank. Perhaps the wide hot rock was not so safe after all. He stretched his head up to look down the rock again just to check.
And froze with terror.
A great shiny black beast was approaching. Roaring and pounding down he rock like bison gone mad. Coyote wished him luck and snuck back into the prairie grasses muttering to himself about good waste of food. Turtle froze, perhaps the beast would just run past, and he could just sit here on the rock a while longer. And then it was here, and then it was gone.
A sigh of relief.
Oh wait. No, it has stopped, and man has emerged. Turtle thought of all those heads nailed to a wall for all time. Man was approaching now, and turtle pulled his head as far down into his shell as he could. He kept an eye on man, and man stood for a moment chuckling to himself, and then he was scooped up into the air. “This is it, I’m done for” he thought to himself, and in his panic he realized he was soiling himself, but he didn’t care, for soon man would rip off his head and then magic him up and then oh no oh no.
Solid ground again, and he still had his head. Man was leaving, getting back inside his shiny beast, and now gone. Turtle was on the other side of the road. His mind raced, what had he done to save himself? Pulled his head in? Peed all over the man? It had to be one of those two, but he would never know which. One thing was sure, he would tell all the others that liked to lie on the hot road, toad and frog and snake, that if they wanted to keep their heads, when man grabs hold of you there was a way out. Pee like there’s no tomorrow.