Brad snapped his knees up, virtually to his chin and kicked away from the branch. Corkscrewing in mid air, he found the trunk of a neighbouring tree and swung his legs diagonally, alighting onto another branch. He sprinted along its wavering length for as long as it would support him before diving.
Amongst the foliage, he caught a glimpse of Teyata’s white and pale grey fur. Already, he had halved the distance between them. At times, for the next half hour, he came head to head with her, alternating the lead by an arm’s length. It came down to picking the right route. Brad pull ahead, due to finding a tree with favourable branches, only to go wider for another tree, as Teyata found a more accessible tree.
He groaned on finding a small clearing and dropped to the ground, sprinting the next few seconds needed before climbing again. Teyata seized the opportunity to bound ahead of him, giggling.
“Brad,” she called, just out of his sight.
He raced up the side of a stout trunk, high enough to see her on a branch, pointing.
“Look!” she said.
From his perch against the trunk, he couldn’t see to what she referred. He climbed into the higher branches and peered over the densely treed valley, able to detect the tiles of a few buildings.
“I see it!” called Brad.
“Can we get married there!”
“I don’t think it’s a town! We’ll get in closer for a look!”
Brad dropped from his perch and trusted the claws’ AI program to re-attach him three times on the way down. He dropped onto a serviceable branch and ran in the direction he last saw the tiles. Minutes later, they came upon a single laned tarred road threading through the bush. Both dropped to the ground, almost simultaneously. Brad stopped just beyond a sign off the side of the road, announcing a private zoo. Although he loved animals, the three story mansion demanded his interest to one side of the garden paths and concrete enclosures.
“Some people lived well,” he said.
Teyata looked at the sign. “What is this place?”
“You can read that.”
“But I don’t know what a zoo is.”
“Oh… well it’s a place where people of the old world used to keep animals.”
“Because they were dangerous?”
“Some were, but it was just for people to look at them.”
Teyata nodded attentively as Brad walked along the main path. Barred pens either remained empty or with skeletons of exotic animals on their floors. Brad snorted to himself. Why did he expect anything more? The gas killed just about everything in the initial launch.
His depressing wandering took him inside the aquarium. Skeletons of dead marine life laid on the bottom of the huge tank. Their forms looked akin to the dinosaur depictions of evolutionists. He wondered if they became mutations, but then ran out of food?
“Can we go now?” said Teyata.
“Yeah; come on.”
For no reason that Brad could explain to himself, he took Teyata’s hand as they walked back along the path. It just seemed right to him; perhaps reminding him of civilized times when couples visited the zoo, hand in hand.
A glance at Teyata informed him that she didn’t mind.