He searched his memories as to Teyata’s instruction. Already, he’d been careless. She had told him to “use all of his senses at all times, especially when moving.” Noises of every description flooded into his hearing. He closed his eyes, until sounds separated, reminding him of creatures he used to hunt, but had no name for. Examples of beasts he once hunted, avoided, or simply enjoyed their splendour came to him separately.
His nostrils too filled with scents. The sap of the tree he stood on, the saplings and bushes beneath him all carried a unique odour. He remained in his perch until he identified each scent visually with the plant it suggested.
“It’ll take time,” he whispered.
Already, he was pleased with his progress. He thought he might never reclaim the man he once knew, especially as he hadn’t bounded through the trees with Teyata in years.
It seemed like a century past, as if in another life. He gripped the rough bark harder, feeling it scrunch, putting him touch with reality. If not for the little girl’s situation, he would have turned his face to Heaven and praised God in his elation.
To business he reminded himself.
He crouched lower in the branch and surveyed the ground, using all of his senses at once. Nothing smelt human; he knew that as he had the residents of Haven to compare with. His continued staring at the ground, eventually yielded indentations. Although he couldn’t put a name to any of the creatures, he recognised them all. The little girl hadn’t passed this way.
He climbed higher and raised his head to look in every direction only seeing the spreading green of the trees’ natural canopy. Two creatures fought over a female, their shrieks nearby. They hadn’t seen her; he knew that. These creatures ate meat and seemed otherwise preoccupied. Harmless chants of birds and scratching in the earth of smaller animals came to him; nothing that would harm her. Something touted over the valley; distant. Brad would have ignored the Yeboro, except he could distinguish the different emotional pitches. He detected a threat, not a challenge, but a warning, borne of frustration. Could it have found a meal which eluded the beast for now?
Brad ran and dived onto the lower branch of a neighbouring tree. He cursed as the AI in his feet claws automatically latched on to stop him wavering. His sense of balance had largely abandoned him, making for slower progress. With more focused steps, he ran, skipped, and jumped through the trees looking for the Yeboro. Several times, he had to stop to catch his breath in huge gulps before spurring himself on. Chances are, the beast hadn’t found the little girl, but he couldn’t take that risk. Above all else, he had to reach her before the beast did.
On one of his stops, he waited, forcing himself to take regulated breaths. It became hard to separate sounds above his panting. He took in the surrounding sounds.