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Closer Sun

Ananda Wolf
Dear Reader,

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Ananda Wolf
Closer Sun

a Story
Ananda Wolf – Closer Sun – Page 1

Once upon a time there was no doubt.

He lived in a small clay hut. The floor was smooth ground, was hard

dry mud trod and trod again by feet coming, going, coming, going, and

sometimes staying. His bed was a yellow and green mat of woven grass, still

fresh and with a scent of field. It was light, and easy to roll up to stow away,

or to carry. Although it was thin he slept well on it and he did not wake sore.

This morning he felt well rested and refreshed, if somewhat dislocated.

It was the sun that woke him, this new sun. This white, somewhat

disorienting sun. This bright sun. The low half circle that was the hut’s

opening faced its rising above the mountain ridge on the far side of the

valley below. As it climbed, it lit the sky above him, touched the mountain

behind him, then entered his hut and his eyes through shut lids. This is what

woke him. And then he knew morning again.

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The end of another darkness, of another inactivity so deep he could

not remember doing this nothing. He welcomed this new sun, this warm sun,

white and closer.

He crawled on knees and hands through the opening and out into the

pleasant morning air. He was tall and slender. He was black skinned and

strong. He stood up and it felt good to stretch arms and legs and lungs.

It was good here, wherever here was. Under this closer sun.

His hut was built on the edge of a large plateau high above the valley

floor. The plateau was a wide expanse of green rippled by the morning

winds. The man smiled as he held the air and watched the small, bright

clouds overhead. This wasn’t so bad after all.

A loud screech rose from the sea of grass to his left and a large bird

took wide wing. Rose with the sound. He watched as the bird, startled and

escaping, winged higher and higher into the morning sky. Another screech,

as in answer, reached him and with it another bird, a copy of the first, arose

further still to his left and soon circled with the first looking down at some

shared annoyance.

He walked toward a movement in the grass to see what could have

stirred those powerful wings. The movement at the same time parted the

grass toward him and soon they met. It was a large, beautiful cat. Not black,

as cats should be, but cat nonetheless. Green eyes and sharp teeth, long,

pink tongue. A deep voice spoke slowly and wondered who he was. He had
Ananda Wolf – Closer Sun – Page 3

not heard a voice like this, words like these, for . . . he could not remember

when. Rumbling, whispering. He wondered how the cat could speak such

and answered him that he was not altogether sure exactly who he was, it

was a bit of a blur, really, but there was no doubt, he said, that he had been

recently sentenced, and that he was here serving time.

At this the big cat sneezed and sat down on his hind legs and looked at

him long and hard. For what crime, he asked in the end. I don’t remember,

he answered. And who are you, he asked of the cat. I am Cheetah, he

answered. Is that a cat? Yes.

“Are you serving time too?” he asked.

“Yes,” said the cat.

They looked at each other for some time. He was trying to find the cat

within the cat who called himself Cheetah. Looking from the man within the


“What was your crime?” he asked.

“We all are,” the cat added, ignoring his question.

“Why did you scare the birds off?” he asked.

“I didn’t mean to scare them,” answered Cheetah. “It was a mistake.”

He didn’t understand and looked at the cat for an answer.

“I meant to catch me one.”


“To eat.”
Ananda Wolf – Closer Sun – Page 4



He looked up at the two circling pairs of wings, closer to the ground

now. Looking down at them. Concerned.

“What is eat?”

“How long have you been here?” asked the cat.

“I don’t know. Perhaps two risings of this sun.”

“In another rising or two and you will know what I mean.”

There was a new movement in the tall grass and the antlers and heads

of two deer made their way through the green sea to their right. The cat

stiffened and watched the brown backs part the grass. Got to go, he said,

and set out after the deer. The man, still wondering about eat stood still,

looking at the yellow and black of the cat moving away from him. He almost

called the deer in warning but knew it would offend the cat so instead he

simply watched. Watched the frozen panic of the brown animals, heads and

antlers etched against the undulating green, watched the tail of the cat

moving slowly from side to side creeping closer. Watched the sudden brown

flight and the tremendous pursuit of the cat. Saw the leap, the kill, heard

the cry, smelled the blood, almost felt the meat torn from the bones of the

dead animal. Saw the other deer stop a ways off, still, sad, relieved. He

wondered why this was taking place.

Ananda Wolf – Closer Sun – Page 5

He walked over to the cat. The cat didn’t turn around at first, but once

the man’s presence was beyond doubt he looked up with fiery eyes and

growled a low and threatening greeting. The man stopped and asked what

he was doing. The cat did not answer, so the man asked again. Eating, said

the cat between bites.

The man remained for a while, watching, wondering about eat. The cat

did not turn again and the man left him to his strange chore. When Cheetah

had finished his task there was only the broken suggestion of deer left on

the ground, a long twisted neck, torn and dark with blood, an empty eye

looking up at the man, the deer within the deer gone. Freed? He thought


He turned and walked back towards his hut. The two birds overhead

were settling back into the grass and he walked towards them, maybe they

too could speak, and tell him about this eat. As he drew closer he saw one

lean next to the other and whisper something. If a wing could point, it

pointed at him and they both took to the air again, screeching.

He admired their aerial artistry for a while and tried to remember

flying. There should be memories, there were memories, he was certain, but

like stones slippery with moss they could not be grasped. He fetched


The birds remained aloft and he walked back to the hut.

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Inside he rolled up his mat and placed it along the wall. He sat down

on the ground and thought again about eat. He tried to remember.

Remember the feeling that had certainly possessed the cat, had made him

rude. But like flight these memories were elusive, and though they cast

shadows they seemed of no substance and he fetched nothing from his


The sun climbed further and the band of light on his floor grew shorter

and brighter. He thought about closing his eyes to enter the darkness again

but felt not and could not find the restfulness. Not with the sun high. So he

sat for a long time on his hut floor looking out across the valley, at the trees

clustering the valley floor, at the grasses, grasses everywhere and the many

animals, deer, antelopes, zebras, elephants, other cats, both larger and

smaller than Cheetah, strolling some, eating some, sleeping some in the

sun. How could they sleep when he could not? He crawled through the

opening again and stood up. Other birds were soaring overhead. Some flew

close to each other as in conversation. Others darted singly up and down

seemingly without purpose.

Cheetah came back. Quietly. One moment there was no one, the next

there was Cheetah again.

Had a good eat, he wondered. Yes, said the Cheetah. Hungry yet? he


Ananda Wolf – Closer Sun – Page 7

“It’s must eat,” said the Cheetah.

“No,” he answered. “But I’ve thought about it.”

“That’s how it starts,” said the Cheetah.

“Can you remember?” asked the man.

The Cheetah didn’t answer, but instead began to clean his left front

paw with his large pink tongue. The man could hear each raspy lick and

watched the long white whiskers fold and unfold as he again and again licked

pads and claws and furry top. There was also the faint smell of blood in the


“Can you remember?” he asked again.

The Cheetah slowly put his paw down and looked like he would begin

cleaning the other, but he did not.

“Not much,” he said.

“What then?” he asked.

“Only being Cheetah,” said the Cheetah.

“Nothing else?”


“No other sun?”


“But you’re serving time. You remember that.”

“I don’t remember that. I know that.”

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The man thought about that and saw that the Cheetah was right. No

memory there. Just know. He nodded.

“What about the others?” he asked. “Do they know too?”

“Most do,” said the Cheetah.

“Can they all talk?”

“Most do,” repeated the Cheetah.

“Anyone remember?”

“Only this sun,” said the Cheetah, and left.

This sun was setting now. The man watched its slow dive behind the

mountain, bringing shadow to the valley. Cheetah returned again from the

grassy nowhere and sat down beside the man. The world was stiller now,

but for a larger roar than the Cheetah’s coming from the valley below.

Another like you, he asked. No, said Cheetah, Lion. You don’t want to meet

him hungry. He will eat you. For that matter, you may want to stay away

from me too if you see me too hungry for choosing. I’d settle for man flesh

in a pinch.

“Like the deer?”



Ananda Wolf – Closer Sun – Page 9

They spoke no more and soon Cheetah disappeared into the dusk.

Restfulness returned to the man. He crept back into his hut and closed his


The closer sun reached the top of the ridge and found his eyelids, lit

his eyes. He woke and looked out and onto the valley below, still in shadow

from the range, still not lit by the closer sun which had now entered him.

Entered with a new heat, an ember at first below his heart, now waking in

small steps. First into hollowness, then into glow, then into pain into larger

pain, into hunger and suddenly eat was all he knew.

He crawled out on hands and knees, but not with pleasure. With

urgency. He stood up and surveyed his world, no longer for beauty and fresh

light, but for food. Shadows cast by daemon memories dictated motion,

guided his feet, steered his eyes and he remembered the birds. Cheetah had

stalked them. Food.

He tried to remember where, exactly, while his hunger twisted below.

He walked through the grass, seeing no birds. Then the screech and the

powerful down beat of muscle and feather. The bird rose and screamed the

warning. He was not going to catch him. Instead he knew to look for where

the bird had hid and found the nest. Large and brown, filled with eggs. With

food. He bent to pick one, to eat one, when talons ripped long, red furrows

across his shoulders. The pain seared through and he whipped around to see

the bird again, to feel the down draft of desperation and anger. The bird had
Ananda Wolf – Closer Sun – Page 10

grown fearless and dove for him again. He was too perplexed to get out of

the way and talons found his ear this time and drew blood. Then he ran.

His shoulders and ear were pulsing and burning from the attack and he

needed water to cool them. The hunger returned below and told him about

eggs to eat. But eggs told him about talons to rip and he stalled, undecided.

Pain returned and clamored for water.

He found the path to the water hole. He had seen it traveled by

antelopes and zebras. Pain and hunger made battle but pain prevailed. He

must soothe his shoulder. And there was Cheetah sitting on the path,

smelling the air. Green eyes held his steadily as he approached. His tail was

tapping up tiny puffs of dust behind him. The man could see four sharp teeth

as the Cheetah smiled.

“Hungry now?” he asked.

The man did not answer. A new feeling, sparked by green eyes, told

him to run. Cheetah sat very still except for tail and nostrils. The man stood

very still now as Cheetah’s muscles tensed and rippled. Then the big cat


Claws found his chest, teeth found his neck and powerful jaws closed

down over arteries and spine. He heard his own neck break before all went

quiet as he looked down on Cheetah taking his first bite out of his shoulder.

Then there was a new darkness.

Once upon a time there was no doubt.

Ananda Wolf – Closer Sun – Page 11

He lived in a small clay hut. The floor was smooth ground, was hard

dry mud trod and trod again by feet coming, going, coming, going, and

sometimes staying. His bed was a yellow and green mat of woven grass, still

fresh and with a scent of field. It was light, and easy to roll up to stow away,

or to carry. Although it was thin he slept well on it and he did not wake sore.

This morning he felt well rested and refreshed, if somewhat dislocated.