Downward Bound

The tan stone walls rose to the left and the right, higher than any trees on the outside of the chute. I watched the rock slide slowly past as I gently rocked on the back of the large dinobeast. The incline was a steep gradient and although I sat straight in my saddle and harness, I was leaning forward. The dinobeasts had hides that were warm and soft, but tough enough to handle a saddle. I often stroked my beast as we descended, just to enjoy the sensation of his skin. He seemed to like it too. They came in the same shades as the chute, with large feet and a long powerful tail. Both males and females had horns on their foreheads, but mine was young enough that he only had buds. His collar was fully formed, and seeing over it was sometimes challenging. The beasts were large and strong and slow, but smart and kind. He would curl around me at me night, whether to protect me or keep me warm, I couldn’t tell. Or maybe he was just selfish and keeping himself warm. Tamar had said the beasts were chosen long ago for breeding because we needed an animal big enough and strong enough to take us and our belongings down the steep grade and keep from slipping all the way down.

I studied the walls of the chute yet again, entranced. Large sections of the curved walls would be a rich chocolate which ended abruptly in a warm sandy color. Then later there were fine, lacey layers of all these colors making beautiful patterns. I traced the walls up, up, and up and looked at the the crystal blue ribbon of sky above framed by the jagged edges of the chute. The sun shined on us during the middle of the day and warmed the rock. This was nice, since it was later in the season and the days were chilly. Once the sun passed from that crack of sky, the rocks returned their warmth and we were comfortable riding for the rest of the day.

On occasion, there would be a crack in the wall, a great chunk missing, and the tops of trees would sway into view in the opening. What in creation had made the chute? I’d asked Tamar, and he’d said it was the continued use of the dinobeasts. That once this path had been flat. I shook my head. That is just too hard to believe. Something must have made it, dug it out with a purpose. We’re here long afterwards, left wondering and never knowing how it came to be.

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