This way, if a wild fire came, it would not find enough easy food and either starve, or pass overhead, taking the leaves, but leaving large trees and the villages un-burnt All the people up around here were Mems (except for he and Papa, of course) so there was a kind of a ceremony safety/drill before the burning started, where everybody dumped water on themselves and rubbed it into their fur.
Apparently the colder the water the better, so some jokesters went to all the trouble of bringing baskets of snow or ice down from the high ridges, just for this event, and double dared each other to dump ice water over their own heads. One of the kids shyly handed him a bucket, and he looked up at Papa, to see what he should do, but Papa had what his sister liked to call a “no answer” face on.
The sisters kept careful track of the wind and the drums told people what to do.
They worked in small sections this way, for weeks, sometimes, they said.
There was no question of making it to the ship, none at all, every bone and muscle he had knew that he could not run that far that fast. The rocks were maybe 200 meters away, up the slope of brush and bushes. He could feel the heat behind him, feel a pull on his clothes as if the wind had turned,…then he heard it.
It was not a sound that he had ever heard before, but he recognized it instantly.
_____________ He and his father had gone North one spring together when he was nine.
The Wolf devours all things.”“How did you get away? She slapped his palm lightly.“The child was too much afraid to think.
When the Sisters gave the signal, everybody would drop the egg baskets and, as the grass and brush caught fire, fan it forward.
Some people beat drums and everyone in the blanket line was supposed to march forward as signaled and slap the flames out with the blankets, swinging them back constantly to re-wet them from the baskets on their backs.
Its voice was terrible, like a roar unceasing, and its breath pulled all air in before it.
She held her breath so long as she could, and then…when she could hold it no more, she lifted her head.