And now? I never will.
I hear her before I see her. A woman shrieking, swearing like a sailor. I frown, on high alert. I haven't heard a human voice besides my own in five long years. That's a lot of days to count by marking with a stick on a stone. One day merging into a week, a month, a year.
Five long ass years in this prehistoric world. And now, there's someone else. A woman.
It takes me a moment to realize I’m really hearing a woman’s voice. Am I hallucinating? Years of wishing have finally paid off… is the portal open?
I quickly leave what I’ve labeled my safe zone. I have a cave, sure. But I've also built a hut for myself for when I need more light.
Leaving the area, I realize the sky is quickly growing dark. Light rain falls on my bare shoulders. I look up to hear the crack of lightning, thunder rolling.
And yet, a woman runs toward me. Behind her is W.M., the neighborhood woolly mammoth, who likes to roam this area snacking on grasses. For the most part, he's pretty tame. But right now, he looks like he's got a stick up his ass because he's charging her with the intention of attacking.
She should just stop, turn around, hold up her arms and talk slow. I realized a few years back that W.M.'s favorite thing is a lullaby. I begin humming as I walk toward her, as she races towards me, her eyes wide.
And, fuck, as I begin to sing, "Hush little baby, don't say a word," I realize this woman is no baby.
And I don't want her to hush. Hell, I'd like to hear her scream my name.
She's gorgeous. If I had to describe her beauty as she's racing toward me, it would go like this: curves for days, muscles on her thighs, a narrow waist, long, wavy dark hair.
She looks like she belongs out here. Fit as fuck. Does she live here, somehow? Or has she just traveled through time?
She's certainly not from the Stone Age, not with her high-tech backpack, her hiking boots, wool socks, and cute crop top.
No, she's from the real world, from the 21st fucking Century.
And she's scared.
I remember what it was like when I first got here, I was goddamn terrified. For weeks, I stumbled around in a daze, crawling through those fucking underground caves, trying to figure out what triggered the travel through time to bring me here.
I'd hoped, of course, that my brothers I was on the mission with would have landed here somewhere with me. But I've never found them. And if they did land here, hell, maybe they didn't make it as long as I have.
I hold up a hand as I keep singing that song. When the woman reaches me, she stops, turning around, realizing nothing’s chasing her anymore. W.M. stopped charging and is instead looking at me.
" Mama's going to buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird don't sing, mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring." I pass the woman, my skin electric as I stand a few feet away from her. I want to talk to her, but first I need to tell W.M. that she isn’t an intruder.
This woman, she's mine.
"Hey W.M., it's all good," I say.
He leans down, offering me his nose to rub. And I do. I take the last piece of fruit from my satchel, offering it to him. "Sorry, buddy," I tell him, "I don't have any more." I pat his nose again and I turn around. Knowing W.M., he's probably ready to go search for some food, realizing that’s all I have.
"Where am I?" the woman asks. "What was that? And who are you?" Tears fill her eyes, eyes that look like chocolate, coated in long lashes. She's beautiful. But she is terrified, shaking her head, scared.
"You from around here?" I joke, running a hand over my thick beard, knowing she's not.
"From around here? Where are we?" she asks, lifting her eyes to the sky as a squawk above catches her attention. Polly has decided to make an entrance, my yellow tailed bird swooping down, checking out the situation.
"It's all good, Polly," I tell her. She circles us, but once she realizes I'm fine, she flies away.
"Did you just talk to a bird? Are you a bird whisperer?"
I shake my head. "No, she's my friend."
"You're friends with a bird named Polly?"
"Yeah," I say. The rain begins to pelt down harder. I'm used to it. Tropical storms come in fast and pass just as quickly.
For a while after I landed here, I started walking far, thinking maybe I would eventually find someone, another human. But I never did.
And, after a month or so, I turned back around, grateful for my training in Special Ops to help me chart my way home. Figuring if I was ever going to leave, it'd be through the cave in which I’d come.