The Humans had finally destroyed each other, and it was just as well. Time was of no essence, dates of no importance. No one was exactly sure how it had happened, and there were few who could remember when, but in any case the world was theirs - what was left of it, anyway. However, the new societies were far from home free. There were problems. The Canines had no treaty with the other animals - in fact, no one had treaties with anyone not of their species except to stay in your own territory, where you belonged. In the beginning, it was complete chaos - with the bodies strewn everywhere, and birds of prey tearing the flesh off their bones; the big cats chasing them away periodically, playing the pirate. It was the Canines who had mobilized to bury the bones, lest they be neck deep in them forever. In New York City, the situation was especially difficult, because whoever originally had the bright idea to build Zoos and have traveling circuses had certainly never envisioned all its animals running amok throughout the neighborhoods of all five boroughs. The conditions were more civilized across other parts of the country, where certain species were indigenous to certain areas. But the city, in the beginning, was pandemonium. Lions, Tigers, and Bears - and everything else- growling, howling, and screeching at one another, tearing each other to pieces from fear and confusion. The Felines were the first to disappear, not from eradication, but from sheer necessity and self-preservation. Almost instantly and without warning, every type, creed, and relation of small feline had vanished. Evidently, they had no influence over their larger cousins, who were tearing things apart, nor did they want any. Everyone who remained would praise their foresight.
It didn’t take long to realize that the big cats would soon vanquish the food supplies, and seek sustenance elsewhere. A female elephant had already been taken down by a lion pride. It would be up to the canines to civilize things, as they were the most domesticated animals left in the city. Among the Canines were those that had knowledge of far away food sources, and even methods of production that they had secretly learned from their former human masters that, even if they couldn’t use them now, might prove valuable in the future. These precious few and their knowledge were called The Crest, and they were to be guarded at all costs. In fact, all Canines were to be fiercely guarded and protected, as Tigers roamed the city after dark, their green eyes piercing through the gloom, ready to strike. Canines could only move about in the daytime, while the Lions and Tigers usually rested. At night, they would be forced to hide, usually in the subways where, for some unknown reason, the big cats never ventured. After a short period, all Canines had taken to travelling in large packs during the day to the various local food sources-restaurants, corner stores, and supermarkets. Shopping was trial and error. Many had been poisoned by eating unfamiliar foods that had been kept from them while in the humans ward, but these lessons were quickly learned. The more immediate problem with shopping was that everybody was doing it, and upon meeting casualties, either by immediate death or by diseased wounds, sustained after battling some rabid animal. Add to this already volatile mix the occasional infighting over one of the females, and the Canine ranks were fast becoming depleted.
After what seemed like an eternity, (although in reality it was only a few weeks) the Canines grew sick of being oppressed, hiding in the subways, scrounging for food. The only chance for their survival would be to organize things, create a civilized society somehow. They knew the big cats could not be subjugated. They could not be reasoned with. They only cared for blood. The Lions and Tigers didn’t even respect each other; their near evenly matched numbers were the only thing holding a thin truce together. The Canines only hope was to meet with The Primates, a species that was known for its intelligence and skill in problem solving, and who’s near upright way of walking reminded them of the Humans. They were the only animals who had managed to keep the big cats at bay, carving out a territory for themselves in Central Park. After a gorilla had beaten a tiger to death, the big cats pretty much left them to their own devices – and the Primates seemed obliged to keep it that way. They were satisfied as long as they had control of the trees, and since they did, they never left the park. But the Canines were determined to meet with them, and if they would listen, convince them to mobilize and drive the big cats out of town for good. Perhaps then the smaller primates could help them erect a decent society, and operate some of the useful devices the humans had left behind to guard The Crest and the females, of course, to watch the children. They really didn’t plan on running into trouble, as the big cats’ habits were to hunt at night and sleep in the day. But on this morning, a pride of female lions were out in the streets, and the Canines realized all too quickly that they had miscalculated. The slaughter was terrible. Growling and yelping could be heard throughout the streets, and the howling cries for help sent more Canines shooting from every subway exit. The big cats didn’t particularly care for dog meat, but the Canines reminded them of bothersome hyenas, who were major scavengers of their prey, and who weren’t above killing a cub if they could get away with it. Besides that, there were just too many of them, and the cats were happy to thin out their ranks. The only animals who could contest their rule were the Grizzlies - but they had long since left the city, heading up to the mountains of upstate New York, or to Vermont and Connecticut where they could find females and a good supply of salmon. What the animals in New York City didn’t know was that the big cats would take themselves out of the race, leaving the City in droves once the winter set in, never to be seen again. The Primates continued to dwell in Central Park, driving out the Reptiles and forcing them to live in the streets or the sewers. The surrounding boroughs would soon come to mirror Manhattan, where the great battle had taken place, as seagulls and other birds of prey descended upon the Canine corpses to pick them clean, and a hundred thousand pigeons had control of it all, surveying the destruction. The few Canines that were left had quite a journey ahead of them, only they didn’t know where they were going. Many were severely injured from the war with the big cats, and more than a few died along the way from lack of medical attention. Even those whose wounds were minor had succumbed to infections. Since many of the males were now gone, immediate action would have to be taken to preserve the species. The Crest decided that the Canines would get as far away from the city as possible, but with food scarce and the winter in full swing, they would have to find permanent shelter. The first settlement would be in the Cloisters - a maze of caves...Continue Reading