Animal Kingdom

May 6th, 2018, by Patrick Starks


It’s not everyday one thinks about what will become of them after death. However, most today believe that their souls will wither away from their bodies off into space, as they join a new kingdom unlike their own—heaven, they call it.

Although, it wasn’t like that at all, at least not for a selected few. You see for some there was no heaven, there was no hell, yet there was the animal kingdom. Most would assume the animal kingdom was for animals only, that in fact of which it was; but on the contrary, what those animals were before is where this story takes place.

There was once a little a crow. Hupa, the crow of crows they called him. For a leader, he was still so young. He was only thirteen years old when his life got turned upside down. And as cool as it was to fly, to be a bird in general, all he could think of was his family. Day after day he soared the clouds in hopes to find them. But never did any recognizable faces appear.

At times when it was quiet, Hupa could still hear the sobs of his precious momma and feel the anger of his heroic daddy parade in his feathery chest. Many in the animal kingdom had their own story to tell, yet none knew of Hupa’s, as he was still nothing but a mystery to all.

The images weren’t at all that clear, but he could still somewhat remember, he could still hear. It was just only months before school was out, and it would be soon time for summer; time for supper, his momma would always say. And it was Hupa and his friends that would start such off the right way, their sanctuary—Willows Pipe.

Willows Pipe was their greatest challenge, their greatest defeat, and all had sworn on the boards they rode that this was the summer they would be victorious. It had been a long winter, but none had longed for such taste in redemption as much as Hupa. It was the only thing he cared about. To be the greatest was his only goal in life, and Willows Pipe he felt stern, would gain him that.

One after the other each child made their attempt. Two hours had gone by already—all refused to give up. And by the fourth hour, they all made their final move. From the bruises and scrapes around their fragile bodies, any loving mother would cradle them as if they were still infants if it were their own. Many who’d gone before Hupa had failed miserably, yet he was still determined he would not. His knees were red wine—the mixture of blood and dirt did this. He breathed heavily, his eyes burned from the sweat that slid down from his forehead, and his shirt was now no different than any wet towel from a bathroom shower.

One push from his board and he was off. There was steady balance, there was grace. The pipe rattled then snapped at just steady pace. At an instance, what flowed had now stopped. Screams lingered in the background which was loud of course but faded along with Hupa as the seconds went by.

There he lied on the concrete floor staring at a kingdom he thought was. And there it was that Hupa soared over his past, what it at least used to be. There now only remained cracks in the concrete where nature had now embraced, as a flower after hour grew between.

“Why are we here young Hupa?” said a crow. “You know Shona does no like it when we go off like this.”

If a crow could drop a tear, Hupa would be the first. “We don’t even know if Shona exist… Besides, I just needed to see.”

“Careful with your words Hupa. Be very careful,” pointed the crow. “So, what is it that you see?”

“Greatness. Family. Sadness. But more so sadness. Tell me something Blaze?”

Blaze then flew down from an old street light, landing on a rail next to Hupa. “Yeah?”

“Why am I here, why do I still exist?” said Hupa. “Why do you exist, why the animal kingdom? I mean, I could be with my grandparents at least.”

Blaze was silent. Thoughts floated above his head, yet Hupa could not catch a single one, not unless Blaze wanted him to. And Blaze knew that Hupa was right—Hupa had a point, he could have at least been with his grandparents. However, the animal kingdom was where he was brought, and there would be a reason for that Blaze had explained. Yet, Blaze hesitated. He swore that he would never tell any of the other the truth for that some he knew could not bear it. However, he had been moved by Hupas heart—it reminded him of himself once, and his family.

“Because… Hupa, you have still have so much to give to the world,” said Blaze. “You are here because your job is not yet done. And yet, you have done so much already. I know it’s hard but you are not done.”

Hupa then turned to his neck as if he was an owl instead of a crow. “What are you saying?”

“Think about. Who is the oldest of our kingdom?” said Blaze.

Hupa thought long and hard. There was only one that he was for sure of. You, he replied.

“Yes, I who am only 29, am I not?” asked Blaze.

Hupa replied with a blustery face. “Yeah. But, what does that mean?”

“It means that our time was too soon. That we have only begun to scratch the service of our lives, and in return, we were given second chances, so that we may finish them. We are all still babies in the eyes of the world,” said Blaze. “And for that reason, we cannot be rejoined with the elders until we have shown growth.”

Hupa still didn’t get it. He was a crow after all, how could he possibly achieve what he attempted before with just wings alone and stick-figured legs. Frustration began to ruffle through his onyx feathers.

One would think when they come back from the afterlife, that they will get to see there loved ones again, but for the Animal Kingdom this would be an unfortunate falsity—time seems slow but goes dramatically faster in the afterlife.

If he couldn’t ride Widows Pipe, if he couldn’t restore his parent’s broken hearts, then what else was there to do, Hupa thought.

The sounds of rubber tires then burrowed through rocks and sand—Hupa knew exactly what it was. And to his right, there would be a child, a young girl. He hadn’t much luck with the ladies of his time, but something about this one he felt safe to approach.

“(CAW) Look!” said Hupa. And the young girl looked up at him as if she had heard what he said.

Blaze twisted and turned his head like most crows—like a psychotic man or woman. “Did she just hear you?”

“I-I don’t know,” said Hupa. “(Ca CAW)Hello!”

And at the caw of hello the young girl smiled—a bright one—with two missing teeth at the bottom and one at the top. She waved at them both.

“I think she heard me,” Said Hupa.

“if you ask me I think she should be more careful with that piece of wood. I mean, look at her teeth?” said Blaze.

Hupa then took his left wing and made an attempt to wave back. “Be nice, she’s just a little girl, no younger than what we use to be. And the board is called a skateboard you crowdiot. What era were you from again?”

“That’s none of your concern. Just know that it was a great one, “ said Blaze. “Now let’s get going.”

Blaze had flown off, but behind him was no Hupa, only a sheading feather. Hupa had made his mind up–he now realized what his purpose was or what he felt it to be.

“If I cannot have my old life back, I will at least live it through hers. I will teach her my mistakes, I will teach her my faults so that she can one day be greater than the greats, greater than I ever was. And maybe she will have a family with unbroken hearts.” said Hupa as he attempted to clinch his fist. But let’s be honest, they were wings not hands.

Blaze was now embraced with the sun and clouds before he realized Hupa stayed behind. To make a long story short, the word got out about what Hupa had done. And the story has been told too many others who joined the animal kingdom. Written by the author Blaze himself.

Hupa and the young girl overtime became best friends. She ended up being one of the world’s greatest skateboarders, exceeding one’s like even the great Tony Hawk. She became legendary, and a role model for all little girls alike. Only then did Hupa return to the animal kingdom, and only then would he be rejoined with his family.

His mother and father wept and held him as tightly as they did when he was just a newborn—protectively and careful.

“My Hupa… I’m so sorry, I should’ve been there for you, I should’ve protected you,” said his mother holding him in her arms. “Look at you, y-your just a bird. But you’re my little bird.”

His father said nothing as he was known to be the silent type and stood over his mom in support of it all. Deep down his father wanted to cry harder than his mother but refused to show it, still. With all the love and rejoice in the air, all that Hupa had now accomplished—he would then take back into his original form. Although,  he was no longer a little snot nose kid. He was a man now, and a handsome one. Golden brown skin, night-sky eyes, with silky, somewhat milky ash colored hair.

The twist is. Little did anyone know, that Hupa was Shona all along.


-Blaze the Crowdiot

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