• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 06
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Herakles the Hippo

My name is Herakles the Hippo. I am not a bear.
        You got that right.
        It's a birthmark, not a nose. My muzzle and my teeth may have shrunk with age, and fur may cover my entire body. I may even have learned to stand on two legs (everyone can do that with time, and I've had plenty) but I am NOT a bear.

It's okay. I suppose I can understand. After all, you don't see furry hippos every day. In fact, you don't see furry hippos at all anymore.
There's just me left.

I peek out through the shrubbery, watch the children play in the park. There are two boys playing that odd glass-circle-with-handle game that I still don't get. One of them holds the glass circle; the other brings him things to look at through the glass circle. I'd like to know what they're doing, but I can't run out to look. If I do they run away and the glass circle will be thrown in the grass, forgotten in their fear of "the big bad bear". If I'm unlucky the circle breaks, and I'll step on it when I go out to hunt tonight. I'll wipe my feet dry as to not lead people back to my den, obviously, but before the bleeding stops it will flow freely. Then, ultimately, there will be more material for the newspapers and their gossip about "Herakles the Bear" come morning.

It was Teddy, at first. In the papers. "Teddy Bear". I tipped them off though, slipped a note in a reporter's Starbucks cup (you'd be surprised at the agility my toes have developed). If they're gonna spread terror stories in my name, it should at least be in the right name. It took some time for the name change to take off, but now it floats. I suppose it's the colour of my fur. Blood red fur suits a Herakles better than a Teddy.


Herakles the Hippo

Not my brightest move, I admit. Still, it feels nice to correctly addressed on rare occasions when a picture is taken. Thankfully rare, I should say. I try my best, but I can't stay hidden all the time. Someone gets a picture and BOOM! the newspapers explode. The new picture is paired with the old to assure everyone that this is, in fact, THE Herakles Bear.

I've never managed to get the second half of my name acknowledged. Humans are stubborn that way. They see what they want to see and nothing more.
        And yet, they don't. What their electronic devices and screens display has more truth than their senses. It's this numbing of the spirit that makes them forget.

The others that humanity has already forgotten.

We all know the danger of technology. We have known since before the Flood. We've steered clear of its lure, aware of the damage it can do.

Until humans do the same, they will never grow as old as us.