His eyes surveyed the dry, parched grass. What once had been lush, green and soft was now shriveled and brown. A frown covered Ug’s face as he sat down on the prickly blades under the last remaining shade tree that adorned the Savannah. The dehydrated ground had released all the other heavy trees from its grasp allowing them to topple over. Ug was sad. The whole tribe was hungry, and growing thirsty. The river dried up a few days ago and the last of the reserved water would be gone tomorrow. He didn’t really want to move again—this valley had been their home for the cycle of more moons than he had fingers and toes. His son had been born here. Leaving this place was going to be difficult.
He walked over and looked down into the cracked, orange-colored riverbed, searching for that one inkling of hope—just one drop of water would be all he needed to convince him to stay.
Ug stared into the riverbed for a very long time.
The only droplets that appeared in that riverbed were the ones from his own forehead, and he learned a long time ago that those weren’t fit to drink. Even if they were, they disappeared into the ground as quick as they landed.
Ula had been hinting for some time now that it was time to move on. She was to the point she could no longer provide nourishment to their son, and the rest of the tribe was beginning to grumble about the lack of sustenance, too.
Ug decided it was time to get out the bull’s horn and announce a move.
He turned and headed towards camp, disheartened.
Before Ug had taken a handful of steps, he saw Nud rushing in his direction. This was not a welcome sight. Nud was known for hare-brained schemes and contraptions that never worked. Right now, Ug had no patience for Nud.
“Ug, Ug, see, see.” Nud held up a couple of pieces of stone.
Ug held out his hands and frowned. He shook his head, “No, no. Go.”
Nud was persistent; he refused to allow Ug to pass.
Ug stopped and stared at the tiny stones. When Nud realized he had the tribal leader’s attention, he began to beat the tiny pieces of rock together.
Uninterested and preoccupied, Ug tried to leave again. He pushed Nud out of the way. When he did, a giant spark lit up the air in front of them.
“Eeeiii,” Nud cried as he dropped the stones. The ground began to glow orange, and quickly spread around them, filling the air with black, choking smoke.
Frightened, Ug and Nud ran to the campsite. They gathered the others to show them what was happening to their beloved Savannah. The tribe watched in horror at the changing landscape. Ug grabbed the bull’s horn and blew it. The tribe went to work gathering all they owned to leave this frightening place.
All night, the tribe watched the glow transform their Savannah. At daybreak, they were packed and ready to journey on to greener pastures with fresh, flowing water.
Once more, Ug surveyed his home. It was black, and charred. He had never seen his home so ugly. Even the parched land was better than this. A tear slid down his cheek as he led his tribe toward the hills.
Many years later, Ug returned to the home where his son was born. Now, Ug’s hair was the color of knowledge and so was his son’s. He topped the hill where he could cast his gaze across the blackened land he left, and great disappointment filled him. His great valley was no longer lush and green. It wasn’t even black and charred, but covered in sand: grainy, coarse, brown sand. Ug dropped his head into his hands and sobbed.
Nud walked over next to him and tried to comfort his leader. He shook his head and said, “Sa-harrible."
Ug looked at Nud and then punched him in the arm.
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