When it all comes down: when the last breeze blows the last puff of human bone ash down the side of some quiet hill somewhere: when humanity is done: the beasts will gather. Squirrel Kings will emerge from the darkness of damp oak groves and stand at the edge of a hundred golden evening fields. Thousands, millions of squirrels will follow; their tiny feet scratching through the fallen leaves, the rustle so deafening you could have heard it from miles away.
Royal Crows will land in the highest branches of the most ancient pines; black clouds of their followers swooping down out of the sky like a moveable night; a tempest of whoosh, a trillion strong wings spreading/touching/pushing air through the air to perch upon every inch of every branch for miles.
Kingdoms of deer, kingdoms of wildcats. Lost cities of raccoons will appear on hilltops at dusk, dust clouds rising in their long orderly wake; their numbers strectching far back down into the glistening valley behind, into some distant still wood.
The Order of Bears will lumber down off of the autumn mountain. Thousands of giants moving in unison, walking as one. Sparrows by the millions. Butterflies by the gillions. Animal Kings and Bird Queens and Insect Princes and Princesses, all coming from far away to a scooped out ampitheatre of Earth, to stand together in the final brilliant rays of a cool October eveing.
Two doves will lean on each other, tired from the long journey.
"It's hard to believe, ain't it, Stan?" one will whisper, the small sliver of straw rising and falling in his beak, with his words. "Hard to believe we made it. This many of us anyway. Harrrrrrrrrd to believe."
"Sure is, William," Stan will say. "Sure as hell is. For a while there it really seemed like they'd figure out a way to piss all over the campfire once and for all."
William will chuckle at that. Spin his straw with his bird tongue.
"Yep," he'll counter. "I never did see an opening there for a bit. Looked bleak. Bleak, I say."
"Sheeeeeeeit. Bleak. That's bein' kind, I reckon. Bleak, he says!," Stan will look over at the gang, a bunch of doves spinning straw bits in their beaks. "Hellfire yes things were bleak! Damn bleak and then some. They shot holes in everything. In the sky, in the moons. They shot holes in the goddamned holes! Never stopped to think for a second, did they? They just unzipped their jeans and started raining down their stinky piss all over everything. Serves 'em right, I say. Serves 'em right what happened."
Stan and the others, they'll just stare at William for a moment after his words float out and away. Then, slowly they'll crane their potato chip necks a little/ down towards the stage.
A murmur will ripple back and forth through the masses of creatures. It'll skip out across the miles and miles of wild heads and back again: a warm teenage wave alone on the Friday night sea.
Rows of slightly drunk beavers will sway back and forth, arms flung back behind the sholuders of their buddies, singing pub songs/happy shit.
"And after awwwwwllllll.....YOU'RE MY WONDERWAWWWWWLLLL!"
Swarms of green flies will circle them and buzz to the tune.
Everybody knows it, everyone loves it.
William will hum it a little, poke Stan in the ribs. "They had some good tunes though, didn't they, buddy? They had some killer tunes: I'll give 'em that. Dumb bastards"
The flies will lower themselves to feast on the beaver's hot craps lying in the trampled grass.
A worm will rise up out of the dirt by the doves.
"Psst! Dove Boy! Hey Mack!," the worm will be hollering at the top of his worm lungs.
Stan'll look down/ see the worm.
"Hey man," he'll say. "Howyadoin."
"Dude, eat me!," the worm will yell up.
Stan will cock an eyebrow.
"Seriously? You're cool with that? You must be pretty damn excited huh!?"
"Dude, I am totally on fire," the worm will say. " I can't believe this day is here. Seriously, man: I want ya to eat me. You and your boys. It's totally cool, I'll be able to hear from inside ya's."
That'll be the spirit of the evening. Serious giving. Heartbreakingly sweet stuff.
Stan will peck at the worm. He'll fling bits of him into the air and William and the fellas will all get a little taste. The worm won't care. His worm soul will spread out into the souls of a dozen or so doves. He'll be better, stronger. And he'll be rewarded for his love.
A badger will light a cigar. A Cuban he took from a rich man's hunting cabin. From a dead man's camp. The mellow smoke will drift slow, graceful, tickling the wet noses of some wolves and the thin dried beak lips of some wild turkeys. They'll all look over at him with soft eyes.
Look at that badger, they'll say. That sumbitch knows how to welcome The Lord, don't he?
An eagle will appear high in the darkening sky and the endless crowds will draw a collective breath. A silence will fall over the land as the great bird circles on a thermal, over and over and over, each turn bringing him a little closer to the ground.
"Look! There he is! It's Old Man God!", a Tennesse Tree Frog will holler. And with that: a roar will rise up unlike any roar that's ever roared before. Mice voices and trout voices and elk voices and grouse voices, all the voices of all the critters left living will rise up and twist themselves into some sort of exploding soccer chant, the very puff of all that wild breath spinning the eagle backwards a few loops, as he grins a shit-eating grin down at the quivering surface of the planet.
The roar will just go and go too. A hissing rapid of joy spilling upward from the river below, splashing higher and higher up into the sky, like when Springsteen would take the stage in the old Philadelphia Spectrum, but times a million: something so powerful, so glorious, so beautiful and overwhelming and sublime: something magical that sweeps you up in it's gentle arms and carries you up into the sky with it, so you can elevate with the sound, so you can sniff in great gusts of the gushing wind, of the joy, of the moment.
Praying mantis's will pass out cold. Red foxes will weep, their arms slung around misty eye'd storks. Honeybees will shit honey drops. Wild onions will cry Hosiah. Lily pads will slap themselves onto the pond. Poison sumac vines will wrap around fat rabbits and hug them so tightly; black timber rattlers will hurl themselves at each other/entwine like honey doughnut sticks/and stare at the electric blue evening sky.
Mountains will march closer. New suns will begin setting. Every hungry gullet will simply fill with tasty grain or sap, as the eagle glides down to the timbers stacked for the King.
The living of Earth, not a human being to be found, will look reverently at the proud old eagle, at the twinkle in his Eagle Eye.
"CRITTERS (CRItters..CRittters...critters...)," he'll bellow, the word booming out of his head and echoing across the land, across the legions of cheering creatures, to silence them in its Wall of Sound wake.
"CRITTERS (CRItters...Critters......critters...), I PRESENT TO YOU, YOUR KING, THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY RETURNED!!! (RETurned!.....Returned!....returned!!!!)
And the noise will be indescribable. Unimaginable. All thunder and raging river and cracking lightning, like a slave ballad sung from the guts of the effervescent galaxy herself, from the lips of the stars in the sky; there will arise a cheering, a cheering unlike the world has ever known, I reckon. From the mouths of pigs and cows and dogs and robins and mosquitos and lizards will come the most joyous sound man never heard.
And from behind the eagles rigid dutiful head will come the sweet loving sound of the creator himself, in a voice not at all unike the awesome human comedian, Sinbad:
And he will step out from behind the eagle's skull: a four-inch songbird of no special make, no certain species, his head a dull red, his body sort of olive green, like a Christmas ornament strangely enough. He will hold his hands up in the air and dance out onto the eagles back and the now night sky will light up like a jumbo Jumbotron so even the faraway beasts can see, and two spotlights will shoot down off of two stars six yillion light years away and the return of the messiah will be the most wonderful peaceful illuminating night in the history of nights and he will open with this nugget:
"THEY GONE!" (GOne!....Gone!...gone!!!)
Their ecstasy will follow. Their deafening cheers. A cyclone of happiness. A thousand massive tornados making pure monkey love to the storm of storms.
He will hold up his left hand to the sky, to quiet them down.
A moment will pass as their loving roar fades.
Then, he'll say:
"IT'S JUST US NOW, YA'LL! NO MORE OF THEIR SIMPLE SILLY HORSESHIT!!!! (HORSeshit!...HOrseshit!....horseshit!...)
Otherworldly roars of approval. A star will shine down on the horse kingdom on a hillside out there and the songbird/Big Guy will point at them and wink at them like a Rat Packer.
The roars will fade.
"THAT TUCSON SHIT WAS THE LAST STRAW, YA'LL!" (YA'll!...Ya'll!...ya'll!....)
And just like that, all of us who ever lived, from the beginning of time, will feel the cameras pulling back fast: from the eyes of the songbird/ back out over the fields of heads/ rushing backwards/ backwards/ the cameras zooming out rapidly/ the stage now a distant speck of starlight off beyond the darkened miles of creatures staring at it/ backwards/ peeling backwards/ moving away from all we've ever known/ away from the greatest night ever/ magnets behind us, drawing us backwards/ the shot pulling/pulling/pulling/ sliding back and taking off now/ looking back off the belly of a rising jet we are moving miles per second/ all of us/ the good the bad and the ugly/ away from the deer and the wildcats and the rats and the daffodils and the wild onions/ rushing backwards now/ like a beam of light/ blazing/ all of us/ out of his eyeball forever now/ cut loose by the songbird/ cut loose by him.
Rushing backwards. Further and further out there, into the blackness.
Cut loose like we never could have imagined.