They come, they chase: one, two, four, five, never three. Thin-skinned, pale, fragile, like all in this place, but They don’t fear her kind the way the others do. Wary, yes, and always with the spray that makes her kind slow, sleepy, calm. They have thunder sticks too, with which she knows They can hurt, even kill, but only when the madness comes over one of her kind are they used.
She and her people mostly keep to the tunnels where there is food to be found, but sometimes the food becomes scarce and they must venture to the surface, searching in the narrow ways, where smells are ripe and good, and food is abundant, left for them in metal bins. Most of her kind know to avoid the fragile ones, they should not be taken as food because then the big, dark box comes, and They come, and then one of her people will be gone and there will be an empty place in the minds of all her people, a hole in the pattern that unites them.
Sometimes, They come anyway, taking ones of her kind away to the other place: the sick, the injured, the old. Sometimes, those that are taken return, whole and well, sometimes they are never seen again. When one of her kind grows old and passes beyond the veil, their light goes out gently. That is the ending all her people hope for. It is the way they should end, in peace rather than in suffering. All her people feel the passing of one of their kind; none of them is ever alone. They know each other’s fate, regardless of distance; they see the change in the pattern in their minds. What one knows, all know.
She thinks the ones who capture her people are not evil or cruel; this is their world, not her own, and their laws are not those of her people. They can be kind; they help and heal, and as long as her people do not make Them angry, they are left in peace to live their lives.
Someday, she thinks, she would like to see the other place, where They make their home. Fragile as this world’s creatures are, they know many things, and perhaps in time their two kinds can learn from each other. Perhaps They could even be taught to join the pattern, then there would be no more misunderstanding between their peoples ever again.