Frim whimpers louder, I cuff him. What's wrong, why is her loving voice
so hoarse and strange now? She always hummed us so tenderly, we nestled
in her warm Mother-fur sucking the lovely Mother-juices, rocking to her
steady walking-song. Ee mooly-mooly, Ee-mooly mooly, while far below the earth rolled by. Oh, yes, and how we held our breaths and squealed when she began her mighty hunting hum! Tann! Tann! Dir! Dir! Dir Hataan! HATONN!
How we clung in the thrilling climax when she plunged upon her prey and
we heard the crunching, the tearing, the gurgling in her body that
meant soon her food-glands would be richly full.
Suddenly I see a black streak down below—a big brother is running away!
Mother's booming voice breaks off. Her great body tenses, her plates
crash. Mother roars!
Running, screaming down below! I burrow up into her fur, am flung about as she leaps.
"OUT! GO OUT!" she bellows. Her
terrible hunting-limbs crash down, she roars without words, shuddering,
jolting. When I dare to peek out I see the others all have fled. All
A black body is lying under Mother's claws. It's my brother Sesso—yes!
But Mother is tearing him, is eating him! I watch in horror—Sesso she
cared for so proudly, so tenderly! I sob, bury my head in her fur. But
the beautiful fur is coming loose in my hands, her golden Mother-fur is
dying! I cling desperately, trying not to hear the crunches, the gulps
and gurgling. The world is ending, all is terrible, terrible.
And yet, my fireberry, even then I almost understood. Great is the Plan!
Presently Mother stops feeding and begins to move. The rocky ground
jolts by far below. Her stride is not smooth but jerks me, even her
deep hum is strange. On! On! Alone! Ever alone. And on! The rumbling ceases. Silence. Mother is resting.
"Mother!" I whisper. "Mother, it's Moggadeet. I'm here!"
Her stomach-plates contract, a belch reverberates in her vaults.
"Go," she groans. "Go. Too late. Mother no more."
"I don't want to leave you. Why must I go? Mother!" I wail, "Speak to me!" I keen my baby hum, Deet! Deet! Tikka-takka! Deet! hoping Mother will answer crooning deep, Brum! Brrumm! Brumaloo-brum! Now I see one huge Mother-eye glow faintly, but she only makes a grating sound.
"Too late. No more … The winter, I say. I did speak.… Before the winter, go. Go."
"Tell me about Outside, Mother," I plead.
Another groan or cough nearly shakes me from my perch. But when she speaks again her voice sounds gentler.
"Talk?" she grumbles. "Talk, talk, talk. You are a strange son. Talk, like your Father."
"What's that, Mother? What's a Father?"
She belches again. "Always talk. The winters grow, he said. Oh, yes.
Tell them the winters grow. So I did. Late. Winter, I spoke you. Cold!"
Her voice booms. "No more! Too late." Outside I hear her armor rattle
"Mother, speak to me!"
Her belly-plates clash around me. I jump for another nest of fur, but
it comes loose in my grip. Wailing, I save myself by hanging to one of
her great walking limbs. It is rigid, thrumming like rock.
"GO!" She roars.
Her Mother-eyes are shriveling, dead! I panic, scramble down,
everything is vibrating, resonating around me. Mother is holding back a
storm of rage!
I leap for the ground, I rush diving into a crevice, I wiggle and
burrow under the fearful bellowing and clanging that rains on me from
above. Into the rocks I go with the hunting claws of Mother crashing
Oh, my redling, my little tenderling! Never have you know such a night.
Those dreadful hours hiding from the monster that had been my loving
I saw her once more, yes. When dawn came I clambered up a ledge and
peered through the mist. It was warm then, the mists were warm. I knew
what Mothers looked like. We had glimpses of huge horned dark shapes
before our own Mother hooted us under her. Oh, yes, and then would come
Mother's earthshaking challenge and the strange Mother's answering
roar, and we'd cling tight, feeling her surge of kill-fury, buffeted,
deafened, battered, while our Mother charged and struck. And once while
our Mother fed I peeped out and saw a strange baby squealing in the
remnants on the ground below.
But now it was my own dear Mother I saw lurching away through the
mists, that great rusty-gray hulk so horned and bossed that only her
hunting-eyes showed above her armor, swiveling mindlessly, questing for
anything that moved. She crashed her way across the mountains, and as
she went she thrummed a new harsh song. Cold! Cold! Ice and Lone. Ice! And cold! And end. I never saw her again.
When the sun rose I saw that the gold fur was peeling from my shiny
black. All by itself my hunting-limb flashed out and knocked a hopper
right into my jaws.
You see, my berry, how much larger and stronger I was than you when
Mother sent us away? That also is the Plan. For you were not yet born!
I had to live on while the warm turned to cold and while the winter
passed to warm again before you would be waiting. I had to grow and
learn. To learn, my Lilliloo! That is important. Only we black ones have a time to learn—the Old One said it.
Such small learnings at first! To drink the flat water-stuff without
choking, to catch the shiny flying things that bite, and to watch the
storm-clouds and the moving of the sun. And the nights, and the soft
things that moved on the trees. And the bushes that kept shrinking,
shrinking—only it was me, Moggadeet, growing larger! Oh, yes! And the
day when I could knock down a fatclimber from its vine!
But all these learnings were easy—the Plan in my body guided me. It
guides me now, Lilliloo, even now it would give me peace and joy if I
yielded to it. But I will not! I will remember to the end, I will speak
to the end!
I will speak the big learnings. How I saw—though I was so busy catching
and eating more, more, always more—I saw all things were changing,
The bushes changed their buds to berries, the fatclimbers changed their
colors, even the sun changed, and the hills. And I saw all things were
together with others of their kind but only me, Moggadeet. I was alone.
Oh, so alone!
I went marching through the valleys in my shiny new black, humming my new song Turra-tarra! Tarra Tan!
Once I glimpsed my brother Frim and I called him, but he ran like the
wind. Away, alone! And when I went to the next valley I found the trees
all mashed down. And in the distance I saw a black one like me—only
many times as big! Huge! Almost as big as a Mother, sleek and
glossy-new. I would have called, but he reared up and saw me and roared
so terribly that I too fled like the wind to empty mountains. Alone.
And so I learned, my redling, how we are alone even though my heart was
full of love. And I wandered, puzzling and eating ever more and more. I
saw the Trails; they meant nothing to me then. But I began to learn the
You know it, my little red. How in the warm days I am me,
Myself-Moggadeet. Ever-growing, ever-learning. In the warm we think, we
speak. We love! We make our own Plan. Oh, did we not, my lovemate?
But in the cold, in the night—for the nights were growing colder—in the
cold night I was—what?—not Moggadeet. Not Moggadeet-thinking. Not
Me-Myself. Only Something-that-lives, acts without thought.
Helpless-Moggadeet. In the cold is only the Plan. I almost thought it.
And then one day the night chill lingered and lingered and the sun was
hidden in the mists. And I found myself going up the Trails.
The Trails are a part of the Plan too, my redling.
The Trails are of winter. There we must go all of us, we blacks. When
the cold grows stronger the Plan calls us upward, upward, we begin to
drift up the Trails, up along the ridges to the cold, the night-side of
the mountains. Up beyond the forests where the trees grow scant and
turn to stony deadwood.
So the Plan drew me and I followed, only half-aware. Sometimes I came
into warmer sunlight where I could stop and feed and try to think, but
the cold fogs rose again and I went on, on and up. I began to catch
sight of others like me far along the mountain-flank, moving steadily
up. They didn't rear or roar when they saw me. I didn't call to them.
Each one alone we climbed on toward the Caves, unthinking, blind. And
so I would have gone too.
But then the great thing happened.
—Oh, no, my Lilliloo! Not the greatest. The greatest of
all is you, will always be you. My precious sunmite, my red lovebaby!
Don't be angry, no, no, my sharing one. Hold me softly. I must say our
big learning. Hear your Moggadeet, hear and remember!
In the sun's last warm I found him, the Old One. A terrible sight! So
maimed and damaged, parts rotting and gone. I stared, thinking him
dead. Suddenly his head rolled feebly and a croak came out.
"Young … one?" An eye opened in his festering head, a flyer pecked at it. "Young one … wait!"
And I understood him! Oh, with love—
No, no, my redling! Gently! Gently hear your Moggadeet. We spoke, the Old One and I! Old to young, we shared. I think it cannot happen.
"No old ones," he creaked. "Never to speak … we blacks. Never. It is not … the Plan. Only me … I wait.…"
"Plan," I ask, half-knowing. "What is the Plan?"
"A beauty," he whispers. "In the warm, a beauty in the air … I followed
… but another black one saw me and we fought … and I was damaged, but
still the Plan made me follow until I was crushed and torn and dead.…
But I lived! And the Plan let me go and I crawled here … to wait … to
share … but—"
His head sags. Quickly I snatch a flyer from the air and push it to his torn jaws.
"Old One! What is the Plan?"
He swallows painfully, his one eye holding mine.
"In us," he says thickly, stronger now. "In us, moving us in all things
necessary for the life. You have seen. When the baby is golden the
Mother cherishes it all winter long. But when it turns red or black she
drives it away. Was it not so?"
"That's the Plan! Always the Plan. Gold is the color of Mother-care,
but black is the color of rage. Attack the black! Black is to kill.
Even a Mother, even her own baby, she cannot defy the Plan. Hear me,
"I hear. I have seen," I answer. "But what is red?"
"Red!" He groans. "Red is the color of love."
"No!" I say, stupid Moggadeet! "I know love. Love is gold."
The Old One's eye turns from me. "Love," he sighs. "When the beauty
comes in the air, you will see.…" He falls silent. I fear he's dying.
What can I do? We stay silent there together in the last misty sunwarm.
Dimly on the slopes I can see black ones like myself drifting steadily
upward on their own Trails among the stone-tree heaps, into the icy
"Old One! Where do we go?"
"You go to the Caves of Winter. That is the Plan."
"Winter, yes. The cold. Mother told us. And after the cold winter comes
the warm. I remember. The winter will pass, won't it? Why did she say,
the winters grow? Teach me, Old One. What is a Father?"
"Fa-ther? A word I don't know. But wait—" His mangled head turns to me. "The winters grow? Your Mother said this? Oh, cold! Oh, lonely," he groans. "A big learning she gave you. This learning I fear to think."
His eye rolls, glaring. I am frightened inside.
"Look around, young one. These stony deadwoods. Dead shells of trees
that grow in the warm valleys. Why are they here? The cold has killed
them. No living tree grows here now. Think, young one!"
I look, and true! It is a warm forest killed to stone.
"Once it was warm here. Once it was like the valleys. But the cold has grown stronger. The winter grows. Do you see? And the warm grows less and less."
"But the warm is life! The warm is Me-Myself!"
"Yes. In the warm we think, we learn. In the cold is only the Plan. In
the cold we are blind.… Waiting here, I thought, was there a time when
it was warm here once? Did we come here, we blacks, in the warm to
speak, to share? Oh, young one, a fearful thinking. Does our time of
learning grow shorter, shorter? Where will it end? Will the winters
grow until we can learn nothing but only live blindly in the Plan, like
the silly fatclimbers who sing but do not speak?"
His words fill me with cold fear. Such a terrible learning! I feel anger.
"No!" We will not! We must—we must hold the warm!"
"Hold the warm?" He twists painfully to stare at me. "Hold the warm.… A
great thinking. Yes. But how? How? Soon it will be too cold to think,
"The warm will come again," I tell him. "Then we must learn a way to hold it, you and I!"
His head lolls.
"No … When the warm comes I will not he here … and you will be too busy for thinking, young one."
"I will help you! I will carry you to the Caves!"
"In the Caves," he gasps, "in each Cave there are two black ones like
yourself. One is living, waiting mindless for the winter to pass.… And
while he waits, he eats. He eats the other, that is how he lives. That
is the Plan. As you will eat me, my youngling."
"No!" I cry in horror. "I will never harm you!"
"When the cold comes you will see," he whispers. "Great is the Plan!"
"No! You are wrong! I will break the Plan," I shout. A cold wind is blowing from the summit; the sun dies.
"Never will I harm you," I bellow. "You are wrong to say so!"
My scaleplates are rising, my tail begins to pound. Through the mists I hear his gasps.
I recall dragging a heavy black thing to my Cave.
Chill cold, kill cold … In the cold I killed you.
Leelyloo. He did not resist.
Great is the Plan. He accepted all, perhaps he even felt a strange joy,
as I feel it now. In the Plan is joy. But if the Plan is wrong? The winters grow. Do the fatclimbers have their Plan too?
Oh, a hard thinking! How we tried, my redling, my joy. All the long
warm days I explained it to you, over and over. How the winter would
come and change us if we did not hold the warm. You understood! You
share, you understand me now, my precious flame—though you can't speak
I feel your sharing love. Softly …
Oh, yes, we made our preparations, our own Plan. Even in the highest
heat we made our Plan against the cold. Have other lovers done so? How
I searched, carrying you my cherry bud, I crossed whole mountain
ranges, following the sun until we found this warmest of warm valleys
on the sunward side. Surely the cold would be weak here, I thought. How
could they reach us here, the cold fogs, the icy winds that froze my
inner Me and drew me up the Trails into the dead Caves of Winter?
This time I would defy!
This time I have you.
"Don't take me there, my Moggadeet!" You begged, fearful of the strangeness. "Don't take me to the cold!"
"Never, my Leelyloo! Never, I vow it. Am I not your Mother, little redness?"
"But you will change! The cold will make you forget. Is it not the Plan?"
"We will break the Plan, Lilli. See, you are growing larger, heavier,
my fireberry—and always more beautiful! Soon I will not be able to
carry you so easily, I could never carry you to the cold Trails. And I
will never leave you!"
"But you are so big, Moggadeet! When the change comes you will forget and drag me to the cold."
"Never! Your Moggadeet has a deeper Plan! When the mists start I will
take you to the farthest, warmest cranny of this cave, and there I will
spin a wall so you can never never be pulled out. And I will never
never leave you. Even the Plan cannot draw Moggadeet from Leelyloo!"
"But you will have to go hunting for food and the cold will take you
then! You will forget me and follow the cold love of winter and leave
me there to die! Perhaps that is the Plan!"
"Oh, no, my precious, my redling! Don't grieve, don't cry! Hear your
Moggadeet's Plan! From now on I'll hunt twice as hard. I'll fill this
cave to the top, my fat little blushbud, I will fill it with food now
so I can stay by you all the winter through!"
And so I did, didn't I my Lilli? Silly Moggadeet, how I hunted, how I
brought lizards, hoppers, fatclimbers, and banlings by the score. What
a fool! For of course they rotted, there in the heat, and the heaps
turned green and slimy—but still tasting good, eh, my berry? —so that
we had to eat them then, gorging ourselves like babies. And how you
Oh, beautiful you became, my jewel of redness! So bursting fat and
shiny-full, but still my tiny one, my sun-spark. Each night after I fed
you I would part the silk, fondling your head, your eyes, your tender
ears, trembling with excitement for the delicious moment when I would
release your first scarlet limb to caress and exercise it and press it
to my pulsing throat-sacs. Sometimes I would unbind two together for
the sheer joy of seeing you move. And each night it took longer, each
morning I had to make more silk to bind you up. How proud I was, my
That was when my greatest thinking came.
As I was weaving you so tenderly into your shining cocoon, my joyberry,
I thought, why not bind up living fatclimbers? Pen them alive so their
flesh will stay sweet and they will serve us through the winter!
That was a great thinking, Lilliloo, and I did this, and it was good.
Fatclimbers in plenty I walled in a little tunnel, and many, many other
things as well, while the sun walked back toward winter and the shadows
grew and grew. Fatclimbers and banlings and all tasty creatures and
even—oh, clever Moggadeet! —all manner of leaves and bark and stuffs
for them to eat! Oh, we had broken the Plan for sure now!
"We have broken the Plan for sure, my Lilli-red. The fatclimbers are
eating the twigs and bark, the banlings are eating juice from the wood,
the great runners are munching grass, and we will eat them all!"
"Oh, Moggadeet, you are brave! Do you think we can really break the
Plan? I am frightened! Give me a banling, I think it grows cold."
"You have eaten fifteen banlings, my minikin!" I teased you. "How fat
you grow! Let me look at you again, yes, you must let your Moggadeet
caress you while you eat. Ah, how adorable you are!"
And of course—Oh, you remember how it began then, our deepest love. For
when I uncovered you one night with the first hint of cold in the air.
I saw that you had changed.
Shall I say it? Your secret fur. Your Mother-fur.
Always I had cleaned you there tenderly, but without difficulty to
restrain myself. But on this night when I parted the silk strands with
my huge hunting claws, what new delights met my eyes! No longer pink
and pale but fiery red! Red!
Scarlet blaze like the reddest sunrise, gold-tipped! And swollen,
curling, dewy—Oh! Commanding me to expose you, all of you. Oh, how your
tender eyes melted me and your breath musky-sweet and your limbs warm
and heavy in my grasp!
Wildly I ripped away the last strands, dazed with bliss as you slowly
stretched your whole blazing redness before my eyes. I knew then—we
knew! —that the love we felt before was only a beginning. My
hunting-limbs fell at my sides and my special hands, my weaving hands
grew, filled with new, almost painful life. I could not speak, my
throat-sacs filling, filling! And my lovehands rose up by themselves,
pressing ecstatically, while my eyes bent closer, closer to your
But suddenly the Me-Myself, Moggadeet awoke! I jumped back!
"Lilli! What's happening to us?"
"Oh, Moggadeet, I love you! Don't go away!"
"What is it, Leelyloo? Is it the Plan?"
"I don't care! Moggadeet, don't you love me?"
"I fear! I fear to harm you! You are so tiny. I am your Mother."
"No, Moggadeet, look! I am as big as you are. Don't be afraid."
I drew back—oh, hard, hard! —and tried to look calmly.
"True, my redling, you have grown. But your limbs are so new, so tender. Oh, I can't look!"
Averting my eyes I began to spin a screen of silk, to shut away your maddening redness.
"We must wait, Lilliloo. We must go on as before. I don't know what this strange urging means; I fear it will bring you harm."
"Yes, Moggadeet. We will wait."
And so we waited. Oh, yes. Each night it grew more hard. We tried to be
as before, to be happy. Leely-Moggadeet. Each night as I caressed your
glowing limbs that seemed to offer themselves to me as I swathed and
unswathed them in turn, the urge rose in me hotter, more strong. To
unveil you wholly! To look again upon your whole body!
Oh, yes, my darling, I feel—unbearable—how you remember with me those last days of our simple love.
Colder … colder. Mornings when I went to harvest the fatclimbers there
was a whiteness on their fur and the banlings ceased to move. The sun
sank ever lower, paler, and the cold mists hung above us, reaching
down. Soon I dared not leave the cave. I stayed all day by your silken
wall, humming Motherlike, Brum-a-loo, Mooly-mooly, Lilliloo, Love Leely. Strong Moggadeet!
"We'll wait, fireling. We will not yield to the Plan! Aren't we happier than all others, here with our love in our warm cave?"
"Oh, yes, Moggadeet."
"I'm Myself now. I am strong. I'll make my own Plan. I will not look at you until … until the warm, until the Sun comes back."
"Yes, Moggadeet … Moggadeet? My limbs are cramped."
"Oh, my precious, wait—see, I am opening the silk very carefully, I will not look—I won't—"
"Moggadeet, don't you love me?"
"Leelyloo! Oh, my glorious one! I fear, I fear—"
"Look, Moggadeet! See how big I am, how strong!"
"Oh, redling, my hands—my hands—what are they doing to you?"
For with my special hands I was pressing, pressing the hot juices from
my throat-sacs and tenderly, tenderly parting your sweet Mother-fur and
placing my gift within your secret places. And as I did this our eyes entwined and our limbs made a wreath.
"My darling, do I hurt you?"
"Oh, no, Moggadeet! Oh, no!"
Oh, my adored one, those last days of our love!
Outside the world grew colder yet, and the fatclimbers ceased to eat
and the banlings lay still and began to stink. But still we held the
warmth deep in our cave and still I fed my beloved on the last of our
food. And every night our new ritual of love became more free, richer,
though I compelled myself to hide all but a portion of your sweet body.
But each dawn it grew hard and harder for me to replace the silken
bonds around your limbs.
"Moggadeet! Why do you not bind me! I am afraid!"
"A moment, Lilli, a moment. I must caress you just once more."
"I'm afraid, Moggadeet! Cease now and bind me!"
"But why, my lovekin? Why must I hide you? Is this not some foolish part of the Plan?"
"I don't know, I feel so strange. Moggadeet, I—I'm changing."
"You grow more glorious every moment, my Lilli, my own. Let me look at you! It is wrong to bind you away!"
"No, Moggadeet! No!"
But I would not listen, would I? Oh, foolish Moggadeet-who-thought-to-be-your-Mother. Great is the Plan!
I did not listen, I did not bind you up. No! I ripped them away, the
strong silk strands. Mad with love, I slashed them all at once, rushing
from each limb to the next until all your glorious body lay exposed. At
last—I saw you whole!
Oh, Lilliloo, greatest of Mothers.
It was not I who was your Mother. You were mine.
Shining and bossed you lay, your armor newly grown, your mighty hunting
limbs thicker than my head! What I had created. You! A Supermother, a
Mother such as none have ever seen!
Stupefied with delight, I gazed.
And your huge hunting-limb came out and seized me.
Great is the Plan. I felt only joy as your jaws took me.
As I feel it now.
And so we end, my Lilliloo, my redling, for your babies are swelling
through your Mother-fur and your Moggadeet can speak no longer. I am
nearly devoured. The cold grows, it grows, and your Mother-eyes are
growing, glowing. Soon you will be alone with our children and the warm
will come again.
Will you remember, my heartmate? Will you remember and tell them?
Tell them of the cold Leelyloo. Tell them of our love.
Tell them … the winters grow.