A nest full of eggs
is where it all begins, but not quite in the way you may think. A cherubic-cheeked yellow face peered carefully over the side, and eyed the delicious morsels within. As he took care to not rest his front feet too heavily on the stick structure containing his breakfast, Nomming leaned carefully over, long neck stretching down silently, and gently gripped one of the eggs near the edge of the nest with his mouth. A tinge of guilt overtook him momentarily as he glanced around. Nope, no one around to notice...
he thought to himself as he slipped away without making a sound. He slunk off, far enough away to be out of ear shot when the mother returned to the nest and let out the usual cry of horror that one of her precious offspring had been pilfered. He never liked the things other herbivores said about their missing eggs, the names they called the thief. He was none of those things. Sometimes he wondered what they would say or how they would react if they had known that it was another herbivore, and not a carnivore, that had stolen their eggs.It hardly matters, I suppose,
he thought to hiself as he found a rock in the forest with a nice sharp edge, They'd never understand me. I'll always be an outcast.
With a quiet sigh, he raised his long neck above the rock as he aimed his mouth carefully a few over the rock's edge as he had seen the flying dinosaurs and other carnivores do so many times before. After expertly lining up the shot, he opened his mouth, wincing a little as the egg and rock met and the shell made a cracking noise.
Almost without thought, Nomming began quietly lapping the live-giving nutrients out of the fissure he had created in the shell. It was at times like these that he felt most at home, alone and lonely, outcast for what he believed, how he behaved, and what he ate.
Nomming's life had started rather normally,
loving mother, doting father, and a nest full of brothers and sisters. He can still recall the day he decided to crack himself out of his shell and meet the world for the first time. He was immediately met with the smiling face of his mother. He remembers vividly the love that filled her eyes when she looked down at him for the first time. As he glanced around, he could only see one other shell void of it's contents. His older brother pounced him almost immediately and began to tussle. The other 4 eggs wiggled and squirmed, each sibling desperate to break free.
Nom remembered watching each of his younger siblings hatch, emerging exhausted from their husk before collapsing at their mother's feet, nestled close to her an one another. He and his older brother took to protectively curling up around them as well and nodding off to sleep.
Family life was normal for a few months. Mother fed and looked after the young, Father protected the herd and his family above all else. The family lived within a much larger herd, the 8 of them making up just a small portion of the nearly 20 that traveled together with the changing seasons. And it was in those times of travel, chasing the sun as he liked to call it, that Nomming began to realize he was very VERY different from the rest of those 'like him.
Maybe it was something in the air, some smell, some sound, that caught his attention first. He wasn't sure. Nomming crept quietly to the edge of the herd and looked out toward the open ground. It stretched as far as he could see, as far as he could imagine. It was breathtaking. He glanced back over his shoulder, noting the position and attentions of both his parents, making sure they were both well-occupied before he stepped out of the group. There was something out there calling to him, pulling him toward it's discovery.
Only the wide-eyed wonderment of a child could have seen the wonders in the world in the way Nomming saw them just then. It was his first time outside the herd. Before him was a world of sights, sounds, and smells his young mind had not yet encountered. Looking up, he saw big winged creatures soaring somewhere between himself and the sun. Looking out he saw other herds, shorter creatures than his family but with seemingly the same structure. He had to know more. He had to see more. He had to br more. He knew the instant he laid eyes on the world outside his herd that he was different from them. He would not be contented to stand in a circle, youngsters in the middle, and graze quietly until something came along to eat them all.
His eyes followed one of the creatures in the sky as it soared higher and higher, appearing smaller and smaller in his view, before turning sharply and plummeting back down toward the Earth. It plunged into the water of a nearby lake and emerged a few moments later, prized fish morsel in it's mouth. He was mesmerized, watching this air to aquatic dance several more times before the spell was broken by a strange "clink, clink, clink" sound.
His eyes scanned the horizon, desperate to find what actions rendered such a strange sound. Was it the creatures in the brush? No, that was more of a 'swish, swish, snap.' Was it the dew dripping off that leaf and onto the ground? No, that was more of a 'plop, plop, ploop.' Was it that creature, lifting a small rock and dropping it onto another? Why yes, that was it! But wait... that thing he's dropping the rock on isn't another rock. What was it? Nomming took a few tentative steps forward to investigate further. Was that really what he thought it was?!
Nomming reeled back, nearly stumbled over his own tail and caused quite a racket. So much racket, in fact, that the short-armed creature standing on two legs was interrupted in his pursuit for food to turn and glance Nom's way. Nomming nearly lost his leafy lunch seeing the gore drip from the creatures half-open maw. His brothers and sisters, watching them hatch and grow up along side him, flashed before his eyes. That rock, the one on the bottom, wasn't another rock at all. That noise, the "clink, clink, clink..." it was the sound of an egg being smashed.
The two-legs drew closer, the clear egg fluids still hanging from between his teeth. Nomming hadn't realized just how far he'd wandered from the herd until the two-legs approached. He also hadn't realized how quickly the predator could run until then either. As Nom walked blindly backward, eyes never leaving his pursuer, the beast advanced. Before Nom reached the edge of the herd once more, the beast was upon him, hot breath in his face.
What are you staring at, little boy? I don't like it when people stare at me..." the beast hissed through his teeth. Though the beast was terrifying, indeed, Nomming couldn't take his mind off the enticing smell wafting on his breath. His stomach growling was almost silenced by his stomach turning. He couldn't believe he was so attracted to the horrors before him. That smell, the smell of the eggs, it called out to him.
The thundering stampede behind him drowned out the sounds of Nomming's growling stomach. Before he had time to wrap his mind around he realizations that faced him, he was being scooped up, soft beak on the back of his neck. His father's voice rang out over the growling and stamping of the herd. "Nomming! NOMMING! Oh, thank goodness you're safe!"
Nomming eyed the beast as the herd drove him away. He hated him, not for attacking, but for making him hate himself. Nomming knew now why he had never quite fit in with his herd. It wasn't his family. It wasn't his name. It wasn't his color or size. It was his nature. And in this world,
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