The men carried her off in chains. The boy wept. A crushing loneliness descended upon him, and he called out “Callisto!” but she did not hear him, did not look back.
The men did not notice the boy. They had their hands full with his wild friend. She roared and fought and shed massive tufts of hair. After the men carried Callisto away, he used her fallen fur to wipe away tears. He inhaled her musty scent and sat on the ground.
Time passed, and the world grew dark. The shadows lengthened as the lights went out until the world was engulfed in bitter darkness. The boy threw stones into the blackness of the ocean. The water splashed without any sound.
He watched the stars overhead shift and move and circle. He watched the lights in the sky change shapes and colors. He listened to the hum of the elevators reaching to the skies. He thought about walking to the elevators, but they were locked, always locked. Besides, the men might see him. He did not want that. He held clusters of Callisto's shed hair in his tight-fisted grip, swept the hair up into a small nest on the beach, laid down, and tried to sleep. Sleep did not come easy, but it did come. It always did.
The night went by without dreams. There was nothing to dream about.
When the lights came on, the boy saw tracks in the sand. There were the footprints of men and larger footprints with claws. He looked up the beach and found it deserted. The wind blew. The tracks faded but did not disappear. He inhaled a breath of air, coughed from the sulfuric scent of dead ocean, and began to run. His feet sunk into the sand. He struggled with every footstep. Soon, he gasped for air and ignored a pain shooting up the side of his chest.
He closed his eyes sometimes and pretended he was riding her: his Callisto. Without her, he was forced to use his own two feet, his own legs, and they were sore and weak from disuse.
The massive elevator cast a shadow. In that shadow there was a chill.
Men in uniforms wandered around the base of the elevator. The boy looked down and noticed he was naked. He had never noticed this before, but seeing the clothed men made him conscious of his differences. He felt something he had not known before. A man might have called it shame, but the boy only knew it as sickness.
Callisto was tied to a pole. The men poked her with sticks. Her brown coat was stained dark by blood and filth. She roared and spat. The men laughed.
The boy dropped to his knees.
The men saw him and came running. They brought water and food, a food sweeter than any he had ever known. He ate and drank and rose up to his feet.
The men cared for the boy until he grew strong. They gave him work. He climbed up and down the elevator with his massive wrench and twisted nuts to keep everything in working order. It was a dull job but important. He found solace in his own sense of importance. He worked by day. He ate and drank with the other men at night. They entertained themselves in their way.
Years passed and the boy – now a man – poked a bear with a sharp stick. The eyes of that bear disturbed the man. He saw himself reflected as a younger, weaker version of himself. He wanted to poke out those eyes, but the stick always slipped.
Those large eyes were slick from Callisto’s tears.