Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.
Day Twenty Eight
Hoss did not see the gander again after his initial encounter, nor did Bess chance upon him when she strayed from their nest to eat. He had taken it upon himself to warn her about him, though he couldn’t say why exactly. The gander had seemingly been very friendly, yet Hoss had the distinct feeling that it was a false bonhomie and he had no real interest in Hoss except as a means to an end.
And what end was that? Ensuring the river was ours. Who was included in that, Hoss wondered? He suspected it wouldn’t be he and Bess, for there had been a certain disdain in the gander’s voice when he noted that they were not from around here.
There was one thing which he did agree with the gander on and that was that it would be devastating if the humans were to return in their normal force. There was plenty of room for all geese, and everyone else for that matter, upon the river and its environs, so long as the humans didn’t come back.
Would they? Hoss had no sense of the matter. They were unfathomable creatures, operating by the most obscure whims imaginable. They were generally inescapable, which was why it was so bizarre they were absent here in one of their settlements. As a rule, it didn’t matter where one went in the wide world, humans would be there. Even on their usual slough in the hinterlands, humans were present, if in much smaller numbers. Mostly they kept apart there, which Hoss much preferred to the habitations like this where they crowded the river, constantly shrieking and nattering in their shrill, incomprehensible voices. They were so aggressive as well, always trundling close by with no respect of nests or goslings.
No, the quiet and peace here now was a blessed relief. But how long would it last?
Though neither saw the gander, they knew he was about, for everyone that they met seemed to have encountered him only a day before. Many were clearly enamoured with his ideas, declaring, “Finally someone with the gumption to keep what’s rightfully ours.”
Others agreed. “We shouldn’t be sitting by idly hoping they don’t come back, or that the coyotes don’t overrun us. We should be doing something now to make sure they don’t.”
Neither Hoss or Bess were sure about that. After all, anyone who wanted to assure themselves of being largely unmolested by humans needed only to head out to the hinterlands. And the coyotes, though annoying, were hardly a problem here compared to the wider world where they were far more numerous, to say nothing of wolves or lynx or other far more predatory creatures, forcing anyone who lived out there to be far more watchful around their nests and goslings.
They both fell quiet when talk turned to what the gander was proposing, feeling uneasy for reasons they couldn’t articulate. Each of them began to wonder if they had in fact made a mistake in staying here for the season, instead of returning to the familiar hinterlands, though neither gave voice to it. That feeling usually dissipated as soon as they encountered some friend, new or old, and fell to talking. It was such a change to spend so much time with others of their kind. Normally they only did so in the spring and fall on the long migrations. There was no leaving now anyway. Bess had laid her eggs and so they were committed here. As they listened to one goose after another proclaim the need to do something to protect the river, when no one had ever worried about such a thing before, they began to wonder what the gander might actually propose that they do. It seemed only a matter of time before he reappeared and they found out