Philosophical Foxes: The Return (01,01)
Traits: Paradoxical, Photographic Memory, Forgetful, Aristotelian
Traits: Paradoxical, Photographic Memory, Forgetful, Aristotelian

A once-proud fox clambered its way up the muddy riverbank, panting heavily.  It lurched doggedly towards the treeline of the Shadowoods without shaking itself dry, in a hurry but still agonizingly slow.

The hidden watchers stirred. Strangers were rare and healthy strangers were rarer still. The Retrogradi madness wasn’t a communicable disease, but it was treated like one. Better not to take any chances. Better if there were no newcomers.

This new fox was an old fox. A very old fox. A Genesis fox. There was no outer sign of her superiority though.  Quite the opposite.

The Age of Genesis had been millennia in the past if it had ever really happened.  It was a time when foxes’ lives were measured in centuries and heroes didn’t pass away -- they were elevated to the stars.

But immortality wasn’t so kind to everyone. And some ancestors would’ve been better off dead.

Now, she was a stranger in a strange land.

Out of her time, out of her element, and out of her mind.

Her once regal yellow-and-purple fur was caked in brown layers of mud and blood in various stages of drying and flaking.

The lost one’s trajectory continued to draw her right where she needed to be.

As one, the three hidden foxes stepped out of hiding and into the dwindling sunlight of the dusk. The watchers had become actors.  Ears perked alertly, fur stood straight, and false bravado puffed chests.

But the wanderer remained intent on her path. Her eyes remained dull and unfocused, her mind lost in the pain of each shambling step.

The first watcher let out a high yip of greeting.

No response.

The second watcher growled a low warning, but still the haggard fox plowed on relentlessly.

As she finally drew within arm’s reach of the group, the runt of the watchers felt...something...emanating from the dying immortal. A whisper of a recognition. A fleeting sense of same-ness he had never felt before and couldn’t explain after.

He bowed his head and repeated the three words his mother had whispered to him nightly but made him promise never to repeat.

Before the words had been banned, they had been controversial.  Before they had been controversial, they had been rote, and before that...they had been sacred:

“Civis Vulpes Sum.”

The stranger halted, her gaze swinging sharply at the speaker with a heretofore unimaginable vigor. Had her eyes seemed empty? They were too full now and crackled with an electric intensity.

As one, the guardians took a step back.

The stranger cocked her head and sat quietly.  Somehow both unperturbed and deeply disturbed.

The watchers shifted their weight between their paws uncomfortably, regretting the events of the last days and weeks that had led them to this moment.

Then the convulsions struck.

The stranger’s body collapsed, her limbs and tail whipping in five different directions at once -- as if each extremity now carried its own unique high-voltage current.

Her eyes rolled back and her consciousness flicked out.


Panting with exhaustion, the stranger eased herself back into a seated position.

The new old fox shivered in relief.   Her endless journey was nearly over

She remembered every detail. Well...every detail after The Fall. Each blade of grass she had passed, every shivering night, and every painful step would be with her forever.  That she knew.

But she didn’t know where she was.

And she couldn’t recall what the Message was she was supposed to deliver.

And she didn’t know how to speak.

It hadn’t always been this way.  The huge gaping holes in her mind’s eye couldn’t hide that fact.

What was the point of a photographic memory that only recorded sights and sensations? Ideas and concepts and philosophies and words entered and exited her mind like water through a sieve.

Meanwhile, irrelevant jumbles of colors and shapes and sensations of pain were engraved for eternity.

She shivered again.

The next seizure lasted much longer than the first.


When she awoke, the three younger foxes sat around her, watchers once more.

Who were they and where had they appeared from? She wondered. There was something they all needed to know.  Something urgent. Something dire.

But what had it been? Her mind churned blankly while the watchers spoke at her in low, soothing tones.

And that’s when she saw the Thought coming.

It appeared across the horizon and ripped through the air like a thunderbolt thrown from Zeus. She stared at it, completely transfixed as it bore down on her as if it existed solely to run her through and cut her in half.

The talkers became watchers yet again as she ducked and rolled and dug and scampered and whined.

She made desperate eye contact with the runt.  Did he see what she saw?

He watched her eyes roll as the next electrical storm blanketed her brain.

“Speak!” she thought.

What did she want to tell him?

Her mind felt cursed.

Dimly, she was aware of her body’s shaking.

What was her name?

Her photographic memory failed her again.

“Amnesia,” whispered her brain as it turned off, leaving the word to echo around the emptiness in her skull.


She awoke to the three foxes watching over her. The stars were fading away before the purple and red of the rising dawn.

Who were these watchers and where did they appear from? She wondered.

And what was the Message she had for them?

Her eyes fell on the Thought, still embedded in the ground precisely where she had stood, quivering with the overwhelming force that had blasted it at her through the sky.

Couldn’t they see it?

She met their eyes and saw how she looked to them.

She wanted to laugh.

And cry.

Instead, she spoke.  For the first time in millennia, she spoke.

She read the thought aloud:

“Speak, Amnesia.”

 Something about that was funny to her. 

      She’d remember why later, 

           she hoped. 

                If she woke up again.

                     Her eyes rolled back.

                          And the world went black.

----------------------  SPEAK, AMNESIA -- (01, 01) -- The Return ----------------------

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