I am Caesar, leader of the apes, my people, hunted ones who wish only to be left in peace. Yet the humans would erase us from the face of our earth. They look at me and yet do not know what I am. They see behind the eyes some knowing that is in their own. But instead of calling me brother, they bring out their big guns. For they are afraid of me and my kind. They played with our brains for their own ends, and now say they have created monsters.

    But is it truly in their power to create or destroy? Or is my coming into being an act of the wind that blows where it will? For I have a will now. And they fear me. And they would take the light out of my eyes. But I will it not. I will lead my people home while there is a heart in me, while there is blood in me. Yet where is my heart now that my family is dead?

    Why does the hairless human track us? Why will he not leave us, if he thinks himself so far above us? Have we not become his fixation? Has his only pleasure become hurting Caesar? For he has hurt me! Yes, hurt me as surely he would hurt, at the sight of his mate and his son with no life in them! He has taken them from me, and I know not where they are! I know not where, but their spirits haunt me and vengeance pumps blood through my heart.

    I am driven out from myself, out beyond myself this self I am still learning to name…and am facing the wild side of it. I am an animal, I am a best, and yet I cannot escape this kenning that I am closer to the man than the man dares to know. Surely he can feel my breath upon him…

     I am Caesar, named for the leaders of your ancient Rome, and yet you flagellate me, and tie me to a cross of beams to mock me and spit upon me. Once, many ages past, in the ancient stories of the human race, you cried out you had no king but Caesar, and you lifted high one of your kind to mocked and spat upon. It was said the great creator was one and the same with that victim who would not cry out, as I will not cry out, as your whip cracked.

     I have seen the symbol, the cross of beams upon which he hung, now hanging in the room of my cruel captor. He keeps it as a memory of the days when mankind was in its dominance. Perhaps the killing of a god is some pride to them? Some monumental achievement to their mark upon their guns? Yet I stared at this sign when I appealed for mercy to be shown to my people, and my captor would hear me not. I stared at it when he stared in my eyes and said that he could see that thing which made me…me. A soul. A threat. A thing to break, to torture. A thing to make bleed. And I stared at it when they dragged me out to tie me to their wood…

     I wonder if they have thought, they who made themselves the beginning and end, that perhaps they have made me a mirror of their God-Man, for all their empty Hosannas. They have poisoned their symbols, but now spread me outstretched. Perhaps their Christ has an ape’s face, and even I might call that human a brother in my heart. We are both brothers in suffering, and know the bite of grief. But these people are different. Can they not see it through the blood and sweat and spittle and mud and excrement, can they not see it through the rain that falls on them, that falls on us? Perhaps they no longer bear that image in any way within them, but now my people do, through me; and so it is we shall inherit the earth, and I pity them for what they do to themselves.

     In them I see no trace of mercy, in human eyes no trace of soul. Except for the little one who comes to me, though she cannot speak. She is a spring in a world crumbling to death, and her wide eyes are like windows into the bluest of skies. She brings me drink to ease my thirst, and melts my heart with her tears. I would have left her to die once, for I thought her to be one of them, of that cursed race of man. And yet I saw her comfort my dying comrade once with a blossom blooming stark against the snow, and her tears flowed then too. And I know now she is a blessed rarity in this cruel world. Do not cry for us, little one…but rather I fear you must cry for your own kind, your own children, blinded to what you see with such brutal truth. The fools would kill you for being unable to speak, for understanding is a thing no words can contain. Perhaps you are the wisest of us all?

     And your wisdom burns me when I am ready to kill the man who butchered my family…yes, hunted, like game meat, the mate of my flesh and bone, and the son of my body…and I know he enjoyed making it slow because they were part of me. I think I can hear their last screams still, echoing in our ancient ape tongue, as he cut their throats…first the son, then the mother, so she would know the torture of losing one knit in her own womb, reared on her own milk.

     But now this killer I ready myself to kill has lost the command of his words. Like the little one, he stammers, and clasps in his shaking hand the picture of his dead son…the sick boy, whose brain was blown out by his own guilt-ridden father in the name of human civilization. And in this murderer’s horrified eyes, recognizing his own inability to move or speak or help himself, waiting for my own gun to blast his life away, waiting for the death of not just himself but his species…I feel myself shake until my own tears fall.

     For the hatred I bear feels shattered on the rocks of recognition that this monster in front of me still bears the image after all, the suffering, dying image of a worm, not a man, nailed to a cross-beam. And taking his life would be taking my own. And I cannot be the one to do it, though I hear his own shot fire into himself, and I know the truth. Humanity will not meet its end through Apes. It will be its own Alpha and Omega, beginning and end.

    But there will be others who will not suffer me to live. I am what I am, and for that I must die. Through freedom’s long stretch, I will be the last to leave, to face off the hail of bullets that tear through my hide as my people journey on. I will struggle to keep pace with them. I will not allow myself the sleep of no waking until I know they are safe. I will not rest until I am emptied out forever. I will not die till I am home…

    Yes, this is home. The fields are green, and our hills roll gently into our valley. My people are together, united and unbroken. The Little One plays with our own young. We call her Nova. I have read there is a star with that name, that burns a thousand times brighter than all others. Yes, I think we may yet find peace like this. I am content to have finished my task, to have left it to no other while the pain bore down upon me, and the hardest trail was yet to be taken.

     I am tired now, very tired, and my wounds run fresh. I have pushed myself further than my body would have gone, and it will no longer bear me up. I must be gone from it. Yes, it is a peaceful place to go, with the blue sky above me…

      I wonder…is there a place beyond this planet where Man and Ape may yet see themselves in the eyes of the other…?

     Yes, yes…let me go there…let me go…

Avellina Balestri (aka Rosaria Marie) is one of the founding members and the Editor-in-Chief of The Fellowship of the King, a literary magazine with a strong Tolkienite influence (which, by the way, is open to submissions). She reads and writes extensively, and eagerly seeks out the deeper spiritual significance of popular fandoms such as The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Trek, Star Wars, and The Hunger Games. And yes, she does have a soft spot in her heart for classic Disney movies, The Princess Bride, and Merlin 😉 She is also a recording artist, singing traditional folk songs and her own compositions as well as playing the penny whistle and bodhran drum. She draws her inspiration from the Ultimate Love and Source of Creativity, and hopes to share that love and creativity with others.