At first, Dad wanted to kill the apes we found hiding in the old cabins, as if everything that had happened was their fault. But I don't think humans I mean, apes actually meant to bring about the end of their world.
The apes we met that night, though; they sure turned over my girly world.
A boyish trait of mine that Mom finds charming is that I like trash. Or at least, I like what it tells me. Nearing sundown on the evening we found the apes, I was exploring the area near our camp. I brushed black dirt off the half-crushed, faded cardboard box I found in an old, torn trash bag. The box caught my eye because there were silvery stars printed on it. The stars still gleamed, but only just a little. An original ape once held this box, and had probably smiled at the stars winking back at him. Or her. The box was about the size of the kind of package that once held 'toothpaste', another ape artifact I'd seen in the trash, but never used. We didn't need toothpaste because the meat we ate kept our teeth clean. My teeth were still white, all thirty of them, but Mom and Dad were starting to get that pale buttery color on theirs. That happens to tigers as they get older, I'd heard, though Mom and Dad had only been tigers a little longer than I'd been alive.
Dad thought it was weird that I liked trash. Usually, what I liked most was 'sparkly crap', as he called it. But I was curious. Trash was like a window looking back on that sparkly-box world that collapsed before I was born. Collapsed because of what was once inside the wrinkled old carton I held.
Mom and Dad were up the hill behind me a ways, getting ready to hit the road again. I blinked at the cool air and smiled a bit at the sunlight that still shone a pretty pink gleam on the rugged sides of the awesomely close and comforting mountains. It was nearly twilight down in the shallow valley where I crouched. I had spied the old plastic trash bag all weathered and ripped and fluttering for attention in the brush near the edge of the woods. The assortment of trash in this bag seemed ordinary at first: soda cans and food wrappers and a paper magazine with news about the war, not one of the wonderful magazines with the shiny, sparkly pictures I truly loved. This magazine had happy news for the apes, about how their army had put down an insurrection in Salt Lake City. But I knew my history. The legendary Commander Grant brought his wolf pack down on the lonely lakeside city a week later, and they left the streets littered with dead ape bodies while the apes' buildings burned around them. The apes built structures to protect themselves, but when our kind hunted them down, it was so obvious where our enemies would hide. Fire burned to cinders what our sharp teeth couldn't rip.