In August of 1930, an anthropologist studying lost civilizations in the forests of Chiapas was making his way, on foot, through the tangling overgrowth of the remote jungle. Using his machete to forge a path rough the density, he found himself suddenly distracted by an odd bird song. It was the most unusual cry, a gentle weeping, small and hushed. The Man changed his path, moving in the direction of the sound until he came to a small bed of waist-high plants. Pushing forward through, feeling the terrain below with his boot, he knelt faced the gentle sound to the bed on an old tree where at it’s root, he uncovered a small borough beneath a canopy of dense foliage. Inside, he discovered a creature unlike any he had seen before. Small, wide-eyed and alone, a single infant lay huddled into the bedding of leaves and twine, no bigger than the palm of his hand.
Its coat markings were unusual; unlike any wild cat he had studied, and bears were foreign to this rigid territory. The long tail gave him reason for pause. A fox? No, the fox was slender and agile, and this creature was robust. He picked up the infant and held it to his chest as it nuzzled the underneath of his chin.
A shadow broke the shards of light shooting through the treetops and a screech rang out, echoing through the forest, unsetting the other avian inhabitants from their nests. A bird of prey was hunting, and surely, this infant was its intended feast.
He placed the creature, now sleeping, into his satchel and continued his daylong journey back to the local village. In his quarters, he referenced his texts, combing them thoroughly in an attempt to identify the creature in his care, yet he found nothing. Finally, he decided to summon one of his local associates who had been studying with him, believing it may be known to the people indigenous to the area.
Flipping back the flap of his satchel, he revealed the tiny baby, which had curled into a ball, hugging its own furry tail. Araceli brought her hands to her mouth and slowly stepped toward it.
“Do you know what this is?” He asked in her native tongue.
She did not look away from the sleeping infant, only whispered: “Compañero de los Dioses.” Companion of The Gods.
She reached her hand toward the creatures and with the back of her fingers gently caressed its silken fur. It looked up at her calmly, blinked as though smiling with it’s radiant blue-green eyes and fell back to sleep. She continued in Spanish; “They are as old as time. Ancestors used to carve their likeness into cavern walls, telling stories of the loyalty and gentility of the creature to the Gods. They embody innocence, purity and good will. It was said that when the Gods sought companionship, mortals were too tainted by the flesh, and so they created a beast that knew not of hatred, envy, or desire for power. To earn the trust of such a creature was a blessing. They were regarded as a gift to Mankind, one from which we could learn many things.”
She turned to him, her expression falling, “They perished with the ancients, during the great wars wherein entire civilizations were lost hundreds of years ago. Philosophers claim the Gods reclaimed their gift. Scientists say they were mere representations of an idealist’s world and never existed at all. To my people they are creatures of legend.”
He furrowed his brow, “Well, if there is one surely there must be more. They cannot appear in a mist of magic.”
She nodded her head. “If you consider the nature of our study, Creatures such as this appear in the records of ancient cultures around the world, from Egypt to Mesopotamia, archaeologists have found markings on tombs and carvings in tablets representing what they believed were simply common Cats. These appear frequently in ancient history in various forms. If indeed there is one, there may be more, more around the world but likely weak in numbers, and some may indeed be extinct altogether or most certainly in danger.” In that instant, the anthropologist decided to divert his study.
The following month, raising the young creature by hand, feeding it goat’s milk and sweet leaves, he returned to his Chicago home where he began tracing the history of similar creatures revealed in artifacts, photographs and writings. Along with his creature, which he affectionately called a Meeroo, he traveled next to Egypt the following year, traversing the merciless temperatures and sandstorms of the wilds until, one evening, upon sunset, he saw a shadow in the hazy distance, a familiar shape ensconced by windswept sand. Setting his Meeroo down at his side, the distant creature appeared to take notice, and released a hushed whelp, in which his Meeroo responded. The creature approached, and he immediately appreciated the unique coat and shape. It looked at him with large, beautiful eyes and regarded him quietly for a moment. It began to clean his Meeroo and nuzzle its fur. They played together in the sand until the moon was high, and then slept in the Anthropologists tent with him on his chest.
The two Meeroo accompanied him to Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Thailand and remote locations untouched by Men for centuries, and the Call of the Meeroo always seemed to fetch the response of another more exotic looking of the species. As the Anthropologists menagerie grew, he retreated to an Island in the South pacific with his family, where he would dedicate his life to their survival.
He maintained contact with only one colleague throughout his years in isolation on the island. Araceli. She reveled in his stories of discovery and the precocious antics of his legendary family.
But, when nearly a year had passed since hearing from him in late 1950, Araceli traveled 2 months by air and sea to his secret island. Making certain to go alone, she walked the wilderness for two days before coming to a great clearing in the middle of the island where yet another island sat before her, hovering in the air. It was as though a piece of the earth had been torn from its roots and was suspended like… magic. She clung to the vines that hung from the dirt and rock far above, and she rested in small alcoves when too tired to carry on. It took the woman a night and day before reaching the top, but she prevailed at sunrise on the second day, falling, exhausted, onto a lush green plateau.
Her gaze moved upward and rested upon a crude stone building, covered in vines and moss. Slowly, she found her footing and moved toward the entrance and inside the building. Shrouded in darkness, she saw the flicker of a small flame at the end of the room, casting shadows on the walls on dancing foliage. Taking stealth steps she approached a small cot where, beneath wool blankets lay her friend. He was pale, unmoving. She reached toward his face and caressed it with the back of her fingers and found him cold. Beside him lay a book, “Legend of the Meeroo.”
A rustling from behind startled her, and she turned quickly to see familiar radiant blue-green eyes gleaming in the light of the flame. It was his Meeroo.
It took a step toward her, and she came to her knees, holding outstretched hand. “Do you remember me?”
The Meeroo approached her, and upon reaching her, stood up on its hind legs and looked at her, tilting its head just slightly. It did remember her.
And from the brightness of the sunlight breaking through the entrance, she saw another appear, and then another.
And soon Dozens of creatures, with varying colors and patterned coats. They stopped several feet away, watching her curiously.
The first Meeroo moved to her side. It curled itself into a ball, and rested its head on her leg.
A baby romped playfully from the gathering Meeroo crowd, joining the first… and soon they all began to approach her, rubbing her arms, making subtle chortles of acceptance.
Araceli stayed with the Meeroo, copying the anthropologists Meeroo Diaries by hand, and sending them to those she trusted. Soon, the Meeroo Preservation Society had been established though her efforts. Although still weak in numbers, kind men and women from around the grid have opened their homes and hearts so that these mythical creatures may once again thrive.
Perhaps, you will too.