Some time in the future a chimp family – father Bobo, mother Baba, and their twin babies, Bubu and Bebe – are sitting near a stream where it empties into the ocean somewhere in the North-Central California coast. There are plenty of salmon and rainbow trout in the stream, and massive flocks of quail, seagulls and pelicans flying overhead, so many they nearly blot out the sky at times. Further down along the beach a grizzly bear is walking away after having grabbed its fill of fish for one sunny afternoon. The chimps have been shelling clams, using solid chiseled iron bars for leverage. It’s a warm day and a slight sea breeze makes for nearly perfect conditions. Baby Bubu wants to hear a story, so his mother picks him up and seats him on her lap and starts to tell of the time before the Great Crumbling, before the forest and the grasses came to overwhelm the ruins of What Had Been Left Behind.
“Even now,” Baba says, “you might sometimes come across pieces of rock so straight and so smooth and so lined up together it’s almost a miracle that such shapes can exist in nature. Not to mention the pairs of metal bars with sticky black rocks around them that go on for days and days and no one can find the end of them! Who knows how such marvels came to be, for we never see anything like them coming into being now.”
“Don’t fill their heads with foolishness,” her husband scolds. “Everybody knows the chimps of old had ways and means, but all that knowledge was lost in one of the great fires that took away all the books.”
“Books!” baby Bebe shouted, lifting her arms up high in the air, prompting her proud papa to pick her up. She wanted to sit on a lap too.
“In this world,” Baba continued, ignoring her husband, “there are endless mysteries. Our friends to the North tell of mountains spitting up rocks on fire! They tell us of boiling lakes of mud surrounded by ice and snow, of mountains so high you can never see their peaks because they keep them hidden in the clouds. Also, right out here in the sea before us there are creatures down below the waves so big that all of us together could easily fit on top of their tails. Sometimes in the summer you can see them splashing just off shore.”
“It is a beautiful world,” Bobo agreed, bouncing the little one on his knee, “and we are lucky to have it just as it is.”