Day 3: Orang-utan
28 December 2017


No Mercy (1st Place)
Adriana Aida binti Che Ismail

They use the word “rescued”. Like I need to be saved from danger. On the contrary! I don’t need to be saved from the place I have known all my life. And I certainly don’t need to be saved by such savages.

The nonsense started months ago, when they adulterated our land with their presence. At first, it was only their heavy boots and loud voices. Discussing plans and drawing maps of the destruction they would cause. And always, always it was about ownership, about rights. Selfish. They must have been fools to think that any tiny portion of this everlasting green belonged to them. Fools to think that the jungle is some kind of trophy to be exchanged from hand to hand. Even though we have lived here since the beginning of time, we resign the ownership of everything light caresses to a force greater than ourselves. We recognise that nothing, not even the shrub we live amongst and the food we eat, nothing truly belongs to us. But in all their stupidity, they claimed ownership of the scenery that our kind had known for centuries, and yet proceeded to plan on destroying it. When, I had wondered, would the nonsense cease?

Though we feared their kind, we were safe as long as they continued to merely negotiate. However, when they had returned with their machines and their torches, my friends had screamed for us to run. They burned down the houses of our neighbours, the birds. They cut down trees in which the squirrels resided. But the worst atrocity I had witnessed was my own family burning to their death in the inextinguishable flames, gasping for air in the choking smog. I ran, climbed the highest tree I could. And when I looked at the place I once called home I screamed. No more leaves promising to cushion my fall. No more formidable branches to take siestas on. Only red as far as the eye could see. The colour of shepherds delight.

The colour of the blood of creatures whose only crime was existing.

After they “rescued” me, I became another trophy to them. They paraded me around, as if to say, “look at how kind we humans are, how empathetic we must be to save a poor orang-utan!” But I know they only saved me to alleviate their remorse. I have seen the havoc humans create, I have seen their arrogance in motion. I know the evil that resides deep within their hearts. I know that their kind are far from empathetic. They call me unintelligent, and yet they are the ones destroying the only planet they know.

Everything they show me reminds me of my old habitat. The white flash from their cameras reminds me of the moon on a sunny day. I see the puddles during monsoon season in the beige of their uniforms.

But when I look into my keeper’s dark eyes I see the charred remains of my home.

Rage consumes me.


Fragile Beasts
Valerie Lee Sze Ying

When the moon fell in love with the sun, man was created. They dwelled in the unending depths of the cerulean oceans, braved the freezing snow at both ends of the Earth, resided beneath the scalding rays of the sun that almost melted their bones. But when the Trials plagued the land, it seemed that the different breeds of man did not have the capabilities to survive them.

Soon, only two kinds of man were left. Those who dominated the fertile lands and rushing waters, with their plentiful tongues, collectively agreed to be known to each other as ‘humans’. The second last surviving species, who inhabited the thickets of greenery that spanned further than the human eye could see, who swung between the foliage as a means of moving about, who found solace in the twittering and hissing and growling beings that lived alongside them, they decided, would be dubbed man of the forest, or ‘orang-utan’.

Humans took to their newfound freedom like predator to prey. They claimed the world as their own, sprouting unresting cities that could belong to anyone but nature in their wake. The once glistening streams started to brown, and the formerly awe-inducing shores began to choke. Woodlands shrunk as human egos swelled. The forest creatures cried, begged, pleaded in their foreign yet united cacophony of chirps, screeches and roars. With them, the orang-utans chimed with a sorrowful tune of their own.

Kind humans took pity; a life was a life after all. Greedy humans ravaged anyway, believing that there was no point in prolonging their lives at the expense of their leisure.

The population of orang-utans dwindled, until they could take no more.

Humans are fragile beasts. Alone, they cannot defend themselves, said one.

A mere scratch, and they lie at our mercy, another agreed.

Word of strategies travelled fast, for the lone jungle was the only remaining habitat for the man of the forest. At the peak of the moon’s rise, they would attack, bursting through the fence that humans had put up around the trees to separate them. They were to overrun those in the nearest village, a warning to the rest who dared cross them. So they did.

Alas, the humans responded with their mechanical limbs, made of the same material that lined the bottom of the river beds and shot bullets that effortlessly pierced through skin, muscle and bone. It became apparent that the true fragile beasts of the battle were the orang-utans, who much sooner than later lay at the mercy of the humans.

A single, final shot was fired. Rivers of crimson now flooded the plains between the silent trees and cheering village. At that moment, it became obvious for all to see: man was simply never fated to coexist with one another.