The darkness is his friend. But he knows that his friend will soon abandon him.
He moves with deliberation, keeping to the shadows of this new and alien world. The city. (Atlanta, his mind says. In the state of Georgia.) He has studied it, through newspapers and books, and through television, but the reality is different. A world of strangeness, new sights and sounds. It must be experienced to be understood, and this experience, he knows, will take time. Adam, the Blackmane, knows he will have to learn fast if he is to remain free. Or even survive.
He moves down an alleyway between two buildings; these latter seem abandoned. An animal of some kind hisses at him from its nest amidst a pile of wooden crates and trash. He pauses for an instant, then moves on. No time to investigate, or for a meal. The alley opens onto a narrow street. Across from him is a tall building with its windows boarded-up and writing splashed across its brick facade (graffiti, his mind says). Next to it is a chain-link fence, topped with concertina wire and choked by snake-like vines.
A dirt and gravel path runs between these two, disappearing into greater darkness. He follows it. It leads to a lot full of tall weeds and abandoned playground equipment (his mind recognizes the rusted skeletons as such). Across the lot are more people. Unlike the several he has seen since his escape, who have all been content to leave him alone (moreso the ones that got a good look at him), these new people begin to move towards him. Adam recognizes the behavior. He has trespassed in their territory, and now they must attempt to defend it. Typical response from a predator. Adam watches the approaching forms for a moment. The wind shifts and he catches their scents. Black men. A different flavor to their scent than whites. Testosterone. These are aggressive males. Shadowy outlines moving against a backdrop of velvet darkness. But he already knows everything about them.
He moves on. Not from fear. Fear does not play a part in his reasoning. He does not desire this territory; therefore he has no need to kill these men to take it. They run after him, but he knows they will abandon the chase after a short distance. He gives them no further thought.
A light blinks on and off atop a tall pole, a million insects swarming in its yellow-orange glow. He skirts it, moving around another building. This one holds occupants. Might he claim this place for his den? No. If he drives away these occupants they will soon return, with others. (The police, his mind says.) These people have laws against taking another’s den. He would have to kill these people, then.
He moves on. The building does not suit his needs. He needs a place from which to come and go with ease, a place to provide shelter and cover, to hide him from the eyes of these Human animals during the daylight hours. A place that affords sight and sound, smell. This building (this house, his mind says) would provide none of this. He must have a den from which he will know if his enemies are getting close. Like his den back in Kenya, where the wind always told him when an interloper was near. A safe place, a hidden place.
He sees it at last. The ground slopes downward here, with a pathway of rocks and dirt and broken glass leading towards the wide maw of a cave. A concrete cave, with straight sides and a flat roof. (Some sort of drainage ditch, his mind says.) Perfect.
He moves with caution, approaches the tunnel at an angle. He can see well enough. His eyes, like a great cat’s, are covered with a transparent membrane composed of guanine. This makes them super-sensitive to light, and causes them to emit a dull greenish glow as he advances toward the concrete cavern. Two glowing demon eyes, a warning to anything waiting inside the deep, black, square hole.
He sniffs. Many odors, among them the scent of a Human. So this den already has an owner. No matter. It soon will not. He will claim this den as his own.