by Ellen B. Denton
He walked quietly among the leaves, every sense organ available to him at full alert and extending out in all directions. Despite his deafness, he always had a 360-degree sweep of what was going on around him. This was pure instinct for him and had been since he was born.
As he continued making his way along a barely discernible path, he could smell the rich earth scent around him and a faint odor of rotting vegetation. Textures of things--stones, moisture, warmth, sticks--whatever he touched as he moved, stood out in sharp relief. The temperatures, surfaces, sights, and smells of his environment were each distinct, yet all worked together to make one harmonious, sensory whole. Unhearing, he read his world's messages with hair-trigger sharpness and clarity.
He was almost there, then stopped dead in his tracks. There were vibrations coming from something far off in the distance; he could feel them through the ground getting closer. He quickly moved behind a tall rock and waited.