Character Sketch: Bukefalos

Bukefalos sits still atop the only hill for miles. The hill, in another context so benign, a sloped pyramid, vivid with thick living grasses, worn flat and bare on top, repudiates all perspective by rising from the baked straw of the south, a sharp, darkly verdant protrusion from some foreign vital plain into this dry, dead one. It is steep, the hill, and the soft earth slows the climb, perhaps to let him prepare for an arrival. The small anomaly atop the hill is slightly larger than life-size, even in real life. His body is natural looking enough; He is seated in the dust, which is obstinately dry in spite of the well-nurse grass centimeters away, and his long thin legs are wrapped together. They are dark and sun-scarred and thick with hair. Around his groin is a thick canvas cloth, manufactured before. There are metal studs holding the fabric together, but the legs have frayed up to his hips. It doesn't look like he's moved in a while; these pants are victims of the elements. Above his waist, his gaunt torso sits similarly punished by the outdoors. His arms are thin and taut and his hands grip tightly around his knees. His head rises high above natural proportion. The Bukefalos of Legend, the decayed head of an ancient Buffalo, set atop his shoulders. The scruff of the animal hangs low, covering most of his chest, but the hair is graying from the unrelenting climate. The skin that remains is dessicated and hangs like a husk over the skull. There is fur still, but only in patches.

The head has not naturally decomposed. Pilgrims, having traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to see Bukefalos have contributed to his upkeep by occasionally sewing together overly rotted parts of his head, restretching his sky-tanned scalp back across large gaps of bleached bone and tying the irritating strays of fallen fur and cartilage up across his forehead, looking like a net of stripped and twisted flesh. One particularly delicate strip hangs braided and curled like a payot in front of his left ear, curling out from his head. The face of the skull is partially damaged. There is a long missing section of bone from where the jaw holds the right lateral incisor, to above the right eye socket, which appears to be missing. Over the crosshatched stray net, there is a long piece of skin from an unapparent location, which is tied over this hole, to a small knob of bone near the back of Bukefalos' crown. The leather is plain and unadorned. The left eye socket has lost the eyeball long ago, but while the fur around the hole has worn away, like an overused stuffed animal, there are lids, stuck to the edges of the skull, squinting around a leather-bound rock with symbology reminiscent of Native American art simultaneously looking eerily like a pupil staring out. The horns of the beast sit in their normal, expected buffalo places, but their tips have been ground off. A ferocious wind scalds this prairie continuously, but Bukefalos sits unmoving, surveying and judging the distance, silently understanding and surviving, eternally.