By Hunter Doughty
The peach-red sky splayed across her doorstep. Infiltrating into the darkened room, it creeped across her apartment aback the cool a.m. breeze. She stumbled out of grogginess to pull on khaki shorts and her usual blue t-shirt. The familiar logo stretched proudly across its front. She braided her lengthy blond hair and brushed her teeth.
Gathering datasheets, cameras, laptop, and phone, she zipped up the ever-burdened backpack and slung it over her shoulder. With a final jingle of her keys, she walked out the door.
Across the landing were two similarly dressed comrades. With sleepy smiles they exchanged hellos and headed down the stairs. A second pair of logo-bearing shirts met them at the motorbikes, and they were off. A caravan of research clothes, backpacks, and scientific minds.
The humidity of rainy season had given way to crisp fall mist that chilled her bare legs along the curved road. They drove on, passing shopkeepers opening their stalls for the day, monks collecting alms from the pious, and town dogs milling sanguinely about their familiar turf.
It was an awakening commute. The cold air mixed with fresh surroundings to bring her into full consciousness of the day ahead. She flicked on her right blinker and slowed into the gated drive. Passing from asphalt, to gravel, to dirt, the motorbikes navigated their way down the slim road that wound along the Ruak River and its surrounding grasslands.
On the final turn she caught sight of them. The grand creatures that had become a staple in her daily life. With gray wrinkles, rounded backs, gently flapping ears, and swaying trunks, they could only be elephants.
Parking their bikes, the team filed out to the research station and began setting up. Buckets of sunflower seeds, objects testing sensory modality, and tripods for documentation, were all a part of the proverbial routine.
Glancing down the drive she could see a large bull elephant and his mahout making their way towards them. Somjai was a handsomely tusked male whom they worked with often.
With everything in place, and the 4,000 plus kg pachyderm standing before them, they began their study.