It was a feeling of safety, a comforting presence.
The pressure enveloped the being as it drifted in a haze.
It felt good and right and all was well, until it wasn’t. Suddenly the pressure didn't feel comfortable anymore.
It was squeezing, constricting from everywhere. Trapping.
The creature struggled for the first time, feeling itself move, getting a sense for its shape.
Its four legs, head and tail all surged against the constricting force.
The pressure lessened, but it wasn't enough. A new pressure built, but from inside. The creature’s chest burned.
It strained again, pushing with all of itself.
The pressure relented more, and suddenly there was new sensation. Its head burst out of its cage and a blur of light entered its eyes, and it stopped, shocked to stillness. Filled with awe it processed this new sensation.
And the internal pressure came back with force, the creature started heaving, coughing up fluids, as its lungs filled with air for the first time. Another wonderful new sensation, it knew this was right.
It blinked its eyes and the lights grew clearer. Looking at the lights hurt but…
The small thing stared, entranced. Light streamed in through the entrance of the cave, beams dancing in the mist drifting around the cavern, twinkling in rainbows. Its large ears were overwhelmed by the sounds of wind, water, and life. Clicks, swooshes, cracks, and whistles creating a soundscape that it had trouble processing.
It inhaled again through its nose slits, and was assaulted by a plethora of smells, all jumbled together.
Awe. It felt awed by all the wonderful change, and stayed still, coming to terms with its new reality.
A short time later it came back to itself and started looking around its surroundings.
It noticed that its head was sticking out of an egg; there were many more on the ground surrounding it.
And there were other creatures.
It knew these were its siblings like a feeling. An instinct.
Their whole bodies were pitch black, four-legged with a thick tapering tail that made for half of their length. They stood similarly to cats but with a body covered in pitch black scales.
Their faces were rounded, more bulge than snout. Two slits for nostrils, Large eyes, and a wide line for a mouth, filled with sharp piranha-like teeth. Their heads were topped with large cat-like ears, except leathery, and scaled on the outside, like the rest of their body.
Their large eyes were wholly black barring a bright yellow slash down its center for a pupil. There was no noticeable difference between iris and sclera.
They were not all identical. There was one main differentiator, namely that around half had an extra bit hanging underneath, and tended to be bulkier and wider. The others lacked the extra thing, and instead had a slit, further back by the tail.
Male and Female.
It knew the difference instinctually, not in words but in feeling.
Aside from the major dividing factor, they all differed from each other somewhat. Some were bigger than others and had subtly different structures. Nothing obvious but the differences were recognizable to the new hatchling.
It wondered about itself. It flexed its muscles again, and brought its forelimbs out from the hole it had made for its head. Heaving, it pulled itself out on to the ground, breaking more of the shell on the way.
It took a second to orient itself and stood up, then thought for a moment and plopped itself on its side and checked between its hind legs. She was female.
She wiggled with the new information. She was female! She didn’t know if that was good or bad or what it meant but she knew it and that was good. She liked… knowing things. She liked that she had wanted to know a thing and then had done something to learn it.
She wondered what else there was to know. Eyes brimming with curiosity she got back to her feet and suddenly realized she was very hungry. She realized she could smell the gunk covering her and it seemed appetizing.
She started to lick the gunk off herself and realized that her tongue was quite long. She took a couple of moments to watch it as she wiggled and contorted the appendage, before going back to licking. The gunk tasted pretty good. She quickly finished and moved on to the egg, filled with more of the goop, and also smelling good itself. She easily drank it down and her teeth made short work of the shell.
She was no longer hungry, but was fascinated by the new experience of tasting. She wondered what other things tasted like. For that matter, she wondered what they looked and felt and smelled and sounded like too.
She licked some of the dirt off the ground and realized that it tasted bad. And was crunchy. She jumped in happiness and let out a small shriek.
A good number of the others started at the sound, looking at her, before going back to what they were doing. Namely laying around sleeping, with some busy eating their eggs.
She spent some time exploring herself, twisting around to see her different parts, using her limbs to touch, before going back to using her tongue as that was a lot more flexible. She came to the conclusion that she looked about the same as her other siblings, but hopped off to examine them more closely to see if she missed something.
Wandering over to a sleeping male, her efforts were quickly stymied when he woke up and whipped around with bared teeth and claws, hissing and growling. She quickly retreated, and wandered off to find another, but received the same treatment.
After this repeated itself several times she realized her siblings would rather be left alone.
She felt discouraged by the rejections, but quickly cheered up and decided to taste some of the rainbows that were floating around in the light beams.
She spent awhile jumping around trying to snag one, and then approaching slowly after finding that the rainbows always seemed to dart away before she could catch them. Despite her best efforts, she had to give up. They were too fast and tricky. But she did notice they only seemed to move when she moved her head, and despite looking very pretty they didn’t have a smell or sound. They didn’t behave like anything else she looked at.
She wasn’t sure about them. She couldn’t quite wrap her head around how she could see something but have it not really be there, but was happy regardless. She had learned stuff despite her failure to catch a rainbow.
She started to wander around the cave, seeking out new things. She found bugs and cracks and rocks of different shapes and sometimes colors. There was moss in many places, and although it didn’t taste as good as the bugs it was a pretty green, which was made it just as good in her mind. She had celebrated many times.
She thought about going out into the light but found it was too bright once she got near the entrance, hurting her eyes and forcing them shut when she left the cover of the cave. She did manage to see many wondrous things from further back though.
She saw trees, grass, vines and mushrooms, although she didn't know the difference then. She smelled and heard many new things. She’d have to explore out there at some point, but for now, there was more to explore in the cave.
She found a waterfall deeper in the cave, being fed from a hole higher up in the wall. It splashed down, feeding a small stream and spraying up mist.
Mist from here?
Another great discovery! She rejoiced again and found herself being thirsty and drinking from the stream, resorting to just sticking her face in and taking bites. She thought she could figure out a better way but this seemed to work.
That was about it for the cave, the stream flowing back to another hole in the floor. Despite her curiosity, her instincts told her it would be a really bad idea to jump in the water to see where it led. The deeper water scared her.
By this point, she was feeling pretty tired, worn out from her explorations, and all the new experiences. She walked her way back through the group, finding a spot with some soft moss. Curling up, she laid down to sleep for the first time.