It was the chatter of branches clashing together that caught her attention; ever alert to what lay hidden beyond the woods of the savannah. She understood to let complacency into her life was to encourage a danger that had taken so many of her kind. Her head bent down slightly allowing her a better vantage, her legs readied as the blood pumped faster into the long extremities. It came again, the sound that had frightened her. She stood there helpless and frozen to whatever was moving slowly and purposefully towards her.
The mare’s eyes widened as the spectacle emerged from the dense foliage she had hoped would shield her from the imminent threat. Its tiny frame and oddly familiar coloring made her second guess her initial conclusions of the sounds origin. Was this creature friend and not foe? Its shape suggested that it was a not a predator and yet she still felt apprehensive about it.
Several moments went by with no further footfalls by the small being. It stood as rigid as the large mare, an apparent victim to surprise as well. Its raised forelegs fumbled a slender limb, pointing it in her direction. She did not quite understand the significance of the action but it seemed obvious that the upright standing animal meant to communicate with her, the branch in its hands a token of some sort.
The mare lowered her lengthy neck until her brown eyes were aligned with those of her spectators. The gaze between the two now personal as each was able to see their reflection in the other’s shiny orbs. Now that she had got a closer look at the creature she understood that its chameleon tree-like skin was loose on its bones. The subtle shades of brown and green were quite convincing and she respected how such defense would help the little thing blend in well within the environment. Much like her skin, with large brown spots, the ability to meld into the savannah was an important step in survival for any creature that tended to be prey to the hunters of flesh.
She marveled at how long the animal was able to maintain itself on only two legs. What an unbelievably useful talent. She could only imagine the wonders within the canopy that could be hers if she were adept at such a skill.
Holding the branch in one hand the creature put a foreleg up to its mouth, a singular toe was then placed across its lips. “shhh.” A small whisper came as its eyes shifted to the left of her catching sight of something it had seen.
Her neck twisted tracking the line of sight of the other as she tried to ascertain the sudden change of interest in her. Just over her left shoulder off in the distance of nearly a hundred yards prowled a deadly tigress. Her mouth gaping open as she lightly panted, her eyes transfixed on a prey that must have been the mare.
The mare felt foolish, she had let the distraction of the smaller animal momentarily take her attentions of her surroundings. She had let this predator slink up to her desperately close, did she have time to evade it? Her heart again began to beat heavy in her chest preparing her for the inevitable flight that was soon to take place.
She watched as the tigress, knowing its hunt was discovered and that its prey was soon to flee, broke into an open sprint for her. The mare knew the tigress savored thoughts of sinking its long fangs into her meaty flank and thirsted for her warm blood that would splash across that gaping mouth.
An extremely loud blast of noise erupted from back at the small animal’s location. The mare snapped her head back in its direction. Smoke rose from one end of the slender tree limb clutched within its forelegs. A beaming smile commenced and its head lifted slightly in an approving nod. It then pointed back towards the tigress.
Fearful, the mare knowing she had yet again let this small creature distract her from the perils of the predator took a certain last look over its left shoulder. Before her lay the limp body of the female tiger its last breathe escaping from that gaping jaw. The mare’s head dropped in bewilderment; she did not understand what had just happened. She was thankful, but the actions of the recent events did not add up.
Several bright lights flashed as she returned her gaze to her rescuer. It was a final spook needed for her to finally get her feet to move under her girth. With long strides she vacated the area in a frantic dash that was surely more than the small creature could manage to keep up with.
The hunter had put her rifle away and was happy to have snapped a couple of photos before the giraffe had fled. She understood the poor creature’s dilemma. She herself was luckily to have sighted the tigress in time to fire off a shot, had she not done so an easy morsel she might have made as well.
(Thanks for letting me exercise my brain. I’m still not sure why that popped into my head when I read about your sweater, but it did. So thanks, I needed the break from my normal writings.)