Friday, June 12, 2015

The Cobra Strategy (Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge)

South African Rinkhals (spitting) cobra
Animals in South Africa are the topic of another teaser from Ken Cummings' memoir Meant to Be Here (which I am helping him write.) 

When we moved from Evander to Marievale in 1975, we moved into a kleinholding on the edge of the South African mining community. Our small house with its huge lot was designed to be land enough for a vegetable garden, a small maize field, a chicken house, or some other small agricultural venture.

A four-foot back fence separated our land from the vlei, a wild space that was home to ground-dwelling bats, multitudes of rodents, meerkats, and snakes. Lots of snakes.

Our Great Danes, Larl and Bortan, and our grey tabby pair, Mubi and Vala, were soon joined by a trio of Muscovy ducks who ate weeds and bugs from the enormous lawn and laid their eggs—three to five a weeknear the pond by the back fence. 

We converted a barn-sized garage at the back to a rabbit ranch, and began producing meat and skins for sale to the Zulu and Xhosa working on the mine. The mine workers relished the additional meat, but they really desired the skins. These were used to make dressy anklets and wristlets for the mine dancer performances.

Our breeding pair had names (Ferdinand and Isabella), but the litters they produced were just meat. The ducks had names when we got them, but they were so identical that in the end, we simply referred to them as "the Sachas." 

These domestic animals lived together in harmony. The cats tolerated the clumsy galloping Danes, and eyed Ferdinand from a respectful distance when he was allowed to graze the lawn. but their hunting instincts were galvanized by scents that blew in from the vlei. At least once a month, we would come into the kitchen for breakfast and find a flopping bat expiring on the tile floor. 

Vala was the worst offender for bringing her game in from the vlei. I believe the male Mubi simply ate his catch in the grass behind the fence. Vala wanted to "provide" for us...

This week's Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge plays right into this reminiscence. I'm not entirely sure which way this rescue goes—I know the cats were not pleased when we stole their thunder!

June 10, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an animal rescue. It can be a typical dog or cat rescue from the pound, or helping a critter less fortunate. Go where the prompt leads you.

This flash is not fiction; it really happened just this way.

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The Cobra Strategy

Tense bodies stressed the grass on either side of the cobra curve. A step, and the Rinkhals snapped right to Mubi's movement. While the venomous glare was directed at him, Vala took a single step from the left.

Turn about, the pair stalked closer to the spitting cobra. He couldn't "see" them; every time his eyes fell on a cat, it was frozen in place, and the cat behind him stepped closer.

Any moment it could spew airborne venom at my cats. At last, an opening! My push-broom pinned it, and I severed its head with a kitchen knife.