This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Thursday, 11 October 2012

At The Water Hole

Don’t tell me,” said the Hyaena, as they called him because of his hobbling run. He picked up his assegai. “Let me find out for myself what this wonder is.”

“Be careful,” said the Elephant, large, fat and somnolent except when roused to a fury. “I’ll go with you.”

The girl pointed back towards the water hole. “It came down there,” she said. “It was as big as the king’s kraal.” She struggled with herself a few moments, the play of emotions clear on her face. “I’ll go with you too,” she said.

“Why do you want to come with us?” asked Hyaena. “”Silly girl,” he muttered.

“Do you think that’s really a good idea, Oryx?” asked Elephant, watching the girl and her nude beautiful body. He knew Oryx was in love with Hyaena and wondered whether she knew it herself. She nodded, her small head nodding, the ritual scars on her cheeks outlining the contour of her cheekbones.

“I’m going with you,” she said with determination. She was very beautiful, and Elephant watched her slim naked body next to Hyaena’s muscular warrior’s form and saw that they were indeed made for each other, and remembered, too, that Hyaena’s father could pay the bride price of forty cows, and was envious indeed.

They walked down to the water hole. The object lay on the other side, as the girl had said, in the centre of a huge burned patch of grass and scrub. It was shining silver in places and coppery in others and the bottom of the thing was black. As they skirted the water hole, the smell of it came to them, the smell of burned grass, hot metal, and a stranger, stronger smell too, a smell beyond anything any of them had ever encountered before.

“It must be something evil,” said Hyaena.

“Why do you jump to conclusions?” Elephant asked. “You don’t know anything about it, whether it’s good or evil or anything at all.”

“I say it’s evil, fat one,” said Hyaena, glaring at Elephant, and stabbed at the object with his assegai. The metal rang with the blow, and a small plate near the top of the thing loosened and tumbled off. Something slurred and slugged itself out of the opening, a thing of grey moist flesh and tentacles and clawed hands and huge, lidless eyes.

“Greetings,” said this being, in the tongue of the People, when it had finally dragged itself out of the metal. So loathsome was its appearance that they were all struck with a sort of paralysis, and Hyaena did not even stab it with the assegai. “I come in peace,” it said, hunching itself to its full height, so that they had to crane their necks backward to look at what passed for its face. “I am...” and it said a word which was so disgusting, in the language of the People, that they could not but believe that it was only a coincidence that the creature’s name was that. The thing seemed to realise their quandary. “You can call me...Glob.”

“What do you want, Glob?” asked Elephant, finding his voice at last. “How can we help you?”

“I am here,” said Glob, “to open bridges of friendship to your people. I come from a far world, a world so far that the light from it takes longer than you can imagine to reach you. But I have ways to reach your world. I want one of you to come back with me.”

“Why?” Elephant instinctively drew back behind Hyaena and his assegai.

“I need someone bold and brave,” said Glob, “to show my people what wonderful people you are, so that our races can have peace and friendship forevermore.” It looked at Hyaena and then at Elephant. “You understand?”

“You take him,” said Elephant, pointing. “He’s the perfect one, the best warrior of the tribe, and the bravest.”

“Yes,” said Hyaena. “it will bring me great honour. Take me!”

Glob’s tentacle head swivelled slowly from one to the other, and then its hand shot out, grabbed a brown arm, and yanked. There was a sudden scrabbling sound, a clang of metal hatch closing, and with a flash and a roar the silvery object had vanished into the sky.

Sadly, but sad for very different reasons, Hyaena and Elephant watched it go.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2009


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