Tuesday, 25 September 2007

THE ANTIPODEANS by Marion de la Croix

(August's assignment was set by Gloria who selected an opening sentence onto which we must add our own 500 or so words to create a work of either fiction or non-fiction. The opening sentence reads:
"The lot of us met on Saturday afternoon as arranged.")

100 kilometres South West of Nairobi, Kenya

The following is a translation from the Massai language

The lot of us met on Saturday afternoon as arranged.
Abbasso swung down from the fever tree and nearly flattened Warty who had paused to scratch a flea that had niggled persistently in his armpit for the last twenty lopes.
‘Watch it mate’ the warthog growled to the Baboon.
‘Who’s snitchy today didn’t she come across last night then?’ Abbasso retorted, delighted to have touched a nerve.
Warty ignored Abbasso found the flea and crunched delightedly between his incisors.
‘You looked so funny Abbasso when you landed on Warty’s head’ giggled Chichi from behind the safety of Nzinga’s bulk.
‘Shut up vervet,’ Abbasso snarled.
‘Now now,’ roared Zhinzhi ‘lets have some order this is an important meeting.’
The rest of the animals formed a circle round the lion but Chichi kept her the hippo between her and Abbasso.
‘I’ll start. Who told you the kangaroos were coming Zhinzhi,’ an Impala called out
‘No one. I saw them I up near the border when I visited my cousin last week.’
‘How could they have reached inland so quickly?’
‘Have you seen how fast the bloody things hops? Wouldn’t be surprised if they made an appearance today.’
Alarmed everyone looked around.
‘Surely not Zhinzhi?’
‘I can tell you this. I watched them flee without a pause for a single hop before they disappeared over the horizon.
Gasps and cries of wonderment echoed round the clearing.
‘None of us can keep up such a pace for so long,’ muttered Nzinga.
‘Will they attack?’ Taglio asked then spotted a juicy blow fly close by, shot out his tongue retracted it and gulped.
‘Shit where has that one been?’ he grimaced.
He coughed aware he had everyone’s attention now and revelled in it.
‘You rotten chameleons, trust you to only think of your stomach even at a time like this,’ growled Titi.
‘I have to. You zebras are lucky everywhere you look there’s grass but I have to grab my food on the run.’
‘Tsk’ tutted the zebra haughtily and nudged her foal closer.
‘I say,’ said Mbobo from his elevated height amongst the acacias. ‘Can we please stick to the important issues?’
He wiggled his ears to chase a far too friendly tickbird from between his tufted horns.
‘I agree,’ said Zhinzhi.
‘Right first of all I cannot answer your question Taglio. If they do arrive I suggest we unite and approach them. They wouldn’t daren’t attack such a grand gathering as ours and we might be panicking for no reason.’
Overhead Mabili flapped his wings and screeched a warning.
‘Enemy approaching from the west!’ he cried and continued to ride the currents but kept an eye on the strangers.
Zhinzhi padded out of the clearing and gazed into the afternoon sun.
‘It’s them and they’re heading this way!’ he cried. ‘See what I mean they are constantly on the move.’
Everyone pushed and shoved eager to get a glimpse of the strangers.
‘Wow look at them go!’
‘They’re red!’
‘And they’ve got long tails!’
‘Look at their funny shape and they’re heads are only small!’
Suddenly everyone became aware of a thudding underfoot and felt threatened.
‘Calm down everyone!’ shouted Zhinzhi.
‘But they look like they’re on the attack’ screamed Juju.
‘What all of us at once don’t be such a fool hyena!’
‘Well I have to admit they couldn’t kill us all at once,’ he simpered.
The strange animals slowed and stopped about twenty lopes distance then propped on their behinds with their tiny feet tucked neatly into their chest. They showed no fear.
‘G’day,’ the smaller one called out.
Taken aback by the strange language Mbobo, due to his lofty appearance he took charge, stepped forward.
‘I beg your pardon?’ he asked.
The smaller kangaroo shook its head and looked at its partner.
‘Jeez Bluey I don’t understand their lingo.’
‘Its Massai Matilda I learned some when we were in the circus from the baboon.’
Bluey turned to the giraffe and hesitantly spoke in Massai
‘G’day hallo.’
‘Oh I see um.. I see you kangaroo,’ Mbobo said
‘I see you? What kind of a greeting is that mate?’ inquired Bluey.
‘It is our way.’
‘Strewth sounds weird to me anyway.’
‘What are you doing here?’ interrupted Zhinzhi.
‘Us well it’s like this mate we escaped from the Circus Oz.’
Everyone gasped. They had heard about circuses, evil places where men kept animal in tiny cages.
‘I’m so glad you escaped,’ whispered Chichi, ‘you can run free here with us.’
Bluey bent and peeped between the legs of the larger animals
‘G’day and who are you little one?’ he asked
‘I’m Chichi and I’m a Vervet.’
‘Oh well I’m called Bluey and this here,’ he turned to his partner, ‘is Matilda.’
‘Bluey!’ roared Zhinzhi, ‘but you’re red.’
‘Yeah mate anyone with red hair in Australia where we come from is called Bluey didn’t youse know that?’
Bluey scratched his head, smiled and looked round.
‘Youse’ all so friendly I could like it here.’
‘HERE!’ roared Zhinzhi.
‘Yep mate.’
Zhinzhi looked round the group.
‘I sorry but we must discuss this amongst ourselves before we can allow you to take up residence here.’
‘But were real friendly mate, we only eat grass seeds and berries and wouldn’t hurt a fly.’
‘They can stay,’ smiled Taglio happy to hear his fly supply was not threatened.
‘I agree.’
A chorus of voices echoed round the clearing.
Matilda smiled, glanced at Bluey then reached into what looked like her stomach and pulled out a miniature version of them both. Gasps of wonderment especially from the mothers rang round the assembly.
‘Thank you everyone. This is Joey.’

Marion de la Croix ©

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