Kreative Kue 280 asked for submissions based on this photograph:
John W Howell is a multiple nominated and award-winning author who blogs at Fiction Favorites. Details of John’s books can be found on his Amazon author page
“Don’t make a sound.”
“Don’t worry. I’m not nuts you know.”
“I wonder what he wants?”
“See that horn. You can take a guess.”
“Aren’t Rhino’s grass eaters?”
“Yeah, but tell him that.”
“I think he is lost.”
“Oh, come on. He wants to run us through and then stomp us into molecules.”
“Why do you suppose he picked us?”
“How do I know. I’m guessing he saw us and decided we needed to be taught a lesson.”
“Boy, that breath is something else.”
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to stand here and wait for him to make the decision. I’m taking action.”
“The last words said by a brave one and recorded by the steadfast and cowardly sidekick.”
“You gonna just wait for him to make a move?”
“Maybe he’ll forget.”
“Ha. He’s a cousin to the Elephant. Those brutes never forget.”
“Okay, then. You go, and I’ll be right behind you.”
“Wait. I just had a thought.”
“What is it.”
“We are tick birds, right.”
“Last time I checked.”
“I think he needs a going over.”
“Why didn’t he just say so?”
“You speak, Rhino?”
“No, of course not. You?”
“No. Just jump up on top of him, and let’s see what happens.”
“Look, he likes us.”
“Man, look at all the goodies.”
“This is heaven for sure. Look at him when I scratch right here.”
“It doesn’t get any better than this. Look up synergy in the dictionary, and you’ll see our picture.”
“You are just using hyperbole, right?”
“Most definitely. There’s no picture.”
“You had me concerned.”
“Eat your ticks, and enjoy yourself.”
“I could say the same.”
Na’ama Yehuda, who blogs at https://naamayehuda.com, offered this tale:
Melanie’s voice was low and urgent.
Naturally, I tried to look.
“No!” she hissed. “Stay still, Bethany! Don’t move!”
Naturally, I disobeyed. No way I was letting Melanie see something interesting and miss out on it! Bad enough she was born thirty minutes before me, and had to constantly remind me how she “was normally positioned” and I was “the butt-instead-of-head” one.
I looked … and almost had a heart attack! Not that I was gonna let her see it. I molded my almost-shriek into a grin. “Cool!”
“Bee!” she hissed.
She rarely used her baby name for me. Perhaps she was genuinely terrified.
“It’s fine, Meh-Meh,” I returned. The syllables felt simultaneously odd and soothing in my mouth. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d used my baby name for her. Being the younger twin, and always the smaller, I’d been self-conscious about not appearing babyish.
“It’s a rhino!” she mouthed.
“A baby rhino,” I tried hopefully. “I mean, I think it is.”
“Babies have mamas and even that so-called baby has a horn,” she shuddered. Her voice shook.
Suddenly suspicious, I chanced a look around to seek Gary. A moment earlier, our safari guide had ‘conveniently’ needed to go get something from the truck.
Even his silhouette appeared smug.
“So, Gary!” I called out, eliciting a gasp and a fetal position from Melanie. “Who’s that little one?”
The khaki-clad man stepped into the light of the fire he’d lit earlier. More for ambiance than for warmth. His grin was someplace between satisfied and embarrassed.
“It’s Barry,” he chuckled, clicked his fingers, and pulled a carrot out of his back pocket. “Our resident rhino.”
The gray beast sauntered closer. If Melanie could have drilled herself into the ground, she would.
“You terrified my sister,” I glowered at the guide.
I wasn’t really worried about her. I could see that she was trying to regain her composure (if not her self-respect). In fact, I was definitely going to get a lot of mileage out of this. But … she was my sister to torment. No one else had the right!
“Sorry,” his voice was only marginally contrite. “Barry is an unofficial part of the tour.”
“For those who survive,” Melanie muttered under her breath. She was still shaking.
The rhino lipped the carrot and chewed it noisily, then took a step in our direction. Melanie squeaked.
Well, those who come out butt-first apparently have stronger constitutions. I stood up. “Got more carrots?”
My effort was
“Where are we and what in the name of all that’s sacred is that?” I asked my driver.
It was the beginning of the third week of the four-week grand tour my folks had given me as my coming-of-age gift. The first week was spent in the Mars settlement known throughout the world as Trump’s folly. It wasn’t named after the one who briefly and disastrously held the office of President of what was the United States of America, but after one of his grandsons, who had the brilliant idea of seeding Mars with wildlife, genetically engineered to survive on the red planet and to be targets for wealthy idiots who derive pleasure from killing defenceless animals in the name of ‘sport’. The settlement was designed in the form of a luxury hotel (what else?) whose only purpose was to pander to its fiscally rich but morally worthless guests. Why folly? Not as a nod to the ornamental but worthless buildings so beloved of the rich Victorians – although that does work – but in recognition of the sheer stupidity of the project. You see, although the animals could survive the rigours of life on Mars, they were, every one of them, infertile. Given the losses to the high-powered laser weapons used by the clients and the ancient virus that was unearthed, or should I say unmarsed when five ‘hunters’ simultaneously fired their weapons at a single animal. That ‘animal’ turned out to be a rock (such was the skillset of the participants) and its destruction allowed a long-dormant pathogen to become less so, dormant, that is. My sojourn there was in the early part of the twenty-second century.
For my second week, I was the house-guest of an ageing Charles Darwin. What a fascinating week that was! We spent our evenings together relaxing in front of the fire in his lounge – it was the winter season at the time – where he explained to me everything he had learned during his voyages and subsequent studies. For my part, I passed on to him some of the results of more recent research which should have led him to modify some of his theory. Quite rightly, in my view, he chose to keep to himself what I had told him, reasoning that if he were to modify his writings, then the research of which I had spoken to him might never happen. He seemed to have a grasp of the concept of time paradox even then, in the middle of the nineteenth century – a full thirty years before HG Wells’ Time Machine was published.
The driver of the vehicle in which I just found myself handed me an envelope and sat in silence whilst I opened it and read its contents.
Headed ‘Week Three‘, it simply said ‘Location: East Africa, Earth. Time period: Third quarter, twentieth century. Enjoy.‘
“East Africa?” I asked.
“Yes, Sir. Tanzania, Serengeti,” the driver replied, “I am Desmond.”
“Desmond? That doesn’t sound African.”
“No, Sir. When I became Christian, I was able to leave my tribal name behind and choose my own name to reflect my new faith. I chose Desmond.”
“Why did you choose Desmond?”
“I thought to myself that if it is good enough for Archbishop Tutu, then it is good enough for me.”
“Fair enough, Desmond. You can call me—”
“Barry. Yes, I know. It is written on my instruction sheet.”
“What is the animal? I don’t recall seeing anything like that before.”
“It is a Black Rhinoceros.”
“A black rhino? Wow. I thought they were extinct.”
“No, Sir, Mr Barry. The whites are in severe decline everywhere, but the blacks are doing okay so far.”
“Should I be worried?”
“Not with me here. I know this one. He has charged many times, but always turns away before hitting anything.”
“That is true. But I think I would see in his eyes if he was about to attack.”
“Okay, I’ll trust you, Desmond. But how dangerous is it? Do they ever kill? I mean, it’s big – and that front horn looks serious.”
“It is, but this one is okay. I wouldn’t try to upset him, though. If he’s annoyed, he can turn very quickly and, even though he weighs about a ton and a quarter, he can run at up to thirty miles an hour for a short time.”
“And how fast can this thing go?” I asked, referring to the vehicle around us.
“This old bus? Faster than that,” he said with a chuckle as he started the engine and pulled gently away.
On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.
Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries next Monday.