in Short Stories Edit
Camouflage Experts (1) Solving the Mystery of Molodi’s Moving Rock – a Short Story
This little story is for the children who have been following my blog entries. See if you can solve the secret of the moving rock. At first no one knew what we saw, but perhaps I should start at the beginning, when I first saw the rock.
The refuse collectors arrived at our house very late on a Friday afternoon. Even though it was past four o’clock, it was still too hot to go outside without wearing a sunhat. They wanted to speak to me, so they hooted very loudly, forcing me to leave the house quickly, without putting my hat on. They were very excited and wanted to show me something – something I had to buy. I decided to find out what was inside their large, dirty paint-bucket first, before parting with my money.
Inside the bucket, I saw a rather strange-looking rock. It tried to move. What sort of a rock is this then, I wondered. So rather than leaving it any longer in a hot, noisy, bumpy truck, I bought it for one-hundred Pula, about $10 – just to see what it really was. I also felt sorry to see such a large rock inside such a narrow bucket. As soon as the garbage collectors had gone, I removed the rock from the bucket with a struggle. Finally the rock was out and I was surprised. . . The rock was beautiful and different; flat at the bottom and curved at the top. It was also very heavy, but I carried it to my rockery, sweating and breathing fast in the heat.
The rock should be happy and safe here, among the aloes and succulents. They look so friendly, showing off their lovely yellow, orange and red colours, I thought while going off to fetch water.
Meanwhile, a few sparrows, two crimson-breasted shrikes and a lovely hoopoe all came to perch on a nearby fence. They were chattering, tweeting and hoop-hooping very loudly, flapping their wings and looking back and forth at my rock – no longer among the aloes – it moved into longer grass. Are the birds afraid, I wondered. Then I noticed that the chickens were squawking, cackling and pecking at one another, keeping a safe distance from my rock. I was astounded. What was happening to the animals and birds? Have they never seen such a strange rock before? I haven’t seen one like that for many years as well, I thought, being convinced that my rock was extraordinary, a very unusual sight.
The goats confirmed that the rock was indeed something special and not often seen by humans, animals or birds living in the area. They took no chances. The bravest of them – an old, long-horned, brown-and-white coloured goat – came forward to inspect the rock first, but immediately moved back a few steps. He kept going backwards and forwards for about five minutes while the rest of the goats kept their distance. After that the whole herd did the same. They’re doing a comical square-dance, I decided, laughing out loud.
At first, the rock was limping badly. Yet, it was determined to find some grass to eat. Once it started munching, it didn’t stop at all; ignoring me, the goats, chickens and birds. Even when my dogs, Jack and Jill came closer to have a quick look, it didn’t seem too worried, hiding its head – for just a moment – inside its house. Then the head popped out and the rock kept on eating. Is the rock a large shell, or what? Amazing. . . but I must do something about protecting it, I thought out loud, looking at the dogs. They just stared straight ahead, pretending that they didn’t hear me, not even wagging their tails.
By now, I’m sure that you’ve solved the mystery of the moving rock. You might have thought that the rock could be a snail, but snails are much smaller and definitely not heavy. Snails also leave trails of slimy, sticky stuff wherever they go, whereas the rock just flattened all the grass as it limped along for the first few days. Once the limp was gone and it became stronger, I was also surprised to see how fast it could move around. As soon as he saw that no one was watching, he used to hide himself right underneath one of the larger aloes. Sometimes we could not find him, no matter how carefully we searched.
I’m not saying much more about the moving rock and what happened to it, but if you want to make sure that you guessed correctly, look at the second set of photographs at the bottom of this page. Now you will understand why this ‘rock’ is such an excellent camouflage expert!