Animal Dilemmas – Fennec Wolf

fennec fox running in the dessert
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Short Story

After taking a drink of water the Wolf and Lion collapsed on the cool damp rocks of the cave for a day long nap. The Lion woke first and felt old, the journey had aged it and stolen its strength of character. The Lion was nervous and tired and knew it could not go back. It was leader no more and no one would follow it.

‘This is my new home,’ the Lion said to the Wolf.

The Wolf was indifferent to the Lion’s fate. The cool cave have invigorated its muscles reminding it of its home in the north. The Wolf stood in the opening of the of the cave and knew that it could not step outside during the day. It had to find food and a direction, to go back and look for its master or go north toward home.

While the Wolf was making life choices gazing at the hot sands outside the Lion had caught a mouse and swallowed it whole. The Wolf craved to eat a mouse or a rabbit, or a fox but it knew it would have to settle for a lizard or a snake. The Wolf was young but on a cross road and uncertain of its future. The Lion was old but once it passed the lobby of choices it was content with its new home. It lay by the cool pond and napped with no thought on its mind.

The Wolf decided to rest until evening and then go out to hunt when the air and sand cool off and mice came out of their holes. It lay on its belly on the mouth of the cave and drifted in and out of a long sleep. In one of its wake moments with blurry tired eyes the Wolf thought it saw a fox. It was a small fox with very large ears that is why the Wolf thought it was dreaming. But when it closed it’s eyes the fox disappeared and when it opened them the fox moved along in the sand.

The wolf sprang up and shook his head and saw it clear, a Fennec Fox. The Fennec was walking slowly along a ridge of rocks and dry grass. The wolf made a few steps forward to see it better and knocked a few rocks out of the mouth of the cave. The Fennec halted, its large ears caught the rocks tumbling down and shot a look at the cave. The Fennec could see the strange beast and didn’t think twice.

It had just left its hole and a fresh litter of three. It would not go back there and risk the lives of the new generation. It shot like a lizard in the opposite direction into the wavy sand dunes. The Wolf was not far behind it, the prospect of a meal larger than a mouse had given its muscles a springing start.

The chase began.

Once again the Wolf was running for its life but this time on the back end of the chase. The sun was as unforgiving as when it was chased by the Lion. So the Wolf’s determination quickly sunk into the hot sand. It kept up with the Fennec for some time but the big eared fox was used to the hot desert and showed no signs of slowing down.

The Wolf was climbing a tall sand dune where the fox had disappeared over its edge. When it reached the top and looked on the other side the Fennec was nowhere in sight. The Wolf sat on the edge of the dune and looked around. The sun was setting and was utterly quiet. There was nothing but wavy sand dunes in sight, reddish from the sunlight.

‘Alone in a sea of sand,’ thought the wolf. ‘How did I get here. Who thought that after being born in the lush forest near a wide waterfall with two more brothers, I would end up here. Life had seemed promising full of rabbit chases and play, cool autumns with change of fur and cold winters with sheep stealing and delicious danger. I would have been happier inside a closely knit pack of wolfs of all generations, with the collective wisdom of an extended family. We would have stayed close in the cold winters and ran free through the familiar forests in the summer. But that giant had to take me as a little cub and feed me in cage, make me change my habits and never learn how to hunt like a real wolf. I can never go back to my own.’

The Wolf rolled back down from the dune until it reached the bottom. It got up and started back for the cave. Now with sun on its back the Wolf could see the marks in the sand well. The Fennec was coming back as well after doing a wide circle and was again in front of the Wolf. The Wolf hurried its step and soon saw the big ears diving over a dune.

The Fennec’s ears detected the labored chase of the Wolf and the tiny fox made another wide circle coming back into the dunes. The Wolf didn’t see it  or cared to continue the chase. It dragged itself to the cave, plunged into the water pond and fell asleep.

The Lion had regained its strength and focus of mind after eating several mice. It re-thought its situation and judged that it could still take back its kingship back home. But it needed more blood. The Lion bit the Wolf’s neck while it was sleeping and ate every muscle and drunk every drop of blood form the corpse over the next two days. It felt young again, its heart beating hard sending fresh blood to its legs and head. The Lion started for home confidently.

The Fennec made several loops of the dunes before it judged it safe to come back its hole. It found its litter of three awake and hungry but didn’t have any food for them. So it decided to tell them a story instead.

‘There was once a great and wise fennec,’ it started. ‘That fennec had a family and was doing everything it could to catch enough mice to feed them. But one day when it was hunting mice in the rocky desert a giant beast came out of the big black hole in the ground. A beast unseen in the desert. The beast was very hungry and started chasing the fennec to kill it and eat it. The fennec ran into the sand dunes to confused the beast. The fennec ran around the dunes in many circles until the beast was lost and tired. When the dunes saw the beast tired they took it into their embrace and the beast vanished in the sand. Only then the fennec return to its family.

next: Animal Dilemmas – Scorpion Fennec

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