Animal Dilemmas – Jerboa Coyote

short stories about dreams and reality

Short Story

The Coyote did not have a plan. It had been fed in captivity for so long that thinking ahead for itself was completely eliminated from its mind. When it ran out from tent it dove into the first palm grove and exited it into the vast sand dunes to the east. It followed the progression of dunes whose summits and micro valleys naturally lead the Coyote south-east.

The first moments of freedom were confusing. The Coyote followed the curves of the landscape without question. It was relived when the dunes gave way to crumbled rocks and dry bushes. It has lived most of its life in the dry desert and its lungs were used to the air. But it was mostly tied to the pole inside the tent hidden from the sun.

After the first two days its fur burned and started falling off. That made it to hide during the day and travel at night for the rest of its journey. The Coyote didn’t know how to hunt or look for water so it trusted its nose and its first instincts. It chaises rodents at night and avoided snakes during the day. It licked darker shaded sand to extract the moisture.

It had no skill or luck at hunting. It had only eaten a death scorpion it found, killed by ants. It are as many ants as it could in addition before they scattered. It was hungry, it could feel life evaporating through its skin, its fur war shabby and falling off. It often stubbed on scattered skeletons ages old.

It could no longer walk all night it took breaks to nap and regain its strength. During its rest the Coyote’s mind drifted in thought. It could not remember where it came from. Only flushes of blurred images came to it. The most vivd one of its capture by the shaman and the sharp pain that accompanied it. Since them it knew there was no pain as long as it stayed closed to the tent pole and didn’t stir. It was given food and it could sleep as much as it wanted. And it realized was probably going to die without ever living life as it was meant to be lived.

The Jerboa also known as the kangaroo of mice spent the hottest times of the day in its hole deep under ground. It was coming out for a first time in the late evening. The entrance to its hole was blocked by a knot of dry sticks and leaves right under the nose of the Coyote. The Coyote was too tired and depressed to smell the proximity of a good meal. The Jerboa however could smell the Coyote very well and stood still at the mouth of the hole without pushing out the ball of plants that blocked it.

The Jerboa was a solitary nervous creature with its only weapon very strong hind legs with which it could leap like a cricket. It was familiar with the local beasts and snakes and avoided them at all cost. The smell it detected although animal and faint was unfamiliar. After a while the rumbling of its empty stomach started thinking for it and the Jerboa pushed the knot of sticks out and leaped out of the hole.

It was facing the sleeping Coyote and could feel its breath but the miserable look of the animal didn’t inspire fear in it. The Jerboa stood still and sniffed the air. The Coyote’s rotting body overpowers all other odors so the Jerboa have up on signs of food carried by the wind.

It its nightmares the Coyote sneezed and woke up to face the tiny animal in front of it. The Jerboa didn’t wait for an introduction and dashed back into its hole halting only at the deepest niche in it. The Coyote was slow to move but its eyes followed the rodent as it vanished under ground.

It lifted itself to its feet and stuck its nose into the hole in the ground. It could smell the Jerboa and it felt that it was close and the hole was shallow so it started digging. It dug with excitement widening the hole and following its curves. When it got tired it rested sitting on the hole and napping for short periods to regain its vigor.

After a few cycles of digging and rest most of the night was gone and the hole still went deeper. The Jerboa was out in panic. First it consider to dig in and out a different exit but ruled it out as impossible. It decided to preserve its energy for the confrontation and use its agility and leap to escape the flagging Coyote.

The sun started climbing the heavens and the Coyote needed longer rests. Its head was spinning dizzy with the heat and lack of food. But its mind pushed it harder and harder to find success no matter the price because time was running out. The Coyote had invested every drop of energy in digging way more than would eating the Jerboa replenish. But that didn’t matter to the Coyote. All it mattered was not giving up and making up in this success for losses of a lifetime.

The sun walked to the top of the sky and back until it hid behind the horizon to make room for the stars. The Coyote knew it was close, the smell was strong and fresh. The Jerboa was actively nervous and shook with fear. As it could see the nose of the Coyote poking in.

The Coyote stopped digging, knowing that it could now reach the Jerboa with its front paw. It shook itself from the dust and sat by the opening of the last niche not taking its eyes off it. The Jerboa was shaking like a leaf. As the Coyote reached to the hole a desert eagle flew over diving for a snake. The Coyote followed the dark shadow of the bird as it passed over it. The Jerboa felt that distraction and without hesitating darted out and leaped across the desert with majestic jumps.

The Coyote didn’t see it and when it went back to hole and inspected it, a shattering disappointment made it collapse in the grave that it had dug out.

next story: Animal Dilemmas – Antelope Gnu Jerboa

previous story: Animal Dilemmas – Coyote Dung Beetle

all chapters: Animal Dilemmas

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photograph by forest999

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