As the earth starts to cool, and darkness falls across the veld, I make my way out from my
hidey-hole. The heat to hot and the cold too cold. It is in the shadows of summer night’s that is my place of delight. Along the dry, blades of grass, I go at fair pace. A great mountain ahead, with holes plenty. Vibrations felt across the earth, I follow with eager.
From memory before my slumber, a number of prey were at my pickings. Caged, unable to escape, just room for me to enter and eat.
Into the mountain I go. Beneath the bristles, a gap just my size. Undetected in the
pitch black. On my stomach I slide along the smooth, cool surface. From side to side I cast
my eyes. Not a single rodent does scurry; no fluffy big one, nor a predator in sight. Without a sound, silent, and deadly in the night, I slide on.
Weaving around and beneath strange rocks, a sudden vibration stops me in my tracks. My eyes dart from side to side, and under on large mound I hide. A large predatory creature walks past. Not a hiss I did sound, but as my tongue flickered out and retracted just as fast my mind registers the molecules of a scent. Picked up by my tines, it is sweet, familiar, delicious. I flick my tongue back out to confirm and in less than a second, I am sure. It is not in the direction of the animal that just past. I wait curled in defence hoping to remain undetected. It has been months of torpor, and now that I’ve rested, it was time to rise.
Sidewinding, flicking my tongue, eyes honed, I follow the aroma. Rounding the
corner, I twist and bend and with a twinge of glee, my hunger may come to an end. In sight,
some small animal, but bigger than me. Confused for a moment, I paused, for this smells like those prey that were once cooped around here. Such delicacy, my tummy grumbles. My mind does not wish to reason as to why this one looks different. Smells like food, must be food. Focused with eyes opened wide, raising my head, stealthily I wriggle closer.
Round and round I turn; up and up I go. My salivary glands tap into the alveoli, where my stored reserves are kept. So potent is that first strike, after such rested inactivity, it will only take one bite. Head weaving from side to side, trying to decide where I shall strike. Inch by inch, sneaking closer, now a mere metre. It twitches as it sleeps so unaware.
Near it heads the scent is stronger. Perhaps this end is tastier. My stomach growls at me to hurry up already, such predatory impatience. There is no rush, this animal will not run or fight.
Rising. Head upright, back arched straight, no need for my beautiful hood. Such a shame I won’t get to flan it. With clear concise, my eyes narrowed. I lunge forward, striking hard, my fangs sink in with a ripping sound. I retract and pull back as the animal jumps, but not to their feet. I strike again and again, my weapon released. The animal’s makes a loud noise, the vibrations are strong, and jumps over top of me. Before I can strike again, they run out of sight.
My stomach rumbles in defeat, no meal for me, but a small satisfaction as my work
cannot be undone. I scorn myself with grim dismay, one shot, blown. The animal’s blood
lingers in my mouth, my tines detecting its mistake. This was not like the prey I once fed on here, no, it was different, not so sweet. How could I have been so wrong? But there was no
time to wallow in defeat. Vibrations thudded across the land.
Down I slid, not bothering to wind or zigzag. Along the cool, smooth floor I go, and through the gap of bristles that scratch. A large predator vibrating near my back. I hurry into the shadows, not slowing, not one bit. No trepidation felt, just a will to live and eat.
Any lingering warmth from the day’s warmth long gone, I slide between the blades. I raise my head to check my eyes are not wrong. Another mountain, full of holes. I do not dare
enter this one. I am not designed to strike every probable food that crosses my path. One meal is all I need for now. Large prey is not ideal. If attacked that is different, my predatory instincts take over and rather than end up dead, it is a fight to the death and with my toxin, it wouldn’t be mine. That was the one resolve I found comfort in. It had seen me right in all my years, even as a young, smaller, version of myself, my fight had be wicked and my bite fatal. Sure I had scars, but then who didn’t. Even the best fighter at the top of the predatory chain had to have some.
It’s on to the next house where the same fate awaits, but this time, let’s hope the animal does not wake.