Blind Strike

{September 4, 2007}   Cobra’s Lesson: Part II

Squirrel followed Cobra into an underground hollow. Cobra coiled himself around and around, folding back on his body until he resembled a spring. His head flared wide again. Squirrel pressed herself against the wall as far from him as possible.

“You follow me without questioning…?” said Cobra.

“I, Scorpion said I could trust you.”

“But, who is Scorpion?” Cobra’s tongue flicked out and back so quickly it resembled a flame to Squirrel, whose stomach was now heavy with dread. “Why do you trust him?”

Squirrel tried to be brave. She took a deep breath. “I had no choice. I just arrived and–”

“Wrong! You have choice. You lack power. You are alive right now only because you are too weak to give good sport. Ha! Helping. You come to me for helping? What do you think you are to me…a lovely soul, an apprentice? You are nothing but the lunch I can’t stomach. You don’t belong here, little Squirrel. But, you can stay until dark. Then be gone before I change my mind about your bony haunches.”

He left her just like that, trembling with fear and drinking the shame of her weakness. Cobra slithered further into his den, while Squirrel stayed put, breathing deeply. She stood that way for hours, afraid to move. Her gut roared its emptiness, but she quelled it, saying, “Be patient, stomach, it will soon be cooler. Then we can forage.”

From the tunnel Cobra had taken, an object bounced and skidded into the room. Squirrel could hardly believe her eyes: an acorn. She cradled the shiny nut in her paws, fell on her back, and tossed it into the air. Then, she tore into its soft flesh and chewed. Squirrel saved half for later, stuffing the uneaten portion into her cheek.

“Thank you!” she dared to call out to Cobra, who hissed long and low, and whispered, “What you should say, what you should want to know, is where? Where did I get it? Not far from here, little one. Not far. The desert is tricksy, a shifting mirage, but sweet nuts lie in hidden parts, mmmmn.”

Squirrel tried to imagine an oasis surrounded by oak trees. She couldn’t believe an acorn had gotten into Cobra’s desert lair. Around her, the air was cooling off, and Squirrel decided she should go out in search of water and more food. As she tiptoed around the corner, towards the opening above, Cobra called from behind her, “That’s more like it. Yes….”

Squirrel poked her head out of the tunnel’s entrance, into the orange dusklight. She sniffed the air for any trace of water, and felt drawn towards the westward horizon.

And that is the way she took, following her own nose.


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