At The Riverbank
Thirst and instinct drove him to the water’s edge. The black stripes on the otherwise white horse-like animal make him stand out from the yellow-orange savanna behind him. This is the zebra. His young muscular body gives testimony to his age. He had escaped several times from the ambushes of the lions and leopards that he shares his land with. Even at his young age, he has seen his herd partners fall victim to the fangs and claws of the savanna felines, jackals, and hyenas. To the horror of his simple yet intricately tortured mind, he witnessed his partners strangled, mauled, and left to nothing but bloody, fly-infested skeletons. This relaxing moment, rare as it is, is his reward for the strength, speed, and cunning that saved him. He looks down. The dirty, murky water seems disgusting. However, his thirst leaves him with no choice. In fact, the soil-riddled water now seems appealing to him. He moves his head down and takes in the first gulp. The water is not pungent, but actually quite satisfying and tasteless. This refreshing moment seems to be a gift to the zebra. In reality, it is the zebra that is a gift for something else. Just then, the water explodes in front of the zebra. His view is blinded by the flying, foamy water. He instinctively attempts to pull back. However, he immediately feels something clamp down on his right foreleg with insane pressure. He feels several pointed objects pierce his leg and cries out in pain. Then with great speed he is pulled into the now fierce and uneven water. He is momentarily pulled under the surface but puts all his strength into forcing his way back up. Resurfacing from the murky invisibility he encountered underwater, he sees his attacker still holding on to his now broken leg. The creature has a dark bronze colored, muscular, scaly body and a large head with long jaws filled with cone-shaped teeth. This is the Nile crocodile, the largest predator in Africa. In a fear-stricken rage, the zebra tries to bite and kick at his foe. However, this only agitates the crocodile enough to perform his killing move. The large reptile then applies all his strength to the clamping jaws, temporarily immobilizing the panicking zebra with excruciating pain, and then turns his large body and rolls swiftly. The zebra is unable to do anything as he is forced back underwater and painfully swirled around. He begins to uncontrollably take in water through his nose and mouth as he tries to find air. The brown murkiness of the water slowly changed to a red color. As his lungs begin to fill up with water and his own blood, his pain leaves his mind. He sees no crocodile, no blood, and none of his herd members. Consciousness falls away, and the zebra soon dies. Back on land, the herd looked on with a simple-minded amazement. Death is a concept no animal can understand. They all soon turn their heads and carry on with their usual lives as the bloody pool only serves to deter them. Their partner is gone. This is an event they have seen many times over. The youngest zebras are still shocked with the intense sensation of fear and confusion. Regardless, the herd begins to move back to the grassland. Sunset eventually arrived, and the red pool where the dismembered carcass of the zebra laid was shrouded in darkness and became black. The sounds of diurnal nature dissipated, and the great event was soon forgotten.