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The Best of the Bargain

Not based on true events 

She crept along the Caribbean underbrush, her long nose swaying from side to side as she went, detecting any scent, faint or strong, which hovered over the ground. The world was plunged in darkness as her shrew-like form skittered along the sweet-smelling soil. She was of the race of Hispaniolan Solenodons, and like the few others of her race, was searching now for food. Her dinner is alike, yet not alike to ours. She, like us, nibbled at fruit she passed, and loved her greens. Yet, she also took  part in a feast of spider, and worm, lizard and fly, which few of us would dare to consume. The solenodon felt quite safe and contented during this nocturnal foraging, for she heard no predators, beheld no predators, and smelled no predators. But that did not mean that here were none watching her from afar. High above, beneath the shadowy canopy of leaves, flew an immense bird on silent wings. Its form was only a dismal grey in the moonlight, though in truth its  hue was white and brown. Its eyes were roving here and there, scanning the land below it for a potential meal, and with with these keen orbs, it detected her movement far below and began to lower itself in a noiseless swoop. Then, with precision worthy of a missile, it pounced suddenly upon its prey. In that moment, the solenodon felt its attacker’s sharp talons grasping her middle, and in her immense pain and distress, surprise and horror, she let forth a resounding call. But the owl who gripped her was not to be her end, for it had gravely  miscalculated its odds of an attack on this large insectivore. Soon, to its astonishment, it found itself  not now the attacker but the attacked. The solenodon struggled like a mad thing, and could not be raised from the ground, so great was her weight. Soon, the owls legs were hatched with numerous scratches and wounds, and it received always more as the battle continued. Finally, it had had enough. With a desperate jerk, the owl pulled its talons from the solenodon, and launched into the air. But it did not escape without a last parting bite from the enraged victim. I am rather sorry to say that the owl felt quite ill afterwards and while it hid in a slight misery, the solenodon scuffled from the field of war with nought but a few piercings in her sides. In all honesty, in the game of survival, I believe she received the best of the bargain.

Hispaniolan Solenodon
Solenodon paradoxus

With a body that resembles that of an over-sized shrew, and a name that would easily befit a prehistoric animal, the Hispaniolan Solenodon is a wonder in the animal kingdom. It lives in a Caribbean island, and dines on insects at night. Like a few others in its family, this animal bears a toxic bite. It is an endangered species.

Barn Owl
Tyto alba

An owl with an immense distribution including North, and South America, Europe and Africa, this owl is classified slightly differently from other owls because of its heart-shaped facial disk among other aspects of its being. Normally, the faces of owls are circular. It has very good vision and hearing, helping it to hunt in darkness. In some areas, because of the change over time in agriculture, this magnificent bird is rare.

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Wednesday September 22, 2021