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Tatiana Schatten

A Rumour

Not based on true events

“There is a rumour of a deer even smaller than yourself,” said a Marsh Deer to one of his fellows as they grazed at the luscious swamp grasses. But his friend remained incredulous, and cocked back a floppy ear. “ How could that be?” said he, “ Are you talking about our cousins, the White-tails?” “ No,” replied the other deer with a laugh, “The White-tails are larger than us, silly! No,” he then repeated, “ this deer is supposed to be much smaller. And - and  I have seen it.” The other deer had begun to graze again and  had had his snout in the water, but when he heard the last  unexpected  revelation, he let out an immense snort of surprise. The water flew up like a fountain and both were bountifully drenched. Then he raised his head and looked at the tale-teller for some sign of play or humour, but found neither. Yet he would not believe the fact and with a disdainful “ Pooh!” began once more to graze. “ B-but I did!” said the other helplessly. “ How small was it?” said his friend bluntly through a mouthful of weed. “ Small.” “ But how small?” the doubtful deer pursued dryly. “Well, I don’t know. Small.” stammered the other. “ But how small?” “ Um,” began the Tale-teller, rather ruffled by his friend’s persistence, and he attempted to sum up in approximation the height of the mysterious being he had seen. He was just about to recount his estimation to his friend-yet-unconvinced when there was a sharp crack and the underbrush before them rustled and swayed. In an instant, a creature dashed forth from it, the sight of which caused the doubtful deer to forever bite his tongue in discrediting his companion. Barely longer than a mere fox, the tiny beast leapt into the swamp like an oversized rabbit, and sent a spray of marsh water all about. In another moment, it frantically bounded across the swamp and disappeared. There was a silence before the doubtful deer found his tongue. “Was that really a deer?” thought he, his eyes as wide as saucers, and looked imploringly to his companion. The justified friend did nought but nodding and smiling, said most graciously “ I told you so.” And indeed he had!

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In the Shadow of the Crowned

Based on true events

Unfortunately, being a very small sparrow is a very big inconvenience. Now, I do not wish to create a mountain out of a molehill, but when you have a sparrow that is almost twice as large as yourself eating not more than a few centimetres away, well, the situation is nearer to a mountain. The afternoon was hot when this most unpleasant experience occurred, a day when hunger was at its greatest and the sun was at its brightest. With a swoop, I landed as usual in my habitual feeding area beneath an old gnarled apple tree, and proceeded to peck up the scrumptious seed which lay scattered upon the ground.  But hardly had I tasted my cup of heavenly safety and solitude, when I heard a flurry of another pair of wings far larger and far more powerful than my own. Immediately, an imposing shadow was cast across my meal, and  with all the meekness which comes with fear, I raised my head. There, right before me was a giant White-crowned Sparrow. I am sure of what was in its mind as it gazed at my trembling figure. I am certain it thought: “Look at that tiny Chipping Sparrow! Should I frighten  it away and eat my seed in peace or should I put up with its irritating presence?” For a tense moment, I noticed that it was in preference of the former, and it crouched, ready to drive me away. I shivered and prepared to fly, and our eyes met, and the eyes I saw were as intense as an ocean surf. But then to my surprise and relief, those eyes were lowered, and my opponent  picked up a seed in its bill with all the nonchalance which became a crowned king. Then it began to scratch with unbelievable strength  in the seed, each far greater than any of my own scratches. For a length, I looked upon the immense sparrow, but eventually my fears were eased, and I commenced to feed myself. But, though I did all I could to ignore  this Hercules of sparrows, I could not help but listen to its claws rubbing dryly against the seed as it foraged, and I was once again dismayed by their sheer power. Each and every time the noise came to me, I gave a jolt of terror in the knowledge of their sharp points.  Yes, they were far longer, yet they could not have been any sharper than my own, but such is the ponderings of a mind bound in agony. How could one possibly partake of  a meal while dreading at every moment that a sharer in the feast could give you a splendid scare at any moment? I very nearly choked upon a grain when the sparrow suddenly came a millimeter nearer. How could I swallow another? Finally, the strain upon my mind grew to titanic proportions, far larger than any sparrow could overcome, and I arose into the air in puff of wings and fled for my feathers. I returned a few minutes later when the area was as empty and still as before, yet it is a great inconvenience to be so near the bottom of the pecking order. But it is an even greater inconvenience to be such a mite of  a sparrow.

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Impending Doom

Not based on true events

At times you hear the saying “It is a small world after all,” when there is a meeting of long separated friends or acquaintances, or “The world is not big enough for the both of us,” as an utterance of defiance and loathing between enemies. Yet, for one miniature critter, the world was far to big for only her. She was a worker ant of a species which I have not been yet able to decipher, perhaps a Little Black Ant. She made multiple errands for her queen and the colony in a land where giants roamed and insensitive titanic feet stomped. This tiny insect was able to evade such dangers masterfully, but when she came upon a chemical trail left by one of her fellow workers, she believed her end was finally nigh. For, where did it wind but across a busy city street, roaring with the engines of the traffic, and overflowing with the sound of honking horns? For a moment, our dutiful ant hesitated, divided between the thought of the upcoming doom and the urge to follow the worker’s path. The latter urge, though, soon overpowered the former fear, and without any more deliberation, she scurried from the sidewalk and began her perilous journey. After all, it was but two lanes of passing vehicles. To ease her fears, the ant began to focus solely  upon the trail which she pursued and not the dangers which lay before her. With her antennae twitching convulsively , the ant came to the edge of the first lane. Whoosh! A humongous wheel zoomed directly before the tips of her feelers, and in shock and terror the she stood stalk still like a black statue. Her mind mind no longer could function under the immense strain of frightened surprise, and all she could ponder was the way across this deadly place. Another wheel flew by and in panicked desperation , she bolted forward, her six legs working like pistons and her antennae trembling violently. Again, another wheel roared past, but to her great surprise, it was behind her, and so was the next which immediately followed. The tiny ant had crossed the first of the wheel-ways, and was long as no vehicle changed lanes she was momentarily safe. Then, after a pause, she ventured forward to the boundary  of the next wheel-way, and there awaited the passing of a pair of wheels before risking a crossing. A wonderful relief overpowered her when this first leg of her travels had been completed, for she had now crossed the first lane! There the worker ant stood between rumbling giants , in relative calm, to rest. But it was not to last long, for, hardly had she claimed her nerves, the ant noticed a devastating fact: the chemical trail had disappeared! The ant which she had been following had succumbed to the very fate which she hoped to escape! Once more, all thoughts were driven scurrying from her mind, all sensibilities which were hers fled, and with rash steps , she rushed headlong into the next lane. Hardly had she gone two inches when she heard an ominous noise, and glancing down the lane to behold a roarer speeding directly towards her, its wheel directly in line with her black body. In a moment, it was upon the worker ant, and she crouched and accepted doom. The dark shadow of the rubber giant loomed over her, and all passed in a second. There was a crunch beneath it and then it was gone. Yes, it was gone and left the little ant behind it alive and well. Yes indeed! One of the treads, with all fortune, had passed directly o’er her cowering figure, and left her alive, though terribly shaken by the near encounter with death. The noise had been naught but pebbles being crushed under the weight of the vehicle, and not an innocent brave insect worker who would pursue duty to death. This time, she had escaped alive, but the ant was not one to tempt fate. With a swift ant-speed, she ran from the deadly place, across to the next wheel-way while another vehicle passed over and she rushed across the last stretch of the roadway onto the sidewalk, and into a clump of tall grass. There the ant fell flat on her shiny face and thanked the Lord that she was yet alive.

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Notice: Earthworm Wanted

Not based on true events

I have been an excellent hunter ever since I was a little wiggler. Yes, I found many a tasty meal while I tunnelled and roved beneath the soil, feeling my way with two tiny tentacles upon my upper lip. I ate both worms and insects, beetles and bugs as I journeyed through flightless passages and dim corridors of my own making. I could not see all that well as I slid through the earth, not only because of the poor light, but also because of my poor vision. And it was exactly because of this poor vision that I became the victim of a thief. Yes! Something very precious was stolen from me, while it was yet in my grasp: an earthworm of enormous breadth and length. I discovered it when I had only just escaped from a maze of tangled root, to my great astonishment, for neither  of my tentacles had detected even one trace of its chemical presence. I craned my head down when I was finally aware of its thick form before me in the tunnel, and without a second’s delay I snatched it. My jaws could barely encompass its roundness. The worm was so ginormous! Indeed! I had hit upon a giant treat! With all my strength, I attempted to haul it further into my soily tunnel only to feel a greater pull coming from its opposite end. What could it be? Whatever it was pulling away I would not wait to discover. With renewed energy I struggled against it, edging my way backward, but immediately felt another a violent tug on the worm, and I was dragged forward once more. Whatever was intent upon that worm’s opposite end in this subterranean tug-of-war was evidently full of power and might, but I was determined not to give into its assailance. This worm was my  breakfast, not the thief’s. With an immense stubbornness which even I now wonder at, I wedged myself in the passage and there resolved to remain. By this time, my teeth ached with the great strain that was upon them and my muscles were tensed in the fullest. Finally, I gave into my foe, and mentally abandoning the meal for loss, I released my grip ever so slightly. Plink! The worm shot from my mouth like a whip and was immediately dragged down the tunnel  and  swallowed by fate. And so, there I lay, no fat annelid in my jaws but only pain. Even now, months afterwards, I yet long for a worm equal in measurements as that one. That is why I wrote this, in hopes that if you come across such a worm, you may contact me if you do not want it for yourself, and I will gladly eat it for you. Please, for breakfast’s sake!

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A Prize for Paws

Based on true events

Tabs the cat was always out upon the prowl and the hunt, exploring the ways and wanderings of the city, and, when hungry, devouring any small being which crossed his path. But his meals were always minuscule, none larger than a mouse or vole, and Tabs was beginning to hope for a change. His wish would have come true, perhaps, if he had been less idle and lazy, and the sun on that day less spell-binding in its glory, and the weather less hospitable for remaining still in one place. And this is exactly what Tabs was doing, sitting in a most elegant upright position in a yard his luxurious tail curled about him and his face bent downward so that the sun could beat upon his neck. He was in a treeless yard where the rays of warmth could most easily reach his plush body, and in feeling them, he let his eyes close in pleasure. But hardly had Tabs retained his sight when he heard the most intriguing  sound. It was like the whistle of a bird, yet unlike such a noise in some unidentifiable respect. It  seemed to come from nearby, and as would occur with all cats, the curiosity of Tabs was immediately plucked like a string plucked on a violin. His eyes opened  and what did he see? Yes, indeed, he nearly had his wish fulfilled, for there, on the rough pavement of a driveway situated by the next yard, crouching like a large beige rock, was a Richardson’s Ground Squirrel. It was almost half of Tab’s own size and would have been an irresistible treat, if the sun had not beckoned the cat to remain still for one moment more. In that moment, the rodent’s head turned to the puss and in its extreme horror and surprise, gave another poignant whistle and turned tail and shot up the driveway with the dry scampering of feet on pavement and disappeared before Tabs could even arise. The cat was foiled in the gaining of his dream by none other than the bright sun, and he never forgot how nearly he had been  in receiving the wonderful prize of a meal. No, not even in his old age, and never again did he permit the sun to get the best of him. Indeed, he had lost a great prize for paws.

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Wednesday November 17, 2021