The Beast Beneath
by Claire Twinn
Rumours were flying around the zoo concerning a mysterious creature. Its strange thumping sound resonated everywhere and it had strewn a trail of dirt all over the place, yet no one had seen it.
“It can’t be anything nice if it creeps around at night,” Toucan said, clipping his curved beak together noisily to emphasise his point. “Like those blinking bats I had to live next door to a few years ago. They’d hang around upside down all day pretending to be cute, but at night they were evil! Nicking all my fruit and gobbling up any poor moths who got in their way.”
Orang-utan sighed and picked at a flea on her chest. “It seems to be everywhere so I bet it’s not stuck in a cage like us. Must be small enough to get through the bars. Maybe it’s one of those rats that skulk around the bins?”
“I bet it’s that cat who lives in the zookeeper’s house. He’s always taunting me about how he goes hunting at night,” sighed Cougar as he paced up and down.
Marmoset nibbled nervously on a nut. “It was making a right racket last night. I reckon it’s one of those massive wild deer, like that gnu who died last year or that moose who went away and never came back. I don’t know what those humans are up to, but it’s not good. I swear they’ve given me less papaya than yesterday – they’re starving us, I tell you!”
“Oh Marmie, you say that every day. If you didn’t spend so much time running around you wouldn’t get so hungry all the time,” Sloth suggested.
“A great big bird landed on top of my prison last month and made a hell of a noise padding around. Told me she was a goose all the way from Canada, then she pooped on my head!” Quail quivered in indignation at the memory.
Capybara waved her paw at the mess outside their cages. “Look at all those piles of earth, it’s like something’s been making huge jumps and pushing all the soil up when it lands. The only creature I ever saw who could jump like that was a kangaroo.”
The rumbling noise grew louder. “It’s coming closer! Help!” shrieked Meerkat, scuttling away.
A mountain of earth erupted in front of them. They watched aghast as an innocent worm wriggling past was sucked underground, gobbled up by the beast beneath. Worse still, the creature was burrowing closer and closer, spewing up a pathway of debris, heading straight for their cages.
“It’s going to suck us all up!” screeched Toucan, flapping frantically.
The tunnelling stopped just before their cages. The animals trembled as they awaited their fate. Meerkat held his breath for so long he passed out. After several minutes the tunnelling restarted, to their relief heading away.
“The ground’s too hard. It can’t get in just like we can’t get out,” Orang-utan grunted.
Everyone slept soundly that night, safe in their havens, dreaming no more of freedom.
(Inspired by the song ‘I am a mole and I live in a hole’.)
When not having to be grown-up, Claire Twinn loafs around on her boat writing silly or strange stories. She is a member of Didcot Writers.
Our Reader said:
A funny story told from an unusual perspective, this put a smile on my face.