N is for Numbat


Another part of my A to Z blogging challenge, to find out more please visit the website here. This story is completely fictional however it does have some fact to it. There have been studies that termites in West Australia mine gold and store it in their mounds. However there is no proof that they use the gold to pay off numbats.

Today was pay day.

This was not a day to celebrate like it is for humans; this was a time when termites cowered in their mounds, shivering in fear. Today saw them holding their breath as animals past, every sound echoing through their home. A few brave soldiers stood guard at the mouth of the mound, preparing themselves for the worst; they knew that they were the few seconds warning for the others.

Slowly a shuffling sound grew louder and closer. It was the sound of razor sharp claws and a volatile tongue. It was the sound of a hungry stomach and a prying eye. It was the numbat.

They could hear it climbing the side of the mound, its claws breaking through the soft clay, revealing them to the sunlight. Against all reason they scattered, panic filling them. Some tried to flee and were sucked up into its mouth. Others buried deeper into the mound, cornering themselves. The soldiers surged forward.

“Halt! Halt!” they cried, waving their arms in an effort to catch its attention. It must have seen them for it stopped, paying no mind to the few brave enough to take their chance and flee.

“We have gifts for you! If you stop we shall give them to you, and we shall give you more if you leave this mound in peace and only come to us once a full moon to claim the gifts.” The soldiers said, hoping that their offer would be of more interest than the numbat’s hungry stomach.

“What gifts do you offer?” said the numbat finally, its breath stank of death and rumbled through the floor, shaking the termites tiny bodies.

“Bring forward the gift!”

Slowly, steadily, a group of termites inched forward, struggling under the combined weight of the leaf and the gift. Their legs trembled as they came closer to the numbat, but they held strong and managed to set it before the creature. The whole mound held its breath as the numbat leaned forward, peering at it with one eye and then another. It even drew great breaths to sniff the gift.

“Once a moon rise you say?” it asked, finally leaning back to take in the brave termites. They murmured in agreement, too nervous to be any more demanding. “Agreed.”  It swiped the gift up with its tongue and was gone from the mound, leaving a gaping hole but most of them still alive. They cheered and celebrated well into the night.

Meanwhile the numbat retired to its burrow, stomach satisfied for now. It placed the gift on a small ledge it had carved itself. There it took pride of place amongst others of its kind. And in the afternoon sun, they sparkled, lighting the dirt walls a soft gold.

N is for Numbat

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