S is for Saola

S

This was written for part of the A to Z Challenge, if you’re interested in more info please go to their website. I gave myself yesterday off, simply because I couldn’t get myself motivated to write. Luckily, I was running one day ahead so that was the only day off I can have! This one was tricky to write, it took me some time to think of a way to write it. In the end I tried to go for a little bit of a fantasy mixed with family story theme, based on this sentence from WWF: “Often called the Asian unicorn, little is known about the enigmatic saola in the two decades since its discovery.”

She had been told about them when she was younger, still a little girl, by her grandmother. The last relative she had on her mother’s side. The actual story had long since left her mind but she would always remember the smell of pipe smoke and the heat from the fire as her gran rocked slowly in her chair, knitting needles discarded and a storm blowing fiercely through the trees outside.

Once her gran died her mother moved them far away. They started a new life with a new school and not long after that, a new dad. Her mother never spoke of where they came from. If she ever mentioned it to her step-dad it wasn’t within ear shot. The years passed and the story faded to the back of her mind.

Then, one day, long after her mother had passed on, she received a tip off about a story, in a familiar region, in a familiar town, with a familiar creature as its topic. Without thinking she left, and within hours was landing back on home soil. Looking back on it the journey was all a bit of a blur. Her camera man, ever trustworthy after just over ten years together, followed swiftly.

That was how they found themselves in the middle of a forest, a road sweeping past to their left, and a guide on their right. It was comforting how little the forest had changed. Vaguely she remembered long car rides with green and brown blurry shapes on either side. The guide was chattering on, filling her camera man in on all the legends of the forest.

“The area has shrunk lately, the forest is used for logging and a lot of it has been cut down to the east for farmland.” He was saying. But she wasn’t paying attention. There was movement just ahead. She shushed him and they moved forward slowly; minding their step for any fallen branches that could give them away.

A speckled brown face appeared between two trees, one large black eye fixed directly on them. They stopped. They didn’t breathe. Slowly, he raised his camera. The shutter went down.

Click!

It was gone, bounding off into the deeper parts of the forest. They quickly gathered around the tiny LCD showed a brilliant if pixelated picture of a face. Brown fur, black eyes and two tiny horns. It was perfect.

It also proved her gran wrong, she thought on the way back. It wasn’t that the creatures were mystical or rare. It was just that the forest had been a whole lot bigger; and humans a whole lot scarcer.

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S is for Saola

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