Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hyena

The sun began slinking below the horizon somewhere on the other side of the planet, leaving behind a trail of vaguely muddy darkness. There was nothing more dissatisfying than an invisible incomplete sunset. The hyena stepped slowly out of the shadows, and smiled sheepishly, exposing sharp teeth that could have been there by accident. She gave a short, sharp, foolish sounding laugh, and for an instant, the flickering darkness showed a shape that could have been anything, even human. The laugh came again, the big beautiful eyes shifted sneakily, almost in embarrassment, and the silhouette of the hyena was back. She crept slowly deeper into the shadows and the laugh was heard again, lower, longer, disguising. The shaggy mane was just visible behind the rocks, and a glint of razor sharp teeth shone out of the black. The hyena walked gently towards her prey. It was still, completely lifeless. The spoils a lioness had left behind, remnants of a brief triumph and eventually boredom. This was what she lived off, other people's leftovers. But she was unique in her own way. Her low laugh made every animal prickle up its ears while maintaining a disdainful distance, and her convincing, sheepish demeanour fooled them into coming closer. She always ate her share quickly and inconspicuously, and then let her magic take its course. She would laugh and laugh, and grin shyly, and then pounce upon the remains of the carcasses with gleeful abandon, but looking around apologetically, almost as if she was not entitled to enjoy herself. All the animals would watch enviously, and snarl at each other for no apparent reason. Her howling, tempting laugh would sound again, convincing them that there was nothing on earth more delicious than the chewed up bones. And then, all hell would break lose. Somewhere in the pandemonium of animals shrieking and clawing, biting, snarling, the bones would lie sadly forgotten in a corner, and somewhere in the shadows, a shaggy mane would slink away, and a sad, lonely laugh would be heard softly in the distance.

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