It turns out that hunting for a Popobawa is considerably more strenuous than one would imagine, what with swatting at sweat-loving flies and avoiding piles of elephant dung. Jonas and I trekked (or rather, he trekked while I stumbled) across endless kilometres of African plains, but all we saw was a herd of zebra and one giraffe with a confused expression on its spotted face, as if it didn’t quite believe we’d survived this long.
By midday, I called for a break and we rested beside a delightfully mosquito-infested creek in the shade of a thorn tree. I was just nodding off after eating a packed lunch when a most peculiar smell assaulted my highly sensitive nostrils.
For a moment, I assumed that Jonas’s pig fat had gone rancid (or rather, had putrefied even further), until I heard a scratching noise above me. I ever so slowly stood up and backed away from the tree. Glaring down at us with its one large eye, its wings just fluttering into visibility, was a bat-type beast that must’ve weighed at least three hundred kilograms and stood two metres tall. Except it wasn’t standing; it was crouching in the way that predators crouch right before they attack.
The creature emitted a vulgar noise and a horrendous smell, both of which were barely suitable for the inside of a water closet, never mind in public. Fortunately, we were neither in an outhouse nor in polite society, ourselves excluded, and the Savannah was quite empty of offendable ears, aside from Jonas’s and mine.
“Really the things I must put up with,” I muttered and pulled up my gloves a little higher.
Jonas wisely remained silent, handed me the antique rifle, and strummed the string of his bow with a thumb, most likely contemplating how best to sink an arrow into the beast’s bulbous head. And possibly into mine too, poor fellow, seeing as how I’d dragged him into this.
At that moment, the bat-like creature puckered up its thick, dark lips. Good gracious, I thought. What is it doing now?
Jonas collapsed onto the ground, covering his head with his arms. Now what was he doing, I wondered?
And that’s when I remembered the bit of rather critical information I had previously forgotten: the Popobawa’s third power. It can spit poison. And I was straight in its line of fire.
What should I do? Would I be blinded by poison and snatched up for dinner? And would Jonas ever wash off the smell of pig fat? Stay tuned.
On an exciting side note: Christmas Lites II is out! This lovely collection of short stories will raise funds for the charity ‘National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’ (www.ncadv.org). Buy and read! For more info and purchase links, go to: