farmers were desperate. A predator wild animal was killing their
small farm animals at night, ranging over four contiguous farms. It
was such a long time ago that this had happened that there was nobody
alive who had been alive when it had last happened years and years
present generation of farmers did not know how to go about coping.
animals for food or for protection had not been practised since the
animal the predator was, it was cunning enough to elude the farm
dogs, all eight of them. Not even a warning bark from any of them.
Those farmers to whom the possibility occurred that their own dogs
might be the culprits, summarily dismissed the idea as disgusting.
night patrols the farmers implemented, worked for as long as the
patrols were used. There just were not enough farmers to have night
patrols constantly. If a patrol was stopped, even for a night, the
there were no visible tracks, the farmers were guessing and hoping
there was only one predator. More than one predator would have surely
left visible tracks.
predator proved to be so clever and cunning, that at one time the
farmers wondered if the predator was in fact, a criminal person. If
the predator were a person living on one of the farms, that would
explain why the dogs were of no use. Although this possibility was
never dismissed outright, nobody cared to express it openly.
farmer came up with the idea of setting a trap; lure the predator by
tying a live small animal in a cage.
idea almost worked. It failed because the predator animal had
approached the cage from a section that did not have the entrance.
When the predator attacked, it crashed against the cage. The farm
animal panicked, and yowled. The predator panicked and ran away.
farmer came up with a slightly different version of the same idea.
She suggested a live human be used as bait, and a hidden rifle-person
to shoot the predator.
version of the idea wasn't given a chance, not because no farmer
volunteered to be the bait, but because there yet was no guarantee
the predator would attack through the entrance of the cage.
bait-idea farmer did not give up. She suggested yet another version
of the same idea; live person and no cage and hidden rifle-person to
shoot the predator.
version was accepted on condition a person could be found to
volunteer to be the bait.
bait-idea farmer said she had City-dwelling extended family. Like
most City-dwellers, all her teen City family members were ever
dreaming about being movie stars. If the farmers advertised there was
a movie being made on the farms, she could easily enlist a family
teen to be lead star. She was sure she would be deluged with teen
main attraction of this version of the idea was that it did not
include using a cage. When the animal attacked the teen bait, a
hidden rifle-person would shoot the animal. Moreover, there would be
an excellent chance the rifle-person, a farmer, would detect the
predator before it attacked the person-bait.
proved to be right. There was a crowd of family teens who jumped at
the opportunity. A fifteen year old niece was selected.
teen proved to be an ideal selection. When at a session she
unselfconsciously asked "What is a farm?", she was
instantaneously and unanimously selected after the two seconds of
stunned silence of disbelief on the part of the farmer committee.
City teen was so totally ignorant of farm living, she had no clue
what a wild predator was on a farm. Indeed, she was almost ecstatic
about the probability she would come into contact with one. She was
particularly willing when she was informed she would have to sit
alone in the dark in a jungle, waiting for the predator to attack.
thought she was being incredibly fortunate, since in the City she had
always to risk so much to sneak away to be alone in the dark,
somewhere away from home; and here were these farmers insisting she
be alone in the dark, and offering to make her a movie star, to boot.
And, and her Dad and Mom proudly agreeing!
lived on the farm for a few days and nights. She rehearsed the scene
in the jungle. She requested to see a picture of the predator. Some
farmer drew a picture of a cuddly large cat, and showed her. That
City teen was thrilled to no end.
was only one requirement the teen tried to get the farmers to change.
She had to wear black clothing. She knew that black clothing in the
night would be the least spectacular on camera; especially since she
would be wearing black gloves, and only her face would be providing
skin tone for the cameras.
happily accepted the farmers' assurance that black clothing was a
requirement for only the on-site filming shoot of the event.
Subsequently, they would photoshop her into as much skin-revealing
clothing styles she chose.
farmers, too, were thrilled to no end at the teen's seeming to not
mind being bait to be eaten, in a jungle in the night.
had the heart to ask her if she knew what "bait" meant.
farmers, being farmers, were ever aware of the possibility of rain.
Rain would utterly foil the project. It was the middle of Summer.
Much of the forest was tinder-dry, which was a good thing because no
matter how stealthily the predator crept, there was bound to be some
crackling of dried leaves and sticks it had to step on or shove
City teen was utterly oblivious to weather conditions. Being alone in
the dark, hidden from others, was all she looked forward to. They
said the predator would take at least an hour to show up. That, too,
suited her just fine. She knew exactly how she intended to pass the
time; in the same way she did in the City whenever she sneaked out
through her upstairs room window every night.
she was seated on the chair, in the dark, under trees in the jungle,
she did what most City teens are prone to do: she lit a cigarette.
gently closed her eyes in dreamy pleasure as she deeply inhaled the
carcinogenic nicotine poison deep into her youthfully perfect lungs.
She carelessly tossed the used matchstick to the ground into the
tinderbox of seasonal dried leaves and sticks and others of Mother
veritable farm doomsday forest fire erupted.
author's name in
of the message we
won't know where to send it.)