Ezra Azra

Copyright 2023 by Ezra Azra

Image by InspiredImages from Pixabay
Image by InspiredImages from Pixabay 

The 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 ago.

The present generation of farmers did not know how to go about coping.

Hunting animals for food or for protection had not been practised since the last generation.

Whatever 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.

The 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 predator struck.

Since 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.

The 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.

A farmer came up with the idea of setting a trap; lure the predator by tying a live small animal in a cage.

The 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.

Another 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.

That 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.

The 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.

This version was accepted on condition a person could be found to volunteer to be the bait.

The 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 volunteers.

The 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.

She proved to be right. There was a crowd of family teens who jumped at the opportunity. A fifteen year old niece was selected.

That 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.

That 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.

She 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!

She 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.

There 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.

She 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.

The 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.

Nobody had the heart to ask her if she knew what "bait" meant.

The 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 aside.

The 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.

When 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.

She 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 Nature's inflammables.

A veritable farm doomsday forest fire erupted.  

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