Fantasy Friday: In Lieu Of A Comment

Fantasy author Jonathan Rogers (The Charlatan’s Boy and other books about Feechie folk) includes a fun feature on his blog: Friday Audience Participation. Most weeks I don’t have a story to share, but this week, I do … in triplicate, times ten.

But alas! My computer has an ongoing argument with Jonathan’s comment system. Some days they make peace, and I can enter into discussions on his site, but I never know what state of cooperation (or lack thereof) I’ll find.

Today’s topic … I just couldn’t resist. Try as I might, however, I could not get past Please wait. Sorta felt for a while like I was on hold with the automated answering system from Darth Vader’s Evil Empire or some such dastardly place.

In the end, I decided to bring my answer here (it certainly is long enough to be a post). So first, Jonathan’s Audience Participation topic for today:

Tell us your anecdotes about wild mammals you have known, from field mice to possums to bears. Armadillos, by the way, are mammals. A surprising number of people think armadillos are a kind of reptile, but they are as mammalian as you are and are therefore eligible for this APF. Dolphins and whales, I don’t have to remind you, are also mammals.

And my answer which never had a chance (sort of like having a manuscript rejected by an agent without being read 😆 ):

Without a doubt, my parents both had Feechie blood in them. Consequently, I have more mammal stories to tell than all the rest of the visitors [there] at put together. Do you want to hear about the time my dad almost lost an arm to a mother bear because he was feeding her cubs? Or the time my mom woke me up to see the bear peering into the window of our cabin — the two-room structure with both doors wide open?

Instead, lets go with this one — not quite as dramatic, but probably more unusual.

When I was a teen, my parents decided to relocate from Southern California to East Africa. Yep. Half way around the world. In the fall of that year we headed off for a vacation which took us to the base of Kilimanjaro, then onto the plains of the Serengeti.

Lions we saw and zebra, wildebeest, Thompson gazelles, impala, giraffe, and water buffalo. But the ones I won’t forget are … well, now I realize they aren’t mammals, so I can’t tell the rest of the story. Too bad. It puts my dad on the map as Feechie kin.

Ah, but wait, I can tell about this one. We took a safari into Ngorongoro Crater, with a Tanzanian guide driving a Land Rover. Certainly the folks there must have detected my parent’s Feechiness because they gave us a driver that fit right in.

We zipped down the walls of the crater and onto the floor where we enjoyed any number of mammal sightings and eventually drew within feet of a couple of lions feasting on a fresh kill.

But our driver had something special in mind. He headed toward a swampy (I told you — Feechie blood in that man) area where he pointed out the top most part of a hippopotamus — a bit of his head and some of his back (I have the picture).

Not satisfied (probably because we couldn’t get closer), our driver whipped the Land Rover around until he found a lone rhinoceros.

Instead of pulling up at a respectable distance so we could get our pictures, however, he gunned the engine and headed straight for the animal who lowered his horn at us and charged.

Our driver didn’t back off or steer clear, though. He came to a full stop and turned off the engine! Yep turned it off. Then told us to remain still. Me hanging out of the open roof of the Land Rover, camera in hand, staring down a 2000 pound rhino inches from the hood of the Land Rover.

Later our driver explained: rhinos have poor eyesight, but they make up for it with their hearing.

How long did we sit there in a stare down with an angry rhinoceros? It seemed like hours (though it was probably more like ten minutes). That old gray bull wasn’t in a charitable mood. He wanted to spear something!

We did get some pictures though, but I think the other visitors cranking their cameras got better footage than we did. After all, we stayed very still for most of the encounter!

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