Photo by Per Regnel
A short story - an allegorical tale on extremism:
Viper lies coiled, taught and sleek. Black skin glistens in the rising sun. Beady eyes are ever watchful – waiting. Viper’s eyes never blink, never fade, they are always scanning the horizon and will only see victims. Viper never questions, never wonders, simply obeys.
The wind dances around the leaves, tiny flowers bob with joy in the warming air as the sun blesses the earth. An impish breeze spins round the whirling planets high above and they twinkle and shine. But viper does not see. Viper has a duty to perform and will wait for the correct time. Fangs full of venom, jaws aching to feel a stretch, a stab, a victory. Black coils on dark earth.
Mouse patters, feet light and pink, fleshy soft and warm. Mouse has bright, searching eyes, quivering whiskers and a playful soul. Mouse, feather light, looks and wonders and finds good things amongst the gentle green grass. Fur softly shines in the warming rays.
Viper tightens, eyes narrow. Mouse gaily explores the grassy plain - unaware, naïve and trusting. Viper is ready; venom is dripping from needle fangs. Pitter-patter, clench, lunge and streak of black against green grass. Furry skin is pierced and infused with death. Bright, questioning eyes fade with fear and confusion. Mouse’s alert body twitches in final gasps for life. Viper is satisfied. You are not like me and must die.
Viper lies coiled; sleek back body on dark earth – and waits.
The sun rises higher. A sailor blue forms a colourful gateway to the heavens. The green grass rustles and then parts in obedience. Fleeing figures escape a sinuous, gliding body. Colours flutter away in panic, tiny feet scramble for darkness. Leaves whisper urgently to one another – Black Snake is moving - beware! Viper watches as Black Snake comes near but does not tense in expectation. Viper yearns to strike, but knows the rules. Black Snake is of my tribe and must be allowed to pass unharmed. And dripping venom stays in viper’s mouth, the taste as bitter as gall.
The sun climbs higher; the planets dance their endless waltz, warmed by a wind so gentle and so vital it buffets and teases their rocky hearts. The soul of the earth sighs a longing sigh and life goes on. Mouse’s body is cool against the warming dark earth.
A burst of song suddenly brightens the air. It is beautiful, lyrical, ascending to heights and plummeting to depths. The song stirs the weary in their dark recesses and brings a tingle of joy to every sense. If the song were a painting it would explode with colour and pure delight. Nymph forms would flutter across blue pools and rest their fairy heads against cools shells and smooth pebbles while rainbows twinkle above. This is a song for the earth, for the planets, for all that has life. Who is singing such a wonderful song?
Viper only hears an approach of a victim.
Bird strides through the plain, head thrown back to expose a pulsating throat. Out of bird’s strong beak bursts forth its heavenly song. Bird is brightly coloured, with a stately tail and long, powerful legs. Bird struts proudly and sings with tremendous energy. The air shivers and brims to overflowing with magical notes.
Viper is stirred to a fury and strikes, leaping from coils to an arrow-like form. Viper shoots through the air and sinks needle fangs into bird’s exposed throat. Venom fires through feathery skin. The song stops in mid flow. Bird’s legs begin to crumple and falter and the colourful body slowly collapses. Bird’s heart gradually stops beating as pain gives way to death. Silence falls over the plain. The breeze ceases playing with the planets, the trees no longer chatter and the sun burns with a dead heat. Viper settles down again, coiling with precision. You are not like me and must die.
Mouse and bird lie side by side, the result of duty well done.
The sun marches on, but with a sombre heart and is glad to sink lower in the sky.
In the cool of the evening Great Creature walks the plain. Great Creature’s hair streams amongst the heavens and wraps around the frozen planets. They begin to slowly whirl again, awoken from their reverie by gentleness. Great Creature is full of contentment and talks to the leaves, who begin to gently flutter.
Great Creature sees the lifeless bodies of bird and mouse and bends down to lift them to moist lips. Oh woe! Who did this to such bright and lovely things? Great Creature’s eyes fill with tears and wash down over feather and fur. Contentment transforms to fathomless sorrow. Great Creature’s heart is breaking.
Viper watches and tenses. You are certainly not like me, your death must occur at my command.
Great Creature slowly lays the bodies down to the dark earth as the boughs of the trees bend in respect. Viper is more than ready; fangs are bursting with rich poison. With one leap viper sinks death needles into Great Creature’s hand, pumping venom deeper and deeper into soft flesh. Again and again viper jabs, all that are not like me must die!
Great Creature wraps strong fingers around vipers writhing body. Viper’s head jerks in attack and tail whips in fury. Great Creature lifts viper high towards the setting sun and viper feels the heat on dark skin. They look each other in the eyes. Great Creature sees in Viper hate, duty and precision. Viper sees in Great Creature’s eyes the vastness of mystery ever unfolding. A strange feeling seeps through viper’s body as energy drains away. Viper draws spent fangs back into fleshy sheaths. The wriggling, lashing body hangs limp. Great Creature softly lays viper down onto dark earth, exposing the pale underbelly to the warmth of the last rays of sun and the soft caress of the playful wind. Viper’s head rests on a pillow of green grass. Viper’s eyes see the world from a new place, the upside down towering trees and the bobbing flowers. Viper sees whirling planets and whispering leaves. Viper is distracted from duty and for the first time ever, viper wonders.