Book Snippets

Snippets from Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

Snippet One 

Whilst the other apes were trying to swing after him at the same speed, Gerald had an unfortunate accident.

He collided with a rather large, and not very friendly beast that, like Mungai, was of dubious origin. The beast had been asleep in the branches at the time, and was non too pleased by this unwanted intrusion into his dreams. He reared up on his hind legs, delicately balancing himself on the thinnest of branches, and lunged for Gerald.

“He looks like a monkey-meat lover,” thought Gerald, but he was frozen to the spot and could only think of his imminent death, followed by a prestigious military funeral, he hoped, for his few remains.The unidentifiable creature grabbed Gerald by the feet, and swung him round and round above his head, and then hurled him skywards towards the canopy roof, where he became stuck between two branches. He was so far up, the others lost sight of him. On his own, with no-one to help him, he thought immediately of his 'military training' and decided to bring in the 'vacate the high location' manoeuvre. This manoeuvre was something only to be used in emergency situations, which he quite rightly deemed this was. He did not have much time, so he started straight away tearing off branches and bits of other vegetation, and weaving them together securely. He kept doing this until he had a large piece, three times his own size. He took one corner in each claw, and let himself fall backwards, down from the top. It was a very crowded tree. The growth from top to bottom was extremely dense. It cannot be said he sailed down from above, more bounced than anything. He bounced and he bounced and he bounced. From one branch to the other...sideways, backwards and forwards. Hanging upside down, he could not see where he was going. It was like blindfolded skydiving with obstacles. Much to his surprise, he found the jungle floor. It was not a soft landing.


Snippet Two

Mungai lived all alone in the jungle.              

He had not always lived alone, but he was such a dreadful creature at times that those who once cared for him, decided he should leave and never return. He was considered 'bestia non grata' in most of the places he had ever known. No-one wanted him, no-one needed him, and no-one spoke to him. To Mungai, this could only be an advantage. He was able to drift through the jungle undetected and unsuspected.  Past lives, past acts of deception, and other terrible deeds he had been involved in, were easily hidden from the few animals he encountered.

He was a very strange creature, all furry and quite pleasant to look at, due to his constant cleaning and preening of himself, but no-one in the jungle really knew what sort of creature he truly was.  He had cultivated many different personae, and wore whichever one he saw fit at the time. With each transformation, Mungai adopted a new aroma which seemed to follow him around. This was no accident, but a carefully thought out strategy, which he believed would enable him to pass smoothly through the jungle avoiding any unwanted attention. Mungai knew that all creatures relied upon smell. Firstly, to determine foe, friend or food, and secondly, to understand what species another belonged to. He managed to blend in well, whatever the circumstance, and others perceived him exactly as he wanted them to.

On one of his many travels, Mungai had fallen into, quite literally, the smelly advantages of wolf dung. Personally, he had found the scent to be quite disagreeable. About to clean and preen himself, he discovered those responsible.  A pack of wolves milled around close by. Curious of their actions and behaviour, he decided to observe them for a couple of days. Between two shrubs and three piles of wolf droppings, a fourth pile being firmly glued to Mungai, and thickly covering his usually pleasant body, he was able to spy on them. From what Mungai could make out, the wolves were gorging themselves on some unidentifiable food source, without any exertion on their part. Mungai definitely wanted in.  If not for his arrogance, a characteristic that partly contributed to others thinking him dreadful, he might have remained undiscovered.

Unaware of the gazing sun's effect on his recently discovered disguise, Mungai moved closer to the pack. In the ever-increasing heat of the second day, the dung had started to harden and began making a crackling sound as he moved. Each crunching, faltering step he took sounded like a predator crushing the bones of its prey. He thought the dung had made him invisible, but in trying to get closer, he was reminded of how highly tuned the hearing system of a wolf could be.

Sahba, chief wolf and council member of the Jungle Elders of Wolves and other Tooth and Claw, was instantly aroused. He immediately alerted the rest of the pack, and then, with the same alacrity, collapsed laughing as he set eyes on Mungai. He could only take pity on him.  Mungai was beyond description, or more to the point, beyond Sahba's description. The only parts of Mungai still visible were his eyes and the tip of his nose, and up close the smell was surprisingly offensive to any beast. What is more, the dung had baked his mouth shut. Excuses and pleas were out of the question. He was so completely matted in the stuff, he could barely move. The more the dung hardened, the more difficult it became to escape. He looked like an enormous 'hedgehog en croûte', prepared and ready for the wolves to throw into a fire. Sahba and the others could not stop tittering.

The rest of the pack shook themselves vigorously, stifled their giggles, and tried to look serious as they waited for the order. Sahba was aware that Mungai would be far from appetising in his current state.  With his shoulders shaking so uncontrollably with hilarity, he was incapable of regaining even the remotest signs of composure.  So he gaily lifted a paw, haughtily waved Mungai aside, and left him to go free. 
“How bad must that taste?” he scoffed.  The whole pack folded in hysterics.

Mungai, overhearing this hurtful comment, and unable to utter anything more than a muffled grunt, slunk slowly off into the undergrowth. He felt more affronted than grateful.  He had tried his best all his life not to be eaten. But if it ever did happen, he had prided himself on being thought of as a most excellent tasting meal. 

Out of sight and smell of the wolves, he pulled himself together and went in search of fresh water. It was time to clean and preen again.

Though his dignity had died a horrible death, he would take a lesson from this episode, but speak of it to no-one.

The mockery of other creatures would never deter Mungai, and he continued to experiment with different smells for different situations he might face. His own particular favourite was the combination of lime and date palm. Due to the fast-drying properties of wolf dung, however, he decided to delete it from his favourites list of fragrances.

Mungai had great plans for his future, but having given his plans much thought, he decided he could not succeed all on his own. So he moved through the jungle in search of another who thought and felt as he did.  In the jungle he was somewhat spoilt for choice, though some he found a little too strong-willed or brutal for his tastes, but, after careful deliberation, he managed to settle upon the most appropriate of companions, an unusually thin Boa Constrictor called Goa.

Not only was Goa unusually thin, she was also all one colour; a colour which changed from a deep shade of green during daylight hours, to a blackish hue at night.  Needless to say, she could barely be seen.

Goa, like Mungai, lived all alone.  She was a naturally crushing and suffocating reptile, and her personality matched her physical skills seamlessly.  Her insatiable need to overpower all she came across was only surpassed by her ability to squash anything that got in her way.  She attracted few friends. She was overbearing, scheming and greedy, and loved to possess things.  She lived in a hole in the ground that was so crammed full of nondescript bits and pieces, there was hardly enough room left for her to squeeze in.  She felt it was time to go in search of larger and better lodgings. She also felt it was time to go in search of an easier and better way of life.

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