Volume 1, Number 1
A Short Story by: Christopher Meredith
The evening started out with little concern for misfortune, but he was convinced it would not endure. A short time later his instinct rang true. While on his watch, the ground above Wags and all around him started to shake and convulse with an intensity so violent that for a brief passage of time all he could do was yell out with assorted barklike warnings before he sprang into action.
With a jolt, Wags leaped toward the advanced system of security that was in place to warn inhabitants of the town. There were over seven hundred individuals in one of the largest towns in West Texas, and it was his duty to serve and protect his fellow colonists.
Wags tugged vigorously on the alarm system that had been strung throughout the vast, underground burrows. The nylon cord was hung up well above everyone’s heads with a multitude of resounding bells of various sizes and shapes that reverberated through the township. It was quick to grab the colonists’ attention.
Once all were awakened and alert, young and old, male and female, they all took up arms and positions to protect the town and its virtues. Orders were barked out to those of lower rank by their seniors. One of the elders before the crowd barked out:
“Who was on sentry duty this evening?”
“I was…right here,” barked Wags.
“Well now, can you give us a description of the culprit attacking us?” asked the withered elder.
“Yes, yes, I did get a glimpse of them as the eruptions started. It’s that pack of coyotes again,” barked Wags.
“That’s the third time in as many weeks! Something has to be done! We have suffered great losses in the past assaults, not to mention the damage to the town and land,” barked out the withered elder of the commonwealth. In the days that followed four elite teams were commissioned to seek out the threat that was upon the prairie dog community and eradicate it if they could.
Over the many years past, the withered elder, as well as other members of his old school circle, had come across many different occupiers of the land around the prairie dog town. The Chieftain reminded all the members, including the four elite teams, of the importance of calling in some favors from an ally or two, so they could accomplish their mission soon and once again live in peace and harmony.
Three days later, the call was answered and the challenge met. The ground troops had air support capability. It was time for the combatants to declare war on the pack of coyotes and initiate the first strike. A plan had been plotted; now it had to be executed.
“Hey! Hey! Listen up commandos. The chieftain has appointed us to this endeavor,” barked the base commander of the four teams.
“Yes, sir,” replied the company of elite militants.
“All right then. The operation is now officially a go. Let’s get out there and do a bang up job,” barked the commander.
A chorus of, “Sir, yes, sir!” rang out from the teams.
“Okay then, you maggots. Head on out,” barked the commander. Momentarily all the team members exited the safety of their burrow as the war with the coyotes was underway.
The first phase of the mission was to dig a series of small, shallow holes in the field outside of town, a hundred yards away or so. At the same time Harold, the red-tailed hawk, was stationed high above the ground troops. His job for the time being was to be on observation detail. He could spot the enemy forces, and then signal the troops if and when there was to be an invasion.
The four teams of commandos dug throughout the early morning hours. There were only three members to each team consisting of a squadron leader, a tactical specialist, and a weapons specialist. This phase was led by the tactical specialist of each team.
Once the hole excavation was completed, thin, dry twigs were gathered and strategically placed atop the holes to conceal the locations. The next phase of the operation was soon implemented.
Phase two would be led by the weapons specialist of the teams. Each team would craft the appropriate weapons for the occasion. In this case, the weapon of choice was slingshots made with precision to ensure accuracy.
After each weapons specialist gave his or her approval and congratulated the teams on a job well done, it was time to scout around and seek out the best stones for the situation ahead. After the armament was collected, it was stashed and ready for use. It was then time for the grand finale of the operation – phase three.
Harold, the hooked bill red-tailed hawk, would have his flying mission in the last phase. His orders: to do a bit of stunt flying above and around the pack of coyotes, while at the same time using his strong claws to seize sections of a cactus known to Texans as prickly pear. He was then to bombard the enemy coyotes with the cacti missiles. Little did anyone suspect that Harold had an uncounted number of brothers and sisters, not to mention assorted cousins. All had heartily agreed to pitch in and support the famed red-tailed hawk in his crusade.
Later that afternoon the unsuspecting, wayward pack of coyotes found themselves in a world of hurt and total bewilderment. The mission had played out with flawlessness at every turn To start off, two of the female combatants used deception to deceive the members of the coyote pack. The ruse was to act as if a grave injury had occurred to one of them. The other hawk was there for medical and moral support.
The bets had been made, and the coyote pack was all in. Ravenous need fell upon the hunters, and the race was on. Twenty-five feet into the large field the leading pursuer cartwheeled head over tail for a few yards, breaking a front right leg. Moments later a second contestant was rewarded with the same fate as the first. They both let out a sharp yelp, then laid down to assess the damage – the chase forgotten.
Meanwhile, the rest of the coyotes abruptly suspended the chase to sniff around the ground before them. The pack, busy with the task at hand, allowed the deceivers to flee. The assault teams then emerged from the far side of the field and engaged in battle.
Wags and the others launched unmerciful hell with their sling shots of fury.
The unharmonious yelps and cries could be heard all the way back to prairie dog town. Yammered whines commenced with the bombardment, and a multitude of prickly pear cacti rained down upon the predators now turned to prey.
After some time of undeniable terror, those who could not flat out run with tail tucked between their legs, hobbled off with tail tucked between legs. They were a motley sight, broken, bruised, and pricked, headed for parts unknown.
Later on, a celebration was conducted for the heroes and the town’s inhabitants over the success of the mission and the return to peace and harmony. Wags was honorary head honcho for the day. He may or may not have consumed too many alcoholic beverages, but that’s a prairie dog’s tale for another day.