The Pachyderm's Peril
From the pen of the Web Master of
There once was a lush jungle, where there lived a large herd of elephants. These animals were strong and proud. Elephants were not afraid of anything, and they knew no one could invade their territory. They walked in freedom and were glad of who they were. The rain on their backs, or the sun shining down, was all a delight to them. When at night the entire jungle cowered in fear at the lion's roar, the elephants just laughed. Even a lion couldn't touch them in their might.
Bill was just an ordinary elephant, happy to be alive, and he enjoyed sharing his territory with his fellows. Kim, his girl, was really a great lady, and they were planning to get married one day soon.
Bill was very surprised one day when all at once, he heard a voice. He looked around, but there was no one else close by. Kim was over visiting with her sister, and Oliver, his best friend was over with Brad and Bonehead. Certainly none of them had spoken.
"Elephants should not be so haughty," said the voice. "Elephants should respect other creatures more."
Bill shook his head. What in the world was happening? Was he losing his mind? He wandered over closer to his friends, and he could hear them discussing the place of elephants in the grand scheme of things.
"You know," said Oliver. "We should not only think of ourselves in the jungle. There are the other creatures to think about."
"That is right," replied Brad. "Every creature is equal."
Suddenly in his ear, Bill heard the voice again. It said, "That is so right! Every creature is equal."
Bill shook his head again, but it didn't seem to help.
"Hey," said Bill. "Have any of you guys heard any voices out of nowhere talking to you?"
They all looked at him for an instant, but quickly looked away. They all had guilty looks on their faces, and they nervously were curling their trunks and uncurling them. Though none of them answered, Bill felt that they all had.
Bonehead quickly changed the subject. "Did you see how cute the girls looked down at the river today?"
Bills eyes squinted in confusion. Apparently they were not going to either admit or deny that they had heard voices. He decided to drop the subject for the moment. He joined in with the other guys in discussing the ladies.
Over the next few days, Bill noticed that the voice in his ear, and the conversations around the herd, all were carrying the same message. They were saying that the elephants are really weak, not strong. They were saying that the elephants, with their haughty dominant ways, were inherently evil. The message most strongly heard was that the elephants were very bad to guard their own territory and keep other animals out of it. There were too many elephants in this overcrowded jungle, and it was time that they stopped so selfishly having so many little elephants.
Bill, in his heart was disgusted by these messages. They were wrong, completely wrong. Not only that, they were hateful! Yet, everyone was saying the same thing. Why was that? And where did that voice come from that he kept hearing?
Over the next few weeks, Bill noticed that the elephants were not walking so proudly. They were becoming almost timid. They began to quiver just a bit when the lion roared.
One day, Bill saw a rhinoceros wandering into their territory. In the past the elephants always ran these creatures off. Bill said to Oliver, "Just a minute. I am going to chase this dummy off."
"No wait!" cried Oliver. "That would not be fair. All creatures have a right to be here."
"Are you crazy?" asked Bill. "If we don't protect our territory, it won't be our territory any longer, and we won't have a place to live!"
"Oh, one rhino won't do any harm," said Brad. "You will hardly notice him. Have a heart."
"There is no such thing as one of anything," said Bill heatedly. "If we have one, we will have more. We will have many more."
"Take it easy," said Bonehead. "He isn't hurting anybody."
Suddenly, the voice in his ear said, "Bill, you don't won't to sound like a bigot do you? It is becoming very unpopular in the herd to be prejudiced against other animals. All animals are equal."
Bill suddenly felt overwhelmed by the stupid, but unanimously consistent babbling he was hearing. Elephants had never thought this way. If they had, they would have died off long ago. What was going on?
As the weeks past by, their territory became more and more populated by other animals. Food was becoming a bit more difficult to find. Everyone was still getting along okay but the herd's once bright future was becoming less clear.
The elephants all tried hard to fit in with the new way of looking at things. They were afraid of being different from the rest. Each of them grew more fearful of being an outcast, by being labeled a bigot. They all began to sound just alike.
As time moved by, the elephants less and less controlled the territory. Rhinos and giraffes were eating their food, and many other animals were making themselves at home. Since this whole thing started, Bill saw that more elephants where dying in the herd than were being born into it. Still the voice in his ear was saying that elephants should not be greedy. They should not have more little elephants because their space was becoming overcrowded.
Bill wrinkled up his large forehead and was trying to understand it all. It was clear to him that if the elephants continued to have fewer babies, the herd would die out completely. Yes, things were becoming overcrowded, but not with elephants. It was the other animals moving into their territory that made it overcrowded. Bill could hardly find a place anywhere now to be alone with Kim to talk.
A new topic of discussion suddenly caught on with the elephants. Nearly every day, they were discussing a "mousicide" that had occurred in the past. An elephant from another herd had lost his mind and started stamping out every mouse that he could find. He was fanatical about it. Nobody knew why. It was something that everyone had heard about before, but nobody paid it much attention; until now that is.
"He was an evil elephant," said Brad to Bill. "To run around killing poor innocent mice that way."
"He sure was," agreed Bill. "I don't know what could have come over him."
"It was nothing but sick hate," whispered the voice in his ear. "Mice never hurt anyone. Those poor mice were just living their lives, and he turned on them."
Bill never thought about the story much before, and really didn't disagree with what was being said. However, he was trying to figure out why such a fuss was being made about that old story today. That was old history, and did not happen in this herd. In fact he had heard that his herd had gone over and stopped Andy from killing any more mice. It was confusing. Why the sudden interest in something that had nothing to do with them?
"I don't get what happened to Andy," said Bill to Bonehead one day. "But I don't see why everyone is so all fired interested in him now. Who cares?"
"What?" asked Bonehead. "Why he tried to exterminate all of the mice in the world!"
"No he didn't. He couldn't even reach all of the mice in the world. He tried to get rid of the mice in his territory. That was bad, but it is over. What is the big deal, and why are so many elephants talking about it now?"
"Don't say that Bill," replied Brad. "It is not popular in the herd to deny the mousicide. It could cause trouble for you."
"Huh?" responded Bill. "What on earth does a story about Andy killing mice have to do with us? And why does anyone else care what I think about it?"
"It is very serious Bill," said Oliver. "They are talking about running elephants out of the herd if they do not believe in the mousicide."
"No way!" Bill cried. "Are you serious?"
"Serious as a heart attack," said the voice in his ear.
Bill was walking next to Kim on a bright morning, discussing the future the two of them were going to share, when all at once he stepped into a hole in the ground, that had been dug by one of the transient animals that were running everywhere these days, here in what used to be elephant territory. He momentarily lost his balance and before he could recover it, he had bumped sharply into Kim. He was about to voice his apologies, when he noticed that something had fallen out of his ear. Looking down he saw that it was a little mouse.
"Kim," he said. "Look at that! A mouse just fell out of my ear. He was hiding under the flap so no one could see him."
"Where?" asked Kim, who was a bit upset at being so rudely jostled. "I don't see anything."
The mouse had already scurried off into the grass. Their conversation returned to normal topics, and Bill didn't think too much about it at first. He thought it was pretty disgusting having a mouse in his ear and he was very glad that it was gone.
Over the next couple of days he noticed that the voice in his ear was gone. He could have conversations with others, and be completely left alone as to what he said, with no back talk from the voice. He enjoyed the new found freedom!
The changes that had taken place around him began to appear clearer, now that the voice was gone. His fellow elephants were being rapidly displaced from their territory. They were a much smaller percentage of the jungle population than they had been before. They also had lost their pride in who they were. They were ashamed, and always were dwelling on the story of Andy, as if they had been responsible in some stupid way for what he had done. They had grown timid and afraid to speak their own minds. The strong elephant was being slowly wiped out by the changes Bill was seeing.
After a while, Bill finally made the connection; the voice stopped when the mouse fell out of his ear! He thought about that for a bit. Then it all became clear. All of the changes in the herd, the changes that were destroying their future, started when that voice started talking in his ear. It was the mouse that had been talking in his ear! That meant that mice were talking in all the elephants' ears and it explained everything.
It was plain to him that the elephants had to first stop listening to the voices in their ears, and then to get the mice out of the ears for good. Those little devils were promoting the destruction of his fellow elephants for whatever reason, and it must be stopped!
"Brad," said Bill conspiratorially. " You will never guess what I have found out!"
"What?" asked Brad expectantly. There must be some piece of interesting gossip that was about to be shared with him, and he didn't want to miss it.
"There is a mouse in your ear," said Bill knowingly.
"Yeah, right," Said Brad sarcastically. "I suppose he is waving at you right now."
"I am serious Brad," said Bill. "You know the voice you have been hearing in your ear? Well, it's a mouse talking to you."
"Bill you are out of your mind!" said Brad loudly. His eyes had taken on a crazed glow. "There is no mouse in my ear, and it sounds like you have a hatred against mice."
"I don't hate mice," said Bill in exasperation. "I just found one was in my ear and it is gone now. The voice I was hearing, left with the mouse. That is simply a fact."
"Liar!" cried Brad. "You hate mice! You are another Andy!"
Brad turned and walked away, leaving Bill to wonder what he could do to overcome this nightmare. He tried to talk with others, but they all reacted the same way. Before long no one would talk with him about it.
Then one more morning, Bill woke up with a new voice in his ear. It told him that he was a hater and that he was very evil for the things that he had said. But this time, Bill wasn't buying what the voice told him. He knew where it was coming from.
Bill found a big tall tree and banged his head up against it, trying to shake the mouse loose. He rubbed his ear against the tree, but there was enough room in his ear for the mouse to hide away inside safely. Bill nudged around in his ear with his trunk, but he just couldn't reach that mouse.
Finally he hit on an idea. Bill headed down to the river. He waded right in, and walked out to the deepest part, where the water reached over the top of his head! He stuck his trunk up out of the water and breathed through it. All at once he felt something in his ear struggling to get out and he knew that he had won. As he stuck his eyes up out of the water, he saw the little mouse swimming like a pro for the bank.
"Ladies and Gentlemen of the herd," began Bill. "I know that many of you have decided that I am crazy, or worse. However, I have a proposition to put to you. If you will do as I ask, I will never bring up the subject of mice in your ears again. It is a simple experiment that will prove me right or wrong."
Bill looked around at the members of the herd. They were looking back with disbelief, and even hostility. He plunged on ahead.
"I have found that the mouse that was in my ear could not stand to be underwater. He climbed out and swam away when I went into the river and put my head under water. Now, if you think that I am crazy and there are no mice in your ears, you have nothing to lose by doing as I have done. You can walk down to the river with me right now, and prove me completely wrong by holding your ears under water, while breathing through your trunks. If no mice come out, you will be right, and I will never mention the subject again.
"There is no logical reason why you should not do this. If you refuse, you are proving that you are controlled, and not willing to put my claim to the test."
Suddenly the herd broke into shouts. "Liar!" "Hater!" "You are an Andy!" The noise became deafening, and Bill knew that he had failed.
"Look about you!" he shouted back. "The herd is dwindling. Your territory is being invaded. You will cease to exist, and it is all because of what the mice have been saying to you. Save yourself, and our future! Come with me to the river."
All at once the herd began to move at him in a threatening manner. He grew fearful for his life. He turned and ran, and was happy to see they did not give chase. Now what was he going to do?
"Ahchoo!" sneezed Brad one morning, a few days later. As his head shook, he felt something fall from his ear. Looking down he saw that it was a mouse. His eyes grew large and round. He didn't believe it at first. The mouse was running as fast as its little mouse legs could go.
Brad looked Bill up right away. The poor elephant was over in a corner of the plain, where only Kim would talk to him, and even she was having second thoughts.
"Bill," said Brad. He had hurried and was out of breath. "You were right! I just had a mouse fall out of my ear, and the voice I was hearing is gone. You were right all along."
"I am so glad that someone will finally believe me," replied Bill. "Those mice are killing us off, and no one will listen."
"It is because of the voices," said Brad. "They won't go against them, because they don't know where they are coming from."
They put their heads together, and decided that they would coax Oliver down to the river and force his head under water when he wasn't expecting it. He could be fooled, because he would not suspect Brad of any tricks.
"Hey Oliver," said Brad. "Let's go down to the river. I am as thirsty as a desert plain."
"Yeah, me too," replied Oliver. "Let's go."
The path was a well-traveled one, because everyone made at least one trip a day to the river. Elephant feet crushed the plants, and compacted the dirt into near concrete hardness. Along the way they talked about their favorite subject: their girls, Diane and Prissy.
Oliver was completely unsuspecting when he stood on the bank and stuck his trunk in the water to take a nice cool drink. From behind, Bill rushed out from a thicket and shoved Oliver hard into the river. Before he could recover himself, he found his head under water, with two elephants holding it down. The only thing he could do was stick his trunk up into the air in order to breathe.
All at once the other two elephants let him go and he stood up in anger.
"What in the world are you two doing?" he asked in outrage.
"We just got rid of your mouse," said Brad with a smile.
"What mouse?" shouted Oliver.
Bill and Brad both indicated the little mouse swimming as fast as it could for the bank of the river. Oliver gaped in disbelief. Bill was right after all.
As they were climbing out of the river, Bill gave them one piece of advice. "Remember that the mice may come back in your sleep. It happened to me already. But I got rid of it again by coming here."
By the time they got back to the herd, the word had already gotten out somehow. Even though Brad and Oliver had done nothing to give themselves away with the other elephants, they were forced to live outside the normal community, and were looked down upon like scum. It was a hard and bitter course that they were on.
Over the next few weeks, they managed to get the mice from the ears of their girlfriends, and few of the others. They would catch unsuspecting elephants at the river, and dunk them. However, as their numbers grew, the rest of the herd started to take protective measures. They only went to the river in groups, and they protected each other from being dunked.
The territory became ever more overrun with other animals, and the elephants were growing fewer in number. Bill and his friends decided to act.
"We can do nothing more for the herd," Bill said in sadness. "They are totally controlled by the mice."
"Why can't we reason with them?" asked Kim. "They are good elephants at heart."
"Of course they are, Kim," replied Bill. "But they are no longer thinking for themselves. They are doing the mice's bidding."
"Well, what are we going to do?" asked Oliver. "We can't just sit here and watch them die!"
"No, we have to leave the herd," said Bill. "They will never be convinced that the voices in their ears are evil. They will continue to listen and that will be their death."
The girls were crying and the guys were grim as they packed up their stuff and headed out on their own. Along the way, they picked up a few members of other herds, which were under the same attack, and they settled down in a new territory to the north.
The very first rule that they set for their herd was that no mice were allowed in their territory. Ever! If they ever heard a voice in the ear, they would immediately go to the river and get rid of it.
Next they set about having lots of little elephants and setting aside their territory for themselves and their children only. They prospered and the herd increased in size. From time to time, as he had somehow discovered the truth of what had happened, another one of their friends from the old herd would join them. In a few years, the new herd was as large as the old one originally had been, and it was far stronger.
"Bill have you heard the news?" asked Brad early one morning.
"No, what news?"
Brad shook his head and said, "The old herd is gone. Completely gone. The old territory is now populated only with other animals."
Bill frowned. "That is sad news indeed Brad. Those mice are the most dangerous creatures on earth. They wiped the whole herd out."
"It is terrible!" Brad moaned. "What are we going to do about it?"
"What do you think we are going to do?" asked Bill. "We are going to take our territory back, and we will make it ours for good this time."
As they once again walked into their old territory, they were appalled at what they saw. The area was overrun with mice everywhere, frolicking and chasing each other around. The other animals had torn the place up, and the elephants were furious at what had been done.
What followed next, was not a pretty picture. Needless to say, after the elephants had finished, the other animals were driven out of the old territory; and especially, you can be sure, there were no mice ever seen on that land again.
For generations to come, the elephants sang the praises of Bill and his friends who had saved the herd for the future. Proud, strong, and brave, the elephants continued to thrive in their own territory, finally safe and secure. And they all lived happily ever after!