JUST FOR KIDS - DREAMSCAPES FICTION FOR CHILDREN
Naima Gany bte
THE OWL WITH A DIFFERENCE
The forest of Chrysenthalis
was very beautiful and serene and peaceful. Flowers of myriad colours
bloomed year round. There were pine and oak trees, which formed canopies
in parts of the forest, providing shade and shelter for the creatures
living there. Willow fronds streamed the crystal clear ponds, which
were full of a variety of fishes, frogs, and yescrocodiles!
The other animals that lived there were rabbits, raccoons, squirrels,
deer, several species of birds and snakes, badgers, and a motley crew
of insects and creepy crawlies like worms, caterpillars and many others.
It was indeed a melting pot of life and frenzied activity every day.
Each animal had their own business to take care of and there was an
understanding between them. They only hunted each other when necessarythat
is when hunger called for food. Otherwise they pretty much left one
another alone and went about their own affairs of building nests, raising
a family and storing food for the dry and cold months.
In this forest lived an ancient white owl named Hootenkamun, the official
guardian of Chrysenthalis. He came from a long line of Royal Owls who
had been the guardians of this forest for centuries.
Royal Owls had distinct features, which separated them from the other
normal owls. Their bodies, which were tallerat least two and a
half feet talland sturdier than those of normal brown or gray
owls, were covered with pure snow-white fur of the softest smoothest
kind instead of regular coarse feathers.
Their marble-like chocolate brown eyes had thick black circles around
themlike sugarless doughnuts. Their tiny beaks were powerful and
as black as the rings around their eyes.
Royal Owls had been known to live for up to two hundred and fifty years.
And they possessed magical powers!
Hootenkamun was such an owl.
As the oldest resident there, he was highly respected by the other creatures,
even the mighty and dangerous crocodiles. It wasnt only because
of his age, wisdom and power that they revered him, but because he was
also their guardian.
The inhabitants of the forest playfully referred to him as Sheriff
Hoot. He didnt mind, as he knew that the animals loved him.
He had lived in this forest for over a hundred years and knew every
animal that had come and gone over time.
Hootenkamun had his nest in a tiny cave, which was strategically located
on one of the jutting ledges of a nearby cliff, facing the forest proper.
It was deep enough inside to be protected from the sun and rain. But
not too far in that he couldnt see the forest. It was a perfect
He literally had a birds eye view of the goings on inside the
forest from his vantage-point home. But he spent much of his time perched
on a high branch of one of the sturdy oaks beside the entrance to the
home of his favourite squirrel couple, Scamp and his wife Scarla.
Hootenkamun loved chatting with them. They were highly entertaining
little creatures and usually made him laugh whenever he got bored with
the day to day routine of the forest.
Life was ambling along without any major ripples in calm and peaceful
Chrysenthalis. Hootenkamuns job wasnt taxed much as a guardian
because nothing terrible or unusual ever occurred in this forest. Every
animal knew its role and no one stepped out of line, making Sheriff
Hoots job very easy indeed.
Until one very hot afternoon when something happened! Something that
became a threat to Hootenkamuns life!
It had started out as any regular day. Morning dawned with the rise
of the sun in the horizon and the birds chirped and twittered as they
left their nests in search of worms and insects. All the animals went
about their respective businesseseither building new homes, or
rebuilding old ones, or foraging for food, or hunting their prey, or
feeding their young.
There was the usual buzz of activity around the forest and Hootenkamun
observed everything with mild disinterest from his perch just outside
Scamps home inside the trunk of the oak. Scamp was below picking
nuts to store for the cold season. His wife Scarla was cleaning their
home to clear space for the supply of nuts.
On one side of the path, a long line of black ants paraded by, each
one carrying one part of a cricket carcass to their nests. On the other
side of the same path, another long line of red ants carried the remains
of a horned beetle to their nests. The two lines resembled demarcation
points for two different territories.
A tiny rodent busy feasting on a mangled carcass was a perfect target
for the sea-green tree snake that slithered silently out of the bushes
behind it. The snakes movement was so graceful and smooth that
not even the dead leaves shifted much under its weight.
Soundlessly it glided to within two feet of the rodent, then stopped
and waited. Unaware that it was in danger, the rodent continued to eat
Hootenkamun watched through sleepy eyes as the tree snake pounced without
warning and grabbed the rodent in its powerful jaws. Squealing loudly,
the animal struggled but to no avail, for the snake coiled its ropelike
body around the rodent and subdued it within minutes.
Dropping it on the ground, the snake shifted around to the rodents
head and the swallowing process began with the head going in first,
then the body and finally the tail. Replete with its morning meal, the
reptile slithered back to its hideout to hibernate.
Somewhere in the distance water splashed loudly followed by thundering
footsteps that vibrated the forest floor and shook the trees. A crocodile
was probably on the prowl for a victim.
High above in the sky an eagle shrieked as it found its prey and swooped
down to catch it. The unfortunate animal squealed as it was lifted off
in the powerfully sharp claws of the eagle. Leaves rustled in the bushes
below as rabbits and deer munched on the lush greenery.
Breakfast was at its liveliest in Chrysenthalis each day at this time
of the morning.
The ancient owl was so bored with the mundane routine going on below
him that he began to feel sleepy. His eyelids drooped. He decided to
grab some shut-eye. He thought of flying back to his nest but it was
too far awayat least ten minutes flight. And he was too lazy to
fly that distance just for a nap.
So forcing his eyes open, he waddled lethargically to a forked branch
a few feet away from his regular spot and leaning his big heavy body
against it, he promptly fell asleep with his head dropped onto his chest.
Very soon his gentle snoring filled the air.
Scamp finished gathering the nuts and brought them up to his home in
the tree trunk a few at a time. Scarla received each load and put them
away as quickly as he brought them. They worked quietly so as not to
The sun shifted from the east upwards to its peak and the morning matured
into noon. Sunlight filtered through the leaves in the trees and heated
the forest floor. All the animals scampered away to seek shelter from
the hot afternoon sun.
The lines of red and black ants had long since disappeared underground
to escape the heat. Rabbits went back into their burrows, the deer ran
off to their hideouts, the crocodiles went back into the ponds to cool
off and the birds sought their nests to shield their nestlings from
Scamp and his wife hid in their tree trunk home and waited for the sun
to lower to the other side so that he could continue with his nut picking.
And Hootenkamun still snoredcompletely undisturbed and unaffected
by the sun shining directly onto his white head.
Suddenly a piercing shriek filled the air. "AAARRRRKKK!"
The old owl was startled out of his sound sleep and gave an annoyed
grunt, waking up a little grumpily. It took him a while to fully come
Scamp and Scarla ran out of their tree-home. Scurrying closer to the
edge of the branch, they looked left and right to see what was making
that awful sound.
"What was that?" Scamp asked curiously.
Lifting himself leisurely off the forked branch, Hootenkamun moved closer
to the squirrels and squinted towards the sky through half-closed eyes.
Again the shriek camethis time louder and closer. "AAARRRRKKK!"
Scarla moved nearer to Scamp and whispered in a frightened voice, "What
is that sound, Scamp?"
Scamp shook his little head. "I dont know." Turning
to Hootenkamun, he asked, "Hoot, what do you think that is?"
The owl yawned sleepily and mumbled, "Probably an eagle chasing
This time the piercing shriek came from right below them. "AARRRKK!"
Startled out of their wits, the three jumped into the air then looked
down. They saw a bird flapping on the ground, fluttering its wings frantically
and trying to fly. And it was making such loud shrieking noises that
the three on the branch had to cover their ears.
"AARRRKK! AARRRKK! AARRRKK!"
"Whats wrong with it?" Scamp shouted at Hootenkamun
above the din the bird was making.
"I dont know but Ill find out," he replied and
promptly flew down.
When it saw the owl, the bird stopped flapping around and shrieking.
Its eyes wide with fear, it stared up at him from the ground where it
lay. Upon looking closer, the owl saw that it was a female bird and
she was no larger than Scamp.
Her body was covered with the loveliest bright red and electric blue
feathers Hootenkamun had ever seen. Her eyes were round topaz marbles.
And she looked like she was injured. She hobbled as she tried to move
away from him.
"Wh-who are y-you?" the bird whispered in a voice trembling
Hootenkamun sidled closer and reassured the bird, "Dont be
afraid. I wont harm you. I am called Hootenkamun, or Hoot for
short. Im the Guardian of this forest."
"G-guardian of t-this f-f-forest?" she asked, continuing to
Hootenkamun nodded. "Yes."
"D-does that m-mean you g-guard e-everything here?" she asked
Again he nodded. "Yes."
By this time, Scamp and Scarla had run down the tree and were standing
beside the owl staring at the newcomer.
"Wow! Shes beautiful," Scamp said in a voice filled
Thwack! Scarla smacked him hard on the back of his head with a paw.
"Ow!" he yelled and looked at her in surprise, rubbing his
sore head. "What did you do that for?"
Scarla folded her arms across her chest and tapped her bushy tail on
the ground, staring at him angrily. Thump! Thump! Thump! Thump!
Hootenkamun chuckled. "Shes jealous, you little fool."
"I didnt do anything," Scamp grumbled. "I just
said that she was beautiful," he pointed to the injured bird.
Thwack! Scarla smacked him again, harder this time.
"Would you stop doing that?" Scamp shouted and ran behind
the ancient owl who was hooting with laughter. Rubbing his throbbing
head, he peered around Hootenkamuns wing at his wife who glared
back at him.
The injured bird appeared even more frightened and tried to get up but
she fell down each time she was halfway up.
"Youre hurt," Hootenkamun said and went closer to her.
"Let me see."
He noticed that both her wings were broken at the middle joints and
her left leg was bleeding from the knee. The bone was splintered and
exposed through the torn flesh.
"Whats your name?" he asked the bird.
"Willa," she replied hesitantly.
"And what happened to you?" He lifted one wing gently with
his beak and set it down at a more comfortable angle.
The bird sighed as her pain was eased a little.
"I was caught in a trap set by some humans and they shot me as
I managed to escape. The bullet hit my leg. I lost a lot of blood and
became weak and couldnt fly anymore. Then I fell through the trees
and broke my wings," she explained sadly. "I dont know
if Ill ever be able to fly again."
"Dont worry, little bird," Hootenkamun promised, "well
set you right again. Scamp," he turned to the squirrel and instructed,
"you and Scarla go find some of the healing leaves I use while
I take Willa back to my nest. Tie them all up and leave them here and
Ill be back for them."
Then he picked Willa up gently with his powerful claws and flew off.
Scamp looked at Scarla and found her glaring at him still. He waited
for her to say something but she turned her bushy tail on him and went
By Naima Gany bte. Shaik Dawood
If you like this sample, email the authors to find out more as they
are looking for a publisher.
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